A small spark of a misguided strategy has had its harsh impact on our modern world. Now how do we respond? ◊
The meeting included 100 people in a downtown restaurant in lower Manhattan, NY. The purpose of the meeting was to strategize the overthrow of the Christian worldview and replace it with the ideas of a rather unknown writer by the name of Karl Marx. They called their organization the Intercollegiate Socialist Society.1
The year was 1905.
Three of the key people in attendance in that first meeting were a 27-year old author named Upton Sinclair, a 29-year old author named Jack London who that evening was voted the organization’s first president, and a successful labor attorney named Clarence Darrow.
The plan of the organization was to infiltrate their ideas into academia by organizing in as many colleges and universities as possible:
“…promoting an intelligent interest in Socialism among college men, graduate and undergraduate” and to “familiarize students with the inherent evils of [the] American economic and social system based on laissez-faire policies, and promote the establishment of a socialist order.
They were highly successful with future leaders embedded in US colleges and universities like:
- Walter Lippman, future author and director of the Council on Foreign Relations was president of the Harvard chapter
- Walter Reuther, future president of the United Auto Workers headed the Wayne State chapter
- Eugene Debs, who eventually became the five-time Socialist candidate for president of the US was a leader at Columbia.
The Plan at Work
The society grew. The first annual convention was held in 1910, and by 1917 they were active on 61 campuses and a dozen graduate schools. Other early activists included William DuBois, who would become an official of the NAACP and later a Communist Party member, and Victor Berger of Wisconsin, who became the first Socialist elected to Congress.
In 1921 the Intercollegiate Socialist Society changed its name to the League for Industrial Democracy. Its purpose was “education for a new social order based on production for use and not for profit.” The college chapters now became the Student League for Industrial Democracy. As members graduated from college, some entered the pulpit, others the classroom as teachers and professors, some wrote textbooks, while others entered the labor movement and both political parties.
When the New Deal began in 1933, they were prepared. At the time the league had only 5,652 members, but they were in positions of leadership everywhere.
By 1941 John Dewey, the founder of progressive education and later defeated in 1948 by Harry Truman for the Presidency of the US (despite that famous news headline gaffe “Dewey Defeats Truman”) was the league’s president, and Reinhold Niebuhr, the theologian, its treasurer.
Other members were like a Who’s Who in America list:
Robert Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); Charles Beard, the historian; Carroll Binder, editor of the Minneapolis Tribune; Helen Douglas, the congresswoman who was defeated by Richard Nixon for the US Senate; Felix Frankfurter, Supreme Court Justice; Sidney Hook, the educational social philosopher; Edna St. Vincent Millay, the poet; Henry Morgenthau Jr., one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s most trusted economic advisors; Walter and Victor Reuther, of the United Auto Workers union, Will Rodgers Jr., the humorist; and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the historian.2
So What of It?
While that first 1905 obscure meeting in Manhattan has long been forgotten, what began there permeates America’s institutions and culture, having replaced the Bible-based values of the 19th century with a liberalism based on Marxism.
And is that such a big problem?
Actually, yes, when Marxism, and Communism, and Socialism are fully understood in contrast to Christianity and any overt and insidious strategy to undermine faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. These worldviews are the antitheses of Christianity in their emphasis on man’s quest for power and control.
To make it very clear, here are quotes from Karl Marx, the German political philosopher and economist:
- “The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.”
- “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
- “My object in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism.”
Marx went beyond the essentially economic philosophies of Socialism and Communism which advocate for public rather than private ownership (especially of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of goods) in a society. His Communist Manifesto in 1848 argued that all of human history was a history of class struggles, and that the working class (proletariat) would inevitably triumph over the capital class (bourgeoisie) and win control over the means of production and forever eliminate all classes.
It’s never quite turned out the way he envisioned, yet there have been brutal adoptions of Marxist ideas over time, particularly over the past century.
Under Communism, a strong central government (the state) controls all aspects of economic production and provides all services for its citizens. (Think China, Cuba, Soviet Union, and North Korea.) Under Socialism, individuals may own property, but industrial production or chief means of producing wealth, are communally owned and managed by a democratically elected government. (Think Scandinavian countries and many Latin American countries, some which have blended capitalist sectors.)
Both systems involve the redistribution of wealth and negatively impact individual incentive and innovation with high taxation. Most communist states have been established by violent revolution. Estimates are that since the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917, communist regimes have killed upward toward 100 million people over the past 100 years:
“Though communism has killed huge numbers of people intentionally, even more of its victims have died from starvation as a result of its cruel projects of social engineering.” 3
Where’s God in This?
All of this is not to say that individual Socialists or Communists do not believe in God and cannot effectively follow Jesus. Certainly, Marx and anyone identifying with a Marxist label do not believe or acquiesce to God and Jesus as Lord. Others need to make their own assessment as to where God/Jesus lands in the context of their economic philosophy and spiritual worldview.
However, by observing the values, policies, actions, and demands of anyone of Marxist/Communist/Socialist leanings today in America or anywhere, there appears to be an anti-God bent, or at best a distant nod to some higher power, with fundamental principles and practices that are opposed to the Christian worldview.
With that, a small spark of a strategy toward the crumbling of a whole Bible-based culture here in America has been successful. Our hope is in the re-engagement of a revived Church against a godless and bereft cause.
Have you been influenced by the anti-Christian forces of modern culture?
Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9
1 Adapted from A Case Study in Changing a Nations Culture, The One Year Book of Christian History, E. Michael and Sharon Rusten, Tyndale Publishing House, IL, 2003, pp. 512-513.
3 100 Years of Communism – and 100 Million Dead, by David Satter, The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2017.