Andrei Znamenski

Jun 3, 2021

Socialism As a Secular Creed

A Modern Global History

Lexington Books 2021

The predominantly secular focus of socialism can often obscure the parts of its ideology that reflect the elements it inherited from Western religious thinking. In Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History (Lexington Books, 2021), Andrei Znamenski shows how this religious inheritance created elements within it that were closer in form to a belief system than a philosophy. These religious elements were most prevalent in socialism’s formative period, as Znamenski identifies the debt the socialist world-view owed to Christian millennialist ideas that were current in the early 19th century. Because of this the socialist world-view soon echoed the Christian one, with the working class becoming the chosen people who were anticipated to be the vanguard leading the world to the promised land of a socialist system. These elements persisted even as socialism focused on social engineering and nationalist forces caused socialist thinking to branch off into different forms. This continued in the 20th century as the economic conditions changed, as the “embourgeoisement” of the working classes and the post-World War II desire to disassociate from Soviet-style socialism led many socialists to turn instead to culture as the means towards attaining their millennialist vision.

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