This is the original front cover of Mark Twain’s book, King Leopold’s Soliloquy. The cover is a caricature of the supposed vision Constantine had of a cross with the words, By this sign you shall conquer, beneath it. First published in 1906, it became an instant best seller, inspiring marches and petitions all across the U.S. to end Belgium’s King Leopold’s slaughter-for-wealth of the people of the Congo. Then the book disappeared. It was buried in silence for a half century because of the universal refusal of publishing houses to put it back into print. As of 2014 no Twain anthology contains King Leopold’s Soliloquy.
It is a two-edged sword satire—factually accurate to the nth degree—of what Twain calls the “colonial trinity” of King, Church and Capital and its for profit brutalizing, terrorizing and murdering en masse of the people of the Congo for decades under the catch phrase, so often heard in the Christian Churches, as well as in conservative and neo-liberal governments, “Dominer pour servir” (“Dominate to serve”). The book’s format is King Leopold talking to himself about what a great civilizing agent he has been to the savages of the Congo and how many of them he has brought to the Christian faith, despite being constantly harassed by ungrateful critics who nit pick over the occasionally needed massacre of several thousand Congolese.
The “Vampire State,” as Belgium is referred to in the book, was engaged in the economic exploitation of the Congo and its people carried on by the use of Christian armed forces, the aim-all and be-all of whose presence in the Congo was to extort the maximum amount of profit in the shortest time in order to pay the largest possible dividends to the holders of shares in Leopold’s slave labor enterprises there. The few Americans whom Leopold permitted to buy into his vampirization of the people of the Congo along with its enormous and varied mineral deposits and rubber wealth were J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Fortune Ryan and Daniel Guggenheim.
All echoes of Twain’s book were choked off in the press after 1906. Paid academics and clergymen, and including Cardinal Gibbons, rushed forth to defend the murderous, terrorist system by which the people of the Congo were being exploited, kept in dark illiteracy, institutionally destabilized and spurred-on to internecine hate and violence among the various tribes. The total number of Congolese murdered by the Christian King Leopold and his mostly Christians minions? Ten million! This may be the greatest act of genocide by Christians in history. But greatest or not, this has been the history of the institutional Churches since Constantine interpreted his vision of the cross with the words, By this sign you shall conquer, beneath, as a talisman that would assure divine support, protection and victory to him in his homicidal battles with his enemies to gain, retain and expand his political power.
Christian Bishops, seeing the success of Constantine and being given access to some of the fruits of this success, began to think they knew a better way, or at least an equally valid way, to respond to violence and enmity and/or to expand empire, than the Way taught by the words and deeds of the Nonviolent Word of God incarnate, Jesus. The Christian King Leopold of Belgium was just an extension of the Emperor Constantine of Rome, his ways and his means. Hence, the cover that Mark Twain chooses for his book.
The chronic infidelity of Christian Bishops and Churches toward the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies (the only Jesus there was, is or ever will be) is neither new to Christianity nor unknown to the 82% of the world population that is not Christian. But how does one effectively plead on behalf of the truth of the Nonviolent Jesus against successful and profitable infidelity, e.g. the wealth of the Christian Monarchy of Belgium and of the Christian Church in Belgium/
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
Postscript: King Leopold’s Soliloquy is now available for free downloading from the Internet or from Amazon, etc. for $5 or less. It has been translated into French, German, and Italian. As a description of the political reality in the U.S. today and the anti-Gospel Christian mind style and value system that participates in it and condones it, the book could have been written this morning. Genocidal, terrorist, Vampire Christianity is flourishing, serving the master it has always served—and that master is not the Nonviolent Christ, the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy