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The road to totalitarianism begins in Ekaterinburg

So how could a Stalin apologist be a ‘tireless agitator for a better world’?

By on Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Stalin smiles at the Teheran Conference, Iran, in 1943 (AP Photo)

Stalin smiles at the Teheran Conference, Iran, in 1943 (AP Photo)

The other day I visited an Orthodox Church, which, like most Orthodox churches, was full of icons. I looked for and found the two icons that I always look out for – that of Saint Elizabeth of Russia and that of the Imperial Martyrs.

Saint Elizabeth was the Grand Duchess Ella of Russia, and she was married to the Tsar’s uncle Grand Duke Sergey, who was assassinated in 1905; after his death, she became a nun, and when the Revolution came, she was murdered in Siberia by the Bolsheviks, by being thrown down a mineshaft, a fate she shared with several other members of the extended Imperial family. The horror of her death is redeemed by her serenity and faith in the face of it. Her relics are now venerated in Jerusalem.

Saint Elizabeth’s younger sister was the Empress Alexandra – they were both daughters of the Grand Duke of Hesse, and his English wife Princess Alice, thus granddaughters of Queen Victoria. Her fate, and that of her husband, children and servants is well known, and happened the day before the murder of Saint Elizabeth.

The Imperial martyrs and Saint Elizabeth are not canonised by the Catholic Church, but the sanctity of Elizabeth and the Imperial children is not in question, I think. They were all killed, too, in odium of the faith, which is a sure path to heaven.

It now seems beyond doubt that these murders were carried out on an order that came from Lenin himself. It was a long time ago, and it may seem that this is only of historical interest, but the murders of the Imperial family, and members of many other families too, at the time of the Revolution, did break new ground. Lenin was surely the first to order the execution of women and children without trial and without semblance of due process, using political expediency as his excuse; and many people round the world accepted this doctrine of “necessary murder” – in other words, they admitted it was wrong and regrettable even, but claimed it was nevertheless justified by circumstance – in this case the paramount importance of saving the Revolution.

I remark on this because a noted exponent of this doctrine has just died, Professor Eric Hobsbawm. In his obituary in the Daily Telegraph, we read: 

In 1994 he wrote that, on balance, the achievements of the “shining light” of the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent dictatorship of Stalin had been positive and wrote of the “far from unimpressive records” of dictators like Honecker and Ceaucescu.

Most startlingly, Hobsbawm gave Stalin the credit for the post war “miracles” experienced in the West. Soviet communism, he argued, had provided its antagonist “with the incentive — fear — to reform itself” and “by establishing the popularity of economic planning, furnished it with some of the procedures for its reform.” In a television interview, Hobsbawm was asked whether, for such an accomplishment to take place, “the loss of fifteen, twenty million people might have been justified?”

“Yes”, replied Hobsbawm.

So, there it is, from the mouth of one of our leading (Marxist) intellectuals. The end justifies the means. And as for the end, whether it is worth such means, who decides that? People like Stalin, of course. And thus we have a circular argument.

This is moral relativism, and if it is true that a life is only relatively valuable, and that it should be sacrificed for some supposedly greater good (chosen by no specific criteria except personal whim), then that means that no one is safe. Anyone’s life might be sacrificed for the most capricious reasons to safeguard some self-proclaimed concept such as “the Revolution”. This is precisely what happened in Russia under Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. And what is still happening in some countries today.

I am sure that Professor Eric Hobsbawm was a pleasant man, and a good companion, but he was also an apologist for totalitarianism and state sponsored murder. He hardly strikes me as “a tireless agitator for a better world”, as Tony Blair has called him. 

The road to totalitarianism, which makes the state absolute and the individual expendable, started in the cellar at Ekaterinburg. It is worth stating the opposing truth: the state exists purely to serve the individual, and only the individual has rights; if the collective demands that the individual’s rights be sacrificed, that that collective is a bad thing, indeed, a structure of sin. Indeed, once the principle of the sacredness of the individual and the right to life is sacrificed, then the floodgates to murder and cruelty are opened. And once opened, who can shut them again?

Incidentally, we should all make sacrifices, something I believe as a Christian. But we should sacrifices ourselves. We have no right to sacrifice anyone else, let alone “fifteen, twenty million” of our fellow human beings, even for “the shining light” of the Bolshevik Revolution.

  • aearon43

    So would you say you consider yourself to be in a better position than the Holy Father as regards determining the best path forward for the Church?

  • Benedict Carter

    A false question, which bait I am not going to rise to. 

    Thanks for the excellent + Sheen link by the way. 

  • JabbaPapa

    Vatican II is fair game: as a non-doctrinal Council, its documents carry no dogmatic force

    This is a deeply mistaken approach to the work of the Council, and it is based on a rejection of the requirement of assent to the teachings of ALL Ecumenical Councils that exists for ALL Catholics.

    Furthermore, the statement “Vatican II is fair game” seems to suggest that any and every Catholic can set themself up as a kind of independent magisterium for the interpretation of the Council’s teachings, which is suggestive of a Modernist approach to the hermeneutics.

    its schizophrenic documents, a mish-mash of vagueness

    This is a blatant exaggeration.

    ecumenism … says there are no false religions so converting souls to any
    “True Faith” is out

    This is RUBBISH, sorry…

    Not only are you conflating and confusing ecumenism with both the doctrine of religious liberty (which does NOT btw claim that there are no false religions either) and with interreligious dialogue ; but you are falsely representing Vatican II as both “not” claiming that the Catholic Chuirch is the One True Faith (it *is*) and as “not” teaching that conversion and adherence to Catholic Christianity is the pathway to the salvation of our souls.

  • aearon43

    Glad you liked it. You might also find this page of interest on “mind like water”:

  • Bob Hayes

    I defer to your wisdom Benedict, which by the tone of your posts you hold to be infallible and superior to the views of all others. Anything other than agreement with your views if evidently pointless folly. I shall desist.

  • Benedict Carter

    No, I’m not: I’m opposing the practice of conversion on one side with the actual practice of ecumenism on the ground on the other. Get real Jabba.

  • Benedict Carter

    Scratch, scratch.

  • JFJ

    I Agree!!!!

  • Benedict Carter

    Mind like water very easily leads to thoughts like water, I suspect. 

  • awkwardcustomer

    Are you saying that Cultural Marxism isn’t a threat because it shares some ideas with other Utopian movements? 

    The Nazis were in no way International in the Marxist sense.  A master race holding all other nations races in a state of slavery differs fundamentally from the Marxist ideal of all races and nations disappearing together into an Internationalist melting pot.  

  • awkwardcustomer

    Karl Marx said: ‘Religion is the opium of the Masses.’  According to Lenin, religion is a form of ‘spiritual oppression’. 

    To try and make out that Marx didn’t hate religion in itself but instead was dismayed by what religion represents, is to misunderstand the basis of Marxism, which was Dialectical Materialism.  Materialism – get it? 

  • awkwardcustomer

    Why the personnal attack?

  • awkwardcustomer

    What on earth …..?  I think you have a very unusual concept of the term Christendom.  Try reading Hillaire Belloc’s ‘The Crisis of Civilization’ for an explanation of the term Christendom as it has been employed above.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Not every crack-pot utopian idea results in an regime which murders millions of people in the pursuit of its ideals, though.  You may like to compare a bunch of hippies living in a commune to the Marxists who brought about Communist regimes across a third of the world, but to my way of thinking they are in a different category.

    Your comparisons are also dangerous because they trivialise the dangers that Marxism still poses.  Yes, there are similarities between a lot of these utopian ideas.  But so what? The Marxists took these ideas and developed them into a system which has still not been discredited in the minds of a great many influential people. Just read the glowing tributes paid to Eric Hobsbawm by many on the left, and not so left, including Ed Miliband, our current Labour Party leader, for whom Eric Hobsbawm was a ‘family friend’.  

    I said this earlier, but the Internationalism of the Marxists, which advocated the disappearance of national and cultural differences between races and nations, is quite different from the ghastly racial supremacist ideas of the Nazis which envisaged a master race ruling over the races and nations.  Marxist Internationalism is still very much at work in the ongoing moves to dismantle the nation state and create a globalised world economy.  And the family and religion continue to be attacked and dismantled.

    And another thing. Marxism is essentially and fundamentally Atheist. Marx was a great admirer of Dawin’s theories which he viewed as supportive of his Dialectical Materialism.  The Nazis, on the other hand, advocated some kind of ridiculous pre-Christian, Teutonic Paganism to back up their master-race nonsense.

