Belief in an Ideal
Religion asks you to look to the sky, to interpret the clouds, and through them, to see something greater. Socialism asks you to look to the world today, to interpret the suffering of the people, and through them, to achieve something better for everyone. The first directs your attention to spirits and souls, to explanations for god and to explanations for evil. The second leads your attention to people and society, to explanations for human behavior and human suffering. Religion is a heavenly construction, while Socialism is an earthly reconstruction. What is good for god is the primary consideration of religion, while what is good for humanity is the primary consideration of Socialism.
Religion and Socialism are two separate ideologies, and their contrast is obviously seen in the separate directions in which they pull. Naturally, Socialism has made a friend of Atheism and all skepticism of religion. If those who believe in Socialism can dispel the myths and superstitions of a life after this one, then maybe people will begin to see that they need to build up heaven here while living on earth. Morality must not be based on the commands of a being that may never be seen, with rules are so obscure, that it allows the "defenders of justice" to do whatever they please. Morality, to be true to its name, must be based upon what behavior is good or bad in regards to other people -- and nothing else.
Socialism, in attacking Capitalism, is attacking the exclusion brought on by private ownership of society's productive forces. It is fighting a system that gives a few the greatest luxuries simply by the right of ownership, and forces the many to suffer hardship with very little. Those who produce everything, from the longest bridges to the deepest mines, have lived deeply in poverty, while a very few individuals indulge the most wasteful consumption. Unemployment is attendant with this system, as everywhere Capitalism has kept a reserve force of the population in perpetual hunger, so that every worker knows that they can be replaced.
This is why Capitalism is exclusive: it creates an economy that is managed, owned, and controlled by the few, and it is done against the interests of the workers who have produced everything. Socialism provides the most simple remedy to the problem: the economy should be managed, owned, and controlled by those who have built it. Anything else is exploitation. Atheism perfectly blends into this concept of social justice. Socialism admits no master over the labor of the worker -- Atheism admits no master over the mind of the individual. Both philosophies have made no compromises, but have only gone so far as truth has demanded.
Atheism has befriended Socialism, as both have taken their attention from the heavens to the daily affairs of living, human society. Similarly, religion has befriended Capitalism, as both are based on starry concepts that exist only so long as people believe in them. Religion tells the people that they must spend their time in reverence of god if they expect to enter the afterlife. Likewise, Capitalism tells people that there are these rights that come from heaven, which allow a very few people to treat the rest like slaves. It is an improvisation of the technique used in the past by kings, who likewise received a right to property over a kingdom -- also a right bestowed by a heavenly master. The right to monarchy or property, both have been consecrated and blessed by unknown beings, though human beings struggle to find any natural cause for either that doesn't include tyranny.
Religion has attacked Socialism for the same reason it once attacked art, poetry, and written history -- and why it still continues to attack science today, whether Evolution or Global Warming. The reason for attacking Socialism is that it draws the minds of people away from the heavens to the present world. Knowing that humanity at large is doomed to a social system that guarantees want and hunger, the mind is motivated to ideas that relate to the here-and-now and not the here-after. The individual, knowing such great suffering and seeing the absence of god's honor, becomes unconcerned with heaven and hell. For to enjoy heaven, in the sight of all this misery, seems wicked and cruel -- and hell, for the most part, would simply be a continuation of our existence, without much change in conditions. Religion itself becomes dishonorable, as the mind is drawn more to those who working for our world than to working for a world after this one.
Preachers and priests have always fought for Capitalism. Even when workers were rising up in unions against the Soviet Union, Catholic priests preached obedience to Lenin and opposition to any form of Democratic Socialism. [*1] Naturally, workers who organized in unions in the United States were machine gunned by soldiers hired by Rockefeller. The profits reaped from crushing the union were then donated to the church. The reasoning was obvious: the church, throughout the entire conflict, had told the workers to submit and obey, to give in to the right to property for 1% of humanity over all the rest. [*2]
"The right to property, which occurs nowhere in the Bible, this is what is sacred! Not your bellies and your mouths, designed after the lord, no matter how hungry you get and how awful your sacred body is made to feel! That's not sacred. What is sacred are profits and dividends, police who break up unions and tanks that run over protesters! A few human beings enjoying the greatest luxuries, the most expensive food and the tastes, mansions and yachts, fine wine and caviar, while the many millions are starving for bread, begging for a home, or unable to find work. This is the Sacred Order which god has intended for us." Such is the attitude of the priest and the minister. The priesthood was used to fool the serfs into believing that they must submit to the damnation of a few kings and vassals. Should we be so surprised that today, they stand up for the kings of economy, in order to dominate and control the serfs of today?
Some may argue that religion provides an unbeatable enthusiasm to the spirit of the social reformer. But, no matter how much you advance this argument, you have to admit that it is a false enthusiasm about a false object. No matter what is produced from it, there is the ingredient of falsehood. Socialism itself does not look for anything except the direct causes of unemployment, want, hunger, starvation, and misery in society. It does not perform some religious ceremony, asking the spirits to tell us what kind of dance is necessary to make it rain; Socialism looks at causes and facts, and nothing more. When the mind directed by unseen beings, the conscience inspired by unspoken whisperings, then the goal can become corrupted, no matter how noble it first appears. Divide inspiration is little more than imagination, and if it can suddenly create an understanding of social suffering, it can suddenly take it away, too.
*1. "Seven Years in Russia and Siberia, 1914-1921" by Roman Dyboski, published 1971, pages 121-122.