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The Socialist Myth: Igor Shafarevich and Modern Nihilism

Perhaps the most influential political myth of modernism is the socialist myth, which is essentially fed by the ideology of the Enlightenment and the philosophy of German Idealism.

Left to right: Igor Shafarevich, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Karl Marx. (Wikipedia)

Editor’s note: The following lecture was given by Dr. Stark in July at The Roman Forum 2019 Summer Symposium held Gardone Riviera, Italy, which focused on the theme “Modern Foundation Myths & the Destruction of Church & Civilization”. It was first reprinted here at CWR, with minor edits, on September 5, 2019. 

Comprehensive ideological systems, which determine the prevailing world view in societies and cultures, are based on so-called “grand narratives”.1 Such grand narratives are mostly of a religious nature. In earlier phases of human cultural development, myths took on the function of backing up the prevailing worldview in cultures. Christianity overcomes the mythical foundation of culture. The Grant Narrative of Christianity, which the entirety of Western Culture is based on, is not a mythical, but an historical narrative. Christianity overcomes the magical and mythical mode of dealing with the world through a rational mode of dealing with the world.2

In modernity, this mode of rational mastering of the world falls into crisis. The rationalization, by which—according to Max Weber—the modern age is characterized, goes hand in hand with a fragmentation of the formerly integral rationality. The modern division of reason into a multiplicity of particular, heterogeneous and sometimes antagonistic separate rationalities which refuse an integration into a universal rationality of metaphysical calibre mediating them, opens a gate through which an atavistic or primitive irrationality penetrates into the space of modernity. Here it begins to exert a dominant influence, which is particularly directed against Christianity and its rational world view.

As not least, Ernst Cassirer has shown, modernity is far less influenced by a process of secularization than by a process of remythification. In particular, totalitarianism, which is a thoroughly modern phenomenon, uses myth as a political weapon and, according to Cassirer, must therefore be seen as a relapse into a magical and mythical worldview.3

The basic structure of the socialist myth

Perhaps the most influential political myth of modernism is the socialist myth, which is essentially fed by the ideology of the Enlightenment and the philosophy of German Idealism, especially of that of Hegelian and Schellingian shape. Even supposedly conservative spirits are today infected—mostly without noticing it—by the socialist myth and act as a fifth column in the battle against the traditional and thus against the Christian foundations of our culture.

Socialist myth describes history as a deterministic process that follows an underlying script shaping it. According to this script, history is structured by a process of permanent progress in the form of an irresistibly progressive human emancipation, i.e. in the form of a steady gain in freedom, made possible by the progressive dissolution of all kinds of binding attachments. The course of history then forms a dialectical process, in the course of which antagonistic positions emerge, which act as thesis and antithesis and whose conflict is overcome by being “annulled”—an Hegelian Term—in a synthesis. The synthesis obtained in this way subsequently again acts as a thesis, which in turn is opposed by an antithesis. This new antagonism is then “suspended”—also an Hegelian Term—in another synthesis and so on and so forth. The socialist myth thus presents history as a permanent revolution, and, respectively, it interprets the permanent revolution as a necessary consequence of the dialectical constitution of history.4

According to Marx, the motor of the dialectical progress of history is the progress of civilization and, in particular, the progress of the productive forces as a result of the progress of the sciences and of the technological engineering based on them. This development, as well as the accompanying struggles for distribution, and in particular the ongoing struggle for control over the means of production, require a necessary historical sequence of successive production relations and economic systems, which also determine the political conditions.

The last economic system in this historical sequence is capitalism, replacing feudalism. Once capitalism reaches a certain level of development, it will be replaced by socialism in a revolutionary act, due to the dialectic of capital and labour and the consequent conflicts. In this transformation process, the proletariat brought into being by capitalism is the revolutionary avant-garde, which establishes a dictatorship of the proletariat. The worldview of the proletariat is socialism, which at the same time represents the only true scientific theory of society. Socialism will then lead into communism, which forms the eschatological goal of human history, and in which the ultimate emancipation of man will become a determining social reality.

So much for the mythical narrative on which the Communist Eastern Bloc under Soviet leadership founded its social structure. Many conservatives believe that with the collapse of the Eastern bloc, socialism has finally failed and been defeated because everyone has since realized that it did not bring social justice. Rather, it was based on a voluntary or forced self-exploitation of the masses on behalf of an elite leadership caste, a cadre party that demanded an unconditional allegiance and loyalty, and total submission to its totalitarian ideology.

Many conservatives also believe that socialism has failed because it followed a false nineteenth-century economic theory that has since been refuted many times, for example, by the Austrian School. Thus, for example, Marx’s labour value theory is demonstrably wrong, and in the planned economy, due to state intervention in the market, necessarily arrives at the improper distribution of resources. It is therefore incomprehensible why socialism would still be appreciated by so many people. This assessment, however, is based on two assumptions: namely, first of all, that socialism intends to base itself on a coherent scientific theory, and, secondly, that the goal of socialism is to realize freedom, justice and prosperity. Both presuppositions are wrong.

In his 11th thesis on Feuerbach, Marx writes: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world differently, what is essential is to change it”. Thus Marxist “theory” does not intend to present reality as it is, but to make of it something other than what it is. The socialist theory does not intend to provide a correct scientific analysis of reality. It is rather a mere means in the political struggle for power. It serves the manipulation of the masses an incitement to revolution.

