Twenty-five years ago everyone said the days of nationalism were over. How’s that whole USSR and EU thing working out lately?
The late Father John Hardon wrote this very accurate article in the early 1970’s...
What is Marxism?
In order to do justice in answering this question, suppose we identify
what I consider the fifteen principal marks of Marxism, You might
compare them to the four marks of the Church founded by Christ. Marxism
is a godless religion in which its leaders believe, shall I say, with a
faith comparable to that of believing Christians.
The best single source to understand Marxism is the Communist
Manifesto. The best single analysis of Marxism is the encyclical on
Atheistic Communism by Pope Pius XI in which he identifies Marxism as a
1. Messianic Ideal. According to Karl Marx, mankind should look forward
to the attainment of a Messianic society in this world, which is the
highest ideal toward which the human race can tend. The attainment of
such a society presumes man’s perfectibility, and is based on the
belief that the human desire for happiness will be fulfilled on earth
in some future period of history.
2. Equality and Fraternity. This idyllic society will be distinguished
by the practice of perfect equality and fraternity among its members.
It will be the last stage in a series of five stages of human
development, reflecting the original state of man in a tribal and
communitarian society, namely slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism
and communism. In the first three of these stages, men exploit one
another; in the fourth (socialism) they are passing through an interval
of adjustment; and in the fifth (communism) the classless society is
3. Economic Progress Through Marxism. Confirmation of the myth of
Marxism is the remarkable material progress already attained in places
where its ideology has been put into practice. It is, therefore, no
longer a merely speculative position but an established fact that a
Marxist philosophy succeeds where others had failed.
4. Dialectical and Historical Materialism. According to all its
philosophers, Marxism is founded on two kinds of materialism, the
dialectical and historical. It is materialism because it claims there
exists only one reality, matter. It is dialectical because through the
interaction of opposing material forces all apparently higher forms of
being evolve first life, then sentient beings, and finally man. It is
historical because, now that man exists, human history follows the same
evolving pattern towards higher perfection, but uniquely through the
interaction of the material (economic) forces of society.
5. Accelerating Progress Through Conflict. Consistent with its stress
on dialectics, Marxism holds that the progress of humanity toward its
predicted goal is accelerated by human conflict. Hence the role of
revolution as a necessary means of fostering social development and the
importance of sharpening the antagonisms which already exist or can be
stimulated between various classes of society.
6. Marxist Deviation. There is only one “grave sin” in Marxian
morality. It is committed by those who deviate from the ideal of
relentless revolution. Within the Marxist camp, left and right are
measured by the degree of departure from or conformity to this need for
violence as the precondition for an eventual warless society.
7. Primacy of the Group. The individual in a Marxian society surrenders
his personal rights in favor of the group. He does this, after long
indoctrination, on the conviction that part of the contribution toward
the eventual rise of a classless commonwealth is the complete sacrifice
of his own personality,
8. Equality Among People. In man’s relations with other individuals,
Marxism holds that only absolute equality is legitimate. It rejects all
civil and ecclesiastical authority as grounded on the will of God, and
denies any innate authority of parents over their children. What people
call authority or subordination is derived from the community as its
source and only foundation.
9. Denial of All Property Rights. Not without reason did Marx and
Engels state in their Communist Manifesto that “The theory of Communism
may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private
property.” They meant it to be taken in absolute literalness. In
Marxian ethics, no individual should be granted any rights over
material goods or the means of production. This is because history has
shown that private property is the universal source of further wealth,
and personal possession gives one man power over another. All forms of
private property, therefore, must be eliminated because they are the
origin of every economic enslavement.
10. The Artificial Institutions of Marriage and the Family. Since
Marxism denies any sacred or spiritual character to human life beyond
the merely economic, it logically claims that marriage and the family
are purely civil and, in fact, merely artificial institutions. They are
the outcome of an outmoded economic system. There are no moral bonds of
marriage. There are only such privileges as the collectivity may see
fit to grant persons to mate and procreate, for the sake of the
collectivity and subject to its conditions. An indissoluble marriage
bond may be humored by the state, but it has no inherent rights before
the civil law.
11. The Emancipation of Women. Marxism is especially characterized by
its rejection of any link that binds women to the family and the home.
Women’s emancipation is proclaimed as a cardinal principle of the
socialist interim that will usher in the classless society of the
future. Women are to be first encouraged and then, if need be,
compelled to withdraw from the family and the care of children. These
are regularly stigmatized “bourgeois” activities, Liberated from
household chores and the rearing of a family through thousands of
childcare centers, women are to be thrust instead into public life and
collective production under the same conditions as men.
12. No Parental Rights in Education. Correlative with the function of
women as robots (Russian for “work”), the collectivity assumes the
total responsibility for the education and training of children. The
euphemistic statement in the Manifesto, “Free education for all
children in public schools,” has been implemented to mean that the
state alone has the right to educate. In practice, this has further
meant that the state, and not the parents, has the exclusive
prerogative to determine who shall teach, under what curriculum, with
what textbooks, and how the matter is communicated. The previous
mandate of the Manifesto (number 10) should be joined with another
mandate (number 6), that is, “Centralization of the means of
communication. . . in the hands of the state.”
13. Economics, the Basis of Society. In the Marxian scheme of society,
economics is the fundamental law of human existence. It is not freedom,
or human rights, or a divinely established moral order, or the pursuit
of happiness, or the service of God, but uniquely the advancement of
the economic system. Greater production of material goods, more
efficiently, in a more collectivized manner this is the bedrock of a
societys well being. This must be given precedence over everything
else; as everything else mentioned must be subordinated to
14. The Collectivity Controls the Individual. Six of the ten principal
“measures” of the Manifesto affirm in clear language how completely
Marxism sees the individual as a tool in the hands of the state:
“Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to
public purposes; abolition of all rights of inheritance; centralization
of credit in the hands of the State, by means of... an exclusive
monopoly; centralization of the means of... transport in the hands of
the State; extension of factories and instruments of production owned
by the State; equal liability of all to labor; establishment of
industrial armies, especially for agriculture.” State totalitarianism
could not be more complete or the subjugation of individual to the
“common plan” devised by the collectivity.
15. Disappearance of the State. According to Marxist predictions, this
tyrannical enslavement to the State is the necessary radical surgery
which must be performed on society in order to give birth to a new
society never before dreamed possible in the history of mankind.
Synonyms are accumulated to describe this prophetic vision. It will be
a society in which “the public power will lose its political
character”; a society in which “the free development of each is the
condition for the free development of all.” For the time being, during
the period of socialism, the state dictatorship of the proletariat is
necessary. But, by means of the Marxist revolution, the proletariat
will be “abolished in its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old
bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall
have an association” in which all conflicts are gone.
The United States is a Marxist Country
In the light of what we have just seen, can anyone doubt that the
United States has been deeply infected by Marxism. However, I believe
we can say even more. Our country is a Marxist nation, Dare I say still
more? The United States of America is the most powerful Marxist country
in the world.
This thesis deserves not just another lecture, or even just a semester
of class. It should be the bedrock of our understanding of what the
Vicar of Christ is telling us. As we come to the close of the twentieth
century, we are seeing the gravest crisis in the history of
Christianity. In my judgment, at the center of this crisis is the deep
penetration of Marxism into our beloved country.
In order to do some justice to a gigantic subject, let me just choose
two of the fifteen hallmarks of Marxism, and see how deeply they have
penetrated American society. I focus on the emancipation of women and
the denial of parental rights in education.
Emancipation of Women. Also known as women’s liberation, the
emancipation of women has become a major revolution in the United
States. Its avowed purpose is to free women from the discrimination to
which they have been subject in civil society and in political
legislation. It argues from a massive discrimination of women by men,
and urges women to revolt against men. The best known proponent of this
ideology was Nikolai Lenin, a disciple of Karl Marx, who urged that,
“The success of a revolution depends upon the degree of participation
by women.” On these terms, women’s liberation is simply part of the
larger struggle for the eventual creation of a classless society.
The range of women’s liberation in our country is as broad as American
geography and as deep as our present-day American culture. Perhaps the
best way to see how widely feminism has penetrated our society is to
quote some typical statements of feminists who call themselves Catholic
but have been seduced by Marxism.
Bearing and raising one’s children ...have very little to do with
shaping the future and still less with finding one’s own identity. On
the contrary, as the same range of potential ability exists for women
as for men, the problem of finding their identity is precisely the same
it lies in their work outside the home a woman cannot find identity
through others her husband, her children. She cannot find it in the
dull routine of housework. The only way for a woman ...to find herself,
to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.
Women are not to find ways to use their full capacities and work
creatively within the structure set by marriage and motherhood. It is
marriage and motherhood which must be adapted to the structure of one’s
Although the new wave of feminist theology is only twenty years
old, it has already developed a broad base of critical scriptural
studies, revisionist church history, historical systematic theology, as
well as work in ethics arid pastoral psychology, upon which to base a
comprehensive rethinking of tradition.
Of particular importance ...is the patriarchal bias of Scripture.
It is one thing to critique the tradition as flawed, but on what basis
can one speak of Scripture as distorted by sexist bias and still
regarded as an authoritative source of revelation?
