The evils of the Bolshevik revolution.
October 2017 is a month of anniversaries. October 13 was the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and the miracle of the sun. October 25 is the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. October 31 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant ‘Reformation’. This week I will write about the Bolshevik Revolution and next week I will be writing about the ‘Reformation’.
Bolshevism is the Russian version of Marxist communism. The Bolshevik party, led by Vladimir Lenin, was the more radical party in the Marxist inspired socialist movement in Russia. Characteristic of the Bolshevik party was a cadre of leaders exercising complete control that brooked no dissent within the party ranks. As for Lenin, he had adopted a version of Marxism that advocated violent rebellion.
In February 1917 the government of Tsar Nicholas II collapsed and was replaced by a provisional government. Whatever else might be the case the social disorder introduced or aggravated by Russian losses in World War I lay behind the collapse of the Tsarist government. In the wake of the February Revolution, the Germans thought to further weaken Russia by allowing the exiled Vladimir Lenin to return to Russia in a sealed railway carriage. Upon his return to Russia, Lenin was slowly able to consolidate his power in the Bolshevik party and instigate the October Revolution in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) that overthrew the Provisional Government and led to Russian Civil War that ended with the Bolshevik triumph and the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922. On July 13, 1917 Our Lady of Fatima had told the children that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world.
During the Civil War, Lenin’s Bolshevik party inaugurated the ‘Red Terror’ that murdered large numbers of peasants and priests; he also inaugurated the Soviet system of ‘Gulag’s, concentration camps for political dissidents. The tens of thousands killed under Lenin’s leadership would then yield millions of dead beneath the even more brutal regime of Stalin. Soviet repression was lessened a bit under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev (1953-1964), but then waxed strong again under Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982), after which the Soviet Union went into decline until its collapse in 1991.
Whatever the evils of the Tsarist regime that preceded it we must remember that the Soviet regime, despite many western attempts at romanticization was cruel, brutal, and totalitarian. This brutality was no accident but was the logical application of the Marxist ideology.
In his encyclical letter, Centesimus Annus, which contains a sort of epitaph on the Soviet Union, Pope St. John Paul wrote very precisely about the concept of ‘class struggle’ that lies at the heart of Marxism, setting it in the context of the atheistic militarism that plunged the world into the violence of the First World War:
“What is condemned in class struggle is the idea that conflict is not restrained by ethical or juridical considerations, or by respect for the dignity of others (and consequently of oneself); a reasonable compromise is thus excluded, and what is pursued is not the general good of society, but a partisan interest which replaces the common good and sets out to destroy whatever stands in its way. In a word, it is a question of transferring to the sphere of internal conflict between social groups the doctrine of ‘total war’, which the militarism and imperialism of that time brought to bear on international relations. As a result of this doctrine, the search for a proper balance between the interests of the various nations was replaced by attempts to impose the absolute domination of one’s own side through the destruction of the other side’s capacity to resist, using every possible means, not excluding the use of lies, terror tactics against citizens, and weapons of utter destruction (which precisely in those years were beginning to be designed). Therefore class struggle in the Marxist sense and militarism have the same root, namely, atheism and contempt for the human person, which place the principle of force above that of reason and law.” (CA 14, emphasis added)
When speaking of the collapse of the Soviet Union the Pope spoke of “the spiritual void brought about by atheism, which deprived the younger generations of a sense of direction”. (CA 24)
He also warned that “When people think they possess the secret of a perfect social organization which makes evil impossible, they also think that they can use any means, including violence and deceit, in order to bring that organization into being. Politics then becomes a ‘secular religion’ which operates under the illusion of creating paradise in this world.” (CA 25)
If we consider well the words of St. John Paul II, we will see that the errors of Russia, from which the message of Fatima would deliver us, are still very much with us. We still see groups exploiting conflicts by use of lies and violence that hold the human person in contempt, placing “the principle of force above that of reason and law.” We still see the spiritual void brought about by a widespread ‘de facto’ atheism that leaves our younger generations void of a sense of direction. We still the drive for a ‘perfect social organization that makes evil impossible’, but which leaves destruction and misery in its trail.
What is truly needed is that we hear the words: The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel. (Mk 1:15)