The socialist ideology can be summarized in twelve main points:
1. Metaphysical Egalitarianism
The foundation of the socialist ideology is metaphysical egalitarianism. This means that the idea of absolute equality is the fundamental assumption of the socialist view of man, society and the universe. All other principles of socialist ideology stem in one way or another from this fundamental principle.
The assertion of an infinite, omnipotent and omniscient God clashes head-on with the principle of absolute equality. It must therefore be rejected. Indeed, what greater inequality is there than that between the Creator and simple creatures?
3. Materialistic Evolutionism
Socialism holds that there is an obscure force from which we cannot escape that leads humanity step by step to higher planes of social and moral being. History is a progressive process of purification. Socialism - in its full-fledged expression of communism - is the end of this process. Although socialism is the inevitable outcome of the forces underlying social, political, cultural and economic life, we can accelerate progress and evolution through class struggle, cultural warfare, or legislation. In fact, every new fashion, school curriculum, artistic style, law, and the like takes us closer to the socialist worldview. Every effort in this regard is progress; every contrary measure is a setback. 1
4. Secularist and Materialistic Worldview
In the universe, there is nothing but matter. God, the soul, and the next life are only chimeras. Thus, what matters is to seek complete happiness in this life. With the help of science, socialists hold that all must strive toward the largest possible amount of pleasure, and avoid any effort or suffering. As a result, all obstacles to happiness must be removed, be they religious, moral, cultural, or any other. 2
5. Contempt for Religion: "The Opium of the People"
Karl Marx explained his contempt for religion in his famous expression that religion is "the opium of the people." 3 His staunch devotee Lenin developed this idea. He said: "Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze [or hard liquor], in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man." 4
In his view, religion leads men astray from the present struggle because it promises them the prospect of a future life. By preaching restrictive moral standards, religion hampers absolute freedom. Above and beyond this, religion has a transcendental character which is totally incompatible with science, progress and the material world.
6. Secular Messianism
Socialism is much more than an ideology. It has a messianic character, i.e. it offers a message of "salvation;" not eternal salvation, but merely temporal "salvation," a "salvation" on this earth, achieved not by supernatural but human means. 5
7. From Idolatry of the State to Anarchy
Socialists teach that, at the present stage of human evolution, it is already possible to abolish private property, social hierarchy and the family. They seek to make the State the sole proprietor of all rights. This State, led by workers and peasants, will maintain complete equality among men. In the future, the universe and man will evolve in such a way that even the State will wither away. 6
8. Ethical and Cultural Relativism
There are no absolute truths or revealed morals that establish immutable standards of conduct that apply to everyone, everywhere, and always. Everything evolves, thus right and wrong, good and evil depend on the socio-economic development of mankind.
9. Social, Political and Economic Egalitarianism
All inequalities of wealth, prestige, or culture are unjust in themselves. Socialists especially attack the system of wage earning in which an employer, based on the right of private property, "exploits" workers, demanding part of the product of their work as his profit when it should be entirely theirs.
10. Abolition of Private Property and Class Struggle
The Communist Manifesto defines communism as the abolition of private property: "The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property." The Manifesto calls for the violent overthrow of all existing social institutions: "Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!"
11. Hostility to Marriage and the Traditional Family - Free Love
Sexual intercourse is simply a physiological function, like any other. 7 Consequently there is no reason for restricting it to marriage. 8 This applies even less to the "present form of marriage" between one man and one woman which is monogamous and indissoluble. 9
Two questions and answers from Engels' Communist Catechism illustrate well the socialist view of education.
- "18. What will be the course of this [communist] revolution?
- "(viii) Education of all children, from the moment they can leave their mother's care, in national establishments at national cost. Education and production together." 10
- "21. What will be the influence of communist [socialist] society on the family?
