You know how I am about anniversaries. Centenaries are even bigger, and we are in a four-year stretch of big ones. We have been moving through World War I since August 2014, and we will conclude that on this weekend next year with the one-hundredth Armistice Day, now celebrated as Veterans’ Day. This week, though, we observe something even worse, even more catastrophic, than that World War.
This week was the one hundredth anniversary of the bolshevik revolution, in which Lenin and his cohort brought communism to power and began a century of inhuman and anti-human oppression in the name of a Marxist ideal future. Millions and millions and millions have died.
This murderous culture of lies began, of course, with a lie. The “bolshevik revolution” was neither. The word “bolshevik” is Russian for “majority;” Lenin and his thugs were a tiny minority with no allies and little support. What they accomplished was not a revolution so much as an armed coup. With a violent putsch, they toppled a weak provisional government erected in the wake of the abdication of the tsar, and taking control of the means of communication, notably the post office and telephone exchange, began their reign of lies.
What is bewildering to me is the number of otherwise intelligent people who think this grim history is the result of something other than the intrinsic reality of Marxism and communism, that somehow these ideas are laudable and even promising alternatives for mankind, if only they were not hijacked by “bad eggs” like Lenin and Stalin. They think its analysis of humanity and society have insight and truth; they think the alternative it proposes bear some promise for human flourishing. They think it could be done right, it could be done well.
But the relentless logic of this inhuman ideology subordinates human life and human beings to its own analysis, vision, and goals. Asserting there is no such thing as human freedom, it grants none to those who fall under its sway. Asserting that there is no God, it acknowledges no human dignity. Subordinating all things to the goals of the state, truth and falsehood, good and evil become fungible. And people die.
Therefore, even where there is no Lenin, or Stalin, communism gives us Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Fidel and Raúl Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chávez, and Nicolás Maduro. And many people die.
Ideology is a human invention more dangerous than any weapon or toxin. Whether communism, or fascism, or any other social scheme or system devised to promise some paradise on earth, by whatever criteria such paradise be defined, ideology subordinates man, his dignity, and his freedom, to a rapacious lie. And many, many people die.
Communist tyrant and madman Josef Stalin famously remarked, “How many divisions has the Pope?” If violent persecution is the compliment that Communism pays to the opponent it fears, then the Catholic Church has been and is now its most dreaded nemesis. Unarmed except for the cross, she constantly undermines the power propped on lies by living and sharing the truth, Jesus Christ, Who is the answer to every human question, the source of all freedom.
It is no coincidence that also one hundred years ago, Our Lady appeared to three peasant children in a remote corner of Portugal and spoke of, among other things, the conversion of Russia. She has given us the antivenin to the poison that courses through our world in many nations and publications, in government houses, guerilla camps, and faculty lounges. She gave flesh to the Eternal Word, Jesus Christ, and showed us how to live the truth in love. She reassures us that one day, when He is all in all, even this anniversary will have been transformed into a cause for celebration.