Moreover, it is a fatal error to assume that the origin of socialism lies in the nineteenth or perhaps the eighteenth century, and that in its origin it was bound to the historical and economic conditions of that time. An in-depth historical analysis, on the contrary, compels us to accept the insight gained by Igor Shafarevich, “that socialism is one of the universal fundamental forces that are effective throughout human history.”5 The Russian mathematician and philosopher Igor Shafarevich, a friend of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, presented his epoch-making work The Socialist Phenomenon in 1975, in which his previously formulated thesis is proved by extensive historical material.

Shafarevich subjects socialism to an analysis both historical and systematic, which, for reasons of time, can only be traced here in a very brief and shadowy form. (The intention of this lecture is to encourage the listeners to read the work of Shafarevich themselves.)

State socialism and chiliastic socialism

From a systematic point of view, he distinguishes the so-called state socialism from the so-called chiliastic socialism. State socialism is basically as old as the history of advanced civilization. All ancient civilizations, be it in Mesopotamia, in Egypt or in ancient China, were just as state socialist as the Central American cultures like the Incas. State socialism is characterized by a complete state monopoly of all resources and means of production, as well as by a complete state monopolization of agricultural and artisanal handicraft production. Trade and the money economy are of little importance here due to the prevailing state storeroom economy. Private property practically does not exist, since the population receives everything it needs for living and for its work, such as food, labour materials, tools, etc., even clothes, from state storerooms, without the distributed goods being turned over into private ownership. Just as private property, the classic family is not to be found in state socialism. The entire population thus lives in complete dependence on the state, and is subject to the total control of an oligarchic ruling class that exercises a cruel reign of terror. For example, there was no general freedom of movement and travel in the old state socialist systems, as there wasn’t in the Soviet Union or as there is not in today’s North Korea.

Chiliastic socialism is a gnostic movement by nature. It basically arises only with the rise of Christianity and as a decisive counter-movement to Christianity. Chiliastic socialism provides state socialism with its ideological justification, so that state socialism and chiliastic socialism can be regarded as two sides of the same coin.

In legitimizing state socialism, however, Plato also plays an inglorious role. Plato’s Politeia is on the one hand aristocratic. It is led by the philosophers who are recruited from the warrior caste. Bulgakov has pointed out that the term “philosophers” in the context of the Politeia can also be translated as “righteous” or “saints”.6 Plato designs an ideal state whose main purpose is the perfection of man, especially the human soul. One could say that the Plato’s state has a pastoral task, by which every state of course must evidently be overwhelmed. In addition, Plato held the opinion that the state can fulfill its pastoral task best within the framework of a state-socialist form of organization.

And even with respect to the emergence of gnosticism, as the foundation of chiliastic socialism, Plato plays an inglorious role, due to his undervaluation of all things material. After all, it was Platonic philosophical schools and Platonising mystical circles that played a decisive part in the emergence of gnosis in late antiquity. In this way, the socialist aspects of Platonism also found their way into gnostic sects. Gnosticism then provides an alternative program to Christianity diametrically opposed to Christianity.

The Christian Middle Ages and Gnosis

Christianity regards creation as good. All bad and evil has its sole origin in man’s disobedience towards God and man’s turning away from God. Man cannot redeem himself from the calamitous situation in which he has been since his falling away from God, not even by a collective effort of united humanity as a whole. The Christian concept of humanity is therefore not particularly optimistic. The only foundation on which human confidence and hope can be based, is Jesus Christ, the incarnate son of God, in whom God became man. Only the individual can make the conversion and turning to Christ for himself. Nevertheless, this individual conversion also has an impact on family, society and the state and leads to a Christian culture in which everything is placed under the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

The gnosis, on the other hand, regards man as basically good. Everything bad and evil results only from the circumstances under which man lives. Ultimately, it results from the fact that the material world—as Marcion (85-160) teaches—emerged from the creation of an evil demiurge (namely Yahweh). Good and evil are—according to Manichaeism—equally original principles that were separate in the beginning. They are mixed in the present time and must be separated again in the future. Accomplishing this is man’s task. Man can thus liberate himself from his disastrous situation by means of a collective effort, through which he overcomes everything material on the path of self-abandonment and spiritualization, thus creating an ideal social situation within the world and history.

Since the twelfth century, this political aspect of gnosis has been associated with an optimism regarding progress that derives from the three-realm doctrine of the heretic Cistercian abbot Joachim of Fiore (1130-1202). He divided world history into three periods or realms, each representing one of the persons of the Trinity: The realm of the Father covers the time of the Old Testament; the realm of the Son covers the time of the apostles and the Church until Joachim’ present time; and the realm of the Holy Spirit, that whose dawn Joachim announces for the year 1260. This third realm or “Third Reich” will offer the joys of the Celestial Jerusalem, and the social order of this realm is not unlike the political ideas of the gnostics.7

The organizational structure of gnostic groups is the sect. The organizational structure of the sect has a concentric composition: it consists of “a narrow, profoundly conspiratorial circle of leaders privy to all aspects of teaching, and a wide circle of sympathizers who are familiar only with certain aspects and whose connection with the sect rests more on unformulated emotional influences.” 8 The leaders of the sect, those who are distinguished by their special purity and especially profound consecration to the mysteries of the sect have a far greater authority than ecclesiastical officeholders. They must be obeyed absolutely, and they direct the lives of the other members of the sect in all of their aspects.

