Opium of the people

"This week, the birthdays of the Christ and, well, the anti-Christ."


As we celebrate the birth of Our Lord this Christmas, December 25, some of us may know that the very next day after, December 26, marks the birth of another, very different historical figure: Mao Zedong of China.

There’s a lot of irony in these apposite anniversaries of the Christ and, well, the anti-Christ. What else, after all, to call this overweight despot who relentlessly persecuted Christians and killed off at least 50 million of his countrymen? That is nearly ten times the number of Jews killed by Hitler during the Second World War.

December 26 also happens to be the founding date, in 1968, of the Communist Party of the Philippines. This is no accident: from the start, the CPP has proudly proclaimed itself to be a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party. In this holiday season, as they complain about red-tagging, it’s helpful to remember what their three secular gods really thought of religion.

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Writing in his Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Karl Marx asserted that:

“Religion…is the opium of the people…Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.

“The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man…Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world.

“The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.”

In other words, man is nothing more than a material being in what is nothing more than a material world, beyond which there is no other. Only by being at the center of that world can he realize real happiness. As a self-identified Marxist party, the CPP must be assumed to believe that too.

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 In his book Religion, Vladimir Lenin was highly critical of religion, stating: “Atheism is a natural and inseparable part of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism.”

In The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion, he added: “All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class.”

But the crafty revolutionary knew better than to butt heads with religion head-on. In his Programme, Lenin cautioned his followers: “It would be stupid to think that…religious prejudices could be dispelled by purely propaganda methods…Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed class for the creation of a paradise on earth is more important to us than unity of proletarian opinion on paradise in heaven.”

So much for his sincerity in working together with the religious. As a self-identified Leninist party, the CPP must be assumed to believe that too.

* * *

In his preoccupation with resisting Japanese invaders, and then kicking out the Kuomintang, Mao Zedong didn’t write much about religion. But from Volume II of my well-tended Selected Works, I did come across the following from Mao’s essay On New Democracy in 1940:

“New-democratic culture is scientific…The possibility exists of a united front…between the scientific thought of the Chinese proletariat and those Chinese bourgeois materialists and natural scientists who are progressive, but in no case is there a possibility of a united front with any reactionary idealism.

“In the field of political action, Communists may form a…united front with some idealists and even religious people, but we can never approve of their idealism or religious doctrines…As far as the masses and the young students are concerned, the essential thing is to guide them to look forward and not backward.”

Achieving “new democracy” is what the National Democratic Front (NDF) is all about. Like Lenin, the self-identified Maoists who run the NDF will tolerate the company of the religious in order to achieve their ends, but nothing more than that.

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What then are we to make of Church leaders in our country who openly consort with the local Maoists? Among the most prominent ones is Sister Mary John Mananzan, who’s even gone so far as to disown an alumna of St. Scholastica’s, the school she leads, for making politically incorrect statements.

Sister, there simply can be no unholy alliance with anti-Christians, no matter how noble the imagined common cause. Unlike the communists, Christians cannot believe that the end justifies the means. Church leaders who forget this are committing the sin of scandal with special gravity by causing the faithful under their charge to stray, and there’s a special circle in hell reserved for the likes of them.

Readers can write me at [email protected]

Topics: Gary Olivar , Opium of the people , Christmas , Mao Zedong , China , Karl Marx , Religion , Vladimir Lenin
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