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50 Years Ago: Christianity or Socialism

This month Christians celebrate the birth of their Christ. It is therefore appropriate once again to examine the Christian religion and its relations to socialism and the working class.

Christianity is a comparatively recent religion but it is thick with the debris of man's earlier superstitions. The pagan influence on the Christmas festival is especially well marked, for December 25th was a holy day long before Jesus Christ was even thought of. Primitive man worshipped the sun because the course of his life was dominated by the yearly round of that planet in the heavens. This practice was wide spread but especially in northern countries mid-December was thought to be a critical time, as the days became shorter and shorter and the sun itself weaker. Great bonfires were lit to give the sun god strength and, when it became apparent that the shortest day had passed, there was great rejoicing. Thus the Roman winter-solstice festival, held on December 25th in connection with the worship of the sun-god Mithra, was known as the birthday of the unconquered sun-god. (…)

Christmas is supposed to be a time of good cheer, when the harsh reality of this world is briefly forgotten. But it is impossible to disregard capitalism even at this time of the year. We address our Christmas message to the working class, about to enjoy yet another wretched holiday under capitalism―the system they chose to perpetuate when they voted for the Labour and Tory parties last October. That man of the people, the sanctimonious Harold Wilson, has gone on record as talking of "our quest for the Kingdom of God on earth". After one year of Labour government the conclusion in inevitable; God and Mr. Wilson are forced to administer capitalism in the interests of the ruling class as ever. But then Mr. Wilson is not a socialist―and neither is God.

(from article by J.C., Socialist Standard, December 1965)