Open Book: Views & Reviews, No. 4
Copyright (c) 1991 Biblical Horizons
Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood: The Struggle for World Dominion Between Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev & the Capitalist West (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990). Reviewed by Peter J. Leithart.
The subtitle of this massive volume gives a good idea of its major theme. Martin, the hard-hitting former Jesuit, examines the three major players involved in the "millennial end game" to determine the future geopolitical shape of the world. Gorbachev, Martin argues, is seeking the "Marxification" of Western Europe and America; the most powerful of the various Western globalists have a democratic-capitalist globe as their aim; John Paul II, whom Martin insists is a figure of immense geopolitical significance, has a vision that is "religious and specifically Christian from a Roman Catholic perspective" (p. 492), and hence John Paul specifically rejects the secularisms of East and West.
So much could, of course, be surmised from the book’s subtitle. No subtitle — nor a brief review, for that matter — could begin to capture the impressive range of issues and figures that Martin discusses. Several important themes emerge.
Martin stresses that, for all his global significance, the current Pope has no control over his Church. In a provocatively titled chapter, "The Judas Complex," he bluntly charges that many Roman Catholic officials are guilty of malfeasance. The abuse of office involves generally the refusal to teach and enforce Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, and centers on four specific issues: the Eucharist, the uniqueness of the Roman Church, the supremacy of the Pope, and a range of reproductive issues. Martin is a hyper-traditionalist Roman Catholic; he launches an attack on Vatican II’s emphasis on the Church as the "people of God," and summarizes the Catholic teaching that the Mass "presents the real live Sacrifice of the body and the blood and physical life of Jesus consummated on Calvary" (p. 667), a formulation that even Aquinas would be hesitant to endorse. For all his admiration of John Paul, Martin chides him, as he did in his earlier book, The Jesuits, for not weeding his own garden.
One of the best parts of this book is Martin’s classification of the various minor actors on the world stage. He divides them into three general categories: Provincial globalists, Piggyback globalists, and Genuine globalists. Provincial globalists believe that "sooner or later the world at large will somehow take on the ideas and mind-set of the group" (p. 283); when that time comes, the Provincial globalists will fashion the world into a macrocosm of their provincial microcosm. In this first category Martin includes Islam, Evangelical and cultic millennialists, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the other major non-Christian religions. Piggyback globalists, in contrast to Provincial globalists, are "global activists" (p. 292) who have "developed to a high art the ability to ride piggyback on the structural setups of everyone else’s organization" (p. 293). There are three categories of Piggyback globalists: Humanists, Mega-Religionists who are seeking the fusion of all the world’s religions (for example, the adherents of Baha’i), and New Agers.
There are two related categories of Genuine Globalists: Internationalists, whose ranks are filled with "political bureaucrats" whose activities include "forging legal agreements and pacts between nations and, increasingly, between blocs of nations" (p. 313), and Transnationalists, "money men and company men who operate at a certain rarefied level" (p. 313). Genuine globalists, unlike Provincial and Piggyback globalists, have their own institutions to advance their agenda: financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), trade agreements like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT), and international political organizations like the United Nations. The efforts of the Genuine globalists are also aided by the increasing homogeneity of global popular culture; Sean Connery, Martin mentions in passing, is a huge star in sub-Saharan Africa. The power of these genuine Western globalists is not to be gainsaid; several times Martin repeats Bill Moyers’s finding that "just about a dozen or fifteen individuals made day-by-day decisions that regulated the flow of capital and goods throughout the entire world" (p. 326). Yet, Martin argues that the globalist tripod of trade, finance, and security is unstable, largely due to its dependence on the fading hegemony of the United States.
Another of the strong portions of this book is Martin’s insightful description of the convergence of Eastern and Western culture. In this connection, he emphasizes the role of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, whose revision of Marxism "haunts" both East and West. Gramsci discerned that the true genius of Marxism was its thoroughgoing materialism, and that therefore the true enemy of Marxism was not any particular social class, but the Christian culture that united manager and worker in one civilization. Gramsci’s subtle strategy, therefore, was not to foment proletarian revolutions, which are unlikely to appear, but to "Marxize the inner man" (p. 248), so that Western man would adopt "not merely a non-Christian mind but an anti-Christian mind" (p. 250). Martin’s summary of Gramsci’s program is worth quoting in full:
In the most practical terms, he needed to get individuals and groups in every class and station of life to think about life’s problems without reference to the Christian transcendent, without reference to God and the laws of God. He needed to get them to react with antipathy and positive opposition to any introduction of Christian ideals or the Christian transcendent into the treatment and solution of the problems of modern life (p. 251).
Marxist politics would, Gramsci perceived, follow logically from a Marxist mind.
Martin sees Gramsci’s ghost everywhere he turns. Gorbachev’s smiling Marxism is one version. Before Vatican II, then-Pope John XXIII struck a deal with Nikita Khrushchev in which the Pontiff agreed that the Council would not condemn Communism if the Soviet leader would permit Russian clerics to attend. By avoiding the condemnation of the Communist system, Vatican II left the door wide open for Liberation Theology and hence became the "midwife" for the triumph of Gramsci’s secularist social vision. In the West, meanwhile, social life is being evacuated of any transcendent symbols or norms; happiness has replaced holiness as the chief end of man. Given the convergence of worldview between the East and West, it is no surprise that among the first Western exports to Eastern Europe were foreign language editions of Playboy.
Martin includes as well a fascinating discussion of Poland’s strategic and political significance in European history, in which he recalls early modern Poland’s policy of religious toleration; the 18th-century Partitions of Poland deprived Europe not only of its "northern bulwark," but also of a model of a religiously pluralistic society. At the same time, Martin emphasizes the distinctively Roman Catholic foundations of Polish culture, and claims that the Freemasons were largely responsible for the destruction of free Poland. His discussion of the training of Pope John Paul under Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski is a classic case study in prudent Christian resistance to tyranny.
Martin’s book is sometimes repetitive, and one at times gets the sense that he has oversimplified things a bit. When he attributes thoughts and conclusions to John Paul II, it is not clear where Martin is getting his information. But the strengths far exceed the weaknesses. Martin’s panoramic sketch of the contemporary world is rooted in a Christian understanding of man and God, and his writing is clear, crisp, and tough without being belligerent. In all, it is a book well worth reading.
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