- "It [communism/socialism] will transform the relations between the sexes into a purely private matter which concerns only the persons involved and into which society has no occasion to intervene. It can do this since it does away with private property and educates children on a communal basis, and in this way removes the two bases of traditional marriage – the dependence rooted in private property, of the women on the man, and of the children on the parents." 11
How Catholicism and Socialism Are Incompatible
The final conclusion could not be clearer: socialism is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, both because of its conception of the universe and man, and because it attacks two institutions which are pillars of Christian civilization: private property and the family.
This finding is timely and significant because some socialist proposals may seem to be "moderate" and therefore less alarming. However, by understanding the final goals of socialism, we see how it harms the family, private property rights, free initiative, legitimate interests, in a word, the true freedom of God's children.
If Catholics do not have a clear notion of the socialist ideology in all of its applications, they might feel tempted to compromise with some socialist initiatives that seem harmless at first glance. However, even the so-called moderate socialism is incompatible with Catholic doctrine and natural law.
1. For instance, laws that protect traditional values - such as the family, private property and religion. [back]
2. Hence, the notorious "liberation movements": Women's Liberation Movement or Women's Lib (feminism as a form of socialism), homosexual "liberation” movements, Liberation Theology & so forth. [back]
3. "Die Religion ... Sie ist das Opium des Volkes" - Karl Marx. Kritik des hegelschen Staatsrecchts (Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right). [back]
4. V. I. Lenin. Socialism and Religion, article published in Novaya Zhizn, No. 28, December 3, 1905. From Marxists Internet Archive. (Our emphasis.) [back]
5. Just a sample: "Finland emerges [1905-06]with, proportionately, the largest socialist party in the world ... Ehrnrooth emphasizes the importance of emotional dynamics based on class hatred and envy, a sense of injustice, and the hope for salvation on this earth. Instead of waiting for a paradise in the afterlife, Finnish workers [i.e. socialists] saw salvation in the redistribution of property and in the distribution of property and incomes, the leveling of human conditions to create a classless new socialist society.” (Pekka Kalevi Hamalainen. Review of Power of the Word, Force of Hatred: Socialist Revolutionary Doctrines and Their Effect in the Finnish Workers' Movement, 1905-1914 by Jari Ehrnrooth. In The American Historical Review, Vol. 99, No. 4 (Oct., 1994), p. 1339 Available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/2168860) [back]
6. It will be the reign of anarchy, which these utopians conceive as being possible, without causing disorder or confusion. [back]
7. "In a book published in Leipsic we find the following thought expressed: 'Sexual impulse is neither moral nor immoral; it is simply natural like hunger and thirst. Nature knows nothing of morality.' But organized society is very far from recognizing the truth of this sentence." (August Bebel. Woman and Socialism, Chapter VII: Woman as a Sex Being, #1. Retrieved from
8. "Woman may love whom she pleases and as long as she pleases. If she is not satisfied with one alliance, she may loose the knot and bless some other with her love. Married or unmarried, she is to enjoy perfect equality with the sterner sex.” (August Bebel, Die Frau, p. 192, as summarized by Fr. Cathrein, S.J, Socialism Exposed and Refuted. Retrieved from
9. "Man should be free to dispose of the strongest instinct of his nature as of every other natural instinct. The gratification of the sexual instinct is just in the same way the personal affair of every individual as is the satisfaction of any other natural appetite. Therefore no one is obliged to render an account of such gratification; nor is any uncalled-for intermeddler permitted to interfere in this matter. Prudence, education, and independence will facilitate and direct the proper choice. If disagreement, disappointment, or disaffection should arise, morality [!] demands a disruption of the unnatural and, consequently, immoral alliance." (August Bebel, Die Frau, p. 192, quoted by Fr. Cathrein, S.J, Socialism Exposed and Refuted, op., cit.)
10. Frederick Engels, The Principles of Communism (1847), q. 18. Retrieved from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm [back]
11. Frederick Engels, The Principles of Communism (1847), q. 21. Retrieved from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm [back]