The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

Communists Against Religion -- Part 17 February 21, 2006 by RedStar2000

For some curious reason, the violent rivalry between Christianity and Islam is sometimes called a "clash of civilizations" if either superstition had any credible claim to the title of "civilized" in theory or practice.

Regular readers will note that I've decided to change the name of these collections to make my objective clearer: we communists should be openly against religion.

As is not untypical, much of my time goes into disputes with people who claim the communist brand name...but, in fact, don't really like what's inside the package at all.

Should you ever want to test some "communist's" credentials, just ask their opinion of religion. Be alert to the slightest hint of "tolerance"! If you detect it, then you know that, at best, you're dealing with someone who might charitably be described as "pro-communist".

Sort of. *laughs*


quote (Sam Harris):

He asked, what would happen if a senator gave a speech on the senate floor about how our country needed to appease Poseidon because the country suffered two hurricanes this year and obviously Poseidon is very angry with us?

I think we need to sacrifice a virgin to Poseidon at once! *laughs*

Seriously, sounds like "my kind of guy" I just ordered the book.
First posted at RevLeft on January 22, 2006

I've been suckered.

Yeah, I paid $15 (including shipping) to for this book...really expecting something good.

It starts out strong...but the further you get into at, the worse it becomes.

By the time your half-way into it, he's pounding away about Islamic superstition being "really worse than all the others".

You see, a "suicide bomber" is a "really evil guy" while an American Air Force bomber pilot is just "defending civilization".

And then it gets even worse...with a lot of Buddhist babble.

His message to atheists is to "volunteer for the War Against Terrorism"...a concept as idiotically superstitious as anything found in the "holy books".

And then we should "get in touch" with our "spirituality"...which, he asserts, "really exists".

Perhaps I'm being my usual cynical self...but is it "only in America" that a book purporting to attack superstition can be published that actually reeks of superstition itself???
First posted at RevLeft on January 29, 2006


There is an important moral distinction between the two, especially in regard to intent.

That's exactly what Harris argues.

The "suicide bomber" intends to kill innocent people while the U.S. Air Force bomber "regrets" that innocent people must die as a consequence of his "noble mission".

This slides past the fact that the "suicide bomber" is also carrying out a "noble mission" least in the recesses of his own twisted mind-set.

Random slaughter in the name of "Allah" is "just as noble" as random slaughter in the name of anything else.

No one but a pacifist would object to killing in self-defense. But you actually have to kill the people who are attacking you. You can't just "open fire at random" on the rumor that one of your enemies might possibly be in the vicinity or was there a few weeks ago or...whatever.

Harris, in fact, endorses torture of anyone suspected of "terrorism"...and this after a number of pages devoted to the consequences of torture in the "War on Witchcraft". (!)

Everyone who was tortured did confess to "witchcraft". Everyone who is now tortured by the U.S. Government will confess to "terrorism".

Net reliable data gained: zip!

Net psychological effect on those who torture: barbarization!

Harris attempts to argue the case that Islam would be opposed to "our civilization" even if the U.S. had never involved itself in Middle Eastern affairs.

That's true in a philosophical sense; Islam is flatly opposed to every advance in human thought since c.1400. They are perfectly equivalent to medieval Christians.

But had we refrained from poking our snout into their affairs, would they take the trouble to "suicide bomb" us?

As matters stand now, they "think" that "martyrdom" is their only weapon...and more and more of them are likely to take it up since they "know" that the Americans are going to "kill them all" anyway.

Harris curiously overlooks the one thing that would really demoralize Islam. Occupy Mecca for a few days and have one of those heavy cargo helicopters lift up the "holy meteorite" and drop it to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

Like demolishing Vatican City...imagine the effect on Catholics!

A "God" that can't protect "its holiest places" is clearly a "God" that's "on its way out".

But the idea never occurred to him; he was too busy with the "probable necessity" of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on any Muslim country that developed nuclear weapons.

Won't that make us a whole bunch of "new friends"!


The Christian extremists in this country are not bent on stoning adulterers to death, realize that.

Well, they have bombed some women's clinics and murdered some doctors who performed abortions.

And, as Harris correctly points out, the whole "War on Drugs" is a Christian war against "sinful pleasure".

I wouldn't rule out anything they might do or try to do in the coming decades.
First posted at RevLeft on January 29, 2006


And some Western power occupying Mecca and destroying their sacred religious symbols will?

It will make different kinds of enemies.

At present, many Muslims conclude that the Americans really do intend to "kill them all". By dying for "Allah" (suicide bombing), they are only accelerating what is "going to happen anyway".

And "martyrdom" gets you a "free pass" into "paradise" "judgment" involved.

Harris' pre-emptive nuclear strike would create, at a single stroke, millions of "suicide bombers" throughout the Muslim world.

The disposal of the "holy meteorite" would make a lot of Muslims really pissed off. But it would, at the same time, cast enormous DOUBT on the "truth" of Islam itself.

Prompting the inevitable question: suppose I achieve martyrdom and get nothing but dead?

Who wants to die for a "god" that can't "defend itself"? *laughs*

Just as I hope one of the first acts of the proletarian revolution in Italy is to burn the Vatican to the ground! It might turn out to be a death blow to the Catholic superstition.


Islam has been liberalizing the political systems of the Muslim world for years, even if that's not its intention.

Islamists advocate values such as democracy and human rights (probably because they are the main victims of the absence of these values).

If they preach long enough on democracy and human rights, it's bound to rub off.

Iran with 20+ years of Islamism is moving toward liberalization.

Iran is a lot more open today than under the Shah.

Here I think you are just fantasizing.





Iran was a shithole under the Shah...and it still is!

Compared to the mullahs, Saddam Hussein was a champion of human liberty!
First posted at RevLeft on January 30, 2006


Do you really not make a distinction between an American 'bomber' and a suicide bomber?

On what grounds?

The "suicide bomber" kills people who, in his view, are "going to Hell" anyway. They're infidels, right?

The American bomber crew kills people who are "going to grow up to be suicide-bombers" and die anyway.

The point about gratuitous mass murder "from the air" is obviously well-taken. Airborne terrorism against entire cities is still terrorism...and, in fact, had a marginal effect on the outcome of World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters.

It wasn't necessary to win the war...and, if anything, extended the length of the war in both theaters because it diverted resources from attacks on military targets.

If the "War on Terrorism" is fought as if it were a conventional war, then it must be lost. No matter how many military bases and "Green Zones" the U.S. builds in the Muslim world, no westerner will be safe there as soon as he or she steps into the open.

And less and less oil will be pumped and shipped.

The rational response to 9/11 would have been to close the borders to people from Muslim countries and deport as promptly as possible all those who were here. Simple enough, eh?

But, as I've had occasion to note, our ruling class is increasingly unable to act rationally...even in its own class interests. This is certainly due, at least in part, to the baleful influence of Christian superstition in "higher circles".

The occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is not only going to cause unending American casualties but is also going to cost so much money that the U.S. will increasingly suffer in competition with China, the EU, Japan, etc.


Islam is the enemy, for now.

Well, if that's your view, then are you prepared to occupy the entire Muslim world -- with a population of around one billion people -- in order to wipe it out?

Rather impractical, is it not?

The American ruling class seems to think that it can locate and keep in power "domesticated Muslims"...that is, Muslim elites who will enforce their medieval standards on their own populations but will tamely do our bidding when it comes to anything affecting our own interests.

A recipe for endless wars and occupations!


The Shah was [a] Westernizer.

Not really. If anything, he was a "Persian-izer". He seemed to see himself and his dynasty as heirs to the Persia of Cyrus "the Great" or something like that.

He did import a good deal of western technology but the beneficiaries of his regime were very small in number. His secret police were certainly just as brutal as the Gestapo...but not nearly as efficient.

It was horrible there then. It's horrible there now. If the U.S. manages somehow to install a quisling regime in the future, it will be even more horrible there.
First posted at RevLeft on January 31, 2006

More evidence for what a shithole Iran is now...

Tehran bus strikers violently attacked; hundreds arrested

In the next revolution there, the first step should be to hang all the fucking mullahs and imams!

