religion and marxism

neil chertcoff nchertco at
Sun Aug 25 18:04:17 MDT 1996

dear wei en lin,

RE: yours of 08/25/96

notwithstanding the fact that many so-called  "religious wars' in history
are actually the ideological recruitment methods in dragooning the working
people for fighting what are really exploiter class conflicts (east and
west), i think we need to put your examples in historical perspective .

none of the examples you cite are proletarian class fights against the
bourgeoisie (though for sure the workers and other classes are profoundly
affected by them , their outcomes, etc.)
The 1911 Chinese revolution was bourgeois/ nationalist, anti-feudal &
anti-monarchal was it not? Even this "revolution' did not get very far
before reaction dug in for the long haul. Looks like the the 1949 CCP/KTT
revolution in the main had to implement a  bourgeois programme.

Part of the dialectic is that understanding that what was revolutionary in
one period of history can become reactionary in aniother later period.

Your view of 'liberation theology' (mainly latin america) is not as cut and
dry as you present. Here workers/farmers struggling directly against capital
is posed, but the liberation theologians were not socialist but radical
liberal reformists with left-social democratic programmes. In the main, they
considered communism/marxism  almost as much the enemy as the
capitalist/imperilaist domination.
liberation theology was  needed by the official church itself to refurbish
its image as a bulwalk of exploiter reaction and to keep the workers/farmers
>from going over toward  to the  full marxist programme.
This explains why the catholic church, has in the last six years or so,
since the radical % marxist influenced mass movements have gone into ebb in
much of latin america, has pink slipped the liberation theologian crowd
and moven back to a more open traditioal  rightist stance more fitting for
bourgeois ruling classes facing deep economic decline.

Your point about Lenin and promotion of the dialectical "idealist" Hegel over
the vulgar materialists like Mach is well taken and you have a good point
here  about contradiction and developemet but again i can't see where your
actual examples of social struggles
>from a proletarian vs. bourgeois class face off are analogous to the
point a that Lenin was trying to make. Can you clarify. I mean i am not an
expert on Sri-lanka but I don't see any of the  main combatants/classes in
the Sinhalese-Tamil civil war as having any socialist opposition to
capitalism/imperialism. I don't even think that THEY try to claim that any
more, in fact the same groups that use religion and nationalism there today
for exploitation used to claim to be (falsely) some kind of marxists 2
decades ago (Bandarnaike regime/JVP movement, etc), again the religion  seems
used more to stir up ethnic enmity and hatred amongst workers/farmers
than for any kind of progressive purpose.

n stalin, in fact under his state capitalist regime, he more and more
gave priveliges and power back to the Russian Orthodox church as he
and his class recognized the need, as do other ruling classes that
exploit workers/farmers , that religious mysticism is a good way
of stupifying the workers, and also promoting Russian nationalism
and ethnic divisions inside the Soviet working class-also in dragooning
the workers to give their lives for the state in wartime.

on the 'faith' issue, L. Godena is correct in showing the link with
this method & irrationality,& anti-scientific methods I might add. In fact
Godena here is qualitatively more principled,as usual, than the CPUSA party
he  affiliates with! He should give his CPUSA comrades some good lessons!

Socialists confidence in their cause is Different than religious faith.
Religious "faith'  comes out more the Bliss consciousness type even
when mixed with "good works" & also the religoius usually  fall back to
blaming the individual self for social misery.
Socialist confidence is based on understanding material change and reality
and its "good works" are for the liberation of working class humanity by the
working class, recognizing individual needs and imperfections, yes,   but
seeing in the human collective conflict, the real world solution to the
capitalist social misery.


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