The well-known communistic leader in France, Maurice Thorez, once summarized his view about communist morale to the effect that it was superior to any other. This morale inspired obedience unto death without any need of reward in heaven (which has no existence for the communist). “This is,” he added, “the most perfect proof of the disinterestedness of this morale. Our heroes know that they fling themselves into the abyss of nothingness.…”

Here we meet a form of heroic that wants to clear morale of all additional factors: no promise of a “fantastic” heavenly reward, only the calling to be executed blindly. This heroic is not new. Often people have preached this “pure” morale, and even declared that only an atheistic morale could be pure. If courageous conduct were connected with belief in God, motivation would be tarnished automatically and good actions would not be performed for their own sake. Many have appealed to Kant and objected against an eudemonistic morale that destroys the ground of morality by means of the motive of salvation.

The question then confronts this atheistic and pure morale as to the ground of its authority—a question that still waits a satisfactory answer. Nevertheless, the expression, “superior” morale, remains in use. The problem of law without lawmaker is transformed into the statement of the pure morale. But how suspicious is this morale where it falls back upon an uncontrollable call! How often we have seen this heroic lead towards destruction of life and on a road of blood and tears. The sources of this morale—if faith is rejected—must be sought elsewhere, and then out of itself an autonomous morality comes into sight. Whether it came from communistic or national socialistic doctrine is not very ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: