Marxism and Liberation TheologyMichael Löwy
IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 10 (40pp €3.25, £2, $3.25)
The emergence of revolutionary Christianity and liberation theology in Latin America opened a new chapter and posed exciting new questions. In Marxism and Liberation Theology, Michael Löwy argues that these developments demand a renewal of the Marxist analysis of religion. One of the best illustrations of this observation is the following dialogue, reported by Frei Betto, between himself and the police officer in charge of his interrogation under the Brazilian dictatorship: 'How can a Christian collaborate with a communist?' 'For me, men are not divided into believers and atheists, but between oppressors and oppressed, between those who want to keep this unjust society and those who want to struggle for justice.' 'Have you forgotten that Marx considered religion to be the opium of the people?' 'It is the bourgeoisie which has turned religion into an opium of the people by preaching a God, lord of the heavens only, while taking possession of the earth for itself.'
Born in 1938 in São Paulo, Brazil, Michael Löwy has lived in Paris since 1969, where he is now director of research in sociology at the National Centre for Scientific Research. One of the most versatile Marxist intellectuals of our time, he has been widely published in English and French (as well as Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Japanese, etc.). His books in English include: The Marxism of Che Guevara (1971), Georg Lukács: From Romanticism to Bolshevism (1978), The Politics of Uneven and Combined Development: The Theory of Permanent Revolution (1981), On Changing the World: Essays in Political Philosophy from Karl Marx to Walter Benjamin (1993), The War of Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America (1996), and the IIRE Notebook Fatherland or Mother Earth? (1998).'