TRADITIONS OF CATHOLICISM AND COMMUNISM
1.00 Purpose ( scroll below)
2.12.1 World War II
2.13 Other Nations
3.01 Biblical Era
3.02 Middle Ages
3.03 U.S. 20th Century
4.00 Philosophy (scroll below)
5.00 Economics (scroll below)
6.01 Capitalism is Violence
6.02 Armed Struggle
8.00 Politics (scroll below)
1.00 Purpose . This is a web page for Catholics who have an interest in communism. It is for those of us who frequently have to deal with anti-communists. It educates us about our resources, history, contributions, and failures. It is a place to exchange ideas and get encouragement from others with similar beliefs. In time it may include graphics, multiple languages and an electronic journal, newspaper or chat room. If you have material, ideas, questions or want to help, e-mail TobyTerrar@aol.com or consult CWPublishers .
4.0 Philosophy. There have probably been Catholic materialists for as long as there have been Catholics. They have attempted to explain the world in terms of itself. They have included William of Ockham (1280-1349), Juan Huarte (1535-1592) and Giordano Bruno (1548-1600). William of Ockham was a Franciscan priest from a farming family near London. As a materialist, he rejected the philosophic idealism of Aristotle and of the 12th and 13th-century Catholic idealism of those like Thomas Aquinas who dominated the European academic system. Like most Franciscans, Ockham identified with the poor and battled against the efforts of the French landlord class and of their papal puppet to force the Franciscan order to become landlords. [William of Ockham, Opus nonaginta dierum (The work of Ninety Days), (manuscript: 1333-1334); F. C. Copleston, A History of Medieval Philosophy (London: Methuen, 1972), p. 255]. In Ockham's view, power came from the people. They have the right of revolution in church and state. Ockham helped overthrow the French Pope, John XXII at Avignon. [Philotheus Boettner, OFM, Ockham: Philosophical Writings (London: Nelson, 1957), pp. xii, xiv, l; William of Ockham, Octo questiones super potestate ac dignitate papali (Eight Questions Concerning the Power and Dignity of the the Pope) (manuscript: 1339-1342); William of Ockham, De imperatorum et pontificum potestate (Dialogue between Master and Disciples upon the Power of Emperors and Popes) (C.K. Brampton, ed., (Oxford: University Press, [1334-1338], 1927)].
Frederick Engels paid his respects to Ockham's philosophic materialism:
Materialism is the natural-born son of Great Britain. The British schoolman, Duns Scotus [meaning William of Ockham] had already asked, "Whether it was impossible for matter to think." In order to effect this miracle, he took refuge in God's omnipotence, i.e., he made theology preach materialism. Moreover, he was a nominalist. Nominalism, the first form of materialism is chiefly found among the English schoolmen. (Frederick Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy (New York: International Publishers, 1935).
A more recent Catholic materialist was the Irish revolutionary, James Connolly. He defended materialist philosophy in his book, Labor, Nationality and Religion (Dublin: Harp Library, 1910), [reprinted in James Connolly, Selected Writings, ed. P. Bernesford Ellis (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973), p. 70]. He commented on the relation between materialism, class struggle and surplus value:
Materialism teaches that the ideas of men are derived from their material surroundings, and that the forces which made and make for historical changes and human progress had and have their roots in the development of the tools men have used in their struggle for existence, using the word "tools" in its broadest possible sense to include all the social forces of wealth production. Materialism teaches that since the break-up of common ownership and the clan community, all human history has turned around the struggle of contending classes in society--one class striving to retain possession, first of the persons of the other class and hold them as chattel slaves and then of the tools of the other class and hold them as wage slaves. That all the politics of the world resolved themselves in the last analysis into a struggle for the possession of that portion of the fruits of labor which labor creates, but does not enjoy, i.e., rent, interest, profit. Here let us say that no socialist claims for Marx the discovery or original formulation of the doctrine of the materialist conception of history--indeed, the brilliant Irish scholastic, Duns Scotus [meaning William of Ockham], taught it in the middle ages.
