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Should we worry about communism today?

The will to power never goes away


A wood and concrete barricade stands inside the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle on June 16, 2020. Associated Press/Photo by Ted S. Warren

Should we worry about communism today?
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We are told there are only five “officially” Communist states left: China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, and North Korea. We won the Cold War, didn’t we? Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the attempts by the Chinese Communists to harness the market economy to advance Chinese interests, it has seemed to most Westerners that communism is dead, so we don’t need to worry about it.

But a 2019 story in USA Today on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall argued that the current generation does not understand communism’s dangers and that it is dangerous to forget history. A few years later, the warning rings just as true.

Today neo-Marxism rules many university departments, schools of education and social work, and charitable foundations, and it inspires many movements from Black Lives Matter to Antifa to various ecological groups. It is a powerful force seeking to destabilize the nuclear family and break down the sex binary in the service of the revolution.

It is true that old-fashioned economic Marxism appears to be practically dead. Capitalists did not concentrate all the wealth of industrial society in a few hands as Marx predicted. Instead, the wealth was spread around, and trade unions enabled skilled workers to become middle investors in the stock market and property owners. So, naturally, the workers never rose up to kill the capitalists, seize the means of production, and put the Party in charge of organizing the Utopia. Instead, free markets spread around the world and lifted billions out of abject poverty.

So why worry about communism today?

I want to suggest that we need to think about what it is about communism that is so bad. Here I am not thinking of outcomes. Of course, famine, terrorism, torture, and persecution of Christians are all bad. But I want to focus on flaws in the thinking that leads inevitably to such bad outcomes. I want to suggest that the basic flaw in communism is the desire on the part of a few to micromanage the lives of the many in order to make society perfect.

Communism allowed for the will to power to disguise itself under the cloak of altruism.

It is no secret that many desired the advent of communism because it provided an ideological justification for wielding unlimited power over other people in such a way as to control their behavior totally. It was all for their own good, of course! That is why the ideology was useful. It allowed for the will to power to disguise itself under the cloak of altruism.

As soon as we identify the willpower disguised as altruism as one of the prime motivating factors in attracting certain personality types to support communism and as one of the most basic causes of its gross inhumanity and tyranny, we immediately realize that this flaw is not unique to communism. We should ponder that the most basic flaw in communism as an ideology is neither unique to communism nor original to it. It is a flaw in human nature that has persisted over all the centuries of human history. The history books describe it whether they intend to do so or not, and the Christian doctrine of original sin offers the most intellectually satisfying explanation for its pervasiveness.

So, should we be concerned about communism today in North America? The terminology is not as important as the substance of the ideas. American communism, if it comes, will not be a replica of Soviet or Chinese communism. It probably won’t even be called “communism.” Yet at the core of most of the far-left movements we see taking over our institutions, indoctrinating our children, and controlling even major corporations and the military, is the same basic flaw that proved so destructive in 20th-century communism.

We should be concerned about the will to power disguised as altruism behind so many movements designated by acronyms like ESG, SEL, DEI, LGBTQ+, and all kinds of social credit systems. If you listen to what they say, the people driving such movements clearly believe that morality can be reduced to power games. They act on this belief by seeking to suppress free speech, coerce behavior, and extend social control of individual behavior as far as technology permits.

Is it communism? Not exactly. Is it just as bad as communism? Absolutely. Does it have the same evil effects on society as we saw in the Soviet Union? It will if it is allowed to take full control of our society.

No matter what you call it, the sinful will to power is today's biggest threat to a free and peaceful society. Call it what you will, but don’t ignore it.


Craig A. Carter

Craig A. Carter is the research professor of theology at Tyndale University in Toronto, Ontario, and theologian in residence at Westney Heights Baptist Church in Ajax, Ontario.


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