The REDSTAR2000 Papers

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

Communists Against Religion -- Part 16 December 25, 2005 by RedStar2000

One of the things I've noticed about these collections concerning religion is that they are becoming more "connected" with what actual communist practice ought to be.

Many of the earlier collections were simply arguments over "why superstition is just plain wrong"...but we at RevLeft seem to be making a little progress now and have begun to talk about what we should do about that.

The idea that revolutionaries should deliberately and publicly identify themselves as enemies of religion still bothers a lot of "lefties". It's so...



All of the above.

And about time!


The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong, New York, Knopf, 2000, ISBN 0-679-43597-2

Professor Armstrong, a British ex-nun, has written an instructive if also rather irritating book of some 371 pages.

If you are curious about the details of fundamentalist currents in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, this work would be a good place to start. The one curious omission in what is otherwise an exhaustive treatment of the subject is Catholic fundamentalism...Opus Dei does not appear in the index.

What is irritating about the book are her constant expressions of sympathy for the fundamentalist project -- "saving religion" in a secular age.

She is quite right to emphasize the deep-rooted fears of all the fundamentalist currents -- their primitive superstitions really are under relentless attack by secular views of all kinds.

But why should they not be? Don't those barbarians deserve to be attacked?

Not in her view. In fact, she sympathizes with them so much that she actually says explicitly that secular culture has "a god-sized hole in it".

Phrases like that are scattered throughout the book.

Worse, she drops in occasional but favorable references to the pseudo-scientist Freud -- as if to suggest that secular cultures have their own forms of "unreason".

Naturally, she abjures violence...whenever the fundies kill people, they have "perverted religion".

But you have to "understand", she says, that the fundies are "really scared".

She insists that religion "is not going to go away", that people "want to be religious", etc., etc. One can understand...she teaches at a school for aspiring rabbis.

But she never really explains why she thinks that...we are invited to conclude that "it's just the way people are".

An interesting footnote is the fact that she actually borrows a piece of historical materialism to buttress her work.

Traditional religions, she notes, are products of agricultural despotisms in which people had to be taught to accept poverty, sickness, the occasional famine or epidemic, military catastrophe, etc.

For should people rebel, then those fragile despotisms would collapse and everything would be "even worse".

After 1789, secularists (the rising bourgeoisie) no longer required that kind of "overwhelming" religion...and its radical children no longer required religion at all.

But that's about all the Marx that she wants. *laughs*

So there you have it...a scholarly work rich in historical detail that is nevertheless an unsatisfying read.

After the revolution, we shall steal all her research, add a large section on Catholic fundamentalism, delete all her pro-religion comments, and then republish the work under the title The Roots of Religious Fascism.

It would make an excellent textbook.
First posted at RevLeft on August 22, 2005


Do you recommend it?

Only, I think, if you have a special curiosity about where the various strains of fundamentalism came from and how they've evolved.

Professor Armstrong appears to be very well informed on these matters...even if she's not so hot at really seeing the underlying significance of her data.

Also, her writing style is not very "popular" -- her academic prose is readable but it doesn't pack very much "punch".
First posted at RevLeft on August 24, 2005


...therefore, religion should not be fought, it should not be will simply wither away once the need for it disappears.

Here is a matter where I think we can legitimately discuss whether or not Marx was guilty of an over-optimistic error.

Looked at broadly enough, religion has been "withering away" in all human societies (to one extent or another) as scientific knowledge of the real world "seeps" into every opening, eroding all supernatural conceits and fabrications. Over another two or three or four centuries, only those willing to be regarded as backward dumbasses will admit to any faith in the supernatural.

Was Marx right to imply that "therefore" we communists "need not fight religion"?

I think what Marx overlooked here is the important role that reactionary ideologies play in "slowing down" the revolutionary process. People who are influenced by reactionary ideologies are not as revolutionary, regardless of their good intentions, as they might otherwise be.

Moreover, the whole concept of social constructs "withering away" tends to obscure what is actually involved in that process.

Some 25th century person, looking around at his/her world, might be tempted to conclude that racism or sexism "just withered away...they're just gone". But a good historian would hasten to remind that person that the reason that racism and sexism "don't exist any more" is because of the bitter struggles that were fought to defeat them.

The same is true of religion. It is just as bad as racism and sexism...and in some ways even worse. It's not going to "just go away". Those who have a class interest in keeping people ignorant and superstitious will wage a tenacious struggle to preserve their dirty little racket.

What is presently taking place in the United States, after all, but a determined effort to impose Christian fascism on this country.

Sure, "they'll lose in the long run".

But the reason they'll lose is because sooner or later there will emerge a determined resistance to their reactionary ideas and practices.

Over time, people become openly intolerant of reactionary ideas and determine the need to actively suppress them. That's what "withering away" really means.
First posted at RevLeft on November 2, 2005


Science cannot explain everything..or at least not sufficiently. For example: A lightning bolt strikes down a boy...his mother screams "WHY WHY?!?! WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN TO MY SON?!?".

A scientist might well embark on a scientific explanation of lightning and why it strikes one place and not another.

But s/he would also add that the reason the woman's son died was because of the inadequacy of our science. We don't know yet how to stop lightning from striking at random. (I believe I've read somewhere that lightning strikes kill about 80 or 90 Americans every year.)

I'm sure that someday we will no more "tolerate" random lightning deaths than we presently "tolerate" an epidemic of the bubonic plague.

Unlike the "explanations" offered by the superstitious, the answers of human science, sooner or later, really work!

Think of all those pious idiots back in the 15th century praying for "God" to "save them" from the black death. It is something we do all the time now...and is, in fact, a trivial medical problem. If anyone dies from the plague these days, it's because their doctors misdiagnosed their patient because they'd never seen a case of the plague before.

By 2500 to 3500, I would expect a death from lightning strike would be a public scandal. Heads would roll!
First posted at RevLeft on November 2, 2005


All oppressed people are thinking people who do not just turn to religion solely because their parents or the state tell them to.

But as small children we are not "thinking people" yet.

We have no "intellectual defenses" against whatever nonsense that our parents and other "authority figures" tell us.

In fact, it's even been argued that we are "genetically predisposed" to "obey our parents" because this "trait" conferred an advantage in survival during the hundred thousand year period of human savagery.

I'm skeptical of all "genetic explanations" of human behavior, of course, and this one is no exception. But I've actually heard people say "I was raised Catholic and that's why I'm a Catholic".

One of the "sociological" features of religion is that it's an important part of the "social glue" that holds a particular society "together". Even when we reach "the age of reason" (whatever that might be), we want to be "a part" of whatever society we grew up in...and the continued maintenance of whatever superstition we were raised to believe seems to be "part of that package".

Unless other events have already driven us to be unusually skeptical, I think people show a marked tendency to just "accept" their "cultural traditions"...including religion.

They don't really think about it.

I think it's part of our revolutionary communist duty to compel people to "think about it" a critical way.

We can't just "let it slide" or "handle it later".
First posted at RevLeft on November 3, 2005

Much to "chew on" here.


Part of the problem with attacking religion is that people naturally become defensive when they perceive themselves "under attack". More often than not, a legitimate criticism of one religious entity or another (or perhaps the idea itself) will result in the individual feeling that the "assault" is in fact directed at them, which of course is simply not the case.

All too true! I've seen that actually happen in this forum even when I said explicitly that I was not attacking them personally.

The miserable people so oppressed by superstitious ignorance that they feel it is "tied" to their sense of "self identity" are indeed wretched specimens of humanity.

They are even more crippled than a person without arms or just doesn't show!

We have not yet learned how to teach a person's cells to grow new arms or legs...can we teach people how to grow a "new" brain?

Well, we do know that when people learn new things, parts of the brain actually do grow. That's even true for old guys like me!


Agnosticism, whilst flawed in itself, provides the foundation for what appears to the "godsucker" to be a discussion rather than a criticism or attack - the atheist after all is the "enemy" of religion, whilst the agnostic appears to be a willing recipient of their "beliefs", leading to the much needed discussion.

I've known atheists to take that approach -- pretend to be agnostic in order to "cool things down". And it "sort of works" -- the non-professional godsucker is often willing to "tolerate" an attitude of "friendly skepticism".

But that "friendly atmosphere" is very such time as the atheist reveals his "true colors", that usually ends all pretense of "discussion". Now, it's the "defender of the faith" versus the "agent of the devil".

May I suggest that what's really at fault with your idea is that we atheists are engaged in a struggle to "convert" people from theism.

As I've noted many times, people convert themselves from one mode of thinking to another...based on their own evaluation of evidence, arguments, the demands of material circumstances, etc.

Communists do not "convert" people to communism...they simply make available the evidence and arguments on behalf of communism as best they can.

Some people will find that evidence and those arguments especially compelling -- they "resonate" with that person's own experiences and observations. And others will respond with pro-capitalist banalities that they learned as children and have never seen any reason to question.

Thus one person decides to become a communist while another wants "nothing to do with such crazy fools" as us.

And so it goes with religion, patriotism, racism, sexism, etc., etc., etc. -- which are all forms of superstition, when you get right down to it.

Some will argue that "this superstition" is "worse" than "that superstition"...but to me that's like an argument about "which ghost" is "more" imaginary.

We are speaking here of ideas that all lack any justification in reality. They are all "social constructs" made for the purpose of exploitation and oppression.

They must all be destroyed!


We will always have to deal with some mixed-consciousness and (as in the past) movements and revolutions are going to have some people who hold religious baggage.

I think this "common sense" observation is disputable.

To be sure, it was the case that rebellious workers (and, even more so, rebellious peasants) were hobbled by the chains of superstition. And I think this did play an important role in the failures of all past revolutionary movements.

But can you really "just assume" that this will "always" be true?

A proletarian revolution in western Europe sometime in the next 50 years would be overwhelmingly atheist...not because of any "special effort" by revolutionaries but because the appeal of superstition has sharply diminished among those most politically and culturally advanced of peoples.

Is there any reason to think that what has happened in Europe will not happen, sooner or later, everywhere?

Modern humans are all fully capable of rational thought and reflection...only knowledge is still the greatest inequality in all contemporary class societies.

And, as noted earlier, what do we communists do if not spread knowledge of the real nature of reality -- both material and social?

Remember, we are not supposed to be reformists. Our task is not to depose "this particular bourgeois politician" or stop "this particular war" or gain "this particular reform".

Those things might be useful...but they are not why communists exist.

Our purpose, to put it simply, is to fan the flames of discontent. We would like to see people so furious with the entire system that they will bring it down!

Wage-slavery is an outrage and must be absolutely destroyed!

Thus the question arises which I have raised before: can a superstitious proletariat even make a successful revolution...or hold onto power even if it succeeds in briefly attaining it?

And I maintain that the answer to that question is negative. Superstitious people are, by inclination, followers. They will pick a "great leader" and flop on their bellies.

And "that's your ballgame" and communism loses.


Winning people to atheism is not a precondition for revolution...

It's not a matter of "winning people to atheism"'s rather a case of people "winning themselves" to atheism.

But it is a "precondition" for successful proletarian revolution and beginning the immediate transition to communist society.

Those who are simply content with the socialist variant of class society can be as friendly to superstition as they like...indeed, they'll likely find it just as useful as the bourgeoisie.

Moreover, the professionally superstitious will gladly cooperate in such a project. If there ever is "another Stalin" or "another Mao", the priests will all stand in line to kiss his ass.

And solemnly inform their followers that "Almighty God" has "blessed us" with this "great leader".


Indoctrination doesn't explain "born-agains" or people who are raised with a secularly or Christian [upbringing] and later turn to eastern religion or rastafarianism or whatnot.

Marginal phenomena can "get by" with marginal explanations. Organic brain damage from bad drugs would probably serve to explain some of the "stranger" choices in superstition.

A huge number of American Christians claim to be "born-again"'s almost as if you're "not a real Christian" unless you call yourself "born-again". This is mostly a matter of fashion in my opinion.

It's not as if we were talking about something real, after all.


Saying we have to convince people to be atheists before the revolution is to happen is like saying we need to convince people of Marx's arguments about marriage before the revolution can happen.

You're still thinking in terms of "us" having to "convince" if people do not, in reality, convince themselves.

But setting that aside, YES! it is absolutely necessary that a revolutionary proletariat has already rejected all the ideas "about women" that have prevailed in class society.

That's "another thing" that can't wait until "after the revolution".

Do you see where I'm going with this? A genuine proletarian revolution with a real shot at achieving communism is NOT a matter of an "enlightened despotism" showing people "the way" and "gradually abolishing" all the old shit.

That's been tried and it didn't work!

Marx himself said it! The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the workers themselves.

I sounds "impossible" that almost every worker would actually "have to be" a Marxist.

Workers "can't do that" we are told. They're "too ignorant" or even "too stupid". Or "too lazy" or "too selfish" or "too irresponsible".

They "need" to be ruled "for their own good".

Yes...we communists have heard these banalities all our lives.

I would call them capitalist superstitions.

Just as worthy of our hatred and contempt as the religious varieties.
First posted at RevLeft on November 3, 2005


Bullshit. It was not made to be a tool for oppression, it was perverted into one. You can see this very clearly in Islam.

Oh, your preferred superstition is "different" from all the others.

Which is just what every follower of every superstition claims.

Your claim is easily refuted here...

The Skeptic's Annotated Quran


The only prerequisite needed is for religion to be reduced to something which does NOT prevent people from thinking rationally.


Religion is "a theory of everything". If you accept it, then it logically follows that it affects how you think about everything.

First posted at RevLeft on November 4, 2005


Many people who believe in (a) God simply believe that the bible isn't a scientific document, but it's a narrative document of examples of how people should live.

Perhaps...but what of the plain examples of "how people should live" found in the "sacred text"? By modern standards -- informed by science -- they are barbaric.


This old guy at my school actually said how he supported the bible's theory of the creation of the earth as well as the evolutionary theory, "the bible is a religious text, it has to do with everything except science. The church should not meddle in scientific affairs; they cannot make a mother a virgin [referring to Mary] but science should stay out of religious affairs as cannot explain the [philosophical] why [just the how]"...or something along those lines. This might seem oxymoronic...but the way he explained it really did make sense.

Well, perhaps your own summary of his views is inadequate. What you say "he said" sounds like the babblings of an idiot.

It is popular in some circles to pretend that there's "a religious sphere" and "a scientific sphere" and the two spheres should "peacefully co-exist" and refrain from challenging each other's views.

That's a chickenshit approach! Religious ideas about reality (both material and social) are just plain reactionary bullshit. Any scientist (or anyone else) who suggests that we should not struggle against superstition is just a damn coward.
First posted at RevLeft on November 4, 2005


People turn to irrational explanations when rational ones seem inadequate or are not known. People turn to religion often because it promises a better world in the "next life" and this is because they do not believe a better life is possible in "this world".

It's difficult for me to understand just who you are talking about here.

This is not the year 150,000BCE...when people invented supernatural explanations for phenomena that they didn't understand.

Most people who are superstitious now are so because they were raised that way. They may convert from one superstition to another as seems desirable to them. They may become "more fervent" in their beliefs either because of some "inexplicable" personal catastrophe or simply as a tactic to win greater social acceptance or even prestige among their peers.

But I almost have the impression that you're speaking of some hypothetical individual who has "never heard of religion" and then "suddenly turns to it" out of quasi-rational processes.

No doubt there are such people...but I think they are an insignificant minority of the totality of the superstitious.

My estimate is that 99% plus of all followers of all religions were raised to believe that parents who were also raised to believe that crap.


So the best thing communists can do to rid people of irrational superstitions is build movements that show that it is possible to have a better world now, by making it ourselves rather than relying on an invisible man in the sky!

I'm not convinced that it's "the best thing" that communists "can do". But I agree with you that the tasks of building a new world "right here and now" will certainly distract people from superstition.

I've read that in the first decade of the USSR, there was a substantial decrease in the number of urban residents who described themselves as "believers".


The question is: do religious ideas create an atmosphere in which capitalism thrives or does capitalism create an atmosphere where religion thrives?

I don't think that's a very good way of posing the question.

The mechanisms of capitalism are anti-religious. Where "Profit is Lord", religion must yield.

The capitalist class seems to be increasingly turning to the encouragement of superstitious ideas...some of them even becoming crusaders for the faith themselves.

The social utility of religion for all ruling classes has been known since the days of the Roman Empire if not a lot earlier than that.

In addition, it's been suggested that the capitalist ruling class is "losing faith in itself" and must compensate for that loss by turning to religion. That seems to me to be a very plausible suggestion.

What generally flourishes under religious auspices is submission to legitimate authority. "Legitimate" in this context always means authority that recognizes the "special role" of religion and, especially, its leaders.

Historically, the seriously superstitious have not been overly fond of capitalism as a social system...they much preferred feudalism.

They accept capitalism now as "the best available option"...and, indeed, their last chance to save the godracket.

They know that "what comes next" is communism...the total ruin of all their ambitions and conceits.

So they'll "pray for capitalism" and display considerable enthusiasms for many of its aspects. Churches that are the foundation of Christian fascism boast of being organized "like McDonald's" or "like Microsoft".


"Born-again" and the evangelicalism of the 80s came after secularism and humanism of the 60s and 70s. People were "born again" meaning they converted to Christianity from being non-religious.

I completely disagree with you about this.

It seems to me that "born-againism" was indeed a reaction to the "secular humanism" of the 60s and 70s...but one that took place among people who were already infected with the virus of superstition.

We're not talking about people who "abandoned secular humanism" to embrace Christianity. Instead, we are talking about people (mainly white Southern Baptists) who felt deeply threatened by "secular humanism" and responded by becoming more fanatical in their beliefs.

Frankly, I think the loss of a lot of symbols of white supremacy played a big part in their "revival". Their "whole world" was "falling apart"...and they attributed this to a loss of their own fervency and willingness to "fight for God".

To be sure, some changes have occurred in their "core constituency". They are much less "rural" now and much more "suburban" -- especially the most distant suburbs. One finds, here and there, a person of color in their congregations.

And they've learned a lot about how to fleece the suckers...they are wealthy now on a scale undreamed of three decades ago. Their version of Christianity strongly emphasizes "God's Blessings IN THIS WORLD".

But I think your picture of "secular humanists turning to Christianity" simply does not correspond to what happened or what is going to happen.


In the U.S. we don't have a theocracy (yet) and so to argue that people who are religious are so because they are "brainwashed followers" is ridiculous.

No it isn't. It doesn't require a theocracy to "brainwash" small children. All that's needed are parents who were "brainwashed" as small children themselves.


Here, let me give you an example of how radicalization does cause many harmful assumptions to "wither-away" through the process of struggle. In the auto-worker strikes during the Depression, many male workers probably held ideas about female inferiority. But when workers had sit-down strikes in factories, working-class women organized and supported the strike from outside the factory. This challenges the assumptions of male workers. Similarly, in national liberation movements such as in Vietnam and Algeria, women played a very central role in struggles and were often on the battlefields fighting. This challenges the belief that women need to be protected or can't handle themselves as well as men.

Quite true...those things did happen. Unfortunately, the effects were rather limited.

It turns out that it's not enough to simply "challenge an assumption" in the course of an ongoing struggle.

The assumption must be explicitly confronted and defeated.

Do you imagine that women are "really equal now" in the United Auto Workers or in Vietnam or in Algeria???

Algeria is, of course, a glaring example of the error of your assumption. It's another Islamic hellhole for women...better, no doubt, than Iran or "Saudi" Arabia but not even remotely approaching the status of women in even a really backward European country (like Poland or Greece).

Yes, the "demands of the immediate struggle" can often compel even the most backward elements to temporarily accept ideas that they would normally reject.

But until you confront those bad ideas as such and defeat them, the "old shit" will "creep back".

And things will be "just about" as bad as they were before.


