SECULARIZATION AND COUNTER-SECULARIZATION IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY / Vol. 37, No. 2 (Summer 1970)
For Max Weber the spirit of the modern age has disenchanted the world. “With the progress of science and technology, man has stopped believing in magic powers, in spirits and demons; he has lost his sense of prophecy and, above all, his sense of the sacred. Reality has become dreary, flat and utilitarian, leaving a great void in the souls of men which they seek to fill by furious activity and through various devices and substitutes.”
There are those who argue that the resurgence of non rational religion is but a temporary phenomenon that will prevail no longer than the secular city has. Maybe they are right, though one can only observe that the new faiths seem quite powerful. They are, to a greater or lesser extent, the result of the disillusionment with the bourgeois, secular, liberal, democratic, scientific society during the 1960s to produce peace in the world. Whether a new form of rationalist faith, conceding far more to human emotions, sentiments and yearnings from the transcendent than the formal liberal faith, will remain in the future must remain problematic. While the tribal religions certainly will never capture a very substantial segment of the population, they are also likely to remain with us for some time.
No one has difficulty recognizing as religion the “high religions” of the world--Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and others. At the same time, sophisticated analysts have trained a large element of the public to recognize as quasi-religions a number of ideologies or forces which make religious claims and demands: Fascism, Marxism, cults of success or sex, modern nationalism may be cited. Between these is a no-gods land filled with a bewildering variety of options that are less recognized than the high religions but more formal in their religious symbolism than in their ideologies. Outsiders often speak of them as “magic” or superstition,” but to their adherents they serve as integrating elements in a spiritual quest.
We may notice an unholy alliance of two criticism of religion, one deriving from a theology on the lines of that of Karl Barth, the other following the Marxian unmasking of religion. These two critical approaches are bound to a one-sided understanding of religion.This understanding of religion is bounded mostly by conceptions of Christian history.
Professor Norman Birnbaum, in a recent examination of Marxist sociology, concludes that “revolution in Praxis which cannot begin with it's own theoretic presuppositions is in fact not a revolution at all.” There can be no doubt, as Birnbaum acknowledges, of the re-awakening and critical re-evaluation within contemporary Marxist social thought. In response to Birnbaum’s identification of a “crisis” permeating Marxist social thought, we shall attempt, via a re-examination of classical Marxism’s theoretical presuppositions, to suggest that a theoretical reassessment represents not so much a “crisis” as an attempt, with varying degrees of success, to understand the real utility of Marxism.
In this paper the authors claim that current re-examination of classical Marxist presuppositions represents not a crisis in Marxist thought but a critical reassessment, the aim of which is to understand the real utility of Marxian philosophical anthropology and its implications. Critical debate in this area contributes to the possibility of achieving a non-alienated culture. The problem is seen to be a failure of social scientists to take seriously the Marxist claim that theory and practice must be linked, thereby distorting the real utility of the concepts it advances.
The object of this article is not an elite theory as it was formulated by Mosca and Pareto -which is sufficiently well known in its basic contents- nor an exegesis of the differences in the respective conceptualizations of the two scholars who are referred to here simply as the expounders of an elitist vision of society in a specific chronological and geographical situation. The object of the article is to tackle a particular problem, namely, the ideological aspect of this theory.
To listen to the typical expert on Soviet affairs in this country, the men in the Kremlin were literally stunned at the announcement of the Common Market’s birth and, in fact, are still dazedly trying to fit that miraculous event into the rigid matrix of their science of history. The author examines why this is.
Recently the discussion of the problem of income distribution in Mexico has filled the pages of economic journals with data on the relative concentration of the income and wealth of the country in the hands of a very small proportion of the population. Although most students of this phenomenon bemoan the situation, few of them set out to examine the development process to determine how the situation arose and whether it might be possible to make adjustments which would permit an improvement in the relative economic well-being of some people in the lower economic strata.