1970s >> 1970 >> no-794-october-1970

Religion and Society

The sole aim of the Companion Socialist Parties is the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by Socialism.

 

Membership is open to anyone who agrees with the party’s object and principles. This involves understanding the basic features of capitalist society and includes a rejection of leadership (by man or god). Socialists are historical materialists and claim that religions are social products, subject to change as social conditions change. It is not a case of the world (or universe) being made by a creator with man made in his image, but of man making his gods in the image of natural phenomenon including man himself.

 

To try and justify the existence of a creator by asking who made the first particle of matter is only modifying the Adam and Eve story in which first particles have replaced first people. Scientists may be in disagreement in trying to explain how the universe is evolving but they are agreed that although the matter in it changes its form, its quantity does not change. There is no beginning or end to the universe only change. When there is no creation, there can be no creator.

 

As the universe has evolved so has that tiny part of it, the planet Earth. Mankind is a product of this evolution and is also subject to change. It has involved the progressive mastery by man over his environment and with it a progressive accumulation of knowledge of the world he lives in and of the universe of which it is a part. So that the relationship between man and nature and that between man and man have changed. Early man had no control over nature and consequently no means to enslave his fellow man. Nature was little understood and held in awe. Gradually the domestication of animals and cultivation of useful plants started the subjection of nature to man. It later became possible to support a class of people not directly involved in production, and with this the subjection of the producer by the non-producer. To the awe of nature was added the codes of conduct of and justification for a slave society. The social divisions of slave or class society have given rise to antagonism or class struggles which have given an impetus to man’s conquest of nature. As the awe of nature has receded so the justification and code of conduct of class society have played larger parts in religion.

 

As one form of class society has given way to another so has religion changed. Christianity had its origin not in a man (Christ) but in social conditions of the Mediterranean area under Roman rule. A unified Empire increasingly worked by chattel slaves drawn in from its various parts, subjected to the harshness and degradation of this form of exploitation and the resultant decadence, made the local religions irrelevant and paved the way for a universal religion more sophisticated than those it superseded. With many modifications the religion of slaves in revolt gave way to that of feudalism and later capitalism.

 

In the same way that the evolution of Christianity needed no Christ so the theory of Socialism has no originator. This theory has evolved from the struggle of the working class to emancipate themselves. The conditions of capitalism give rise to the struggle for the ending of all oppression. Capitalism dominates the world. Its science has removed all mystical explanations of the origins of the world and mankind. Social scientists such as Marx (a contributor not originator) have discovered the origin and development of social inequality. The working class who are responsible for running society are trained to think scientifically and so are equipped with an important tool for the struggle against the capitalist class. Religious ravers are still at work, their influence is reactionary and divisive. They can have no more success than politicians in giving workers satisfaction. Workers have only to realise that the world can be theirs once they unite for Socialism; and the influence of the Pope, Paisley and Billy Graham will evaporate.

 

Joe Carter