Memorie-2021 Kallscheuer








Sommario: 1. Socialism as science? – 2. Marx and religion. – 3. Reset of the question.



1. – Socialism as science?


Is there really a “scientific socialism” – or, for that matter, a scientific communism’? Can we a adopt this concept by its ‚face value’ for today? But why should socialism – a political program, possibly also a moral ideal - be scientific?

We know, this concept arose out of polemics: as a self-promoting identification of an initially rather small political and philosophical current (or faction) founded and embodied by two German left-wing intellectuals Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Time-frame: shortly before and after the European revolutions of 1848. The two friends wanted to distinguish themselves from the other competing groups or factions within a vast intellectual diaspora of radical democrats (like Arnold Ruge), republican nationalists (like Giuseppe Mazzini) and socialist thinkers and project-makers (like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon). Many of them were political refugees, exiled in Paris or London, in opposition to the political regimes and social systems of their homelands in continental Europe.

So Marx’s and Engels’s own project of socialism/communism was supposed to be different from those of the other ‚sects’ - as Engels would call them in retrospective. Forty years later, In his ‚Preface to the English Edition’ of the Communist Manifesto he takes care to distinguish his and Marx’s ideas in 1848 from the various ‚utopian’ groups, be they ‚Socialists’ (like Owenites in England, Fourieristes in France) or ‚Communists’ (as the followers of Etienne Cabet in France, and of Wilhelm Weitling in Germany). Whereas for Marx and Engels, at that time, the name ‚Socialism’ seemed too compromising (or too bourgeois‚ too ‚respectable’), the utopian ‚Communists’ were at least working class-inspired - and so „there could be no doubt as to which of the two names we must take″[2]: Marx and Engels choose the name ’Communism’ for their manifesto, and would speak later about their own ‚Socialism’ only with the qualification ‚scientific’. Their own socialism/communism was rooted not just in moral or religious ideals, so they pretended, but in the driving forces of history[3].

Today’s socialists in advanced capitalist societies have become rather sceptical towards any unquestioned ‚scientificity’ of their own political programs or ethical propositions. There is no simple, no direct implementation between specific normative ideals and the ‚objective situation’[4]. Of course, political programs of social reform (or revolution) should be realistic with respect to the given economical possibilities, to demographical and ecological dynamics, to historical traditions, memories, experience ... but is their supposed ‚scientific nature’ necessarily a good thing? Couldn’t it be also a danger? (... a way of immunization of political projects, presenting them as pure outcome of objective necessity, without alternatives ...)


Revised prognoses ...

Whatever we may mean by ‚scientific’ in the context of social ideals and social movements, think might agree in at least one, minimal condition: a scientific attitude should include intellectual honesty. In other words, a ‚scientific socialism’ would be a socialism prepared to recognize his own errors or failures (if, when and where they have occurred). This attitude of self-conscious fallibilism might be the condition of being able to learn from false prognoses, failed prophecies, irrealistic experiments. So: If there exists something like a ‚scientific socialism’ then it should recognize his errors, e.g. the falsification of some of its central prognoses (or ‚prophecies’).

I shall discuss here only two of many fallible prophecies of Marxian socialism/communism, two prognoses that didn’t come true:

(a) the Marxist prophecy about the ‚withering away of the state’ under the conditions of realized communism (which means the ‚higher’ or developed form of socialism, supposedly under the conditions of general welfare);

and (b) the Marxian prognosis of the necessary ‚dissolution or evaporation of religion’ in all (or most) modern industrial societies whit a scientific culture (at least as soon as the conditions of social misery will have been abolished under socialism/communism)[5].

So our rather elementary question would be: did these prognoses (a) and (b) of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and other Marxists come true? Here we have to face another difficulty first: There simply is not just one Marxism, and so we also do not have just one marxist answer to each of these questions, but there are (at least) two families of Marxism[6]. The political and ideological split between of Marxist socialists and Marxist communists after the First World War was one of the consequences of the Russian revolution of 1917; and obviously I cannot analyse this historical process here. But if we just stick to our question concerning the two Marxian prophecies (a) and (b), we will have to acknowledge the sharp difference between the communist and the social-democratic Marxists in the 20th century. Marxian socialists (or social democrats) and Marxian communists (or bolshevists) gave different, viz. opposite answers to both questions.

Indeed only the communists did maintain (a), the destruction of the state, as ″ultimate goal″ of their program: the final ‚shattering’ or ‚demolition’ of the state apparatus; and only the communists did uphold (b), the final vanishing of religion in a rational communist society, as aim of Marxist politics: With the end of social misery (as consequence of the end of exploitation), so they believed, religion as such would become superfluous, senseless and absurd, it would simply wither away.

But already at the beginning of the 20th century the Marxian socialists or socialdemocrats would not have signed these prophecies (a) and (b) any longer; as they already had abandoned both Marxian views from the origins of their movement. The majority socialists in central and western Europe did so more or less explicitly, opting for revised (R) versions of (a) and of (b) instead: for the democratization of the state (a/R) - but not for its destruction. And they fought against any dominant political establishment of religion: favoring its privatization (b/R) - but not its vanishing or extinguishing.

So while Marxist social democrats, the majority-parties of the labour movement in Western Europe, had already abandoned or ‚revised’ the original Marxian prognoses (a) and (b)[7], in the 20th century only the communist parties really tried (or pretended) to hold on to these original Marxian prognoses or prophecies and to implement them. Consequently only the communists may be judged by the eventual success or failure of these Marxian prophecies (a) and (b). Socialists or social democrats may have huge problems nowadays; but these are problems of a different nature – the European socialist parties did (and do) not promise the end of the state and the end of religious faith. Only communists did so.


... and failed prophecies


And what did happen to the state and to religion under communist rule? Did they vanish – have they been abolished, shattered, withered away? – A rather rhetorical question, as it seems. – If we are honest, we have to admit: what took place in postrevolutionary Russia (and in many other socialist countries under communist rule) was the exact opposite of the Marxian prophecies (a) and (b). How was this possible? Was this failure the result of exceptional difficulties, caused by unpredictable crises, or by the undermining of the construction of socialism by counterrevolutionary enemies?


Even if we should take into account the serious crises and harsh adversities of the new Soviet regime in the first years of its existence, it would be absurd to put the blame of the failure (or non-realization) of the Marxian promises (a) and (b) only on counterrevolution: to the geopolitical and social (‚class’)-enemies of the Soviet Union. Especially if we consider also that this ‚Soviet way’ of the construction of socialism/communism thereafter had then been promoted as success-story: for roughly half a century it became almost the standard export–version of Marxism and communism[8].


So, what happened? After the revolution of 1917, after war and civil war, the destruction of the old autocratic state-apparatus of Zarist Russia was not at all followed by (a): neither by a rapid vanishing of the new ‚transitional’ state nor by a slow, benign kind of euthanasia of the new communist state apparatus, giving more and more space to the free association of producers and citizens, to self-organization within civil society or cooperative production. No! What happened, was the exact opposite: real communism meant the strengthening of the state, its growing institutional unification by the extension of its control (to the country-side), by the deepening of its social control-mechanisms (within the urban and industrial centers) and, not least, by its increasing cultural and ideological homogenization (promoted not least by the leading communist party).


This last point has also to do also with (b): The process of a supposedly passive ‚withering away’ of religion did not occur either. The soft evaporation of religion did not happen, what happened instead was an active, organized policy of suppressing organized religion by the state (and by the party), as the Russian Orthodox Church was seen as a supposedly ‚counterrevolutionary force’. But in the end this ‚revolutionary’ endeavor did not succeed - all to the contrary, it failed almost totally: After the systemic defeat of Soviet communism in Russia and Eastern Europe in the last decade of the 20th century the formerly silenced, oppressed or suppressed churches in Russia and Eastern Europe were far from dead. These churches – generally of the family of orthodox christianity[9] - returned quickly in the forefront of social visibility and political influence; and they became soon ‚parties’ in the conflicts in (and between) the former communist countries. Besides: they are now often honored and cherished by former communists and new nationalists alike.





2. – Marx and religion


For Marxists, especially for communists, all these developments should represent an intellectually deeply troubling state of affairs. But how a Marxian response to this challenge should look like? Is there a Marxist explanation of the ‚survival’ of religion in and after communism? If in the words of the early Karl Marx (from 1844) religion is just ‚the expression of real misery and at the same time the protest against it’ – should we then say that it was the real misery of (more or less) realized communism that produced the resistance and resurgence of the Christian churches? Their resurrection after having been oppressed, suppressed, prosecuted? (Or because they were prosecuted?) – Or was the Marxian prognosis already wrong from the beginning?

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels accept and confute various criticisms of communism; the only accusations not even meriting any serious refutation are "charges against communism made from a religious, a philosophical, and generally, from an ideological standpoint". These - we are told - "are not deserving of serious examination"[10]. The Communist Manifesto was not only the first of the various radical Programs, Declarations and Manifestos in the 19th century predicting the revolutionary success of industrial capitalism and bourgeois society in almost prophetic terms – a correct prognosis, as we have seen in the last 150 years. But with historical hindsight another exceptional feature of Marx’ and Engels’ revolutionary project is not less striking: It is one of the first socialist or communist programmes written in exclusively secular (even secularist) terms. Many of the various so called ‚utopian-socialist’ programmes had been either religiously inspired or had used at least a religious language. Even its immediate precursor, Friedrich Engels' Grundsätze des Kommunismus, a kind of first draft of the future Manifesto, was (at least in its form) still a catechism, the ‚Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith’[11].

Many of the various so called ‚utopian-socialist’ programmes had been either religiously inspired or had used at least a religious language. Think only of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's writings - from Qu'est-ce que la propriété (1840) to De la Justice dans la Révolution et dans l`Église (1860). Or take - even earlier - the ‚Manifesto’ of Henri de Saint-Simon Le Nouveau Christianisme (1825), his last, unfinished work that nevertheless inspired the important Saint-Simonist ‚church’. And the early socialist or Communist secret societies in the Parisian milieu of exiled democrats and revolutionaries have been compared by almost every sympathizing contemporary intellectual with the „Galileans“ (Heine), the early Christi­ans and their church of the catacombs and martyrs.

Just read the preface to the French edition of Heinrich Heine's „Letters from Paris“, i.e. the literary feuilletons that Marx's friend Heine had sent in the 1840s to the Augsburger Zeitung, and later, in 1854/55, republished in a book-volume Lutétia. The communist may be atheists, consequently big sinners - we are told, but they are the only sincere Christians; the leading principles of their cosmopolitism, in fact, are converging with the basic dogma of Christianity, that is: universal charity - whereas the „false patriots“, the German nationalists within the milieu of the Anti-prussian opposition in exile are only hypocrites, pseudo-christians: „Maulchristen“. And so it is not just irony, when Heine in one of his correspon­dences from Paris (July 15th, 1842) evokes the possible political and social future of Europe using the images and dramatis personae of Saint John's Apocalypse, the last book of the Christian Bible: After the final battle between the two beasts of the apocalypse Leviathan and Behemoth (i.e. the seaborne British Empire and the Russian Bear) the egalitarian communist shepherd will unify all mankind in a dictatorship of equality[12].

Karl Marx, son of a liberal Jewish lawyer converted to protestantism, was the first revolutionary not to use the widespread formula of communism as the „religion of equality“ – or, as the Saint-Simon had put it: the „religion of science“. Besides: His friend Friedrich Engels, coming from the sectarian background of evangelical fundamentalists of Elberfeld-Barmen (a protestant enclave in catholic Rhenania) would later sometimes adopt this metaphor again[13]- as did the major Marxist intellectual of the German socialdemocracy Karl Kautsky, when he spoke about of the socialist party as the ecclesia militans the „fighting church“ of the proletariat. But why did Marx adopt this radical secularist outlook? I can see two main motives for this Marxian ‚speciality’, and both may be found in Marx’s enlightened religious and philosophical background: in Jewish messianism – and then in Hegel’s philosophy of freedom as secularization of christianity.

I am obviously not the first one to notice that the idea of abolishing (false) religion was originally a religious idea in itself, an imperative connected with biblic Monotheism: it is only the true God that may order you to smash the false idols[14]. More specifically Marx's ‚scientific’ (i.e. secularist) socialism followed also a messianic tradition within radical enli­ghtenment - a tradition that we can most prominently find in Benedict Spinoza, whose Tractatus theologico-politicus he knew very well[15]. And also Marx’s vision of the proletariat as ‚universal class’ is not free from messianic hopes[16]. The future polyvalent self-realization of/in labour would coincide with a totally secular (‚humanist’ or ‚naturalist’) culture, substituting the religious or fictious, ‚alienated’ self-realization that Marx had criticized in his Economical-philosophical Manuscripts, written in Paris in 1844 [17]. And so only the totally secular world would be mature for the universalized Messiah: with the idea of the proletariat as the universal class Marx is turning the working class into a collective Messiah, which would overcome the division between Heaven and Earth, Reason and historical action. - But we know: this Messiah did not come.


Hegelian illusions ...


Another reason of Marx’s peculiar revolutionary secularism lies in the delusions of his own philosophical past: He was a revolutionary radical coming from the ‚Young-Hegelians’, the philosophical current of radical liberals in an anti-liberal State: in restaurationist Prussia. These Young-Hegelians had accepted many of the basic philosophical presuppositions of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s interpretation of Europe’s historical present after the French revolution, but then contested his consequences[18]. In his political philosophy Hegel hat opted for constitutional monarchy as a somewhat a ‘state-guided’ form of liberalism in Germany - but his left-wing disciples could not accept this account as a correct description of the Prussian state. And at the same time Hegel had also seen political (liberal and constitutional) modernity as the rational realization of Christian religion - understood as the very religion of freedom[19]. And also in this point the ‚Young Hegelians’ would not follow their master any longer.

For Hegel both the religious organization (the ‘Church’) and the legitimate form of political dominion (the ‚State’) have to be understood philosophically as elements of one organizing whole[20]. In Hegel’s philosophy of history both institutions - the modern Church (for Hegel: Protestantism) and the modern State (constitutionalism) - are moments of the development and the differentiation of one common ‘reason’ (or dao). For Hegel philosophical REASON (‚reason’ with a capital R) is more than just an epistemic method or a pragmatic way of gaining knowledge, and it is also more than just a method or system of establishing the best moral rules – REASON concerns the structure of mind/spirit in general[21].

Now, if human freedom has to be understood as auto-determination in differentiation (as Hegel’s philosophical presupposition goes)[22], then REASON, the very structure of Spirit (dao) can also serve as the method of understanding history, individuating historical progresses in conscious freedom[23]. Hegel’s Philosophy of History is reconstructing history as structured and teleological progress of the development of human institutions; and the ‚end of history’, the constitutional institutionalization of ‚freedom’, for Hegel coincided with the rational development of Christianity: Christianity being the religion in which the Divine (Christ as the Son of God) himself had become human, identifying himself with the Logos (reason)[24].


... and communist delusions


To make a long and complicated story very short: De facto the Prussian state, defeated and reborn in the antinapoleonic wars, did not reflect (or respect) Hegel’s idealization of constitutional liberty and thus could not be seen as rational realization of human freedom; and this awareness has surely been one of the motives of Marx’s (anti-)idealistic and democratic revolt against state-bureaucracy and political censorship. How was it possible to see the modern legal-bureaucratic state (as Hegel seemed to propose) as the realization of Christian liberty? Then Christianity itself had to be identified as part of the problem, and not of the solution; and therefore (as Marx wrote in 1844) „the critique of religion is the precondition of all critique“[25].

