Propaganda Proofing Catholic Kids Part II: Animal Farm And Other Books Exposing Communism
In this second part of Propaganda Proofing Catholic Kids, I will introduce books for teens that expose one of the major ideologies attempting to undermine our Faith today. George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm is a short, easy to read novella, a fable of the communist takeover of an English farm by its animals. You will also find a number of fascinating books describing life under communist regimes in Russia, Hungary, China and Mexico.
It is important to point out to our children that there is absolute truth, that the truth does not change and that the Truth is a person, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan, on the other hand, is called in Scripture “the father of lies”. We are bombarded with propaganda telling us that truth is relative, that we must discover our own truth. These messages are carefully aimed at our emotions, circumventing our reason, which might reveal to us the logical fallacy in the absolute statement that there is no absolute truth.
Propaganda in itself is not bad. It simply disseminates information. All political parties use propaganda, as does advertising.The techniques of propaganda, however, which appeal to the emotions, bypassing reason, are inherently dangerous. The problem arises when propaganda spreads lies. In order to recognize deceptive propaganda, it is necessary to study the ideologies attacking us at his point in history. These ideologies hold up a good cause we as Christians must agree with, but they put this cause in the place of God which inevitably results in the perversion of the good cause. The end result is always some form of totalitarianism.
This and the following Propaganda Proofing posts will identify a major ideology attempting to gain followers by means of deceptive propaganda. I will point out the good cause each ideology promotes. These noble causes are usually based on a partial truth. I will examine the errors of the ideology in question and how they compare to the teachings of the Church. I will list books and resources about the ideology. I will also point out propaganda techniques described in these books and suggest study ideas.
The Good Cause
The good cause promoted by communism is to pay the worker for his labor as is written in Scripture: “Remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they offer, for the worker is worthy of his wages.” Luke 10:7 ”Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. “ 1 Corinthians 9:10.
In the 19th century, unbridled capitalism ruled the world economy. Karl Marx, the German philosopher who developed the ideology of communism, saw how factory owners in the newly industrialized European nations exploited their workers like slaves. Communism suggested a better economic system in which the workers would own the means of production. Marx believed that only a violent worker’s revolution could bring about a better society. It turned out to be violent beyond belief. Millions perished in forced labor camps, prisons and artificially–created famines.
The communist revolution Marx predicted happened in Russia. Vladimir Lenin, the first communist dictator of the Soviet Union, established a small group of trained professional revolutionaries who used deceptive and violent means to establish a government that took over the land and the factories. This government would also “regulate every thought and action of the people in politics, economics and education…Today, communism is a world-wide movement. Its goal is to control the whole world.” (Ebenstein, William. “Communism” 442. The New Book Of Knowledge, The Children’s Encyclopedia, 6th ed., vol. 3, Grolier, 1970) This is an old 20-volume children’s encyclopedia I found on the free pile in our public library. It is one our best homeschooling resources free of political correctness and "revised" definitions.
The two great errors of communist thought are its denial of God and its denial of human sinfulness as expressed in Karl Marx’s famous quotes: "Religion is the opium of the people” and "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". He believed that religion was a lie used like a drug to keep the oppressed workers from rebelling. He also believed that once freed from oppression the workers would be without sin. Everyone would work as hard as they could and take only as much as they needed. There would be no greed and no sloth.
Today we can look back at the failure of these ideas in the Russian Soviet Union. After almost seventy years of violence and deception, this totalitarian regime has collapsed. Sadly, it is still very much alive in other countries, like China, North Korea and Cuba, from where the globalist movement of communism is sending out its propaganda by means of trained professional revolutionaries. Communist propaganda in the U.S. today hides behind other causes and professes to be peaceful and tolerant. Do not be deceived!
The best way to teach our children about communism and other manipulative ideologies is by way of stories. Here is the classic fable of communism:
In 1945, British author George Orwell published his novella Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, a brilliant allegorical description of what happened in the Bolshevik Revolution and under the communist government of the Russian Soviet Union.
