Beyond Redemption

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A Mask of Evil

Radio January 5, 2010


I don’t remember who it was who said that the last redoubt of Marxism in the world was on the campuses of elite American Universities.


          The statement did not come as a surprise, but it did make me start thinking about how it could possibly be true.


          After all Marxism and Communism together represent two of the greatest failures in economic and political thought in the history of man.


                      From a time when many people thought that they had the answers, that communism was the wave of the future, we have lived to see the soviet system collapse, Marxism discredited as an economic system, and I think we are not so very far from witnessing the failure of China’s communist regime.


                                  That eventuality has some economists worried about the disaster that would wreak on the already weakened world economy.


                      Communism has worked nowhere.


                      And it has led to some of the most egregious abuses of power in the experience of man, to the cruelest destruction of life and liberty.


                                  Only after the fall did we really get to see what was being done.

So why, I wondered, should some of the smartest and best educated among us still cling to something that looks very much like Marxism and communism.

Some time ago, a friend sent me a book by Whittaker Chambers titled: Witness.


          I had heard of Chambers and Alger Hiss back in my youth, but I paid little attention. Chambers was just finishing Witness as I was a senior in High School.


                      I paid little attention, because I was majoring in girls, not politics.

The book is daunting, to say the least—it weighs in at 800 pages. So it sat on my desk for months until guilt make me pick it up and begin to read.

I strongly recommend it to you. If nothing else, drop by your library and read the forewords, three of them. The first two are by William Buckley and Robert Novak. The third is Whitaker Chambers’ letter to his children.


          It is not so much that I learned great new truths.


          What it did was shine a light on the subject that opened areas I had not thought about.

I want to talk to you about this, but first, I need to answer the question I raised: How is it possible that Marxism still holds sway among the intelligentsia of this nation?


          The answer emerged for me as I read Chambers’ letter.


          Communism and Marxism, along with Nazism, were merely masks worn by a much greater and much older evil.

I am reluctant to put a name on it because we have a bad habit of assuming that when we can name something, we understand it.


          Not so. Names are treacherous things, and we quickly become inured to them.


          Liberalism, Capitalism, progressivism, conservatism, are examples.


          Names are like chameleons, and they take on the coloring of the background and we can look right at them and not see them.

Liberals are becoming “progressive.”

Republicans are becoming “conservative.”

Capitalists are becoming “entrepreneurs.”

Secularists are becoming “progressives.”

I am not going to give you a name. I am going to hand you a key that will open your eyes to recognize this evil in its earliest forms—wherever it emerges in the political, economic, and social systems of a time.


          I need to also point out that there are two kinds of evil in the world:


                      Human Evil

                      Spiritual Evil.


          For some reason, people are prone to deny both.


                      Human evil, they see as perhaps, mental illness.

                      Spiritual evil they sometimes deny by rejecting the idea of a personal devil and demons, as mere figures of speech in the Bible, standing for the wicked inclinations of our own mind.

But for now, I want to return to my question: How is it possible that Marxism, (or something very much like it), still holds sway among the intelligentsia of this nation?


          In reading Whitaker Chambers letter to his Children, I came to at least a partial answer. In some degree, it is revealed in the experiences of ex-communists—defectors.


Yet there is one experience which most sincere ex-Communists share . . . The daughter of a former German diplomat in Moscow was trying to explain to me why her father, who, as an enlightened modern man, had been extremely pro-Communist, had become an implacable anti-Communist. It was hard for her because, as an enlightened modern girl, she shared the Communist vision without being a Communist. But she loved her father and the irrationality of his defection embarrassed her. "He was immensely pro-Soviet," she said, "and then-you will laugh at me-but you must not laugh at my father-and then-one night-in Moscow-he heard screams. That's all. Simply one night he heard screams."

