“According to historians, Soviet Communism murdered somewhere in the neighborhood of 61,000,000 people during its nearly eight-decade-long reign of terror. Chinese Communism has murdered even more; about 100,000,000. The Nazis killed perhaps 12,000,000 Jews, Poles, Russian POWs and civilians…
“In all, the grand total of those murdered by governments during the past century is, according to Professor R.J. Rummel, 262,000,000 souls. And these are non-combat deaths, in other words, deliberate killings, murders on a gargantuan scale.” James Thornton
Same Totalitarian Poison
Several political ideologies have promised — and continue to promise — economic and physical security in exchange for government power, but the promises don’t materialize.
Fr. James Thornton, The New American, September 23, 2013, p. 27, 28
Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, by Bruce Walker, Parker, Colo.: Outskirts Press, Inc., 2013, 2 Vols., 286+293 pages, paperback.
Ancient Greek mythology presents many images that often show insights into certain of the less pleasant peculiarities of human nature. One of those of particular relevance to our own age is that of Procrustes. Procrustes, the son of Poseidon, was an outlaw and brigand who, seeing lone travelers, would invite them into his house, situated conveniently near the roadside. To entice the weary travelers (inland travel in ancient times was primarily by foot), he promised them an enjoyable meal, and a comfortable bed in which to rest themselves, something difficult to resist in the circumstances. The bed was extraordinary, he would explain, in that however tall or short a visitor might be, it always fit. Invariably, however, the visitor would find that he or she did not fit, but by then it was too late. The visitor was no longer free, but was tightly bound. Procrustes would then makea guest fit. If too tall, he would chop off a sufficient portion of the legs, or, if too short, he would stretch the visitor until the fit was perfect. In either event, of course, the acceptance of the hospitality of Procrustes cost the hapless traveler his life.
Since the time of the French Revolution of 1789, mankind, often weary of the risks and hardships inherent in life, has been enticed by a modern Procrustes — totalitarian ideology. Totalitarian ideology promises, on the one hand, a kind of paradise on Earth in which the risks and hardships of life are removed, or at least greatly lessened. In exchange for these promises of security and an easier life, men are expected to surrender their personal liberty since, in order to achieve the promised utopia, a government unlimited in its power is supposedly necessary. And as we have seen during the last century, the promises of an easier life are illusory. In fact, precisely the opposite has always turned out to be the case; life becomes harder, usually immeasurably so. Moreover, everyone is expected to fit the ideological Procrustean bed. Those who do not, those who resist in any way, are eliminated or, to use the preferred ideological term, “liquidated.”
Bruce Walker entitles his work Sinisterism. The word, in this case, has a double meaning. First, our English word “sinister” comes from the Latin and refers to the left side of something. The ancients regarded things of the left as inauspicious, that is, unlucky or unfortunate, and so our English word “sinister” has come to refer to things that are ominous, menacing, or evil. The term also refers to the Left in the political sense. I am reminded here that theAustrian conservative writer Erik von KuehneltLeddihn always insisted that fascism and Nazism were not movements of the Right, but grouped themwithcommunism and socialism, as leftist ideologies. Bruce Walker does exactly the same, demonstrating why and how the three are related.
The author’s subtitle is also significant: Secular Religion of the Lie. A serious erosion of religious faith began with the French Revolution, abated somewhat during the early 19th century, but then advanced with a vengeance during the latter years of that century and on into the next. It continues to spread in our contemporary world. In the past, most men looked to religion for, among many other things, consolation, moral guidance, strength in times of adversity, and a sense of fellowship. The purveyors of sinisterism seek to undermine religious faith and then to offer ideology as a substitute. Political leaders such as Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Kim Il-sung, and suchlike were treated as demigods, and their decisions dealt with as if they were always infallible. Worship in genuine religions often involves beautiful ceremonies, filled with symbolic meaning. As ersatz religions, the ideologues offer grand spectacles of massed soldiers and rallies where emotions are roused to the highest intensity. In many totalitarian societies, the corpses of departed leaders are embalmed by special processes and put on permanent display in a manner that resembles the shrines of great saints. And, in totalitarian states, statues of political leaders are both obligatory and ubiquitous, again in imitation of religious practices.
