Are Jehovah's Witnesses communists?

by ozziepost 28 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • ozziepost

    That was the title of a tract I recall distributing in the 1950s. It responded to the demonising of so many people in the McCarthy period. The answer seemed obvious at the time - no, dubs are anything but communists.

    Yet, so often do WTS publications court the desires of people in communist terms. The illustration on the widely distributed tract "You are cordially invited to attend the 'Deliverance at Hand!' DC of JWs" shows what purports to be "paradise" in which people are working joyfully (and cleanly!!) in agricultural pursuits. But look closely, they seem to be doing this together in common pursuit - no individual family farms these but group efforts.

    Isn't that communism at work?

    Footnote: what is that building going up in the distance? - surely not a "quick build™" ? !!

  • james_woods

    Even as late as the 60s and 70s, you quite often had people call you a pinko-commie at the door. It probably had to do with the cold war and the obvious anti-draft and anti-military stand the Watchtower had historically taken through WW2 and Korea. Not to mention VietNam. And the flag salute.

    I started a thread asking about the same question you do here - are they in fact somewhat communist? (one of the first ones I did).

    My conjecture was just like yours - they very much like collective farms (i.e.Walkill), collective manufacturing (i.e.Brooklyn), and total control of all state approved media (i.e.Watchtower publications). They are run by a politburo that meets in secret (i.e.Governing Body). They do not want individual ownership of Kingdom Halls, this should belong to the Society. etc. all sure looks like communism to me!

    I was suprised to find that a large percentage of the replies on this board (if not a majority) see them more as an evil capitalistic corporation with furtive right-wing goals...I suspect that a large percentage of contributors here have left-wing or "progressive" sympathies and would rather associate the hated society with the greedy corporate world than with the totalitarian marxists or communists.

    Lets see what follows on your thread - James

  • plmkrzy

    There ya go. What do you get when you cross a communist with a capitalist?

  • garybuss

    You wrote: "Are Jehovah's Witnesses communists?"
    No! The organization by structure is Fascist.

  • daniel-p

    I think you would have a hard time proving they are communist. Of course, it greatly depends on what sort of "communism" you are comparing them to. For example, there is a big difference between Marx's philisophic and economic ideals than how it was played out by the communist party after the Russuan Civil War.

    First of all, seperate "classes" are openly embraced by this Society. There is the "slave class," and there is the "sheep class," or earthly-hope class." Besides these, there are more ranks in the heiarchy, with zone overseers, district overseers, circuit overseers, elders, and ministerial servants. To openly have these seperate classes is contrary to communist values.

    Second, the structure of the WTBTS is capitalistic. Sure, they have non-profit status, but that just basically means they don't have shareholders. They can still make as much money as they want as a self-sustaining corporation. In this sense, it exploits low-wage workers (Bethelites) for economic gain. This typifies the antagonistic struggle outlined in the Communist Manifesto. Again, this is in direct contradiction to communist values.

    Third, and perhaps the most obvious point, is the fact that it's a religion!

    Perhaps you should do some real research about what communism is (not how it was used by certain political parties) and compare it to other types of governement like mono-theocracies, which the WBTS resembles to a much greater degree.

  • SixofNine

    lol, no.

    Besides, there is nothing wrong in people living communistically if that's what they want to do, so long as government doesn't try to make it a grand social experiment and force it on people who don't want it.


    Jehovahs Witness`s are dictated to.Nothing they do,is done democracticly.Do what your told or get out,those are your choices...OUTLAW

