Politics and the Church – The Church and the Liberal / Progressive / Communist Threat [Part 27]

This week we will cover the topic of the rise of Communism in Russian and an evil minion of Satan…Stalin.  Joseph Stalin was originally named Djugashvili.  He was born December 21, 1879, in the little town of Gori near the border of Turkey.  Stalin’s father was a shoemaker addicted to alcohol.  Stalin was only seven years old when his father died.  Stalin’s mother washed, scrubbed, sewed, and baked to earn enough money to put him through school.  His mother wanted him to be a priest and had him enrolled in the nearby theological seminary at Tiflis.  Stalin discovered that the seminary was honeycombed with secret societies.  Many of them were fostering the revolutionary writings of Marx and Engels.  (Sounds like some of today’s institutions of higher learning.)  Stalin convinced himself that he had a preference for revolution rather than religion and he therefore became vigorously active in the clandestine organizations which existed among the students of the seminary.  He continued in these activities for nearly three years, but he was finally exposed in May, 1899, and was expelled from the seminary for ‘lack of religious vocation.”  Stalin then spent his fulltime as a Marxist revolutionary.  He finally fled to Batumi where he became the principle labor agitator for the Social-Democratic party.  Eventually he was arrested and after remaining in prison until 1903, he was sentenced to three years of exile in Siberia.  It was in Siberia that he heard about the split between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.  The following year he escaped from Siberia and returned to Tiflis to become the leader of the Transcaucasia Bolsheviks.  After leading an abortive revolution in his home province of Georgia he departed for Finland to attend a Bolshevik conference and make contact with Lenin.  It was not long afterward that his zeal for the Communist cause began to forcefully manifest itself.  In 1907 he held a secret meeting with Lenin in Berlin.  He then returned to Tiflis to organize a series of holdups.  This was no ‘steal from the rich to give to the poor’ operation but a major gangster operation with complete disregard for the lives of men, women, and children in Stalin’s hometown.  In his first holdup several bystanders were killed and more than 50 children and adults were wounded.  The money was eventually found in the possession of Maxim Litvinov (the man Stalin later sent to the United States in 1933 to seek US recognition for Soviet Russia.)  The names of the original perpetrators were eventually disclosed but, nonetheless, Stalin succeeded in remaining at large for several more years continuing his revolutionary activities.

     The years 1907-1913 were pick-and-shovel years for Joseph Stalin.  He could not be accused of being an ‘intellectual Communist’ as Lenin was sometimes described.  He learned every trick of propaganda, pressure politics, mass communications, strike techniques, and labor agitation.  In the industrial district at Baku, he organized tens of thousands of oil well and refinery workers. To do this he set up a triple-system of legal, semi-legal, and totally illegal organizations.  These organizations were dominated from top to bottom by his own loyal Bolshevik colleagues.  He became a proficient revolutionary writer.  In 1910 he went to St. Petersburg where he wrote for the Social Democrat, the Zvezda (Star), and later for Pravda (Truth).  It was in these periodicals that Joseph Djugashvili first became known by his pen name, “Man of Steel”, or Stalin.  In 1912 Lenin appointed Stalin to the Central Committee of an independent Bolshevik Party.  The very next year he was arrested and sent to Siberia.  For him it was an old story.  Since 1903 he had been arrested eight times, exiled seven times, and escaped six times.  There was no escape from his latest arrest as he was sent to one of the most remote regions of Siberia.  When World War I broke out he had no particular desire to escape Siberia as he wanted no part in military service.  While millions of Russians were dying or wounded, the Tsar did not see any reason for alarm.  The Communist saw an opportunity.  On March 3, 1918, a settlement was signed between Russia and the Central Powers which has become known as the notorious treaty of Brest-Litovsk.  In it, the Russian Empire lost 62,000,000 citizens, 1,267,000 square miles of her arable lands, 75% of her coal mines, 33% of her factories, and 75% of her iron mines.  Additionally, Lenin promised that Russia would pay the Central Powers 1 1/2 billion dollars in indemnities.  Thus ended a war that cost the Russian people 8 1/2 million casualties.

     To just about anyone this would have represented a devastating defeat. But not to Lenin.  He felt sufficient confidence to subordinate the whole Russian economy to the theories of Communism.  Talk about snatching victory from the hands of defeat!  He confiscated all industry from private owners and set it up  under government operation.  He seized all land which belonged to aristocracy, the Tsar, and the church.  He seized all livestock and implements which ordinarily served the land.  He abolished wages and replaced them with direct payment “in kind”.  This pushed most Russians back into an ancient barter system.  All domestic goods were to be rationed among the people according to their class.  For example, a worker or soldier was allocated 35 pounds of bread, while a non-worker, such as a manager, received only twelve.   People with technical skills could be compelled to accept any work assigned them.  All selling of retail goods was taken over by the government.  As for peasants…the very people the Communists claimed to be for, Lenin distributed the confiscated land to them, but required them to work the land without hiring any help and without selling any of the produce.  It would all go to the government.  The land could not be sold, leased, or mortgaged.  This was the Communist form of ‘ownership’.

     In March, 1918, the Bolsheviks changed their name to the “Russian Communist Party”.  As might be expected the Russian people did not take well to the new order.  Production on the farm and in the factories dwindled to a trickle.  Black markets began to flourish.  Workers stole factory goods to exchange for food which the peasants secretly withheld from the government.  As has come to be expected the Communist leadership became frustrated and every terror method known was used to force the people to produce.  This led to retaliation.  During the summer of 1918, violent civil war broke out as the “White Guard” vowed they would overthrow the Reds and free the Russian people.  Lenin could not let this go on.  He authorized Trotsky to forcibly mobilize a Red Army.  To resist the people’s anti-Bolshevik sentiment and refusal to work, he organized the secret police or Cheka.  This body could investigate, arrest, adjudicate, and execute suspected persons.  Literally tens of thousands went down before firing squads.  To prevent any reemergence of a new monarchial party, Lenin had the Tsar, the Empress, their children, and their retainers shot to death at Yekaterinburg on 16 July 1918.  Six weeks later the vengeance of the White Russians nearly cost Lenin his life,  in an assassination of the Cheka chief.  In retaliation the Cheka  executed 500 persons.  White Russians, however, continued the fight.  

     The breaking point for Lenin came in 1921-22 when the economic inefficiency of the Bolshevik regime was compounded by a disastrous famine.  There was a complete crop failure along the Volga…the bread basket of Russia.  Cannibalism became common.  The despairing people crept about about like ‘brown Mummies’.  When those hordes fell upon an unprepared village, they were apt to massacre every living person.  Packs of wild, orphaned children roamed like hungry wolves through the cities and country sides.  It is estimated that during the year 1922, over 33 million Russians were starving, and 5 million died.  This was the Communist ‘dream’ in action. 

     The principles of socialism which Lenin had forced upon the people had not brought increased production as Marx had promised, but had reduced production to a point where even in normal times it would not adequately clothe nor feed half the people.  It was under these circumstances and in light of these facts that Lenin acknowledged defeat and ordered a retreat.  As early as 1921 he announced there would be a new economic program.   Remember that as I previously stated, the Communist are persistent and when one effort fails they regroup and put into place a new plan.  At least up to this point we will see that the Communists do not give up until they are in power…we can see that even in today’s world.   Next week we will take a look at the end of one Communist dream and the evolution of a new dream.

-Bob Munsey 

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”   Isiah 5:20

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