Now here’s an opening scene you will not see any time soon in a mainstream American film. First, darkness and silence. Next, the creak of a rusted metal door crashing open. A sliver of dirty light sighs across a filthy floor. Amidst what might be stains of blood, urine or feces on this concrete floor is the emaciated body of a naked man. His flesh, the floor, the light, all are sepia-toned, as if in a time-yellowed painting by an old master. This is not a crucifixion portrait; the man is horizontal on the bare floor, not vertical on a cross, but clearly, he is being martyred. The man’s head rises from his arm, which he had been using as a pillow. He gasps for air. He blinks. He has been in darkness so long that light, a gift of which he has apparently been deprived for a long time, is more than he can take. He shields his eyes. He looks down.
Two thugs drag the naked form down a dark hall. In the distance, there are muffled screams. The naked man’s flaccid form is handcuffed to a wooden slab. A bucket of cold water splashes over him. Another man, this one faux jolly and wearing an ostentatious coat with wide, shearling lapels, greets his victim. The smiling interrogator in the pimp coat asks for information. The handcuffed man says nothing. The interrogator tells the two thugs, “Manicure.” A thug turns to a table well-stocked with tools. A door closes. Wrenching screams.
The man receiving the “manicure” is Antoni Baraniak (portrayed here by actor Artur Krajewski.) Baraniak was a Polish, Catholic bishop. His torturers were communists.
Bishop Antoni Baraniak “was imprisoned for three years … He was interrogated 145 times sometimes for several hours in a row. He had his fingernails pulled out and was often held for many days naked in a freezing cold cell full of feces. In spite of cruel tortures he never broke.”
Young Americans today might think of “Uncle Bernie” Sanders, who promises them free college, no strings attached, when they think of communists. If they ever saw movies like Prophet they might understand communism differently.
Prorok, or Prophet is a Polish-language film, with English subtitles, that had a limited release in the United States on November 15 and 17, 2022. Prophet depicts the decades-long conflict between Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski and Polish communists who operated under the control of the USSR. Prophet was directed by Michal Kondrat, and the screenplay was by Katarzyna Bogucka, Johanna Dudek, and Karolina Slyk. The film is in color and the runtime is a bit over two hours.
Prophet focuses on Wyszynski’s life between his 1956 release from communist internment and 1978, when Karol Wojtyla was elected pope. There are many scenes of Wyszynski facing off with Wladyslaw Gomulka, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party of the Polish People’s Republic. Prophet argues that were it not for Stefan Wyszynski, and his understanding of Catholicism, Soviet communism would have had a much easier time of it in Poland, and, thus, in all of Eastern Europe. Poland was “the second largest country in the Warsaw Pact in terms of area, population, and military capacity.” Without Wyszynski, this film implies, communism might not have fallen in 1989.
Poland’s Catholicism has often been cited as a force that helped to bring an end to the Soviet Empire. Poland’s Catholicism might have been much less of a cultural force had it not been for Wyszynski. Scholar Radoslaw Gross argues that Poland was becoming more secular after WW II, and Wyszynski’s efforts, efforts that are dramatized in Prophet, reversed that secularizing course. In Prophet, Wyszynski says that if his plans for spiritual renewal in Poland are successful, a “strong moral force” will present Polish people with an alternative to communism, and communism will fall on its own. He says that without that “strong moral force,” Poland would be like Hungary or Czechoslovakia. Both countries were both less free under communism, and also less Catholic.
In Prophet, Wyszynski’s vision is not a of a dramatic, apocalyptic battle, but, rather, day-to-day, patient, unglamorous, hard work and commitment. “We don’t need heroic deaths in the name of love,” says the film’s Wyszynski, “but rather we need heroic work for the sake of our beloved homeland … I want this to take root in the soul of each of you like a seed in the ground. It must grow and bear fruit.” The metaphor of sowing a seed and waiting for harvest is used throughout the film.
In addition to Wyszynski’s headline- and history-making negotiations with communist powerbrokers, Prophet depicts Stefan Wyszynski the man, who was known as “the worker priest” for his commitment to and engagement with average people, including blind children, workers, and farmers. Intertwined subplots involve Magda, a wife and schoolteacher; Kazia, a street urchin and shoplifter; Janek, an “artistic” filmmaker; a priest who betrays Wyszynski to the communists; and “The Eights,” a clandestine group of Catholic women who keep the dissident presses running.
Prophet is emotionally engaging, aesthetically pleasing, and informative. I watched it three times, and each time I watched, I saw more to value.
Because I’m a Polish-American and Catholic, I wanted to know what someone not of my heritage and faith would make of this movie. I asked Otto Gross, a German-American Protestant, to watch it. I told him nothing about it. He wrote to me, “It’s a great movie. It’s important. It will be a hard sell to American audiences because there are no car chases and no sex. It wasn’t fluffy. It’s what people need to see. This movie is not just about the past. It’s about now. About propaganda, about attempts to manipulate the public, about power. It’s about stubborn, unbending belief in false utopias and the evil people do in support of those false utopias. The film depicts the power of Christ flowing through human beings in a bad situation.”
I was happy to learn that not just Polish viewers can find much to value in Prophet.
Prophet captures its era. Interior and exterior sets, costumes, cars, trains, and even tanks are authentic-looking. Cinematographer Mateusz Pastewska, a young man in sneakers, admitted that the film was a “huge challenge.” He has nothing to worry about; his images vividly capture the light in torture chambers, smoke-filled rooms of communist plotters, tear-gas-smeared riots, farmers’ fields, and church interiors. If you prefer to watch movies that look expensive, even if they were shot on a budget – and I do – Prophet will not let you down.
In too many American dramas, I find actors only marginally convincing when they attempt to appear as if they are serious people having serious conversations about serious things. I see too much of the actor beneath the pose; I see the packaging, even in performances by acclaimed stars like Robert DeNiro.
Every performance in Prophet is superb. Director Kondrat performed a minor miracle himself. He managed to find actors who bear a strong resemblance to the historical figures they depict. Adam Ferency looks like Wladyslaw Gomulka, the First Secretary of the Polish People’s Republic; Slawomir Grzymkowski looks like Stefan Wyszynski; Marcin Tronski looks like Polish Prime Minister Jozef Cyrankiewicz.
These actors don’t just look like the characters they portray; they convince you that they are the characters they portray. The actors playing communists are as sterile and creepy, as alternately bullying and cringingly servile as you’d imagine they’d be when behind closed doors weaving their noxious webs of power, deceit, and betrayal of the working men and women in whose name they slowly strangle a nation. Even as they make your skin crawl, you feel for them. They must believe some of the garbage they are spewing. They are struggling to make the workers’ paradise a reality, even as they try to avoid being crushed like bugs by Moscow.
Actors populating the subplots, subplots that depict slices of everyday life in communist Poland, are no less impressive. Katarzyna Zawadzka plays Magda, a schoolteacher. Zawadzka radiates maternal, feminine warmth in her job as a teacher of young children. Later, when, pushed to the limit, she nags her husband like a shrew. He earns only enough money for the two of them to afford a shared flat with noisy neighbors who steal her homemade soup. Karolina Bruchnicka as Kazia, a street urchin, shoplifter, and young lady with anger management issues, inhabits her part seamlessly. She scared me.
Malgorzata Buczkowska plays Maria Okonska. She’s not onscreen much, and has few lines, so in a casual viewing, you might miss her. But don’t. The real Maria Okonska was as worthy of a biopic as Wyszynski himself. She got her degree secretly, under Nazi occupation, when such education was banned for Poles and punishable with death. Okonska participated in the Warsaw Uprising, which took the lives of about 200,000 Poles. After the war, she continued Catholic work among girls. For this, communists arrested and imprisoned her.
In Prophet, Okonska visits the wild young Kazia, rotting away in prison. Kazia wasn’t arrested for shoplifting; she was arrested because the secret police demanded that she invent material to slander Wyszynski, and she refused.
In the film, Maria Okonska walks toward the prison housing Kazia. Okonska is utterly feminine. Her jacket and skirt are immaculate; her hair nicely done. Her high heels click as she strides. But her face telegraphs as much determination as a ship’s figurehead, daring the waves. Her spine is straight as a ruler. You would not mess with this seductively beautiful creature, however much you might want to.
In the lock-up, sad young Kazia complains about how hard it is to be imprisoned unjustly. In an American film, Okonska would have hugged young Kazia and reassured her. But this is a Polish movie. Okonska, her face stern and clinical, says, “You’re strong. You can take it. I’ve been in prison, too.” And then this elegant female displays her skills by smuggling, through the prison bars, a letter into Kazia’s hands.
Krystyna Tkacz, as a nun who swats anyone who messes with her cooking; Kazimierz Mazur as Stash, the chauffeur; Daniel Guzdek, as the guy in the basement running the reel-to-reel recording device for the secret police; the impatient post office worker; the big guy at the riot who carries off Kazia … I know these people. I met them in Poland. Even these small parts are rounded characters.
The film depicts the little miseries of everyday life in communist Poland. Kazia and her chronically ill mother share an apartment with several other people. The inhabitants are not friends; they just have no place else to go. No one in that apartment appears to like anyone else. People dress in underwear and speak rudely. The masses whose souls both Catholics and Communists wrestle over were not always noble. Some of them were simply slobs.
Magda is fired from her teaching job because of her association with Wyszynski. Janek, the “artist,” is slowly sucked into selling his soul to the communists. He wants to get Magda out of that shared apartment where only a glass door separates them from the losers they have to live with.
I was especially impressed by the film’s handling of Bishop Antoni Baraniak, and Artur Krajewski’s performance. Baraniak is a torture survivor, and the film makes no attempt to depict him as a happy fella revived by a Christian miracle. Throughout the film, he appears wasted, overwhelmed, angry, suspicious, and sad. He acknowledges that expensive booze is one thing keeping him going. But that’s just it. He just keeps going, in spite of his apparent PTSD; this is a very Polish thing to do. I fear that in an American-made Christian film, a Baraniak character would be forced to flash a big, toothy smile and declare, “God is good all the time!”
In a just world, Slawomir Grzymkowski, who plays Wyszynski, would be onstage at the next Oscars accepting his award for best lead actor. It’s not easy to convey the quiet strength of a man who responds to his friend’s being beaten to death in the street by communist thugs by saying, “I will pray.” That’s not an action hero thing to say. But Grzymkowski convinces the viewer that that response, so often mocked by sneering Christophobes and Atheists, “I will pray,” is an immensely powerful one.
Director Kondrat received transcripts of Wyszynski’s conversations with Poland’s communist leaders and used those transcripts in recreating scenes. Even in these talky scenes, the type of scenes that action-movie fans despise, there is quiet action. Before the movie’s timeline, Wyszynski had had to hide out from Nazis. Nazis murdered almost twenty percent of Polish clergy. Wyszynski was a special target because he had published anti-Nazi material. After the war, Wyszynski was imprisoned by communists for three years. “How many divisions has the pope?” Stalin asked. Wyszynski has no weapons. Gomulka has the USSR behind him. Even so, Grzymkowski imbues his portrayal of Wyszynski with quiet power, even in such small gestures as simply leaving rooms when he feels he has said what needed to be said, and not waiting to be dismissed.
Wyszynski’s meetings with Gomulka are a teeter-totter ride. Each side flaunts its own weapons of choice, and signals exactly how much he is willing to surrender to reach an agreement. Sometimes one or the other is on top or on the bottom. The Pope warns Wyszynski that some think he is giving too much to the communists. The communists worry that Wyszynski “grabbed a finger and took a hand.”
In one scene, behind Wyszynski, there are two small flags. One flag is Polish; the other flag is the red and yellow hammer and sickle flag of the USSR. Gomulka attempts to manipulate Wyszynski. He insists that he, Gomulka, wants Poland to remain a sovereign, independent nation. If Gomulka gives Wyszynski too much, though, he implies, Soviet tanks will roll back into Poland.
Wyszynski, for his part, commands other forces. When Gomulka stubbornly refuses to allow Catholics to build enough churches to accommodate parishioners, Wyszynski quietly says, “I can permit Poles to keep the Eucharist in their private homes. You’ll then have millions of churches.” In these negotiations, Wyszynski is proud, but never arrogant. Grzymkowski walks a the fine line between life-nurturing, paternal authority and life-destroying, oppressive domination, a balance that real men in real life struggle to achieve.
Gomulka, when chatting alone with his comrades, Zenon Kliszko, who was Gomulka’s right hand man, and Prime Minister Jozef Cyrankiewicz, makes clear that every promise he makes to Wyszynski is merely a ploy to weaken Wyszynski and, eventually, strengthen atheistic communism.
Prime Minister Jozef Cyrankiewicz was an interesting creature. His father was a Polish nationalist and his maternal grandfather was a successful businessman. He fought in the Polish resistance against Nazi Germany, was arrested, and sent to Auschwitz. From that inauspicious address, Cyrankiewicz rose to power and an elegant life of luxury in post-World-War-II, communist Poland. He was “well-read, cultured, a bon vivant.” Jan Karski said that Cyrankiewicz helped Karski escape from the Gestapo. Karski described Cyrankiewicz as “the most intelligent and enlightened” of Polish activists.
All of Cyrankiewicz’s human complexity fell by the wayside when he spoke to the masses. Cyrankiewicz’s words from a 1956 speech delivered after one of many deadly Polish uprisings against communist rule make clear what kind of people Wyszynski was dealing with. “Every provocateur or madman who dares to raise his hand against the people’s government, let him be sure that the authorities will chop off his hand in the interest of the working class, in the interest of the working peasantry and the intelligentsia, in the interest of the struggle to raise the standard of living of the population, in the interest of further democratization of our lives, in the interest of our homeland.” In short, Wyszynski was negotiating with amoral communists who lied to him at every step and had no qualms about killing their fellow Poles.
Wladyslaw Gomulka, Jozef Cyrankiewicz, and Zenon Kliszko were all Poles, born in Poland, but they gained power through the USSR. Stalin said that imposing communism on Poland was like putting a saddle on a cow. Kondrat dramatizes the communists’ alienation from the surrounding Polish population in numerous ways. The communists are shown wearing new, high quality trench coats and fedoras, while surrounding Poles are wearing less formal attire. Communists hold conspiratorial meetings in spacious, dimly lit, smoke-filled rooms full of heavy, ornate, wooden furniture. They look like Mafiosi from a Godfather movie. When Kliszko and a fellow communist drive out into the Polish countryside, their car breaks down and they have to walk through a field. They look terribly out of place, and one man keeps falling in mud. “Next time we should take a tractor,” he says. Later they have to use a public telephone. The average Poles in the post office look quietly terrified of these communist bigwigs. Clearly these men do not represent the “workers.” Gomulka is shown swimming, alone, in a luxurious swimming pool. He is accompanied by an attractive girl in a bathing suit. Communist privileges like this are contrasted with the crowded shared apartments average people must inhabit.
A couple of scenes in this movie resonate deeply for me. Wyszynski reminisces about his wartime experience as a chaplain to the Home Army. In this flashback, a young Wyszynski is in a trench full of Polish soldiers strafed by Nazis. A soldier cries out that he wants to die. Wyszynski grabs him and shouts, “You want to live!” He looks over the rim of the trench and witnesses a fantastical scene. A peasant is slowly striding across the battlefield, scattering seed into furrows. Wyszynski runs from the trench, tackles the peasant, and pushes him to the ground. Both just escape death from German fire. “We must sow,” the peasant says. “Otherwise only wasteland will remain.”
I don’t know if this scene is meant to depict a real event or if it is a visual metaphor and fantasy sequence. As someone familiar with Polish history, I found it deeply moving. Life can be very hard, and yet, even in the worst of times, “we must sow.” Indeed, Wyszynski repeats the “sowing” metaphor at other points in the film. Too, there is a Polish song, “Musimy Siac,” whose lyrics insist,
We must sow, although our land is poor,
although we lack plows and harrows for plowing.
We must sow, although the wind carries away the seed,
although flocks of crows follow the sower.
Part of Wyszynski’s plan to revive Polish spirituality is a pilgrimage of a copy of the famous icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Villagers parade with the image, singing hymns. In real life, and in the film, communists arrested the image. This is ironic, of course. As atheists, they insist that God does not exist and that religious art has no meaning or power. And yet they felt the need to arrest an image.
The film opens, as mentioned above, with Bishop Antoni Baraniak, an abused prisoner of Soviet communism who has been almost blinded by that abuse. In an intended or accidental parallelism, the film’s conclusion includes an abused prisoner of Soviet communism who was almost blinded by that abuse. General Wojciech Jaruzelski (Krzysztof Dracz) makes an appearance toward the end of the movie. After invading Poland in 1939, the USSR deported over a million Poles to Siberia and other remote locations. Jaruzelski was deported as a teenager. He suffered snow blindness and had to wear dark glasses for the rest of his life. In spite of this victimization at the hands of the USSR, Jaruzelski became “A tragic believer in Communism who made a pact with the devil in good faith” according to Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulic. The metaphor of blindness and light is obvious. Baraniak chose one light; Jaruzelski, another.
Another intentional or accidental bit of parallelism. In the opening torture scene, the interrogator is wearing a coat with wide, shearling lapels. In a scene close to the conclusion, a character who has sold his soul to communists for financial gain is wearing a coat with wide, shearling lapels.
I liked the soundtrack – as the soundtrack of a different movie. Prophet is, for the most part, a quiet film, and the soundtrack is intrusive and bombastic, more suited to an action flick. Given how many storylines the film is juggling, editing could have been handled more smoothly. Scenes are cut abruptly.
I wish the film had mentioned the 1968 Polish crisis. Students and intellectuals rose up against communism. Part of the ruling communists’ efforts to quell these protests and to suppress dissidents was a government push to scapegoat Jews and drive them out of Poland. The cynicism of Poland’s communist leaders is exemplified by Gomulka. Gomulka’s own wife, Zofia, was a Jewish woman.
