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Leninism and Religion October 5, 2003 by RedStar2000


This is a bit odd. What I thought was going to be another religion thread turned into another discussion of Leninism.

On the other hand, maybe that's not really so odd after all. You will see some parallels.


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quote:

Religion should be practiced freely obviously. People should be able to build the greatest churches and temples they want to. I don't at all see why we need to suppress it. I know some of the members here somehow stumble to the conclusion that anything we disagree with is inherently bad.


Well, about some things, I'm not a "bastion of freedom"--like everyone else.(!)

I think that religion, as long as it has any public presence, will serve as an on-going source of reactionary ideas...including many "divine" excuses for attacks on all manner of other freedoms.

I do not think there is any substantial evidence for a "non-repressive" religion...by definition almost, religion preaches human submission to "divine will"--which always turns out to mean submission to the humans who establish a "plausible" claim to "knowing" what the "divine will" really "is".

The reason we destroy all the buildings of an obvious religious character and do not permit the construction of any new ones is precisely to eliminate this "propaganda in stone" from public observation and attention. Have you noticed that there is no temple to Zeus in your city? Does it bother you? Of course not! Who cares?

With "religious literature", the best course is probably to destroy existing stocks of such garbage and not permit the publication of any more of it...but the stuff that is already in private hands, let them keep it--much good it will do them.

The "religion" section of the public library will consist entirely of critical, scholarly studies of the subject...including heavily-footnoted editions of all the "holy books". Anyone who can read such material with even minimum understanding is quite unlikely to become a "believer".

In general, I don't think there's much to be gained in persecuting believers just for being believers...though I don't see anything amiss, from time to time, in holding up some particularly odious cult as a "bad example".

I think we have to be realistic; it might well take five or ten decades to remove the symbols of religion from public life (but start with the famous ones--send a clear message!) and another couple of centuries for it to completely disappear.

This racket has been going on for a long time and it won't go away if you just scowl at it a little, like the Russians did.

Marx and Engels thought religion, like the state, would "wither away". Well, we've had some experience with "withering away" and it has been less than encouraging, to say the least.

I think the matter is too serious to be left to chance.
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First posted at Che-Lives on September 18, 2003
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quote:

I don't believe religion will ever disappear. The belief in a higher being than yourself is a symptom of humanity.


I think that's the real message in your post. And it's an unfortunate one...it means that you see any attempt to chuck this garbage out as both "impossible" and an attack on you.

The "impossibility" argument doesn't bother me; it can be made against any human effort and has historically been proven wrong as often as it has been proven right.

Time will tell if we humans can indeed dispense with religion altogether...or not. But we will try!

There's nothing I can do about the feelings of those who see their world "come apart" around them...I'm sure there will be considerable "wailing and gnashing of teeth" when the wrecking ball crashes into the walls of your favorite "palace of worship".

The old order passeth away and is no more.

quote:

Religion should be eliminated, but not in a way that creates fear, right?


I think it's guaranteed that proletarian revolution itself will provoke not merely fear but absolute panic among religious believers.

They have been told continuously for the last 150 years that we communists are going to kill them for the "crime" of being believers. No matter how many reassurances we offer them with regards to their personal safety, they will be certain that we will "bring back the lions".

No amount of explanation about what measures we propose to take is going to change that.

So, I'm not going to worry about it. The measures to remove religion from public life should just go ahead and take place, period. If the believers raise a fuss, just deal with it. They will eventually become demoralized and, with the passing of time, disappear.

But the main thing is to make no concessions to religious sentiments. The crap is to be eliminated, period! We don't have to kill anyone or put anyone in prison to do that; just take it out of public life and it will privately die of its own accord.

Anyone visit the "Temple of Zeus" in your neighborhood last week? And they didn't stay away out of "fear", did they?
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First posted at Che-Lives on September 18, 2003
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Obviously, the campaign to remove religion from public life would have to have the enthusiastic support of a majority of the working class...otherwise it probably wouldn't work and would end up causing more problems than it was worth.

And I can see difficulties. Given that most of the working class will probably be atheist by the time of the revolution, many will be indifferent to the remnants of public religion. They will argue along the lines of "why shoot a dying man?".

There are several possible responses.

The first reason is that he ain't dead yet...what harm may he yet do before he finally dies? Every human mind lost to superstition is a loss to all of us.

The second reason is that the bastard might recover...it's been known to happen before.

But most important is the fact that religion, as long as it exists, serves as a reservoir of other reactionary ideas--praise of obedience to authority as a general principle being only the most obvious example.

