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intelligence, his brain and heart.

Russia points the way. Russia is now one huge corporation, every man,
woman and child an equal shareholder. The state is administered as a
business; the benefit of the stockholders being the object of the
corporation. The individual contributes his labor, whatever it may be:
manual, mental, artistic. This labor is applied to available materials:
the soil of the farm, the natural resources, the mines, and mills and
factories. The finished product is distributed through the agencies of
the corporation, in the shape of food and clothes and shelter, of
education and amusement, of protection to life and limb, of literature
and art, of inventions and improvements: to every man, woman and child
of the nation.

To be sure this ideal of a human brotherhood is not yet realized in
Russia. No sane person would expect so tremendous a change to be
consummated in three years, in the face of universal aggression,
intrigues and blockades. It may take ten years, perhaps a generation.
What of it! Russia is past the most difficult period of transition from
the capitalist state to a communist state, while other capitalist
countries must still face the period of revolution. Therefore let Russia
lead the way. Let the American workers realize that Russia's fight is
their fight, that Soviet Russia's success is the success of the laboring
people the world over!

Have you ever been to Crazy Land,[N]
Down on the Looney Pike?
There are the queerest people there -
You never saw the like!
The ones that do the useful work
Are poor as poor can be,
And those who do no useful work
All live in luxury.
They raise so much in Crazy Land
Of food and clothes and such,
That those who work don't have enough
Because they raise too much.
They're wrong side to in Crazy Land,
They're upside down with care -
They walk around upon their heads,
With feet up in the air.

- T.




VI. WITHDRAWAL OF PRIZE OFFER.

Never have anything to do with those who pretend to have dealings
with the supernatural. If you allow supernaturalism to get a
foothold in your country the result will be a dreadful
calamity. - Confucius.


Mrs. Brown and I hereby withdraw, for the present at least, our prize
offer, and for two reasons:

1. We are convinced that it is as necessary to the welfare of the world
to smite supernaturalism in religion as capitalism in politics, but
while many are able and willing to attack the octopus of capitalism,
this is true of only a few in the case of the dragon of supernaturalism.
Some hesitate because they feel with one of the critics of Communism and
Christianism that revolutionary forces are coming to the surface in the
churches.

"Where," he asks, "shall we classify the stand of the Catholic Church
against the open shop? What shall be said of the Interchurch report on
the steel strike? What of the attitude of the combined commission in
Denver of Catholics, Protestants and Jews on the street car strike?"

We have no desire to belittle such efforts nor to discourage their
promoters; but (though they may afford some local and temporary
alleviation to the miseries of far the greater part of the
world - miseries growing out of its division into two classes, a small
class of owning masters and a large class of working slaves) we center
no hope in them, because the whole history of the supernaturalistic
interpretations of religion, not excepting the Christian, show these
efforts to be only reformatory and temporary bubbles which sooner or
later are always pricked by the masters of what little revolutionary air
they contain, and so never issue in any general or permanent improvement
of the sad lot of the overwhelming majority of the slaves.

How little the church serves the working slaves, and how much the owning
masters, will appear from the following representations of Roger W.
Babson, the well-known financial expert and adviser:

The value of our investments depends not on the strength of our
banks, but rather upon the strength of our churches. The underpaid
preachers of the nation are the men upon whom we really are
depending, rather than the well-paid lawyers, bankers and brokers.
The religion of the community is really the bulwark of our
investments. And when we consider that only 15 per cent of the
people hold securities of any kind and less than 3 per cent hold
enough to pay an income tax, the importance of the churches becomes
even more evident.

For our sakes, for our children's sakes, for the nation's sake, let
us business men get behind the churches and their preachers. Never
mind if they are not perfect. Never mind if their theology is out
of date. This only means that were they efficient they would do
very much more. The safety of all we have is due to the churches,
even in their present inefficient and inactive state. By all that
we hold dear, let us from this very day give more time, money and
thought to the churches, for upon these the value of all we own
ultimately depends.

What our critics say about the recent efforts of the American churches
being in the right direction is interesting to Mrs. Brown and me, but we
are much more impressed by the observation of a writer in a late issue
of Soviet Russia. In speaking of the baneful influence of the Russian
church through all the ages he says:

Out of the shadows of antiquity, from the morning of man's cupidity
and avarice, two sinister figures have crawled with crooked talons
through history, leaving a trail of blood and fear most horrible
which has not halted yet. These are the monarch and the priest. The
one is symbolical of despotic or oligarchic power, the other
typifies the sordid ignorance and fearful superstition of the
credulous masses which maintains the power of the first. High in
the streets of Moscow, where one may see the pallid, long-haired,
degenerate-looking venders of holy lies and pious impositions
shuffle along like spectres from a remoter age, there hangs a woven
streamer of scarlet hue with huge white lettering, which defiantly
proclaims that religion is the opium of the people.

Though many still cross themselves a score of times daily on
passing the church, yet nevertheless the people are rapidly
assimilating the knowledge which elevates and enlightens, and
learning to reject that which terrorizes and deforms the mind, and
just so sure as the last filthy tyrant has been placed for ever
beyond mischief, so will the last priest soon vanish from the land
once contemptuously known as "Holy Russia".

The foregoing is from a revolutionary sympathizer with soviet Russia and
the following is from a reactionary criticizer of it, but both are to
the same effect, that orthodox Christianity is wholly against the
interest of the proletariat and entirely for that of the bourgeoisie:

One of the most striking characteristics of Bolshevism is its
pronounced hatred of religion, and of Christianity most of all. To
the Bolshevik, Christianity is not merely the theory of a mode of
life different from his own; it is an enemy to be persecuted and
wiped out of existence.

To understand this is not difficult. The tendency of the Christian
religion to hold before the believer an ideal of a life beyond
death is diametrically opposed to the ideal of Bolshevism, which
tempts the masses by promising the immediate realization of the
earthly paradise. From that point of view Christianity is not only
a false conception of life; it is an obstacle to the realization of
the Communist ideal. It detaches souls from the objects of sense
and diverts them from the struggle to get the good things of this
life. According to the Bolshevist formula, religion is opium for
the people: and serves as a tool of capitalist domination.

This influence of the churches, in the long run and on the whole has
been and will continue to be the same throughout christendom everywhere
and everywhen, not excepting these United States in the twentieth
century.

Nor is it to any convincing purpose that the representatives of the
owning class contend that kings and priests have lost their supremacy to
presidents and preachers, for it is imperialism in politics which
enthralls and supernaturalism in religion which degrades. The world is
greatly afflicted with both, none of it much, if any, more than our
country.

It seems to us that we see two fundamentally important facts more
clearly than our critics see them: (1) the first step in the way of
salvation for the proletariat is class consciousness, and (2) the
Christian interpretation of supernaturalistic religion has been, and
until it is discredited will continue to be the most efficient among the
many preventives to this consciousness.

Let me show this to be the case by an experience which I had some years
ago when Mr. Pierpont Morgan, Senior, was at the height of his glory, as
the king of the great realm of big business, receiving homage on the one
hand from the Rockefellers and Rothschilds, and on the other hand from
the Blockheads and Henry Dubbs of all the world.

At that time I made a confirmation visitation for my sick episcopal
brother, the Bishop of New York, to what was popularly known as Pierpont
Morgan's church (St. George's, one of the downtown churches for working
people.) He was the senior warden of this great parish having nearly
5,000 communicants. He went with the collecting procession out through
the great congregation and back to the chancel where each collector
ceremoniously emptied the contents of his basket into the great gold
alms basin held by the Rector.

While the famous financier was collecting contributions from obscure
toilers, how could any, brought up as I was and as nearly all of the
great congregation were, see that capitalism has divided humanity into
two conflicting classes which "have nothing in common, the working class
and the employing class, between which a struggle must go on until the
workers organize, take possession of the earth and the machinery of
production and abolish the wage system!"

By the light of what I had been taught all along and of what I was then
seeing with my own eyes from the bishop's chair such a representation
would have seemed preposterous and what was true of me was equally so of
all present, rector, wardens, vestrymen, members and visitors.

There were not many I. W. W.'s. in those days, but if one had been there
and upon leaving the church had made a representation to this effect to
a fellow-worker who was a member of St. George's would not the reply
have been something as follows:

See what Pierpont Morgan and I have in common: the same God; the same
religion; the same church; the same services for worship; the same
collection basket in which he puts a $100.00 bill and I a ten cent
piece; the same Lord's Supper where we eat and drink together; and,
besides all this, there is the same hell where he will go unless he
gives me a fair day's wage and where I will go unless I do a fair day's
work, and the same heaven where both will go to equally glorious
mansions, if we are alike 100 percenters in church and state, and if he
pays me liberally for my work and I slave hard enough for his money.

Assuming the truth of the Christian interpretation of religion this
conclusion is correct. But this Christian religion is not true.
Christianism offers nothing to either the owners or workers in the sky
for its god and heaven, devil and hell are lies. And neither religious
Christianism nor political Republicanism or Democracy, not to speak of
the other isms of religion and politics, offers the workers aught on
earth.

Capitalism is the god of this world, of no part of it more than of these
United States, and capitalism is to the laborer a robbing, lying,
murderous devil, not a good divinity.

2. The recall of the prize offer is also occasioned and justified, we
think, by a demand, which was as unexpected as it is gratifying, for our
little propagandist in foreign countries, and we have been persuaded
that it should be met by securing to him the gift of tongues. We propose
to do this by devoting the money which was set aside for the prizes to
the encouragement of making and publishing translations.

FOOTNOTES:

[N] The capitalist countries of the world constitute the United States
of Crazy Lands.




VII. AFTERWORD.

"So many Gods, so many Creeds,
So many ways that wind and wind,
When all this sad world really needs
Is just the art of being kind."

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox.


I.

My title, given in Latin on the picture page, is bestowed upon me by
some in jest and by others in reproach, and I am accepting it from both
as compliments, because they prove that I have at least succeeded in
making clear the general outlines of my religious and political
position.

The use of this title is due to the desire that those who pick up the
booklet should not buy it, much less undertake to read it, under a
mistaken impression as to its doctrinal trends. In English the Latin
title is, "Bishop of the Countries belonging to the Bolsheviki and the
Infidels."

Certain friends greatly fear that some things said in this booklet may
fall foul of the criminal-syndicalism laws. I have carefully read those
of Ohio and believe that the booklet contains nothing which is not
safely within them.

Anyhow, I have spoken the truth about supernaturalistic religion and
capitalistic politics as I understand it, and I believe that I have
adequately supported all my representations on bases of relevant facts
which cannot be gainsaid or, at any rate, upon sound arguments which
have such facts for their foundations.

However, I am trying to hold myself open to conviction; and, this being
the case, if "the powers that be" in state or church feel that they must
proceed against me, I beg that, in justice to all the persons and
interests concerned, they will come with their resources of persuasion,
not coercion.

My appeal to the religious and political rulers to do this shall be in
the burning words of a celebrated defender of the capitalistic system of
economics, John Stuart Mill, words which constitute the most remarkable
passage in his powerful essay on Liberty:

No argument, we may suppose, can now be needed, against permitting
a legislature or an executive, not identified in interest with the
people, to prescribe opinions to them, and determine what doctrines
or what arguments they shall be allowed to hear.

Speaking generally, it is not, in constitutional countries, to be
apprehended, that the government, whether completely responsible to
the people or not, will often attempt to control the expression of
opinion, except when in doing so it makes itself the organ of the
general intolerance of the public.

Let us suppose, therefore, that the government is entirely at one
with the people, and never thinks of exerting any power of coercion
unless in agreement with what it conceives to be their voice.

But I deny the right of the people to exercise such coercion,
either by themselves or by their government. The power itself is
illegitimate. The best government has no more title to it than the
worst. It is as noxious, or more noxious, when exerted in
accordance with public opinion, than when in opposition to it.

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person
were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in
silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be
justified in silencing mankind.

Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the
owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a
private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury
was inflicted on only a few persons or on many. But the peculiar
evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is
robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing
generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than
those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of
the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose,
what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and
livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

This passage should be inscribed in letters of gold on the doors of
every church and court house in the world. It was written in
condemnation of the persecution by majorities of minorities in states,
but it applies equally to all intolerance of dissentient opinions.

It is utterly impossible in a printed discussion of the length of this
booklet to weed out every word capable of misconstruction; and equally
so to furnish a definition or limitation to every doubtful word or
phrase. Nevertheless I call attention to a few:

The word "revolution" as used here should not be taken as implying armed
insurrection or violence, unless expressly so described. These are not
necessary features of revolution. There have been both political and
industrial revolutions entirely unattended by violence or bloodshed; for
example, the political revolution of 1787 when the old Articles of
Confederation were abolished and the federal Constitution imposed upon
the United States; also the political and industrial revolution of 1919
in Hungary when for a time a soviet system was established, with Bela
Kun as premier.

The bloodshed which often attends revolutions comes almost invariably
from the lawless counter-revolutionary efforts of the deposed ruling
class to maintain themselves in power or regain power by terrorism and
murder.

When I eulogize the Bolsheviki and their system in Russia, I am not to
be taken as advocating for the United States the employment of the
bloody tactics for gaining power, which the capitalist press of America
persists in describing - and as I believe, falsely. I deal in this
booklet not with tactics but with facts. I concern myself here not with
the ways by which the Bolsheviki of Russia gained power, but with what
they did with the power after gaining it.

