by Roland Boer Communism has ‘failed’, or so the common observation goes. More often, one hears the opinion that the Soviet Union ‘failed’, or that the communist countries of Eastern Europe did so as well. But what does ‘failure’ mean … Continue reading The ‘Failure’ of Communism: a ‘Fall’ narrative
by Roland Boer The reputation of Friedrich Engels has often not fared well in the Marxist tradition. At a minimal level, he is regarded as the lesser intellect in relation to Marx, while more commonly dismissed as one who seriously distorted Marx’s thought and thereby derailed the subsequent socialist tradition. According to this assumption, not only did he make a mess of his editing work, after Marx’s death, with the second and third volumes of Capital, but he also distorted the later tradition by means of his ‘Dialectics of Nature’ and his very popular ;Anti-Dühring’ and ‘Socialism: Utopian and Scientific’. … Continue reading In defence of Engels
by Roland Boer This is a question I am asked reasonably often in China: do you think China is communist? Many would not hesitate to say ‘no’. Not only do you find this position among the bland liberal commentators around … Continue reading Taking notes 36: Is China communist?
by Roland Boer Lenin’s writings on religion may be divided into two categories: those that explicitly deal with religion and those that do so implicitly. In this article, I focus on the former. Too often, Lenin is understood as a doctrinaire atheist who has no time for religion. Yet, detailed attention to his statements on religion reveals a more ambivalent and complex position. I deal with four elements: (1) the duality of religion as both response to and cause of suffering; (2) the metaphors of opium and booze; (3) the question of freedom of conscience in relation to religion and … Continue reading Lenin and Religion
by Roland Boer Often I am asked, in all manner of situations, what is your position? What is your belief? Christian communist, is my answer. I may be speaking with a group of Chinese students and specialists on Marxism, or a gathering of young anti-capitalist activists, or a room of trade-unionists, or a congress of hard-core Marxists, or indeed a group of religious believers. Inevitably, my answer produces a rain of questions. Christian and communist – are not the two poles apart? Are not communists and communist countries against religion, since it is the ‘opium of the people’? Are not … Continue reading Taking notes 24: Why I am a Christian communist
by Roland Boer Too often the road to the most valuable lessons from the revolutionary past faces a series of roadblocks. I think here of the way the Old New Left sets up and maintains those roadblocks. But who makes up the Old New Left? I mean those who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s – a significant section of the Baby Boomers – and who were part of the Western wave of the “New Left” at that time. Soon enough they took over important leadership positions, gained control of organisations and journals, took up academic posts, and opted … Continue reading Taking notes 13: Roadblocks of the Old New Left