Getting rid of religion dries up a major source of all anti-revolutionary ideas.

So there may ensue, after the revolution, an extended controversy among the working class as to whether and how to remove religion altogether from public consciousness...before a campaign can even begin.

Were I to live to see that day, my voice would be among the loudest: "let's kill it now while we can!"

As to "less-developed" countries in a post-capitalist world, I confess I have not given a great deal of thought to the matter. It would be the height of folly to attempt to impose communism (or atheism) on those people at gunpoint.

But a little judicious bribery might help matters move along in the right direction.
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First posted at Che-Lives on September 19, 2003
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quote:

Looks to me like I've spotted a hole in your anarcho-communism. Communism seeks to bring freedom to the people by ending oppression, but anarchism prevents anything from being done that is not directly endorsed by the working class, no? The bourgeoisie has made it so that the people believe that liberty is freedom to be oppressed. If we must tolerate the oppression brought on by religion, then do you also suggest that we allow them to continue being oppressed by the free market and wage labour?


It would be a most curious "freedom from oppression" that could only be imposed on working people at gunpoint, would it not?

Of course, you are confusing the present with the future. At this point in time, most people still have many ideological ties to the present social order. IF Marx was right, that will change.

It will change because capitalism itself in functioning according to its own "laws" will change the material reality of the working class...things will get worse. When they do, those ideological ties will strain and then break.

That is what makes proletarian revolution possible.

In the years leading up to the revolution, there will be vigorous debate on the course(s) to be followed after the revolution...and those debates will be even more vigorous following the fall of the capitalist state apparatus itself.

Do we need someone at that point to "impose" a course of action at gunpoint? To "herd" the working class into a disciplined "flock"?

Or is the best way to insure victory that of confidence in the class itself to work out the best course of action?

I remind you that the first option has been tried...with less than inspiring results.

That doesn't deprive conscious communists (or any other part of the working class) of a voice in the debate. We are just as free to advocate the course that we think best as anyone else...and we can condemn "bad ideas" (like tolerance for the remnants of superstition) as harshly as we like.

What we are not permitted, from a communist standpoint, is to impose our views on our class at gunpoint "for their own good". That excuse has always been the first step down the road of counter-revolution.

Let's not go there.
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First posted at Che-Lives on September 20, 2003
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quote:

Redstar, so.... you're saying that we should allow, accept, and tolerate the oppression of the working class until they realize the potential of the power of their unity?!


Well, I'll start by saying that is an extremely bizarre interpretation of what I expressed in my post.

"Allow, accept and tolerate"? Are you suggesting that a small minority of conscious communists could "stop" it, all by themselves?

Presumably, out of "the goodness of their hearts", right?

A real "triumph of the will", no question about it!

Look, do you "allow, accept and tolerate" volcanic eruptions? That's what revolutions are! They do not occur as a result of clever political maneuvers by "enlightened humanitarians", mumbling ritual Leninist spells to invoke the "fire god".

What are the Leninists really saying? Perhaps something like "the emancipation of the working class is too important or too urgent to be left to the workers themselves---we, being superior men, must step in and lift their yoke for them...it is our humanitarian duty".

That's for public consumption, of course. Privately, it seems obvious to me that the principal objection of Leninist party leaders to class society is that they weren't born into the ruling class...an "oversight of history" that they intend to rectify at the first opportunity.

Careerist bastards, the whole lot!

Indeed, that evaluation should be obvious not only from their track record but even from their own mouths. What do you think all that rhetoric about a "transitional stage of socialism" with wage-slavery, markets, political dictatorship, etc., really means?

It means purely and simply that they get to run things and the rest of us get to carry out their orders or suffer a variety of unpleasant consequences.

Fuck that shit!

quote:

Maybe Marx could've not written Capital, and maybe the workers would've just one day "figured it out"...but that's not the truth. The truth is that they need help. And giving that help is not wrong. It is Marxism." --emphasis added.


It certainly is the truth and Marx himself would have been the first to say so. New ideologies are the product of new material conditions...not the other way around.

Would Marx have been a "Marxist" in the 18th century? Don't be absurd!

It gets worse.

The workers "need help"? Aaawww, poor workers.

And "helping them is Marxism"? Isn't Marxism "sweet" to lend a helping hand?

It has all the petty-bourgeois sentimental appeal of a Norman Rockwell painting; you know, the kindly, warm-hearted "Marxist" standing on the street corner in the swirling snow, ringing his little bell, with a black kettle bearing the words "help the workers". Afterwards, he will use the money to buy the poor workers a really nice Christmas dinner. Sure he will.