I'm saying that the people who make the revolution are most likely going to carry some baggage with them...

Well that remains to be seen, doesn't it?

It seems to me that our task as communists is to convince people to "off-load" all that old crap. But those who think that we should simply "accept it" because "that's how people are" have given up the real struggle before it has begun.

Such people might overthrow a government...but the communist project will be as far beyond them as designing and building a working starship.

You can no more build a communist society on the foundations of superstition than you can fly to Alpha Centauri using "angelic wings".

Neither "method" is even worthy of rational consideration.
First posted at RevLeft on November 6, 2005

Replying to many critics here...


Is it possible to be a communist and Christian at the same time?



Or is there room for religion in communism?



Some will tell you that communism and religion cannot co-exist peacefully, but I believe they can.

Well, much turns on what you actually mean by the word "peacefully" in this context.

To a Christian, the communist act of demolishing cathedrals is not "peaceful" at all.

On the other hand, the Christian myth of communists "shooting all believers" or "putting them in jail" just "because they're religious" is pretty ridiculous.

We intend (or should intend!) to do "to" the Christians no more than what they did to their own predecessors. We will prohibit the public manifestations of their the certain knowledge that religion "withers away" in the dark.


If people believe [that] a god exists that doesn't intervene [in our universe], then how is there a problem?

Speaking purely abstractly, there is no "problem" with such a belief.

But there would be no purpose in "worshiping" such an utterly indifferent deity...or even caring whether anyone else "believed" in it or not.

And this would logically imply that all those who claimed to "speak for god" were and are liars and all "holy books" that purport to tell us "how god wants us to live" are brazen forgeries.

A "god" that "doesn't intervene" in our universe is not very useful.


Why must we follow exactly what Marx said?

That's not really the point. What modern and serious revolutionaries must always ask themselves now is more along the lines of: what did Marx actually say about this or that particular controversy and was he right or was he wrong about this?

For example...

What Did Marx "Get Wrong"?


What does the history of the world and the existence or non-existence of a god(s) have to do with the problems capitalism creates?

Both religion and capitalism have histories. They are "the way they are" because of the specific material conditions that gave birth to them and shaped them over the centuries of their existence.

The world is not like an old-style "blackboard" that you could just "wipe clean" and then write "whatever you wanted" on it.

Indeed, the project of "changing the world" has turned out to be much more complicated than revolutionaries once thought it would be.

To take just the example you cited, it was once believed by nearly everyone that prayer was the only way to "change the world".

There are still a lot of people who believe that.

And they are and have always been WRONG!

In fact, "prayer" changes nothing because there are no gods.

Thus it becomes very important to completely discredit this false theory of "how to change the world".

That is what we really mean by the word "learning", is it not? We reject whatever misconceptions that we held on a particular subject due to our ignorance and accept a more accurate understanding of that subject.

When one rejects entirely all supernatural "theories", then one can learn how the world really works.

And then, if one desires, one can effectively CHANGE IT.


It isn't about god, it's about the moolah!

Yes indeed. Beneath all the godbabble of our era is a very grubby capitalist ethic.

My father's a great tv preacher.
My mother speaks out against sin.
My sister fucks network producers.
My God, how the money rolls in!

Or see...

A Glimpse into the Godracket


Christianity is one of those 'few religions' which believes that God does not interfere. On the issue of prayer, God, according to Christians, really just says yes or no, depending upon reasoning we cannot hope to understand (I'm sure you atheists love that little part, don't you). But, in truth, Christianity teaches that God has, essentially, deserted the human race for awhile.

Resisting the temptation to have some rhetorical fun with this one, I think some evidence of what Christians really believe is in order here.

quote (Jeff Sharlet):

After church, I walked across the parking lot to the World Prayer Center, where I watched prayers scroll over two giant flat-screen televisions while a young man played piano. The Prayer Center—a joint effort of several fundamentalist organizations but located at and presided over by New Life—houses a bookstore that when I visited was called the Arsenal (its name has since been changed to Solomon’s Porch), as well as “corporate” prayer rooms, personal “prayer closets,” hotel rooms, and the headquarters of Global Harvest, a ministry dedicated to “spiritual warfare.” (The Prayer Center’s nickname in the fundamentalist world is “spiritual NORAD.”)...

In the chapel are several computer terminals, where one can sign on to the World Prayer Team and enter a prayer. Eventually one’s words will scroll across the large flat screens, as well as across the screens around the world, which as many as 70,000 other Prayer Team members are watching at any point in time. Prayers range from the mundane (real-estate deals and job situations demand frequent attention) to the urgent...

Soldiers of Christ -- Inside America's most powerful megachurch

I highly recommend this article for its insights into Christian fascism in the United States.


Maybe slightly off-topic, since I am neither a Christian nor a communist, but I do not know why communists historically have targeted organised religion. Of course, the churches are often a stronghold of remaining reactionary forces, but since they often hold a certain popularity, the best thing would be to offer them cooperation.

Well, as you said, you are "not a communist" you don't know that real communists do not "cooperate" with reactionary forces.

Even if they're "popular".


In the present-time Russia, about two thirds of the population counts themselves as Christians, despite 70 years of active persecution of the church. A majority of the Russians want the orthodox church to handle education.

Have you been hanging out at Eastern Orthodox websites lately? *laughs*

I very much doubt if more than 5% of modern Russians have any use for religion at all. The idea that education should be run by the church is so reactionary that even most Americans would reject it.


The Swedish church itself could largely be said to be run by socialists. It has done very much in order to help immigrants, people with alternative sexualities as well as supporting cultural projects which could be said to be "progressive".

Possibly true...but remember that Swedish "socialists" are actually bourgeois reformists who have no intention whatsoever of challenging the fundamental class relationships of Swedish capitalist society.


A communist society should not infringe on anyone's human rights; religion in my mind is a human right.

Capitalists think that "profit" is a "human right". Slaveowners thought that "owning slaves" was a "human right".

Preachers think that fleecing the suckers is a "human right".

Communists think that growing up in an environment completely free of toxic superstitions is a "human right".

We'll see whose version of "human rights" prevails.


Religion is something that helps you to become a good Human.

That's like saying the AIDS virus "improves your health".


Fidel Castro had all the churches closed in Cuba and not too long ago (a little bit before the Pope`s visit) he allowed them.

On the matter of Fidel Castro's bizarre infatuation with the Catholic superstition, see these two collections...

Communists and Religion -- Part 15

Castro Pays Homage to a Dead Pope

The Cubans did close down some of the churches during the period of "revolutionary enthusiasm"...but they didn't demolish any of them.

They should have torn them all down!
First posted at RevLeft on November 11, 2005

Should the superstitious be permitted membership in the Commie Club Forum?

The obvious principled communist answer is no...and, in addition, the vast weight of the revolutionary anarchist tradition is likewise thoroughly anti-religious.

At this time, I agree, it would be a "complicated" policy to implement...who would be "grandfathered in" and allowed to remain in the CC? What about the "fringes" of superstition? What about those who are "moving away" from superstition (as shown by their posts) but have not yet completely "made the break"?

Perhaps it might be better to "wait a few more years" and let the anti-superstitious sentiment on this board continue to grow. People on this board have made a lot of progress over the three years I've been here. I can easily recall a time when I was just about the only voice on this board that was consistently opposed to all forms of superstition.

Now there are lots of young comrades here who simply won't tolerate that reactionary crap for a New York minute.

And I expect their numbers will continue to grow.

Thus, I urge a "no" vote on this question as a declaration of revolutionary principle even if actual implementation is "stretched out" over several years. But even if those who "tolerate" superstition win on this particular vote, it may well be their last victory on this issue. As revolutionary consciousness on this board continues to grow and deepen, the "toleration" of reactionary ideas will continue to shrink.

Most of you will probably live long enough to see and take part in things that will make the 60s look like a tea party...and, when that happens, you'll find that putting up with any kind of superstitious crap won't even be an issue. A new revolutionary upsurge "steps on" superstition the way we step on an insect...we don't even notice it!

There will be a need in the post-revolutionary period to struggle against the reactionary remnants of superstition, both ideologically and as a practical matter. We really do have to demolish the cathedrals and all that they stand for.

But we will not be some sort of "enlightened despots" at that point. The vast majority of people will "think like us" on this (and many!) issues and an open "defender of superstition" will be as rare as a pro-slavery voice in 1866!

The "arrow of time" has an unmistakable direction on this controversy. Everything points to the end of human slavery to superstition...much like so much points towards the end of all forms of class society.

This is a train we should want to ride.
First posted at RevLeft on November 19, 2005

As I understand you, your argument may be fairly summarized as something along the lines of "religions are different" and "religious believers believe different things".

I don't think anyone would dispute that.

What is more pertinent is the question of whether religion (of any kind) can "be progressive" in today's world?

You evidently think that it "can be" and "is". You even cite examples of "religious revolutionaries".

How do you manage to overlook the fact that your examples, even if valid, constitute the tiniest minority of all religious believers?

Do you really think that religion "has a future" that will "be progressive"? That it can and will "someday" overcome its reactionary character? That's it's really capable of consistently "siding with the oppressed" against the oppressors?

If so, I can only say that I find such a view simply astonishing! Religion has a documented "track record" of some 60 or 70 centuries.

And that record is simply least in the eyes of civilized people.

I don't understand what purpose you seek to serve by emphasizing the theological quarrels that take place within the paradigm of superstition. Of course they squabble amongst one another...most of the time over who has the "right" to fleece this or that particular group of suckers.

But why should we care about that?

Do we want to see a permanent end to their dirty little racket or not?

You seem...well, unsure about this.
First posted at RevLeft on November 20, 2005

quote (Bukarhin):

But the campaign against the backwardness of the masses in this matter of religion, must be conducted with patience and considerateness, as well as with energy and perseverance. The credulous crowd is extremely sensitive to anything which hurts its feelings. To thrust atheism upon the masses, and in conjunction therewith to interfere forcibly with religious practices and to make mock of the objects of popular reverence, would not assist but would hinder the campaign against religion. If the church were to be persecuted, it would win sympathy among the masses, for persecution would remind them of the almost forgotten days when there was an association between religion and the defence of national freedom; it would strengthen the antisemitic movement; and in general it would mobilize all the vestiges of an ideology which is already beginning to die out.