    Of course, both Nazis and Marxism brought about the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.  In that sense, they are entirely similar.

  • EndTimes101

     Jabba, you should do less talking (jabbering i guess) and more praying. It is not the first time i have seen you suck people into long and pointless discussions. Pointless because your not prepared to really listen, understand and learn from what someone else is saying.
    I say this only as constructive criticism and will not post again.

  • EndTimes101

     Excellent post Benedict. I wish i had time to add to the many good posts and sub threats springing forth from this particular article. Suffice to say Benedict, you have said much of what i wanted to say. One little grip i have is, you mentioned somewhere Communism is dead. I disagree. They have just dispersed into the various different groups and political parties (i.e. the media, the EU, the green party, Socialists etc.) The apparent collapse of the USSR/communism was a ruse, which had been tried many times before in their short history.
    As it seems you are a devotee of Garabandal then i should remind you one of the seers said “when COMMUNISM comes again” (not cultural Marxism – this is just the vechicle) the prophecies of Garabandal will be fulfilled.
    They await their main enemies (America) weakest moment before they make their move….but we have very little time left.

  • Benedict Carter


    There IS a scenario in which I can see Communism coming back. The current financial crisis has killed the welfare state in the West (although no-one’s admitting it yet). There may well come a point therefore, at which we have to make a choice: Communism or libertarian free economics. 

    I know which way Europe would go.

  • theroadmaster

    Christianity has lasted over 2,000 years and continues to expand while an earth-bound and bankrupt ideology like marxist communism experienced it’s death throes across eastern Europe in the latter part of the 1980′(it was in terminal decline decades before this).  A society which thinks that it can exist without any reference to our transcendent Creator, ultimately sinks into moral and societal chaos as it tries to justify itself by any means.  One has to only view the human slaughter which took place on the altars of German nazism and Russian, Chinese and Cambodian communism to realize how history has vindicated this reality.  We see then how ideologies solely based on materialist, positivist principles without any objective moral content can warp human sensibilities and thus lead to unspeakable crimes being committed on their behalf.  Christianity is the ultimate fulfillment of the properly ordered desires of mankind, and societies which retain laws based on this, are the ones which flourish on both a moral and societal level

  • Confused of Chi

    We shall beware of the ‘way, the truth and the light’ one day….in the meanwhile because I wish peace to one doesn’t mean I ignore others !!.

  • Bob Hayes

    Not a personal attack. Merely an observation that anyone on here who disagrees with Benedict is told bluntly by Benedict that they are wrong.

    My earlier post flippantly expressed my view that BC’s portrayal of a Marxist-Masonic-Modernist unholy trinity at work within the Church would be the good basis for a work of fiction.

  • Scyptical Chymist

     Indeed. Let us hope that he too had a moment to say or think “God be merciful to me , a sinner” and he was not like the self satisfied Pharisee of the parable.

  • John_Seven

    Fatima was a private revelation

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Indeed it was. And then very publicly authenticated by the Church at the very highest level.

    Your point is?

  • JabbaPapa

    a bunch of hippies living in a commune

    That wouldn’t satisfy the definition of the word “utopia” — a utopia is a project for the whole of a society, real or imaginary, not just one small section of it.

    Otherwise no, “not every crack-pot utopian idea results in an regime which murders millions of people in the pursuit of its ideals” ….

    Your comparisons are also dangerous because they trivialise the dangers that Marxism still poses

    If I’ve any point beyond the strictly historical, it would be that the focus on Marxism trivialises the other sources of danger to civilisation…

  • JabbaPapa

    Are you saying that Cultural Marxism isn’t a threat because it shares some ideas with other Utopian movements?

    Certainly NOT !!!

  • awkwardcustomer

    Do you have a reference source for that comment by one of the Garabandal seers – ‘when Communism comes back’?  Would much appreciate it. 

    Oh, and I agree, Cultural Marxism is the vehicle.  The aim behind this body of ideas was to demoralise and destabilise the West, thereby preparing the ground for the revolution.  

  • scary goat

     Thanks for all the info.  I feel a bit “out of my depth” at the moment……information overload. All this is new to me….I only had a general idea of the basics of Fatima.  I have had a look at the links etc. you have given already, and done a little bit of independent digging around as well but it’s too much to take in.  I’ve bookmarked the pages to come back and work my way through it slowly later and come to my own conclusions. 

