195: ROSA LUXEMBURG’S INSIGHTS into Christianity and socialism

Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) is probably the most prominent woman in the history of the communist movement. She spent a lot of time in prison for her political activities in Germany, and she was eventually shot. In 1905 she wrote “Church and Socialism”. Her insights are still valid over a century later.

  • Although a  staunch atheist, her attack wasn’t so much on religion per se but on the reactionary nature of the church, which she felt was betraying its own traditions,
  • She observed that modern socialists were more faithful to the original principles of Christianity than the conservative clergy were
  • If socialists are people who struggle for Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité then they should be welcomed by the clergy who are after all supposed to be implementing in humanity the practice of loving one’s neighbour as oneself
  • Clergy who oppress and exploit the poor or support the rich are in explicit contravention of Christian teaching: they serve not Christ but the Golden Calf
  • The first apostles were passionate communists, and the Fathers of the early church (men like Basil the Great and John Chrysostom)  denounced social injustice.

Luxemburg said that the socialist movement brings to the poor the Gospel of Fraternity and Equality, and calls on the people to establish on earth the Kingdom of Freedom and Neighbourly Love. Instead of waging a philosophical battle in the name of materialism, she tried to rescue the social dimension of Christian tradition for the labour movement.

Her insight was that men and women can fight for socialism in the name of the true values of original Christianity.

(i) Löwy, M “The War of Gods” Verso (1999?)

Related Zingcreed Posts:
Red Christian documents #1: Socialism is practical Christianity
Red Christian Documents #2: Why I am a Christian Communist
Alphabetical index for more Posts on Marx, Christian socialism,’Red Christian’ & ‘Red Christian document’ posts
Two red Jewesses
Similarities between Christianity & socialism
Marx’s 3 criticisms of religion
Jesus or Marx? A fun quiz for all the family
Marx’s Christian roots
Alienation according to Karl Marx
Jesus’s communist brother James (i) his life
The opium of the people
Is communism a religion in its own right?
The Christian roots of communism
Jesus’s real political message


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