In any conversation about the so-called Cold War, superficial differences between the United States and the Soviet Union are invariably cited as the roots of the conflict: personal liberty vs. authoritarianism; capitalism vs. collectivism; conservative ideology vs. the new far left amorality. But these are results, not causes, all stemming from a much deeper seed.
People often wonder why the United States of America is falling further and further away from its initial moorings, toward a brave new world of laissez-faire morality and a strictly regulated economy (a virtual reversal of classical Constitutionalism). The answer is simple, and sadly proves that we actually lost the Cold War: Americans have embraced the inherently Communist ideal of "freedom from religion," relinquishing the historical notion of "freedom of religion."
It's important to note that Communism in this context deserves a capital C. Communism with a lower case c simply refers to the idea that goods should be owned in common, that private property should be shunned in favor of distributive wealth. While that's certainly an aspect of big-C Communism, it isn't the whole story.
Communism as an ideology was largely the invention of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, co-authors of the seminal The Communist Manifesto. (As a result, Communism is often referred to as Marxism, since Marx was the driving force.) In their Manifesto they outlined a system for cultural, economic, and political revolution, in which the working class (or proletariat) ousts the capitalistic aristocracy in favor of collectivism.
This was first practically applied in Russia, where men like Vladimir Ilych Lenin and Leon Trotsky (who had crazy eyes) got hold of Marx's ideas and led a revolution against Tsar Nicholas II, killing the emperor and his family and instituting a centralized Communist government. Other nations soon followed, most notably China under the leadership of Chairman Mao.
Collectivization required a static, homogenous, and compliant population, which in turn meant genocide; those who refused to submit to the new regime (including its leaders, like Trotsky, who died in exile) were thrown in jail, banished to Siberian work camps, and slaughtered by the millions. All wealth was centralized and redistributed by the State, and ideological brainwashing commenced to suppress individualism and individuality.
Most importantly, this meant getting rid of the problematic presence of Religion. Orthodox Christianity was an essential element of Russian existence, but Communism's inherent atheism was unable to co-exist with the spiritual ideology presented by the historic Christian faith, so they ditched it altogether, killed and tortured its adherents, and outlawed worship.
Some will wonder why Communism's atheism is inherent. As a follower of the Hegelian philosophy (named for its founder, Georg Hegel), Karl Marx was a dialectical materialist—dialectical in the sense that he believed humanity was constantly progressing toward a teleological goal, and materialist in the sense that he believed only the physical, material world existed.
Thus, there was no need of God, especially the Christian God, who is both spirit and the only source of man's progress. But man needed a religion of sorts to keep him in line (as Marx said, "religion is the opium of the masses"), so Marx and his followers proposed that a new god be worshipped: the State.
The new god was unconcerned with morality or redemption, only with keeping itself alive through the hard work of the people forced to serve in its name. The Christian religion was consequently cast in a devious light, as an oppressor rather than a liberator, as a limiter of human potential rather than its only true source.
By the time the Cold War rolled around, this attitude was firmly ingrained in the people of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. They had a religion, but they were atheists; they served a god, but it was an idol that lacked even the form of a graven image. And people on both sides of the Atlantic feared that god's power, almost as much as they feared its messengers: nuclear warheads able to wipe out entire populations.
History, however, has showed conclusively that bad ideologues are far more dangerous and destructive than bombs. The United States may have averted war, but they didn't successfully defend against the corrosive idea that Communism embodied, the idea that God was dead, religion was a slavemaster, and that subversion of one's humanity and faith was perfectly legitimate as long as economic "security" was received in return.
Today, Americans are as deluded as the early Russian Communists: they want nothing so much as freedom from religion, to be unbound by moral laws, but to receive materially everything they want or need from the government. Will we realize this is the worst kind of slavery in time to reverse the trend toward complete government control? Is it already too late?
What we don't want to advocate is an alarmist attitude of fear and trepidation. The ideological threats of Communism and their presence in the U. S. are obvious, but as Christians we call on a God able to save, who is not intimidated by earthly powers, and who keeps His children in faith and love. This is the only hope we truly have, and the only hope we can spread to a world in pain and in need, whether Communist or not.
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