    I will make a bit of a comment though, just my own thoughts…….I keep coming back to “On this Rock I build my Church”…..if we can’t trust the Pope (the office,not the man) who on earth can we trust??? I know it’s all complicated, Fatima, V II, etc. etc. and I haven’t got my head round it all yet, but it seems that the simple basics are that the Vatican says it has been done (sort of, indirectly) and that Sr. Lucia confirmed it as done.  Then there are other views that Sr. Lucia didn’t confirm it because her signature may have been forged, and it conflicts with what other people say her views were.  How on earth am I supposed to know who to believe? My default position is, if in doubt, trust the Pope. I can’t help feeling that without the Pope and the Church (institution) we have nothing. We will fragment and be blown away like the protestants.

    I know there are problems… much is caused by VII I don’t know and I’m not sure the Church was problem free before V II.  I get the impression V II was meant to “open the windows” to let the light shine out, but some factions took liberties with opening the windows and rushed around opening the patio-doors, the front door, the back door…..and let the world in.  The current Pope seems to be doing his best to sort it out.

    I was taught that love unites and sin divides.  Causing division is Satan’s game.  This Pope was handed a mess….lots of messes, in fact. He is dealing with LCWR, he is trying to get SSPX back on board, he seems to be stamping on “the spirit of V II” … all looks promising.
    Shouldn’t we work with him?  Whether at some point V II will be “scrapped” or amended, or clarified I don’t know….I don’t think I am knowledgeable enough to say anything.

  • Benedict Carter

    The Church still exists! Of course!! It always will. Christ’s promise of course remains and will, until the end of time. 

    But a counterfeit Church, what John Paul II called an “anti-Church”, exists now too, and is very, very strong. It has its tentacles wrapped around the genuine article and sometimes it is difficult to separate them out. 

    Remember what John Paul himself said at Fulda – The Chastisement cannot be averted, only mitigated by praying the Rosary. He knew then that the tidal wave of anti-Church was too strong for him to do anything about it. 

    Take your time with the reading. All this took me five or six years to piece together. don’t let it overwhelm you, and keep a smile on your face!

    Learn your Catholic Faith. Use the online Baltimore Catechism or the Catechism of Trent (also online). With those, you can’t go wrong. And stay close to the Sacraments. 

    And yes, stay with Peter. Don’t think that Traditionalists don’t. We DO, but at the same time, we deplore those moments when this or that Pope has surrendered for whatever reason to the power of anti-Church (which is very strong in the Curia in Rome and in the diocesan Chanceries). But we must stay with Peter, yes.

  • Charles

    Stalin’s daughter Svetlana became a Catholic convert and communism killed 150 millions people.The Inquisition killed 3 thousand people over 100 years. But which fatcs do you see the PC crowd focusing on? We have all been fooled by selective study of history;atheism has caused more wars and deaths than religion ever could or will.

  • Benedict Carter

    Slight statistical revision which doesn’t change the correctness of your point:

    a)  Communism 1917-1991 approx. 400 million murdered.
    b)  Inquisition          1490-1806 approx. 45,000, most in the first 10 years.

  • Charles

     Thank you BC. You are a cultural warrior. See you on the C.H. blogosphere.
    BTW, Marx’s foundational assumption that the poor classes are permanent victims is absurdly wrong; an enormous number of middle class people and even a significant number of the rich either came from poverty themselves  or had parents/grandparents who came from poverty. It is Marxism itself (and Liberation Theology) that demonstrates a poverty mentality.

  • Benedict Carter

    Agree entirely, and see you on other threads with pleasure. 

  • JabbaPapa

    Yes, the 3000 figure is the Spanish Inquisition *only*.

  • JabbaPapa

    This is very difficult business, and I’m not sure what advice I could give you myself.


  • JabbaPapa

    You’re mistaken if you think I don’t listen.

    I do not always specifically make a statement of agreement with something that I do accept, or have learned, from another member of the forum — and I know from experience that this attitude of mine can confuse some people.

    Also, not everything that I post is even up for debate in the first place, that’s just how it is. Revealed truth and indefectible dogma is inherently non-debatable.

    Your advice about prayer is kindly intended, and kindly received. :-)

  • scary goat

     Thank you both so much, Ben and Jabba for the last 2 comments.  That has helped clear my mind a bit, and I will research it all further.  As you have probably understood from my posts, I am “mainstream” but I do lean quite heavily towards the traditional end of the mainstream.  I am pretty good at “getting the bigger picture” and have a pretty good “instinctive feel for things” but my knowledge in the details of history etc. are sometimes a bit (or more than a bit) lacking. 

