Some comments on totalitarianism (right and left) and Christianity (1 of 2)
|December 9, 2013||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
Recently someone asked me for a definition of fascism. I gave a brief answer which might seem fairly obvious but, since the fascist impulse to impose one’s ideal on every one else takes different forms in different circumstances, I thought it might be useful to comment on fascist tendencies that are very much in evidence today.
Fascism is one branch of totalitarianism, the other branch being communism. Totalitarianism of course means that the government controls everything: education, the press, the arts, health care, the economy, youth groups, religion, you name it. Mussolini said “All for the state and in the state, nothing outside of the state,” or something like that (I paraphrase). The idea is that individual liberty and happiness are not important. What is important is the well-being of the collective whole, which is determined by the state and its leaders, who know what is best for everyone.
This depends of course on autonomous man, human reason organizing the best life here on earth, without God and his laws, and without regard for the world to come. Ultimately this comes from the conceit of sin and evil, and is accompanied by intense hostility to Christianity, which is a direct denial of the whole totalitarian program.
From this totalitarian root of those in the know organizing and ruling society for the benefit of all spring the two branches, Fascism and Communism. Though they are different in some ways, they are spiritually brothers, which is why Hitler and Stalin got along so easily before Hitler’s surprise attack. But, there are differences.
Fascism emphasizes the nation (or the nation and race) while Communism emphasizes internationalism – yet the Chinese and Russian Communists ruthlessly pursued their national advantage, so their talk about internationalism was often only propaganda and a smokescreen.
Fascism displays its goals more openly (war, conquest, contempt for democracy) while Communism has the same goals and values but disguises them under rhetoric about peace and justice. Hence Communism has been much more effective at deceiving gullible Western intellectuals.
Communism had open contempt and hostility for religion and openly sought to wipe it out, while fascism in Italy and Germany had to deal with the church situation differently. The churches in China and Russia were very weak and could be persecuted more openly, the churches in Italy and Germany had to be dealt with more carefully, but Hitler despised Christianity and refers to its Jewish origins in Mein Kampf. But, he did not try to destroy it as Stalin, Lenin, and Mao did, only make it totally obedient to the state.
Communism expressed total antipathy to capitalism and sought to eliminate it, whereas fascism accepted capitalism to some extent, yet still placed it completely under the control of the government, and was hostile to free market capitalism. And, Lenin did tolerate capitalism when it seemed useful to him (as in his NEP).
So, we can call fascism a variety of totalitarianism that is superficially connected with patriotism, religion, and capitalism and hence commonly linked with the right – yet its capitalism was very far from free market capitalism and was merely a looser form of socialism. People could keep their businesses, but had to operate according to state policy. Its religion was at best rhetorical, of necessity, but fascism is totally contrary to many basic biblical teachings and hostile to Christianity. Its “patriotism” went far beyond the normal and healthy feeling for one’s country and is much more radical and extremist than legitimate and constructive conservative patriotism.
Now in America and in Europe the fascist mentality is emerging in new forms that are still indistinct yet taking shape (including of course hostility to Christianity that contradicts their goals, toleration of Christianity that says nothing). What are the manifestations of fascism in America today, and what is the best response to them?
First, we need to remember that Christianity teaches the world and human nature have been deeply affected by sin and by the fall. Because of this we do not expect or hope for an ideal society on earth. We need to do what we realistically can to improve our lot (child labor laws, for example), but we do not expect that we can have a uniform society on this earth where everything will be as we would like it to be. We accept that there are unpleasant realities we cannot change (such as old age, illness, social and economic inequities, and people who hold what we consider to be wrong ideas).
We accept that there are limits, and do not – unlike Hitler and Stalin – have grandiose dreams of reorganizing the whole of society and effecting radical changes in human nature (like the Aryan Man, or the New Soviet Man). We look for our complete freedom and liberation in the world to come, which is for us not merely a fantasy or an empty dream, but a present reality.
The fascists and the totalitarians now among us, on the other hand, believe that they can eliminate injustice, oppression, poverty, meaninglessness, alienation, and unhappiness if only they are allowed to control things, to impose their values on others, and silence those who disagree with them and hinder the implementation of their vision. Who are these people that, for the sake of their shining vision of an earthly ideal society will inflict misery on and in the end bring ruin to countless millions of people by trying to rearrange society without understanding human nature, without even knowing what it is that they are doing?
One group must be the gay rights activists. Their ideal is a society where people can pursue their sexual appetites without restraint. If only they can do whatever they please without moral laws or guilt, then they will be happy. Those who stand in their way by insisting on moral laws, on norms of right and wrong derived from God and his laws in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, are enemies to be silenced. This attitude is increasingly common in the courts, in academia, in the media, in government, and in society at large. If present trends continue, as they are going to do, Christians – at least the sort of Christians who actually believe in the Bible and try to live by it – are headed for real trouble.