No exceptions!
First posted at RevLeft on February 1, 2006


Anyway, I can assure you that most Muslims think the terrorists are just crazy people

I was looking at the matter "through the eyes" of a "rational" American ruling class.

"Closing the borders" to people from Muslim countries would have been far more rational than two invasions/occupations and counting.

A rational ruling class acts in its own class doesn't go out of its way to "borrow trouble".

When a class society becomes decadent, then its ruling class becomes increasingly unable to act rationally. Their "understanding" of the world becomes increasingly disconnected from reality.

People in the Bush regime actually believed that Iraqis would welcome American troops with the same kind of enthusiasm that Parisians welcomed American troops in 1944!

In the book, Harris actually does believe that...

Muslim = potential terrorist.

Because the Qu'ran "is" the literal word of "Allah"...and it says flatly that "martyrdom" -- getting killed while fighting "infidels" -- "is" a "free ticket" into "paradise".

That is, ordinary Muslims are "judged" for their "sins"...but a "martyr" is "automatically admitted" no matter what else he (or she) might have done.

It's theologically "possible" to be a pious Muslim -- one who avoids "sin" -- and get into "paradise" without ever even saying a harsh word to an "infidel" much less killing one.

But "martyrdom" gets you on the "A List" of "paradise" are especially favored by "Allah". The implication is that you get the best-looking girls, the plumpest grapes, the sweetest water, the best of whatever "paradise" has to offer.

Like the "penthouse suite" in a five-star hotel. *laughs*

Harris thinks this is an "irresistible temptation" to people who live as wretchedly as people do in the Muslim world; while at the same time, noting that it is the Muslim petty-bourgeoisie who are the most likely to seek "martyrdom".

That is, it's the Muslims who have the most contact with modern civilized ideas who react the most violently against them.

A bad sign.
First posted at RevLeft on February 1, 2006


Some time back when I was talking to my father, he said Jesus was a revolutionary, and when I asked him why, he just said his ideas were highly revolutionary for that time.

No, he was not a "revolutionary" in any sense of that word.

He was an ordinary human who became a country preacher who didn't much like big-city Judaism. The polite term is "reforming Jewish rabbi".

Pretty much everything he had to say was commonplace in Jewish thought in the Palestine of his era...with the possible exception of "Hell". There was some idea of a "place of torment" for especially grievous "sinners"...but the idea that "nearly everyone" would be "sent there" may have been his unique theological contribution to western superstition.

He did not intend to "start Christianity"...that was Saulos of Tarsus ("St. Paul") at work.

And this, of course, presumes that he ever existed at all; there is no contemporary evidence for that.

Your father is mistaken.
First posted at RevLeft on January 29, 2006


Why do you guys think Jesus was crucified?

Most likely because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Romans crucified tens of thousands of people. Were they all "guilty of something"?

There's nothing in the Gospels that suggests that most people even noticed. Crucifixions were probably executions in the U.S. if not even more so.

The "big crowd" scenes in the Gospel of John are almost certainly fictional as they were written more than a century after the "events" they purport to depict.

Also remember that writers of "holy books" were not historians in our sense of the word. Their concern was not to depict "what actually happened" but rather to articulate a "higher truth". To "make up something" to fit their purpose was a routine practice -- they could and probably did claim to be "inspired by God" with the "knowledge" of "what must have happened" in the course of "spiritually significant" events.

There's no contemporary evidence, for example, that the earth was "dark for three hours" or that the facade of the Temple spontaneously cracked from top to bottom. Those sorts of things would have been noticed...and they weren't.

The Gospels do make it clear that "Jesus" was crucified at the behest of the Jewish high priesthood...who regarded him as a trouble-maker and possibly even a threat to their own pre-eminence. That makes a kind of sense; it sounds does Roman willingness to go along with the idea.

The Jewish priesthood, much like their Vatican successors, were not at all above murdering each why not just get rid of a troublesome country preacher? And the Romans regarded the Jewish superstition as why would they give a rat's ass for some minor-league pissant?

If any of this stuff really happened, then "Jesus" was a dumbass...deliberately placing himself where his obvious enemies could get to him. The deluded fool probably thought "His Heavenly Father" would "protect him".

That's where "faith" usually lands the shit!
First posted at RevLeft on January 31, 2006


Redstar, is there any evidence he did not exist?

The problem of "negative evidence" is a thorny one. Why, for example, would someone in 35CE make a point of writing down the fact that, by the way, "Jesus" never existed?

Consider other historical figures from antiquity. We know that Socrates existed because there are several contemporary references to him that have survived the ravages of time. We don't know very much about what he really thought...because either he never wrote anything himself or, if he did, it has been lost.

The earliest documents that make any reference to "Jesus" are the "authentic" letters of Saulos of Tarsus ("St. Paul")...dated around 50-60CE, a couple of decades after the crucifixion.

The earliest "gospel" is thought to be that of "Mark"...dated around 75CE.

It's certainly possible that there was contemporary evidence...which was destroyed in the confusion of the great Jewish uprising against Roman rule, 68-70CE.

One argument in favor of the existence of "Jesus" is the general lack of anachronisms in the "synoptic gospels" (Mark, Matthew, and Luke).

The Old Testament is stuffed with anachronisms because it was composed many centuries after the "events" that it purported to "depict". As if someone a thousand years from now sat down to write about "ancient" America: George Washington founded America, built a trans-continental railroad, and then invaded Iraq.

If the "gospels" were entirely fabricated, then you'd expect to find stuff like that: King Herod appealed to Pericles of Athens and King Cyrus of Persia for help in tracking down Jesus but they refused him.

(Both Pericles and Cyrus lived five centuries earlier than "Jesus".)

The "gospels" get the general historical details "right" for that place at that particular time.

Of course that doesn't mean that the "details" of the life of "Jesus" are authentic...indeed, many of them are certainly fabricated. Not just the miracles, either.

For example, there was certainly no "flight into Egypt" or Herodean "massacre of the innocents". "Jesus" was not born in Bethlehem but rather in Nazareth -- without shepherds, "wise men from the east", or odd astronomical phenomena in attendance.

Such stories were commonplace in antiquity; anyone who did anything of note accumulated a large number of posthumous legends surrounding their birth...and often their death as well.

It's quite unlikely that Socrates spent his final hours discussing philosophy with his friends before drinking the poison...but it "makes a good story".

And "the Last Supper" probably didn't happen.

It's often amusing to learn how far the pious are willing to go. The last "pagan" emperor of Rome was Julian (360-363CE), called the "apostate" because he quit the Christian superstition and returned to "the old gods". So "infamous" was his memory that it was thought useful to invent a whole series of Christian "miracles" to confound him during his reign "in Rome".

But it is quite clear from the contemporary sources that Julian never entered Rome in his entire life...he always ruled from Constantinople or Antioch.

As to what "Jesus really thought", I think it's pretty clear that he wanted to drastically simplify the Jewish faith. The Temple priesthood, heavily influenced by Greek and even Roman culture, had been making Jewish "Law" more and more "complicated" for several centuries...and more and more difficult for "country folk" to either understand or practice.

Thus a simple message that's almost certainly authentic: "Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand." Worship Yahweh and refrain from sin (especially fornication)...and just forget all the "big city" complications.

Whenever he talks about "the end of the world" as something that "will happen soon", that's probably authentic.

It's not clear why he thought that...except for the general climate of Jewish unrest under Roman rule. Taxes were burdensome and Roman arrogance didn't help matters any. I'm sure there were many Jews who thought that "things can't go on like this".

Well, they didn't. After two massive uprisings against Roman rule, the Jewish presence in Palestine was virtually eliminated by around 140CE or so.

And "Jesus" was well on his way to becoming "a God"...actually, a "part" of "God". As a pious Jew, "Jesus" himself would probably have been horrified and disgusted by the idea.

Not that the Christians were much concerned with what he thought.
First posted at RevLeft on February 1, 2006


First of all, he said that the anachronisms you say are in the OT are actually not there. He claims that "archaeological evidence shows what the OT said really happened." He also said that all of the events in the OT are in order, not out of place as you said.

Well, it's obvious he's read nothing by serious Biblical scholars in the closing decades of the 20th century.

I cannot reproduce such works from memory, of course, but some things "stick" in my mind...

1. Diligent search of the Sinai peninsula has revealed no evidence for the "exodus"...not so much as a fragment of pottery. It's entirely mythical.

2. The "holy land" has been pummeled by archaeologists for the last 150 years...and the evidence indicates that the "Empire of David and Solomon" was basically Jerusalem and an agricultural hinterland.

3. The "prophetic" books describe the "future" in exquisite detail while the "present" is hopelessly confused and filled with anachronisms.

In other words, the books were written shortly after the events they "prophesied" and attributed to some legendary figure in the past.


About the details of the life of Jesus, he says that eyewitnesses account for these.

Oh? Who were the "eyewitnesses" at the appearances of "Jesus" before the Jewish priesthood or Pontius Pilate?

Were there "moles" back then? *laughs*

The chances are that the early followers of Jesus, after his death, casually reminisced about some of the things they saw (or thought they saw) first hand...and some younger Christians started writing some of these "old stories" down, elaborating where "necessary".

But eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable...we know that from modern psychological testing in which events were staged and then people were asked to recount what they saw. At best, some of them got some of the details right.


Next, he wants "proof" that the Last Supper didn't happen.

It's too "neat" a the "death of Socrates".

In fact, it's not even necessary to Christian theology...since it was decided later on to have Jesus' ghost hang around for a month or so, he could have "said" then everything he "said" at "the last supper".


Finally, he claims that Jesus did, in fact, declare himself the son of God.

"Son of God" was a title assumed by the kings of the Davidic wasn't meant in a "literal" sense. The idea that "Jesus" was an "avatar" (as a Hindu would say) of "God" would have struck him as horrifying.


I am rather curious of the circumstances of Jesus' death. For example, was he in fact put in a tomb, and then disappeared? Is a part of that story fabricated? Is the entire thing fabricated?

Without contemporary evidence, who can say? Simple logic suggests that the corpse was removed and buried elsewhere...allowing the followers of "Jesus" to claim that he "rose from the dead".

But that suggests a degree of "advance planning" that I find implausible. Remember that the first followers of Jesus were, like him, pious Jews...not the "Central Committee" of the "Jesus Party".

Most likely, the corpse was thrown into whatever nearby pit that the Romans used for disposal of their victims...and that was the end of it. The "resurrection" was a later invention...quite possibly by the energetic and rather devious Saulos of Tarsus ("St. Paul"). He is the first one that mentions it "as a fact". And his "details" are quite different from those in the gospels.

Modern biblical scholars consider "St. Paul" to be the real founder of "Christianity". Before him, it was a minor Jewish cult; after him, it was a "movement" spreading across the Roman Empire.

Of course, there were other such "movements" as well. The cults of Isis and Mithras enjoyed considerable popularity among the same people that Christianity appealed to: slaves, commoners, soldiers, etc. All three had an "egalitarian" thread that differed markedly from the "old religions".

Call it "immortality for the masses". *laughs*

Quite possibly the strongest ideological weapon in the Christian armory was its wasn't "Egyptian" and didn't involve the expense of sacrificing lots of bulls. It was actually very simple to become a Christian and came with extravagant "guarantees" -- simply avoid the sins that you probably couldn't afford to commit anyway and "eternal life in paradise" was "yours!"

One target that the early Christians really concentrated on was wealthy widows. If she could be convinced to leave her wealth to a Christian clergyman (or to the church after it became legal), then the money could be used to hire and train more missionaries and clergymen.

I suspect this was perhaps the most important material reason for the triumph of Christianity in the Roman world.


This may be annoying to you, my questions I mean, but I have grown rather hostile towards the Christian faith, and any help in refuting such things is greatly appreciated.

I'm not annoyed in the least.

I wish, in fact, that Christians themselves would start asking real questions about the history of their faith...I think a lot of them would become atheists if they did.

Unfortunately, Christianity "clouds the reason" of its followers almost as if it were like Alzheimer's Disease...they simply can't imagine using their brains to examine "holy stuff" as if it were like the ordinary problems that they solve in their daily lives.

Your description of this guy sounds very "typical"...stuff that's "in the Bible" is "just true, period". If confronted with contradictions, he'll use his powers of reason (such as they may be) to invent some sort of torturous verbal "reconciliation" of the plain and obvious discrepancies.

I expect that before the end of this century, serious religious belief might result in referral to a psychiatrist.
First posted at RevLeft on February 2, 2006


Read this, it might be useful to your discussion.

I'm afraid its merits are entirely historical.

quote (Rosa Luxemburg in 1905):

But never do the Social-Democrats drive the workers to fight against clergy, or try to interfere with religious beliefs; not at all! The Social-Democrats, those of the whole world and of our own country, regard conscience and personal opinions as being sacred. Every man may hold what faith and what opinions seem likely to him to ensure happiness. No one has the right to persecute or to attack the particular religious opinion of others. That is what the socialists think.

Even the "best" revolutionaries of that era were really not very revolutionary at modern standards.

quote (Luxemburg):

However we see the clergy on the one hand, excommunicating and persecuting the Social-Democrats, and, on the other hand, commanding the workers to suffer in patience, that is, to let themselves patiently be exploited by the capitalists. The clergy storm against the Social Democrats, exhort the workers not to "revolt" against the overlords, but to submit obediently to the oppression of this government which kills defenseless people, which sends to the monstrous butchery of the war millions of workers, which persecutes Catholics, Russian Catholics and "Old Believers". Thus, the clergy, which makes itself the spokesman of the rich, the defender of exploitation and oppression, places itself in flagrant contradiction to the Christian doctrine. The bishops and the priests are not the propagators of Christian teaching, but the worshipers of the Golden Calf and of the Knout which whips the poor and defenseless.

With the evidence of the reactionary nature of religion right before her eyes, she presumes to lecture the clergy on "Christian doctrine".

As if to claim that the Social Democrats are "better Christians" than the Christian clergy of her era. *laughs*

You can see Luxemburg's thesis developed fully in Karl Kautsky's Foundations of Christianity (1908)...a torturous attempt to verbally "appropriate" early Christianity into the social democracy of his era.

How could they possibly articulate such nonsense?

Well, they reflected the conditions that prevailed at that time. The working class of that era was deeply pious...they took all that shit really seriously.

Indeed, an average Christian of 1905 would regard modern Christians as "practically atheist" -- except for the fundamentalists. That's how much progress we've made.

Interestingly enough, I have run across occasional hints that the social democrats in France were having none of that crap...even back then! The role of Catholicism in France was considered so self-evidently reactionary that no one would have even considered babbling about early Christian "communism".

Probably one of the many things I'll never live long enough to "look up". But it sounds plausible.

We're so used to thinking of German social democracy as the "crown jewel" of the 2nd International that we overlook the possibility that some other parties may have been more advanced on some questions.
First posted at RevLeft on February 4, 2006


Why is a phobia of Islam a bad thing?

Actually, you've put your finger directly on what is a very sore spot among western lefties these days.

To begin with, I do have some collections that are specifically critical of Islam...

Islamic Terrorism -- Myth and Reality

Women in Islam

Lifting the Veil; Communism vs. Islam

quote (redstar2000 July 8 2004):

Many "western" lefties feel "uncomfortable" when called upon to criticize "eastern" religions and cultures. The record of western imperialism is so enormously monstrous that it seems almost "unfair" to mention the atrocities of the "east".

In addition, one can be certain of the usual accusations: cultural insensitivity, Euro-centrism, and even "racism".

Heaped on top of this, especially in Europe, is the hostility shown towards Muslim immigrants from the "old colonies". While Americans have sort of gotten used to the idea that the southwestern part of this country is going to be predominately Hispanic, the Europeans remain appalled by the seeming inability of their culture to "win over" the North African and Middle Eastern immigrant population.

Opposition to the perceived "Islamo-ization" of Europe is condemned as "Islamo-phobia" by many people on the "left".

It's a real "can of worms".

As always, I'll try to be "systematic" about this. *laughs*

1. We are living in a period of "great movements of people" and all attempts to limit immigration from poorer countries to wealthier countries will probably be futile in the long run.

2. What this means is a substantial and on-going increase in the population of the "old" capitalist countries of people with a "pre-capitalist" mind-set...arousing substantial mutual hostility.

3. The rational ruling class response would be measures to assimilate the new arrivals to modern capitalist thinking as quickly as possible.

4. But the ruling classes in the "old" capitalist countries are not as rational as they once were...and vacillate between assimilationist policies and multi-culturalism -- meaning policies that encourage immigrants to "stick to their old ways of thinking". This naturally "keeps the pot boiling".

5. In addition, this mixture of official policies reinforces traditional racism...the immigrant population have darker skins than the native population. What is often perceived as "an attack on Muslims" is frequently, I suspect, an attack on people of color and has nothing to do with religion at all.

The London police, for example, murdered in cold blood an unarmed man whom they "suspected" of being a "Muslim terrorist". The man was from Brazil and not a Muslim. It was the color of his skin that proved fatal!

So, in Europe, we have a new equation...

Person of Color = Muslim = Terrorist.

And some people on the "left" derive from this the following...

Islamo-phobia = color-phobia = racism.

That is, to condemn the medieval superstition of Islam is to "be racist".

Probably the outstanding example of this view is the U.K. RESPECT Party (yes, I believe they always spell it in all upper-case letters). They are "multi-culturalists" with a fact, they may well have been the first to coin the word "Islamo-phobia". In their view, any critical statement about Islam is the equivalent of signing on with British imperialism and enthusiastically volunteering for occupation duty in Basra or Kabul.

To be sure, RESPECT does not have a "high reputation" among most leftists -- "disgusting opportunists" would be a typical comment -- but traces of their viewpoint are found "all over the place" including on this board.

Those of us here who try to be "clear-headed" in this morass must make some "subtle" points that are not always readily grasped.

1. Islam, like all religions, is reactionary to the core. It's always correct for revolutionaries to attack it for what it is...a bloody medieval superstition without any socially progressive values whatsoever.

2. Violent attacks on people of color by right-wing thugs (police or civilian) are always racist without regard to religion and must always be condemned as racist!

3. Western imperialism is always bad no matter what the religion of the country is that it attacks. As revolutionaries in the "west", we always hope that "our" imperialism suffers ignominious defeat...because that will help us!

4. Those who cooperate with western imperialism in the occupied countries are always quislings and deserve any bad things that might happen to them as a consequence.

These are my "guidelines" for navigating these "uncharted waters"...but there are plenty of hazards ahead.

It's not at all unlikely that situations may arise in the reasonably near future where my "guidelines" would prove inadequate.

One can imagine "nightmarish" hypothetical scenarios in which my "guidelines" would disastrously conflict with each other.

I hope that won't happen...but it would be naive to think that it "couldn't".

We live in grim times.
First posted at RevLeft on February 7, 2006


I've spent a lot of time amongst her family and respect some of the basic principles of Islam, i.e., humility and stoicism.

Two modes of behavior universally despised by revolutionaries.

We should not be "humble" before our masters; we should gather our pride and drive them from their thrones!

We should not "stoically" endure the outrages perpetuated upon us; we should summon up our rage at those who rule us and destroy them!

A little "commie fundamentalism" for you.
First posted at RevLeft on February 7, 2006

Who would have imagined that some cartoons could have stirred up such a "big fuss"?

That Danish right-wingers sought to portray Muhammad and Muslims in general as "terrorists" anyone (over the age of 10) shocked by that?

What else would you expect them to do?

That a small minority of Muslims raised a big stink about what's new about that?

That accusations of "racism" are hurled...well, we've seen plenty of that sort of thing, haven't we?

Sometimes it's justified; sometimes it's not. But the word is used as if it were "magic" a +10 sword in Dungeons & Dragons. Pin the "racist" label on your adversary and he sinks like a stone.

I have no doubt at all that the Danish right-wingers are racists. It isn't really Islam that bothers's all those people of color in their midst that really disturb their blond blue-eyed repose.

It is in their interests to portray all "Arabs" and even non-Arab Muslims as "terrorists" -- people who "deserve" to be expelled from the Danish "Volkreich".

Their motives were question about it (at least in my mind).

In the eyes of Islam, however, the cartoons were blasphemous...which is a different kind of criticism. Muslims in the "west" may use the word "racism" because it's a "plus 10 sword". But the people who are actually doing the protesting in Muslim countries are doing so because they are protesting sin!

That is a backward motive in the eyes of rational people. In fact, it's even more backward than racism.

European racism probably didn't exist before 1400CE or thereabouts...and didn't really "catch on" until the rise of the slave trade. On the other hand, "blasphemy" is a "major sin" in every religion in recorded history. It's an ancient "felony" and is always, in principle, punishable by execution.

As revolutionaries, we can freely attack racism wherever we find it.

But blasphemy???

Why the hell should we care?

If all the really seriously religious people in the world killed each other off in one grand murderous orgy of salvation and damnation, would the world have lost anything of value?

Only the lives of the spectators who were standing too close to the carnage.

To be sure, any of us could unexpectedly find ourselves with a complimentary "front row seat" these days.

A sobering prospect.

In the meantime, all we can do is attack all forms of superstition as medieval monstrosities that need to be banished from a civilized world.

And hope we're lucky.
First posted at RevLeft on February 7, 2006


Why shouldn't or can't people be extreme left while belonging to a religion or have leftist views on things, where does religion restrict them?

Start with how people acquire a religion in the first place. Their parents tell them, right? Their parents take them to church. The schools reinforce their parents' teachings. In other words, everything in their immediate environment conspires to tell them that a particular religion "is really true".

By the time someone reaches adolescence, religious belief is "burned in". Most people cannot question it unless they should happen to have real world experiences that contradict their beliefs in a dramatic way.

Let's suppose such a young person finds the egalitarian perspective of communism attractive. Could such a person "become a communist"?

It's possible but highly unlikely.

Why? Because as soon as a person like that starts really digging into communist ideas, they run into a mass of contradictions with the religious faith that they've been indoctrinated in since childhood.

Religions "explain" economic inequality in terms of "human sin". If people would "stop sinning", then we'd have a "just world" more or less as soon as that "happened".

Historical materialism explains economic inequality in terms of the technological development of the means of production and the rise of classes that result from that level.

"Sin" has nothing to do with it.

And, if that were not "bad enough", communism is a modern paradigm...which rejects the supernatural altogether. There's simply no role for the supernatural in the communist outlook on why things happen the way they do.

Thus a young person is "torn" between two opposing forces. To actually "become a communist", s/he must resolutely give up everything s/he was taught as a child about "how the world works" and learn a whole new way of looking at things.

And that's hard!

In fact, it's almost a kind of "time-travel". The person who abandons all forms of religious superstition is like someone who jumps two or three or even five centuries into the future.

Imagine how disorienting that must be!

Imagine how even the "smartest" person in the world (whoever that might be) would feel if they suddenly found themselves in 2600CE.

I think that's why we have so many threads in this subforum about how "Jesus was a communist" or "why can't I be religious and also be a communist", etc.

It comes from people who are disoriented and confused by the huge gap between the ideas they were taught to believe (15th-19th century) and the modern era of atheism.

They are scrambling, rather desperately, to make sense of a "new world" in the ways they learned about an "old world" that's passed away.

Young people are especially "flexible" both mentally as well as physically; and find it sometimes much easier to "adapt" to a new intellectual world.

Indeed, they often find it liberating to be free of all the "ghosts and goblins" of superstition and actually do "become communists"...with no regret at all for their "lost faith" except for the time they wasted believing a word of it.

A rational approach to the world doesn't make it "better"...things are still "fucked up".

But what people have made can be unmade by people. What happens is not "the Will of God" or, for that matter, the "Devil's work" has real causes invented by real people in the real world.

The causes can be understood by people...and the world can be changed by people.

