One of the reasons for Last and First Men is to try and warn the older left to drop its classic hard rejection on the question of religion. It is NOT an attempt to bring religion into marxism, or force ‘god’ on leftists. Rather the issue is that the spectrum of the public that should be receptive to leftist issues should not have to suffer the dated and clunky secular humanism of the nineteenth century. A neutral and/or comprehensive dialectical view is needed to not force archaic dogmas on the larger public. The world views of leftists in the Second Internationale looks almost preposterous to us now, from the reductionist scientism that couldn’t handle ethics, to hysteria over idealism, and the obsessive atheism reminiscent of the current new atheism. Half a billion potential students of the core marxist economics/communist project are turned off at the start.
I cannot grasp the obsession of new atheists to the point that even simple agnosticism is the source of fussy argument and the ostracism of the new atheist cult. Much of that springs from the same vein as the original generation of Feuerbach (who was actually broader in his views). How could a revolutionary project talking to a host of rival perspectives be so obsessive as to hastle agnostics? That’s nuts. Something like fuzzy indifference to theology matched with a robust agnosticism that can talk to Xtians, Buddhists, Moslems, and Confucians, et al, is needed to preempt the religious formation that overtook the early descendants of Marx. I have no opinion of the subject of ‘god’, it is an incoherent question, almost more so in atheists, and it can’t be the distracting ‘wave a red flag’ that so haunted the truly cruddy ideology of the bolsheviks, etc…
Meanwhile the marxist theories of religion are uniformly bad, and obsolete. The question of the evolution of religion, mangled by darwinists and marxists, needs something more intelligent while neutral in a culture of globalization.
The basic issues of religion are confusing because they arrive late, after arriving early in the sixteenth century Reformation. Between Kant and Hegel/Schopenhauer the last phase of the Reformation changes gears, while the general mentality of scientism is already becoming endemic in the late eighteenth century, a point noted and addressed by the classic work of such as Kant.
Somehow, due to the furor over Hegel’s extravagance, the left reacted with gruesome severity against the views that might have created a more intelligent stance on religion, e.g. figures like Kant.
But in general the issues of theology could easily derail the next ‘second’ coming of a leftist communism, as marxist diehards obscure the issues with their now archaic ideological fixations.
Calling religion the opium of the people was a classic line, but it has generated more confusion than clarity. The abuse of religion degenerated into ideology ought to be a keynote of communists, but it doesn’t follow that the whole of religion is classified thus in some terminal classification. The issues are 1. the nature of human consciousness, 2. the nature of cosmic source. Theism/atheism are really the two beggars at the gate here.
In general the critique of religion could have been a fruitful leftist project. But the attempts are so dreadful as the frankenstein crud of the early successors of Marx that one must caution the need to bypass these very difficult questions. Questions like, does man have a soul. A generation to a century and a half of leftist dogmatism has enforced the no here, and the whole edifice probably collapses at once.
A reading of Kant should be a warning of staying away from ‘god, soul, free will’ and other metaphysical black holes pointed to by Kant. The attempt to enforce ideological dogma is not the least of the reasons the whole experiment in communism nosedived and crashed.
The left will get one more chance, I think, best not to blow the chance on pointless metaphysical ‘my preference in cookies’.