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Author Archive | Roland Boer

Sectarianism Versus Ecumenism: The Case of V.I. Lenin

Was Lenin, as the standard interpretations would have it, a sectarian who sought to destroy all who disagreed with him?  Or did he also display ecumenist tendencies alongside, or in tension with, his sectarian bent?  Is there perhaps a deeper relation between sectarianism and ecumenism in his work? The material from the time, especially before […]

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Lenin on Freedom

“But see how quickly the slave of yesterday is straightening his back, how the spark of liberty is gleaming even in his half-dimmed eyes” (Lenin 1905 [1963]: 541). Lenin and freedom — it is perhaps a jarring juxtaposition for many.  Was not Lenin the harbinger of what is occasionally called the most dictatorial and authoritarian […]

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Before October: The Unbearable Romanticism of Western Marxism

Most Western Marxists suffer from a deep resentment: they have never experienced a successful communist revolution.  For some unaccountable reason, all of those successful revolutions have happened in the ‘East’: Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, China, Vietnam and so on.  And none of the few revolutions in the ‘West’, from Finland to Germany, […]

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Norman Gottwald: A Pioneering Marxist Biblical Scholar

Norman Gottwald belongs to a rare breed — an American Marxist biblical scholar.  More than one jarring juxtaposition in that epithet!  Unfortunately, he is less well known outside the relative small circle of biblical scholars than he should be.  In order to introduce him to a wider audience, let me say a little about his […]

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Father Thomas J. Hagerty: A Forgotten Religious Communist

In the usual roll call of religious communists, Father Thomas J. Hagerty — one of the central figures involved in establishing the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or the Wobblies) in 1905 — seems to have slipped off the radar, with nary an entry on the Marxist Internet Archive and the smallest comment on […]

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The New Luther? Marx and the Reformation as Revolution

Towards the close to what is arguably Karl Marx’s most well-known treatment of religion appears the following sentence: Germany’s revolutionary past is theoretical, it is the Reformation.  As the revolution then began in the brain of the monk, so now it begins in the brain of the philosopher . . . But if Protestantism was […]

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Wilhelm Weitling, the First German Communist

‘The founder of German Communism’ is how Engels describes Wilhelm Weitling (Engels 1975 [1843], p. 402).1  It is not a name that comes immediately to mind when considering the origins of modern communism, but he, a diligent student of the Bible, was an early comrade of Marx and Engels and deserving of greater recognition for […]

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The Ethical Failure of Terry Eagleton

Terry Eagleton has joined the rush of those on the left to offer opinions on ethics in a recent lop-sided work called Trouble with Strangers.1  His argument is as straightforward as it is expected in these days of his recovered role as a part-time theologian of the Roman Catholic left: both Christian theology and socialism […]

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