Written by Vladimir Moss



     As Archpriest Lev Lebedev observed, Leninism, far from being a scientifically based doctrine, was much closer in essence to pagan demon-worship with its incessant demand for more and more blood.[1] The murder of the Tsar and his family in July, 1918 was particularly marked by its ritual character. And so, as the number of victims mounted, the Church, slow hitherto in exposing the full horror of the persecution, began to protest more loudly.


     Thus on August 8, 1918, in an address “to all the faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church”, the Patriarch said: “Sin has fanned everywhere the flame of the passions, enmity and wrath; brother has risen up against brother; the prisons are filled with captives; the earth is soaked in innocent blood, shed by a brother’s hand; it is defiled by violence, pillaging, fornication and every uncleanness. From this same poisonous source of sin has issued the great deception of material earthly goods, by which our people is enticed, forgetting the one thing necessary. We have not rejected this temptation, as the Saviour Christ rejected it in the wilderness. We have wanted to create a paradise on earth, but without God and His holy commandments. God is not mocked. And so we hunger and thirst and are naked upon the earth, blessed with an abundance of nature’s gifts, and the seal of the curse has fallen on the very work of the people and on all the undertakings of our hands. Sin, heavy and unrepented of, has summoned Satan from the abyss, and he is now bellowing his slander against the Lord and against His Christ, and is raising an open persecution against the Church.”[2]


     In characterizing Socialism in similar terms to those used by Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, as the temptation to create bread out of stones which Christ rejected, the Patriarch certainly gave a valid critique of Socialism as it was and still is popularly understood – that is, as a striving for social justice on earth, or, as Fr. Sergius Bulgakov put it in 1917, “the thought that first of all and at any price hunger must be conquered and the chains of poverty broken… Socialism does not signify a radical reform of life, it is charity, one of its forms as indicated by contemporary life – and nothing more. The triumph of socialism would not introduce anything essentially new into life.”[3] From this point of view, Socialism was essentially a well-intentioned movement that had gone wrong because it fails to take into account God, the commandments of God and the fallenness of human nature. The guilt of the Socialists consisted in the fact that, rather than seeking paradise in heaven and with God through the fulfilment of His commandments, they “have wanted to create a paradise on earth, but without God and His holy commandments”. The result was hell in this life and “the fire of Gehenna in the life to come”…

     However, as Igor Shafarevich has demonstrated, Socialism in its more radical form – that is, Revolutionary Socialism (Bolshevism, Leninism) as opposed to Welfare Socialism - is very little concerned with justice and not at all with charity. Its real motivation is simply satanic hatred, hatred of the whole of the old world and all those in it, and the desire to destroy it to its very foundations. Its supposed striving for social justice is only a cover, a fig-leaf, a propaganda tool for the attainment of this purely destructive aim.

     This aim can be analyzed into four objects: the destruction of: (i) hierarchy, (ii) private property, (iii) the family, and (iv) religion.[4]

     1. Hierarchy. Hierarchy had already largely been destroyed by the time the Bolsheviks came to power in October, 1917: from that time the only legal hierarchy was the Communist Party; all others, whether political, military, ecclesiastical, social or familial, were in common subjection to the Party.

     Lenin aimed to destroy, not only the Russian government and hierarchies, but also those of all foreign countries. For “our cause,” he said, “is an international cause, and so long as a revolution does not take place in all countries… our victory is only half a victory, or perhaps less.”

     And so in March, 1919 the Third Communist International (Comintern) was founded in Moscow. Its goal was “the fighting, by every means, even by force of arms, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic”.

     “The Third Communist International (Comintern),” write Christopher Andrew and Vasily Mitrokhin, “founded in Moscow in March 1919, set itself ‘the goal of fighting, even by force of arms, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic’. For the next year or more, Comintern’s Chairman, Grigori Yevseyevich Zinoviev, lived in a revolutionary dream-world in which Bolshevism was about to conquer Europe and sweep across the planet. On the second anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, he declared his hope that, within a year, ‘the Communist International will triumph in the entire world’. At the Congress of the Peoples of the East, convened at Baku in 1920 to promote colonial revolution, delegates excitedly waved swords, daggers and revolvers in the air when Zinoviev called on them to wage a jihad against imperialism and capitalism. Except in Mongolia, however, where the Bolsheviks installed a puppet regime, all attempts to spread their revolution beyond Soviet borders foundered either because of lack of popular support or because of successful resistance by counter-revolutionary governments…”[5]

