February 19, 2015

"The purer the religion, the more dangerous."


From British historian Paul Johnson ’s “Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties” (1983):

Men who carry through political revolutions seem to be of two main types, the clerical and the romantic. Lenin (he adopted the pen-name in 1901) was from the first category. Both his parents were Christians. Religion was important to him, in the sense that he hated it. Unlike Marx, who despised it and treated it as marginal, Lenin saw it as a powerful and ubiquitous enemy. He made clear in many writings (his letter to Gorky of 13 January 1913 is a striking example) that he had an intense personal dislike for anything religious. ‘There can be nothing more abominable,’ he wrote, ‘than religion.’ From the start, the state he created set up and maintains to this day an enormous academic propaganda machine against religion. He was not just anti-clerical like Stalin, who disliked priests because they were corrupt. On the contrary, Lenin had no real feelings about corrupt priests, because they were easily beaten. The men he really feared and hated, and later persecuted, were the saints. The purer the religion, the more dangerous. A devoted cleric, he argued, is far more influential than an egotistical and immoral one. The clergy most in need of suppression were not those committed to the defence of exploitation but those who expressed their solidarity with the proletariat and the peasants. It was as though he recognized in the true man of God the same zeal and spirit which animated himself, and wished to expropriate it and enlist it in his own cause. No man personifies better the replacement of the religious impulse by the will to power. In an earlier age, he would surely have been a religious leader. With his extraordinary passion for force, he might have figured in Mohammed ’s legions. He was even closer perhaps to Jean Calvin, with his belief in organizational structure, his ability to create one and then dominate it utterly, his puritanism, his passionate self-righteousness, and above all his intolerance.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at February 19, 2015 7:25 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

For Paul Johnson to link John Calvin to those murderous dictators pictured, is biased unhistorical claptrap.

Johnson was a Roman Catholic and his father was a Jesuit.

If one wants to take a look at murderous dictators, - take a look at the middle age RC Popes of whom self-righteousness was an understatement. We have Calvin and Luther to thank for the demise of the Popes and their unquestionable despotic powers. They did so by simply allowing the masses to read the Scripture for themselves.

“For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means... the power of some men to make other men what THEY please.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Posted by: Denny at February 20, 2015 10:19 AM

Paul Johnson misses the third category, "The Hate-Filled Passionate Destructive."

Which of the three categories personifies our president's behavior?

Posted by: Howard Nelson at February 20, 2015 10:21 AM