Written by Vladimir Moss



     Today’s world is very complicated and confusing, with many opposing tendencies simultaneously at work. However, one trend is clear that would have been hard to predict only twenty years ago: the return of Socialism. Weren’t we supposed to have reached “the End of History” and the worldwide triumph of liberal democracy and the free market at the end of the Cold War? What happened to that liberal optimism? Why is a system that was supposed to have been finally discredited become so popular again?

     And we are not talking only about the nostalgia for Stalin and Stalinism that has resurfaced in Russia. That could have been predicted from the fact that Communism was never rooted out in Eastern Europe the way Nazism was after the Second World War. Soviet Russia was never defeated militarily; there were no trials of Soviet political leaders or camp commanders, no lustration process; and so the virus was never expelled from the organism. And now it has re-emerged – purged, it is true, of much of its Marxist ideological content – but alive and well, and with an extra nationalist colouring that makes it still more dangerous. It is Socialism with a Fascist face…

     However, as we said, this could have been predicted. What has been much more unexpected is the rise of Socialism in the West. Let us take three leading Western countries, pillars of the Western Alliance in the Cold War period: France, Britain and the United States. France is burdened with the Socialist government of François Hollande, and is a leading supporter of that quintessentially Socialist project, the European Union. Britain has a Conservative government, but large sections of the electorate have recently opted for extreme Left parties – the Scottish Nationalist Party and the “old look” Labour Party of the Marxist Jeremy Corbyn. Meanwhile, the United States has seen a similar surge in support for the Marxist Bernie Sanders.

     And what are we to make of the fact that Greeks, whose pagan ancestors were the first to make freedom and democracy into national ideals, have elected the hardline Marxist Party of Syriza?... The West as a whole appears to have taken a turn for the extreme Left at just the moment when the liberal model seemed to have triumphed worldwide… How are we to explain this resurgence of Socialism in spite of the fact that old and new failures of the system – such as Kim Il Sung’s North Korea, or Chavez’s Venezuela – are still not hard to find?

     Of course, Socialism, it should not be forgotten, is a western teaching. Marx and Engels lived and worked in the West, and the German Social Democratic Party was a powerful contender for power long before the Russian Social Democrats got going. And, as in Eastern Europe, Socialism in the West was never rooted out of the system: it merely waxed and waned with changes in intellectual fashion and the results of various wars, both hot and cold.

     When Solzhenitsyn came to the West in the 1970s and noted sadly how many western intellectuals were still willing to support Soviet Socialism in spite of the (to him) manifest failure, not to say massive criminality, of the system, he speculated that westerners would never understand it until they had experienced its joys on their own back. Over forty years later, the Romanian-American Professor Florin Curta has expressed a similar thought. Asked why he thought socialist ideology was gaining in popularity among Americans, he said: “It’s a matter of certain segments of that population, especially the young ones, and I think that has something to do with two factors, one of which is the distance in time between the real experience, the historical significance of communism. In other words, the parents of those young people who are now very enthusiastic about socialism and Bernie Sanders were those lived during the Cold War. So to them, socialism, or even more so communism, was a real threat. And they could see under their own eyes how that form of living was out there.

     “Also the lack of historical knowledge. I would say the school system is responsible for that. You get courses at the university on the Holocaust, but you don’t get courses on the history of communism. Last time I checked, [it was estimated] 100 million people were killed under communism by various regimes in various parts of the world. That seems to have passed without a note in the academic world. I think that lack of prominence in the curriculum, in other words, not teaching what really happened, and the sheer ignorance about the disaster in terms of human cost, economic cost, in tragedy in general is responsible for this rosy picture of socialism.”[1]

     This is plausible. And yet it throws up some puzzling paradoxes… Let us ask again the question: why should people living in the relative comfort and prosperity of the West – that is, relative to almost every civilization in history – want to destroy it for another system proven to destroy comfort and prosperity? Curta points not only to a failure of historical education in the West, but also to the ideals of social justice, which are so dear to the hearts of young people. These two factors are inter-linked, because if the young people knew more history, they would know that, contrary to Socialist propaganda, Socialism not only does not destroy social injustice but actually creates incomparably greater injustice and poverty – not to mention tyranny and sadistic cruelty - than is found in pre-socialist or capitalist systems.

     But this explanation does not satisfy. As Curta points out, everyone knows about the six million victims of the Holocaust, so why do they not know about the 100 million people (at least) who perished miserably under Socialism? Western historical education may be defective, but for anyone who wants to know the truth it is not difficult to unearth the crimes of the Soviet Gulag, the Chinese Great Leap Forward and the Cambodian killing fields...

     However, here’s the rub: do they want to know the truth? Is not the real explanation that in spite of the abundance of information freely available in the West, people do not love the truth and therefore, as St. Paul says, “God sends them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all may be condemned who do not believe the truth” (II Thessalonians 2.11-2). Western man does not love the truth, and so God is allowing him to be seduced again by an old lie. 

     Where, finally, does this leave Eastern man? Curta says that the parents of today’s young people in Eastern Europe had a direct knowledge of the evils of Socialism, and so “to them, socialism, or even more so communism, was a real threat”. And yet the opposite is happening now: it is especially the older generation in the former Soviet Union that is fiercely upholding the reputation of Stalin!

     Here we need a deeper explanation. Part of it can be found in the psychological phenomenon known as “cognitive dissonance”. A man is proved wrong in a certain belief. But this offends his pride, so instead of abandoning the false belief, he insists on it even more strongly than before. The more clearly it has been exposed as false, the more energy and passion he puts into proving that it was true after all.

     But we need to go still deeper, towards a spiritual explanation. It is not only the truth about Socialism that Eastern man is rejecting: he is also rejecting the truth of Orthodoxy that he embraced before the revolution. Orthodoxy exists in the collective unconscious of both Western and Eastern man, for the whole of Europe was once Orthodox. But it is closer to the surface in the East than in the West simply because Orthodoxy was the official religion of the East less than one hundred years ago, whereas the West was last Orthodox nearly one thousand years ago. And so the need to repress it with violence is felt more strongly and urgently in the East.

     Paradoxically, of course – and here we see the extraordinary cunning of the devil – “Orthodoxy” is now enjoying something of a revival in the East. In this way Eastern man can console himself that he is indeed going back to the faith of his fathers. And yet in his heart of hearts he knows that it is not so; he knows that “Patriarch” Cyril has nothing in common with St. Tikhon of Moscow, and that Putin is the very opposite of that mildest and most right-believing of monarchs, Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II… But until he comes to himself he will insist with maniacal energy that today’s neo-Soviet (and neo-Fascist) Russia is truly continuous with pre-revolutionary Russia, and that the “Russian world” of Putinism is infinitely superior to the corrupt and atheist West. Nor will he fear to destroy both himself and Western man in his fanatical and hate-filled determination to prove his point…


March 12/25, 2016.

St. Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome.


[1] Julianne Stanford, “Professor raised under communism explains academics’ love of socialism – and why they’re wrong”, The College Fix, March 23, 2016,


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