This is an interesting illustration of both the weakness of the Leninist "strategy" against superstition as well as the well-known elitism characteristic of Leninism.

Note that Bukarhin is worried that "the credulous crowd" might "sympathize" with the church if it were "persecuted" by the Bolsheviks.

Did the "credulous crowd" "sympathize" with the reactionary White armies while they were being "persecuted" by the Bolshevik armies? Why then does Bukharin assume their sympathies with the reactionary church?

I think this position comes from an attitude expressed by Lenin himself. The masses are "backward" and, if given any excuse at all, will "sympathize" with reaction.

I don't know if anyone in the 1920s straightforwardly advocated the demolition of all the old cathedrals; I've never run across any reference to such a proposal.

But even if someone made it, it's clear what the response of Lenin's party and government would have been.

"No, that's too dangerous."

Too bad.
First posted at RevLeft on November 20, 2005


...if you admitted your own fallacies, then you wouldn't be able to condemn the same fallacies in others.

That would only be true if "all fallacies are created equal".

They're not.

Most of us have told "social lies" to make someone feel better at one time or another...we regard them as "harmless fallacies" motivated by kindness.

And most of us have doubtless thought and behaved irrationally at one time or another...I was, for example, pretty close to outright panic when I fled New Orleans after Katrina.

What's in dispute in this thread is not an abstract comparison of fallacies or the contention that everyone in the CC acts solely from "pure reason".

We are discussing a particular form of institutionalized unreason. Should superstitious people be in the CC?

That's what religions are: institutionalized and formal systems of superstition.

Is that what we want in the CC? Do we want people here voting on stuff who have a whole different and antagonistic way of looking at the world than we do?

Does that make sense?

It would, perhaps, to someone like this...


Most of the major religions began as extremely progressive offshoots, and others can certainly be interpreted in very open and progressive ways.

He believes that religion "is" or "can be" or "will become" genuinely progressive...that it's not only not our enemy but "will become" our "friend".

Here, I suggest, is a fallacy nearly as bad as superstition itself.

This poor guy believes that superstition "is our friend" or "will become" our friend in the future.

Anyone who could believe that could believe anything. It is "world class" gullibility, pure and simple.

So much so that I can only offer the unhappy prediction that he will, sooner or later, end up in a church.

Maybe even as a "progressive preacher".

The Lord spake unto me, saying "thou shalt be a communist or burn in Hell forever." *laughs*

Ok, that's one guy and we can't help it if some nutball gets into the CC by mistake.

But how about the rest of you folks? Is this the kind of attitude that you want expressed in the CC...or affecting the outcome of controversies within the CC?

If you haven't voted yet, this matter deserves your most sober and rational consideration.
First posted at RevLeft on November 21, 2005


People run to religion because of alienation. You propose to alienate them further. FUCKING BRILLIANT! Remind me to never take you seriously again.

What you decide to "take seriously" is, of course, a personal decision.

Your premise -- that people are religious because of "alienation" -- seems pretty dubious to me.

Children are raised to be superstitious...and generally continue to believe because it is part of their culture.

Indeed, I think it could be argued that part of the process of becoming alienated from that culture perforce includes the rejection of superstition...beginning with the one they were raised to believe and going on to encompass all superstitions.

Speaking abstractly, it may be true enough that religion is a reflection of the "general alienation" that everyone experiences in class society -- "the heart of a heartless world", etc.

But down at the roots of class society, when someone begins to feel the initial stirrings of rebellion, it is, quite often, initially a rebellion against superstition. The lies of the clergy directly contradict actual human experience.


What is wrong with that is the fact that those people are excluded from a vital function that supposedly represents their interests as working class--although frankly I've increasingly come to conclude that very few of you are actually working class. It seems very few are interested in helping the working class, but instead wish to wage some pseudo-atheist war against including the working class in its functions.

90% of the working class is religious. If you wish to work in the interests of the working class, you can not exclude them. Educate them instead.

Well, nice to see that one "old left tradition" is still "alive and well". When one runs out of arguments, "play the class card". Accuse those who disagree with you of being "middle-class".

I don't think it works as well as it used to...but that doesn't stop some folks from trying.

It is highly unlikely that "90%" of the working class "is religious" in any advanced capitalist country.

In some countries, the percentage is still quite high (Poland, Greece, the United States, for example) although it is declining even there. In other countries (Germany, for example), the churches are shutting down for lack of suckers.

The real weakness in this sort of argument can be shown by extending it to other reactionary sentiments.

Suppose we could say (accurately) that 66.7% of the American working class is still homophobic. Would it then be "ok" to invite homophobes to spew their venom in the Commie Club?

Hell, probably 80% or more of the American working class still emotionally identifies -- to one extent or another -- with the ongoing military adventures of the American Empire. Shall there be "room for them" in the CC?

As revolutionaries, we are not "limited" to the opinions presently existing among "all" workers. We are free to define ourselves according to what makes sense to us.

We hope that definition will make more sense to larger and larger numbers of workers in the future. There are some good reasons to think that might well be the case.

But how does it help us to pretend tolerance for that which we find intolerable?

Is it thought that we can (or should) fool people into accepting us as "regular folks" and "then" spring the truth on them at some suitable future moment?

What kind of crap is that?

We're not "regular folks" in any reasonable sense of that concept. We have an entirely different way of looking at everything. We envision changes in the world that 99.999% of the human species have not yet even imagined.

There's no "hiding that" and it's stupid to even try. An end to class society and all the old crap that goes with it is a shocking concept to nearly everyone.

To piss and moan about "alienating" the superstitious is just silly -- what we have to say is alienating to nearly everyone...that is, everyone who has not yet begun to doubt the legitimacy of class society itself.

There's no legitimate basis for the superstitious to be in the CC...or, for that matter, to be permitted to post here at all except in Opposing Ideologies.

They don't want what we want...even if, mistakenly, a few of them might think so.

The ones who do find their way here will, after a while, move on to boards that suit them much better than this one. It will, in all likelihood, be their own personal experiences in life that will (or won't) convince them that they have been gulled.

We can help by directly challenging the nonsense that their heads are stuffed with...but they must "wash" their own brains of the accumulated superstitious muck.

For many it will be a difficult task...and some will never manage it.

But we can't do it "for them"...and pretending that having them as part of the CC will allow that to happen is simply a hopeless absurdity.
First posted at RevLeft on November 22, 2005


Secondly, as a working class person yourself, redstar, I will be entirely amazed (and might possibly move to whatever area you are in now just to experience such a working class movement) if you can tell me straight up that you think the majority of the working class isn't part of some religious snare. You've spent your life saturated with the working class, and although my life's significantly shorter(not a crack, just an observation), I have as well.

Of course you are correct at this time about most working people in the United States...though I do think you overlook many working class people who simply have no use for religion at all.

You know as well as I that the media presents a "picture" of the working class that is...less than accurate, to put it mildly. Often it is the most reactionary workers who are portrayed as "typical".

My own maternal grandmother was a "Rosie the Riveter" during World War II...and she was so respected by her co-workers (mostly male workers "too old" for the war) that she was elected a shop-steward and remained one until she retired.

At the time of her death, I don't think she'd been inside a Catholic Church for three decades or more.

Religion was simply irrelevant to her life.

I have met a fair number of workers over the course of my life who were "practical atheists"...that is, they conducted their lives without regard to "God's Commandments" or the fulminations of the preachers.

Indeed, a "formal atheism" is but a step away for them...making explicit what is already implicit.

A working class person who came to this board because they were interested in "left politics" and wanted to learn more might find the open hostility towards religion "a bit shocking"...because it is common in the American "mainstream" to express "respect" for religion even when one "disagrees" with a particular religious idea.

But I think that it is generally the case (at least in my experience) that working people respect plain speaking more than most middle-class people (who've been taught that "words" are "more important" than real things).

The suggestion made by you and others that overt hostility to superstition will "exclude" working class people is, in my view, very dubious. It will "exclude" many, no doubt. But it may also serve to attract some working class people as well...maybe even some who otherwise would have no particular interest in our ideas.
First posted at RevLeft on November 23, 2005

It seems to me that this "debate" was and remains more "far-reaching" than simply the historically trivial question of "who should be excluded from the CC".

What I detect on the part of the various "defenders" of "religious revolutionaries" is a conviction that religion is somehow "still legitimate"...inspite of its atrocious track-record.

It's almost as if they were saying "Comrade X can still make a positive contribution to the revolution...even if he continues refusing to sit next to a person of color on the subway".

I confess that I cannot understand why some people here cannot seem to grasp the reactionary character of all forms of superstition.

Is it some kind of "numbers game"? As long as there are a tiny number of superstitious people who claim to be "revolutionaries" then we "have" to not only tolerate them but welcome them into our midst???

Is it some kind of "ideological hangover" from the era in which religion enjoyed wide-spread "respect" even on the "left"? Say, before World War I or something like that?

Does it come from some kind of residual unwillingness to finally confront the fact that material reality is "all there is"?

Does it originate in a "sense of isolation" know, we "cannot afford" to "alienate" any potential supporter no matter what they might think?

Maybe it really comes from an old assumption that goes all the way back to feudalism: there are "two" worlds -- the material world that we actually live in and the "spiritual world" that we "will live in" after we die.

And it "follows" that our real-world concerns must never be allowed to "infringe" upon the "equally legitimate" concerns of the "spiritual world" and its earthly "representatives".

I've seen quite a few posts here that hint at that sort of distinction...that there's some kind of "wall" between what people think about the real world and what they believe about the "spiritual world"...and one "should have no effect" on the other.

One can sympathize with the working scientist who publicly adopts this position. S/he is simply trying to make a living while avoiding as much flak from the god merchants as possible. Stephen J. Gould actually wrote a book along those lines.

