Marxism as religion. A surreal experience.

Marxism. Religion

Why do people like Marxism? Because somebody told them it is good. It has been called the religious instinct, the need many people have to blindly follow somebody or something they perceive as greater than themselves. Where Marx stands, he shows with his famous words that the philosophers have only interpreted the world, when the point is to change it. He is a man with a vision and a mission. He is not a philosopher, he is a prophet.

People can join violent faiths without believing in them. They can feel unjustly treated, with or without reason. Maybe they want power. But even if the real reason they join is justice or power, they might convince themselves that their faith is true. Faiths like Communism, Nazism and militant Islam would not get the support they got, were there not people who genuinely believed in them.

What has Marx done? Like Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine, he has searched for what lies beyond what we perceive as reality. Like Moses and Mohammed, he has given us the law and the road to salvation.

Why did Marxism succeed where so many other socialists failed? Why did Christianity and Islam succeed when so many other religions failed? It has nothing to do with one belief being more correct than others. It is the medium that is the message. Or, the same thing but in other words: the important thing is not what you say but how you say it. Some beliefs succeed because they got charismatic leaders. Even if it was not Marx but Lenin, even if it was not Jesus but Saint Paul: the important thing is personality; right or wrong is nothing.

What is God? He is an answer. The question: Why are things the way they are? To the Christian believer the answer is because of God. To the Marxist believer the answer is because of the Laws.
When something good happens, it is because God is pleased. When something bad happens, it is because God is not pleased. If there is a certain point where a quantitative change becomes a qualitative change, there is a Law that says there is a certain point where a quantitative change becomes a qualitative change. If there is no certain point where a quantitative change becomes a qualitative change, there is a Law that says there is no certain point where a quantitative change becomes a qualitative change.
To the Marxist, the Laws are important. Engels is searching for Laws and he finds them everywhere, just like the Christian believer is searching for God and finding Him everywhere.

There are many well known similarities between Marxism and other religions. Like most religions, Marxism claims it is not like other religions. Like so many religions it has prophets, saviors and salvation, saints, martyrs, promised land. Like so many other religions, it is the only true belief. Marxism has lore, sects, doctrines, dogmas, proofs. It has its inquisition. Just like so many other religious believers, many Marxists are convinced of the ultimate victory of their belief.
Many believers see themselves as morally superior to others. Marx tried to keep moral away but many Marxists consider themselves morally superior. Marx did not mean to found a religion but he did.
To be fair, we must not forget that there are other things that can be defended with a fervor I would like to call religious. For example Democracy and America.

To Engels, a religion does not presume a God. It is something you believe in, or at least pretend to believe in; the landed nobility got Catholicism or Protestantism, the liberal and radical bourgeoisie got Rationalism. I cannot see he in any way excludes Marxism. Even if a religion does not presume a God, Marxism does. Always where Marxism is in power, it has some person worshiped as a Highest Being, somebody ascribed supernatural powers. Maybe not always almighty, maybe sometimes a sort of lower deity, but always to be revered and obeyed. Always with a governing class, a clergy, to enforce the only true belief.

Somebody said Marxism was not a religion because Marxism is a theory of how society develops while a religion is a belief. Is Marxism not a belief, do Marxists not believe in Marxism? There is a theory, Christianity, that society develops the way it does because God in the beginning created heaven and earth and since then has been tinkering on; is that theory not a religion? I think hypothesis is a better word than theory; I say about Marxism what the Frenchman Laplace said about God: I don't need that hypothesis.

The surrealist painter Salvador Dali said that the only difference between him and a crazy man was that he was not crazy. Maybe such is the difference between Marxism and religion. Maybe it all lies in the realm of surrealism. Maybe the difference between Marxism and religion is that Marxism is not a religion.

© Anders Floderus