Saturday, January 22, 2011

Political Rhetoric and Freedom of Speech: Lessons from the Historic Tension between Communism and the Church

For the first time in the world’s history, the Kingdom of the Antichrist has acquired political form and social substance and stands over against the Christian Church as a counter-church with its own dogmas and its own moral standards, ruled by a centralized hierarchy and inspired by an intense will to world conquest. Communism is not simply a form of political organization; it is an economy, a philosophy and a creed.

And its hostility to Christianity is due not to its political form, but to the philosophy that lies behind it. Communism, in fact, challenges Christianity on its own ground by offering mankind a rival way of salvation. In the words of the Communist poster, “Jesus promised the people paradise after death, but Lenin offers them Paradise on earth.”

-Christopher Dawson, 1935

Soviet politician, Vyacheslav Molotov, once said, “In Russia the Communist party is in power and all the other parties are in jail.” Totalitarian regimes do not tolerate opposition. And why should they if they are not inspired by moral truth? To understand this is to understand why double standards and inconsistencies are pronounced among many progressive politicians in the United States. As with twentieth century Communists, their political agendas and programs are advanced by an act of the will, not by reason. Vladimir Lenin, a contemporary of Molotov and leader of the Russian Revolution, did not mince words when he said, “There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience.” If there are no morals, then there are no principles to adhere to. As such, debates are a waste of time. Demagoguery- the art of appealing to the prejudices, emotions and fears -becomes the chosen instrument of acquiring and expanding political power.

In order to expand political power, a crisis is needed. To nationalize banks or to expand the public sector, the 2008 housing market crash was needed. The campaign against freedom of speech also needed a crisis. On January 8, 2011, the opportunity presented itself: The Tucson shootings. Progressive politicians wasted no time in using the tragedy to condemn the political rhetoric from talk radio, Fox News and other conservative venues. U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D) from Illinois, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (D) of Pima county Arizona, and later Congressman Steve Cohen (D) from Tennessee somehow assigned blame to the Conservative media even though the shooter, Jared Loughner, was a pupil of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engel and Adolf Hitler. No doubt there are progressive politicians in the Republican Party. Nevertheless, the aggressive push to silence opposition is evidently part of the Democrat Party platform. A coordinated effort is emerging. Quite often you'll find them using not only the same talking points but the same words.

This effort to silence opposition following the Tucson shootings is certainly not the first attempt by the political Left. The FCC signaled that it intends to enforce the Fairness Doctrine with cable news, talk radio and the internet. President Obama himself expressed his reservations about people getting too much information. At a speech he delivered at Hampton’s University graduation ceremony in May of 2010, he said that a bombardment of information through the internet and ipods can serve as a diversion and distraction. The words he used were subtle, but what he alluded to is unmistakable: easy access to information is a political problem; a problem, that is, that frustrates the expansion of political power and State control.

More warnings of “too much” information and vitriolic political rhetoric are sure to come; again, probably on the heels of another crisis. When they do come, know that it will be on the pretext of ensuring the public welfare. To be sure, U.S. politicians who are interested in expanding their power base cannot afford to be as straightforward as the Soviet politicians were; this, for the simple reason that they do not enjoy the same power as they did…not yet, anyways.

If past is prologue then the emerging campaign against political freedom of speech will have great implications for religious liberty. Historically, political opponents to authoritarian governments are the first to go down; then, of course, their last, greatest obstacle is the Church. As for progressive (or liberal) politicians, Conservatism is not half as offensive to them as the counter-cultural doctrines of the Catholic Faith. For this reason, Catholic Bishops will not be unaffected by the attempts made by progressive politicians to impose federal regulations on Fox News, talk radio and the internet. Their right to preach the fullness of the Gospel is sure to be challenged soon thereafter.

Progressives, Communism and the Catholic Church in the next blog-