Paul Johnson: Modern Times on Marx and Communism

   Paul Johnson was a major part of a realization that occurred in my education, changing me from a regular Jesus hippie to something a bit more serious. At the University of Dallas, we had a class called Marx/Lenin, and here I was able to read deeply into Marx, seeing the philosophic turn that is inseparable from the mass killings in the communist tyrannies of the Twentieth Century. Modern scholars do not get the essential connection between the theory of Marx and the millions of corpses in Russia, China, and Cambodia, let alone its similarity to the Nazi holocaust of the Jews, as Communism and Nazism are extreme opposites of the political left and right. I wrote a 40 page term paper, which was not unusual, and have Marx reduced to some 12 or 16 fundamental points that he keeps repeating, but that do not jump right out at the reader from Das Capital. The hypothesis, regarding how this arose as a development of the bloodshed of the French Revolution, will have to wait for the publication of that paper. But one day, when he was visiting from Great Britain, I had the honor of buying Mr. Johnson a cappuccino at the coffee bar there at UD, and we talked a while, though I could do little more than express my gratitude for his history writing. Later, in my American Government class, I would include excerpts from his work, to try to get the students to awaken to the significance of what is at stake in our study which began with a bit of Aristotle on the 6 kinds of regime and the principles in the Declaration of Independence.

   Johnson teaches:

There is no essential moral difference between class-warfare and race-warfare, between destroying a class and destroying a race. thus the modern practice of genocide was born.

                                                                Modern Times, p. 71

 Johnson cites Lenin himself:

   The extraordinary commission is neither an investigating commission nor a tribunal. It is an organ of struggle, acting on the home front of a civil war. It does not judge the enemy; it strikes him…We are not carrying out war against individuals. We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. We are not looking for evidence or witnesses to reveal deeds or words against the Soviet power. The first question we ask is- to what class does he belong, what are his origins, upbringing, education or profession? These questions define the fate of the accused. This is the essence of the Red terror.

                                                                       Modern Times, p. 71

Again contrary to the modern scholars, the same diabolical intention is quite present in the thought of Marx:

The vengeance of the people will break forth with such ferocity that not even the year 1793 enables us to envision it…

   The bloodshed and of the French Revolution is what caused Jefferson to recoil from his until then unlimited assertion of the rights of man against the ancient monarchies. Something never before thought possible appeared here for the first time, and developed into the class-ocide and genocide of the diabolical modern totalitarianisms. And what, after all, did the scholars think the “violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie” (Communist Manifesto, Marx-Engels Reader, p. 483) would look like? What is strange, though, is the continuing war against the ineradicable bourgeois nature at the root of private property. The above is from a series of excerpts from the correspondence of Marx and Engels assembled by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn in the Mortal Danger, cited by Thomas G. West in his essay which argues quite persuasively that the core of Marx is this violent Revolution (rather than the theoretical historical-economic determinism.* Lest there is any difficulty convicting Marx in a brief blog,

There is only one way of shortening, simplifying and concentrating the bloodthirsty death throes of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new- revolutionary terror…

We are pitiless and we ask no pity from you. When our time comes we shall not conceal terrorism with hypocritical phrases…

The vengeance of the people will break forth with such ferocity that not even the year 1793 enables us to envision it…

We shall be constrained to undertake communist experiments and extravagant measures, the untimeliness of which we know better than anyone else…Until the world is able to form a historical judgement of such events, we shall be considered “beasts,” which doesn’t matter…

Finally, West cites Solzhenitsyn,

Marx and Engels reiterated on many occasions, “once we are at the helm, we shall be obliged to enact the year 1793.”

The Mortal Danger, pp. 113-114

Johnson also notes that Churchill uniquely was the only one who saw the Marxist regimes for nearly what they were, and are. Then the West was allied with them in defeating Hitler, and of course no one wanted to call them out. Johnson writes:

…with one exception none of the Allied statesmen involved even began to grasp the enormous significance of the establishment of this new type of totalitarian dictatorship, or the long term effect of its implantation in the heart of the greatest land power on earth. The exception was Winston Churchill…Churchill never wavered in his view that it ought to be a prime object of the policy of the peaceful, democratic great powers to crush this new kind of menace while they still could.

