‘Catholic Marxist’ Warns Christians About Selling Their Souls to Politics

By John Zmirak Published on October 31, 2017

This week in The Washington Post, the Post’s house Catholic Elizabeth Bruenig issued a warning. Leading politicians who represent Christian interests might be selling out the Gospel.

She gets plenty wrong in her analysis. She conflates the fallible political maunderings of the U.S. bishops conference with binding, timeless Catholic teaching.

From the Seamless Garment to the Catholic Spring

I won’t belabor that subject here. Let me point Stream readers to this piece on what real Catholic social teaching is (and isn’t). Or look into the new organization I’ve helped to form, Serviam. Its mission: dispelling the myths about Catholic social teaching. Those myths begin with the “Seamless Garment.” They end with John Podesta’s and George Soros’s dream of a fomenting a revolutionary “Catholic Spring.”

One of the sharpest barbs in Bruenig’s report aims at House Speaker Paul Ryan. She calls him “a onetime fan of the intensely anti-religious, free-market thinker Ayn Rand.” Now I have no use for Rand’s atheist hyper-individualism. I spent thousands of words in The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins indicting Rand. She’s my icon of the deadly sin of Vainglory.

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Paul Ryan is Penitent

Nor am I a big fan of Ryan and his bad immigration ideas. But let’s be fair to the man. He admitted to enjoying Rand’s novels, a long time ago. That doesn’t speak much for his literary taste. But it’s hardly proof of apostasy. In fact, Ryan disappointed the pro-Rand Atlas Society in 2014. He told them:

I adored her novels when I was young, and in many ways they gave me an interest in economics. But as a devout, practicing Catholic, I completely reject the philosophy of objectivism.

That’s pretty definitive.

A Catholic Marxist

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Breunig calls herself a Catholic Marxist. To this day, as far as I know. That’s right. Before she adopted a policy of deleting her posts every day, some alert reader thought to take a screenshot.


If there’s one philosophy that’s equally distant from Christianity as Rand’s objectivism, it’s Marx’s dialectical materialism. As Catholic scholar Samuel Gregg has written:

I’ve always regarded claims that “Juanita is a sincere Communist, but she’s a good person” to be as naïve, ignorant, and dangerous as suggesting that “Hans is a sincere Nazi, but he’s a nice chap.” For to be a Communist is to embrace views of humanity just as reprehensible as those of a convinced Nazi. The phrase “Marxist humanism” (which you still hear today in the faculty-lounges of Western Europe and California or on parts of the political left) is as self-contradictory as “Nazi humanism.”

Sympathetic and hostile biographers of Lenin agree that his embrace of Marxism involved whole-hearted acceptance of Marxism’s combination of philosophical materialism and a deterministic view of history. This mixture of ideas leads to clear and disturbing conclusions.

First, the true philosophical materialist doesn’t think there’s anything special about human beings. Expressions like “dignity,” “rights,” “responsibilities,” etc., are empty constructs in a materialist’s world. Instead people are just “material.” Thus like any other material object, they can be shaped—and disposed of—as others will. And the only way to determine who gets to do the molding and terminating in this world is whoever possesses the power to do so and who is least squeamish about using it. The parallel here between the implications of Communism’s philosophical materialism and Nazism’s nihilistic glorification of the Nietzschean will to power is clear.

In its rejection of morality and its willingness to do evil — lots and lots of evil — to achieve desired goals, Marxism’s criminal and terroristic character is laid bare. Lenin himself would have been familiar with Karl Marx’s own lack of inhibitions in this area. As Marx wrote in Neue Rheinische Zeitung in May 1849, “When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.”

How About a Catholic Alt-Right Racialist?

Now Bruenig likely rejects some of that toxic stew. But Marxism is at least as coherent and totalizing a worldview as Rand’s Objectivism. And unlike Rand’s philosophy, Marxism has actually been tried. So Bruenig’s Christian readers have a right to know which parts she cherry-picks and which she eats around:

  • The anti-Semitism?
  • The vilification of religion as an opiate?
  • The demand for a dictatorship of the proletariat?
  • The labor theory of value?
  • Its view of the human person?
  • The mass confiscation of all private property?

I just listed the key elements of Marxism that in fact got put into practice. You know, in the 100 years since the Russian Revolution. During that time, according to scholar R.J. Rummel, regimes run by her fellow Marxists were busy. They murdered by firing-squad, artificial famine, death camp or other methods approximately “110,000,000 [human beings], or near two-thirds of all those killed by all governments, quasi-governments, and guerrillas from 1900 to 1987.”

What if she identified as a “Catholic Alt-Right racialist?” I know that her readers would demand some explanations.

Without So Much Rat in It

Maybe that’s one of the parts of Marxism Bruenig renounces too. She hasn’t said. But you really have to wonder how much is left of Marxism. You know, once you take out every practical measure taken by any government that has tried to implement it. It’s like one of the tarts in this Monty Python sketch, where the character orders “rat tart,” but asks for one of the pieces “without so much rat in it.” (See 1:30 below.)


What if Bruenig identified as a “Catholic Alt-Right racialist?” I know that her readers would demand some explanations. So would her editors at The Post.

Maybe she is not the person to be lecturing Christians about the dangers of betraying the Gospel by selling out to alien political systems.

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  • Craig Roberts

    I understand and agree with your articles main points but am a little perplexed as to why you would include such an obviously sacrilegious video mocking Catholicism? It’s one thing to mock “catholics” that don’t do a good job of it because they incorporate anti-Catholic philosophies and beliefs into their faith. But the video mocks Catholics, Catholicism, and belief in God in general. Not sure why a committed capital C “catholic” as yourself would condone and even disseminate such a video. Especially in an article decrying the obtuse hypocrisies of fellow Catholics.

    Obviously you see no problem with the video or you would not have included it. But if you make serious accusations about other peoples lack of discernment, you turn around and lose credibility if you give a reason for people to question your own.

    • Zmirak

      It’s not even about Catholics but Anglicans, and it’s harmless fun.

      • Craig Roberts

        Oh! Sorry. I guess that makes it ok. Hunh? Stoopid Anglicans…everybody knows they take their silly religion way too seriously. Makes sense to make fun of them.

        But where do you draw the line on sacrilege? Was “The Life of Brian” all harmless fun too? How can we be offended when some communist dictator presents the pope with a crucifix made out of a hammer and sickle, and then just laugh it off when some comedian makes a joke about the crucifixion?

        • Zmirak

          It’s called “context.” I didn’t like “Life of Brian,” which spoofed Jesus’ LIFE, as opposed to the silly idea of ecclesiastical police. If you can’t distinguish between the two… sorry.

          • Craig Roberts

            And would you please explain how people that watch Casper the friendly ghost aren’t guilty of necromancy?

          • Zmirak

            Wow, so this was really just a long, belabored, witless attempt at sarcasm. Sad.

          • Craig Roberts

            Witless? Belabored? Really? I call it success. Catholic Monty Python fans are sad. Or at least they should be. Thanks for the reply. Happy Halloween…brother.

          • Craig Roberts

            Got it. Selling your soul to politics = bad. Selling your soul to comedy?…er not so much.

      • Craig Roberts

        And I suppose HELLoween is just “harmless fun” too, hunh? You know who says, “Halloween is just “”harmless fun”””? Hmmm? SATAN!!! That’s who.

        JK…happy Halloween. >:)

  • Patmos

    “Before she adopted a policy of deleting her posts every day”

    Her cognitive dissonance at work.

  • Paul

    I read this and end up laughing at the others calling for unity. Good luck with that.

  • AvantiBev

    He’s a devout follower of Mohammed but a swell guy. (He only beats one of his 4 wives, only threw a couple of gays off a rooftop and only stoned his youngest daughter but she did speak to a boy and let her hijab slip.)

  • Chip Crawford

    Wow, these last few …. You know, writers get writer’s cramp from time to time. It’s okay; you don’t have to blunder ahead. Just switch gears, take some time off, redirect, do some volunteer work, an Emmaus Walk, you know, proactively invest anticipating a breakthrough.

  • Sarah Pierzchala

    This piece reminds me to ask: Is it true that Dorothy Day praised Pol Pot?

    • Sonny’s Mom

      Day praised Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh, according to John Zmirak (The Stream, October 5, 2015), but a very brief web search didn’t turn up references to Pol Pot. If you’re interested, a detailed description of her lifelong collectivist views– continuing even after she renounced Communist “methods”– may be found at CatholicAmericanThinker dot org (Vic Biorseth, Dec 2, 2011).

  • Wayne Cook

    I grew up in South America where Lib Theology persists to this day in scattered jungle locations where it’s safe to practice violence and Catholocism. Jesuits started the cult decades ago and several terrorists groups merged with them as they murdered peasants and leaders alike. Marxism and Catholics? A deadly mix!

  • billlang

    How can you be both Catholic and atheist? You can only serve God or mammon, not both. You will serve one and hate the other.

    • Sonny’s Mom

      Well as a matter of fact, Pope Pius the 11th declared that socialism “cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.” (Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931, n. 111) This teaching still stands but today, many SJW-type Catholics don’t know even recent Church history.

      • Zmirak

        Exactly. Thanks for citing it. I was trying to be ecumenical, and avoid arguments from authority, but that papal statement is both accurate and wise.

        • Sonny’s Mom

          Especially in this 100th anniversary year of Fatima, it’s important to speak the truth.
          Think of it this way: all parents are faced with the unpleasant experience of seeing their sweet, innocent, always-agreeable kid turn into a gremlin who lushes back and challenges absolutely everything. It’s exhausting, but a wise parent understands that just because the kid questions and argues back, this behavior doesn’t change what’s true: the parent is still the parent, and rules and expectations are still in effect.
          PS Love your guest appearances on Eric Metaxis’s show!

  • Mal

    How about a Marxist Spring in which the Kingdom of God replaces the Kingdom of selfishness, of darkness.

  • freeper7

    Sounds like she has already sold her soul to politics. The Catholic Catechism understands the need for private property, which is the bane of Marxism. Like many, Miss Bruenig is busy squaring circles.

  • Yankeegator

    That’s as ridicules as an Enlightenment Catholic.

  • Forthewest C

    Here’s my take. We can try to understand Marxism by studying what Marxists say, or we can try to understand it as a phenomenon. The Soviets claimed to have organized Marx’s angry, voluminous, screeds in a philosophical system called dialectical materialism. Its two underlying principles are the dialectic, which is a type of generalized theory of evolution, and which is, as far as I can see, true. Basically, opposed forces fight for dominance and when one is eliminated, the next struggle begins. The other principle is materialism, that if there are any spiritual or supernatural entities, they can have no influence on the material world, including our material (according to them – and this is crucial) minds. Ideas are as material as everything else and, ultimately, the struggle of ideas is just another part of the dialectic. In the end, the final outcome is historically determined in the same sense that Laplace held the infinite future is predicted by the forces and motions of the matter of the universe (he was wrong, and it is important). Lying, didn’t matter, since ideas and “truth” (whatever it was supposed to be) would make no difference to the predetermined end. If a lie could hurry things along, that could only be useful.

    It is the principle of materialism that is false. The future is not predetermined as Laplace thought. We discovered that in 1926, I would say just in time … because, understanding that the only wrong idea that leads to Marxism is materialism, it is easy to see that there were Marxist governments before Marx was born. He just gave his name to what can be derived under the materialist assumption.

    Materialism became a widely held belief among scientists and “intellectuals” in the eighteenth century. Laplace’s demon was an expression of it (early nineteenth century, but it is just a famous expression of what many had thought since the incorrect deterministic formulation of scientific law had begun and grown from the time of Newton’s incorrect but highly accurate and therefore impressive laws of motion and gravity.

    Marxism is the natural ideology of atheism – essentially materialism. The French Revolution was the first Marxist revolution. The various governments of that revolution, before Waterloo, were atheist governments. As is always the case, the atheist governance of France led to the killings of people, not for fighting the government, but for who they were and what they had been unlucky enough to have thought. Far more would have died had France not been stupid enough to publically kill their monarchs and bring upon an intense determination of all of Europe not under France’s control, to defeat the revolution. They were too busy fighting to involve themselves in systematic ideological killings.

    An atheists, of course, is not necessarily evil. First, he has to have his conscience, his altruistic, subliminal, understanding of natural law, destroyed. Many atheists are good people. But as Lord Acton said, “power corrupts, and the struggle to gain and keep absolute power (where lying is fine) corrupts absolutely.

    There can be no such thing as a Marxist Catholic, but Marxism, with its endless streams of pseudo-intellectual, contradictory (when you can just make up stuff for a “useful” purpose, hidden contradictions are bound to follow, and from a contradiction you can logically derive anything you want to) is as dangerous as the plague. Since what Marxists say is contradictory and endless in its variety, we really must understand the phenomenon, not the words, of Marxism.

    Here is a logical derivation of the appropriateness of death camps which follows from materialism. Only conscience (“weakness” to one who struggle for power) stands in the way.

    1. Since everything that happens is predetermined, free will is an illusion and does not exist. If we feel as though our thoughts and the motions of our speech organ and other skeleto-muscular organs are material, they are material and their actions are predetermined.

    2. Since free will is an illusion, no one deserves just punishment for what he has done, since he had no choice. Justice is just an incorrect idea suitable for the trash can of history in the material struggle. The balance of punishment with crime makes no sense.

    3. No one deserves punishment based on justice. The person who actually committed the crime deserves punishment no more than the person who did not. (sounds merciful at this point, but it is anything but)

    4. (Things begin to go wrong) Conversely, the person who did not commit the crime deserves punishment exactly as much as the person who actually committed it. The innocent were just lucky that the predetermining materialistic forces did not cause him to be the criminal.

    5. Nevertheless, exemplary punishment, for its influence on others is still useful. It does not matter whether the punished person actually committed the crime, or even whether or not the crime was committed. Punishing people for committing the crime is all that is needed. A fixed show trial will do.

    6. Since example is the purpose, horrible punishment is more effective than mild punishment. So kill the chosen exemplar.

    7. Killing many is far more effective than killing a few. Kill lots of people. Dispense with trials altogether. Substitute announcements of the numbers found guilty of “wrecking” (or whatever).

    You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. 22 If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry. 23 My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans Exodus 22: 21-23 (note the plural).

    If a society sufficiently abandons theological charity, it will be killed by the sword (led into Babylonian captivity, fall under Marxist destruction, …)

Jesus, ‘Thou Art Fairer Than the Children of Men’
Charles Spurgeon
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