Replacing religion [was: Re: Car[r]ol on Durkheim]

Doyle Saylor djsaylor at
Tue Dec 26 19:56:12 MST 2000

Greetings Comrades,
    Lou Paulsen writes,
there are a lot of sources of pain and difficulty on the "personal level"
with which Marxism simply does not deal.  Marxism is applied theory of class
struggle, not applied theory of how we can individually lead happy lives,
beat substance abuse, understand the deaths of our loved ones, etc.  That's
the level where it will be hard to 'replace religion', or, to rephrase the
problem, it is hard for me at least to imagine how such things will be dealt
with in a truly healthy socialist society.  [In this sense I don't think
it's necessary or appropriate to go around and try to 'replace religion' by
preventing people from praying for strength etc.  We just have to create the
healthy society and then see what we all do then.]

I have the greatest respect for your many posting Lou.  I really like how
you wrote this here.  I think though you are wrong.  Most of what people do
as you say above is related to dealing with the problems of life, a child
dying etc.  This contingency issue in how a brain works is not something
outside what we might want as Marxist.  Not necessarily about the inner life
of an individual.  I think it critical to remark here on your next comment,

Trotsky thought that movie theatres would replace churches, because of the
spectacle of light and sound, but I think he was underestimating the

What is missing in your understanding is exactly how you seize upon
Trotsky's urging.  Much of what people do in a religious way is as you say
above the personal attempt to adjust to life's traumas.  What Trotsky was
pointing at is how the productive forces in society develop to produce
something that actually helps a person through their personal difficulties.
And the early movie system in Russia was very powerful indeed.

I agree with you that Trotsky did underestimate the problems with movies as
a source of solace like religion, but religion does do that work and movies
do something like that but then fall short, and why?  And the form it takes
is a primitive form of brain work which computing can do much better.  This
isn't about individual experience, but about how to understand the
productive processes of the community.

Marxist like Gorky have long advocated Marxism has a role to play in such
issues.  Primarily it seems to me to understand when we look at the means of
production how to understand organizing society so that workers get their
needs met.  Thus production of brainwork through computing is giving us
great new tools to organize the working class.  I hope I am writing this in
a way that is clear and respectful to your thinking.
thank you,
Doyle Saylor

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