Republicans and communists

Republicans and communists August 8, 2011

Given the context, this question seems almost absurd. And yet, after reading a little about European communist parties of the interwar and early postwar period, I am struck by the tonal and tactical similarities between these groups and the Republican party in its latest, ever more extreme, incarnation. Fundamentally, the communist parties focused almost uniquely on political goals, despite the economic underpinning of their ideological narrative. To them, the end justified the means, and they often had no problem resorting to violence or economic sabotage. Given that their underlying support was quite limited, they thought they could gain by creating chaos, fostering maximum economic disruption, and generally discrediting the social and political establishment. They could then turn around and claim that their dominant narrative had been vindicated.

Communists put a premium on ideological purity. They had little concern for prudential solutions to practical problems. After all, the force of history was moving inexorably in their direction, so why sweat the small stuff?  Ideology came before facts or reality, and the yardstick was how closely supporters adhered to the dominant political narrative. Communist parties defined themselves as much by what they were against as what they were for – a standard tactic was to accuse all who opposed them, including those on the left, as being associated with fascists or other extremist rightists. For obvious reasons, this was a particularly potent line of attack in the postwar period. In the interwar period, a favorite tactic was infiltration – the grass-roots level take-over of many different left-wing groups, with the goal of subsuming them under the communist banner. This worked very well in some countries.

This is all uncannily similar to the state of the current Republican party, especially after its takeover by the tea-party radicals. Old-school communist parties also relied heavily on intellectual support, and received it from far too many philosophers and thinkers who should have known better. That too is unchanged. Today, people like Robert George are playing the role once reserved for people like John-Paul Sartre.

"It does make things more complicated and suggests that there's more to be done with ..."

Four Episodes from a Consistent Life ..."
"Joe,thanks for this detailed comment. I appreciate your sentiments about ensoulment though the very uncertainty ..."

Four Episodes from a Consistent Life ..."
"David, I likewise applaud your series on how you came to believe in a consistent ..."

Four Episodes from a Consistent Life ..."
"Just so you know: Henry Karlson no longer blogs with us, and I doubt he ..."

A Christian Interpretation of the Mahāvākyas

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kurt

    Yet the greatest adversaries of the Communist parties of 20th century Europe were the social democrats and the free trade unions. Willie Brandt, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the Socialist International, Ignazio Silone, Paul Ramadier, and George Orwell all stood against Communism as an evil corruption of of the principles of the Left.

    Where are the counterparts from today’s conservatives? Where are the voices of the center-right for decency?

  • Kurt

    Yet the greatest adversaries of the Communist parties of 20th century Europe were the social democrats and the free trade unions. Willie Brandt, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the Socialist International, Ignazio Silone, Paul Ramadier, and George Orwell all stood against Communism as an evil corruption of of the principles of the Left.

    Where are the counterparts from today’s conservatives? Where are the voices of the center-right for decency?

  • Today, people like Robert George are playing the role once reserved for people like John-Paul Sartre.

    I don’t think that Robert George would even buy into the Republican party’s phoohuckey (i.e. economic policies) if it weren’t for the fact that he needed to buy into them in order to sit on the bioethics councils of their presidents and be widely embraced by the Right in general. Basically, George really wouldn’t be thought of as the Preeminent Conservative Thinker(TM) if he didn’t defy Church teachings so he could fit in with Republicans. What a sell-out.

  • Today, people like Robert George are playing the role once reserved for people like John-Paul Sartre.

    I don’t think that Robert George would even buy into the Republican party’s phoohuckey (i.e. economic policies) if it weren’t for the fact that he needed to buy into them in order to sit on the bioethics councils of their presidents and be widely embraced by the Right in general. Basically, George really wouldn’t be thought of as the Preeminent Conservative Thinker(TM) if he didn’t defy Church teachings so he could fit in with Republicans. What a sell-out.

  • I just became aware of this site and I am shocked yes shocked at how much common sense i am seeing in these posts!

    I didn’t know Catholics were still free to have their own opinions, especially ones that may not always see eye to eye with you know who in Rome.

    Thank you Jesus.

    • brettsalkeld

      Rome supports the Republicans? That’s news to us. 😉

      • Mark Gordon

        That would be news to the Holy Father, as well.

  • I just became aware of this site and I am shocked yes shocked at how much common sense i am seeing in these posts!

    I didn’t know Catholics were still free to have their own opinions, especially ones that may not always see eye to eye with you know who in Rome.

    Thank you Jesus.

    • brettsalkeld

      Rome supports the Republicans? That’s news to us. 😉

      • Mark Gordon

        That would be news to the Holy Father, as well.

