Karl Marx and Our Divided America
I received one of the best questions I’ve ever received from a blog reader this week, so instead of replying in a comment, I’d like to devote an entire post to my answer.
A reader named Allen wrote to say:
“I would love to hear your thoughts on the influence of Social Marxism and the efforts to foment and manipulate some of the deep connotations of both the left and the hard right to bring chaos and deconstruction.”
First off, it did my heart great good to hear that someone in America is even thinking along these lines. Bravo.
Secondly, I wish I had time and space to devote to a longer answer, but the best I can do at this super busy stage of life is throw out a few bullet points and related comments. Perhaps these will at least give you direction for more research.
1. Marxism vs. Marxism vs. Communism and Socialism
If you’ve read Karl Marx’s writings, you know that they vary enough to be organized into at least two eras (pre-Engels and post Engels). Marx’s early manuscripts (known as the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts or The Paris Manuscripts) were published in 1844 and were hidden from the public eye for almost 100 years. Marx never referred to them in his later writings. Those early manuscripts had a big impact on Western intellectuals.
Marxist theories that resulted from Marxist writings split into more subcategories after his death. When we talk about Marxism today, we might be talking about Classical Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Western Marxism, Libertarian Marxism, Structural Marxism, Neo-Marxism, Cultural Marxism, Analytical Marxism, Post-Marxism, Marxist Humanism, or Marxist Feminism.
And while there are similarities among Marxism, Communism, and Socialism, Americans tend to err by using these terms interchangeably. I am not going to distinguish between these philosophies in this post, but I want to at least acknowledge that there are differences.
2. Some Time Well Spent
When the Emergent Church began to appear on the landscape of evangelicalism, I was concerned that modern voices were beginning to echo the Social Gospel of Walter Rauschenbusch (early 1900’s). In fact, I found uncited sentences that were nearly verbatim Rauschenbush in several emergent writings. While it’s true that the church should bring the the Kingdom ethic to the earth, the Social Gospel is riddled with grave theological error. I won’t make time to unpack those errors here, but I will urge you to spend time with two sources that may shed light on how political evil intends to commandeer the church.
The first is an interview with former KGB agent and defector Yuri Bezmenov (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgmg2VFX058 ). Yes, this video is old. Yes, every single American should spend the hour and a half needed to watch Bezmenov explain how enemies of democracy can maneuver a government and its people to gain power. Even if you think Russian aggression is no longer a threat to the United States, the practical instruction you will gain from hearing about Russian cultural strategy is vital. Every Christian (Republican, Democrat, and independent) needs this information to grow in awareness about how the cause of Christ might be manipulated for worldly ends.
The second resource is a little more obscure. It's a list of 45 Communist Goals entered into the Congressional record in 1963 after they were given in a speech by U.S. Representative Albert Sydney Herlong Jr.. (Liberal readers might find it interesting that Herlong was, in fact, a Democrat. As you read the list, remember that.) http://nwlibertyacademy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/communist_goals.pdf . Whether or not these goals were ever official, it’s fascinating to see how many have come to pass in the past 54 years. And it's helpful to at least think about why each step might (or might not) be important in undermining a democracy.
3. Intentional Unrest
Stirring up internal cultural chaos is almost always a declared goal of opposition forces, and we should be aware of the vulnerability of our own reactivity. When discussing this matter, our fingers should not simply be pointed at young people taking to the streets en masse, but also to the highest office in the land, and to every political leader who has built a platform on vitriol.
I do not know where the deep, secret allegiance of our leaders takes root, but even an unintended personal weakness (such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder) can feed the chaos that is beneficial to America’s enemies. This is why it is vital that our leaders maintain a dignified and mature presence on social media. Words have consequences, and any true patriot would be wise to remember that while rhetorical boldness can be as inspiring as one of Churchill's speeches, it can also be as foolish as any "Hold my beer" redneck with a handful of lit firecrackers on YouTube. Loud and proud doesn't equal wise and trustworthy.
4. None of this complexity excuses Americans from taking a stand for essential human morality.
The proper response to this tenuous social context is not silence. We are to speak truth—even hard and costly truth—into the public sphere firmly, wisely, and repeatedly. Furthermore, the evasive move of answering the KKK with “But BLM...” does not remedy the essential problem America faces. We must call evil evil and not allow reactive bifurcation fallacies (which benefit our enemies) to determine our course.
That’s all I have time to offer for now, but I will try to give more another day.
Allen, thanks for your good question. For now, readers, please be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Not only is it right and good to take the time to be informed about the complexity of our situation, educating ourselves is the second-most patriotic effort Christians can make for our nation at this time. The first, of course, is to live in complete submission to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.