Thursday, May 05, 2022

Religion - Divide and Rule


Religion is not simply a jumble of confused ideas. It is a powerful weapon in the hands of the capitalist class. It divides us and blinds us to the class action that is required to overcome the menace of capitalism. Religion is the ideological expression of a long-gone world and its ancient social conditions, a world of superstition, slavery and little education. Far from providing an answer to today’s problems, it tells us to put our faith in the supernatural hopes of a past age. Instead of uniting us as a class, we are to become meek and mild and to submit to the whims of an ancient god. From the dawn of civilisation, religion has been a weapon of political domination. The working class though not as yet hostile to religion, are nevertheless becoming increasingly indifferent to it. Religion is dying but not yet dead. None of us is born Christian or Muslim or anything else. We’re born with no knowledge or beliefs in any god. In fact we’re all born into a state of atheism. Wherever the accident of birth sees each child born, each individual is born totally dependent and without language or religion. A child develops speaking the language of its home. A child raised in a religion-free zone will not acquire religious knowledge. For this to occur it would need to be exposed habitually to ideas, concepts and beliefs by those around it. How many people make a conscious choice of religion and how many simply continue with what they were born into as part of their traditional culture, religious or not?

Belief in religion – any religion – hampers the ability to think objectively, particularly about social and political issues. The disappearance of all religious beliefs should be seen as an essential part of our struggle for socialism and not just as a fringe irrelevance. It isn’t simply a question of religion being false, or brutal or divisive; it is a weapon of the ruling class, a bulwark in the way of the emancipation of the working class, a hurdle to be overcome in the progress to socialism nor could it be overcome while the conditions that nourished it continued to exist. Thus, the socialist sees religion as an integral part of the class struggle.

Despite occasional public pronouncements that the West had no quarrel with mainstream Islam, there is no doubt whatever that, with help from the media and repeated insinuations from various officials, the widespread impression has been created that opposition to, hatred of and terrorism against the West is essentially “a Muslim thing” and that the Islamic faith itself carries the seeds of violence and terrorism. Thus we see that a difference in religion has offered the opportunity for capitalism to denigrate as scapegoats the Islamic world: and to drive a wedge of suspicion and distrust between western workers and their eastern counterparts – a good present-day example of the old imperial dodge of “divide and rule”.

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