Socialism and Religion, Redux

by Dario Cankovic on February 20, 2013

Marxists once saw themselves as  the vanguard not only of the proletariat but of science and progress, as the bulwark against superstition and reaction. In our postmodern age, we’ve  retreated from this,  questioned these values and notions, and abandoned the aegis of “science” and “progress” to the bourgeoisie. Our doubts about science and progress were not entirely unjustified, for in the hands of the bourgeoisie they are robbed of their liberatory potential. In its relentless pursuit of profit, the bourgeoisie has revolutionized the means of production and communication time and again. Rather than freeing us from want and widening and deepening democracy, as these advances can, it has instead brought us to the brink of environmental catastrophe, overseen the concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands through the immiseration of billions, and strengthened the state surveillance apparatus beyond the wildest dreams of the Stasi.

It is no surprise, then, that at a time such as this, when socialists are struggling to cast off the traditions of one dead generation, there are those who would burden us with the traditions of another. Those who would have us exchange the costumes and battle slogans of the Bolsheviks for the robes and psalms of the Apostles. Their rallying cry might well be “One step forward, a thousand steps back! To the Communist message of Christ!”

Both the legacy of Soviet-style state-sanctioned atheism and the neoconservative politics of the so-called New Atheists—whose militant bourgeois atheism is nothing new—have turned off many socialists. Their resulting distaste for militant atheism, combined with pessimism about mobilizing the working class behind the banner of atheism, has led some to call for a reconciliation of socialism and religion.

There are two types of “socialists” who seek such a reconciliation: fools and knaves. Fools genuinely believes that socialism is ordained by scripture, that their conservative co-religionists are unfaithful to their religion by not joining the progressive cause. Just like their conservative counterparts, progressives find what they want to find in scripture and ignore the inconvenient rest. Knaves, on the other hand, are atheist but  either cynically see the working class as hopelessly enthralled by superstition or  have a soft spot for spirituality, for those few poetic phrases in scripture that might be spun for socialism. They declare: “If Mohammed will not come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed”; if the religious will not come to socialism, socialists must come to religion.

These socialists have misjudged the nature of religion, the degree to which the working class is enthralled by religion, and the possibility and desirability of a reconciliation between socialism and religion.

It is understandable that, in a world plagued by suffering, people would turn to spiritual means to alleviate their suffering in the absence of material means. “Religious suffering,” as Marx put it, “is the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering.” It is in this expression of protest against real suffering that we find some socialist-sounding phrases in scripture, but this in no way makes scripture a sound basis for socialism. Religion is not just an analgesic—it isn’t just “the opium of the people.” While it provides consolation to the exploited and oppressed, it also justifies exploitation and oppression. It is a product of suffering, one which reinforces and reproduces suffering.

Religion, at one and the same time, consoles sufferers and justifies suffering here-and-now by the promise of salvation hereafter. It consoles the exploited and oppressed and justifies exploitation and oppression here-and-now with the promise of retribution and justice for exploiters and oppressors hereafter. It justifies suffering on the basis of sin. The material roots of suffering are hidden behind a spiritual facade. Suffering is presented not as an alterable product of this world, but as unalterable punishment by God or karma for our moral transgressions. Just as the bourgeoisie declares that “there is no alternative” to capitalism, religion declares that there is no alternative to suffering, to exploitation and oppression, to class society. We humans are presented as so morally depraved as to be incapable of liberating ourselves—we can only hope for salvation through the grace of God.

Religion commands that the few, the privileged, ameliorate the lot of the many—the exploited, oppressed, poor, propertyless, suffering masses—through charity. Charity serves to ease suffering while leaving unaddressed the roots of suffering. It renders the condition of the exploited and oppressed slightly less intolerable, and eases the conscience of the ruling class. It gives the poor a few scraps from the tables of the rich to keep the poor from demanding a seat at the table. A few scraps do not make for socialism.

Religion is partly a product, as Engels observed, of “the world historical defeat of the female sex.” It is produced by, reinforces, and reproduces a perverse patriarchy in the household, where each man is promised mastery, if not over himself, then at least over his wife and his children. It is created by and re-creates the division of labour between the sexes. In doing so it divides the working class, setting up hierarchies within the exploited and oppressed. It gives some of the exploited and oppressed a taste of mastery, of domination, and thus attempts to give them a stake in maintaining the system of exploitation and oppression.

Socialists cannot compromise over sexism. To be a socialist is to be a feminist, because the working class’s struggle for its self-emancipation cannot be separated from women’s  struggle for self-emancipation. After all, as even Mao realized, “Women hold up half the sky!” Women are half, if not more than half, of the working class. We must let go of the antiquated image of the male industrial worker and the female peasant, especially since there has been an unprecedented feminization of the manual labour force. We cannot struggle for the emancipation of the whole working class while embracing an ideology that would see half of society remain enslaved.

We cannot claim to be working toward the self-emancipation of the working class—and through this the emancipation of the whole of humanity—if we appeal to authoritarian, homophobic, misogynistic, and generally misanthropic texts and institutions for aid and inspiration. There cannot be a reconciliation of socialism and religion; to call for such a reconciliation is to call for a reconciliation of emancipation and slavery. For every fine-sounding phrase in scripture or out of the mouth of a priest, there are countless more vile words. Religiously inspired deeds of cruelty far outnumber acts of charity.

The bourgeoisie has managed to cast off the shackles of religion, by elevating itself from the squalid conditions that give rise to religion. It has already turned its back on religion, in deed if not in word. For all its public professions of piety, behind closed doors it is as atheist as any of us. What Cicero said of the ruling class of his day, of which he was a member, is no less true of the ruling class of today: “It is difficult to deny that the gods exist, in public, but in private it is perfectly easy to do so.” Appearances must be maintained. “A tyrant,” as Aristotle remarks in the Politics, “must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. They less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.” It is profit that dictates policy, not piety. The bourgeoisie bows before Mammon, not Yahweh.

Having emancipated itself from religion, the bourgeoisie has seen, like all ruling classes before it, the utility of religion in making the exploited and oppressed easier to exploit and oppress. Religion aids in the ruling class strategy of divide and rule. Behind its fine-sounding phrases of “universal brotherhood” and “love,” religion sows division and discord. It divides the world into saints and sinners, saved and damned, orthodox and heretic, adherents and infidels. Through such division it hinders the development of class consciousness. Just as the bourgeoisie have put aside their national, religious, ethnic, and other differences and prejudices to come together and act collectively as a class in waging a one-sided class war against the working class, we must aid the working class in putting aside its differences and prejudices, including religious ones, in fighting back against this relentless assault.

Socialists who call for a rapprochement with religion are behind the times—they have overestimated the strength of religion. Religion is dying and has been for some time. Most people, including most of the proletariat in the advanced industrial countries, are de facto, if not outright, atheists. Religion has been reduced from its once central place in people’s lives to what holidays they celebrates, what sort of food they eat—if that. Citing opinion polls to the effect that most people, even in the advanced industrial countries, identify as religious or believe in God is misleading. What matters isn’t what people say, but what they do, and what they don’t do. Increasingly they don’t identify with religion, they don’t know religious dogma, they don’t abide by religious commandments,  they don’t attend church, they don’t listen to priests.

One need only look at the statistics on religion for some of the advanced industrial countries to see this trend. France provides an interesting example of this secularization phenomenon: church attendance among self-identified Catholics is extremely low. One survey reports that 17% of self-identified Catholics don’t believe in God; among self-identified Catholics who do believe in God, 79% described “God” as a “force, energy, or spirit” and only 18% as believe in a personal god. I know the Catholic Church is desperate to inflate its number of adherents, but last I checked, the Vatican hadn’t renounced the Nicene Creed. The United States is a curious exception to this secularization phenomenon with church attendance and religious observation rates being far higher than in other advanced industrial countries, but even the United States hasn’t been immune to secularization.

We must not conflate here religion and the particular idiosyncratic superstitious beliefs of people. The two aren’t equivalent. Doing so might give us the false impression that religion is as strong as ever, that it has just taken on a new form. “Organized religion” is contrasted by some with “spirituality,” which is seen as the true essence of religion, of which organized religion is just one manifestation, a distorted manifestation. Religion is not reducible to mere belief in the supernatural, in a “higher power,” in “ultimate reality.” The psychological and sociological are not so easily divorced.

Take, for example, various New Age beliefs. This form of “spirituality” bears closer resemblance to the pseudoscience of homeopathy. The latter attempts to gain authority by draping itself in the garbs of science, the former in the garbs of religion. Absent organizational structure and its accompanying worldview, we are no longer dealing with religion. Superstition alone does not make for religion. From a Marxist understanding,

Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification.

To say this is not to appeal to the essence of religion, rather only to point out that too broad a concept of “religion” isn’t analytically useful. Self-identified “Catholics” or “Christians” who cling to a vague belief in a “higher power,” “energy,” “spirit,” or some other such nonsense don’t use this belief as an organizing principle for their lives. They are not religious in any significant sense of the term, they cling to the labels and traditions of Catholicism because of culture, but they do not believe in or live their lives according to Catholic dogma.

While it finds religion useful, capitalism also undermines religion. Globalization, modernization, and urbanization have brought previously isolated communities the world over into contact with one another. There has been an unprecedented intermingling of peoples, cultures, and religions. It is much easier for religion to keep a stranglehold on the minds of isolated, ignorant peasants (or suburbanites) living in largely homogenous communities than it is to do the same to the minds of the modern urban proletariat living in contact with a variety of ideas and people.

That being said, the death throes of religion has not been peaceful. The contradictions wrought by capitalism through its constant revolutionizing of the means of production, through its constant destruction and re-creation of capital—combined with the colossal failure of 20th-century socialism—has resulted in the emergence of a reactionary religious movement the world over. “Reactionary” both in the sense of a reaction to the increasing immiseration wrought by capitalism and in the sense of seeking a return to some previous pious age.

Religion thus serves to undermine the struggle for socialism—the struggle for emancipation—because it misidentifies the causes of our present problems. It sees sin as the cause of our suffering and seeks to undo the gains of bourgeois liberalism by turning back the clock on women’s rights and LGBT rights. It seeks to restore the holy family, the hierarchy in the home ordained by God, as a solution to all social ills.

Just as militant bourgeois atheism will not deal religion its deathblows, neither will capitalism, for neither can abolish the conditions that give rise to religion. So long as capitalism persists, so too will religion.

In this struggle against religion we must go beyond bourgeois militant atheism, old and new. We must not, as Lenin warned,

fall into the error of posing the religious question in an abstract, idealistic fashion, as an “intellectual” question unconnected with the class struggle, as is not infrequently done by the radical-democrats from among the bourgeoisie. It would be stupid to think that, in a society based on the endless oppression and coarsening of the worker masses, religious prejudices could be dispelled by purely propaganda methods. It would be bourgeois narrow-mindedness to forget that the yoke of religion that weighs upon mankind is merely a product and reflection of the economic yoke within society.

Bourgeois anti-religious propaganda inverts cause and effect, symptom and syndrome. It misidentifies religion as “the root of all evil” when it is a symptom of the alienation, exploitation, oppression, and suffering wrought by our state and society. Religion is not, as the bourgeoisie would have it, a delusion to be dispelled by argument. It is an alienated projection of our hopes and fears, our aspirations and apprehensions, which cannot be brought to an end by an act of will or reason alone, but only by abolishing the conditions that give rise to this alienation. The abstract struggle against the superstructure of religion—its metaphysics and morals—cannot be won without the concrete struggle against its infrastructure.

Religion persists in spite of the theoretical assaults against it because it continues to play a practical social function. Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples of all sorts, religious schools, “faith-based” charities: these institutions are the substance of religion, its metaphysics and morals mere shadows cast by them. It is not by swinging at shadows that we will strike the substance. Nor will we abolish religion by prohibition, as the bourgeoisie and socialists alike are sometimes wont to do. As the anti-religious campaigns of the past have taught us, as soon as the direct assault against religion subsides, religion creeps back into society.

It is only by rendering the social function of religious institutions obsolete and unnecessary that we will abolish religion. How? By abolishing the conditions of poverty and ignorance to which religion is a response, to which it is a false panacea which only perpetuates the diseases for which it claims to be a cure. In other words, by abolishing capitalism.

Universal health care, mandatory universal free education, public libraries, mass media, effective social programs that render charity unnecessary, the creation of communities in public space that allow people to come together without having to retreat into the halls of churches—these have done more to destroy religion than all the theoretical tracts and propaganda pamphlets combined. This is evidenced by the weakness of religion in the countries in which social democracy was strongest, where the working class managed to win for itself these material concessions.

