This is not about that.
But it is about secular concepts and philosophies that mirror religious devotion.
For context, I’m in the death throes of a PhD (having to do some major…and I mean MAJOR revisions since my viva – effectively an almost total re-write! … )and I read a lot of apparently random material to try and develop a better understanding of philosophy in the round, to improve my grasp of thinking philosophically. Trying to read Marxist thought is good practice.
It seems to me that in most cases – of which Marxist writings are the most striking exemplar – it is simply not possible to follow the logic therein unless you have already accepted, uncritically and unquestioningly, a particular set of core tenets. Hence the association with ‘religion’. It’s all but universal to all spiritual theologies that any meaningful discourse is impossible unless all parties to a discussion have uncritically and unquestioningly accepted the same set of core tenets. Considering Christianity solely because it’s the one with which I’m most familiar, it’s almost impossible to engage in discussion about its teachings with many of its most devoted adherents, because they earnestly (uncritically and unquestioningly) believe that its teachings and their recording in scripture are the direct and definitive word of God. Therefore there can be no questioning.
So in simple, unphilosophical lay language, almost always when I read Marxist works, I am struck by its grasp of man’s inhumanity to man, its aspiration for a better, more equitable world and an apparent yearning to free the individual from the malign influence of others…and then suddenly, as if out of nowhere, I’m reading of revolution, blood, war and tyranny.
This leaves me with the impression that unless I uncritically and unquestioningly accept the need for revolution, blood, war and tyranny, there can never be any prospect of a more equitable world, where individuals are free from the malign influence of others. In even more lay terms, it reads like a philosophy of, ‘jam tomorrow’…but in a tomorrow few if any will live to see, rather like the Christian belief in suffering in life for the promise of ascending into Heaven.
Thus to me there is a palpable irony in a Marxist likening anything to a religion, because their own thinking is no less ‘religious’ – however secular. Unless you accept the core tenets of Marx’s analysis, no fruitful discussion can take place.
I can only conclude, therefore, that just like most religions Marxism is a philosophical system of thought that is necessary to enable adherents to act in ways that their conscience and humanity might otherwise reject, in order to bring about their ‘heaven’. Blunden hints at that systematic thought lying at the root of our ‘religious’ beliefs about money, whereby we can rationalise witnessing misfortune, illness, misery and death befalling others for the lack of it dispassionately and so salve our consciences. Marxism is no different. It’s just another system of thought, constructed to further rather than counter, ‘man’s inhumanity to man’, but for a notionally noble cause. Visiting misfortune, misery and death on other human beings becomes something that is seen as, ‘regrettable but necessary’ on our way to the utopian goal and some are so besotted in their beliefs that such inhumanity is not regrettable at all.