The animals on an English farm are persuaded by the intelligent and dissatisfied pigs to rebel against the farmer, to drive him from the farm and to take over the means of production - under the leadership of the pigs. The neglected, hardworking animals hope to finally benefit from the fruits of their labor. However, once in power, the pigs become more and more corrupt until, at the end of the story, they completely resemble their former oppressors.
Animal Farm is a clean book suitable for younger teens.
This little book is entertaining to read but at the same deeply disturbing. All the major elements of communism are there. Study idea: Have your kids identify the following elements in the book:
· A starving, exploited population under a ruthless dictator.
· Intelligent and educated revolutionary leaders who, once in power, become corrupt.
· Slogans repeated frequently and posted prominently: "All animals are equal." "Four legs good, two legs bad."
· Slogans altered by the propaganda minister Squealer.
· Sunday ritual ceremony with indoctrination:· The Seven Commandments.· Anthem/Hymn: Beasts Of England
· Personality cult: Napoleon
· No opposition allowed. The dogs are the cruel enforcers
· Disregard for life: murder of useless or dissident citizens., Boxer.
· Outside news exclusively for the ruling class.
· Luxuries withheld from the people, kept exclusively for party members.
· The execution of political opponents: Snowball
· The workers end up in a greater misery than before.
There is a list of concepts and vocabulary below under Resources. Knowing them will alert your kids to communist propaganda in the media.
Some Propaganda Techniques:
Point them out when you see them.
The leader of a communist regime is revered like a God. His faults are never admitted. His image is everywhere, sometimes in gigantic size. Look at the gallery below. Often, hymns and poems are dedicated to him. This reverence approaches worship. Criticism of the leader is brutally oppressed.
Replacement of religious rituals with ideological rituals.
Even though they deny God, communists see the human need for ritual. They produce ideological ceremonies imitating religious worship complete with hymns, music, flags, and often gigantic pageantry which creates collective pride and fervor. Large images or statues of the leader are carried in front of processions.
Slogans and images aimed at the emotions and bypassing reason
Short slogans along with symbolic images are publicized everywhere. It is hard for us to resist or question a slogan we hear repeated ad nauseam in the media or an image greeting us on every mall surface or highway billboard. The Soviets used to blast their slogans through loud speakers in public places and concentration camps. Today, we voluntarily submit to them whenever we use main stream and social media.
Polarization, the setting up of false dichotomies
“Four legs good, two legs bad,” is a prime example of a false dichotomy. Even the animals can see that some among them have two legs and that not all four-legged creatures are good. Have your kids look for a popular polarization and have them examine if it is true. Study idea: Have your kids create slogans using polarization. E.g. Red hair stupid, black hair smart.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The following books show life under communist regimes:
These books are recommended for mature teens age 16 and up. They contain no graphic sex or graphic descriptions of violence but they describe the horrors of concentration camps with physical and psychological abuse. I marked the more disturbing books with a *.
Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon: These are astonishing true stories about saintly Russian people from all walks of life who kept the Faith alive under communism. They are a pleasure to read. This is a more uplifting book than the others in this list.
Father Arseny: A Cloud of Witnesses * by Vera Bouteneff and Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father* by Alexander : Stories about the life of saintly Orthodox priest and scholar Father Arseny who spread the light of Christ during his internment in the 'special sector' of the Soviet prison camp system.
The Fall of the Red Star by Helen Szablya and Peggy Anderson: A short, action - packed fictional story about the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet regime in Hungary in 1956. Written for teens.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China* by Jung Chan: The author tells the story of her grandmother, mother and herself experiencing first the hope of communism as liberation from a tyrannical emperor, then the realization that the liberator has become another tyrannical oppressor. This amazing book is highly recommended to learn about the plight of the Chinese people.
