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Lesson 82- Communism and Soft Slavery

I spent the last part of the previous program, critiquing the major point of the Communist Manifesto and it might be surprising to many of you that there were so many things in Marx’s analysis that seem to be true. Most of us have grown up with the idea that Communism was a diabolical system that was out to enslave the world and, in some sense, it is. Thus, President Reagan called it the “Evil Empire” and, once it went from a theory to an operating system, it certainly did take on some aspects of an “Evil Empire” as dictators like Stalin persecuted and “mass murdered” those who didn’t want to enter his Brave New World. Perhaps this is why so many people are attracted to it as a theory and repelled by it as a system. However, as I will try to demonstrate later in our analysis, even in its most benevolent form it contains a threat to our basic human nature because it undermines our basic need to become free, self-determining, adult human beings. In a sense, Communism and Socialism benevolent forms are more dangerous and sinister that their harsher forms because in its benevolent forms it uses a technique known as “soft slavery” in which it enslaves by debilitating its members through what seems to be kindness and generosity whereas “hard slavery” uses whips and chains. The end results are the same, the person ends up under the control of another person. However, “hard slavery” creates resentment and rebellion whereas “soft slavery” robs the person of the initiative and means to do either. 

If the ultimate goal of salvation is freedom and “self determination”, then its opposite is slavery and “other determination,” and, that, in the final analysis, is the flaw in Communism the system as opposed to Communism the theory. No matter how wonderful any system is in fulfilling our physical needs, it fails if it leaves us dependent children instead of independent adults. But we fail as independent adults if we interpret “independence” to mean “to do our own thing” on the micro level without any obligation to consider the macro level. Thus, the challenge facing all of us as we try to move from childhood to adulthood both on the individual and historical level is the same challenge that faced the Hebrew people who followed Moses from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. Remember, they had to pass through the Wilderness of Sin and each time things became difficult they wanted to return to Egypt. The obvious symbolic meaning is that the path to freedom is difficult and filled with challenges and obstacles and only those who are willing to “pick up their crosses and follow the Truth” are willing and able to make the journey. If, as the Hebrew people, we have slavery in our hearts, we will want to return to Egypt or slavery at the first sign of trouble by turning our freedom over to someone who will meet our physical needs. In the Old Testament, God finally decided that those who had been born in Egypt were unable and unworthy to make the journey and so He decreed that they would wander in the Wilderness of Sin until they had all died off and that only the children who knew nothing of Egypt were capable entering the Promised Land.

We can relate this to Eric Fromm’s theory of “freedom from” and “freedom to”. You might remember that Fromm had said that our basic need was to belong to some type of order system. This need superceded any other need including our desire for pleasure and our greatest fear was not the fear of pain but the fear of being morally alone in which we felt disconnected to everyone and everything. In other words, human nature was created to be in relationship which is just another way of saying we were made to belong.  Thus, the key issue in mental health was how we belonged. Fromm had said that the two ways of belonging were “destructive” and “productive.” In the “destructive” form we belong through a mechanism known as “sado/masochism.” In the productive form we belong through freedom and love.

In its pathological form, the sadistic side of the sado/masochistic relationship  achieves order by controlling everyone else through torture, threat, and domination and the masochist side achieves it by allowing others to control him or her. This is often referred to as a co-dependent relationship because the sadist depends on the masochist to satisfy his need to control and the masochist depends on the sadist to fulfill his need to be controlled. They are a perfect pair who are locked in an eternal circle of co-dependency.

However, in its non-pathological form, the sado/masochistic relationship is the natural relationship that exists between parents and children. Thus, it doesn’t create a mental health problem unless it fails to develop into the second or productive form of relationship. In the “productive form” each person breaks his or hers dependency on the other person and separates to become a full-fledge, self-determining human being capable and willing of making his own decisions. Some parents can’t break the relationship because they depend on their role as parent to fulfill themselves and thus use strategies to prolong their control over their children long into their adulthood. Some children can’t break the relationship because they are unable to take control of their own lives and continue to depend on their parents to control them. Neither one understand the true nature of love which is based on a totally free interaction between two persons. Thus, as the saying goes, “If you love something, set it free…”

