April 24, 2012

"The problem of community"

Indeed, we have omitted something from our evocation of the kinship between Marxism and religion which must be rectified at this point: it is the way in which all the issues that turn around church organization and the community of the faithful constitute a point-by-point anticipation of all the most vital problems of political organization in our own time: problems of the party, of class solidarity, of the soviets, of communes, of democratic centralism, of council communism, of small group politics, of the relations of intellectuals to the people, of discipline, of bureaucracy – all these crucial issues which are still so very much with us are those most centrally at stake in the great debates of Reformation and of the English cultural revolution. The problem of community – bound for us, for better or worse, to its concrete expression in the institution of the political party – was for them linked to its concrete or allegorical expression in the notion of a church or congregation or community of the faithful; and the excitement and actuality of the English cultural revolution as it unfolds from 1642 to 1660 is surely at one with this burning preoccupation with the nature of collective life.
Fredric Jameson, from "Religion and Ideology: A Political Reading of Paradise Lost." Delivered at the Essex Conference on the Sociology of Literature July, 1980.

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