Everyone is familiar with the term “Godless commies”, a popular insult in the McCarthy era USA. It is common knowledge that communism rejects God; one of the most famous quotes from Marx is after all “religion is an opium for the people”. This quote is widely misunderstood; Marx was referring to religion being a painkiller, a distraction in times of misery, rather than a drug which is what we know opium as today.
None the less, Marx viewed religion as something negative to get rid off, and his followers certainly tried their best, criminalizing religion and killing millions of people of faith.
However, rarely does anyone ask; why exactly do communists not like religion? Sure they don’t believe in it, but that’s not a reason for such visceral, genocidal hatred. And even if religion was just a silly mental painkiller, that again is not a reason to kill anyone for using it.
Where does nazism fit into all this? First, let me explain why communists hate religion, and I’ll get back to nazism in a moment.
Communists hate religion for one simple reason: Communists believe that the state is the ultimate moral authority. Sure, they may use another term for it – the “People” or “Workers” or “Central planning committee” or whatever, but what it boils down to is that there is no truth and no right, other than what the state says is true or right.
Communists hate God because God competes with the state for the power over people’s lives.
For me as a Christian, the Bible is the ultimate moral authority. This means that if the State says one thing, and the Bible says another thing, I will believe and act in accordance to what the Bible says. That, obviously, is something that cannot be tolerated in a communist state. Anything that competes with the State for the position as the ultimate moral authority has to be removed.
This is also why communists hate the nuclear family – children tend to view their parents as moral authorities, and parents in turn will protect their children more than they will protect other workers or the state. Weakening the family unit is essential in achieving the worker’s utopia.
Which brings us to the other connection between communism and atheism: Utopia, and how it must exist in this world. One central belief of communism is that essentially all ills in the world can be resolved; there is no “fallen human nature” preventing paradise on earth. We are only a few five-year plans away from recreating the garden of eden – although we should really say “creating the garden of eden” since communists don’t believe the first garden of eden ever existed.
While atheism does not cause a belief in utopianism, without utopianism atheism is quite depressing, in particular if you’re poor or otherwise miserable: Not only does your life suck now, it will never get better. There is no God to pray to for consolence, and there are no pearly gates in the sky that you’ll get to walk through once you’ve drawn your last breath.
If you reject the notion of a God, it certainly must be tempting to believe in utopia. If there is no paradise after life, then we have to create one here and now. And in the futile struggle for utopia, humans have shown themselves willing to give up even the most basic rights.
Now, let’s turn to nazism. There are significant differences between nazism and communism that we cannot overlook; the nazis for example were social conservatives (well, with the exception of eugenics…). While communists blame all the world’s ills on the rich, the nazis blamed them on the jews. What a lot of people forget is that in Germany at the time of Hitler’s election, those two were pretty much the same thing – while not all jews were rich, they were definitely overrepresented in the upper class. And for a good reason I might add; Jewish culture encourages a strong work ethic, entrepreneurship, and education – some of the essential keys to success.
Nazism and Communism both rely on jealousy to recruit supporters. At the core there is a feeling among supporters that they are worse off because someone else is better off. That “someone else” may be all the rich, or it may be just the jews specifically, but that someone else is better off, and the supporters believe that the reason they are worse off is because of those who are better off. It’s the “fixed cake” fallacy all over. Nazis, like communists, do not seek to improve their own situation by changing their own behavior, but prefer to take from those who are more successful.
Once you understand that nazism is basically just a specialized form of communism, with the rich-hatred focused on a certain segment of the rich (the jews), it’s also easy to see why nazism must devolve into communism over time. Imagine that, God forbid, Hitler had been successful in eradicating the jews. What would he have done then? After all, eradicating the jews wouldn’t have created any kind of paradise society in Germany (quite the opposite), so what would he have done once he didn’t have the jews to blame any more? Why, find another group to blame of course. Exactly which group this would have been we’ll never know, but my bet would be catholics – another minority group that was relatively wealthy (the richest region in Germany is catholic).
In the end, the Nazis would have to get rid of all the rich people – Aryan or not – except for the party elite. Nazism, like fascism, operates under corporatism – basically the means of production are owned by corporations (like in capitalism), but there is no free competition; rather, the state chooses which corporations are allowed to exist and who is allowed to start a company. Over time, this evolves into communism, with the corporations indistinguishable from the “central economic planning committees” that we know from communist states.
What about religion? Nazism, like communism, believes in the state as the ultimate moral authority. As such, nazis too have to get rid of religion. Nazi Germany however didn’t ban it – they actually, on the surface, embraced christianity. The nazis, rather than getting rid of the churches, successfully took (most of) them over, infiltrated them and corrupted them. A sunday service in Nazi Germany looked quite different to say the least from what it would look like in any other country – the churches were made propaganda tools of the nazi state, and any christians who refused to get in line usually found themselves next to the jews in the gas chambers. As such, Christianity lost it’s anti-totalitarian property; that of a moral compass independent of the state. Communists and nazis may disagree about how to deal with religion, but the end goal is the same: To rid the world of this powerful threat to absolute state authority. With no moral authority, the churches would soon have become irrelevant and died out – we are seeing this with liberal churches like the Church of Sweden, who have no other gospel than that of whatever happens to be the politically correct at the moment. Combine this with the nazi’s strong endorsement of social darwinism (which, while not something Darwin believed in, uses the theory of evolution as a justification) and it’s obvious any nazi state will eventually become an atheist state.
Now I imagine some of you reading this may be balking at the notion of Christianity as a protection against totalitarianism – after all, democracy is a relatively recent invention, and Christianity was the official religion of the very non-democratic dark age Europe. However, what these people forget is that up until the reformation, normal people – commoners – were not allowed to read the bible by themselves. Bibles were for priests & monks to study only. Officially, the reason was because the bible was too complicated for regular people to understand and interpret. But, it’s not exactly a wild guess that the real reason was to preserve power: If peasants were allowed to read the Bible, they would soon figure out that the authorities weren’t really obeying it very closely, and they’d hold them to account. By restricting what the peasants knew about the gospel, the authorities effectively prevented the gospel from threatening their power. Whatever left-winged historians would have you believe, it’s not a coincidence that Europe’s long march towards democracy started after the reformation (which, among other things, led to the Bible being available to commoners) and that protestant countries were the ones to lead that march. And with that came capitalism, the industrial revolution, and eventually smartphones. Isn’t it amazing the blessings that come with reading the word of God?
I know some communists will object to the idea that they view the state as the ultimate moral authority – after all, in the “final stage” of communism, the state is supposed to be dissolved. However, no communist country has ever reached this final stage, and in the meantime, the state is in fact the ultimate moral authority (also, anarchism is really just a simplistic version of fascism, so there’s another similarity between communism and nazism/fascism).
As much as you may not like to think about it, there are really only three options: Either God is God, or the Individual is God – this is known as objectivism, advocated by Ayn Rand & her following of libertarian neckbeards – or the State is God. Communists and nazis alike pick the third option. They are not the same by any means, but as you can see in this post, they have more in common than either side would ever admit.
Thank you for reading.