Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Was John Paul II a Marxist?

Er...no! But a little known work by Karol Wojtyla confirms that the neo-con view that he was a champion of unfettered capitalism always was a bit of a fantasy.

The Zycie Warszawy newspaper is accusing the John Paul II Institute in Lublin, south east Poland, of attempting to “censor the pope” by withholding a text written in 1953/4 - Katolicka Etyka Spoleczna (Catholic Social Ethics) - from the late Pope’s Polish beatification tribunal, which ended April 1 after just five months’ work.

In the text, Wojtyla traces communism back to Christian tradition. One section is subtitled, “The Objective Superiority of the Communist Ideal.” In it he says:

“In line with patristic traditions and the centuries-old practice of monastic life, the church itself acknowledges the ideal of communism. But it believes, given the current state of human nature, that the general implementation of this ideal -- while protecting the human person’s complete freedom -- faces insurmountable difficulties.”

“Class struggle should gain strength in proportion to the resistance it faces from economically privileged classes, so the systemic social situation will mature under this pressure to the appropriate forms and transitions.”

….….The church is aware that the bourgeois mentality and capitalism as a whole, with its materialist spirit, acutely contradict the Gospel.”

According to respected religious correspondent, Johnathan Luxmoore, who worked in Warsaw for ten years and broke the story of the ‘forgotten text’ last January:

‘The text contradicts views promoted by neoconservative thinkers who depict the pontiff as a lifelong fan of U.S.- style liberal capitalism. It also raises questions of why, when every detail of Wojtyla’s life has been combed over by researchers and biographers, mention of this 511-page work has apparently been avoided.

[The text] shows Wojtyla had acquired by his early 30s a sophisticated knowledge of Marxism and an empathy with its critique of capitalist injustices. It shows he had already rejected both “socialist totalism” and “individualistic liberalism” as prerequisites for a well-organized society.’

When communism ended in 1989 in Poland, the Pope was hoping for a ‘third way’ between capitalism and what went before. According to Michael L. Budde in A Church Divided:

“John Paul’s concerns with economic justice are deep and important. He seeks to put the Church on the side of the have-nots of the world economy, and he says that the rich North will be judged by the poor South for its “imperialistic monopoly of economic and political supremacy [gained] at the expense of others...'

And this is crucial if you want to understand the Polish government today. Like Pope John Paul II, the Law and Justice party, and the minor coalition member, League of Polish Families, are social conservatives. But on economic matters they have a deep distrust of the free market.

Marcin Krol, Rector of Warsaw University sums up:

'The debate the Pope began on the relationship between the free market and moral problems remains unfinished. Eliminating the abuses that accompany capitalism and harnessing it for the benefit of society and human morals still needs to be tackled. John Paul II had the courage to raise the fundamental questions that needed asking.'

JP II was a lethal enemy of atheist communism but he was no fan of free market capitalism either. And the 'forgotten text' which has led to much debate in the Polish media shows he had a knowledge of the works of Marx that will suprise many a neo-con.


sonia said...

Nice find, Beatroot...

But you have to remember that the book was written in 1953-54, while Wojtyla's boss Wyszynski was imprisoned by the Communists and any priest or bishop who didn't write something sympathetic towards Communism risked being imprisoned as well. In fact, until the late 60's Communists promoted Wojtyla against Wyszynski until they realized their mistake...

John Paul II wouldn't get where he got if he wasn't a smooth operator. He knew how to move with times and look progressive....

michael farris said...

The Burak is right about PiS's non-market incilinations. How soon most people forget. The original Solidarność was not about turning Poland into a free market showplace. The ideals of the main Solidarity figures were toward creating a Western European style welfare state (something like 60's-70's Sweden without the progressive social ideas).

That's one of the main reasons (not the only one, but right up there) that so many of the very figures fell out with the leadership after 1989. From their point of view their social-democratic vision had been hijacked by a bunch of Thatcherite-Reaganistas who plunged the country into economic misery.

In my own opinion, yes markets are very important, but they're not the only important thing.

beatroot said...

Henry: Any neo-con who thought that Wojtyła was one of them was not paying attention -

Yup. It was neo-connish wishful thinking. A projection. Everyone does that with JP II. Deep within Polish Catholicism is the notion of ‘social solidarity’. Individualism is meaningless outside a collectives, communities. And I agree very much with that.

Sonia – a ‘smooth operator’ indeed. But Wojtyla was one of the church’s – the Vatican’s - leading philosophers in the 1950s and 60s. If you read his stuff back then it’s a strange type of catholic phenomenology or existentialism.

Yes the text was very much a product of its time but he wasn’t writing it to please communists. He never did anything to please communists. The trouble he had getting that published was more to do with changes going on in the catholic church than anything that was happening in Poland in the 1950s.

Mike: that is the point I have been trying to make on this blog for ages. Polish politics, post-solidarity, is a kind of social conservative left wing-ism. Very Polish. Solidarity at the time of drawing up the August accord was a mish-mash of all sorts of groups but the main plank of it was socialist plus a lot of Catholicism thrown in for good measure. That’s Walesa, Kaczynski, and the more radical factions that turned into the League of Polish Families.

Understand that and you understand the strange and unique nature of Polish politics.

beatroot said...

I think you are underscoring my point about ‘social conservative left’. Not ‘progressive left’, or even ‘progressive right’.

What I mean by conservative left is a view that collectivities matter – Solidarity is based on this – but with socially conservative policies.

They are also ‘anti-globalist’ and some of those 1990’s anti-globalists would agree with much of what these people say on economics.

