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Communists Against Religion -- Part 13 July 4, 2005 by RedStar2000


Once more into the gloomy forests and dark caverns of superstition.

In our era, they are everywhere...as if we really are about to enter a new "dark age".

Grab your lantern and proceed with caution.


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quote:

Yes if a person is irrational about some things, they might well be irrational about other things (such as race or sexuality), but it does not follow that they will be.


It seems to me that if one is irrational about the universe as a whole, then the probability that they will be irrational about any given part must increase very sharply.

That is, if one believes that "black cats are unlucky", but that's the only irrational belief they have...well, how many black cats does one run into on a daily basis? It shouldn't have much effect on the behavior of the believer.

But if one believes in powerful supernatural entities that interfere in physical reality, that would arouse suspicion of everything they thought...because you'd have no way of telling when and when not their supernatural beliefs were influencing their other statements nor even to what extent that influence was making itself felt.

For example, a believer could say that he "supports communism" -- but his reasoning has nothing to do with communism at all. In fact, he thinks communism will take people's minds off of money (true) and allow them to concentrate their attentions on "God" (false).

quote:

If they reject the hierarchical parts of their religion, I don't care what they call themselves.


But is that possible? If you believe in all-powerful supernatural entities that, at least, must be worshiped and obeyed, then isn't the basis for hierarchy already present?

Protestants reject the hierarchy of the Catholic Church...and some of them even have a very democratic structure (the preacher is a servant -- employee -- of the congregation who may vote to dismiss him at any time for any reason).

And yet those same "religious ultra-democrats" are politically fascist -- they are the ones who are most vehemently opposed to the "godless secular culture" in the United States, the ones who would put people in prison for having an abortion, committing adultery, or having sex with someone of the same gender.

quote:

I don't see why someone that is religious can't also believe in the same ideals of anarchists and communists...


They can believe...but they cannot reason.

And that is what is really crucial.

For example, the Hutterian Brethren believe in economic communism and practice it...but in all other regards, they are medieval. They practice strict monogamy and female subservience -- birth control is forbidden.

quote:

I think that religion and politics do not have to go hand in hand. Why would they have to?


Because religion is (or claims to be) a "theory of everything".

"Everything" obviously includes politics.

quote:

I said this once before and got shot at for it on here, but Christianity's doctrines could be seen as the betterment of mankind through the "golden rule" and love and fellowship.


Lots of things "could be seen" as lots of other things.

But we have a couple of thousand years of Christian practice to examine and evaluate...and the real meaning of its doctrines is pretty obvious.

The accurate translation of the "golden rule", for example, is he that has the gold makes the rules.

quote:

Is religion the problem or are politicians who manipulate faith for personal gain the problem?


If religion did not exist, then politicians could not manipulate it to advance their careers...no one would know what they were talking about.

In addition to which, why are you so certain that they are "manipulating religion"? I'm inclined to think that they are just telling more of the truth about their beliefs than politicians usually do. I think Bush was completely sincere when he said that "God" wanted him to be president.

quote:

How would communism object to the morality of "thou shall not kill" or "thou shall not covet your neighbor's possessions"?


Easy one.

Thou shalt kill in defense of the revolution.

And thou shalt covet the wealth of the old ruling class...and shalt taketh it from them and utterly despoil thy class enemy.

quote:

Besides that, not all Christians are Bible-thumping creeps from the South who love their guns and are hypocrites by sleeping with their cousins. Many are bright, intelligent people who want a little faith in their lives in case something happens.


You mean like...an insurance policy. *laughs*

Serious Christians "thump their Bibles" whether or not they own guns or have sex with their cousins.

My impression is that, on average, they are significantly less intelligent than atheists...but I've never seen any data on the subject.

quote:

The world is not black and white, no matter how much you or redstar2000 want it to be.


Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not.

In the case of superstition, yeah, it's pretty straightforward.

It's always reactionary.

quote:

But I warn you, if you go around and tell everyone that they have to give up their religion along with everything else familiar to them in your "crash-course communism" people will laugh in your face.


More likely, they will punch "in your face".

Nevertheless, that's the truth of the matter. You cannot drive a car if you are blind. You cannot think like a communist if you are religious.

Sorry.
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First posted at RevLeft on June 14, 2005
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quote:

Again, I am simply advocating the freedom for anyone to believe in their religion if they feel so inclined, or, to not believe in any religion if they are so inclined.


No, you're not "simply" advocating that.

