E. Belfort Bax

Socialism and Catholicism

(17 August 1912)

E. Belfort Bax, Socialism and Catholicism, Justice, 17th August 1912, p.6. (letter)
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Comrade, – I should like to protest against the implication contained in a sentence of comrade Scurr’s letter in your issue of August 3, that the “Rationalist Press Association, the ethical societies, or the Freemasons of France” are little more socialistic as regards the bulk of their membership than the Catholic Church. I think if comrade Scurr had mixed a little more with members of the organisations referred to he would have found that, though as organisations they may be officially neutral in the matter, their membership in most cases is honey-combed through and through with Socialist and socialistically-sympathetic views.

Besides, what so many persons seem to forget in this connection is the natural and logical affinities of principles and modes of thought, quite irrespective of the actual organisations representing such principles and modes of thought. It is the tendencies of the latter themselves which really count. Now, what is maintained is that the principle of authority, mental subservience, irrespective of rational conviction and obedience to an authority based on these things, is irreconcilable with the world of Socialist thought and action. For this, as we contend, freethought, in the full sense of the word, is the only possible foundation.

The sneer as to the cry of “Clericalism is the Enemy” being a red-herring is pointless. Of course, any phrase can be made a red-herring if people set out to do so by severing it from its connection and insidiously falsifying its context. But, as Friedrich Engels often used to point out, it is one of the functions of the Socialist Party to bring to completion certain reforms of the old order begun, but imperfectly carried through by the bourgeoisie in the course of working out its historical mission, Of these the fight with Clericalism and dogma is, perhaps, the most important.


E. Belfort Bax


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