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Quote of the Day: God and Communism
“One thing I knew: I was no longer a Communist. I had broken involuntarily with Communism at the moment when I first said to myself: ‘It is just as evil to kill the Tsar and his family and throw their bodies down a mine shaft as it is to starve two million peasants or slave laborers to death. More bodies are involved in one case than the other. But one is just as evil as the other, not more evil, not less evil.’
“I do not know at just what point I said this. I did not even know that with that thought I had rejected the right of the mind to justify evil in the name of history, reason or progress, because I had asserted that there is something greater than the mind, history or progress. I did not know that this Something is God.”
A few days ago, I finished reading the book, Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, and I am still reeling from his story. For a brief summary of the book (which doesn’t begin to do it justice), Chambers had joined and then eventually broke with the Communist party in the United States. (We could debate the morality and foolishness of his decision to join, but that’s another post.) When he quit the Party, his decision likely put his life at risk, and he also believed he had the obligation to call out Alger Hiss, who was not only a member of the Party, but who had also infiltrated several departments in the U.S. government as well as international organizations. Chambers determined that although Hiss’ ability to operate without ever being caught up to that point was nearly impossible to imagine, the fact remained that he had operated freely and had to be stopped. Chambers was well aware of many of Hiss’ actions over the years, since the two at times had worked closely together and, in a sense, became friends.
I was shocked by Chambers’ assertions in the quotation above for many reasons. In spite of his uneasiness that developed over time in working with the Communists, he felt through a kind of spiritual realization that he was compelled to leave the party. It was the specter of the massive evil that had been committed in the name of the Party, and he realized he had been complicit in that evil through his own choices and actions. By making that decision to quit, however, he knew that he would effectively be destroying his own life and that of his family.
Today, however, people are free to join the Communist Party; members of Black Lives Matter boast of their training and membership. But they have no idea about or interest in learning how depraved their participation is. They don’t care that millions of people died not so long ago in the name of Communism. They have dedicated their lives, not to a great cause, but to empty ideas, racism, a wicked religion that not only cares nothing about the people it is supposed to represent, but ridicules them for their foolishness. There are no guiding principles that unite the people who follow Communism in the United States, but only commitment to duplicity and betraying this country. BLM has spent millions of dollars on California and Canadian estates, ignored the payment of taxes on the properties, and claimed ignorance of tax law; the full scope of their illegal acts has yet to be determined.
In a state founded on Judeo-Christian principles, there is no room for an ideology that mocks the people it is supposed to serve and denigrates G-d and the religions on which this country is founded. If it is allowed to thrive, we will all suffer.
Only time will tell whether Americans like Whittaker Chambers have an awakening that brings them back to their Source and inspires them to follow that which is greater. May we all be prepared also to inspire each other and prepare to make sacrifices to save our great country.Published in Group Writing
Naomi Wolf is one who has had such an awakening (see here and here). Meghan Murphy is another. Brandon Straka, Dave Rubin, Joe Rogan, Alan Dershowitz, and the list goes on. But it really needs to happen bigly among the three miseducated generations to have the kind of impact that we need.
Witness is such an amazing book, especially the prologue “Letter to My Children.” If more people read even just that part of his story, I don’t see how they could justify believing in Communism.
This post is part of the Quote of the Day group writing project at Ricochet. The QOTD Signup Sheet for June is here, and there’s still some dates left for you to share a quote. Include your own commentary or simply invite a discussion.
An extraordinary addition to the post, Percival. There were so many moments that moved me. Thanks.
Susan, do you think that what Chambers wrote is correct? Is is just as evil to kill a tyrant as it is for a tyrant to kill other people?
I’m not inclined to agree with this part.
I’m a bit conflicted over the issue of the killing of a tyrant’s family. In a monarchical system, sparing the lives of members of the royal family creates a power center that can cause the conflict to persist into the future.
Can you think of any Biblical examples that would give us guidance in this?
David made a point of sparing two of Saul’s descendants, Ish-Bosheth (one of Saul’s sons) and Mephibosheth (one of Saul’s grandsons through Jonathan). On the other hand, he turned 7 of Saul’s descendants over to the Gibeonites to be killed, and this is presented favorably in 2 Samuel 22. (One of those turned over was also named Mephibosheth, but it was a different Mephibosheth.)
In 2 Kings 9, God commanded Jehu to kill the evil King Ahab, his wife Jezebel, and all of Ahab’s male descendants. This, too, is generally presented favorably, and is specifically praised in 2 Kings 10:30. There is a possible criticism in Hosea 1:4, but this is difficult to interpret in light of the earlier praise. It may be that God was unhappy with Jehu for other things that he did — 2 Kings 10 says that despite wiping out Ahab and his family, Jehu did not set things right, and continued in false worship. (The false worship is called the “sins of Jeroboam,” who was the king of Israel who established idolatry in the northern kingdom of Israel, when the kingdom split after the death of Solomon.)
We have a modern norm holding that it is morally wrong to kill an enemy who surrenders. I’m having trouble finding a Biblical basis for this norm.
No. I think at this stage of Chambers’ development, he looked at the situation differently than you are. There were tyrants on both sides and to participate in the murder of the peasants and Communists was as ugly as killing the Tsar and his family. I think he was trying to speak more about rationalizing the murder of the masses than comparing them to the Tsar.
Well, I don’t see it. I think that what you describe is the opposite of what Chambers is saying.
To me, he seems to be saying that he left the Communists because he thought that they were just as bad as the Tsar had been, because the Communists killed the Tsar and his family.
My suggestion is that Chambers did the right thing — leaving the Communists — for the wrong reason. He seems to have failed to distinguish between justifiable homicide and murder. That is a problem, in my view.
As noted above, I remain uncertain about the moral propriety of killing the family members of an oppressive monarch. There are a couple of Biblical examples that seem to approve of such an action, at least in some circumstances. It seems to offend our modern sensibilities, but then, I’m coming to believe that many of our modern sensibilities are wrong.
I think what Chambers is saying is that the evil that allows you to commit one heinous act through whatever rationalization you will make for it is the evil that will allow you to commit another heinous act for whatever rationalization you will make for that.
Nicholas II was a bloody tyrant but executing him without trial was not the way of dealing with him. Hand him over to the Germans or British.
I think that the first part would likely be the way Chambers thought, Hang On. But I suspect the Russians were not concerned with appearances so that a trial would not have been a consideration. You may be more knowledgable about the time of the Tsar and have a better understanding than I do, though.
G-d also makes serial killers and schizophrenics. Why does he get credited with all the good stuff and not the bad? I believe in G-d after I read about the nature of DNA but I why do people who believe in G-d automatically think he/she is good and just?
I’m not sure they wanted him.
Also – either there was civil war, or civil war was about to break out, and a Tsar or Tsarevich to rally the White Russians was the last thing the Bolsheviks wanted.
I think the Soviets were very concerned about public perceptions, which is why Nicholas was executed in secrecy and the Soviets acted to suppress the news. They were in the middle of a civil war when he was executed and they would probably have created a martyr even for those who didn’t particularly like the old system. Supposedly the reason he was executed was that the Whites (anti-Bolsheviks) were closing in on the town (Ekaterinburg) where he was being held.
So it was more convenient that he should die. And his wife. And the girls, even the little ones.
The Left has no compunction killing the inconvenient.
I’m not going to agree with that. The tsar was a monarch and that’s a pretty substantial evil in itself. The tsar made his family a danger as well by continuing the evil ideology that a family is a ruling elite with authority derived from divine powers.
Killing is not always wrong. The tsar wasn’t going away without some violence. The tragedy is what came after. Killing monarchs and destroying an abusive monarchical system is a noble act. Substituting it with communism is a separate sin.