No one here disagrees with that.

What you are advocating goes much further than simple "freedom to believe".

You want communist and anarchist revolutionaries to "accept" religious believers as "comrades" in the struggle.

And that we will not do (or should not do).

Regardless of what any superstitious person might claim to support, superstition in and of itself is always reactionary.

And thus, someone under its influence will, sooner or later, either abandon superstition in favor of communism or exhibit reactionary behavior.

There's just no getting around that; the superstitious cannot be trusted to consistently behave in a rational, revolutionary way.

A few of them (very few!) may support our efforts now and then...but it's for their own reasons, not ours.

And most believers, of course, hate communism and communists (anarchists too)...because they know that communism means the final end of the god racket.

A risk they will not take.
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First posted at RevLeft on June 14, 2005
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quote:

God has no representative on earth, therefore every human being on earth is equal


I think that's the "worm" in your "apple".

If "god" has "no representative on earth", then it follows that no one could possibly say what "god" wants...or, in fact, make any definitive statement on the subject at all.

The sequence normally runs like this...

1. God speaks directly to Holy Man;

2. Holy Man writes book about what God says;

3. Disciples of Holy Man spread book among the ignorant.


The disciples evolve into a clergy; the appointed representatives of God on Earth.

You would need a "religion" without a holy book, without clergy, and without details.

All its followers could say is "I believe in God", period.

I don't think that's possible.
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First posted at RevLeft on June 15, 2005
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quote:

Our movement isn't the most popular one, at least in the United States, for the rest of the world, I can't really speak with certainty.


Quite so...the general population of the U.S. is, at present, the most reactionary in the advanced capitalist world.

In my opinion, there are two principle causes of that. The first is that we live in a successful and still prosperous Empire -- and people identify with a "winner".

Until that changes, nothing will change.

But the second cause is very nearly as significant: the "losers" in our empire are strongly attracted to religion as a consolation for their losses. It's generally the poorest parts of the United States where religion is extraordinarily popular. The southern states, the mid-west farm belt, the mountain states both pray a lot more and vote Republican a lot more than the states that have prospered from the rise of the Empire. You might say Texas is an exception to this...and, at the moment, it is. But watch: I predict that over the next couple of decades Texans will become less religious, more secular, and will elect more Democrats (or more "moderate" Republicans).

Note that African-American and Hispanic people ("losers") are more religious than white or Asian people ("winners"). Note that working class people ("losers") are more religious than the wealthier classes ("winners").

This is an almost "textbook" illustration of religion serving its appropriate social role -- misleading the people who should be most outraged and rebellious into pious submission to an execrable social order.

Now, what is to be done?

quote:

I just feel that, to be truly serious about socialism/communism/anarchism or what have you, you have to realize that people are going to need to participate in order for this all to work ... that means normal people, regardless of their superstitions or quirks.


I don't think this would work. If we surrender to popular superstition (don't forget that doesn't just include religion but also embraces patriotism and some degree of racism, homophobia, and sexism), what remains of what we really want?

How would we have really changed anything even if we were successful in such a venture?

More importantly, what makes you think that we could possibly get away with such an imposture? In order to win the support of present-day grass-roots reactionaries, we'd have to pretend at least nominal sympathy with such views.

My stomach is weak -- I can't do that.

How's yours?

I don't think there's any other road but the hard one...confronting and defeating reactionary views among the most oppressed and exploited.

If it takes a century to do that...then that's what it takes.

quote:

This of course, constitutes the idea that people are rational, or that logic exists.


Yes, we absolutely rely on the proposition that ultimately people are indeed rational and logic does indeed exist.

What else is there?

If people are fundamentally irrational and logic is but a delusion ("bring us another pitcher of post-modernism, please"), then not only will the human species never be free but it doesn't deserve to be.

Since the Earth still has 200-300 million years of habitability remaining, it would be best for us to go extinct and make way for a more intelligent species to arise.
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First posted at RevLeft on June 15, 2005
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quote:

You are being inherently biased, and in a sense, you are being prejudiced against religion, because you are assuming every single religious person and institution is dedicated to a certain set of strict morals, laws, class division, etc.


Isn't that rather like saying that we are biased and prejudiced against Nazism? That we are assuming that every single Nazi person and institution is no damn good?

No one notices, much less criticizes, our "bias" and "prejudice" against Nazis and Nazism because, with the exception of Nazis themselves, everyone else now agrees that all Nazis are bastards and Nazism is shit.

