224: SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM

“Thank you for checking out the Zingcreed blog, the one and only Christian/Atheist site where all sorts of strange and controversial topics are aired. Like the ‘convergence’ (if any) between Marxism and Christianity. Read on, and Enjoy!” Peter Turner M.A., M.Sc.

Lucien Goldman in his work “The hidden God” (1955), which is quoted in Löwy (i) p.17 and p.69, attempts to compare religious faith and Marxist faith. According to the great authority on Marxism, David McLellan, this is “the most impressive specific analysis of religion produced by Western Marxism.”
Things in common:

  • the rejection of individualism, and the belief in trans-individual values:  God for religion, the human community for socialism
  • both based on a wager! the Pascalian wager on the existence of God, the Marxist wager on the liberation of humanity
  • (both presuppose (a) risk, (b) the danger of failure, (c) the hope of success)
  • both have a core of unprovable beliefs

The Peruvian Marxist José Carlos Mariátegui in “Man and the Myth” (1925) also saw a connection between the revolutionary and the religious mind (Löwy p. 17) :
“The force of the revolutionaries does not lie in their science; it lies in their faith, their passion, their will. It’s a religious, mystical, spiritual force. It is the force of myth…the revolutionary emotion as a religious emotion. The religious motivations have moved from heaven to earth. They are no more divine but human and social.”

Other possible areas of affinity between Christians and socialists are :

  • both consider the poor to be victims of injustice
  • both share universalism, i.e. a doctrine and institutions that view mankind as a whole, who are ‘above’ mere races, nations or ethnic groups. This is catholicism (small c) for the church, and internationalism for socialists.
  • both assign great value to community, to communal life, to the communal sharing of goods, and criticize the atomisation , anonymity, impersonality, alienation and selfish competition of modern social life
  • both are critical of capitalism and of the doctrines of economic liberalism, in the name of some common good considered to be more important than the individual interests of private proprietors
  • both hope for a future kingdom of justice and freedom, peace and fraternity among all humankind.

Löwy emphasizes that this does not imply that Marxism is merely a secularized avatar of Judaeo-Christian messianism. For example there is nothing in common between the the poor as construed in traditional church social doctrine as the object of charity, and the role of the proletariat in Marxism as a self-liberating agents of revolutionary action.

Related Zingcreed Posts:
The kingdom of God: a kingdom of nuisances and nobodies
Red Christian documents #1: Socialism is practical Christianity
alphabetical index for all ‘Red Christian’ & ‘Red Christian documents’ Posts
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
Rosa Luxemburg’s insights into Christianity & Socialism
Two red Jewesses
Opium of the people
Jesus’s real political message
Is communism a religion in its own right?
The Christian roots of communism
Jesus’s communist brother James (i) his life

Source:
Löwy, M. “The war of Gods. Religion and politics in Latin America” Verso (1996)

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