Wyszynski saw through the communists’ anti-Semitic attempt to manipulate the masses. He wrote, “In fact, everything must be attributed to the internal games within the government of the Polish People’s Republic. The political authorities at the present time want to limit themselves to a crackdown on ‘Zionism’ and ‘warmongers.’ They want to outmaneuver the academic youth, the workers, and the Church.”
Further, “In his homily on 11 April 1968, he mentioned the duty to love everyone, regardless of speech, language, or race. ‘The former Chief Rabbi of Poland, Zew Wawa Morejno, thanked Primate Wyszynski for this attitude toward Jews, both in 1968 and 1971,’ … During the Six-Day War in 1967, the Cardinal, in contrast to the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic, who supported the Arab side, supported Israel.”
These criticisms aside, Prophet is an excellent film that exposes viewers to some of the realities of life under communism, and that inspires the viewer with the life of a beautiful man. I don’t know how mass American audiences will be able to see this film. As mentioned, so far, it has been shown in the US on two days in November, 2022, only.
Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery
This looks awesome and I literally cannot find any sign of it on streaming or dvd under either Prorok or Prophet. Are they going to release it? Why was it only shown in US on two nights last November?
Danusha V Goska says
I have to guess that they can’t find a distributor. but I could be wrong. I heard about it only through social media.
Thanks. Nowadays, it can’t be very expensive to transfer films to dvds, is it? I would think they could do so and at least sell them through the film’s website via credit card. I’d certainly be willing to buy a film like this just to see it. But I’m not knowledgeable on this stuff.
Miranda Rose Smith says
“They look like Mafiosi from a Godfather movie.” I thought you never watched those, Dr. Goska.
Miranda Rose Smith says
You want to see an actor who looks and acts like the historical figure he’s playing? Watch Louis Gosett, jr. In SADAT (1983.) Barry Morse, as Menechem Begin, was good, too.
Does anyone agree with me that Tony Shalhoub could give a blow your socks off performance as Richard Nixon?
The form of Leftism that is called WOKISM is very weird. There are different kinds of Leftists (Trotskyists and non-Trotskyist for example)
and they both used GRAMSCI’s method of inflitration called ENTRYISM ( to pretend you are a Conservative,for example, to enter and escalate position and power).
A) However they NEVER betrayed by their actions what they really they believed in,in their HEARTS.
B) The Wokists are a superficial group that only cares about PUBLIC IMAGE. It is a SHAME-HONOR culture
created by Soros and other Globalists to have USEFUL IDIOTS for the TOTALITARIAN and IMPERIALISTIC goals that make up the Great Reset,New Word Order.
70% of Americans 18-30 are wokist.
If TRUMP had promised debt cancelation for students and then did nothing, wokist univeristy students would be protesting night and day,week after week,month after month.
BIDEN lied on student debt cancelation and wokist university students say,do nothing.
TRADITIONAL Leftist students would never,never,never have acted like that. Whether with Trump or Biden,they would have protested
THX 1138 says
As a Roman Catholic what is it that you really, really, want Danusha Goska? What is it, Danusha Goska, that the Jewish and Christian conservatives on the Right in America really, really, want?
Do you want freedom, liberty, peace, and prosperity on earth? In other words Laissez-Faire Capitalism? How do we achieve that goal if that’s truly the goal religious conservatives on the Right (there are Jewish and Christian conservatives on he Left) really, really, want?
Danusha Goska, if Laissez-Faire Capitalism and the freedom, liberty, peace, and prosperity on earth, Laissez-Faire Capitalism produces, is what you really, really, want then, unfortunately, it pains me to tell you, religion is not the answer. It pains me to tell you because I know from my own personal experience how much the religious person desperately needs religion. I leave religious people alone, because I understand how much they are emotionally invested in religion, unless they are publicly and forthrightly dedicated to a fight for freedom and liberty. Then I will tell them that religion is not the answer, religion is the problem. Judaism prepared the ground for Christianity and both prepared the ground for Islam, Marxism, and Nazism. Judeo-Christianity prepared the ground for modern totalitarianism.
THX 1138 says
“The Philosophic Basis of Capitalism” by Leonard Peikoff
Mark Dunn says
If you have nothing to say about the topic stop posting things. And stop talking to the author as though you have a connection, it’s really creepy.
THX 1138 says
“Poland was becoming more secular after WW II,… Both countries were both less free under communism, and also less Catholic…. spiritual renewal in Poland are successful, a “strong moral force” will present Polish people with an alternative to communism”
The whole article by DANUSHA GOSKA implies that the solution for modern totalitarianism is Catholicism or Christianity — it ISN’T.
You would have no problem with me using her name if I were promoting Judeo-Christianity as the solution for modern totalitarianism, you would be praising me for your presumed Judeo-Christian warmth, humbleness, and gentle Christian brotherhood. That’s creepy.
Tortoise Herder says
“The whole article by DANUSHA GOSKA implies that the solution for modern totalitarianism is Catholicism or Christianity — it ISN’T.”
A: Then prove it.
B: It isn’t enough to say what the solution for something isn’t. It isn’t enough to say what the solution for something is. One must state what the solution is and prove it.
Again, this is a particularly awkward case for you because this particular set of chapters in Polish history is one of the most direct and brutal refutations of your claim that “religion is the problem.” (Not “a” problem but THE problem). And you can’t actually address that beyond milquetoast claims that “religion is not the answer” (which is as devoid of content as saying “philosophy is not the answer”, both vacuously correct but also not saying much).
Ironically I could probably write a better case of how Polish history proves that religion alone is not the (only) answer, speaking about the gradual collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth regardless of whether it swung towards almost unprecedented tolerance for the time or Catholic Supremacy, the abuses of power my nobility and wannabe absolutists just as the neighbors closed in…etc.
But then I know the history and I don’t want you to copy my homework so closely. And I also would argue that shows how while religion is not the magic bullet solution, it could be part of it.
Tortoise Herder says
“You would have no problem with me using her name if I were promoting Judeo-Christianity as the solution for modern totalitarianism, you would be praising me for your presumed Judeo-Christian warmth, humbleness, and gentle Christian brotherhood. That’s creepy.”
Fair point, and that’s why I didn’t criticize you for that. I reserve judgement.
In any case, my comments are long enough as they are on other things to criticize you for. Such as your attempts to downplay the Polish struggle for freedom here.
THX 1138 says
A Christian by definition can only be a kind and good-hearted person with only noble and virtuous intentions but a person who questions Judeo-Christianity, why that individual must be a an unrepentant sinner with malice in his heart, he must be as DANUSHA GOSKA so often puts it, a horrible — CHRISTOPHOBE — right?
Mo de Profit says
Wrong, every religious person battles with their beliefs all the time.
Tortoise Herder says
“As a Roman Catholic what is it that you really, really, want Danusha Goska? ”
I cannot speak for Danusha myself, so I will defer to her.
“What is it, Danusha Goska, that the Jewish and Christian conservatives on the Right in America really, really, want?”
Freedom to worship god as I please, freedom and liberty to live my life as I choose within the bounds of lawful order, peace, and prosperity.
“Do you want freedom, liberty, peace, and prosperity on earth? In other words Laissez-Faire Capitalism?”
The idea that Laissez-Faire Capitalism inherently links to peace and prosperity on Earth or to peace is best counterbalanced by the example of the early US, which was heavily in depth, at war on its frontiers, and even faced many crises between its member states (Some of which even resulted in very limited wars). And that’s before I talk about other things like my Dutch ancestors’ impacts in the “East Indies.” The system you mention is an excellent engine for producing those things on the whole, but there are not many magic wands in human society.
Tortoise Herder says
“Danusha Goska, if Laissez-Faire Capitalism and the freedom, liberty, peace, and prosperity on earth, Laissez-Faire Capitalism produces, is what you really, really, want then, unfortunately, it pains me to tell you, religion is not the answer. ”
Meaningless platitude. Saying that “Religion is not the answer” is a bit like saying “Philosophy is not the answer.” As it obviously is not as you’d notice in regards to things such as socialist philosophy.
“It pains me to tell you because I know from my own personal experience how much the religious person desperately needs religion. ”
Which you also demonstrate quite clearly with your cultlike devotion to Rand and others like Peikoff, even when they get shown up to be wrong (as they were on matters of the translation of Aristotle, among others). I suppose there’s a lot of truth to the idea that the converted are often the most zealous and devout, and you act like someone who has swapped one “Religio” for another.
Tortoise Herder says
“I leave religious people alone, because I understand how much they are emotionally invested in religion, unless they are publicly and forthrightly dedicated to a fight for freedom and liberty. ”
Bruh, who do you think you are fooling? How many people who have read your many, many, many, MANY comments on this site blathering of a “Thousand Year Christian Dark Ages” and insisting that Abrahamic Religion set the stage for modern totalitarianism (while at best glossing over non-Abrahamic religions, especially Greco-Roman Paganism, in spite of things like Plato’s Republic) will think you “leave religious people alone”?
“Then I will tell them that religion is not the answer, religion is the problem. Judaism prepared the ground for Christianity and both prepared the ground for Islam, Marxism, and Nazism. Judeo-Christianity prepared the ground for modern totalitarianism.”
