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In order for communism to succeed in the West, a massive deconstruction, a demolishing of the culture, would have to occur. However, the commies were not operating in a vacuum, and they knew it. You can't just blow into town and start uprooting everything.
Perhaps a better way to visualize this would be to think in terms of tipping the scales. When one side is greatly lower, you can get the scales to tip by either just adding more weight to the other side or slowly adding more weight while at the same time subtracting weight from the opposite side.
Of course, the second method requires more time and patience and planning, but, at the end, it is the more effective way to actually flip the scales. This was the plan the communists put into effect.
Ultimately, it was all about transforming society slowly, methodically and extremely effectively, so that as one generation gave way to the next, the transformation would hardly be noticeable. It was an extremely ambitious and, most importantly, wide-ranging strategy, one that required capturing various institutions of society at approximately the same time.
If you think in terms of, say, planning a big meal with all sorts of dishes, you need to make sure that the timing is right — all the food has to hit the table at the same time.
Because they are different dishes, some require much advance prep work; others, not as much. But they all need to come off the stove and out of the oven at the same instant. Well, the same is true of the commie plan to undermine the culture.
What all the institutions actually had in common was their at least tacit acceptance of Christian principles (and, specifically, Catholic principles) on how a well-ordered society should run and look.
Gramsci clashed with Joseph Stalin on the issue of what was the greater challenge to creating the "workers' paradise," capitalism or the Catholic Church. For Gramsci, it was clear: Catholicism, because he understood the vital knitting together of the other institutions relied on the underlying view of man promoted and taught by the Church.
The anthropology of Catholicism (who is man and what is his purpose, and what flows from those answers) is the canvas upon which a society is painted. The texture of the painting's canvas, the nap, the material — all give a certain view of the final art.
So too with the Church, which, like it or not, even here in Protestant America, set the tone for everything else.
Stalin's method of installing communism was much more forceful: violence, rebellion, suppression, mass murders — ultimately, ruling through fear. It would produce immediate results if successful, enslaving many nations. But the question of its staying power, that was indeed a question.
Stalin's new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR, did indeed steamroll its way through much of the 20th century, asserting its dominance on hundreds of millions behind the Iron Curtain, threatening world peace almost continuously for roughly 40 years. But then it simply vanished, almost overnight.
On Christmas night, 1991, president of the Soviet Union (which had already largely disintegrated) Mikhail Gorbachev gave a 10-minute resignation speech.
Moments later, the hammer and sickle Soviet communist flag, which had flown there for 70 years, was lowered, and the new Russian flag was raised. In the run-up to that breathless moment, almost two years earlier, in what would have formerly been understood as impossible, Gorbachev went to the Vatican, hat in hand, and posed with Pope John Paul for a photo op. The world was stunned.
The leader of godless atheism who had tortured and murdered countless Catholics behind that Iron Curtain, including many of John Paul's closest friends, was now standing there at the throne of Peter, hoping to impress Western bankers, from whom he needed much financing, that things had indeed changed in the Kremlin.
That scene in December 1989, followed two years later by the flag lowering over the Kremlin in December 1991, proved that Gramsci has been correct. No empire ruled by fear and oppression can last indefinitely. The foundational philosophy needs to be transformed, not thrown into camps and murdered.
Human bodies could be crushed, yes — but human nature cannot. But what human nature can be is manipulated and transformed, twisted further. Gramsci got it.
The institution that needed to be attacked and transformed was the Catholic Church, because it pointed to the heights, directed human nature to its greater end, and it is that foundation, with its appeals to justice and kindness and charity, that all society was built upon.
The Church preached that to the barbarians more than a thousand years earlier and had never stopped. Those preachings and teachings were the very bedrock of the West, and as long as the institution which kept them in place was itself in place, communism didn't stand a chance, except for a momentary period of violence and oppression that could not last.
Key to the advancement of communism would be the undermining of Catholicism because of its complete and total embrace and upholding of Christianity. Protestantism didn't pose a threat to communism because large portions had already abandoned bedrock principles regarding human nature.
Gramsci proves the point that the battle is between Catholicism and atheism, which today thrives in communism.