Reply on Religion and Marxism: 2

Jurriaan Bendien j.bendien at
Wed Jan 3 06:47:26 MST 2001

Nestor writes:

>  If Marx was right, the
>establishment of the first truly historical society will tend to make
>religiosity wither away. If he was wrong, there will appear a new kind of
>search for transcendence at the individual level.

I think it is quite plausible to say that a "search for transcendence" is
an enduring anthropological characteristic of human beings, and that the
quest for social revolution can also be a search for transcendence (or for
redemption, or some such thing). In this sense, too, there is a religious
dimension in Marxism.
In his critique of religion Marx doesn't really plumb the depths of the
human psyche, his target is mystifying, hypocritical ideologies justifying
oppressive conditions, and the actual politics and social role of religion.
This is of course correct since it is not emancipatory to tell deeply
oppressed people that their religious ideas are a stupid hoax.
Marx cannot answer all of our questions about religion since he did not
experience the "full blast" of commodification - the engulfing of the human
Self, Nature and the unconscious by commercial forms.
Today religion/spirituality can in fact also be a way of escaping from
commercial culture, it may actually be a rejection of (parts of) commercial
culture, and that is something Marx had little experience of.



More information about the Marxism mailing list