and political activist. B. Sep. 19, 1900, Cracow. His area of study
was international and state law with the emphasis on their connections
with Christian ethics; his monographs include: "Autonomia celna
w najnowszym prawie narodów" ("Autonomy of Tariffs Policy in the
Current International Law", 1933); "Wojna jako narzêdzie prawa
i przewrotu" ("War as an Instrument of Law and Revolution", 1936);
"Koœció³ i pañstwo wobec zagadnieñ prawa
ma³¿eñskiego" ("The Attitude of Church and State
Towards Marital Law", 1936); "Odmowa uznania faktów dokonanych w
najnowszym rozwoju prawa narodów" ("Refusal to Recognize Accomplished
Facts in the Recent Development of International Law", 1939); and
"Moralne podstawy ustroju spo³ecznoœci miêdzynarodowej"
("The Moral Foundations of the Constitution of the International
Community", 1949). D. June 23, 19549, Lublin.
The selected fragments
are from "Kolektywizm i totalizm jako zasady ¿ycia" ("Collectivism
and Totalitarianism as Principles of Life"), reprinted from Bolszewizm ("Bolshevism", a collection
of essays by various authors), Towarzystwo Wiedzy Chrzeœcijañskiej,
vol. 40; Biblioteka Ksi¹¿ki Chrzeœcijañskiej
1938, vol. 2; Uniwersyteckie Wyk³ady dla Duchowieñstwa,
vol. 3: Lublin 1938, pp. 71-80.
Collectivism and totalitarianism impress themselves so strongly on the
Soviet system of power, and are so intimately connected with the
theoretical assumptions on which power is based that we must first
look to the most important of those assumptions, which is materialism.
It says that the spirit is only part of matter. This leads to the assertion
that instead of pursuing by its own effort an autonomous goal, the
spirit is subject to the same laws of evolution as matter. Hence
man as such, as a subject with a unique personality, is, so to speak,
brought down from the pedestal upon which he was placed by Christianity.
Christianity argues that the dignity of the human person derives from the
fact that only man was created in the image of God. Because of this
creation, and because of his destiny, man is an integral whole,
which cannot be subordinated to any larger whole. [...]
An utterly different position is granted to man by the communist doctrine.
As an individual a human being is only a natural, biological and
sociological category - he belongs to the world of nature. From
the biological point of view he belongs to a species, from the sociological
point of view he belongs to society. He is an indivisible atom (hence
individual), a nameless creature, devoid of inner life. His existence
completely depends on the species and on society, there is nothing
outside his specific being and social being, he is a component,
a part completely defined by his relation to the whole.
This antipersonal position of Marx is a legacy of Hegelian philosophy;
Hegel preached the absolute supremacy of the community over the
individual. In his view a person does not possess independent value,
as he is only a function of the universal spirit. Starting from
these premises, Marx, following in the footsteps of Feuerbach, was
able to conclude easily that man finds fulfillment and ultimately
dissolves, as it were, in the collective life of his species. Furthermore,
for Marx not only society, but also class is a primary reality,
supreme in relation to man, to the person. It is not the collectivity,
but man and the person that are intellectual abstractions. It is
not man, but the class that thinks, judges, and evaluates. Man,
as a person, is unable to produce independent thoughts and judgments.
This attitude is not peculiar to communism: Fascism and National Socialism
also uphold similar views. The difference lies in defining the collectivity
in which individual man dissolves like individual drops of water
in the sea.
Why does Marx point to class as this collectivity?
The answer again involves the materialist outlook and the immense role
attributed by Marx to production in the entire life and destiny
of man. According to Marx it may be his consciousness or any other
characteristic that distinguishes man from animals. But whichever
is the case, man acquires consciousness of what differentiates him
from animals when he starts producing things necessary for survival.
This activity is human activity par excellence. The more and the better
man develops his productive activity, the more and the better he
is man, he develops and perfects himself inasmuch as he develops
and perfects this activity. Hence the contemporary development of
industry is an obvious indication of human progress. This supreme
value of productive work explains the dignity conferred upon workers
in the Soviet Union, the respect enjoyed by Stakhanovites.
It also explains why the class bond is the most important of all social
bonds. For class divisions are directly connected with production;
people belong to a particular class depending on the role they play
in the production process. Differences between people which arise
from their position in the production process, determining class
divisions, are of primary importance; for they result from the fact
that when organizing the production process, some people use the
labor of others to their own advantage, in order to exploit it and
appropriate it. The exploitation of man by man: this is the fundamental
source of class divisions.
Since these divisions are of crucial importance for mankind, in different
historical periods they can result in different forms of civilization.
