Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 13. October 4, 1951
The Mixture—as Before, as now, and as Always — Mr Piper takes the Wrong Turning for the Battlefield
The Mixture—as Before, as now, and as Always
Mr Piper takes the Wrong Turning for the Battlefield
"We struggle against the Church, we struggle against the clerics, we struggle against the tact that the Church serves the forces of reaction; we straggle against the forces of religion; we consider religion the opium of the people."
—Maurice Thorez, "L'Humanite," 26/3/34.
I am so glad to see that someone has rushed into the breach nobly shouting, "Hosanna, Josef Stalin and the Lord are joined in the holy bonds of dialectic matrimony, Hosanna," but somehow I feel sorry that it had to be Mr. Piper who was expendable. For it is a lost cause, under fire from the enemy on the one side, and being subtly rammed with your own party's manifestos on the other. The trouble lies in the fact that the Communist Party has two attitudes and one basic belief regarding Christianity (for Mr. Piper prefers to argue this on the basis of Christianity rather than Anglicanism—no matter, the same arguments hold). The one attitude is that exemplified in "The Programme of the Communist International" which lays on Communists everywhere the obligation of "systematically and unswervingly combating religion"—(Page 38, English edition); and the other in a direction of the 7th World Congress of the Communist International stating that "the establishment of a United Front with religious-democratic organisations and their adherents is of decisive importance in all countries." For a history of the change in attitude from a public denial of God to an open propagation of the red herring that communism and religion are not absolutely opposed to each other whilst privately believing that they are, you might do well to read Douglas Hyde's "I Believed." For examples of the anti-religious attitude, the one real belief of Communists regarding religion. I advise Marx and Lenin. For an example of the pro-religious front, you need go no further than Mr. L. B. Piper, in Salient.
The Wrong Road
Mr. Piper says that because the Catholic Hierarchy is committed to the doctrine that private property (the right to private property, please) is based on Natural Law and Divine Right, it has accordingly consistently supported fascism against socialism and communism. And by the same reasoning 2 and 2 make sixpence worth of aniseed drops.
Mr. Piper talks of a betrayal of Christ's teachings; he says that the real function of religion is to protect the privileges of the working class. I have as yet to sec the Bible which says that Christ died for the working class alone. He died for all men, because just as there are good and bad amongst the ruling class (which, I suppose, is the most convenient but not the most accurate way of describing the rest of humanity) so there are good and bad amongst the working class. And since He died to atone for the sins of mankind, I rather think the ruling class needed dying for most.
But there is an explanation of this religion for the working class—there are, says Mr. Piper, two Christs, the Christ of the working class and the Christ of the ruling class. This Christly schizophrenia may sound all right to Mr. Piper, but it is not the Christ of the Gospels nor the Christ of Christianity. And even if it were neither Christ appears ultimately to suit Mr. Piper's purpose, except as an opium of the people, a "symbol of their own sufferings and their hopes of emancipation."
Perhaps Mr. Piper believes sincerely, that religion will ultimately give way to the perfect communistic state, where religion is no longer needed to supply the people with their daily opiate. Perhaps. But hardly the belief of Christ. "Do you imagine that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have come to bring a sword, not peace." "Though heaven and earth should pass away, my words will stand." This expectation of the communist millenium, when religion will no longer be needed because there will be heaven on earth, is the great communist myth, and is utterly opposed to the Christian belief in a spiritual reward in a spiritual heaven. When Mr. Piper has dissected away all the teachings of Christ which were once contemptuously referred to as pie in the sky and has uncovered the teachings of Christ which promise just such a heavenly Nirvana on earth for the common man—or the uncommon one—then I will be grateful if he would kindly set the particulars down on a little slip of cigarette paper for me, and I will promise to give it to the nearest Archbishop for inclusion in the New Theology. Or perhaps to Mr. Hoyle.
It Gets Worse
Like many a fascist banner before it, the communist manifesto proclaims "Happiness through hate." By opposing and hating the imperialist, the fascist, the enemy (all the same the warmongers), to end them; and then there will be such an earthly paradise as we have never seen—for those of us who survive communism to see it. Christianity nays that just as through the grace of God there is always good in this world, so there will also, through the grace of Satan, be evil. Christ said, "You have heard that it was said. Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thy enemy. But I tell you, Love your enemies, do good to those who haste you, pray for those who persecute and insult you." Through hate to happiness, or by overcoming hate to heaven? Which is it to be, Mr. Piper? Who is betraying the teachings of Christ? Who is saying, "Love your enemies"?
I give you four reasons why Communism and Anglicanism—or, if you prefer it, Christianity—are basically and inevitably incompatible. Christ promised He would be with mankind "all through the days that are coming, until the consummation of the world." Communism says He will be with us just as long as is necessary to keep the workers quiet. Christ promised no heaven on earth. Communism promises Valhalla for the dead and ambrosial pastures for the living. (Wot! No hell for the Hurleys?). Christianity is based on love; communism on hate. And Christianity states categorically, "I believe in God"; and just as categorically communism says "there is no God."
Black Marx—Mr. P.
Oh, and that wilful misinterpretation of Karl Marx, typical of people who quote from penny religious tracts? "Religion is the opium of the people, and this postulate is the cornerstone of the whole philosophy of Marxism with regard to religion. Marxism always regarded all modern religions and churches, and every kind of religious organisation, as instruments of bourgeois reaction."
—Marx, misinterpreted by Lenin, "Religion."
Would you like the point emphasised by my star misinterpreter?
"Marxism is materialism. As such it is relentlessly opposed to religion. We must combat religion—this is the A.B.C. of all materialism, and consequently of Marxism."—Lenin.
I fear, Mr. Piper, that you have taken the wrong turning for the battlefield. I fear, too, that you have been misrepresenting Karl Marx, as seems to be typical these days of people who quote from sixpenny communist tracts. Shame on you, sir. In the words of one of the immortals, "Come home, Mr. Piper. Take the plunge. Buy a Bible—and a penny religious tract!"
D. E. Hurley.