"Why should I respect these oppressive religions?"

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Ghislaine
"Why should I respect these oppressive religions?"

I usually appreciate Johann Hari's writing in The Independant, but [url=http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-har... this piece [/url] was especially good:

Quote:

The right to criticise religion is being slowly doused in acid. Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism – giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds – are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we "respect" religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten – to put him on the side of the religious censors.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people". It was a Magna Carta for mankind – and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth. Today, the Chinese dictatorship calls it "Western", Robert Mugabe calls it "colonialist", and Dick Cheney calls it "outdated". The countries of the world have chronically failed to meet it – but the document has been held up by the United Nations as the ultimate standard against which to check ourselves. Until now.

Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to "respect" the "unique sensitivities" of the religious, they decided – so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within "the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community".

In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say. The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists.

Incredibly, they are succeeding. The UN's Rapporteur on Human Rights has always been tasked with exposing and shaming those who prevent free speech – including the religious. But the Pakistani delegate recently demanded that his job description be changed so he can seek out and condemn "abuses of free expression" including "defamation of religions and prophets". The council agreed – so the job has been turned on its head. Instead of condemning the people who wanted to murder Salman Rushdie, they will be condemning Salman Rushdie himself.

Anything which can be deemed "religious" is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN – and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah "will not happen" and "Islam will not be crucified in this council" – and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.

Here is a random smattering of events that have taken place in the past week in countries that demanded this change. In Nigeria, divorced women are routinely thrown out of their homes and left destitute, unable to see their children, so a large group of them wanted to stage a protest – but the Shariah police declared it was "un-Islamic" and the marchers would be beaten and whipped. In Saudi Arabia, the country's most senior government-approved cleric said it was perfectly acceptable for old men to marry 10-year-old girls, and those who disagree should be silenced. In Egypt, a 27-year-old Muslim blogger Abdel Rahman was seized, jailed and tortured for arguing for a reformed Islam that does not enforce shariah.

To the people who demand respect for Muslim culture, I ask: which Muslim culture? Those women's, those children's, this blogger's – or their oppressors'?

 I really liked the question at the end and it is one I often wondered about when told the same type of thing re: respecting religions/cultures. One must distinguish between the person's rights (as a Muslim, Arab, etc.) and their religion or culture.

lagatta

Hari is an interesting writer, and I certainly agree with him about oppressive religions, but there is a caveat.

He was among those supposedly on the left who initially supported the war on Iraq in 2003, for reasons of opposition to the brutal dictatorship. To his credit, he has since acknowledged the enormity of his error, and the even worse human rights conditions under war, occupation and a breakdown of civil society.

I do find it problematic that the article quoted centres mostly on oppressive religion and theocracy in the Muslim world, when there have also been very oppressive religous forces in the so-called "West", from the strong influence of born-again evangelical Christianity in the Bushite regime in the US to the viciously misogynistic and homophobic government recently in power in Poland (and subsequent changes in guard have been more cosmetic than of substance in ensuring the democratic rights of women and LGBT people in that country).

And extremist religious parties and movements also play a disproportionate role in Israel, for example, there is no civil marriage, and would-be converts to Judaism (and all benefits of citizenship in a "Jewish state") have to be converted by Orthodox rabbis, with the sexual discrimination that entails.

I am less familiar with the influence of religious oppression and fundamentalism among the non-Abrahamic-monotheistic socities, but the Hindu fundamentalist in India have also been extremely oppressive to relgious minorities, and I'm sure one can find other examples.

All of this to say that while I agree with the general thrust of Hari's article, the omissions are important - in particular the omission of the role of imperialism and the singling out of Islamic fundamentalism as an enemy, for reasons that have everything to do with petroleum and power, and nothing to do with democracy or human rights.

Michelle

Thanks for that, lagatta.  I agree with you.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Since nobody else has said it: why are religious extremes conflated to represent what the given religion may mean to people simply living their lives? Many Muslim critics have gone on record as saying that all those oppressive examples that are trotted out, are not in fact rooted in the Q'ran at all.

As we well know, oppressors will use whatever stick works. Sometimes it's religion. It doesn't mean the religion is only the way the oppressors present it.

And I have a bit of a red flag alert to anyone who only focuses on Islamic extremists when discussing "oppressive religions".

And, what lagatta said. 

saga saga's picture

Seems to me religious freedom should end where it infringes on the human rights of individual human beings or violates the laws we share: Assault, murder to establish a reign of terror ... these are crimes that adherence to a religion does not excuse: What is the difference then between religion and terrorism? There is none if religion rules people by fear of harm.

One is not engaging is religious freedom if one is not free to disagree, or if one coercing another.

I don't believe this is the last we will hear about this. Not the final judgment. However, freedom to speak out about oppressions of others means we have to check for skeletons in our own closets and practices and systems first.

I am reminded of a canvassing call I made where a defensive young woman said "I can't ... We don't vote. That is is for the husband."

I said "Well ... then ... perhaps your husband would like to read this." She hesitated and then her eyes gleamed with a smile, she took the flyer and said ... "and I read it first and then ... to him." We both laughed ... gave each other the thumb's up.

Don't sweat the small stuff, like face coverings and choices of gender roles.

And ... are we really protecting our own vulnerable people from oppression?

To what extent are we responding to a stereotype promoted against Sharia? Do we know? I don't think I do.

I see evidence of concern, and of response:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/ai_search?keywords=Sharia&op=Search&form_id=search_theme_form&form_token=388fcb20b695519580d4697578cf2e1b

 I see an ongoing dialogue that centres around personal safety, human rights and freedom of choice, but is best not centred on one religion or another. There are flaws everywhere.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Great post, lagatta.

CEP Local 341

Doctor's alleged refusal to treat lesbians sparks rights complaint

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

WINNIPEG — Andrea Markowski says she sensed the doctor's unease from the first waiting-room handshake.

She thought she'd been upfront about her background when she asked for a meet and greet with Dr. Karmeila Elias at Winnipeg's Lakewood Medical Centre.

It was pretty simple. She and her same-sex partner Ginette had just arrived from Yellowknife. They were looking for a good family doctor. Dr. Elias was accepting new patients. In a country where finding a GP can take months of agony, the match appeared to be a no-brainer.

But judging by the confused look Ms. Markowski she says she saw on Dr. Elias's face, nobody had mentioned their sexual orientation ahead of time.

"When I introduced myself and introduced Ginette as my partner, it took [the doctor] a little while to put it together. When she did, she looked really uncomfortable."

It was the beginning of an alleged incident that has prompted a human-rights complaint and raised thorny questions about how the Canadian medical system acculturates foreign-trained doctors.

There are an estimated 7,000 international medical graduates, or IMGs, in Canada. Most go through some form of cultural sensitivity training before earning a Canadian licence, but if Ms. Markowski's experience is in any way accurate, the primer falls short.

She says her encounter with Dr. Elias - who trained in Egypt and moved to Canada five years ago - turned for the worse when the trio retreated to an office.

"We started running through my medical history and [the doctor] could not look at me. She was flustered. She couldn't focus. I knew something was up, so I asked her, 'Is our sexual orientation an issue for you in terms of your ability to treat us?'"

Ms. Markowski alleges Dr. Elias soon confirmed her suspicions.

"She said, first thing, that it was against her religion, and second, that she had no experience caring for lesbian or gay patients."

 

 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090128.wdoctor28/BNStory/National/home

Air Liquide tech

Cueball Cueball's picture

Ghislaine wrote:

I usually appreciate Johann Hari's writing in The Independant, but [url=http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-har... this piece [/url] was especially good:

Quote:

The right to criticise religion is being slowly doused in acid. Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism – giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds – are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we "respect" religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten – to put him on the side of the religious censors.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people". It was a Magna Carta for mankind – and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth. Today, the Chinese dictatorship calls it "Western", Robert Mugabe calls it "colonialist", and Dick Cheney calls it "outdated". The countries of the world have chronically failed to meet it – but the document has been held up by the United Nations as the ultimate standard against which to check ourselves. Until now.

Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to "respect" the "unique sensitivities" of the religious, they decided – so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within "the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community".

In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say. The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists.

Incredibly, they are succeeding. The UN's Rapporteur on Human Rights has always been tasked with exposing and shaming those who prevent free speech – including the religious. But the Pakistani delegate recently demanded that his job description be changed so he can seek out and condemn "abuses of free expression" including "defamation of religions and prophets". The council agreed – so the job has been turned on its head. Instead of condemning the people who wanted to murder Salman Rushdie, they will be condemning Salman Rushdie himself.

Anything which can be deemed "religious" is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN – and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah "will not happen" and "Islam will not be crucified in this council" – and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.

Here is a random smattering of events that have taken place in the past week in countries that demanded this change. In Nigeria, divorced women are routinely thrown out of their homes and left destitute, unable to see their children, so a large group of them wanted to stage a protest – but the Shariah police declared it was "un-Islamic" and the marchers would be beaten and whipped. In Saudi Arabia, the country's most senior government-approved cleric said it was perfectly acceptable for old men to marry 10-year-old girls, and those who disagree should be silenced. In Egypt, a 27-year-old Muslim blogger Abdel Rahman was seized, jailed and tortured for arguing for a reformed Islam that does not enforce shariah.

To the people who demand respect for Muslim culture, I ask: which Muslim culture? Those women's, those children's, this blogger's – or their oppressors'?

 I really liked the question at the end and it is one I often wondered about when told the same type of thing re: respecting religions/cultures. One must distinguish between the person's rights (as a Muslim, Arab, etc.) and their religion or culture.

 

Xenophobic trash, actually.

Perhaps Ghislane will deconcstruct the origin of the term 'Islamist" for us, and explain how it came into to being, and try and determine if it has any basis for existance originating within Islam?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

And Mr. Hari's last question could be turned in this way:
To the people who insist on ATTACKING Muslim culture(and on implying that "Muslim culture" is the only religious or cultural system that oppresses anybody these days), I ask:

Which Muslim culture(s)?  The one(s) that actually exist(s), or the ones you pretend exist because their existence would make building support for your imperialist dreams easier?

_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Our Demands Most Moderate are/ We Only Want The World! -James Connolly

Tommy_Paine

"Since nobody else has said it: why are religious extremes conflated to represent what the given religion may mean to people simply living their lives? Many Muslim critics have gone on record as saying that all those oppressive examples that are trotted out, are not in fact rooted in the Q'ran at all."

Well, it's part of a broader problem that has no one causation.  But, I think we can point the first finger of blame at our media, that seeks to infotain us with the most extreme representatives of this religion, that political party, or this social movement.  Every demographic suffers from that.