I don’t know that the Romanovs were perceived as inconvenient rather than that their very existence was seen as a danger – so long as they lived there was an heir to the Russian throne, leaving the possibility of the return to monarchy open.
After the Haitian Revolution the remaining white French in Haiti were systematically massacred as a matter of state policy. Haiti didn’t want any lobbying in Paris by people who had inherited great tracts of sugar plantations in Haiti with which to promise future rewards to politicians who might authorise the invasion of Haiti and the re-enslavement of its black population.
The serfs (about a third of the population) had only been emancipated in Russia in the 1860s. The aftermath of that was not, unfortunately, universal uplift – and many poor people came out of it free but also poorer and with less stable lives – something they associated with the monarchy. The upheaval in land ownership also resulted in chaos, even in famine in parts of Russia. All this within living memory (60 years) of the Russian Revolution. And all of that associated with the Tsars – and also with the death of innocents from things like starvation.
I am not saying that killing innocents is a good thing, just that people who commit atrocities like this are motivated by more than a maniacal urge to do evil. Consider bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII, or destroying Dresden with a fire storm. Arguably these are atrocities which killed many innocents, but the Allies were motivated by more than the desire to just kill civilians.
The Czar’s secret police were the spiritual predecessors to the KGB. They had no compunction about murder, including whole families, and worse. Think Biden second term. Russia was a terror state. Lenin was just a new czar with a different religion.
I think that this norm has both historical and practical bases, irrespective of any moral basis.
1) Historically, live captives could be used for labor (slaves). High status captives were frequently held for ransom, or as hostages, or exchanged for prisoners held by the enemy (common in more modern wars).
2) If prisoners were known to be harmed or killed, their fellow soldiers would have no incentive to surrender, and conversely, they would have powerful incentives to continue fighting even more more strongly.
After the Reds dealt with the existential threat of the very existence of 17-year-old Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, they dispatched some 50,000 to 200,000 more people in the Red Terror. As bad as the Tsar might have been, he was a piker compared to Lenin.
Not that it’s a competition or anything, but this source indicates quite a bit more killed by the Tsar’s dispensation. Even if you exclude the military deaths (which I think one should?) it’s quite a large number.
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
This is a profoundly moving book! If I remember correctly, he said he felt that when he left communism he was joining the loosing side.
Both the Kaiser and George V had refused him sanctuary before the Bolsheviks took over. The Bolsheviks could have ransomed him.
There was nothing righteous about executing the Romanovs in a basement after staging them for a family portrait with a boy sitting on his father’s lap. What is justice? Not that.
To the question thrown out about the goodness of God by Henry…
God is the Creator of all, even mass murderers like Lenin and Stalin and Hitler. But He is not the tyrant of any.
How do we know He is good? Not just an impassive, flawed artist?
Oh, I don’t know. That’s a very long answer indeed, but the fact that He exists at all must be wrestled with once recognized, which is what Chambers realized.
Chambers went from “there is nothing” to “there is a higher power,” and that all by itself gutted the materialist religion on which the communist worldview is based.
Thanks for bringing up a very important book, Susan.
Thanks. As usual you stimulate some good conversation and provoke some revealing comments. We understand why the Tsar and his children were murdered and it was an early demonstration of communist evil, the French Revolution showed us the same evil. We should contrast all these common occurrences in political struggles with the Adams defense of the British soldiers. We’re losing or have lost the foundation that created the US miracle. Once gone there is no coming back.
The biggest awakening needs to happen among voters . . .
Think about Saddam Hussein… When we pulled him out of his hole would it have been wrong to shoot him on the spot? His guilt was known. He was destined for a show trial where he would be found guilty and hung anyway. Death was inevitable.
We left that up to the Iraqi people. They were the ones that Saddam fed into woodchippers.
Wrong? Not from a moral standpoint, but legally it would be wrong.