The Dictatorship of God? Or, Jesus Plus Paul Equals Marx Plus Lenin

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August 12, 2014 by James Crossley

Here are two relatively unconventional takes on Jesus and Paul:

I am not the first to risk the comparison that makes of him [Paul] a Lenin for whom Christ will have been the equivocal Marx. [A. Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), p. 2]

Paul goes on to his true Leninist business, that of organizing the new party called the Christian community. Paul as a Leninist: was not Paul, like Lenin, the great ‘institutionalizer,’ and, as such, reviled by the partisans of ‘original’ Marxism-Christianity? Does not the Pauline temporality ‘already, but not yet’ also designate Lenin’s situation in between two revolutions, between February and October 1917? Revolution is already behind us, the old regime is out, freedom is here – but the hard work still lies ahead.(Žižek)

Perhaps these statements are interesting for what they don’t mention: Stalin, dictatorship, Constantine…  (in Žižek’s case, especially, it should be mentioned that he does deal with issues of totalitarianism elsewhere). If Jesus plus Paul does (somehow) equal Marx plus Lenin, could we not push the analogy further and look at what happens next? Might Constantine have been implicit, so to speak, or one potential option, in the teaching of the kingdom/dictatorship of God? The old criticisms of Marxism (and therefore Christianity…?) about ‘what happened next’ cannot be dismissed as mere liberalism and so I will finish without further comment or answer or analysis with a critique of Marx’s logic (and therefore a certain form of Christianity…?) from Marx’s anarchist opponent, Mikhail Bakunin:

The reasoning of Marx ends in absolute contradiction. Taking into account only the economic question, he insists that only the most advanced countries…are most capable of making social revolution…This revolution will expropriate either by peaceful, gradual or violent means, the present property owners and capitalists. To appropriate all the landed property and capital, and to carry out its extensive economic and political programs, the revolutionary State will have to be very powerful and highly centralized. The State will administer and direct the cultivation of the land, by means of salaried officials commanding armies of rural workers organized and disciplined for that purpose. At the same time, on the ruins of existing banks, it will establish a single state bank which will finance all labour and national commerce…For the proletariat this will, in reality, be nothing but a barracks: a regime, where regimented workingmen and women will sleep, wake, work, and live to the beat of a drum; where the shrewd and educated will be granted government privileges…There will be slavery within this state, and abroad there will be war without truce, at least until the ‘inferior’ races, Latin and Slav, tired of bourgeois civilisation, no longer resign themselves to the subjection of the State, which will be even more despotic than the former State, although it calls itself a Peoples’ State. [M. Bakunin, Selected Works (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), pp. 283-84)

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2 thoughts on “The Dictatorship of God? Or, Jesus Plus Paul Equals Marx Plus Lenin

  1. Kyle Lance Hedrick says:

    This is brilliant, James. Truly provocative. I love that you’re pushing the analogy further historically. Much needed. Stalin=Constantine. Astounding.

    Like

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