Marx had studied philosophy in Berlin with Hegel, but in the Western province of Rhenania, occupied by Prussia, he was a journalist fighting for the freedom of the Press – today he would fight against illiberal restrictions of the Internet. This might well explain his rejection of Hegel’s idealization of the (Prussian) state in a period of restauration, and his aversion against the established protestant churches as well. But it does not justify his errors in prognosis (or prophecy): Marx’s optimistic prophecy of a stateless society in communism and Marx’s utopian exclusion of any form of religion from human self-realization (or ‚freedom’) have revealed themselves as fundamental errors. Errors can be fatal. The illusionary prophecy (you may call it ‚materialist’ or ‚idealist’, it doesn’t really matter) of the substitution of the political state by a mere „administration of things“ (as Friedrich Engels would call it later) might have had indirect fatal consequences: It could have made technocratic planning methods easier, adopting ways of treating human beings as if they were things (and not – as the Christian socialists would hold: as images of God).

Karl Marx himself was not in favour of any organized repression of religion at all – his own arms against religion and superstition were always philosophy, history and literary criticism. And what is more important: obviously Karl Marx himself cannot be held responsible for the terrible oppressions and prosecutions of thousands of religious believers in various countries under communist rule that occurred a century after Marx. The idealist or ‚scientist’ belief (or ‚materialist’ faith, the label doesn’t matter) that the growth of science and industry might render any religious idea or emotion superfluous and futile does not necessarily lead to any religious prosecution. It is simply an under-complex vision of humanity[26]. But perhaps it may have made it more difficult to perceive the cruelty of anti-religious repression. Not only under communism.




3. – Reset of the question


I may end with some very general remarks: Whatever the „objective reasons“ for the second Russian Revolution of 1917 might have been (after the first, the liberal February-Revolution); and whatever its positive effects for the anticolonial and anti-imperialist movements of the 20th century might have been – the outcome for both questions that I have raised here was a terrible, and sometimes even a terroristic one: (a) for the relation between the freedom of civil society under the rule of law and the political state; and (b) for the relation between reason, religion and human self-realization in a socialist society.

After the liberal February Revolution of 1917 the Russian Orthodox Church convocated its first (somehow democratic) Concile after centuries of autocracy – but after the October Revolution, under Lenin and later und Stalin the Church was prosecuted, repressed and undermined by terror and infiltration (until Josef Stalin remembered the useful role of the orthodox religion for psychological warfare in the Great Patriotic War against the German aggression)[27].

What consequences did this pattern of the marxist criticism of religion have for later revolutions of the 20th century?

-         In Latin America, since about fifty years the influential Catholic ‚theology of liberation’ has been successfully challenging the idea that Christian religion is by its essence oppressive and anti-revolutionary.

-         And whereas many national liberations in the period of anti-colonialism had began as essentially secularist, anti-religious, social(ist) revolutions, they later did give birth to regimes with heavily religious imprint: Think about the Algerian revolution, the Indian national liberation, even the development of Pakistan, the birth of Israel as a socialist and secularist state[28].

And not least: some of the paradigmatic revolutions at the end of the 20th century did explicitly assume a religious identity: so did the anti-communist revolution in Poland, based on an implicit ‚national alliance’ between the Solidarnòsc workers’- union, the citizens’-rights-movement and the Roman Catholic Church; and so did obviously the Islamic Revolution in Iran.


Is the Marxian identification between social emancipation and the abolition of religion still valid? Was it ever?



Works cited

J. ASSMANN (2003), Die mosaische Unterscheidung oder Der Preis des Monotheismus, München: Hanser Verlag 2003.

E. W. Böckenförde, Bemerkungen zum Verhältnis Staat und Religion bei Hegel, in: Der Staat 21 (1982), 481 – 503.

F. ENGELS, „Grundsätze des Kommunismus“, in: Marx Engels Werke (MEW), Vol. 4, Berlin/DDR: Dietz Verlag 1959, 361 – 380.

Id. (1888/2002), Preface to the English Edition, in: Marx/Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848/2002), 295 – 302.

Id. (1890/2002), Preface to the German Edition, in: Marx/Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848/2002), 303 – 311.

Id. (1895/1960), Preface to Karl Marx, ‚Klassenkämpfe in Frankreich 1848-1850’, in: Marx Engels Werke (MEW), Vol. 7, Berlin/DDR: Dietz Verlag 1960, 509 – 527.

