Richard Dawkins on Hitler and Stalin


This article is intended as an antidote to those leftists who equate Richard Dawkins’ pathological rejection of religion, with his support for Marxism, or Marxist-Leninism. In providing this critique of Dawkins’ work, I am not supporting or advocating religion, but merely demonstrating that Dawkins – who is entitled to his view – is a bourgeois rigthtwinger with no interest in Socialism or in providing an honest critique of (secular) capitalism. Although his work on evolutionary theory is not accepted as valid by the Darwin Project, I want to focus on a single subchapter which appears in his book ‘The God Delusion’, Bantam Press, (2006), entitled ‘What About Hitler and Stalin? Weren’t They Atheists?’. This is part of a longer chapter named ‘The “Good” Book and the Moral Zeitgeist’ (Pages 253-278). This chapter starts with a quote that is wrong in its assumption:

‘Politics has slain its thousands, but religion has slain its tens of thousands.’ – Sean O’Casey

I once read an academic book, the author of which stated that in about a thousand years of Catholic and Protestant Church history, the various religiously based pogroms, persecutions and other mass murders resulted in around 10 million deaths. As appalling and unacceptable as this undoubtedly is, the fact remains that Adolf Hitler’s Nazi German regime murdered upwards of 11 million people (during the holocaust), primarily during the years 1939-1945, not including the 800,000 German Citizens who were executed for resisting Hitler’s rule. This number includes Jews, homosexuals, religionists, anarchists, Socialists, Communists, those with disabilities, and anyone deemed an ‘inferior’ race. During Hitler’s attack upon the Soviet Union, the Nazi war machine killed and murdered between 27 – 40 million men, women and children, with a recent Russian academic study settling on 34.5 million. This suggests that Hitler’s regime was responsible for the deaths of around 50 million people, and this number does not include the military or civilian casualty figures for Western Europe, North Africa, Italy, Greece, or any other area Nazi German troops were operating within. In the case of the USSR, the murder was so extreme because Hitler had decreed the Slavic race to be inferior, and that it should be wiped-out to make way for an expansion of the German people (into a land referred to as ‘Greater Germany’). Of course, none of this contextual information is included in Dawkins’ work, who is too busy trying to defend atheism from its apparent association with German Nazism and Soviet Communism. Even if the example of WWII casualty figures are set aside for the moment, it has been estimated that since WWII, the US use of military aggression around the globe has resulted in at least 25 million deaths. This number of ‘secular’ deaths can only grow if the victims of the British empire, the Belgians (in the Congo) and numerous other imperialist ventures around the world are taken into account. Yes, the Christian Church aligned itself with the forces of imperialist expansion, but this was very much after the fact. If these ventures had not been conceived and facilitated by the various secular governments of the world, then the modern Church would not have possessed the material power or resources to have initiated such a project on its own. Of course, the secular deaths caused in China between 1931-1945 (due to Japanese imperialist aggression) amount to around 60 million men, women and children. This means that WWII alone accounted for well over 100 million deaths attributed to modern warfare and racist ideology.

What does Dawkins have to say about Hitler and Stalin? Firstly, Dawkins pursues without question the US Cold War narrative that Hitler and Stalin were both bad people, and that German Nazism was exactly the same as Soviet Communism. Dawkins is desperate to distance both Hitler and Stalin from the ideological position of atheism, as he is aware that many use this apparent association as a means to explain the barbaric behaviour Hitler undoubtedly authorised, and which Stalin was supposed to have authorised. What Dawkins’ superficial approach to history fails to explore, is that there is no independent, objective or reliable evidence to prove that Stalin did anything bad during his chairmanship of the USSR. Indeed, the opposite is exactly true. What Stalin did do was steer the USSR through a devastating invasion by the Nazi Germans whilst allied to the West, and led the Soviet people to victory in Berlin in 1945. The point Dawkins fails to understand is that although some Communists describe themselves as ‘atheists’, what they actually mean by this term is ‘non-theist’, as Marxist dialectics rejects the double-bind of the ‘religionist’ verses the ‘atheist’ dichotomy – a binary limitation that links the human mind to theology or (non-Socialist) secularism. Dawkins does not comprehend or understand the superficial and expedient attitude Hitler had to political life. For Hitler, every means was justified to acquire and keep power, and this included attacking religion on the one hand, and embracing it on the other. For Stalin, matters were different as he was elected into office, and retained in office through regular elections. Furthermore, the Soviet State was separate (like the US) from the Church (which otherwise flourished within the USSR). Dawkins knows none of this and merely blunders onwards with vacuous statements and laborious quotes in an attempt to make a point that is a priori invalid. Dawkins’ assertion that no war has ever been fought in the name of atheism is also obviously untrue, if atheism is equated with the use of secular military power, then European imperialism, US imperialism, WWI and WWII may be taken as expresions of it. Dawkins makes this mistaken assumption because in his mind, he draws a false separation between socio-economic factors and the type of mythical secularism he is attempting to peddle.


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