Blame, too, has to be apportioned  to the moderates who tend to let the extremists carry the flag for their cause, particularly when the extremist is attacked.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend syndrome. 

In the foggy sphere of religion, why is it left to secularists to blow the whistle on extremists?   Where is the furor from the moderates, who's version of belief is being highjacked and perveted?

And, the same could be said for many other organizations that are not religious.

We are a clannish lot, us humans. 

 

 

500_Apples

What is the relevance of saying that certain oppressive forms of Islams (real or imagined) are not well-founded in the Koran? Religion is a social construct. Is abortion in the bible? No, but it is a very real religious position to millions of evangelicals, it is a real part of their religion. Some of you may disagree with my position on the grounds that religion is a supernatural truth.

One thing which I find racist is that a lot of "progressives" in the west like to believe that there are no problems outside the west, aka 1) the concerns about fundamentalist Islam are fabricated propaganda 2) The general theory of the noble savage 3) All international problems originate in Washington. It is these people who are in fact racist, as they are patronizing the rest of humanity and projecting their (western) idealizations onto other human beings. The truth is that there is darkness and ugliness everywhere.

George Victor

To return to the opening post and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN.

If our ideas regarding the rights  embedded in that declaration have taken on new meaning within the UN, we are perhaps guilty of seeing substance in semantics.

The arguments grow ever more obtuse.  

Saga's deliniation of the question was on the button.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:

At the time, I remember reading an editorial in a magazine called Weapons Today that described how the industry had fallen on lean times. But "Cheer up!" the editor wrote, because now that Saddam Hussein has invaded Kuwait, things will start looking up, and in the future we in the arms industry can look forward to Islam replacing Communism to keep our order books full.

To be quite honest, when I read that in 1990 I thought they were off their heads, but now I realize that one should never underestimate the professionalism and skill of the weapons industry in creating markets for their product.

 

My Future As An Arms Manufacturer

The issue isn't religion (although that is an issue), the problem is and remains a human need to dominate and control other humans. Religion is merely a vehicle.

 

 

 

Webgear

Frustrated Mess wrote:

The issue isn't religion (although that is an issue), the problem is and remains a human need to dominate and control other humans.

Such as politics, countries and other large organizations. 

 

(A bit of a thread drift I know.)

 ______________________________________________________________________________________________ We are like cloaks, one thinks of us only when it rains.

saga saga's picture

Maysie wrote:
Since nobody else has said it: why are religious extremes conflated to represent what the given religion may mean to people simply living their lives?

I wanted to share that anecdeote and I didn't want to wave a red herring lol, but since you justly asked ...  I'll embellish this ...

However, freedom to speak out about oppressions of others means we have to check for skeletons in our own closets and practices and systems first.

Christian churches and child abuse in Canada was what I had in mind, to speak of skeletons ... and government complicity too ...

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081103.wcotruth04/B... truth a chance, Canada[/url]

As The Globe and Mail has reported, bodies of aboriginal children lie in unmarked graves across Canada, on the grounds of residential schools where the federal government sought for more than a century to extinguish aboriginal culture.

...

-Reconciliation cannot be imposed on a society. The most a commission can do is clarify past events and amplify the voices of people who have been stigmatized or silenced. Reconstructing facts without euphemism and restoring the dignity of victims are first steps toward national reconciliation, but they are only the beginning.

Thanks to the Canadian commission, federal researchers are working to identify the thousands of aboriginal children who vanished from the residential schools; many of the children are thought to be in the anonymous graves at the school sites. It is their memory that Canada should honour as it presses forward with its historic truth commission, and works to achieve a healthier, more united country.

IE, Do our governments' have the international credibility to be accusing other countries of oppression, when we have not yet properly acknowledged the victims we buried to establish a (formerly) Christian Canadian 'regime' on Indigenous land?

Frankly, I don't believe we do.

Maybe Amnesty does have that credibility ...

http://www.amnesty.org/en/ai_search?keywords=&region=1892&issue=2135 

But I don't think Canada or Canadians do until we face the fact that our foundation is 'compromised', and that the Catholic, United and Anglican churches played a huge role in that.

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

saga, excellent example, thank you. The oppression of First Nations people is rooted in Christianity. Which is of course at the root of Western imperialism and colonialism.

500_Apples wrote:
 One thing which I find racist is that a lot of "progressives" in the west like to believe that there are no problems outside the west, aka 1) the concerns about fundamentalist Islam are fabricated propaganda 2) The general theory of the noble savage 3) All international problems originate in Washington. It is these people who are in fact racist, as they are patronizing the rest of humanity and projecting their (western) idealizations onto other human beings. The truth is that there is darkness and ugliness everywhere.
 

500, I have no idea what you're talking about. 

 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:

One thing which I find racist is that a lot of "progressives" in the west like to believe that there are no problems outside the west, aka 1) the concerns about fundamentalist Islam are fabricated propaganda 2) The general theory of the noble savage 3) All international problems originate in Washington. It is these people who are in fact racist, as they are patronizing the rest of humanity and projecting their (western) idealizations onto other human beings. The truth is that there is darkness and ugliness everywhere.

Such a statement. 

1) They are if somewhere along the line the solution is to bomb or starve them. In the case of Afghanistan, for example, we were quite comfortable with their killings of girls and mass executions so long as they were also killing Soviets. Only when we decided we need to kill them did their practices come up  for public display and revulsion.

2) Whose theory is that exactly? I mean, who identifies other human beings as savages? Margaret Wente? When did she join the left?

3) It is difficult to find a conflict anywhere on the planet which does not have Washington's, London's, or Tel Aviv's fingers in it or a tyrant not supported by them. Of the few tyrants not endorsed by the Western Troika, all are under attack or facing sanctions. Of those who are, it is their populations who are under attack or facing sanctions.

 

Quote:
The truth is that there is darkness and ugliness everywhere.

Absolutely true. But my observations suggest darkness and ugliness is not undermined with more darkness and ugliness.

 

 

saga saga's picture

Webgear wrote:
Frustrated Mess wrote:

The issue isn't religion (although that is an issue), the problem is and remains a human need to dominate and control other humans.

Such as politics, countries and other large organizations. 

 

(A bit of a thread drift I know.)

 ______________________________________________________________________________________________ We are like cloaks, one thinks of us only when it rains.

I agree ... and religion is the red flag used to arouse passions and create wars and sell arms ... 

Hmm religion as 'convenient marketing ploy for the war industry'?

 I have a problem in that the thread title says "these" ... religions.

-edit- Are we not talking about all oppressive religions? ... and also the powers that manipulate them for personal gain?

 

Unionist

What lagatta said.

Slumberjack

With the proliferation of all these godly threads, and the Left seemingly consumed with the genre of late, might that not be a sign in itself that the end is nearer than we think.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

The end of religion, the left or the internet?

Michelle

All three!

And, what Frustrated Mess said.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I thought they were the same thing, to be honest.

Fidel

I'd like to see an end to capitalism in general.  Few people talk about the ongoing cultural genocide of indigenous people who were and are very spiritually minded people. The ongoing physical elimination of native people worldwide and confiscation of their land has occurred for centuries, and it's due to a genocidal drive for ever expanding profiteering and enforced by undemocratic banking arrangements and trade organizations controlled by capitalists. And we wont be able to do anything meaningful for the environment until world economies and means of production are brought under democratic control and subjugated to peoples' needs and  environmental limits instead of control by a handful few wealthy people and supranational conglomerates. Religion is not nearly the same threat by comparison.  Capitalism will end humanity long before religion ever will.

saga saga's picture

Fidel wrote:

I'd like to see an end to capitalism in general.  Few people talk about the ongoing cultural genocide of indigenous people who were and are very spiritually minded people. The ongoing physical elimination of native people worldwide and confiscation of their land has occurred for centuries, and it's due to a genocidal drive for ever expanding profiteering and enforced by undemocratic banking arrangements and trade organizations controlled by capitalists. And we wont be able to do anything meaningful for the environment until world economies and means of production are brought under democratic control and subjugated to peoples' needs and  environmental limits instead of control by a handful few wealthy people and supranational conglomerates. Religion is not nearly the same threat by comparison.  Capitalism will end humanity long before religion ever will.

First, I think one might want to know if Indigenous people agree with you about ending capitalism on their behalf.

Second, I am not as willing as some to give up my right to earn a living by selling, trading, etc my products or services. Free enterprise with strict limits on corporatization and control of the marketplace is more to my liking.

 And I support strict controls on religions too, that should not be exempt from the laws of the country, including taxation, imo.

Fidel

saga wrote:
Fidel wrote:

I'd like to see an end to capitalism in general.  Few people talk about the ongoing cultural genocide of indigenous people who were and are very spiritually minded people. The ongoing physical elimination of native people worldwide and confiscation of their land has occurred for centuries, and it's due to a genocidal drive for ever expanding profiteering and enforced by undemocratic banking arrangements and trade organizations controlled by capitalists. And we wont be able to do anything meaningful for the environment until world economies and means of production are brought under democratic control and subjugated to peoples' needs and  environmental limits instead of control by a handful few wealthy people and supranational conglomerates. Religion is not nearly the same threat by comparison.  Capitalism will end humanity long before religion ever will.

First, I think one might want to know if Indigenous people agree with you about ending capitalism on their behalf.

Dont ask me, ask the Amazonian tribes being eliminated by bounty hunters and land clearcut by logging companies.

Ask the Mayans of Central America what they think of the holocaust of their people from last century this one and general conditions for grinding poverty today.

Cohesive social organization often conflicts with the requirement for individual autonomy characteristic of the culture of capitalism.  Indigenous societies tend to be more egalitarian than societies of the culture of capitalism. The need to assert status by  commodities is not as important to indigenous people.

Quote:
Second, I am not as willing as some to give up my right to earn a living by selling, trading, etc my products or services. Free enterprise with strict limits on corporatization and control of the marketplace is more to my liking.

Fine. But that kind of economy existed long before the first stock markets and well before private property laws were exported to the western world from England. What we dont need are mountains of plastic junk made from oil byproducts, or the excessiveness of using thousands of thousands of gallons of fresh water to make a plastic shower curtain liner. They can't really afford to use so much fresh water to backwash shrimp ponds in Thailand and destroying coastal wetlands there, so that we can afford to eat seafood here.

Quote:
 And I support strict controls on religions too, that should not be exempt from the laws of the country, including taxation, imo.

I think we should tax corporations -  take the profit out of making war - put the monetary system through bankruptcy procedures - and democratize the whole setup from Central Banking to advanced democracy and evening things up a little so as one person equals one vote in this frozen Puerto Rico.

saga saga's picture

Fidel wrote:

Dont ask me, ask the Amazonian tribes being eliminated by bounty hunters and land clearcut by logging companies.

Ask the Mayans of Central America what they think of the holocaust of their people from last century this one and general conditions for grinding poverty today.

Cohesive social organization often conflicts with the requirement for individual autonomy characteristic of the culture of capitalism.  Indigenous societies tend to be more egalitarian than societies of the culture of capitalism. The need to assert status by  commodities is not as important to indigenous people.

I guess I am making a distinction between 'corporatism' (a monster that consumes whole forests and the people in them) and simple capitalism, eg, a family logs sustainably from their land and sells or trades for needed goods.  My main point is I do not want a monolithic socialist bureaucracy telling me I can't sell my blueberries or handiwork or plumbing skills for profit. Not my thing.

Secondly, I think they can speak for themselves and should not be used to bolster your own ideology. For example, the mom-and-pop free enterprise tobacco business is a critical source of income for Indigenous people in Canada.

 I guess my real point is that there are choices other than monster-corporatism v socialism. There is the reality that most people don't want the constraints of either extreme.  Brazil's approach ... 

Quote:

Fine. But that kind of economy existed long before the first stock markets and well before private property laws were exported to the western world from England. What we dont need are mountains of plastic junk made from oil byproducts, or the excessiveness of using thousands of thousands of gallons of fresh water to make a plastic shower curtain liner. They can't really afford to use so much fresh water to backwash shrimp ponds in Thailand and destroying coastal wetlands there, so that we can afford to eat seafood here.

 

All of that is unfettered monster corporatism, not capitalism per se. I'm not splitting hairs: I am pointing out that socialism is NOT the logical alternative to corporatism: Simple capitalism is, and can be integrated with aspects of socialism too - just the ideal people want.

Quote:

I think we should tax corporations -  take the profit out of making war - put the monetary system through bankruptcy procedures - and democratize the whole setup from Central Banking to advanced democracy and evening things up a little so as one person equals one vote in this frozen Puerto Rico.

I agree that in an ideal world there should be no profit to be made in war.

So maybe we should get our shit together and run our democracies properly so politicians can't make wars.

I doubt the catastrophic solutions you suggest are ever going to happen, nor do I believe they'll accomplish what we want.

Realistically, though, we can hope to put constraints on rampant corporatism and also protect our individual right to engage in free enterprise, as well as protecting our collective right to (eg) equal medical insurance, employment insurance, etc., as we generally agree on those socialist measures too.

It's been said ... the best thing we can do to regain control of the economy is for ALL of us 'little people' to take our money (and our debts, especially mortgages, our biggest bargaining chip) out of the big megabanks and deal only with local ones or credit unions, etc.

I would like to see that happen, just to see what would happen. Would it matter at all to them?

I don't know, but it is worth a try.  I already have.

 

George Victor

Joe Bageant covers as much philosophical ground - ideational and material - as this thread:

"Perfection necessarily implies some ultimate rightness, allegiance to highest truth available, and acknowledgement of even the most brutal ones ... such as Gaza and our functional support of those mass murders. The truth, especially for Americans living inside a deadly media illusion of our own making, is the new frontier. We can blame the media snake charmers all we want, and the soulless corporations they serve, but our seduction has been a willing one.

The truth was always the only frontier and it has always been an inner one about seeking and unflinching acknowledgement of what one discovers -- which in the end inspires universal compassion. Looking upon the world with eyes as cold as ashes but with a heart like a furnace.

And that makes it spiritual. Not religious, not esoteric, not mystical, not cosmic, not New Age, but utterly and humanly spiritual. We are not and never were individuals, but merely brief swimmers in the river of flesh called mankind. Yet inside each frail sentient being there is that small bead of light, of self, of the truth of pure existence. It can guide us in those right things before us, that we either will or will not rise to doing. That is its purpose, if it can be said to have one.

Now that Cotton Mather's City On The Hill has proven a vapor, there are worse things we could attempt than fix upon that light as a beacon for crossing our spiritual Jordan's turbulent waters, toward some more perfect inner shore.

Perfection, whether of the stripe sought by socialists, Christians, atheists, Buddhists or Muslims, is within each of us. It's unhip, unscientific, archaic, politically incorrect and guaranteed to hurt. But it's the truth."

----------------------------------------------------------------

I think he deals with "oppressive religions" (even Fidel's capitalism) rather well. "We have seen the enemy" said Pogo.

lagatta

I respect other people's spirituality, but I'm not remotely spiritual. It always annoys me when people look at my artwork, or the fact that I'm more interested in my cat or houseplants than in shiny baubles, and say how "spiritual" I am. I'm a hardline atheist, and dialectical materialist.

N.R.KISSED

"All of that is unfettered monster corporatism, not capitalism per se. I'm not splitting hairs: I am pointing out that socialism is NOT the logical alternative to corporatism: Simple capitalism is, and can be integrated with aspects of socialism too - just the ideal people want."

 

There is no such thing as "simple Capitalism" nor will there ever be. People trading or exchanging things does not make it capitalistic. The whole constuction of the individual self and the philosophy of individualism is a product of capitalism as well. Socialism is not monolithic either there are many kinds.

al-Qa'bong

lagatta wrote:
I respect other people's spirituality, but I'm not remotely spiritual. It always annoys me when people look at my artwork, or the fact that I'm more interested in my cat or houseplants than in shiny baubles, and say how "spiritual" I am. I'm a hardline atheist, and dialectical materialist.

 

Yeah, but you have soul.

Unionist

Michelle wrote:

And, what Frustrated Mess said.

Yeah, FM too.

 

saga saga's picture

N.R.KISSED wrote:

"All of that is unfettered monster corporatism, not capitalism per se. I'm not splitting hairs: I am pointing out that socialism is NOT the logical alternative to corporatism: Simple capitalism is, and can be integrated with aspects of socialism too - just the ideal people want."

 

There is no such thing as "simple Capitalism" nor will there ever be. People trading or exchanging things does not make it capitalistic. The whole constuction of the individual self and the philosophy of individualism is a product of capitalism as well. Socialism is not monolithic either there are many kinds.

I am including the possibility of profit making, and also redistribution of wealth, limiting corporate control of wealth, and including the social programs we have, and more.

I don't know what you call it. I just think it is what people want - the best of what we have.

 

Fidel

saga wrote:
I guess I am making a distinction between 'corporatism' (a monster that consumes whole forests and the people in them) and simple capitalism, eg, a family logs sustainably from their land and sells or trades for needed goods.  My main point is I do not want a monolithic socialist bureaucracy telling me I can't sell my blueberries or handiwork or plumbing skills for profit. Not my thing.

The kind of small market and barter you speak of existed long before the first stock market was created in Holland and the first capitalist asset inflation bubble that was the tulip craze, and well before John Law single handedly sabotaged France's banking system with speculating on swamp land in Louisiana and leading to French revolution, and some say, the birth of socialism.

Quote:
Secondly, I think they can speak for themselves and should not be used to bolster your own ideology. For example, the mom-and-pop free enterprise tobacco business is a critical source of income for Indigenous people in Canada.

Just so long as you arent trying to tell me that indigenous people support capitalism by choice. Indigenous people around the world would probably be among the first to reject capitalism given the choice to repossess valuable land stolen from them by capitalists and their hirelings in governments throughout history.

 As a socialist, I reject capitalism and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. Vast wealth in the hands of a few is totally incompatible with the idea for government of the people, run for the people, and by the people. Albert Einstein said that mankind has progressed in phases throughout history, from imperialism to feudalism to colonialism, and now predatory capitalism. And he said in his political essay that the next logical phase of human development is socialism.

Sven Sven's picture

lagatta wrote:
I respect other people's spirituality, but I'm not remotely spiritual. It always annoys me when people look at my artwork, or the fact that I'm more interested in my cat or houseplants than in shiny baubles, and say how "spiritual" I am. I'm a hardline atheist, and dialectical materialist.

That made me smile. Wink 

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

George Victor

Saga:

"I am including the possibility of profit making, and also redistribution of wealth, limiting corporate control of wealth, and including the social programs we have, and more.

I don't know what you call it. I just think it is what people want - the best of what we have."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sounds like the "mixed economy" we grew up with Saga, the one that came out of depresseion and war.  The one we lost control of.

Now we have to recapture it, but without the use of fossil fuels. And I hope we're all up to it. I used to think that E.F. Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful" was written only for third-world edification. But that was before I understood that it was our energy source that was doing us in - hastened by the nasty products of our economic relations.

Peter3

Frustrated Mess wrote:

"The issue isn't religion (although that is an issue), the problem is and remains a human need to dominate and control other humans."

Perhaps it is because I am an atheist product of a devoutly Christian home, but I believe that the problem at the root of this phenomenon is not fundamentalism or extreme religion, but religion itself, precisely because religious institutions propagate and sustain themselves by domination and control.

Religion has been the scourge of free thought and free speech for as long as it has existed.  It is a denial of the most fundamental defining characterisitics of humanity; our rational capacity, our curiosity, our desire to create new things, our need for each other. By demanding faith in archaic rituals and systems of faith, the human capacity for intellectual growth is twisted and deformed into a source of "temptation" and guilt when it should be the instrument of our release from the bondage of superstition.

The notion that religion is entitled to special consideration in society's affairs is embedded in Western culture, and most of the rest of the world, as well.  In Canada, while we were finally accepting same sex marriage as a right, churches were assumed to be exempt and are still permitted to collect money without taxation and use the proceeds to disseminate political propaganda advocating the denial of equal rights to gays. The repulsiveness of fundamentalist Mormonism has no excuse, and yet we will be forced to listen to serious-sounding arguments in a court of law and see them on the front page of supposedly enlightened news publications as the Bountiful case is handled with kid gloves by everyone. If anybody but a religious advocate subjected children to the sort of brainwashing that is routinely employed in religious indoctrination they would quite rightly be packed off to jail.

The spinelessness of western intellectuals and institutions confronted by radical religious bigotry is rooted in a sense that placing limits on "belief" for one set of believers will have implications for all others.  When religion held real secular power in western society there would have been no such pussy-footing; the competing bigots would have been denounced as Satan spawn and that would have been that.  It is the creeping marginalisation of religious power has caused Unitarians to leap to the defense of their more extreme spiritual relatives out of a sense of self-preservation. The idea that religious belief is exempt from the obligations attending fundamental rights and freedoms is allowed to prosper because people feel they should "respect spirituality".

