Lecture Eight – 3 February 2013

Welcome to Garage Blackboard Lectures for 2013! Our first lecture for the year will be from Roland Boer (of Stalin’s Moustache fame/noteriety) and Lachlan Ross (gbbl veteran). Abstracts below!


Intersections between Marxism and Religion

Roland Boer

The three themes on which I focus, at the intersections between Marxism and religion, are political ambivalence, translatability and the tension between old and new. The first emerges from a long tradition of Marxist analysis of religion, although I am particularly indebted to Ernst Bloch. It is the point that a religion like Christianity may just as easily lean towards supporting the oppressive powers that be as it may provide inspiration for revolution, for overthrowing those powers. It is not the case that one is the core and the other is a deviation, but that both come from the tension-ridden core of Christianity. Second, in my work on Marxism and religion, I have come to speak of their interaction in terms of translatability. If we think of them as languages, then they have key terms with their own sematic fields that may be mutually translated –revolution and miracle, working within/outside the system and immanence/transcendence, the dialectic of subjective and objective approaches to history, and so on. To my mind, this is a better approach than the dead end of ‘influence’, in which religion as a prior reality influences a political movement like Marxism (although now with secularised theological concepts). If we approach the relation between Marxism and religion in terms of translatability, the questions now concern what is gained and what is lost when the two semantic fields of the key terms intersect with one another. The final issue concerns what is old and new. Revolutions typically face this problem. If the revolution is a new beginning, then should it sweep away all that has gone before and start again? Or does it build on the ruins of the old, dialectically transforming the best of what has gone before. The best example of this tension is the struggle between Lenin and Anatoly Lunacharsky in the Russian Revolution.


Marx and the Project of Human Self-Creation

Lachlan Ross

This lecture will focus on a very simple element of the oeuvre of Karl Marx that is often overlooked: that the primary concern of Marx over the course of his life and writings was to put human beings in control of the dual processes that make human beings human beings: the creation of a world, and via this creation of a world, the creation of a certain type of human being.


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