Copyright
William Montgomery Brown.

Communism and Christianism online

. (page 3 of 15)
Online LibraryWilliam Montgomery BrownCommunism and Christianism → online text (page 3 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois
society capital is independent and has individuality, while the
living person is dependent and has no individuality.

And the abolition of this state of things is called by the
bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so.
The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence,
and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at.

The version of the Marxian gospel which we have in the Manifesto is
among the first of its versions. It was published about the middle of
the last century. Within the short period which has intervened, it has
changed nearly all of the ideas of a large and rapidly growing part of
every nation about almost everything social; and before the middle of
the present century, it will revolutionize all nations as it has Russia.

Ludendorff, the greatest among the military authorities in Germany, saw
and terribly feared this, and called Europe to arms to prevent it. In
his almost frantic appeal he said:

Bolshevism is advancing now and in a gradual progress from east to
west and is crushing everything between the midland sea and the
Atlantic ocean. It was easy to foresee that the Bolshevist armies
would attack toward the middle of May and defeat the Poles, as they
have now done. The world at large must, therefore, figure with a
Bolshevist advance in Poland toward Berlin and Prague.

Poland's fall will entail the fall of Germany and Czecho-Slovakia.
Their neighbors to the north and south will follow. Fate steps
along with elementary force. Let no one believe it will come to a
stand without enveloping Italy, France and England. Not even the
Seven Seas can stop it.

Under the capitalist system most people are and must continue to be
slaves. If you are a slave (all wage earners, as such, are slaves) the
socialist literature, the greatest of all literatures, will thrill you
with the hope of liberty. Read, note and inwardly digest it. No wage
earner who does this will ever again vote either the Democratic or the
Republican ticket. As a whole this literature is a brilliantly
illuminating and almost resistlessly persuasive explanation of the most
sane, the most salutary and withal the most promising movement towards
the freeing of all toiling men, women and children (nine of every ten)
from their body and soul destroying slavery.

Both Socrates and Jesus are recorded as teaching that the saviour of the
world is truth. Among saving truths (there is no truth without some
saving efficacy) the greatest is the one which was discovered and
formulated concurrently by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and it is in
substance this: all which makes for the good of mankind ultimately
depends wholly upon the laborious constructors and operators of the
machines for the cultivation, production and distribution of the
necessities of life, not at all upon the owners of these machines, who
at best are idlers and at worst schemers, and in any case parasites.

In the beginning was Work. All things were made by it; and without
it was not anything made that was made. In it was life; and the
life was the light of men.

The opening verses of the gospel according to John have been thus
interpreted. The commentator acknowledges that they do not read so now,
but contends for good and sufficient reasons, that, if there ever was
any truth in them, something to this effect must have been their
original reading. Certainly there is no truth in them as they have come
down to us.

This representation to the effect that productive labor is the saviour
of the world, its real god, the divinity in which we live, move and have
our being, is the great truth, the gospel of International Socialism,
the greatest of all movements, the movement which carries the only
rational hope for the freeing of mankind from all its unnecessary
suffering - and the most poignant sufferings, those imposed by the great
trinity of evils: (war, poverty and slavery) are not necessary.

Capitalism and Christianism are alike not only in having gods which are
symbols, but also in having great buildings set apart for the
worshipping of them.

The representatives of the god below the vault worship him in banks
under the leadership of a threefold ministry: presidents, cashiers and
bookkeepers.

The representatives of the god above the vault worship him in churches
under the leadership of a threefold ministry: bishops, priests and
deacons.

Speaking particularly of Christianity and America the trouble is not at
all with our Brother Jesus and Uncle Sam divinities, but wholly with
what they symbolize, capitalism - the god of liars, robbers and
warriors.

What our Brother Jesus and Uncle Sam should alike symbolize are the
classless divinities: (1) law, the king of the physical realm, and (2)
truth, the queen of the moral realm.

Law is what nature does. There is no other law, and this law is the god
of the physical realm. The gods of the supernaturalistic interpretations
of religion (Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, and all the rest) are
personifications, or symbols, of this god, or else they are
superstitions.

This representation is proved in practice to be true, on the one hand,
by the fact that no one needs to live with reference to any among those
gods, not even the god, Jesus; and, on the other hand, by the fact that
none who fail to live with reference to this god, law, lives at all.

Every act of nature, that is, every physical and psychical phenomenon
which enters into the constitution of the universe, is a word of the
revelation of this god, and there is no other revelation. All men must
constantly live with reference to it or else immediately die.

Truth is the interpretation of this law in the light of human
experience, reason and investigation with the view of making human life,
that of self and of all who come or can be brought within the range of
one's influence, as long and happy as possible.

Any one who desires and endeavors rightly to learn, interpret and live
this law to these ends is moral. In everything is he wholly good and in
nothing at all bad.

Religion is not anything good, except only as it is a synonym of such
morality, and this is equally true of politics.

War shortens much life and fills more with misery, hence it is utterly
immoral, and this is equally true of poverty and slavery.

In what I say here and in some other places about war being essentially
evil, the wars referred to are those by which the world has been cursed
through all the ages - wars between different groups of owners with
conflicting interests, not the war between owners and workers which is
now on. This war will bless, not curse, the world, because it is for the
emancipation of the slave class, not for the enrichment of one group of
the masters at the expense of another group, at the cost of increased
misery to all the slaves on both sides.

If there is any truth in the representation that real religion and real
politics alike consist in desiring and endeavoring to make terrestrial
life (there is no celestial life of which aught is known) long and
happy, the advocate of war is the worst of heretics against Christianism
and the worst of traitors against Americanism.

War is a necessary characteristic of vegetables and animals, because
they cannot make and operate machines for the supplying of their needs.

Peace is the necessary characteristic of humans, because they can make
and operate machines for the supplying of their needs.

Wars between capitalists are inevitabilities, as much so as the wars
between two hungry dogs, when one has a bone upon which the lives of
both depend. The only difference between capitalists and dogs is, that
dogs do their own fighting, whereas capitalists first rob the laborers
who produce their commodities, and then persuade or compel them to fight
their battles with fellow capitalists in their competitive efforts to
distribute them.

On the one hand it is true that a few capitalists do lose money in wars,
and still fewer their lives, but on the other hand it is equally true
that the majority of them are made richer and that producing and
distributing laborers ultimately bear every cent of the enormous
financial burden, and that for every machine owning master who is killed
or wounded there are a hundred wage earning slaves.

Yet neither the making nor operating of machines constitutes a man a
human. It is co-operation which does this. Nor will co-operation in
itself suffice. Bees and ants co-operate and even capitalists do so, yet
with all their co-operating bees and ants remain animals and so do
capitalists. The co-operation which converts animals into humans is the
one which is purposely inaugurated and sustained with the view of
securing to each one the fruits of his labor while at the same time
increasing them for all - that deliberate co-operation which consists in
conscious living, letting live and helping to live.

It is this co-operation which constitutes the most essential difference
between the animal and the human. Only animalism can exist and flourish
on a competitive basis, yet this is the basis upon which men who falsely
claim to be humans are living.

Until mankind begins the construction of a civilization on a foundation
of co-operation in the production and distribution of the necessities of
life, it should not set up a claim to humanism for itself, because
meantime it cannot sustain such a claim.

It is perfectly natural and absolutely necessary for dogs to have
belligerent contentions for bones, because they cannot peacefully
co-operate in the making of them; and yet men who can do this are more
fierce by far in their competitive struggles for the bones which are
necessities to their lives.

Revolutionary socialists of the Marxian or Bolshevikian type offer the
only solution of the two great questions of the world at this time: (1)
how to save it from its intermittent and lesser hell of suffering by the
bloody wars between rival sets of capitalists, and (2) how to save it
from its perpetual and greater hell of suffering by the bloodless wars
between the machine owning masters and the machine operating slaves,
which wars, if less excruciating, are yet more destructive of both life
and happiness.

1. As to the bloody wars, a league of nations could prevent them only
while the dogs are sleeping off their exhaustion.

Nor could government ownership be depended upon for protection. It would
increase the armies and navies, making it next to impossible that more
than a decade or two should pass before our children must suffer as much
as, or more than, we have by the recent war between the bull dog and the
blood hound.

We are not at all indebted to the victory of the bull dog (England) over
the blood hound (Germany) for what we have in the way of a guarantee
against future wars, but wholly to the presumption of the Newfoundland
dog (Russia) which has quietly walked off with the bone of contention
while the belligerents were scrapping over it.

Notwithstanding all appearances and impressions to the contrary, this
bone never was really Paris or Berlin, but first one and then another
country - the Balkan States, Mexico, Persia, Morocco and Russia.

Of late Russia has been the chief bone of contention. Hence all the
snarling against Russian Bolshevism, one of a large litter of puppies
born to the Newfoundland since the beginning of the war, representatives
of which have already made their way to several countries of Europe, and
the prospects are that they or their offspring will soon be in evidence
everywhere throughout the world.

When all these Bolsheviki are grown-ups, they will make the world safe
for democracy sure enough - not the competitive democracy of the bull
dogs and blood hounds, but the co-operative democracy of the
Newfoundland dog. Then, and not before, will the world be safe against
war.

Since the beginning of the armistice there has been, every now and then,
a widespread fear that it might not be permanent, because of a
successful effort on the part of the bull dog to put over another war on
account of the Russian bone; but for many this fear has now been almost
quieted by the total collapse of the Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich and
Wrangel uprisings from within, which were strongly supported by the
Allies; and by the repulsion of the Polish invasion which had England,
France and the United States behind it.

An astonishing illustration of the truth of the Marxian theory
concerning the materialistic or economic determination of history, is
furnished by the melancholy fact that the representatives of big
business in the allied countries would gladly respond to Gen.
Ludendorff's call to join the junkers, against whom they so recently
fought, in a war against Russia, of which war Germany would be the
battle field. A concerted effort was made to organize such a war, but
the wisdom learned in the school of the world war by the working-men of
all the countries to which the call was made and their consequent
opposition to the effort caused it to fail.

2. But great as the suffering of the world is on account of the bloody
wars of capitalists with each other, it is but a drop in the bucket of
sorrow as compared with its suffering on account of the bloodless wars
between masters and slaves - between the machine owners and operators.
When this bloodless war ceases, as it will with the triumph of
international socialism, the bloody wars will cease and not until then.

Under the capitalist system every institution (state, church, school,
legislature, court, business, yes, even charity) is necessarily a
robbing instrumentality by which a small class of non-producers, fat
masters, rob a large class of producers, lean slaves, and rob them
twice, each time thrice:

1. The master non-producers rob the slave producers of the three great
necessities of physical (body) life - food, clothing and houses.

Even in the United States of America, "the land of plenty," at this time
and at all times, seventy-five out of every one hundred are
insufficiently fed, clothed and housed.

2. The master non-producers rob the slave producers of the necessities
of psychical (soul) life - the liberty to learn the facts of nature, the
liberty to humanly interpret and live them and the liberty to teach
their discoveries and interpretations.

Even in the United States of America, "the home of political and
religious freedom," there is not one who can learn, live and teach the
truth without danger of being put out of a synagogue and into a
penitentiary; and this will continue until imperialistic capitalism and
supernaturalistic Christianism, the father and mother of the whole brood
of robbers, liars, persecutors and warriors, have been dethroned.

The gods of the capitalistic interpretations of politics and the gods of
the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion, symbolize the same
reality, parasitic robbery.

Yet within the religious realm the trouble is not with the Jehovahs any
more than within the political realm it is with the Sams, but only with
what they symbolize.

For one I should feel that both the religious and political realms,
which are but halves of the same realm - religion the ideal half, and
politics the practical half - would be poorer without their respective
Jehovahs and Sams, even as the realm of childhood would be without its
Santa Claus.

If symbols are not absolute necessities to the religious and political
realms, nevertheless they always have been, now are and probably ever
shall be ornaments of them; I hope for their continuance, but as
subjectivities, not objectivities.

All the imperialistic interpretations of politics and all the
supernaturalistic interpretations of religion must be overthrown, else
the world will be lost. The omnipotent, omnipresent saviour who can and
will deliver us from them is already in the world. His name is
International Communism, the greatest and holiest name which has ever
been framed and pronounced; and the gospel of this saviour as it is
translated by Thomas Carlyle is written on every wall so that it may be
read by all:

Understand that well, it is the deep commandment, dimmer or
clearer, of our whole being, to be freed. Freedom is the one
purpose, wisely aimed at, or unwisely, of all man's struggles,
toilings, and sufferings, on this earth.

Morality is the greatest thing in the world because without it human
life would not be worth the living, or even possible; but, paradoxical
as the assertion may seem, freedom or liberty is greater because without
it morality would be an impossibility.

One can attain to the very highest standard of morality, religion and
sainthood without the least necessity of the slightest reference to what
the gods of the supernaturalistic religions said or did, and this is
quite as true of Jesus as of any other among such gods, but no man can
reach even the lowest standard of morality, and so of course not of
religion or sainthood, without constant reference to the god of truth.

Yet there is a difference between a law and a truth. The law is a doing
or act of nature, and as such it is a fact or revelation. There are no
other facts or revelations.

According to the traditional superstitious conception, a truth is the
revelation of the will of a god, involving a service to be rendered
directly or indirectly to him, and morality consists in a fulfillment of
it.

According to the modern scientific conception, a truth is the
interpretation of a fact involving a service to be rendered to men. On
the scientific theory each man must have what truth he has, either by
his own interpretation or by the adoption for himself of another's
interpretation.

No man can live the moral part of his psychical (soul) life on the truth
of another any more than he can live his physical (body) life on the
meals of another. Every one must have his own truths, even as he must
have his own meals.

Hence the necessity of freedom to morality. Hence, too, the
impossibility of the moral life under restraint, such as is imposed by
orthodox churches in their official dogmas, and such as is imposed by
belligerent states in their espionage laws.

Capitalism is essentially competitive and therefore necessarily
belligerent in character: hence a complete, an ideal moral life is an
utter impossibility under it, but even the little of moral life which
otherwise might be possible is lessened to one-half by official dogmas
and espionage laws; if, then, the governments of churches and nations
have any regard for the morality of their memberships and citizenships
they will at once repeal them, and never enact others.

The democracy which means freedom to learn the laws of the physical
realm of nature and to interpret them into laws for the regulation of
human life (a democracy which will secure to each one the longest and
happiest life which, under the most favorable of conditions, would be
within the range of possibilities for him) must wait until the
competitive system of capitalism for the production and distribution of
the necessities has been universally and completely supplanted by the
co-operative system of socialism.

The conclusion of the whole matter, as it is well put by an able
contributor to the excellent Proletarian, is this:

What is needed is a complete revolution of the economic system.
Private ownership of the tools of wealth production stands in the
way of further peaceful social development and private ownership
must be eliminated. The capitalists themselves will not eliminate
it. That is certain. It remains for the working class to do so. In
order to accomplish this task it will be necessary for the workers
to take control of the institution by which the capitalists
maintain their ownership of the tools of production - the political
state. That is the historic mission of the working class. The
mission of the Socialist is to organize and train the workers for
this "conquest of political power."

Among the signs of the times which unmistakably point to the great day
of the happy consummation of the movement towards the proletarian
revolution, and the glorious sky is full of them, is the fact that the
world has recently learned from the great war that man must work out his
own salvation without the least help from the gods of the
supernaturalistic interpretations of religion:

And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help - for It
As impotently moves as you or I.

- Omar.

Yes, and a god moves more impotently than a man; for, whereas the god is
driven hither and thither by the laws of matter and force, according to
which they co-exist and co-operate through evolutionary processes to the
making of the universe what it is, and the god cannot help himself by
making it or conditioning himself otherwise, the man, if only he will
learn those laws, may combine, guide and ride them to almost any
predetermined destination, even out of the class hell of competitive
capitalism to the classless heaven of co-operative socialism.


III.

The salvation of the world from its unnecessary sufferings is dependent
upon such an equitable sharing of the labor involved in the making and
operating of the machines of production and distribution, and upon such
an equitable sharing of the products as shall issue in a classless
mankind by doing away, through a revolution, with the class which lives
by owning the means and machines of production and distribution.

It is this advocacy of classless levelism which constitutes the
theoretical core of revolutionary socialism. Those who oppose this
socialism proceed upon the assumption of the permanency of existing
religious and political institutions, the most ruinous of all heresies.

What this heresy is and the fatal policy to which it gives rise has its
classic expression, so far as religion is concerned, in the
exhortation - "earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to
the saints" - and, so far as politics is concerned, in the
representation - "the laws of the Medes and Persians which altereth not."

There is no such faith in religion, and cannot be, for as a creed
becomes stereotyped it loses the religious character and degenerates
into superstition.

There are no such laws in politics, and cannot be, for as a law becomes
stereotyped it loses the political character and degenerates into
tyranny.

Religion, which is the ideal half, and politics, which is the practical
half, of the same reality, human socialism, are like all else in the
universe, constantly changing, and necessarily so, because life and
progress are dependent upon change.

Orthodoxy in religion and politics is the blight of the ages, because of
its assumption that the great institutions, the family, state and church
with their customs, laws and doctrines, as they exist for the time
being, constitute the foundation of society, without which it could not
exist; that these institutions are almost if not altogether what they
should be, and that, therefore, the welfare of society, if not indeed
its existence, is dependent upon their continuance with but little if
any change.

But the foundation of society always has been a system for the
production and distribution of the necessities of life, and hence social
institutions, customs, laws and creeds are what they are at any time
because an economic system is what it is.

If we compare an economic system for the production of the primary
necessities of life (foods, clothes and houses) to a king or bishop (we
may well do so, for in all ages such systems have been the power behind
every regal and episcopal throne) we shall see that states, with their
rulers, codes and police, armies and jails; and churches, with their
gods, revelations, heavens and hells, are but so many expediencies for
the protection of the system from change.

What is true in this respect of the state and church is equally so of
the family, the school, the press, the lodge, the club, the library, the
theater, the chautauqua and, in short, every institution.

Why all these age-long safeguards against change? Because, so far, every
economic system has divided society into two classes, a comparatively
small class who own things and a large one who make things, and if the
few honest owners are to hold their own as divinely favored


1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryWilliam Montgomery BrownCommunism and Christianism → online text (page 3 of 15)