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Communism, socialism, and Christianity: One of these does not belong

posted at 11:42 am on February 5, 2014 by

The following is a guest essay from Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, a friend and Hot Air reader, and a Catholic priest in Virginia. Fr. Guarnizo has served abroad as well, and spoke with me as part of my coverage of the Papal conclave last year at the Vatican. Fr. Guarnizo offers the following thoughts on the popular myth that the Church’s “social justice” mission has any compatibility with socialism or Communism. He emphatically rejects both, and does so in detail and at length, explaining his position from solid Christian teachings on economics and liberty.

On Christianity, Socialism and Communism

By Rev. Marcel Guarnizo

February 5, 2014

There has been much discussion in recent weeks over the debt of Christianity to—and its compatibility with —the ideas and praxis of the socialist revolution, and even of communism. Many, even in the Catholic Church, believe that we share some of the ideals of the socialist revolution because it seems to them that communism, socialism and Christianity are for the poor. In addition to this most unfortunate error, the opposite fallacy has also been made popular in the minds of many, namely that capitalists and advocates of a free market economy, hate the poor.

But the historical record of communism tells an entirely different story.  I have worked with the countries of the former Soviet Union for over 20 years, and I have seen what communism does to populations and nations. The scourge of the socialist revolution around the world gave us 6 million people killed by artificial famines in Ukraine and, as documented by The Black Book of Communism, 20 million victims in the U.S.S.R., 65 million in China, a million in Vietnam, 2 million in North Korea, another 2 million in Cambodia, a million more in the rest of Eastern Europe, 150,000 in Latin America, 1.7 million in Africa, 1.5 million in Afghanistan and through the international Communist movement and related parties about 100,000 more victims in various nations.  This is a body count that reaches to 100 million victims worldwide. Communism completely destroyed the economy, social fabric, and political culture of dozens of nations. It hollowed out the intelligentsia, ruined every economy where the seed of socialism fully “bloomed,” and abrogated fundamental rights and individual freedoms of the nations it subjugated.  Clearly the Judeo-Christian commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” is not among the doctrinal teachings of communism and the socialist revolution. It is hard to believe that the socialist revolution—unlike Nazism—still finds promoters and defenders in the West.

The compatibility of Christianity and its legitimate concern for the poor owes nothing to the violent and inhuman regimes created by the socialist revolution. No system in human history has produced more poverty and misery than communism.

No greater foe has the Church ever encountered, than the communist revolution. During the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of religious and priests were sent to forced labor camps or simply executed. Five year plans to abolish religion were implemented and no true believer was ever safe in such nations. What social doctrine of the Church was ever derived from such madness? Communism and the socialist revolution are not only the antithesis of Christianity. They are also incompatible with free, just, and democratic societies.

The case against the “wonders” of the socialist revolution can be put to rest by simply reminding people that brick and mortar walls, guarded by armed soldiers, were necessary to keep people from fleeing the manmade paradise of “social equality” created by communists. As Milton Friedman pointed out, the “…strongest proof of the failure of socialism is the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

Neither is a complex apologia required to explain why there is no substantial difference between socialism and communism. Communism, as American writer Whittaker Chambers documented, is nothing more than socialism with claws. Theoretically the two systems share the same ideals and philosophical framework. Communism simply takes socialism to its logical, final consequences.

The difference between the two was captured well by a joke I once read.  Communists will simply shoot you in the head, but the socialists will make you suffer for a lifetime.

To mount a case against the socialist and the communist would seem completely unnecessary given the historical record. But it is necessary, because, as we see, communism’s ideology continues to ensnare the minds of the West and many of its leaders. Perhaps the statement of Whittaker Chambers, when he decided to defect from his service to the Soviet Union, that he had chosen to join, “… the losing side” is not altogether settled. Many think the fall of the Soviet Union proved Chambers wrong, but I submit that Chambers understood, perhaps more clearly than most, the lasting and insidious nature of the socialist revolution in the West. It seems to me, that the West’s great partial victory against the Soviet Union is far from being final. Though the Soviet Empire has fallen, the West remains in an equally powerful cultural battle, which the architects of the socialist revolution themselves anticipated.

Gramsci’s Tactic: Cultural Hegemony

The socialist revolution in the West has been greatly influenced by the tactics of the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci. Writing in the 1930s, Gramsci recognized that the culture of the West, and in particular, the Catholic Church, stood as robust obstacles to a communist economic and political takeover in Europe. Gramsci proposed that a takeover of the cultural institutions—the achievement of cultural hegemony—was the necessary first step to the eventual takeover of the political and economic structures of a free society.

