We Cannot Be Both Christians and Marxists

May 7, 2019 by

by Jason Morgan, Public Discourse:

Terry Eagleton attempts to offer us a gentle revolution, a soft “transition” from Catholicism to Marxism. This is as theoretically and theologically impossible as it is historically unprecedented. Any “radical sacrifice” on anything other than God’s terms will lead to mass bloodshed and human suffering, as it has whenever and wherever such a project has been tried before.

In his latest book, Radical Sacrifice, prolific scholar and literary critic Terry Eagleton continues the defense of Marxism he took up forcefully in his 2011 volume, Why Marx Was Right. Here, as in so many of his other writings, Eagleton makes the case—forthrightly, eruditely, and with flashes of brilliant wit—that Marxism is not just a relic of the past, but a viable way to envision and welcome a better future.

Yet Eagleton is not your typical, ivory-tower defender of dialectical materialism. What makes Eagleton rare among his academic peers is that he is as unapologetically Catholic as he is unapologetically Marxist. In Radical Sacrifice, Eagleton continues inching closer to his goal of somehow melding Marxism and Catholicism into a common order.

Unfortunately, the elephant in the room—the question whether these two radically conflicting anthropologies can truly coexist—looms even larger at the end of the book than at the beginning. There is little hope that Eagleton’s project will succeed. Indeed, everything in historical experience and doctrinal fact suggests that it will fail. Eagleton’s Marxist-Catholic prescriptions are intriguing, but, over the course of the book, it becomes clear that he is advocating not a blend of the two but a subordination of one to the other.

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