  • garybuss

    THEOCRACY: God Rule
    (Paradise Restored To Mankind By Theocracy, Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1972, p.13)
    FASCISMFascism, philosophy of government that glorifies the nation-state at the expense of the individual. Major concepts of fascism include opposition to democratic and socialist movements; racist ideologies, such as ANTI-SEMITISM; aggressive military policy; and belief in an authoritarian leader who embodies the ideals of the nation.
    (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995)
    FASCISM, is a form of government headed, in most cases, by a dictator. It involves total government control of political, economic, cultural, religious, and social activities. (The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, 1979,p.52-54)
    The Watch Tower Society claims it is a Theocracy form of government. Ruled from the top [God] down by [using] a dictatorial committee [Governing Body]. It involves total control of: political activity of members by prohibiting membership in [other] political parties and voting in general elections; cultural intercourse by discouraging artists, musicians, and athletics; religious freedom by ostracism of members who seek outside religious association; and social activities by strongly discouraging members from associating with anyone not approved by the group leaders.
    Fascism resembles Communism. But unlike Communism, which calls for the government to own all industry, fascism allows industry to remain in private ownership, though under government control. Other important features of fascism include extreme patriotism, warlike policies, and persecution of minorities. (ibid.)
    The Watch Tower Society [The Theocracy] resem
    bles Communism. But unlike Communism, The Theocracy allows members to own private business, though under Theocracy "suggestions and guidelines" plus all group member workers must follow "Society directives" (Pay Attention To Yourselves And To All The Flock, p.138). Other important features of The Theocracy include extreme loyalty to the Dictatorial Committee [Governing Body], warlike policies, e.g. Theocratic War Strategy, and hatred of perceived enemies [often dissenting former group members].
    Political Life.
    In most cases, fascists have come to power after a nation has suffered an economic collapse, a military defeat, or some other disaster. The fascist party wins mass support by promising to revive the economy and to restore national pride. The fascists may also appeal to a fear of Communism or a hatred of Jews and other minorities. Eventually, the fascists may gain control of the government?through peaceful elections or by force. (ibid.)
    The Theocracy came to power after World War I and after the death of it's charismatic leader and founder, Charles Taze Russell. The Theocracy won support by: identifying a perceived enemy, including all [other] governments, all [other] big business, and all [other] religion, especially the Catholic religion; providing a clear definition of "the problem" and offering an absolute solution; and by claiming an exclusive way to the ideal condition, e.g. heaven, new world, perfect body, etc. The Theocracy appealed to those with a fear of communism and a hatred for the Catholics and other religions.
    After the fascist party takes power, its members replace the men and women in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the government. In most cases, one individual?usually a dictator with great popular appeal?becomes the leader of the government. Sometimes, a committee of party members holds the government leadership. Fascists permit no other political party and no opposition to their policies. (ibid)
    After The Theocracy [Joseph Rutherford] took power, it's members took the Watch Tower Society's leadership positions as executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the organization. After a brief intra-Society power struggle, Joseph Franklin Rutherford emerged as the clear leader. Today the leadership is a dictatorial committee called, "The Governing Body" made up of members who have proven their loyalty to the system installed largely by Rutherford. The Theocracy permits no other political party and no opposition to their policies.
    The fascist desire for national glory leads to an increase in military spirit and a build-up of the armed forces. After the military forces become strong enough, they may invade and occupy other countries. (ibid) The Theocracy considers itself to be in "Theocratic Warfare" and "publishers" are seen as theocratic soldiers fighting a "spiritual battle". Congregations, in recent history, were known as "companies". Members are referred to as the "rank and file". Numbers of spiritual soldiers [publishers] are seen as proof of divine direction and the armies have advanced upon every country in the world.
    Economic Life. A fascist government permits and even encourages private enterprise?as long as such activity serves the government's goals. However, the government maintains strict control of industry to make sure it produces what the nation needs. The government discourages imports by putting high tariffs on certain essential products or by banning imports of those products. It does not want to depend on other countries for such vital products as oil and steel. (ibid) The Theocracy form of government of The Watch Tower Society permits and even encourages private enterprise to a degree?as long as such activity serves the government's goals. However, The Theocracy maintains strict control of member owned industry to make sure it produces what the Society needs. The Society discourages member's buying and reading independent Bible commentaries and other products not produced by the Theocracy's factories. It does not want to depend on [other] business to produce reading and research material for the "rank and file".
    The government also forbids strikes so that production will not be interrupted. Fascism outlaws labor unions and replaces them with a network of organizations in the major industries. These organizations, which consist of both workers and employers, are called corporations, but they differ from those in other countries. Fascist corporations supposedly represent both labor and management but actually are controlled by the government. Through the corporations, the government determines wages, hours, and production goals. As a result, a fascist country is sometimes called a corporative state. (ibid)
    The Theocracy uses guilt and fear to keep members from taking vacations [silent strikes] from "service" [fundraising and recruiting]. The Society has installed it's own network of organization guidelines and directives as well as the necessary enforcement representatives in the member's lives. Individual congregations, as well as every facet of the group member's life, are controlled by the Theocratic government and it's official representatives. Through the individual congregations, the Theocracy government determines member's privileges, schedules their required activities, and reinforces their Theocratic goals.
    Personal Liberty is severely limited under a fascist government. For example, the government limits travel to other countries and restricts any contact with their people. The government also controls the newspapers, radio, and other means of communication in its country. It issues propaganda to promote its policies, and it practices strict censorship to silence opposing views. All children are required to join youth organizations, where they exercise, march, and learn fascist beliefs. A secret police force crushes any resistance. Opposition may lead to imprisonment, torture, and death. (ibid) Personal liberty is severely limited under The Watch Tower Society's Theocratic government. For example, the government limits association with [other] churches and discourages any personal contact with their people. The Theocratic government also controls the information it's members have access to. It issues it's own propaganda to promote it's policies, and it practices strict censorship to silence opposing views, ostracizing members who admit to reading information critical of the Society. All children are intimidated to begin service and silent meeting attendance at an early age by parents who will not be eligible for privileges [unpaid group jobs] unless children comply. Children of privileged adults are required to learn Theocratic beliefs and to behave as though they accept these as fact, sometimes as a condition for them to remain a resident of the family home. A structured enforcement system exists to guarantee enforced compliance with the dictatorial committee's directives, including convention "attendants" [private police], organizationally directed as well as freelance surveillance of group members, and the powerful "elder arrangement", which judges members compliance to the "directives" in secret trials called "judicial committee meetings", where the leadership selected, all male panel issues summonses, hears witness testimony, reads charges, determines innocence or guilt, and passes sentence on the accused. Often the sentence is a "disfellowshiping order", under which members in good standing are required to snub and shun errant members even if they are relatives.
    Fascists consider all other peoples inferior to those of their own nationality group. As a result, a fascist government may persecute or even kill Gypsies, Jews, or members of other minority groups. (ibid) The Theocracy considers all [other] business, government, and religion inferior to their own and operated for the benefit of the power of evil. As a result the Theocratic government of the Watch Tower Society may persecute by ostracism members and leaders of opposing [all] business, political, governmental, and religious institutions [organizations], including shunning, snubbing, and verbal as well as printed attacks and public name calling. (Chaplinsky V. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 58)