But the lack of a progressive left in Poland is not unique. The liberal left in the West is full of fear and loathing for social progress.

In fact it is suspicious that social progress can actively be planned (modernism) at all.

Post-modernists and our Polish social conservative left have more in common than they think.

beatroot said...

The road to the Enlightenment is bumpy indeed. Good reason to push more and more for it. But don't expect the Left to come to help anymore. Environmentalism has taken over there big time and they are the most conservative forces in the west today - apart from their allies in the religious movements.

If you want a more positive view of progress then you have to go to people like the guys at Reason magazine....who are right wing!


It's a funny old world...

sonia said...


more to do with changes going on in the catholic church than anything that was happening in Poland in the 1950s

I think those two phenomenons were very closely related. Church did change dramatically after the death of Pius XII, essentially choosing a very accomodationist line towards Communism. Church always does that - all power comes from God, after all, even Communist power. People who condemn Pius XII for kissing Hitler's ass often forget how John XXIII kissed Kruschev's ass and how Paul VI kissed Brezhnev's ass...

My point being that whatever Karol Wojtyla wrote at that time was obviously to advance his career, which was decided jointly by the Vatican and the Communists.


Sonia remains, as ever, a frothing crypto fascist....but its amusing....sort of like comedy relief here when does she post a real pic of herself on wonders?

If being called a fascist is the price for denouncing Stalinist crimes, then I will gladly pay it... And it is my real picture.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the story of this writing by Wojtyla was "broken" about a decade ago by Jonathan Kwitny in his excellent (I'd even say the best) biography of JP2 (which also splendidly delves into the international cold war politics of the Solidarity era):


Also, any suggestions that Wojtyla was posing and promoting himself to communist authorities, even in the 1950s, are absurd.

About the matter of "progressivism" ... I loathe the current use of the term not only by both hardcore rightists but by lefties as well.

Wojtyla was first and foremost Roman Catholic. Then, firmly grounded in the social teachings of the Church, he was staunchy pro-labor meaning anti-monopoly capitalism and anti-imperialism, pro-life meaning anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia, anti-cloning and anti-war and anti-violence, pro-environment (sorry Beatroot)again meaning anti-monopoly capitalism, anti-war, etc.

Just because the left has placed a "progressive" premium on abortion on demand and the like, doesn't mean they maintain hegemonic control over the term.

And, on the matter of Romero's assassination, I think JP2 very painfully realized his culpability and repented as indicated in his immediately calling Romero a martyr and his subsequent remarks when he visited Romero's tomb.

No doubt there are those who think that Romero's death was necessitated by his position towards leftists. JP2, of course, denounced the murder.

But JP2 was never a Marxist so the headline is very misleading albeit provocative. As he made clear, "If we're talking about the liberation theology of Christ, not Marx, I am very much for it."

Finally, I think it's more appropriate to consider the K-twins as national populists (sounds scarily like national socialists, heh?) rather than characterize them as exclusively or predominantly left or right.

Anonymous said...

And another view on "progressivism":

To Friends of Sen. Obama posted 06/30/2006 08:56:03 am by Charlie Keil [Open Letters]

That was a very good speech on "faith and politics" that Sen. Obama gave. But he uses the word "progressive" over and over again in an unthinking way that will eventually damage his chances of ever becoming President and, at the moment, prevents me from taking him very seriously as a thinker or a Senator. The idea, the belief in, and the fact of "progress" has killed the family farm, killed many small communities in rural America, killed many Americans over the past 7 generations and every rural American knows this in their minds, bodies, bones, souls. Some urban and coastal Americans have begun to realize that 7 generations from now, 140 years into the future, humans will be scarce or non-existent if present trends of "progress," "growth," "development," atom splitting and gene splicing continue.

I believe continued adherence to the belief in "progress" will, in fact, kill us all and many other species along with us. See Al Gore's flick as one manifestation among many, many -- 100s of manifestations as to the plague on the planet that human-hubristic-techno-progressive-energy -gobblers have become.

Please read Andy Kimbrell on "Cold Evil", Father Tom Berry on everything, Ronald Wright's A SHORT HISTORY OF PROGRESS, and Curtis White's essay in Harpers a few months back on Resistance and the line of thought and imagination from Wm Blake thru H.D. Thoreau that unites the best science with "good oldtime religion" (or a thoroughly materialist spirituality-of- imperfections) as in the writings of Bateson (Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Mind & Nature, A Sacred Unity), Barfield (Saving the Appearances) and Berman (The Reenchantment of the World, Coming to our Senses).

Friends of Obama, can you put a little think tank together for sending messages to Sen. Obama regularly so that he thinks his way clear of the "progressive" pride & hubris altogether? As a paleocon I see "progressives" as very dangerous, more dangerous than "fundamentalists" perhaps, because the "progressives" often think that they are rational, smart, hip, with-it, not deluded, not in denial, etc. etc. "Progressive" ignorance on all these scores is not going to be our bliss, believe me. Sad to say, but "Progressive" hopes can doom us to Hell on Earth.

Charlie Keil

beatroot said...

Ignacy - thanks for the Jonathan Kwitny book...I am going to tell Luxmoore about it.

But JP2 was never a Marxist so the headline is very misleading albeit provocative.

Well, of course. I specialize in provocative headlines...that's how you get new readers...

By 'progressive' I am refering to things like Stem cell and biotechnology research...the conservative right wants to ban the former, the 'progressive (sniggger) left wants to ban the latter...but both left and right are reactionary to me. So is environmentalism - which seems to unite these outdated ideologies these days.

