Everyone who has debated religion from an Atheist point of view has at some point been slapped in the face with "Communist Atheism". But there's rarelEveryone who has debated religion from an Atheist point of view has at some point been slapped in the face with "Communist Atheism". But there's rarely anything substantial to these arguments, they're merely excercises in name calling. No-one ever bothered to lecture me on how exactly things were in Soviet Russia. So when I came across this book, I thought that it would be very interesting to learn about. While this book was written in 1979, it's a scholarly book written by a professor, so it doesn't feel dated(oddly enough). It becomes a sort of history book, and it was written at the end of the Soviet period, so it covered the heyday of godless Communism. The first chapters deals with the history from the revolution and onwards, and how various leaders tried to tackle religion(rather bluntly at first). Most of the book deals with various propaganda techniques used in later years, and how they worked. Films, speeches and articles in newspapers are what you'd expect. But I'd never think they would assign a personal Atheist to Christians who should try to convince them to change their minds. This would probably be effectful, if it hadn't been for the fact that Christians would say: "Sure, I agree now. You showed me the error of my ways. Thank you and good bye." and thus ending the Atheist's engagement.
The author writes everything from a neutral point of view, but it shines throught that he's not generally impressed. The only thing that he granted worked was coercion and laws. Changing the hearts and minds, which is what they wanted to do, did not work at all.
But a lot of the problem for the Atheists was that the people who were supposed to spread Atheist propaganda often didn't care. Say, newspaper editors were supposed to print regular pieces on atheism and religion, but in fact only printed the obligatory piece around holidays. Other propagandists were students, and since religious books were generally banned and difficult to get hold of, they couldn't read up on the subject they were supposed to criticize. It's like, instead of Richard Dawkins, you had a random student or party functionary with no special knowledge or interest in religion nor atheism. And this person should spread atheism and adhere to communist doctrine at the same time. And unlike Dawkins, who's very much an independent person, these people were representatives for a repressive regime. And for many people, atheism represents freedom from religion, but how is it when this freedom is handed down to you by a dictatorship?
So yes, it shows us why "Communist Atheism" failed, but it also shows why the Communist strawman has little interest for modern Atheists whom for the most part are not at all interested in Communism.
Anyway, if you like me are interested in ideologies of the 1900s and atheism and religion, then this is a good read. The language is also clear and concise. ...more