Proof of God’s existence, and sense of humor, arrived as a present 30 Christmases ago in the form of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Should we all pretend to ignore that the first state explicitly founded on atheism died on the day when we celebrate Jesus’s birth? The Iron Curtain fell. But the Communist Conspiracy persists — at least it does in nudging us to dismiss what happened in 1991 as a coincidence.
Doug Bandow here summarized the shockingly peaceful disintegration of the USSR:
On December 8, 1991, two communist apparatchiks, Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine’s Leonid Kravchuk, and relative political neophyte Byelorussian Stanislav Shushkevich, met at a hunting lodge near the Polish border on December 8. They signed the Belavezha Accords, named after the enveloping forest, dissolving the Soviet Union. The pact declared that “the USSR ceases to exist as a subject of international law and as a geopolitical reality,” replacing it with the Commonwealth of Independent States, which never became a geopolitical reality. The now 86-year-old Shushkevich, who was soon dismissed from politics by a then unheralded Alexander Lukashenko, observed that “A great empire, a nuclear superpower, split into independent countries that could cooperate with each other as closely as they wanted, and not a single drop of blood was shed.”
Mikhail Gorbachev signed onto the dissolution on December 25, and the hammer and sickle came down for good the following day.
This truly acted as a joy-to-the-world moment in abolishing an entity that terrorized its own citizens and subjugated foreigners at its borders and beyond. It especially benefitted people who worship Jesus Christ instead of Karl Marx.
Lenin described religion in a famous Christmastime essay as “spiritual booze,” the “bamboozling of the workers,” and, in an unintentional nod to Ebenezer Scrooge, the “humbugging of mankind.” He maintained, “The modern class-conscious worker, reared by large-scale factory industry and enlightened by urban life, contemptuously casts aside religious prejudices, leaves heaven to the priests and bourgeois bigots, and tries to win a better life for himself here on earth. The proletariat of today takes the side of socialism, which enlists science in the battle against the fog of religion, and frees the workers from their belief in life after death by welding them together to fight in the present for a better life on earth.”
The Communists slaughtered 2,691 priests, 1,962 monks, and 3,447 nuns in 1922 alone, turned Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg (along with hundreds of other churches) into a museum of atheism, and even rationalized man-made famine as a means of undermining faith. “Vladimir Illich Ulyanov had the courage to come out and say openly that famine would have numerous positive results, particularly in the appearance of a new industrial proletariat, which would take over from the bourgeoisie,” a friend of Lenin, quoted in The Black Book of Communism, noted. He added, “Famine would also destroy faith not only in the tsar, but in God too.”
Amid myriad horrific ways, the regime’s religious bigotry manifested itself in one comical way in the Soviet Union with the appearance of Grandfather Frost, the Snow Maiden, and New Year Boy. The USSR officially celebrated the date Yuri Gagarin went to space and the day when the Bolsheviks overthrew the people who overthrew the tsar. They airbrushed Christmas, like some fallen-from-favor commissar in a photograph, from the calendar. In replacing the Christmas Tree with the New Year’s Tree, and promoting their substitute Santa, Jesus, and Mary, the Soviets unintentionally paid homage to the enduring nature of Christianity (just as the New Economic Policy tacitly acknowledged the necessity of capitalism). The Communists imitated the Christians in incorporating, and slightly altering, local (in this case, Christian) traditions in furtherance of their quasi-religion of Marxism. In erasing Christmas from the calendar, they could not quite abolish Christmas.
Some Westerners applauded them for trying.
“Many folk follow religious ceremonies and services; and allow their children to learn fairy tales and so-called religious truth, which in time the children come to recognize as conventional lies told by their parents and teachers for the children’s good,” Stalinist W.E.B Du Bois wrote in the last of his autobiographies. “One can hardly exaggerate the moral disaster of the custom. We have to thank the Soviet Union for the courage to stop it.”
But courageous Russians, aided by so many outsiders menaced by the aptly named Evil Empire, eventually mustered up the courage to stop the Soviet Union after seven or so decades. This event, though not as significant as the birth of Christ, deserves celebration on Saturday.
Thirty years ago, a Red Star fell as the Bright and Morning Star first appeared. Such a happy ending does not strike as the stuff of an Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn novel. It does seem the irony of fiction. But it happened in real life, and did so, one suspects, at the invisible hand of a more famous Author.