Rutherford the Marxist??

by Satanus 10 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Satanus

    Rutherford went on and on about 'classes' of people: the esther class, the mordicai class, the haman class, etc. From where did this class bs come? Russel had previoussly stated it was his belief that anarchy would break out as working classes revolted against their capilist masters.

    An important doctrine of marx, and one of their main hopes later, after the bolshevik revolution was that the lower classes in society would rise up en mass and topple their govt's, thus embracing communism in country after country.

    And so, it leads to my question of the origin of rutherford's creation of classes of people that corresponded to biblical characters. Did it come firstly from marx, to russel, then taken to ridiculous extremes by the mad prophet rutherford? Any thoughts from those knowledgable about rutherford are welcome.

    Thanks SS

  • dungbeetle

    In the beginning, there was only one group of bible students who were all almost equal, all going to heaven. The problem was, the end didn't come when it was supposed to, and they passed the 144,00 mark and since they had done the 'literal' interpretaion, they were in deep do-do.

    enter the 'classs' of the other sheep. Then every time a bunch of JW's defected, Rutherford gave them a name, and then gave the remaining ones a name.

    Are you reading Wiliam Schnell's book by any chance?

    In 1975 a crack team of publishers was sentenced to death by a judicial commiteee. They promptly escaped from the cult and now live life on the run. If you have a problem ... and if you can find them ... maybe you can contact the A--postate Team"

  • Satanus


    I read schnell 6 yrs ago. Great book! Do you think i should read it again? I was just thinking about if this 'class' business was original to russel and rutherford. Thanks.


  • Justin

    I do not think Rutherford was a Marxist. The idea of there being "classes" among God's people was already ingrained from the Russell era, and Rutherford just made up new classes of his own. It's almost impossible to think as a JW without being class conscious in this spiritual sense.

    Russell had his own classes. The little flock, of course, was tops. But there was also the Great Company which was conceived of as a secondary heavenly class. It was a class which Russell thought the anointed fell into if they were not faithful enough to rule with Jesus in the kingdom, but weren't bad enough to go into the second death. This class would end up in an angelic existence below the little flock. (Together these composed the "church class" which Russell also called the "sanctuary class" of Daniel's prophecy.) The great mass of nominal Christians (which today are considered nothing but "Christendom"), because they at least had faith in Jesus as their Ransomer, were considered to be justified (declared righteous). But in his mature thought, Russell considered them to be only "tentatively justified" unless they came into the church class, at which time they would be fully justified.

    Russell conceived of Armageddon as a social revolution, a conflict between capital and labor, but I recall one scholar (I don't remember who) felt that Russell had never directly studied Marx, but had simply been exposed to socialism generally. Of course, Russell had no intention of instigating a revolution - he simply predicted this would be God's way of cleansing the earth before the establishment of the new order. I think that this view became too much of an embarrassment once the revolution occurred in Russia, and that's why Rutherford's Armageddon is much more like the traditional end of the world (accomplished directly by divine agencies, but without destroying the planet).

    But Russell's class thinking in his theology was not, I believe, derived from socialism as much as it was from generally observing the social classes of his day. I understand that Europeans are very much more conscious of class than Americans. I wonder, though, if the New England of Russell's time could have contained more class consciousness.

    So Russell translated social class into spiritual class, and Rutherford took it from there because class was already imbedded in Bible Student/Jehovah's Witness theology.


  • Satanus


    To sum up: russel's classism derived from british or european class conscioussness, rather than marx. Thanks for fleshing out the subject.


  • digderidoo

    What we have to realise is that in the time of Rutherford marxism what not only having an influence in Russia but also in the rest of the world. The communist party had support throughout many countries. Marxist philosophy is at the route of the trade unions that came about at that time in the West as well as the East.

    It is no wonder therefore that Rutherford may have taken these ideas and applied them to the JW society.