The K2s (sounds like a mountain to climb) are national populists but that doesn't get over to US conservatives that they are conservative but left wing economically. And Civic Platform are always refered to as 'liberals' which also confuses lefty Americans who think they are left....when they are right wing Thatcherites....so I'm sticking with conservative left wing nationalist pops...

Charlie - I am going to have to read your comment again....

beatroot said...

O, I see. It was Ojciec who posted - not Charlie the paleo-con.

Now I am really confused.

Anonymous said...

I've always been very impressed by Luxmoore's work. Is he Roman Catholic? I've noticed that the National Catholic Reporter in the US used to frequently carry his dispatches.

BR, you might also want to look at the phenonemon of Father Coughlin's Social Justice movement in the US during the 1930s in drawing comparisons to the K2s (good one!). Coughlin combined anti-semitism with certain elements of leftwing economics and Roman Catholicism.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, steppx, but I really don't think you have much of an understanding of Vatican politix. The Pope, who you seem to think is the dictator of the Church, in reality shares power with other very powerful Vatican folk.

Here are some snippets from an article by Paul Jeffrey in the National Catholic Reporter (April 15, 2005 -- the 25th annviversary of Romero's assasination).

"Romero the priest -- rather than the agitator or dupe or superman --seems to have finally won over some very skeptical Vatican bureaucrats to a process that many hope will eventually lead to his canonization.

John Paul II clearly believed Romero died a martyr for his faith. During a 2000 ceremony commemorating 20th-century martyrs, John Paul was upset not to find Romero’s name in the list prepared by Vatican officials, and wrote in Romero’s name, adding that he was “killed during the celebration of the Holy Mass.”

Conservative senior Latin Americans in the Vatican curia, such as Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, nonetheless believe Romero died for his politics and vehemently oppose canonization.

The postulator for the cause of Romero’s beatification, Vincenzo Paglia, the bishop of Terni, Italy, came to El Salvador to announce that the Vatican was ready to move forward. With news of the pope’s deteriorating health, Paglia returned early to Rome, but left behind word that the case for Romero’s beatification -- an initial step toward sainthood -- was about to be opened by the Vatican, perhaps as early as May. How the cause fares, obviously, will now depend on who succeeds John Paul, and whether he’s willing to overrule the obstreperous cardinals."
It seems clear enough that JP2 wanted to see Romero "sainted," but probably not for the reasons you would have liked him to be so honored. JP2 was up against a very powerful bloc who adamantly, even frothily opposed and continue to oppose Romero alive and dead.

beatroot said...

Ignacy: I've always been very impressed by Luxmoore's work. Is he Roman Catholic?

I believe so. He is married to a Pole and they have a son, Mariusz, who is actually working with me as an intern over the summer! (though, unfortunatly, I have broken my rib, so I ain't working with anyone at the moment).

I think I am going to keep out of the JP II discussion as I am an evangelical, fundementalist humanist libertarian, so this is not my business. But why was JP sooo against masterbation? Surly solitaire is as preventative to AIDS as abstinece is....?!?

But I watch the debate with interest and learning...

beatroot said...

Step: and beat.....agreed about enviornmentalists...as a generalization. BUT, its a real issue....just not one Democrats handle with any integrity (in the US).

I completly agree. Is it a real issue and one that needs proper debate.

Environmentalism is what fills the religious sized hole in the heads of the West...

sonia said...


Croatian fascist Stepniak

It was Stepenic, actually, and to describe him as a 'fascist' means that you have swallowed Communist propaganda hook, line and sinker...

JP2 didn't, obviously, and he consistently promoted anti-Communists within the Church hierarchy and opposed Communist sympatizers. Romero was a controversial case, because opînions vary as to who he was precisely... (my gut feeling is that JP2 knew Romero was a Communist, but decided to 'recuperate' him anyway for propaganda purposes)...

The bottom line was this: Communism persecuted the Church and religion, sending priests and faithful to prison. 'Fascist' regimes didn't persecute religion. It's a simple reality that you don't seem to grasp, steppx...

Lar said...
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Lar said...

"The free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs."

"Overseeing and directing the exercise of human rights in the economic sector ... belongs not to the state but to individuals and to the various groups ... which make up society."

"The state could not directly ensure the right to work for all its citizens unless it controlled every aspect of economic life and restricted the free initiative of individuals."

These are just a few of the quotes Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Centesimus Annus just over 15 years ago. You had a lot of discussion about his capitalist tendencies above, and I thought some actual quotes might help it. Back to the source as the fella says.

beatroot said...

larski - welcome and thanks for that.

The Centesimus Annus is the key text where JP II justifies the market.

But he also said again and again that the right to trade etc outside of supportive communities (I am my brother's keeper...)is destructive.

And isn't that the crucual bit behind his criticism of capitalism today?

Maggie Thatcher, for instance, extended the market into many areas of life in the UK where it wasn't before. But she also broke up supportive communities and collective provision which give the freedom to trade, property ownership, etc meaning.

I said I would keep out of this but I couldn't resist...

sonia said...


Communists are bad and fascists are good

Well, not exactly. The Communists are the evil incarnate. The fascists are pretty bad, often misguided, sometimes well-meaning, quite embarassing... They give anti-Communists a bad name, if you will... But they essentially react to the mortal danger to individual freedom that represents Communism - the most dangerous and evil system ever invented by humanity.

If you don't believe me, just visit two countries - North Korea and Chile. The first is a Communist country. The second is a former fascist country. Talk to the people and I am sure you will change your mind.

Or not. Communism wouldn't be so dangerous if it wasn't for people like you...

beatroot said...

Well meaning fascists? Sonia! I think I am going to puke....

michael farris said...

The latest on Sonia's main main Augustoooooo Pinocheeeeeeet, straight from GW (no link, anyone interested can find the original easily enough).

"Chilijski wymiar sprawiedliwości, który bada pochodzenie fortuny Augusto Pinocheta i jego rodziny, odkrył, iż były dyktator wykorzystywał wojskowe laboratoria do produkcji kokainy na wielką skalę"

"The Chilean justice department which has been investigating the sources of the fortune of Augusto Pinochet and his family has discovered that the former dictator used military laboratories for the large-scale production of cocaine."

Such good intentions...

Anonymous said...

Beat: A libertarian fundamentalist Christian evangelist? Ooooo-kaaaaaaaaay. . . Seems like quite the contradiction but if you want to try to explain, I’ll try to understand.

steppx: So, I guess Michael Nowak, George Weigel, Richard Neuhaus and you are all right on target about JP2 being thoroughly “conservative” . . .

Seriously, steppx. . .

I’m not one to defend JP2 across the board, least of all all aspects of his writings, declarations, and promulgations vis-à-vis sex, sexuality, and AIDs, but your attempt to fit him into an exclusively “conservative” mold belies his positions against capital punishment, the war in Iraq, his support for the “preferential option for the poor” and the rights of workers, his criticisms of monopoly capitalism, etc., etc., etc. -- but worst and most dangerous of all your analysis plays into the hands of the neo-cons.

And while I find many streams and facets of Liberation Theology exhilarating, I think JP2’s castigating Cardenal at the airport was actually later amply justified by the giant Sandino display strategically, ostentatiously, and I’d even say obnoxiously placed behind the altar at which he said Mass in Managua (instead of a Christ poster or somesuch motif – a mistake even Fidel didn’t so foolishly make when JP2 visited Havana – do you know what I’m talking about?) compounded by the noisy, hostile, and thoroughly disrespectful demonstrations by far-left students orchestrated by certain Sandanista leaders, the government of which after all Cardenal was very much a part.

And MAJOR CONSIDERATION HERE ... did you ever stop to consider that maybe Ratzinger was from the get go of JP2's papacy figuratively “the tail wagging the dog” when it came to many aspects of Vatican politics instead of simply functioning as the “right hand man” or "enforcer" of JP2 as you put it? Do you believe that JP2 was elected to the papacy without a lot of deals being made -- not necessarily by him so much, as by Ratzinger and others? I'm sorry but the picture you paint of JP2 as a Vatican Hitler is just sooooo off base.

Have you ever read any of JP2s encylicals? My favorite is “Laborem Exercens,” but you can study them all online at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/ should you be so inclined to do so.

I have read Wills "Papal Sins" and "Why I am Still a Catholic" and a couple his other books.

So have you ever read Jonathan Kwitny’s biography of JP2, “Man of the Century.” Along with “The Vatican and the Red Flag” and “Rethinking Christiandom” by Jonathan Luxmoore and Jolanta Babiuch?

I hope you will at least consider that not everything is as black and white, without any shades of grey or any other color in between, as you seem to portray matters.

By the way, didn't Franco in the early-1950s make a point of outlawing and jailing homosexuals? Maybe it was just male homosexuals. Not including bisexuals. I don't know.

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

Ignacy: Beat: A libertarian fundamentalist Christian evangelist? Ooooo-kaaaaaaaaay. . . Seems like quite the contradiction but if you want to try to explain, I’ll try to understand.

You mean an evangelical fundementalist humanist libertarian....

I am passionate about the abilities and promise of humans. That is very unfashionable these days. There is misanthropy around now that sees humans as THE PROBLEM. I see them as THE ANSWER. There is nothing else to help us…

Check out the liberal left, deep greens etc. They hate themselves...

Anonymous said...

Beat: Sorry I forgot the humanist part. But that istm makes it even stickier. And a Christian, especially, a fundamentalistic evangelical Christian, who writes "there is nothing else to help us...." besides humans? It also stm that too many, but not all, the "liberal left" and "deep greens" just love themselves to the point of narcissism -- ala Christopher Lasch's "The Culture of Narcissism". Much the same as "fascists," "communists" and pretty much the rest of the labeled gamut.

steppx: A bit about Kolbe. . . He was a product of his place and times just like you and me. He believed that the forged Protocols were for real as did many, probably even most, literate Europeans.

In the two articles he mentioned the Protocols, he reacted to the rhetoric therein, refering to the people he thought authored it as “a cruel, crafty, little known Jewish clique,” a “small handful of Jews [who had let themselves] be seduced by Satan.”

I'm not so sure those articles or anything else he wrote necessarily convict him as an anti-Semite, but again he was surely a product of his place and times which to be sure were characterized by a preponderance of anti-Semitism, which he undoubtably shared to a certain extent.

Then again, you don't mention that in 1939 after the Nazi occupation. he and other Franciscans began to organize a shelter for three thousand Polish refugees, including two thousand Jews. It seems the friars selflessly shared everything they had with the refugees, housing, feeding and clothing them.

And then not surprisingly, Father Kolbe’s comforting these afflicted refugees kinda ticked off the Nazis. It probably didn't help matters much when he wrote in the final issue of his publication, "The real conflict is inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the catacombs of concentration camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are victories on the battle-field if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?”

In early 1941, Kolbe was arrested for aiding Jews and the Polish underground. He was sent to the Pawiak prison in Warsaw where he was reportedly singled out for special ill-treatment. He was soon therafter transferred to Auschwitz.

