At the Catholic Thing there is a must read article by George Marlin about the uber-anti-Catholic and founder of Italian Communism, the brilliant but twisted Antonio Gramsci.
Understanding Gramsci and the Italian version of Communism is verrrrrry important for faithful Catholics today.
Here is a taste:
Gramsci (1891-1937) was born in Sardinia, studied philosophy at the University of Turin, became a member of Italy’s Socialist Party and editor of L’Ordine Nuovo (The New Order). Shortly after founding the Italian Communist Party (1921), Gramsci, fearing imprisonment by fascist leader Benito Mussolini, fled to the Soviet Union.
In Moscow, Gramsci shocked his hosts by daring to dismiss Marxist nostrums on dialectical materialism, economic determinism, and the violent overthrow of capitalist systems by the proletariat. Instead, he argued that Marx’s “Worker’s Paradise” could not be realized as long as Christian culture had a hold on the masses. For Gramsci, the number one enemy was the Roman Catholic Church, not capitalism.
Realizing Stalin was not happy with his unorthodox views, Gramsci returned to Italy and in 1924 became leader of the communist delegation in Parliament. In 1926, Mussolini ordered his arrest and a mock trial sentenced him to a twenty-year prison term. Gramsci spent the remaining nine years of his life in his cell writing critiques of Marxism-Leninism and drafting plans communists could follow to conquer the West.
Unlike some anti-Catholics today, however, Gramsci was well versed in Thomistic philosophy. He warned Marxists that Christian workers were not defined by capitalist oppressors but by their faith-based culture. Hence, he believed, Marxists who violently seize power, eliminate private property, and govern by terror will ultimately fail.
In the post-World War II period, the Polish people were to confirm Gramsci’s contention. Communist tyranny only intensified their devotion to Christ and his Church. And it was the Church led by a Polish pope that brought down that totalitarian government.
Gramsci advised Marxists to achieve power by democratic means and then to use it to destroy Christian hegemony. “Gramsci’s principle,” French journalist Jean-François Revel pointed out, “was that [Marxists] must begin by influencing the culture, winning the intellectuals, the teachers, implanting itself in the press, the media, the publishing houses.” Somewhat surprisingly, Gramsci pointed to the Jesuits’ response to the Reformation as a model: Marxists had to create a cultura capillare (“capillary culture”) that would infuse itself into every nook and cranny of the body politic.
Radical leftists in the United States, Europe, and Latin America have adopted Gramsci’s methods and have made a point of infiltrating churches, universities, and media outlets. Ecumenical movements and peace and justice commissions have grown and have marginalized basic Catholic doctrine. University curricula teach that all cultures must be equally respected – even the ones that directly contradict Christian values. In the name of human rights, secular humanist organizations have promoted policies that have eliminated Judeo-Christian moral restraints.
Liberation theology based on Marxist doctrines and cloaked in Christian vocabulary became a force in many third-world nations. Though it retreated somewhat after the fall of the Soviet Union, it remains the basic social template among radicals. Malachi Martin observed that “Liberation theology was a perfectly faithful exercise of Gramsci’s principles. . . . It stripped . . . any attachment to Christian transcendence. It locked both the individual and his culture in the close embrace of a goal that was totally immanent: the class struggle for socio-political liberation.”
Today, Catholics are witnessing the effects of Gramsci’s “anything goes” strategy. In Europe, Catholic Churches are empty on Sundays. Fewer than 10 percent of baptized Catholics attend Mass. In 2009, 37.4 percent of all European children were born out of wedlock – up from 17.4 percent in 1990. The number of births is significantly below the replacement rate. In fifty years the majority of the populations in the heart of old Catholic Europe – Italy, France, and Spain – may well be Muslim. Crime is also rampant. Between 2002 and 2008, violent crime rose in France by 15 percent, in Italy by 38 percent.
Pope Benedict XVI has wisely warned that the replacement of the West’s Christian roots with moral relativism has ushered in a “confused ideology of liberty [that] leads to a dogmatism that is proving ever more hostile to real liberty.” Because Gramsci’s heirs have “developed a culture that in a manner hitherto unknown to mankind excludes God from public awareness,” the Holy Father fears that the West may be entering a new Dark Age in which man exists solely for the benefit of a divinized state and will be stripped of his God-given human dignity.
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