Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Sunday Sermon

It is the task of the Socialist Party to convince our fellow-workers that religion has been in the past and still is today one of the most powerful means at the disposal of the oppressors for the maintenance of inequality, exploitation, and slavish obedience on the part of the toilers. Many of our fellow-workers reason as follows: "Religion does not prevent my being a socialist. I believe both in the existence of God and in the socialist idea. My religious faith does not hinder me from fighting for the cause of the socialist revolution."

The Socialist Party states that being a follower of religion and being a socialist are incompatible. Socialists regard social phenomena (the relationships between human beings) as processes which occur in accordance with the laws of social development on the basis of the theory of historical materialism. This theory explains that social development is not brought about by any kind of supernatural forces. It is a theory which demonstrates that the very idea of God and of supernatural powers arises at a definite stage in human history, and at another definite stage, begins to disappear when it finds no confirmation in practical life and in the struggle between man and nature. But it is beneficial to the master class to maintain the ignorance of the people and to maintain the people's naïve belief in miracles (the key to the riddle really lies in the exploiters' bank balance), and this is why religious prejudices are so tenacious, and why they confuse the minds even of persons who are in other respects able to discern injustices.

It has been comparatively easy for secular authorities to effect the separation of the church from the State and of education from the church, and these changes have been almost painlessly achieved. It is enormously more complicated to fight the religious prejudices which are already deeply rooted in the consciousness of individuals, and which they cling so stubbornly to. The ordinary person, knowing nothing of the real causes of the social phenomena amid which his or her life takes place, readily inclines to accept the 'will of God' as a universal explanation. The invisible hand of the market controls and directs the actions of the producer. The producer does not fully understand how the complex and complicated mechanism of capitalist production works; why crises occur and unemployment suddenly becomes rife; why prices rise at one time and fall at another; and so on. The environment created by capitalist methods of production has a strong tendency to incline the consciousness of the people towards mystical interpretation of worldly events.

In a socialist society, on the other hand, everyday life will no longer contain any mysteries for the worker. Every worker will have clear ideas upon how things are decided and run. Society there will no longer be anything mysterious, incomprehensible, or unexpected, and there will therefore be no further place for superstition. Just as the carpenter who has made a chair understands perfectly well how the chair came into existence and does not raise his or her gaze heaven-ward  in order to find its creator, so in socialist society people will clearly understand what they have produced with their collective energies and how they have produced it.

Socialism, the emancipation of the working class, signifies the end of religion. With the vanishing of earthly misery, there vanishes also the heavenly solace of this misery. But even when the socialist goal is not yet attained, workers will see that there are no mysterious supernatural causes which inflict on them poverty, hunger, war, and environmental destruction, but that all these things are outcomes of capitalism; things which they can conquer. Religion is, therefore, only temporarily an obstacle for the advance of socialism. In the long run religious belief succumbs to the power of reality. But a slave who has become conscious of his slavery and has risen to struggle for his emancipation has already half ceased to be a slave. Class-conscious workers, enlightened by modern life, casts aside religious prejudices, leaves heaven to the priests and the bigots, and tries to win a better life for themselves here on earth.

Present-day society is wholly based on the exploitation of the vast masses of the working class by a tiny minority of the population - the capitalists. It is a slave society, since the “free” workers, who all their life work for the capitalists, are “entitled” only to such means of subsistence which are essential for the maintenance of slaves who produce the profit for the perpetuation of capitalist class privilege. Those who toil and live in want all their lives are taught by religion to be submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward. But those who live by the labour of others are taught by religion to practice 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.

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