Spirituality is dangerous crap in its most insipid manifestations, and outright evil in its worst forms.  I refuse to accept its influence here. I reject the proposition that as a citizen of a western country I have no right to speak against the evilness of mullahs, rabbis, monks or shamans in countries where people cannot oppose them, or denounce the nastiness and stupidity of their beliefs.

Stargazer

Wow, great post Peter3, have to say that I completely agree with you.

panhead

Maybe we don't have to respect oppressive religions but we have to respect the choice of others to immerse themselves in their opprressive beliefs. The criticism on religious practices reminds me of stories about encounters with indigenous practices of cannibalism which prompted 'enlightened' Europeans to bring them to the light by force and at the expense of these cultural identities.

In the defense of spirituality, atheism is only another belief system that has proven itself as dogmatic in this early stage and seeks to silence its competitor belief systems as can be witnessed by the current bus campaign.

I'm dramatically more worried about the government sponsored brainwashing in the media than I am about how Afghanis seek to identify their position in creation. There are no bigger oppressors than the banksters and the multinationals that sponsor our governments and induce world wide suffering on a scale never seen before, even when compared to the crusades.  The 'struggle' against spirituality and religious practices is a straw man deflecting attention from far more desperate issues and turning populations into stooges arguing over the rights of Afghani women while Western militaries embark on the rape of the men as well as the women and children in the target nation.

Stargazer

I do not have to respect my oppressors.

I think Religion and Capitalism are both threats.  Both are dangerous, both use massive brainwashing tactics, both oppress and kill others in their names. Both are used as tools for government oppression of the people.

 

Nope, there will be no respect from me. 

Sineed

panhead wrote:

In the defense of spirituality, atheism is only another belief system that has proven itself as dogmatic in this early stage and seeks to silence its competitor belief systems as can be witnessed by the current bus campaign.

Dismissing atheism as "just another belief system because you can't prove there isn't an invisible man in the sky" reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw yesterday: "Gravity is only a theory."

I don't believe in God, and I do believe in gravity, which makes me equal to every other crackpot in the world, I suppose.

And how does the bus campaign "silence" anybody?  The bus campaign is a counterpoint to all the religious iconography we see all over the place all the time.  Every year around the time of the Pride Parade, a big billboard close to my house sprouts a homophobic Biblical quote for a few weeks before and after Pride Week (eg, "Pride Goeth Before A Fall.")  So I'm looking forward to the buses.

N.R.KISSED

Peter3 wrote:
Frustrated Mess wrote:

"The issue isn't religion (although that is an issue), the problem is and remains a human need to dominate and control other humans."

Perhaps it is because I am an atheist product of a devoutly Christian home, but I believe that the problem at the root of this phenomenon is not fundamentalism or extreme religion, but religion itself, precisely because religious institutions propagate and sustain themselves by domination and control.

Religion has been the scourge of free thought and free speech for as long as it has existed.  It is a denial of the most fundamental defining characterisitics of humanity; our rational capacity, our curiosity, our desire to create new things, our need for each other. By demanding faith in archaic rituals and systems of faith, the human capacity for intellectual growth is twisted and deformed into a source of "temptation" and guilt when it should be the instrument of our release from the bondage of superstition.

The notion that religion is entitled to special consideration in society's affairs is embedded in Western culture, and most of the rest of the world, as well.  In Canada, while we were finally accepting same sex marriage as a right, churches were assumed to be exempt and are still permitted to collect money without taxation and use the proceeds to disseminate political propaganda advocating the denial of equal rights to gays. The repulsiveness of fundamentalist Mormonism has no excuse, and yet we will be forced to listen to serious-sounding arguments in a court of law and see them on the front page of supposedly enlightened news publications as the Bountiful case is handled with kid gloves by everyone. If anybody but a religious advocate subjected children to the sort of brainwashing that is routinely employed in religious indoctrination they would quite rightly be packed off to jail.

The spinelessness of western intellectuals and institutions confronted by radical religious bigotry is rooted in a sense that placing limits on "belief" for one set of believers will have implications for all others.  When religion held real secular power in western society there would have been no such pussy-footing; the competing bigots would have been denounced as Satan spawn and that would have been that.  It is the creeping marginalisation of religious power has caused Unitarians to leap to the defense of their more extreme spiritual relatives out of a sense of self-preservation. The idea that religious belief is exempt from the obligations attending fundamental rights and freedoms is allowed to prosper because people feel they should "respect spirituality".

Spirituality is dangerous crap in its most insipid manifestations, and outright evil in its worst forms.  I refuse to accept its influence here. I reject the proposition that as a citizen of a western country I have no right to speak against the evilness of mullahs, rabbis, monks or shamans in countries where people cannot oppose them, or denounce the nastiness and stupidity of their beliefs.

 

You seem to be casting you net rather wide if you equate not just all religious belief but all belief in any spirituality. I don't think it is particularly valid or reasonable to say that Bishop Desmond Tutu is the same as Jerry Falwell or Liberation theology to the beliefs and actions of the Vatican.  Your quite welcome to denounce ignorance and brutality but it is erroneous to say that all ignorance and brutality is due to religion or spirituality. Christianity in most its forms is certainly complicit in European colonialim it is absurd however to lay the blame on indigenous shaman or for that matter other faiths. 

I am also curious as to why the concern is always with the other, who is "over there " is there a lack of ignorance and brutality in the "western world". Do you honestly belief the actions of the western world are distinct and separate from areas that are colonized?

Your post also contains elements of those you criticize and point to the fundamentalist and dogmatic worldview you claim to reject. You still divide the world into the believers and the non-believers, the rational elect and the others.  This is a dangerous dichotomy and I don't think athiest fundamentalism and ratinionalist dogma is any less dangerous than religious ones Stalin and Mao certainly demonstrated that. Claims to absolute knowledge are always dangerous in my mind.

skarredmunkey

panhead wrote:
In the defense of spirituality, atheism is only another belief system that has proven itself as dogmatic in this early stage and seeks to silence its competitor belief systems as can be witnessed by the current bus campaign.

I'm an agnostic and while your argument isn't totally clear here, I actually think you are on to something. A better example would be the coalition of groups headed by the American Humanist Association which recently tried to use the courts to block Rick Warren from doing the prayer at Obama's inauguration. Not to mention the odd lawsuit or complaint by atheists and humanists over such ridiculous things as the word "God" on coins, or Christmas trees on municipal property. Yes, my fellow non-believers can be afraid of criticism too, I just wonder how Johann Hari feels about that.

panhead

Stargazer, I personally find my monthly bank fees and super inflation far more oppressive than what the local Baptist billboard has to share today. I don't feel that any religion is imposing itself on my life today. As far as I'm concerned someones ideas are theirs to express and I'll make up my own mind on how I feel about an issue. 

On the other hand, we say that innocents shouldn't be murdered but our taxes are a direct contributor to the death of millions around the world. I don't see any leftist (or other) groups taking out ads that scream 'down with our bought and paid for politicians', or 'Canadian mercenaries out of Afghanistan now'.

IMO, being a contributor to the death of millions around the world by supporting my corrupt political system and paying into its war coffers everytime I get a paycheque feels far more opprresive than the mullahs opinion on homosexuality or the Popes view on condoms. I assure you that our government and the money bag companies that fund our stooges are infinitely more responsible for deaths around the world than bare back sex can ever hope to be.

Trevormkidd

skarredmunkey wrote:

panhead wrote:
In the defense of spirituality, atheism is only another belief system that has proven itself as dogmatic in this early stage and seeks to silence its competitor belief systems as can be witnessed by the current bus campaign.

I'm an agnostic and while your argument isn't totally clear here, I actually think you are on to something. A better example would be the coalition of groups headed by the American Humanist Association which recently tried to use the courts to block Rick Warren from doing the prayer at Obama's inauguration. Not to mention the odd lawsuit or complaint by atheists and humanists over such ridiculous things as the word "God" on coins, or Christmas trees on municipal property. Yes, my fellow non-believers can be afraid of criticism too, I just wonder how Johann Hari feels about that.

Have you read the civil action filed against the inauguration?  It was far from an example of dogmatic atheism, but a legitimate complaint that the inauguration in question clearly violates the 1st and 5th ammendments of the constitution of the United States of America.  Common sense really. 

 

panhead

Trevor, gun control also violates the constitution but I haven't seen many voices raising the alert here.

Stargazer

Well panhead, you either aren't female, or gay (I'll assume) because they are not "just words". They are words that have been put into action to kill, main, silence and destroy women's voices the world over. Not to mention the effect religion has on the real lives of gays and lesbians. Get back to me when you figure out that the "Good Book" is used to oppress, stifle and vilify everyone who doesn't fit within a specific dogma.

 

And we don't have any mentions of the "right to bear arms". This is Canada, not the US and whether or not it is written in the constitution of the US is debatable as to its meaning. 

Kaspar Hauser

I think that atheism has contributed a great deal to the struggle towards justice, but I also think that many atheists get caught up in shadow-boxing. 

I've written two articles that may or may not be relevant.  Here's one that sings the praises of atheism:

 http://www.republic-news.org/archive/187-repub/187_nenonen.html

And here's one that's critical of some expressions of modern atheism:

 http://www.republic-news.org/archive/173-repub/173_nenonen_enlightenment.htm

Kaspar Hauser

Stargazer: I think that there's something deeper than religion that's driving homophobia.  And, yes, I've written some articles about that, too:

http://www.republic-news.org/archive/86-repub/86_nenonen_lobster.htm

http://www.republic-news.org/archive/152-repub/152_nenonen.htm

remind remind's picture

I was just going to say that "panhead" must be a non-gay white man, stargazer. 

___________________________________________________________ "watching the tide roll away"

skarredmunkey

Trevormkidd wrote:
Have you read the civil action filed against the inauguration?  It was far from an example of dogmatic atheism, but a legitimate complaint that the inauguration in question clearly violates the 1st and 5th ammendments of the constitution of the United States of America.  Common sense really.

No sorry TMK, I did not read the actual legal brief. I read about it, and I listened to Michael Newdow talk about how he was personally offended, how he felt like he and all other atheists were somehow being treated as second class citizens, and how the word God was so awful to his ears that even hearing that word would imply coercion of citizens by the state to accept God's existence. The argument was at least as irrational and obtuse as the argument that criticizing a religion automatically implies dehumanizing that religion's followers, as Egypt, Pakistan, the Vatican, and Saudi Arabia are arguing at the UN.

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