In the ancient times we see a division into masters and slaves,
in the feudal society into lords and vassals, and so on. However,
while in past epochs the ladder of social hierarchy was more calibrated,
in the present times Marx observes an evident tendency of society
to divide itself into just two classes: the bourgeoisie and the
According to the directives of the Hegelian dialectic, to which Marx owes
the complete philosophical underpinnings of his doctrine, the essence
of every social class consists in its contradictory, antagonistic
character in relation to other classes; in the struggle of the exploited
against the exploiters and vice versa. In this dialectic, which
defines every entity through its opposite, we find a theoretical
explanation for class struggle, since each class exists and preserves
its essence only through antagonism with another class. Hence communism
regards the noble dreams of class reconciliation as a completely
unachievable utopia. Each doctrine aiming at this goal is irremediably
denounced and condemned.
Furthermore, it must be borne in mind that the growth of one class in power
and importance inevitably leads to a similar growth of the class
which is its antithesis. Therefore the bourgeoisie is the reason
for the emergence and development of the proletariat, which grows
and becomes ever more powerful in parallel with the development
of capitalism. The ruling class, in the course of its successes,
becomes more and more itself, i.e. more and more exploitative; it
works less and less, and increasingly uses the labor of the exploited.
Therefore, it gradually ceases to represent the creative forces
of society, to "express its vigor, substance, and being", and instead
it increasingly clings to a purely formal, ideological superstructure.
It created this structure and at some time it could have reflected
the actual relations between productive forces, but now it corresponds
to them to a continually dwindling extent and constitutes a growing
obstacle to their actualization. This superstructure, that is religion,
philosophy, morality, legal and political arrangements, and above
all the state, is in the hands of the ruling class, serving both
as an instrument of power and as a disguise preventing the people
from seeing where power is really vested.
In contrast to this petrified, conservative class, the working class expresses
true human values, it represents the interests of real productive
forces; in it resides the most potent, active energy of being, energy
which it controls; it is a class characterized by dynamic, revolutionary
and effective action, and it is the agent of this creative process
in which the essential substance of social reality is expressed.
This is the origin of the revolutionary mission of the proletariat
We can see therefore that communism is a highly dynamic doctrine, since
it tells us about a very extensive human activity. However, it is
not an activity of the human person, but of society, of the collectivity.
In relation to this communist collectivity man is utterly passive,
he acquires active power only when he dissolves in the being of
the species. Communism conceives human activity in terms of the
activity of a cog in a machine, which it is impossible to imagine
when the whole machine does not work.
We can see, then, that communism is a philosophical system of unquestionable
cogency, since its constituent parts are inextricably linked with
each other. One may say that atheism forms its base, not only as
a weapon in the struggle against exploitation (the communists say
that the belief in life after death helps exploitation inasmuch
as it dulls the sensitivity of the proletariat to the oppression
they are subjected to). God is excluded from the system mainly because
of the fact that according to the communists spirit derives from
matter, and not the other way around. From the primary position
occupied by matter there follows an absolute subordination of the
individual to society: the individual cannot have any goals which
would be autonomous, that is justified by the primacy of the spirit,
and his earthly wellbeing depends entirely on the community with
which he merges. Since that wellbeing is connected with the production
process, the position occupied by the individual in it will implant
him in the community with which his future fate will be bound. These
communities are classes, and their inevitable struggle against each
other follows logically from the necessity to accumulate the largest
possible amount of material goods, in a situation where their quantity
is always limited in a given time and place.
However, the cogency of the communist system produces a situation where
the refutation of one of its premises, the extricating of one of
the parts, is enough to bring down the whole system. Of course,
I do not pose myself the task of disproving its particular tenets.
But once we assert our faith in God, the primacy of matter over
spirit is toppled, man rises above the collectivity due to his destiny,
and fulfilling even the most distinguished and most noble function
in the production process cannot satisfy his aspirations. Furthermore,
the class bond created by this process is hardly stronger than other
bonds, to which many examples from history, even from the last war,
provide ample testimony.
For the communists, theoretical assertions, especially those having to
do with the relationship between the individual and the collectivity,
constitute not only the absolute truth, but also an intimation of
absolute happiness for mankind. For following the path they are
pointing to, humanity must achieve this happiness, and it is the
task of revolutionary communism to bring humanity on that path and
keep us on it.
If class struggle has been the principle of history for the communists,
it is not unchangeable. Through the sheer momentum of progress,
the class struggle must lead to a social system where classes will
be abolished, and where, therefore, there will be no exploitation
of man by man, and all people will be equal. The entire superstructure
will wither away, beginning with the state. [...]
Such a development, guided by production as an active historical force,
is necessary. Communism, mobilizing the proletariat, only recognizes
and accepts this necessity, and in pursuing revolution it precipitates
its effectuation; for this reason revolution is a self-conscious
and systematic realization of this goal; it is the highest expression
of social and historical reality.
Let us take note what a powerful and effective instrument in the hands
of the revolution is provided by this communist paradise on earth
which stands at its ultimate end. The fact that communism points
to this goal allows us to say that to a certain extent and in a
certain sense communism is a religion. It is another matter that
this religion and this faith in the communist paradise completely
lack the real foundations offered by our religion and our faith.