  • Narkissos

    From a French pow (until the mid-eighties France had a strong, legal, Communist party which never rose to significant executive power though) this issue sounded very American. The simple reason being that here "Communist" doesn't mean "bad" (nor "good" either). It was just one political party among others. So it was quite strange to have a specific denial of Communism (and not Socialism, or Capitalism, or Fascism).

    The authoritarian and totalitarian structure which Rutherford gave the WT is contemporary of both Stalinism and many right-wing forms of fascism. It reflects the spirit of those times. What it had specifically in common with early socialism is internationalistic ideals (criticism of nationalism), and, perhaps, criticism of traditional religion. The early dealings of Rutherford with Nazi Germany shows that it went no further: atheistic Communism was a common enemy.

    I have known many JWs with Communist leanings and a few ones with fascist leanings, everyone hearing what they wanted to hear from the WT doctrine.

  • Confession

    I have often seen similarities in the Communist and Watchtower mindsets. Gary, I think it's possible that elements of Communism, although sketchy in our minds, are more understood than is Fascism by most today.

    I always saw discouragement of individuality as Communistic. There often existed strong bias toward those who were not working simple jobs or who had more money than most. I remember one brother performed certain services for the auto dealers in our area. Other brothers were in the same field. When one auto dealer bought out another, the first brother was going to be put out of work--while the other would likely get more work. The first brother had the firm belief that the second brother had an "obligation" to give him half of his work. This type of thinking was very prevalent--even in small personal matters.

    That said, Gary, I do see Fascism (as you've elaborated upon) as being more specifically similar to the Watchtower religion. Communism...Fascism...Watchtowerism...none of it is for me.


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