    A couple of things I was going to mention on other threads, but I might as well mention them here instead, as it is all related:

    I’m usually not keen to put very personal experiences on a public board, but these are relevant to the current discussions, so I will, but not in great detail.

    Regarding V II and the NO Mass.  I am sure that the NO is still a valid Mass. I would prefer that some of the modern approaches were abandonned in favour of the traditional, but I am sure it is still valid.  I am a post V II person and have no experience of pre-V II, but part of my conversion experience (which took many years) was “feeling” the Real Presence, long before I knew what it was.  As a child who had not the foggiest clue, I knew “it” was there in a Catholic Church, although I didn’t have the faintest idea what “it” was.  Likewise, going into protestant churches, even High-Church Anglican, I always felt something like “the silence is deafening”.  “It” wasn’t there.  I felt the absence.  It wasn’t until many many years later that I understood the belief in the Real Presence, and immediately recognised it. 

    Regarding demons.  After years of “going via the scenic route” I finally arrived back “home” to the Catholic Church.  At the point where I was on the threshold, I had a very damaging experience. It almost sent me running in the opposite direction.  It feels very much like satan thought I was “safely out of the way” then caught sight of me heading back, and thought, right, let’s put a stop to this once and for all!  It didn’t work, but I’ll hand it to him, very nice try!
    I can easily believe “the smoke of satan is in the Church”.

  • JabbaPapa

    There is a certain element of pot luck with Novus Ordo Masses, though with less uncertainty depending which country or Province or diocese you happen to live in.

    I’m lucky, because the diocese I live in is vibrant, youthful, and orthodox — but others could have the opposite experiences of either an orthodox but dreary Mass given to handfuls of OAPs, or some extremely abusive liberal “masses” provided for an entire congregation of quasi-Protestants (many of whom may coincidentally be OAPs).

    Concerning Satan, it’s not unlikely that he seeks to personally intervene to at least try and prevent a conversion just when it’s nearly on the point of becoming inevitable. He tried that with me, albeit extremely half-heartedly, because he of course knew that ANY manifestation of divine or angelic reality, including any action by himself, would simply spur on my conversion.

    His stock-in-trade is the seven deadly sins.

  • Benedict Carter

    The NO per se is valid. Archbishop Lefebvre accepted this.

    HOWEVER many, many hundreds of thousands of NO have been and still are invalid due to a lack of matter, form or intention in the saying of it. With the Old Mass the question of validity/invalidity doesn’t come up. 

    As to your experience, this doesn’t surprise me one bit. The devil has a go at anyone he thinks has real promise. Take it as a compliment, then kick him in the balls.

  • EndTimes101

     There are a bunch of documentaries on Garabandal and interviews with Conchita on youtube. Just search ‘Conchita speaks’ for example. It’s in one of them. Sorry i can’t give you the exact link right now (can i even post links on here?)

  • Cjkeeffe

    In its decree on ecumenism the Council said that the fulness of catholic doctorine should be taught. It is sad that catholics involved in this area afre to afraid to teach the faith in its fullness which denies those wishing to know about the “perl of great price”.

  • Benedict Carter

    45,000 is the estimated total figure for the Spanish Inquisition. 

  • JabbaPapa

    That seems totally inaccurate to me !!!!

    I mean the statistics on Wikipedia are VERY poorly presented, but they suggest 87,000 trials, and ~1300 executions between 1540–1700…The 3000 number is in fact already a gross exaggeration.

  • Benedict Carter

    The professional historians, Spanish and non-Spanish, say the higher figure, having conducted thorough research on the still-extant Inquisition records. 

    The number is tiny in comparison with (a) the monthly murder count in a provincial Russian town during many years of the Bolshevik nightmare; (b) the numbers suggested by the Protestant myth-makers. 

  • JabbaPapa

  • scary goat

     LOL. Yeah, I suppose I did. But it was pretty scary at the time. Really messed me up.  Funny thing is, it has made me stronger.  It’s very true what people have been saying on here that removing the understanding of sin, satan etc. leaves people vulnerable to it.  Once you realise what’s going on, it makes life much easier.

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