I’ve already beaten this nonsense over the head multiple times. It does not add up. Especially since the idea of the all-powerful, totalitarian state was hardly NEW, dependent on Abrahamic theology, or even amicable to it in most cases. There were thinkers like Dante and Pavelic who dipped into it, but many more (Hitler, Mussolini, Pound, Tojo, Marx, Lenin, Ludendorff) who did not.
And of course Qin Shi Huang, Nebuchadnezzar, and Plato came in long before the “Cult of Jesus” did.
Tortoise Herder says
So let’s dissect why you decided to wade in here.
Wyszynski’, John Paul II, and Poland as a whole are eloquent challenges to your entire world view. You claim that Randian Objectivism is the only way for the United States to have a new birth of freedom. This already struggles under the twin problems that Randian Objectivism emerged in a free society that had been established hundreds of years before Rand was born (and drawing on concepts of civic liberties and rights and contractual society that were around long before that), and that Randian Objectivism has yet to give birth to a new flourishing of liberty under its own power (You can reasonably argue it helped give rise to the Reagan Revolution, but only in concert with Goldwaterites and more traditionalist conservatives, including the “Moral Majority”).
But Poland is particularly troublesome for you precisely because it features an example of a society quite literally regaining its freedom, rolling back totalitarian collectivism and classic pathological altruism in ideology, not through Randian Objectivism but through an odd mixture between labor union strikes and the Catholic Church. And doing so with explicitly Christian appeals that the power of the state be limited and that people be free from slavery.
Tortoise Herder says
For someone who bases their world view on the idea that religion is not merely A problem but “THE” problem, it’s a snub in the eye. Especially since the philosophical and ideological heirs of that movement currently dominate Polish politics today, including in the current government and party.
But you can’t actually speak or write intelligibly about Polish Decommunization and modern Polish politics, and while that hasn’t stopped you from doing so before (since your writings on theology, antiquity, and medieval history are utter doggerel), it seems like this is a bridge too far.
So you have to find some way to change the subject to try and change the narrative, to avoid dealing with the fact that Pope John Paul II and Wyszynski played a far more palpable role in the fight for human freedom than Rand and Peikoff have (and that has to STING), without actually having the competence or knowledge to even half-bakedly try to address the relevant accomplishments and history.
There’s an old lawyer’s saying.
“If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts; if you have the law on your side, pound the law; if you have neither the facts nor the law, pound the table.”
This is the equivalent of you pounding the table.
Miranda Rose Smith says
The modern totalitarians, the Communists in particular, ruthlessly persecuted religious people.
THX 1138 says
This is true but Jews, Christians, and Muslims also ruthlessly persecuted each other before modern totalitarianism began. And moreover, different sects of Jews, Christians, and Muslims ruthlessly persecuted each other. The Jews of Jesus’ time, according to the Holy Scripture rejected him, despised him, they urged the Romans to kill him because they couldn’t do it themselves.
Religion prepared the ground for modern totalitarianism. What the Soviets and the Nazis did was no different in essence from what the Incas and the Aztecs did to their sacrificial victims in the name of unreason, mysticism, supernaturalism, magical thinking.
Tortoise Herder says
“This is true but Jews, Christians, and Muslims also ruthlessly persecuted each other before modern totalitarianism began. And moreover, different sects of Jews, Christians, and Muslims ruthlessly persecuted each other. The Jews of Jesus’ time, according to the Holy Scripture rejected him, despised him, they urged the Romans to kill him because they couldn’t do it themselves.”
Agreed, but this is sadly unsurprising. Whether or not one believes in Caps-S Sin as a palpable spiritual force or in a Caps-F Fall, it is hard to deny that much of human nature is small-s- sinful and small f fallen. Which is why various “Pagan” authorities and believers persecuted one another and others long before Monotheism had any kind of serious concept. Antiochus IV Epiphanes is a particularly useful case because he was known for being a murderous bigot even by Hellenistic subjects (which is why they called him some very unflattering and all but unpostable names both behind his back and for posterity).
“Religion prepared the ground for modern totalitarianism. ”
Dubious at best. Especially since humanity has been religious for several thousand years but modern totalitarianism did not emerge until – at least in Europe – the High Medieval Ages at the earliest. It also ignores important precursors such as the ancient Chinese Legalists, who were if anything far more secular and “rational” than most (not all but most) of their peers.
Miranda Rose Smith says
Dear THX 1148: “Judsism prepared the ground for Christiamity and they both ptepared the ground for Islam, Msrxism and Nazism.” How did they do that? You’re lucky this is a conservative website. We’re all adults here. If this were a librtal website, especially in England, I could complain that I felt threatened by your post-and get you arrested. Withoit religion, who can say the Nazis or the Stalinists wete wrong?
