[Marxism] Norm Geras attacks Marxmail subscriber

Paula Paula_cerni at msn.com
Fri Jun 13 15:56:32 MDT 2008

Haines wrote:
>That is, I don't think religion has much to do with
> an optimal choice among worldly or material resources.

The choices people make are, to some extent, suited to their situation. If 
millions of people choose religion, there is something in it for them. 
Organized religion does indeed offer important worldly and material benefits 
(as well as emotional benefits).

< There's a world of a
> difference between saying that thought is real and that the content of
> our thought must also be real. A silly counter example: I see a
> mirage. The thought is real, the phenomena are real, but the mirage is
> not. We have constructed something in the mind that has a functional
> (necessary) relation to the phenomena, but I draw from it the wrong
> inference.

The mirage is real (the water is not). The mirage is not constructed in the 
mind, but in the relation between the outside world, the eye and the mind. 
We would not say a mirage is 'irrational'. To use another example - your 
image in the mirror is not really you; nevertheless it is a real image. It 
has a real content. I think Marx (or was it Engels) used the term 'real 
illusions' - a good term.

> The ideological
> role of religion tends to be subtle; the religious institution is
> largely depoliticized. So I wonder if we really should trouble to
> launch a critique of religion.

We can be subtle too. The interesting thing about religion is that it itself 
contains a critique of existing society. The socialist critique of religion, 
then, is a negation of a negation.

> I believe that the best policy is to engage religious people in the
> social struggle despite their beliefs, and that success in it will
> come to vitiate the psychic reasons for their religiosity.

Plus, crucially, its material reasons. Yes, I agree that this is the best 
policy. But socialists should also honestly (and respectfully) explain to 
believers what we think about religion itself.


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