How we live
At Brighton recently the National Council of the Evangelical Free Churches held its Annual Assembly. The speakers included Ramsay Macdonald, Sir Oliver Lodge, Lloyd George, and several Divines. They spoke on religion, science, politics, and various social matters. Confusion was great, and a splendid selection of subjects for Socialist criticism was provided. But alas ! our time and space is limited. Therefore I have selected from the mishmash what I consider to be a most glaring example of absurdity. This item of “wisdom” was uttered by Mr Ramsay Macdonald. Here it is:—“We live by faith, not by fact.”—Daily Telegraph, 7/3/24. Would you believe it! However, in fairness to Mr. Macdonald, and in the words of Marx, let us look at the matter a little closer.
What is faith? In this case faith is belief, or trust, in a religious system, the head of which is God. In short, faith is belief in God. What is fact? Fact is truth, reality, something that actually happens; something that is made known to us by one, or more, of our five senses; something we can see, or feel, or hear, or smell. Now we cannot know God through our senses. That is to say, he does not show himself to us; we cannot hear him speak or sing; we cannot shake hands with him. We cannot send a letter or a telegram to God, because we do not know his address, neither are there any means of communication with his supposed place of abode. The reason of this negation is, there is “no sich persun.” The idea of God was born through mankind’s ignorance of the workings of Nature. God did not create man; on the contrary, man created God. God only exists in the imagination, and has no external existence. We only hear of God what it pleases certain people, for certain reasons, to tell us. Thus, we live by faith. Faith in what? Something that does not really exist. Marvellous ! Now, you workers, who have been out of work, and had faith, know perfectly well that your faith did not keep you alive. In order to live you had to eat, drink, and sleep; you had to be clothed and have shelter. You have learned that to get a sufficiency of thesethings you must work. Thus you live by reality, or fact. You workers who are out of work and have faith, just study the above statements and you will see that they meet your case also. Those of you who have never been out of work and have faith, ask yourself why you work. You will learn that you work to get the realities stated above so that you can live. You know that if you depended on faith to keep you alive you would very soon cease to exist as living human beings. And do the Eminent Divines—the “most faithful”—live by faith? Oh! dear no, they live, very much, by fact. The Archbishop of Canterbury, for instance, enjoys a stipend of £15,000 a year. The Bishop of London gets £10,000 a year. The Gloomy Dean Inge gets £2,000 a year, and Ramsay himself, at present, enjoys a salary of £5,000 a year. Now if we live by faith why do these people require these large incomes? Because they can only live by fact. And so in opposition to Mr. Macdonald : We live by fact, not by faith. The Prime Minister increases his absurdity in the same speech :—“The temporal can never receive quality except from the Infinite, and until our Churches and politicians seize upon that and bring the nation back to fundamental facts, you can pass,” etc. How Churches can seize anything I do not know. “And bring the nation back to fundamental facts.” We assume he means the British nation, and so, suppose, that the other nations of the world have nothing to do with the matter. And why bring the nation back to fundamental facts if we live by faith? According to Mr. Macdonald we do not live by fact, therefore, it is obvious, fact is useless to us. Why, then, does he suggest that the churches and politicians undertake—what to me seems a very difficult task—to bring the nation back to something which is useless to it? Simply a waste of time and energy. Here is a poser for Ramsay. If we live by faith, not by fact, why the dickens has he troubled himself for many years with politics ? The truth of the matter is that Religion is a part of the means by which the Capitalist Class keep you in ignorance. These “intellectual” and “Christian” people who take part in the “dirty” work do so because their social and financial positions depend upon it.
These “Judas’s” know that when the workers learn that they suffet want, poverty, and the evils arising therefrom, because they are robbed of the wealth they produce, it will be “all-up” with the wretched system the Judases uphold—-the Capitalist System. This article contains a statement to the effect that God has no external existence, but only exists in the imagination. Even to-day many people consider this to be a very grave and terrible statement. However, should anyone desire more convincing evidence we recommend the study of our pamphlet, “Socialism and Religion.”
Here will be found sufficient facts to steer one from the Mystical World to the Scientific World; from the world of misunderstanding to the world of understanding, that is, of course, should they desire to make the journey. Fellow workers, don’t forget, Study Socialism.
(Socialist Standard, May 1924)