The Civics Alliance’s History of Communism Course Can Help Anyone Discover the True Nature of Marxism

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The Civics Alliance’s History of Communism Course Can Help Anyone Discover the True Nature of Marxism
The Civics Alliance’s History of Communism Course Can Help Anyone Discover the True Nature of Marxism

The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred when I was still a child. During those tense days, I went with my mother to the grocery store. While en route, I heard the word “communist” on the car radio. I asked mother what a communist was. Unprepared for such a question, she did her best to explain. I do not remember what she said exactly, but I do recall wondering why anyone would want to be one of those awful people.

Somehow, that snippet of memory re-emerged as I looked at the Civic Alliance’s History of Communism: Model State Standards for Social Studies, 2024.

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As the subtitle implies, the Civic Alliance, a center-right educational think tank, constructed the document to advise state legislatures and departments of education. However, this short (nineteen-page) outline should find an eager audience among homeschoolers and adults who wish to understand the reviving threat of Communist ideologies better.

The course has three primary components. First, it explains the “intellectual background” of Marxism. The bulk of the course goes into the events that shaped and were influenced by this despicable philosophy—starting with its gestation, the two World Wars, the Cold War, and its current manifestations worldwide. The last section focuses on “neo-Marxist philosophies and movements,” particularly “Critical Race Theory,” “Anti-Racism” and “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”

Most of this article will focus on the curriculum’s first element.

Diagnosing the Illness

The intellectual background information is crucial. Definitions of Marxist thought are often omitted in typical high school curricula. Any knowledgeable student should be able to understand this course, assuming the presence of a competent and well-informed teacher. The curriculum lists the core Marxist beliefs, which I paraphrase here.

  1. Dialectical Materialism teaches that history consists of class struggles between oppressors and the oppressed.
  2. Industrialization and free trade exploit workers, depriving them of the fruits of their labor, which are placed in the hands of capitalists.
  3. Private property motivates selfishness, causing inequality.
  4. The wealthy manipulate law, religion and morality to control workers’ thoughts and behavior.
  5. The oppressive nuclear family must be abolished.
  6. Violent revolution is the only way to improve the condition of the oppressed.

This curriculum then points out the arguments of Marx’s many critics. Again, I will paraphrase the Civics Alliance’s list.

  1. Human society is far more complex than a superficial understanding of oppressor and oppressed.
  2. In a free market, exploitative enterprises are often less profitable.
  3. All human societies, not just capitalist ones, have hierarchies.
  4. Violent revolution concentrates power on the most effective oppressors.
  5. Marxist state ownership leads to an all-powerful state which eliminates individual freedoms.
  6. Abolishing religion establishes the state as a pseudo-religion.
  7. Abolishing nuclear families destabilizes society.

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A student equipped with such a background will be unlikely to become the “useful idiot” upon whom Marxism thrives. Unfortunately, solid definitions of Marxism are usually absent in America’s classrooms. Expositions of the criticisms are even less common.

Accidental and Willful Omission

My career in public education offers a few possible explanations for these omissions. First, many teachers have never examined this information themselves. Understanding and explaining any political doctrine requires intellectual training, which is absent from most university schools of education.

Second, modern education methods emphasize “critical thinking,” “self-discovery” and “engagement.” The traditional lecture is held to be too difficult for students to process. Therefore, many students never see or hear complex ideas extended to their logical conclusions. Such practices limit students to only the most elementary forms of knowledge without gaining the skill to evaluate them thoroughly.

Finally, Marxist-oriented instructors avoid explaining Marxism. Clear explanations of controversial beliefs can get parents excited. They also run the risk that the occasional well-informed student may find the courage to challenge the instructor openly. The occasional snide comment in class is far more effective and much less risky.

Distorted Religious and Civic Virtues

After defining Communism and its weaknesses, this curriculum ties Marxist tenets to Western religious tradition and political theory.

In the religious realm, there are discussions about the soul and salvation, including the role of envy and virtues like charity, voluntary poverty and generosity. Communists exploit envy and other human weaknesses to the uttermost, but godly virtues do not exist in Marxist thought except as vehicles that may be distorted to cause weak-headed people to embrace socialism.

We saw a marvelous example of such distortion in the debate over socialized medicine during the Obama Administration. Many of the scheme’s ill-informed proponents argued that government-run health systems were the only compassionate way to deliver healthcare to the impoverished. They held this assumption even when presented with well-known facts about government bureaucracies’ inherent inefficiencies and costliness. Those who understood (or had experience with) socialist systems resisted the clarion cries; the majority fell into the pseudo-generosity trap.

A Useful Outline and Guide

The guide is a potent indictment of Marxist authoritarianism worldwide over the last century-and-a-half.

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While the “History of Communism” curriculum is a much-needed effort, the chances of its passage in most states are doubtful. It would take a David to get it through the bureaucratic Goliaths that permeate the fifty state education departments, not to mention the directorate at the federal level.

However, this is still a very useful document. Most adults today received very little information about the nature and progress of Communism from its beginnings in Karl Marx’s mind in the 1850s until the present day. By constructing this curriculum, the Civics Alliance provides an important tool to fill such educational gaps. Likewise, homeschoolers who want to inoculate their children from the infection of leftist ideas in college will find this curriculum useful.

Photo Credit: © National Association of Scholars

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