Kengor Writes . . .
Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).
Going Red for International Women’s Day
The ability of the Communist left to consistently mislead and use an ever-wider group of people never ceases to amaze.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the Women’s March, a shocking display of vulgarity that erupted after the Trump inaugural in January, where none other than Angela Davis — America’s longtime leading female Marxist revolutionary — was honorary co-chair and featured speaker. Davis fired up the faithful as they donned crude pink hats and cheered her revolution. Now, this week, the female front was enlisted again, this time going not pink but red — figuratively and literally.
[March 8] was International Women’s Day. If you know little to nothing of the history of this event, then you probably know more than the vast majority of young women and oblivious corporate sponsors tapped as dutiful foot soldiers.
The fact is that the origins of International Women’s Day are Communist-socialist. That reality is so unavoidably obvious that the “About” section at the official International Women’s Day website candidly lays out the origins in touting this glorious “collective day of global celebration” and calling on “the masses” to “help forge a better working world.” Take a look at this surprisingly honest historical timeline provided at the website:
International Women’s Day Timeline Journey
1909: In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. . . .
1910: In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the “Women’s Office” for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day — a Women’s Day — to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs — and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament — greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result. . . .
1913-1914: On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. . . .
1917 : On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War I. Opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.”
I must concede kudos to the International Women’s Day website developers for sharing this accurate history. This is spot on.
Readers will, of course, recognize many of these dates and names, especially the Russian ones. They may not identify names like Clara Zetkin. Zetkin was a big-time German Marxist — or, as leftists will prefer to call her, a socialist or “social democrat.” In fact, Lenin and Trotsky and pioneering cultural Marxists like Herbert Marcuse were also social democrats. Clara was a leading international advocate for Lenin. I have clips from Working Woman magazine, the January 30, 1934 edition, which I copied from the Soviet Comintern files on Communist Party USA. This particular edition included a preview of the coming International Women’s Day of March 8, 1934. It featured a glowing review of Clara’s book Reminiscences of Lenin, including praise for the late despot’s “warm smile,” “keen joy” for workers, “clear thinking,” and “masterly eloquence.” This was Clara’s valentine to Vladimir — a vicious killer — at the time of his death in January 1924, amid her “hour of grief” and “deepest personal sorrow” at the “irreparable loss” of this “great man.”
Perhaps passages of this blast-from-the-past could be posted in the “About” section of the International Women’s Day website?
But there was much more to this year’s International Women’s Day. Its call for a better “gender world” was a distinctly and fittingly red one. Indeed, this seems almost unbelievable in its audacity, but the January Women’s March organizers, who just happened to spearhead this year’s International Women’s Day, literally urged women everywhere to wear red on Wednesday. Yes, red, and to do so in “solidarity” with the “masses.” That call is issued without apology or irony at the Women’s March website, along with two other eye-opening exhortations:
Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8 “A Day Without a Woman,” in one or all of the following ways:
Women Take the Day Off, from Paid and Unpaid Labor: Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
Wear RED in Solidarity with a Day Without a Woman: What a perfect color for this year’s International Women’s Day: red, the color of the revolution.
But the ironies don’t stop there. Consider the parade of duped organizations that this year’s comradely organizers managed to hook into their cause. No, I’m not talking about the usual suspects, such as those highlighted at People’s World, which I quote: “Backers include the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), Jobs With Justice, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Nurses United (NNU), Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United), and the National Organization for Women (NOW).”
Those are just a smattering of the same-old-same-old; basically, the regular assortment of leftist groups that rallied behind the so-called “P---y Hats” (their word) in Washington in January. No, look at this group of unexpected allies: The banner sponsors for this International Women’s Day included a select list of ten prominent corporate partners that served up themselves as this year’s cast of tools for exploitation. The list includes Caterpillar, BP, MetLife, PepsiCo, and Western Union.
Do the folks at the PR office at these corporations have any concept of what they lent their name to? Maybe they do. I’m wondering if their female employees got the day off on Wednesday. If not, hopefully they didn’t get in trouble if they simply “took the day off.”
Vladimir Lenin is credited for devising the term “useful idiots.” It’s a cynical albeit all-too-fitting label. And this International Women’s Day once again smoked them out.
Neil Gorsuch on Life, Liberty, and the Natural Law
In a stunning moment in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a staunch supporter of so-called “abortion rights,” took umbrage with one of Gorsuch’s previous written statements. As Feinstein described it, “He [Gorsuch] believes there are no exceptions to the principle that ‘the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.’”
Well, yes, that’s right. That’s what Gorsuch believes. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?
Not to Senator Feinstein, sadly, for whom the alpha and omega is what her colleagues Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton consider a “sacred right:” a woman’s “right to choose.” Roe v. Wade is sacrosanct in their eyes, and that’s the complete opposite of what Neil Gorsuch considers sacrosanct.
The Gorsuch statement that Feinstein was quoting comes from a book he wrote in 2006, The Future of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, published by Princeton University Press. In that book, Gorsuch wrote that “all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
As for me, I will choose that worldview over the Feinstein worldview any day.
Gorsuch’s views stem from a very deep, very rich, and very old tradition known as natural law.
Natural law affirms that we do what we ought to do according to nature, to our very nature. “What we ought to do is based on what we are,” writes Peter Kreeft. The natural law, notes Kreeft, is naturally known, by natural human reason and experience. You need not be a religious believer to know the natural law, even if that law (many of us believe) was written into nature by a Creator.
Really, it’s easier to give examples of natural law than a definition. Human sexuality demonstrates natural law so well because it’s so self-evident. Another violation of natural law is murder: one human life taking another. That’s a violation held by cultures and societies and governments of all times.
Natural law is as old and varied as the Old and New Testaments, as the Jewish and Christian faiths, as Aquinas and Augustine, as John Calvin and John Paul II, as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jacques Maritain. It is considered immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history, a universal rule that binds us all. As Augustine put it, natural law is “the law that is written in the human heart.” As Aquinas explained it, the natural law allows us to “know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation.”
Of course, Augustine and Aquinas were Christians, but one need not be a Christian to understand what Thomas Jefferson referred to as “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” Pre-Christian figures like Aristotle and Cicero spoke of this eternal law. “True law is right reason in agreement with nature,” stated Cicero. “It is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting.”
Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped many in today’s culture from aggressively seeking to redefine human nature. If you’re endeavoring to fundamentally transform human nature, especially on issues like marriage, family, sexuality, and gender, then the natural law is your chief foe. Indeed, if you’re an aggressive secular progressive, one seeking day in and day out to redefine human nature, what do you do with natural law?
One of my former students got an answer in law school, when her progressive professor boldly proclaimed that “natural law doesn’t exist.” But I caution this professor that if he/she really believes this, then he/she must also reject the natural-law-based conclusions of tribunals such as Nuremberg after World War II, when the judges told Nazi officials that regardless of what Hitler’s laws stated, they should have known that what they were doing was wrong. To gas human beings and recycle their corpses into soap and lampshades is an obvious violation of basic laws of humanity — no excuses.
Or, consider slavery and various civil-rights laws. One current libertarian writer states that “the greatest spokesman for natural law in the 20th century was probably Martin Luther King, who denounced segregation not because of its technical complexities, but because it betrayed the natural law principles of the Declaration of Independence.”
This being the case, most progressives will do with natural law what they do with Biblical Law and other moral laws — they will pick the applications they like and ignore or reject those they don’t. Or, even more brazenly, they will try to remake the natural law in their own image.
No, sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Nature tells you what to do; you don’t tell nature what to do. Just as your biology and your 74 trillion chromosomes tell you your gender; you don’t tell yourself your gender.
But tell that to modern disciples of the dictatorship of relativism, where everything is deemed redefinable, from one’s gender to whether a human life is even considered a human life.
And that brings us back to Neil Gorsuch.
Gorsuch is incredibly well-educated. It’s difficult to find a more credentialed academic pedigree. He studied natural law while earning a Ph.D. at Oxford (he has a J.D. from Harvard) under one of the world’s preeminent authorities on natural law, John Finnis. Professor Finnis was Gorsuch’s dissertation adviser. He’s now on faculty at Notre Dame Law School and a professor emeritus at Oxford. Finnis’ best-known work is his Natural Law and Natural Rights.
It was there that he issued his statement on the inviolability of all human life, and how no human being should be able to take the life of another human being — the statement that Senator Feinstein found so reprehensible.
