Why I’d Rather Be Called a Marxist than an Atheist
Since I started blogging I began following a few popular atheist blogs. This has led me to consider more in-depth how I “brand” or “identify” myself. These are some of my reflections.
Here’s what I have in common with the atheists:
- Insofar as I don’t believe in any gods or goddesses, I am an atheist.
- I find debates about the existence or non-existence of gods and goddesses to be both entertaining and intellectually stimulating.
- I’m resentful of the presence of Christian privilege in our society.
- For better or worse, this ressentiment leads to the enjoyment of both sophisticated satires of and juvenile smart-ass comments about Christianity.
- I think the world would be a better place if people generally made fewer decisions based on religious authorities (whether persons, stories, texts, laws, traditional practices or whatever).
Here’s what I have in common with Marxists (and other social radicals):
- I think societies are set up in ways that allow some groups to dominate others; I want to think about how that works and to arm the dominated with the knowledge they need to overcome domination (like I say here).
Now these interests are obviously not mutually exclusive. However, those guys (and it is pretty much always guys) popularizing atheism seem to be privileged, white intellectuals who think of themselves as oppressed because atheism is unpopular. Wait, here’s a news flash: it turns out that privileged, male, white intellectuals are not really oppressed. I’d really rather not be associated with this blindness toward where there is real oppression.
Here are some additional errors popularizers of atheism tend to make:
- They wrongly tend to assume that religion is essentially ignorant, or that religious people must be inherently dumb or dupes.
- They wrongly tend to assume that religion is essentially violent, or at least tends toward violence.
- They seem to assume that intellectual debates about the existence of the gods or about Paschal’s wager or whatever are actually influential on others. I’m not saying these intellectual debates aren’t influential, but I think they have a lot less influence than, say, satires of religious traditions. In addition, I think that these intellectual debates often are persuasive or interesting to people only after they’ve converted to atheism and are looking for something to reinforce their new ideology. In sum, the atheist arguments tend to look a lot like intellectual masturbation.
I have to ask myself with whom I’d rather associate with: a bunch of privileged white dudes or Marxists, radical feminists, people criticizing white privilege, progressive religious groups, and others who are pointing out how power works and, hopefully, doing something about it.
I’ll go with the latter bunch.