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Forum LockedMarxism and Religion

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Komnenos View Drop Down
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    Posted: 21-May-2006 at 18:59
As you might have noticed, I'm an old lefty with an unhealthy pre-occupation for religious topics.

In recent discussions on religion such as “Atheists/Agnostics/Pagans/Kaffirs are better human beings” and “Is Religion obsolete?, I found that much of the criticism brought against the Abrahamic religions
was derived more from emotional reactions and from a rejection of institutionalised religion, than from a clear analysis of the historic roles these three religions (Judaism, Christianity,Islam) played in the development of the societies they had been adopted by.

Especially the treatment of all these religions, and especially Christianity, as one monolithic block of ideas and institutions without paying respect to the significant developments they have undergone, and without investigating the social and political background on which these developments have occurred, is a fallacy that results in a very narrow view of religion as an intellectual phenomenon.

As Marxism, seemingly by definition, delivers the strongest possible criticism of religion, it would be interesting to see, and to discuss, how various Marxist thinkers have reflected on religion and to what rather diverse conclusions they have come.

As religions, Marxism is far from a homogeneous body of thought, and the possibly most famous Marxist statement that “Religion is the opium of the people” (by the great man himself) is also the possibly most misunderstood and misquoted Marxist statement on religion, and its misinterpretation is not at all representative for the entire Marxist school of thought.

The tenet of a more differentiated Marxist critic of religion is to recognise “the dual character of the religious phenomenon, its oppressive aspect as well as its potential for revolt.”

An outline of the history of the developmentof Marxist critic on religion is given in an article of which I quote a few paragraph here, and which could serve a base for an discussion.



" Ernst Bloch is the first Marxist author who radically changed the theoretical framework-without abandoning the Marxist and revolutionary perspective. In a similar way to Engels, he distinguished two socially opposed currents: on one side the theocratic religion of the official churches, the opium of the people, a mystifying apparatus at the service of the powerful; on the other the underground, subversive and heretical religion of the Albigensians, the Hussites, Joachim de Flore, Thomas Münzer, Franz von Baader, Wilhelm Weitling and Leo Tolstoy. However, unlike Engels, Bloch refused to see religion uniquely as a “cloak” of class interests: he explicitly criticized this conception. In its protest and rebellious forms religion is one of the most significant forms of utopian consciousness, one of the richest expressions of the Principle of Hope.”


Bloch's view were, to a certain extent shared by some of the German radical scholars known as the Frankfurt School. Max Horkheimer considered that “religion is the record of the wishes, nostalgias and indictments of count—-less generations.” Erich Fromm, in his book The Dogma of Christ (1930), used Marxism and psychoanalysis to illuminate the Messianic, plebeian, egalitarian and anti-authoritarian essence of primitive Christianity. And the writer Walter Benjamin tried to combine, in a unique and original synthesis, theology and Marxism, Jewish Messianism and historical materialism, class struggle and redemption.
Lucien Goldmann’s work The Hidden God (1955) is another path-breaking attempt at renewing the Marxist study of religion. Although of a very different inspiration than Bloch, he was also interested in redeeming the moral and human value of religious tradition. The most surprising and original part of his book is the attempt to compare-without assimilating one to another-religious faith and Marxist faith: both have in common the refusal of pure individualism (rationalist or empiricist) and the belief in trans-individual values: God for religion, the human community for socialism.”


From:

MARXISM AND RELIGION: Opiate of the people?
by Michael Löwy

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2006 at 22:18
I don't know what are their political guidelines but the out-put is mighty clear:according to the Vatican-based news agency Zenit two bishops are presently reported missing in PRO China…

Also it is impossible to deny that marxism considers religion as an important threat because they are both totalitaristian systems based primarly on belief of a better life. (I know it is childish but it has to be said).

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2006 at 18:20
Maybe it is a good idea to list the different kinds of "religions" that there are of Christianity, and used that as a model to look at other religions.

There is the intellectual Christianity, where God is an abstract force with no form or any way of describing it. This is mainly the Christianity of intellectuals and theologians.

Then there is the mystical Christianity, which deals with spiritual quests, fasting, visions, and magical powers.

There is popular Christianity, which is the one that people nominally belong to due to their ethnic origin. It is highly synchretic, filled with superstitions, concrete representations of god. It often is really a polytheistic religion thinly guised as monotheism.

If one takes popular Christianity and blends it with the current power, the opium of the masses is created. It normally has a conservative slant, but I can see scenarios where a leftist dictatorship can use religion for the same aims.

There is the social activism Christianity, which worries about helping the poor, sometimes empowering them.

To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dampier Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2006 at 18:37
Originally posted by Maharbbal Maharbbal wrote:

I don't know what are their political guidelines but the out-put is mighty clear:according to the Vatican-based news agency Zenit two bishops are presently reported missing in PRO China…

Also it is impossible to deny that marxism considers religion as an important threat because they are both totalitaristian systems based primarly on belief of a better life. (I know it is childish but it has to be said).

M.
 
Those are only the offical ones...there are lots of Chinese clerics missing too and the Chinese authorities still crack down on Christian meetings.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ulrich von hutten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2006 at 03:29

both ,the marxism and the religions (here the christian stamped ) suffers under the same symptoms. the idea is obvious and glittering but the performance is lousy. as soon as personal interests affects the acts of the participants the former heroic aims were lost and individual concerns are dominating.

the advantage of marx was ,that he could access of 1800 years of the failures of the christian religions.

the marxian  influenced church, or better some members of these churches, like we had once in latin- america, couldn't achieve their ideas against the

opposition of the dignitaries and other important people.

the same problem had people in marxian /socialistic movements as soon as their ideas touched the interests of the nomenclature .

clergy and fat cats ,there is no big difference. and the leaders of he catholic church and socialistic countries must have reached the same age to assume an  office.

many similarities for those different ideas !!!

