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The Meek and the Militant: Religion and Power Across the World [Paperback]

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Item description for The Meek and the Militant: Religion and Power Across the World by Paul N. Siegel...

Everyone knows that Marx wrote, "religion is the opium of the people," but all too frequently this aphorism is regarded as exhausting what he and Engels had to say on the subject. In fact, they presented a penetrating critique of religion that explains its origin and persistence.-from the preface

This classic volume sheds much-needed light on a topic of renewed interest: the impact of religion on politics, whether Islam in the Middle East or right-wing Christian fundamentalism in North America.

Paul Siegel (19162004), a writer and activist, published numerous books on literature and politics, including Shakespeare in His Time and Ours (1968).

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Item Specifications...

Pages   313
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2005
Publisher   Haymarket Books
ISBN  1931859248  
ISBN13  9781931859240  

Availability  0 units.

More About Paul N. Siegel

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1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Meek and the Militant: Religion and Power Across the World?

Welcome, but Dated  Mar 7, 2006
A timely reissue of Siegel's 1986 first edition. In the meantime the author has died, removing the possibility of an update to this new edition. Too bad, because much of the material pre-dates the Soviet collapse and the rise of religious fundamentalism, compromising its topical value. Unfortunately, Phil Gasper's Foreward to this edition is too brief and too general to be of much real use.

The book itself works best as an historical digest of the world's major religions from east to west. These chapters are neither lengthy nor deep, but do provide an easily assimilated overview of major events within each tradition. Noteworthy here is a chapter on religion in the USA with an emphasis on the various roles the church has played in African-American history. All in all, this may be the book's most distinctive section.

The Marxist component is restricted to three chapters, and-- rather surprisingly-- is not interlarded into the broader historical accounts. The material in two of the three is standard to Dialectical Materialism and the social origins of religion, respectively. These provide perspective to newcomers to Marxist philosophy, but contain little in the way of a fresh or probing contribution. The final chapter amounts to an appeal for church-state separation purportedly carrying Lenin's imprimatur and borders on an anti-Soviet polemic. Minus the Lenin quotes, I would have thought the plea came from a liberal democrat.

Given the upsurge of fundamentalist irrationalism, a Marxist perspective remains badly needed. Siegel's reissue, I'm afraid, amounts to lttle more than a stopgap. What's needed is something more analytical and contemporary, without the passe distraction of a sectarian subtext. Nonetheless, the work stands as a clear statement of how Marxiism views religious belief and its origins.

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