Marxism, religion and change

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  • Marxism religion and change
    • Marxists recognise that ideas, including religious ideas, can have relative autonomy.
      • They can be partly independent of the capitalist economic base of society.
      • Thus religion can have a dual character, sometimes being a force for change as well as stability.
        • Bloch sees religion as having a dual character.
          • He accepts that religion often inhibits change but argues that it can also inspire protest and rebellion.
            • Images of utopia can sometimes decieve people but they may also help people to create a vision of a better world and strive for social change.
              • Eg) promises of rewards in heaven.
    • The Catholic Church in Latin America had been a very conservative institution encouraging acceptance of poverty and supporting wealthy elites.
      • The liberation theology is a movement that emerged within the Catholic Church in Latin America in the 60's.
        • Has a strong commitment to the poor and opposition against dictatorships that then ruled most of the continent.
          • LT emerged because of the growth of rural poverty, urban slums and human rights abuses.
          • LT emphasises 'praxis' - practical action guide by theory.
            • Eg) Priests leading literacy programmes and raising political awareness.
        • The LT shows how the same religious organisation can be both conservative and a force for change.
    • Millenarian movements are an example of the desire to to bring about the kingdom of God on earth.
      • They expect the total transformation of this world by supernatural means, creating heaven on earth.
        • They appeal mainly to the poor because they promise immediate improvement and they often arise in colonial situations.
          • European colonialism shattered the traditional tribal social structures of the colonised people.
    • Gramsci is interested in how the ruling class maintain their control over society through ideas.
      • Hegemony - ideological leadership of society is the way the ruling class are able to use ideas such as religion to maintain control.
        • However in some cases religion can challenge the ruling class.


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