Peter Hitchens has said that atheism is a blood soaked creed, and used some quotes to state Bolsheviks were atheists. He mentions persecution of religious groups and people. For him atheism is responsible. Not communist totalitarianism.
Which begs the question of belief for communists (the Bolsheviks adopted that term in the 1920s) and the violence the state used in suppressing people and maintaining the state as the supreme political body.
AJP Taylor remarked that Lenin realised he was in gangster warfare and wanted to be the right end of the shotgun. Terror was the way power was exercised on the populace in the revolution and beyond.
A new tyranny from god ordained Tsar to supreme communist rule had taken effect.
The communists were atheists, rejecting the theist argument. Marx saw that as a beginning in rational thought – a kind of training ground in philosophical thinking.
The idea that atheism then leads to blood stained communism is not one borne out. Communism in Russia was totalitarian, and no rival organisation or thought was to be tolerated. Pluralism was dead, and religion that demanded your obedience in thought, life, and in death was the ultimate challenge to Marxist ideology. The socialist workers councils tried to rebel, and were suppressed as were churches that stood up to the regime.
Would the communists have been less inclined to kill millions if they believed in a creator God? Doubtful: terror was the expediency and effective way to keep people in check and destroy opposition. The Soviet Union collapsed ideologically when Mikhail Gorbachev realised pluralism was the answer to a morally and financially stagnated bankrupt nation.
Hitchens can quote mine all the “communist are atheist” references he likes. We know communists were atheists. We also know they were anti-pluralist, anti-democracy, anti-free speech, non secularist, butchering murdering psychotic thugs.
Something for humanists not to be.
As I have argued atheism is non belief in god based on theist arguments, not a basis for working out morality or ethical behaviour which requires much other thought including religious/philosophical thinking that are a part of our historical discourse.
It is a mistake for anyone to suggest otherwise.
Awaiting reply …
FOLLOW UP BLOG: Peter Hitchens replies on twitter
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog