“[Expletive] God” was written across a large cardboard placard of a pro-choice protester in my current city of residence, Nashville, Tennessee. Massive gatherings of mostly young females—although with plenty of men and older women, as well—took to the city’s Legislative Plaza on May 14 to voice their discontent with the potential overturning of the Roe v. Wade court case.
Like many other urban centers in the United States, Nashville has witnessed frequent demonstrations over the past several weeks. It has been hard not to notice the often-explicit attack on Christianity that is a central part of so many of these protests across the country. The type of sign mentioned above has been common.
Some may chalk up the vitriol as simply a response to mainstream Christianity's vocal and consistent pro-life stance. But I believe it is indicative of something deeper.
The father of cultural Marxism, Antonio Gramsci, famously wrote in 1915 that “Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity. … In the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches, and the media by transforming the consciousness of society.”
Fast-forward to our own present societal moment, and the wave of church vandalism and anti-Christian—specifically, anti-Catholic—protests following the Roe v. Wade leak have made it clear that Gramsci’s vision was a prescient one.
Not to mention, states like New York and California have "abortion on demand" up to the point of birth, with no medical justification needed.
Instead, there is a resolute denial of the sanctity of life at the root of the “My Body, My Choice” movement. Gramsci’s call to arms for waging war on Christianity in the service of socialism shares a clear ideological lineage with the advocates of unqualified "abortion on demand."
Gramsci, an Italian Marxist who died in Benito Mussolini’s prisons in 1937, realized that a viable revolution would require more than just a change in who owns the economic means of production. Instead, what was necessary was a shift in the cultural framework through which all social issues were understood. Yesterday’s taboos would need to become today’s virtues.
Christianity was (and is) the bedrock of the Western civilization that Gramsci was trying to overturn. Its well-articulated moral codes and clear conceptions of right and wrong permeated every institution of power. The Church was destined to be socialist enemy number one.
Today, “socialism” and “Marxism” are somewhat trite phrases among conservative political pundits; however, it is important to realize that these concepts are all the progeny of a fundamental rejection of the Christian worldview. Gramsci understood that creating the conditions for the emergence of socialism required more than just an altered economic system or governance structure—there had to be a fundamental change in how society understood human nature.
Modern-day progressivism, like socialism, is rooted in the belief that there is no set human nature. Taking a social constructivist approach, its proponents reject the notion that mankind exists within a natural moral order, the basis of which is the sanctity of human life (diluted down to its most basic elements, the belief that every individual has a right to life). Instead, we are simply the products of our environment, malleable enough to be formed into any given social shape based on surrounding circumstances.
If the factors are right from birth, any man or woman can be constructed into whatever social being is desired. With faith only in this social “science” (and an open abhorrence of anything transcendental or metaphysical), the perfect governance structure will by necessity produce the perfect political animal. Life is only of value as much as it is related to the good of the collective whole.
This is fundamentally at odds with the Christian conception of human nature. As fallen beings, we are all incapable of perfection. Likewise, a perfect whole cannot be constructed from imperfect parts: no societal structure can be arranged that eliminates all hardship, suffering, and inequality.
Simultaneously, however, every individual is created in the image of God with the spark of the divine in his or her breast. This means that we are imbued with the capacity for free will, to make choices independent of external material circumstances, and to judge what is right from what is wrong in accordance with a natural order. The American founding was predicated on this reality.
The U.S. Constitution was created in a way that was meant to account for this specific nature, diffusing power and avoiding its concentration in an acknowledgment of our tendency toward tyranny while simultaneously enabling individual genius to be brought forth and lead.
The basis of our entire political system is perhaps best summarized in Federalist 51 by James Madison. He poetically states this fundamental truth: “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
In this conception, human life is sacred. The advocates of abortion who have identified Christianity as the appropriate target for their discontent reject this notion. This is largely at the core of the backlash to the court leak. For example, the Mississippi case that triggered the reappraisal of a federal right to abortion was not a blanket ban; rather, it outlaws abortion after 15 weeks, barring any type of medical necessity.
This transcends the question of when life begins or the “clump of cells” argument—at 15 weeks, a fetus is clearly identifiable as a human child. The qualifications for situations related to maternal health should additionally dispel concern over cases that may threaten a mother’s life. The argument is entirely over whether a woman has a right to terminate her child's life based on any—or no—qualification.
Yet the “My Body, My Choice” narrative only works if that sexual autonomy is conditioned on an ability to end the existence of a child in the womb. It implicitly (if not explicitly) embraces the social constructivist view that life has no actual inherent value but must only be judged according to factors of material circumstance as determined by a prospective mother. It doesn’t matter if it is an actual human life in the womb—what matters is its effect on the life of the latter. In 1995, Pope John Paul II released a papal encyclical titled “Evangelium Vitae,” where he denounced this modern “culture of death.”
We see its progeny in our educational and university systems. Both men and women are taught that they live in a racist, patriarchal system organized around the principles of male oppression, white racism against people of color, and “cis-normativity.”
We see it in media and entertainment that endlessly promote sexual promiscuity, subject children to radical ideologies, and actively work to destroy innocence.
And we certainly see it in our newsrooms, where ideological groupthink goes beyond advocating for secularism and instead demands submission to an anti-religion worldview.
Gramsci would be impressed with how well his hopes for social manipulation have materialized.
The following were all specifically targeted for subversion: traditional conceptions of the family; legal jurisprudence built on individual justice and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty; honest journalism and information distribution; and a patriotic educational system.
Gramsci acknowledged that lasting change would require class-conscious revolutionaries to infiltrate society’s institutions and take over the levers of power. Once embedded, they would then work to disseminate their radical ideology throughout the citizenry. Whereas orthodox Marxism promoted the seizure of the economic means of production, Gramsci would call on his followers to seize the cultural means of production.
Forget about blue-collar workers—the Bolshevik vanguard would be society’s teachers, newscasters, social workers, and celebrity trendsetters. The effectiveness of this strategy should be alarming to all of us “reactionaries.”
In a moment when conservative commentators are tempted to blame all of the left’s misguided policies on a vaguely defined “communism,” the point here is not to inextricably tie socialism and abortion together. While it may be true that most advocates of socialism are in favor of pro-choice policies, the reverse is not necessarily the case.
Instead, abortion is just one component in the broader rejection of the country’s founding and the embrace of a “culture of death.” At its core, there is a fundamental rejection of the concept that nature, and Nature’s God, can dictate anything at all about our existence.
Hence, the inability to provide a concrete definition of “man” or “woman” predicated on inborn factors. In a strange twist of irony for the constructivists, identities are fixed according to stereotypical social functions associated with each sex and a belief that humans can construct the physical features inherent to each of the latter.
But mankind’s ability to recreate a specific form—however good technology may allow it to approximate the original design—will never negate the unalterable truth that a divine creator fills the substance and imbues the essence.
This is the definition of scientism. Don’t let the “We Believe In Science” bumper stickers and lawn signs fool you: the goal of the constructivist left is not to simply examine, research, and decipher the physical world in order to live more fully in accordance with nature—instead, it is to overcome nature.
The same scientism is present in the pro-choice attack on Christianity: the belief that a prospective mother can end her child's life based on her own evaluation as to whether the birth should, or should not, take place. The replacement of a natural order with a human-made reality was the goal of Gramsci and Marxist materialism in general.
If, as the latter advocate, reality truly were just a reflection of material circumstances and nothing more, then maybe abortion actually could be considered “healthcare,” sex could be nothing more than shape and function, and every other supposed feature of human nature could be altered at will.
However, I come down on the side of the American founding and the Christianity it was based on and believe that there is such a thing as real morality in this world that transcends any material circumstance. In that light, it is worth remembering the words of perhaps the single individual who did more than any other to help this country materialize the Christian principles that it was built upon (and, I resolutely believe, was more intelligent than Gramsci or any other Marxist thinker).
“I am naturally anti-slavery,” stated Abraham Lincoln. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”
The realization that one man has the right to own another man as property was the antithesis of the American founding, which eventually made it incompatible with the continuation of this country.
If we live within a natural order in which there is true right and wrong, as Lincoln acknowledged, then it is safe to say in our own age: “If the unqualified termination of innocent human life is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”