The Fall of the Berlin Wall


Twenty years ago today. The following is from “The Origin of Russian Communism” by Nicholas Berdyaev (published by Geoffrey Bles, 1937):

Marxism is not only a doctrine of historical and economic materialism, concerned with the complete dependence of man on economics, it is also a doctrine of deliverance, of the messianic vocation of the proletariat, of the future perfect society in which man will not be dependent on economics, of the power and victory of man over the irrational forces of nature and society. There is the soul of Marxism, not in its economic determinism.

In a capitalist society man is completely determined, and that refers to the past. The complete dependence of man upon economics can be explained as a sin of the past. But the future is otherwise; man can be freed from slavery. And the active agent which frees humanity from slavery and establishes the best life, is the proletariat.

To it are ascribed messianic attributes, to it are transferred the attributes of the chosen people of God; it is the new Israel. This is a secularization of the ancient Hebrew messianic consciousness. The lever with which it will be possible to turn the world upside down has been found. And there Marx’s materialism turns into extreme idealism.

[ … ]

Lenin did not believe in man. He recognized in him no sort of inward principle; he did not believe in spirit and the freedom of the spirit, but he had a boundless faith in the social regimentation of man. He believed that a compulsory social organization could create any sort of new man you like, for instance, a completely social man who would no longer need the use of force. Marx believed the same thing, that the new man could be manufactured in factories.

This was Lenin’s utopianism, but it was a utopianism which could be and was realized. One thing he did not foresee; he did not foresee that class oppression might take an entirely different form. The dictatorship of the proletariat, having increased the power of the State, is developing a colossal bureaucracy which spreads like a network over the whole country and brings everything into subjection to itself. This new Soviet bureaucracy is more powerful than the Tsarist regime. It is a new privileged class which can exploit the masses pitilessly. This is happening.

And ordinary workman very often receives 75 rubles a month, but a Soviet civil servant, a specialist, gets 1,600 rubles a month, and this portentous inequality exists in a communist state. Soviet Russia is a country of state capitalism which is capable of exploitation no less than private capitalism. The transitional period may be drawn out indefinitely. Those who are in power in it acquire a taste for power and desire no changes, which are unavoidable for the final realization of communism. The will-to-power becomes satisfying in itself and men will fight for it as an end and not as a means.

All this was beyond Lenin’s view. In this he was particularly utopian and very naive. The Soviet state has become like any other despotic state. It uses the same methods of falsehood and violence. It is first and foremost a state of the military police kind. Its international politics are as like the diplomacy of bourgeois states as two peas. The communist revolution was distinctively Russian, but the miraculous birth of the new life did not take place. The old Adam has remained and continues to act, if in another form.


  1. Has any Orthodox leader commented on the Fall of the Berlin Wall?
    Has any Orthodox leader commented on the deaths at Ft. Hood?

    The EP was in town until 11/6. Ft Hood took place on 11/5.
    Likwise, I do not see any Orthodox Jurisdiction noting this huge loss of life. It certainly is a sign of aparthy across the Board. Maybe the EP noted it but it was not part of the written record?

    Did I miss something?

    Politics aside, a trisagion is certainly in order.

  2. Orthodox bishops do not comment on social issues they are too busy excommuncating each other for having the same title and eating meals at the Waldorff Estoria whist people starve in the street.

    The Orthodox Hierarch in this country are too scared to make any kind of statement about anything that might get the yelled at by the people with the money.

  3. I have seen nothing on the Berlin Wall, Ft. Hood, or the health care debate. If there are readers out there who have seen comments by Orthodox bishops on these events, please share the links.

    Guess who’s doing the heavy lifting on the health care debate? Yes, once again, Roman Catholic bishops. This is from “Catholic Church Emerges as Key Player in Legislative Battle” in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

    Injecting itself aggressively into the health-care debate, the Roman Catholic Church in America has emerged as a major political force with the potential to upend a key piece of President Barack Obama’s agenda.

    Behind-the-scenes lobbying, coupled with a grassroots mobilization of Catholic churches across the country, led the House Saturday to pass an amendment to its health-care bill barring anyone who receives a new tax credit from enrolling in a plan that covers abortion, a once-unthinkable event in Democrat-dominated Washington.

    [ … ]

    The bishops’ success served as a reminder that Democrats’ strategy over the past two election cycles of recruiting more conservative candidates to run in competitive House and Senate seats can have unwelcome policy consequences for liberals among the party’s base. About 40 House Democrats are opposed to abortion rights.

    The bishops have a history of political activism. In the 2004 presidential race, some bishops said they would refuse to grant communion to Democratic nominee John Kerry, a Catholic who favored abortion rights. In 2005, the bishops’ conference backed efforts by then-President George W. Bush and Republican lawmakers to intervene in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case. But rarely has the church entered the fray with such decisive force.

    “The Catholic bishops came in at the last minute and drew a line in the sand,” said Laurie Rubiner, vice president for public policy at the abortion-rights advocacy group Planned Parenthood. “It’s very hard to compete with that.”

  4. Again …

    Verbally, bishop isn’t turning cheek

    R.I.’s Tobin welcomes tussles with politicians

    By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff | November 12, 2009

    PROVIDENCE – The bishop from America’s most Catholic state, and increasingly one of the church’s most provocative prelates, has provided a rather concise explanation for his willingness to clash with politicians: Christians are not supposed to be nice, at least not all the time.

    “In confronting moral evil, Jesus wasn’t nice, kind, gentle, and sweet,’’ Thomas J. Tobin, the bishop of Providence, wrote in his diocesan newspaper column earlier this year. “He lived in a rough and tumble world and He took His message to the streets.’’

    Tobin has followed his interpretation of Jesus’ demeanor most devoutly, and he is quickly positioning himself at the national forefront of a renewed debate over the role of Catholic orthodoxy in the public square, most recently in a very personal feud with Representative Patrick Kennedy. As the abortion issue has taken on prominence in the national health care debate, Tobin has insisted Catholics get involved in the rough world of politics – even if it means tangling with prochoice Catholic legislators. And he has led by example.

    Since his installation in 2005, he has challenged the Republican governor’s crackdown on illegal immigration, inserted himself into last year’s Republican presidential primary with a rebuke of Rudolph Giuliani on the abortion issue (in which he addressed him familiarly as “Rudy’’ in a commentary), and took on President Obama in a mock interview published in another of his columns (in which he facetiously quotes Obama advancing the rights of foreigners “to kill their children and use abortion as a form of birth control.’’)

    More …

  5. Geo Michalopulos :

    the silence is deafening…

  6. cynthia curran :

    Well, what most on the left admired about the old communists system when it was in its final years it at least gave people with several of there relatives a little apartment to live in and even if were bread lines they basically didn’t strave. Those of us in the center or the right are going to need to deal with this in answering the left. Also, Russia has a poor health care system, Russian males live not much past 60 years old. I prefer to develop something more private or get the church there involved to avoid the pitfalls of state involvement here or more so in parts of the west. Maybe, a old Byzantine model of the state and private funds could be done in Russia.

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