This strategy meant that socialists should tirelessly work on the takeover over of universities and education, media, churches, and other cultural intermediary structures of the free world. He thought that the eroding of the cultural foundations would weaken a free society’s natural defenses and this would open the path for the economic and political aims of the socialist revolution.

I would submit that the “cultural hegemony” of the socialist revolution is increasing in the West and at an alarming pace. The increasing loss of ground in our culture to socialism and its allies is creating a growing threat to the political and economic freedoms of America and Western democracies.

Therefore, it seems to me, the battle between the free world and the socialist revolution is far from settled.  The errors of communism are legion, and the West should not slumber, as the battle is far from over.

The Errors of Communism

  1. 1.   The Error Concerning the Nature of Man

Communism starts not with an economic error but an anthropological one. The economic and political effects of the communist system are but a symptom of a previous error, an error about the nature of man.

The French 19th century political economist and writer Frédéric Bastiat clearly makes the point. Socialism, Bastiat argued, sees man as mere raw material, to be disposed of, to be molded by the “all knowing,” state. In his book, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, economist Friedrich von Hayek launches a similar attack on the socialists and their “omniscient state.”  Hayek demonstrated the impotence of the socialist to run an economy

Man is just matter: This materialist vision of man is the first and most profound error of the socialist revolution. The materialist vision of man is what justifies the communists’ insistence that they may legitimately do whatever it takes to achieve their utopia. We must be transformed by the state, into its image and likeness.

This materialist view disregards therefore the true dignity of man and the true nature of the human person—his rationality and free will. The artificial social orders engineered by socialists are completely devoid of a proper understanding of man and the kind of being that he is.

Writes Bastiat, they “… start with an idea that society is contrary to nature; devise contrivances to which humanity can be subjected; lose sight of the fact that humanity has its motive force within itself; consider men as base raw materials; propose to impart to them movement and will, feeling, and life; set oneself apart, immeasurably above the human race—these are the common practices of the social planners. The plans differ; the planners are all alike.”

Socialism and communism are fundamentally contrary to Christianity, for no Christian can hold that man is mere matter. Materialism is the exact opposite of the most basic philosophical and theological assertion of Christianity, namely that man is body and spirit.

Whittaker Chambers identified the essence of the radical revolutionary, the communist, the socialist, the radical progressive, in one key word: change. Writes Chambers, “The revolutionary heart of Communism … is a simple statement of Karl Marx… it is necessary to change the world…The tie that binds them across the frontiers of nations, across barriers of language and differences of class and education, in defiance of religion, morality, truth, law, honor, the weakness of the body and the irresolutions of the mind, even unto death, is a simple conviction: It is necessary to change the world.”

  1. 2.   The Error Concerning Man’s Relation to the State

The first fundamental error leads to the second fatal error: Socialism perverts the proper relation between man and the state.

If man is just matter that needs to be molded and transformed to the will of the state (the social engineer), then indeed man is entirely subservient to the state. In this view, man is born to serve the state, from cradle to grave. Catholic social doctrine holds to the precisely opposite vision: the state exists to serve man

  1. 3.   The Error Concerning Private Property

Communism, even for the amateur reader of its doctrine, considers private property a great evil in society.  Since that is the theory, dispossessing millions of people of their land and putting to death untold millions more, for simply having more than others, has been the common practice of communist regimes.

The Catholic Church has always held private property to be a great good in society and has defended man’s right to private ownership as fundamentally good and compatible with man’s nature, freedom, and dignity. The Church also recognizes private property as a right absolutely necessary for the proper order and functioning of free societies. Respect for one’s neighbor’s private property rights is foundational to the Judeo-Christian doctrine.  The abolition of private property under communism violates the great commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”

This disregard for private property rights continues in our day. In 2008, the socialist President of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, seized $29 billion of the private retirement savings of Argentinean workers, to use for what the London Telegraph described as “a funding kitty” for her socialist schemes.  The Wall Street Journal characterized Kirchner’s move as “cracking open the piggybank of the nation’s private pension system.” Thou shall not steal, Kristina.

The culture of envy fostered by class-warfare violates yet another commandment, the 10th, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” To create covetousness and the willingness to dispossess those who have more is fundamentally anti-Christian.

  1. 4.   The Error Concerning the Function of Government

Communism and socialism pervert the proper function of government. If man is just an inert piece of matter and is completely subservient to the state, then clearly he is incapable by his own ingenuity, entrepreneurship, abilities, and efforts, with his own failures and successes, to create anything worthwhile in society. Therefore the state, instead of protecting the framework in which man and associations can flourish, must become a social engineer, to change man, and mold him to its utopian ideals. The state proceeds to artificially create the particular conditions and relations required by ideology to achieve the utopian goals of equality and happiness for all. But the proper role of the state is not to make us happy in accordance with its own warped designs.

Since this is not easily accomplished, given that man is free and seeks happiness on his own terms, much coercion is necessary. This includes not only the coercion of the Red Army, but procedural coercion, coercion by penalties and taxation, by the use of governmental powers to force the non-compliant to comply. All of this is completely incompatible with Christianity and a free society.

  1. 5.   The Error Concerning the Function of Law

Communism and socialism pervert the function of law. The rule of law under the communists and their fellow travelers is no longer a useful framework in which each man may operate freely to achieve his ends and goals. It is no longer a light to the mind, a work of reason designed to help order political and social life, forbidding the things that war against a free and just society. For the communist, law becomes a mere instrument of coercion to bend and force citizens to comply with the warped vision of society’s rulers.

Bastiat put it this way: “Socialists desire to practice ‘legal’ plunder…they desire to make the law their own weapon.”

  1. 6.   The Error Concerning Christian Charity

Communism and socialism war against Christian charity.

The socialist revolution depends on so-called class warfare. This artificial warfare, in its many forms—owners of the means of production vs. the laborers, the rich vs. poor, the landowners vs. workers—is the engine that moves society toward the goals of socialism, toward the perfect egalitarian society. The principle of class warfare is flatly and completely contrary to Christianity.

Class warfare, race warfare, gender warfare, generational warfare—and all the other new rubrics for dividing citizens from one another—are intrinsically contrary to the Christian Gospel. Socialists use them all to erode the foundations of Western civilization. Socialist tactics strive to fan the flames of hatred, discord and resentment in society. They seek to create a “culture of envy” and mistrust. They therefore permanently injure the social fabric and harmony of society. Envy, the socialist “virtue,” is considered a capital sin in the Church’s doctrine. Socialism, with its class warfare, could not be more incompatible with the Church’s teaching that charity and justice are the great binding forces in society.

  1. 7.   Errors Concerning the Family and Social Institutions

Communism and socialism are inimical to the family and those organizations which function as intermediary structures between the state and the individual in society. Anyone who has experienced communism need not have such an obvious matter explained. The communists without hesitation separated children from their families, mercilessly indoctrinated them and made their choice of trade or work simply a matter for a communist bureaucrat to decide. They praised and rewarded children who had denounced their parents for deviating from the doctrine and dictates of the party. This is an illegitimate intrusion on the rights of parents. Catholic social doctrine has always held that the parents, not the state, are the primary educators of children.

The Church upholds the principle of subsidiarity, which teaches that intermediary structures between the state and the citizenry must be allowed freedom to carry out their proper functions in society.  These associations are a natural buffer between the state and the individual. The principle of subsidiarity guards associations, the family, and the individual against those who would promote unlimited government and their greed for power.

The current assault of the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services against Catholic healthcare institutions should surprise no one. The socialist state is required to eliminate its strongest competitors to gain greater control. The state, as it is seeking to control the health sector, one-sixth of the U.S. economy, aims to displace the Catholic Church and its mediating institutions. The state is resorting to procedural violence in order to force them to comply or renounce their right to serve the poor and the sick. Comply or get out of the way. So much for caring for the poor.

Required: A United Defense

We see that the communist and socialist state incessantly seeks to attenuate the economic, political, and cultural freedoms of each and every citizen. Therefore, communist errors concerning the nature of man and his relation to the state provide compelling motivation for opposition across the anti-communist political spectrum. All those engaged in the promotion of freedom should seek the common aim of defeating the ever increasing power of the state. Libertarians would be wise to defend the rights of the Catholic Church in its present battle against Obamacare, for in doing so, they fight to keep a safety net over the larger part of society and the individual. The fight here is not about doctrine, but about freedom for all. There is a strategic need for unity among conservatives, libertarians, and classical liberals, at this critical moment when freedom for all is threatened by the state. To continue to loose cultural freedoms is what permits, as Gramsci foresaw, the ever increasing loss in economic and political freedom.

Bastiat, in illustrating the need to defend the social order, urged a fusion of the proper defense of economic freedom and the cultural freedoms in society. The economic, cultural, and social freedoms rise and fall together, and must be defended as one. Social conservatives need to realize that if we lose economic freedom we will lose more political and cultural freedoms and therefore economics really matters. But libertarians and others should see that, by curtailing our cultural freedom, the government is gaining the ability to curtail economic freedom.

Bastiat, in his time, also urged for unity against the common foes of freedom. Speaking of the defenders of the correct conclusions in realm of economics and the defenders of virtue, religion, and ethics in society, he explained, “These two systems of ethics, instead of engaging in mutual recrimination, should be working together to attack evil at each of its poles.”

This nightmare of communism recurs in part because of our failure to theoretically dismantle the lies of the socialist revolution in the West.  If this is not done well, on a fundamentally philosophical basis, we will be repeatedly assaulted by new propagandists, who—while admitting communism’s past failures in practice—once again claim that the theory is sound and therefore that the human experiment of the socialist revolution ought to be tried again.  But human beings are not proper subjects of experimentation for political ideologues. We must therefore teach that the theory is erroneous, and deadly. Morally, we cannot afford more corpses to show its devastating effects in practice.

A philosophically sound and united defense by all defenders of freedom is needed at this time.

Justice for the Poor

At a practical level, the first duty of the Christian, before jumping into the arena of social policy vis-à-vis the poor, is not good intentions or a loving heart for the poor. The first necessary requirement in justice is competence.  Social policy for the poor requires sound economic theory. Bad economic theory leads only to further errors in practice, which hurt the poor.

Good intentions alone do not make one competent in economic or social policy.  Simply having a loving heart for the sick does not grant the doctor moral authorization to perform surgery on them.  The surgeon must be competent before he picks up his scalpel. An easy indictment of capitalism and free-markets is wrong-headed and empirically inaccurate. This sort of incompetence in economic theory has hurt, and is hurting, the poor.

Believers must also make clear distinctions regarding action. There is a difference between feeding the poor and alleviating poverty per se. The latter requires the creation of economic wealth. Aiding the poor is a corporal work of mercy in the Catholic Church and it is a good to be freely exercised. But feeding the poor is quite different from alleviating poverty. If we feed a poor beggar on the street, he will remain equally poor even as he consumes the bread we have offered. Food aid to the poor does not create economic networks and economic activity capable of alleviating his poverty.

Mother Teresa was in the business of feeding and caring for the poor but she was not in the complicated business of alleviating poverty. The latter takes economic networks, entrepreneurship, creativity of a different kind, and technical know-how concerning the economy, the markets and financial policy.

Unless the poor are incorporated into economic networks, they will always be in need. To create economic networks, society requires entrepreneurship, risk takers, profit and loss, and―most important―employment. Without a job, the poor man will always be poor.

Asking people to seek a job and work has become almost taboo in the present day. Food stamps are so much easier.  It is important to help the poor, but to create systematic dependency for political gain is wicked. The state loves easy handouts, since they do not pay for them and they garner votes.

Furthermore, the easy handouts obfuscate an objective view and evaluation of failed socialist economic policies.  Socialists, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher put it, are delaying the inevitable day of reckoning―which is “…running out of other people’s money.”   The façade of benevolence may win votes, but it certainly does not help the poor.

Many fail to understand that the Church has always taught what  entrepreneurs know: There is a great sense of dignity in work. Since every man is a moral agent, men should not be deprived of the responsibility and adventure of forging their own paths.  Caring for the poor is necessary, but intentionally increasing dependence is immoral and contrary to the Gospel teaching. It is an injustice to perpetuate economic arrangements that deprive man from working.

One could mount further arguments against the thesis that the social doctrine of the Catholic Church owes something to communism and its many incarnations.  But I will conclude my arguments with the simple assertion that communism’s utopia, in which all men are equal and poverty would disappear, is a dangerous and inhuman illusion.  Poverty cannot be completely eradicated from the face of the earth.  Our Lord Himself taught, “The poor will always be with you.”  If this profound lesson were internalized, the regimes of lethal utopia would be far less enticing.

To Truly Help the Poor

Christian charity and free market entrepreneurship are not only compatible, but necessary to truly aid the poor.

Christian charity strives for the moral betterment of man, and the advancement of our neighbor out of love.  For believers, these are works of religion, which many men and women of good will willingly and freely undertake.  Forcing people “to do good” is the death of the virtue of charity, as charity must always be freely exercised.

But a second factor is equally needed to alleviate poverty: entrepreneurs and the free-market system.  These offer the possibility of a greater and more lasting solution to the problem of poverty.  Creating jobs and industry is a great good, and to diminish the possibilities for entrepreneurs and the private sector and claim the façade of virtue in doing so, is pure folly. Entrepreneurs and the business class do more in the United States for the Church and for vital issues to society, than anywhere else in the world.

The two great lies of socialists and communists, that they are the champions of the poor and that they are the real “Christians” of our time, are myths that ought to be unmasked by all believers. For no regime has ever visited more poverty, death and suffering upon humanity. Civilization has seen clearly what this revolutionary change looks like and we would all be well advised to remember as  philosopher George Santayana warned—“those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The West has had enough of revolutionaries and utopians. It is time for them and their supporters to pipe down and own up to their failures and crimes.

Rev. Guarnizo is a Roman Catholic priest of the diocese of Moscow. He is also a member of the Mont Pelerin society, founded by F. A. Hayek.

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Send this letter to Pope Francis.

NotCoach on February 5, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Send this letter to Pope Francis.

NotCoach on February 5, 2014 at 12:06 PM

My thoughts exactly.

I often debate with a Catholic friend and he typically promotes the Catholics Church’s ability to control the doctrine because they recognize on authority in the church, the Pope. This he states prevents the problems with Protestantism and the many fractures within. Yet every time I show him articles like this where the church is schizophrenic on its own interpretation of morals and ideology he counters the Pope cannot control the entire diocese and they are left to run semi-autonomous. I cannot seem to break through his cognitive dissonance.

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Wow.
Outstanding work Father Guarnizo, clear and well researched, and I must say, quite enlightening for me. I’d call this required reading. Well done Reverend.

Ed, thanks for hosting, really well done. If this essay is any example, I would like to see Rev. Guarnizo as a regular contributor.

JusDreamin on February 5, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Right, but try defending Distributivism at NRO and see what you get. The entire mainstream of the Conservative movement are knee-jerk Randroids on economic matters only because it’s easier not to think these things through.

eh on February 5, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Right, but try defending Distributivism at NRO and see what you get. The entire mainstream of the Conservative movement are knee-jerk Randroids on economic matters only because it’s easier not to think these things through.

eh on February 5, 2014 at 12:32 PM

I have no clue as to what you are saying here.

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Never mind that cognitive dissonance, just worry about your own.

SauerKraut537 on February 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Never mind that cognitive dissonance, just worry about your own.

SauerKraut537 on February 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Care to be specific?

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Care to be specific?

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Forget it, Saurdisposition is an angry atheist only interested in railing against God.

NotCoach on February 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

All religious belief breeds cognitive dissonance.

SauerKraut537 on February 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

All religious belief breeds cognitive dissonance.

SauerKraut537 on February 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Ahhh, love it when a “rational mind” resorts to an absolutist argument, really, all?

This thread is about the Catholics Church’s and Christianity’s tenants; could you stay on topic and leave your religious bigotry out of it?

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

All religious belief breeds cognitive dissonance.

SauerKraut537 on February 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Nope, keep flailing.

HumpBot Salvation on February 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

end this letter to Pope Francis.

NotCoach on February 5, 2014 at 12:06 PM

And to Christina Kirchner the Popes friend.

celtic warrior on February 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

One for the Hot Air Hall-of-Fame, Ed. Thanks.

I’ll repost on FB for all of the liberal college kids in my life, who think Occupy Wall Street is Biblically endorsed.

VastRightWingConspirator on February 5, 2014 at 1:26 PM

…The entire mainstream of the Conservative movement are knee-jerk Randroids on economic matters only because it’s easier not to think these things through.

eh on February 5, 2014 at 12:32 PM

I have no clue as to what you are saying here.

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Thanks for the example.

eh on February 5, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Thanks for the example.

eh on February 5, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Do you even have a cogent point?

Distributivism is often put forth as an argument against socialism and CAPITASLISM. The article above argues more for capitalism and against socialism and communism. Which is why many here said to forward this to the pope. That hardly makes this article a supportive document for Distributivism which you seem to think it is.

I suggest you re-read the article. A key component for Distributivism is propety ownership which does not exist in socialism or communism and laisse-faire capitalism, but does exist in the current form of capitlism promoted by the conservaties you are trying to insult.

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Thanks for the example.

eh on February 5, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Oh one more thing, Distributivism argues against social security and government forms of welfare yet the Pope and the Church has a whole appears so support obamacare, except of course when it forces the church to follow obamacare. So I am not seeing any sense in your original statement whatsoever.

