Marxism's Influence in the U.S. Today

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.


Abridged version of a lecture given by Fr. Hardon on April 4, 1998 at the CMF regional conference in Chicago.

Larger Work

Mindszenty Report


Vol. XXXX-No. 8

Publisher & Date

Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, August 1998

As the New York Times and its west-coast sister the Los Angeles Times have duly noted—with prominent feature stories—this year is the 150th anniversary of publication of Marx and Engels' The Communist Manifesto. Both newspapers celebrated the event by pointing out the brilliance of its authors saying their work today "emerges ever more distinctly as an unsurpassed dramatic representation, diagnosis and prophetic array of visionary' judgments on the modern world." Neither, however, noted the millions of deaths, the prison gulags or the appalling suffering inflicted as true believers of Marxism attempted to impose the teachings of the manifesto on mankind.

Jesuit theologian Father John A. Hardon, author of the popular Modern Catholic Dictionary, has taught graduate courses on Marxism and lectured on the subject widely—on several occasions in Moscow. Following is an abridged version of one such lecture delivered in Chicago, April 4th at the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation regional conference where, on a personal note, he revealed that members of his own family had died under Communism in the profession of their Catholic faith.

As we come to the close of the twentieth century, we are seeing the gravest crisis in the history of Christianity. In my judgment, at the center of this crisis is the deep penetration of Marxism into our beloved country. I believe we can say even more. Our country is a Marxist nation. Dare I say still more? The United States of America is the most powerful Marxist country in the world.

This thesis deserves not just another lecture or even just a class semester. It should be the bedrock of our understanding of what the Vicar of Christ is telling us. In order to do justice to the subject, however, we have to answer the question "What is Marxism?" And to do that we must identify what I consider the fifteen principle marks of Marxism which might compare with the four marks of the Church founded by Christ. Marxism is a godless religion in which its leaders believe, shall I say, with a faith comparable to that of believing Christians.

The best single source to understand Marxism is The Communist Manifesto. The best single analysis of Marxism is the encyclical On Atheistic Communism by Pope Pius XI in which he identifies Marxism as a "Utopian Messianism." From these two sources we can examine the fifteen principle marks of Marxism:

1. Messianic Ideal. According to Karl Marx, mankind should look forward to the attainment of a Messianic society in this world, which is the highest ideal toward which the human race can tend. The attainment of such a society presumes man's perfectibility, and is based on the belief that the human desire for happiness will be fulfilled on earth in some future period of history.

2. Equality and Fraternity. This idyllic society will be distinguished by the practice of perfect equality and fraternity among its members, the last stage in a series of five stages of human development, reflecting the original state of man in a tribal and communitarian society, namely slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism. In the first three of these stages, men exploit one another, in the fourth (socialism) they are passing through an interval of adjustment; and in the fifth (communism) the classless society is achieved.

3. Economic Progress Through Marxism. It is no longer a merely speculative position but an established fact that a Marxist philosophy succeed where others have failed.

4. Dialectical and Historical Materialism. Marxism is founded on two kinds of materialism which claims there exists only one reality: matter. It is dialectical because through the interaction of opposing material forces all apparently higher forms of being evolve—first life, then sentient beings and finally man. It is historical because now that man exists, human history follows the same evolving pattern towards higher perfection, but uniquely through the interaction of material (economic) forces of society.

5. Accelerating Progress Through Conflict. Consistent with its stress on dialectics, Marxism holds that the progress of humanity towards its predicted goal is accelerated by human conflict. Hence the role of revolution is a necessary means of fostering social development and the importance of sharpening existing antagonisms can be stimulated between various classes of society.

6. Marxist Deviation. There is only one "grave sin" in Marxist morality and it is committed by those who deviate from the ideal of relentless revolution.

7. Primacy of Groups. The individual in a Marxian society surrenders his personal rights in favor of the group after long indoctrination, convinced that part of the contribution toward a classless commonwealth is complete sacrifice of his own personality.

8. Equality Among People. Marxism holds that only absolute equality is legitimate. It rejects all civil and ecclesiastical authority and denies any innate authority of parents over their children.

