In the first three quarters of the twentieth century, communism moved from a minority political movement in a few European countries to become a major political force with over a third of the world’s population under its sway and signficant intellectual influence even in the countries that remained most opposed to it. Douglas Hyde was one of those who diligently to further its influence. In 1948, he surprised his friends and enemies alike by resigning his position as editor of the London based communist paper the Daily Worker and converting to Roman Catholicism with his family.
This book grew out of a series of lectures he conducted that tried to explain the successes of Communism to a Christian audience and to answer the question “Is there anything in Communist methods that can be adapted to serve nobler causes?”. The answer to that question is an emphatic yes. Hyde strips away the preconceptions of how Communists recruited and motivated party workers and how they developed them into leaders capable of developing other communist workers.
The main theme of the book is contained in the title. According to Hyde, dedication is a prerequisite for true leadership. The communists had a well defined purpose that every communist could understand and believe in: the hope of a Communist world. In pursuit of that goal, members were asked to make great sacrifices. Rather than driving people away, this demand draws out the idealistic element in them and inspires the sort of dedication needed.
Hyde develops this theme in a number of ways. He discusses how short term campaigns worked, how party education worked, how members were encouraged to excellence in other areas of their life in order to give the communist message credibility with non-Communists.
Looking at the state of communism today, one might question whether there is any value in this book after all. Indeed, Hyde faced the same question himself in the late 80s and refused a reprint of the book because he thought that communist commitment was no longer what was described in the book. In my opinion, the failure of communism was due to its successes proving its invalidity, not to the methods by which it had enjoyed those earlier successes. Militant Islam seems to be the ascendant ideology of our times, and to the limited degree that I am aware, it seems like the Islamists are employing similar techniques. If we are wise, we will choose to learn from them rather than dismissing them outright.
This is one of those rare books that demands the purchasing of multiple copies. You will want to keep one for yourself with all your underlinings and notes, and keep at least one to lend out. Any sort of organisation could benefit from the lessons to be learned here, but Hyde’s message is chiefly to Christians. Any believer distressed about the weak impact his church is having should immediately read this book.
What If Christians Had the Dedication of Communists?, September 20, 2010
By Fr. Charles Erlandson (Tyler, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)
This review is from: Dedication And Leadership (Paperback)
“Dedication and Leadership” began as Douglas Hyde’s attempt to answer the question: “Why are Communists so dedicated and successful as leaders whilst others so often are not?” As a former Communist editor who converted to Roman Catholicism, Hyde was well qualified to answer this question. His findings form an inspiring challenge to Christians to find the courage and dedication of the early Communists and use them in the service of something much better than Communism. He answers the question, “What can we learn from the Communist’s attitudes, methods and techniques”?
His answers are revelatory. In the first place, Communism appealed to the idealism of youth: if you wanted to change the world in the first half of the twentieth century you turned to the Communists, not to the Christians. Second, if you make little demands then you get little response, but if you call for big sacrifices people will respond. Also, in a materialistic world, the dedicated mans stands out. One of Hyde’s shrewdest observations is that most Communists don’t become Communists because of the doctrine but because of the impact made upon them by some dedicated Communist. Communism showed a remarkable faith in people with their slogan “Every Communist a leader.” Communists followed through with their call for sacrifice and leadership through preparation, training, and instruction. By sending its members out as soon as they joined, Communists forced their members to learn about their own inadequacy, which is the beginning of wisdom. As a result, the desire to learn came from within each Communist.
There is much more that Hyde has to say, but I’m sure you can see how powerful and useful this little book is. Essentially, it’s a book of wisdom and one that I find myself returning to every few years when I start a new venture on behalf of the Kingdom of God.
Highly recommended for all - even young people!
Be a bit careful about “what can we learn from communists.” These fallen systems ARE ripoffs of God’s plan, but any insight thereby gained needs to be run through the screen of God’s Word.
People have taken God for granted, instead of as the one Who truly does earn the name “Wonderful.” It’s as though you had a gold mine in your back yard and you only dug in it with a teaspoon.