 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dampier Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2006 at 11:54
I must say i'm interested in the Nepalese rebels version of Marxism as it looks very "true" (something Mao, Lenin and Stalin  all moved away from) to the Marxist principles, it remains to be seen if power will corrupt though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Richard XIII Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2006 at 17:56
I don't remember marxists saying something about love, christianity did. Ulrich, is far away christianity from marxism and you know it.
"I want to know God's thoughts...
...the rest are details."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ulrich von hutten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2006 at 06:24
Originally posted by Richard XIII Richard XIII wrote:

I don't remember marxists saying something about love, christianity did. Ulrich, is far away christianity from marxism and you know it.
 
i don't want to give you a  lesson in christian socialism , but this movement first started in europe at the begining of the 19th century.
and here i have do a past and copy job from wikipedi( i appolgize in advance)) ,cause my english is limited and a rumor says ,that komnenos has a couple of days holidays.
so see:

Christian socialism generally refers to those on the Christian left whose politics are both Christian and socialist and who see these two things as being interconnected, perhaps because one derives from the other. Broadly speaking, this category can include Liberation theology and the doctrine of the social gospel. The term "Christian Socialism" is used in this sense by organizations such as the Christian Socialist Movement (CSM), a specifically Christian grouping affiliated with the British Labour Party. A number of Christian socialist movements and political parties throughout the world group themselves into the International League of Religious Socialists. It has member organizations in 21 countries representing 200,000 members.

Christian socialists draw parallels between what some have characterized as the egalitarian and anti-establishment message of Jesus, who certainly spoke against the religious authorities of his time, and the egalitarian, anti-establishment, and sometimes anti-clerical message of most contemporary socialisms. Some Christian Socialists have gone as far as to become active Communists (see Christian communism). This phenomenon was most common among Christian missionaries in China, the most notable being James Gareth Endicott, who became supportive of the struggle of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s and 1940s.

the liberation theology based on equal ideas of a life in justice and harmony between all people. the reaction of the vatican reaction shows ,that those thoughts of the latin-american priests and members of the catholic church couldn't be wrong.
these two ideas are not so far apart and karl marx fixed his theories with his own jewish/christian backround.
land love was very important for marx . to important , like his wife had to notice.


Edited by ulrich von hutten - 26-May-2006 at 02:12

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Richard XIII Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2006 at 18:54
love is in your heart
equality is in your mind
very very far
and wiki doesn't work
there is no reliable source (logical by nature) you can provide
i'm a smart guyyBig smileBig smileBig smileBig smileBig smileBig smile
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"I want to know God's thoughts...
...the rest are details."

Albert Einstein
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ulrich von hutten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2006 at 02:10
Originally posted by Richard XIII Richard XIII wrote:

love is in your heart
equality is in your mind
very very far
and wiki doesn't work
there is no reliable source (logical by nature) you can provide
i'm a smart guyyBig smileBig smileBig smileBig smileBig smileBig smile
i think i have the worst english in this forumEmbarrassed
 
 
 
next to me !!! we need komnenos as our judge....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2006 at 07:15
The initial question was not so much how the last remaining Stalinist, or better the bizarre Stalinist mutations, regimes in China or else ( which IMO have no the remotest connection with Marxism) conduct their relationship with organised Christian religions, but if the attempt to reconcile Marxist theory with religious thought, or how to integrate religion into the history and current policy of class struggles, as carried out by Neo-marxist thinkers, is a valid and permissible one.
The similarities between organised religion and the organisations that claim(ed) to have based themselves on Marxism, as pointed out by UvH, are to obvious to ignore, but to analyse the overlapping characteristics of both is more of interest to those who investigate the psychology of mass movements, or the workings of the mechanisms of power.
So the question remains, for all you closet commies out there, do you recognise the positive elements of religious thought ( not its organisations) as  potentially revolutionary factors, throughout history and eventually even now, or do you see religion, both in content and form, as a restrictive and opressing force that has been instrumental in upholding the existing social order and in preventing social and intellectual progress, throughout history and now?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2006 at 12:30
Just one though as it comes:

if we consider class struggle as the engine of history one point appears clearly: religion is a perfect way to get people together. Quite often, religious fight is a good way to put an ideological background to a mere class struggle.

Examples are plenty, I'd like to stress one out. Nowadays W. Europe faces a major rising of fundamentalist thought among its muslim populations. It looks like those that consider themselves as the new lumpen tend to become more and more religious to fight back against the 'oppressor'. Zacarias Moussaoui reecently convicted in the US is a good (not perfect though he was educated and from a lower mid class familly) example of it.

Ok this is well known but it as to be criticized in many senses. For instance, to what extend the Chechenian war is a class struggle? Actually it is difficult to argue it is, also a clear drift toward fundamentalistic islam is too be noticed among the anti-Russian fighters. Hence I think marxism is defently useful to understand religion as a social phenomenon but it is not enough, other factors play as well.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2006 at 12:55
Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:

There is the intellectual Christianity, where God is an abstract force with no form or any way of describing it. This is mainly the Christianity of intellectuals and theologians.

Then there is the mystical Christianity, which deals with spiritual quests, fasting, visions, and magical powers.

There is popular Christianity, which is the one that people nominally belong to due to their ethnic origin. It is highly synchretic, filled with superstitions, concrete representations of god. It often is really a polytheistic religion thinly guised as monotheism.
 
I think there is a bit of overlap. Other than that, though I wish I could disagree with some of the things you mentioned, I cannot. Wonderful analysis.
 
-Akolouthos
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