TO BE CONDEMNED BECAUSE OF ITS ECONOMIC RESULTS INSTEAD OF ITS MARXIST PRINCIPLES
This Ought To Have Been Said Before
by OLAV LEROI
IN its dealings with Communism, a
big mistake was made by many Catholic dailies on the Continent, a mistake I was reminded 91 when reading the controversies in this newspaper about the Communist policy of the " outstretched hand." Again and again the Communists have tried to remove the Papal condemnation of their system, and now they are doing so under the excuse that we must all join in the fight against National-Socialism.
I was often reminded• of those mistakes of the Continental Catholic press when read ing the articles of Anatole Baikaloff.
As a member of the Executive Committee of the International Catholic Press Office I was charged with the task of studying Soviet Russia. I have lived in that country. I have done my best to acquire the Russian language io oak, to talk with the people and afterwards—back in Holland—to read their press and publications. Though I do not know M. Anatole Baikaloff personally, I agree that his knowledge of Russian affairs is very extensive. I have read his articles continually with great interest, but I have always got the impression of a rather one-sided struggle, not against Communist ersatz-religion, but against economic Communism
Russia Kept Its News Close The Catholic press on the Continent was accustomed to make much of economic news about Soviet Russia. There was a reason. To get news from Soviet Russia has always been extremely difficult. Even in normal times, censorship interfered with all foreign journalists in Russia who did not accept the Party line. It was impossible to get valuable information out of the country short a leaving the country itself. There were on the Continent in the years 1934 to 1938 a few remarkable anti-Communistie news-services. One of them was the " Lettres de Rome," a Catholic pressservice by Pare Ledit, Si., in Vatican City. His serviae. however, lacked organisation, financial support, and—this was worse — it was not attractive enough for daily papers whose readers were used to sensations and real jot's:statistic " news."
Better, falai a journalistic point of view, was a service published by Dr. Lodygcnski, a Russian doctor, in Geneva. He published long extracts from Russian papers and had access to authoritative sources. He wrote and sent all over the world articles about Russian artels, kolkhozes and sorkhozes. But he forgot that perhaps eighty per cent. of people outside Russia had never heard about artels and sovkhozes. More than eighty per cent. certainly did not know the ditlerence, and they did not therefore read the articles.
The French boulevard-press of the type Paris-Soir with largely printed headlines, which were easily understood and which even more easily deceived the masses, corrupted the press world. Well founded though they were, the news from Dr. Lodygenski became less and less attractive.
Germany's Anti-Communist Agency There was a third anti-Communistic pressservice. It was a service with ample financial backing, plenty of journalistic attraction, a widespread, sensational service published by the German Ministry of Propaganda under the title " Anti-Komintern Dienst " (Gelman edition) and " AntiComintern SRI ICC " (English edition).
There were many more editions, for example. in Spanish and French. Nobody had to pay for reprinting this information, there was never a claim if the source was not mentioned.
Not only the Catholic papers, but all publications which were unfriendly towards Communism used these notices, because many national press-offices and pressservices translated or spread the notices without mentioning that the source was the German Ministry of Propaganda. A few months before the German-Russo pact in 1939 the German Ministry of Propaganda stopped this service, but the damage had been done.
Time after time the papers of all countries in the world had reprinted such notices; for example, that sixty per cent. of the spoons made in this or that Russian factory were useless. Time after time the papery preached that thc Russian tractors were useless. Time after time " famine " was forecast.
Were these items 'Inked? Certainly not. They were to be found in the Soviet Russian press. But nobody cared to mention the fact that the Russians are used to self-accusations of this kind. The history of Russia, even before the 1917 revolution, shows an unending series of self. accusations. As a result of this treatment of the questions, a wrong impression was made on the general public.
Bad Economics Do Not Make Us Anti-Communists
The Catholic condemnation of Common. ism is based on its denial of the rights of God, upon which depends the rights of man. Then come the rights ol the family, and only after that the I ights of the State. Communism is condemned because it puts the rights of the State above all else.
Though Pope Pius XI spoke about the economic evils of the Communist system, hc did not condemn it because of the faulty Spoons. the bad tractors, the famine and the lack of teachers. .. Through information in the press many Catholics have come to believe that the Ressian system has to be condemned because of its economic remits, instead of its Marxist principles,
With the advance of knowledge a Coinmunist State could be built up without those widespread economic and technical mistakes. Would that mean the end of our opposition? Not by any means. But this was the impression lett on many people, an impression which sometimes led them to rather dangerous ideas. For while Communism was condemned because of its useless spoons and its tractors, there were many countries where exploited people did not have useful spoons, and did not have the opportunity of using them Ion good food. .
Crimes Worse than Communism
Another mistake was made, perhaps a more dangerous one. There are crimes worse than Communism Communism is condemned as a system, because as a system it is atheistic. There are other crimes just as bad, or worse, which could not be condemned as a system, because they were only the result of a system, which in itself was good.
Such a crime is the exploitation'of the masses by capitalism. We must make it better understood that exploitation of the masses is no less a sin than adherence to the Communist Party
In many encyclicals this crime of unjust exploitation has been condemned, but we do not agree with the Communists that our actual system must necessarily lead to this exploitation. That is why we do not condemn our actual system. but we do condemn the unjust exploitation.
People do not propagate the abolishment of knives for daily use because sometimes murders arc committed with them. In the same way we cannot condemn our system; because it gives a certain freedom to exploit the masses. Rut murder as well as exploitation arc unanimously condemned.
Exploitation of the masses on a large scale is a crime worse, perhaps, than Communism, hut the acknowledgment of this Fact cannot change our attitude towards Communism.