Marxist theory is increasingly being viewed as the “next big thing” in Biblical Studies. To this end, Roland Boer (Professor of Liberal Arts at Renmin University of China) delivered a lecture entitled “What has Marxism to do with religion?” at the University of Auckland on September 9, 2015. The lecture is now available on YouTube.
This lecture explores some of the key questions in that extended engagement. It begins by reconsidering the metaphor of opium, or what Lenin called ‘spiritual booze’. Second, it examines Engels’s proposals concerning the revolutionary religious tradition, beginning with early Christianity. This would become a staple in Marxism, with subsequent thinkers and activists elaborating on this tradition. Finally, it considers the thorny question of a religious person being a member of the communist party. Did one have to tick the box marked ‘atheist’ before being allowed to join? On this matter we visit the First International, the Bolsheviks, the Cuban Communist Party and the Communist Party of China.