Gorsuch is also a defender of religious liberty, which Feinstein is likewise finding objectionable.
Take Gorsuch’s statement in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor, when the Obama administration tried to force the nuns to pay for abortion drugs. He wrote: “When a law demands that a person do something the person considers sinful, and the penalty for the refusal is a large financial penalty, then the law imposes a substantial burden on that person’s free exercise of religion.”
It’s good to have Supreme Court justices of this mind, not of the thinking of the likes of Senator Feinstein.
In all, this means that Neil Gorsuch’s thinking on issues like human life and religious liberty should be in concert with faithful Christians, and it should be sympathetic to the rights of those Christians against a government that tries to coerce them.
Socialism Attacks the Family, Just as Its Inventors Intended
Editor’s note: This article first appeared at Stream.org.
Last year, “socialism” was the most looked-up word at Merriam-Webster.com. That is hardly a surprise. It clearly reflects growing interest, especially with the remarkable surge of lifetime socialist Bernie Sanders, who won a pile of states in pursuing the Democratic Party presidential nomination. He earned over 13 million votes nationwide. Many of those voters have only a hazy idea what socialism entails, but most surely know that it gives the government more control over the so-called “means of production” as well as your wallet and your property, but not as much as outright Communists crave.
American interest in socialism was growing well before Bernie Sanders. A telling marker came in 2011, when a major study by the Pew Research Center found that 49 percent of Americans aged 18-29 have a positive view of socialism, exceeding those with a positive view of capitalism. What those voters might not realize, but which I know for certain, is that socialism undermines marriage and family: I’ve published an entire book on the subject. What I learned from mining the origins of the movement is that this is not an accident: The founders of socialist movements always intended their system to have this effect.
Intended Consequences: Most obviously, socialism undermines the family economically. Socialism is ineffective, unproductive, and impoverishing. It creates not economic prosperity but backwardness, and often, genuine deprivation (see Venezuela). In that way alone, socialism adversely affects what sources as diverse as Pope Francis and Ronald Reagan have described as the “fundamental cell” of society: the family.
But surely socialism’s founders didn’t realize that their system just flat-out didn’t work, right? Actually, they believed that it did — and in one sense it does: It weakens families for the benefit of the state, exactly as it creators meant it to.
Since at least the early 1800s, when the effort began in earnest, extreme-left radicals have sought to undermine the natural, traditional, Biblical, family — the Western Judaeo-Christian model anchored in a man and woman as parents of a household. The steady assault on this timeless model has been a long march that culminated in the chaos of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and in the antics of the nature-redefiners of today’s secular left, which employs bullying, state coercion, and demonization to forcibly redefine everything from marriage and parenting to biological sex (or as they now call it “gender”), and whether a child in the womb is even considered a life.
Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto wrote of the “abolition of the family,” which even in 1848, they could flaunt as an “infamous proposal of the Communists.” What, precisely, they meant by that is a complicated subject. But complexities aside, there is no question that efforts to redefine the family structure have been long at work, from Marx and Engels to sordid figures such as Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Alexandra Kollontai, Margaret Sanger, Margaret Mead, Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Betty Friedan, Kate Millet, and assorted ’60s New Left radicals from Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn to Mark Rudd and Tom Hayden. They included groups ranging from the Bolsheviks to the Frankfurt School of cultural Marxists to the Planned Parenthood eugenics “progressives” to the Weather Underground and many more.
Socialists on American Soil: A glance at this list of dubious characters reveals a mangled mosaic of the wide-ranging left. Among them, the earliest and maybe most revealing of the socialists specifically — at least from a family-focused perspective — was perhaps Robert Owen.
Owen (1771-1858) was an English utopian-socialist who made his way to American soil. On July 4, 1826, as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the geniuses of the Declaration of Independence, both dramatically breathed their last gasps on the 50th anniversary of their eloquent achievement on behalf of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Robert Owen stood atop his new ideological colony in New Harmony, Indiana and delivered his “Declaration of Mental Independence.” It is a document you surely didn’t read in school, but perhaps you should have, because it foretold the spirit of our modern age. Owen proclaimed:
“I now declare to you and to the world that man up to this hour has been in all parts of the earth a slave to a trinity of the most monstrous evils that could be combined to inflict mental and physical evil upon the whole race.”
