Saturday, March 26, 2011

Marxists With Rosaries


Below is the review I wrote recently on for The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-1980): A Critical Analysis.

If you're interested in the subject of Catholic views of economics, then avoid anything coming from Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, or the CWM. What a horrible mess those people made!


"The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-1980): A Critical Analysis" by Carol Byrne is a well-researched analysis of the writings and activities of the two founders of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.

I approached the book with the understanding that Day was a dupe for the Communists -- and it was a role she didn't particularly mind playing: she struck me as a mole with one good eye. She misidentified the source of many of the world's woes (liberal capitalism with its materialism yes, but not original sin, which would have implicated herself and her comrades as well) and so adopted incorrect remedies (liberation theology; agrarian reform; bolshevism -- materialist creeds all, a fact that she managed to reliably overlook in her efforts to overthrow capitalism). I gave Day credit for intending well, but not for having the wherewithal to completely overcome her radical Communist past. I read Byrne's offering to see how well that postulate held up under closer scrutiny.

The author provides numerous examples that illustrate how the truth was far sadder than I suspected. Byrne thoroughly demonstrates that Day maintained a radicalism steeped in Marxist thought: she was a Communist who became a Catholic, but rather than repudiate her old erroneous ideas, she set about to create a synthesis between the two contradictory creeds. It was an oil and water mix steeped in false pretenses, one in which the Catholic element lost out almost every time to Marxist angst.

To wit, Day and Maurin:
* were nurtured on a Socialist ideology,
* campaigned with active Communists and their travelers,
* unfailingly supported Communist teachings and activities,
* attended conferences organized by Communists in the USSR,
* promoted Communist writings and propaganda,
* advocated worker strikes that were started by Communist-infiltrated unions,
* denigrated cash given by capitalists but accepted it willingly from socialists,
* defended the use of violence and class warfare to achieve joint ownership of property and the forcible redistribution of wealth,
* maintained a posture of hatred for Western democracy and admiration for Leninist and Stalinist totalitarianism,
* weakened the West in its defense against Communist aggression in the name of pacifism,
* praised Garibaldi in Italy, Castro in Cuba, and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam -- men who used armed force to brutalize and murder their enemies,
* refused guidance from orthodox Catholic clerics, and
* re-interpreted the Gospels and papal encyclicals to support their radicalism.

Hats off to Carol Byrne for providing the documentation needed to provide the correct context and background for a more complete understanding of the CWM.

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