Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Catholic Case for Communism

“It is when the Communists are good that they are dangerous.”

That is how Dorothy Day begins an article in America, published just before the launch of the Catholic Worker on May Day in 1933. In contrast to the reactions of many Catholics of the time, Day painted a sympathetic, if critical view of the communists she encountered in Depression-era New York City. Her deep personalism allowed her to see the human stories through the ideological struggle; and yet she concluded that Catholicism and communism were not only incompatible, but mutual threats. A whole Cold War has passed since her reflection, and a few clarifying notes are now worthwhile.

Communists are attracted to communism by their goodness, Day argued, that unerasable quality of the good that can be found within and outside the church alike, woven into our very nature. It might have been an easier thing to say back in 1933, when American communists were well known to the general public for putting their lives on the line to support striking workers, but it was also the kind of thing that could land you in a lot of trouble, not least in the Catholic Church.

By affirming the goodness that drives so many communists then and now, Day aimed to soften the perceptions of Catholics who were more comfortable with villainous caricatures of the communists of their era than with more challenging depictions of them as laborers for peace and economic justice. Most people who join communist parties and movements, Day rightly noted, are motivated not by some deep hatred toward God or frothing anti-theism, but by an aspiration for a world liberated from a political economy that demands vast exploitation of the many for the comfort of a few.

Read the rest here.
HT: Rorate Caeli

How long are orthodox Catholics going to put up with this crap? I am thinking it's time for the pitchforks and torches. I don't want to sound holier than thou because God knows we have our own problems. But rampant heresy at every (and I do mean every) level of the Church is not one of them. For all our problems we Orthodox have a long and glorious history of shouting "heresy!" at one another and breaking communion. Sometimes the reasons may look silly, but then I look at what's going on across the Tiber, and I am reminded that there are worse things than schism.


Ray Kinsella said...

I'd read the paper...and the reasons for publishing it (" we dont agree, havent a changed our view on Communism but its important to hear both sides..". It doesn't stack up...and I say this as an economist who agreed with President Putin's recent critique of Western liberalism in the FT... there is nothing good to be said for Atheistic Communism..to argue " well, 'whatabout' the goodness of those seeking justice thru Communism" is the worst kind of sophistry..Those who facilitate " this kind of crap" have not read Solzhenitsyn ( at least not recently)...nor have them reflected (recently) on the numbers executed by those marching in the wake of Lenin, Trotsky and the boys...nor can they possibly have reflected on Our Lady's message at Fatima ( brief pause while progressives smile and roll their eyes)...No, I'm afraid that using all those trees that go to make the printed page in the cause of such apologists have lost the plot

rick allen said...

This seems to miss the point. Dorothy Day wasn't describing Stalin or Trotsky or Communism as an ideology of the Russian soviet state. She was describing her experience with "communists she encountered in Depression-era New York City." Her observations are reflected in many of the themes of Graham Greene's novels such as "The Quiet American," "The Comedians," and "Monsignor Quixote."

We are again entering a time when "Communist!" has been thrown at anyone advocating for basic universal health insurance (i.e., what the British Tories put in place in the 1950's). To equate Western European democratic socialism with Soviet Communism is not only false history, but dangerous history.

But in a time when the contemporary Russian assaults on American elections are dismissed as a "hoax" I feel a little silly expecting our electorate to have any historical sense.