While there is a place for anti-religious propaganda in the struggle for socialism, it must go beyond bourgeois anti-religious propaganda. Where the bourgeoisie scratches the surface, we must get to the root. Where its militant atheism has been theoretical and abstract, ours must be practical and concrete. The struggle against religion isn’t distinct from the class struggle. “No number of pamphlets and no amount of preaching can enlighten the proletariat,” as Lenin said, “if it is not enlightened by its own struggle against the dark forces of capitalism.” It is through class struggle that the proletariat will cast off the shackles of the old society, including the shackles of religion.

What does this mean in practice? While we shouldn’t shy away from speaking the truth about religion, exposing it as an illusion (and often a pernicious illusion), there is no need to pointlessly antagonize believers as some bourgeois militant atheists are wont to do. Struggle against religion mustn’t take the place of class struggle. After all, actions speak louder than words. What better way to illustrate the emptiness of spiritual salvation than with material liberation. What better way to undermine the empty hope of a better life hereafter than by improving life here-and-now.

We must fight with workers to ameliorate their material condition so that they will have no need of spiritual solace. We must fight for universal health care so that no one need ever recourse to futile prayer in place of medical treatment. For mandatory comprehensive free education and an end to the indoctrination of children, so that no child may ever again have their intelligence and curiosity destroyed by superstition. For comprehensive social services, so that no one need every again find themselves dependent on charity. For the full value of our labour, so that it is never again appropriated by others who render themselves masters over us. For a widening and deepening of democracy, so that we may govern ourselves and never again bend the knee before bosses, kings, gods, priests, or presidents.

Socialists must, in lieu of narrow political struggle, engage in social and economic struggle. Wherever there is class struggle, on whatever front—in workplaces, in schools, on the streets—socialists must be there. We have for too long focused on narrow party-building, on building the perfect revolutionary party that is ready to immanentize the revolution when the time is right. We must abandon the false ideal of ideological purity.

Religious belief cannot serve as a litmus test for cooperation in class struggle. “Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed class for the creation of a paradise on earth is more important to us than unity of proletarian opinion on paradise in heaven,” as Lenin understood. And while we should always preach the scientific worldview, that does not mean in the least that the religious question ought to be advanced to first place, where it does not belong at all.

We must instead build and join movements, attempting to bring the otherwise disparate struggles together. We will not do this by imposing ourselves on the existing social movements from above, but must demonstrate in practice the effectiveness of our analysis within the movements. The emancipation of the working class must be an act of the working class itself. Socialists can no more free the working class from religion than they can from capitalism—the working class must free itself from these shackles. We are not a modern-day Moses leading the workers to a promised paradise; we must give up these vanguardist, “Leninist” illusions.

At the same time we are not, or shouldn’t be, in the business of selling socialism. Religion is a fraud. It substitutes salvation in the afterlife for liberation in life. Our task is to aid the working class in its struggle for self-emancipation, and this means telling the workers the truth. Our demand to end religion “as the illusory happiness of the people” isn’t so that they may endure suffering without illusions. It is a demand, in the words of Marx, “for their real happiness.” We sound the call for workers to give up their illusions about their conditions in order to give up conditions that require illusions.

Truth alone will not set anyone free, but it is a prerequisite for struggling effectively. It is within class struggle that the proletariat forge a new world within the womb of the old, that they prepare themselves for their world-historic task of becoming the next, and last, ruling class.

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  • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh

    Those who would have us exchange the costumes and battle slogans of the Bolsheviks for the robes and psalms of the Apostles. Their rallying cry might well be ‘One step forward, a thousand steps back! To the Communist message of Christ!’

    “Both the legacy of Soviet-style state-sanctioned atheism and the neoconservative politics of the so-called New Atheists—whose militant bourgeois atheism is nothing new—have turned off many socialists. Their resulting distaste for militant atheism, combined with pessimism about mobilizing the working class behind the banner of atheism, has led some to call for a reconciliation of socialism and religion.”

    Who are we talking about here? Against whom is this piece written?

    “Religiously inspired deeds of cruelty far outnumber acts of charity.”

    I’d like to see this claim substantiated. It sounds almost faith-based.

    “Socialists who call for a rapprochement with religion are behind the times—they have overestimated the strength of religion. Religion is dying and has been for some time. Most people, including most of the proletariat in the advanced industrial countries, are de facto, if not outright, atheists. Religion has been reduced from its once central place in people’s lives to what holidays they celebrates, what sort of food they eat—if that. Citing opinion polls to the effect that most people, even in the advanced industrial countries, identify as religious or believe in God is misleading. What matters isn’t what people say, but what they do, and what they don’t do. Increasingly they don’t identify with religion, they don’t know religious dogma, they don’t abide by religious commandments, they don’t attend church, they don’t listen to priests.”

    There is a mass of contradictions here.

    1) If religion is on the decline and “most” of the proletariat in the West are atheists (a highly suspect claim), then why write a piece like this to begin with?

    2) If what people do is more important than what they say, why attack religion at all?

    “We cannot claim to be working toward the self-emancipation of the working class—and through this the emancipation of the whole of humanity—if we appeal to authoritarian, homophobic, misogynistic, and generally misanthropic texts and institutions for aid and inspiration.”

    So I guess Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were not working for end of all exploitation and oppression because they appealed to the Qu’ran and the Bible?

    This whole piece strikes me as very one-sided. There’s no attempt to engage Liberation Theology or examine interesting questions like why there is no equivalent of Liberation Theology within Islam (someone please correct me if I’m wrong on the latter point). Another point worth mentioning is that Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation and martyrdom status has stirred up debate among Muslim clerics because it is all but impossible to reconcile Islam’s prohibition of suicide with Bouazizi’s action, an action that has undoubtedly led to greater improvements in the lives of millions here in the earthly world than all the Islamic charities put together.

    • http://rosswolfe.wordpress.com Ross Wolfe

      To defend some of Dario’s claims, he does cite some statistical data and doesn’t outright claim that most members of the working class are atheists. In the passage you cite, Dario merely states that religion’s hold over their consciousness and way of life has continued to slacken over the last few decades. Claiming that religious considerations no longer predominate in one’s daily life is not the same as claiming they are out-and-out atheists.

      Brief religious revivals, which tend to produce the most virulently reactionary forms of religious politics (born-again Evangelical Christianity, Islamism), have usually resulted in nothing more than a brief blip in the overall pattern of decline in religiosity. The strange paradox is that the world is far less religious today on the whole than it was in, say, 1848 or 1917. Nevertheless, leftists continued to push an uncompromisingly atheistic line in their struggle to overturn the existing bourgeois social order, of which religion is a central component.

      The commonplace notion that the Bolsheviks or Marxism in general has been unsuccessful because it offends the religious sensibilities of its “target demographic,” the proletariat, is simply untrue and has no basis in historical reality. Quite the contrary: the masses largely followed the Marxists’ lead in smashing and seizing religious property, looking to eradicate religion both directly (by direct expropriation) and indirectly (by removing the antagonistic social conditions that give rise to religion in the first place).

      • http://www.amleft.blogspot.com Richard Estes

        It is important to observe that Dario is writing from a predominantly European perspective. It may well be possible to create social movements there that are openly antagonistic towards religion (leaving aside whether that is advisable or not). But, in the US, it is nearly impossible, as Alexander Cockburn observed years ago in relation to expressions of atheism in electoral politics. Americans are, compared to other developed countries, more religious, and consider atheism a marginalized social identity.

        We can argue whether that is right or wrong, but it is a social reality that has to be addressed when attempting to organize a mass movement. In regard to mass attacks upon religious institutions historically, I am unaware of any such attacks that have taken place in the US based upon a hostility towards religion as opposed to a hostility towards a particular form of Christianity such as Mormonism and Catholicism in the 19th Century. Because of the separation of church and state, the US has had a different experience than countries like Mexico, Spain and other parts of Europe where this has happened.

        If the objective is to create a leftist movement in the US, an inflexible line on religion would be a form of ultra-leftism that would only serve to perpetuate the left’s ongoing marginalization while right wing populists continue to exploit the contradictions of neoliberalism. Furthermore, to reiterate a point that is often lost, atheists, if one may go by the public comments of its most avid proponents, are hostile to socialism while many Christians are not.

        • http://rosswolfe.wordpress.com Ross Wolfe

          Well, the lack of popular anticlerical sentiment in the US might be seen as a partial result of the fact that the US never really amassed a working-class socialist movement on the same scale as in parts of Europe and elsewhere around the world. At the risk of mistaking the chicken for the egg, it’s perhaps because “progressives” in this country have so often tried to appeal to the population’s religious sensibilities that its failures have been so utterly miserable.

          That said, socialists have since the beginning recognized that an anticlerical stance is just as necessary as an antimilitarist stance for their political practice. Regardless of an individual’s beliefs, which should be defended as part of his or her freedom of conscience, religious properties of all sorts should be at least heavily taxed if not completely expropriated.

          Religion is an illusion, but all Marxists will agree that it is a socially necessary illusion. That is to say, it is an ideological reflection of real and material suffering. But since Marxists recognize religion’s illusory character, it would be patently dishonest for them to pander to beliefs it knows to be false. This would repeat the old, condescending cliche that socialists simply need to “meet people where they’re at,” something that has never and will never work.

          Nothing is easier than to give old-fashioned Christian asceticism a socialist polish, as Marx once said in passing, before rejecting such a move wholesale. Once the social basis of religion has been annihilated, religious beliefs will of course be annihilated along with them. Борьба против религии — борьба за социализм!

          • http://www.amleft.blogspot.com Richard Estes

            19th Century and early 20th Century socialists addressed religion from a European and colonial perspective, where the Catholic Church, in both instances, worked hand in glove with imperialists and aligned itself with right wing, sometimes fascist, regimes. I wonder if they might have drawn different conclusions if they had been more familiar with the US experience, where religion in relation to politics was more of a question of whether you were the right kind of Christian or not.

            Furthermore, many progressive US social movements had a strong religious feature, starting with, of course, abolitionism, something that would have been unimaginable in Europe outside the UK, and continuing into present day civil rights, immigration rights and anti-imperialist struggles. US protestants founded a number of utopian religious colonies, while Catholics (as opposed to the Church) have been a strong force in support of radical political movements in South America going back to the 1960s, as an examination of the political climate before, during and after the Allende government in Chile will reveal.

            So, I am not so sure that all socialists have recognized that an anti-clerical stance is as necessary as an anti-imperialist one for their political practice, at least not in the Americas. I am trying to suggest that religion as it is understood by its adherants instead of its institutional leadership, has a greater degree of plasticity than Marxist analysis would lead us to believe.

        • 4ox

          I wouldn’t say that. He seems to be writing from a very “Marx and Lenin said this, so I have to think the same way!” Find that funny since it was that attitude that caused Marx to say “The one thing I know I’m not is a Marxist.”

          Its the attitude of the vanguard and the fear that the workers will create a republic of their own without the vanguards help. Its the same attitude that causes Lenin to hold his October Coup.

      • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh

        “To defend some of Dario’s claims, he does cite some statistical data and doesn’t outright claim that most members of the working class are atheists. ”

        Here are Cankovic’s words: ” Most people, including most of the proletariat in the advanced industrial countries, are de facto, if not outright, atheists.”

        It sounds like he is arguing that most of the working class in the West is atheist in practice. I am extremely skeptical of this claim and I am not sure why he made it.

        • Dario Cankovic

          While I don’t think demographic data gives us a perfect picture, it certainly suggests that the population in advanced industrial countries is largely secular. Have a look at the church attendance rates: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_attendance or the demographics of atheism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism

          “Church attendance in developed countries has gradually declined. Research has attributed this to lack of motivation, negative media coverage of religion and boredom during the services. One study published in the Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, however, argues that at least in America, church attendance since the 1990s has remained stable at 25%. A Gallup poll found that church attendance among Protestants has remained stable at roughly 45% since 1955, while church attendance among Catholics has dropped from 75% to 45%, although it has remained stable since 1995, despite negative stories in the news. Another Gallup poll found a slight increase in church attendance over the past two years; associating this with an aging population. This decline is particularly pronounced in European countries, where it is suggested that the secular culture overrides interest in religion.”

          Church attendance isn’t a perfect measure of how secular a society is, especially as it seems even atheists attend church (“A majority (53%) of Canadians believe in God. What is of particular interest is that 28% of Protestants, 33% of Catholics, and 23% of those who attend weekly religious services do not.”). But that church attendance is so low shows the growing irrelevance of religion in people’s lives. That 33% of Catholics in Canada don’t believe in God is also telling, in that identification with a religion is becoming more a matter of culture and upbringing than adherence to and belief in dogma (this trend is even more pronounced in France: “An October 2006 CSA poll addressed solely to Catholics established that 17% of French Catholics (who comprise 52% of the population) didn’t believe in God. Among the believers, most (79%) described God as a “force, energy, or spirit” and only 18% as a personal god.”)

          • Dario Cankovic

            This is what I mean by ‘de facto atheism': people increasingly live their lives as though there was no god; religion, both as an abstract belief system and as an institution, is increasingly irrelevant to the everyday life of most people. If the only time that your religion comes up is in an opinion survey when you’re asked if you believe in god, or some drunken pub conversation where you decide to pontificate about whether or not god exists, I don’t think this qualifies as ‘religion’ anymore in any substantive sense of the term.

            • 4ox

              But that’s not atheism. Atheism is the belief that their are no Gods.
              Church attendance does not show peoples beliefs in Gods, just attitudes towards going to church. Asking someone their beliefs, if they think there is any form of higher power is the only true way to find out a persons belief. And hell, sometimes they might give a nondescript answer for the sake of avoiding an argument.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZyeXQaSxAM PM

    A few selected problems out of many:

    – Just who exactly are these “fools and knaves”? Polemics tend to be useless if they don’t name names.

    – “We must let go of the antiquated image of the male industrial worker and the female peasant”: do you really think anyone reading this website is in thrall to such an image?

    – “Just like their conservative counterparts, progressives find what they want to find in scripture and ignore the inconvenient rest”: Yes, those silly FMLN militants in El Salvador who bravely fought the US-backed military dictatorship—so selective! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZyeXQaSxAM) Silly civil rights movement! Silly Malcolm X!

    – Are the categories of religion and socialism really as neatly demarcated as you think? “Socialism is no message of woe for the proletariat but rather good news, a new gospel.” —Karl Kautsky, as quoted by Lars Lih, Lenin Rediscovered, 22, n. 29.

  • http://www.amleft.blogspot.com Richard Estes

    The left really needs to reexamine its reflexive hostility towards religion and the family. I’m not religious myself, but I have encountered many people who, because of their religion, are more skeptical about capitalism than atheists, who generally tend to express updated forms of social darwinism. The Catholic left is noteworthy in this regard, as demonstrated by Dorothy Day and, more recently, Kathy Kelly. Martin Luther King, if Michael Eric Dyson is to be believed, had become a socialist in the last years of his life.

    Likewise, with the family as well. It is one thing to live in an economically privileged society and condemn the partriarchal abuses of the family, because many of us have alternatives. But, despite the truth of these condemnations, the insistence upon its eradication, as opposed to its reform, ignores the fact that many people, especially poor people and immigrants, rely upon extended family relations for survival. South American social movements, like the MST and other peasant ones throughout the continent, have accepted the family as a source of strength, and constructed a strong sense of community and militancy out of it. The MST would have been impossible if it had insisted upon the severing of family relations as a precondition for participation.

    • http://rosswolfe.wordpress.com Ross Wolfe

      Even during the late nineteenth century this was true. Many atheists were staunch anti-communists. And if we’re having to deal with the renovated Social Darwinism of New Atheist sociobiology, socialists back then had to deal with with the original Social Darwinism of the Social Darwinists (Herbert Spencer, T.H. Huxley, etc.). This didn’t soften the socialists’ stance against religion in the slightest. The core countries of Europe at this time were more religious than even the so-called “peripheral” zones of capitalism today.

      The same goes for the family. No one’s calling for the immediate dissolution of the family, nor the immediate expropriation of religious property and abolition of religious belief. It’s very similar to the point Engels and later Lenin made about nobody calling for the immediate dissolution of the state, or the obliteration of the antithesis between town and country. These forms, relics of an unjust and unfree society, will wither away with the more thoroughgoing transformation of social conditions.

  • Dario Cankovic

    This piece was a follow up to and expanded upon some of the things I said in a discussion that ensued on the Facebook group “Aesthetics, Philosophy, Theory: Red and/or Black”. I would have linked to that comment thread directly, but I don’t know if you can do that with Facebook discussions. The ‘fools’ and ‘knaves’— admittedly I was being polemical here in naming them that—represent real positions that I’ve come across both online and IRL. Not to mention, if we on the left are trying to regroup and realign ourselves, and let go the baggage of ‘Leninism‘ in its various incarnations, it is worth reexamining the relation of socialists to religion. Militant atheism has been an article of faith for many Marxists, and too often the militant atheism of Marxists hasn’t gone beyond bourgeois militant atheism.

    My polemic here was directed not so much at religion, but at the attempt to align Marxism and religion, a materialist worldview and a theological worldview. The political activism of the liberation theologists is to be commended, but they misidentify the roots of the social problems which they struggled against. While there is some recognition of the systemic roots of poverty, ultimately liberation theology identifies sin as the source of poverty, and proposed to fight poverty by eradicating sin. Even at their most radical they did not call for an end to capitalism, to private property, but an end to the sin of greed, for a ‘preferential opinion for the poor’. Identifying and critiquing this confusion doesn’t preclude working with liberation theologians and radical religious believers of all sorts for common aims that we have. (On the side note of Islamic liberation theology: quickly googling it does come up with at least one book: http://www.amazon.ca/Islamic-Liberation-Theology-Resisting-Empire/dp/0415771552, and I think it would be fair to characterize the Nation of Islam as an Islamic liberation theology movement.)

    While, as Lenin said, “our program should be based on the scientific/materialist worldview, and therefore, will include an explanation of the true historical and economic roots of religion” (Lenin, “Socialism and Religion”) we shouldn’t misidentify this as crude attacks on religion of the sort that bourgeois militant atheists are wont to do. We aren’t operating under conditions of an “autocratic feudal government which strictly forbids the publications of atheist propaganda, and persecutes atheists” (ibid.), as such there is no need for socialists to attack religion, the bourgeois are presently doing a fine job of that (especially if the growth of ‘skeptics’ and outright atheists, even in the US, is anything to go by: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism). In fact, part of what I wanted to emphasize in my piece was that militant atheists shouldn’t be engaged in pointless and provocative propaganda against religion. If they want to do away with religion they’re better off trying to do away with the material conditions that give rise to religion.

    I want to emphasize that I’m not calling for the creation of a ‘social movement primarily antagonistic toward religion’, far from it. We need to draw a clear line between what the Bolsheviks did before and after taking power. Lenin’s stance on religion in his article “Socialism and Religion”, written in 1905, is a better guide to go by than some of the more aggressive militant atheist campaigns post-1917. There he explicitly says: “However abject, however ignorant Russian Orthodox clergymen may have been, even they have now been awakened by the thunder of the downfall of the old, medieval order in Russia. Even they are joining in the demand for freedom, are protesting against bureaucratic practices and officialism, against the spying for the police imposed on the ‘servants of God’. We socialists must lend this movement our support, carrying the demands of honest and sincere members of the clergy to their conclusion, making them stick to their words about freedom, demanding that they should resolutely break all ties between religion and the police.” Insofar as religion, religious institutions, and religious adherents support oppression and exploitation we should be against them, whenever they struggle against oppressive and exploitation we should struggle alongside them. But struggling alongside them doesn’t mean we adjure a materialist worldview.

    • http://www.amleft.blogspot.com Richard Estes

      Appreciate the additional elaboration. In regard to Islamic liberation theology, there were radical left Islamicists that participated in the Iranian Revolution, but they were brutally suppressed. I wonder if this kind of activism has survived the onslaught of conservative forms of Islam as supported by Iran, the Gulf States and the US.

      On another subject, as you probably recognized, my remarks unconsciously conflated liberal and left attitudes toward religion in terms of practical organizing. Hence my comment about a social movement “antagonistic” towards organized religion. Liberals have become notoriously in making broad brush, degrading comments about religion that serve no purpose other than to highlight their own purported moral superiority. Of course, that’s no way to politically organize, especially since the attainment of a perceived superior social status isn’t even a political objective, so a more nuanced approach is required as you have described, one that recognizes points of commonality and points of divergence simultaneously. It also requires, I think, an emphasis upon religion as understood and expressed individually and within groups and communities as opposed to the institutional manifestation of it.

    • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh

      Your comment that “part of what I wanted to emphasize in my piece was that militant atheists shouldn’t be engaged in pointless and provocative propaganda against religion” is correct but isn’t saying “[f]or every fine-sounding phrase in scripture or out of the mouth of a priest, there are countless more vile words. Religiously inspired deeds of cruelty far outnumber acts of charity” as you did in the piece exactly the kind of pointless and provocative propaganda you commented against?

      • Brandy Baker

        But is it pointless to accurately call out the history? We are all, individuals and organizations, accountable. Pointless and provocative is, IMO, deriding a person’s religion and constantly trying to make people feel lie an idiot for believing in a god. Like what the asshole Bill Maher does in “Religulous” with the guys at the truck stop church.

        • http://www.planetanarchy.net Pham Binh

          There wasn’t much history contained in the text and more than a few questionable statements that I’ve highlighted in earlier comments.

          • Brandy Baker

            To discuss the cruelty is to discuss the history.

      • PM

        Right, and there’s another unaddressed tension in Cankovic’s piece—that between a Hitchensian condescension toward left-wing religious people (“fools” who “genuinely believe that socialism is ordained by scripture” and who selectively “find what they want to find in scripture”), on the one hand, and on the other, the materialist tradition that prioritizes deeds over actions and calls on socialists to work “with liberation theologians and radical religious believers … for common aims,” presumably on equal, democratic terms. But how can socialists productively work with people they view as poor deluded fools? Is this not a repackaging of bourgeois superciliousness?

        • http://rosswolfe.wordpress.com Ross Wolfe

          Hitchensian? Marx condescended plenty to “left-wing” or “socialist” adherents to Christianity and other religious creeds. As did most Marxists.

    • Dario Cankovic

      Perhaps my rhetoric was too strong and detracted from the overall message that I wanted to make. I retract the condescending rhetoric.

      I didn’t think it necessary to go into a long account of the oppressive past and present of religion. Yes, the struggle against oppression and exploitation has been garbed in religious language before. But it has also served the ruling class, past and present, well in justifying oppression and exploitation, in fermenting reaction, and arguably far more effectively. This is what makes me doubtful of any attempt to base an emancipatory project on religion.

      As for how do we productively work with people we think are wrong? We can engage in dialogue, we attempt to persuade and open ourselves to persuasion. This is what I see as useful with a project like ‘the North Star’.

      I’ve learned from the responses to this piece. Interestingly enough I was expecting more of a backlash from militant atheists who might have thought that I was too soft on religion by calling for a toning down of the propaganda against religion, and instead a greater focus on changing the material conditions that give rise to religion, which will often involve working with progressive and radical believers.

      • Eric

        Speaking as a communist, I must nevertheless point out that your statement: “the struggle against oppression and
        exploitation has been garbed in religious language before. But it has
        also served the ruling class, past and present, well in justifying
        oppression and exploitation, This is what makes me doubtful of any attempt to base
        an emancipatory project on religion.” The same can, unfortunately, be said of socialism – Example 1: The social democratic parties of Europe – without exception – voted the war credits that sent millions of workers to their deaths in WW1. Example 2: Slight change in your above language: “the struggle against oppression and
        exploitation has been garbed in Marxist language before. But this language has
        also served the Stalinist nightmare and Maos’ so-called cultural revolution (for those who don’t know, this was more like brown-shirt fascism in the streets, schools, and villages. I lived in China for 12 years.)” My point here is not to attack socialism; it’s to call for a little more objectivity when considering that all the paths through which people seek liberation – progressive social change and socialism; religion; science; ecology, et al – are subject to ‘elective affinity’ – i.e., they can swing towards liberatory praxis or the other way. Finally, it may come as a shock to some, but religious people believe that there is a spiritual aspect to the world which some call God. Rather than fearing religion the way the devil fears incense, it might do some of you good to attend some churches and experience what the members experience. You don’t have to believe in God, or the sacred, but it might bring you closer to understanding this aspect. P.S. There was a historical figure who is a key exemplar for all of us; he happened to be a religious person – his name was Moses.