A small number of working scientists enjoy such prestige and employment security that they can boldly attack superstition as a "disgrace to humanity"...may their numbers increase!

But, in any event, are such considerations relevant to us? Does anyone imagine that we will "not" be viciously attacked by the godracket as soon as we appear "on their radar"? Do you think that there won't be a local affiliate of "Christians Against Communism" where you live? Or that anarchism won't be denounced as a "Satanic conspiracy"?

Do you propose that we should "turn the other cheek"? *laughs*

Perhaps I am relying too much on "common sense" in this controversy. To me, it seems self-evident that enemies should be treated like enemies.

Is that "rocket science"?

Nor am I impressed by claims that the various "holy books" contain occasional "nice things" -- people who argue that those "nice things" are what religion "is really about" strike me as hopelessly naive...perhaps they also believe that dummyvision commercials are what a product "is really like".

I suspect that in the coming years it will be necessary to "fight" this matter out over and over again until the "left" (at least its more serious parts) finally accepts reality.

Superstition is an intransigent enemy of human emancipation -- it always has been and always will be until it is finally wiped out.

And we can and should "do our part" to wipe it out.

Anything less would be shameful.
First posted at RevLeft on November 25, 2005


Why does this rhetoric remind me of the 'final solution'?

My, my, but you are so bent on your crusade.

Why do you want to interject verbal irrelevancies into this discussion?

Do you imagine that you can persuade people by simply choosing a few "weighted words" that carry a lot of negative "emotional freight"?

That's not going to work.


Oh, and for the record, I contest the view that belief is in any way reactionary. Simply because belief has [been] in the past and in some cases still is a source of reactionary behaviour does not mean that all belief is by nature reactionary.

Well, "how much" evidence would be sufficient to convince you?

Perhaps you have adopted the "agnostic strategy" on this question.

You long as "all possible gods" have not yet been disproved, it is still "possible" that one or more "gods exist".

As long as "every believer" has not been "proved" to be a thoroughgoing reactionary, it is "possible" that "some of them" aren't.

Be as skeptical of the hypothesis as you wish...but you must be at least vaguely aware that you are arguing "in bad faith". As a history student, you cannot help but be aware of the "track-record" of least in the most general outlines. Searching the dusty nooks and crannies of history for believers who didn't "burn witches" (metaphorically or literally) may be, in your eyes, a suitable way to spend one's time.

Go ahead. Enjoy yourself.

But in the minds of rational people the issue is already settled. There really are no gods and the godracket really is reactionary to the core.

I can't really help it if you find these to be "dogmatic assumptions" or examples of "bigotry" or whatever. I have written tens of thousands of words (if not more!) on these subjects which you are free to consult as time permits. They contain a wealth of evidence supporting both of these propositions...which you may or may not find compelling.

Neither I nor anyone else expects "perfect agreement" on "all questions". But we are all arriving at a kind of "moving consensus" over time about what is acceptable on the left.

Racism, sexism, and homophobia are unacceptable. Superstition is "on the road" to the same destination.

Neither you nor the other "defenders of the faith" here have offered any plausible hypothesis why this "should not be the case".

What is in the process of happening is what should be happening.

Progress is being made.

What could you possibly have against that?
First posted at RevLeft on November 25, 2005


I would like you to prove to me that all theistic, nay, spiritual belief is reactionary.

Well, that is an impractical demand, as I'm sure you realize. It's like "proving" that "all swans are white" could only do it by capturing and tagging every living swan -- a task that would be endless since new swans are constantly being born.

Indeed, one could set up similar problems for any position that you might choose to argue "the case for tolerance".

Prove that every capitalist is a ruthless greedy bastard! Prove that every racist is a potential or actual murderer! Prove that every Nazi supported the Holocaust!

As a practical matter, we are compelled to rely upon "a representative sample" of any present-day or historical phenomena.

And, to be sure, we will always be accused of selecting a "biased sample" by those who seek to defend the ideological current that we are opposing.

Not all Catholics support Opus Dei or want to burn a witch.

Not every Christian is a Christian fascist.

Not every Muslim wants to convert or kill the whole world.

Blah, blah, blah.

I think you have to honestly ask yourself where the weight of the evidence lies.

I repeat: the historical track-record of religion is overwhelmingly reactionary and I don't see how you can evade this fundamental fact.


Well I certainly would not take it to that extreme, but certainly there are numerous examples of religion being the tool of progressives, which rather spoils your arguments.

Setting aside the fact that we might have somewhat different definitions of what is "progressive", I think the examples of "religious progressives" that I've seen cited in other threads here are extremely rare and historically brief and trivial exceptions to the general rule.

Rather like the legendary "good Nazis" who deliberately "shot in the air" while a small group of Jews escaped from a "death train" bound for Auschwitz.

Sure, stuff like that happened on a very tiny scale.

But it doesn't affect our interpretation of Nazism as fundamentally reactionary, does it?

Defenders of superstition usually like to cite the "progressive role" of Christianity in the 19th century movement to abolish both the slave-trade and ultimately slavery itself.

It was, in those days, argued seriously that "slavery was an abomination in the eyes of God"...even though slavery as an institution is explicitly endorsed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Moreover, this anti-slavery "heresy" was, in fact, widely condemned by many if not nearly all of the "mainstream" Christian churches of that era. I suspect that it was only after 1856 in the United States that northern "Christian opinion" moved decisively against part of the wide-spread northern resentment of "southern arrogance" in general.

But the most important consideration is that of historical context. In the middle of the 19th century, religion was still regarded by most people as a "serious explanation" of why the world was as it is.

That's no longer the case in the "west"!

I think that even the superstitious among us mostly live as practical atheists. They no longer, for the most part, make decisions based on their "understanding" of "God's Will".

The problem arises on those occasions when they do decide to consider "What Would Jesus Do?".

Maybe they wouldn't "burn a witch"...but maybe they would put a teenage girl in prison because she had an abortion without her parents' permission.

Is that reactionary enough for you?

Do they have the expression in the U.K. "sin taxes"? In America, this refers to enormous taxes placed on alcohol and especial burden on working and poor people.

Those taxes go back to the early 20th century, when the "progressive" preachers argued that if sin were more costly then fewer ordinary people would be able to afford it. It was the real beginning of the "war on drugs".

It was also during this period that opium became illegal...since it was, after all, the preferred drug of the "heathen Chinese" and another "abomination in the eyes of God".

And we know how all that's turned out, don't we?


If you have a wealth of evidence, then surely you can simply provide a mere example of that for the purposes of this debate. Or at least cite an article where your evidence can be viewed...

Happy to oblige...

A Glimpse into the Godracket


Then the simple question arises, if a person is clearly progressive and supports the abolition of capitalism, just quite who is to say that they are an unacceptable part of the left?

All of us, of course. We collectively decide, by arguments and votes, who we think are "really progressive" and who we reject as "fakes".

Who else?


Please explain to me how one form of ethnic, cultural or sexual discrimination (the ones you have cited above) is any different to any other form of ethnic or cultural discrimination (i.e., religious choice). I am most interested how you can logically support this apparent hypocrisy.

You produced the key to your question: "religious choice".

We cannot choose to be male or female, heterosexual or homosexual, or the color of our skins. Those traits are genetically "built-in".

On the other hand, it is, at least in principle, possible to choose to be progressive or reactionary, scientific or superstitious, etc. We are not "born that way".

Granted that there are many social factors that predispose people to "choose" one option over another...and those factors are often so powerful that even to speak of "choice" can be very misleading.

But we are obviously confronted with many cases where people have rejected the reactionary opinions that they once held.

So it "can be done".

One important way that we make clear to people that it should and must be done is the principle of inclusion if you "do it" and exclusion if you "don't do it".

One of your minuscule examples of "religious progressives" followed the same rule. The tiny sects in Pennsylvania that were among the earliest (c.1750-1800) "abolitionists" began by setting a rule in their own churches: if you didn't emancipate your slaves within one year of joining the church, you got your slave-owning ass booted out.

Their example was so effective that the "prestige" of slavery and slave-owning declined very quickly in Pennsylvania and it became one of the first states to legally abolish slavery...shortly after the American Revolution, if I'm not mistaken.

The principle of inclusion/exclusion is, like it or not, one of the ways that we humans influence each other.
First posted at RevLeft on November 26, 2005


I can see where the motivation might come from if we had anywhere close to a materialist understanding in the CC but we don’t and pissing off a few religious comrades won’t help at all.

Is that what this controversy reduces itself to in the minds of all the "defenders of the faith"?

We "mustn't piss people off".

We want everybody to "love" us.

Are there any fit words to describe such wretched servility?

Well yes, there are some.

I think you already know what they are. *laughs*
First posted at RevLeft on November 26, 2005


The point that is being made here is that religion is a cultural phenomena; yet redstar claims that one should not be judged based on culture. Thus, a contradiction.

Where did that come from?

Ok, let's try again...

1. Religion is indeed a "cultural" phenomenon.

2. People do not get to choose what culture they are born into.

3. Thus, we expect people in a particular culture, with rare exceptions, to "believe in the gods of that culture".

4. Cultures change!

5. "Old gods" can be abandoned and "new gods" constructed.

6. Cultures can even abandon "gods" altogether.

7. What cultures can do follows from what individuals can do.

8. Individuals can "junk" the aspects of "their culture" that they don't like.

9. We, at RevLeft, by and large, don't like religion. That's becoming "part of the culture" of this board.

10. Those who want to be here must choose between the religious aspects of their culture and the anti-religious culture of this board.

11. Just as they must choose between the racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. aspects of their culture and the opposing views that have already been accepted on this board.

We at RevLeft, like any voluntary human social group, have a "mini-culture" of our own...ideas and behavior that we regard as "acceptable" and "unacceptable".

We do not possess "infinite and universal tolerance", nor should we!

In fact, that's a meaningless idealist "idea".

No human group could ever function on such a basis.


Several people here have continued to repeat the assertion that religion today is "diverse" and "not like it used to be" and even "sometimes progressive", etc.

