William Montgomery Brown.

Communism and Christianism online

. (page 8 of 15)
Online LibraryWilliam Montgomery BrownCommunism and Christianism → online text (page 8 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

matter-force law, that is, of whether or not the articles of his
religious creed and political code are so many ideal embodiments and
practical interpretations of facts or realities as they are revealed by
the doings of my god, Nature.

There is no other creed, belief in the articles of which, and there is
no other code, obedience to the articles of which, will advance mankind,
individually or collectively, so much as one step in the long, rugged
and steep way towards the goal of a perfect civilization - a civilization
which will secure to every man, woman and child the greatest of possible
opportunities to make the most of life that is within the range of

My god, Nature (the triune divinity, matter-force-motion) the doings of
which god are so many words of the only gospel upon which the salvation
of the world is to any degree dependent, is an impersonal, unconscious,
non-moral being.

For me, this god, Nature, rises into personality, consciousness and
morality in myself, and in no other does nature do this for me, though
what is true of me is of course equally so of every representative of

Jesus (either as an historical or dramatic personage, and it does not
matter which he was) said, "I and my Father (god) are one," and in
saying this he gave expression in one form to the most revolutionary and
salutary of all truths. The other form of the same truth as taught by
Darwin and Marx is: man has all the potentialities of his own life
within himself. Every representative of the human race can and should
say with Jesus, "I and my Father, God, are one."

Stop man! where dost thou run?
Heav'n lies within thy heart,
If thou seek'st God elsewhere
Misled, in truth, thou art.

- Angelus Silensius.

This truth constitutes the most ennobling and inspiring part of man's
knowledge, and it was naturally discovered by him, not supernaturally
revealed to him. It is the foundation of socialism and the justification
of optimism.

The universe moves, with all that therein is. The vanguard of mankind is
moving to a viewpoint from which rapidly increasing numbers will see
that a revolution which is necessary on the part of a slave to free
himself from a master is not only justified but required by the great,
first law of the biological realm, the law of self-preservation - a
nature-made law on behalf of freedom. This nature-made law will
ultimately nullify all class laws, every law which is in favor of the
enslaving capitalist class and against the enslaved labor class.

Every state with its executive, legislative, judiciary, military and
educative systems is founded on capitalism. Since this is the case and
since human nature is what it is, all political institutions, the
American with the rest, are of the capitalist, by the capitalist, for
the capitalist, and each to the end that the capitalist may keep the
laborer in poverty and slavery.

Every modern church with its ministry, bible, creed, heaven and hell is
founded on capitalism. Since this is the case, and since human nature is
what it is, all religious institutions, the Christian with the rest, are
of the capitalist, by the capitalist, for the capitalist and each to the
end that the capitalist may keep the laborer in ignorance and slavery.

Whether Jesus was an historical or a dramatic person, the morality
involved in his trial, condemnation and execution is the same. Assuming
the historicity, he was put to death by Pilate because a class of the
people said: We have a law and by it, according to its official
interpretation, he should die. The Governor, finding that the legal
enactment and the judicial decision were in accordance with the
representation of the Jews, turned Jesus over to the executioners for
crucifixion, and the world condemns him because he knew that the law was
the embodiment of a fiction instead of a truth, because he interpreted
it in the interest of a sect instead of a people, and because he basely
acted with reference to his own political interests without regard to
justice for an heroic but helpless champion of slaves in their struggle
against the masters.

Philosophic anarchy differs by the space of the whole heavens from
practical anarchy, and it is the latter that I always have in mind. The
great essential of philosophic anarchy is individualistic freedom. The
great essential of practical anarchy is imperialistic slavery.

Capitalism is the outstanding, overshadowing imperialist, the father of
all the kaisers by which the world has been cursed, not only of the
terrestrial ones such as Wilhelm II, Nicholas II, Woodrow I, but also of
the celestial ones such as Jehovah, Allah, Buddha.

The occupants of regal thrones have no more responsibility for the
existence of imperialism than those of presidential chairs, nor they any
more than I, and I have none. The truth is that the responsibility for
this blight of all the ages is now at last, if indeed it has not always
been, wholly with the representatives of the working class. They have
the great majority in numbers and all of the revolutionary incentives
and power; therefore they, and only they can do away with imperialism,
and they can rid themselves of it whenever they choose. Prince
Kropotkin, the philosophic anarchist, a great soul, would agree to this
representation, for he says:

The working men of the civilized world and their friends in the
other classes ought to induce their Governments entirely to abandon
the idea of armed intervention in the affairs of Russia - whether
open or disguised, whether military or in the shape of subventions
to different nations.

Russia is now living through a revolution of the same depth and the
same importance as the British nation underwent in 1639-1648 and
France in 1789-1794; and every nation should refuse to play the
shameful part that Great Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia
played during the French Revolution.