But religion? That's different.

Is it?

The 12-year Reich certainly holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for "Most Murdered in Shortest Time Span" -- no question about that.

But over our 5,000 or 6,000 years of recorded history, has not religion easily out-scored the Nazi totals?

The Jewish Torah (Old Testament) is packed with slaughter, both divinely-commanded and at the direct hands of the "Almighty" himself.

The New Testament is fairly peaceable by comparison...but there is a curious incident that takes place before the body of the Christ had had a chance to grow cold in his new grave.

quote (Acts):

5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.

5:2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

5:6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

5:7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

5:10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.



"God" up to his usual bad behavior again or did a more earthly hand do the deed? Either way, it's interesting that the first Christian community (celebrated by fools as "communist") begins with blood on its hands.

But that hardly prepares us for the Book of Revelations...recently made into a television mini-series on NBC.

In the final book of The New Testament, everybody gets killed...well, except for 144,000 saved men (no women). (I imagine NBC had to do a lot of work on the script. *laughs*)

The truth of the matter is that the Holy Bible should always be printed in ink that is the color of blood.

It is a book of death...a million times worse than Mein Kampf.

And one which American Christians faithfully observe to this very day...in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Colombia, in too many places to list.

Yes, I am deeply biased and prejudiced against religion. I would be ashamed not to be.
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First posted at RevLeft on June 15, 2005
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quote (Noam Chomsky):

Also, I'm not even sure "left" is the right word for them: a lot of them were probably Christian conservatives, but they were very radical people in my view, and intellectuals who understood, and who did a lot. They created a popular movement which not only protested U.S. atrocities, but actually engaged themselves in the lives of the victims-they took a much more courageous stand than was ever done in the 60's. I mean, the popular resistance that took places in the 60's was very important-but there was nobody back then that ever dreamt of going to a Vietnamese village and living there, because maybe a white face would limit the capacity of the marauders to kill and destroy. That wasn't even an idea in your head. In fact, nobody even went to try and report the war from the side of the victims-that was unheard of. But in the 1980's it was common: plenty of people did it-in fact, people who were coming out of religious groups like Witness for Peace were doing that by the tens of thousands. And the people who were doing that are serious left intellectuals, in my opinion.


Well, let's try and deconstruct this mess.

1. No one in the 60s ever considered going to Vietnam and "engaging with the victims" because...

a. no one in the U.S. left spoke Vietnamese;

b. a trip to South Vietnam was very expensive;

c. no one would have thought (correctly) that going to Vietnam would have made any possible difference whatsoever.

2. The "sanctuary movement" in the 1980s was a "Catholic to Catholic" movement.

3. The language was Spanish (already known by many and easily learned by others); the travel distances relatively short and easily affordable.

4. Chomsky conflates "physical courage" with "leftism"...as if the degree of physical risk that you are willing to run is a "valid measure" of your leftism.

5. But the "sanctuary movement" was not about "leftism" at all. It was purely humanitarian -- no movement for real change in the United States ever came from the "sanctuary" people nor did they publicly support the revolutionary guerrilla movements in Central America in any way.

They did expose the brutalities of the American-supported dictatorships in that region...and that probably helped a little. And they tried to get American immigration authorities to soften their stand against a-political refugees from those brutalities...and that probably helped a little more.

But that's it.

If those folks fit Chomsky's definition of "leftism"...then why not Jimmy Carter? *laughs*
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First posted at RevLeft on June 15, 2005
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quote:

Silly me, I thought humanitarianism was the foundation of leftism.


Yes, and perhaps that's Chomsky's difficulty as well.

In fact, it's a wide-spread error -- that the reason to become a leftist stems from a desire to "help people".

Or that "leftism = helping people".

And that's just wrong.

It's a conflation of leftism and charity.

The crucial characteristic of charity is that it must not disturb the social order. Consequently, its effects are always trivial.

The purpose of leftism is non-trivial -- to drastically change or, in the case of revolutionaries, actually destroy the existing social order.

I've no doubt that many people are first attracted to the left from a desire to "help people"...but that's actually an extremely poor motivation. It leads directly to reformism and then on to mere charity.

The reason you should be a leftist is because you hate the existing social order and everything it stands for.

Because you despise wage-slavery and the capitalist slavemasters as a class.

Noam Chomsky doesn't hate the capitalist class...he probably even dines with them on occasion. And hatred is forbidden to the pious Catholic...Christian love is mandatory (at least until you make it to bishop or get accepted into Opus Dei).

There's nothing "left" about that at all.

quote:

Are their efforts to help those people and to expose U.S. aggression invalid because of that? I don't think so.


I didn't say "invalid"...I said they "helped a little". Chomsky's scholarly treatments of the details of American imperialist practice also "help a little".

But the "sanctuary movement's" failure to publicly support the revolutionary movements in Central America meant that they could never become a real domestic opposition to American imperialism. They could "nibble at the edges" -- some of them went on to wage a campaign against the army's torture school in Georgia...but they were never able to even "name the enemy" (U.S. imperialism), much less genuinely confront it as a system.

And I don't have to remind you of where Chomsky ended up...inspite of his remarkable erudition, he found himself urging people to vote for a imperialist billionaire presidential candidate.

So much for "helping people".

quote:

Which is a hell of a lot more than the Trotskyists standing out on the corner selling papers have ever done, yet we'd still probably call them leftists, right?


Yes we would...because however inept or even comical their efforts might appear, they are trying to muster opposition to the whole system.

It's easy enough to mock the ineffectiveness of all the tiny Leninist sects in the U.S. today -- we live in a very reactionary period in which Christian fascism is, to say the least, a distinct possibility. Nobody in what passes for a left here is "accomplishing very much".

Would you conclude from our rather grim situation that we should "therefore" abandon our revolutionary hopes and settle for being charity workers?

Would you rather "light one little candle" than "curse the darkness"? *laughs*

quote:

Must one bring down international Capitalism in order to be allowed the label of "leftist"?


No, but you must be trying to do that.

quote:

I think these people could have single handedly kicked the CIA out of Nicaragua and laid down palm leaves for Ortega and the Sandinistas and you'd still say they weren't leftists because they are religious.


Yes I would say that...because it's true.

You have to understand that Catholic "leftism" is not really left by our standards at all. It's an appeal to the "Christian conscience" of the ruling class to behave in a "Christian way"...to exploit "less" and oppress "less". It's also an appeal to the exploited and oppressed -- please don't abandon the Church and hook up with "godless Marxism".

Because if you do that, what will become of the Church?

*smiles in anticipation*
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First posted at RevLeft on June 16, 2005
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quote:

I intend to change the system in order to better the lot of humans. Is that charity?


Obviously not.

But the "sanctuary movement" was charity...I don't see how you could possibly dispute that.

If you go on, like Chomsky, to say that what they did was "leftist", then you are effectively saying leftism = charity.

And I repeat: that's just plain wrong!

quote:

You speak about [the sanctuary movement] as if it was irrelevant.


From my standpoint -- total opposition to the system -- it was.

In principle, communists are supposed to support any resistance to capitalism, regardless of its source.

But any resistance that comes from a religious source is obviously problematical; whatever progressive element it contains is thoroughly mixed up with all kinds of reactionary bullshit. How we can support "the good stuff" without getting drawn into the quagmire of bullshit is a really tough proposition.

It's often a very close call...and Marxists can legitimately disagree on a particular case.

I am "openly prejudiced" on this question -- I think it's inevitable that "religious leftists" [sic] will end up in the camp of reaction, sooner or later. I think that outcome is "built in" (or "hard-wired") into their whole outlook.

quote:

O.K., so here you're saying they aren't progressive because they never wished to confront the real enemy: Capitalism. Fair enough. But in the "Jesus Radicals" thread you said that the reason they weren't progressive is because they're Christians, never mind that they oppose Capitalism.


You're referring to discussions on two different, if somewhat related, levels.

But look at it this way...

1. "Christian leftists" can't really oppose capitalism (except from the right) no matter what they say...because their principle views are irrational and their core values are reactionary.

2. And, sure enough, in the case of the "sanctuary movement", they did not oppose capitalism -- that was not on their agenda and there was no way it could ever be on their agenda.

This example is a specific illustration of the general principle.

quote:

You will never give a religious person credit, no matter what they do or stand for aside from religion.


Correct. If they do anything "progressive" (a rare occurrence), it's an unintended consequence of doing something with reactionary intentions.

quote:

I seems to me that a better solution would be to, on some level, get over it and stop alienating people.


No.

If you want to suck up to some godsuckers, that's your decision. I will not "go along with it" under any circumstances.

I will not be silent.

