06 December 2005

Unlike the attrocities in the name of religion, no attrocities have ever been committed in the name of atheism.

In 1938 Hitler declared; "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work."

"Article 24 of Hitler's Nazi party programs calls for "Positive Christianity". Among the 25 points of the core values of this new Christianity, as explained by German philosopher Ernst Bergmann in 1934, is point number six which states: "The German religion is a religion of the people. It has nothing in common with free thoughts, atheist propaganda, and the breakdown of current religions."

None of the crimes that the Nazis carried out were done in the name of atheism. Most of the German population were Protestants or Catholics (including Hitler himself who never declared himself atheist) and the Nazis and fascists in Italy maintained a close relationship with the Vatican. You might as well say, it was the Nazis liking for jazz music that made them kill, rather than atheism.

"While it is true that Joseph Stalin (1879-1953), Mao Zedong (1893-1976) and Pol Pot (1925-1998) were all atheists, this is not the only thing they have in common. They were also men, political leaders and communists. Merely citing common denominators does not establish the cause of their actions. It is important to consider what was the main driving force in their committing atrocities against their own people.

If we look in detail at the horrors committed by these men - Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot - we will see that the atrocities were the direct result of Marxist-communist doctrines that had nothing to do with atheism."

Stalin's attrocities were as a result of the farm collectivisation programme and his paranoia about his political opponents. Nobody was killed for opposing atheism.

Mao's attrocities were similar; "The idea that individual ownership of capital is evil caused many of the landlords to be murdered. Then the belief that collectivization would solve the problems of famine in the country actually exacerbated it. Finally intolerance of opposing views, or of people who were deemed capable of holding opposing views, resulted in the execution of many "intellectuals". These were heinous crimes - but communism and despotism, not atheism, were to blame."

"Pol Pot had a deep seated hatred of "intellectuals" and summarily executed many of these. These "intellectuals" include anyone with a college education, civil servants from the previous regime, Buddhist monks, Muslim leaders, Christian clergy, teachers and practically all members of the middle class. However the bulk of the three millions deaths he was responsible for happened in almost the same circumstance as Mao's "Great Leap Forward" - to try and achieve an ideal classless society where everybody is a plebian farmer!"

Quotes taken from here.

9 comments:

  1. This is laughable, Neil.

    Hitler himself was a believer in a concocted mysticism that was a pretty much a cult-of-me - his ramblings were all about his own triumph and the role of providence; he believed in reincarnation, too. He personally might have been a theist, although given his declard passion for propaganda this might just as much of been to give himself an air of bourgeois respectability; we don't know.

    The Nazi Party was not, though, conventionally theistic. Even in the (highly selective) quotes you offer, it talks of "the German religion," which hits at the point - the Nazis were often less anti-Christian than indifferent towards it, because they wanted a radically united tribal nation, without the interference of a Church.

    Atheism was rarely, it is true, their main motivation - but their decayed Nietzscheanism was a part of their approach. Hitler in private (from the conversations recorded by his secretary) was clear:

    "The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity..."

    "Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure."

    "The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity."

    "There is something very unhealthy about Christianity."

    Anti-Christianity wasn't the main priority for Nazism, and there was no coherent alternative view they offered; mainly, they viewed it all as a damaging diversion, getting in the way of the strong. Their antipathy to Christian theism was not the cause of their violence, but it was part and parcel of what licensed it.

    So, that's that point dumped. Now to the Commies...

    The lines you quote posit that Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot's atheism was completely separate from their Communism, almost a coincidence. Strange, I must've missed those Christian Communists... Perhaps it escaped your attention that materialist atheism is central to Communism, because religion is an opiate used to pacify the proletariat. Which explains why Stalin smashed the Orthodox Church in the 1920s and 1930s, levelling churches and monasteries, and killing or imprisoning thousands of priests and nuns, which you conveniently whitewash in your post.

    Perhaps you and the guy you cite can't grasp this point, but to say that Stalin (or Mao or Pol Pot) was an atheist and that this is relevant does not mean that it has to explain all of their actions. But it was central to their beliefs; in particular, the lack of a belief in God allowed them to put notions of History ahead of moral sanctions, removing any barriers of conscience for them to commit their atrocities.

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  2. Blimpish, you are deliberately missing the point again. Whatever Hitler said about religions was not motivated by atheism. As you admit yourself, HE WASN'T AN ATHEIST. End of story.

    "Their antipathy to Christian theism was not the cause of their violence, but it was part and parcel of what licensed it. So, that's that point dumped."

    Nonsense, they were Nazis that had a theistic leader, if atheism was their driving force they would have just killed him first. Your logic just makes no sense as usual. You can twist any fact can't you?

    "Perhaps it escaped your attention that materialist atheism is central to Communism, because religion is an opiate used to pacify the proletariat."

    Religion is an ideology like Communism and both have rigid 'scriptures' and 'spititual leaders' whoose words are worshipped as sacrosanct.

    Atheism may have been a part of Communism but Communism isn't a part of atheism. It wasn't atheism that led to the oppression. Even Marx himself calls atheism irrelevant.

    If you read the rest of his famous opiate quote, Marx goes on to sympathise with the proletariat in turning to religion and he understands how desperation drives their belief. Marx says;

    "The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."

    Atheism itself is obviously separate altogether from the idea of Communism carried out by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.. Many atheists were killed as well.

    The closest we have got to an 'atheist' state are the democracies with secular principles in the developed world.

    Atheism is just a lack of belief in a God. Just as the lack of belief in the Greek gods hasn't led to oppression, neither would total atheism.

    Indeed oppression would certainly be reduced in the absence of religion or any alternative ideology like fundamentalist Communism. I am arguing against all fixed ideology. My ideal is a democracy where religion is as relevant as Greek Mythology.

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  3. For cryin' out loud, Neil!: Greek mythology was so irrelevant that Socrates was sentenced to death for questioning it! (And in Sparta, there was less religion than tribalism; the Nazis would've liked it.)

    Your whitewashing of the persecutions of the religious under Soviet Communism are on the same spectrum as Holocaust denial, Neil. Just because Communists killed other atheists, it doesn't alter the fact of conscious targeting and persecution of religious people on the basis of their religion, a policy justified explicitly on Communist principles, and no mere coincidence. During the Reformation, Christians killed Christians - does that make them any less antipathetic towards heretics in general?

    To pretend Stalin's atrocities against the Orthodox church and its devotees didn't happen and wasn't part and parcel of Communism is despicable. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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  4. Blimpish, you have been fisked and you know it. That is a pathetic response. Avoid all the main points I made if you like but it doesn't hide the facts.

    You know what I meant about Greek mythology. Who would be persecuted for non-belief in the Greek gods nowadays. Atheism as far as the greek gods go is a nothing issue.

    "Your whitewashing of the persecutions of the religious under Soviet Communism are on the same spectrum as Holocaust denial, Neil. Just because Communists killed other atheists, it doesn't alter the fact of conscious targeting and persecution of religious people on the basis of their religion"

    As I have explained you are talking about Communism (which I reject) not atheism. You can't wriggle out of this one.

    "To pretend Stalin's atrocities against the Orthodox church and its devotees didn't happen and wasn't part and parcel of Communism is despicable."

    I'm not denying anything as you well know. These atrocities were Communist not atheist. Stop trying to change the subject.

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  5. also, people seem to have forgot that Stalin rehabilitated the Orthodox Church during the war. He wasn't as atheistic as made out when his back was against the wall!

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  6. Neil, this is tedious.

    Communism is an inherently atheistic ideology; the Marx quote you give to 'refute' the point does nothing of the sort, as anybody capable of conceptual thought (i.e., not you) would see clearly.

    Communism as a 20th century ideology did not exist outside of atheism, just as the witch-burnings of the Middle Ages did not exist outside of Christianity. Atheism was a central tenet of Communism; to say what Marx said was to deny any essential truth to religion, except as an illusory salve for proletarian hardship. To be a Communist is to believe in the absolute dominance of the materialist dialectic, and not in any God.

    Every major Communist movement has been explicitly anti-theist. In the case of Soviet Communism, the destruction of Church was a part of the programme.

    This isn't to say that atheism leads to Communism, but then neither does Christianity lead to witch-burnings. The religious positions are necessary elements in either case, but they are not sufficient.