Skwor on February 5, 2014 at 3:07 PM

This is an excellent post, as far as it goes. I totally agree, and am happy to see Bastiat quoted–he really is a guiding light.

That said, I would extend the argument farther: economic opportunities are not enough. You must change their heart before someone is no longer poor.

And I would ask, what does it mean to be poor, anyway? The story goes that the leader of my faith once met a humble man, a farmer, now retired. Said the farmer, “I don’t know that I’ve achieved much in my life. I’m not rich, nor wealthy, and have left no mark.” “Well, what about your family?” Turns out the farmer had raised like 8 kids who were honest, good faithful people with happy families of their own, and a quiver full of grandkids.

Was the farmer poor or rich? My church leader explains how this farmer had achieved more lasting wealth than any rich man. Rich men frequently are empty–they strive for worldly riches and God gives it to them, and they find out that money isn’t everything.

But even in terms of worldly riches, a fundamental morality needs to be instilled in people before they can become wealthy. Church and Christianity is necessary for that, plus the reasons why the Lord allows us to be rich.

Vanceone on February 5, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Right, but try defending Distributivism at NRO and see what you get. The entire mainstream of the Conservative movement are knee-jerk Randroids on economic matters only because it’s easier not to think these things through.

eh on February 5, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Nonsense. Rand doesn’t factor at all in conservative thought. Hayek or Friedman maybe, but never Rand.

rickv404 on February 5, 2014 at 3:43 PM

And to Christina Kirchner the Popes friend frenemy.

celtic warrior on February 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Iblis on February 5, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Tremendous. I would only add, that as a Christian, the true underlying problem of socialists of all stripes, is pride, the original sin. These utopian elite think that they are not fallen and that they are so much smarter than all others, so that they should have concentrated government power to create a utopia. Their inflated egos are perfect examples of ignorant arrogance. Academics, who often think that they are smarter than the common people, and big government enthusiasts (Progressives, Liberals)also think that they are better than past communists and socialists who failed. Of course, they think that they are morally and intellectually superior to conservatives or Christians. These proud elitists don’t acknowledge their limitations in knowledge to plan a successful centralized economy, their limited resources, or their own limited and flawed character that is susceptible to corruption. In short, they think that they are like gods, the original sin.

mydh12 on February 5, 2014 at 4:14 PM

As said above, Send it to Pope Francis, he’s the one that doesn’t understand the equal distribution of misery under Marxism.

RJL on February 5, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Excellent article that I am going to bookmark and forward. I agree with other posters here that Fr. Guarnizo should be a regular contributor.

We need someone like him who has the depth of knowledge to explain these concepts on a regular basis.

I would only add, that as a Christian, the true underlying problem of socialists of all stripes, is pride, the original sin. In short, they think that they are like gods, the original sin.

mydh12 on February 5, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Yes. This is it exactly.

PatriotGal2257 on February 5, 2014 at 7:13 PM

And, I might add, this article should be reprinted in every Catholic parish’s bulletin, particularly those with pastors who espouse that phony “social justice” mantra that their parishioners are bludgeoned with.

PatriotGal2257 on February 5, 2014 at 7:19 PM

Asking people to seek a job and work has become almost taboo in the present day. Food stamps are so much easier. It is important to help the poor, but to create systematic dependency for political gain is wicked. The state loves easy handouts, since they do not pay for them and they garner votes.

Quite cogent and prescient given this from the Washington Post in defense of Obamacare:

Thus, some people might decide to work part-time, not full time, in order to keep getting health-care subsidies. Thus, they are reducing their supply of labor to the market. Other people near retirement age might decide they no longer need to hold onto their job just because it provides health insurance, and they also leave the work force.

In other words, these people are being paid not to work by the Government, and that pay is coming out of taxpayer pockets.

It is theft — nothing more, and nothing less.

unclesmrgol on February 5, 2014 at 10:25 PM

The Pagans of Rome understood the concept that those in government must be the first to sacrifice. Here is a passage from Livy’s “The War with Hannibal” which illustrates perfectly how true leaders ought to behave.

