Alasdair MacIntyre's "Marxism and Christianity"(1968) is a rewritten concise summary and reflection upon the intellectual history of Marxism as it developed from Hegelian theories of alienation in Marx's early manuscripts to an economic and political doctrine in his later life, and the theoretical and practical difficulties which theoretical Marxism has suffered since then. Although the book's title alludes to Christianity, MacIntyre rarely discusses the historical relationship of Christians and Marxists, except for the use of juxtaposing the similarities and differences of the two ideological camps. MacIntyre claims to have written the first edition of this book in 1968 at the young age of 23 before substantially rewriting it for a later edition, and there appears a noticeable appreciation, fondness, and concern for the historical marginalization of both Christianity and Marxism, which he compares unflattering to liberal democracy and late-modern capitalism. MacIntyre's principal concern in this book is his concern for the distortion and vulgarization of Marxism, which he writes of as the only coherent and hopeful political ideology which has ever succeeded in mobilizing broad support to remedy the deficiencies of capitalism. He employs comparisons to Christianity primarily to criticize the ethical and methodological deficiencies of Marxist politics and ideological mutation. The majority(100 of 144 pages) of the book is concerned to summarize and comment upon the intellectual development of Marxism from Hegel's antitheological writings, the Left Hegelians, and early Marx to later Marx and subsequent Marxist ideology. This is the weakest and most tedious section of the book as it, despite a good attempt by MacIntyre to skip from subject to subject, cannot adequately address this immense subject with any depth or clarity. In the concluding and by far most interesting chapter of the book, MacIntyre's distinct dissatisfaction with liberal democracy is apparent and, although he does not offer an alternative, he appears to hope for the rectification of either Marxism or Christianity. In this aspiration, it seems his subsequent writings would indicate that he chose the latter Thomistic Christian tradition.
Mac Intyre is always worth reading. This is a slim volume, and despite the title, contains little concerning Christianity. Mainly the book serves as an overview of modern Marxism from a sympathetic vantage point. Importantly, the author finds certain key areas of overlap between Marxism and Christianity. At a philosophical level, he believes Marx takes over Hegel's reworking of core Christian themes and turns them into a secularized version of history and the millenium. Moreover, Mac Intyre sees in Marxian practice a paradox: a tendency to perpetuate proto-religious phenomena in what at times seem like cultish practices, such as Stalin's cult of the personality. More substantially, he sees a pervasive ambiguity in Marx's writings between determinism and voluntarism. In short, just how much difference does the "human factor" make in the shaping of history, a question that, in Mac Intyre's view, Marx was never able to resolve. He believes Christianity and Marxism share a key objection to modern liberalism, the dominant ideology of our age. Liberalism systematically separates fact from value: facts are one kind of thing, values are another, and there is no logical connection between them. Therefore, the individual is sovereign in deciding what to do and not do, because the world does not imply any one set of values to live by. For both Christians and Marxists, knowledge of the world and its order leads to self-knowledge and the ability to avoid predictable frustrations. Knowledge thus becomes a prerquisite to formative action that is valid not just for one person (liberalism), but for all people. At its best Marxism, like Christianity, functions as a relentless critic of society's reigning illusions - a conclusion not uncongenial to Hegel's philosophy of spiritual progression.Thus the author remains a leading Christian Hegelian in this work as well as in others.