Jesus lives: April Fool! April 1, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in About Religion, Democracy, Religion, Socialism.
Tags: april fool, catholic church, democracy, humanism, jesus, karl marx, palm sunday, religion, roger hollander, socialism, the bible
Roger Hollander, April 1, 2012, www.rogerhollander.wordpress.com
If capital G God exists (capital I if), He/She/It has given us a little ironic treat in having Palm Sunday fall on April Fools day this year.
When I think of Palm Sunday and the monstrosity known at the Roman Catholic Church and the other world religions, with the possible few exceptions of the Asian religions, I think of the phrase “cross my palm with silver.”
The air-tight relationship between accumulated wealth (in our era, capital) and organized religion is a historic reality. There is in fact good reason to believe that the first division of labor creating a privileged class in previously classless tribal society, was that of the first shamans or priests converting their credibility into political and economic power, which they used to control and manipulate.
The young 26-year-old Karl Marx, in his 1844 Manuscripts wrote about religion in a handful of paragraphs that include his famous and taken out of context “opiate of the masses.”
Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of men, is a demand for their real happiness. The call to abandon their illusions about their condition is a call to abandon a condition which requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, the embryonic criticism of this vale of tears of which religion is the halo.
Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not in order that man shall bear the chain without caprice or consolation but so that he shall cast off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man so that he will think, act and fashion his reality as a man who has lost his illusions and regained his reason; so that he will revolve about himself as his own true sun. Religion is only the illusory sun about which man revolves so long as he does not revolve about himself.
… thus the criticism of heaven is transformed into the criticism of earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.
From: “Contributions to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” in “Karl Marx: Early Writings,” translated and edited by T. B. Bottomore, McGraw Hill, 1964, pages 43, 44.
This I consider to be a manifesto for secular humanism, of which I am a proud advocate. Who can deny that the very existence of our biosphere is in danger from escalating warfare and environmental catastrophe. Those who advocate looking outside of humankind to some sort of God to take us out of this mess are the very same religious institutions that promote and indoctrinate obeisance to the vast accumulations of wealth that capitalist economic relations generate.
Shakespeare via Cassius:“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves …”
Today it is more evident than ever that political democracy is little more than a farce in a capitalist world. Vast accumulated wealth (which is what capital is) plus the military and political power it purchases with that very wealth is what rules in every nation on earth, not the “demos” (people) of democracy. In a word, political democracy without economic democracy is not genuine democracy.
The destruction of capitalist economic relations and replacement with economic democracy (genuine socialism, not state capitalism calling itself socialist as in China, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.) where those of us who create wealth share in it equally, is a Monmouth and daunting task (given especially enormous state power and means of repression). But it is the only long-term solution to the world crisis in which we live. In the light of this reality, a vote for Obama or a prayer to whatever god, can do no more than any other opiate, that is, create illusory and useless hope.
To show that I am not a blind hater of Christianity, let me cite one of my favorite biblical quotes, that of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, where he states that: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” My belief is that in the individual human dimension, love is the highest notion; and at the communal/social level, love is no more or less than social, political and economic justice, that is, socialism.