Socialism, Religion and Education

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, as a party, stands steadily aloof from “religious” discussions. Why ? Because it is a Socialist party.

As Marx says,

“The religious world is but the reflex of the real world. For a society based upon the production of commodities, in which the producers in general enter into social relations with one another by reducing their individual private labour to the standard of homogeneous human labour, Christianity, with its cultus of abstract man, more especially in its bourgeois developments, Protestantism, Deism, etc., is the most fitting form of religion.”

In brief, Christianity, like all religions, is but an expression of material conditions, a direct outcome of social relations, the unsubstantial image of a world reflected in the muddy pool of human intellect. Cannibal savagery, blood-smeared Mumbo-Jumbo ; patriarchal tyranny, “jealous” Jehovah—Jesus varies with the ages. “Redeemer” of Roman slave ; War-God of Crusader ; General Overseer of Manufacturing Capitalist; Harp and Crown Dispenser of Hot Gospeller in a Charity-Organisation-ridden phase of Society.


that need be said on the subject of the relation of Socialism and religion.

“The religious reflex of the real world can only finally vanish, when the practical relations of everyday life offer to man none but perfectly intelligible and reasonable relations with regard to his fellow men.”

Material conditions rule. “The English Established Church will more readily pardon an .attack on 38 of its 39 articles than on one-thirty-ninth of its income.” This is as true to-day as when written in 1867.

The position, therefore, of the Revolutionary Socialist, the attitude of The Socialist Party of Great Britain on the question of “Religion” is clear. “Take care of the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves” says the old tag, which being interpreted for the present occasion means “Seek essentials. You may safely ignore results.” The esential to-day for the worker is a grasp of the fact that, while he has nothing to sell but his labour-power, while he is reduced to the rank of a


under no conditions whatever can his class be anything but an ignoble conglomeration of wage-slaves, swinked and sweated by capitalist, preyed on by “leaders,” one of the sorriest spectacles which the “all-beholding Sun” has witnessed through the ages.

In so far as, and when, Religion allies itself directly with capitalism, the S.P. of G.B., being hostile to every other political organisation, is obviously in opposition to Religion. The greater includes the less. Similarly, when “Rationalism” allies itself with the exploiting class, we are compelled to fight that “ism,” especially when such “Rationalism” fantastically tricks itself out in a ludicrous, garb which it fondly imagines is Socialism.


asserts that he is a “Socialist.” His fervid faith in positivist moonshine would be of itself sufficient evidence to the contrary, but a perusal of his article, “The Educational Future,” in the “R.P.A. Annual” is sufficient to dispel any doubts upon the point. He peddles in trifles. He is much exercised upon such momentous issues as “co-option” in educational bodies; he “cherishes hopes”—sure mark of the pseudo-Socialist, who is invariably a


—that the present system under which the worker groans will be made somewhat more bearable ; he “demands” (another infallible sign of the soi-disant Socialist, this “demanding”) that “the school shall be deliberately directed to the evolution of willing and happy citizens equipped for devotion to the common welfare,”—in short, while mouthing the word “evolution” he shows his utter lack ol the appreciation of the practical lesson which evolution has to teach, namely, that under given conditions, only given results can follow. The spectacle of this “Socialist” “demanding” that the school shall diligently apply itself to the better manufacture of “willing” and “happy” wage-slaves, who, in the huge majority of cases must enter the ranks of the exploited, must increase the ever-increasing army of unemployed, is one which is calculated to strengthen us in the opinion that the


to the emancipation of the working class to-day is that curious freak of nature, that vertebrate animal without a backbone, the “Socialist” whose knowledge of Socialism extends as far as the knowledge of the name, who would “reform” the chrysalis into a butterfly, place an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, and generally understudy David, who confessed that he had “erred and played the fool exceedingly.”

We are called upon to admire the “half mystical fervour” of Miss Margaret McMillan, who has “urged the necessity of communal baths, medical inspection, etc. for the children of the proletariat.” Does it ever occur to this brand of “reformer” that, while they may claim the latter title, they are no more entitled to the term “Socialist” than is the cattle-owner who believes in the virtues of a horse-pond and regularly engages a veterinary surgeon. In short, Miss Margaret McMillan,—who has never concealed her contempt for the “elementary” teacher of the children of the proletariat,—is simply energetically doing work for the capitalist class.

But our chief quarrel with F. J. Gould is his pushing of his pet palliative “Moral Instruction.” In schools run for, and in the interests of, the capitalist class, there can be no really “moral instruction.” The omission of “Religious Education,” and the substitution of the precious syllabus of the ”Moral Instruction League” is simply substituting one form of dogmatism for another. It is monstrous to suppose that a fervent belief in miracles on the part of a teacher precludes supervision as to personal cleanliness. It is a disputable matter whether, from the point of view of a Socialist, less harm may not accrue to the child mind from the teaching of mythological Jewish History than from the handling of a lesson on “Patriotism,” “Thrift,” etc. from the ordinary teacher who has never learned to think beyond the ordinary formulas which a bourgeois society has drilled into him, and who in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, consciously or unconsciously, looks upon his pupils as so much material to be exploited in the unspeakably dirty struggle for “promotion.” (Has F. J. Gould


Does distance lend enchantment to the view ?) We heartily endorse the following from his article, and beg him to apply the precepts therein contained to himself : “What we need is the cultivation of the scientific habit, the capacity for seizing significant things, for neglecting unnecessary things, for reducing chaotic things to order.”


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