     2. Private Property. Lenin proclaimed: “Loot the loot” (grab’ nagrablennoe), and by the end of the Civil War most property had passed into the hands of the new aristocracy, the Communist Party. Lenin’s plans were aided by the characteristic refusal of the peasants to admit the right of any but peasants to the land. Richard Pipes writes: “The peasant was revolutionary in one respect only: he did not acknowledge private ownership of land. Although on the eve of the Revolution he owned nine-tenths of the country’s arable, he craved for the remaining 10 percent held by landlords, merchants, and noncommunal peasants. No economic or legal arguments could change his mind: he felt he had a God-given right to that land and that someday it would be his. And by his he meant the commune’s, which would allocate it justly to its members. The prevalence of communal landholding in European Russia was, along with the legacy of serfdom, a fundamental fact of Russian social history. It meant that along with a poorly developed sense for law, the peasant also had little respect for private property. Both tendencies were exploited and exacerbated by radical intellectuals for their own ends to incite the peasants against the status quo.

     “Russia’s industrial workers were potentially destabilizing not because they assimilated revolutionary ideologies – very few of them did and even they were excluded from leadership positions in the revolutionary parties. Rather, since most of them were one or at most two generations removed from the village and only superficially urbanized, they carried with them to the factory rural attitudes only slightly adjusted to industrial conditions. They were not socialists but syndicalists, believing that as their village relatives were entitled to all the land, so they had a right to the factories…”[6]

     3. The Family. One holy witness of the revolution, Archbishop Andrew (Rymarenko) of Rockland, attributed a particular importance to “the violation of family life and the corruption of youth…” in explaining the revolution. After the revolution, the violations increased and multiplied. Thus early in 1918, writes Florence Farmborough, a new law on the status of women decreed “that all young women are to be considered the property of the State, and, if unmarried at the age of eighteen, must register at a special Bureau of Surveillance with a view to acquiring a husband! They are then told to choose a man as a legal husband and their union will receive State approbation. All children born to them will automatically become the property of the State. In the majority of cases, the children will be taken from their mothers in infancy and reared in special institutions; each child will be given a name and number which will ensure its position in the Free State and its right to priveleges accorded by the Proletarian Government. Young men, too, are allowed to choose a wife from the girls registered at the Bureau. So Free Russia is to legalise free love ‘in the interests of the State’.”[7]

     Oliver Figes writes: “The Bolsheviks envisaged the building of their Communist utopia as a constant battle against custom and habit. With the end of the Civil War they prepared for a new and longer struggle on the ‘internal front’, a revolutionary war for the liberation of the communistic personality through the eradication of individualistic (‘bourgeois’) behaviour and deviant habits (prostitution, alcoholism, hooliganism and religion) inherited from the old society. There was little dispute among the Bolsheviks that this battle to transform human nature would take decades. There was only disagreement about when the battle should begin. Marx had taught that the alteration of consciousness was dependent on changes to the material base, and Lenin, when he introduced the NEP, affirmed that until the material conditions of a Communist society had been created – a process that would take an entire historical epoch – there was no point trying to engineer a Communist system of morality in private life. But most Bolsheviks did not accept that the NEP required a retreat from the private sphere. On the contrary, as they were increasingly inclined to think, active engagement was essential at every moment and in every battlefield of everyday life – in the family, the home and the inner world of the individual, where the persistence of old mentalities was a major threat to the Party’s basic ideological goals. And as they watched the individualistic instincts of the ‘petty-bourgeois’ masses become stronger in the culture of the NEP, they redoubled their efforts. As Anatoly Lunacharsky wrote in 1927: ‘The so-called sphere of private life cannot slip away from us, because it is precisely here that the final goal of the Revolution is to be reached.’


     “The family was the first arena in which the Bolsheviks engaged the struggle. In the 1920s, they took it as an article of faith that the ‘bourgeois family’ was socially harmful: it was inward-looking and conservative, a stronghold of religion, superstition, ignorance and prejudice; it fostered egotism and material acquisitiveness, and oppressed women and children. The Bolsheviks expected that the family would disappear as Soviet Russia developed into a fully socialist system, in which the state took responsibility for all the basic household functions, providing nurseries, laundries and canteens in public centres and apartment blocks. Liberated from labour in the home, women would be free to enter the workforce on an equal footing with men. The patriarchal marriage, with its attendant sexual morals, would die out – to be replaced, the radicals believed, by ‘free unions of love’.