  • wlindsaywheeler

    Republican socialism was formed in France in the early 1830s. It was also called Blanquism. Out of Republican socialism was born all the socialist movements such as International Socialism (communism, Marxism, Bolshevism), Fabian socialism, democratic socialism, National Socialism (Fascism). Actually all three, Communism, Fabian Socialism and democratic socialism are internationalist. All these movements create governments called ‘republics’. Remember the ‘raterrepublics’ of the Weimar republic? Or howabout the USSR? United Socialist Soviet Republics. Or howabout the ‘republic’ started by the communists in the Spanish Civil War? Modern republicanism gave birth to socialist movements. They are from the same ideological foundations of anti-clericalism, nihilism and modern gnosticism. Hitler and Goebbels called their regime a “republic”.

    The FFofA were a part of this movement. The Republican Party was always progressive. Karl Marx sent a letter to Abraham Lincoln praising him for his stand on ending slavery and the slave owning class! Abolitionism is a progressive idea.

    So yes, modern American Republicans look like communists.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      “Or howabout the ‘republic’ started by the communists in the Spanish Civil War? ”

      Please get your facts right: the Spanish Republic predated the civil war by a number of years, and there were governments of both the right and left before the Civil War started. So to say that the communists “started” the Republic is simply wrong and actually rather silly.

      • wlindsaywheeler

        The communist forces of the Spanish Civil War of 1936 called themselves “Republican”.

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

        Sigh…..the communists were fighting as part of a broad coalition to support the democratically elected republican government of Spain. Stop conflating the two.

      • wlindsaywheeler

        The problem is that democracy is the vehicle for communism. The Spanish Civil War is the replication of the French Revolution. That communist either piggyback or hijack supposedly “republican” movements is neither here nor there.

        All Modern Republicanism is from the same root; Atheism. The psuedo-republic of the Founding Fathers of America (the FFofA) comes from the same source.

        “Outraged at the brutalities of the Republicans, aided by the Russians, in the Spanish Civil War, he (Jesuit Enrico Rosa) deplored the fact that hundreds of the clergy had been murdered; religious buildings had been burned; nuns raped; priests mutilated.”

        The Viet Cong did the same in Vietnam. The FFofA were sons of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a cultural revolution fueled by Protestants and Atheists. It was “The enemy of my enemy is my Friend”. The enemy of Protestants were the Catholics. Atheists and Protestants made common cause against Catholicism/Christendom. The psuedo-republic of America is a product of this. And so yes, Republicans are similar to communists.

        The only true conservatives in America were the Loyalists, the monarchists. These were driven out at the conclusion of the American Revolution. There are no true conservatives in America. The word “conservative” in the Anglo-sphere means a liberal.

  • wlindsaywheeler

    Republican socialism was formed in France in the early 1830s. It was also called Blanquism. Out of Republican socialism was born all the socialist movements such as International Socialism (communism, Marxism, Bolshevism), Fabian socialism, democratic socialism, National Socialism (Fascism). Actually all three, Communism, Fabian Socialism and democratic socialism are internationalist. All these movements create governments called ‘republics’. Remember the ‘raterrepublics’ of the Weimar republic? Or howabout the USSR? United Socialist Soviet Republics. Or howabout the ‘republic’ started by the communists in the Spanish Civil War? Modern republicanism gave birth to socialist movements. They are from the same ideological foundations of anti-clericalism, nihilism and modern gnosticism. Hitler and Goebbels called their regime a “republic”.

    The FFofA were a part of this movement. The Republican Party was always progressive. Karl Marx sent a letter to Abraham Lincoln praising him for his stand on ending slavery and the slave owning class! Abolitionism is a progressive idea.

    So yes, modern American Republicans look like communists.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

      “Or howabout the ‘republic’ started by the communists in the Spanish Civil War? ”

      Please get your facts right: the Spanish Republic predated the civil war by a number of years, and there were governments of both the right and left before the Civil War started. So to say that the communists “started” the Republic is simply wrong and actually rather silly.

      • wlindsaywheeler

        The communist forces of the Spanish Civil War of 1936 called themselves “Republican”.

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

        Sigh…..the communists were fighting as part of a broad coalition to support the democratically elected republican government of Spain. Stop conflating the two.

      • wlindsaywheeler

        The problem is that democracy is the vehicle for communism. The Spanish Civil War is the replication of the French Revolution. That communist either piggyback or hijack supposedly “republican” movements is neither here nor there.

        All Modern Republicanism is from the same root; Atheism. The psuedo-republic of the Founding Fathers of America (the FFofA) comes from the same source.

        “Outraged at the brutalities of the Republicans, aided by the Russians, in the Spanish Civil War, he (Jesuit Enrico Rosa) deplored the fact that hundreds of the clergy had been murdered; religious buildings had been burned; nuns raped; priests mutilated.”

        The Viet Cong did the same in Vietnam. The FFofA were sons of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a cultural revolution fueled by Protestants and Atheists. It was “The enemy of my enemy is my Friend”. The enemy of Protestants were the Catholics. Atheists and Protestants made common cause against Catholicism/Christendom. The psuedo-republic of America is a product of this. And so yes, Republicans are similar to communists.

        The only true conservatives in America were the Loyalists, the monarchists. These were driven out at the conclusion of the American Revolution. There are no true conservatives in America. The word “conservative” in the Anglo-sphere means a liberal.

