Christians should not see Karl Marx as their enemy

Many devout Christians nowadays hate Karl Marx and try to blame him for religious persecutions of the 20th century. However, I think that we really have to treasure Marx much more: His religious criticism pointed out deficits, among others because there was actually very close involvement between church and state in Germany at the time. So the church was a useful tool for the suppression of the workers. Anyways, Marx did not support religious suppression, this was something which came with Lenin who saw the eradication of religion as only solution to keep up the revolution. So we have to blame the followers of Marxism for the religious persecutions, not Marx. Marx made an important contribution so that the Christian church in Central Europe had to reflect upon itself.

Second, we have to be aware that religion is the supporter of the worker, so why are conservative Christians against worker’s movements? Jesus taught the kingdom of heaven is for the poor as we can learn in the Gospel of Matthew, so why are these Christians not fighting for the rights of the poor, the common people, the workers? At the same time it is dangerous if Leftism is mostly practiced in student groups and in universities, because this outsources societal justice to a small group of intellectuals, and does not help the masses at all. The workers feel that Leftism is just a playball of Intellectuals. For this reason, in many countries, the masses are estranged from Leftist movements, because the Intellectual Left does not really address the worker’s reality anymore. We can clearly see this for instance in the last Bundestag election (2021) outcome in Germany, where the Democratic Socialist Party Die Linke only received 4,9 %. The Marxist-oriented Worker’s Party of Belgium received only 8.6 % in 2019, and the Left Alliance (representing Democratic Socialism) in Finland 8.2 % in 2019. So we must ask ourselves: Where are all the workers? Is the situation for workers in these countries so great that there is no need anymore for such parties? Are these countries practicing a very balanced capitalism, which makes Communist ideals obsolete? Of course, there are also countries, where Leftist parties are stronger represented: The Democratic Socialist Party La France Insoumise in France received 25.7 % in 2022, the Moviemento al Socialismo (representing the Latin American ideal of Socialism in the 21st century) in Bolivia received even 55.1 % in 2020. (Social Democratic parties are not considered in the examples above.) And both, Bolivia and France are quite Christian countries. In the first one 70 % are Roman Catholic and more than 15 % adhere to another Christian denomination. In the latter, 50 % are Christians. In France, especially Catholics seem to vote more conservatively, while in Bolivia, we can clearly see that Christians also must have supported the Left-Wingers.

We have to become aware that Leftism – especially Anarchism, Communism and Socialism –  does not need to be based on Materialism. Also Idealists, especially devout people, can be very pious, but also actively engage in the demand for justice and equality in societies. Next, Leftism does not necessarily be ideological. Ideology creates boundaries, while pragmatism means adopting the theoretical thoughts to particular agendas and also making compromises, altering views, etc. instead of insisting on a single way. This is very important in democratic societies.

Therefore, Idealist Pragmatic Leftism is a solution to reach social welfare and balancing different interests without becoming authoritarian. Nonetheless, drawing images of enmity such as connecting Marx with authoritarian states of the 20th century is neither fair towards Marx nor towards the Communist cause, because both, Marx and Communism were abused: The Soviet Union never was classless and the vanguard party did not cease so that a state of full equality would exist. Instead, they toughly controlled their citizens and cracked down on religion. But a crackdown on religion is not in Marx’ interest, he never wanted to abolish religion violently, he simply saw no need for religion in a classless society. Anyways, I think that religion is very important and therefore should inspire politics, but politics should not depend on one religious denomination.

Timo Schmitz, 1 January 2023


2 thoughts on “Christians should not see Karl Marx as their enemy

  1. This article raises interesting points about the relationship between Christianity and Leftist movements, and the ways in which religion can be both a force for good and a tool of suppression. It also highlights the importance of adopting a pragmatic, non-ideological approach to Leftism and the need to avoid oversimplifying the complexities of Marx’s ideas and their historical application. It is important to recognize that Leftist movements have been co-opted and distorted in the past, but this should not diminish the importance of working towards social justice and equality.

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