As there seemed to be no solution of the difficulty and a kind of mental torpor appeared to beset the Senate, the consul Laevinus came to the rescue. “As the magistrates,” he said, “take precedence of the Senate and the Senate of the People in honor and dignity; so they ought to lead the way in discharging unpleasant and difficult tasks. If, in laying any obligation on an inferior, you have first decided that it is binding on you and those connected with you, you will find that all are more ready to obey you. They do not feel an expense to be burdensome when they see each of their leaders bearing more than his due share of it. We want the Roman people to have fleets and to equip them, we want each citizen to furnish rowers and not to shirk his duty; then let us impose the burden on ourselves first of all. I suggest that we Senators, every one of us, bring into the Treasury our gold and silver and bronze coins tomorrow, reserving only a ring for himself, his wife, and his children, a bulla for his son, and an ounce of gold each for his wife and daughters.

[the bulla is an amulet worn around the neck of a free-born child; slave children do not wear them.]

unclesmrgol on February 5, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Powerful stuff, glad he’s on our side.

Knott Buyinit on February 6, 2014 at 12:20 AM

Heh. As an Orthodox Christian, I have mixed feelings about Catholics in Orthodox countries (see Fourth Crusade; Uniatism). However the good Father makes some excellent points.

One thing he misses that is often overlooked is the overt militancy of official atheism with modern communism. While some paid lip service to freedom of religion, actual written policy was to suborn and suppress religion wherever possible. Indeed, Kallistos Ware titles the historical section of his book “The Orthodox Church” that deals with the 20th century “The Rise of the Militant Atheists”, not the rise of Communism.

jnials on February 6, 2014 at 1:44 AM

Two thumbs up. Five stars. A+.

Remember when the woman, Mary, poured an expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and Judas said the perfume should have been sold so the money could be given to the poor? And then we find out why?

“He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”–John 12:6

There are plenty of genuinely well-meaning (but misguided/poorly informed/willfully blind) people who really do have the poor in mind when they push for “social justice” and communist-esque nonsense. Then there is a group that seems to want to appear to care about the poor, so those people jump on the compassion-without-personal-costs bandwagon that socialism/communism provides–too vain to care where that bandwagon is headed or just how much it will cost them in the long run. But a lot of the clamor from those in power/in the public eye these days related to helping the poor strikes me as being the Judas version–using the poor as human shields to hide thievery (and, in our case, I’m afraid, the amassing of power by tyrants).

A truly excellent and timely word. Blue ribbon. Gold star. Kudos.

butterflies and puppies on February 6, 2014 at 3:37 AM

I’ll repost on FB for all of the liberal college kids in my life, who think Occupy Wall Street is Biblically endorsed.

VastRightWingConspirator on February 5, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Ditto that.

EXCELLENT article. I’m not Catholic but the writer speaks for me in this article. It needs to go viral.

So many great statements:
“Communism is socialism with claws:
“Communists shoot you in the head, Socialist make you suffer for a lifetime.”
….just a few.

stenwin77 on February 6, 2014 at 6:38 AM

It is my belief Democrats have subverted the Churches (Protestant and Catholic) Social Justice teachings to their ends rather than concern for the poor and their problems of poverty. Hence good Christians will support the Party of Death (abortions) because they consider holding their noses and “working for the poor in the public arena” the greater good and do nothing with those who do support abortions. Results: Democrats hang on to power and we end up with Community Organizers as POTUS. Wish I had read this article by Fr. Guarnizo 20 years ago.

Herb on February 6, 2014 at 8:43 AM

We should never treat Christianity as a method for alleviating poverty. Christianity is not a political system, it is a relationship. In no passage of the Bible that I’ve read (or heard preached on) does it say that we should help the poor because it would be nice, the poor need the help, or that they even deserve the help. The reason given in the Bible is that it reminds us of where our wealth comes from, which is God, the author of all our joys.

It also prevents us from committing the worst of all sins, pride, which the rich are especially susceptible to because they “have made it” and don’t need God. This is why Christ stated that it was so difficult for a rich man to get into heaven (also that none can earn their way to heaven, they need Christ as their Savior).

The left sees everything through the lens of politics, the Christian should see all things through his relationship with God.

God bless.

WVCoG on February 6, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Ed.

This is a really good post …

My Little Sock Puppet on February 6, 2014 at 10:32 AM

This is superb. Not a Catholic, but I have a deep fear and loathing of Communism/Socialism/Social Justice -so sharing far and wide.

The only thing missing is a direct, specific debunking of Liberation Theology.

Buy Danish on February 6, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Catholic church caused 80 years of suffering in VN by getting the French to invade it.

Catholic church then instigated VN civil war by shilling to the superstitious Vietnamese Catholic peasants that Virgin Mary and Jesus had gone South.

