Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Lenin on Religion Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century

Sources

Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Marx:
Civil War in France

Marx:
Alienation

Marx:
Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature

Engels:
Anti-Dühring

Engels:
Violence and the Origin of the State

Engels:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

Lenin:
What is to be done?

Lenin:
Imperialism

Lenin:
The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

Lenin:
The Cultural Revolution

Lenin:
Left-Wing Communism

Lenin:
The American Revolutions

Lenin:
The French Revolutions

Lenin:
On Workers Control

Lenin:
On Religion

Lenin:
On the Arms Race

Trotsky:
Militarization of Labor

Luxemburg:
Russian Revolution

Zetkin:
The Women's Question

Mao:
Role of Communist Party

Mao:
On Violence

Mao:
On the Army

Mao:
On Women

Mao:
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Guevara:
Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

Fanon:
National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism


Lenin, writing on Socialism and Religion, agreed with Marx that "Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man." As far as Lenin was concerned, it was quite understandable why the oppressed turn to religion: "Impotence of the exploited classes in their struggle against the exploiters .. inevitably gives rise to the belief in a better life after death "

It seemed equally clear to Lenin why the capitalists turned to religion: [They] "are taught by religion to practise charity while on earth, thus offering them a very cheap way of justifying their entire existence as exploiters and selling them at a moderate price tickets to well-being in heaven."

Like Engels and Marx, Lenin believed that religion was an historical phenomenon, tied to the oppressive structures of human history such as feudalism and capitalism. Just as they believed that the state, as we know it today, would no longer be needed and would "wither away" after the world had turned completely to socialism, so too they believed that religion would wither away when there was no longer a need for it. In Lenin's words, "the yoke of religion that weighs upon mankind is merely a product and reflection of the economic yoke within society."

Lenin cites Marx and Engels that due to the fact that religion has deep roots in capitalist oppression, it will not disappear until the people completely overcome their oppression: He writes in The Attitude of the Workers' Party to Religion that "No educational book can eradicate religion from the minds of masses who are crushed by capitalist hard labour, and who are at the mercy or the blind destructive forces of capitalism, until those masses themselves learn to fight this root of religion, fight the rule of capital in all its forms, in a united, organised, planned and conscious way."

Marx, Engels and Lenin all agreed that there should be complete separation of church and state and that the state should never make laws about religious belief, either to support one religion or to ban another. All three were opposed to arguments that religion should be banned under socialism. Lenin agreed with Engels when he wrote in The Attitude of the Workers' Party to Religion: "Engels frequently condemned the efforts of people who desired to be "more left" or "more revolutionary" than the Social-Democrats to introduce into the programme of the workers' party an explicit proclamation of atheism, in the sense of declaring war on religion. Commenting in 1874 on the famous manifesto of the Blanquist fugitive Communards who were living in exile in London, Engels called their vociferous proclamation of war on religion a piece of stupidity, and stated that such a declaration of war was the best way to revive interest in religion and to prevent it from really dying out."

While some socialists wanted to exclude workers who were religious from the revolutionary party, Lenin believed they should be welcomed without prejudice: "We must not only admit workers who preserve their belief in God into the Social-Democratic Party, but must deliberately set out to recruit them; we are absolutely opposed to giving the slightest offense to their religious convictions, but we recruit them in order to educate them in the spirit of our programme, and not in order to permit an active struggle against it." In fact, Lenin was not even opposed to recruiting priests into the revolutionary party. For example, he defended the revolutionary priest Father Gapon against those who claimed he was an agent.

A more sympathetic view of religion and revolution is expressed by Fidel Castro. Fidel's respect for religion is echoed by Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi whose messages of nonviolence open a new way to revolutionary change. Although the dialogue of religion and revolution continues as we enter the 21st Century, the contradictions seem to be increasing at the same time since the capitalist culture of war is more and more cloaked in the robes of fundamentalist Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious crusades.



To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Vladimir Lenin on the Discussion Board:
discussion board

Issues

Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori- tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna- tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare

Terrorism

Agent Provocateurs

Communica- tion systems

Psychology for revolution- aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence


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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Slovo:
Has Socialism Failed?

Freire:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fidel:
Ecology in Cuba

Fidel:
On Religion

Mandela:
Human Rights in South Africa

King
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Communism