     “As the Bolsheviks saw it, the family was the biggest obstacle to the socialization of children. ‘By loving a child, the family turns him into an egotistical being, encouraging him to see himself as the centre of the universe,’ wrote the Soviet educational thinker Zlata Lilina. Bolshevik theorists agreed on the need to replace this ‘egotistic love’ with the ‘rational love’ of a broader ‘social family’. The ABC of Communism (1919) envisaged a future society in which parents would no longer use the word ‘my’ to refer to their children, but would care for all the children in their community. Among the Bolsheviks there were different views about how long this change would take. Radicals argued that the Party should take direct action to undermine the family immediately, but most accepted the arguments of Bukharin and NEP theorists that in a peasant country such as Soviet Russia the family would remain for some time the primary unity of production and consumption and that it would weaken gradually as the country made the transition to an urban socialist society.

     “Meanwhile the Bolsheviks adopted various strategies – such as the transformation of domestic space – intended to accelerate the disintegration of the family. To tackle the housing shortages in the overcrowded cities the Bolsheviks compelled wealthy families to share their apartments with the urban poor – a policy known as ‘condensation’ (uplotnenie). During the 1920s the most common type of communal apartment (kommunalka) was one in which the original owners occupied the main rooms on the ‘parade side’ while the back rooms were filled by other families. At that time it was still possible for the former owners to select their co-inhabitants, provided they fulfilled the ‘sanitary norm’ (a per capita allowance of living space which fell from 13.5 square metres in 1926 to just 9 square metres in 1931). Many families brought in servants or acquaintances to prevent strangers being moved in to fill up the surplus living space. The policy had a strong ideological appeal, not just as a war on privilege, which is how it was presented in the propaganda of the new regime (‘War against the Palaces!’), but also as part of a crusade to engineer a more collective way of life. By forcing people to share communal apartments, the Bolsheviks believed that they could make them communistic in their basic thinking and behaviour. Private space and property would disappear, the individual (‘bourgeois’) family would be replaced by communistic fraternity and organization, and the life of the individual would become immersed in the community. From the middle of the 1920s, new types of housing were designed with this transformation in mind. The most radical Soviet architects, like the Constructivists in the Union of Contemporary Architects, proposed the complete obliteration of the private sphere by building ‘commune houses’ (doma kommuny) where all the property, including even clothes and underwear, would be shared by the inhabitants, where domestic tasks like cooking and childcare would be assigned to teams on a rotating basis, and where everybody would sleep in one big dormitory, divided by gender, with private rooms for sexual liaisons. Few houses of this sort were ever built, although they loomed large in the utopian imagination and futuristic novels such as Yevgeny Zamiatin’s We (1920). Most of the projects which did materialize, like the Narkomfin (Ministry of Finance) house in Moscow (1930) designed by the Constructivist Moisei Ginzburg, tended to stop short of the full communal form and included both private living spaces and communalized blocks for laundries, baths, dining rooms and kitchens, nurseries and schools. Yet the goal remained to marshal architecture in a way that would induce the individual to move away from private (‘bourgeois’) forms of domesticity to a more collective way of life.

     “The Bolsheviks also intervened more directly in domestic life. The new Code on Marriage and the Family (1918) established a legislative framework that clearly aimed to facilitate the breakdown of the traditional family. It removed the influence of the Church from marriage and divorce, making both a process of simple registration with the state. It granted the same legal rights to de facto marriages (couples living together) as it gave to legal marriages. The Code turned divorce from a luxury for the rich to something that was easy and affordable for all. The result was a huge increase in casual marriages and the highest rate of divorce in the world – three times higher than in France or Germany and twenty-six times higher than in England by 1926 – as the collapse of the Christian-patriarchal order and the chaos of the revolutionary years loosened sexual morals along with family and communal ties.”[8]

     In November, 1920 the Bolsheviks also legalized abortions; they were made available free of charge at the mother’s request. For “in Soviet Russia,” writes Pipes, “as in the rest of Europe, World War I led to a loosening of sexual mores, which here was justified on moral grounds. The apostle of free love in Soviet Russia was Alexandra Kollontai, the most prominent woman Bolshevik. Whether she practiced what she preached or preached what she practiced, is not for the historian to determine; but the evidence suggests that she had an uncontrollable sex drive coupled with an inability to form enduring relationships. Born the daughter of a wealthy general, terribly spoiled in childhood, she reacted to the love lavished on her with rebellion. In 1906 she joined the Mensheviks, then, in 1915, switched to Lenin, whose anti-war stand she admired. Subsequently, she performed for him valuable services as agent and courier.

