[In] the world of the intellectuals, most of whom were well off, the rejection of reform became all the louder, and revolution increasingly took on a divine quality. They demanded something completely new; reality as it was evoked a strange feeling of surfeit.
Values in a Time of Upheaval, 17
Reflection – Ratzinger here is offering a historical analysis of Marxism in the 19th century. Of course the little snippet I excerpt here is one small part of a long and very fine analysis of this time period. The popularity of radical Marxist thought among the 19th century intelligentsia and its relative lack of popularity among the very workers to whom it promised liberation is an interesting historical phenomenon.
So why blog about this in the year 2013? Because the underlying attitude described here is still very much with us, in wildly different ways. There are truly few people left who long for the worker’s paradise and work for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Class warfare is stoked up as an electoral ploy by cynical politicians; I personally don’t believe too many of those politicians actually subscribe to the whole Marxist theory of history behind that phrase. Certainly politicians on all sides of the spectrum are happy to live in upper class splendor and luxury, even as they make pious speeches about the evils of wealth and the need for solidarity.
But this revolutionary urge, this desire to tear everything down and create a new world—it still is alive in the hearts and minds of at least some of our contemporaries. Environmentalism for example: in itself it is a good thing. Human beings should take care of the earth and not poison the air, water, soil. Madonna House was recycling long before it was fashionable, and there is no way to reduce one’s carbon footprint more effectively than to live in community as we do. We’re all about environmental responsibility here.
But the radical revolutionary environmental movement is something quite different. Human beings are a plague, a disease upon the earth, a cancer. The (scientifically dubious) specter of total global catastrophe is evoked to call for truly totalitarian state policies governing human fertility—
’s one child policy on a planetary scale. It is this revolutionary
apocalyptic urge—not simply for people to ‘give a hoot, don’t pollute,’ but a
desire to seize the reins of power to utterly reshape society, at the cost of
millions or even billions of human lives, that is troublesome, to say the
least. One could say that these people don’t have power, so it is of no
concern. One could have said that about Karl Marx and his disciples in the 19th
century, too. China
The radical LGBTQ agenda is another example. I am all in favor of treating people kindly and with respect. I hope I succeed in doing so in my personal life. Yes, I am Catholic and will continue to explain Catholic sexual morality in public as long as I am allowed to do so. I am indeed opposed to same-sex marriage and have tried to explain my thoughts on the matter a few times on this blog. (By the way, Mark Shea does a great job on that here in a few trenchant words, which is why he gets thousands of readers to my hundreds). But I’m all about ‘live and let live’ otherwise.
But the LGBTQ radicals do not wish to live and let live. There is a large swath of the rainbow that desires to eradicate religion, stamp out free speech, and impose a de-natured ideology of gender diversity upon society. Where the radical Green want to kill everyone (frankly), the radical LGBTQs want to ‘queer’ everyone (this is their own words, not mine, by the way).
So Ratzinger’s reflections on the history and psychological dynamics of Marxism are quite relevant, and I recommend the book I’m quoting today quite highly. Whenever a group in society begins to wish to tear down everything a build a new heavens and a new earth, watch out for that group. Gulags and secret police tend to follow upon that desire.
Reality as it is, is fundamentally good. Our proper task is to make it incrementally better—to strive to identify and eliminate clear injustices, to personally strive for charity and kindness and fair treatment in our own lives, to generally promote decency and discourage nastiness in ourselves and others.More than that—the revolutionary urge, the apocalypse now agenda—is from the evil one, and has always and every time yielded immense human suffering and horrors whenever it has assumed a position of power in the world.