Without exception, all medieval heretical movements were gnostic sects.9 From the nineteenth century on, countless works of research have shown that their ideas fit in with the ideas of the heretics of the first centuries, to which they are bound by uninterrupted continuity. There were always firm connections between the various heretical movements of the Middle Ages, so that here one can speak of a unified movement that pursues socialist aims throughout.10

In contrast to antiquity, socialism among medieval heretics turns into a broad popular movement of insurgents, who – unlike the ancient socialists – rise up against the dominant religion. Under their influence, the Socialist doctrines become “intolerant, saturated with hate and destructive”. 11 “This hatred of the Catholic Church and of the way of life which has come about under her leadership shows that the core of the world-view of heretical sects can be understood as an antithesis to the ideology of medieval Catholicism. “12 “The teachings of these sects demanded the complete annihilation of the Catholic Church, the destruction of the society of that time, and as long as such a possibility did not offer the turning away from the world, their hostile disregard.”13

But what is the source of this hatred? Shefarevich writes:

The Middle Ages embodies the grandiose attempt of Western European humanity to build its life on the basis of the highest values, to understand it as a path to certain ideals formulated by Christianity. We are talking about the transformation of human society and world; the purpose was the transition to some supreme state of transformation. The religious basis of this world-view was the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ, which enlightened the material world through the union of the divine and the material element, thereby showing the way to human activity. The real leadership was in the hands of the Catholic Church and was based on the doctrine of the Church as a mystical covenant of believers embracing the living and the dead. Based on this teaching are both the prayers for the dead and the invocation of the saints as various forms of union between members of one single church. 14

Every heretical doctrine that emerged in the Middle Ages had, clearly stated, or in necessary consequence, a revolutionary character, that is, to the extent that it came to power, it had to bring about a dissolution of the existing state, a political and social upheaval. Any gnostic sect, the Cathars and Albigensians, who had actually provoked the hard and inexorable legislation of the Middle Ages against heresy, and had to be fought in bloody wars, were the Socialists and Communists of that time. They attacked marriage, family and property. If they had won, a general overthrow, a sinking back into barbarism and Pagan licentiousness would have been the result. Every connoisseur of history knows that there was no place even for the Waldenses, with their principles regarding oaths and the criminal law of the State in the European world of that time.15

All these special theories point to a single goal: the overcoming of that unity of God and the world, God and man, realized through the incarnation of Christ, which is the foundation of Christianity (at least in its traditional interpretation). There were two ways to achieve this goal: rejecting the world or denying God. The first path was taken by the Manichean-Gnostic sects, whose doctrine saw the world in the power of a wicked God and recognized only one task of life, the salvation from the captivity of matter (for those who were able to do so). Not only did the pantheistic sects not renounce the world. They rather proclaimed the ideal of domination over it (again for the elect, with the other ‘gross’ people also included in the category of the world). In its teaching, one can find the archetype of the idea ‘to subjugate nature’, which became so popular in later centuries. But domination of the world for some seemed not accessible through the execution of the divine plan, but rather through the denial of God, through the transformation of the chosen ‘free spirits’ even into gods. The social expression of this ideology can be seen in the extreme tendencies of the Taborite movement. The Anabaptists, after all, apparently attempted to achieve a synthesis of both directions. In their ‘martial’ phase, they preached the rule of the elect over the world, while their ideas of domination completely supplanted the Christian features of their world-view (Müntzer, for example, wrote that his doctrine was equally accessible to Christians, Jews, Turks and heathen). In the ‘peaceful’ phase, for which the Moravian Brothers set an example, escape from the world gained the upper hand, its condemnation, and the breaking of all material and spiritual ties with it (For example, Michael Sattler, a Moravian brother, arrested by the authorities in 1527, said that he would not defend his homeland and the Christians even if the Turks invaded the country).16

Like all heretics in history, the heretical movements of the Middle Ages and the early modern period did not simply attack the central contents of the Catholic faith, but reinterpreted and distorted them. The belief that all men are images of God and therefore endowed with dignity, shifts to the belief in the alleged equality of all people, which is something completely different. The teleological orientation of history, which is aligned with the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgment, is transformed into a concept of historical progress, which is based on Joachim of Fiore’s doctrine of the three realms. As a result, history appears as an evolutionary process that follows deterministic regularities. The realization of the socialist ideal cherished by heretics is therefore no longer dependent on the decisions of a wise ruler, as in Plato’s case, but rather as the result of a historical determinism that takes place independently of the will and decisions of individual historical actors. The ultimate goal, to which history necessarily points, under this perspective is no longer the divine judgment of the world, but the judgment of the elect over their adversaries and their annihilation. In order to advance the Gnostic-Socialist work of salvation and its accompanying progress, it is therefore also permissible to do things that are regarded as crimes from the perspective of the Decalogue or even a natural-law ethic.

The heretical movements of the Middle Ages and the early modern period were therefore of the utmost militancy. Thomas Müntzer, for example, founded subversive secret societies and travelled incessantly through Germany to incite dissatisfied people to revolt and to steer up violence everywhere. Wherever the heretics gained victory, they implemented their socio-political objectives. These objectives are, above all, the abolition of family, property, central moral norms (especially those concerning the Sixth Commandment) and the dissolution of the state order. All possessions became common property. All men had all women in common.17 All officeholders, both secular and ecclesiastical, were removed from office or killed. Therefore, everyone had to arm themselves and to flock together in order to rise against state and church, against throne and altar, in order to eradicate nobility and clergy. The consequences were the murder of priests and religious, the looting and burning of monasteries, the desecration of churches, the burning of crosses, paintings and other devotional objects. The rebellion of the heretics was directed against the Christian religion and subsequently against the hierarchical order embodied by the Christian culture of the Middle Ages.