Bah! Humbug!

And not even sincere humbug at that. By "help", this "comrade" means rule over the workers "for their own good". All the rest of that sig is just romanticist drivel intended for those with a guilty conscience.

There are certainly many ways, theoretical and practical, for conscious communists to participate in class struggle and thereby enhance, by a small but measurable amount, the probability of successful proletarian revolution. In a way we act, as some have said, as the "memory" of the working class...reminding it of past failures and successes, as well as suggesting future possibilities.

But be realistic. We are not and will never be the "axis" of human history. We are not "keepers of the sacred flame", "destiny's chosen prophets", or the "designated leaders of the proletariat".

Forget all of that silly bourgeois crap!

Or, if you prefer, you can rise and sing that neo-classic favorite carol Good King Vladimir.

Marx bless us every one!
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First posted at Che-Lives on September 20, 2003
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quote:

Is there a way, Redstar, that you can understand that we cannot just sit around and wait for a worker's revolution. The bourgeoisie's oppression will never yield to this.


I didn't tell you to "just sit around and wait".

But if the bourgeoisie are so overwhelmingly powerful that a workers' revolution "cannot" defeat them, what the hell makes you think you can?

Possession of "the ring of power", perhaps?

quote:

Just because we lead their emancipation, does not mean that we will rule over them.


That's what it has meant so far. On what grounds do you suggest that you are any better?

quote:

They will still have influence over the government, just as the bourgeoisie does today.


In what way? The "privilege" of "voting yes"?

quote:

We will simply act in function of the class as a whole.


That view actually has a name; it's called substitutionism. It means a political course of action wherein you "substitute" the vanguard party for the working class.

It never works.

quote:

Freedom and equality cannot be attained unless we do this!


Another unsubstantiated assertion. And how do you propose to attain "freedom and equality" by abolishing both? The workers will have no freedom and be inferior to the party...and this will "lead" to "freedom and equality"???

Bah! Humbug!
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First posted at Che-Lives on September 21, 2003
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quote:

I meant, Redstar, that the bourgeoisie will never allow the working class to even begin a revolution, which is just my point.


Then what sense does it make to even speak of communism at all?

It seems to me that the source of this "ultra-pessimistic" viewpoint is the overall reactionary present...which makes everything look "impossible".

But if there is a lesson in history here, it is that periods of reaction are followed by periods of revolution.

quote:

When has it ever occurred in history where oppressed groups attain, by themselves, liberation from oppression?


The February 1917 revolution in Russia would probably be the most outstanding example. The Czarist autocracy and the landed aristocracy were utterly destroyed...and while there were radical political groups that played a role, it was the workers and peasants themselves who actually did the job.

Of course, this was a bourgeois revolution...it successfully ended semi-feudal and aristocratic oppression...not oppression "in general".

But it shows what happens when the masses are really determined to act...all the apparent "power" of the old order faded away like mist on a summer morning.

Compare this to what happened when the Bolsheviks substituted themselves for the working class in October 1917. Although they certainly enjoyed wide-spread initial support, they pissed it all away. They saw themselves as the "real actors" in history and the workers and peasants as their "subjects"...to be roused or suppressed at Bolshevik convenience.

Czar Nicholas II is dead; Long Live Czar Vladimir I!

quote:

How likely is it that the proletariat of the world today will grab a bunch of guns and defeat capitalism? -- emphasis added.


Today, the probability must be as close to zero as makes no difference.

What about tomorrow?

Was Marx right about the inevitability of the working class developing communist consciousness in the course of class struggle against their exploiters?

Or was Lenin right about having to have this consciousness "inserted" into the working class by a trained and disciplined cadre of "professional revolutionaries"? A cadre that would go on to lead the working class to "victory" (like generals lead an army) and would afterwards rule in uncontested splendor "for decades or centuries"?

It seems to me that you have succumbed to a Leninist historical mythology--I used the word "mythology" because there is, in fact, no historical justification for its "validity".

Look at the record! The Leninists have utterly botched all of their opportunities. I understand that they are now blaming all their wretched defeats on the "strength" of the imperialists.

What utter rot!

Did American troops occupy Moscow and smash the USSR? Did UN soldiers march victoriously into China? Did Yugoslavia fall to NATO forces?

You know as well as I that the Leninists all deliberately abandoned their pretense of "socialism" in favor of corruption and capitalism.

The "devil" did not "make them do it".

So what will you have? An uncertain path but a communist path? Or a path that has been repeatedly followed...to the certainty of capitalism?

Choose wisely!
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First posted at Che-Lives on September 21, 2003
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