“I refer to private property, absurd and irrational systems of religion and marriage founded upon individual property, combined with some of these irrational systems of religion.”
There it was: property, religion, marriage. This was Robert Owen’s unholy trinity.
Owen’s acolytes began their new civilization by scrapping the Christian Anno Domini calendar, marking 1826 as their new “Year One.” He was imitating the Jacobins, who had likewise “reset” the calendar in 1794 amid their bloodcurdling de-Christianization of France. (Mussolini and Pol Pot would later follow suit.) Owen established what the 1960s hippies would call communes. Owen’s socialist communes pooled not only profits but people, replacing the nuclear family with the collective family. His socialism was cultural as well as economic, as socialism and its enthusiasts always would be.
The New Harmony colony floundered within just two years, with Owen curiously absent from his creation for sustained periods, thus setting the standard for future leftist-utopian chieftains: They rarely live according to the rules and systems they create for others. Socialism and Communism have always been for “the people,” “the masses,” the ruled, but rarely for the rulers. Castro, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao — given the choice — they never lived the same way with the same rules and equal salaries as the serfs. Indeed, how could they? Their socialist-Communist cocoons were always intolerable because they were bankrupt and unnatural. No one chooses that misery.
But the unnatural is what so many leftist utopians pursued then and in the years and centuries ahead. Even as Robert Owen’s New Harmony commune quickly collapsed, a dozen or so imitators sprang up around the country. Rarely did any of them last more than four years. Owen’s leftist vision remained alive and undeterred. “The social system is now firmly established,” he asserted.
An uphill stream of Owen-like dreamers on the left would keep the flame alive, from the 1820s to the 1960s in their own communes, and into the 21st century with their own versions of marriage and family. Never learning from failed projects of the past, they would always convince themselves that the previous project simply wasn’t done quite right — not yet. When they implemented their commune, their utopia, their more enlightened and modern view of marriage and the family, it would surely work this time around. Such is the socialist faith.
Polyamory and Lemonade Seas: Charles Fourier (1772-1837) was another merry socialist who reviled property, marriage, and religion. He dreamed of collectivizing the masses in communes where they could undergo fundamental transformation. (He also believed that human efforts would someday turn the seas to tasty lemonade.) A forerunner to 1960s New Left radicals on American college campuses, Fourier openly advocated the abolition of monogamous marriage, and championed polyamory, homosexuality, and other forms of what Margaret Sanger and the 1920s American progressives would celebrate as “free love.” Fourier’s lead disciple in America, Albert Brisbane, practiced what his master taught, proving himself exceptionally progressive by maintaining several mistresses and fathering three illegitimate children.
Predictably, the Fourier-Brisbane communes would work about as well as Owen’s ideological colonies, and the ones that followed. There were probably forty some such communes that sprung up around the country in this period, and quickly dissolved. No matter, leftists never give up. All they need is more power than the previous group of ideological colonists, and then they’ll get it right the next time. It is the governing spirit of their ideology. Just wait for their better, more enlightened ideas on marriage, family, sexuality, gender, and on and on. Forward!
On the heels of Fourier came John Humphrey Noyes and his Oneida colony and their newfangled designs for the family, which included group marriages that shared both intimacy and children.
Socialist Ancestors of the Gender Wars: All of these nature-redefiners plowed new ground for new versions of the family according to each of their ideological conceptions. To borrow from Pope Francis, they were engaged in “ideological colonizations.” Each new generation came up with its own socialist colonies, all the way to the Red Family Colony in Berkeley in the 1960s established by Tom Hayden and Robert Scheer. The ’60s New Left also launched its glorious “smash monogamy” movement, which was an exciting form of marriage that would be (and had to be, they insisted) non-monogamous.
In short, these were the bold ancestors of today’s same-sex marriage movement and “LGBTQ” sex-gender redefiners. They all shared in common, then and today, the rejection of any notion that there is a single natural, traditional, and Biblical model for the family.
“It is not possible to speak of ‘the’ family,” insisted Friedrich Engels. Indeed, just ask the broad range of leftists in the current-day organization “Beyond Marriage.” They agree wholeheartedly with Engels on that one. *