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The Dark Origins of Communism: The Reign of Terror

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Emily Allison | Epoch Times

In this second episode of a special documentary series by Epoch TV, Joshua Philipp expands into the history of communism, the foundational beliefs that catapulted such a dangerous ideology, and how this ideology continues to con people despite its horrific past and many failures.

Philipp explains that communism is a belief in the destruction of belief. It destroys religion, wherever it goes, and yet it functions almost like a religion. In communism, there are thought leaders who act as prophets. There is scripture and followers, and even fanatics. This ideology has precepts and rules. Communism holds requirements for faith in the Party, and there is punishment for nonbelievers.

However, the line between religion and cult can be very thin, and this episode reveals how communism operates more in line with an evil cult. The cult of communism lures people by preaching secular salvation and a man-made utopia. Yet these ideas repeatedly lead to dystopias, where people end up leading wretched and fearful lives.

In the episode, Philipp asks the question, who is the father of communism? Is it Karl Marx? Certainly, Marx popularized and sharpened it, but it turns out the origins go back even further.

François-Noël “Gracchus” Babeuf is regarded as the first revolutionary communist. Babeuf believed in the elimination of money. In his imagined system, people would hand over their work to a “common storehouse” owned by an all-powerful government, which would redistribute it back to the people. Babeuf launched an organization called the Conspiracy of Equals after the failures of the French Revolution. It was a blueprint for violent revolution against the French government. The plot failed, and Babeuf was arrested and beheaded in 1797.

One of Babeuf’s own conspirators, who survived, was Felipe Buonarroti. Felipe created an organization called the League of Outlaws. After Felipe came Wilheim Wietling, a German tailor, who took Babeuf’s ideas, added in some of his own Christian apocalypse visions into the mix and renamed the League of Outlaws to the League of Just.

In the 1700s and 1800s, secret societies were on the rise, with many of them popping up across Europe. The League of Just would eventually merge under the Blanquist Rebellion. However, the Blanquist Rebellion failed in 1839. So the League of Just again renamed themselves, this time as the Educational Society for German Workingmen in 1840.

At a congress in June 1847, the League of Just joined under the Communist Correspondence Committee, which was formed a year earlier by Marx and Engels. The “Manifesto of the Communist Party” would be published one year after and regarded as scripture by future communist leaders, all of whom proved to have insatiable bloodlust.

These movements culminated in the Paris Commune of 1871, an insurrectionary commune in France that established its own form of government. This was arguably the first communist government, and would in just over two months kill tens of thousands of people and destroy roughly a quarter of Paris’s arts and cultural relics. Their work, however, would still be far from over.

France and America were both suffering under tyrannies in the late 1700s. However, the two countries took their fight against oppression in very different directions. The American Revolution fought against imperial rule to create a system that limited the power of government with a three-branch system. They fought for the idea that government is instituted among men only to protect the inalienable rights of life and liberty. Most notably, American revolutionaries believed that men received their rights from God, not from the government.

The French Revolution, however, replaced absolute imperial rule with absolute rule in a socialized system. This new system stripped personal liberties, and rather than establish themselves as one nation under God, they created one nation under a state cult. The French Revolution would be remembered for its unjust bloodshed, killing over 300,000 people. It was a period known as the Reign of Terror.

When Babeuf was alive, he was a member of the Jacobins Club, a revolutionary society in France at the time. In this club was the infamous Maximilien Robespierre, lover of the guillotine and public executions. A prime example of how communists truly view liberty for all men is shown in their treatment of those who did not fully align with their belief system. Before the Jacobins took power, they were divided between the moderate Girondins and radical Montagnards. Robespierre led the radicals, and once he attained power in 1793, the first people he beheaded were the Girondins.

One of the radical Jacobins, Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, justified this by saying, “You can hope for no prosperity as long as the last enemy of liberty breathes. You have to punish not only traitors but even those who are neutral.” Under communism, unless you are a devout follower of this socialized system, you will be branded a heretic and hunted down and killed, in true cult-like fashion. This also took place under the official state atheist cult, the Cult of Reason, which purged religious believers under the dechristianization movement.

The Jacobins also legally purged people under the Law of Suspects, which made guilty anyone acting suspiciously, anyone considered associating with the “wrong” people, or anyone who said or wrote anything considered out of line. With this law alone, the regime beheaded over 16,000 people.

Even still, they weren’t finished. The leaders of the French Revolution used “utopia” to justify violence, and labeled swathes of society as enemies of the “revolution.” Each new law allowed them to identify a new set of “enemies.” Famous essayist G.K. Chesterton once said the new socialist systems “are not rebelling against an abnormal tyranny; they are rebelling against what they think is a normal tyranny—the tyranny of the normal. They are not in revolt against the king,” he wrote. “They are in revolt against the citizen.”

What motivated these movements was a new belief, deeply rooted in naturalism and Gnosticism, which valued reason over faith and man over God. Their belief in unrestrained human nature, rather than moral aspirations, mirrored the materialist ideologies that communism would later adopt. It was the idea that if nature takes precedence, anything that springs from human nature is then correct—including any crime and any sin.

Philipp concludes the episode by putting the pieces of this ideology together. “When people sign up for communism, they think they’re signing up to create a system from the people. Instead, the system destroys the people.” Time and time again, whenever communism has fallen, it simply gets back up, renames itself, and tries to con people all over again with lies of “the greater good.”

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