                                                                              Modern Times, p. 73-74.

So, it is not so surprising that such a thing could come to be and so few notice. Marxism is not accurately characterized by “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, ” as it is presented, nor is it about holding hands and sharing things.

 But it is not that these things were entirely hidden. It is more that they are beyond the pale of the human imagination, or perhaps what Nietzsche calls our “horizon.” Johnson cites a 1918 Russian army newspaper:

Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of hundreds, let them be thousands, let them drown themselves in their own blood…let there be floods of blood of the bourgeoisie.

Modern Times, p. 70

Communism, of course, preceded fascism in history, just as Marx preceded Nietzsche in German thought. The theoretical division between theory and practice on the right requires quite a bit more explaining, as Nietzsche is not especially anti-Semitic, nor even especially into the restoration of the Roman fasces, as might be thought of Machiavelli. The thought based on the principle of power after the destruction of all ethics is not opposed to using any difference to impose itself upon human beings, considered as matter, or to return to a Marxist phrase, “masses.” Lenin, of course, ignored the Marxist idea of the communist revolution as developing by the necessary march of a determined historical dialectic out of the industrial revolution- as the owners of the means of production- and transferred the theory to the Russian peasantry, a non-industrialized demos, who were then to revolt against the few rich and the owners of land in Czarist Russia. But this little change is not without a Marxist basis.  In the preface to the 1882 Russian edition of the Communist Manifesto, Marx, just before his death, writes:

   If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a  proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development.

And so, too, when we see things like the widening difference between the upper and lower classes, the disappearance of the middle class, big measures like deregulation of corporations little measures like the subjection of waitresses tips to the restaurant owners, one must wonder indeed if someone is not trying to cause what is avoided in fact by labor unions and stock ownership by the middle class, to make the creation of a revolutionary proletariat regardless of the theoretical ridiculousness of Marx and the resilience of political liberty.

II. What Marxist Communism Is

   Previously, we have written on the three secrets of the vision of Fatima and on Twentieth Century Ideological tyranny, as well as on the difference between “socialism” and Marxist communism.

   It is not even like the communism of the first Christians in the Acts of the Apostles, nor the community of goods supposed to occur among the priests, who are not supposed to have any concern for things of the body. In Plato’s Republic, there is a community of goods, and even of women and children, but this is among the very few guardians, and not at all among the majority of citizens. Nor is it at all correct to present twentieth century ideological tyranny as an error of expecting to apply some “ideal” of justice to a recalcitrant material world. Marxism is an intellectual perversion, a tyranny regardless of whether a single Stalin or a technically oligarchic politburo happens to hold power. It is much more a diabolic inversion of the imagination of the Christian West that arises out of the void in the imagination left following the fall of the medieval world. That is the true way to connect the modern tyrannies with the classical understanding of what now appears as a garden variety of tyrant. That, at any rate, is what we will try to explain in our theoretical understanding of modern communism, where we gather the 13-15 points called “Marx in a Nutshell.” But, in a word, though it is not comprehensible without acquiring the categories (and a sort of political theory that unified field theory in physics would be like): Twentieth century totalitarianism in an intellectual perversion expressed through the diabolical or inverted political imagination that is based on what in the natural form is baptism, the birth of the nous out of the world. Hence, as Marx says, the violence is “spiritual,” not normal political, violence, as Satanism is in a sense an atheistic religion. It is an inversion of the sacrifice in baptism, projected into the political world.

Johnson, Paul. Modern Times, Chapter 2: The first Despotic Utopias.

Marx, Karl. The Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert c. Tucker

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr I. The Mortal Danger: How Misconceptions about Russia Imperil America.

West, Thomas G. “Marx and Lenin.”

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