Modern Times: Utopianism and cultural Marxism

When the heretics’ revolt was crushed, the revolution changed face and shifted its activities to a new playing field. With the modern age, the socialist ideal finds its literary expression in the great utopias, where it is stripped of its religious cloak. Thomas More’s “Utopia” from the early 16th Century and Tomaso Campanella’s “City of the Sun” from the early 17th Century are characterized by an alienated, sometimes ironic attitude towards Christianity. Gerrard Winstanley’s “Law of Freedom,” published in 1652, four years after the English Revolution, is openly hostile to contemporary religion. Since the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century Socialist ideas became more widespread among philosophers and writers. The preferred form of their dissemination was the socialist novel, in which the positive portrayal of socialist states was combined with love stories, travelogues, and adventure stories. This literary genre is characterized by open hatred of religion in general and of Christianity in particular.

In the 19th century, finally, the socialist idea merges with positivism on the one hand and Hegel’s philosophy of history on the other. However, as early as the first half of the twentieth century, at a time when this myth was still powerful, socialism reappeared in a new fashion. It mutates into cultural Marxism.18 Cultural Marxism was first developed by Antonio Gramsci19 in Italy, as well as by the Frankfurt School20, first in Germany and subsequently in the USA, where in the second half of the 20th century it is propagated especially by Saul Alinsky.

Cultural Marxism adapts socialism to the free and prosperous societies of the West. The cultural Marxists have understood that in these functioning societies there will never be a mass revolution, because workers, craftsmen and peasants well know that they will always be fare better off in a free society and in a market-based economy than in socialism, and that, under conditions of freedom, ever greater prosperity and a better society will emerge than under the conditions of servitude.

To help the revolution win, Gramsci develops his theory of cultural hegemony and civil society. For he had understood that political power always falls to those who manage to gain leadership over opinion in the field of culture and to use this cultural hegemony to exercise control over civil society as the bearer of culture. Political power is thus gained indirectly; it ‘arises’ from cultural hegemony, as it were by itself.

The Frankfurt School officially adhered to the narrative of the classical Marxist myth for a long time, but since the 1920s it has long been operating on a completely different basis, refining and operationalizing Gramsci’s program. The members of the Frankfurt School in their American exile in the 1930s were without exception on the pay roll of the secret service OSS (the predecessor of the CIS), where they were responsible for psychological warfare. They developed a strategy with which a healthy civil society resisting socialism could be destroyed from within.

Civil society is based on the freedom of citizens. Freedom, however, especially if it is to have lasting existence, has to work under the prerequisite of “order”. But every order is based upon certain convictions and the resulting judgments and values. Therefore, the most promising strategy for overthrowing civil society is to trigger an erosion of the values within it. And that is exactly what the disciples of the Frankfurt School did. The starting point for this erosion of values is anthropology. The Frankfurt School amalgamates Marxism with psychoanalysis into Freudomarxism, which interprets man as a network of rudimentary impulses and as a product of external influences and circumstances, whose happiness consists in the fulfilment of basic needs.

This anthropology calls for a hedonistic society in which sin is not only accepted but even praised. This applies, of course—as already in the heretical movements of the Middle Ages—especially to the sin against the sixth commandment, which is sold to people as a liberation.21 That sin is, of course, the exact opposite of freedom was already known to St. Augustine, who said that a man has as many masters as he has vices. By means of the so-called “sexual revolution”, a lifestyle is made palatable to people in which they consider servitude to be a desirable state of life. The transformation of society into something totally hedonistic, however, also provides the Frankfurt revolutionaries with a means by which they can fight against their most hated social institution, marriage and the family, which they defame as the germ cell of fascism.

However, as the family is the foundation of every healthy society, destroying the family necessarily leads to the destruction of all social fabric and, as a result, the disappearance of civil behavior and lifestyles, the disappearance of the rules of courtesy and dress standards, all of which man needs to express his dignity. But he who robs people of their dignity and undermines the foundations of civil society makes this society ripe for attack and for the takeover by the revolutionary storm troopers, who, of course, today are no longer recruited from the proletarian masses, but from all sorts of fringe groups and alleged victims.22

Essence and goals of socialism

Thus we arrive at the postmodern manifestation of socialism, i.e. that of the present and therefore at the end of our historical view. But wherein lies the essence of socialism considered in a systematic respect? Socialist ideology is essentially gnostic in nature. Therefore, Shafarevich says: “Marxism is based on this psychological foundation: the uncompromisingly hostile attitude, the ardent hatred of the environment, which allows only one way out, its utter destruction.” Like all gnostics, the socialists also accuse the Creator of creating a bad world. Therefore, through the socialist revolution, a new world and a new man must be created in order to overcome all evil and suffering. Socialism is an enemy of all religion and defames it as the opium of the people. But socialism itself is by no means a scientific system, as it claims, but a pure system of belief, which in turn bears religious-like features. Therefore, Shevarevich cites Bulgakov who states: “For socialism in our day not only enters into the picture as part of a neutral realm of social policy, but usually also as a religion based on atheism and mankind as deity, on the self-deification of man and human labour, and that recognizes the elemental forces of nature and social life as the sole basis of history.”23 And elsewhere Bulgakov says: “Marx and Lassalle are apocalyptic thinkers of a new kind, who prophesied the messianic kingdom.” 24

