Enrique Dussel: on atheism and liberation theology

Enrique Dussel, Ethics and the theology of liberation
(Orbis: NY 1978)

The prophets against the Idol. The atheism of Jesus

... Those are the systems that people make and adore; they are their laws, statutes, economic and cultural organizations. All this is the work of humankind but it is called "God." ... If we accept these gods as gods, we can get along very nicely, but some day we are going to wake up to the fact that we have been adoring an idol and not God, not Jesus.
This means then that in order to give witness to the Lord, we have to deny the idol, and to deny the idol that purports to be God is atheism with a small "a." The prophets were atheists in regard to false gods and so were the Christians. ...
Only if I am an atheist in regard to that god can I testify to the God who is Creator; if I deny God the Creator, then I become divine. There are only two possibilities, not three. Atheism itself is not wrong; it is a matter of saying to what God I am being atheistic. Unjust and dehumanizing atheism is the Atheism of the "God-Other," Atheism with a capital "A." The atheism of the idol is spelled with a small "a." We can love God the Creator only if we are atheists in regard to the false god, the idol. Atheism then is not the problem.

Enrique Dussel, Philosophy of liberation (Orbis: NY 1985)

Atheistic antifetishism
To deny the divinity of a fetishized system is authentic atheism.
It is the negation of a negation.
Marx says that atheism as a pure negation of essentiality no longer makes sense; atheism negates a god (fetish) and affirms, by reason of this negation, the existence of human beings, of the poor, of the oppressed. For this very reason Feuerbach said that it is necessary to abandon the Hegelian fetishistic theology and open up to anthropology (to the other person). Such atheisms are a precondition of the possibility of liberative revolution and of support exterior to the prevailing present system.
The practical affirmation of atheism is the struggle for justice. That is, whoever fights for the liberation of the poor affirms in a practical manner that the system is unjust, that it is not divine.
Pure atheism, without affirmation of the infinite Other, is not sufficiently critical; it permits the fetishization of a future system. Only if it is affirmed that the divine is other than all possible systems will liberating revolution be possible. Hence disbelief in the fetish-atheism must be affirmed as the exteriority of the absolute and of the Origin.
Atheism vis-à-vis the fetish is the negative precondition for revolution; affirmation of absolute Exteriority is the affirmative and definitive precondition for liberation. Both preconditions are practical. It is in action that the fetish is denied and Exteriority affirmed-when one assumes responsibility for the oppressed.

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