Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
The 2000 Years of Communism
When the "2000 Years of Communism" on-line exhibition was first conceived, the guiding idea behind it was to explore the many ways in which official communist historiography, communist art and art policy represented the figure of Jesus Christ as well as that of early Christians as forerunners of communism. It is the aim of the exhibition to show and document how the official books, propaganda, school textbooks and art-media (especially film and "fine-arts") represented the early history of the Christian church as if it would be connected to the history of communism.
At the very hart of this exhibition is the assumption that communism, through its various phases and for different reasons, could have not avoided dealing with the Christianity's early days, no matter how hard it tried to distance its self from it. In that respect, official communist historiography argued that Christianity in its core was the religion of oppressed, of a minority struggling against the secular and religious yoke of Roman imperialism.
Consequently, the ideas and practices of the early Christianity, including that on Jesus, were often presented as basically egalitarian and communitarian in their nature. Furthermore, a parallel has been drawn between the history of the church in its underground period and the communist pre-power illegality. In this manner the early church of catacombs' struggle was depicted as substantively similar to, as well as a legitimazing factor of the illegal communist movement in its early phase.
On the other hand, various medieval as well as modern period Christian heretic movements were those who provided the continuity of egalitarian Christian ideas and practices that communist historiography highlighted in its pursue of "useful analogies". Especially the millenarist and chiliastic ideas of the peasant movements and peasant wars all over Europe were regarded as if they represented a direct link between the earliest communistic ideas and later developments in the modern European history.