Religious aspects of Russia's non-religious philosophy

  Social Philosophers and Religion


 Within the framework of russian philosophy, one becomes aware of four important areas of thought which concern social problems, politico-cultural questions, theoretical development of thought and finally religious philosophy.

 More than often these areas are very much interconnected and entangled in the problematics of each other. Thus, one might debate about whether slavophilism is of a purely political identity, or if it is in essence religious, or whether the russian developments of the philosophy of Marx and Engels pertain to social, political or indeed to theoretical philosophy.

 What complicates matters, is the fact that it is often difficult to decide whether religion relates to any particular philosophy such as russian communism on a political, a social or a theoretical and, in the minds of some, even on a semi-religious level.

 One of the reasons behind this complication is that the reasons or causes that inspired particular philosophers are of a different qualification than the goal of the philosopher's thoughts, and this, in turn, might be different from the dynamic of thought and logic used by a philosopher in his development of thought. An example, yet to be considered more profoundly, might be communism, which seems to draw its inspiration from social problems, yet its goal seems to be political, while its explanation and development of thought are usually qualified as 'theoretical'.

  Social problems - serfdom

 One of the major issues at the heart of much of last century's philosophical growth in Russia was without any doubt serfdom, a problem that arose primarily from the attempts of Catherine the Second (1762-96) to put the land into the hands of the nobles. Serfdom clearly caused great hardship and material poverty, for it amounted to a total denial of basic human rights. The words of the poet Nyekrasov express the hopelessness of such a life,

”Sweet is the food of the serfs,

The whole of a life, like the iron saw,

Chew (away), to eat is not to eat!”


The question that is of interest in this chapter concerns the relation between religion or the Church and the social issues and problems of the time, as is considered in the context of philosophy and religion of that time.

 Philosophical evaluations of the social situation

 One of the first things to be noticed about the attitude of philosophers who interested themselves in social affairs, is a common criticism of the failure of the Orthodox Church to plead the cause of the serfs.

 Alexander Radishchev(1749-1802)

 One of the first 'philosophers' was Alexander Radishchev, a man who because of his condemnations of the evils of serfdom was considered a revolutionary and suffered exile in eastern Siberia. In the thought of Radishchev one finds the emergence of a new anthropological tendency as also an insistence on the natural law being placed before human law. It is easy to understand how his aristotelian and apparent cartesian traits consequently influenced his political, ethical and social ideas.

 That all men are immortal, that all men have innate ideas, and that God is the personal Creator-Father of all, therefore can only mean for Radishchev that all men are equal and have human rights in common and that the abusive and inhuman structures accompanying serfdom are wrong and should be changed: accordingly a new political and social model is presented.

 In presenting his views on religion, Radishchev demonstrates some of the typical elitist ideas and criticisms of superstition and ignorance, as well as attacks on the clergy for their responsibility in this regard. Similarly, he condemns the lack of tolerance and religious freedom, which he saw in connection with the attitude of Orthodoxy to the Old Believers, and the instances of forced conversions to the same faith, that of the State. He favored a religion less colored by rites and traditional ceremonies, and considered God to be a personal God.

 There seems to lie a close connection between the various dimensions of the social philosophy in question and the religious philosophy or ideas of Radishchev. One could easily be of the opinion that Radishchev tended towards a form of under-developed semi-rationalism, through the influence of authors such as Leibniz, (Descartes), Aristotle and certain illuminists.

 Thus the intellect is given a particular anthropological importance with the consequent intolerance for superstition and elements of ecclesiastical tradition. As with other philosophers, a new concept of man, here as being endowed with an intellect and as being of a natural value in himself, means a new way of conceiving society, which for Radishchev should be free of such inhumane institutions as serfdom.

 Radishchev's conception of religion deserves a concluding comment: he appears to have preferred a semi-humanistic form of religion, without rites and stupid beliefs; religion should not degrade man who is by nature intelligent, but rather upgrade man, as the Radishchevian conception of the personal God might be interpreted to be saying.

 Religion is however not seen by Radishchev to be an answer or solution for the problem of serfdom, thus, it is not condemned by him nor is it given any role in the formation or contribution to the author's new but very underdeveloped idea of society, rather it would seem that for Radishchev religion is dependent on society for its form, or at least this form must come into harmony with that of a proper society.

 Although western thinking exercized a strong influence on his thought regarding the relation of religion to philosophy and to the state, the influence of the historical reality of Russia, can not be diminished; that is, the influence of the relation between church and state in the preceeding russian history, within the context of which the Church was politically conditioned and even controlled.

 The dekabrists

 Nineteen years after the death of Alexander Radishchev, a group latter known as the 'dekabrists' was founded. The dekabrists had a major historical importance come influence upon the subsequent decades of the nineteenth century. They consisted largely of aristocrats who had the basic aim of a political reform, directed towards a constitutional monarchy and the changing of the traditional agrarian structures through the freeing of the serfs and the establishment of a twofold system of property. In December, 1825, on the occasion of the coronation of Tzar Nicolaj I the dekabrists attempted in vain a revolution with these aims in mind.

 The dekabrists tended to be Radishchevian in their conception of the involvement of religion in the reshaping of politics and society; quite basically, they advocated no involvement. By inclination they were disciples of european illuminism. With their pietistic and masonic ideals they would have greatly disvalued and even scoffed at the thought of religious involvement in the social and political reform movement.

 One feature that distinguishes the russian illuministic revolutionary from the european (french) was, precisely the attitude to the Church, the difference being that the French were opposed to the church and religion, whereas the Russians preferred to ignore both religion and the Church.

 European illuminists saw the Church (Catholic) as both an enemy and serious obstacle in the way of their plans, for she was both a politico-cultural and an intellectual force that opposed the semi-atheistic and positivistic philosophies of the Europe of that era. In Russia, the Church did not have the same political or intellectual force and so was not taken to be either a threat or an obstacle, she was something that was, in the sense of this chapter, criticized and condemned more for her 'ignorance' (superstition) and lack of dedication to the poor and abused of society.

 Similarly, the loyalty demanded of the members of the Catholic Church, was to supersede both state and nationality, in Russia, however, there was a close cultural identification between being Russian and being Orthodox, and accordingly loyalty to one tended largely to be interpreted as loyalty to the other; thus, even if civil structures were to undergo change this tendency to identify (culturally, and politically to a lesser extent) Russia and Orthodoxy continued. While in the West contrast and opposition became more intense, the identification of nationality and religion remained primarily a slavic phenomenon.

 The only area upon which the dekabrists interested themselves for religion had to do with their idea for the better distribution of land. All land, including the vast monastic lands, should be divided into private and into common lands belonging to the local community.

 In this sense, the temporal structure of the Church was seen to be at odds with the political ideal for society held by the dekabrists, just as their western counterparts similarly viewed their equivalent situation. Thus, a revolution would mean a revolution against the tzarist regieme, but also against certain aspects of the temporal structure of the Church, its temporal wealth, that is its lands. The Church, or religion did not need nor deserve these, society did and so did the people living on the land.

 The seizure of the land would also mean, of course, that the Church would lose much of the independence which she possessed. Thus, the idea of the monasteries conceived by Joseph of Volokolamsk in the late fifteenth century, as possessing riches so as to help the poor and needy was not appreciated by those of a dekabristic outlook, probably due to the fact that the monasteries were easily assimilated to the great landowners, responsible for the suffering of the serfs and the nation.

Alexander I. Galich (1783-1848)

 Another author of particular interest with regard to this area of investigation is Alexander Galich, who although having an affection for Schelling, veered away from the mysticism of the Germans and placed anthropology at the center of his own speculation. He demanded from the other sciences, be they social, political or theological, a deeper investigation of human nature. One of his thoughts that is worth touching upon, is that when patrons abuse their power over those placed under them, namely the serfs, this abuse generates inferior emotions in the patrons and renders them similar to the serfs.

 Although it does not belong directly to the theme of this argument, the philosophy of Galich does have a certain relevance, in that it shows a development in the anthropological conception within the russian philosophical framework. Similar to Radishchev, Galich gives a new value to the human being: all men are of equal dignity, and the illtreatment of a human being is an activity which is not only inferior to proper human activity, but makes the subject of the activity morally inferior to the dignity proper to the lowest form of human and social dignity.

 There is little doubt that the doctrine of Galich reflects certain metaphysical aspects of christian ethics and morality but in the general light of cultural development the principle that the various theological disciplines find a foundation in philosophy is certain to find an extension in the Galichian context, in that the conception that man has of his own nature (auto-anthropological evaluation) greatly determines the approaches taken in theological, spiritual and moral teachings as well as in political and social sciences.

 To what extent the anthropology of Galich was determined by religion is one question, to what extent it effected religion is yet another. But the new approach in anthropology, as witnessed by Galich, is important for both future philosophical and 'religious' development.

 Pyotr Chaadaev (1794-1856)

 The Orthodox Church, however, was subject to strong criticism. Two particular authors are worth noticing, Pyotr Chaadaev and Vissarion Belinskij. The first of these, who will also be considered latter in the religious-cultural context, Pyotr Chaadaev, extended his philosophical thought to the question of the relation between the Orthodox Church and serfdom.

 Although Chaadaev exhalted the spiritual purity of Orthodoxy, he had strong misgivings concerning its failure to fight on behalf of the freedom of the serfs, in the same way that Catholicism had brought an end to slavery in the West.

 Chaadaev was greatly distressed by that which he perceived as the extreme backwardness of russian society and culture; western society was far more advanced. One of the marks of this lack of civilization was the inhumane condition of civil life in Russia (serfdom),

"How do you desire, that the seeds of good mature in any one society, when it still does not sway without conviction and rules, even in the situation of daily life, where life is absolutely still unordered? This is a chaotic fermentation in the inner man. We are still in this state."

 For Chaadaev, however, Christianity had an essential role in the development of western civilization, a role which in the East was handicapped by the politics of Photius and the consequent state of being seperated from the West. The evolution of civilization in the West included a passage from a society that accepted slavery to one which rejected such a social institution. In Russia the situation of the serfs was essentially slavery, and the Orthodox had a duty to condemn this form of social evil, a duty which they did not properly fulfill.

 In the previous authors there was a strong anthropological influence upon their attitudes to serfdom, in Chaadaev we find something different. Here, his criteria of evaluation depends greatly upon his conception of a developed culture and a developed society. Serfdom is incompatible with a developed and mature society, it is a serious factor in the retardation of the process of civilization and cultural evolution in Russia; it must be done away with so that Russia can advance and reach those standards, at which the West has already arrived.

 Although it is difficult to separate the individuals that make up society from the society itself (i.e. a civilized society cannot be made up of uncivilized members), it would seem that Chaadaev thinks on more universal terms rather than on the terms of the particular, the individual, and consequently it seems that it is the whole society, the culture of the nation, and the relation of these with other societies and cultures which is of primary importance for Chaadaev. Hence, questions of anthropological development are given lesser importance.

 Chaadaev assigns to Christianity a role in the formation of culture and civilization, and accordingly his critique of the failure of the Orthodox Church to improve the retarded situation of russian culture and civilization, is quite logical. Within the russian context of the identification of religion and culture, this seems like a fair criticism.

 But as we have already seen, Orthodoxy identified itself with russian culture, a culture that already existed, and that has been inherited from the past, and consequently it did not see itself as the former or producer of a new, or at least, a different culture. The inherited culture had a certain sanctity about it corresponding to the conservative convictions of Orthodoxy. Chaadaev, on the other hand, had a dynamic view of culture as contributing to the process of formation and change, a process of maturation into something better but different. Culture and civilization belong to the future and not to the past; they cannot be inherited, they must always be formed anew.

 Yet, the problematic at hand goes beyond culture, and extends to social structures and social justice, and as has already been considered, the Orthodox Church did not posses a philosophy of civil society which would have enabled it to propose changes on the social level. Another aspect of the situation of the Orthodox Church was that she herself was in a servile position vis-à-vis the tzarist regime, in so far as she was controlled and was not free to be herself. It was only as russian society became more liberated in itself that the Orthodox Church started to achieve a more complete freedom.

 Although Chaadaev dreamt of an Orthodox Church with the type of patriarch capable of condemning the Ivan Groznijs of the nineteenth century, the reality of the historical situation did not allow for such a possibility. One might, in fact, ask if Chaadaev did not have too idealistic a view of Christianity and the Church and expected it to be and to do something which was beyond its historical capacities.

 Vissarion Belinskij (1811-48)

 The next author to be examined is the literary critic Vissarion Belinskij. Between the years 1833 and 1841 Belinskij was strongly motivated by the hegelian philosophy of the reconciliation with reality, so much so that he radicalized the principle that 'whatever is real is rational' to the extent of justifying the russian society during the reign of Nicolaj I. In his article The anniversary of Borodino (1839) he affirmed that law is force and force is law and tended to propose that Nicolaj I was not only the representative of God from whom he has all power, but also the incarnation of Hegel's absolute spirit.

 In 1841 Belinskij under went a radical change, due to his discovery of the socialism of Saint-Simon. He rejected Hegel on the ground that each man is an end-in-himself and that the individual cannot be sacrificed for the sake of universal happines. His new sotsialnost’ naturally led him to present a different vision of the world in which he lived. What is of specific interest here, is Belinskij's 'Letter to Gogol', in which there is contained a serious attack on Russian Orthodoxy.

 In the first place he condemns the submission of the Orthodox Church to the government, a situation which in his mind is not proper to a socialist society. She had become too much a part of the unjust tzarist system and as a religious institution within society she should have rather contributed to that society by promoting progress and human dignity.

 The second aspect of Belinskij's criticism is that the Church should have done something in order to help redeem the serfs, by proclaiming openly that the serfs are brothers of Christ, rather than having encouraged them to resigned obedience even to the point of their exploitation.

 Unlike Chaadaev, Belinskij apparently sees society as consisting of individuals, all of whom have a primary anthropological importance. He is not interested in culture but rather in social justice as a way to a proper (socialist) society.

 One of the first characteristics of the thought of Belinskij is that, although he accuses the Church he is not against the Church. He does not propose her abolishment, but preposes a new role for the Church in society, in a way similar to the theology of liberation known in the last decades of our century. The Church has a role in a 'socialist' society of promoting equality and dignity, and its failure to do so is deplorable. The traits of the russian Sitz-im-Leben break through also in this consideration: the russian mind could not easily divorce the Church from society, and thus, a new society needs to have a Church or a religious element but under another mode of existence and action. For Belinskij, this other mode was certainly conceived as socialist.

 Like many of his predecessors, Belinskij also condemned superstition, which he believed would disappear through the fruits of proper education. Similarly, he held that there was a lack of true religiosity in Russia, something, which should prosper and cohabitate with progress as the history of France demonstrates.

 Accordingly for Belinskij, the role of the Church must change; religion is conceived in a socialist and humanistic way. From a theological position, it would appear that he would like to see modifications in the actual essence of the Church, which in its new form should be dedicated principally to the service and welfare of humanity. Although Belinskij speaks of Christ in a reverent way, it would seem that the extension of his conception of the Church and religion is not theocentric nor directed to God, and least of all does his conception include the idea of a transmitter of inherited culture, that is to say, tradition

 Metropolitan Filaret (Drozdov)

 In concluding this part of the chapter it is important to mention the famous metropolitan of Moscow, Filaret Drozdov, the author of the last draft of the 'Edit on the freeing of the Serfs', a text full of Biblical quotations. Although he himself was personally opposed to the freeing of the serfs, his influence as a church leader was highly significant.

 However, the emancipation of the serfs did not have the consequences that were hoped for. In fact, more and unexpected problems arose. The lot of the liberated was such that in having to pay high rates for the redeeming of the land to which they were entitled, they actually ended up in having less land at their disposal than before the emancipation of 1861. In 1867, the situation worsened even more when the zemstva was deprived of the relative liberty in self-determination which it had acquired three years earlier. This new socio-political situation had obvious consequences in the political philosophies that circled in the russian ambient of the next decades of the nineteenth century. The main trends of particular interest in this respect are anarchistic, positivistic and populist, trends that were of a certain importance for the development of future russian marxism and communism.

 Social solutions proposed by philosophers

 Anarchism: Michael A. Bakunin (1814-1876)

 Anarchism in Russia, represented by Michael Bakunin and Prince Pyotr A. Kropotkin (1842-1921), tended to be similar to radical nihilism, but accentuated much more the necessity of destroying state institutions. It was more than an ethics directed to intellectuals, it was rather an ideology directed to the masses.

 Michael Bakunin desired that anarchism bring about, by exploiting a situation of chaos and disorder, a totally new society, an organized society, in which solidarity and equality among the members would be the essential trait, marked in a secondary way by freedom. This perfect society could only be arrived at by the destruction of all the state institutions that existed.

 Under the influence of french socialism, in a particular way under that of Proudhon, Bakunin became disenchanted with german idealism, thus forming his anarchistic philosophy, a philosophy which was however deeply marked by hegelian dialectics. Negation, thus, became for him solely revolution and destruction.

 Transferred to the religious sphere, there was a similar need for rejecting and negating religion and God, in the name of human liberty; the idea of God was for Bakunin the complete negation of human liberty, and all religions, especially Christianity, implied for him the impoverishing, the submission and the annihilation of the human in the name of the divine. Accordingly, it was more important to eliminate God for the sake of human society than in the name of science.