And I will be heard!
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First posted at RevLeft on June 16, 2005
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quote:

And that is really what I intended with my comments, to raise the question of "If someone fights against American Capitalism in favor of Socialism (or Anarchism) yet still believes in God, can they still be considered leftist?". I think they can be.


I think they should be considered, at best, confused. They're trying to do two things that contradict one another at the deepest level.

Of course, they are not necessarily aware of that contradiction...many "believers" in the "west" are theologically illiterate. They believe in "God" and "Jesus" because it makes them "feel good" or because they "never really thought about it much"...it's just something "they grew up with".

That's probably harmless enough...if they never run into any seriously religious people, then they'll just drift away from religion altogether because earthly events and ideas are more interesting.

But they will run into serious believers -- unfortunately, there are a lot of them around -- and that's the real problem...for them and for us.

Serious believers do not think like we do...their mind-sets are fundamentally medieval. (Or, in the case of newer religions like the Mormons, Christian Scientists, Seventh-Day Adventists, etc., they mentally live in the 1820s, 30s, 40s, etc.)

If their spiritual leader tells them that the "Devil" lives in an apartment building on the corner of Jones & Ellis Streets in San Francisco, they believe it. They'll drive out of their way to avoid that intersection...and maybe sell their house and move out of the "devil's city" altogether.

Now, consider our casual believer (who's interested in socialism or anarchism) and s/he runs into a serious believer who also claims to be a "religious leftist". The serious believer is, naturally, going to talk religion -- it's his "job". He wants very much to spread his medieval outlook -- in fact, his vision of a "commune" is probably borrowed from a medieval monastery. His purpose is to convert that casual believer into a serious believer...to fill her/him with "the Spirit", etc.

Depending on how vulnerable the casual believer might be at that point, the serious believer is unsuccessful, partially successful, or completely successful. Remember that the casual believer has no idea of the complexity of religious belief...especially in its medieval incarnation. S/he will be told of "wonders" and "miracles" in great profusion. S/he may be "dazzled" and...sucked in.

Even if the worst does not happen, s/he may develop a kind of "respect" for the medieval world-view...and insist that others owe it respect also. And that's pretty bad -- it enlarges the "public space" for medievalism as "legitimate discourse" and "not reactionary".

Well, why should we care? A "warm body" in the struggle is a warm body. If its head is a quarter-filled, or half-filled, or completely filled up with medieval nonsense, so what?

So this: warm bodies don't do us any good. We're not recruiting cannon-fodder. We need people who understand capitalist social reality and both why and how to change it!

The very qualities that are "virtues" to the medieval mind -- obedience to authority, a firm belief in miracles and martyrdom, puritanical obsessions, etc. -- are disasters for us.

And worse still: if we were to publicly convey the impression that medieval superstition is "ok with us", what impact will that have on people who are the direct victims of medieval views -- women and children and gay people in particular?

How could we possibly justify any kind of "alliance" with people who lust for the rack or the stake...or envision some kind of high-tech equivalent?

See what I mean?

quote:

For example, "Jesus Radicals" are focused on fighting Capitalism for the exact same reasons we fight. They also wish to reform the Church, but reform it in an anti-Capitalist fashion. Their intent is not on converting leftists, it is on fighting Capitalism and influencing Christians to do the same. I don't think those are reactionary intentions.


I think you have to look deeper. Many Christians do dislike capitalism and some even hate it. But why?

Well, what's the history here? What did the capitalist revolutionaries do back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries?

You know the answer to that and so do serious believers. When the capitalists were young and confident in their destiny to re-fashion the whole world, they totally smashed the intellectual foundations of religious faith and authority.

Now, of course, many capitalists are desperately trying to rebuild those foundations...they need superstition now as much as the lords of feudalism needed it back in the old days.

Too late! Even while many capitalists are verbally urging us to "take up the cross and follow you-know-who", the real capitalist message is "screw that old shit...unless you can make some money from it".

Serious believers understand, some better than others, that the only hope for "the Kingdom of God on Earth" is the mutual destruction of both capitalism and communism -- the restoration of some kind of "up-dated" version of medieval society like...clerical fascism.

That's the real goal of the "politically religious"...even when they insist otherwise.

Because that's the only system that can save the godracket from extinction.
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First posted at RevLeft on June 21, 2005
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Christians respond to their critics...

quote:

stupid, hateful, nonsense, ignorance, lack of reason, HATE, INTOLERANCE, IGNORANCE, idiocy, ignorant, etc.