Socialism uses real existing defects as a pretext for the revolutionary overthrow, which is intended to improve the situation of the people, but never has done so. The Bolsheviks did not improve the situation of workers and peasants in Russia, but worsened it, starving millions of them to death or killing them directly. The same happened to the educated people in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The socialist massacres were usually motivated by the desire to eliminate the supposedly worst of all defects, namely inequality. Inequality, however, is a structural feature of the order of creation so hated by the socialists. The things that have been created represent an incomprehensible variety, which means that Creation is highly differentiated. Differentiations in complex systems, however, always occur horizontally and vertically at the same time. Differentiation thus leads to the emergence of hierarchy. As Christians we know that—as Thomas Aquinas taught—Creation is thoroughly hierarchical in structure. Wanting to establish complete full equality, therefore, means opposition to the order of Creation.

Hence, the Church has never taught the counterfactual thesis of the equality of all man. Beauty and physical power are obviously distributed as unequally as intelligence, inventiveness and creativity, or as courage, purposefulness, perseverance, and the sense of responsibility. All these asymmetries lead to a naturally unequal distribution of authority.25 And of course, men and women are not only physically different but also in character, which sometimes complicates the relationship between the sexes. It is the dissimilarity of people that determines their individuality and specific personality. The aim of socialism, however, is “to wipe out the individual with his personality”.26 “The economic and social demands of socialism,” as Shafarevich states, “serve as means of achieving the main goalthe annihilation of the individual.”27

The most important measures for the weakening and gradual extinction of the individual, the concrete human communities, and the small and manageable social units are the destruction of the family, the expropriation of property and the abolition of the private, market-based economy, as the most successful method of organizing an economy under the condition of scarcity of goods in a finite world. The egalitarian abolition of the hierarchy points in the same direction. Hierarchy is in fact a concrete realization of subsidiarity, that is to say the graduated superimposition of responsibilities, competencies, jurisdictions and authorities, starting from the individual and proceeding to ever more comprehensive social groupings up to the institution of the state. In such a hierarchically structured society, due to the decentralization of powers and the complex plurality of authorities, it is possible to protect the individual from the impositions of an omnipotent central state.

By abolishing family, property, and hierarchy, socialist egalitarianism tears apart the fabric of an organic society and deprives the individual of protection from the encroachments of a totalitarian state, a protection which only a community based upon the principle of subsidiarity can offer. Equality, then, can only be achieved at the cost of the abolition of freedom, especially the freedom of those who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy and who in a hierarchical society can count on the “favour and fidelity” and the protection of superior persons and institutions.

In socialism, on the other hand, the individual stands defenseless in front of the almighty state, which degrades him to the status of an isolated and anonymous social atom of an anonymous society. Since equality always implies interchangeability, egalitarianism transforms the former individual into a replaceable cell of leviathan or a uniformed and interchangeable cog in a vast collectivist state machine. Re-education, propaganda, brainwashing and social engineering are the methods of equalization that socialist egalitarianism makes use of.

Of course, in egalitarianism all are equal. But some are—as we know—always “more equal” than others, because somebody has to direct the equalizing activity of the collectivist state. And this task – as with the Gnostic-Socialist sects of the Middle Ages and the Reformation period – becomes the responsibility of a small pseudo-elite of especially consecrated insiders, whose “wise” decisions cannot be criticized by anyone. Wherever socialism has begun to exist in real terms, it has led to the most cruel dictatorships, and always will do so, because this corresponds to its nature. And it must therefore persecute Christianity, because Christianity relies on freedom and personal responsibility and advocates a corresponding morality. Therefore, socialism maintains a pronounced aversion to anything that reminds people of the goodness and beauty of Christian culture and the Christian order of the community under the kingship of Christ. For, as Dimitrios Kisoudis writes in his foreword to Shafarevich’s book: “Socialism […] can appear anywhere at any time, when man has cut off the connection to God and begins to worship nothingness.”28

Let us conclude with a final look into the future, a future that has already begun.

Tribalism as the last stage of development of socialism

Socialism is known to be internationalist or, as we would say today, globalist in character, which means that it seeks to globalize its system through a New World Order in the form of a socialist world state. Of course, such a world state will have to be structured differently from today’s nation states. Above all, it requires an organizational structure that represents it at a local and regional level. And this organizational structure is the tribe. The Brazilian philosopher Plinio Correa de Oliveira, in his work Revolution and Counterrevolution, pointed out already decades ago that tribalism will come to light in the 21st century as the last of four stages of socialism.

Tribalism gained momentum when, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became clear that the dictatorship of the proletariat was by no means able to guarantee freedom and equality, and that therefore an alternative socialist order of life had to be found. However, tribalism, which is becoming more and more popular in our day, is a concept that had been developed long before the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, going back to Friedrich Engels. Already Engels – following the anthropologist Lewis Morgan and ultimately Rousseau—had interpreted the tribal society as the primordial state of humanity and a kind of primordial communism.29 In this primordial communism, private property and monogamous marriage were unknown. All property was collective, sexual behavior was completely promiscuous, and the children belonged to the entire tribe, which was collectively responsible for their upbringing.

