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Religion and Socialist Society

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Hud955
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Hi Sympo,

Putting aside for one moment the argument that belief in religion is inherently illogical, yes I see no reason why a Christian for instance couldn't take the the conclusions of Marxian historical materialism, and choose to regard them as morally desirable, and so perch a commitment to socialism on top of a religious conviction.  I don't think there is anything particularly impossible or controversial about that.

I don''t think that religion creates class division.  Religion is used to justify or excuse class division, it is also used to motivate others to act in the interests of elites.  Religious bodies are usually, themselves, class based or in close collusion with class based bodies. But it  is the social relationship of property in society that creates class division, not religion.  Immediate return hunter gatherers have no property and therefore have no classes, but they have religion, for instance  

It might be useful to distinguish between religious authorities and  religious doctrine on the one side and the beliefs of religious people on the other.  People with religious beliefs can and do have all kinds of personal variations on religion belief systems that diverge from the doctrine of religious authorities.   Individuals can believe all kinds of things.  So I don't think it is possible to lay down any firm claims about what individuals might or might not be able to believe. 

I don't have a crystal ball, so I am very wary of making predictions, but I understand the issue broadly like this.  Because religion performs all kind of ideological tasks for the ruling class I doubt whether anyone who is fully committed to the doctrines and pronouncements of a religious body is ever going to be a wholly  trustworthy socialist.  You cannot serve two interests, your own and those of your masters.  Those that can be scared or intimidated by religious claims are also less likely to make a firm committment to socialism.  But people with looser forms of religious belief and less commitment to authority might well come to recognise their class interests and take a clear class view. All I can say for sure is that the more firmly people are committed to religious dogma and the institutions that promote it, the less likely they are to be willing to carry through a socialist programme to overturn the capitalist system.  Thoroughgoing atheists who are also socialists the most trustworthy and consistent.



 

 

Sympo
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Hud955 wrote:

"I don''t think that religion creates class division.  Religion is used to justify or excuse class division, it is also used to motivate others to act in the interests of elites."

Just to be clear, what I meant with "class division" was "members of a class who don't identify their interest as identical to those class members of a different faith, race, nationality etc". I didn't mean "when people of a society are divided in classes". I guess I could have used a better phrase (though I can't really think of one at the moment).

"You cannot serve two interests, your own and those of your masters.  Those that can be scared or intimidated by religious claims are also less likely to make a firm committment to socialism."

I agree with you. A religious person who blindly obeys a religious authority is probably going to be told a bunch of anti-socialist stuff (Khomeini said for example that Islam was in favor of private property).

"But people with looser forms of religious belief and less commitment to authority might well come to recognise their class interests and take a clear class view."

What is your personal opinion on letting people of "loose" religious beliefs enter a World Socialist party? As I have understood it the present policy is to not let any religious person in, regardless of how strict they are.

Bijou Drains
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Sympo wrote:

Hud955 wrote:

"I don''t think that religion creates class division.  Religion is used to justify or excuse class division, it is also used to motivate others to act in the interests of elites."

Just to be clear, what I meant with "class division" was "members of a class who don't identify their interest as identical to those class members of a different faith, race, nationality etc". I didn't mean "when people of a society are divided in classes". I guess I could have used a better phrase (though I can't really think of one at the moment).

"You cannot serve two interests, your own and those of your masters.  Those that can be scared or intimidated by religious claims are also less likely to make a firm committment to socialism."

I agree with you. A religious person who blindly obeys a religious authority is probably going to be told a bunch of anti-socialist stuff (Khomeini said for example that Islam was in favor of private property).

"But people with looser forms of religious belief and less commitment to authority might well come to recognise their class interests and take a clear class view."

What is your personal opinion on letting people of "loose" religious beliefs enter a World Socialist party? As I have understood it the present policy is to not let any religious person in, regardless of how strict they are.

My view, and it is only my view, is that there is a difference between religion and belief in things spiritual. Religion and religious belief implies the adherence to an organised belief system. To me there is no place for people who carry an adherence to an organised belief system in the Socialist Party. However a personal spiritual belief, is not something that is part of an organisational system, so for instance a person might believe in a personal karma, where if they do good to others, good will come to them. Although, I would view that as superstitous and illogical, I would not personally view that as a bar to being a party member.


Hud955
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Hi Sympo.

Thanks for the clarification on class.  I get you.

As for membership, that's easy.  The WSM consists of parties which have a democratic form of determining policy, so that the nature of each party is determined by the party's membership.  The WSM parties wish to maintain a materialist understanding within the organisation. It therefore makes sense to exclude people who might want to change that, particularly at present when the parties are small and a relatively small number of votes could alter their whole nature.  We make the same argument for rejecting reformists.  The experience of history is that democratic organisation that have a reformist as well as a revolutionary programme soon get taken over by reformists who at this present time far outnumber those whose class consciousness is revolutionary.  

That's the broad position.   Allowing membership to people who have religious beliefs but who do not subscribe to any particular religious organisation, or people like pantheists who are only one step away from materialism is a more complex question.  My views are ambivalent on that, but on the whole I'd rather not end up in a situation where we have to deal with  issues of religion or spirituality within the party, which branches would be entitled to raise if they had a majority of members with religious views of these kinds.

Marcos
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The solution is easy, Just fill out the application for membership. We have had members who had religious beliefs when the two ideological realities confronted each other, they decided what to do.  Historical Materialism and Idealism cannot be conjugated like a verb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

admin
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Here is an older article (1908) dealing with the same question. In it you can see the opportunistic uses religion is put to.

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1900s/1908/no-43-march-1908/can-socialist-be-christian

Sympo
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Hud955 wrote:

"The WSM parties wish to maintain a materialist understanding within the organisation. It therefore makes sense to exclude people who might want to change that"

Okay,  I can understand that reasoning.

"The experience of history is that democratic organisation that have a reformist as well as a revolutionary programme soon get taken over by reformists who at this present time far outnumber those whose class consciousness is revolutionary.  "

What do you personally think would happen if people of "loose" religious beliefs became a majority in the SPGB?

Sympo
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I am concerned about the prospects of establishing Socialism internationally. Religion has a strong hold on people in large parts of the world. It might be very difficult to convince, say, the average Egyptian to not only be in favor of Socialism, but to make him an atheist as  well. The purpose of my original post was to see if we really have to make the world population atheistic before we can bring about Socialism.

gnome
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Sympo wrote:

The purpose of my original post was to see if we really have to make the world population atheistic before we can bring about Socialism.

No.

Marcos
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gnome wrote:

Sympo wrote:

The purpose of my original post was to see if we really have to make the world population atheistic before we can bring about Socialism.

No.

Most atheists love capitalism. Nobody needs a PHD in Physics to become an atheists, and nobody needs a PHD in Philosophy, Politics, or Economics to understand socialism. The critique to religion is the critique to capitalism, and the critique to capitalism is the critique to religion. Only 15% of the Russsian population were atheists because the conditions that motivated the existence of religion never disappeared from the Russian society. The Russians leaders were atheists who supported capitalism. Most members of the so called liberation theology they have raised valid critique against capialism, and they are not atheists, but their main objective is to reform the capitalist society, and to reduce poverty with charity. Poverty is wage slavery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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