     “In her writings, Kollontai argued that the modern family had lost its traditional economic function, which meant that women should be set free to choose their partners. In 1919 she published The New Morality and the Working Class, a work based on the writings of the German feminist Grete Meisel-Hess. In it she maintained that women had to be emancipated not only economically but also psychologically. The ideal of ‘grand amour’ was very difficult to realize, especially for men, because it clashed with their worldly ambitions. To be capable of it, individuals had to undergo an apprenticeship in the form of ‘love games’ or ‘erotic friendships’, which taught them to engage in sexual relations free of both emotional attachment and personal domination. Casual sex alone conditioned women to safeguard their individuality in a society dominated by men. Every form of sexual relationship was acceptable: Kollontai advocated what she called ‘successive polygamy’. In the capacity of Commissar of Guardianship (Prizrenia) she promoted communal kitchens as a way of ‘separating the kitchen from marriage’. She, too, wanted the care of children to be assumed by the community. She predicted that in time the family would disappear, and women should learn to treat all children as their own. She popularized her theories in a novel, Free Love: The Love of Worker Bees (Svobodnaia liubov’: liubov’ pchel trudovykh) (1924), one part of which was called, ‘The Love of Three Generations’. Its heroine preached divorcing sex from morality as well as from politics. Generous with her body, she said she loved everybody, from Lenin down, and gave herself to any man who happened to attract her.

     “Although often regarded as the authoritarian theoretician of Communist sex morals, Kollontai was very much the exception who scandalized her colleagues. Lenin regarded ‘free love’ as a ‘bourgeois’ idea – by which he meant not so much extramarital affairs (with which he himself had had experience) as casual sex…

     “Studies of the sexual mores of Soviet youth conducted in the 1920s revealed considerable discrepancy between what young people said they believed and what they actually practiced: unusually, in this instance behaviour was less promiscuous than theory. Russia’s young people stated they considered love and marriage ‘bourgeois’ relics and thought Communists should enjoy a sexual life unhampered by any inhibitions: the less affection and commitment entered into male-female relations, the more ‘communist’ they were. According to opinion surveys, students looked on marriage as confining and, for women, degrading: the largest number of respondents – 50.8 percent of the women and 67.3 of the women – expressed a preference for long-term relationships based on mutual affection but without the formality of marriage.

     “Deeper probing of their attitudes, however, revealed that behind the façade of defiance of tradition, old attitudes survived intact. Relations based on love were the ideal of 82.6 percent of the men and 90.5 percent of the women: ‘This is what they secretly long for and dream about,’ according to the author of the survey. Few approved of the kind of casual sex advocated by Kollontai and widely associated with early Communism: a mere 13.3 percent of the men and 10.6 of the women. Strong emotional and moral factors continued to inhibit casual sex: one Soviet survey revealed that over half of the female student respondents were virgins…”[9]

     In this continuing conservatism of Soviet youth we see the continuing influence of the Orthodox Church, into which most Russians had been baptized. The Church resisted all the Soviet innovations, including civil marriage, abortion and divorce on demand. And soon the State, too, reversed its teaching, outlawing abortion in 1936 and condemning free love. But this was not the result of some kind of revival of religion and morality. It was necessitated by the simple fact, emphasized by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow in the nineteenth century, that the State is founded on the family, and the destruction of the family finally leads to the destruction of the State…

     4. Religion. Of the four marks of the beast, the most fundamental is the destruction of religion, especially Orthodox Christianity. The incompatibility between Socialism and Christianity was never doubted by the apostles of Socialism. Religion was to Marx “opium for the people”, and to Lenin – “spiritual vodka”. Lenin wrote that “every religious idea, every idea of a god, even flirting with the idea of God is unutterable vileness of the most dangerous kind”.[10] And in 1918 he said to Krasin: “Electricity will take the place of God. Let the peasant pray to electricity; he’s going to feel the power of the central authorities more than that of heaven.”[11]