  • Brandy Baker

    The United States is becoming more secular, but still quite fundamentalist Christian culturally. The cleaving to and romanticization of the traditional family is a big part of that, as well as the Protestant work ethic, and this country’s trouble with accepting Darwinian evolution, the Right has done a good job of making evolution out to be similar to a lifestyle choice, instead of a very important theory. My mother, formerly Evangelical Christian, converted to Catholicism and is still saying that the earth is 6,00 years old, Adam and Eve, and all of that happy horseshit. I had to inform her that Catholics accept evolution and she derided that idea. I told her, “ask your priest.”

    Anyway, we have a lot of left over muck from the religiosity of the past. Cultural institutions have also helped to maintain, or at least keep aspects, of this. The Hollywood Hayes Code and the MPAA, which has both Catholic and Protestant clergy seated on it.

    I think we have become more secular because religion doesn’t fit into our lives, not so much because of capitalism, but many women do not want to constantly slut-shamed and subordinate (though some still buy into this), gays don’t want to hide, and children do not want to go to services every week where they preach that in the Old Testament, you could be put to death for sassing your parents. Humans have a need to be free and religion, on its own, has driven people away.

    • http://rosswolfe.wordpress.com Ross Wolfe

      I think we have become more secular because religion doesn’t fit into our lives, not so much because of capitalism, but many women do not want to constantly slut-shamed and subordinate (though some still buy into this), gays don’t want to hide, and children do not want to go to services every week where they preach that in the Old Testament, you could be put to death for sassing your parents. Humans have a need to be free and religion, on its own, has driven people away.

      This may seem counterintuitive, and I’m not trying to be reductionist here, but I would say that all of these things you mention leading people away from religion have to do with capitalism.

      • Brandy Baker

        I hear you, but the thing is, they predate capitalism, capitalism may have helped to keep them going, it was in capitalism’s interests, but the people got sick of them, and capitalism will continue even if they don’t because capitalism in resilient.

        What is said here is not inaccurate:
        “While it finds religion useful, capitalism also undermines religion. Globalization, modernization, and urbanization have brought previously isolated communities the world over into contact with one another. There has been an unprecedented intermingling of peoples, cultures, and religions. It is much easier for religion to keep a stranglehold on the minds of isolated, ignorant peasants (or suburbanites) living in largely homogenous communities than it is to do the same to the minds of the modern urban proletariat living in contact with a variety of ideas and people.”

        but I am also thinking of the women’s movement that some of those women were suburbanites.

        Maybe changes in capitalism along with the desire of the people to be free, I think both are true. These things are fluid and not rigid like so many Marxists make them out to be (I am not saying at all that you are being rigid).

        I like your shirt BTW.

        • http://rosswolfe.wordpress.com Ross Wolfe

          Thanks about the shirt, despite our differences.

  • Ben Campbell

    We posted a response by Charley Earp here.

    • Dario Cankovic

      Just read it. Good response, IMO. Charley was one of my interlocutors in the discussion about religion on Facebook.

      • http://radicalprogress.info Charley Earp

        Hope I wasn’t too knavish! ;)

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.pugliese.501 Michael Pugliese

    Richard Estes : “In regard to Islamic liberation theology, there were radical left Islamicists that participated in the Iranian Revolution, but they were brutally suppressed.”An allusion to the People’s Mojahedin Of Iran (PMOI) ? http://cruelradiance.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-left-in-iran/ . Which was indeed brutally suppressed, detailed in this report. The Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran, 1988, Report Of An Inquiry, http://www.iranrights.org/english/document-1380.php . A group which aided the Iraqi regime during the long War of the 80’s between Iraq and Iran, and which can be surmised to have aided Israel in assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists in the last couple years, http://rockcenter.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/02/09/10354553-israel-teams-with-terror-group-to-kill-irans-nuclear-scientists-us-officials-tell-nbc-news?lite . Have not read this book, but, this scholar is reliable on Iranian history, http://www.amazon.com/Iranian-Mojahedin-Ervand-Abrahamian/dp/0300052677 . This group was recently taken off the State Dept. list of terrorist organizations, after a long campaign in which they enlisted many former U.S. officials. http://www.rferl.org/content/washington-drops-iranian-mek-from-terror-list/24723434.html

    • http://www.amleft.blogspot.com Richard Estes

      It may well have been. The limit of my knowledge of the subject is the chapter in Tariq Ali’s book, “The Clash of Fundamentalisms” where he describes the incarceration, torture and killing of left Islamicists in the 1980s. I will check out the links when I have the chance.

  • Christian

    The best word about religion comes from the film Children of the Corn. Storming into a ceremony of brainwashed, murderous children controlled by psychopaths who have killed their parents and now worship a deamon-god, “outlander” Burt Stanton scolds them,

    “What kind of a God tells you to kill your parents? … Any religion without love and compassion is false. It’s a lie.”

    Then he beats up their false prophet’s enforcer and sets their demon on fire. It’s a good film and worth watching in its entirety. Here’s a link to the film on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqglb-Lxlhg

    There are contradictory things in every religion. And there are plenty of thinking people who, despite that, get love, strength, and a social consciousness from their religion. In the book of Mark a quote is attributed to Jesus where he says that if a woman re-marries after leaving her husband, that she has committed adultery. Bring that point up next time you find someone struggling with dogma. Did Jesus actually say that? Does he really think you shouldn’t leave your abusive, deadbeat leach or an alcoholic husband and go find someone who loves you?

    Personally, I don’t think he actually said that, and I think that everything else he said elsewhere about love, forgiveness, his opposition to injustice and oppression, would make him an ally of mistreated women everywhere, including those seeking divorces.

    Who could deny the possibility, that in the many revisions of the bible, some human writer who has a problem with women just snuck that passage in there. If that is the case, maybe that is a good lesson, and we shouldn’t assume everything in the book is what “God” said, because it was written by the hand of men, and men do things like wear priest robes and molest young boys in the catholic church. So we can’t just blindly trust them.

