YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

September 2, 2015

Catholics, Marxists, and a sprinkling of neocons

Cardinal Mindszenty sculpture, Wikipedia

Cardinal Mindszenty sculpture, Wikipedia

It has occurred to me that there is a close affinity between the early Marx essays and medieval Catholicism. The notion of “profit” (now called “greed”) was anathema during the Middle Ages, and considered a cause of decadence (See Mark La Rochelle’s note on the “just price” in the comments section.) Plus, those of my ex-friends on the Left who are professional scholars have found jobs at Catholic universities and colleges. It may be counter-intuitive, but such Catholic movements as liberation theology, and the Dorothy Day Catholic Workers movement (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Day) are more evidence that segments of the Church would have to mirror leftist rejection of Israel, siding with irredentist Palestinians; moreover Pope Francis has lined up with the left-leaning Green movement.

On the face of it, there could be no affinity between Catholicism and Marxism, for weren’t Catholics such as Cardinal Mindszenty (1892-1975) a major figure in the resistance to Communism before and after World War II? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3zsef_Mindszenty).

And are not Catholics and evangelical Protestants, notwithstanding their doctrinal differences, on the same side in the culture wars, with both sides devoted to family life, and taking up arms against [jewified] modernity? Was not the chief item in the controversial Moynihan report on the alarming increase in black welfare assistance and illegitimacy, the reconstitution of the father-led nuclear family? (https://clarespark.com/2015/08/08/the-moynihan-report-march-1965-and-instability-in-the-black-family/).

The early Marx essays (Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 1844) were not widely published and read until the turmoil of the 1960s (their first publication date was 1932). Anyone who has studied them must be struck by Marx’s argument that “money” is the “universal pimp”, turning ugliness into beauty. During the same period, he decried Jewish “hucksterism” as the obstacle to the Utopia that would be realized through communist revolution. Similarly, the influential German sociologist Max Weber, would describe the rise of capitalism after the Reformation as an onslaught against the lovely sensuality shattered by the iron cages of “materialism,” i.e., worldliness. (The German “radical” Werner Sombart (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Sombart), a colleague of Weber’s, would echo these sentiments, arguing that Jews were incapable of relating to Nature without mysticism:

“[We see “the teleological view”] in all those Jews who, with a soul-weariness within them and a faint smile on their countenances, understanding and forgiving everything, stand and gaze at life from their own heights, far above this world…Jewish poets are unable simply to enjoy the phenomena of this world, whether it be human fate or Nature’s vagaries; they must needs cogitate upon it and turn it about and about.  Nowhere is the air scented with the primrose and the violet; nowhere gleams the spray of the rivulet in the wood.  But to make up for the lack of these they possess the wonderful aroma of old wine and the magic charm of a pair of beautiful eyes gazing sadly in the distance…Goethe said that the essence of the Jewish character was energy and the pursuit of direct ends.” [End, Sombart quote}

Because of our hegemonic racialism, Marx is thought of as a Jewish materialist, though his Jewish father converted to Protestantism for social advancement in 1819. (http://usreligion.blogspot.com/2013/11/karl-marx-as-radical-protestant-infidel.html), and Marx (and his Leninist descendants) continue to rail against religion as the opiate of the masses, an element of feudal socialism (http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Feudal+Socialism).

I have written about the “moderation” of ex-Marxists and ex-New Leftists before, especially in blogs about nostalgia for the Middle Ages, and especially an apparent desire for the return of the Good King, who stands with the People against the social chaos wrought by revolting factions (e.g., feminists!). The same reconstructed historians, political scientists, and journalists, may promiscuously use the term “totalitarianism” to equate communism with fascism (https://clarespark.com/2013/02/02/totalitarianism-polarization-and-single-issue-politics).

So did Cardinal Mindszenty.




  1. Hugh Griffith notes that Marx was perpetually in debt, a circumstance that drove him into the hands of moneylenders at high rates of interest, according to Paul Johnson. Perhaps not coincidentally, his revolt against modernity (“capitalism”) took the form of a reactionary embrace of medieval doctrines opposing usury. But among the moneylenders in London, Marx “made use of the Jews”—particularly “the Bambergers, Steifer and Spielmann,” writes W.O. Henderson. In “The Russian Loan” (1856), Marx explicitly embraced the anti-Semitic stereotype—dating to the Middle Ages—of Jews as usurers:

    “Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew… [T]he cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not… a handful of Jews to ransack pockets….

    [T]he real work is done by the Jews, and can only be done by them, as they monopolize the machinery of the loan-mongering mysteries…. The language spoken smells strongly of Babel, and the perfume which otherwise pervades the place is by no means of a choice kind….

    Thus do these loans, which are a curse to the people, a ruin to the holders, and a danger to the governments, become a blessing to the houses of the children of Judah. This Jew organization of loan-mongers is… dangerous to the people…. The fortunes amassed by these loan-mongers are immense, but the wrongs and sufferings thus entailed on the people and the encouragement thus afforded to their oppressors still remain to be told….

    The fact that 1855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish moneychangers out of the temple, and that the moneychangers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny happen again chiefly to be Jews, is perhaps no more than a historical coincidence. The loan-mongering Jews of Europe do only on a larger and more obnoxious scale what many others do on one smaller and less significant. But it is only because the Jews are so strong that it is timely and expedient to expose and stigmatize their organization.”

    Even before Marx, socialism was seen by Catholics as a heresy, an attempt to force everyone to do what only saints do voluntarily. It sought to make the entire earth into a cross between a monastery and a prison, where obedience and poverty were not vows taken voluntarily, but forced on people. It was an attempt to create heaven on earth by force, which could only result—as it did—in hell on earth.

    Comment by Mark La Rochelle — September 3, 2015 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

    • All this is accurate (though the dread moneychangers were not inside the Temple, but outside, a fact neglected by anti-Semites, including Marx). But more, Mark La Rochelle’s comment avoids the stigma associated with all “profit” by medieval Catholics, and social decadence was attributed to all manner of profit-making ventures. Mr. La Rochelle has added a note on “the just price,” which calculates charges that are permissible.

      Comment by clarelspark — September 3, 2015 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

      • “Those who measure the just price by the labor, costs, and risk incurred by the person who deals in the merchandise or produces it, or by the cost of transport or the expense of traveling … or by what he has to pay the factors for their industry, risk, and labor, are greatly in error, and still more so are those who allow a certain profit of a fifth or a tenth. For the just price arises from the abundance or scarcity of goods, merchants, and money … and not from costs, labor, and risk. If we had to consider labor and risk in order to assess the just price, no merchant would ever suffer loss, nor would abundance or scarcity of goods and money enter into the question. Prices are not commonly fixed on the basis of costs. Why should a bale of linen brought overland from Brittany at great expense be worth more than one which is transported cheaply be sea? … Why should a book written out by hand be worth more than one which is printed, when the latter is better though it costs less to produce? … The just price is found not by counting the cost but by the common estimation.” -Luis Saravia de la Calle, Instruccion de mercaderes (1544)

        Comment by Mark La Rochelle — September 4, 2015 @ 6:36 am

  2. Reblogged this on Neoconservativism and the West and commented:
    Clare has some excellent insights into the parallels between Catholicism and Marxism. In this respect, Marx can be argued to have acted within a radical Christian tradition, such as the Cathars, with the rejection of “worldliness” and the call for eradication [reform] of religion.

    Comment by wien1938 — September 2, 2015 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

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