Genuine religion provides a moral code, according to which all are supposed to live. For Jews and Christians alike, the foundation of that moral code is the Decalogue, also known as the Ten Commandments, given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. These encompass basic moral and ethical teachings, so basic that theologians tell us that they are inscribed in the hearts of men and were so inscribed even before they were enumerated by God and given to Moses. Thus, even pagans know in their heart of hearts that it is wrong to murder, to steal, to lie, to commit adultery, and to blaspheme. That does not mean that men always obey God’s law, but it is there nonetheless, and if the individual person is psychologically normal, then that person is aware of any transgressions, informed by the pangs of his conscience. By way of contrast, in place of the Decalogue, ideology substitutes the dictum that whatever serves the interests of the party or the state is right and good, and whatever does not serve those interests is wrong and wicked. Supplementing that false code of conduct is the closely related notion that the end justifies the means. Thus, it is acceptable to murder vast numbers of innocent men and women if by doing so one advances the cause of whatever political ideology one serves. The activity of the conscience is, by necessity, obliterated.
According to historians, Soviet Communism murdered somewhere in the neighborhood of 61,000,000 people during its nearly eight-decade-long reign of terror. Chinese Communism has murdered even more; about 100,000,000. The Nazis killed perhaps 12,000,000 Jews, Poles, Russian POWs and civilians, and others deemed objectionable in some way to their system. Doubtless, had that system endured for more than a mere 12 years, many millions more would have been killed, especially in the East. Other ideologically driven countries have also been responsible for the deaths of millions of innocents: North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Imperial Japan, and various African states. In all, the grand total of those murdered by governments during the past century is, according to Professor R.J. Rummel, 262,000,000 souls! And these are non-combat deaths, in other words, deliberate killings, murders on a gargantuan scale.
The first volume of Walker’s work is devoted to “How the Myth of an Ideological Spectrum Helps Evil in Our World.” Here the author demonstrates that an artificial spectrum of political beliefs strengthens the cause of unlimited government, of governments no longer ruled by law but rather by the arbitrary exercise of naked power. The conventional spectrum of political beliefs places totalitarian regimes at the extreme Left (communism) and the extreme Right (Nazism and fascism). But the author shows that these totalitarian regimes very often have similar aims and cooperate with one another to achieve those aims. Fascism and Nazism were at first opposed to one another, but then entered into what they regarded as a mutually beneficial alliance. In the 1930s, communism and Nazism were thought of as violently hostile to one another, yet in 1939, entered into an alliance that had devastating consequences for tens of millions of people throughout the world. Shortly thereafter they again became enemies. It is telling also that not a small number of people in Germany began as communists, became Nazis when that regime was in power, and then became communists again after 1945. So, the conventional political spectrum, the author shows, is really an artificial construct, one that dupes the unaware. A more accurate political spectrum should have anarchy, the lack of government, on one end (which because of the resulting chaos always ends in tyranny), and, on the other end, political systems where the government, possessing limitless power, is run according to the whims of the dictators, regardless of any fixed law. In the middle would be political systems where the rule of law is always meticulously observed.
Walker’s second volume is subtitled “The Sinisterist War on Judeo-Christianity.” Here he considers how sinisterist parties and governments are unfailingly the enemies of traditional religions that are rooted in biblical teaching. Obviously, if one desires to govern arbitrarily and ruthlessly, without reference to any eternal law, then traditional religious groups, which uphold a body of unalterable injunctions, must be seen as an impediment to such rule and must, therefore, be attacked, undermined, and destroyed. Furthermore, the author writes that even before an ideology achieves power, it inculcates anti-religious feelings among its followers. That was true throughout much of Europe from the beginning of the 20th century, even when government was ostensibly democratic. Governments promoted a secular outlook that led directly to the bloodbath of the Second World War and its aftermath. Procrustes promised good things to careless passersby. So also do the proponents of ideologies. “Give up a measure of your liberties and your ideas about the rule of law, and I will give you a heaven on Earth,” say the ideologues. Millions listened to such promises, and millions paid for it with their lives. Others are still paying. Let us remember and understand the harsh lessons of history so that we do not repeat the lethal mistakes of the past.