There, after a prisoner escaped, the Nazis chose ten men to be killed. When Franciszek Gajowniczek, protested that he had a wife and children, Father Kolbe stepped forward and offered to suffer death in his place. Kolbe, thrown into a starvation bunker with the other nine, prayed with them as they died one by one. After two weeks, he Kolbe remained alive. Finally, on August 14, 1941 the Nazis murdered him by injecting him with phenol. Franciszek Gajowniczek survived and told the story of Father Kolbe’s sacrifice to everyone he could until his death in 1997.

---So you left a few items out there steppx, which go a long way, I think in explaining him being canonized a saint.

Consider too, that saints are human, not sinless. They are "sainted" because in some way they exemplfy in some way what is best in the human spirit. I'd argue, too, that his acts of kindness and heroism and sacrifice vis-a-vis Jews more than offset whatever ignorance or even possibly (I have no way of knowing what was truly in his heart) malice he might have displayed in some of his writings.

About saints btw, I highly recommend Robert Ellsberg's "All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time" -- featuring a saint, not necessarily canonized by the Vatican, for every day of the year.

And I'm glad and even heartened that the son of Daniel (of the Pentagon papers) included Kolbe.

sonia said...


catholics as well as Jews were victims of the fascists

Well, if Hitler was a 'fascist', then that term has no meaning whatsoever. But in that case, don't call Franco and Pinochet 'fascists' and invent another name for them. Franco and Pinochet never killed any Catholics or Jews, only Communists.

he helped reverse the opening of the church that had taken place under his predecessors

I agree with you. But the 'opening' you're talking about mostly consisted of abandoning the fight against Communism. Have you read Jozef Mackiewicz's 'In the Shadow of the Cross' ('W cieniu krzyza') ?

The Vatican under JP2 repeatedly sanctioned any priests or cardinals that seemed in the least bit marxist

You don't say! How outrageous! Sanctioning supporters of an ATHEIST ideology devoted to the extermination of religion.... Are you joking ?

Church policy on Liberation theology was totally dishonest and reactionary

Definitely 'reactionary' (I hope so), but why 'dishonest' ?

Having said that, I certainly don't agree with the Church (and JP2) on everything: definitely not on gay rights, abortion rights, women, condoms, etc. But outside of sexual issues (priests can hardly be expected to be expert on those matters), I have seen far worse ideological position than theirs....

beatroot said...

Yeah, Ignacy, I did not explain it very well and there is one ism too much.

What I meant by many liberals, conservatives and deep greens being misanthropic (not narcissistic, though we are that too) is that all human activity is seen with suspicion. Economic growth is bad. So instead of rejoicing that India and China are finally growing very quickly is seen as a problem and not a solution for their many poor. Cheap flights are BAD and not an opportunity for many poorer people to finally travel and see the world easier. Scientific progress (stem cell, GM crops) are seen as bad and somehow ‘not natural’. Neo-Malthusians see population growth is seen as bad and a disaster waiting to happen.

Any kind of progress is seen as BAD!

These people are conservatives misanthropes, pure and simple. And I disagree with all of the above very strongly. We are going to have to get used the fact that the environment is changing (how could it not) and adapt to it. Humans are clever. We’ll think of a way.

But Christopher Lasch's "The Culture of Narcissism" is a great book and one that I discovered only recently.

Anyway, back to the pope…

michael farris said...

The ever lovely, ever naked Sonia writes:

"Well, if Hitler was a 'fascist', then that term has no meaning whatsoever."

Girl, at least put on a hat before that tropical sun fries your brain even further.

"Franco and Pinochet never killed any Catholics or Jews, only Communists."

Uh....you do realize those terms aren't mutually exclusive, don't you?

sonia said...


those terms aren't mutually exclusive

Yes, they are. Communism is an ideology devoted to the extermination of religious identities. Under Communism, there wouldn't be any Poles or Israelis, Jews or Catholics. There would only be obedient slaves marching together towards a brighter future.

And those who would refuse to march would be denounced as 'fascists' and exterminated...

put on a hat

Sorry, but that arguments fails to convince me that Hitler was a 'fascist'...

Try another one...

michael farris said...

Let's look at some definitions of fascim (via google):

"A philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism."

"A social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms."

"a totalitarian political system led by a single dictator who allows no opposition, promoting an aggressive nationalism and often racism."

"A system of government that promotes extreme nationalism, repression, anticommunism, and is ruled by a dictator."

Now, just how does Hitler not qualify?

If you want to claim that Adolf wasn't a fascist, the please give us the Sonia definition. In the meantime, put on the hat already.

beatroot said...

I don’t like using the word fascism in the current political context. When people do they end up like dear old Chris Hitchens, who described 9/11 as “fascism with an Islamic face”.

This has now been shortened, of course, by neo-cons to ‘Islamo-fascism’.

But if bin Laden an Islamo-fascist then Franco was a Christian-fascist. But he was not – he was just a fascist. (Though there was much collusion between the Vatican, Hitler and Franco then, as there was between Franco and Hitler).

Therefore bin Laden would not be an Islamo-fascist he would just be a fascist. Which he is not. He’s a new thing. A new category.

But let’s not mess about here – anyone who blesses the go ahead of a mass dedicated to Hitler – as Franco did in 1968 (see Mark Kurlansky’s great book 1968: the year that rocked the world) – obviously belongs to that weird bunch of freaks who in the 1960’s still thought Hitler was a good egg. He was not: like Franco he was a prize piece of sh*t (PPS)– doesn’t matter what political category you use.