As I was trained in theology, I am certain that my religious position
has been so clearly outlined that no mistake as to where I stand will be
made by the rulers in my church; but, having had no training in the law,
I am less certain that my political position will be as unmistakably
understood by the rulers in my state. Therefore, to avoid
misinterpretation of certain words and phrases in this booklet, I here
expressly disclaim any intention of violating the criminal-syndicalism
statute of Ohio, following as closely as may be its phraseology in these
my denials of criminal intention:

Nothing herein is to be understood as advocating or teaching the
duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence or
unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing
industrial or political reform. This booklet is not issued for the
purpose of advocating, advising, or teaching the doctrine that
industrial or political reform should be brought about by crime,
sabotage, violence or unlawful methods of terrorism; nor of
justifying the commission or the attempt to commit crime, sabotage,
violence or unlawful methods of terrorism with intent to exemplify,
spread or advocate the propriety of the doctrines of criminal
syndicalism; nor of organizing any society, group or assemblage of
persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal
syndicalism. If any such meaning shall be read into any passage of
this booklet by any reader, it will be a wrong meaning, not what I
intended to convey.

A revolution by which a new industrial democracy - the freedom to make
things for the use of workers - will supplant the old capitalist
democracy - the freedom to make things for the profit of owners - is an
inevitable event in the history of every country within the twentieth
century.


II.

My object in this booklet is not the promotion of class hatred and
strife. Far from it. It is to persuade to the banishment of gods from
skies and capitalists from earth.

Theism and capitalism are the great blights upon mankind, the fatal ones
to which it owes, more than to all others together, the greatest and
most unnecessary of its suffering, those arising from ignorance, war,
poverty and slavery.

This recommendation as to banishments and this representation in support
of it stand out on nearly every page of the booklet, and in order to
make sure of special prominence for them on its last pages, I quote the
following from an article by G. O. Warren (a major in the British army,
I think) an occasional contributor of brilliant articles to rationalist
publications on sociological lines:

If there be a God who rules men and things by His arbitrary will,
it is an impertinence to attempt to abolish poverty, because it is
according to His will. But if there be no such God, then we know
that poverty is caused by men and may be removed by men. If there
be a God who answers prayers, the remedy for social injustice is to
pray. But if there be no such God, the remedy is to think and act.

If men go to heaven when they die, and if heaven is a place in
which everybody will be made perfectly happy, then there is no need
to struggle against poverty in this world, because a few years of
trouble, or even degradation, in this world are of no consequence
when compared with an eternity of happiness that must be ours by
simply following the directions of the clergy. But if there be no
such heaven, then it becomes a matter of first importance that we
make our condition as happy as possible in this world, which is the
only one of which we are certain.

I maintain that there is no God who rules men and things by His
arbitrary will and who answers prayers, and that there is no heaven
of everlasting bliss to which we are to be wafted after death. And
I maintain this not only because I think that these religious
beliefs are erroneous, but because I know that they are most potent
to make men docile and submissive to the most degrading conditions
imposed on them. I feel sure that the doctrine that obedience to
rulers and contentment in poverty are according to the will of God,
and the doctrine that the poor and the oppressed will be
compensated in heaven are the chief causes of slums, prisons,
lunatic asylums and poor-houses.

All political tyranny is backed up and made possible by belief in
an arbitrary God, and all poverty is endured because of the belief
that after death everlasting happiness and wealth await us. Two
conditions are necessary to human happiness: personal freedom and
general wealth. But we never can be free as long as we believe that
it is the will of an infinite heavenly ruler that we should submit
to a finite earthly ruler, whether he gets upon the throne by
hereditary succession or by the votes of a majority; and wealth
will never be justly, and therefore, generally, distributed as long
as most of the people believe that because they are poor in this
world they will be rich in the world to come.

The apostle Paul says that political rulers are ordained by God and
must be obeyed, from the King to the constable, from the President
to the policeman. He says that if you are refractory, "the
minister of God" will use his sword, and will not use it "in vain."
He says that the sword-bearer is God's minister.

Christ himself recites a parable about a rich man who went to hell
because he was rich and a poor man who went to heaven because he
was poor. Rich Christians are told by the clergy that the surest
way for them to get to heaven is by being rich; but they use this
parable to console the poor with the idea that the surest way for
them to get to heaven is by being poor. And this idea is confirmed
by the saying of Christ: 'Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.'

I claim that it is impossible to prove that any being exists who


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Online LibraryWilliam Montgomery BrownCommunism and Christianism → online text (page 14 of 15)