Thus, the life of the tribe is completely collectivistic. “According to the ideas of collectivism”, writes Plinio Correa, “the various “I’s” or individuals merge together, along with their understanding, their will and their feelings, and thus with their own ways of being, and dissolve into the unity of the tribe, which will produce a unified way of thinking and willing as well as a common sense of being. […]In the tribe, the cohesion among its members is mainly guaranteed by a common thinking and feeling, from which common habits and a common will arise. The reason of the individual remains limited to little more than nothing, that is, limited to those original, most elementary impulses permitted by their atrophied condition.”30

The life of indigenous societies is determined by what Claude Lévi-Strauss calls “wild thinking”31, by means of which Lévi-Strauss believed that modern industrial society would experience a renaissance. This thinking is not causal but associative. It is not analytical but “holistic”. It is not abstract, but operates with images. The methodical approach corresponding to wild thinking is not that of a planned construction, but of a playful tinkering>.

Engels already identified the passage beyond (or surmounting) of the tribalist-collectivist form of life as the cause of all selfishness and, as a consequence, the cause of the class struggle and the dialectical course of history resulting from it. Therefore, the tribal lifestyle is nowadays being touted as a model for the advancement of society on a global scale by post-Soviet socialists, with the Indians of the Amazon region providing the example to which they most refer.

The last stage of the evolution of liberation theology plays a key role in spreading tribal socialism. It sees Amazonia as a new locus theologicus, i.e. as a new source of revelation alongside scripture and tradition. The rainforests of the Amazon are here highly stylized (held up as a model) as a reservoir not only of life, but also of the wisdom of the planet. The indigenous people of this region, who successfully refuse the rational Western culture, are in this context seen as bearers of a new revelation. In this respect, the concepts of mission and inculturation are turned into their opposite, in so far as now the peoples of the West are those, who are to be converted by the wisdom of the natives in order to place them in similar harmonious relationship with nature, as lived by the natives. The culture, economy, customs and social behavior of the developed peoples are to undergo a profound change according to the Amazonian example, which can only be interpreted as a return from logos to myth. Indeed, a syncretistic mixture of Christianity with the ideas and practices of the pantheistic natural religions is recommended, in order to give the entire church an “Amazonian face”.32

What is always concealed in this idyllic praise of the “noble savage”, however, is the fact that the dictatorial rule exercised by chiefs and witch doctors over their collectivist tribes does not allow the freedom and creativity of the individual to flourish and that the relationship between the individual tribes of the Amazon is often characterized by immense violence and cruelty. It is also unmentioned that the life of the tribes is characterized by cannibalism infanticide and drug abuse, as well as by sorcery and sinister superstition.

Due to its at least latent pantheistic character, the tribalism of liberation theology often associates itself with an eco-socialism33, which considers that the Earth, also known as “Mother Earth”, suffers from a disease, and this disease is the human being, which makes urgently necessary a drastic reduction of the world population in the context of a rigid population control policy. Here, finally, socialism presents itself as that condensation of misanthropy that it is in truth; here it reveals his genocidal nature. Socialism is the sum of what Pope John Paul II had called the “culture of death”.

Therefore, I would like to conclude by once again giving voice to Igor Shafarevich: “The death of humanity,” he says, “is not only a conceivable result when socialism triumphs, but it represents the very goal of socialism.”34


1 Jean-Francois Lyotard’s (far-fetched) farewell to the great narratives is based solely on yet another great narrative, postmodernism.

2 See: T. Stark, Das christliche Vertrauen in die Vernunft. Zur rationalitätssichernden Funktion des Christentums, in: Forum Katholische Theologie, 21. Jahrgang, Heft 2, 2005, pp. 81-9; T. Stark, Glaube und Vernunft. Eine Relecture der Regensburger Vorlesung von Papst Benedikt XVI., in: J. Kreiml (Hg.), Christliche Antworten auf die Fragen der Gegenwart. Grundlinien der Theologie Papst Benedikts XVI., Regensburg 2010, pp. 35-65; T. Stark, Das Verhältnis von Natur und Vernunft. Zu einem zentralen Thema der Philosophie Robert Spaemanns, in: J. Kreiml / M. Stickelbroeck (Hg.), Die Person – ihr Selbstsein und ihr Handeln, Regensburg 2016, pp. 98-125.

3 See: T. Stark, Symbol, Bedeutung, Transzendenz. Der Religionsbegriff in der Kulturphilosophie Ernst Cassirers, Würzburg 1997; T. Stark, Religion als Überwindung des Mythos. Anmerkungen zu einem Aspekt der Kulturphilosophie Ernst Cassirers, in: W. Vögele, „Die Gegensätze schließen einander nicht aus, sondern verweisen aufeinander“. Ernst Cassirers Symboltheorie und die Frage nach Pluralismus und Differenz, Loccum 1999, pp. 150-166; T. Stark, Die Rationalität der Religion und die Kritik der Kultur. Ernst Cassirers Bestimmung der Funktion der Religion im Hinblick auf die Einheit und Entwicklung der Kultur, in: H. Deuser und M. Moxter (Hrsg.), Rationalität der Religion und Kritik der Kultur: Hermann Cohen und Ernst Cassirer, Würzburg 2002, pp. 125-136.

