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Fodla32

A quick question: What is the flaw in Christianity that has allowed it to be a central part of the imperialist apparatus of Genocide?

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I'm just watching the arrival of the Pope in Mexico. Ten of thousands of cheering people greet his arrival. A happy scene to be sure - but we are reminded all the more that the arrival of Christianity in Mexico was as part of a genocidal process, which saw the extermination of millions of people, the slavery of hundreds of millions, and the extermination of the culture and self respect of the native populations. Mexico city was build on the site of the native capital, once it had been leveled by Cortez and his gang, and sacked of its golden treasures.

 

All this seems very far away from a poor carpenter's son, who advised his followers to pay no attention to material wealth, and who never owned any possessions himself.

 

So, my question is: Has Christianity anything to do with Jesus? Or is there some fatal flaw in the message of Jesus itself that lends itself to genocidal conquest?

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I'd say, if there is a fatal in the message of Jesus, it was that Jesus could not be fully understood until Marx had written Das Kapital. It was only with Marx that the full meaning and implications of the forgiveness of debt could be understood and acted on. Even Jesus himself worked on the level of charity. For example, he told the rich young man to sell all his goods and give the money to the poor. Only then could he follow Jesus. Now, that was a very big ask, and, if the young man had done it, we would be foolish not to commend him. But, it would still have been at the level of charity, i.e. the private decision of that young man. To fully understand the concept of the forgiveness of debt, we have to understand that it is the whole concept of private property itself that enslaves us in debt. When debt is forgiven, private property ceases of exist. This is all the more tragic, considering that it was always a fraudulent debt, an odious debt, from the very start. It was a fake debt imposed on the majority by the criminal violence of the minority.

 

Once Christianity, as a religion, had failed to grasp the full meaning of Christ's message (and it is not to be blamed that Marx was not born until 1818), the road was open to becoming co-opted by the men of property and their state. No doubt, Christians, in the 4th century AD, thought that the capture of the Roman state would mean the ability to impose Christian ideals on a vicious world. But, as Lenin was to find out in the 20th century, if you have not already changed the vicious mode of production, the state will continue to reflect this vicious mode of production - not your lofty ideals.

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Christianity turned religion on its head. It is not even a religion in the strictest sense of the word, but a cult that spun off from Judaism.

 

Christianity gave new elites the ability to abandon traditional modes of production and society where it suited them, although of course, those structures of power that suited the elites to keep were kept and amended as local conditions dictated, and given its message of universal application, which other monotheistic religions lack, (there are no gentiles or infidels in Christianity), it has proved to be very adaptable.

 

This only is possible when you have a truly revolutionary message, and it fits in perfectly with capitalism. Capitalism as Marx himself recognised is revolutionary in that it is replacing all forms of society that have gone before. Christ gives a mandate to replace all that went before him, indeed, that is the whole purpose of having a Messiah. While many other religions are based on history, Christianity offers a departure from history. Our sins cast aside and "forgiven", although only if we abandon our old ways. It is the perfect religion for the imperialist invader wanting to colonise a new land or a captialist wanting to break social norms that hinder his ability to make profit.

 

Of course, those who got their hands on the Christian message used this to their own advantage. Capitailsm and the Church rose together. Even if the capitalists have ignored what Christ is alleged to have said in relation to the meek of the earth, they have not been slow to recognise the potential in the very process of a having a revolutionary Messiah who was prepared to stand up to the religious order and even defy God himself. I'm sure Jesus is turning in his grave ;)

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I think the lyrics in 'Colony' by Damien Dempsey are excellent.

 

"Time after time

After crime after crime

They raped, robbed, pillaged, enslaved and murdered

Jesus Christ was their god and they done it in his name

So he could take the blame if it's not all a game

With bible in one hand and a sword in the other

They came to purify my land of my Gaelic Irish mothers

And fathers, and sisters and brothers"

 

 

 

They used Christianity as an excuse to "civilise" other lands. They were murdering, imperialist scum and Christianity certainly doesn't preach to people to invade and pillage foreign lands and civilisations.

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And you have to remember that while Jesus did teach a departure from the ways that went before, that he was a product of a monotheistic private property based relgion. He preached against that order, but as a religion, we are still taught the very Old Testament that he preached against, leading to very confusing messages, often completely at odds with other, making it even easier for those in power to be selective about what makes it into the bible and into wider doctrine and what is considered heresy.

 

Where Christianity goes wrong, IMO, is that it tries to justify Christ's existance through the Old Testament. Christ did not surely get his legitimacy from having had his coming foretold. That understanding of the significance of Chirst is very location and culturally specific. It was the Jews who foretold the coming of a Messiah, and that element of Christianity is very, well ... Unchristian. Surely the messge of Christ gets its legitimacy for its intrinsic value, for what he actually preached, not because of his racial background. Jesus was no Zionist preaching for a chosen people!!

 

The Judeo-Christian religion is not simply about Christ. I have no problem with Christ's teachings (or at least the small portion of them that survived or aren't locked up in the Vatican's vault because they contradict everything that the Church now stands for), but the religion of Christianity, despite its name, is about much more than just Christ. It is, even with the positive elements of Christ's teachings, a cult version of a monotheistic, property based religion. Until you divorce that aspect from Christianity, it will always be a useful tool of imperialism and oppression.

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Once Christianity, as a religion, had failed to grasp the full meaning of Christ's message (and it is not to be blamed that Marx was not born until 1818), the road was open to becoming co-opted by the men of property and their state. No doubt, Christians, in the 4th century AD, thought that the capture of the Roman state would mean the ability to impose Christian ideals on a vicious world. But, as Lenin was to find out in the 20th century, if you have not already changed the vicious mode of production, the state will continue to reflect this vicious mode of production - not your lofty ideals.

 

Interesting analogy with Lenin there. Christ's message may well have been lofty, but Lenin certainly achieved much more in the real world. Christ preached nothing about how to organise to bring down the system. He kept things on the individual level, not necessarily charity as such, I would say there is a stronger comparison with anarchism than with charity.

 

Like Buddha before him, and Gandhi afterwards, he gives very little encouragement to a person who would resist and organise. He doesn't criticise resistance and organisation as such, but preaches sacrifice and giving up worldly goods. From a revolutionary socialist perspective wasn't he just another hippy?

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Well, I don't really know if anyone called Jesus really existed. Or, if he did, how much the New Testament reflects the real man and his teachings. But, it doesn't matter if such a man existed, in flesh and blood, or not. We have an extremely powerful textual character, which seems to be quite consistent, from beginning to end of the text (or four texts.) Of course, that is helped by the fact that the Church picked these four texts out of many possibilities. Be that as it may, Jesus is a very strange and surprising character, for that period in time. Certainly, his philosophy owes a great deal to the Judaic tradition, and also (maybe even more so) to the teachings of the Greek Cynics. It seems that there were many wandering teachers of Greek Cynicism in Galilee during the time when Jesus was growing up. But, none of them seem to have been considered a threat to the security of the state, and there is no record of any state campaign against them. In a sense, the Cynics were the real hippies. They dropped out of "normal" society, and preached withdrawal from worldly concerns. The state has never found such ideas to be threatening. Just look at the way Western states love the Delai Lama today.

 

There must have been something about Jesus that frightened the state, to the point of wanting to kill him. I think you have hit on an important point when you say that Jesus was the perfect founder of a religion for a Capitalist world. As you say, he preached a complete extermination of the status quo. The Cynics didn't do anything like that. And, even if it was unconscious, I'm sure the ruling elite of the time recognized that this man and his ideas would be the end of the world as they knew it.

 

Now, its certain that the character of Jesus, as presented in the Gospels, hated the Moneychangers, and they were the only ones that he used actual violence against. But, thats the point. He did use actual violence against them. Its clear that the world that Jesus wanted to bring into being was the opposite of Capitalism.

 

Still, you are correct, when you wipe out an old world, and you don't really know how to create a new one, then what follows might actually be worse than the one you destroyed.

 

Of course, Jesus didn't destroy the old world and bring in the world of Capitalism. That process was already happening, and, in a way, the laws of the time were a defense against Capitalism. But, as you say, when the proto-capitalists read the Gospels, they couldn't but notice that this was a religion that they could put to use for their own benefit. That is, if they could suppress or explain away all the stuff about rich men having a hard time getting into heaven, or that we should forgive debt. And that was never going to be difficult if you made sure the Gospels were only going to be available in a language that only the ruling class could read, and if all the priests and bishops were going to come from the ruling class.

 

Again, I don't say that any ruling class sat down and made this kind of calculation consciously, but, at the unconscious level, we always know what we want.

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You make a very interesting point in regard to Jesus not getting his legitimacy from having been foretold. Of course, he is presented in the Gospels as being very aware of having been foretold, and as constantly reminding people of it, i.e. as a person who thought his legitimacy was intimately bound up with having been foretold. That might be just the writers putting their own spin on things, but, I think it's no point in saying that, as we don't know anything, except what they and other ancient writers tell us. We have to speak about the character as presented in the text.

 

I'm not sure the writers of this text were wrong. Think of the first words of the Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels go to great lengths to foretell Communism. To present it as a Specter foretold. Now, they both came from the Judeo-Christian tradition, so we might expect that. But, again, that would be a pointless thing to say. Nearly all of us in the West come from the Judeo-Christian tradition, including Muslims. Legitimacy is only what we consider legitimate. And we tend to consider that what is foretold has particular legitimacy. If something happens without being foretold, we say it "came out of the blue." We regard it as a freak accident, and our main concern is to recover from this accident, and get back to "normal." What has been foretold is never an accident. Long before it happens, it is already part of the culture. Once it is foretold, an event brings the status quo into question. John the Baptist lost his head. His prophesy delegitimized the the world he lived in, and legitimized a possible alternative future. When Jesus said "I am that possible future," he was clearly saying something much stronger than saying "I've got something to say that is totally new and unexpected."

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JC was the original commie and the ruling classes recognised that the simplistic and ingenious idea of everyone being equal was sure to catch on with the masses so they hijacked the man's teachings (and I emphasise the word man) and used it to subdue, enslave and brainwash the proletariat!!

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