NEO MARXISM and RELIGION

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NEO MARXISM and RELIGION

  1. 1. Anyone know some-one who is two-faced? In this room?
  2. 2. One of Batman’s opponent villains is called
  3. 3. We have seen that Marxists see religion in very negative terms, as a tool employed by the ruling class to pacify and control the working class. However this is not altogether true. Marxists and Neo (or new) Marxists identify a two-faced side to religion They call this religion’s dual nature or dual character
  4. 4. Dual Nature/Character • Marxists sometimes acknowledge, and Neo Marxists always acknowledge, that religion can at times be a force for social change which benefits the working/lower classes • In other words we should never overlook and simplify the dual nature of religion (good A02)
  5. 5. Where can we find evidence that Marxists acknowledge this dual nature despite the usual emphasis on religion being an ideological tool of the ruling class? • Marx saw that religion had a psychological function – he called it ‘the heart of a heartless world’ – religion could humanise a world made inhuman by exploitation, even though this comfort was based on a misconception!
  6. 6. Where can we find evidence that Marxists acknowledge this dual nature despite the usual emphasis on religion being an ideological tool of the ruling class? • Engels used the example of early Christian sects opposing Roman rule and compared them to communist and socialist political movements. Engels considered that religion could inspire popular protest, be a response to exploitation and become a source of resistance and change.
  7. 7. Where can we find evidence that Marxists acknowledge this dual nature despite the usual emphasis on religion being an ideological tool of the ruling class? • Bloch saw religion is an expression of ‘the principle of hope’ – our dreams of a better life that contain images of utopia (a perfect world). • Images of utopia can deceive people with false promises of rewards in heaven, as Marx argues. However they may also help people see what needs to be changed in this world. Religious beliefs may therefore create a vision of a better world, which if combined with effective political organisation and leadership, can bring about social change.
  8. 8. Gramsci (Neo Marxist) Like Marx saw that if the ruling class wanted to maintain control over the working class in the long term they needed to use ideas (rather than force) to do this Gramsci called this HEGEMONY (ideological domination or leadership of society) Through this the ruling class establish popular consent e.g. the powerful conservative ideological power of the Catholic Church in helping to win support for Mussolini’s fascist regime in 1930s Italy
  9. 9. Gramsci • Key point HEGEMONY is never guaranteed and it is always possible for the working class to develop an alternative vision of how society should be organised • Religion to Gramsci has a DUAL CHARACTER – in some circumstances it can challenge the ruling class • Popular forms of religion can help workers see through ruling-class hegemony by offering a vision of a better fairer world • Also some clergy may act as intellectuals, educators, organisers and leaders in working class struggles – he called these charismatic individuals ORGANIC INTELLECTUALS
  10. 10. TRADITIONAL MARXIST VIEW OF THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM superstructure = the institutions and sets of ideas created by the ruling class which fool the working class into going along with a system which is really against their interests SUPERSTRUCTURE (religion is part of this) Economic Base – capitalism form of production
  11. 11. Neo Marxists, unlike Marxists, argue that religion is not always part of the superstructure (the institutions and sets of ideas created by the ruling class which fool the working class into going along with a system which is really against their interests) RELIGION – as an independent force SUPERSTRUCTURE (religion is usually part of this) Economic Base – capitalism form of production
  12. 12. Neo Marxists argue religion is not always part of the superstructure ta At ic rit dc an ck RELIGION – as an independent force ! ise SUPERSTRUCTURE (religion is usually part of this) !!! Economic Base – capitalism form of production
  13. 13. TASK: Go to p21 of the text books • Imagine you are a journalist. • You have 15 minutes to do the WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, WHOM on Liberation Theology • This is well worth taking seriously as you will almost certainly be able to use this example in the exam at some point!
  14. 14. Liberation Theology – in journalism stylie • When? • Where? • Whom? All those involved and those who documented and analysed it too! • Why? • What does it what does this tell us about religion and the relationship between religion and social change? (Analysis )
  15. 15. Otto Maduro • Argues that in societies where religion dominates struggles against the ruling class must involve the churches themselves • He highlights the case of liberation theology in Latin America from the end of the 1960s.
  16. 16. Otto Maduro • The involvement of Catholic clergy in overthrowing the communist regime in Poland in the 1980s • Evaluation (A02): Marxists argue that in Latin America although Liberation theology may have helped to bring democracy it did not threaten the stability of capitalism or help to re-distribute wealth to the poor • Similarly in Poland religion helped to bring democracy but it also bought capitalism too which actually replaced a communist system (although a long way from the type of society Marx had envisaged)

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