          Whitaker Chambers was himself an ex-communist.. He went on:


What Communist has not heard those screams? They come from husbands torn forever from their wives in midnight arrests. They come, muffled, from the execution cellars of the secret police, from the torture chambers of the Lubyanka, from all the citadels of terror now stretching from Berlin to Canton. They come from those freight cars loaded with men, women and children, the enemies of the Communist State, locked in, packed in, left on remote sidings to freeze to death at night in the Russian winter. They come from minds driven mad by the horrors of mass starvation ordered and enforced as a policy of the Communist State. They come from the starved skeletons, worked to death, or flogged to death (as an example to others) in the freezing filth of sub-arctic labor camps. They come from children whose parents are suddenly, inexplicably, taken away from them-parents they will never see again.


          It was the image of the freight cars that hit me. For a moment I actually felt confused, as though I was reading about Nazi Germany instead of the soviet union.

          And in point of fact, the evil is pretty much the same at the core.


The communists and Nazis hated each other, not because they were different, but because they were rivals for the same wicked vision.

Chambers went on:


What Communist has not heard those screams? Execution, says the Communist code, is the highest measure of social protection. What man can call himself a Communist who has not accepted the fact that Terror is an instrument of policy, right if the vision is right, justified by history, enjoined by the balance of forces in the social wars of this century? Those screams have reached every Communist's mind. Usually they stop there.

          Terror as an instrument of policy.

This is practiced today in Iran and other places in the world.


          It is hard to see Islam as God denying, but perhaps there is a part of Islam that does deny God.

Have you noticed the puzzlement of people who can’t figure out why the administration rejects the expression, “The war on Terror”?


          Chambers, writing before the principle figures in the present administration were even born defined it:


                      What man can call himself a Communist who has not accepted the fact that Terror is an instrument of policy, right if the vision is right, justified by history, enjoined by the balance of forces in the social wars of this century?


                      It is a mistake to call anyone a communist today. Communism failed, was destroyed.


                      When you say someone is a communist, you discredit yourself in the eyes of the onlooker.


          Communism was, in any case, only a mask for a mind that says your policy is right if the vision is right, justified by history, enjoined by the balance of forces.


                      And in this simple idea, you get one of the first hints of the evil that was behind the mask of communism, Nazism, and maybe today, Jihadism.


                      It is this; The pervasive idea that our goals are so noble, so vital, our vision so right, that whatever we have to do to reach those goals is justified.


          The old saw: “The ends justify the means” seems so tame. It doesn’t even come close to describing the evil behind the mask.

But even here, we have not arrived at the first signs of incipient evil, or of the cause that lies behind it.


          Whitaker Chambers defined the key that unlocked his understanding.


My break began long before I heard those screams. Perhaps it does for everyone. I do not know how far back it began. . . But I date my break from a very casual happening. I was sitting in our apartment on St. Paul Street in Baltimore. . . .My daughter was in her high chair. I was watching her eat. She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life. I liked to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the floor. My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear-those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: "No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design." The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion. I had to crowd it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.

I sensed something there that Chambers did not mention.


          You could have argued intelligent design with him for ages and made no progress.


          And staring at any other ear would not have done it.


          It was the love for his daughter that opened this door.

Isn’t that a wild idea? It was love that was the key that unlocked the chains that held him.


          One of the more striking things I learned about the Nazis and the great evil they perpetrated was the banality of the men who did these things. They lacked passion.


          Oh, they could be angry, but their passion was loveless.

They were men who could only be passionate about ideas. They could not love.

This book was written in 1952. Barack Obama was born in 1961. Why do I mention that?

The first intro to the book Witness was written by William F. Buckley.


          When he learned that Chambers had died, Buckley sat down and wept. He wrote:


He had written me once, “American men, who weep in droves in movie houses over the woes of love struck girls, hold that weeping in men is unmanly. I have found most men in whom there was depth of experience , or capacity for compassion, singularly apt to tears.


          And without willing it, I saw in my minds eye, George Bush moved to tears.


          And then I suddenly realized that, so far, I have seen nothing like that anywhere in the current administration.


          But in trying to find the key to recognizing the evil, the absence of love may not be apparent.