A. GORZ (1980), Adieux au prolétariat. Au delà du socialisme, Paris: Galilée 1980.

H. HEINE, Lutétia, in: H. Heine, Sämtliche Schriften (ed. Klaus Briegleb), Vol. 5, München: Hanser Verlag 1984.

A. HONNETH (2015), Die Idee des Sozialismus, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2015.

C. JAMME / Helmut SCHNEIDER (eds.), Mythologie der Vernunft. Hegels „ältestes Systemprogramm des deutschen Idealismus“, Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp Verlag 1984.

O. KALLSCHEUER (1986), Marxismus und Sozialismus bis zum 1.Weltkrieg,

in: Iring Fetscher/ Herfried Münkler (eds.), Pipers Handbuch der politischen Ideen,

Vol.4, Neuzeit: Von der Französischen Revolution bis zum europäischen Nationalismus, München (Piper) 1986.

Id. (1999), The West, the Rest, and the Prophet, in: Constellations. Vol.6 / No. 2 (June 1999), 222- 232.

Id. (2009), Hegels Theorie der Säkularisierung, in: Andreas Arndt / Christian Iber / Günter Kruck (eds.), Staat und Religion in Hegels Rechtsphilosophie, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag 2009, 109 – 120.

K. LÖWITH, Meaning in History. The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History, Chicago: Chicago U.P. 1949.

K. MARX (1841/1976), „Spinoza’s theologisch-politischer Tractat“ (Excerpt-notebook), in: Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), Vol. IV., Berlin/DDR: Dietz Verlag 1976, 232-241.

Id. (1844/2005), Ökonomisch-philosophische Manuskripte (ed. by Barbara Zehnpfennig), Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag 2005.

ID. (1844), Zur Kritik der Hegel’schen Rechtsphilosophie,

in: Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, Paris 1844 / Reprint 1967, 71 – 85.

K. MARX - F. ENGELS (1848/2002), The Communist Manifesto. With an Introduction and notes by Gareth Stedman Jones, Penguin Classics, UK 2002.

M. WALZER (2015), The Paradox of Liberation. Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions, New Haven & London: Yale University Press.




[Un evento culturale, in quanto ampiamente pubblicizzato in precedenza, rende impossibile qualsiasi valutazione veramente anonima dei contributi ivi presentati. Per questa ragione, gli scritti di questa parte della sezione “Memorie” sono stati valutati “in chiaro” dai promotori, dal curatore della pubblicazione e dalla direzione di Diritto @ Storia]


[1] Paper presented at the International Symposium on History, Reality and Future of Socialism, Peking University, School of Marxism, 21-22 October 2017.

[2] See ENGELS’S later Prefaces to the English Edition of the Communist Manifesto (1888, 298f.) and to the German Edition (1890, 309 f.).

[3] I will not discuss the later distinction of Marx and Engels between socialism as ‚lower’ stage or phase of communism, which then is supposed to be the ‚higher’ or more perfect version of the socialist goal. (It might also be seen as a way of saving ‚utopia’ within scientific socialism).

[4] Axel HONNETH (2015) recently proposed an ‚updated’ idea of socialism that he wants to be more than just an ‚ideal’. But in fact he is proposing just a another normative ideal (or a reformulated set of norms: a normative model of socially embodied freedom) which he then presents as the result of a ‚normative interpretation’, (implementation or reconstruction) of modern societies by means of a moral sociology of institutions (‚updating’ the conceptual tools of Hegel). Missing in his interesting proposal – however - is the crucial role of social movements for any form oder ideal of socialism.

[5] Religion or ‚religious misery’ is being understood/explained by Marx as expression of real (i.e. social) misery and at the same time protest against it: “Das religiöse Elend ist in einem der Ausdruck des wirklichen Elends und in einem die Protestation gegen das wirkliche Elend”. (MARX, 1844, S.71) Here the young Marx also makes the famous analogy between religion and ‚opium of the people’.

[6] I am not sure whether Chinese Marxism is just another variant of communist thought or a third, culturally autonomous version of Marxism, but cannot discuss this problem here.

