Is it necessary for a communist to be an atheist?

  • Is it necessary for a communist to be an atheist? Have there been exceptions to this rule where a communist country or leader was comfortable with religion?

    Since all communist countries persecuted religions .. I am asking it.

    It's not *necessary*, but Marxists, for example, are atheist and so are many communists.

    @Shahar (and whoever upvoted that comment) - plenty of self-avowed Marxists are not atheist.

    Religious persecution is hardly unique to communist countries. It's practically universal.

  • user4012

    user4012 Correct answer

    8 years ago

    It depends on your definition of communism - AND religion.

    • Marx, as another answerer noted, officially denounced religion. This was for three distinct reasons:

      1. Organized religion (church) for hundreds of years was either a political power, or co-opted by another power (monarchs) to help pacify the oppressed lower classes.

        The official version of what was taught in USSR history classes (not sure how accurate it was historically) was that Christianity was adopted by Rome and later states since that religion taught the lower classes to be passive and accept their poor lot in life by promising heaven later on.

      2. Much of Marxism prides itself on based on rationality and science and materialism (debatably - see next point) . That directly contradicts spiritual angles.

      3. Some people (e.g. Eric S. Raymond - who moonlights as libertarian theoretician when not creating/documenting Open Source movement) argue that communism (at least of Marxist variety) acts as a theological memetic construct itself; and thus any religion is a direct competition to it.


    • There are things that can legitimately be called communism/communist yet are religion based:

      • There's a concept of "Religious Communism". Sometimes called " communalism", but in many main tenets it's goals and points are very communist. (Acts 2:44 is often seen as the first example of this.)

      • Liberation Theology (aka Christianized Marxism)

      • Tons of Islamic and Islamist movements are very Marxist in nature (Libya under Qaddafi being a good example of the former).

      • Many "new agey" type people subscribe to communist-type political notions (up to and including joining communes) and profess some spiritual or religious affinity as well (Wicca, Eastern type religiouns, assorted "New Age" spiritualism.


    Some further reading:

    This is a well balanced and factual answer.

    At last I can add comments - hurray! Now, as I have mentioned in my answer, the only guide of a revolutionary is to be (according to Marxism and Marxism-Leninism - I will use these two interchangably for the purpose of this comment and thread) atheist communism regardless of their religious beliefs. That means a synthesis between religion and communism is impossible, fraudulent and unhealthy.

    Similarly, according to Marxism (the communist ideology or, as some would call it, the science of proletarian revolutionaries) socialism is the transitionary period between capitalism and communism. Further, Karl Marx described socialism as the dictatorship of the proletariat. Moving on. Granted that the author of question here is refering to communism (and Marxism) we must evaluate the question based on these simple facts and basic teachings, and answer accordingly.

    According to Karl Marx's definition, without dictatorship of the proletariat, there is no socialism. This means there was socialism in fewer countries than you would believe they have. That is, there was no socialism in Libya, Gaddafi was a fraud, and there was no socialism in (for example) Cambodia and Korea either. Dictatorship of the proletariat was established by the proletarian movement centered around Lenin in Soviet Russia, Enver Hoxha in People's Albania, Mao Zedong in People's Republic of China and the eastern bloc countries in the Stalin-era.

    And further, by this definition of socialism, we must understand that Saddam, Assad, Gaddafi, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Tito, Ceauşescu, Gorbachev, Kim il-Sung and Pol Pot are not communists, socialists nor Marxists. They did not build socialism, but their own dictatorships with socialistic redistribution of economy. There is a huge difference.

    Based on this, it is indeed very false to dub Gaddafi a "religious communist" or claim he is [in any way] related to communism, socialism, Marxism somehow. That he adheres any revolutionary ideology somehow. That he is not a mere dictator who gained his power via a militaristic coup. Sorry for the unbearably long series of comments.

    @Sarcosuchus - fradulent and unhealthy? Tell that to Obama's mentor, Re. Wright

    @DVK - The question asked by Ragesh is one related to communism (Marxism) and we should not stray away from the topic as Obama or Rev. Wright have very little to nothing to do with the question. I also believe you should not simply disregard my criticism regarding your [false] allegations that Qaddafi's rule was a form of "Islamic Marxism." Not only was Qaddafi an anti-communist, his management of Libya had nothing to do with socialism and such a synthesis as "Islamic Marxism" is impossible.

    @Sarcosuchus - Rev Wright is very much Marxist. Not pure, but Marxist.

    @DVK - Against Karl Marx's own words, here we have your allegations. Besides you once again dodging the question of Qaddafi, you go so far as to claim a pastor is a Marxist. "Socialism is the class dictatorship of the proletariat" said Karl Marx. You either advocate this simplicity or you do not. You can't be "very much Marxist, but not pure." You are either a Marxist or you are not, there is no other explanation to this. Either you advocate the dictatorship of the proletariat or you do not. Reverend Wright does not.

    If Reverend Wright is "very much Marxist," who is next on our list of "great communist heroes"? Besides Qaddafi, perhaps Saddam? Brezhnev? Mengistu? I realise there are pseudo-communists out there who fetishise over violence and support dictators like Saddam, Brezhnev, Mengistu, Pol Pot, etc., and they contradict the very core of Marxism - dictatorship of the proletariat. You do not need to support such people's "added terminology for Marxism" which includes absurd statements like "very much Marxist, but not pure."

    Introducing sentimental statements to Marxism is completely unacceptable. It is unacceptable, it is against Marxism, it is against materialism to be sentimental and say "I feel this is a very Marxist thing, person, etc." Marxism is scientifical. Materialism is scientifical. Something or someone is either Marxist or they are not, and the best way of evaluating this is the dictatorship of the proletariat; dictatorship of the proletariat is the very wall between a Marxist and a pseudo-communist, i.e., self-alleged communists like Brezhnev, fascist anti-communists like Qaddafi, Saddam, Tito, etc.

    You're going to have to cite the Islamists as Marxists thing, seems false to me. 'Arab socialism' for one (Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya) cannot be understood as 'socialism' generally, and was defined as pan-Arabism in rejection of imperial power forced upon Arab peoples. If Marxism was in conflict with Islam, it was relegated. Not to mention how vicious many Islamists were regarding Marxism (Osama's disapproval of the godless Soviets, etc).

    It's worth noting that there are many tightly knit religious communities worldwide that could be said to espouse communist ideals. Amish and Hasidic Jewish communities come to mind. There seems to be this notion that communism is always something imposed on people against their will. There are plenty of instances where it's evolved naturally long before Karl Marx came along.

    @AffableAmbler - neither Amish nor Hasids are anywhere close to "Communist". Just having a strong community bend doesn't make a society "communist"

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM