E. Belfort Bax

Socialism and the Catholic Church

(29 June 1912)

E. Belfort Bax, Socialism and the Catholic Church, Justice, 29th June 1912, p.6. (letter)
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Comrade, – I am sure many readers of Justice must be inclined to protest strongly. against the letter of Mr. Makeham in your last issue. I am equally sure most readers of Justice must have enjoyed the refreshing outspokenness of comrade Hyndman’s leader in Justice of the 15th. We have surely had enough of the cowardly policy which is always afraid that the plain truth “may injure the Party” (as Mr. Makeham has it). The Party is not worth much if it will be injured by plain speaking. As another writer in your last issue, comrade Wendon, justly puts it: “Not control, but emancipation – social, political, and religious – is our aim”. That there can be no durable economic freedom without intellectual freedom, and no intellectual freedom for each and all without economic freedom, is, I take it, a fundamental principle of Socialism. Comrade Hyndman, in his article, conclusively pointed out that Catholicism as the principle of despotic control, directly in intellectual matters, and indirectly in material, is the deadly enemy of Socialism. – Mr. Makeham has only to read the recent Papal ukases, especially the encyclical Rerum-Novarum. In the latter document Mr Makeham will find some gems to delight the heart, I will not say of Socialists only, but of the most moderate well-wisher of the disinherited and the working classes generally! There is a growing feeling in the Party on the Continent that the alleged neutrality of Socialism as regards religion, always more a pretence than a reality, will have eventually to be abandoned definitely. The very fact of recognising the importance of the ideal side of Socialism carries with it the recognition of its opposition to the competing ideal of Catholicism, and, for that matter, of Christianity in all its forms. The kind of special pleading which aims at identifying the ideal of Socialism with that of Christianity is too thin for the fair-minded Socialist, or Christian either, for that matter. Undoubtedly, as Hyndman indicates, the time is not far distant when war between Christianity, especially in its most serious forms as represented by the Catholic Church, and Socialism, will have to be openly declared.


E. Belfort Bax


Last updated on 4.10.2004