Faith and politics


There are those nowadays who would regard faith in socialism as even more eccentric than the exotic conviction that the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. Why, then, do some of us still cling to this political faith, in the teeth of what many would regard as reason and solid evidence? Not only, I think, because socialism is such an extraordinarily good idea that it has proved exceedingly hard to discredit, and this despite its own most strenuous efforts. It is also because one cannot accept that this – the world we see groaning in agony around us – is the only way things could be, though empirically speaking this might certainly prove to be the case, because one gazes with wondering bemusement on those hard-headed types for whom all this, given a reformist tweak or two, is as good as it gets; because to back down from this vision would be to betray what one feels are the most precious powers and capacities of human beings; because however hard one tries, one simply cannot shake off the primitive conviction that this is not how it is supposed to be, however much we are conscious that this seeing the world in the light of Judgement Day, as Walter Benjamin might put it, is folly to the financiers and a stumbling block to stockbrokers; because there is something in this vision which calls to the depths of one’s being and evokes a passionate assent there; because not to feel this would not to be oneself; because one is too  much in love with this vision of humankind to back down, walk away, or take no for an answer.

Terry Eagleton, from Faith, Reason & Revolution

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