Are they simply different forms of the same kind of thought-system? One reader finds their take on history the common thread:
It seems to me that Marx attempted a "science of history", but as B. Croce pointed out, you can't have a "science" without controlled experiments, and you can't do controlled experiments on history.
Ethically, Marxism and Christianity are very similar - in a sense, ethically Marxism is Christianity without god and the supernatural. It is an attempt to put Christian morality on a "scientific" footing. Isn't "to each according to his abilities. . ." a sort of repackaging of "do unto others. . . ."?
Both Marxism and Christianity share "dramatic" story lines about history - they both posit a kind of shape, purpose and inevitable result to history, the process Hegel distilled from Christianity and left for Marx, Hitler and New World Order fans.
I think if one wants to be "scientific" about history, one would have to simply admit that we can't really know a whole heck of a lot about it it terms of its dynamics. We can offer a lot of theories, but how on earth do you test them? There are simply too many variables. How do you stand outside of history to experiment on it?
It seems to me that the real distinction isn't between atheists and Christians or Christians and socialists, etc, the real distinction to me is between people who think they know how history is going to turn out, and those who don't have any idea whatsoever how it is going to turn out, and suspect that there may not be any way in the world to know how it is going to turn out.
This latter distinction is, to my mind, one of the central divides right now. My own view of history, which rests on Michael Oakeshott's revolutionary work on the subject, is that it indeed has no direction that we as humans can see. And one key difference between what I'd call a conservative and what I'd call a Christianist is exactly this: the Christianist is convinced that there is a direction, that it is leading to the Apocalypse, and that salvation lies in the future. The conservative, though he may believe in God and follow a traditional faith rooted in ritual and mystery, nonetheless sees history as opaque and directionless; its salient characteristic is radical contingency; and he is interested, as Oakeshott was, in an idea of salvation that has nothing whatsoever to do with the future.
The key defining divide of our time is no longer that between right and left, I think, but between fundamentalist faith and humanist doubt. I favor the latter, with a non-fundamentalist kind of faith to sustain it. And the struggle within conservatism right now is essentially between those who see history as without direction and those who see history as an unfolding of divine Providence. For these reasons, a conservative will reject Marxism and the eschatological Christianity of Paul and the extreme Whiggery of some neoconservatives. And he will find in Darwin and Jesus two natural allies.
Yes, I guess my book is going to push a few envelopes.