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Fodla32

Open Discussion on Cúrsaí Spioradálta, Spiritual Matters

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Rather than have our discussions spread over many threads, the admin of the site have decided to try and see if we can focus our discussion of the core issues facing us, as Revolutionary activists, in our encounter with the spiritual, in one pinned thread. Of course, posters are free to comment separately on any article or topic posted.

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Since the 19th century, Communism has had an antagonistic relationship with traditional forms of recognition of the spiritual - particularly in the form of organized religion, which had long been acting as the thought police for the bourgeois régime. I think it was only to be expected that this antagonism would take a rather crude and often brutal form. In Europe, the Christian churches were resolutely on the side of wealth and power. The Working Class were fed pious lies, every Sunday, as they dutifully listened to the sermons of priests and ministers, who had nearly all been born into the bourgeois classes. In short, the churches carried out the function that the bourgeois media carries out today, i.e. keeping the vast majority in complete docility and ignorance.

 

So, it's no wonder that Communists of the 19th and 20th centuries had a burning hatred of these peddlers of lies and delusion. But, were they not, in an important way, throwing out the baby with the bath water?

 

Anyone who has read Marx cannot but be struck by the deep spirituality of the man. So much so, that some have refered to Marx as the last great Jewish prophet, crying out in the desert for the future to come - the future where man lifts himself from the level of the beast of burden, and becomes truly human. In this sense, the work of Marx has been described as one of the greatest prayers of all time.

 

And when one meets Communists, one cannot but be struck by the fact that they are the most spiritual of people. People who have not allowed the rat race of capitalism to destroy their hearts and their souls.

 

Already, I see that the leader of the Russian Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, describes Jesus Christ as the first Communist philosopher, and tries to find the Communism in every religion. I think myself that this is a better approach. We saw, during the 1980s, in South America, that Liberation Theology could achieve many great things. In the Muslim tradition, there has always been a flow that rejected the right of private property. Muammar Gaddafi was very much part of this tradition, as were the Qarmatians in the 10th century.

 

So, where does that leave us today? Is there the possibility of a philosophically coherent Materialism that takes account of the spiritual?

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I don't think all communists/socialists have thrown the baby out with the bath water. I know a great many socialists who would describe themselves as spiritual people.

 

And while I do have time for aspects of many of the major religions, they have all essentially arisen as props to the economic mode of production, ie capitalism. Religions emerge as a result of human experience, they reflect human life, and are influenced by the structures of power that exist at the time. Of course there will be something that we can identify with within these religions, given the common human experience, and indeed the ideas that have arisen in religions do need to be explored in our own context to see what value they can bring to ourselves.

 

But ultimately, all organised religions have an agenda of power. We should not give them any more power by feeding their whatever apparent legitimacy they have left.

 

I have, for my sins (pun intended!), been at quite a few Masses over the past number of weeks and months, probably more times than I have been to Mass in my entire life up to now. At every one of them I have been able to get something positive from it, interpretting the selective quotes from certain selected books with my own slant. I almost enjoyed the experience! But that doesn't change the fact that the whole process is co-ordinated by an organisation whose interests are entirely contrary to my own.

 

If as revolutionary socialists we want to maintain our spirituality, and maintain our ownership of our religious beliefs, then we need to take control of the structures that spread or facilitate those beliefs. The Church, or any of the other organised religions are beyond reform, they cannot be taken over from within any more than the State system can be reformed from within. I do not believe that active participation in status quo religious institutions is compatible with revolutionary socialism any more than I believe that active participation in representational democracy is compatible.

 

Essentially we need to start our own church. The word church even has too many negative conotations, I should rather say, that we need to initiate our own structures to reflect our own spirituality and encourage our spiritual development.

 

Currently we can probably be divided into two camps, those who have abandonned religion, and those who keep one foot within religion while trying to reconcile what essentially is irreconcilable. For those in the former camp, I think the above post by Fodla is aimed at them, and I agree that they should not abandon spirituality, or indeed some of the important tenets of the major religions. For those in the latter camp, they need to recognise that by attending church and taking advices from organised hierarchy, that they are surrendering responsibility of their spirtual selves. They need to take back that responsibility and abandon organised religion.

 

Of course, like anything else, we cannot simply call for people to abandon religion while we have no alternative to offer them. That would be life asking them to immediately abandon money or wage slavery without providing an alternative for them to feed themselves. People need to satisfy their spiritual needs, and socialism has not yet grappled with this fundamental human need. Until we do so, and until we can provide an alternative to Church, people will be forced to get their spiritual fix from our enemies!

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I'm reading "Beelzebubs Tales to his Grandson", by George Gourdjieff at the minute. Its an excellent read, an allegory of human history and religion in particular, pointing out how humans have been given great insights over and over again from the "Divine" source and have twisted these universal truths out of all recognition and to the point of absurdity.

 

Just thought I'd share :D

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