See why I call them godsuckers?

Here's something for you Christians to chew on: you've been "sowing the wind" for 20 centuries with your shit...now contemplate the shit-storm that you will reap.

Bring back the lions!
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First posted at NYC IndyMedia on June 29, 2005
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quote (Carl Davidson):

I'd also venture to say that any Christian or even non-Christian but spiritually awake person who's thought these things through a bit would mop the floor with you guys in any real debate, i.e., something other than hurling juvenile half-truths and invective.


Well, you can't deny that they had their opportunity here...and "juvenile invective" seems to sum up what they had to say for themselves.

By the way, how do you objectively distinguish a "spiritually awake person" from one that's "spiritually asleep"? *laughs*

Do they send out special "rays" that only other "spiritually awake" people can detect...with their spirit-ray detectors?

Is Billy Graham "spiritually awake"? How about Tom DeLay? Or the new pope?

Or even (gasp! choke!) Osama bin-Laden?

I'm always glad (or at least grudgingly willing) to discuss serious topics with people who disagree with me...provided they bring serious and thoughtful arguments to the table.

But I confess that I have just about zero patience with spiritualist babble and supernatural ranting.

And tell me just exactly why it would be "wrong" for me to "send to the lions" those who, if they thought they could get away with it, would send me to the stake!
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on June 29, 2005
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quote (Carl Davidson):

Well, Redstar, sending lions after those with stakes and a torch just shows you've reached the level of Old Testament morality: 'An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth...'


Credit where credit is due. The old Babylonians and the old Hittites and the Jews who borrowed their ideas were on the right track even if their specifics were completely fucked up.

They understood "right" and "wrong" as balance...and not in some preposterous "after-life" but right now and right here on this planet among living humans.

"An eye for an eye" contains the kernel of the idea that people are fundamentally equal...one person's eye is just as important as another's.

That is a rational conclusion...for if it were otherwise, then whose eye would be safe?

In spite of all the efforts of bourgeois ideologues over the last two centuries, modern humans grasp -- perhaps more than ever -- the idea that for a few to have much and most to have little is unjust...rejecting the proposition that some eyes "really are" more valuable than others.

The very unspiritual Mark Twain got it right: "people speak much of the four years of terror that the French people inflicted on the old aristocrats; they are silent about the thousand years of terror inflicted by the aristocracy on the French people."

And Lincoln, America's greatest bourgeois revolutionary, had a similar insight: "that every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be repaid on the battlefield...is just and righteous."

The "spiritually advanced" would no doubt condemn these views as "primitive"...but they make very good sense to me.

quote (Davidson):

But if you've hardened your empathy to the point that you can't recognize the presence of one --whether it's Malcolm X, M.L. King, Mandela or Thich Nhat Hanh or even Chicago's Kathy Kelly, not to mention many everyday folks -- then that's your weakness, and not the weakness of a good many people in this world who are able to respond to people of spiritual depth and learn something from them.


No, it's their weakness, not mine. For if there really was such a thing as a "person of spiritual depth", then the things that they had to say on the subject would make sense...and they don't!

In fact, such babbling never has made any sense. All we ever get from people who "talk spirituality" is a Noatic flood of empty assertions...most of which lack any real-world referents at all. The semantic content is so close to zero as makes no difference.

Recall my question in my last post: how would you objectively tell the difference between someone who is "spiritually awake" and someone who is "spiritually asleep"?

And your answer is, in so many words, that "spiritually awake" people yap about spirituality...a lot!

quote (Davidson):

Well, you could look at the opening of John's Gospel, 'En Arche ein a Logos...' 'In the beginning was The Word, and the Word was God' -- 'Word' translated from the Greek, 'Logos,' meaning the rational order of all things, or the dharma and karma, that we discover, or awaken to, as science and contemplation reveal more and more of the laws of the universe and push back the boundaries of ignorance.


"John" was guilty of the old "bait and switch"...as his "gospel" was the most mystical and the least rational of the four. (And also contained the most outright fabrications of "historical" detail.)

If you want to assert that "God" "is" the "rational order of all things", that's an untestable hypothesis...and therefore a semantically meaningless assertion.

1. There is a god.

2. What's it like?

3. It's everything there is.


Further, even if that were a true statement, so what? If "everything" is "God", then it would make no difference in the real universe that we observe...and certainly no difference in our practical behavior.

And finally, the universe is not observably sentient...this either means that "god" is not sentient or else that there is no god at all.