Since death ends all of consciousness, the most inhuman of all
inhumanities and the most immoral of all immoralities is the shortening
of human life; and next to it is the diminishing of its happiness.

War shortens many lives and fills more with misery; hence its essential
inhumanity and immorality.

A large part of the world has just passed through the furnace of war - a
war between the German and English nations with their respective
national allies. All international wars are contests for supremacy in
the markets of the world, or at least for advantage in some among them.
This one was no exception.

The furnace of this war was seven times larger and seven times hotter
than any other has been. According to the latest estimates (September,
1920) its fierce flames directly and indirectly killed thirty million
young men and wrecked totally twice and partially thrice as many more.

Yet the fire by which the world upon the whole and in the long run
suffers most is not the intermittent, flaming one of the hell of
international war, which is always kindled and sustained by the
capitalists of the belligerent nations for the purpose solely of
securing commercial advantages over each other; but the greater
suffering is by the permanent, smoking fire of the hell of the
inter-class war which is always kindled and sustained by the capitalist
class in each nation for the purpose solely of robbing the labor class
of the fruit of their toil.

These national and class wars (hells, flaming and smouldering) are due
to the same matter-force law, the law of self-preservation, and,
paradoxical as it may seem, this law is equally operative on both sides
in each war.

Both hells exist as the result of the working out of the same law of
animal preservation by competition - the law of capitalism, and both
hells will be done away with as the result of the working out of the
same law of human preservation by co-operation - the law of socialism.

One proof of the rightness of the co-operative system is the fact that
it necessarily operates for the whole people and not for a class,
whereas the competitive system as necessarily operates for a class and
not for the whole people.

Still another proof, and it is in itself almost if not quite conclusive,
of the rightness of the co-operative system is the fact that its
competitive rival breaks down in every great emergency. It broke down
completely in all the belligerent countries (in none more than the
United States) immediately upon their entrance into the world war. Our
government was obliged to assume control of the railroads, coal mines
and food products.

If a class government, such as ours is, can provide during a war by the
co-operative system, and only by it, for the wants of a country, and
better, too, than during the time of peace, what may we expect in the
way of plenty, comfort and leisure, when under the classless
administration there shall be no more war with its wholesale waste, and
when there shall be one vast army of producers?

All the days which the fifty millions of soldiers spent in idleness will
then be so many holidays for toilers who are in need of them for rest
and self-improvement; and every dollar which is now wasted will then be
two dollars saved, so that the pecuniary prosperity of war times will be
increased, rather than diminished, and made continuous. Under a
classless administration the world would soon become comparatively rich
and happy.[H]

Representatives of the capitalist class are trying to create the
impression that the co-operative system which our government temporarily
established as a military necessity is socialism, and that the labor
class should seek no more than its restoration and continuance: but this
system is the same old wolf in sheep's clothing.

The rickety house in which we are living is a competitive structure and
it cannot be made into a co-operative one, at least not upon its present
foundation, the sand of capitalistic classism. Industrialism must take
it down and rebuild it upon the rock of classless labor. Neither this
demolition nor this reconstruction constitutes any part of the
government program. Its socialism is a mirage, not a reality, and the
matter-force law renders it necessarily so.

Marxian socialism is simplicity itself. It requires only three
conditions, each of which is perfectly intelligible; but no one of them
ever has existed or could exist under any capitalist government, because
all such governments, not excepting our own, especially not it, are
organized in the interest of parasitic profiteers, not productive
laborers. The three indispensable yet simple prerequisites to this real
socialism or communism are:

First, that the people within a municipality, either town or city,
own and control the utilities within the area occupied by that
municipality, which have to do with the immediate comfort of the
people who live there.

Second, that the people in each state own and control the utilities
that come in contact with the people on a state-wide scale.

Third, that the people within the nation own collectively and
control democratically the utilities which affect us on a national

Should we desire to go into more detail, we might say that the
things necessary to the individual be owned and controlled by the
individual, that the home be controlled by the family, and so on.
To go into the question on an international scale we might also add
that utilities mutually necessary to all the nations be owned by
the nations, as the Panama Canal, for instance. - Higgins.

Prince Kropotkin, though not a bolshevik, says approvingly of the
Russian revolution that it is trying to build up a society where the
whole produce of the joint efforts of labor by technical skill and
scientific knowledge should go entirely to the commonwealth; and he
declares that for the unavoidable reconstruction of society, by pacific
or any other revolutionary means, there must be a union of all the trade
unions of the world to free the production of the world from its present
enslavement to capitalism.

Higgins and Kropotkin have here put co-operative socialism or communism
in a nutshell both as to its aim and program.

The law of self-preservation is ever the same, but whether its salvation
is for a part of the people by competition - capitalist salvation, or for
the whole people by co-operation - socialist salvation, depends upon
whether it rides or is ridden.

