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Marx and the Failure of Liberation Theology is a Marxist critique of radical and leftist dimensions of Latin American liberation theology. Though traditionally a defender of liberation theology, Alistair Kee is sharply critical of a theology that Pope John Paul II considers "not only timely but useful and necessary" (Gutierrez, 1994: xliv). Kee argues that "Latin American theology of liberation is widely assumed to be too Marxist: in reality it is not Marxist enough. It is frequently criticized for its unquestioned acceptance of Marx: on a closer inspection there are crucial aspects of Marx's work which it simply ignores" (1990: ix). Consequently, because liberation theology refuses to apply to itself the same Marxist criteria that it uses for evaluating other social phenomena, it therefore promotes and reinforces concrete forms of alienation.
In part 1, "Marx's Criticism of Religion," Kee argues that those who reflect on faith must be open to the criticism of religion that Marx provides. What Marx sees in institutional religion is a form of social control, "an identification (reconciliation) of interests between politics and religion" (1990: 26). The problem of the Christian state and other forms of ecclesia is that the political presuppositions for the justification of the state have a religious grounding. Thus politics and religion are merged.
According to Kee, Marx and the Young Hegelians provide the theoretical framework for a critique …