I am delivering the following public lecture at the University of Auckland, on 9 September.
PUBLIC LECTURE IN THEOLOGY
What has Marxism to do with Religion?
‘Opium of the people’ is one description of religion that we find in the work of Marx and Engels. When it came to socialists in power, they were supposed to have repressed all forms of religious expression. The curious fact is that many of the major Marxists – Marx and Engels included – had a good deal more to say about religion, especially Christian theology.
This lecture explores some of the key questions in that extended engagement. It begins by reconsidering the metaphor of opium, or what Lenin called ‘spiritual booze’. Second, it examines Engels’s proposals concerning the revolutionary religious tradition, beginning with early Christianity. This would become a staple in Marxism, with subsequent thinkers and activists elaborating on this tradition. Finally, it considers the thorny question of a religious person being a member of the communist party. Did one have to tick the box marked ‘atheist’ before being allowed to join? On this matter we visit the First International, the Bolsheviks, the Cuban Communist Party and the Communist Party of China.
Wednesday 9 September, 5.30pm
Room 315, Arts 1 (Building 206)
The University of Auckland
For more information and full abstract
The following two days will be taken up with the ‘Radicalism, Violence and Religious Texts’ Conference. Abstracts may be found at Robert Myles’s blog.