Marxism and religion

Issue section: 

I would like to thank Peter Keighron for his letter (April SR) responding to my article on the Bolsheviks and Islam.

To answer your first question regarding the socialist political theory of religion and whether it has been maintained, I believe that in Britain it has — this can be seen in the fight against Islamophobia. However, in some places, such as France, it has not, and that is very much reflected in the rise of Islamophobia. The left in France has sided with the oppressor against the oppressed in the name of secularism.

You give quotes from Lenin and Trotsky expressing hostility to religion, but I believe their actions speak louder than words. Following the Russian Revolution and the actions taken by the Bolsheviks for religious freedom, religion did not decrease, but flourished for some, in the short term at least.

You are right that Marx did say that religion was the “opium of the people”, but may I ask why the rest of the quote always seems to be ignored? Religion is also “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions”.

“Opium” can be interpreted in two different ways: as you suggest, a drug that people take to escape reality, but also, as I see it, pain relief for the world we live in. We should not belittle individuals because of their faith but question the world that people need pain relief or drugs to withstand.

We should also understand how religion can be used as a tool to resist and fight back.

We are against the use of religion as a tool used by the ruling class to oppress people, but we are also against the oppression of people because of their faith.