9. Denial of All Property Rights. The Communist Manifesto states that "The theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property." In Marxian ethics no individual should be granted any rights over material goods or the means of production because history has shown private property is the universal source of further wealth. Personal possession gives one man power over another, the origin of every economic enslavement.

10. The Artificial Institutions of Marriage and the Family. Marxism denies any sacred or spiritual character to human life beyond the merely economic. Thus, there are no moral bonds of marriage, only such privileges as the collectivity may sec fit to grant persons to mate and procreate. An indissoluble marriage bond may be humored by the state, but has no inherent rights before the civil law.

11. Economics, the Basis of Society. In a Marxist scheme of society economics is the fundamental law of human existence, not freedom, or human rights, or a divinely established moral order. Greater production of material goods, more efficiently and in a collectivized manner, must be given precedence over everything else.

12. The Collectivity Controls the Individual. Six of the ten principle "measures" of The Communist Manifesto affirm how completely Marxism sees the individual as a tool in the hands of the state: abolition of property in land, all rights of inheritance, centralized credit in the hands of the State; centralization of the means of transport, establishment of industrial armies, especially in agriculture. State totalitarianism could not be more complete.

13. Disappearance of the State. According to Marxist predictions, this tyrannical enslavement to the State is the necessary radical surgery which must be performed on society in order to give birth to a new society. By means of the Marxist revolution, the proletariat will be abolished. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonism, we shall have an association in which all conflicts are gone.

Women's Rights and Education in the Marxist Scheme

Each of these marks of a Marxist society as they apply to the United States today could be developed into a separate lecture or even a class semester for study. But, to do some justice to such a gigantic subject, let me choose the last two of my fifteen hallmarks of Marxism to see how deeply they have penetrated American society.

14. Emancipation of Women. Marxism is especially characterized by its rejection of any link that binds woman to the family and the home. Women's emancipation is proclaimed as a cardinal principle of the socialist interim that will usher in the classless society of the future. Women are to be first encouraged and then, if need he, compelled to withdraw from the family and the care of children. These are regularly stigmatized "bourgeois" activities. Liberated from household chores and the rearing of a family through thousands of childcare centers, women are to be thrust instead into public life and collective production under the same conditions as men.

Also known as women's liberation, the emancipation of women has become a major revolution in the United States. Its avowed purpose is to free women from the discrimination to which they have been subject in civil society and in political legislation. It argues from a massive discrimination of women by men, and urges women to revolt against men. The best known proponent of this ideology was Nikolai Lenin, a disciple of Karl Marx, who urged that "The success of a revolution depends upon the degree of participation by women." On these terms, women's liberation is simply part of the larger struggle for the eventual creation of a classless society.

The range of women's liberation in our country is as broad as American geography and as deep as our present-day American culture. Perhaps the best way to see how widely feminism has penetrated our society is to quote some typical statements of feminists who call themselves Catholic but have been seduced by Marxism.

Bearing and raising one's children have very little to do with shaping the future and still less with finding one's own identity. On the contrary, as the same range of potential ability exists for women as for men, the problem of finding their identity is precisely the same—it lies in their work outside the home. find herself, to know herself as a person is creative work of her own outside the home.

Women are not to find ways to use their full capacities and work creatively within the structure set by marriage and motherhood. It is marriage and motherhood which must be adapted to the structure of one's work life.

Although the new wave of feminist theology is only twenty years old, it has already developed a broad base of critical scriptural studies, revisionist church history, historical systematic theology, as well as work in ethics and pastoral psychology, upon which to base a comprehensive rethinking of tradition.

—Of particular importance is the patriarchal bias of Scripture. It is one thing to critique the tradition as flawed, but on what basis can one speak of Scripture as distorted by sexist bias and still regarded as an authoritative source of revelation?

Women have opted to seek an egalitarian society that existed before the rise of patriarchy and that ancient religions centered in the Goddess reflect this pre-patriarchal society... They believe, in the groups of persecuted Christianity, such as medieval witches, which Christian inquisitors falsely described as "devil worshipper. " Thus these women see themselves as reviving an ancient feminist religion.

Thus the litany of feminist quotations could go on for literally hundreds of volumes that are currently in print. What has been the result in the United States? Inclusive language in the liturgy is only a minor effect of Marxist feminism which has penetrated the Catholic Church. In one diocese after another, women—I dare say—are in charge. One of the most devastating effects of this radical feminism has been the breakdown of literally tens of thousands of once dedicated women who decide they were sick and tired of being dominated by a male hierarchy, especially by a male Bishop of Rome.

It is no wonder that Pope John Paul II urged American bishops to combat what he termed a "bitter, ideological" feminism among some American Catholic women, which he said has led to "forms of nature worship and the celebration of myths and symbols" usurping the practice and celebration of the Christian faith. The ordination of women to the priesthood is infallibly excluded by the Catholic faith. Yet it is being widely promoted in some high, professedly Catholic circles, evidence of the Marxist mentality in our country.

15. Denial of Parental Rights in Education. Correlative with the function of women as robots (Russian for "work"), the Marxist collectivity assumes total responsibility for the education and training of children. The euphemistic statement in The Communist Manifesto, "Free education for all children in public schools." has been implemented to mean that the state alone has the right to educate. In practice, this has further meant that the State, and not the parents, has the exclusive prerogative to determine who shall teach, under what curriculum, with what textbooks, and how the matter is communicated.

Some years ago, I had the privilege of publishing a thirty-page Statement of Principles and Policy on Atheistic Education in Soviet Russia. The opening paragraph of this document stated:

The Soviet school, as an instrument for the Communist education of the rising generation can, as a matter of principle, take tip no other attitude towards religion than one of irreconcilable opposition, for Communist education has as its philosophical basis Marxism, and Marxism is irreconcilably hostile to religion. "Marxism is materialism, " says V.I. Lenin, "as such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion as the materialism of the Encyclopaedists of the eighteenth century or the materialism of Feuerbach. "

How has this philosophy penetrated the United States? So deeply that most Americans have only the faintest idea of what is going on in our schools.

William Foster, former American chairman of the Communist Party, wrote in Toward a Soviet America that he wanted the "cultural revolution" to be advanced under the aegis of a national department of education. That is exactly what the National Education Association lobbied for during the 1976 presidential campaign, and a Department of Education is exactly what the American president gave the union in gratitude for its support.

Foster wrote that the Department of Education should be "revolutionized, cleansed of religious, patriotic and other features of the bourgeois ideology. The students will be taught on the basis of Marxian dialectical materialism, internationalism, and the general ethics of the new Socialist society."

What happened to parents' rights to educate their children? In less than a quarter century these rights have been lost by most parents in the United States. Most of the once Catholic schools in America have been closed or secularized. Parents who courageously teach their children at home are being subjected to inhuman pressures, not only by the State but by Church authorities.

Some time ago, I was asked by Rome to write a series of articles on John Dewey, the atheistic genius who is commonly regarded as the father of American education. According to Dewey, the idea of "God" represents a unification of ideal values that are essentially imaginative. In other words, God does not exist, except as a projection of our imagination.

That is why religion, which believes in the existence of a personal God, is excluded by American law from public schools. That is 'also why Catholic schools in our country have been deprived of any support from taxpayer dollars. According to Dewey, it is a mistake to think that in the United States we have a separation of Church and State. No, says Dewey, in America we have the subordination of Church to State. On these premises, what is left of parents' rights in the education of their children? Nothing, except what a Marxist government allows the parents to teach.

A Reminder to Professed Christians

In light of what we have examined here, can anyone doubt that the United States has been deeply infected by Marxism, so clever that most citizens do not even realize it? I would like to offer some hope, however, by paraphrasing what Pope Pius XI told us in his classic encyclical on Communism, Divini Redemptoris.

He was speaking to professed Christians, specifically, he was addressing "those of our children who are more or less tainted with the Communist plague. We earnestly exhort them to hear the voice of their loving Father. We pray the Lord to enlighten them that they may abandon the slippery path which will precipitate one and all to ruin and catastrophe. We pray that they may recognize that Jesus Christ our Lord is their only Savior, for there is no other name in heaven given to man whereby we must be saved."'

I join my prayer with that of the Bishop of Rome, that Jesus save our beloved country, which has become so deeply infected by the plague of Marxism. —John A. Hardon, S.J. Inter Mirifica Detroit, Michigan

© Mindszenty Report, the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, P.O. Box 11321, St. Louis, MO 63105, 314-727-6279.


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