I had to explain this blog to some seemingly angry people recently. How would I describe The Thought Foundry? Unconventional, controversial, revisionist, likely to start a fire with both Christians and Marxists alike? Sure sure. To me, I am not a Marxist because I am a Christian. But to me any true Christian should feel themselves compelled to be a communist. I am a Marxist because Marxian economics and philosophy (excluding its albeit atheist conclusions) is so obviously true and self-evident of this fact that it really needs no justification. This is a blog written from the unique perspective of Trotskyism and Liberation Theology (it literally says so in the cover photo). To those who have come out of the woodwork to criticize me, I ask: At what point have I ever been not clear about this? At what point has my unorthodox application and interpretation of these ideas not been shown in full force? At what point have I shied away from the question of Marxism and Religion? This is The Thought Foundry Blog. We are followers of Liberation Theology and Marxists (albeit unorthodox ones).
We do not advocate that socialist and communist organizations take on a religious line, but we also do not advocate that they take on an atheistic line either. This was one of the chief mistakes of the 20th century Marxist movement. Religious persecution led directly to the fall of communism in Poland, then the Eastern Bloc and the USSR. It can be said that they fell like dominos. But, if you cannot learn from history and still insist on dogmatically applying that which caused untold needless suffering, and still want to call yourself someone who bases their theory on ‘material reality’, that is not my problem.
I find the best explanation for my views in the words of Marxist revolutionary and Catholic, James Connolly. I say that I am a materialist and a Christian, but not an atheist. Well now, to explain my philosophical views on God and the universe would require a much lengthier post (something I have elaborated on somewhat in the past). But in short, we can say that we are certainly materialists in the way Connolly explains:
We do not mean that its supporters are necessarily materialists in the vulgar, and merely anti-theological, sense of the term, but that they do not base their Socialism upon any interpretation of the language or meaning of Scripture, nor upon the real or supposed intentions of a beneficent Deity. They as a party neither affirm or deny those things, but leave it to the individual conscience of each member to determine what beliefs on such questions they shall hold…
I often quote Gianni Vattimo when he said, “I am a Christian, therefore I am a communist.” But as I stated previously, I am not a communist because I am a Christian. I am a communist because Marxism is self-evident and requires no theological justification or faith to uphold its validity. Connolly is also in agreement with this notion:
If any special interpretation of the meanings of Scripture tends to influence human thought in the direction of Socialism, or is found to be on a plane with the postulates of Socialist doctrine, then the scientific Socialist considers that the said interpretation is stronger because of its identity with the teachings of Socialism, but he does not necessarily believe that Socialism is stronger, or its position more impregnable, because of its theological ally. He realizes that the facts upon which his Socialist faith are based are strong enough in themselves to withstand every shock, and attacks from every quarter, and therefore while he is at all times willing to accept help from every extraneous source, he will only accept it on one condition, viz., that he is not to be required in return to identify his cause with any other whose discomfiture might also involve Socialism in discredit.
So if I am a Christian, why do I advocate that communist and socialist parties not declare themselves Christian? Why do I not advocate such a thing? To this Connolly answers in continuation with the previous passage,
This is the main reason why Socialists fight shy of theological dogmas and religions generally: because we feel that Socialism is based upon a series of facts requiring only unassisted human reason to grasp and master all their details, whereas Religion of every kind is admittedly based upon ‘faith’ in the occurrence in past ages of a series of phenomena inexplicable by any process of mere human reasoning. Obviously, therefore, to identify Socialism with Religion would be to abandon at once that universal, non-sectarian character which to-day we find indispensable to working-class unity, as it would mean that our members would be required to conform to one religious creed, as well as to one specific economic faith – a course of action we have no intention of entering upon as it would inevitably entangle us in the disputes of the warring sects of the world, and thus lead to the disintegration of the Socialist Party.
As socialists, and especially as members of socialist parties, we must be inclusive of people of all faiths. Though I promote socialism from a Christian perspective I recognize that it is not, in and of itself, Christian. As Connolly concludes,
Socialism, as a party, bases itself upon its knowledge of facts, of economic truths, and leaves the building up of religious ideals or faiths to the outside public, or to its individual members if they so will. It is neither Freethinker nor Christian, Turk nor Jew, Buddhist nor Idolator, Mahommedan nor Parsee – it is only human.
It is in this spirit that I write for The Thought Foundry. You may, as a Marxist, condemn me for not being an atheist. You may, as a Christian, condemn me for being a radical, a progressive, a Marxist. Well and good ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary folk. You wanted something unorthodox, something new. That is precisely what The Thought Foundry is. Don’t blame the forest for the spark. You may not agree with my writings, with my historical analysis, with my views. That is perfectly fine. I take no offense. But no one can deny that our current predicament requires a tinge of unorthodoxy, a tinge of something new. It is in that, that I deliver.