By Matt Salisbury
An English Communist teaches his tricks
I just discovered Douglas Hyde.
A prolific English Communist, Hyde joined the party in 1928. He ran the Communist newspaper in England during WWII and went on to proselytize for the movement throughout Asia afterwards. Hyde’s passion for social justice and equality eventually brought him to the Catholic Church. Sadly, he’s reported to have abandoned the faith near the time of his death in 1992.
Hyde gave a series of tremendous lectures to American Catholics in September 1962. Called Dedication and Leadership Techniques, Hyde’s lectures explored the philosophical realities of Communism and the techniques used by the global organization to indoctrinate, lead, and motivate its members. His experience brings up several stunning similarities between Communism and The Church (or other, more benign, lay organizations).
One of Hyde’s central points is the idea of “degree of sacrifice.” He uses his own smoking habit as an example -- he used to burn through 40 cigarettes a day and enjoyed a pipe every night. But then he was asked by the party to edit its newspaper:
I was proud to take on that work. I did not hesitate and felt it was the greatest honor the Party could pay me as a Communist writer. But in taking on that work, I accepted a two-thirds cut in my salary. The salary the Communist Party offered me was just one-third of what I had been earning for years and was, in fact, smaller than my expense account had been for years as well. Which meant that I had to take more than a two-thirds drop in my of standard of life. It goes without saying that I was not smoking two-thirds of my income, so I had to give up smoking and a good deal more besides.
This is obviously applicable in our own environments. If you’re working the night shift and scoring overtime to support your new kid, isn’t it easier to get yourself to change her diapers? If someone’s put in a week of 15-hour days to make a startup happen, it’s not too hard to ask them to bring in a box of donuts to further motivate the team. It might seem counterintuitive to demand the most, but that’s how devotion works. Ask a small sacrifice and you’ll probably meet resistance. Ask a tremendous amount and you may well get even more.
By Matt Salisbury
Well, which are they?
Mark Zuckerberg (why are we calling him Zuck?) made some waves with recent political noises. He claims to be neither Democrat or Republican. Mark wants to be a problem solver, not a partisan. And he’s especially interested in solving one issue: immigration. Now, I’m registered as an Independent myself, but you have to know where your “red lines” are on the issues, right? Prudential judgment needs both prudence and wisdom. Both call on understanding.
Last year, liberal, soda-hating, regulation-hungry, debonair man-about-town Michael Bloomberg sided with America’s Catholic bishops on an issue the Dems are able to make lemonade out of on the regular. You guessed it. We’re talking immigration again. Now, sure, public policy often makes strange bedfellows. But what’s probably more interesting than where the two sides agree is where they differ. Each presents a distinct view of the modern immigrant in the US.
Bloomberg paints a classic liberal picture of today’s immigrants as noble strivers, trying to build on solid work ethics, humble talent, rich backgrounds, etc. He claims to be less about the tired yearning masses than the economic and social potential brought by dynamic new workers. The USCCB, on the other hand, paints a decidedly more stark portrait of US immigration problems, arguing that, “survival has become the primary impetus for the unauthorized immigration flows.” The bishops also launched a Justice For Immigrants campaign. The USCCB paints a stark picture of the need for reform:
- There are approximately 11.2 M illegal immigrants in the USA
- Only 5,000 green cards awarded each year for low-skilled workers to enter the US
- Thousands of immigrants have died attempting to enter the US illegally
A fundamental division seems to exist between Bloomberg and the bishops. Immigrants are either noble strivers, or they’re an oppressed group of survivors desperately seeking a better environment. Our political narrative might hold that the first group is an asset to any nation; the second is sure to be a drain on the host country’s tax-supported resources and social programs. If immigrants are essentially refugees, we can put them in camps and disassociate them with “aid” and “charity,” right? But if they’re strivers who bring a burning need for self-betterment, we should fling those doors wide open.
Of course, this distinction paints a relatively simplistic image of immigrants to America. A college friend of mine became an “illegal” immigrant as a child, and he became one of the most disciplined strivers I knew despite his unpapered handicap. Another friend’s dad sweat his way into this country in the bed of a pickup, covered by plywood boards and mounds of glass shards. I know I didn’t take a journey like that to get here. I didn’t create this nation. I’ve never bled for it. I’ve never upended my life for it. I pay taxes, I guess, but so do citizens of every nation.
I’m no survivor, and every day I struggle to just be a striver. Immigrants are most always at least one, and often, they’re both.