For a Christian to say he or she is anti-Marxist is understandable. There are numerous varieties of Marxism, and it is possible our Christian is referring to one of the many materialistic philosophies which style themselves Marxist without having much at all to do with Marx.
For a Christian to claim to be not only anti-Marxist but anti-Marx as well, it is probably owing to not having read all of Marx, and the repugnance is a symptom of simple ignorance. But when all is said and done I don not really care. I am under no obligation to defend Marx.
But for a Christian to claim to be anticommunist is quite a different matter, and without a doubt constitutes the greatest scandal of our century. It is not a good thing to weigh a book down with cries and shouts, but someone finally has to voice the most obvious and important truths, which no one mentions as if everyone knew them.
The notion of communism is in the New Testament, right down to the letter-and so well put that in the twenty centuries since it was written no one has come up with a better definition of communism than Luke in Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32-35. In fact, the definition Marx borrowed from Louis Blanc, “From each one according to his capacities, to each one according to his needs,” is inspired by, if not directly copied from, Luke’s formulation eighteen centuries earlier. There is no clearer demonstration of the brainwashing to which the establishment keeps us subjected than the officially promulgated conception of Christianity as anticommunist.
At this moment two-thirds of Latin America writhes under the yoke of atrocious anticommunist dictatorships. Nearly all the rest of Latin America suffers from a most ill-concealed anticommunist repression. The international politics of nearly all the countries of the world, and their consequent criminal armament ideology, rallies to this contradictory watchword: “Defend Christian civilization from communism!” At such a moment there are no words adequate to this other cry: But what if, in the history of the West, it is Christianity that started communism? What if, from the first century to the nineteenth, groups of Christians were never lacking, who, in spite of repression by the established powers and by the church, vigorously advocated communism, Bible in hand! What manner of insanity has swooped down on the Western world that it combats the Christian project par excellence as if it were its greatest enemy?
Ultimately the Marxists have been doing us a favor by propagating the idea of communism in our absence–our culpable absence. But to identify communism with Marxism implies a crass ignorance of history. It is far from certain that the establishment is struggling against atheistic materialism, as the powerful tell themselves in order to tranquilize their consciences. This repressive struggle of theirs dates from much earlier. It existed for many centuries when no communist was a materialist and no communist was an atheist; it existed when materialism and atheism did not even exist. Marxism is a mere episode in the history of the communist project. The pope and the other powerful ones are not fighting atheism, but us, who are Christians who believe in God and Jesus, and who only want to see the gospel become reality.
Surely there are different interpretations of the gospel, and the purpose of this book is to air them. But then the powerful are attacking an interpretation of the Bible different from their own. This onslaught of theirs is nothing but the continuation of what they were carrying on all through the Middle Ages and the first three centuries of the modern era. The denunciation of materialism is a pretext for anticommunist persecution. If these gentlemen did not have this pretext they would invent another–as in fact they did throughout the Middle Ages, with different pretexts in the sixteenth century and still others in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. If materialism were the reason for the anticommunist persecution, how do you explain the fact that they persecuted communism long before materialism existed? No, what they persecute and repress is communism as such. But the communist project is explicitly defended in the Bible as proper to the characteristic of Christianity. It was invented neither by the Marxist nor by the medieval or modern Christian groups!
When the official doctrinal propaganda asserts that the communist ideal is inseparable from materialist ideologies, it is denying facts as inseparable from materialist ideologies, it is denying facts as evident and inconceivable as daylight. In primitive Christianity, and for eighteen centuries after, the communist idea existed without materialism of any kind. And even today, what logical relationship can be pointed out between “having everything in common” (Acts 2:44) and denying the existence or efficacy of the spirit? The truth is precisely the reverse: communism cannot be actualized unless we recognize the infinite respect due God in each of our neighbors, including those who are economically unproductive by weakness or age or natural gifts. The failure of Russian communism is the evidence. (What you now have in the Soviet Union is state capitalism.)
Then why does official Christianity make war on an idea that is expressly sponsored in the fonts of Christianity, and which, logically, can only be brought to realization on the basis of authentic Christianity? The denial of the existence of the spirit is far more inseparable from each one’s selfishly seeking his or her own proper advantage and gain, as capitalism teaches us to do. The thesis that communism cannot be separated from materialism is one of those monstrous Hitler-style falsehoods that are proclaimed with all the greater aplomb the more false the are. Examined objectively, it is the diametrical inversion of the real facts.
Another deliberate misunderstanding is the allegation that we Christian communists are only being fashionable, or adapting to progressive currents, or zealously keeping up to date. In the name of my Latin American brothers and sisters I here formally declare that we are shameless conservatives. We are looking for the literal gospel. We detest that opportunist principle according to which Christianity ought constantly to adapt and accommodate to changing circumstances. As if Christianity had no content of its own to proclaim and actualize! We reject the feeble minded notion that Christianity must be Roman in Roman imperial times, feudal in the Middle Ages, absolutist during the monarchy, liberal for the French Revolution, and so on. We leave such flexibility to a church which, for many centuries now, has considered it of no importance to verify objectively what it is that Christ wanted to bring about in the world. It is those who repress us who are being “fashionable”–those who are anticommunist by adaption to the Trilateral Commission and the Chase Manhattan Bank. We, on the contrary, believe that Jesus Christ came to save the world, not to adapt to the world. And they say we are the ones who run after the current fashion?–we who accept no other criterion that the one formulated in the first century in the fonts of Christianity?
