I suspect that there are just as many leftists reading this as there are religionists or even fascists! Some may think that they will gain some ammunition over my attitudes toward religion, but they will be mistaken. As to my religious friends who live peaceful lives and hurt no one – you are blameless and entitled to your opinions. As I have stated numerous times and in many places, my academic subject is philosophy in all its aspect, which includes (but is not limited to) the various theologies of the world. It makes no difference whether I ‘agree’ with these theologies or not, as my job is to ‘understand’ and ‘interpret’ this body of human thought correctly. The academia of the Soviet Union (and of Communist China) developed a cadre of Socialist-Communist academics whose job was to ‘study’ religion in all its aspects, and assist the Socialist State in the best ways to implement Socialist reforms within religious communities, without creating unnecessary tension or conflict (as every individual in the USSR and Communist China has a legal ‘right’ to profess a religious belief). There is a tendency on the left for many to throw the baby out with the bath water, and not apply a proper Marxist-Leninist attitude to the dialectical assessment of religious beliefs and religiously inspired cultures. Just because an individual does not believe in a religion does not mean that the subject that is religion should a) be arbitrarily rejected, or b) that such a rejection equates with the sudden and mysterious ‘disappearance’ of the ample religious communities that inhabit the world. If you are a Soviet or Communist Chinese social planner, simply ‘rejecting’ religion on the personal level is not good enough when it comes to State-building and national planning. As everyone is entitled to profess a religious belief it legally and logically follows that ALL religious communities will be ‘protected’ by the Socialist State and allowed to go about their lawful business safely and unharassed. It is an offense to oppress the religiously minded provided they obey the law and are loyal to the Socialist State. This is the law of the land (any land) and is not an attack on religion – only upon intended criminality.
For Lenin, although a Soviet Citizen can profess a religious belief if they so choose to do so, a Member of the Communist Party certainly should not or cannot. This is because the Communist Party coordinates all secular (and scientifically-led) national and international policy and cannot be associated with any form of overtly religious practice. Again, this is not an attack upon religion, but (like in the United States for instance), a practical demonstration of the separation between Church and State, and the secular classroom and the Church, etc. Marx (borrowing Feuerbach) stated that religious thinking is ‘inverted’ in that it is unscientific and not premised upon the use of logic. Marx explained that although religions appear to give comfort to the suffering, the Church Authorities are acting in collusion with the forces of suffering, peddling mythical ideas in the mind that are mistaken to physically exist in the environment. A Marxist or Marxist-Leninist may fully understand this teaching and apply it to his or her everyday life (i.e. adopt an ‘atheistic’ attitude), but this does not prevent millions of others adhering to the idea that a ‘god’ exists somewhere and possesses mysterious powers!
The issue I am addressing in this article is not Communist atheism (which I see as a matter of natural evolution), but rather the current tendency of a rightwing and highly virulent (not to mention academically-led) ‘atheism’ being peddle in the capitalist West. This is the problem: people such as Richard Dawkins (a pseudo-evolutionist), and Daniel Dennett, etc, pathologically ‘reject’ all religious teaching premised upon a belief in god and set their academic understanding in opposition to all religiously minded individuals (suggesting, rather intolerantly and incorrectly that religious people cannot or should not understand science or secular thinking). The likes of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett certainly do not embrace the Marxist critique of religion, or the tolerance toward religion demonstrated by the Socialist State. Their rejection of theism stems from a personal dislike and preference, and is often justified not by the Marxist critique, but rather a flawed logic. People of this ilk (which would include Richard Carrier and many others), a priori reject religion whilst steadfastly supporting the Bourgeoise State and the capitalist system which has given rise to contemporary religious forms, and which virtually all Western religious support (i.e., Judaism and Christianity – although NOT Islam). These Western academics usually have no association with leftwing politics, but through their intolerant and flawed ideology, express a fascistic worldview. Richard Dawkins, for instance, is an arch Islamophob whose rhetoric has attracted millions of equally rightwing individuals who mistake their intolerance for enlightened dialogue. Not only is his interpretations about religion entirely unacademic (see: ‘The Dawkins Delusion?’ by Alister McGrath), but although he became popular under the rightwing Government of the fascistic Margaret Thatcher through his poorly researched ‘selfishness is natural’ dialogues disguised as ‘science’, he is not accepted within the British academic community as being ‘qualified’ to teach on the subject of ‘Darwinism’ and ‘evolution’ (for those leftists who exercise an equally admiring attitude toward Dawkins – in his ‘God Delusion’ he equates Soviet Communism with German Nazism, etc). Indeed, on the 150th anniversary of the publication of the ‘On the Origin of the Species’ by Charles Darwin, the actual academic head of the official ‘Darwin Project’ in the UK – Fern Elsdon-Baker – penned her ground-breaking work entitled ‘The Selfish Genius: How Richard Dawkins Rewrote Darwin’s Legacy’! Dawkins was not invited to be part of the ‘Darwin Project’ (despite his popularist writings), as his views are considered logically flawed and academically misleading.
Many so-called Western atheists reject religion but embrace capitalism, apparently unaware that many of the religiously-inspired atrocities carried-out by religionists in the last 1000 years have been motivated by the gaining of material profit. From the Crusades onwards, European armies have travelled abroad to acquire new land, people to enslave and convert, and natural resources to steal, etc. An argument could be made that there were certain religionist individuals who attempted to make a stand against this incessant search for profit – but were ruthlessly swept aside by Church Authorities and the forces of the monarchies the Church supported and ‘divinely’ empowered on earth. It seems to me that this bourgeois rejection of religion is hypocritical if the individual concerned continues to unashamedly support the capitalist system. Moreover, it seems apparent that this position is naturally aligned with the political rightwing and far-right, as it opens the door for all kinds of pogroms premised upon brutality and oppression, the first of which is also the most apparent, namely the oppression of free (religious) thinking and spiritually premised emotionality. This horrific academic position is presented on the Western internet in a disturbingly casual manner, and its inherent tyrannical attitude has probably inspired more than one neo-Nazi attack upon peace-loving religionists. These academics retain the hateful elements inherent within the capitalist ideology, whilst rejecting the religious elements of that type of thinking. The Bourgeois System is maintained, but its overtly religious content is attacked with the intention of its annulment. One possible reason for this is that theistic religion, despite making millions for certain unscrupulous preachers, is nevertheless deemed restrictive for profit-making in the modern (secular) world.
‘Religious estrangement as such occurs only in the realm of consciousness, of man’s inner life, but economic estrangement is that of real life; its transcendence therefore embraces both aspects. It is evident that the initial stage of the movement amongst the various peoples depends on whether the true and for them authentic life of the people manifest itself more in consciousness or in the external world – is more ideal or real. Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism: but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, it is still mostly an abstraction.’
Karl Marx: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844) – RC Tucker, Marx-Engels Reader, Norton, (1978), Page 85