So long as the law of self-preservation was supposed to be the will of a
conscious, personal god whose earthly representatives were kings and
priests or presidents and preachers, the law did the riding within the
large domain of animal competition - the domain of capitalism. War is the
normal, indeed necessary evil of this domain, and hence the world must
have wars so long as it remains within it, and it will remain there so
long as it has celestial divinities with terrestrial representatives in
states and churches for its governors.

Now that the law is known to be a matter-force necessity, not a divine
decree, the time may rationally be hoped for when the people will do the
riding within the small domain of human co-operation - the domain of
socialism. Peace is the normal, indeed necessary, state of this domain,
and hence the world must cease to have war when it enters it, and is
governed by itself instead of by a god and the powers of state and
church alleged to have been ordained by him.

Capital punishment should not be administered, if at all, except to a
murderer whose guilt has been established to the satisfaction of the
great majority of the people in the community to which he belongs, and
never in the case of a suspected murderer of whom this is not true.

If William II were really the devil behind the European war by which
many millions of the young men of the world have lost their lives, and
if Thomas Mooney were really the devil behind the San Francisco
explosion by which ten citizens of California lost their lives, their
punishment by death might be urged with much show of reason as a social
necessity. But if both were hung on the same gallows the world would go
on suffering by the ever recurring and closely related misfortunes of
war and riot as if nothing had happened. The real devil behind all wars
and riots is the capitalist system. There will never be an end of wars
and riots until this devil is overthrown.

The so-called Kaiser-war and the so-called Mooney riot are on the same
footing, both having the character of an insurrection and both having
the aim of self-preservation. The insurrection of the Kaiser was a riot
on behalf of the capitalist class of Germany and for the purpose of
protecting it against the capitalist class of England. The insurrection
of Mooney (assuming his guilt, merely for illustration) was a riot on
behalf of the labor class of California and for the purpose of
protecting it against the capitalist class of that state.

Incidentally, both riots have secondary aims of world-wide extent. The
Kaiser had two of these: to overthrow the commercial supremacy of
England that Germany might have it, and to overthrow industrial
republicanism (socialism) everywhere. Mooney had this: the overthrow of
commercial imperialism (capitalism) everywhere.

As rioters, there is this in common between Kaiser William and Thomas
Mooney, that though moving in opposite directions, they are nevertheless
carried by the same matter-force law which manifests itself in the same
riotous system, capitalism - a system which, under one form or another,
has ever produced international wars and class revolutions; and, so long
as it is allowed to exist, never will cease the production of them.

Hence the interests of the world require not that these rioters, Kaiser
William and Thomas Mooney, should be hung, but that the capitalist
system, which by the operation of the law of self-preservation by animal
competitions, produced both of the riots with which they are
respectively credited, should be overthrown by the labor system, which,
by the operation of the same law of self-preservation by human
co-operation, will put an end to all bloody conflicts.

But taking the popular view concerning the responsibility for this
commercial war and labor riot and assuming that they should be charged
respectively to Kaiser William and Thomas Mooney, why should the
promoter of the little riot die, or worse, suffer imprisonment during
life, and the promoter of the big war live?

Yet, if the Kaiser were captured even by England there is no probability
that he would be turned over to a court constituted of representatives
of the allied nations, tried, found guilty and put to death. Why not?
Because, like all wars, his war, no matter which side won the victory,
has been upon the whole, or will be in the long run, in the interest of
the capitalists of every nation on both sides, at least of the great

If Kaiser William would not be sent to the gallows by such a court why
should the court which tried Thomas Mooney be allowed to send him to it;
and, especially why, since California is part of a republic, and the
Kaiser's war was on behalf of imperialism and a small minority, while
Mooney's riot was on behalf of republicanism and the overwhelming

Just now the human part of the world is especially afflicted by
unnecessary and therefore unjustifiable deaths. The Governor of
California has the opportunity to prevent one such death. I say to him,
do it. In the name of Justice and in the name of Humanity, I with
millions of others solemnly call upon him to save Mooney, the
revolutionist, as Pilate, the Governor of Judea, according to the
verdict of all right-thinking men and women, should have saved Jesus,
the revolutionist.


You say in effect that we must postulate a divine consciousness to
account for human consciousness; but, on your theory, how could human
consciousness come out of a divine consciousness; and, anyhow, contrary
to your implication, we know of no consciousness which has come, except
by inheritance, from another consciousness, but only of consciousnesses
which have come from unconsciousnesses.

Your contention, in this connection, is to the effect that nothing can
come out of nothing, and this is the core of a book, "A Short Apology
for Being a Christian in the Twentieth Century," by the learned
ex-president of Trinity College, Hartford, Dr. Williamson Smith, with
whom you have had, I think, some correspondence.

This Apology was written against a letter of mine to the House of
Bishops, entitled, "A Natural Gospel for a Scientific Age," which has
never seen the light, partly because the ex-President convinced me that
if I must give up the orthodox conception of God, I could not hold to
the one which I had worked out in the letter.

If you have not seen the ex-President's book, you will, I am sure, enjoy
it more than I did, but I doubt whether you will profit as much by it,
for it verges towards your lines and away from mine; and so it set me to
studying as it will not you, with the result of rejecting the new
conception of God which I had worked out for myself, but with it I threw
over the old one and ceased to believe in the existence of a conscious,
personal divinity. Of course, my faith in the existence of a spiritual
world and hope for a future life in it went with the god.

Dr. Williamson Smith and you are entirely correct in the contention that
something cannot come out of nothing: but I no longer pretend that it
can and I now see that the stones which have been thrown at me by you
both and others have come from glass houses; for this is really the
pretension of orthodox theologians. They affirm that the universe was
created by God out of nothing, but produce no scrap of evidence for His
existence, and even if they could prove that He exists, they would have
to admit that He came out of nothing, or at least from something which
did so.

It is indeed true that I am unable to tell what matter, force and motion
came from, or if I agree with most physicists that they arose from
ether, I cannot give its derivative; but, granting that I am as
incapable of proving their existence as you are of proving the existence
of the Christian trinity, nevertheless I have this immense advantage
over you, that I can prove that everything both physical and psychical
(including man and his civilization) entering into the constitution of
the universe, lives, moves and has its being in my divine
trinity - matter, force and motion: whereas you cannot prove that
anything is indebted for what it is to your divine trinity - Father, Son
and Spirit: therefore I insist that your trinity is a symbol of mine.

What is true of the Christian trinity is true of all the divinities of
the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion. The Jews live with no
reference to the Christian God, or at least not with any to his second
and third persons, and neither Christians nor Jews do so in the case of
either the Mohammedan or Buddhistic divinity, and so on, all around the
whole circle of gods.

But no representative of any god lives without constant reference to
mine, of which yours and all the others are, as I think, symbols, if
they are anything better than fetishes.

If you and ex-President Smith mean by your fundamental thesis, that a
thing which is essentially different from that from which it came is an
impossibility, you are certainly wrong, for the world is full of such
things. In the tree of life there are millions of examples, since (using
language in its general significance) everything above the amoeba must
be regarded as essentially different from it, though all, including man,
came out of it.

Going back as far as we safely can on solid ground, we come to the
nebulae from which the solar systems of the universe have evolved, and
surely a solar system is as essentially different from the nebula as a
man is from an amoeba. Coming to our earth when its primeval, flaming,
swirling gases had been condensed into inorganic matter, the protoplasm
which is organic matter, arose from it, and so something which grows
from within out, comes from something which grows from without in.

The large hoofed horse came from a small five-toed animal, not much
larger than a rabbit. The piano and the gun are brother and sister, born
of the bow and arrow, yet how different the children from the parent.

An infant is unconscious at birth and what it has of consciousness as a
child and an adult is dependent upon the development of its body.

Moreover, as the human body is a development through animal bodies, we
may logically conclude that human consciousness is ultimately dependent
upon and inherited from animal consciousness rather than a divine one.

Jesus is represented as saying that God is a spirit; and the fathers of
the English part of the Christian reformation said that there is but one
living and true God without body, parts or passions. This is their
explanation of his conception of God.

When the Jesuine definition of God and the Anglican explanation of it
were framed, the Divine Spirit was supposed to be an objective

Modern psychology teaches that no spirit, divine, human or otherwise, is
a personality. According to this science, spirit and soul are synonyms
for the subjective content of a conscious life, which content consists
of feelings, aspirations, ideals, convictions and determinations.

Psychologists know of no spirit or soul without a body constituted of
parts any more than physicists know of a force without matter
constituted of molecules, atoms, electrons and ions.

Gods represent the religious ideals of people and are symbols of what
they think they should be as religionists. They are symbolic,
emblematic, parabolic, allegoric devices of the imagination, and contain
nothing but the ideal, imaginary things which are put into them by
people for themselves, and they do nothing except what the people
perform through them in their names for themselves.

Matter and force constitute a machine, an automatic one, which produces
things, everything which enters into the constitution of the cosmos, by
evolutionary processes, or rather all such things, and there are no
others, are the result of one universal and eternal process of

What is known as nature is the aggregation of the products of this
machine by this process. The machine is unconscious and its workings are
mechanical, yet some of its products rise into self-consciousness with
the power of self-determination, but both the consciousness and the

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryWilliam Montgomery BrownCommunism and Christianism → online text (page 8 of 15)