Criticism and Struggle

Since the criticism of religion becomes, to Marxism, the criticism of the concrete social relations which produced it, the struggle against its errors and distortions can never be a struggle against religion as such — a kind of armchair atheism — because such a struggle is not a real one — it is ideal truth fighting ideal religion and both, when abstracted from action, are unreal.  The very criticism of religion, as soon as it becomes criticism of concrete religion, becomes criticism of the social relations that engendered it, and when this criticism emerges creatively as a struggle, it will not be an ideal struggle against religious ideas but a concrete struggle against real social relations.  There is no absolute truth to set against fantastic lies, but fantastic reality whose fantastic content is exposed in real living. (19)

Christopher Caudwell | Further Studies in a Dying Culture

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Negative Liberty

The bourgeois believe that liberty consists in absence of social organization; that liberty is a negative quality, a deprivation of existing obstacles to it; and not a positive quality, the reward of endeavor and wisdom….  Because of this basic fallacy this type of intellectual always tries to cure positive social evils, such as wars, by negative individual actions, such as non-co-operation, passive resistance or conscientious objection.  This is because he cannot rid himself of the assumption that the individual is free.  But we have shown that the individual is never free.  He can only do what he wants by using social forces….  But in order to use social relations he must understand them.  He must become conscious of the laws of society, just as, if he wants to lever up a stone, he must know the laws of levers.

Christopher Caudwell | Studies in a Dying Culture