[7] Nota bene: this holds not only for the so called ‚revisionists’, the followers of Eduard Bernstein, but for ‚orthodox’ Marxists like Karl Kautsky as well. With regard to both questions (a) and (b), the abolition of the (democratic) state and the end of (any) religion, almost all Marxists in the socialist parties of Central and Western Europe at the beginning of the 20th century had already abandoned the original prophecies of Karl Marx – with rather reasonable motives, which in part had already been proposed by Friedrich Engels (1895), in his late preface to Marx’s analysis of the ‚class-struggles in France’. - I have analyzed these varieties of socialdemocratic Marxism to a greater extend in Kallscheuer (1986).

[8] Another question I cannot discuss here: Was Mao Zedong’s ‚Chinese Way to Socialism’ only a ‚creative adaption’ of the Soviet model – or was it a political alternative to it? The answer is not evident.

[9] In Poland it was the Catholic Church, which had not been suppressed after the war, but was officially recognized as autonomous organization (and collective memory of the Polish nation) by the communist state. So the forms of cooperation and conflict between the church and the communist leadership in Poland varied in the different periods after the Second World War. In the end the majority of the church actively sustained the Polish transition from Soviet socialism to a national capitalist democracy.

[10] MARX / ENGELS (1848 / 2002, 351).

[11] F. ENGELS (1847/1959). It may be noticed that Engels himself came from an evangelical background.

[12] H. HEINE (1842 / 1984), 233; 406; 496 and passim.

[13] ENGELS (1895).

[14] Jan ASSMANN (2003).

[15] See Marx’s excerpt-notebook (1841).

[16] See GORZ (1980, ch. I.1.) and KALLSCHEUER (1999).

[17] Marx here compares religious ‚alienation’ with the ‘alienation’ of the product from its producer (MARX 1844/2005, 56 - 66).

[18] I am referring here exclusively to the old Hegel as philosopher of the Prussian state. The younger Hegel, sympathizing with the French revolution, had a much more direct or ‚communitarian’ idea of religious community (die Gemeinde) and political freedom – he wrote (and discussed with his friends, the poet Friedrich Hölderlin and his later philosophical rival Schelling) a proto-romantic Manifesto for a new synergy/synthesis of religion, philosophy and poetry or art, the „oldest program/system of German idealism“, under the guiding line: Wie muß eine Welt für ein moralisches Wesen beschaffen seyn? (How the world has to be organized for Man as a moral/i.e. free Being?) See JAMME / SCHNEIDER (eds., 1984, 11).

[19] For a more detailed account see KALLSCHEUER (2009).

[20] See BÖCKENFÖRDE 1982.

[21] I am not sure whether or not one might individuate here a common element between the Greek concept of nous (from Plato to Hegel’s ‚spirit’) and the Chinese tao (in Confuzius and especially in Tchouang-Tseu /Zuang-zhi). Both seem to have been concepts combining the understanding of both immanence and transcendence – both want to understand contingency (changing empirical reality) from the point of view of a structured organization of the whole cosmos, under the heaven (tian). And this ‚point of view’ contains also a hint (an‚ inner spark’) of transcendence: For Zuang-zhi the point of view of ‚heaven’ is also a kind of ‚inner’ freedom.

[22] For Hegel human ‚mind’ (in conscience and action) is ‚spirit’ as an oriented structure (tending towards a telos) of conscious self-organization and self-understanding. Thus understood human spirit is ‚free’.

[23] The idea of history as a progressive development is, obviously, not new in Hegel: he took it from the European Enlightenment, with a cultural and moral imprint of the Christian vision of world-history. See Karl LÖWITH (1949).

[24] In the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John.

[25] „die Kritik der Religion ist die Voraussetzung aller Kritik“ (Marx 1844, 71); see also Marx’s criticism of Hegel in his ‚Paris Manuscripts’ of the same year (MARX 1844 / 2005, 1 – 4; 125 ff.

[26] Besides: this idea was perhaps even more Saint-Simonist than Marxist.

[27] I am not particularly well informed about the history of the Cultural Revolution in China, but it seems that anti-religious prosecutions had also played a certain role.

[28] See Walzer (2015).