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date: 29 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The ‘actually existing’ academic study of religion is barely imaginable without Marx. Rather than identifying an essential Marxist account of religion, the chapter distinguishes between a pre-1850 and post-1850 constellation of attitudes and intuitions. The chapter begins with this basic exegetical work and then documents a focus by many twentieth-century intellectuals on how Marxism and religion overlap: for much of the twentieth century, intellectuals were often more interested in assessing Marxism potential status as a religion, as opposed to strategically drawing upon the Marxist vocabulary in order to explain religious discourses and practices. It then identifies three successful Marxist strategies that take the latter approach: (a) a mode of anti-capitalist protest; (b) a form of non-elite reflection on capital; (c) a mythologizing ideological discourse.

Keywords: capitalism, fetishism, ideology, materialism religion as opiate, religion as protest

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