It's not "easy" fact, it's very hard.

But it can be done!

This is so alien to the entire structure of religious belief (all versions) that for thousands of years it was thought to be impossible.

The only "change" that the sincerely religious can really imagine is one in which all the unbelievers in the "true faith" become believers or die.

Anything else is, perforce, "the work of the Devil".

The religious "line" on communism is that it is "the work of the Devil". In Latin America, the Catholic clergy are adamantly opposed to even the mild social-democratic reforms of Venezuela's Chavez.

As I understand it, the Protestant evangelicals are very active among the urban poor in Latin America...with an explicit message of submission to things as they are.

This does create a terrible dilemma for communists in that unhappy continent.

If they attack the popular superstitions, they will alienate the vast majority of people there. But if they ignore those superstitions or try to pretend that they "don't matter", they will end up, at best, with a "following" of people who can't think rationally about the real world.

And that's not even good enough for modern capitalism, much less communism.

In my opinion, communists in Latin America will probably end up supporting the most extreme reformists that they can find. Chavez is the obvious example.

But they should be attacking all forms of pre-capitalist ideology...especially religion.

Why? Because until the people there mentally "time-travel" into the modern world, proletarian revolution and communism will remain simply utopian.

Sad but true.
First posted at RevLeft on February 9, 2006

quote (The World Socialist Web Site):

A genuine critique of religion can be conducted only on the highest intellectual level, appealing to science and reason—not ignorance and fear.

How could one question that?

Well, I'd start with the fact that it doesn't happen.

As we've seen in this subforum repeatedly, what happens instead is an endless parade of appeals for tolerance of superstition!

And when's the last time you ever heard of a prominent left group openly attacking superstition?

Especially in any kind of sustained way?

The most we normally see in the U.S. is a sort of watery "attack" on "right-wing Christians"...generally accompanied by pious reassurances that the criticism is not directed against "most Christians" who are "really nice people" and even "fellow workers".

And even this is often followed by appeals to suck up to "progressive Christians" who "want the same things we do".

When the bourgeoisie was a revolutionary class, the secularization of society was one of its main strategic goals...and while much has been achieved, there is also much remaining to be done.

Now I'm beginning to wonder: is the further secularization of public life the last progressive thing that the "old" bourgeoisie is capable of?

All mixed in with racism, patriotism, cultural chauvinism, etc., to be sure. Everything else they do is done from reactionary motives now...why not "finishing the task" of secularization?

We "on the left" are not obligated to echo the reactionary content of bourgeois hostility to Islam or any other superstition. We don't have to "buy into" any mindless stupidities about the "clash of civilizations" or the "war on terrorism" or the "high crime rate among immigrants who are people of color", etc.

But why should it concern us if Islam "takes its lumps"? Is it not a worthy target? To whatever degree it is discredited in Europe or anyplace else, is that not a good thing?

The "old" bourgeoisie does it differently than we would...but if the job gets done, then what does it matter? A secularized working class can overcome racism...but who can overcome a division "ordered by God"?


...Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament who has proposed a law that would ban women from wearing burqas...

I'm for it! While we're at it, let's get rid of the special costumes for priests, nuns, and monks. They can wear that crap in private if they like, but not in public!

It's deeply offensive.
First posted at RevLeft on February 10, 2006


I have absolutely no illusions about the barbarity of Islam and all religions in general, but provocation only serves to drive the mindless flock closer to their religious leaders and their backward ideologies.

I've seen this assertion made on a number of occasions.

Its logical corollary is seldom mentioned; i.e., that the "best way" to get people away from religion is respecting it as a rational and legitimate option.

I do not think that approach has worked very well. We've had more official "religious tolerance" in the U.S. than in any other country...and the consequence is that we are positively plagued by superstition. You'd have to go to the most backward country in Europe (Poland?) to find someplace where the public atmosphere is so polluted with toxic nonsense.

Recall how the Christians wiped out vigorously attacking its presence in public life. They didn't worry about "driving pagans closer to their religious leaders and backward ideologies". They just attacked and kept on attacking until the pagans were completely discredited.

It took them a few centuries to accomplish the task, of course.

They didn't have the internet then. *laughs*

But they got the job done!

Why shouldn't we?

Especially considering the fact that we have a much better alternative than the Christians had.
First posted at RevLeft on February 10, 2006


The "old" bourgeoisie is actually not getting it done. Iraq was the most secular society in the Arab world. Now it's a fundamentalist hell hole thanks to imperial military intervention by the "old" bourgeoisie. U.S. public education was once a secular bastion of the country. Now it's getting dismantled in favor of privately run religious schools. I'm not hopeful that this situation is going to improve much, that's why taking an absolute atheist position is stupid. It's only going to guarantee you absolute defeat rather than a slim chance at a partial victory.

I am not sure what you are trying to say here, but...

1. I agree that the "old" bourgeoisie -- or at least important portions of it -- is trying to promote religion as a "social glue" for a decaying system.

2. But hedonism makes money...and there are plenty of capitalists who promote that as an attractive alternative to the constraints of superstition.

3. By whipping up a hysterical campaign against Islam, the European ruling class unintentionally discredits religion as a whole. Don't forget that it was the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent "wars of religion" that opened the space for atheism to emerge. When people see "into the heart" of religion -- the murderous desire to convert or kill the unbeliever -- that's when many draw back in justifiable disgust.

4. Iraq is not really relevant to this discussion; the U.S. seeks to impose a quisling regime on that country which may or may not be domestically fundamentalist but will definitely be externally servile to U.S. economic and political interests.

5. The public schools in the U.S. were never all that "secular"...I can not only remember morning prayers in school but that unfavorable opinions of religion were never expressed by any of the teachers.

It is not beyond possibility that "senile" capitalism in the U.S. could entirely dismantle the public school system; replacing it with secular private schools for the elite and religious schools for the masses.

But I think such a move would provoke enormous outrage...and possibly even a new network of secular private schools "for ordinary kids".

In the "internet age" and the era of "home schooling", it's even possible that all efforts to turn schools into "religion factories" are matter what they do.

6. I do not grasp what you mean by "a slim chance at a partial victory" at all.

If you are suggesting that we should admonish the ruling class to "go easy on Islam", that sounds "stupid" to me...I don't see what "partial victory" we could possibly gain from that even if they were inclined to take our advice.


Funny... all the lefties I know support such actions.

Most likely because they haven't really thought about the matter. "Knee-jerk" reactions may not be as common on the left as they are on the right...but that doesn't mean that they "never happen".

Revolutionaries actually have to use their's the most important weapon at their disposal.

People who act without thinking rarely accomplish anything useful.


It's real easy to be a bourgeois atheist while floating in cyberspace.

Another "unique" insight from the mind of the Trotskyist. Atheism is no longer a correct understanding of the universe but rather, in his eyes, just an artifact of bourgeois ideology.


And let me comment that it implies contempt not only for immigrants, but to a lesser degree for the majority of working people in every country, by people who consider themselves more enlightened and superior to the masses.

If the "majority of the working people in every country" flop on their bellies for some superstition, then we "revolutionaries" should do likewise...otherwise we'll be "showing contempt" and implying that we are "more enlightened" and "superior to the masses".

My critic hits a new "low" with this one!

Very well, I ain't ashamed to "bite the bullet". Atheists are more enlightened than the superstitious. People who know stuff are superior to the ignorant.

That does not confer the "right to rule" (as Lenin and Trotsky would have it) but rather the obligation to enlighten!

A task that he clearly finds distasteful...for reasons known only to himself.


While I have no qualms whatsoever about mercilessly attacking religion, I'm somewhat more hesitant to 'let the ruling class do it for us'.

It ain't my "preferred option" either! *laughs*

But even in Europe, the "left" is still too weak to have a really significant impact on this or any public issue.

And in the U.S., even the so-called "left" can hardly bear to throw marshmallows at the Christian fascists!

Look at the Trotskyist's statement -- which is presumably a reasonably accurate reflection of one group's practice. To attack religion "shows contempt for the workers".

They're hardly alone in their servility; most of the "left" in the U.S. could organize a "Pray for Socialism" rally without arousing any comment at all.

It wouldn't surprise me if they did!


Now I am not trying my best to get restricted here, but yes, some immigration is making it harder to advance the left agenda.

You need not respond to the Trotskyist's attempt to side-track the discussion. Not even he would argue that the gusano colony in Miami should be "united with" least I don't think he would. *laughs*

Immigration is not some "pure virtue" that automatically confers "political correctness".

Some immigrants move to western Europe or North America precisely to escape the wretched medieval cultures of their homelands. Apparently there are a growing number of gay refugees from Iran moving to Europe.

Mexican immigrants to the U.S. come from the countryside...because they can no longer either feed their families or find markets for whatever tiny surplus they can produce. And yes, they bring their medieval superstitions with them.

But what happens when they get to Los Angeles or Phoenix or Houston? Do they have a negative impact on the already semi-secularized (and large!) Hispanic populations in those cities? Or is the "cultural flow" in the other direction?

Guess! *laughs*

The "worst case" scenario that I can imagine is that proletarian revolution and communism might be delayed for a generation or two by large scale immigration from extremely backward countries.

In the "grand sweep" of things, that's trivial.
First posted at RevLeft on February 10, 2006


...but there are still some with really good will in them.

How could that be known? Of course, all sorts of people claim to "have good will" and "mean well".

Even neo-Nazis say that!

What we do, if we're rational, is take a look at what those sorts of people did when they had a chance.

We try to match up the "ideas" with the practice.

In the case of religion, it quickly becomes clear that whenever and wherever they had the chance to put their beliefs into practice, the consequences have been pure shit!

It's so blatantly obvious in the Muslim world that it hardly even merits discussion. But consider the historical dominance of Catholicism in Latin America. In what country, other than Cuba, is a woman's right to abortion on demand respected? Are there any???


Well,if you take Catholicism for example, people are allowed to sin or not, they are totally free to choose; doesn't matter if the world gets unjust..etc., since Jesus already died to save us all, clear our sins up, and in the end of time there'll be the reign of God anyway, so all doesn't matter at the end---a contradiction but interesting...there's no good reason to refute this.

Other than the fact that it's total nonsense!

I'll grant you that if Catholics (or Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.) confined themselves to saving their own souls, then it might be possible to "live with that".

But they never do!

Once again, whenever they get the opportunity, they enforce their "religious commandments" on everyone!

People express "shock" that the Muslims call for death to the cartoonists who "committed blasphemy" by drawing unflattering pictures of Muhammad.

But the English laws against "witchcraft" were not repealed until the early 1820s. And the last Scottish execution for "blasphemy" was around the same time.

In the state I grew up in, I can remember as a child seeing all the alcohol displays in the grocery stores covered up by a large tarp on was a "sin" to "drink on the Lord's Day", you see.

And it was also a crime to sell alcohol on "the Lord's Day".

See what I mean? No matter what their strength might be, they'll do whatever they can to fuck people over and make them be "right in the eyes of God".

Where do you think the whole world-wide "war on drugs" actually comes from? It comes from Protestant fundamentalists in late 19th and early 20th century America! It was a "war on sin" that has totally destroyed millions of lives!

And this, they tell us, is "virtue".

So I am in no mood for "compromise" with those bastards! I think revolutionary communists should take a position of intransigent hatred towards all religions!

And at such time as we "get our chance", I think we should fall on them like the proverbial ton of bricks.

Sure, they'll "promise to play nice" and "not be counter-revolutionary", blah, blah, blah. They'll say anything to preserve their filthy racket.

I will not believe them.

Nor should anyone.
First posted at RevLeft on February 10, 2006


Most who do such things are fundamentalists...That's interesting but they are mostly the very religious ones who do that and I don't agree with them either...You are only talking about fundamentalists, the very religious ones...

This is such a frequent response that it deserves a "special treatment".

Why is it that the "fundamentalists" are able to do the bad things that they do?

Let's say, for example, that only 5% of the followers of a given religion are "very religious fundamentalists" and all the rest (95%) are far more "moderate" and even "perfunctory" in their observances.

Who will "set the tone" for that religion? Who will tend to "rise to the top" of its clerical hierarchy? Who will "interpret" the "holy book"?

Who will tell all the followers of that religion what it really means to be religious?

The average Muslim has better things to do with his life than blow up infidels. The average Christian does not lust to burn a "witch" or a "heretic". The average Hindu is not interested in traveling to a Muslim village and killing everyone there.

But they will do those things when their "spiritual leaders" -- the "very religious fundamentalists" -- tell them to do it!

And there you are. The medieval popes didn't burn any "witches" themselves. The mullahs don't blow themselves up.

But if you "believe in God" and there's this guy who you think is "especially holy" and he tells you "God wants you to do something really nasty" will you respond?

The historical answer to that is already known.

Only the people who are so alienated from religion that they've ceased to pay any significant attention to it at all are "immune" from the "very religious fundamentalists".

All the "ordinary believers" are perfectly harmless...until their "very religious fundamentalist" LEADERS tell them that "the TIME is AT HAND" to do something really awful.

If you are especially perceptive, you will have left the country right before that happens.
First posted at RevLeft on February 10, 2006


Bigotry against a religious groups also must be condemned and fought, because it helps divide the working class just as much as bigotry on the basis of skin color.

Sophistry...and not even very good sophistry at that.

Modern racism is applied to people of color...who have no choice but to manifest their color just by being alive.

Membership in a religious group or belief in a particular collection of superstitions is something that people can change.

It's not "easy"...that's true. Childhood indoctrination is terribly difficult to overthrow.

But people do it...all the time! It's certainly happened on this board.

As to "dividing the working class", well, it is divided.

In fact, it will still be divided "on the day of the revolution".

What should our attitude be towards workers who hold reactionary positions? Does their class position "give them permission" to be reactionary?

The Trotskyist evidently thinks it does...hence his support for "tolerance" of superstition as opposed to my "bigotry".

If he were consistent, he would also be "tolerant" of working class racism, sexism, homophobia, and patriotism...but consistency is not one of his virtues.

He thinks there are things we should "overlook" in the interests of "working class unity".

At this point, I am not concerned with something that does not exist and may never exist. Humans are a contentious species and "unity" enjoys a very transient existence at best.

What I am interested in at the present time is a solid foundation of revolutionary ideas around which people who actually want revolution could possibly unify.

And superstition in any form doesn't qualify!


I might point out that discrimination against people on the basis of religious differences is banned by the same civil rights legislation that bans discrimination on the basis of skin-color differences. Working people fought for that, and correctly so.

An appeal to bourgeois legislation...the enforcement of which is practically a "dead letter" these days anyway.

*Shakes head in disbelief*


To take an example from farther away, which you may be able to see more clearly: there was recently a bombing of a Shi'a Muslim gathering in Pakistan. Obviously it had nothing to do with "race". It was about religion, specifically religious-sectarian bigotry against the Shi'a. (There have been similar attacks against Sunni Muslims as well, a war of sectarian retaliation.)

Is that of no concern to the working class?

To the extent that there even is a "working class" in Pakistan, its attitude should be to condemn outright the superstitious drivel that gives rise to such fratricide.

But I think there are some Trotskyists in Pakistan...and I'm sure they're out there pleading for religious tolerance. Surely they can dig up a verse or two from the Qu'ran proclaiming that "it's not nice for Muslims to kill each other while infidels are still alive".


I think that's Redstar's position, that he supports reactionary "anti-imperialist" groups in the Third World because he expects nothing better from the wogs.

"Wog" is a word that you have chosen to use...more than once.

Meanwhile, I think it interesting that you are ready to leap to the defense of the Islamic superstition "against bigotry"...but you don't like them at all when they take up arms against U.S. imperialism.

And my "bigoted" position is exactly the opposite.


Religion is perceived as the cause of all kinds of social problems. Fighting religion is promoted as an activity separate from the class struggle and even prioritized higher than the needs of the class struggle. Propaganda and even persecution, not the transformation of society, is seen as the means of uprooting religion.