     As regards the Bolshevik attitude to law, this was described by Latsis: “In the investigation don’t search for materials and proofs that the accused acted in word or deed against Soviet power. The first question which you must put to him is: what is his origin, education, upbringing or profession. These are the questions that must decide the fate of the accused… If it is possible to accuse the Cheka of anything it is not in excessive zeal in executions, but in not applying the supreme penalty enough… We were always too soft and magnanimous towards the defeated foe!”[12]

     The Bolsheviks always showed special ferocity towards the Church. Thus on May 1, 1919 Lenin sent a secret instruction to the head of the Cheka, Dzerzhinsky: “arrest… popes [priests] as counter-revolutionaries and saboteurs, shoot them mercilessly everywhere. And as many as possible.”[13]

     This is precisely what happened as bishops, priests and laymen were killed, monasteries destroyed and holy things vandalized in the greatest persecution of the Church since the time of Diocletian.

     As for morality in general, in his address to the Third All-Russian congress of the Union of Russian Youth in October, 1920, Lenin wrote: "In what sense do we reject morality and ethics? In the sense in which it is preached by the bourgeoisie, which has derived this morality from the commandments of God. Of course, as regards God, we say that we do not believe in Him, and we very well know that it was in the name of God that the clergy used to speak, that the landowners spoke, that the bourgeoisie spoke, so as to promote their exploitative interests. Or… they derived morality from idealistic or semi-idealistic phrases, which always came down to something very similar to the commandments of God. All such morality which is taken from extra-human, extra-class conceptions, we reject. We say that it is a deception, that it is a swindle, that it is oppression of the minds of the workers and peasants in the interests of the landowners and capitalists. We say that our morality is entirely subject to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat. Our morality derives from the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat."[14 

     Of course, there is an inner contradiction here. If God exists, and all the older systems of morality are nonsense, why entertain any notions of good and evil? And why prefer the interests of the proletariat to anyone else’s? In fact, if God does not exist, then, as Dostoyevsky said, everything is permitted. And this is what we actually find in Bolshevism – everything was permitted, including the murder of the proletariat provided it benefited the interests of the Communist Party. In any case, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote: “The line dividing good and evil passes not between states, not between classes, and not between parties – it passes through each human heart – and through all human hearts…”[15] And again he wrote: “Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy. It is not a side-effect, but the central pivot…”[16]

     That militant atheism, and the rejection of all religion-based morality, was the central pivot of Marxism-Leninism was to become abundantly evident in the next seventy years. Using his position as the head of the Church and the last man in Russia who was allowed to speak his mind almost freely, on October 26, 1918 Patriarch Tikhon wrote to the Sovnarkom: “’All those who take up the sword will perish by the sword’ (Matthew 26.52). This prophecy of the Saviour we apply to you, the present determiners of the destinies of our fatherland, who call yourselves ‘people’s commissars’. For a whole year you have held State power in your hands and you are already preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the October revolution, but the blood poured out in torrents of our brothers pitilessly slaughtered in accordance with your appeals, cries out to heaven and forces us to speak to you this bitter word of righteousness.

     “In truth you gave it a stone instead of bread and a serpent instead of a fish (Matthew 7.9, 10). You promised to give the people, worn out by bloody war, peace ‘without annexations and requisitions’. In seizing power and calling on the people to trust you, what promises did you give it and how did you carry out these promises? What conquests could you renounce when you had brought Russia to a shameful peace [the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk] whose humiliating conditions you yourselves did not even decide to publish fully? Instead of annexations and requisitions our great homeland has been conquered, reduced and divided, and in payment of the tribute imposed on it you will secretly export to Germany the gold which was accumulated by others than you… You have divided the whole people into warring camps, and plunged them into a fratricide of unprecedented ferocity. You have openly exchanged the love of Christ for hatred, and instead of peace you have artificially inflamed class enmity. And there is no end in sight to the war you have started, since you are trying to use the workers and peasants to bring victory to the spectre of world revolution… It is not enough that you have drenched the hands of the Russian people in the blood of brothers, covering yourselves with contributions, requisitions and nationalisations under various names: you have incited the people to the most blatant and shameless looting. At your instigation there has been the looting or confiscation of lands, estates, factories, houses and cattle; money, objects, furniture and clothing are looted. At first you robbed the more wealthy and industrious peasants under the name of ‘bourgeois’, thereby multiplying the numbers of the poor, although you could not fail to realise that by devastating a great number of individual citizens the people’s wealth is being destroyed and the country itself ravaged.

