Religion and Socialist Society

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Sympo 12 months ago.

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  • #85613

    Sympo
    Member

    Can Socialism be established if most people still adhere to the religions of today (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc)?

    One idea that I've considered is that it might be possible for a Christian (or whatever) to be in favor of creating a classless, stateless society of free access and democratic control of the means of production by society as a whole.

    We've all heard that Marx quote on religion, the one where he says that it is the opium of the people and the sigh of the oppressed creature.

    Let's say that the creature frees himself from his cage. Does the creature have to stop sighing whilst he is freeing himself, or can he stop after he is free?

    #129223

    Marcos
    Member

    Probably, this is the best answer to your question: https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/pamphlets/socialism-and-religionhttp://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/education/depth-articles/religionProbably the expression used by Marx was applicable to his time when peoples were too much involved in religion. Our approach to religion is different to the secular atheists who think that the main problem of mankind is religion, and many of them support capitalism. Religion exists because the material conditions which motivated its emerge still exist in our society.

    #129224

    Sympo
    Member

    I am under the impression that some of the articles say different things.Here's a quote from Socialism and Religion:"Religion won’t disappear simply because Secularists and Freethinkers, or for that matter Socialists, refute it as untrue. It will only disappear when people are in a position to control the production of their means of life. This requires the end of the class ownership[…]"Which to me sounds like it's saying that religion as a whole will only dissappear after the end of class ownership.But here's what Religion: dying but not yet dead has to say:"In order to grasp the urgent need for and the possibility of achieving major social change one must first be able to think clearly and to understand just how capitalism works – or, quite often, doesn't. This is something men and women are much less able to do if their heads are full of religious fantasy and their thinking is correspondingly irrational."Which to me sounds like it's saying that religious people are incapable of becoming socialists, which implies that religion has to dissappear before we can establish Socialism.Am I misintepreting what's being written?What is your personal opinion on the subject of religion, Marcos?

    #129225

    Marcos
    Member
    Sympo wrote:

    I am under the impression that some of the articles say different things.Here's a quote from Socialism and Religion:"Religion won’t disappear simply because Secularists and Freethinkers, or for that matter Socialists, refute it as untrue. It will only disappear when people are in a position to control the production of their means of life. This requires the end of the class ownership[…]"Which to me sounds like it's saying that religion as a whole will only dissappear after the end of class ownership.But here's what Religion: dying but not yet dead has to say:"In order to grasp the urgent need for and the possibility of achieving major social change one must first be able to think clearly and to understand just how capitalism works – or, quite often, doesn't. This is something men and women are much less able to do if their heads are full of religious fantasy and their thinking is correspondingly irrational."Which to me sounds like it's saying that religious people are incapable of becoming socialists, which implies that religion has to dissappear before we can establish Socialism.Am I misintepreting what's being written?What is your personal opinion on the subject of religion, Marcos?

    They are referring to two different situations. Religion was something created by men based on materialistic needs

    #129226

    Sympo
    Member

    Why can't a Christian, a Muslim or a Sikh be in favor of establishing a classless, stateless society where the means of production are democratically controlled?Here's from a 2003 conference:"Socialists hold that we live only once. Religious people believe in some afterlife. Clearly the two are incompatible.'"If it said "Marxists" instead of "socialists" then I might've agreed, but I'm not sure it's correct to say that atheism is a necessary part of socialism.What about the Diggers? Sure, they were utopians, but they still wanted to establish a type of egalitarian society. Why can't religious people today want to establish Socialism?Just to make things clear: I'm an atheist.

    #129227

    Marcos
    Member
    Sympo wrote:
    Why can't a Christian, a Muslim or a Sikh be in favor of establishing a classless, stateless society where the means of production are democratically controlled?Here's from a 2003 conference:"Socialists hold that we live only once. Religious people believe in some afterlife. Clearly the two are incompatible.'"If it said "Marxists" instead of "socialists" then I might've agreed, but I'm not sure it's correct to say that atheism is a necessary part of socialism.What about the Diggers? Sure, they were utopians, but they still wanted to establish a type of egalitarian society. Why can't religious people today want to establish Socialism?Just to make things clear: I'm an atheist.

    They are not talking about the individuals, they are talking about the conceptions. Socialism is based on the materialist conception of history, and relgion is based on metaphysic, both are not compatible. Most ahteists are not anti-captialists

    #129228

    Sympo
    Member
    Marcos wrote:
    Socialism is based on the materialist conception of history

    What if I want to establish a socialist (or quasi-socialist) society but I'm a Christian? Would this be impossible? Then how does one explain the Diggers?

    #129229

    Marcos
    Member
    Sympo wrote:
    Marcos wrote:
    Socialism is based on the materialist conception of history

    What if I want to establish a socialist (or quasi-socialist) society but I'm a Christian? Would this be impossible? Then how does one explain the Diggers?

    Go to our website and read everything about religion 

    #129230

    Sympo
    Member
    Marcos wrote:
    Go to our website and read everything about religion 

    lol I already haveSteve Coleman of the SPGB wrote that Gerrard Winstanley (a member of the Diggers) "can well be described as England's first articulate socialist." (source: Book Review: 'Left-Wing Democracy in the English Civil War' | The Socialist Party of Great Britain)What's your personal view on the Diggers? In case anyone visiting this thread hasn't heard of them:Diggers – Wikipedia

    #129231

    Hud955
    Member

    Hi SympoThe Diggers:  Yes, you are right. It all depends on whether we are talking about utopian socialism (which is theoretically compatible with religious belief) or Marxian socialism, based on historical materialism, which isn't. The Diggers, as you say were utopian socialsits and so had no issue reconciling their views with religion.Religion and Marxian socialism: religious belief, underpinned by an idealist philosophy, and Marxian socialism, founded on historical materialism are theoretically incompatible.  You cannot hold an idealist and a materialist position at the same time without contradiction.  The fact is though, that people are not all philosophers and, individually, they are perfectly capable of holding contradictory beliefs.  So no, there is no reason why a Christian, or any religious individual, could not also believe in and work towards the establishment of a socialist society.  And if they were philosophically minded and bothered by the contradiction, there is nothing to prevent them taking the conclusions of Marx's materialist analysis and reinterpreting them ideologically,  so that their class interests end up bing expressed through an ethical or even a religious lens.   It would be a less secure foundation for their belief than Marxian materialism, but it would be possible.  It's very likely, in my view, that there will be individuals with religious beliefs, or the remnants of religious beliefs involved in a majority working class movement for socialism.But as Marcos indicates, the means by which an individual might come to adopt socialism or explain it ideologicaly to himself is very different from an analysis of  the forces operating more generally upon society.  Marxian materialism presents socialism as the work of a class conscious working class who have identified  their class interests.  The more their minds are clouded by diverting ideologies like religion, however, the more difficult gaining that consciousness will be.  It doesn't mean that some religious individuals can't see through to the realities of their class position.  It just means that for the working class as a whole religion makes obtaining that consciousness harder.The other passage you quoted argued that religion will only die when human being gain complete control over their environment.  I think there is some reality in this, though I suspect a claim like this over-eggs the pudding a little.  I think this is best understood as a process rather than as an achieved result.  In recent centuries, despite the ongoing chaos of the capitalist market,  our control over our environment has increased and religion has, indeed, receded.  In some places more than others. There is no exact rule operating here.  Personally, however, I doubt whether we will ever gain complete control over our environment, and, correspondingly,  I don't see any evidence to suggest that religion will die a final death even in a socialist society.  At least I wouldn't lay bets on it.   I don't think socialism will be fertile ground for religious belief, though, for the reason indicated – increasing control goes at least some way to removing the need for it. 

    #129232

    Sympo
    Member
    Hud955 wrote:

    Hi Hud955, thanks for contributing to the discussion!"there is nothing to prevent them taking the conclusions of Marx's materialist analysis and reinterpreting them ideologically,  so that their class interests end up bing expressed through an ethical or even a religious lens."It's interesting that you think that religious people can (illogically) combine their faith with the want to establish Socialism."Marxian materialism presents socialism as the work of a class conscious working class who have identified their class interests. The more their minds are clouded by diverting ideologies like religion, however, the more difficult gaining that consciousness will be."Is religion inherently a thing that produces great class division? I totally see how Jihadism greately hinders socialist consciousness ("it is righteous to kill infidels"), but what about people like Nasser? To be clear, I don't think Nasser was a socialist. But would it be that hard for someone of similar religious beliefs to adopt a socialist mindset?"It doesn't mean that some religious individuals can't see through to the realities of their class position. It just means that for the working class as a whole religion makes obtaining that consciousness harder."Does this mean that you see Socialism as being established by a great majority of atheists?

    #129233

    Hud955
    Member

    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.  

    #129234

    Sympo
    Member
    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.

    #129235

    Bijou Drains
    Member
    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.

    #129236

    Hud955
    Member

    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.

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