7 January 2019

Organized Religion: Christianity and Anti-Capitalism in the U.S. and Canada

Is religion the opiate of the masses, as Marx famously put it, providing a salve for a weary working class that will one day fade away along with the material conditions that prompt it? Though there is no shortage of examples to shore up Marx’s point, history shows that Christianity has not been merely a balm for capitalism’s ills, but also an engine for revolutionary change. In the United States and Canada, Christianity and anti-capitalist politics--as expressed in anarchist, socialist, and communist movements--are not always seen as fellow travellers. Yet a rich legacy of preachers, organizers, revolutionaries, and churchgoers suggests that the two have been deeply intertwined, with Christians openly participating in these movements and prominent activists, many with Christian backgrounds, seeking to win over their Christian neighbors. While not an exhaustive history, this course uncovers some of the dialogue between Christians and anti-capitalist political movements in the United States and Canada, from the Haymarket Rebellion to today. Special attention will be given to movements, biographies, dispatches from struggles, and histories (rather than fixing too closely on theoretical exchanges), with an eye toward speculating about what Christian anti-capitalism in Canada and the United States might look like in the future.

This is a thirteen-week all-online course, starting in the week of January 7 and finishing in the week of April 7. There will be no assignments due during ICS’s reading week, February 18 to 22. For participants doing the course or credit all outstanding work will be due by no later than May 24.

ICSD 132901 W19
Dean Dettloff
Distance (Online)