Marx's theory of the trajectory of the dialectic relationship between the bourgeoisie and proletariat argues that internal homogeneity within each class is a crucial prerequisite to class action/revolution. This is because internal homogeneity gives rise to class consciousness within each class; this is a consciousness of one's relative position in terms of the means of production. As illustrated in Leon Uris's Trinity, the ruling class (exemplified by characters such as Sir Frederick Weed and Lord Roger Hubble), is already acutely class conscious and is thus able to employ certain tactics that prevent the rise of class consciousness among the destitute Irish workers. It is in the self-interest of the ruling class to maintain ties with England in order to benefit from trade concessions which allow them to undercut prices of English goods through the exploitation of Irish peasants. Class consciousness and power allow the elite to shape the means of mental production among the working classes in order to serve these interests. In Uris's novel, religion works as an extension of elite interests and effectively conditions the ideology of the working classes in three major interrelated ways; first, powerful interests are able to directly influence church policies by force and by exploiting the desire of clergy to be on the favorable side of the ruling class; second religion acts as what Marx called an opiate that leads the poor to immerse themselves in what character Seamus O'Neil called the fantasy of Jesus and Mary and consequently become subservient and numb to their class situation; third, religion was used as a means to divide the working class between Catholics and Protestants so that they would always fear and fight against each other (with the Protestant side simultaneously fighting for the British) instead of against their oppressors (Uris 260).
[...] Thus, the supposed values of the Protestant religion serve as a legitimating mechanism that gives Protestants a powerful moral conviction (free of charge for the elites) for hating Catholics and consequently supporting the Unionist agenda. Reflecting Marx's insights that religion was a tool used purposefully and strategically by ruling interests, there is a passage from Frederick Weed, defending his decision to allow radical preacher Oliver Cromwell MacIvor to stoke the fires of the Protestant rage, he observed; [elite] base of power is in Protestant unity, the Orange Order, if you will. [...]
[...] For Protestants, religious rituals fueled the fire of fear and hate against the Catholics and justified treating them as less than human. For elites, this control served a dual purpose of distracting the workers with their religious obsessions that culminated in sectarian conflict and of keeping the Protestant workers blindly aligned behind their decidedly anti-labor, exploitative interests. Hence, religion worked as an and as a means of “divide and rule” throughout the novel Instances of such discrimination are manifested in sale of apprenticeships which few Catholic families could afford,” or the sudden “unavailability” of such [...]
[...] This mode of ideological conditioning leads to the third way that religion works to serve elite, Unionist interests: as a potent dividing mechanism. Marx's caution that the “organization of the proletarians into a class, and consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves,” is clearly demonstrated as a central theme in Trinity (Marx 26). While Marx predicted that the formation of trade unions, the increased crowding of cities and improving communication technology would permit class consciousness to prevail over internal conflict, Uris paints a more pessimistic picture. [...]
[...] Towards the end of the novel, when Seamus explores the influence that the Church has in serving elite interests, he also alludes to the fact that Church leaders are elites themselves, and thus seek to dominate the working classes for their own purposes; was largely the hold of the Church on the Irish people that deterred them from rising against their masters What the Church really feared was the free thought that emanated from the urban society” because the Church was against the “trade unions, the Gaelic revival and all that intellectualism [prevalent in urban areas] that challenged their strangehold The cities bred dangerous ideas such as freedom from England.” Seamus argues that this is a threat to the Church because movement which won Irish independence would seek liberation from the totalitarianism of the Church as well. In church politics, the British has bestowed privileges and exclusive domains [on the Church] which have to be protected” (710).Thus, the Church's interest in keeping its members submissive and unquestioning conveniently aligns with the interests of other elites in keeping the workers from questioning their exploitation. As alluded to, the second way that religion acted to serve elite interests in Uris's novel is through ideological conditioning. [...]
[...] This reflection shows that the promise of eternal salvation was too tempting a belief for such desperate people not to cling to; without it, their pain and sacrifice in life would mean nothing and hence religion appears as the major force that keeps the Irish submissive and hard- working. How else than believing in afterworld fantasies could industrialists find women to labor hours a day, six days a week at the foot treadle machine,” putting “unnatural stresses on the body [while] the lungs fell to coughing fits from lack of fresh (413) In this way, religion became a powerful tool which kept Catholics fearful and guilty, and thus highly unlikely to protest a powerful system. [...]
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