     “Having seduced the dark and ignorant people with the opportunity of easy and unpunished profit, you darkened their consciences and drowned out in them the consciousness of sin. But with whatever names you cover your evil deeds – murder, violence and looting will always remain heavy sins and crimes that cry out to heaven for revenge.

     “You promised freedom. Rightly understood, as freedom from evil, that does not restrict others, and does not pass over into licence and self-will, freedom is a great good. But you have not given that kind of freedom: the freedom given by you consists in indulging in every way the base passions of the mob, and in not punishing murder and robbery. Every manifestation both of true civil and the higher spiritual freedom of mankind is mercilessly suppressed by you. Is it freedom when nobody can get food for himself, or rent a flat, or move from city to city without special permission? Is it freedom when families, and sometimes the populations of whole houses are resettled and their property thrown out into the street, and when citizens are artificially divided into categories, some of which are given over to hunger and pillaging? Is it freedom when nobody can openly express his opinion for fear of being accused of counter-revolution?

     “Where is freedom of the word and the press, where is the freedom of Church preaching? Many bold Church preachers have already paid with the blood of their martyrdom; the voice of social and state discussion and reproach is suppressed; the press, except for the narrowly Bolshevik press, has been completely smothered. The violation of freedom in matters of the faith is especially painful and cruel. There does not pass a day in which the most monstrous slanders against the Church of Christ and her servers, and malicious blasphemies and sacrilege, are not published in the organs of your press. You mock the servers of the altar, you force a bishop to dig ditches (Bishop Hermogen of Tobolsk), and you send priests to do dirty work. You have placed your hands on the heritage of the Church, which has been gathered by generations of believing people, and you have not hesitated to violate their last will. You have closed a series of monasteries and house churches without any reason or cause. You have cut off access to the Moscow Kremlin, that sacred heritage of the whole believing people… It is not our task to judge earthly powers; every power allowed by God would attract to itself Our blessing if it were in truth a servant of God subject to the good, and was ‘terrible not for good deeds, but for evil’ (Romans 13.3,4). Now we extend to you, who are using your power for the persecution of your neighbours and the destruction of the innocent, Our word of exhortation: celebrate the anniversary of your coming to power by liberating the imprisoned, by stopping the blood-letting, violence, destruction and restriction of the faith. Turn not to destruction, but to the establishment of order and legality. Give the people the rest from civil war that they desire and deserve. Otherwise ‘from you will be required all the righteous blood that you have shed’ (Luke 11.51), ‘and you who have taken up the sword will perish by the sword’.”[17]

     Pipes writes: “The effect that persecution had on religious sentiments and practices during the first decade of Communist rule is difficult to assess. There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence, however, that people continued to observe religious rituals and customs, treating the Communists as they would heathen conquerors. Although the observance of religious holidays had been outlawed, the prohibition could not be enforced. As early as 1918 workers received permission to celebrate Easter provided they did not absent themselves from work for more than five days. Later on, the authorities acquiesced in the suspension of work on Christmas under both the old and new calendars. There are reports of religious processions (krestnye khody) in the capital as well as in provincial towns. In the rural districts, the peasants insisted on regarding as legitimate only marriages performed by a priest.


     “Religious fervor, which, along with monarchic sentiments, had perceptibly ebbed in 1917, revived in the spring of 1918, when many Christians courted martyrdom by demonstrating, holding protest meetings, and fasting. The fervor increased with each year: in 1920, ‘The Churches filled with worshippers; among them there was not that predominance of women that could be noted before the revolution. Confession acquired particular importance… Church holidays attracted immense crowds. Church life in 1920 was fully restored and perhaps even exceeded the old, pre-Revolutionary one. Without a doubt, the inner growth of church self-consciousness among Russian believers attained a height unknown during the preceding two centuries.’

     “Tikhon confirmed this judgement in an interview with an American journalist the same year, saying that ‘the influence of the church on the lives of the people was stronger than ever in all its history’. Confirming these impressions, one well-informed observer concluded in 1926 that the church had emerged victorious from its conflict with the Communists: ‘The only thing the Bolsheviks had achieved was to loosen the hierarchy and split the church’.

     “But ahead of it lay trials such as no church had ever endured…”[18]


January 27 / February 9, 2017.

St. John Chrysostom.

[1]Lebedev, Velikorossia (Great Russia), St. Petersburg, 1999.

[2] Regelson, Tragedia Russkoj Tserkvi (The Tragedy of the Russian Church), Paris: YMCA Press, 1977, p. 52.