    I'm not singing for the future
    I'm not dreaming of the past
    I'm not talking of the first time
    I never think about the last

    ...Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowen

  • Satanus

    Here is a quote from a post by athanasius, showing where rutherford stood politically. He was ultra liberal. Marxism/communism was the well for liberalism. Research is being done for more details of JFR's life.

    I have more information on Rutherford, who started out in politics before getting involved with religion. In 1896 he came within 100 votes of becoming the Democratic candidate for state legistlature representing Cooper County, Missouri. However, he was a Liberal Democrat and he lost the nomination to a more conservative Democrat who went on to win the election in November. Nevertheless, Rutherford worked hard to elect other Democrats and was impressive on the stump. He could talk for hours on complicated issues and still hold the crowds attention. He was very active in local Democratic politics for many years. His last election was 1904. Apparently he was too liberal for his time and so he gave up politics for religion, joining the Watch Tower movement some time in 1906.

    The official Watch Tower history books give an earlier date for his conversion but they are in error. While it is true that he bought some of Russell's books in 1894 the books didn't really make an impression on him. Russell warned his flock to stay out of politics, but politics were Rutherford's life blood from 1890-1905. When Russell's representative visited Rutherford's hometown in May 1904 to give a talk on THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES, Rutherford was out of town tending to business in Independence, Kansas.

    I think that Rutherford realized that he was finished in Democratic Party but saw that he could succeed in religion using the backroom tactics he learned in local party politics. This enabled him to outmaneuver Ritchie, Johnson, and others in the fight to succeed Russell.
  • drahcir yarrum
    drahcir yarrum


    Interesting stuff. It sounds like Rutherford lived about 100 years too soon. He would have been a natural in the Bill Clinton political staff. Just think of it, Joe Rutherford and James Carville on CNN defending Bubba.

    "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son." Dean Vernon Wormer, Faber College

  • dungbeetle

    I've read the book twice, cover to cover, and I really believe this book belongs on every library bookshelf in the civilized world, along with the Franz, Harrison, Gruss, Reed, and fifty other books too numerous to name, and the fifty more books coming out that will join them.

    Yes, there is a difference in tone between the Franz and the Schnell books, but I make these observations:

    1)Schnell was a 'service' man, never a writer like Ray Franz was for forty years or something like that. I don't think it's fair to compare them them like that, or to fault Schnell for a lack of writing skills he never had a chance to develop.

    2) There was no XJW community for Schnell like there was for Franz. There might not even have been a Crises of Conscience if not for the William Schnells of the world. Our community was built, 'brick on top of brick' by people beginning with that first group of loyal Bible Students who left the Watchtower in disgust when Rutherford seized it all those years ago. Except for those religious beliefs that he was able to retain after his exit from the Watchtower, you can tell from his writing tone that he was feeling much alone a lot of the time.

    3)William Schnell wrote his book much more closely in time to the events therein than Ray Franz did, by at least a year or two. That doesn't seem like much, but I think William Schnell was more 'raw' from his experiences still than Ray Franz was when he wrote his first book.

    4) In order to do the things he did for the Watchtower (travel to other countries and start and oversee operations there,colporter work) William Schnell had a much different personality and outlook on life then Ray Franz did. Their unique personalities and perspective on life is revealed very deeply in their respective writings.

    When I put together all the experiences of not just the various Watchtower independant chroniclers, but experiences on Simon's, Randy's, AWJRB's, Kent's, Silentlamb's and everyone else's sites too numerous to name,it is an incredible picture of what happens when religious intolerance is allowed to flourish in a community or group of communities. I look over now at my collection of Watchtower literature on my shelves, and it stand in silent witness to religious bigotry and what can happen---ruined lives and destroyed families and communities still trying to deal with the social fallout--for many years to come, no doubt.

    William Schnell, you will not be forgotten!!!!

    In 1975 a crack team of publishers was sentenced to death by a judicial commiteee. They promptly escaped from the cult and now live life on the run. If you have a problem ... and if you can find them ... maybe you can contact the A--postate Team"

  • siegswife

    I think Rutherford was a fascist.

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