I can only find myself astonished by such if one were to take the cosmetic enhancement of a corpse as a "sign of life".

Is it not obvious that some of the god merchants, growing aware that many of their traditional doctrines and practices are presently regarded as barbaric by civilized people, are now trying to save their racket?

Yeah, let's throw in some scraps of Marxist rhetoric...and cut out all the anti-woman and anti-gay stuff...and do more charity work among the poor...and play down all that "sin" stuff for a while, etc., etc., etc.

It's like the "green campaign" of British Petroleum...We're not like the other oil companies, see?

Oh yes they are! And the same thing is true of those "progressive" variants of organized superstition!

When massive numbers of people become aware that they are still running a racket, then their "spiritual" Ponzi scheme collapses.

People on this board, regardless of their calendar age, should be "grown up" enough to see through this crap and reject it.

I think they will...but better today than tomorrow. ---------------------------------------------------------------
First posted at RevLeft on November 27, 2005


Bloody hell, that's the first time I've seen a leftie go against one of the 'great supreme legends whose every word must be accepted'. Not that I agree with your stance on this but good on you...


It's something I've tried to encourage ever since I joined this board.

When someone quotes a "left authority", we should not flop on our bellies or roll over like puppies.

The proper response, in my opinion, is a question:

Is that true?

Because that's what really matters -- not "who said it" or "under what circumstances", blah, blah, blah.

If you look at a representative sampling of 20th century Leninist writing, you'll see it was almost always a "battle of quotations"...most resembling the 5th century battles over the shape of Christianity and what "orthodox Christianity" really meant.

Marx was the biggest victim of such theological haggling but Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Mao, etc. all "gave as good as they got". Their respective followers became "experts" at "digging out" a "suitable quotation" to "justify" anything.

"Dialectics" was an indispensable part of all this, of course. Everyone "used it" while reaching completely opposing conclusions. *laughs*

Although my critics consider me a "vulgar American pragmatist" -- "too lazy" to "make the effort" to "study great works" or "dense texts" -- I remain "unreformed" and "confirmed in sin".

What really matters is what's true and what's not true.

And the way we figure out what's true is not by mere words but by subjecting every proposition to the test of material reality.

If something is true, then it will "work" in both understanding the real world and changing it.

A proposition that the superstitious will never understand.
First posted at RevLeft on November 29, 2005


Is there a definite causal link between ALL religions and reactionary behaviour?

If there isn't one, then there is no justification.

We could, if you like, be more precise in our language.

We could say something along the lines of...

Religion has been historically highly correlated with the advocacy and implementation of extremely reactionary social policies.

In my opinion, the correlation approaches 0.99999 -- but, of course, no formal studies of this have ever been done for obvious reasons.

And association is "not the same" as "cause" any scientist will quickly tell you.

It seems to me to be self-evident that the people who invented successful religions were obviously motivated by material self-interest.

By pretending to "know" the "will of the gods", they were able to make a living without working.

They nailed down this racket by coming to an arrangement with (first) tribal chiefs and (later) kings: we'll tell the people that the gods "command" obedience to you and you will tell the people that they "must worship the gods" and "pay tribute to us".

Thus all the "holy books" preach!

And thus religion as it is actually practiced to this very day!

I don't deny that the "holy prophets" may have had entirely different fact some have suggested that they were actually mentally ill persons who suffered "divine visions" as a consequence of brain malfunctions.

But the ones who "took the prophet's words" and turned them into a successful religion were reactionary con-men.

As have been all their successors.

If religion did not "cause" reactionary behavior, then we'd be faced with a "historical coincidence" of some 70 centuries astonishing occurrence for which there is no known parallel.

Of course you are free to "hold out" for some even "more rigorous" proof of a "causal link" between religion and the agnostics who patiently await the "proof" that "all possible gods" don't exist before they'll admit to atheism.

I think the rational choice is obvious in this controversy.
First posted at RevLeft on November 29, 2005


If there was a causal link, then I would support restricting or banning all religious members, I just don't think association is enough.

Why ever not?

Can it all be "just a coincidence"?

For all of recorded history???


...although not all religions, or spiritual people, make any reference to holy texts, the majority, but not all.

Is 99.999% a "sufficient" majority? Writing down "the holy words" that the prophet received "from the gods" has always been part of the religious "mind-set" well as the careful recording of "proper ritual", etc.

I would imagine that the only religions today that don't have "a holy book" are too new to have written one down yet. If they become "successful", then they will certainly have at least one "holy book" and, ultimately, a whole bunch.


I personally agree with Nietzsche's interpretation of religion.

That's a shame.

The Nietzsche Cult


Why is it we don't hear about individualistic, genuinely honest religions? Because they are just that, non-mainstream, often not preached and vary in every case. This is a larger group than many people realise, and will remain so.

How "large" such things might be is a question that must always remain speculative. A religion that "isn't preached" has no presence in human society.

Indeed, how do you "know" they even exist? And how is it that you "know" their characteristics -- "individualistic", "genuinely honest", etc.

Where could you possibly find out about such a thing?

Perhaps you refer to "prophets" who have not yet developed a following...or at least one large enough to attract any public attention.

Such people would not necessarily have any "links" to reactionary behavior...they haven't had time to forge those links.

But on the other hand, "new" religions historically have borrowed heavily from previous "revelations"...thus (at least for the examples we know) they look "pretty bad" right from the start.

As it happens, for example, the beginnings of Mormonism are pretty well documented...and it was reactionary from the start.

The same thing is true of the Nation of Islam.

It's what we would expect if the hypothesis that "religion promotes reactionary behavior" were valid.


However not all spiritual behaviour does this.

I take it that you are making reference to the "mystical" tradition -- a small current found in all religions.

That is, there has always been a small number of individuals in every religion who were simply "uninterested" in "earthly affairs" and instead sought a "direct encounter with the next world".

I personally think it quite likely that they were (and are!) clinically insane...but in any event, such people would no more join RevLeft than they'd join the Martha Stewart Shopping Network.

There's "no need" to exclude people like that because they'd never come here at all.


This is true of anything that preaches unacceptance, or intolerance.

I don't understand what you mean by this. What does "preaching unacceptance" or "intolerance" mean in this context?

Nor do I understand the view that suggests that "intolerance" is some kind of "sin".

It is not abstract "intolerance" that makes religion reactionary. It's the observed fact that religion not only "tolerates" reaction but actively promotes it.

I am extremely intolerant...of reaction!

I wish everyone on this board shared my "intolerance".

One of the "best features" of communist society is that it will not tolerate reaction.


"Christianity is a nice idea, but nobody has ever tried it."

This is a "quip" one could possibly extract any substantive meaning from it because there is none.

A similar quip was attributed to Gandhi: when asked what his opinion of "western civilization" was, he supposedly replied that he "thought it was a good idea and hoped that someday someone would try it".

It "sounds cool" but doesn't mean anything.

We can only evaluate Christianity as it historically developed. What it "might have been" or "could be" is entirely speculative.

Speculations, I might add, that suffer from the self-interest of those who want to "save that religion" from dying for lack of interest.

The phrase "post-Christian Europe" is already in wide circulation over there.


Judging "communism" solely on attempts that were, at least in some cases never intended to successfully apply the true ideology, is not a true criticism of what communism inherently is, but what people that have harnessed the name have made it.

A parallel that is frequently drawn by the superstitious.

What's wrong with it is that it ignores material reality. Someone who took Marx's historical materialism seriously would have recognized that there was never any possibility of communism in Russia or China in the last century.

The fact that Lenin and his disciples chose to call themselves "communists" was, in the last analysis, a public relations decision...a matter of "brand name" and "image".

Leninism is clearly well on its way to the Museum of Discredited Ideas in the "west"...almost no one is even interested in that approach any more. The pretenses of a "Bob Avakian" simply provoke laughter...if anyone notices at all.

But I think interest in Marx's discoveries is actually growing...what he wrote "sounds relevant" to present-day realities.

And not just the economic stuff. His idea that "the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the workers themselves" is starting to make sense...particularly in light of the catastrophic failures of 20th century Leninism.

There already are some small revolutionary groups that are explicitly limited to workers...middle-class "leaders" need not apply.

This is something that is in its earliest stages and there is still "a long way to go" to get rid of all the old Leninist mythology.

But, unlike religion, progress is being made...something that religions can't really do.

They can make cosmetic changes, use nicer-sounding words, temporarily suspend some of their more barbaric practices, and so on. But the reactionary substance of their views can't be's "holy" because it "comes from God".


It is for this sort of person, although not a member here, I opposed the proposal.

Do you think he would make a valuable member of the CC, considering his outlook?

Or that someone "like him" would?

He sounds simply many are. As religion decays, there's bound to be a good many people who "don't know what they believe". They don't realize that they are "on the road" to atheism...but they are!

I think "your guy" would benefit by an open exchange with "hard-core" atheists in the Religion subforum.

But I would vote "against him" as a member of the CC.


Utility plays its part, but I think we should also look at historical examples of where an attitude has been adopted towards one group, based on what the majority of that group is perceived to act like.

This would seem to be another "plug" for "tolerance".

The material reasons for past examples of intolerance are numerous and vary widely according to specific historical circumstances.

There's no such thing as "discrimination" in the abstract. Specific humans discriminate against specific other humans for material reasons.

As this board becomes more and more explicitly hostile to superstition, it will discriminate against people who defend those reactionary views...just as it discriminates against Nazis, racists, sexists, etc.

You may not "like this" yourself...but I don't see how you can deny that this is "how things work".

People do not wish to "tolerate" those whom they perceive to be enemies.


Likewise, we all know that most religious people are reactionary and irrational, but this is no reason to prevent every religious person from ever having a say. I can simply not go along with that line of reasoning, when it is exactly the sort of thought we should be discouraging.

Why should we "discourage" intolerance of reaction?

It seems to me that it needs to be encouraged.

How else is progress to be made in defeating reaction?


Justification is so much better when repeated observations are explained by a causal link between the circumstances and the observation. Otherwise you just have observations that can be falsified by a single example.