The Trotskyist could say exactly the same things about the modern struggles against racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Are they also "bourgeois"?

His is a very traditional view...first, we'll "get socialism" and then we'll "straighten out all this other stuff."

Well, no, that will no longer serve. What I think is clear is that class struggle is refracted through various "lenses"...and we should pick the ones that are sharpest at any particular point in time.

In modern America, I think the sharpest aspect of class struggle is the struggle against superstitious tyranny. That is what positively dominates public discourse in this country now.

quote:'s the view of Marx and Engels that he's polemicizing against....and the view of bourgeois atheism that he's advocating.

The link is to this article...

The Program of the Blanquist Fugitives from the Paris Commune by Frederick Engels, June 26, 1874.

quote (Engels):

But this cannot suit our Blanquists. In order to show that they are the most radical, God is abolished by them by decree, as in 1793: "May the Commune forever free humanity from this ghost of past misery (God), from this cause of its present Misery." (The non-existing God a cause!) There is no room in the Commune for priests; every religious demonstration, every religious organisation, must be forbidden."

And this demand for a transformation of people into atheists by order of the star chamber is signed by two members of the Commune, who had opportunity enough to learn in the first place, that a multitude of things may be ordered on paper without being carried out, and in the second place, that persecutions are the best means of promoting disliked convictions. So much is certain, that the only service, which may still be rendered to God today, is that of declaring atheism an article of faith to be enforced and of outdoing even Bismarck's anti-Catholic laws by forbidding religion altogether.

The careful reader will note that the Blanquists did not propose "abolishing God" -- that's Engels' word-play -- but rather abolishing "religious demonstrations and organizations".

Or perhaps the Blanquists would have accepted my wording: removing superstition from public life.

The "star chamber" was a secret court of the English monarchy where people could legally "be disappeared"...and has no relevance to the Blanquist proposal at all.

And the Blanquists did not propose (at least here) to make atheism "an article of faith"...but rather a fundamental axiom of legitimate public discourse.

Bismarck's "anti-Catholic laws" were among the most progressive in Germany's history to that point...and probably made some contribution to the eventual emergence of the secular Weimar Republic. They did not "forbid Catholicism" but rather began the disentanglement of "church and state".

There is much to criticize in the ideas associated with Blanqui and his heirs...of which Lenin was certainly the most prominent. Engels does a very good job of this in the linked article.

But I don't see how the honest observer could avoid the conclusion that Engels either misunderstood or deliberately mis-stated the Blanquist position on superstition.

Note further that Engels ascribes to the Blanquists the motive of desiring to "appear the most radical".

He does not explain why he thinks this to be a "reprehensible motive". Just why is it "wrong" for revolutionaries to advocate the most revolutionary positions that they can think of?

Are there not reformists enough???


Those who turn atheism into a religion, and set out to save people's souls from false prophets, are as capable as anyone of being dogmatic, intolerant, and bigoted against followers of competing religions.

Usually it is open right-wing ideologues who utter this charge against "Marxism" as a whole. It's just word-play again, of course. Marxism "is" a "secular religion" and leading revolutionary figures of the past are either "gods" or "prophets", blah, blah, blah.

Our Trotskyist trods this well-worn path with his customary dexterity. Echoing many of the superstitious who have posted in this subforum in the past, he converts atheism into a "religion" with plenty of "negative characteristics".

He probably thinks that I regard a day without crucifying at least one Christian as a wasted day. *laughs*

Perhaps he is the "Rodney King" of this board...he's always the voice that painfully croaks, "why can't we just all get along?".

Because it's not that kind of world, that's why!
First posted at RevLeft on February 11, 2006


Let me suggest workers and their union at this Nebraska meatpacking plant took a far less theological and far more class-struggle oriented approach to problems of freedom of worship for workers of different faiths....and their class unity is stronger for it.

Oh what a glorious victory for the working class! *laughs*


The agreement grants workers the right to have 10-minute prayer breaks for workers who are Muslim, according to Said Yousuf, a shop steward and vice president of the union local.

What about ten minutes to sacrifice a chicken to Changó? Should be easy enough at a Tyson plant. *laughs*

Meanwhile, Dina Tovar, the individual worker quoted, went on to say...

quote (The Militant):

She noted that health insurance costs increased and that is the main issue in the contract she is dissatisfied with.

That's some "class struggle" alright. Time for superstition and workers there have to pay more for health insurance.

What a great trade union! *laughs*

And note that supporting this kind of reactionary shit is what our Trotskyist considers "being a good communist".

It is starting to look as if the Trotskyists will be the first to sponsor a "Pray for Socialism" Rally...perhaps on Mayday.
First posted at RevLeft on February 11, 2006


That's what I'm trying to do,being perceptive but also being perceptive for differences and not generalizing.

We are often told, by all sorts of people, to avoid the "error" of "generalization".

What is it, exactly, that we are supposed to avoid?

quote (

1: the process of formulating general concepts by abstracting common properties of instances; 2: reasoning from detailed facts to general principles

In other words, if we were to "avoid generalities" then it would be impossible to say anything of substance about the world. We'd be restricted to the "fine details".

Quite a number of scientists have pointed out that humans are "pattern seeking" animals; that is, our brains "look for generalizations" naturally.

It's the "way we think".

Most generalizations are wrong...or at least inadequate.

But enough of them have proven to be correct often enough as to allow our species to both survive and prosper.

Tigers like the taste of people...and one should therefore be extremely cautious in their presence.

It's not true "every time". Sometimes the tiger is not hungry or may be on the scent of a potential mate or may be suffering from a terminal illness and thus be too weak to pounce on a human.

But the "general pattern" is "tigers will eat people if they have the opportunity"...and that "generalization" is true.

We have something on the order of 4,000 years of written history on the practices of religion. What's been the pattern?

Pretty bad, eh?

A lot worse than hungry tigers, when you get right down to it. *laughs*

Is there any evidence to support the proposition that religion is "better now" than it "used to be"?

I know of none. Some religions speak in "softer voices" than they used to...for fear of alienating modern sensibilities.

But none of them have actually repudiated their past atrocities. I see nothing to suggest that they wouldn't do the same things if they thought they could get away with it.

Just as I see nothing to suggest that the neo-Nazis wouldn't rebuild Auschwitz if they thought they could get away with it.

Thus I argue that communists must regard all forms of religion with intransigent hostility. If the seriously religious are not doing something nasty to people (except lying to them and sucking money out of them) at the moment, it's simply because they don't think they have the chance to do it and get away with it YET!

The pattern is clear and the evidence, both historical and contemporary, is overwhelming!

You see, some generalizations are really true.

And this is one of them.
First posted at RevLeft on February 11, 2006


Pardon me...but seeing as how you have no knowledge of how much said activists think about the matter, or how much they 'use their brains', I really don't see how you can criticise at all.

Are you suggesting that I "should have" sat down and talked with all the lefties in Sydney before suggesting that their position was not really "thought through"?

Or that no one should ever say anything critical about any political group or individual except ones that they know personally?

Put it this way: I am not unacquainted with how "activists" think about things...not only is there a wealth of activist writing on the internet but I have had some personal experience in that regard.

And I know from both reading and personal experience that people who "just want to do something" rather easily fall victim to unthinking responses.

Back in the early 60s, there was a guy in the American civil rights movement who complained at some length about this. If memory serves me, he pointed out that "just because white people have toilets that flush, that doesn't mean that toilets are evil and outhouses are good."

If I were in Sydney, I'd tell your associates that just because some Danish racists attacked Islam, that doesn't mean that Islam is good.

And it certainly doesn't mean that we on the left should "defend Islam"...that's just a howling absurdity.

I was actually giving your associates "the benefit of the doubt". If they have thought about this stuff and come to the "reasoned" conclusion that "Islam is good" (or "progressive" or whatever), then they have really fucked up big time!

But that is something you would know better than I.
First posted at RevLeft on February 13, 2006


Your implication that it's primarily a "Muslim" rather than a capitalist regime, however, is dead wrong.

Well, to be crude about it, what class holds state power in Iran?

