Was Jesus a Marxist?

That makes no sense.  Marx was an atheist. So is philosopher Slavoj Zizek and yet he has a fascinatingly complex relationship with Christianity.

Here is an RSA Animate video of him speaking on the problematic nature of charity. I think believers and non-believers should find this worth watching. It asks these questions: Does our current way of thinking about charity and altruism keep a broken social system from changing?  Is charitable consumerism excusing us from immorality?

Zizek is not a “new atheist” in that he sees Christianity as a root-rot of all future secular society’s success. But he does want Christianity’s “subversive kernel” to stop being culturalized. “This culturalization of belief – the transformation of our beliefs into cultural lifestyles – has dire ideological consequences.”

According to Eric Dean Rasmussenhttp’s comprehensive review of Zizek’s books, this sounds a bit like something the religious right might say. He is not cut from that cloth for sure. Zizek also says, “Christianity and Marxism should fight on the same side of the barricade against the onslaught of new spiritualisms – the authentic Christian legacy is much too precious to be left to the fundamentalist freaks.”

And so, it seems to me, that Zizek feels that Christianity itself is not the problem; it is our modern version of Christ’s message, in action, that is problematic and feeding into the evils of society. Indeed these radical scriptures are ones Americans (like myself) find easy to ignore . . . italics mine.

2 Corinthians 8:7, 13-14 — “But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. … Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality …”

Mark 10:21 — “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ ”

Mark 12:43-44 — “Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’ ”


I agree with Zizek on this point, “Charity is better than nothing, but let’s be aware that there is an element of hypocrisy there.” And yet, I am unsure about what to do about that . . .  Hmmm, or perhaps unwilling.


  1. I’m kinda missing your point but responding just to the title and first few sentences, Marx somewhat famously said “I am no Marxist” — meaning he basically disavowed the claims being made by his ‘followers’ even while he was alive. My sense is that Marx largely saw his work as *descriptive* but Marxists see it as *prescriptive*.

    In fact a pretty strong case can be made that Marxism has all the essential features of a religion (except a god, but then again buddhism and taoism are atheist religions too).

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