Theologically, we can see the relationship of Fromm’s theory to the Old and New Testaments. In our spiritual childhood, God had to controlled the Hebrew people and us through restrictive laws based on promises of rewards or threats of punishment. It was a destructive relationship that was necessary in our spiritual infancy but it contained the flaw that all destructive relationships have. It wasn’t based on true love. Thus we hear God in the Old Testament complaining that He is frustrated with His people because they are like hirelings or slaves because they will work in His fields so long as He promises to pay or reward them or so long as He threatens to whip them. But, if He should turn His back and fail to watch them, they will sit down under the nearest tree and go to sleep. He longed for sons who would obey Him out of love and who worked because they took a sincere interest in His enterprise. Thus, in another passage He says that He is tired of their sacrifices of bulls, goats, lambs, and doves. What He really wanted was their love and understanding. In other words, in the lyrics of the Song of Thanksgiving, “Love that freely given, wants to freely be received…”

Thus, Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the Cross becomes the perfect sacrifice because, even though He reaches the point of total abandonment when He cries out “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken Me!”, He continues to offer Himself independent of any assurance of reward or threat of punishment. He is the visible image of Agape or Sacrificial Love. He has gone beyond feelings and has entered the realm of commitment, which is what all true covenants are based upon.

Therefore the New Testament represents our spiritual movement from the destructive relationship of the Old Testament to the productive relationship of the New Testament. As John 1 says, “God gave the law through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” In other words, the New Testament requires that we go beyond the law based on reward and punishment by replacing it with a personal relationship with God based on love and freedom. God is not interested in just changing our behavior, He wants to change our hearts.

However, this is risky business because whenever we move from a destructive to a productive relationship by either setting those we control free or by being set free by those who controlled us, there is always the danger that we will fail to reconnect on the productive level.  However, according to Eric Fromm, this is exactly the risk that true love has to take.

We can see the mixed results in our own relationships. We have all seen parents who still have their “hooks” in their grown children who are made to feel guilty or disloyal if they move in any direction without their parents’ approval. We have also seen children who, upon reaching adulthood, cut the umbilical cord and “rode off into the sunset” never to be seen again except on special holidays of obligation. And, fortunately, we also have seen parents, who after having set their children free, saw them return as friends on the adult level. My wife and daughters are perfect examples of this.

Although my wife was a firm mother during their developing years, once they reached maturity, she released them, only to see them return freely as girlfriends. They can sit for hours talking and laughing as adults and never would she think of forcing her opinion on either one of them. They are free to either accept or reject it as every adult is.

 However, like Mark Twain, my children have discovered that the parents, whom they, at seventeen, thought were so stupid, now seem to have grown so wise. In other words, now that my children are fully grown, the laws that they resented when we enforced them on them as children,  they now accept freely because they understand their purpose. They have moved from external compulsion to internal acceptance. The laws are now part of their hearts and we no longer need to enforce them.  

Thus all relationships, whether with God, our parents, the government or the Church are suppose to move from the destructive to the productive phase. And that is what I was describing in my last talk as I outlined the Church’s different roles in our infancy, our adolescence, and now in our adulthood.

If the only reason that we obey God’s moral laws or the laws of the Church is because of our desire for reward or fear of punishment, then we are still in a destructive relationship with both of them and it’s about time we did something about it.

Thus, although the Church saw the necessity for blind faith in our infancy, and strict laws in our adolescence, it realized that sooner or later, if we were to become spiritually mature, faith had to be joined with reason if we were every going to fulfill St. Paul’s observation in I Corinthian 13:11:

 

“When I was a child I thought like a child and I spoke like a child. But now that I am a man, I have put away the things of childhood.”

 

But how do we move from a destructive to a productive one. According to Eric From the secret is found in the way that the child develops in the womb. The child begins in a state of almost total dependency on its mother at the moment of conception. However, from that point on its entire life is the process of moving from dependency to independency by gradually taking over one function after another from its mother. Eric Fromm refers to this process as a movement from “freedom from”, which refers to the “permission to be free”, through “freedom to”, the ability to be free. Thus freedom has to be looked at from two different perspectives.

In proper development, “freedom to”, the ability to be free, must precede “freedom from”, the permission to be free. Thus, the child must develop lungs and the ability to breathe before it can be “free from” the oxygen supplying umbilical cord. Likewise, it must develop it ability to suckle before it can be “free from” the nutrient delivering umbilical cord. In short, the child can not be “free from” its mother’s body until it has develop the systems that allow it to become independent from her. Thus, from the science of fetology, we know that long before he is born, the child has spent long periods practicing breathing by taking in and expelling water from his lungs and suckling by sucking on his thumb. It is only when these systems are ready and functioning that he can move on to the next plateau of freedom and independence. So long as “freedom to”, or ability, continues to precede “freedom from”, or permission, our growth from dependence to independence will move smoothly. However, if, at any time,  “freedom from” should precede “freedom to”, according to Eric Fromm, the person will psychologically want to “escape from freedom” by turning the responsibility for his life over to some dominant force or person.