Well, I think the material foundations of superstition that I discussed in my last post supply a sufficient number of "smoking guns" to make the conclusion a plausible one.

A "religious world-view" leads to reactionary behavior.

I don't think that any credible exceptions can be produced.

Unlike black swans.
First posted at RevLeft on November 30, 2005


Ah, good to see you have rejected scientific reasoning. Because it is generally cold when it snows; does that mean snow causes lowered atmospheric temperature? This is effectively your reasoning.

As soon as modern humans settled parts of the world where it got cold enough to snow, they certainly noticed the relationship: first it gets cold and then it starts to snow and then, it gets even colder.

I'm sure that this resulted in the formula colder weather causes it to snow. That's not entirely accurate but it's good enough for early humans to plan their activities accordingly.

We may not understand with scientific clarity the exact details of the cause-effect relationship between religion and reaction -- our "social sciences" are still very primitive in many ways.

But the association is so strong and of such long-standing duration that there is no reason that I can see why we can't plan our activities accordingly.

Indeed, I think the "burden of proof" is on those who assert otherwise -- that there "is" or "could possibly be" a religion that was "consistently progressive".

At best, some have suggested that privately-held "spiritual beliefs" that were "never preached" would "not interfere" with consistently progressive activity.

And, of course, people who "took that road" would never be excluded from a revolutionary movement because no one would even know about their "spirituality".

But as soon as we come to something that we can identify as a religion, we discover quickly its reactionary content.

To suggest that any other outcome is possible is like some early human suggesting to other members of the tribe that the warm weather this morning means that it will start snowing this afternoon. *laughs*

As I noted explicitly in an earlier post in this thread, association is not cause.

But, for practical purposes, it's often just as good.
First posted at RevLeft on December 4, 2005

Well, there are probably "a whole bunch" of "psychological factors" involved in any particular individual's superstitious beliefs.

But I'm skeptical that there's "anything to be gained" by concerning ourselves with them.

It is religion as a social phenomenon that's of real concern to us. We need to publicly discredit it as much as we can...and then let individuals reach atheist conclusions "on their own".

By forcing it out of public life, we force it back on its own "intellectual" and "psychological" resources...always feeble sources of strength.

Most rational people, even in primitive times, did not spend their lives worrying about "Heaven" or "Hell" or "the Nature of God", blah, blah, blah. They concerned themselves with survival and maybe even prosperity in this world.

"Ages of Faith" have always relied on very earthly forms of support...state power and state organs of repression and material wealth, for example. Not to mention social prestige and respectability.

Deprived of those things, superstition withers.

That's why there's no "Temple of Isis" in your neighborhood...or mine.
First posted at RevLeft on December 5, 2005


Secularisation theory is the theory that as modern society advances it will become increasingly secular, and religion will become increasingly hollow...Secularisation theory is an established theory in sociology.

This has interesting implications for the controversy about how communists should deal with religion "after the revolution".

For example, I often "stir up a fuss" when I argue that all "religious architecture" should be demolished as quickly as possible.

But consider: suppose we find ourselves in a situation in which most or even nearly all churches have become unsafe buildings.

Their declining congregations were no longer able to afford the costs of building maintenance over the decades preceding the now most churches will have become physically hazardous to enter.

Does anyone imagine that there will be wide-spread "public outrage" when these dangerous (and perhaps mostly abandoned) structures are torn down and replaced by secular structures or perhaps by public parks?

The superstitious reactionaries will no doubt howl in dismay...but who will then care what a small number of "stone-age cranks" think?

And if anyone suggests that public resources should be allocated to restoring those ancient monuments to servility and ignorance, I have no doubt at all that such a proposition would be contemptuously dismissed.

As it should be!
First posted at RevLeft on December 5, 2005

quote (Direland):

GOD AND CHICKENS: Tyson Foods Sells Religion to Cover Up Its Dirty Doings

Ad Age reports today that the giant international mega-conglomerate Tyson Foods -- twice as large as any competitor in the meat-and-chicken industry -- is now trying to sell God along with its chickens, beef, and pre-prepared frozen meals. Tyson is distributing "mealtime prayer booklets" for a variety of faiths all over the world.

"What started out as the internal manifestation of Tyson’s mission statement -- a set of core values that includes 'striving to be a faith-friendly company…and to honor God…' -- has over the last few years morphed into placing 128 part-time chaplains in 78 plants across the country and, now, the external marketing initiative to play a part in mealtime prayer." Tyson's chairman, born-again John Tyson, Ad Age notes, is a sometime drug addict and alcoholic.

All this godbothering is, of course, designed to cover up Tyson's dirty record as a rapacious, union-busting, exploitative corporation that endangers the lives of its workers, exploits immigrant labor, and doesn't stop at utilizing violence and fraud to achieve its reactionary goals. Blood, Sweat and Fear, a recent report by Human Rights Watch, condemned Tyson for violating the basic human rights of its workers by allowing unsafe working conditions at many of its production facilities and using illegal means to stop their joining unions: Tyson workers "contend with conditions, vulnerabilities, and abuses which violate human rights," said the January, 2005 HRW report.

Here is another illustration, as if one were needed, why religion is always reactionary.

Tyson is "God-friendly"...and worker hostile.
First posted at RevLeft on December 10, 2005


That is an example of why capitalism is reactionary, I am sure there are plenty of religious people that will be sickened by that.

Indeed? Even if true, that doesn't mean much since they don't own a chicken processing plant.

You seem to judge the social role of religion by some "neighborhood believer" whom you happen to personally know. He's a "nice guy" who "wouldn't do that".

But what you overlook is that his attitudes are shaped by the Tyson family, the Bush family, the religious norms proclaimed by the ruling class.

If the leading Christians of the Bush regime practice torture, then torture becomes legitimate in the eyes of the ordinary believer.

Regrettable, possibly, and not something that he would personally want to do...but in no significant sense "un-Christian".

The same goes for Tyson Food's treatment of its employees. There's no one in any position to credibly denounce the Tyson family as "not real Christians".

The most that you could possibly expect would be a pro forma criticism by some leading cleric...and it would not be any kind of a "big deal".

Can you imagine the Pope saying that "eating Tyson products is a mortal sin that will result in summary excommunication!"? *laughs*

Do you imagine that any of those "part-time chaplains" at the Tyson hellholes lose any sleep over the source of their money?

Nah! I bet they even hit on the more superstitious Tyson employees for supplement their own incomes.

Reactionary scum!
First posted at RevLeft on December 10, 2005

I suppose no harm is done by an explication of the intricacies of Islamic law and its historical development, but I miss a straight-forward opposition to religion as such!

Do the readers of this blog think that there is something inherently "good" or "progressive" about organized superstition?

Or is it a matter of realpolitik -- 5/6ths of the world is "still religious" and "therefore" we must seem to "publicly kiss superstitious ass" lest we be thought "agents of the devil".

The pleas made for "understanding" Islamic barbarities remind me quite a bit of the kinds of things some "lefties" in the U.S. write about the need to "understand" Christian barbarities.

If the term "Christian Fascist" conveys a clear meaning, I see no difficulty with the term "Islamic Fascist" as applied to the various despotisms in the "Muslim world"...and those who advocate their imposition on the "west".

We know, or should know, the history of the multiple clerical-fascisms in Eastern Europe between the world wars. And, in fact, the news from Poland lately rather strongly suggests a comeback for Christian fascism in that unhappy country.

To be sure, open public hostility towards superstition of any kind is not going to "win any elections". And perhaps what is going on here really has nothing to do with "the history of Islamic Law" but is rather concerned with "educating lefties" to "swallow their pride" and suck up to superstition in order to gain RESPECT another seat or two in that cesspool of corruption known as "the mother of parliaments".

If that's the case, there's not much to be said. The wretched global history of the "parliamentary left" is known to all...and those who want to "keep doing that stuff" must be presumed to have "less than honorable" motives.

Those "leftists" who use the existence of Islamic Fascists to "justify" the imperial ambitions of their own ruling classes are, of course, beneath contempt.

But the "opposite course" is just as perilous...and ultimately self-defeating. Suggesting that Islam is "really not so bad" can be logically extended to "superstition in general is 'really not so bad'."

That all of recorded history screams the contrary should, taken into consideration.


No doubt the imagery can be improved for modern sensibilities...but the truth should be said, and out loud, and in public
First posted at Lenin's Tomb on December 12, 2005


Religion isn't the motive force of history...

Who would ever suggest that it is?

Try this instead. Throughout all of recorded history, religion has been used to provide cosmological justification for "things as they are".

It has been far and away the most effective ideological tool of every ruling class in history.

We could discuss "why" it works as well as it does...but I can't imagine that anyone would seriously challenge this view.

The core value of every successful religion is obedience to authority.

It is as if there was a "written contract" in force...

You, the ruler, will command your subjects to worship our God in our way and we, God's legitimate representatives on Earth, will command the faithful to obey you or "be damned"!

It logically follows that we who wish to smash the existing class society have no alternative but to smash that contract.

Indeed, I would argue that a "believing proletariat" cannot make a successful revolution. Even if the old government is overthrown, such a proletariat will simply flop on its belly before a new elite.

There's not really that much difference between "faith in God" and "faith in the Party"...both are expressions of servility -- that most reprehensible form of human behavior.


And, as Marx said, it also has its uses; when he was writing opium was still widely used as a painkiller.

I do not know if Marx actually said or implied that "religion has its uses" -- from the standpoint of revolutionaries -- but if he did, then he was wrong.

There is, loosely speaking, a "current" of opinion on the "left" that suggests that we must "learn" to "use religion" for our own purposes.

I cannot imagine anything more foolish.

It's as if a group of German lefties in 1930 were to seriously discuss the "option" of "left anti-semitism" as a "tactic" for "fighting Nazism".

Who knows? Perhaps there were such "lefties" banished to historical obscurity for the crime of embarrassing the "left".

