Over at the blog Generation Y (English version), I have been involved in a protracted discussion of the impropriety of calling the Castro regime “fascists,” even though they have undoubtedly been involved and are still involved with repression. To see all my input please look at the final comment at this post and all of my comments at this post.
Anyhow, here is a comment that summarizes a lot of my thinking on ethical socialism and democracy. The comment touches on the subject of fascism labeling only briefly, then undertakes a discussion of the need for socialism to be humbly placed in the constitutional framework of democracy and civil rights, so that “justice” will remain “in the service of love”:
So, whereas Fascism and Nazism are actual philosophies of hate, hatred can crop up even in work for justice. I believe very strongly, even though I am not a communist and just a garden variety democratic socialist, that communism at its core is a philosophy of love, the precise opposite of Fascism and Nazism. As each of us are capable of answering the call to be liberated and liberating species-beings, we are capable of caring for the weak, which will mean working for system change from capitalism, as well as performing direct actions of mutual aid.
I mentioned a few days ago the relationship of (1) love, (2) justice, and (3) law, and that they should rank in that order. This was perhaps baffling to some, but it is what I believe. And because human beings are not perfect, we get things botched up.
Communists and socialists, inspired by Marx’s message of human liberation see bad laws, enacted through capitalist-dominated parliaments, used to mask oppression. We seek justice, a good thing. Then things can go wrong. In our humility, we must recognize that safety checks are necessary. There should be ethical restraints we impose on ourselves, but sometimes these can fail; hence for all its failings, democracy is necessary, and constitutionally-protected human rights.
I have mentioned Father Jean Yves Calvez, the great Jesuit expert in liberation theology. Much of his service occurred under the great Father Pedro Arrupe. Here is some of what happened under his tenure as Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965-1983 (from Wikipedia):
“In its most extreme manifestations, liberation theology seemed to those in the Roman Curia, to subordinate the message of the Gospel to political revolution, making the former simply a means to achieve the latter. Fr. Arrupe himself was even accused of leading the Jesuits astray. The perception that there was a fundamental confusion between hope for equality in the present world and hope for the coming of the Kingdom of God led to the condemnation of liberation theology by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the 1980s in his capacity as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Despite these criticisms, the Jesuits undoubtedly made great sacrifices for their beliefs and immense dedication to the poor and dispossessed. On 20 June 1977 the White Warriors Union death squad threatened to kill all of the 47 Jesuits serving in El Salvador unless they abandoned their work with the poor, and left the country within a month. After consulting with the Jesuit community in El Salvador, Fr. Arrupe replied “They may end up as martyrs, but my priests are not going to leave because they are with the people.” A few months earlier, Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, a proponent of liberation theology, had been assassinated in El Salvador.
On 16 November 1989, six Jesuits (Ignacio Ellacuría, Armando Lopez, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Segundo Montes and Juan Ramon Moreno, along with their housekeeper (Julia Elba Ramos) and her daughter (Cecilia), were murdered at the Jesuit University of Central America. Others also suffered martyrdom: the chief bishop in El Salvador Archbishop Óscar Romero (though conservative in respect to religion) was gunned down whilst celebrating the Eucharist on 24 March 1980. Lay missionary Jean Donovan, Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel and Maryknoll sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford were beaten, raped and murdered by non-uniformed members of the Salvadoran National Guard on 2 December 1980. They joined some 75,000 Salvadorans who were killed during this troubled period. All the while, Fr. Arrupe continued to support and pray for those people who were willing to lay down their lives to help the poor initiate change.”
Here is Father Calvez’s summary of the thought of Father Arrupe (from Faith and Justice, p. 87):
“In Rich in Mercy we find the phrase … love being a condition of justice and justice being in the service of love. This phrase Father Arrupe used in his 1981 conference Rooted and Grounded in Love. He also quoted the following from the 1971 synod of bishops: ‘Love of neighbor and justice are inseparable. Love is above all a requirement of justice, that is, an acknowledgment of the dignity and of the rights of one’s neighbor.’ So justice first of all, if one wishes to love. On the other hand, if there is no sense of love and if one does not love, one must fear that even the quest for justice will become degraded. His words were, ‘Even when we resist injustice we cannot prescind from love, since the universality of love is, by the express desire of Christ, a commandment that admits of no exception’.”
To have a decent, reasonably compassionate world, where we do not all share this “love” ethic, and where even those of us who share it will constantly fail, love must be grounded in practical measures of democracy and civil rights.