May be the PPS political catagory could bring together Hitler, Stalin, Franco, bin Laden theoretically?

Ha - a new political school is born!

sonia said...


Now let's see...

"A philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism."

This definition doesn't apply to Franco or Pinochet. Their systems were free-market, with very little government control. It does apply perfectly, however, to Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim, Castro or Saddam Hussein.

"A social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms."

Again, it applies to Hitler (though not to Communists), but definitely not to Franco or Pinochet. On the other hand, Saddam Hussein's Iraq (destroyed by that 'fascist', George W. Bush)or the Argentinian military junta (defeated by another 'fascist', Margaret Thatcher and supported by the Soviet bloc during the Falkland Wars) fits that definition perfectly.

"a totalitarian political system led by a single dictator who allows no opposition, promoting an aggressive nationalism and often racism."

This definition perfectly fits Communism from Stalin until Brezhnev (as well as Hitler, of course).

"A system of government that promotes extreme nationalism, repression, anticommunism, and is ruled by a dictator."

That's the only definition that might apply to the likes of Pinochet or Franco. But to describe Hitler that way would be ridiculously mild.

My point is that Hitler has far more in common with Stalin than with the likes of Franco or Pinochet (not to mention the likes of Trujillo or Somoza)... And the definitions you have provided prove my point.

Anonymous said...

Sonia and steppx:

I guess we’re all counterbalancing in one way or another.

I'd like to think I can understand, at least partly, how you have been hurt and why you are so full of disdain for the Church and JP2, steppx.

And, Sonia, I think I can understand part of the hateful antagonism you evince towards how Marxist/Communist ideology has for the most part played itself out (although still doubting, I can’t help but wonder if you’re not actually a rotund, aging, sexually-frustrated American intelligence operative having some jollies on the internet. And not being an enthusiast of “adults-only” blogs, please don’t try to direct me to yours again with a hyperlink for any explanation on your part. I'm perfectly content with discussing stuff with you as non-embodied cyber entity). Nonetheless, while your most recent post concerning definitions of fascism was pretty much reasonable, much in your previous posts that make me believe that you think it was just fine and dandy to assassinate Romero were, well, pukey. Maybe you think JP2 mollycoddled Castro just by visiting Cuba and for such he was deserving of another bullet?

A bit more on Wills’s take on Kolbe:

This is the actual quote (that you significantly reinterpreted, steppx) that Wills took from Commonweal (a “liberal” US bi-weekly lay Catholic magazine of which he has been associated in various ways over the years):

“Of Kolbe himself, the Catholic magazine Commonweal wrote: ‘Although Maximillian Kolbe was by no means the violent anti-Semite his accusers suggest, there is no denying the anti-Semitic character of some of his beliefs and remarks. Plainly and simply, Kolbe was a believer in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and in the existence of a Communist-Freemason-Zionist conspiracy to subvert and destroy Christianity.’ ”

First, Wills’s footnoting just plain sucks. He attributes the quote to a secondary source, leaving no immediate primary source citation to Commonweal.

Second, I already acknowledged exactly such as the bit expressed in Commonweal but noted that this was pretty much a common perspective in the historical framework of the 1920s among Roman Catholics and many other Europeans and that the presence of sin does not disqualify a person from being "sainted."

Then, of course, it should be noted in the interest of counterbalance that Wills neglects to mention in Papal Sin that Warren Green, director of the St. Louis Center for Holocaust Studies, along with Professor Daniel Schlafly of Saint Louis University insisted that the "charge that Father Kolbe was associated with 'rabid racist anti-Semitism' is false." In a letter to the editor of the New York Review of Books, to which Wills is a frequent contributor, they further objected to a book review by Jan Gross, in which he stated that Kolbe "kept up a relentless anti-Semitic campaign" by opinioning that Kolbe’s “image of the Jews, as of all who did not share his faith, was of people who were prisoners of error, not objects of hatred."

Be all that as it may, I also think JP2 well enuff long ago answered Wills’s rather convoluted diatribe against Kolbe in noting that Kolbe had not merely saved one man but showed many other doomed men how to die. Quite enuff for sainthood in the Church, I’d say. Again, saints ain’t sinless.

Bottom line, too, I’d ask as did Father Bernard Geiger:

"Would an anti-Semite urge a woman of the neighborhood to help the war-impoverished Jews who came begging at her door? A somewhat anti-Semitic woman had actually asked Father Kolbe whether it was 'all right' to do this. Kolbe patiently reassured her, responding: ‘Indeed we must do it because every man is our brother.’

"Would an anti-Semite have graciously welcomed 1500 Jewish refugees into his friary, shared his living space and meager food supplies with them, gone out begging additional supplies for them from the neighborhood, and thoughtfully organized a New Year's party for them to cheer them up? Kolbe and his friars did.

>>> Here I have to inject a mea culpa that I was as lazy as Wills in his terrible footnoting when in an earlier post I used a 2000 estimate for the number of Jews he helped at Niepolkalanow at the turn of 1939. I have no clue as to the actual number.<<<

"Would an anti-Semite have befriended a 13 year old Jewish boy in the genocidal, anti-Semitic atmosphere of Auschwitz, taken him into his arms like a mother hen, wiped away his tears, shared his food with him, restored his faith in God? Kolbe did."

A MUCH BIGGER POINT I’d like to make, though, is that many Jews would probably and probably have denounced Commonweal as anti-Semitic, especially given the penchant of its editors and contributors to be sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians.