    On the other hand, maybe Jesus really did say that. And maybe all of us, who have many good ideas, also hold some prejudices, some bigotry, some fears and some backwards ideas our societies have taught us. Surely, no one can escape their historical environment, and even the most forward thinking people a hundred years ago can seem terribly offensive today. That’s what a lot of people have a hard time reading Huckleberry Finn today, because Mark Twain uses the “N” word a lot in it. But Mark Twain wrote the book in the style that people of his day talked. The whole point of what he wrote was that escaping slavery (and abusive patriarchs) is worth doing, and we should help one another escape oppression and find our freedom. Even if the bigots of our day tell us we will go to hell for it. So be it. In fact Huckleberry is confronted by just such a bigot, and he decides for himself that if eternal damnation is the price of helping Jim, “I guess I’ll go to hell.”

    Back to Jesus, if Jesus was like Mark Twain, and maybe despite a record of compassion and anti-imperialist politics he had one or two remarks about the institution of marriage and divorce that are politically backwards, I think the thinking followers of Jesus can recognize that for themselves, see that they themselves sometimes say something that is wrong, and we can understand that we need to read historical figures with an understanding of the environment they came from.

    If we keep Burt’s maxim in mind, that any religion, or any person using the clothing and the language of religion to get us to do things without love and compassion is indeed telling us a lie, we can avoid a lot of the dogmatic pitfalls that many religious congregations find themselves let into by unscrupulous false prophets. Keeping love and compassion as your starting point, drawing strength from any time anyone encourages it, is going to make in many case more useful of a soldier in the fight to make this a more humane and just world than a lot of the “bourgeois athiesm” will, which I think the author of the article is write to attack.

    After all, Christopher Hitchens rallied to spread lies about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction”, and has been used as a political pundit by some very uncompassionate people in order to launch wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These wars have brought a lot of suffering upon humans of all religions, athiests and non atheiests, and they certainly haven’t made anyone any safer at all. What good is the “anti-religiousness” of a war mongerer like that?

    My study of the geology has convinced the earth is a very, very old place, and that natural forces occurring over a long period of time have shaped it far more significantly than any enlightened, divine intervention. I also realize my lifetime on this planet is very short, and like a small ant accidentally stepped on by a child on a sidewalk, I will probably die before I learn all of its secrets, origins or mysteries. Anyone claiming to definitively know the spiritual secrets of the universe would be tremendously arrogant.

    In the end, whether we prove there is a god or isn’t there will bring very little satisfaction to anyone if we are still poisoning the oceans, destroying the atmosphere, consigning billions to extreme poverty while worshiping obscene monuments to wealth. The point isn’t to “be right”, because after our species has destroyed itself there won’t be too many people around to appreciate all our knowledge. The point is to learn to live in peace and harmony with one another.

    Any force that works to keep jealously, fear, hatred, mistrust, and dishonesty at bay while affirming the value of love and compassion is an ally of the revolutionary movement. Our goal is work with the religious, just as work with the secular, to create a better world. After that, we will see if the marxian predictions of religousness fading into oblivion as want and insecurity becomes a thing of the past does in deed become try. Maybe that will happen. Perhaps an even stronger spirituality of compassion will emerge. But in either case that is an observation to be made by generations none of us will live to see to make for themselves. Our task is to do what we can with the people around us. Maybe we not be so arrogant as to exclude anyone willing to work for a better world from our project because of our own preconceived notions of their intellectual short comings. Let us judge not, least we be judged.

  • El Mono Liso

    “…ultimately liberation theology identifies sin as the source of poverty, and proposed to fight poverty by eradicating sin.”

    Congratulations! You have just officially proven that you have no idea what you are talking about. Indeed, I think your characterization of “sin” in this piece is a caricature that begs not be taken seriously. This also assumes that none of these people, Gustavo Gutierrez, Ignacio Ellacuria, Oscar Romero, Jon Sobrino, Ched Myers, Wes Howard-Brook, Dorothy Day, Ruben Dri, etc. etc. have never read or engaged Marx in any serious way. It also assumes that anyone who has any problem with “orthodox” Marxism is somehow not “radical enough”. A bold and ignorant assumption, but you are entitled to your closed hermeneutic circle, I guess.

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  • 4ox

    Bollocks.

    Socialism is against the forces of capitalism and for the worker-“And in the work of abolishing it the Catholic and the Protestant, the Catholic and the Jew, the Catholic and the Freethinker, the Catholic and the Buddhist, the Catholic and the Muslim will co-operate together, knowing no rivalry but the rivalry of endeavour toward an end beneficial to all. For, as we have said elsewhere, Socialism is neither Protestant nor Catholic, Christian nor Freethinker, Buddhist, Muslim, nor Jew; it is only HUMAN.”

    The fact that you wish to see it removed shows that you have no true understand of socialism (and neither did Marx for that matter, writing only five lines on the subject) and none of religion.

    You seem to see socialism as some vanguard movement to sweep away all that you hate about the world. The worker and the street socialist sees it as a way to put the people in the drivers seat. The Vanguard socialist is concerned not with the suffering of the people nor with the exploiting of the worker, as he is quite ready to exploit the worker himself through state capitalism. He is, however, scared that the worker will take over and hold views different to himself including finding room for religion in their lives and the social revolution as well. Must be why Shinning Path attacked liberation theological. Your attacks on religion are not attacks on capitalist system, it is an attack on a system of beliefs outside the control of the vanguard.

    Please explain to me how Dorthy Day, Ammon Hennacy and James Larkin, socialists, Catholics and IWW members where able to hold such views without problems. They fought their whole lives to raise the workers up, lead strikes and lock outs and demand a workers republic and were followed by people of all faiths and none in fighting for their rights and freedoms.

    The act of enforcing poverty is condemn over 2000 throughout the bible, 3000 in the Q’ran and I lost count how many times in Hindu texts.

    Never had I read toil today for rewards tomorrow (expect maybe in the works of Lenin).

    The workers republic will be won not by some antirelgious vanguard, dispensing theists rather than bread, it will be won by the Christian, the atheist, the Muslim, the Jew, the Hindu and the Buddhist to work together to throw out the bosses and bankers and smash this rotten system, to control their own lives and loves, their factories and fields. Yes there will be at times conflicts of ideas but we’ve had that this time began and it will be overcome.

    Unless of course you would sooner have all your decisions ran by a central group of some sort, telling you what you can and can’t do.

    Also, it helps if you use arguments you’ve though of yourself, not just quoting Marx and that blackleg Lenin like its fucking scripture.

  • Dónal

    This article is a load of rubbish. If it wasn’t for all the anti-religious ideology tacked onto Socialism it would have been and would be today far more popular.

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