Why the Watchtower is Similar to Communism

by metatron 11 Replies latest jw friends

  • metatron

    Under Soviet Communism, the nation was ruled by a small group of elderly men, the Politboro

    In the Watchtower, the organization is ruled by a small group of elderly men, the Governing Body

    Under Communism, young people are encouraged to join the "Red Pioneers"

    In the Watchtower, young people are encouraged to become "Pioneers"

    In Communism, there is an almost worshipful obsession with the "Party"

    In the Watchtower, there is an almost worshipful obsession with the "Organization".

    In Communism, there is a historical problem with 'cults of personality' despite the rhetoric - such as Stalin, Castro, Kim Il Sung.

    In the Watchtower, there is a historical problem with personality cults despite the rhetoric - such as Russell, Rutherford, Knorr

    In Communism, you are addressed as "Comrade", although the Party may prevent real friendship by the strain of collective loyalty

    In the Watchtower, you are addressed as "Brother" although they may prevent real friendship by the strain of collective loyalty

    In Communism, political defectors are shunned and hated more than ordinary criminals

    In the Watchtower, "apostates' are shunned and hated more than df'd adulterers, child molesters, etc.

    In Communism, the Party ' is never wrong'

    In the Watchtower, the organization is never wrong ( it's just a test from God).

    In Communism, a future Paradise of peace and justice is promised - but never delivered.

    In the Watchtower, a future Paradise of peace and justice is promised - but never delivered.

    In Communism, young people get apathetic while oldtimers obsess with revolutionary events from 1914-1918

    In the Watchtower, young people get apathetic while oldtimers obsess with revolutionary events from 1914-1918

    In Communism, they had to cut back extensively because of lack of money

    In the Watchtower, they had to cut back extensively because of lack of contributions.

    Communism largely fell apart because the people lost faith in it, they faked their zeal in labor, they had trouble with

    alcoholism, they kept losing money, they had too many defectors, they couldn't keep covering up their egregious mistakes

    amidst modern communication, the 'wicked capitalistic world' didn't collapse. their predictions didn't occur and they lost

    the next generation of would-be Communists.

    and the Watchtower........?


  • seattleniceguy

    Thanks, metatron. The two really are uncannily similar. I remember drawing the comparison between communism and the New System a lot when a Witness. Of course, I put a positive, ignorant spin on it at the time: "Communism doesn't work now because people are basically selfish. Capitalism at least plays to reality. But in the New System, we really will be living in a sharing, co-op, communistic type of world."

    Or not.

    Thanks for the post!


  • Gopher

    Many structural similarities exist between the old Soviet Union and the Watchtower.

    The Watchtower's demise will be more gradual, due to laws protecting freedom of worship in most countries.

    No world leader will stand outside Watchtower headquarters like Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin wall and demanded that Gorbachev tear it down.

    Many people will just become disillusioned and walk out on their own. Other JW's will hold on, still thinking there is nowhere else to go.

  • bebu

    The WTBTS has always reminded me of communism, though it seems that more people here have seen its connections to fascism more clearly. It is amazing that it has so many similarities to both. Here are are a few more I've thought of:

    The Soviets had a paper, Pravda--The Truth. It contained propaganda and lies wherever necessary--which was frequent. All their publications were untrustworthy.

    The Watchtower and Awake are newspapers which are propaganda and lies. And totally untrustworthy.

    The Soviets had 5-year goals, which never were acheived in actuality. But the leaders would 1) insist that these goals were acheived, or 2) pretend/insist that all along the goals had been something else.

    The WT has had goals for the end of the world arriving...

    Soviets spied on each other, and told the Secret Police about uncommunisitic activity.

    JWs spy on each other, and tell their elders about unchristian activity.

    Soviet: If you didn't go to the party meetings, you were suspect.

    WT: If you don't go to the meetings, you are suspect.

    Soviet: trying to escape is hell. Your reputation is killed, even if they didn't shoot you while you tried to leave.

    WT: trying to leave is hell. Your reputation is killed, even if they don't shoot you when you try to leave!


  • Pole

    I guess, there are 2 things tha could wreak some havoc in the WTS religion:

    1) Going mainstream (less control, more moral freedom, less shunning, diluting fundamentalist doctrines, and basically more members) - this may take dozens of years, although there are some syndroms already

    2) Then, with the standards loosened up, dissent within the borg would have to take place. One or more charismatic, consistent, and cunning leaders on the inside of the system with a considerable support of the common folk would do the trick. From my Polish perspective I would say a WTS Lech Walesa (rather than Ronald Reagan) would be necessary :).

    I mean, this is how most major religions split up. Oppression from the outside tends to unite religious groups and gives them the illusion of being persecuted by the evil forces. On the other hand outside forces could exert pressure on the WTS to change some of its policies and go mainstream, thus contributing to the process.

    As it is the WTS is too small and too oppressive and thus easy to control.Even if half of the Governing Body rebelled, they'd get df-ed by the stronger, thicker-skinned half and quickly replaced by a bunch of newly annointed freaks. So it's all rather wishful thinking for now.

    Pole of the former Communist Block

  • GermanXJW

    Communism built a wall around their people that kept them away - and explained it was necessary because of attacks from the outside. Relatively few escaped crossing the armed frontier. Many stayed because of their friends and relatives. Very critical people were forced out.

    The Watchtower builts a wall around their people to keep them away of worldly people which also is meant to be a protection from outside attacks. Relatively few escape by fading. Many stay because of their friends and relatives. Very critical people are forced out.

  • Golf

    Uncanny similarities. Are they wearing the shoe that fits?

    Guest 77

  • Larry

    Wow - What an insight comparison - This thread is useful.

    Thanks to all who contributed - Larry :)

  • Narkissos

    As an organization and doctrine built in the 1920's and 1930's out of a 19th century theory, no wonder the parallels are many. But a lot of them are also shared with other contemporary totalitarian systems: Stalin had much in common with Hitler, Franco, Mussolini, Salazar and others, in spite of facially antagonistic ideologies. So I don't think communism per se is the only working reference pattern.

    The first who helped me think of Rutherford's WT in terms of a typical construction of the 30's, was Ray Franz, who explicitly mentions that in Crisis of conscience as far as I remember.

  • garybuss


    Commentary by Gary Busselman

    THEOCRACY : God Rule
    (Paradise Restored To Mankind By Theocracy, Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1972, p.13)

    , 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 Society [The Theocracy] resembles 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 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 . 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 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 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 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. , 315 58)


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