They can likewise lay aside the notion that, while not actually denying the existence of Spirit, we care more for the material than for the spiritual. But in the first place, the final criterion established and left us by Jesus as the only one is, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, was a stranger and you took me in, was stripped naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me, imprisoned and you came to see me” (Matt. 25:35-36). If this is preoccupying oneself more with the material than with the spiritual, then the self-styled official spiritualism ought to stop beating about the bush and direct its accusations against Jesus himself. Here we see all over again that the confrontation is between two interpretations of the Bible, not between Christians and atheists. And the difference is that we take the message of Jesus literally and without gloss.
But in the second place, is unrestricted fidelity to Jesus Christ to be reproached as preoccupation with the material? How are we going to give food to all who are hungry if we leave the means of production in private hands, which necessarily destine these means to the augmentation of capital and not to the satisfaction of the needs of the population? Do the official theologians really think they can maintain that there is more spirituality in the escapist selfishness of people who tranquilize themselves by saying, “There have always been people who starved to death, we are not divine providence,” than in the decision of the people who want to be faithful to Jesus by undertaking all possible means to give food to the hungry, knowing that they are exposing themselves to repression, prison, and torture? Is there less spirituality in ruining one’s future and social prestige by taking Jesus seriously than in adapting to the sweet enchantment of bourgeoisie singing “I am dedicated to spiritual things”?
Furthermore, they can lay aside the notion that, while not actually denying the existence of God, we care more about human beings than about God. We have dedicated our lives to Jesus. Don’t these theologians think Jesus is God? And this is where they anti revolutionary onslaught smites the essential point, the very essence of biblical revelation. Let it be clearly understood: the one thing the Christian revolutionaries advocate and defend is the adoration of the true God, in contrast with the adoration of idols, which for many centuries now has been inculcated by a theology radically ignorant of the Bible. This is not a theme that can simply be listed as item number so-and-so in a list of objections. It is not even just a theme. It is the one single motive of our rebellion, and the one single content of our theology. We have never pretended to do more than theo-logy, in the strict and literal sense of the word.
The God of the Bible is not knowable directly. The idols are. And the mental idols are more important than the material ones. There are those who believe that the only thing they have to do is put the word “God” in their minds to be directed toward the true God. But this is what the Bible fights to the death. The god of these adorers is a concept within their minds. With this instrumental act they fail to transcend their own subjectivity, their own psychism, their own I. Either the true God is transcendent or the true God does not exist. The otherness constituted by the oppressed neighbor, who calls on our aid seeking justice, burst our solipsism asunder. This is the only way we transcend ourselves. The God of the Bible is knowable only in otherness, in the call for help of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the stranger. Our revolutionary message has this objective only: that all people may come to know the one true God, and knowing God be saved. Those who accuse us of preferring the human to the divine are not only committing calumny; they are above all committing ignorance–supine ignorance of the Bible itself.
Last, they can abandon the notion that we care more for the transformation of structures than for the transformation of persons, that we care more for the social than for the personal. The contrary is the truth. Our revolution is directed toward the creation of the new human being. But unlike the attackers, we seek to posit the necessary means for the formation of this new human being. And the indispensable means is a new social structure. Is it not perfectly obvious that an existing social system has more efficacy for education or miseducation than the exhortations of classroom or temple? How far can you get with the idea that a person should not place his or her heart in money and material things (the central idea of the Sermon on the Mount) if the existing social system inculcates just the contrary under pain of blows and death? Perhaps an insignificant minority can heroically resist the peremptory mandates of such a system. But Christianity cares about all human beings. It cannot content itself with saving a tiny minority. The majority cannot even assign a sense of realism to the Christian message of brotherhood and solidarity with neighbor, when the social structure imposes upon it, under pain of annihilation, the task of seeking its proper interest and letting the chips fall where they may, without preoccupying itself with other people. Structural change will be a mere means for personal change–but a mean so obviously necessary, that those who fail to give it first priority demonstrate by that very fact that their vaunted desire to transform person is just empty rhetoric.
To return to where we began, the five establishment pretexts for unscrupulous crusade against communism are mere diversionary maneuvers: identifying communism with materialism and atheism, accusing us of chasing mode and fashion, imputing to us a lack of spirituality, alleging we care more for human beings than for God, and attributing to us a greater preoccupation with structures than with person. It is time to drop all these side issues and concentrate on the fundamental fact: the Bible teaches communism.
*excerpt from Communism In The Bible
by Jose Porfirio Miranda