There is, though, a point where you can see it. That point will always arrive, at first in small ways, growing into something more sinister. Chambers again, reveals how it came to him.


One thing most ex-Communists could agree upon: they broke because they wanted to be free. They do not all mean the same thing by "free." Freedom is a need of the soul, and nothing else. It is in striving toward God that the soul strives continually after a condition of freedom. God alone is the inciter and guarantor of freedom. He is the only guarantor.

The tiniest departure from the fundamental principal of Liberty is the first sign of the lurking presence of evil.


          Chambers saw the soul of man continually striving for freedom, and that surely is one of the great drives of man—to be free from external restraint.


          Chambers said that it was the death of the will, which Communism, with great cunning, always tries to induce in its victims.


          And it is this that the enemy attempts to exploit.


          Remember the sexual “liberation” of the 60's?

Funny how things stay the same over time: The Great Apostle Peter wrote, late in the first century, of men whom he called, “spots and blemishes, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls.”

Of these, Peter wrote:


For when they speak great swelling words of [vanity], they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. {19} While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. (2 Peter 2:18-19).


          From the great 1060s wave of sexual liberation comes bondage to corruption.


          Has the promise of the sexual liberation been realized?

You tell me what its fruits have been. I will tell you that one of its fruits is 50 million dead infants. You may call them fetuses, but they had developing arms and legs, faces, fingers, eyes and ears, a brain, and even an identity. They were written in God’s book.


          Do you realize that the numbers compare with the millions killed by Stalin, whom we condemn as a monster?

No generation has seen a clearer example of what Peter said.

And what can easily be lost is this: “While they promise them liberty.”


          Promises not kept are another sign of impending evil.


          I know, politicians are always making promises they have no intention of keeping.


                      Does that mean we have to accept that?


          Every promise not kept is a lie. And we have every reason to ask, why should we trust a liar?

Why do they lie? Because in their mind, they are gods, and their vision justifies the lie.

The revolutionary heart of Communism is not the theatrical appeal: "Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to gain." It is a simple statement of Karl Marx, further simplified for handy use: "Philosophers have explained the world; it is necessary to change the world." Communists are bound together by no secret oath. The tie that binds them across the frontiers of nations, across barriers of language and differences of class and education, in defiance of religion, morality, truth, law, honor, the weaknesses of the body and the irresolutions of the mind, even unto death, is a simple conviction: It is necessary to change the world. Their power, whose nature baffles the rest of the world, because in a large measure the rest of the world has lost that power, is the power to hold convictions and to act on them.

We have taken the freedom of religion clause in the constitution to mean freedom from religion.

But this liberty leads to corruption.

Our school system, our universities are increasingly godless.

Chambers, finally:

 Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom the soul dies. Without the soul there is no justification for freedom. Necessity is the only ultimate justification known to the mind. Hence every sincere break with Communism is a religious experience, though the Communist fail to identify its true nature, though he fail to go to the end of the experience. His break is the political expression of the perpetual need of the soul whose first faint stirring he has felt within him, years, months or days before he breaks. A Communist breaks because he must choose at last between irreconcilable opposites-God or Man, . . ., Freedom or Communism....


          Strange as it may sound, the first time this choice was made was in the Garden of Eden.

“The Communist vision has a mighty agitator and a mighty propagandist. They are the crisis. The agitator needs no soap box. It speaks insistently to the human mind at the point where desperation lurks. The propagandist writes no Communist gibberish. It speaks insistently to the human mind at the point where man's hope and man's energy fuse to fierceness. The vision inspires. The crisis impels. The workingman is chiefly moved by the crisis. The educated man is chiefly moved by the vision.”

That is why Communism is the central experience of the first half of the 20th century, and may be its final experience-will be, unless the free world, in the agony of its struggle with Communism, overcomes its crisis by discovering, in suffering and pain, a power of faith which will provide man's mind, at the same intensity, with the same two certainties: a reason to live and a reason to die. If it fails, this will be the century of the great social wars. If it succeeds, this will be the century of the great wars of faith.... “ Or maybe, just the century of war.

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