Like the Hebrew people in the desert, he will want to return to Egypt whenever freedom creates fear, doubt, and insecurity. And, says Fromm, this happens when our “permission to be free” exceeds our “ability to be free.” Thus we can conclude that no one can be freer than his ability permits.

All other types of freedom are a sham because they contain the “roots of their own destruction” since the person’s lack of ability will ultimately create the very chaotic conditions that lead to his willing enslavement. Of course, in the short term the person may get away with it for awhile but, sooner or later, he will “reap what he has sown.”

But how does one acquire “freedom to”, or ability, so that he can naturally progress toward “freedom from.” The answer is through a dialectical process in which the challenges of life call forth hidden potentials and moves them into actuality.

 As I said in a previous program while discussing the philosopher Schopenhauer, “goals are inducements to enter growth processes.” You might remember that Schopenhauer hated God because he thought that God had played a cruel trick on us by creating in us desires that we foolishly believed would bring us happiness once they were satisfied. However, it was a foolish belief because every time we satisfied one desire, another one rose to replace it. Thus, the goals that flowed from these incessant desires were empty because they promised a satisfaction that they couldn’t deliver. In other words, life is like a hamster in a cage who keeps on running on a circular wheel to nowhere, or as Shakespeare once wrote, “much ado about nothing.” So why bother to exert any energy to struggle towards meaningless and empty goals?

Therefore, Schopenhauer said that life was a cruel trick, and that instead of thanking God and calling it a gift, we should curse Him and throw it back in His face by refusing to reproduce and committing suicide.

          Schopenhauer was right about one thing. None of these goals will ever bring us permanent satisfaction or happiness because they were never meant to. As I said, “Goals are inducements to enter growth processes.” If the child never wanted the ball on the other side of the room, it would never learn to crawl. If he never wanted the toy in the upstairs bedroom, he would never learn to climb the stairs. If, when he was grown, he never wanted a new car, he would never bother to learn how to discipline his impulses so that he could get the education, to get the job, to get the money, that he learned to save, in order to pay for it. Long after the car is gone and forgotten, he still has the traits in his character that he had to learn in order to get it.

From our micro perspective, the car was important; from God’s macro perspective, it was the character traits that were. The desires, challenges and crosses of the world were put there to pull out and develop hidden potential of which we were not aware.

“Why do I believe in Christ Jesus?, asks St. Paul. And his answer is “So that my hidden self can be revealed!” Or as Jesus said, “If you want life and you want it fully, pick up your cross and follow Me. Or, as Hegel would say, “This is not to say that problems of evil don't exist: they a real enough. But they are, in Wisdom's way of looking at things, stages to fulfillment and the good. Struggle is the law of growth; character is built in the storm and stress of the world, and a man reaches his full height only through compulsions, responsibilities, and suffering.”

If this is true, then what would be the worst thing that could happen to us? What would dam up and destroy our life force so that we would never become the person God intended us to be? The worst thing would be that someone, with the best of intentions, would come along and eliminate all of the difficulties and struggles from our lives.

This is exactly what misguided parents do who, also with the best of intentions, give their children everything that they want only to discover that the child’s character and initiative fails to develop. Nobody ever got more by expecting less.

Nature, which according to the Bible, is the handiwork of God is built on the principle of Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest and, as a mentioned in a previous program, its ways seem harsh and cruel to us. Had we created it, we would have had Walt Disney design it. Yet, by faith, we have to accept that there is a Higher Wisdom that knows something that we don’t which makes it necessary for life to be in a constant struggle with itself for survival. In fact, as Christians, we believe that this Higher Wisdom, Jesus the Logos of God, became flesh for the sole purpose of “showing us the way to salvation.” When He told Peter that, to fulfill His mission, He had to go to Jerusalem where He would suffer and die, Peter, like most of us, protested. There had to be an easier way. Then Jesus, in anger, said, “Get Thee behind Me, Satan, because you are judging by the standards of men, not of God.”