Why I am not a fan of communism (as my grandparents and in-laws lost their assets to wealth redistribution campaign), I can understand why Catholics were eyed with suspicion by the NVN and VC. To most Vietnamese who did not benefit from Catholic the religion Catholic brought them 100 years of suffering, colonization, and they could rightly attribute the 1 million deaths this priest listed as well as the 4 millions during the VN war and the hundreds of thousands victims of Agent Orange to Catholic.

I am Catholic and while I applaud Catholic church’s help for the poor, the Catholic priest needs to stop continuing to deny the church’s hand in many wars and sufferings around the world. My devout Catholic math teacher said the Catholic church and communist can’t coexist because both are control freaks. And he is right. I also like to put US Democrat party into the mix.

I worship God, Jesus and revere Mother Mary, but the church is but man-made organization and run by humans.

vnohara on February 6, 2014 at 11:22 AM

vnohara on February 6, 2014 at 11:22 AM

To most Vietnamese who did not benefit from Catholic the religion Catholic brought them 100 years of suffering, colonization, and they could rightly attribute the 1 million deaths this priest listed as well as the 4 millions during the VN war and the hundreds of thousands victims of Agent Orange to Catholic.

What a load of crap. What verifiable source did this nugget of “wisdom” come from? The French government colonized Vietnam, not the Church. That Catholicism spread after the colonization has nothing to do with the atrocities perpetrated by the communist VC. The Church is not responsible for the war started by the NVC, or the use of Agent Orange by the U.S. military. You have no grasp on cause and effect, let alone history.

I am Catholic and while I applaud Catholic church’s help for the poor, the Catholic priest needs to stop continuing to deny the church’s hand in many wars and sufferings around the world. My devout Catholic math teacher said the Catholic church and communist can’t coexist because both are control freaks. And he is right. I also like to put US Democrat party into the mix.

Name me one war the Church is responsible for. So your math teacher is your Catholic expert? If you read the letter, you would see your math teacher is ignorant. Look for a new expert, you might want to start at your local church. I am a practicing Catholic, and I have never been forced to do anything by the Church. Yes there are rules, but you are free to not obey them (hint: we call that sin).

I worship God, Jesus and revere Mother Mary, but the church is but man-made organization and run by humans.

Here is the root of your problem. The church was established by Jesus, not man-made. Yes it is run by fallible humans, but that does not mean it is not to be followed on matters of faith. It certainly does not mean that inaccuracies, falsehoods, and outright lies told about it are to be believed.

Before you blame the Catholic religion and Church for the ills of Vietnam, please learn history, and about the religion you profess to believe in.

captnjoe on February 6, 2014 at 5:35 PM

In point 4, The Error Concerning the Function of Government, Guarnizo misses an additional, important factor. Socialists and Communists endue the State with a superior goodness and intellect they do not see in mankind, and ignore the ugly truth that the State is composed of men and women who are not one bit smarter nor one bit morally superior to the man on the street. The socialist’s State must somehow, “miraculously,” be smarter and better than the bureaucrats who compose the state in order to bring equality, freedom, food, shelter, clothing and happiness to everyone. Government, even a government directed by Christian principles, needs to be as limited as possible to minimize the harm done by limited, sinful people.

A. C. on February 6, 2014 at 9:55 PM

Jesus Christ is the cure for ALL the worlds ills. He calls upon the individual conscience to rectify the condition of the destitute. The government is not the cure for the worlds ills. The more power the government gets the more corrupt it becomes vis a vis communism and socialism. The only difference being that communism is socialism with guns and threats. Communism and socialism do not deliver what they promise. i.e. Equality. You end up with a small elite ruling class that have all the perks and a large majority of poor to semi poor citizens. There has never been a goverment in human history has achieved equality through communism or socialism. There is no such thing as equality anyway except through Jesus Christ who is mainly rejected in this world. So there you have it. It is easier to succumb to the lure of the false promise of socialism/communism than to shoulder the responsibility of individual freedom through Jesus Christ. For all the hot air you hear about “freedom” many of those who espouse it do not want the responsibility that it requires. It is easier to sit on you duff and let the government dole out the money it has collected from the hard work of others.

kemojr on February 7, 2014 at 8:59 AM

A well thought out essay. Excellent points. Well done.

tartan on February 9, 2014 at 7:46 AM

Pull quote: “The compatibility of Christianity and its legitimate concern for the poor owes nothing to the violent and inhuman regimes created by the socialist revolution. No system in human history has produced more poverty and misery than communism.”

Bravo, Fr. Guarnizo. BRAVO.

locomotivebreath1901 on February 9, 2014 at 10:12 AM