4 The logical refutation of the Hegelian dialectic, which underlies the socialist understanding of history, see: .: K. R. Popper, What is Dialectic, in: Mind,, Band 49, No. 196 (Oct., 1940), pp. 403-426.

5 I. R. Schafarewitsch, I. R. Der Sozialismus, in: A. Solschenizyn u.a., Stimmen aus dem Untergrund. Zur geisteigen Situation in der UDSSR, Frankfurt/M – Berlin – Wien 1974, pp. 33-75 here p. 53. In the following cited as “socialism.”

6 I. R. Schafarewitsch, Der Todestrieb in der Geschichte. Erscheinungsformen des Sozialismus, Grevenbroich 2016, p. 38. In the following cited as „Todestrieb“.

7 See: H. Grundmann, Studien zu Joachim von Fiore, Leipzig 1927.

8 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 143.

9 See: Ch. Hahn, Geschichte der Ketzer im Mittelalter, besonders im 11., 12. Und 13. Jahrhundert, nach Quellen bearbeitet, 2 Bde. Stuttgart 1845 und 1847; J. Döllinger, Beiträger zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters. Erster Theil. Geschichte der gnostisch-manichäischen Sekten, München 1890; H. Grundmann, Ketzergeschichte des Mittelalters, Göttingen 1963.

10 K. Kautsky, Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus, 2 Bde., Stuttgart 1895; G. Adler, Geschichte des Sozialismus und Kommunismus von Platon bis zur Gegenwart, Bd. I, Leipzig 1920.

11 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 142.

12 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 136.

13 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 138.

14 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 136.

15 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 141.

16 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 140 f.

17 K. Kautsky, Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus, Bd. II., Der Kommunismus in der deutschen Reformation, Stuttgart 1895.

18 See: B. Kaiser, Kulturmarxismus, Mühlenbecker Land 2018.

19 U. Hirschfeld, W. Rügemer (Hrsg.): Utopie und Zivilgesellschaft. Rekonstruktionen, Thesen und Informationen zu Antonio Gramsci, Berlin 1990. K. Hofer: Die politische Theorie Antonio Gramscis, Salzburg 1991.

20 G. Rohrmoser, Das Elend der kritischen Theorie. Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Jürgen Habermas, Freiburg 1970; C. Albrecht, Eine Wirkungsgeschichte der Frankfurter Schule, Frankfurt a. M. 2000.

21 „With today’s socialist left, but mostly no longer Marxist currents, the slogan of ‘sexual revolution’, that is the abolition of the traditional family ties, also plays a decisive role.” (Schafarewitsch, Sozialismus, 38.)

22 For this marginal group strategy see: H. Marcuse, Der eindimensionale Mensch. Studien zur Ideologie der fortgeschrittenen Industriegesellschaft, Neuwied 1967.

23 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 353. In 1906 Bulgakov published a treatise entitled “Karl Marx as a religious type”.

24 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 353.

25 See: H. Schmoll, Lob der Eliten. Warum wir sie brauchen, München 2008; N. Bolz, Diskurs über die Ungleichheit. Ein Anti-Rousseau, München 2009.

26 D. Kisoudis, Foreword to: Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 17.

27 Schafarewitsch, Sozialismus, 69.

28 D. Kisoudis, Foreword to: Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 17.

29 Friedrich Engels, Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats, Zürich 1984.

30 P. Correa de Oliveira, Revolution und Gegenrevolution, p. 98.

31 C. Lévi-Strauss, Das wilde Denken, Frankfurt a. M. 1968.

32 See: P. Correa de Oliveira’s work already published in 1977: Indian Tribalism: The Communist-Missionary Ideal for Brazil in the Twenty-First Century Rich material on the tribalist “liberation theology” can be found here:

33 T. Mann, Rote Lügen in grünem Gewand. Der kommunistische Hintergrund der Öko-Bewegung, Rottenburg 2009.

34 Schafarewitsch, Todestrieb, 435.

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About Prof. Thomas Heinrich Stark 2 Articles
Professor Thomas Heinrich Stark is a professor of philosophical anthropology at the Benedict XVI Institute of Philosophy and Theology at Heiligenkreuz, in Austria.


  1. Wow, thanks for this very thought provoking piece. Recommended reading for our friends who deem climate change as today’s “existential crisis” that requires immediate government intervention in all aspects of our lives. It sure is being trumpeted by every Democrat candidate for president along with most of today’s elites (the posterity of those heretics from long ago).

    • Anything to let corporations continue to exploit us, I guess. No amount of words or jargon is too little when profits are on the line. As the lecture states, after all, it’s existential! Critical even!

      Every time my eyes glaze over on pieces like these, I get to wondering why the effort is spent here and not on convincing politicians to spend less money bombing random Middle Easterners into pink paste and spending it on, I don’t know, health care instead. It’s a radical socialist thought these days – that may result in the death of all you hold dear. Dwight Eisenhower got close to eradicating all life with his socialist ideas about the military and industry.

      You only recommend things like this if you want to have less friends… But it sounds to me like you don’t think of them as friends to begin with!!

      • Did you even bother to read the article? You would have made a good Bolshevik. Only a left wing ideologue would take an essay detailing the dangers of socialism and attempt to manipulate the conversation toward the irrelevant topic of greater government spending on health care. Spoken like a true socialist! A free society of autonomous, responsible adults understands that it is not the government’s role to provide anyone with healthcare. Your post is helpful, however, in that it provides a real-life example of exactly the type of person the article is discussing.