For we most certainly believe in the present reality of the objects
of our faith: God and eternal life - although they remain inaccessible
to our senses. For a communist, his object of faith is paradise
on earth, equally inaccessible to the senses of contemporary people.
Moreover, it not yet seen by anyone and it is to be fulfilled in
some indefinite future. The possibility or the certainty that it
will be fulfilled is justified not by an obviousness that is accessible
- as it is in matters of faith - even to the untrained mind, but
by a subtle dialectic, the accuracy of which has been confirmed
neither by historical experience, nor by the current condition of
the communist state.
True, this currently existing communist state is alleged to be a provisional
stage, predicted in advance by all theoreticians of communism. We
are ostensibly dealing with an intermediate, first, lower phase
of the communist society, with the socialist phase, characterized
by the dictatorship of the proletariat. Due to the necessity of
enduring this intermediate stage the communists, instead of directly
aiming at abolishing the state, which is their ultimate goal, want
first to take control over it, so that the state would pass from
the bourgeoisie into their own hands. Hence the state, by its nature
an instrument of one-class rule, becomes an instrument of power
for the proletariat. But while the bourgeoisie cannot do without
the proletariat, which has the productive forces at its disposal,
and while the power of the bourgeoisie, instead of suppressing the
proletariat, reinforces it, the dictatorship of the proletariat
is able to crush the dispensable bourgeoisie. This is achieved by
expropriating the capitalists, and turning all citizens into salaried
employees of the state as one vast production syndicate.
Contemporary Russia provides us with the best illustration of how effectively
the materialist dialectic can be utilized to justify all kinds of
injustice and oppression. On the one side there stands man, a powerless
part of the collectivity which with or without his consent carries
him with it towards the goal determined by history, molded in its
turn by the unchanging laws of the production process. On the other
side there is the state, whose task it is to prepare this still
collective, but classless paradise on earth. The present is a means
and the ultimate goal cannot be realized in it. Even means directly
opposed to the goal are allowed: violence and tyranny to achieve
freedom, hatred and hostility to bring about fraternity. The complete
perfection of human life will be fulfilled in a distant future.
Now man stands disinherited, robbed of everything he possessed;
worse, together with his inherent, autonomous goal he is robbed
of himself. This is why communism, pledging by the perfect man of
the future, rejects the present man. Just as the present is only
a means in relation to the future, the present man is only a means
in relation to the future man, and the present generation a means
in relation to future ones. Such a position cannot be reconciled
with the notion of a person and with the recognition that each human
person has an inherent value, the right to self-fulfillment and
to the awareness that he is an indivisible whole, and not part of
a collective. No man, no matter what class he belongs to, can be
treated as a means and regarded only as an obstacle barring the
path to future collective happiness.
The paradox is that "the greatest possible strengthening of the dictatorship
of the proletariat, that is, of the omnipotence of the state, is
the way to the complete rejection of statehood in the future system".
This paradox is becoming harder and harder to stomach, if not for
the Russian people, used to all the kinds of oppression to which
they have been subjected for centuries, then certainly for the advocates
of the communist system abroad. [...]
A state, which is not only and certainly not primarily the guardian of
order and security, but which is an instrument serving the interests
of one class or even one party, and is also the only owner of the
whole production apparatus, a state which demands of every citizen
an absolute and unswerving commitment to goals known probably to
only a handful of ruling people, such a state in every instance
confronts the citizen as an interested party, but also a party equipped
with means effective enough to force through its interests in every
case. If we add to this the words adorning every courtroom in the
Soviet Union, proclaiming that "The court is the instrument of power
of the proletariat and working peasantry", we will have a complete
picture of the attitude the state takes towards the citizen.
If only this state, regulating to the smallest detail the external conduct
of its subjects and demanding for itself every surplus above subsistence,
would grant them freedom of conscience and beliefs. Yet it would
cease to be totalitarian, were it to agree to such a thing. Communism
believes that it is possible to destroy violently not only justice,
but also the brotherhood of people, that it is possible through
coercion to organize not only society, but also a spiritual community
of human beings. Socialism, as Berdayev emphasizes, derives from
societas, communism from
communio. Socialism is
no different from communism as long as we are dealing with the socio-economic
system. However, it is possible to define socialism as a type of
socio-economic system, and hence restrict the number of problems
it poses. Communism, on the other hand, is of necessity totalitarian;
it is based on an all-embracing ideology; it wants to create a new
human being, a new brotherhood, and a whole new outlook on life.
Communism forbids a partial acceptance of its doctrine; it demands
a total accession, a true conversion.
The totalitarian nature of its ideology, combined with totalitarian nature
of its state, endows communism with the undeniable vigor that characterizes
its power within in the Soviet Union and its revolutionary agitation
outside of it. Yet today, after twenty years of continuous application
of this doctrine, it is possible to evaluate it not only from the
point of view of logic, psychology, and history, but also from the
point of view of practical achievements. It is enough to read any,
even the most impartially written work about the Bolshevic State
to know that its reality in no point overlaps with the ideal which
it is purportedly leading to.