The Forum: Socialism versus Secularism

[To the editor.]

Sir,—While agreeing with a good deal in the article under the above heading in your August issue, there are some points in it which eeem to me to require criticism.

To start with, the title is misleading. Social­ism cannot be versus Secularism. It is Secular­ism. Your point should be that it is the only Secularism. This would then place you in your true relationship with the N.S.S. The writer objects that Atheism is anything more than anti-Theism—the negation of the God idea. He will find that that is all it is. You cannot sad­dle Atheism with all or any of the theories of origin which do not come within the conception of the God-origin of the Cosmos. On the con­trary, it is only Atheism that is capable of ana­lysing scientific ideas properly.

Neither is Atheism committed to the ridiculous position about the inconceivability of infinity. Atheists may be so committed. Atheism is not a red-herring. The need for your excellent pamphlet, “Socialism and Religion,” proves this. The only virtue or utility in Atheism is (and Atheism loses nothing by confessing it), that, properly conceived, it frees the mind to enter the analysis of Socialism and sociology with the impartiality and right thinking which religion prevents. Religion distorts the mind, therefore Socialism stands no chance of being understood.

That all the Atheists are not supporting the Socialist theories is no more the fault of Athe­ism than it is the fault of Socialism that some “Socialists” turn bourgeois in ideas when they become bourgeois in the manner of getting their living.

You may answer that these “Socialists” are not Socialists. I offer a similar reply re J. M. Robertson, M.P., etc. Their Atheism has done them no good. The other matter raised in Mr. Le Cart’s article I thoroughly endorse.
Yours truly,


Our correspondent holds that Secularism pro­perly understood is synonymous with Socialism. Not only is that statement delightfully ridicu­lous in view of the confusion that exists among Secularists in regard to the political aspect of society, but it is untrue.

Secularism merely represents the opinions of people whose observations have been narrowed down to one single aspect of society, viz., the religious one. It stands for “this-worldism” in opposition to the belief in the existence of another world.

Religious ideas, however, being shaped and determined by social conditions, only exist as a product of the particular social system in which they are manifested, and as such are not based at all on the existence of another world. Secularism, therefore, is essentially nothing but a futile negation; it mistakes a shadow for the thing that casts it and, at its best, only comes to the level of other organisations which are out to secure certain reforms while leaving untouched the cause that produces the very evil they profess to eradicate. Thus our correspondent’s attempt to justify atheistic Secularism on the ground that “religion distorts the mind” falls to pieces, for Secularism is itself guilty of inaccurate mental vision. An examination of the written objects of Secularism as it appears in its organised and concrete form clearly shows that it attacks certain superstitions only to replace them with others just as bad and just as reactionary from the point of view of the work­ing class. Nor is there any excuse in the paltry suggestion that it is misunderstood and ill-used by its adherents, for if it leaves room for misunderstanding and ill-usage it stands condemned as a proper means of education and enlightenment.

Now, the reply to the “step-by-step and wait and see” policy of our critic, who says that Socialism stands no chance of being understood while religious influence lasts, ia obvious. We submit to him that if it is possible to free the mind from religious ideas without destroying the cause that produces them, then it is even more possible to make that mind at once under­stand the cause of the trouble and the remedy for it. Success in the first instance would be nothing short of a miracle; in the second it is the result of a clear and simple process of education.

Unlike Secularism, Socialism is not governed by appearances, but explains them. Its policy is the outcome of an analysis of the economic forces which always lie at the base of all social structures, so that it reaches the root from which not only springs the world of ideas, but in which is also to be found the cause of all evil. These economic forces create an antagonism of inter­ests between the few and the many, and it naturally follows that the minds of the many must be misguided if the few are to survive—hence the need for and the use of religious in­fluence so long as that antagonism lasts. The object ol Socialism is to destroy this antagonism by substituting common for private ownership of the means of life, and this transformation alone will sound the death-knell of religious influence, for the robbery of the working class will have ceased, and with it the need to subject the mind to misguidance.

Thus Socialism is anti-religious, but to say that it is the logical outcome of Atheism and Secularism is as silly as to expect a mouse to give birth to a mountain.


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