The simplest conclusion is correct: there's no god.

quote (Davidson):

Now the really cool question is, which came first, what you called 'matter' or 'substance' as opposed to 'Value'...


As far as we know, "matter" came first and "values" are inventions of a specific organization of matter that we call "humans".

The good values are those that are rational -- that reduce the net total of human pain and suffering. The bad values are those that do the opposite -- "in the name of god, country, and the next quarterly financial report".

To be sure, if you're a preacher, a politician, or a businessman, those irrational values are, subjectively, very "rational" indeed.

But since I'm not a member of any of those three parasitic minorities, I don't care what they think.

I just care about getting rid of them...permanently.

Transforming them into cat food seems reasonable to me. *laughs*
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First posted at NYC IndyMedia on June 30, 2005
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quote (Carl Davidson):

How about the degree of compassion they express in deeds towards their fellow human beings?


We would both agree, at least abstractly, that compassion is a rational value -- we extend it to others who suffer because it's pretty damn certain that the time will come when we will suffer and depend on the compassion of others.

But is or should compassion be universal and unqualified? The "spiritually awakened" often argue that it should. In fact, giving at least the appearance of unlimited universal compassion is one of their big "selling points" and can, with the right kind of marketing, even give the impression of "holiness".

Cynic that I "am", I personally doubt very much if those "holy guys" were as universally compassionate as they claim -- if the truth were known, I'll bet you they "turned some people down" for reasons that we might find less than admirable.

But let's say that a few of them "lived up to their rhetoric" and really did help "anyone who asked" or even "anyone who appeared to need help".

Is that the "best way" or even "a good way" to practice the rational value of compassion?

Consider how the Catholic Church put compassion into practice in the first few years after the end of World War II. It's well documented now that the Church smuggled Nazi refugees, including some that were wanted by the Allies for major war crimes and crimes against humanity, to various Latin American countries. The only requirement for Church assistance was that the Nazi had to have been, at least at one time, a Catholic.

Hitler would have qualified for "compassionate assistance".

Needless to say, I don't consider universal compassion to be rational. In terms of radical politics, compassion towards our class enemies has almost always been a grievous error. Though this is not the place for them, I think arguments could be made that misplaced compassion has directly contributed to the defeat of some revolutionary insurrections and to the unnecessary weakening of many others.

In a more significant sense, the doctrine of "universal compassion" ends up in de facto support for whatever social order exists at the moment...it's inherently incapable of supporting any revolutionary alternatives.

To be revolutionary is to "choose the side of the oppressed and exploited" -- and would mean renunciation of compassion for the oppressors and the exploiters.

The "spiritually awakened" can't do that...and thus end up supporting reaction.

Always!

quote (Davidson):

I think you've painted yourself into a very tight corner on this matter, Redstar, where you have only a choir of your own to preach to, and a small one at that.


Is that an argument?

If so, here's my response. To be a revolutionary is to tell people the fucking truth as best you can...without regard for one's "instant popularity".

I would naturally hope that someday my ideas will prove to be popular -- not because they're "mine" but because they are true.
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First posted at NYC IndyMedia on June 30, 2005
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quote (Carl Davidson):

...take Nelson Mandela. He even took a compassionate view toward his jailers on Robbin Island, to the point that he eventually won most of them over.

Of course, there was some violence in that struggle, but not nearly as much as there might have been with a leadership with a more shallow vision of what they were fighting for...

Yes, I would say seeking compassion towards all human beings, starting with the poor and oppressed, but also even for the personal redemption of our enemies from their evil ways, is a worthy goal, but a difficult task.

Like Mandela, however, we are not weakened by such values, but become even stronger and more steadfast as we work at them. In addition to seeing the harsh realities of class and racial oppression, it's one of the reasons I became a communist in the first place.


I think this example that you've chosen -- Nelson Mandela -- is actually a useful illustration of my argument against "universal compassion".

Thanks to Mandela and his co-thinkers, formal apartheid came to an end in South Africa and the African National Congress now holds all the significant political posts in that country.

And yet...how little has changed! For all the babble of "truth and reconciliation", the "truth" is that South Africa's wealth remains in the hands of the white minority and the black majority is still supposed to be "reconciled" to misery.

The violence that would have accompanied a genuine revolution was avoided...at the price of the violence of daily life inflicted on the poor.