And nowadays, I read in the far left Counterpunch that Zionists are controlling American foreign policy. And I read how many Jews view the far left as anti-Semitic and even are going out of their way to blacklist and harass other Jews who criticize Israel’s militaristic posture towards the Palestinians.

BTW, aren’t Palestinians Semitic?

Where does Wills stand on any of this? I have never read anything by him critical of anything Israel has done. Why doesn’t he speak out more clearly and forcefully? Similar to Kolbe perhaps, a man of his time and place? A man ultimately to be judged by a merciful, loving, and just God.

sonia said...


sexually-frustrated American intelligence operative having some jollies on the internet

Close, but no cigar. It was actually my father who worked for the intelligence services, but not American ones but Soviet...

you think it was just fine and dandy to assassinate Romero

'Fine and dandy' are not words I would use. I would describe it as 'tragic' or 'sad' (or any other word usually used by Western liberals to describe Saddam Hussein's crimes, for example), while immediately adding (just like liberal do with Saddam) that the West doesn't have the right to intervene in foreign conflict, etc. etc. Just throwing the hypocrisy back in your face!

you think JP2 mollycoddled Castro just by visiting Cuba and for such he was deserving of another bullet?

Hardly. It was actually Castro who caved to JP2, not the other way around. Cuba isn't North Korea... far from it (and it would be quite hypocritical of me because I visited Cuba 4 times - the only Communist country I visited since I left the Soviet Union in 1983)...

Anonymous said...

Sonia: So you're somehow equating Romero and Saddam, seeing Romero's assassination as a tragic necessity? I don't want to speak for you. I'm just seeking some clarification.

Out of curiousity, too, have your parents changed their views from the days when they were Communists (or maybe they still are)?

Anonymous said...

Beatroot, some clarification from you, too...

Have you ever read Jeremy Rifkin's The Biotechnology Century or any of his other stuff?

For reference, see:


Is he one of the Luddites, in your estimation?

How about Ray Kurzweil, on the other hand?



One of my favorite junk reads over the past year is Greg Iles's The Footprints of God which is based on Kurzweil's predictions about the future.

How fundamentalist evangelistic Christianity fits into any of this boggles my mind.

sonia said...


You misunderstood.

I was comparing Romero with Saddam's victims.

The analogy goes like this -

A Western liberal opposed to Iraq War would say: 'I feel sorry for Saddam's victims, but I am against removing Saddam from power'.

I say: 'I feel sorry for Romero, but I am against removing Salvadoran death squads from power...'

have your parents changed their views from the days when they were Communists (or maybe they still are)?

They still are. Why do you think I hate Communism so much ? It's like a mental disease, taking over rational individuals and turning them into fanatical zombies...

beatroot said...

Sonia: this communist hating thing is starting to look like a weird form of Electra complex….

Ignacy: Rifkin wrote that book Who Should Play God?...my answer to which I would have thought was obvious!

We play god because we invented Him.

We are the only higher power we have evidence of. That’s the humanist position. The alternative is obscurantism, something that is becoming all too fashionable today.

The wiki link you provide says that Rifkin is responsible for the EU’s ruinous ‘precautionary principle’…something which again is typical of this conservative age. Basically it’s saying that if there is a minute risk of something then we should not do it.

Progress is based on experimentation. And experimentation involves risk. Risk is necessary to progress. Period.

Anonymous said...

Let's me see if I can follow your logic, Sonia. You're comparing Romero to Saddam's victims. To continue the analogy, you're comparing the Salvadorean death squads to Saddam and his attack dogs. But you would have preferred to maintain the Salvadoran death squads knowing that they would have continued to murder people like Romero, like this nun, that nun and more. And removing Saddam from power, according to you, was and is a no brainer. And the assassination of Romero was indeed a tragic necessity. Is that your position? Also did you ever consider the consequences of taking the risk of getting rid of Saddam? Like what's escalating now in the middle east? Hardly the stability that was anticipated and promised.

In case you'd like to explore further what Romero stood, spoke out, lived his life, and died for, see:

Maybe you'll just conclude, if you haven't already, that Romero was just another variety of fanatical zombie.

In any event, I hope and pray that you and your parents can find a manner of reconciliation.

Beat: Just consider that some, not necessarily all, risks may not be worth the costs. Human beings should weigh the relative pros and cons of possible consequences before taking certain risks. Isn't that a better approximation of what Rifkin is arguing?

And hey, I still just don't get how you can say you are a fundamentalist Christian evangelist who is at the same time a humanist and a libertarian.

sonia said...

I hope and pray that you and your parents can find a manner of reconciliation

Thank you, Ignacy, but I reconciled with my parents when I understood the true nature of Communism (a disease). I wouldn't hate my parents if they suffered from malaria neither...

weird form of Electra complex

Very funny, Beatroot...

Anonymous said...

Well, however unresolved the readers of this blog may be about communism, fascism, evangelical, fundementalist humanist libertarianism, the true position of JP2, etc., on two things I hope we can all agree: a) any blog that can assemble such a motley and diverse band of smart, opinionated people must truly be great -- Hooray Beatroot! b) any country, the discussion of which (or the discussion of whose sons) can raise such important issues, must truly be fascinating -- Hooray Polska!

(Sorry for being an interloper, for disrupting the yelling, and for the ass-kissing... I just felt that ~50 posts of insults was getting to be too much.)

beatroot said...

American Rootophile - compliments will get you everywhere! We are a motley bunch, arn't we?

Step: Oslo? What are you doing there?

Sonia is the nudist pantomime villain (boo, hissss) and consequently priceless.

