The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

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Category:         Social and political
SubCategory:  Communism

Follow link under "Source" below for a list of Merton books corresponding to abbreviations.
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DateAuthorTitleSourceQuotation by Merton
1957/11/17Arthur KoestlerDarkness at Noon Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 141 (From Darkness at Noon) "The Party denied the free will of the individual - and at the same time exacted his willing self-sacrifice. It denied his capacity to choose between two alternatives and at the same time it demanded that he always choose the right one. It denied him power to distinguish between good and evil-and at the same time it spoke accusingly of guilt and treachery"¦etc.
1957/11/17Bertolt BrechtMeasures Taken / Translated from German Die Massnahme Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 140 Quote from Bert Brecht Punitive Measure: "He who fights for communism must be able to fight and to renounce fighting, to say the truth and not to say the truth, to be helpful and not helpful, to keep a promise and to break a promise, to go into danger and to avoid danger, to be known and be unknown-He who fights for Communism has of all the virtues only one: that he fights for Communism." (In the play villain falls into 4 traps-"pity, loyalty, dignity, righteous indignation") p. 41ff. Quote from a Communist in Bruckberger: "We manufacture gods and transform men to believe in Order. We will create a universe in our image without weaknesses"¦in which man will attain his cosmic grandeur"¦We are not fighting for a regime, or for power or for riches, we are the instruments of fate."
1958/05/29Hannah ArendtOrigins of Totalitarianism Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 204 The terrible insights of Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism. Wrote notes here under the pine trees in bare feet.
1958/11/10Czeslaw MiloszCaptive Mind Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 230 Reading Czeslaw Milosz The Captive Mind-a really interesting book. When you read something worthwhile in these days, you know it right away-and this is worthwhile-every line of it. The challenge it presents-very clear and sober. Who is there in the West that can write a book that will really be appreciated by someone who has lain on the cobblestones of the street with the machine gun bullets whizzing by him and re-arranging a pattern of upturned paving stones?
1958/12/06Czeslaw MiloszCaptive Mind Ltrs: CforT p. 54 Having read your remarkable book The Captive Mind I find it necessary to write to you, as without your help I am unable to pursue certain lines of thought which this book suggests. I would like to ask you a couple of questions and hope you will forgive this intrusion. First of all I would like to say that I found your book to be one of the most intelligent and stimulating it has been my good fortune to read for a very long time. It is an important book, which makes most other books on the present state of man look abjectly foolish. I find it especially important for myself in my position as a monk, a priest and a writer. It is obvious that a Catholic writer in such a time as ours has an absolute duty to confine himself to reality and not waste his time in verbiage and empty rationalizations. Unfortunately, as I have no need to point out to you, most of us do this and much worse. The lamentable, pitiable emptiness of so much Catholic writing, including much of my own, is only too evident. Your book has come to me, then, as something I can call frankly "spiritual," that is to say, as the inspiration of much thought, meditation and prayer about my own obligations to the rest of the human race, and about the predicament of us all.
1959/02/24Czeslaw MiloszCaptive Mind Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 264 Fine letter from Czeslaw Milosz in Paris. I had written about The Captive Mind. He replied at length about Alpha, Beta, etc. gave information about books, said he had translated some poems of mine into Polish. Sense of dealing, for once, with a real person, with one who has awakened out of sleep. There is no question that the world of the West and I in it, is involved in the deepest and most restless, and most stupid sleep. And how are we going to wake up? (The efforts which Western politicians imagine to be an awakening are only ways of tossing around in order to settle into an even deeper slumber.)
1961/03/28Czeslaw MiloszCaptive Mind Ltrs: CforT p. 74 This is just an added note to the longer letter I mailed this morning. Don't be perturbed about The Captive Mind. It was something that had to be written, & apart from the circumstances, it stands as a very valid statement by itself, irrespective of how it may be read & how it may be used. In any case no matter what a writer does these days it can be "used" for the cold war or for other purposes. Our very existence can be "used" by somebody or other to "prov" something that suits him. Such things are largely meaningless & we are wrong to be too affected by them.
1962/02/10Erich FrommMarx's concept of man / Erich Fromm ; with a transl. from Marx's economic and philosophical manuscripts by T.B. Bottomore Ltrs: HGL p. 544-45 At one point I would amplify and clarify what Fr. Tavard has said: where he discussed Marx. He does not make clear the inner spiritual potentialities hidden under the surface of the Marxian dialectic and the genuine pretensions of humanism that Marx himself expressed. The subordination of man to the technological process is not something that Marx accepts with unqualified satisfaction. On the contrary, it is, for him, the danger and the challenge of a technology based on profit. He thought that the ultimate challenge was for man to free himself of his machines and gain control over them, thus breaking the bonds of alienation and making himself the master of his history. The early essays of Marx recently published by Erich Fromm (Praeger) have some interesting possibilities in the way of the kind of dialogue Fr. Tavard suggests. For in these early essays, in which he concentrates on the problem of alienation, there is a very clear demand for the kind of dimension that can only be supplied by wisdom. Marx himself was uncertain and ambiguous in his treatment of this, but in any case he finds himself compelled to toy with the idea of a human nature on which to base his humanism.
1962/12/09Harrison Evans SalesburyA New Russia? Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 272 The new book of Harrison Salisbury [A New Russia, New York, 1962] shows there is a surprisingly deep rift between Soviet Russia and Communist China. And other things important perhaps. In a pragmatic way for peace-for the time being. The young writers in Russia who are speaking out-they are perhaps very important people, though perhaps also the Luce press makes too much of them. There is a tendency to think of them as Americans in Russia, which is fortunately not true and I have no reverence for such Russians as merely want to have their own cars and be "Americans." To put any hope in that is a real folly. Some do.
1963/05/10Leslie DewartChristianity and Revolution Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 317 Les[lie] Dewart has sent the ms. of his important book on Cuba. The first thing I have seen that makes sense out of the whole business. But he points out the responsibility of Catholics in creating a situation which led Castro to Communism. And it was led to do this by its ordinariness and mediocrity. Not that there was not great courage and generosity on the part of many who suffered torture under Batista for opposing him: but once Castro was in power, his Catholic supporters could not, says D., conceive of anything but an either/or choice between total repudiation of Communism or total acceptance of it. This, according to D., drove Castro to Communism.
1964/12/05Felix GreeneCurtain of Ignorance Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 175 So many good books around and in the woodshed after dinner. Pasternak once. Lately Ellul, and Felix Green's Curtain of Ignorance (good information on the bad reporting about China), Stevie Smith, Françoise Henri on Irish art, Auden "The Enchafed Flood," and last summer Kenneth Jackson's Early Celtic Nature Poetry. Also Nora Chadwick, etc., etc. (I got a charming letter from the Carmelites of Waterbeach, her friends). And of course recently Ionesco-Rhinoceros, The Future Is in Eggs, etc. I am still busy with his Notes et contre-notes.
1966/06/15Robert C. TuckerPhilosophy and Myth in Karl Marx Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 84 A good morning, cool and free. I can at least read again. Finished [Robert C.] Tucker's excellent book Philosophy and Myth in K[arl] Marx [London, 1964] - material for conferences. Trouble with arm still makes typing hard but I will get at these notes.