The Islamicist despotism may be said to rule "in the interests" of nascent Iranian capitalism sometimes...but that's not really the same as state power in a modern capitalist country, is it?

It's not really Iranian capitalists that have "the final say" in Iran at this point, is it?

Violence against striking workers is indeed in the interests of emerging capitalism in that country; but why use the "religious police" for that purpose?

Modern capitalist countries don't send in the "vice squad" to protect scabs, do they?

I don't think there's much question about the fact that beneath the pious rhetoric of the mullahs, there's a good deal of "wheeling & dealing" going on, fortunes are being accumulated, and workers are being exploited.

But to blandly label Iran as "just another capitalist country" is, in my opinion, grossly misleading at this point.

Indeed, I think it probable that some Iranian capitalists find the rule of the mullahs an increasingly intolerable obstacle to their own plans to develop Iran.

That's why I think the next Iranian revolution will be a bourgeois revolution. It will have enormous popular support and participation, to be sure. But what will come out of it will be a much more modern bourgeois republic.

I just hope that when it happens they really will hang all the mullahs!

That's the real key to progress in Iran at this point.
First posted at RevLeft on February 14, 2006

The employing class is on an offensive against the working class, including our democratic rights.

Evidently, The Militant continues to believe that there really "are" such things as "democratic rights" in late capitalist societies...and that even workers "have them".


But, I suppose, not unexpected. Perhaps they'll soon be celebrating "Law Day" instead of Mayday. *laughs*

I would offer the following "rule of thumb": if it's "legal", then it's probably harmless to the ruling class and may even be helpful.

That doesn't mean the converse is true, of course. That which is "illegal" may or may not be harmful to the ruling depends.


We desperately need the greatest possible democratic rights in order to organize and fight back...

I guess when the ruling class makes proletarian revolution "legal", then we'll have a real shot. *laughs*

All significant resistance to the despotism of capital is, by definition, illegal.

The only way to defeat the censorship of revolutionary ideas is to defy it.

Say what you think needs to be said and tell the censors (official or unofficial) to go fuck themselves.

I frankly do not understand the desire to cloak one's critique of capitalism in a superstitious concern for "democratic rights".

As if abstract "democracy" were some "supreme value" that "stands above" earthly which class owns the means of production and holds state power.

In the past, workers have indeed struggled for "democratic rights"...without significant success. Under the despotism of capital, "democracy" means whatever the ruling class says it means.

If you say that "censorship is undemocratic", the U.S. ruling class can counter with dozens of its Supreme Court decisions that assert that censorship is perfectly consistent with democracy provided only that the government can demonstrate a "compelling state interest" in the particular censoring that it wants to do.

I think similar examples are probably abundant in every capitalist "democracy".

So what do we gain by accepting their framework of controversy about the Danish cartoons or anything else?

The people who printed the cartoons are not interested in "free speech" for us...they're opposed to that.

And the people protesting the cartoons are even more vehemently opposed to us...they'd chop our commie heads off if they got the chance.

Why then the "eagerness" to become embroiled in this quarrel among reactionaries?

To "pick a side" to support...when they're all bastards!

What are the possible outcomes of this cartoonish controversy?

1. The Danes pass a retroactive anti-blasphemy law and the cartoon publishers are fined and/or jailed.

2. The Danes refuse to back down...and stop selling anything in the Muslim world.

3. Some more western embassys get burned down.

4. A torrent of mindless rhetoric about the clash of Christian and Muslim "civilizations" pollutes the arena of public discourse.

What does any of that crap have to do with us or with what we want???
First posted at RevLeft on February 18, 2006


I really see these riots/protests as being far more about anger against the West in general, for all of its actions, and not just simply for one religious faux-pas or what have you.

Well, that's not the "public face" of these protests; they're not carrying banners saying "U.S. Get Out of Iraq" or "Get Out of Afghanistan".

In fact, you have to ask yourself that if this is "about" western imperialism, how come it didn't happen when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan or Iraq?

How come it didn't happen long ago over the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians?

It seems to me that you are trying to put a "progressive spin" on the actions of reactionaries in honest support of a reactionary cause.

I think that all of the protests are not only led and inspired by Islamicists but that the participants are also Islamicists! They really do hate modernity with a sincere religious passion.

Just as their Christian counterparts in the west do. Someone in one of these threads quoted the Christian fascist Pat Robertson as expressing admiration for the Muslims "in defense of their faith" while criticizing American Christians for their lack of fundamentalist fervor.


Isn't accepting that this debate is over religion, and over Islam, and not over the situation in the middle east and imperialism, in essence, accepting the mainstream framework?

Actually, the mainstream framework here seems to be "medieval Islam" vs. "western free speech".

The "western free speech" arguments are all utterly hypocritical, of course. But Islam really is medieval!

Some western lefties try to raise the issue of western imperialism...but that's not what the Islamicist protesters talk about at all. At best, they might make a passing reference to the American gulag in Guantánamo. But even then, it's not the torture that really bothers's pissing on the Qu'ran and flushing it down the toilet.

The reason that a lot of European lefties have "supported" the cartoonists is pretty clear. They are "Islamophobic" and with pretty good reason to be! Europe has been moving in a secular direction for a long time now...and they don't want to see that progressive movement halted or reversed by the growth of a medieval superstition in their midst.

That seems to me like a pretty sensible position on their part.


I think one of the goals of the West has been to inextricably link what is happening in the Middle East to religion and Islam as much as possible, to give them justification for going in and "civilizing" these "barbarians" and all that BS.

The secular imperialists in this country want "domesticated Islamicists" -- they don't really care what sort of barbarism is imposed on Muslim countries as long as their rulers obey U.S. orders.

Christian fascists probably do envision the ultimate conversion of all Muslims to Christianity -- at gunpoint if necessary. But their influence on foreign policy is probably not yet all that significant at this point.

The U.S. would still have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq even if the whole ruling class here were "hard core atheists". *laughs*


Do we expect them to somehow suddenly "come to the realization" that religion is bad and break free from it?

Until they do, they'll remain "face down in a barrel of shit".

That's the "lesson of history".
First posted at RevLeft on February 18, 2006


This is very true, but no one here is arguing that these protests are about protesting imperialism, but that the anger which is the driving force behind these protests (despite the particular expression this anger has found: i.e., religious) is due to anti-immigrant backlashes in Europe and US/UK imperialism in the Middle East.

Why are you so unwilling to take the Islamicists at their word? They haven't said crap about anti-immigrant backlashes or imperialism.

Who are you -- "westerner" -- to decide what they "really mean"? Are they "incapable" of articulating their own concerns?

It looks to me like they mean what they say!

Just as the Christian fascists mean what they say.

By your logic, we'd start talking about supporting Christian fascism as an "expression" of "alienation from capitalism" or some such nonsense.



Any why is this?

Islamicists hate modernity because it totally trashes everything that they hold to be "sacred".

Christian fascists in the U.S. feel the same way...for the same reason.


Ok, so now you're attacking the anger of the oppressed while justifying the anger of the oppressor?!

That's an outstandingly dumbass remark!

The Islamicists are, whenever they get the chance, "world class" oppressors; c.f. Iran.

The European left has oppressed no one. It's never had the power to do so.


Marxists should not support secularism in Europe when it is less about reason and science than about oppression, demonization of immigrants, xenophobia, and white-European supremacy.

Heading off to the mosque, eh?

Better make sure to leave your "Marxism" at home. *laughs*


...not one group of regular people against another.

Islamicists are not "regular people"...they are intransigent enemies of human liberation.

A few of them are involved in armed struggle against U.S. imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan...and I'm willing to support them because they're doing something progressive "inspite of themselves". Most Islamicists couldn't care less about imperialism or oppression...except that they lust for the chance to do that stuff themselves.

Consequently, I don't see why revolutionary Marxists should give a rat's ass about what happens to the bastards.

As to immigration, my policy would be atheists only! *laughs*

Alas, that is far into the future. But I think it will be eventually true or something very close to that. What really civilized polis would want immigrants that believed in things that don't exist?
First posted at RevLeft on February 19, 2006
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