Anonymous said...

Steppx wrote: how was I hurt you ask? Huh?? I'll try not to take that as patronizing as it sounds.

Steppx: I didn't ask if you were hurt, I surmised you were/are by your posts. You don't feel persecuted and hurt by the Church? I hope I wasn't patronizing, but admittedly I have become weary of your constant one-sided barrage of fault finding and villianization of the Church.
Re. your queries, I wish the Vatican took (and will take) stronger measures to deal with the likes of Pinochet and Franco and D'Aubussion (in the future). I would take issue in regard to your characterization as to the extent that the Vatican "supported" the South American fascists you note above. And while I can't figure to whom you're referring when you write of Blowtorch Bob, my guess is that I would again share many of your concerns. I also think I made it clear that we stand on much the same ground (albeit not completely I'd guess) re. many of JP's pronouncements about sex/sexuality. Be that all as it may or may not be...

Sonia: So you don't hate Communists, you don't want to kill them, you just want to see them cured? Or you just accept that they are incurable? Then why defend and even support governments that mobilize death squads? I'm sorry but I just don't get it.

sonia said...


why defend and even support governments that mobilize death squads?

Because I believe (I might be wrong) that if it wasn't for those death squads, Salvador would now look like North Korea (Salvadoran rebels made Castro look like a bourgeois capitalist). Again, I could be wrong, and I am not defending or supporting any killings, I am just exercising some moral relativism (just like our friends on the left who claim that Iraq would have been better off if Saddam stayed in power)...

sonia said...

And incidentally, in all democratic elections in Salvador since the end of the civil war there, right-wing governments associated with death squads always get 50-55% of the vote (while post-rebel coalitions never get more than 40%)...

Peiople of El Salvador also know how to choose the lesser evil...

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to admit that I am not as knowledgeable about El Salvador as I'd like to be. But I am very doubtful about your prediction, Sonia, that the guerilla movement there, if it had come to power, would have established a situation similar to North Korea. I'd like to guess that there was some viable political alternative but I must admit that I need to look into it further. And I will after I finish reading Gross's _Fear_ which I just picked up today.

About Iraq being better off... it just doesn't look like there's any choice between the lesser of evils there. And the situation has now worsened throughout the middle east.

I also find it difficult, just jumping around again, when assessing the quality of life people have a chance to pursue, to speak solely in terms of this country doing better economically that that country. Like JP2, I think the common good is an important consideration.

Anonymous said...

Those numbers you presented, Sonia, seem to obscure more than they reveal.

From Wikipedia:

In the legislative elections, held on March 16, 2003, the FMLN won 34.0% of the popular vote and 31 out of 84 seats in the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, becoming the political party with the most assembly members. ARENA won 32.0% of the popular vote and 27 out of 84 seats in the Legislative Assembly.

In the March 12, 2006 legislative election, the FMLN won 39.7% of the popular vote and 32 out of 84 legislative assembly seats. ARENA won 39.4% of the popular vote and 32 out of 84 seats.The FMLN also retained the mayor's seats in the largest cities of El Salvador, San Salvador and Santa Tecla, as well as hundreds of other municipalities throughout the country.

ARENA's successful candidate in El Salvador's 2004 presidential election was Tony Saca. On March 21, 2004, Saca defeated Schafik Handal (a CPer), the candidate of the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, by a margin of 58% to 36% with 70% turnout.

___ Looks to me like El Salvador will soon enough be on that list of countries that W lost while bogged down in Iraq. W's handlers no doubt knew they had to hold this one down, though, after all the other losses to the left in other South American countries over the past few years. And from all I've seen, the evidence is that D'Aubuisson acted more like Kim Sr. and now Junior than the folk on the left. AND, maybe the CP would have less power in the FMLN if Reagan and his successors were a little more in tune with reality. Then again, if you want to save me some time, I'm willing to look over any other information that presents an alternative viewpoint if some urls are served up.

sonia said...


Well, thank you for providing precise data to confirm what I wrote. According to your own figures, 'death squads' got 58% of the vote, while the Communists always between 34.0% and 39.7%. Your votes tallies for ARENA, btw, are misleading. There are other right wing parties in El Salvador as well. All together, 'fascist' vote has always been above 50%....


when you support torture of children in front of their parents....they you have crossed an moral border from which nobody really returns

Don't project your sins on me. You are the one supporting Communism, not me. It's the Communists who torture, exploit and sexually abuse children in Central America, not anti-Communists... Daniel Ortega, the Communist leader of Nicaragua, sexually abused his underage stepdaughter for many years...

I suspect that everything you ever read about death squads was a lie. Those crimes really were committed, but by Communist rebels... As long as you continue to believe those lies, you'll foam at the mouth every time someone tries to point out the truth to you...

Anonymous said...

Well, Sonia, that last post of yours does it for me. Sorry. but your idea of truth is really, really off. I'm surprised now that you didn't try to pin Romero's death on "the Communists." Then again, maybe you just didn't get around to it. Sorry.

sonia said...


your idea of truth is really, really off

What exactly is 'off' ? The Daniel Ortega sexual abuse scandal ? It was in all the papers.... It's a well-known fact... The only reason he wasn't persecuted was because he was protected by immunity and his fellow Sandinistas refused to lift that immunity... Now, it is possible that his stepdaughter was lying, is that what you are suggesting ?

sonia said...


I am very disappointed. I wouldn't let anybody insult you like that on my blog, Beatroot... I would intervene.

beatroot said...

Lets calm down and not be so naughty.

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Surely, the dude is absolutely fair.