5.00 Economics. The labor theory of value is at the basis of Catholic working class economics and morality. The idea that labor produces all value and that labor should enjoy the full wealth of what it produces has a long Catholic history. The Catholic-trained William Petty reflected this truth when he wrote in the seventeenth that "labor is the father and active principle of wealth." [Charles Hull, (ed.), Economic Writings of William Petty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1899), vol. 1, p. 36]. St. Paul stated the same notion in a negative fashion: those who do not work, should not be allowed to eat (2Th 3:10). Capitalists and landlords do not work. They live off the work of others. They are not allowed to exist in a decent society.
The U.S. Constitution does not quote scripture, but the Soviet Constitution quoted the verse by St. Paul about capitalists not eating and made it a foundation of their society. James Connolly in 1909 used the example of the capitalist railroad in Russia to teach about the "idlers of the world" and their economic system:
My dear friend, where that railway runs has nothing to do with you. What you have to do is simply to take a share, and then go and have a good time whilst the Russian railway workers, whom you do not know, working in a country you never saw, speaking a language you don't understand, earn your dividend by the sweat of their brows. Curious, ain't it? We socialists are always talking about the international solidarity of labor, about the oneness of our interests all over the world, and ever and anon working off our heaving chests a peroration on the bonds of fraternal sympathy which should unite the wage slaves of the capitalist system. But there is another kind of bond - Russian railway bons - which join, not the workers, but the idlers of the world in fraternal sympathy, and which creates among the members of the capitalist class a feeling of identity of interest, of international solidarity, which they don't perorate about but which is most potent and effective notwithstanding. [James Connolly, Workshop Talks (Chicago: Charles Kerr & Co., 1909)].
8.00 POLITICS (dictatorship). For communists, the political ideal is proletarian dictatorship. This means in part that the capitalist class is not allowed to exist. Non-existence includes no rights for capital, such as religious rights, cultural rights, legal rights, economic rights, political rights or military rights. Where capital exercises its type of dictatorship, multiple parties often operate which splinter the working class into antagonistic political factions. This deprives the working class of its rightful power. Under the proletarian dictatorship, the working class is united and therefore powerful. [Paul Zinner, Communist Strategy and Tactics in Czechoslovakia, 1918-1948 (New York: Frederich Praeger, 1963), p. 86]. With capitalism political parties are generally interest groups with no strategy. In a working class dictatorship, the strategy of each party has to be to work in a coalition to advance the communist program. [Hans Renner, A History of Czechoslovakia since 1943 (New York: Routledge, 1943), pp. 3, 6]. Karl Marx contrasted the revolutionary political ideal of working people with the narrow self-interest politics of the petty bourgeois:
The democratic petty bourgeois, far from desiring to revolutionize all society for the revolutionary proletarians, strive for a change in social conditions by means of which existing society will be made as tolerable and comfortable as possible for them. . . While the democratic petty bourgeois wish to bring the revolution to a conclusion as quick as possible. . . it is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent, until all more or less possessing classes have been displaced from domination, until the proletariat has conquered state power. . . and at least the decisive productive forces are concentrated in the hands of the proletarians.
For us the issue cannot be the alteration of private property but only its abolition, not the smoothing over of class antagonisms but abolition of classes, not the improvement of existing society but the foundation of a new one. [Karl Marx, "Address of the Central Council to the Communist League," Karl Marx: Selected Works in Two Volumes (New York: International Publishers, 1949) pp. 160-161; quoted in Zinner, Communist Strategy, p. 232].
The Republic of Czechoslovakia's National Front government ruled that country from 1945 to 1991. The National Front government is illustrative of how Catholics helped establish and maintain a class dictatorship in Czechoslovakia. The National Front was composed of a number of parties, including the (Czech) People's Party. In 1948 the People's Party had 555,000 members, most of whom were Catholic. (Renner, A History of Czechoslovakia, 163). As discussed earlier in the Internationalism: Czechoslovakia section, the People's Party took a leading role in establishing the country's proletarian dictatorship in 1948. Excluded from the National Front and from political existence was the Agrarian Party, which had been dominated by capital and which had collaborated with the Nazis.
The class dictatorship ideal can be achieved both by multiple party, united-front governments or by single-party governments. The Cuban government is illustrative of a single-party dictatorship. Initially there were a number of parties. As was discussed in the Internationalism: Cuba section, the capitalist parties were suppressed and the others were amalgamated into the Communist Party of Cuba.
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