        • Your comment is illustrative as well, comrade! Perhaps it is not the “government’s role to provide anyone with healthcare” – however, you seem to agree that it is in their role to use that money to turn people into paste! Do you take glee in murder, as Ramjet seems to? I just think of all the Christian causes one can support with the money the government wastes – the same Christian causes that are called ‘socialism’ and espoused by ‘ideologues.’ Imagine if that money was used to provide more time off for mothers and fathers to raise small children! That would actually improve marriage (and fertility!) rates. A good Christian goal.

          To tie it all together, it makes you question what the real point this dull lecture serves, if not to provide pseudo-intellectual cover for Western greed and murder, which under a different light, looks a lot like the nihilism this professor rails against!

          ha, break free of your chains and all that, “comrade.” Or give cover to killing “targeted terrorists” or whatever euphemism the TV tells boomers to believe. Did you know we spend billions for a pointless and deadly war in Yemen, as I write?

          • If Dr. Stark’s lecture is “dull”, then I have to say that your vacuous comments make dull look exciting, insightful, and worthwhile.

  2. Stark writes: “The culture, economy, customs and social behavior of the developed peoples are to undergo a profound change according to the Amazonian example, which can ONLY be interpreted as a return from logos to myth” (caps added).


    Without in any way diminishing the sweep and depth of Stark’s philosophical analysis—a monumental read—in addition to the ASSUMED DICHOTOMY between logos and Amazonian myth is also a THIRD PATH of rescuing real natural science from an admitted return to pre-scientific mythology. A credible distinction and, as such, also part of Western “culture” (and worthy of the Benedict XVI Institute of Philosophy and Theology).

    Simply put: “WHAT ABOUT the hard science of natural ecology and what about an “economy” that is possibly eating our seed corn for tomorrow, that is, an economy too presumptuous about a less-than-infinite glob(e) of interconnected natural resources?” In addition to Stark’s myth of Socialism, here too the Greek AND modern-day (!) myth of hubris, perhaps?

    As a group, has the off-tune chorus of oracles for Amazonia muddied things up?
    Of course!!!—where the Petrine Primacy (of ST. PETER) is abandoned, the always-lurking PETER PRINCIPLE takes over: Too many careerist fiction writers in red hats. Or, as someone once said: “When the tiara is torn off, the head comes with it!”

  3. I think this underscores the nihilistic tendency in the Franceine Papacy: There is a denial of the intrinsic, objective reality in nature which is now defined as a collective view of human behavior. The failings in moral life are imputed so as to construct a going nowhere mentality.

  4. Excellent analysis. Articulates perfectly the impulse of the socialist/communist ideology. The only thing that needs to be incorporated into the dissertation above is it’s spiritual genesis & that is of course Luciferian. The Serpent never sleeps.

  5. Socialism, no matter the “type”, rests on the three legged stool of greed, coercion and theft. The only example of a form of successful socialism is in the monastery where the monks make Christmas fruitcakes and even they must follow the laws of economics to be successful.

  6. Socialism, in both it’s Marxist (Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao) and Nationalist (Hitler, Mussolini) has been the greatest cause of death and destruction in the history of the world. Socialists are essentially barbarians; they cannot create they can only destroy. This is because Socialism views society from a purely materialistic and historical determinist viewpoint, with n consideration for art, spirituality, or the dignity of the human person beyond being a tool for class struggle.

    Given the above commentary, what essentially is the difference between the Braindead Leftist Mob (BLM) who destroyed the statues of St Junipero Serra and the Taliban who destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan?

  7. A good thesis does not begin with a search of discovery ending with a major premise. Rather as in Dr Stark’s discourse it headlines the thesis at or near the start and commences to demonstrate it. “Heterogeneous and sometimes antagonistic separate rationalities refuse integration and open a gate through which an atavistic or primitive irrationality penetrates into the space of modernity”. This is what’s transpiring before us in America with violent protests and assaults on historical figures and cultural idols all that identifies the USA. Stark highlights that the failure of socialism’s experimental behemoth the USSR to safeguard equality and freedom resulted in tribalism. As I perceive what occurred was not tribalism in its historical form rather that invented by social anthropologist ideologue Claude Levi Strauss and philosophical ideologue Jacques Rousseau. Tribal ideology that evaporates all historical evidence that primitive peoples if not always did mostly practice monogamy and did claim their own children. Philosophic anthropologist Thomas Stark’s assessment of human history is a close parallel to that of Church historian Roberto De Mattei. Both identify the modern bete noire of Apostolic Catholicism Amazonia. Whether or not the goddess of the Andes Vatican lawn worship was pretense to advance the cause of saving Mother Earth is not the essential issue. Rather it’s the vacuous ideology of contemporary new paradigm Catholicism advancing toward an ecologic globalism driven by socialism’s end game the death of culture. But that death is infinitely of a more sinister kind than its first phase disintegration as seen in the chaos of spreading anarchy. Rather it’s already witnessed in the astronomical numbers of murder of our own infants in the womb, infants created in God’s image body parts sold for cosmetics [Stark’s cannibalism], the acceleration of suicide often culturally ritual presaged by messaging in music and poetry. Ritual murder seems destined to end in atheistic policy. Stark’s thesis is simple and brilliant in dissecting our dilemma. It must also be recognized that beyond ideology is the Master puppeteer dealer of murder and death, Satan.

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