Are Jesus, Buddha & Company Enemies of the People?

Carrol Cox cbcox at rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu
Fri Aug 30 14:27:17 MDT 1996


Comrades,

    In this battle over religion, I tend *mostly* towards Comrade
Louis G's emphasis--but it seems to me all concerned are to an extent
letting rhetoric overcome thought.

    Principle: Religion is false, and *most* of the time religious
belief has a negative impact on the consciousness of *most* believers.
The weaker the power of religion, the better off (other things being
equal, which they never are) the working class is.

    BUT I don't think it was the issue of principle which first
generated this thread. The issues were tactical (perhaps strategic),
not of principle. I couldn't care less what "side" Jesus, Buddha, &
Co. were on--they're all (thank goodness) dead. But I do want to
have on the workers's side all those workers who still hold to
this or that religious fantasy, and human life (as well as bourgeois
life) is messy enough (contradictory enough) so that this is indeed
possible--most famously so of course in Nicaragua and El Salvador,
but also elsewhere. Without my friends from the Newman Center
here it would have been very difficult to build Central American
support work during the 80s. And that political group was able
to organize around the Newman Center because Father Kelly who
until he was transferred a few years ago had very progressive
political views, and in fact built almost a center of resistance
within the local Catholic Church by turning the Newman Center
(which in principle was only a *student* center at ISU) into
a virtual separate parish or community. When the reactionary
asshole of a Bishop from Peoria replaced him (exiling him to
a dinky little central Illinois town where he has no one to
talk to), the replacement firmly turned it back in to strictly
a campus religious center.

    I have not yet located a fine Lenin quote. Back in 1905
Trotsky wrote that "There is no room for a second GeorgeG
Gapon." (Irving Howe, ed., Basic Writings of Leon Trotsky,
page 66) Lenin replied in another newspaper or pamphlet (this
is from rough memory) that without hundreds or thousands of
more Father Gapons there would be no revolution. This did
not indicate a disagreement between Trotsky and Lenin in
reference to religion; it was a political (tactical and
strategic) difference.

    That is what we need to debate. (MIM should like this) As
Mao pointed out, we need to try to turn a bad thing into a
good thing. There is no doubt that religion is a bad thing.
We need to debate how to turn it  into a good thing for our
purposes.
    Comradely,
    Carrol





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