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Beyond Abstraction: Marx and the Critique of the Critique of Religion

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This article reconsiders Marx’s thinking on religion in light of current preoccupations with the encroachment of religious practices and beliefs into political life. It argues that Marx formulates a critique of the anticlerical and Enlightenment-critique of religion, in which he subsumes the secular repudiation of spiritual authority and religious transcendence into a broader analysis of the ‘real abstractions’ that dominate our social existence. The tools forged by Marx in his engagement with critiques of religious authority allow him to discern the ‘religious’ and ‘transcendent’ dimension of state and capital, and may contribute to a contemporary investigation into the links between capitalism as a religion of everyday life and what Mike Davis has called the current ‘reenchantment of catastrophic modernity’.

Affiliations: 1: Goldsmiths, University of London, Email:


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