By Carl E. Olson
An interview with Dr. Paul Kengor, author of "Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage" . Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, recently corresponded with Dr. Kengor about Takedown.
Dr. Paul Kengor is a professor of political science at Grove City College (Pennsylvania) and the author of several best-selling books, including Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century; God and Ronald Reagan; God and George W. Bush; God and Hillary Clinton; and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. Dr. Kengor is widely recognized for his scholarly work about the American presidency, the Cold War, and the history of communism.
His most recent book is Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage (WND Books, 2015), a deeply researched historical study of how radical leftists, for close to two centuries, have worked to undermine and fundamentally change—or even destroy—marriage, family life, and traditional social structures and relationships.
CWR: Toward the end of your book, in writing about the socialist support in Cuba of “gay marriage,” you note, “As long as the traditional family is reversed, Marxism is advanced.” That’s a fairly succinct summary of your book, isn’t it? Why was Karl Marx so opposed to the traditional family and marriage? What shaped and informed his ideological disdain for both?
Dr. Paul Kengor: There are a lot of factors that go into answering that question, but two stand out: First, Karl Marx showed personal disdain for the institution of marriage. He was unfaithful to his wife and, all around, a poor husband. I don’t mean that to sound judgmental or uncharitable. Sure, those of us who are husbands are all lacking, myself included, but Marx was a bad case. You can read the details in the book, but, among other things, Marx had a sexual relationship with the longtime family nursemaid, who he apparently impregnated, though he always insisted the child was neither his nor his responsibility.
We also can’t neglect Marx’s partner in The Communist Manifesto, Friedrich Engels, who joined him in writing of the “abolition of the family” and held married life in even lower contempt. Marx showed his opposition to monogamous marriage by breaking his vow to his wife, but Engels showed his disregard by simply refusing to marry the many mistresses that wanted him to make honest women out of them. Marx and Engels sniffed that “bourgeois marriage is in reality a system of wives in common.”
Aside from their personal feelings, Marx and Engels rightly called communism “the most radical rupture” in traditional relations. It was nothing short of a fundamental transformation of society and human nature. And to genuinely transform human nature, they realized that you had to take down the most element things: God, private property, marriage, and family.
CWR: You show how the Bolshevik revolution took direct aim at both marriage and Christianity. What were some practical ways in which Lenin sought to destroy both? Is there a direct correlation to how both are being attacked and undermined today in the U.S. and the West?
Dr. Kengor: Lenin and the Bolsheviks immediately went after God/religion, private property, and marriage and family. They radically liberalized all divorce and abortion laws. You weren’t free in Bolshevik Russia to have freedom of religion, press, assembly, speech, or property, but, wow, if you wanted a divorce or an abortion, you were the freest person on the planet! The sky was the limit. And in very short course, Russia soon had divorce and abortion rates unseen in the history of the world. In fact, the abortion rate got so bad that it astounded Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who took a fact-finding trip to the Soviet Union in 1934, and even stunned Stalin, who, in 1936, was forced to ban abortion out of fear that his country would soon cease to exist. Russian women were annihilating the future generation. This madness had to be stopped or there would be no communist Russia.
As far as the correlation to America and the West today, our rates of divorce and abortion have never been as bad as communist Russia, but they’ve certainly been bad enough. We’ve seen divorce rates near 50% and experienced the extermination of nearly 60 million unborn babies in America since Roe v. Wade in 1973. And in other areas, such as birth control and the condemnation of those who oppose birth control and abortion on moral-religious-political grounds, we in America today stand where Bolshevik Russia stood eight decades ago. In the book, I have a full chapter on Margaret Sanger. Sanger wrote this upon her return from communist Russia in 1934: “Theoretically, there are no obstacles to birth control in Russia. It is accepted … on the grounds of health and human right…. We [in America] could well take example from Russia, where there are no legal restrictions, no religious condemnation, and where birth control instruction is part of the regular welfare service of the government.”
What really strikes one about reading this assertion today is how modern liberal Democrats in America have arrived at Sanger’s Bolshevik ideal, where Planned Parenthood’s services have become, in their mind, “part of the regular welfare service of the government,” just like in Stalinist Russia. If you disagree with today’s “progressives” on funding Planned Parenthood or the Obama HHS mandate or whatever, they accuse you of favoring a “war on women.” In many areas, as I show in the book, today’s liberals are just a few decades behind the communists.