    Here's the problem, you see - and don't answer, because as with the other post, I'm bored of teaching you basic logic: I am fully comfortable with the existence of atheism in the world, but you seem to have a fetishistic hatred of religion and the religious. I am comfortable with the fact that many atheists have done good in the world, and that atheism can provide an intellectual challenge which is stimulating if expressed coherently (yours isn't). You are not comfortable with people not wanting to believe what you do; you feel a need to attack them and to smear their intentions, and to doubt whether they believe what they do.

    You preen yourself on your 'open-mindedness' and being 'scientific' when you're probably the most bigoted blogger I've had the misfortune to come across, iron-clad fixed in an incoherent ideological mindset and paranoid at the notion that you might be wrong that you just assert your point repeatedly - like the worst caricature of a religious head-banger. Oh, the ironies.

    Frankly Neil, you're a discredit and an embarassment to the Labour Party - most of the members of which in my experience are decent and intellgent people - especially as you have the temerity to take the party's name as your blog title.

    Oh, and if you want to accuse me of being a public schoolboy now, like you did last time, go ahead. It isn't true, but I'll understand if it makes you feel better. Maybe you can get your blanky for a hug too.

    (anon: re Stalin, as Allan Bloom put it, his invocation of God in the late 1930s "made no intellectual sense, but it helped with the simpletons...")

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  7. Communism may have used atheism in its ideology, but that doesn't mean the atrocities it carried out had anything to do with atheism. They quite plainly didn't.

    As Anon points out, both religion and atheism was used by communist regimes. So it is not true to say that Communism didn't exist outside of atheism.

    "Every major Communist movement has been explicitly anti-theist. In the case of Soviet Communism, the destruction of Church was a part of the programme."

    As indeed was a rehabilitation of the orthodox church.

    "I am comfortable with the fact that many atheists have done good in the world, and that atheism can provide an intellectual challenge which is stimulating if expressed coherently (yours isn't). You are not comfortable with people not wanting to believe what you do; you feel a need to attack them and to smear their intentions, and to doubt whether they believe what they do."

    There are many religious people who contribute greatly to society, that is not part of my argument at all.

    Religious argument however is very limited and soon falls down on inspection of the evidence. It is also very dangerous because it encourages irrationality. That is why I am against it.

    The last part of your statement sums you up far more than me.

    "don't answer, because as with the other post, I'm bored of teaching you basic logic"

    You can't tell me what to do. I can understand why you don't want me to reply, because you are getting an utter fisking. This is typical of you and Andrew. When you can't win the argument you try to suppress free speech. I think that says a lot about the sort of person you are and what you believe.

    "You preen yourself on your 'open-mindedness' and being 'scientific' when you're probably the most bigoted blogger I've had the misfortune to come across"

    I take pride in someone as closed minded as you, finding my opinions so challenging. You are on the extreme right of the Conservative party. I think that says all we need to know about who is more likely to be bigoted.

    What is more honest, to say what you think and argue your viewpoint in an open debate, or to pretend you agree with everyone?

    I'm not interested in the issues where there is consensus. There are lots of issues where my views are with the consensus. But I NEVER talk about them, because there doesn't seem any point.

    Because I search out the issues where I think the consensus is wrong or has been mis-represented, I come across as uncompromising. And I am scared of the insults that have been forthcoming from people like you and Andrew.

    Sometimes I am wrong and if there is a persuasive argument I change my opinion, like I did over the practicalities of the government's ID scheme.

    If you don't set out a position you never learn anything. I had lots of comments from people telling me how much the ID debate on here had helped their understanding of the issues. They had never heard a liberal non-racist argument on the issue before reading my blog.

    This is why I am open-minded and you are not. Blimpish, have you ever changed your mind so clearly in a debate on the internet?

    "Frankly Neil, you're a discredit and an embarassment to the Labour Party - most of the members of which in my experience are decent and intellgent people"

    Well that is rich, considering how you continually insult people who are socialists or New Labour.

    "especially as you have the temerity to take the party's name as your blog title."

    Unlike you I am not scared to put my name to my views. I am a member of the Brighton Regency Labour Party who attends meetings regularly. It is clear in the title that my views are independent from the party, but I don't hide my allegiance to Labour. The party know about the blog, I have had no complaints. Orginally I was just going to tow the party line on issues, but I'm just too honest to do that, and I think it is easier and better to explore the issues from an independent standpoint.

    In your terminology, the public schoolboy jibe was a joke, lol.

    "re Stalin, as Allan Bloom put it, his invocation of God in the late 1930s "made no intellectual sense, but it helped with the simpletons..."

    This is a crude way of putting the point Marx makes about Capitalism's continued use of religion. So even you use the same arguments as Marx when it suits you.

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  8. oops! That should have been 'not scared' of the insults.

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  9. Actually atheism did inspire their acts

    Mao himself spoke at times against religion specifically, rather than merely in favour of his own brand of political ideology. Famously he stated that "religion is poison. It has two great defects: It undermines the race ...(and) retards the progress of the country." We see in this all the hallmarks of atheism joined with a fanatical dedication to eliminate its perceived opposition. After his annexation of Tibet (which has, to their shame, remained unopposed by western governments to this day) Mao openly endorsed the destruction of Tibetan cultural heritage, including Buddhist monasteries, in part as a campaign to eliminate "theocratic authority". It has been estimated that the number of Tibetan monasteries was reduced by the Chinese from some 2,500 to "only just over 70" in the period 1959-1961. The number of monks and nuns fell from 100,000 to just 7,000 in the same period. Hundreds of thousands have died as a result of the invasion and the suffering goes on today. And, it should be noted, Mao's attack on religion in China was equally forceful.



    there is a Soviet poster “Religion is the Enemy of Industrialization”
    as printed in the official government journal Atheist

    there is a Soviet poster ridiculing Judaism—as printed in the official government journal Atheist

    “Communism begins where atheism begins…” (Karl Marx)


    “The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion” (Karl Marx)


    “I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above.” (Karl Marx)


    “The hellish vapors rise and fill the brain, till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed. See this sword? The prince of darkness sold it to me.” (Karl Marx)


    “With disdain I will throw my gauntlet full in the fact of the world and see the collapse of this pygmy giant. Then will I wander god-like and victorious through the ruins of the world. And giving my words an active force, I will feel equal to the Creator.” (Karl Marx)


    “Karl Marx is a monster possessed by ten thousand devils.” (Frederick Engels)


    Karl Marx “had the devil’s view of the world and the devil’s malignity. Sometimes he seemed to know that he was accomplishing the works of evil.” (Robert Payne, a friend of Karl Marx)


    “Atheism is the natural and inseparable part of Communism.” (attributed to Vladimir I. Lenin)


    “Our program necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism.” (V.I. Lenin)


    “There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.” (V.I. Lenin)


    “We do not fight against believers and not even clergymen. WE FIGHT AGAINST GOD to snatch believers from Him.” (Vechernaia Moskva, a Soviet newspaper)


    “Let us drive out the Capitalists from the earth, and God from Heaven!” (early Soviet slogan)


    “With an iron fist we will drive mankind to happiness!” (Soviet slogan)


    “Hatred is an element of the struggle, a relentless hatred of the enemy transforming him into an effective, violent and selective, cold blooded killing machine. A people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.” (Che Guevare)


    The official journal of the Soviet Academy of Pedagogical Sciences published a government directive Atheistic Education in the School as a resource on how to separate God from human society. The opening paragraph is revealing: “The Soviet school, as an instrument for the Communist education of the rising generation, can, as a matter of principle, take up no other attitude towards religion than one of irreconcilable opposition; for Communist education has as its philosophical basis Marxism, and Marxism is irreconcilably hostile to religion. ‘Marxism is materialism,’ says V. I. Lenin; ‘as such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion as the materialism of the Encyclopedaists of the eighteenth century or the materialism of Feuerbach.’” Another excerpt reads: “‘Religion’,” Marx said, “is nourished not on heaven but on earth, and with the annihilation of that perverted reality, of which capitalism is the theory, religion will perish of its own accord.’”


    “The World has never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized and tenaciously malevolent as that preached by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin and at the heart of their psychology, HATRED OF GOD is the principle driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot. To achieve its diabolical ends, Communism needs to control a population devoid of religious and national feeling, and this entails a destruction of faith and nationhood. Communists proclaim both of these objectives openly, and just as openly put them into practice.” (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)

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