Saturday, July 5, 2008

Lenin on atheism, materialism & popular education (2)

I had not intended to delve into this subject, but now that I have started it, I must add another key article by V.I. Lenin: "On the Significance of Militant Materialism" (12 March 1922), in Lenin’s Collected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972), Volume 33, 1972, pp. 227-236. First published in Pod Znamenem Marksizma, No. 3, March 1922. (Text also available on From Marx to Mao site.)

In this article Lenin dwells on the need for atheist literature, inter alia recommending the lively writings of the 18th century Enlightenment for purposes of popularization. While this literature is outdated in certain respects, it can easily be updated and supplemented and still compares favorably with less exemplary contemporary writings, whether they be dull, content-poor specimens of atheist literature or the deceptions of liberal wafflers pushing their own brand of religiosity or purporting to avoid "extreme positions". It is also vital to combat the misuse of new scientific theories (Einstein's relativity at the time of writing) for new forms of mystical-idealist obscurantism. Lenin also proposes an alliance of scientists and (dialectical) materialist philosophers to address the need for philosophical clarification of innovations in scientific knowledge, ideally a sort of “Society of Materialist Friends of Hegelian Dialectics”.


Question said...

Although literature is certainly still used to propagate atheism (Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens for example), I think the internet has largely replaced literature as a means to popularize atheism. However, recently the theists have been using the internet more to offer rebuttals to atheism as can be seen by this article on atheism. So Lenin's notion of popularizing atheism via literature is somewhat outdated.

Ralph Dumain said...

The perfect excerpt from Lenin's "On the Significance of Militant Materialism" is contained in the compilation Lenin on Books.