If the advice to "use religion" were ever to be consistently followed, the logical end of such a path would be to either "take over" an existing successful religion or start a new one.

And the Lord commanded me thusly: go forth and proclaim communism to all the world. Say unto the people that it is My Will that they shall all be communists or suffer the pains of My Wrath.

There's always a market for a "New Revelation" and who can say how it will "play out"?

Except, of course, that the communist consequences will be 0.00000.

So what are you going to do? Suck up to the godracket or openly attack it?
First posted at Lenin's Tomb on December 12, 2005


I think you have this backwards, RS - much in the style of the anarchist phrasemongers' 'war on god'.

I'm not aware of the "anarchist phrasemongers" to which you refer.

Nor does the slogan "war on god" sound particularly relevant to "what I have in mind".

It is the social contract between organized religion and the capitalist class that needs to be discredited and ultimately destroyed.

If you think a slogan is required for this purpose, I would suggest a left war on organized superstition...particularly those parts of it that poke their snouts into public discourse.

Anyone who suggests, even indirectly, that "religious sensibilities" should have some role (however minor) in determining public policy should feel the "wrath of the left".

And by that, I don't mean a polemic in some obscure newspaper. I mean an angry, noisy, and "disorderly" demonstration that directly confronts the appropriate target.

Moreover, the numerous links that exist between major corporations and organized religions should be widely publicized and openly condemned.

Perhaps this might seem "over the top" to readers in the U.K. -- where, as I understand it, 14% of the population is atheist and the numbers continue to climb. Religion really does seem to be "withering away" there.

But that's no reason not to speed it to an even earlier grave.

In the U.S., of course, we suffer under the imminent danger of Christian fascism...and almost no one in the "left" here seems to grasp that.

Like Germans in the 1920s who thought that the Nazis were "really hilarious".

quote (Lenin):

The deepest root of religion today is the socially downtrodden condition of the working masses and their apparently complete helplessness in face of the blind forces of capitalism, which every day and every hour inflicts upon ordinary working people the most horrible suffering and the most savage torment, a thousand times more severe than those inflicted by extra-ordinary events, such as wars, earthquakes, etc. “Fear made the gods.”

I would not argue with this...but it begs the question of "what is to be done?".

We do not have the capacity to "relieve the fears" that haunt the lives of working people...indeed, those fears look increasingly realistic.

So then what? Pretend that it's "ok" for working people to be superstitious since superstition has, after all, material roots?

Or just assume that if the superstitious "follow the leadership of the Party" then everything will "work out 'ok' after the revolution"?

That strikes me as a particularly pernicious illusion...because it leads directly to the conclusion that we can't say anything against the churches because if we do, we'll "alienate" a large number of potential "supporters".

Perhaps some people on the "left" are really worried about being perceived as "godless" -- either because of a private taste in superstition or because they think it makes us all "look bad".

In my opinion, I think it would be a "plus" for us to be perceived as "godless"...and the magnitude of that "plus" will increase as time passes.

Many young people rebel against their childhood superstition long before they ever encounter any overtly "left" ideas.

What we want is for every public atheist to be generally assumed to be pro-communist. This will "push" people with a rebellious "edge" in our direction.


Revolution is not a mental act, but a historical one.

A rather pointless distinction. If we want people to decide in favor of the "revolutionary option", then it follows that we seek to influence their "mental" processes in that direction.

That's hardly equivalent to the proposition that people could just "decide" to do it and it would "just happen"...without any consideration of objective material conditions.

It is unquestionably material conditions that make people "open" to a revolutionary alternative. But some kind of coherent revolutionary alternative must be "available to choose".

Large numbers of people must, at least in a crude way, understand what they want and what they don't want.

A meaningful proletarian revolution with a real chance at communism necessarily requires a proletariat hostile to despotism, both earthly and supernatural.

There's really no "getting around that".
First posted at Lenin's Tomb on December 13, 2005


Who is "we"?

We are the people who think that proletarian revolution would be "a pretty good idea" -- and perhaps even inevitable.

In any event, we are the people who would like to do whatever we can to "help things along".

My remarks are not addressed to those who have "given up" on proletarian revolution...indeed they would find me "totally irrelevant".


There is no particular basis for 'public atheists' to be identified with communism or leftist inclinations, and the vast majority are not.

Yes, but they should be! If we acted in such a way as to create and reinforce a "godless" image for ourselves, then those people would be both "pulled" and "pushed" towards us.

"Pulled" by the chance to associate with "like-minded" people. "Pushed" by the "god-fearing" right.


But that has never meant bourgeois ideology is incompatible with atheism.

Historically speaking, that's quite true. Indeed, where "Profit is Lord", there's simply no room for traditional religious concerns at all.

In our own era, things have changed. I don't think it would be going too far to suggest that our contemporary ruling classes are "losing their grip" on reality.

They seem to have decided that "it's time for the rabble to 'get back to God'." The problem with this approach to their difficulties is that some of them start believing that crap themselves.

What happens when they start forming their policies based on superstitious assumptions? Their "radical disconnect" with material reality compounds their difficulties rather than alleviating them.

As you said yourself...


This is all the more true of capitalism in the epoch of its degeneration...

Old and long-established ruling classes do show something that we could liken to senility...a growing inability to perceive what is in their own class interests. I would not at all be surprised if a few of our own rulers don't imagine that "everything would be great" if only they could "Christianize the Muslim world"...or that even some of the others have that objective "in the backs of their minds" as something that "needs to happen someday".

But since our aging rulers seem to have "found Jesus", it's all the more to our advantage to lose "Him" for good.


I would strongly recommend Engels' Socialism Utopian and Scientific.

A useful text for its time, to be sure...but now rather dated, I think.

There is a substantial portion of the works of Marx and Engels that read as "fresh" as if they were "written yesterday". But, as naturally occurs with the passing of time, a fair amount has become hopelessly obsolete...and indeed almost totally inaccessible to the modern reader.

It would be a great service, for example, if a group of bright young Marxist scholars were to re-write Capital in modern English using contemporary data...and a considerably more mathematically sophisticated analysis of "surplus value" as well.

Such a "Capital V.2.0" would have a very dramatic impact on the people in today's vaguely "anti-capitalist" milieu....whereas the original goes increasingly unread.

And that's a shame.
First posted at Lenin's Tomb on December 13, 2005


Your approach is liberal idealism, not Marxist materialism.

Indeed? How does this rather "theological" remark serve to advance the discussion?


The bourgeoisie and the proletariat have NO common interests.

The victorious bourgeois revolutions of the 18th and 19th century were very much in the class interests of the emerging are the ones in the "third world" today that take place "under the red flag".


The proletariat should nurture its class hostility and assert its political independence toward the 'free-thinking,' 'enlightened' bourgeoisie no less than it does toward the backward bible-thumping capitalist.

I am very much in favor of "nurturing class hostility" towards the matter what costumes they choose to wear on public occasions.

But I think you know very well that I was not talking about that.


Quite different is the communist approach to workers influenced by religion, whom we seek to break from these shackles by revealing their material roots.

You are going to tell superstitious workers -- who've had that crap pounded into their heads since infancy -- that they should "abandon their faith" "because" it was invented and maintained as a response to the uncertainties of life in a class society...right?

And you think this will "work"?

Needless to say, I advocate a much more straightforward approach.

What you believe is a pile of reactionary crap! If you want to know why, I'll be glad to tell you. Otherwise, go away and don't return until you've recovered your ability to reason!

Is this "sectarian"? Sure it is...we ought to be sectarian when it comes to reaction.

That's what real communists do.


Contrary to your suggestion above, however, religion will NOT fade away under the rule of capital. It is a response to material circumstances that will not ultimately disappear until material circumstances which nurture it also disappear.

Well, that seems to be what is happening in western Europe and even in some of the cities in North and South America. It appears to be a perfectly clear response to the "percolation" of the scientific outlook throughout the population.

Even "born-again Christians" watch the Discovery channel and go online to "google for sources". The idea that one should live one's life "according to the Bible" is clearly "withering away".

Your overall approach to this question strikes me as one which regards superstitious beliefs as "an unfortunate handicap" a "missing leg" or something. And we are supposed to just "accept that" as something that we really "can't do anything about".

No. In my opinion, religion is on the same level as racism, sexism, homophobia, patriotism, anti-semitism, etc.

If anything, it's worse than all the others precisely because it focuses all the others into a "unified outlook".

Therefore, it is imperative that we publicly oppose the "whole package".

And in a seriously intransigent way.
First posted at Lenin's Tomb on December 13, 2005


I don't get it RS. You have dedicated all these posts to the need for revolutionaries to drop everything in order to declare a "left WAR on organized superstition!" - and now you argue that religion is 'withering away' by itself - under capitalism no less.

In the "grand scheme" of things, religion has been "withering away" since the 18th century and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

Do you conclude from this that we need "do nothing but wait"?

In our own era, it remains a fortress of reaction which demands our intransigent opposition.

Indeed, just as early proto-bourgeois ideologues ferociously attacked religion as an obstacle to genuinely progressive change (from feudalism to capitalism), this is all the more true for us.

Capitalism was able, after a time, to "domesticate" religion for its own purposes...a "cosmological justification" of capitalism itself. The Christian Fascists in the U.S. speak bluntly in terms of "earthly rewards" for the "truly faithful".

We can't do that! We cannot create a religion "suitable" for communism. A genuinely "proletarian religion" would be as oxymoronic as a "proletarian corporation" or a "proletarian fiefdom".

I have never proposed that we should "drop everything" for a "war on superstition", of course. But I do think that the "special circumstances" in the United States do demand an on-going public confrontation with Christian Fascism.


What was it that Trotsky said...about sectarianism being merely "opportunism in fear of its own shadow"?

Witty fellow, Trotsky. Too bad his witticisms are so "dated"...few remain alive from the era when such quips were "fresh".

I've been informed that you are one of the respected curators at the "Trotsky Wax Museum" I must defer to your professional judgment of such matters.

I have more contemporary things with which to concern myself.
First posted at Lenin's Tomb on December 14, 2005
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