THX 1138 says
It’s obvious where Islam got its essential mythology and supernaturalism from isn’t it? Marxism is a “crypto-religion”, supernaturalism and mysticism hidden underneath a mountain of pseudo-scientific gibberish, derived from Judeo-Christinity.
What Marx did was to essentially pseudo-secularize Judeo-Christianity. Nazism is socialism with the added ingredient of racism.
Unfortunately we can no longer post long comments here, but if you’re interested in knowing more about this please google “Religion versus America” by Leonard Peikoff and you can read his book “The Ominous Parallels: The End Of Freedom In America”. There is a 45 minute interview on Youtube of Leonard Peikoff explaining his book, “Leonard Peikoff Ominous Parallels Ayn Rand’s Philsophy of Objectivism Radio Interview”.
THX 1138 says
“Who” decides what is wrong and what is right? It’s not a “who” that men depend upon to decide what is wrong or right, it’s a “what”., the “what” is reality.
A man decides and men decide what is wrong or right by looking at the facts of reality. How does a brain surgeon decide what is wrong or right during brain surgery? He looks at the facts before him and determines a course of action according the facts of reality he has observed and discovered.
Why should you respect the rights of others to live in peace free from your coercion and violence, or fraud? Because the fact of reality is if you choose to live among men that reality requires you to respect their rights and they must respect yours, if life is your choice.
Do you really think it’s the fear of an eternal Hell in an after-life that keeps men from murdering each other? I don’t. It’s the love of life, with a rational understanding of the requirements of life (productive work) that makes men respect other men who also love life like they do.
We should have murdered Islam, and communism in their cradle centuries ago. Hard to do with a live and let live attitude.
THX 1138 says
How do you murder magical thinking? How do you murder irrationality? How do you murder unreason?
You obviously can’t. Man has free will, he can choose to think or not to think at any point in his life or in any area of his life. A republic of liberty ultimately means a republic of reason, a republic of independent thinkers, and a people dedicated to accepting and living by the facts of reality by using reason and logic to discover those facts.
Religion like Marxism and Nazism are ultimately the result of magical thinking, of mysticism, of faith, of irrationality, of unreason. Of turning away from reality and reason.
The case of Poland is UNIQUE in the sense that it debunks the argument that tolerance was impossible in a CATHOLIC country.
During the 16th century and more the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was SUPERIOR in religious tolerance to HOLLAND and ENGLAND.
A) In Holland the Catholic Church was prohibited in 1581, and in England in 1559.
B) The Poles had NO Inquisition and there was religious freedom for:
Catholics and Protestants,
Jews and Unitarians, and Arians
and MUSLIMS ( 100 mosques,of the TATARS,in the kingdom).
I am amazed that Poland never developed a philosophical school like that in SPAIN,that of the SCHOOL of SALAMANCA, where the Inquisition existed.
Created by FRANCISCO DE VITORIA,a priest, Father of International Law, who
said all are born in the Image of God, then all are born EQUAL and with 3 RIGHTS ( using the Latin word IUS (right) ):
the right to Life, to Property, and to Liberty. Vitoria was openly against imperialism,colonialism,
slavery, conquest based on religious differences.
I had forgot to add the ORTHODOX church also had religious freedom in Poland then.
Mark Dunn says
Lets all requests our local libraries get a copy of the film. If there are enough requests “Hoopla” may acquire an electronic copy.
CHARLES R DISQUE says
Thank you, Professor, for your depth of analysis and sympathy. Somehow, we must find and watch this movie and heed this story and find within ourselves some of the strength of the remarkable people portrayed.
Danusha V Goska says
I think the suggestion above about asking libraries for copies might be successful. Not sure.
Worth a try. I have to assume it will not be promoted by the Movers and the Shakers as they have always seemed so fond of Stalin and all his works.
And thanks for the review.
The answer to all our problems surely is the Kingdom of God, the heavenly government for whose coming Jesus taught us to pray. The Hebrew Scriptures warn us that we were not designed to rule ourselves, to rule over each other, so we are living in the time during which man has dominated man “to his harm”.
God’s Kingdom alone will restore the link so fatally broken in Eden. It will transform the earth into the paradise of peace it was always meant to be, and will restore obedient humankind to the life and perfection that our first parents so tragically lost.
Under its loving, perfect, and impartial rule, we will have “the glorious freedom of the children of God” – a freedom that we, the damaged, dying children of disobedient Adam have never yet known.