Women have opted ...to seek an egalitarian society that existed
before the rise of patriarchy and that ancient religions centered in
the Goddess reflect this prepatriarchal society ....They believe, in
the groups persecuted by Christianity, such as medieval witches, which
Christian inquisitors falsely described as “devil worshippers.” Thus
these women ,..see themselves as reviving an ancient feminist religion.
Thus the litany of feminist quotations could go on for literally
hundreds of volumes that are currently in print. What has been the
result in the United States? Inclusive language in the liturgy is only
a minor effect of Marxist feminism which has penetrated the Catholic
Church. In one diocese after another, women, dare I say it, are in
charge. One of the most devastating effects of this radical feminism
has been the breakdown of literally tens of thousands of once dedicated
religious women who decided they were sick and tired of being dominated
by a male hierarchy, especially by a male Bishop of Rome. I think it is
worth quoting from the Foreword to Donna Steichen’s book Ungodly Rage.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta has said, “Words which do not
give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” This book is about
darkness. Its pages document one of the most devastating religious
epidemics of our, or any other, time an infectious and communicable
disease of the human spirit for which there is no easy cure, and which
afflicts not only the “carriers”, but nearly all religious believers
including our children, the future of the human race and the future of
the Church. The book should be read attentively by all who are
concerned about or responsible for the religious welfare and spiritual
development of others.
This disease, the source of the “ungodly rage” of the title, has a
It is no wonder that Pope John Paul II urged American bishops to combat
what he termed a “bitter, ideological” feminism among some American
Catholic women, which he said has led to “forms of nature worship and
the celebration of myths and symbols” usurping the practice and
celebration of the Christian faith. The ordination of women to the
priesthood is infallibly excluded by the Catholic faith. Yet it is
being widely promoted in some high, professedly Catholic circles as
evidence of the Marxist mentality in our country.
Denial of Parental Rights in Education. Some years ago, I had the
privilege of publishing a thirty page Statement of Principles and
Policy on Atheistic Education in Soviet Russia. The opening paragraph
of this document stated:
The Soviet school, as an instrument for the Communist education of the
rising generation, can, as a matter of principle, take up no other
attitude towards religion than one of irreconcilable opposition; for
Communist education has as its philosophical basis Marxism, and Marxism
is irreconcilably hostile to religion. “Marxism is materialism,” says
V. I. Lenin; “as such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion as the
materialism of the Encyclopaedists of the eighteenth century or the
materialism of Feuerbach.”
How has this philosophy penetrated the United States? So deeply that
most Americans have only the faintest idea of what is going on in our
schools. William Foster, former American chairman of the Communist
party, wrote in Toward a Soviet America that he wanted the “cultural
revolution” to be advanced under the aegis of a national department of
That is exactly what the National Education Association lobbied for
during the 1976 presidential campaign, and a Department of Education is
exactly what the American president gave the union in gratitude for its
Foster wrote that the Department of Education should be
“revolutionized, cleansed of religious, patriotic and other features of
the bourgeois ideology The students will be taught on the basis of
Marxian dialectical materialism, internationalism, and the general
ethics of the new Socialist society.”
What happened to parents rights to educate their children? In less
than a quarter century, these rights have been lost by most parents in
the United States. Most of the once Catholic schools in America have
been closed. This manuscript is being written in an empty Catholic
school, once taught by dedicated women religious who have been beguiled
by Marxian ideology.
Parents who courageously teach their children at home are being
subjected to inhuman pressures, not only by State but by Church
Some time ago, I was asked by Rome to write a series of articles on
John Dewey, the atheistic genius who is commonly regarded as the father
of American education. According to Dewey, the idea of “God” represents
a unification of ideal values that is essentially imaginative. In other
words, God does not exist, except as a projection of our imagination.
That is why religion, which believes in the existence of a personal God
is excluded by American law from public schools. That is also why
Catholic schools in our country have been deprived of any government
support. According to Dewey, it is a mistake to think that in the
United States we have separation of Church and State. No, says Dewey,
in America we have the subordination of Church to State.
On these premises, what is left of parents’ rights in the education of
their children? Nothing, except what a Marxist government allows the
parents to teach.
I would like to close with a paraphrase of what Pope Pius XI told us in
his classic encyclical on Communism. He was speaking to professed
Christians. Specifically, he was addressing “those of our children who
are more or less tainted with the Communist plague. We earnestly exhort
them to hear the voice of their loving Father. We pray the Lord to
enlighten them that they may abandon the slippery path which will
precipitate one and all to ruin and catastrophe. We pray that they may
recognize that Jesus Christ our Lord is their only Savior, `for there
is no other name in heaven given to man whereby we must be saved. “’