Communism versus the Cristeros in Mexico:
Saint José: Boy Cristero Martyr (Vision Books) ages 9-15, by Kevin McKenzie: The story of Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio who participated in the1920s Cristero uprising against the communist regime in Mexico and was martyred at age 14.
Communist Picture Gallery
Images are even more important in propaganda than words because they affect our emotions directly, especially when we are exposed to them repeatedly and in large size.
Study ideas: Have your kids look at the entire gallery quickly and ask them to write down their spontaneous feelings about them. These first impressions are likely to be what the images are meant to achieve.
Now analyze what is going on here. There are four groups of pictures: the portraits of the leaders, their gigantic monuments, the two paintings of the ruler of the world, and the symbols of communism. I included the portraits and the symbols for your kids to memorize. The symbols reappear in communist propaganda today. The overruling feeling created here is one of power and aggression. The fist and the red and black color support this impression, as do the gigantic monuments. The monuments give the communist leaders a godlike status. I discovered the painting Man, Controller of the World by Mexican artist Diego Rivera and found it to be a prime example of communism replacing God. Study it carefully. You will need to look at the entire painting of Man, Controller of the Universe on Wikipedia. Find the picture of Lenin.The white marble statue wearing the rosary on the right is decapitated on the left, with members of the victorious proletariat sitting on the severed and discarded head. Significantly, the headless God has grown hands which were missing on the right. Hands without head! The painting is a mockery of the classic Byzantine icon of Christ the Pantocrator, the Ruler of the Universe, revealed in its composition and its title.
Print out the images and have your kids find Christian counterparts for each. Create Christian propaganda. The cross is our sign of victory!
Concepts of Communism/Keywords and Ideas To Look Out For
· History "evolved" from slavery to feudalism to capitalism to communism
· History is determined by who owns the means of production
· In communism, the means of production are owned by all, that is, by the government – only later when the ideal communist society has been achieved, will they be owned by all
· Communism is going to be brought about by a violent revolution
· Class struggle with slogan “Workers of the World Unite”
· Historical necessity
· Revolutionary duty
· Solidarity among the workers of the world
· The “Manifesto” containing the dogma of communism
· The proletariat versus the bourgeoisie
· Dictatorship of the proletariat
· Revolutionaries call each other comrade. Dissidents are called class enemies
· Worker’s paradise in this world.
· Force, not law
· The end justifies the means
· Personality Cult
· Images and symbols : the fist, the hammer, the sickle.
· Cultural revolution
· Re-education for dissidents
· Forced self-criticism and confession
· Polarization of ideas/false dichotomies
Karl Marx: “Religion is the opium of the people” and "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".
Vladimir Lenin: "The dictatorship means — take note of this once and for all — unrestrained power based on force, not law.”
Lev Koplelev, Soviet author and dissident, after participating in destroying villages and killing peasants:"It was excruciating to see and hear all this. And even worse to take part in it.... And I persuaded myself, explained to myself. I must not give in to debilitating pity. We were realizing historical necessity. We were performing our revolutionary duty. We were obtaining grain for our socialist Fatherland. For the Five Year Plan. Our goal was the universal triumph of the Communism, and for the sake of that goal everything was permissible - to lie, to steal, to destroy hundreds of thousands and even millions of people... everyone who stood in the way." (The links lead to useful information.)
1. systematic effort to spread opinions of beliefs, any plan or method for spreading opinions or beliefs... [no pejorative here]... 3. Propaganda , committee of cardinals established in 1622 to supervise foreign missions propagating the Faith.
From Thorndike Barnhart Student Dictionary, 1991.
The Communist Manifesto
The Black Lives Matter Manifesto
C:/Users/sthil/Desktop/Post%20Propaganda/Black%20Lives%20Matter%20Manifesto.pdf". This document is hard to find on the web. I turned it into a PDF. It is not on the BLM website which uses a completely different language.
The Internationale: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Internationale) for comparison with the "Beasts of England" from Animal Farm
Number of deaths in the Soviet Union Under Stalin