[3] Bulgakov, Sotsializm i Khristianstvo (Socialism and Christianity), Moscow, 1917.

[4] Shafarevich, "Sotsializm", in Solzhenitsyn, A. (ed.) Iz-pod Glyb (From Under the Rubble), Paris: YMCA Press, 1974; Sotsializm kak Iavlenie Mirovoj Istorii (Socialism as a Phenomenon of World History), Paris: YMCA Press, 1977, p. 265.

[5]Andrew and Mitrokhin, The KGB and the World, London: Penguin, 2006, pp. 1-2.

[6] Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924, London: Fontana, 1995, p. 494.

[7]Farmborough, Nurse at the Russian Front. A Diary 1914-1918, London: Blue Club Associates, 1974, pp. 384-385.

[8] Figes, The Whisperers, London, 2007, pp. 7-10. Figes continues: “In the early years of Soviet power, family breakdown was so common among revolutionary activists that it almost constituted an occupational hazard. Casual relationships were practically the norm in Bolshevik circles during the Civil War, when any comrade could be sent at a moment’s notice to some distant sector of the front. Such relaxed attitudes remained common through the 1920s, as Party activists and their young emulators in the Komsomol [Communist Youth League] were taught to put their commitment to the proletariat before romantic love or family. Sexual promiscuity was more pronounced in the Party’s youthful ranks than among Soviet youth in general. Many Bolsheviks regarded sexual licence as a form of liberation from bourgeois moral conventions and as a sign of ‘Soviet modernity’. Some even advocated promiscuity as a way to counteract the formation of coupling relationships that separated lovers from the collective and detracted from their loyalty to the Party.

     “It was a commonplace that the Bolshevik made a bad husband a father because the demands of the Party took him away from the home. ‘We Communists don’t know our own families,’ remarked one Moscow Bolshevik. ‘You leave early and come home late. You seldom see your wife and almost never your children.’ At Party congresses, where the issue was discussed throughout the 1920s, it was recognized that Bolsheviks were far more likely than non-Party husbands to abandon wives and families, and that this had much to do with the primacy of Party loyalties over sexual fidelity. But in fact the problem of absent wives and mothers was almost as acute in Party circles, as indeed it was in the broader circle of the Soviet intelligentsia, where most women were involved in the public sphere.

     “Trotsky argued that the Bolsheviks were more affected than others by domestic breakdown because they were ‘most exposed to the influence of new conditions’. As pioneers of a modern way of life, Trotsky wrote in 1923, the ‘Communist vanguard merely passes sooner and more violently through what is inevitable’ for the population as a whole. In many Party households there was certainly a sense of pioneering a new type of family – one that liberated both parents for public activities – albeit at the cost of intimate involvement with their children.” (pp. 10-11)

[9] Pipes, op. cit., pp. 330, 331-332, 333.

[10] Lenin, Letter to Gorky (1913), Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenij (Collected Works) (second edition, 1926-1932), vol. 17, pp. 81-86. Cf. S.G. Pushkarev, Lenin i Rossia (Lenin and Russia), Frankfurt: Possev-Verlag, 1986, introduction; R. Wurmbrand, Was Karl Marx a Satanist?, Diane books, 1978.

[11] Liberman, S.I. “Narodnij komisar Krasin” (The People’s Commissar Krasin), Novij zhurnal (The New Journal), N 7, 1944, p. 309; quoted in Volkogonov, D. Lenin, London: Harper Collins, 1994, p. 372.

[12] Latsis, Ezhenedel’nik ChK (Cheka Weekly), N 1, November 1, 1918; in Priest Vladimir Dmitriev, Simbirskaia Golgofa (Simbirsk’s Golgotha), Moscow, 1997, p. 4.

[13] V. Karpov, Generalissimus, Kaliningrad, 2004, p. 79.

[14] Lenin, Collected Works, volume 41, p. 309.

[15] Solzhenitsyn, Arkhipelag GULag (The GULag Archipelago), Paris: YMCA Press, volume 2, p. 602.

[16] Solzhenitsyn, Acceptance Speech, Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, 1983; Russkaia Mysl' (Russian Thought), N 3465, 19 May, 1983, p. 6.

[17] Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizhenia (Herald of the Russian Christian Movement), 1968, NN 89-90, pp. 19-23.

[18] Pipes, op. cit.,pp. 367-368.

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