Nor have I noticed any "redemption from their evil ways" on the part of the white-owned corporations in South Africa...one of them, if I'm not mistaken, just signed a big deal with the Angolan government to begin exploiting a whole fresh bunch of black workers.

It is rather like the outcome of America's civil war. Formal slavery came to an end...but black people suffered another century of serf-like exploitation, misery and racist violence.

How would things have been different had the civil war concluded with the liquidation of the slave-owner class?

The price in human suffering of "universal compassion" is a lot higher than you realize.

And the payments last a lot longer.

quote (Davidson):

But I think communists should be organizers as well as truth seekers and debaters, and you weren't doing too well as an organizer with the supposed 'rational' dogmas you're clinging too.


After 2-1/2 years on the internet, one of my "secret pleasures" is to read a post that starts out "Damn, I never thought I'd agree with redstar, but...". It doesn't happen as much as I would like...but it does happen now and then.

Progress is being made.

quote (Davidson):

How does the saying go? 'the heart has its reasons that reason doth not know...'


Pascal gets the blame, if memory serves me.

I think it's just a poetic way of throwing one's hands in the air and exclaiming "don't ask me to justify my position -- I'm right and that's all there is to it."

Even small children can usually do better than that.
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First posted at NYC IndyMedia on June 30, 2005
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quote (Carl Davidson):

You think it doesn't cost to concede the moral high ground to your adversaries in the court of world opinion and just chop off heads, put some workers in charge of ruins, and call it communism?

Your bloody anti-ANC, anti-Mandela bluster would just be amusing if so much wasn't at stake there. Thanks, but no thanks.


Your tone suggests that I "farted in church". Your content suggests that the black working people in South Africa would have just "made a mess of everything"...and that, in "fact", working people will "always" just "make a mess of everything".

In your view, whenever the workers take over, the consequence is "ruins"...better to leave the capitalists in charge. They know how to "grow businesses" and "create wealth".

Well, at least you're honest about your preferences. You prefer the "moral high ground" to fundamental revolutionary change.

That's where "religious leftism" usually ends up.
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First posted at NYC IndyMedia on July 1, 2005
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quote:

...but as I sat here and read all these comments about fascist Christians who "hate" gays, lesbians, woman, etc etc... it seems like the hatred is actually coming from someone else: them. And they will be the last people to admit that.


Maybe some, but not me. I freely admit that I despise Christianity (and all other superstitions) and everything it stands for.

But as for Christian hatred, one need not look far to find it...

quote (Randall Terry):

I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country.


http://www.angelfire.com/de/planetnewark/christianquotes.html

quote:

You told the person who commented on your comment that it is up to Christians to prove to you that there is a God, but it is in no way up to agnostics and atheists to prove why there isn't a God. How does that work??


It has long been customary in scientific thinking to put the burden of proof on anyone who makes a positive statement about the universe. If you assert that there is such a thing as a "supernatural realm" and that it is "inhabited", and, etc., etc., then the burden of proof is on you.

Why? Because proving negatives is extraordinarily difficult (some consider it impossible). For example, if I assert that "unicorns don't exist" and my evidence is the complete failure to turn up any living unicorns, the person who "believes" in unicorns can simply say, "unicorns exist...but they're invisible".

We now have two or three centuries of careful scientific investigation of reality "under our belts"...without so much as a shred of decent evidence for the existence of the "supernatural", much less one that is inhabited.

The obviously explanation for this is that there ain't no such thing.

quote:

But at least we have an answer.


Your "answer" is crap!

quote:

I was just curious where in the Bible that you found hatred of body...


quote ("Matthew"):

5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.



http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/mt/5.html#29

This site -- http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/index.html -- is excellent for revealing all the "nasty parts" of the "Bible"...and they also have the "Koran" and the "Book of Mormon" as well.

But a strong stomach is highly recommended.

quote:

You hate all those Christians who try to tell you what to do and how to live, but what gives you the power to curse and demean every single person that believes differently than you??


No one "gives" us the power to reject superstitious tyranny...we take it!

We call upon our power of reason...and the godsuckers call the cops!

quote:

To Redstar: ...You just throw it back in their face and hope they come up with something better.


No, I throw their crap back in their faces because I know damn well that they can't come up with "anything better".

Let's be clear about this. Serious Christians want to conquer the world "for Christ" (meaning yourselves, of course)...at gunpoint if required.

You want to make us flop on our bellies before your fucking idol.

Non servium!
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First posted at NYC IndyMedia on July 3, 2005
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