We are always looking for the easy way, the path of least resistance, while God knows that this path lacks the challenges that are necessary to provide the growth that will lead us to the “fullness of life.”

Someone once said,  “God’s cruelty is more merciful than Man’s kindness!” How could this be? Because it is possible to “kill someone with kindness!” Not so much their physical life but their spiritual life. And what makes this type of murder so insidious is that the person believes that the other person really loves and cares for them. However, the “don’t care enough to expect the very best.” And, as a result, the become enablers in the debilitation of the person they claim to love.

Thus, if over-protective and under-demanding parents are capable of ruining the growth and development of their children, an over-protective and under-demanding welfare state is capable of ruining the growth and development of its people. And that, in the final analysis, is the flaw in the secular humanistic systems and what makes it so hard to detect is that is looks like love and kindness. Anyone who challenges it is made to look like a heartless person because they don’t have compassion for their fellow man. This brings up another of my personal observations which I pass on to my students at the end of each course. To get through life successfully I advise them to let their “motives be loving and their methods be wise.”

To truly love someone is to want the best for them and the best thing that we could wish for anyone is that they become a fully competent and successful adult. Never would true love want anyone to remain under-developed and less competent than they could be. Which is better or more loving:  “to give a man a fish so that he eats for one day; or to teach him to fish so that he eats for a lifetime”? The first one is loving but unwise, while the second is both loving and wise.

True Wisdom knows when and how to help. Using the Hegelian Dialectic as our model we can illustrate this point. If we were to use a capital “T” to represent the Thesis and a capital “A” to represent the Antithesis, we can illustrate a point by the relative size that one letter has to the other. You can visualize this by thinking of a triangle in which the Thesis and Antithesis on the base resolve into a Synthesis at the point.

If, for example, an inch-and-a-half “T”, or Thesis, is seen in opposition to a two-inch “A”, or Antithesis, then Wisdom says to allow the person to struggle to work out the problem for himself because it is an opportunity for growth. Each time this happens, the Synthesis, represented by a capital “S”, grows larger than both of them thereby indicating a growth process. It then becomes a new Thesis and is now ready to take on even larger problem.

If, however, an inch-and-a-half “T” is seen in relationship to a five-inch “A”, then this Antithesis is too large for the Thesis to handle and it is a time to seek help. Thus, true Wisdom knows when to help and when to keep its hand off and allow the person to face growth producing difficulties. You can’t expect a five-year-old to handle the problem of a thirty-five-year-old man nor should a thirty-five-year-old man  expect to be helped on a problem which a five-year-old could handle but you can expect each to handle all problems which are age appropriate.

Perhaps you might recognize in this the Church’s Principle of Subsidiarity which says, “the smallest unit in society that is capable of handling a problem should assume responsibility for it.” And this, along with the atheistic and secularistic aspects of humanism, is at the crux of the problem between the Church and the Secular Humanists.

The secular humanists attract a lot of support, especially from well-meaning, liberal Christian, because they seem to “out-Christian” Christianity. They are constantly inventing programs to help people with their problems and, because of this, their opponents sometimes refer to them as “bleeding-heart liberals.” There is no denying that many of their programs seem, at least on the surface, to be motivated by concern for the problems of other people and thus we might even concede that they are an expression of love. However, very often they lack wisdom because they often excuse people from responsibility for their own behavior. As a result, we are creating a “world without consequences” in which people make stupid decisions and still manage to escape the logical results. Therefore, they are permitted to “keep on repeating the same behavior, while expecting different results.”

You might remember that this was my definition for insanity because, although it is not enough to have you committed to an insane asylum, it certainly indicates that you are out of touch with reality.

In previous talks, I demonstrated that “without reflection there is no progress” by showing that, in a world without any mirrors or reflective devices, it would be impossible to know the effects of any adjustment made to your appearance. And just as we need a reflective agent to improve our appearance, we also need reflective agents to improve other aspects of ourselves. For example, sociologist tell us that there is a principle called the “Looking Glass Self” through which we use the reaction of other people to shape our own behavior. In a sense, they become mirrors that  reflect back to us an evaluation of our behavior through their comments, facial expressions, and other non-verbal means. When the feed-back is positive, it reinforces and encourages us to repeat it. When it is negative, it discourages the behavior. Thus, it makes us all “enablers” in the behavior of others. Unfortunately, it also gives other people the power of shaping negative qualities as well as positive qualities in us.

However, there are other reflective agents that we use in the shaping of ourselves. Our brain, in contrast to those of animals, has a logical left lobe that is a reflective agent on our impulsive right lobe, and through this interaction, we are able to improve and modify our behavior. From a Christian point of view, this interaction, which traditionally has been portrayed as the interaction between an angel, representing our conscience, on one shoulder and a devil, representing our lower nature,  on the other, is really the interaction between our animal nature and the Logos which John 1 says is the light found in every human being. This Logos, of course, is Jesus Christ and, by speaking the Truth, it leads us out of the impulsive, hedonistic animal Kingdom of Darkness in which Helen Keller was trapped, into the intellectual Kingdom of Light and Understanding that the acquisition of language brought to Helen. It is the only out of Gehenna, the world of “empty thought.”

However, when all other reflective agents fail, there is one final agent that is infallible in accurately reflecting back to us the quality of our behavior. It is called Reality but an even more accurate name is Truth. Both humans and animals, through the consequences that they reap from their behavior, are shown the path to survival and the path to destruction. In its purest form it is called the Laws of Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest. It can’t be bribed; it doesn’t accept excuses; it doesn’t care who you are. Simply stated, it operates on the principle that “everyone must reap what they have sown.” However, it is always ready to forgive anyone who, upon seeing the “errors of his ways”, is willing to “repent and reform.” It’s attitude is not one of punishment. Rather it is one of logical consequences.

In Proverbs 1, the voice of Wisdom, who is Jesus, chides those who refused to listen to it. It says, I tried to tell you the right path to travel but you wouldn’t listen. You preferred foolishness to Wisdom and now you come crying to Me as the consequences of your foolish decisions are making you sick. But it’s too late. The “die is cast” and you will have to accept the consequences of the path you have chosen.

You might ask, “Well, where is the mercy?” The answer is that the mercy is in consequences that are designed to turn us from the wrong path, which leads to death and destruction, and to lead us to the right path, which leads to the fullness of life. It is misguided mercy that allows us to “keep on repeating the same behavior, while expecting different results. When we interfere with the Law of Reality, we rob ourselves and others of one the purest critiques on our behavior. And that is what happens when our “motives are loving but our methods are unwise.”And that is the most devastating criticism of the secular humanists in their most benevolent form and it goes to the root of their philosophy that can be traced back to the French Revolution.

The French humanistic philosophers at that time had convinced themselves that Man, in his basic nature, was a Noble Savage who had been corrupted by Christian civilization. According to them, Man, like Tarzan, a fictional representation of the Noble Savage, wasn’t naturally violent or greedy, didn’t fight wars or seek wealth and possessions. He was naturally good and, if he wasn’t, it wasn’t his fault. His basic nature had been corrupted by the environment. The reason he stole was because he was poor; the reason that he raped was because his naturally good sexual impulses were damned up by moral restrictions placed there by the Christian religion; the reason he was violent and killed was because he was made mentally ill by Christian teachings.  It was Christian civilization that laid a guilt trip on him by teaching him about sin, heaven and hell, and private property.

Thus, the fault wasn’t in him. It was in his environment. So whenever he acts inappropriately, don’t put the blame on him. Put it on some external factor in the environment. If we eliminated poverty, he wouldn’t steal; if we allowed sexual freedom, he wouldn’t rape; if we took away the concept of sin and the fear of eternal damnation, he would be “guilt free” and thus would be kind and tolerant towards others. His problem, as Freud had said, was “repression” in which his natural impulses and drive were repressed by unnecessary moral laws. So we have to teach him to “Let it all hang out!” so that he can return to his naturally good self.

 

Why all you have to do is to :

  Imagine there’s no heaven… It’s easy if you try

   No hell below us; above us only sky.

Imagine all the people living for today.

Imagine there’s no country; it isn’t hard to do.

Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.

Imagine all the people living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

Imagine no possessions; I wonder if you can.

         No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of Man.

         Imagine all the people sharing all the world.

You may think I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

I hope some day you’ll join us and the world will live as one.

 

I know people who get teary-eyed over this song without ever realizing what it is proposing. I suspect, that even John Lennon didn’t understand the full implications of its words because he lived the life of a multi-millionaire. It is always easier to “talk the talk” than it is to “walk the walk”.

 

Well I see that my time is up.  Here’s Dom!