Liberation Theology & Marxism - Coggle Diagram
Liberation Theology & Marxism
What is Liberation Theology?
Focuses on action first (Orthopraxy- right practice) rather than belief (Orthodoxy- right belief).
Requires Chrisrians to reflect critically on their experiences in life.
Focuses on the experience of the poor and sees Christianity as an opportunity to respond to poverty and other examples of exploitation and alienation in the world.
It is a theory linked to Karl Marx's (19th century German economist theorist) analysis of capitalism.
Capitalism, according to Marx, creates a world in which the wealth and power are concentrates in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.
Where did it begin?
Theological movement that began in 1964 when young Catholic theologians met in Brazil and vowed to find what the true Christian message was in the face of the poverty of Latin America.
It is therefore both an intellectual movement but also a practical one.
Two members of the group became leading liberation theologians: Jon Sobrino and Gustavo Gutierrez.
Liberation theology drew on the work of Paulo Friere who coined the term "conscientisation" = when a person becomes aware of the power structure in society.
For Freire education was not the movement of knowledge from one person to the next but about finding ways to transform society.
What does Liberation theology promote?
The concept of the Kingdom of God is central to Liberation theology.
It is the world made anew- not where you go when you die.
The coming of the kingdom of God is omsething that must be hoped and worked for in this world.
For Gutierrez, liberation happens in two ways:
(1) There must be social and economic liberation- Poverty and oppression are caused by humans and can be alleviated by them - people must take responsibility and act!
(2) People must be liberated from sin, reconciled with God and all of God's brothers and sisters in Christ.
So where does Marxism come in?
The more humans have the power to control the world, the more they feel they are not in control.
Marx's writings (most famously "The Communist manifesto" and "Das Capital" often reflect the feelings.
It Is human activity behind these experiences of powerlessness (alienation).
Humans do not have a fixed nature but have to work to survive.
Unlike animals we are conscious of our work and can develop new ways of doing things.
How does Capitalism happen?
When human society reaches a point that it can create a surplus (e.g, produce more resources than what was needed for your direct community) it begins to fracture.
Class divisions emerge between those who have control over the means of producing this surplus and those who do not.
This is evident over ownership of land:
The feudal lords: own the land so have no means to produce food.
The serfs: work the land but do not own it, therefore are reliant on the lords for access to the land and must give surplus back to them. This means the serfs are alienated from the lands and subservient to the lords.
Marx's views on Capitalism
Capitalism changed the relationship between people and production resulting in a social division = the wealthy owners vs. the worker.
Workers cannot work independently of capitalism.
To work means to be part of capitalist machine.
Work is a living death; labour becomes forced because of the need to work for money and thus food.
E.g, Look at the factory system (e.g, Apple production line) where the stages of production are separated, people only relate to the part of the process they are working on. They are dehumanised and unable to live fulfilling lives because they are being exploited by the factory owners as a means to an end.
The problems with Capitalism
Marx predicted the emergence of a class struggle between the different groups in society and eventually in order to create a fairer society, those who were oppressed would begin to violently resist the structure that alienate them.
Capitalism means everyone seizes the products of others, alienating them from they own labour.
But our happiness comes at a price= exploitation of others (e.g, cheap labour) because we are part of the supply chain we are dehumanised as well.
Emergence of Liberation Theology and links to Marxism
Latin America was an under developed part of the world where many people lived in poverty.
It was at a cross road: stick with capitalism or choose socialism?
This ideological battle impacted the general elections, caused violence and revolution, socialist governments were overthrows with the help of the USA and communists led rebel movements.
The violent uprising that Marx had predicted seemed to be happening in Latin America.
This led to liberation theology, a focus on increasing human well-being not wealth.
For Gutiereez being Christian requires a person to be political.
Church must be a voice against alienation and exploitation, requiring orthopraxis before orthodoxy.
Thus working to change people's lives for the better should come before concerns about the official
Thus working to change people's lives for the better should come before concerns about the official doctrines and teachings of the church.
The Marxist analysis of structural inequality informs liberation theology's concept of structural sin.
Understanding of the development of capitalism (means of production in the hands of the wealthy and powerful).
Belief that humans could change the world they live in.
Gutierres however cautions against endorsing every aspect of Marxism (at the end of the day Marx did not support religion in society) but beloved that the people of Latin America had a deep rooted desire for liberation from the burdens of capitalism.
"Liberation theology freely borrows from Marxism certain methodical pointers that have proved fruitful in understanding the role of the oppressed." (Boff and Boff-
Inroducting Liberation Theology
Liberation theology concluded that capitalism failed to satisfy the basic needs of the poor and although socialism may not be perfect solution, the socialist is better than the capitalist ideal.
Liberation theology's teachings on "the preferential option for the poor"
A term used in 1968 by Father Pedro Arrupe (Superior General of the Jesuits) and was picked up by the Catholic bishops of Latin America.
It refers to:
The trend in the Bible that shows a preference for individuals who are on the margins of society and who are powerless.
The way in which Jesus associated himself more closely with the poor and dispossessed
Juan Sedundo argued that Christians should not maintain an attitude of neutrality in the face of tragic and pressing problems of human misery and injustice.
He writes that the Church "intends by her own means, for the defence and advancement of the right of mankind, especially of the poor." (Theology and the Church)
Segundo differed from Gutierrez, for a while Gutierrez held that social and economic liberation must precede liberation from sin. Segundo believed that liberation from sin should come first because it might not be possible to change the world's social and political structures.
Just as God is the defender and liberator of the poor and oppressed, so liberation theology has a special concern for the poor and the oppressed and it urges people to action to defend and liberate them.
In 1991, Pope John Paul II, used the term in his encyclical Centesimus Annus (which was written to celebrate 100 year anniversary of Pope Leo XII's encyclical saying "I defended as a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity."
Pope John II went on