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Communism - Catholic Worker odds & ends
November 12th, 2009
04:21 am

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Communism
"We need always to remember that it is atheistic Communism which we oppose, but as for economic Communism---it is a system which has worked admirably in religious orders for two thousand years."----Dorothy Day, 1952.

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From:bobby1933
Date:November 12th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)

communism

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I always thought that it was a mistake for Marx (or was it his opponents) to make such a big deal over his atheism. I suspect he knew that he "knew" about as much about god as anyone else, which is nothing. Of course, religion was, and is, used by the powerful to control the powerless. And Marx agreed with Feuerbach that religion could never be a unifying force in a diverse society. But I think he would not have objected to this "opiate" if used as a means rather than an end and if taken at the discretion of the "patient."
Dorothy Day was correct that atheism is not part of communism, in fact communism probably works better in the context of some kind of spiritual understanding of the human condition.
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From:personalist
Date:November 12th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)

Re: communism

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Thanks for that sentence: "I suspect he knew that he 'Knew' about as much about god as anyone else, which is nothing.' I've been saying that for years. I'm so tired of people telling me what 'god' wants, thinks, likes etc.
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From:bobby1933
Date:November 13th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC)

Re: communism

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Cheers! I like your reminders of Catholic Worker history; and I treasure your personal comments.
From:jimforest
Date:November 27th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC)

Re: communism

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This is a topic Thomas Merton addressed in the talk he gave shortly before he died, 10 December 1968, at a monastic conference in Thailand.

He noted that both monk and Marxist share the idea that each should give according to his capacity and receive according to his need. But while the Marxist gives primary emphasis to the material and economic structures of life, seeing religious approaches as empty mystification, the monk is committed to bringing about a human transformation that begins at the level of consciousness. “Instead of starting with matter itself and then moving up to a new structure, in which man will automatically develop a new consciousness, the traditional religions begin with the consciousness of the individual seeking to transform and liberate the truth in each person, with the idea that it will then communicate itself to others.”

This is emphatically the vocation of the monk, he continued, “who seeks full realization ... [and] has come to experience the ground of his own being in such a way that he knows the secret of liberation and can somehow or other communicate it to others.” At the deepest level, the monk is teaching others how to live by love. For Christians, this is the discovery of Christ dwelling in all others.

Only with such love, Merton went on, is it possible to realize the economic ideal of each giving according to his ability and receiving according to his need. But in actuality many Christians, including those in monastic communities, have not reached this level of love and realization. They have burdened their lives with too many false needs and these have blocked the way to full realization, the monk’s only reason for being.

-- Jim Forest
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