Religion as Revolutionary or Reactionary?

Charlotte S. Wellen cwellen at pen.k12.va.us
Thu May 23 00:42:48 MDT 1996


Religion for Reactionary or Revolutionary Purposes?


The successes of the BJP, a religious/political party with
fundamentalist leanings, need to be analyzed scientifically
alongside the successed of other political movements.

I suggest, as Lenin did, that Leftists must make common cause
with religious movements which are progressive.  Religion is
not itself inherently reactionary, as the history of this
century shows.  In fact it is both strategically and tactically
sound to appropriate what is useful and true in world
religions, to steal the thunder of the right, so to speak.

I urge comrades to study the progressive religious movements in
their own contexts.

In China, Taoism has historically been associated with many
peasant liberation movements since the 2nd century AD.  The
immensely important Tai Ping rebellion was based on Christian
thought.

Marx and Engels both praised a number of religious figures who
worked for the liberation of man from exploitation, including
Thomas More (for his formulations of Communistic ideals) and
Munzer for his raising the peasants to rebel during the time of
Martin Luther.

In Latin America, Liberation Theology has played an important
part in may revolutionary movements, especially in Nicaragua's
Sandinista Revolution.  Castro has Liberation Theology, and
remarked in New York that progressive pastors have greatly
inspired him.

In the Arab World, Kaddafi's "Third Theory" is a form of
socialism suited to the religious needs of the Arab Jamahuriya
(Masses).

In South Asia, Gandhi's liberation movement and the Sarvodaya
movement in Sri Lanka both succeded in harnessing the positive
forces of Religion (Hinduism and Buddhism , respectively).

In Russia, Zyuganov has stated he believes in God, and has
denounced previous government anti-religious measures.  Part of
his success, so far, has been due to his ability to win
religious people to his side.

The main point here is that religion is a two-edged sword,
easily employed by the forces of reaction.  But most founders
of religions, such as Mohammed, Christ, Buddha (and many Hindu
saints) were, in one sense, revolutionaries.  They opposed the
ecclesiastical hierarchies of their time.  In some cases, they
overturned them completely, or died trying.  If revolutionaries
point to the revolutionary character of the great historical
figures, they can counter the successes of such parties as the
BJP in India or the Refah Party in Turkey.  It is best not to
leave the appropriation of the power of religious symbolism to
the right-wing.

Christ threw the money-lenders out of the temple and condemned
the pharisees.  Mohammed called upon the faithful to take up
the sword against those who oppressed the common man.  Buddha
declared that suffering could be ended in this life; and
advocated social action, in addition to meditation, to achieve
this.  Lao Tze and his Taoists called for raising up the low
and putting down the high and mighty.  Hebrew scripture calls
for justice on this earth.

These are points to be emphasized.

Sincere regards,

Wei En LIn

*********************



l partyth fundamentalist leanings, need to be analyzed
scientifically alongside the successed of other political
movements.

I suggest, as Lenin did, that Leftists must make common cause
with religious movements which are progressive.  Religion is
not itself inherently reactionary, as the history of this
century shows.  In fact it is both strategically and tactically
sound to appropriate what is useful and true in world
religions, to steal the thunder of the right, so to speak.

I urge comrades to study the progressive religious movements in
their own contexts.

In China, Taoism has historically been associated with many
peasant liberation movements since the 2nd century AD.  The
immensely important Tai Ping rebellion was based on Christian
thought.

Marx and Engels both praised a number of religious figures who
worked for the liberation of man from exploitation, including
Thomas More (for his formulations of Communistic ideals) and
Munzer for his raising the peasants to rebel during the time of
Martin Luther.

In Latin America, Liberation Theology has played an important
part in may revolutionary movements, especially in Nicaragua's
Sandinista Revolution.  Castro has Liberation Theology, and
remarked in New York that progressive pastors have greatly
inspired him.

In the Arab World, Kaddafi's "Third Theory" is a form of
socialism suited to the religious needs of the Arab Jamahuriya
(Masses).

In South Asia, Gandhi's liberation movement and the Sarvodaya
movement in Sri Lanka both succeded in harnessing the positive
forces of Religion (Hinduism and Buddhism , respectively).

In Russia, Zyuganov has stated he believes in God, and has
denounced previous government anti-religious measures.  Part of
his success, so far, has been due to his ability to win
religious people to his side.

The main point here is that religion is a two-edged sword,
easily employed by the forces of reaction.  But most founders
of religions, such as Mohammed, Christ, Buddha (and many Hindu
saints) were, in one sense, revolutionaries.  They opposed the
ecclesiastical hierarchies of their time.  In some cases, they
overturned them completely, or died trying.  If revolutionaries
point to the revolutionary character of the great historical
figures, they can counter the successes of such parties as the
BJP in India or the Refah Party in Turkey.  It is best not to
leave the appropriation of the power of religious symbolism to
the right-wing.

Christ threw the money-lenders out of the temple and condemned
the pharisees.  Mohammed called upon the faithful to take up
the sword against those who oppressed the common man.  Buddha
declared that suffering could be ended in this life; and
advocated social action, in addition to meditation, to achieve
this.  Lao Tze and his Taoists called for raising up the low
and putting down the high


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