 Consequently, Bakunin saw human liberty as opposed to every form of alienation, especially the state and religion. In the flow of his thought he came to uphold Satan as the first to fight for the freedom of the universe, the first true thinker, who through a conscious act of insubordination became a model for humanity.

 Accordingly, for Bakunin religion, which he strongly and constantly associated with the state, was seen as the antithesis to human liberty; thus, religion which he held to be represented in the official Church, and in the sense of moral consciousness which people have, was the greatest hindrance to total freedom, a fundamental right of human beings.

 The association of church and state, is once again quite understandable from both the historical and cultural context of Russia. Naturally, the conservative regime of Tzar Nicolaj I, with the lack of either philosophical, religious or political freedom was very much alive in the minds of men such as Bakunin. The state had its official religion, which it naturally used for its own benefit, the Church had a protector against false doctrines and anti-religious tendencies in the state. For many therefore, the condemnation and even the destruction of the state went hand in hand with the condemnation and destruction of religion and the Church. Both church and state were inseparable, in reality as well as in the minds of the friends and foes of both.

 Bakunin understood God as a consequence of human attempts to explain good and evil. Consequently, God is not real, but becomes an enslaving psycho-projection; a folly of human nature. Accordingly, if God is not a reality, then the Church, theology and religion are to be seen in another light, which in the bakuninian context is anything but positive.

 Populism (1): Pyotr L. Lavrov (1823-1900)

 Another philosophical phenomenon of the 1870's was populism, a fruit of Russian agrarian socialism, a philosophy that exalted the common people, narodnichestvo, who as we have already noted, suffered greatly form many forms of injustice. The two main representatives, Pyotr Lavrov and Nikolaj K. Michajlovskij were both of a positivist orientation, partially due to the european trends of the time and due to their own scientific competencies. For both the ethical problem of man immersed in society was most at heart.

 For Pyotr Lavrov it was necessary to overcome both idealistic metaphysics and materialism, and this he attempted to do in proposing a scientific vision of the social reality, a vision which could not avoid ethical considerations.

 In the sociological ethics of Lavrov, it was the thinking man, the intelligentsia who were capable of choosing the historical moments most fitting for social developments. The intelligent are capable of discerning the good from the bad, and the more men are conscious of their moral dignity, the more developed they are. Thus, Lavrov is very much a moralist due to the way in which he privileges moral and intellectual progress more than either physical or psychological. Only a small minority is capable of thinking critically and securing progress, while the majority must suffer so that these intellectuals may work creatively.

 The extension of Lavrov's thought included strong criticisms of all institutions existent in the Russia of his days, whether the state, the family, property contracts and religion, as well as a call on critical minds to organize themselves in a party. The revolutionary spirit of Lavrov is quite mild: in certain cases it might be necessary to shed blood. A social revolution was seen as an inevitable consequence of class struggle.

 What is of particular interest in Lavrov's thought, is the importance which is assigned to the intellectual, thinking man, the type of man necessary for progress of society and culture. Similar to Chaadaev, although somewhat different, the concept of development in culture and society in Lavrov tends to be dynamic and looks forward into the future, rather than into the past.

 Consequently, institutions, such as the state, the family, the Church and private property, all of which tend to be conservative and resisting and hindering change, are perceived as being obstacles to development and to progress, be it on the social level or be it on the level of human personality.

 Eventhough by Lavrov's time, the Church had developed certain intellectual traits, these often were unrecognized and were not considered to be of any great importance by the other dimensions of Russia's nineteenth-century intellectual world. More than often, and frequently due to the experience of ignorance, common among clerics, the Church and religion were not perceived as being of any significant value for the thinking world and the intellectual needs of society nor were they seen as possible contributors to the type of progress which occupied the mind of Lavrov.

 Populism (2): Nikolaj K. Michajlovskij (1852-1904)

While Lavrov was open to the idea of revolution, Michajlovskij on the other hand presented a non-revolutionary populism, which can be called a "legal" or "critical" populism. For Michajlovskij it was not just economics that was at issue, but also the moral question.

 Like Lavrov, Michajlovskij presented a subjective dimension to both his anthropology and sociology, whereby man begins to understand that he possesses in an objective way duties and rights, all of which must be judged from the perspective of one's indivisible human individuality. Thus, progress only occurs when the division of work and specialization contribute to the integral development of the individual (diversity in work leads to a greater heterogeniality of the individual and thus helps the full development of human personality). Technical progress must therefore lead to moral equality among men and not to an opposition between servant-master.

Finally, Michajlovskij desired to see a combination of scientific knowledge with a moral sense of duty; this would allow for a replacement of religious beliefs by knowledge. One might see in the ethical dimension of the philosophy of Michajlovskij as also of Lavrov, the religious roots of russian popularism, many of whose exponents dreamed of a birth of a new and better society, founded on a new Christianity free of dogmas but marked essentially by morality. Thus, for many of these authors a religious model was to be found in the Old Believers and their martyr Avvakum who strongly condemned the official Church and the state.

 Religious doctrines were considered to be superstitious and incompatible with the rationalistic world which had been penetrating Russia for already many decades. Similarly, religious doctrines were often perceived as being too close to the politics of the civil powers, due to the close relation of church and state, be it in the sense of the cultural-national identity, or be it in the way in which Orthodoxy was the official religion of the regime of someone like Nicolaj I (1825-55); an official religion which was manipulated for political purposes. Thus, religious beliefs were considered to belong to the ignorant.

 Once again, as in other authors, we find that the Church or religion is not seen as a possible example or model for the changes which are felt to be necessary in the eyes of Michajlovskij. At the time of Michajlovskij inequality was certainly quite evident, whether it be in the political, the social, the economic or the fundamental sense of human dignity. The Church was seen to be siding with the political powers to be; those who sustained the status quo of dis-equality to be found in russian society. The Church too, had its own hierarchical structure, with its own elite. Subsequently, since the Church did not condemn the sins of social and political dis-equality, it was seen to support that status quo and the inequality at hand, even if the concept of the equality of human dignity, and the equality of men (in the metaphysical sense) in the eyes of God is a basic Christian teaching. This probably explains the attraction that certain philosophers had for Avvakum and the Old Believers.

 An important matter of interest in this work is the tendency among philosophers such as Michajlovskij to want a society which is partially modeled on Christianity, absorbing the ethical, rather than the doctrinal dimension of Christianity. Regarding its construction and development, society should rely on the philosophers, the intelligent ones of the world, for the knowledge that it required. Christian ethics was seen as something necessary for society and for human interrelations, something which seemingly, philosophers did not feel themselves capable of inventing. One of the particular aspects of christian ethics, or even religious ethics on a whole, in comparison with the ethical systems thought up by various philosophers, is the capacity for interior motivation to do good and avoid evil. A society with the right knowledge but without an ethical sense would be fatal. Consequently, a certain positive estimation of religion or aspects of religion is to be found in authors like Michajlovskij.


 In summing up this section of the chapter, it is possible to find the influence of western rationalism upon (russian) philosophers, seen in their desire for a rationalistic society. There is also an added socio-anthropological development with respect to the need for an ethics, an evolution that means a change from the traditional christian ethics in Russia.

 The reason for acting ethically is no longer based on christian principles, it is no longer God, nor the desire of heavenly reward nor the fear of perdition; it is for the harmonious development and working of the rationalistic society and for a solidarity among its members. Thus, this ethical change focuses more on the reasons for moral action and not necessarily on a change in the type of action.

 In the course of preparing this work there is one question that has continually begged pondering, and that is, whether marxism in its russian forms can be understood as a socio-(political) philosophy or as a theoretico-(political) philosophy. While it is quite evident that the social situation in Russia during the nineteenth century begged for philosophies directed towards political change, an event that the russian marxists were trying to bring about, it is, however, felt that although a philosophy might be trying to solve social problems, it is not necessarily entitled to be called a social philosophy. Thus, while marxism had an interest in the socio-political side of society, it was, in itself very theoretico-political.

 Although russian marxism had roots in populism, materialism and anarchism, these roots tended to be principally theoretical: how to interpret Marx, and apply marxism in the russian context, if it was indeed applicable. Some of the marxists tried to develop marxism into their own forms, the chief example being, Lenin. Two aspects of the russian marxists will be of interest later on: the theoretical marxist's understanding of religion, and the religious evolution of the so-called 'legal marxists'. Since, with respect to the social dimension of russian marxism, these philosophers often repeated the same condemnations of religion which we have already encountered in pre-marxist philosophers, it seems that to treat of this would be unnecessary repetition. Marxism will be considered subsequently in the chapters dealing with the relation between religion and theoretical philosophies.

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