1960s >> 1965 >> no-734-october-1965

50 Years Ago: Socialists and Religion

The spectacle of the warring nations of Europe supplicating the same good and almighty god for armed victory over each other is ludicrous enough. Small wonder that it is subject for derision.

Moreover, practically every religious sect has hastened to put its private brand of almighty power at the service of the capitalist interests which are responsible for the modern machine-made murder . . .

Nevertheless the power of religion to keep the workers servile is fast waning. Technical progress, the advance of knowledge, the march of events, drive it continually farther from real life. True it is that religion cannot entirely disappear until man’s relations with his fellows and with nature become clear, ordered, rational and unambiguous. True it is that man’s emancipation from wage-slavery, from irrational poverty and ignorance will alone finally lay the ghost of superstition. Yet the present fading of religion is an unmixed good. The power of religion has ever been potent for evil. It has been throughout political history the abetter of oppression, the enemy of freedom, of science and of humanity. It is still used as far as practicable as the hand-maiden of class domination.

As Socialists, indeed, our main attack must be against the entrenched political power of capitalism, and to this all else must be subordinated; but the war on religion, which is the power of inertia of human development, is part of the work that must be done in that great struggle.

From the Socialist Standard October 1915.