Beck has upset the socially-conscious, activist side of the Christian movement with comments last week that listeners should “run” from churches that talk about “social justice” because they are espousing ideas that came from communists and Nazis.
On his radio show last week, Beck told his audience that churches which use the expression “social justice” are following an extremist agenda.
“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them … are going to come under the ropes in the next year,” Beck said. “I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”
I would like to move on to more interesting topics. Beck’s rant contains stuff that I have covered before which contains rhetorical devices of the sort used by far Right extremists previously. The problem is that since Beck and his bent cohorts keep repeating th same distortions over and over agin it is easy to dismiss them as more of the same. This repetition is part of a movement;s tactics. To use Beck’s examples, the far Right and communists use repetition to hammer in the message. It is a technique also common to extreme fundamentalists religions and factions of mainstream religion. There is even some social science that says it works. Marketing, on a certain level, works by making its message a part of mainstream culture. Those that buy the products, or in Beck’s case the message, are simply consumers who have been convinced of the quality and benefit of purchasing the product. Moderates repeat their messages, but degrees of repetition, the substance of the message, the benefits described and the level of honesty differ. As well as the empirical and historical foundation of the message. Then is a correlation between the falsehood of Beck’s pitch and those of similar beliefs and the frequency with which it must be repeated. It is not easy to sell a lie on any consistent basis. Far Right Conservatism and far Right Libertarianism relies to a large degree on beliefs because knowledge requires too many confusing facts. Facts do not disappear, while they may be appended with more knowledge, they’re always a stumbling block for the extremists ideologue. Thus the Right has by necessity a cottage industry in the history rewriting business. If Beck’s assertions seem audacious to the point of being clownish think of his black boards and rants as ideological smoke bombs. They appeal to and arouse a converted choir, and they distort the issue for those muddling around in the middle.
Glenn Beck, Social Justice and Economic Justice:
According to his Wikipedia entry Beck ( now a Mormon) was raised a Roman Catholic and attended a Catholic primary school. Pope Benedict XVI on Social Justice:
In the words of my venerable predecessor, Pope Gregory the Great, “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice” (Pastoral Rule, 3:21, quoted in Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 184). Address to Francis Campbell, the new ambassador of Great Britain to the Holy See, Dec. 23, 2005
Poverty is a plague against which humanity must fight without cease. Pope Benedict XVI, Public Audience, October 16, 2005
It is necessary not only to relieve the gravest needs but to go to their roots, proposing measures that will give social, political and economic structures a more equitable and solidaristic configuration. Message to Mexican Bishops, Sept. 29, 2005
One can imagine the Right’s outrage if a U.S. president, especially a Democrat gave a speech which included the phrasing used by the Pope. All easily interpreted through the right-wing spin machine as thinly veiled advocacy of socialism. I do not see it that way, but rather in the larger context of the history of religion and the preachings of Jesus and Matthew to simply help care “‘for the least of these”. Beck’s rant also included this,
“Both the communists, who are on the left — they say — you know, these are communists. And the Nazis are on the right,” Beck said. “That’s what people say. But they both subscribed to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. One had the hammer and sickle; the other was a swastika. But on each banner read the words, here in America, of this — ‘social justice.’ They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly — I love this — democracy.”
More from Pope Benedict XVI on Social Justice
True progress is that alone which integrally safeguards the dignity of the human being and which enables each people to share its own spiritual and material resources for the benefit of all. Address to Participants in the U.N. Food Conference, Nov. 24, 2005
Peace is rooted in respect for religious freedom, which is an essential and primordial aspect of the people’s freedom of conscience and of nations’ freedom. It is important that throughout the world every person adhere to the religion he wishes and practice it without fear, as no one can base his existence solely on the pursuit of material well-being. Address to ambassadors from Australia, India, Chad, Cape Verde and Moldova, May 18, 2006
The Pope is clearly promoting redistribution of wealth and admonishing those, such as Beck, for the sins of materialism. By Beck’s definition the Pope is thus both a Nazi and a communist. Or the Pope might be saying that democracy, contrary to America’s far Right, does not rest solely on the kind of soul crushing and wreckless pursuit of wealth that lead to the current recession.
Beck: Liberalism, Communism and Nazism are all the same thing. History says otherwise or Stalin, Hitler and Mao disagree with Beck.
The fact that the Curia is now making its peace with Fascism shows that the Vatican trusts the new political realities far more than did the former liberal democracy with which it could not come to terms. …The fact that the Catholic Church has come to an agreement with Fascist Italy …proves beyond doubt that the Fascist world of ideas is closer to Christianity than those of Jewish liberalism or even atheistic Marxism…
– Adolf Hitler in an article in the Völkischer Beobachter, February 29, 1929, on the new Lateran Treaty between Mussolini’s fascist government and the Vatican
Today Christians … stand at the head of [this country]… I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press – in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past … (few) years.
– Adolf Hitler, quoted in: The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1 (London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pg. 871-872
Writers and scholars such as Robert O. Paxton ( The Anatomy of Fascism), Stanley Payne and George Orwell have all covered this territory in much better detail. I could have put up another dozen speeches or snipes of writings from Hitler and high ranking members of the Third Reich that demonized liberalism ( progressivism) in much the same scatter shot fashion as Beck and other far Right pundits. Maybe the communists were the liberals that Beck describes?
*Up till now our Party has resembled a hospitable patriarchal family, ready to take in all who sympathise. But now that our Party has become a centralised organ isation it has thrown off its patriarchal aspect and has become in all respects like a fortress the gates of which are opened only to those who arc(?) worthy. And that is of great importance to us. At a time when the autocracy is trying to corrupt the class consciousness of the proletariat with ”trade unionism,” nationalism,
clericalism and the like, and when, on the other hand, the liberal intelligentsia is persistently striving to kill the political independence of the proletariat and to impose its tutelage upon it — at such a time we must be extremely vigilant and never forget that our Party is di fortress^ the gates of which arc opened only to those who have been tested.
From the collected speeches of Joseph Stalin ( the typos are from the on-line translation)
*What is the fundamental strategic rule of Leninism?
It is the recognition of the following:
1. The compromising parties are the most dangerous social support of
the enemies of the revolution in the period of the approaching revolution-
2. It is impossible to overthrow the enemy (tsarism or the bourgeoisie)
unless these parties are isolated.
3. The mam weapons in the period of preparation for the revolution
must therefore be directed towards isolating these parties, towards win-
ning the broad masses of the working people away from them*
Ija the period of the struggle against tsarism, in the period of prepara-
tion for the bourgeois-democratic revolution (1905-16), the most dangerous
social support of tsarism was the liberal-monarchist party, the Cadet Party.
Why? Because it was the compromising party, the party of compromise
between tsarism and the majority of the people, *>., the peasantry as a
from LENINISM – Selected Writings – BY JOSEPH .STALIN
Stalin didn’t have much love for liberalism – social justice or otherwise. Leon Trotsky – a committed communist, at one time a contender for Soviet leadership after Lenin’s death, was considered too “liberal” for Stalin. Trotsky opposed Stalin’s initial peace agreements with Hitler. In this fantasy history that Glenn Beck and Jonah Goldberg, among others, have conjured up regarding the history of fascism and communism they either pretend it did not exist or gloss over the hatred between communists and fascist during their respective golden years of the early to mid 20th Century. They find bizarre theories to explain away liberalism’s (FDR) defeat of fascism and the beginnings of the containment policies that eventually lead to the fall of the Soviet Union. Maybe the late Chinese communist leader Mao Tse Tung liked liberals. Comparing President Obama to Mao is popular with the tea baggers,
There is a further point pertaining to my doubts about anarchism. My argument pertains not merely to the impossibility of a society without power or organization. I should like to mention only the difficulties in the way of the establishment of such form of society and of its final attainment…. For all the reasons just stated, my present viewpoint on absolute liberalism, anarchism, and even democracy is that these things are fine in theory, but not feasible in practice….
from Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
COMMUNISM AND DICTATORSHIP
Mike Madden has a piece up today on Beck and what has become a well established meme from the extremists on the Right, Glenn Beck and the war on progressives
There’s a solid history behind the term that appealed to many Democrats, as well. The Progressive Era brought America, among other innovations, direct election of senators; the right for women to vote; antitrust regulations and the first limits on corporate power; child labor laws; the eight-hour workday; and national parks. “Folks at [the Center for American Progress] clearly identify with the animating values and spirit of the original Progressive Era,” says John Halpin, co-director of CAP’s Progressive Studies Program. “This is not a dodge, it’s a proud association.”
But listen to Beck, or read the sources of his paranoia, and there’s a far more sinister history involved. Progressives, in Beck’s telling, were the prototypical European authoritarians, tied just as closely to fascists and Communists; the progressive notion that government could help change things for the better (instead of just staying out of the way of the free market) becomes the ideological glue that unites those two disparate movements.