  • digbydolben

    A colleague of mine in the international school in which I teach said to me yesterday morning, “You no longer have real ideological and principled differences in your American politics, do you? Your Obama, for instance, governs the country further to the right than Richard Nixon did, but, instead of principled ideological differences, what you now have is tribalism, and with “tribalism” true republican politics become impossible.”

    This teacher is an economist, and I think he’s nailed it precisely: America, as an experiment in republican democracy, is finished.

  • digbydolben

    A colleague of mine in the international school in which I teach said to me yesterday morning, “You no longer have real ideological and principled differences in your American politics, do you? Your Obama, for instance, governs the country further to the right than Richard Nixon did, but, instead of principled ideological differences, what you now have is tribalism, and with “tribalism” true republican politics become impossible.”

    This teacher is an economist, and I think he’s nailed it precisely: America, as an experiment in republican democracy, is finished.

  • Thales

    Old-school communist parties also relied heavily on intellectual support, and received it from far too many philosophers and thinkers who should have known better. That too is unchanged.

    So the GOP is just like the Communists because they rely on intellectual support? “You know else relied on intellectual support? The Commies.” This argument is a little too much like the argument “You know who else were vegetarians? The Nazis.” Plus, isn’t this exactly the opposite to the current narrative about the GOP? I thought the current narrative was that the GOP was not relying on intellectual support but had been coopted by the unthinking and irrational Tea Party, and that it was the liberals that had the intellectual support (eg, Paul Krugman, http://www.slate.com/id/2300840/ ) I mean, you yourself, just had a post about how the GOP was economically stupid.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova/2011/08/05/gop-economic-stupidity-in-one-sentence/

    • That is precisely the point. As the GOP deviates further and further from any worldview underpinned by practical reason, its intellectual defenders become charlatans.

  • Thales

    Old-school communist parties also relied heavily on intellectual support, and received it from far too many philosophers and thinkers who should have known better. That too is unchanged.

    So the GOP is just like the Communists because they rely on intellectual support? “You know else relied on intellectual support? The Commies.” This argument is a little too much like the argument “You know who else were vegetarians? The Nazis.” Plus, isn’t this exactly the opposite to the current narrative about the GOP? I thought the current narrative was that the GOP was not relying on intellectual support but had been coopted by the unthinking and irrational Tea Party, and that it was the liberals that had the intellectual support (eg, Paul Krugman, http://www.slate.com/id/2300840/ ) I mean, you yourself, just had a post about how the GOP was economically stupid.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova/2011/08/05/gop-economic-stupidity-in-one-sentence/

    • That is precisely the point. As the GOP deviates further and further from any worldview underpinned by practical reason, its intellectual defenders become charlatans.

  • Please. Did you get your history out of a Cracker Jack box? You are mixing apples and oranges, and then metaphysically mixing them up in a cocktail that looks nothing like reality. Stalinism was pretty darn evil, but who else was organizing the sharecroppers in the 1930’s in Alabama but the Communist Party? Who were the people on the picket lines demanding the eight hour day, the end of child labor, medical benefits, but those who were decidely “impractical” and cared about nothing but utopias, who didn’t listen to the accountants who wanted to “sweat the details”, and so on? Why is it that the bourgeoisie fought so hard to get rid of all the Reds in the unions in the 1950’s, and then work harder to destroy the unions by decimating the manufacturing base while their lackey pro-capitalist bureaucrats sat with their thumb up their anuses and did nothing? The leftists of yore were not saints, but to think that they are some cabal of enfants terribles who cared little about workers is beyond idiocy. Why not paint Wall Street fat cats in that role instead? Looks like capitalism has absolutely no problems sabotaging itself, at least from the perspective of the workers.

    But I forgot, your beloved encyclicals say we can’t go “too far”, everything in moderation. Whatever.

  • Please. Did you get your history out of a Cracker Jack box? You are mixing apples and oranges, and then metaphysically mixing them up in a cocktail that looks nothing like reality. Stalinism was pretty darn evil, but who else was organizing the sharecroppers in the 1930’s in Alabama but the Communist Party? Who were the people on the picket lines demanding the eight hour day, the end of child labor, medical benefits, but those who were decidely “impractical” and cared about nothing but utopias, who didn’t listen to the accountants who wanted to “sweat the details”, and so on? Why is it that the bourgeoisie fought so hard to get rid of all the Reds in the unions in the 1950’s, and then work harder to destroy the unions by decimating the manufacturing base while their lackey pro-capitalist bureaucrats sat with their thumb up their anuses and did nothing? The leftists of yore were not saints, but to think that they are some cabal of enfants terribles who cared little about workers is beyond idiocy. Why not paint Wall Street fat cats in that role instead? Looks like capitalism has absolutely no problems sabotaging itself, at least from the perspective of the workers.

    But I forgot, your beloved encyclicals say we can’t go “too far”, everything in moderation. Whatever.