Monday, July 21, 2014

ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM JUST AIN'T MY GIG



Okay, I don't know exactly what I am doing here for Theoretical Monday at Scission.  I have decided that it is time for some stuff that has to do with religious fundamentalism of the Islamic variety.  I am concerned at the lack of a left response or analysis to or of groups like ISIS (or the Islamic State), Hamas, and others.  I am NOT doing this to distract from what is going down in Gaza.  Nothing I will print here should be seen as attempt to apologize for what the Israelis are doing there today.  However, I do believe it is high time, way past hight time, that the left realize that we are not allied with reactionary religious fundamentalists.  We just can't be.  We can't just throw our ideology, philosophy, beliefs out the window and ignore what is while hiding behind a mask of anti-imperialism or anti-zionism.  How many times must I say that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.  Hamas is not the Palestinian People and the Palestinian People are not Hamas.  It is little wonder though that the people living in the giant outdoor prison known as Gaza have latched onto Hamas, the one organization they see actually doing something, anything to lift the siege and make their lives livable for a bit.  I regret that that is the case, that there are no secular, no leftist, no communist worth a rats ass on the ground capable of doing much of anything.  We should all analyze that and figure out just why THAT is the case.  

Then there is ISIS.  Give me Hamas any day over that band of medieval patriarchal religious crumbs.  I don't like them, but compared to ISIS they are a joy.

I am printing a couple of the more direct "Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist pieces I ran across.  I do not agree totally  them.  Their total class analysis, the total class against class line sounds nice, but is way to simple and  insufficient (in my view).  It leaves out too much and tends to sound like nothing more than someone's interpretation of textbook Marxism. You have heard it all before in a million different contexts.  You don't need to hear it again.  That said, much of their analysis is still fairly accurate and, at least an attempt is made from the left to deal with the religious fundamentalists and not just grasp hold of them as if they are heroes of the Revolution with a few little flaws.  None of these Islamic fundamentalist groupings are actually anti-capitalist or anti-imperialist...and they are not simply creations of US imperialism (as if the people of one section of the world are so stupid and impotent that they are totally unable to think or do for themselves...or make their own mistakes).

So I am going to print two them.  I have picked the Revolutionary Communist Party (who can believe that), a group which I have HUGE differences with to represent the viewpoint I am talking about above.  I will print their little piece first.   

NOTE: I will say this for the RCP though, while I don't agree much with their overall analysis, they do apply it in a fairly consistent way (unlike most of the left)...they aren't worried about offending anyone much, they don't spend a lot of time making excuses for reactionary thugs, and they do not simply adhere to a policy of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. (Also, back when I used to find myself involved in one way or another with them, they also actually knew how to have a good time. I don't kmow if that is true anymore, but I remember dancing with some female RCP cadre late into the night on more than one occasions and their being able to laugh at my " bottles for Bob" campaign which made fun of and spoofed their glorious leader).

I have also found an old article (1993) about Hamas from something called the Revolutionary Communist Group (whom I know nothing about although I think I once heard of them).

Finally, I will put forward here several more pieces from Critical Mass where they do try to step outside the text and figure out what is what. 

 If I be forced to choose between all of these, I would tend toward Critical Mass.

Pick and choose to your heart contents what you decide to read or not read here.  There will be lots.


Reactionary Islamic Fundamentalism and the ISIL (or ISIS)

by Larry Everest | June 26, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us



Islamic fundamentalism is a political, religious-ideological movement and trend, with different branches, variations, and organizational expressions, that is spreading across North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia in particular, but also globally. 
Islamic fundamentalism or Islamism’s ideological and political program is completely reactionary and against the interests of the people, especially the oppressed for whom these forces often claim to speak, no matter what country or region to which it is applied.  These forces aim to forcibly impose religion, in particular a fundamentalist or absolutist, literalist interpretation of the Koran and Sharia law (the body of religious rulings made by Islamic clerics), on society as its governing law and ideology—in short by creating a theocracy and obliterating any separation of church and state. 
This means imposing and violently enforcing patriarchal, separate and unequal laws for women, including forced veiling, forced control by male family members, and denial of equal legal rights.  It includes society-wide indoctrination in religious obscurantism and discrimination and often attacks on other religions or non-believers.  It means defending feudal and capitalist private property and exploitation.  And the Islamists’ methods often reflect their reactionary ideology and program, including targeting and murdering non-combatants, terrorizing whole populations, and sanctioning severe corporal punishment or death for infractions of Islamic law. 
This movement is an expression of the class and social interests of reactionary and outmoded bourgeois and feudal social forces in countries dominated by imperialism, which have come into conflict with or been undercut by imperialism.  However, their goal is not a fundamental break with imperialism, instead their aim is to advance their vision and interests within a capitalist-imperialist world. 
While the “modern” roots of this Islamic fundamentalist political trend go back to the 1920s, it has gained traction in large part because of the enormous suffering and oppression imperialism has inflicted on people in the oppressed (or Third World) countries, and the enormous social, cultural, and demographic dislocations this has led to.  By the late 1970s, anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism began to emerge as a powerful current in the wake of the 1976 defeat of communism in China, the 1979 Iranian revolution, and the 1979-1988 war in Afghanistan. 
The group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL—the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is part of this overall trend.  It is very important to understand that these are not nationalist forces, operating under the cloak of religion.  ISIL is a jihadist group, committed to holy or religious war across national boundaries.  Recruiting fighters from around the world, its  program is not forming a Sunni-dominated state in Iraq, but an Islamic caliphate first encompassing the entire area from Iraq, across Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean, and then expanding to other countries having a predominantly Muslim population.
None of this is to say—or imply—that all Muslims or everyone living in the Middle East or Central Asia is an Islamic fundamentalist, or that Islamic fundamentalism is part of the “identity” of the peoples in these regions.  Nor does it mean that Islam is “inherently violent,” or any more reactionary than literal or absolutist interpretations of Christianity or Judaism.  And none of this justifies the targeting, persecution, harassment, and repression of Muslims in the imperialist countries.

5. Communism and Religion: Getting Up and Getting Free—Making Revolution to Change the Real World, Not Relying on "Things Unseen"

However, it is very important to face the reality that Islamic fundamentalism is the increasingly dominant pole of opposition to the U.S. and the status quo across the arc from Morocco in North Africa, through the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that this is a nightmare for the people which must be recognized.  Pretending that what is going on in the Middle East has nothing to do with religion or Islam, or that in countries like Iraq nationalist forces are really driving and cohering the anti-U.S., anti-Maliki opposition, or that Islamic fundamentalism is simply a creation of the U.S. and the CIA, is illusory and extremely harmful. 

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COMMUNISM, FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE

by Eddie Abrahams

First published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No.111 February/March 1993

As the 400 plus deportees freeze on the Lebanese mountain sides, the United Nations is again shamelessly exposing itself for what it is -- the public relations office for US imperialism. With UN diplomatic blessing the US bombs Iraq in the name of UN Resolutions and international democracy. Israel meanwhile, a reliable ally ofthe US and UN, neither faces nor expects any retaliation for its repeated defiance of numerous UN Resolutions including Security Council Resolution 799 demanding a return of the deportees.These illegal deportations -- among an arsenal of repressive measures Israel inherited from the British mandate including collective punishment, detention without trial, destruction of homes and orchards -- are more than just retribution for the death of Nissim Toledo. They are part of stepped-up repression against an Intifada resurgent since the November 1992 hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners. More particularly they were designed to disable Hamas which is emerging as a major force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

FUNDAMENTALISM -- REACTIONARY, PRO-CAPITALIST POPULISM

The rise of Hamas -- an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement -- has paralleled the wave of Islamic fundamentalism sweeping the Arab world. In Algeria, the Islamic Salvation Front commands massive support among the poor and is waging a terror campaign in its drive for power. Egypt's largest opposition group is the Muslim Brotherhood. It has the support and the means to seriously destabilise Mubarak's pro-US government. The Jordanian branch of the Brotherhood extends its influence into every sector of the state, while fundamentalist forces gather influence in Tunisia, in Iraq, in Lebanon and elsewhere. In Palestine they claim to command anything between 25 per cent and 40 percent of popular support, reaching 60-70 per cent in certain areas of the Gaza Strip.With the collapse of the USSR, the Great Powers are targeting Islamic fundamentalism as the 'evil enemy' undermining world order, the market economy and democracy. Such propaganda combined with fundamentalism's radical, anti-western and anti-Israeli rhetoric can generate illusions that it has progressive, democratic, anti-imperialist features. Hamas's record and role shows this is not the case. Islamic fundamentalism -- like its Christian and Jewish variants -- is an anti-democratic, reactionary and pro-capitalist political trend. It cannot represent the interests of the working class, the poor, the unemployed, the peasantry or the impoverished petit-bourgeoisie.
In the West petit-bourgeois and bourgeois anti-working class, chauvinist, xenophobic and sectarian movements assume the form of populist reactionary nationalism and racism. In Israel they have long assumed the form of Zionism. Islamic fundamentalism is the form they take in the Arab world. Today it represents the most dangerous obstacle to the development of a new movement capable of representing and enforcing the interests of the poor and exploited.
While each fundamentalist movement differs according to the character of the economy and class relations in each particular country, they by and large all share an essentially similar ideological and political standpoint. Committed to the defence of private property and capitalism, Islamic fundamentalism harbours a particular and savage hatred of communism and Marxism. It has acted as the ruling class's terror squad in the struggle against communism in the Middle East. Fundamentalism is characterised by an unremitting hostility to equality, democracy and rationalism. It opposes the right of the working class to organise independently of Islamic institutions. It is also uncompromisingly opposed to the emancipation of women from domestic slavery and is intent on driving them out of all spheres of public life.
Fundamentalism represents a ruling class alliance of less privileged sections of the bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie. It is the political movement of those sections of the ruling and privileged classes who were by-passed and marginalised during the period of post-colonial economic development. This stratum did not share fully in the post-colonial feast that the nationalist ruling class enjoyed as it squandered national wealth and degenerated into corruption and crime. Today, with an international economic crisis devastating the Third world and further discrediting the nationalist bourgeoisie, the fundamentalists see their opportunity to redress past grievances.
Despite fundamentalism's reactionary pro-capitalist character imperialism is determined to control its expansion and if possible defeat it. Today's fundamentalist forces, whilst prepared to co-exist with imperialism, are demanding a better deal for themselves. Imperialism will not readily countenance this. It prefers its traditional allies among the existing dominant sections of the ruling class whose demands are more 'moderate'. Furthermore, fundamentalist forces, resting upon mass support which is fired by hatred for imperialism, are inherently unstable and therefore ill-fitted to act as imperialist servants.
The distinctive and most dangerous feature of fundamentalism is this capacity to command support among the desperately poor and impoverished rural and urban population which sees no future for itself or its children. Experiencing the bitter results of opportunism among Arab communist parties, the poor and sections of the working class abandoned communism for fundamentalism. Most communist parties, essentially Menshevik organisations, were incapable of conducting an uncompromising class struggle against the rich and privileged ruling class. In the name of 'national unity' they all too often abandoned the needs of the poor and moderated the class struggle in favour of an alliance with a corrupt and pro-imperialist national bourgeoisie.
Without manipulating and exploiting popular discontent the fundamentalist leadership would not have the social power to mount a challenge to the long-established ruling class. Thus it promises to make the poor rich without, however, making the rich poor and without abolishing private property. On the basis of Islamic mores it promises to restore the social stability, cohesion and security which has been destroyed by capitalist development. The growth and evolution of Hamas reveals precisely the general conditions which have enabled fundamentalism to so displace communism and socialism as the ideology of the poor and exploited.

HAMAS DIVIDES AND WEAKENS THE INTIFADA

Hamas, the main fundamentalist force in Palestine, was formed in 1987 by the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood initially opposed the Intifada but was rapidly forced to change tack. Refusal to join an uprising of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people risked losing the fundamentalists all the popular support they had built through welfare, educational and religious work. But given the popular, revolutionary and anti-imperialist character of the movement, the Brotherhood decided to retain its distance and intervened one step removed by forming Hamas.Hamas entered the political arena, but only to undermine the democratic and anti-imperialist struggle. The revolutionary wing of the Palestinian movement has always fought to destroy the racist and sectarian Zionist state and replace it with a democratic and secular Palestine. In such a state Arabs and Israelis, Muslims,Jews and Christians would have equal rights irrespective of race or religion. Hamas is opposed to this and aims to establish an Islamic state in which even many Palestinians who are Christians would be second class citizens.
Within the Intifada Hamas divided and weakened the popular movement. It not only opposed the PLO but refused to unite with it or collaborate with UNCU. It refused to participate in the popular committees which in the Intifada's early stages developed into the beginnings of organised popular power. Hostile to the independent organisation of the poor and working class it opposed the left-wing's call for a civil disobedience campaign to incapacitate the Zionist administration on the West Bank. In a direct challenge to the unity of the Palestinian resistance it organised strikes on days and times that the UNCU decreed as no-strike periods. Its anti-Christian sectarianism led to the founding of a Christian Resistance Movement (Hamam) in Ramallah.
Most significantly it violently opposed women's participation in the Intifada. Democratic Palestine comments:
'Hamas supporters launched a large-scale campaign against Palestinian women and their participation in the Intifada...This deprived the Intifada of about 50% of its activists.'
The PFLP's overall assessment of Hamas' role is sobering for those who mistake it for a genuine component of the Palestinian revolution:
'In the final analysis, Hamas has, whether consciously or not, contributed to the Israeli occupation's effort to undermine the Intifada. And here Palestinian leftists and other progressive nationalists are partially to blame, for they somehow closed their eyes to what was happening in the name of national unity, whereas they should have stood up to Hamas.'

HAMAS - AN ANTI-COMMUNIST TERROR SQUAD

The left's and progressive nationalists' toleration of Hamas was a terrible mistake. The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas reserve their vilest venom for the left. A Hamas slogan makes the organisation's purpose clear: 'Communism is a cancer inside the nation's body and we will cut it out.' For such reasons these movements have for decades been nurtured and financed by the ruling class in its struggle against communism, Marxism and popular democracy in the Middle East. In Egypt and in Syria, the fundamentalists were used to oppose strong working class and communist organisations. In the Palestiman arena both Zionism and Arab reaction, while attacking the Palestinian and Arab left, financed and facilitated the growth of fundamentalism. Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari, in their book 'Intifada -- Israel's Third Front', comment:
...the Civil Administration has contributed considerably to the development of the Muslim groups...Many Israeli staff officers believed that the rise of fundamentalism...could be exploited to weaken the power of the PLO...'For the better part of a decade, the Israelis had allowed fundamentalist Muslims to move into positions of power in the religious establishment.'
Raim Baram, writing in Middle East International (8 January 1993), notes:
'The Israelis pumped millions of dollars into the Muslim coffers as part of their grand design to circumvent the PLO at any conceivable price.'
But the Muslim Brotherhood's major financier was the pro-US Saudi regime, notorious for its bankrolling of the fascist Mojahedin in Afghanistan, its support for the US war against Iraq and its support for counter-revolutionary forces in the Arab world. While it abstained from participation in the national struggle, with Saudi funding the Muslim Brotherhood built a vast network of support through Islamic endowments, welfare organisations, societies, universities and mosques it controlled.With Saudi money and Zionist licence the Brotherhood launched a veritable civil war against the democratic and particularly Marxist and left-wing forces in Palestine. A few examples demonstrate this. In January 1980 they attacked and severely damaged the Palestinian Red Crescent offices in Gaza claiming it was dominated by communists. In 1982 they did so again, attacking twice. In 1981 Dr Mohammad Hassan Sawalhah was thrown out of a third floor window of Al Naja University because he was a left-winger. In 1983 fundamentalists launched attacks on leftists and nationalists in the Universities of Bir Zeit and Gaza. In 1984 they dispersed a demonstration in Al Bireh refugee camp claiming it was supported by the 'atheist left'. In the Gaza Strip PFLP and Palestine Communist Party members have been subjected to acid and razor attacks. Violence against PLO supporters continued and in June 1992 fundamentalists tried to drive PLO supporters off the streets in Gaza.

CLASS CHARACTER AND SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC BASE OF FUNDAMENTALISM

How have such reactionary forces won the loyalty of large sections of the poor and oppressed -- not only in Palestine but in large parts of the Arab world? An answer is offered by 'Democratic Palestine'. The rise of fundamentalism is:
a reaction to the failure of the Arab regimes to achieve the goals and aspirations of the Arab peoples, most importantly national liberation and social progress...It is equally a reaction to the inability of the secular opposition...to constitute a real alternative in terms of achieving these goals.'
In the Arab world, as in other parts of the Third World, imperialist-dominated capitalist development has generated a terrible social polarisation. A tiny post-colonial ruling class, allied to imperialism and steeped in corruption and crime, lives a life of unbelievable luxury. In sharp contrast are the devastated lives and shattered hopes of the poor and exploited: the working class, the unemployed, under-employed, the city dwellers forced off the land and now living in hopeless urban squalor and a huge and impoverished petit-bourgeoisie. The central issue of the class struggle has revolved around the question of who was to organise the poor and impoverished. Would it be the ruling class in alliance with the fundamentalists or the powerful communist forces based within the small working classes?For decades the Arab ruling class spared no violence to defeat communist and working class organisations whose membership was banned, imprisoned, executed and massacred. Parallel to repression, Gulf oil money funded the fundamentalists to organise among the poor and oppressed and undermine the appeal of socialism, democracy and secularism. In the absence of state welfare provision, fundamentalist organisations posed as alternative welfare providers. But at a price: provision of some cheap services in return for supporting fundamentalism, passivity in the class struggle and abandonment of communism. This assault, facilitated by the widespread opportunism within the communist parties, succeeded in severely weakening the left in the Arab world.
Within the Palestinian context Zionism and the Arab ruling class waged a similar struggle to debilitate the left and revolutionary nationalist currents. In September 1970, King Hussein's army suppressed a mass insurrection and drove the PLO out of Jordan. In 1976 Assad's Syrian regime used its army to save the Lebanese fascist falange from defeat at the hands of a joint democratic and leftist Lebanese/Palestinian alliance. The same forces were used to stifle a resurgent alliance in 1984. These repeated assaults severely weakened the position of the left and revolutionary nationalist forces.
As a result the dominant bourgeois faction of the PLO increasingly tied its fortunes to the Arab ruling class and abandoned the revolutionary struggle. In return it hoped that imperialism would reward it by pressurising Zionism into a compromise settlement. The dominant PLO leadership, representing a substantial Palestinian bourgeoisie -- both inside and outside Palestine -- underwent a process of degeneration, developing an anti-democratic, bureaucratic stratum. Its privileged existence decisively separated it off from lives and experience of the majority of the Palestinian poor and exploited. The current 'peace process', which, has produced nothing for the Palestinians, has accelerated popular disillusionment with the PLO. Such developments have provided fertile ground for the fundamentalists, enabling them to pose as defenders of the poor and oppressed. Their rhetoric of total opposition to Zionism and to any negotiations with the Israelis is winning them growing support from a population which has no faith in the bourgeois course of appeasing Zionism and imperialism chosen by the PLO leadership.
The collapse ofthe socialist bloc and the retreat ofthe anti-imperialist movement internationally has also enormously benefited the fundamentalists. The Palestinian people, abandoned first by the Arab bourgeoisie and imperialism, now find themselves internationally more isolated than ever from the world working class and peasantry. Their economic and material conditions continue to deteriorate as a result of the international recession, the consequences of the Gulf War and the crippling effect of Zionist colonisation. Such circumstances strengthen the appeal of Islamic populism, apparently more radical and promising than a Soviet socialist experiment that failed.
However, Hamas's vociferous denunciation ofthe PLO and its radical rhetoric are designed only to lull the people whilst it negotiates a better position for itself at the table of the privileged. Whilst its street slogans denounce 'autonomy', its respected leaders such as Dr Mahmoud al-Zahar state that 'The Islamic movement is ready to enter into negotiations concerning autonomy for the Palestinians'. While condemning the PLO, Hamas is demanding 45 per cent representation in its institutions as a condition for joining it. The recent crisis over the deportation of Hamas supporters has in fact driven the PLO leadership and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership even closer.
The immediate future suggests no rapid defeat of fundamentalist forces by communist or progressive movements. But as the class struggle unfolds, life itself will prove that fundamentalism is incapable of resolving any of the problems facing the Palestinian and Arab people. The mass movement will then pass its own ruthless judgment and sentence upon a movement which has caused so much damage to the cause of national and social liberation. They will return more vigorously to defending and developing their own independent organisations. To do this they will turn to those forces within the Arab, Palestinian and international movement who are guided by science, by rationalism, by democracy - in other words by scientific socialism, by communism, by the heritage of Marxism and Leninism. The collapse of the socialist bloc may have been a body blow to such forces, but they exist and are continuing their struggle for socialism and progress.

Revolutionary Communist Group - Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

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MILITANT PATRIARCHY AT WAR – AGAIN!

The recent advances by the armed forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) further into Iraq and the subsequent skirmishes, has at last demonstrated what has long been clear. It is that militant patriarchy in the form of various religious movements has achieved a high profile resurgence in many parts of the world. Islamic, militant patriarchy is not the only religion currently manifesting this form of sectarian violence in order to re-assert its dominance over, and control of, women and those men who it considers heretics, non-believers or lesser beings.
There has also been a counter-reformation within Judaism (Jewish Zionism) and Christianity (Christian Zionism), both of them have re-asserted forms of patriarchal domination and their alleged sectarian pre-eminence over other forms of belief. Hindu radicalism and Buddhist extremism are also becoming more aggressive in and among the communities adhering to these alternative patriarchal ideologies. The common denominator in all these disparate fundamentalist ideologies and militant movements is the continued domination and aggression of men.
However, the Islamic form of militant patriarchy as exemplified by the Taliban, Boko Haram, and now the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS or ISIL) are the most recent to demonstrate that their ultimate purpose is not merely to intimidate or terrorise as individuals and sects but to directly govern, land, resources and people.  Facing them in battle over the land and resources of Iraq are a different group of Shia patriarchs organised by the puppet Iraqi state government. The latter being promoted to power after the invasion and occupation by Christian patriarchs of the US, UK and Europe.
What we are witnessing in much of the middle-east is an ongoing struggle between one set of elite religious males against another, both sides backed by other male-dominated elites based elsewhere – in Iran, Saudi or the west. Each side has its own version of patriarchal ideology which justifies its actions and is used to recruit rank and file troops largely of working class composition. On the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the brutal First World War, these working class troops are again being recruited  to become the perpetrators of murder against each other and to become used as cannon-fodder in the struggle for supremacy by one sides elite males over the other.
A clash of fundamentalisms.
The media framing of these struggles as being between democracy and terrorism misses the essential social and economic foundations of this war of patriarchal fundamentalisms. It is undoubtedly a fact that on the ground two forms of Islamic religious fundamentalism, Shia and Sunni are again at war with each other in Iraq, but there is more to it than this. Incidentally, these recent events in Iraq suggest that what is actually happening is a Sunni uprising against a pro-USA Shia administration, led or facilitated by the militant patriarchs of the ISIS.
Moreover, these different Islamists are not the only fundamentalists involved in Iraq. It is almost universally acknowledged that these ancient patriarchal religious tensions were transformed from simmering to boiling point by the  fundamentally aggressive invasion of Iraq by the allied forces of the US, the UK and Europe in 2003.  The latter three being poised to aid – in one form or another – the Shia side of this patriarchal struggle.
It is generally overlooked in the current media simplification and distortion that these western capitalist elites who ordered the illegal invasion of Iraq, namely Bush, Blair (and perhaps) their supporters, were also ‘born-again’, male, religious Christian elites. Moreover, these two figure-heads were the leaders of completely male-dominated states which were universally committed to a form of economic market fundamentalism known as neo-liberalism.  Their subsequent replacements in the US, UK and Europe are no less religious, no less neo-liberal and no less patriarchal.
What is being consistently ignored in mainstream media focus on terrorism, is that western, neo-liberal elites are just another form of male-led market fundamentalists who themselves, routinely orchestrate mass killings, torture and pillage – in the name of their own form of deep seated ideology. For some time now the obvious result has been that the male neo-liberal fundamentalism (of Anglo-Saxon and Christian origin) in the west has found itself being confronted in Iraq by two other brands of male fundamentalism (both of Arabic and Islamic origin.).
Typically all three sides in this aggressive male-centred competition for elite control and governance over people and resources, deny committing atrocities against each other and harming those who get in the way. Yet it is in the nature of patriarchal fundamentalists of all types to do exactly that. Collectively deluded, fundamentalists of all varieties imagine they have the right (divine, economic or intellectual) to direct the progress of the whole of humanity along the lines they designate.
The historical and contemporary record indicates that when they have sufficient power and armaments to attempt this, male fundamentalists of all kinds rarely hesitate to spill blood – innocent or not. God, religion and the needs of the market are the ideological fig-leafs of legitimacy for those elite men who seek to govern and exploit the rest of us.
A Renaissance of religion.
After the Second World War it was arrogantly assumed by the victors, that the partly secularised Anglo-Saxon male-dominated capitalist west would be the economic and political model the rest of the globe could be persuaded to follow. Having superficially relegated religion to the private spheres of life during the early development of capitalism, the male political elites left intact and supported the main structures of religion precisely because it left intact and inculcated the social characteristics of gullibility, deference and above all – male domination. The capitalist mode of production was a continuation of patriarchal rule under a new economic mode.
Not only that, but the Abrahamic religions in particular, by promoting the myth of an invisible male super-being, conveniently appears to give divine sanction to the continued domination of society by men – whatever the given mode of production or form of governance. The capitalist elites in the West have therefore used and supported all forms of religious ideology (Christian, Judaic, and Islamic) for the purposes of justifying their hierarchical rule and furthering their global expansion of exploitation and control.
Consequently, these pro-capitalist elite males have turned a blind eye to extreme patriarchal practices previously eliminated in Europe. Female oppression, genital mutilation, arranged marriages, child brides etc., have been tolerated as acceptable cultural diversity. This accommodation was done in order to gain support and compliance from religious elders in the countries of Europe and from religious patriarchs who govern foreign countries. This way cheap immigrant labour was imported into Europe which brought with it new voters for politicians who turned a blind-eye to ‘cultural’ oppression. All this modern so-called ‘politically correct’ accommodation to cultural patriarchy and oppression was (and continues to be), in order to gain re-election, access to compliant labour, material resources and markets.
Western elites have also funded and promoted religious fundamentalists in order to destabilise rival governments and those foreign elites who refuse access to resources that the capitalist mode of production needs. The result of all this support for religious forms of patriarchy is that the rights of Women, Children and non-believers have failed to advance in many parts of the world and have been eroded or abolished where they were once established.  In many places the freedom to criticise religion has also been restricted either legally or by fear of physical harm to the critic. Contrast this 21st century reality with the following written in the late1950‘s.
“After the Reformation and the Renaissance, the forces of modernisation swept across the globe and secularisation, a corollary historical process, loosened the dominance of the sacred. In due course, the sacred shall disappear altogether , except possibly in the private realm.” (C. Wright Mills. The Sociological Imagination. Quoted in ‘God is Back. J Micklewait and A. Wooldridge.)
A continuation of Patriarchy.
How wrong that opinion turned out to be! Perhaps it would have been wiser of Mills to avoid prophesising the demise of ideologies which had been in existence for thousands of years and which most men continued to have a vested interest in perpetuating. Of course the meaningless abstraction used by Mills, ‘the forces of modernisation’ also served to obscure more than it revealed. These forces were capitalist economic and financial forces of exploitation sweeping ‘across the globe’ and were backed up by armed bodies of men in military uniform.  Interestingly Mills was formulating these words just after a World War against another form of militant patriarchal fundamentalism this time known as Fascism.
These ‘forces of exploitation’ were, ‘in due course’, bound to be opposed in one way or another, and not surprisingly given the social hegemony of patriarchy, all those oppositions were led by male-dominated parties and movements.  This was not the first time Christianised, Anglo-Saxon, capitalist male elites had been opposed by other male elites. Fascist type authoritarianism in Italy, Germany, Spain and elsewhere were all right-wing patriarchal movements opposed to the Anglo-Saxon form. The so-called communistic ‘left’ oppositions to European and North American male-dominated capitalism as they emerged in Europe, Russia, China, Cuba, and the Eastern bloc, were also hierarchical male-dominated parties and movements, with predictable outcomes.
So when we are invited to take one side or another of these male fundamentalists ideologies as they battle it out (and we frequently are) workers should exercise extreme caution.  We need to remember that not one movement dominated by men to oppose other elite men has ever ended hierarchical exploitation of labour nor freed women from subordination. With the exception of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the mid-20th century, patriarchy has been an unchallenged given. Religious, social, family and political control by men remains a dominant material relationship perpetuated since the ascendancy of patriarchy over matrifocality.
Even many contemporary anti-capitalists remain unapologetically attached theoretically and practically to hierarchical forms of organisation and the domination of these by elite males.  Many on the left still wish to be led by a charismatic male or become one themselves – within a male-dominated organisation of hierarchical structure. In other words much of the left wishes to perpetuate yet another patriarchal form which like every other promises to be better than all the others when they are elevated to power – whether by popular vote or revolution. Check out Lenin, Stalin and Mao’s record in the case of the latter.
Ideologies (fixed systems and dogma) are a part of the soft power used by males. Those ideologies which dominate, have many strands and these are woven into patterns of views by those who subscribe to them. Views and patterns that focus attention and opinions on the issues most favourable to their own perceived needs.  Rarely will any of the current ideological positions, left, right or centre, identify patriarchy as being at the centre of their own continued existence. But the essence of their patriarchy reveals itself most starkly in the general day to day status and treatment of women and ‘others’ particularly during the ‘hard power’ of militarised aggression.
A challenge to Patriarchy.
Trapped inside its own paradigm, the best that bourgeois ideological criticism can produce within its patriarchal framework is to distinguish nuances among ‘good’ leaders and ‘bad’ leaders of various left, centre or right leanings. For example even on the revolutionary left Lenin is often summed up as a ‘good’ Bolshevik leader with perhaps a few flaws, Stalin a ‘bad’ one, with a few positive characteristics. However, this (often intricately) nuanced ‘best’ is not much of an advance over Feudal critics who could only distinguish between ‘good’ kings and ‘bad’ kings or earlier still in tribal religions the critics who merely distinguished between ‘good’ shepherds and ‘bad’ shepherds. The almost universal  desire for a charismatic, intelligent, benign male leader indicates how deep patriarchy runs even on the political left.
The opportunity to escape this intellectual and organisational prison of patriarchy and dualism came with the development of the revolutionary-humanist perspective. Much of this perspective was developed by Karl Marx. His viewpoint recognised the need for a revolutionary transformation of the mode of production linked to the re-humanising of society. A future society freed of all forms alienation within and domination over human communities. This re-humanisation involves the criticism and serious rejection of patriarchal ideas and characteristics. Just as the unequal mode of production would have to be revolutionised so to would all material relationships among humanity – including within the family. As Marx noted;
“….the unequal distribution, both quantitative and qualitative, of labour and its products, hence property: the nucleus, the first form, of which lies in the family, where wife and children are the slaves of the husband. This latent slavery in the family, though still very crude, is the first property,..” (Marx German Ideology. My emphasis RR)
The essence of this implies a challenge to those men who identify with this particular revolutionary tradition not simply to be anti-capitalist, but to be simultaneously anti-patriarchal – with all that this involves personally and organisationally.  It is not enough to be just pro women’s liberation, that is a necessary but far from sufficient position to adopt. Men need to transform themselves and thus transform the way they relate to others – including transforming their decisions of who to support or oppose.
To facilitate any revolutionary economic and social transformation the task for revolutionary-humanists is to challenge and change the mode of production and the dominant material relationships inherited from previous modes. The dominant material relationships of  21st century society are still class-based and patriarchal. The change needs to begin now. Marx again.
“…the relation of man to woman is the most natural relation of human being to human being. It therefore demonstrates the extent to which man’s natural behaviour has become human or the extent to which his human essence has become a natural essence for him, the extent to which his human nature has become nature for him.” (Marx 1844 Manuscripts.)
Roy Ratcliffe. (June 2014.)
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KILLING IN THE NAME OF GOD!

The recent events in Kenya, in which as yet an unknown number of shoppers have been summarily executed, demonstrates once again that the urge to kill in the name of religion and god is on the increase. When those shoppers who were identified by the fundamentalist al-Shabaab sect, as good Muslims were set free and others who were not executed, a situation reminiscent of the middle-ages was played out. That is to say that when the opportunity arose, armed groups belonging to one religious sect were visibly and openly intent on physically harming or eliminating those who in some way represented a different way of life – or in some cases just a different interpretation of religious ideology.
In the middle-ages fundamentalist Puritans persecuted and executed Catholic fundamentalists, whilst Catholic fundamentalists did the same to non-conforming communities, whether they were Cathars or Muslims. The systematic, imprisonment, torture and burning of all obvious heretics, including females specialising in folk medicine, preceded the more ambitious military invasions of foreign lands and conquest of wealth by Catholic, Islamic and Protestant elites. Killing in the name of God is as old as the invention of a monotheistic God. In all such cases, the tenets of the religious texts – which each religious denomination inherited from the ancient past – were utilised to justify, theft of land, resources and discriminating slaughter. In the 21st century, religious fundamentalism is once again on the increase and once again its tap-roots are to be found embodied in religious ideologies and their supposedly god-given patriarchal texts.
For groups of people to overcome any natural and socially reinforced inhibitions about systematically killing other human beings there needs to be a shared ideology – a higher cause – both to bind them together and which rationalises and justifies their inhuman practices. Angry, frustrated, oppressed, unemployed people etc. – of which under the present mode of production there are many – generally respond by one of the following; individual criminality, black economic activity, political activism or even suicide. They do not usually form armed groups and set about systematically torturing and assassinating others. Frustration, oppression, discrimination, injustice, unemployment and lack of opportunity are by themselves insufficient for such organised and orchestrated acts of savagery.
In addition, human beings are not born with such inclinations or self-justifying ideologies, these have to be socially learned and socially reinforced. The male-dominated religions, particularly the Abrahamic religions have had centuries to perfect the methods of convincing people of the existence of an invisible and all-powerful ‘male’ entity who authorises their elite existence and has provided textual guidance to this effect. This ideological saturation of the human intellect begins at childhood. The childhood trust of children for the adults in their lives is systematically abused as fantasy ‘stories’ (fairies, goblins, Father Xmas etc.) are asserted as being ‘true’ until most of these concoctions fall apart at the internally contradictory narrative seams. The exception to the ignominious collapse of this ubiquitous fantasy parade in childhood is with regard to God – and for good reason.
The ideology of a male God and god-given authority in hierarchical societies is extremely useful to the elites who govern societies and communities for they can and do use this ideology to support their patriarchal rule. Hence Aristocratic, political, military and religious elites have always had a vested interest in promoting and perpetuating such ancient and unscientific fictions. Their jobs depended upon it. Indeed, they still do! The 21st century jobs, status and actions of all the worlds elite rulers depend almost entirely upon the rest of us believing one version or other of these un-enlightened two-thousand year old fictional creations. Hence religion, politics and military might are everywhere hand in hand if not actually hand in glove.
Even so-called secular leaders in the west are keen to project – and be protected by – an image of their sincere (or insincere) belief in an unknowable, unseen, male super-being who wrote or dictated some ancient, cobbled together instructions for how communities should live and be governed. Regular attendance at church, chapel, cathedral, mosque, synagogue by ‘leaders’ of nations – before, during or after ordering wars or massacres – are publicised as visual indicators of their sincerity, reliability and acceptability. But this obscene charade only continues because much of the world’s population has not yet thrown off their initial child-like trust in these self-serving religious fictions delivered to them during their infancy and later kept alive by peer group habit and ‘official’ social pressure.
In this way all ‘believers’ unwittingly perpetuate the very ideological and textual foundations of a brutal form of patriarchy upon which the fundamentalists who shoot and kill in the name of god depend for their unity and justifications. To repeat what was mentioned briefly above. To get together with other like-minded individuals in order to systematically kill requires not just anger, frustration or injustice, but an existing and unifying ideology. And these pre-requisites come ready made in the form of religious ideology and the so-called sacred texts. Christian Fundamentalists and Christian Zionists, Jewish Zionists, and Islamic fundamentalists, who all in one way or another, support and/or fund the killing of those not belonging to their own sect – all use their supposedly god-given religious texts as foundations for their inhuman actions.
When pro-abortion doctors and feminist activists set up abortion clinics the Christian fundamentalists who kill have no compunction in killing those who operate them. Why? Because by reading their so-called ‘authorised’ scriptures they find passages which allow and justify such actions. When Jewish Zionists kill or order the mass killing of Palestinians, they are guided by their fully authorised scriptures which among numerous bloodthirsty verses states that god gave them the land on which Palestinians have lived for generations. When Islamists shoot schoolgirls wishing to be educated or others who wish to vaccinate children, they undoubtedly could quote the Qur’an or an appropriate Hadith to justify this or that action. All these fundamentalist activists are doing actions suggested and authorised by their antique scriptures.
When on Saturday 21st September 2013 the al-Shabaab fighters lined people up in the Nairobi Westgate Shopping Mall before letting them go or assassinating them there and then – you can be sure they had been previously guided by the groups religious leader or Imam. The fact that the questions they asked in order to decide how to process their victims unequivocally demonstrates the fact of their absolute religious motivation. The questions they asked were religious ones to establish whether the shoppers were Muslim or not. If it is true that one of the killers said; “We are not monsters” and “The Muslim faith is not a bad one.”, then they were merely expressing what many uncritical Muslims would also take for granted. Yet the teaching of this faith – as with Christianity and Judaism – has not eradicated the desire, the actual practice and textual justification for killing in the name of god.
For this reason I suggest it is inadequate and insufficient for believers to distance themselves from such acts yet not distance themselves from their respective ‘authorised’ histories and texts which clearly justify such acts. A climate of self-criticism and radical re-thinking of their religious beliefs needs to be encouraged among all ‘believers’ if the world is to progress, beyond the current degenerative slide into religious, tribal and sectarian violence. In order to encourage critical reflection and to avoid such a regression it is insufficient for those on the left to ‘tolerate’ religious belief in an ill-thought out effort at ‘political correctness’, or in some muddled ‘moral equivalence’ posture or simply in order to the gain electoral votes from constituents who are religious.
This is because ‘liberal’ do-gooding neutrality or even lukewarm support for such patriarchal religious belief systems, not only leaves open the door for a further erosion of women’s rights – bad enough in itself – but much else is at stake. Religious beliefs of this kind are not only antiquated, childish and mistaken but are extremely dangerous. They have been so in the past and are again proving to be so in the present.
The re-assertion of religious forms of governance is a retrograde step in the progress of humanity, which has become internationally co-operative in economic terms and needs to be so in social terms. Such dysfunctional beliefs need serious and sustained challenge from all humanist inspired activists. It needs to be recognised that a section of the new generation of activist youth have embraced Islamism rather than anti-capitalism. Their vision of the future is for servile women along with continued capitalist exploitation rather than of equal partners under a post-capitalist egalitarian system.
Only such a serious challenge can hope to erode the present hold of fundamentalist ideologies on growing numbers of the youth of today and safeguard future generations from this sectarian dead end. This is because many of the recruits to Islamic jihad are quite rightly disgusted with the capitalist/imperialist and state-capitalist (communist) modes of production but mistakenly seek a better life under a future Islamic caliphate. This is an imaginary project which is as unrealistic, self-defeating and inhumane as one desiring an apartheid Jews-only state stretching from the Euphrates to the Nile, or one requiring indifference to this world whilst awaiting some fictional ‘rapture’ and the supposed ’gathering’ of the Christian elect. A consistent onslaught against such fictional projections and sectarian violence is necessary as well as broad-based non-sectarian community self-defence measures.
For the immediate future, the material frustrations, inequalities and injustices which are now universal due to the universality of the capitalist mode of production will remain. These can only be eradicated by a revolutionary transformation of this now reactionary and self-destructive mode of production. However, an economic transformation of this scale and magnitude cannot come about in the 21st century unless a majority of humanity are able to elevate the status of their humanity above that of their present religious or party political beliefs.
The sloughing off or at least a significant reduction in the importance of reactionary religious and political ideologies, is a necessary part of the process facing humanity in order to move on and not to be driven backwards. This transcendence will be necessary in order to overthrow the capitalist mode of production and end its persistent and uncontrollable economic, political, military and ecological destruction. Meanwhile there is an ideological battle for revolutionary-humanists to attend to. Killing in any form is a practice devised by insecure elites, not by humane communities of equality and justice. Killing in the name of God belongs where it was first advocated two millennia ago and should now be relegated to the antique section of the dustbin of history.
Roy Ratcliffe (September 2013)


FUNDAMENTALISM.

In practically every part of the world, dissatisfaction with the existing neo-liberal regimes and the economic system they uphold, is being displayed. From the advanced capitalist countries, to the less-advanced ex-colonised countries, people across the globe are up in arms both metaphorically and literally. Mass opposition to the systemic economic and social inequalities that the capitalist mode of production has inaugurated, is producing not only large-scale demonstrations and uprisings, but also armed groups. Many of the latter are prepared to fight and die in order to bring about changes to the way countries and communities are governed. In all this upheaval, there is an almost universal recognition that the present mode of existence for the ordinary citizens of the world is in dire need of change.
There is however, no agreed vision of what form those changes should take. Indeed, even in the most ‘advanced’ capitalist countries, the most potentially militant visions of what form of economic production and governance should replace the existing neo-liberal capitalist ones are currently not anti-capitalist ones. For in Europe and North America, the ascendant dissident views are in fact to be found among the category known as religious ‘fundamentalisms’. As the unfolding 20th and 21st century economic and social crisis has steadily increased competition for jobs and resources among members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities, there has been among them, a resurgence of religious identities and fundamentalist views on how to combat the oppressive symptoms caused by capitalism.
Since they presently dominate the news, the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa are useful as examples. These have been dominated by movements and armed groups dedicated exclusively to replacing the existing political, often pro-secular regimes. Not, however, with anti-capitalist forms of self-governance, but with Islamic fundamentalist ones. Of course, the current proliferation of such armed groups killing in the name of their sectarian version of God rest predominantly upon the often hopeless and alienating socio-economic situations they face individually and collectively. Nevertheless, the current form their struggle most often takes against these situations, is mediated and justified by previously developed fundamentalist religious ideas.
For example, after directly observing the mid-twentieth century socio-economic situation in North America, an influential thinker within the early development of the Muslim Brotherhood movement commented on western capitalist policies;
“..any objectives other than the immediate utilitarian ones are by-passed and any human element other than ego is not recognised. Where the whole of life is dominated by such materialism, there is no scope for laws beyond provisions for labour and production. The result is class struggle which becomes inevitable and visibly evident.” (Savyid Qutb ‘Islam and Universal Peace. Quoted in ‘Fundamentalisms Observed’ by Marty and Appleby.)
Similar views are currently expressed across a wide geographical and cultural range of peoples, from Egypt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Burma, Congo, Nigeria. and Turkey, just to mention a few. In the more advanced capitalist countries, particularly in the United States of America, the injustices and exploitation gave rise to the black separatist movement of the Nation of Islam, a resurgence of Christian Zionism, and many other forms of Protestant fundamentalism.
All of these fundamentalist religious trends, articulated by the Bakkers, Farrakhan‘s, Vasil’ev‘s, Bonnke‘s, Kook‘s, Savakar‘s, Bodhiraksa‘s, and many, many others of the fundamentalist world, are deeply critical of the contingent immorality and injustice introduced by the capitalist mode of production. But none of them draw anti-capitalist conclusions. They all see many of the social, cutural and political symptoms, but their ideologies prevent them from examining the economic causes. On the continents of South America and Africa, religious fundamentalism (Protestant and Catholic) has also been the most successful ideological development in mobilising opposition to the dominant elites and their economic, military and political inter-connection with the dominant Anglo-Saxon sources of neo-liberal capital.
In each of these multifarious movements there is a clear identification of the way the present capitalist mode of production dominates the whole of life and creates societies focussed upon the acquisition of money and the advancement of corrupt elites. It also creates new class divisions and class struggles around labour and production. But the solution envisaged by Qutb and others such as Al- Banna, to this historic capitalist-introduced problem, was for the oppressed to struggle for a return to the fundamentals of Islam.
This particular Islamic thinker (Qutb) was imprisoned and cruelly tortured by the government of Nasser and began to articulate the beginnings of a militant resurgence of Islam. One requiring the identification of unbelievers and the complete allegiance of believers to Islam. It was only a short step from such mid-twentieth century militant scholarly interpretations of Islam for later followers to obtain weapons and attempt to enforce their will upon communities – which they did! This is a trend which now stretches across continents from Africa to Asia.
But as indicated earlier, a return to religious fundamental forms of governance in order to escape the wealth inequalities, corruption and injustices of capitalism is not restricted to the middle eastern and Asian ex-colonised countries. In North America and Europe many of those most oppressed by the system of capitalism are also not turning to anti-capitalist analysis, proposals and activism, but to religious forms of identity with publicised hopes for a return to religious forms of communal governance.
In North America in particular, the fundamentalist tap-root dates back almost to the origins of capitalisms domination of the United States. However, the last huge capitalist crisis in the 1930′s led to a massive upsurge in protestant Bible studies (Bible Colleges and Radio stations) which was further strengthened or ‘born again’ as opposition grew in response to post Second World War economic, cultural and social developments. The legacy of this development is ever present in the 21st century.
Perhaps not surprisingly, in the former Soviet Union, the anti-capitalist viewpoint has all but died out completely and now Orthodox Christianity and Islam compete for ascendancy as the supposed standard bearers of humane conduct for their disenchanted and disinherited citizens. A glaring litmus test of the domination of this reactionary pro-religious trend in modern Russia was supplied by the substantial and orchestrated demonstrations against Pussy Riot activists (Katia – Masha and Nadia) who peaceably gyrated in front of the alter in ‘Christ the Saviour’ church. In the former land of so-called ‘Marxism’, the Orthodox Church and the Russian State eagerly collaborated in the persecution of female activists simply demonstrating against patriarchy and the Patriarch.
All these late 20th and early 21st century retrograde developments across the globe should be cause for considerable concern among anti-capitalists and revolutionary-humanists. For, despite, the current world-wide capitalist crisis, the project for a post-capitalist society is further removed from working class and mass social consciousness than it has been at any time since its articulation in the form of ‘socialism’ in 17th and 18th centuries.
And of course, the palpable failures of state socialism and state communism in their various guises from their social democratic forms in Europe and the middle east, to the Communist regimes of the former Soviet Union along with its satellite countries and China have turned countless workers away from such so-called anti-capitalist alternatives to capitalism.
This suggests that a considerable task of sustained endurance faces us. We need to convince those few who are willing to listen, of the following.
1. That it is necessary and possible to go beyond economic and social domination by capital. [See 'Defending Public Services' and; 'Workers and others in the 21st century'.]
2. That the mistakes and failures of previous attempts to go beyond can be remedied and corrected. [See 'Marxists versus Marx' and; 'The Riddle of History Solved.']
3. That religion and religious fundamentalism offer no way forward because;
a) Religion does not seriously challenge or seek to go beyond the capitalist mode of production or patriarchal domination.
b) Religious fundamentalisms are a recipe for direct sectarian competition and warfare among people over territory and resources.
c) Religious fundamentalism puts governance of communities into the hands of an elite who believe in the existence of invisible entities and continued elite male domination.
For all the above reasons religion cannot be treated as a harmless personal issue to be defended or even championed, as some on the left, out of misguided political correctness, have done. Religion and religious fundamentalism are a public issue and the first (religion) is a solid foundation for the second – fundamentalism! Furthermore, religion is based upon a dangerous illusion, that an invisible male super-entity, has opinions and rules which only a male elite can decipher or interpret.
For when these religious fundamentalists become radicalised and equip themselves with guns and bombs they become a serious existential threat to increasing numbers of communities throughout the world. With millions, if not billions of practicing and subscribing members, these religious fundamentalists have fertile recruiting grounds among those who share their ideology and who are suffering from hardship and exploitation.
So as I suggest the promotion of a modern version of post-capitalism represents a lengthy and difficult task. It is a task which is not helped by those anti-capitalists who think the solution is to shun theory and dive into practice hoping that crisis-driven activism supported by selected passages or programmes from the writings of Lenin and Trotsky will solve a multitude of problems and convince millions to sign up to the anti-capitalist project. Given the current proliferation of fundamentalism and sectionalism among the working classess, much more is needed.
Indeed, the sectarian nature (subtle or blatant) of much of the current anti-capitalist left also stands in the way. For this mirrors in a miniscule way the sectarian nature of religious fundamentalism. They simply replace absolute belief in an inerrant god and their scriptures with absolute belief in one or other versions of an inerrant Leninist or Trotskyist type vanguard along with its basic programme – and they also often shun all those who fail to sufficiently agree.
Given the scale of the problem, it may or may not be the case that many failures of religious motivated change will need to occur before masses of people are again driven by circumstances to consider alternative and more radical non-sectarian, inclusive revolutionary movements. However, the above noted tasks retain their validity whatever the outcome of the current multi-dimensional crisis. These tasks will require modern revolutionary-humanists and non-sectarian anti-capitalists to critically re-visit all the theories we have inherited and flush out all the distortions and deviations they have accumulated over the last 100 years. The working classes, white-collar and blue, indeed have the numbers, however, as Marx, noted;
“…but numbers weigh only in the balance, if united by combination and led by knowledge.” (Marx ‘Inaugural Address of the Working Man’s International Association.)
Needless to say that ‘unity of combination’ also requires an end to sectarianism among the anti-capitalist left and sectionalism among the working class. And ‘knowledge’ in the modern context – as in the past – requires an absence of dogma along with a critical and self-critical comprehension of the past and present practices of us anti-capitalist activists. Contrary to the modern distaste for theoretical effort among some activists, there is, I suggest, an urgent need for much more of it. The latter is a theme which will be developed in the next post on this blog.
Roy Ratcliffe (January 2014.)



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