Thursday, June 14, 2012

Communist atrocities

Often, religious believer apologists take umbrage at the point that many atheists make about the long, bloody history of religions.  They particularly like to bring up the point that Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and other Communists were atheists, and they're at the top of the list of history's mass murderers.  Hitler was raised a catholic and Nazi propaganda shows a continuing thread of christian bias  throughout his Third Reich's rule - the case for him being an atheist is at least arguable and seems pretty thin to me.  His virulent hatred of jews was shared by many christians under his rule, unfortunately.  Communist tyrants, on the other hand, vigorously replaced whatever religious upbringing their people once may have supported with orthodox Communist ideology.  Communists brook no rivals for dominance!  In fact, a while back, I posted a blog about the parallels between religion and despots of all flavors.

The atrocities committed by Communist regimes were not committed in the name of atheism, however.  Atheism simply was dragged along for the ride.  The nominal justification for these atrocities was always in the name of social "justice" via Communism:  "We were justified in these extreme measures because of the necessity to ensure the eventual triumph of the  'dictatorship of the proletariat.' "  Of course, it was precisely the working classes that were the victims of these horrific deeds, but this essay is not the place to go into details regarding the various Communist tyrannies.

Although the nominal excuse was Communist ideology, the real reason for brutal repression of their own people was that these outlaw regimes were mainly interested in the utter destruction of any opposition to the Communist tyrants.  The ideological slogans and rationalizations served to mask the reality that this was all about total power over the people.  Communist regimes have been linked to atheism, unfortunately, so atheists constantly have to explain how nominal atheists could be responsible for such evil deeds.

Human existence is plagued with vast numbers of instances of abuse of power.  It seems an inescapable penalty we pay for our human societies.  Power always corrupts.  Political ideology occasionally has superceded religion as the main excuse for abuse of power by totalitarian regimes, but it seems that religion and politics often make ready bedfellows - for instance, the catholic church did little or nothing to oppose Nazi war crimes, which seems to imply that they had struck some sort of deal with the Nazis.  They even aided in the escape of some of those war criminals from Germany at the end of WWII!

The orthodox church in Russia could make no such deal with the Bolsheviks (Communists) and suffered intense repression as a result.  This is an exception to the rule - and the orthodox church had no problem looking the other way regarding the brutality of the tsars.  Both politics and religion are about dominance over and control of people's lives, so they can have a mutual understanding.  The words politicians and religious leaders use when they attain dominance are quite similar, their actions are also similar, and the results are unsurprisingly similar.  We are today in the midst of a religious war pitting islam against judaism and christianity.  The rhetoric of all sides is disturbingly similar, the "sacred texts" of all sides are essentially calling for the same thing:  convert or die, and some of their adherents are willing to kill (and die) for the faith!

The argument that atheism must share equally with religion the burden of guilt for crimes against humanity is fallacious.  Apart from the Communist regimes, atheists generally have been minorities throughout world history.  Atheists under the "banner" of atheism have never been in control of a nation!  Some atheists have been in positions of power but often had to stay "in the closet" to attain those positions.  In Communist regimes, everyone was forced into atheism, whether or not they actually were atheists!

I know of no atrocities committed on a large scale in the name of the non-religion of atheism.  No doubt some percentage of rapists, murderers, pedophiles, and psychopaths are atheists - probably a percentage that's below their percentage within the local populations, but non-zero nevertheless.  That Communist atheists have done their share of senseless slaughter can only be extrapolated to atheists in general by means of the specious assertion that the Communists did these things to advance the cause of atheism.  This is an example of the the logical fallacy of a false eqivalence - Communist atrocities against their own people are not the equivalent of the atrocities done in the name of religion.  And even if they were, the transgressions of some atheists don't justify the evils perpetrated in the name of religion.

Consider the religious jihads and crusades in our history (and still going on at present).  It's quite evident that the spread of those religions at the point of a sword/gun is precisely what they've been (and still are) all about!  The slaughter, the torture, the terror, the enslavement is all designed to make unbelievers into "believers" (or corpses).  No organized activity of atheists, as atheists, has ever engaged in such abominable acts.  I challenge anyone to provide any example that doesn't exploit the connection between Communist ideology and atheism!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. Had any of those killed in Russia or China been killed for reasons having to do with Atheism all they'd have had to do to save their lives was say "I'm an atheist". It was their perceived disloyalty that got them killed, not their views about God.

~Dan Hettmannsperger III