- Religions act conservatively and that the hierarchies of such religions tend to side with the interests of the ruling classes.
- Every now and then religion surprises us and takes the side of the poor and oppressed against the powerful.
Engels: religion as a radical force.
- Engels - recognised that religion in some special circumstances could bring about radical social change.
- Ruling capitalist class sometimes blocked all conventional avenues for social change using through repressive agencies of force.
- EXAMPLES = politics, trade unions, pressure groups etc.
- Ideology too could be a powerful force in convincing people that there was little they could do to change their situation.
- Religion could be a useful tool for bringing about change because:
- (a) Few rulers have attempted to prevent mass participation in religion.
- (b) Religios leaders are more likely to recognise exploitation, oppression and inequality because of their religious education.
- (c) Religious leasers are not so easily repressed - they may occupy a 'special' or sacred place in their societies which means they are not so easily targeted for assassination and imprisonment.
- Engels - recognised the active role that may be played by some religions in effecting revolutionary social change.
- Rejecting the traditional Marxist view that the superstructure was dependant on the economic infrastructure and therefore functioned solely to transmit ruling class ideology.
- The superstructure is more autonomous and independant that Marx acknowledged - the superstructure could produce 'ideas' that were not always in tine with ruling class ideology.
- At different historical times, popular forms of religion had emerged which expressed and supported the interests of the oppressed…