Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Weapons of War: Old-Fashioned, But Never Out of Date

In my rejection of the wisdom and truth which the Church has preserved, and which she has used to establish the harmony and order set forth by Christ, I had set myself adrift on an uncharted sea with no compass.  I and others like me grasped with relief the fake certitude offered by the materialists and accepted this program which had been made even more attractive because they appealed for "sacrifice for our brothers."  Meaningless and empty I learned are such phrases as "the brotherhood of man" unless they have the solid foundation of belief in God's Fatherhood.
Bella V. Dodd, School of Darkness: The Record of a Life and of a Conflict Between Two Faiths, Devin-Adair, New York, 1954 at 233.

Thus Bella Dodd -- the Communist Party official who, after being expelled from the Party, reverted to Catholicism under the direction of Bishop Fulton Sheen -- sums up the wasted years of her life as an instrument of the Communist conspiracy.  The Party that preached comradeship and unity in the struggle to build a new world wrung as much work as it could out of her; then, when she ceased to be useful, it threw her naked out into the darkness.  But in the darkness, a door opened, and a friendly light streamed out: the light of Faith.

In her autobiography, Bella Dodd focuses primarily on her involvement in the teachers' union movement in New York, how this led her into the Communist Party, and what then ensued.  She does not discuss the Communist plot to infiltrate the Catholic Church and destroy her from within; she does not mention the penetration of Communist agents into the clergy and ultimately the hierarchy; nor does she discuss the long-range plan to make the Church completely unrecognizable.  She does, however, illustrate the capital importance of taking seriously our obligation to know our faith well, and to be good soil for the seed.  Tracing her path from the cultural Catholicism of her childhood to the slow drift into Communism, and back to the Faith that she had abandoned, Dodd sheds light on some of the methods and tactics of the Enemy, particularly against well-intentioned yet poorly formed Christians.  However hoary these counterfeits and artifices may be, and however many times they have been deployed over the centuries, our own ignorance and short-sightedness still give them devastating effect:

-- False Asceticism.  This was a tactic of the Albigensian heretics that St. Dominic battled in the 13th century.  Observers comparing the threadbare Albigensians to the extravagant priests and bishops wallowing in luxury inevitably concluded that true virtue lay with the former.  So it was with the Communists.  Bella Dodd recounts her first meeting with international agent Harriet Silverman:
When she stood up to go I looked at her threadbare tweed coat, her shapeless hat, and I was moved by her evident sense of dedication....She was the new type of ascetic of our day, a type I was to find prevalent in the Communist Party.  She lived in a small remodeled apartment on the East Side and I climbed four steep flights to reach it.  The room had a cloistered atmosphere; it was lined with bookshelves on which I noticed Lenin's complete works, Karl Marx, Engels, Stalin, Bimba's History of the Labor Movement, and other books on sociology and labor.  There was nothing trivial there.  I noted no poetry.  On one wall hung a large picture of Lenin, draped with Red flags bearing the hammer and sickle.
School of Darkness at 66-67.

Dodd describes the power of false asceticism, which helped her persevere in Communism despite the occasional glimpse of the Party's fangs:
Harriet was ill the night I visited her.  She sat in an old flannel bathrobe and talked with intensity of plans to remake the world.  I was impressed by the fact that she was not concerned about her own poverty, and thought only of the working people of the world.  Suddenly I felt that my efforts to increase salaries for a few college teachers were insignificant.  She  made me feel ashamed of having a good job and a comfortable apartment.  So moved was I that I pressed on her all the money I had with me.
Id. at 67.

False asceticism also provided the Communist Party with martyrs, in mockery of the Church.  Consider the tragic example of the girl who spent herself unstintingly for the enemy of her Faith:
I remember especially an Irish "Catholic" girl, an organizer of the unemployed and a leader of mass demonstrations.  Helen Lynch was tubercular, but she never stopped working for the Party until she died.  Then the Communists claimed her as a martyr.
Id. at 71.

Sometimes poverty reflects true detachment from the goods of this world; and sometimes it is the outward manifestation of inward spiritual bankruptcy.  If we neglect prayer and study, how will we ever be able to tell the difference?

-- False Charity.  Whereas true charity demands nothing in return, and even delights in uplifting those who can never repay, Communist "charity" only indebted its victims to the Party, anesthetized them, and solidified its hold over them:
It was true that it was an infectious thing, this comradeship, for so often it helped in dire need such as Rent Parties where Communists gathered money to pay the rent of some comrade.  This sort of personal aid did much to overcome the doctrinaire aridity of orders by the "functionaries," the title given the bureaucrats, the skeleton staff which stand ready to take over when the Revolution comes to pass.

This is an especially dangerous weapon in an age when the character of true charity has become so distorted in the minds of so many.  Charity has come to mean "handouts," which gives it a bad name.  But even worse, it has come to mean refusing to speak the truth when speaking out is necessary for fear of making wrongdoers feel badly about their wrongdoing.  Like the rent parties that kept Communists and fellow travelers indentured, this false charity keeps people enslaved to sin. 

-- Divide and Conquer.  We see this weapon being deployed right now by means of the clergy sex abuse scandal.  What difference is there between what we are seeing today and what Dodd describes during the first half of the 20th century?
During the Spanish War the Communist Party was able to use some of the best talent of the country against the Catholic Church by repeating ancient appeals to prejudice and by insinuating that the Church was indifferent to the poor and was against those who wanted only to be free.

The Communist publicists carefully took for their own the pleasant word of Loyalist and called all who opposed them "Franco-Fascists.  This was a literary coup which confused many men and women.  Violent communist literature repeatedly lumped all of the Church hierarchy on the side of the "Fascists," and using this technique, they sought to destroy the Church by attacking its priests.  This was not a new tactic.  I had seen it used in our own country over and over again.  When the Communists organized Catholic workers, Irish and Polish and Italian, in labor unions they always drove a wedge between lay Catholics and the priests, by flattering the laity and attacking the priests.
Id. at 87-88.

Now, in the 21st century, we see unprecedented attacks on priests.  What Party functionary sitting in Communist headquarters in New York City in, say, 1938, could ever dream up the spectacle of Western governments proposing laws to effectively abolish the seal of the confessional -- much less imagine that one of them would be then-staunchly Catholic Ireland?

-- The Abolition of Distinctions among Men.  In Federalist No. 10, James Madison declared that the first object of government was to safeguard the "different and unequal faculties of acquiring property." These differences result in the unequal distribution of property, differing interests, and class distinctions.  After years and years of socialistic indoctrination, we tend to think of these things as bad in themselves; yet Madison understood that to safeguard the diversity of faculties is to safeguard liberty itself.  The Communists understood this too, and therefore made the destruction of all this diversity a priority:
A great leveling process was at work in American life and at that time it seemed to me a good thing.  So it also seemed to the Communist Party, but for a different reason.  Their professional leveling would fit teachers better into its class-struggle philosophy and so bring them to identify themselves with the proletariat.
Id. at 102.

For the last several decades, we have seen the same thing going on in the Church.  In the name of Vatican II -- which actually taught the opposite -- we have seen the attempt to abolish distinctions between clergy and laity.  We saw an effort to make the Pope just another bishop, one among many, without any special dignity or distinction.  We see it in the Order of Preachers, elements of which try to change reality by changing the language: abolishing the term "Third Order" and ordering Dominican laity to use the designation "O.P.", previously reserved to those in the religious life.  This is not reform, but destruction.

-- The Subversion of Women. At a couple of points in her book, Dodd gives us some insight into the Communists' use of women to achieve their destructive aims.  The Party made use of the Second World War in its bid to recruit women in re-making American society in its own image:
The Party did all it could to induce women to go into industry.  Its fashion designers created special styles for them and its song writers wrote special songs to spur them.  Use of womanpower in the war industries was, of course, inevitable, but it also fitted into the communist long-range program.  War-period conditions, they planned, were to become a permanent  part of the future educational program.  The bourgeois family as a social unit was to be made obsolete.
Id. at 153.

After the war, on orders from Moscow, an attempt was made to organize women into an international "peace" movement, appealing to their honorable intentions in order to corral them for Communist purposes.  Dodd explains the reasoning:
Since it was supposedly a movement for peace, it attracted many women.  But it was really only a renewed offensive to control American women, a matter of deep importance to the communist movement, for American women do 80 per cent of the family spending.  In the upper brackets they own a preponderance of capital stock and bonds.  They are important in the making of political decisions.  Like youth and minority groups, they are regarded as a reserve force of the revolution because they are more easily moved by emotional appeals.  So the Soviet campaign for peace was especially geared to gain support of the women.
Id. at 194-195.

Nowhere is the use of women as tools in the fight against the Church more apparent than in the creeping feminism that has penetrated parish and chancery all across the country, and that finds its worst expression in the quixotic crusade for women's ordination.  All mothers are women, and many teachers are women: corrupt the mothers and the teachers, and you end up with a new generation corrupted from childhood.  The feminist assaults on masculinity in general and the male priesthood in particular have shipwrecked the faith of many, destroyed many congregations of women religious and crippled priests.  (And have you noticed the disdain of feminists for Mary, the greatest woman who ever lived?)

The last of the weapons on this list is by no means the least, and seems particularly relevant in the United States:

-- Making Somebodies out of Nobodies.  Bella Dodd uses herself as an example of how and why the Communists advanced unknown figures to overnight prominence:
The "progressive" bloc at the State Federation convention that year decided to run me for a position in the State Federation of Labor.  It seems ridiculous to me now that one so newly come to the labor movement should have been pushed forward against the established machine.  But this, too, was a communist tactic, for Communists have no hesitation whatever in bringing unknown people forward into leadership, the more callow or ill-equipped the better, since they will therefore more easily be guided by the Party.  The weaker they are, the more certainly they will carry out the Party's wishes.  Suddenly and dramatically the Communist Party makes somebodies out of nobodies.  If tactics change, they also drop them just as quickly and the somebodies again become nobodies.  
Id. at 81.

Remind you of anybody you knOw?

Ever since the days of Senator McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee -- neither of whom, by the way, were mistaken -- it has been fashionable to ridicule "conspiracy theories."  But there is nothing theoretical or hypothetical about the great conspiracy of the 20th century on which Bella Dodd shines a spotlight in School of Darkness. Nor is there anything hypothetical or mythical about the ultimate author of this conspiracy -- or the war he continues to wage, using perhaps different tools but the same tactics that have served him so well and so often in the past.

P.S.: Keep praying for priests and bishops.


  1. I'm thinking of something worthwhile to comment upon. I can't, at least not right now. Cannot really add to your fascinating post. So this will be one of those "Thanks Anita" comments. Perhaps some articles are meant just for reading and intellectual absorption.

  2. Thank you, TH2! I hope you can lay your hands on Bella Dodd's book. Also, some of her testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee is online, though I haven't been able yet to find her testimony concerning the infiltration of the Church.