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During the run-up to the Bolshevik Revolution, the standing narrative by the intellectual elite of that day was that the Church and religion in general was the “opiate of the masses.” It was seen as a way for people to be forced into submission to an imperial government in the Russian Empire, and the promising message was that if “man orbited himself” things would be better.
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness… The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo…
…The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself. – Karl Marx, “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”
And this was somewhat amplified by the thought of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (a.k.a. Lenin):
Atheism is a natural and inseparable part of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism. – c.f. Religion
The allure of these words – especially that of a man who is free of the “fetters” of religion (and imperialism) – was such that many of the Russian people really believed this was true. They took it to heart enough to overthrow the Empire, get rid of the Tsar and his family in the final way (they executed them in the basement of a house), and to destroy almost all the churches and monasteries in the Russian and Soviet lands in only a few years.
But it didn’t work.
The Communists missed a few things. First, they did not (or perhaps could not) change the Russian language sufficiently to remove all reference to the Divine from it. Second, they continued to uphold traditional family norms, though they were now made secondary to the needs of the State. The initial phase of Party loyalty sans marriage did not last very long or very purely. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, the Soviets were unable or unwilling to try to eliminate the conscience of the human person. Even in communist party propaganda films the high ideals of service, honor, being true to the Party and the State, are still things that call on good qualities, like loyalty, humility, faith, and the willingness to serve without reward. Those are qualities that even in non-religious people are still congruent with the Law of God, which theologians note is actually “built in” to every human being as intrinsic to our nature.
Eventually, we started seeing signs that the sense of right and wrong was still very much present, as in this scene from a movie filmed during the late Soviet era:
The writing in the stars is a message from the heavens to the protagonist, Vasya, to not cheat on his wife by sleeping with the woman at the resort. What we further see is a family conflict for the ages when Vasya does return home and his wife and family know what he has done. The scene is truly visceral, and if you want to see the movie, it’s title is “Любовь и голуби” (Love and Pigeons), released in 1985.
In other words, the spark of conscience – that which tells us something is right and something else is not – was unable to be destroyed in Soviet Russia, and although certainly many people defied their conscience, even now, they still knew that there was a conscience to defy.
The attack of the secularist, cultural Marxist Left now is much more refined in the West than it was for the Russians. The present attack is honed in on Western Europe and the United States. Rather than make the mistake of persecuting Christianity so directly as happened under the Soviet times, the instigators now are keeping it much closer to what Lenin also said:
But under no circumstances ought we to fall into the error of posing the religious question in an abstract, idealistic fashion, as an “intellectual” question unconnected with the class struggle, as is not infrequently done by the radical-democrats from among the bourgeoisie. It would be stupid to think that, in a society based on the endless oppression and coarsening of the worker masses, religious prejudices could be dispelled by purely propaganda methods. It would be bourgeois narrow-mindedness to forget that the yoke of religion that weighs upon mankind is merely a product and reflection of the economic yoke within society. No number of pamphlets and no amount of preaching can enlighten the proletariat, if it is not enlightened by its own struggle against the dark forces of capitalism. Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed class for the creation of a paradise on earth is more important to us than unity of proletarian opinion on paradise in heaven. – V.I. Lenin,“Socialism and Religion”
So, this time the attack is much more subtle, attacking religious points of view with the “enlightened” view that such beliefs are comforting and it is okay to hold them, but real life in our age is such that the values taught thousands of years ago are simply irrelevant. In this way the power of religious truth to change lives or to guide them is nullified. The trend actually has found great life within both the Roman Catholic adherents and many Protestants in the West, as well as many Eastern Orthodox Christians, that treat religion and ancient belief as something like a venerable anachronism, but not as something that is applicable or necessary in our day.
However, those pigeons are coming home to roost.
Now we have the dissolution of very basic issues of identity which has never happened before, where instead of two sexes, male and female, we are being taught in universities to have a whole range of new “gender pronouns” to refer properly to people who think they are something other than either male or female, and the number of these identities is growing. Facebook reportedly listed over 50 possible “genders.”
Of course, this is absolute and utter nonsense. But where we are going with all this is that now, we have the rise of the #MeToo “movement” concerning women (and some men) who have been sexually victimized in the Hollywood / Entertainment world. The Grammy Awards were overshadowed with it, and now we understand that the Oscars were overshadowed by this. Harvey Weinstein has been in and out of sex rehab and it seems that everywhere there is a cry for some sort of “morality” to be upheld.
However, this is not really a move back toward a sense of moral conscience. Not yet. It is not a move in anything that we might really call “repentance” – or a turning back to traditional values. Not yet. Rather, it is simply the continuation of a move towards societal implosion and self-destruction through ever more strongly enforced feminism (made much stronger by the #MeToo people and their narrative). Instead of humility and reconciliation, #MeToo, like most Western feminism manifestations, seeks to cow and humiliate men, to make them afraid of women, and the ultimate goal is some sort of “revenge” taken out by women upon any man, regardless of whether he did anything untoward or not.
One Orthodox Christian priest in America, Fr. Barnabas Powell, made this comment in a longer article linked here:
If we, as a society, find it so easy to dismiss timeless wisdom, we shouldn’t be surprised when lesser “controls” fail us and our society. To be so willing to throw away ancient mores for untried and novel notions of human relationships and behaviors is to court reckless consequences. To reduce human society to mere morality is to invite the chaos we see all around us today. To be sure, our history is awash in traditions and structures that were horrific and unacceptable. The remedy to these human failings isn’t the wholesale abandonment of everything we perceive as “old fashioned.”
This is quite true. If the matter was about following traditional values, then there would be no problem. But here, what has happened is that the people living wild lives want to have their cake and eat it too, so to speak – to live as they want without consequences. When we see Hollywood elites stop cheating on each other and stop making hotter and hotter sex scenes on camera, when we hear pop singers and rap artists clean up their lyrics and stop talking about drugs and sex in the most vile manner, maybe then we could believe that a real change is taking place. But for now the goal is only moved to how to do all the same things as before but in such a way that the woman always likes it.
Remember, this is not meant to be sexist, but most of the #MeToo people are women. The movement is distinctly feminist in nature and there is no way around that. We are Red Pill here.
The Russians were strengthened by their experience under Communism, and for many of them the history is still very fresh. Many of them have rushed into Christianity anew, and there are many men and women who have radically changed their lives because they realized at a personal level what it is like to live without God and the values inspired by Christianity, as such. Seen in this context the behavior of the West is seen as truly insane, and it is often viewed in Russia on the level of a spectacle, like “Look what those crazy Americans are up to now. What is wrong with them?”
This has permeated into all areas, of course, such as geopolitics and its corresponding journalism. President Putin was quite frustrated with it and got very direct at one point:
It seems this is a statement that could be rightly asked about many Western-promoted activities these days.