The importance of the language of theology and millenarianism for the Marxist revolutions

In 1988, Dr. Gary North gave a speech on Karl Marx and Marxism. The portion relevant here starts at this point and extends to the end about 12 minutes later.

Here’s what he says: In 1660, when Charles II acceded the English throne, it was clear the Puritan revolution had failed. From then on, the language, but not the system, of political tracts was secularised. For example, prior to 1660 there was regularly talk of the three ages of man being the age of the Father, the age of the Son and the age of the Holy Spirit. After that date, especially in the 19th century, there was often talk of the age of religion, the age of metaphysics and the age of reason.

This fed into the Marxian belief in an atheist millennium that was about to be ushered in, in fact that it was assumed to be “inevitable”.

However, the professional revolutionaries hit a brick wall in 1965, North says. And that was the undeniability of the failure of a socialist revolution in Indonesia. In a strong counter-revolution, 100.000 ethnic Chinese were killed by “racial anti-communists”. These, I assume, were Muslims (North doesn’t say).

North goes on to say that from then on, communists realised they couldn’t take over a country with deep religious roots. They would have to restructure their ideology and pitch and re-write their pamphlets.

They realised that they have to have a religious and theological foundation if they wanted to capture the minds of the people.

Out of these thoughts was born the “liberation theology”, which was, or is, particularly active in Latin America.

North finishes by saying that recruitment for revolutionary movements is based on a vision of world transformation and whose side you need to get on to drive progress toward a “new world order”.

My interpretation of North’s words here: From 1965, “Stalinist” communists implicitly agreed with the early “cultural Marxist” Antonio Gramsci, whom they had up until then treated as a heretic. The Italian Gramsci had in the 1920s written essentially that in Europe a Bolshevik revolution would not succeed because of the “cultural hegemony” of the Catholic church. It was these writings that inspired the Frankfurt School a generation later to their – largely successful – cultural revolution which has totally marginalised the church, where it has not been co-opted.