on transcendence was Re: Talking to Christians

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at SPAMqut.edu.au
Mon Aug 14 16:37:53 MDT 2000

Both Carroll and Nestor have sent in beautiful posts.  I can not really
give this thread the work it deserves as I am leaving for England tomorrow
and I am not packed and I have a bloody lecture today that is not ready!

Still I was especially drawn to Nestor's point about transcendence. I think
it is true that we radicals do seek it. I am especially struck by the
relevance of Nestor's remark to the situation I find myself in. I am
surrounded or rather bossed about by former left liberals, and even former
radicals.  To a man and a woman they have sold out to the imperatives of
late capitalism and neo-liberal globalisation.

There is currently much talk at my university of the current Creative
Industries initiative that the State Govt is launching in conjunction with
Queensland University of Technology. But the paradoxes are very
strong.  Capital both seeks and fears the organic composition of ideas.  It
needs and fears our creativity. So the Creative Industries initiative can
never be allowed to become truly creative.

At the university as throughout the advanced capitalist world the
'beautiful people' of the 60s are now  50 something and most are involved
in what they now see as real politik. They are now the managers and have to
make initiatives like Creative Industries work even though the Government
has only released a paltry $15 million dollars to the plan.

These new managers of the system know that they have turned their backs on
the best part of themselves.  They also know that the rewards they receive
are petty in comparison with the massive orgy of accumulation that the
capitalist class has staged in the last 25 years.

They like though to fool themselves with Gidden's pathetic rhetoric about
the 'Third Way'.  However in their hearts I think they know that they now
serve the insatiable idols of capitalism and they have lost forever the
dream of the moment of transcendence.

Of course whether the workers' paradise to come can totally satisfy the
urge to transcendence is an open question, at least I believe it to be so.
According to Lewis S. Feuer the young Marx, like Engels was wont to make
fun of the 'communist rabbi' Moses Hess for his faith.  The older Marx was
less callous.  Feuer quotes Eleanor Marx

"Eleanor Marx said that when her mother and older sister attended the
Sunday services of the noted English secularist Charles Bradlaugh, her
father "dissuaded them from doing so". Marx, she said, "had a dislike of
secularism.  He told mother that if she wanted edification or satisfaction
of her metaphysical needs she would find them in the Jewish prophets rather
than in Mr. Bradlaugh's shallow reasoning". (Feuer, L.S, Introduction to
Feuer, L.S. (ed) Marx and Engels: Basic writings on Politics and
Philosophy, Fontana: London, 1969: 35)".

Feuer's is basically a Cold War text that seeks to attack Marxism from the
libertarian flank.  Thus he quotes Bakunin's critiques with
approval.  Nevertheless it is an interesting anecdote.



BTW Lou I should be able to access my email and keep in touch. I will send
a post from the Critical Realist Conference about Bhaskar's turn to God
which has thrown the Critical Realist movement into something approaching
disarray. Certainly it has had a very disturbing impact on the Bhaskar list.

At 08:44  14/08/00 -0300, you wrote:
>En relación a Re: Talking to Christians was Re: To CYeats was R,
>el 13 Aug 00, a las 22:59, Carrol Cox dijo:
> > I think these problems bulk far greater in (semi-vacuous) theory than
> > in actual day to day practice -- and I suspect that has been your own
> > experience over the years. Practice revolves around particular issues
> > and the participants in the struggle don't ordinarily quiz each other
> > over ultimate philosophies. "The Church" will doubtless always be
> > our enemy -- but there is no necessary linkage whatever between
> > what "The Church" says and what this or that particular member of
> > the church will think on a given occasion. The beauty of all non-marxist
> > positions (from a marxist perspective) is the utter divorce of theory and
> > practice they allow, which means that all sorts of people who would
> > be our enemies if they were "logical" (drew that "logical" conclusions
> > from the abstract principles they hold) nevertheless turn out to be our
> > friends on specific issues -- even when the specific issue that comes
> > to the fore is the overthrow of the state.
> >
> > That's why our real enemies hate fellow travellers so -- fellow
> > travelers make the revolution.
>Although this is great thinking and speaking, I would say that it is
>more than a bit too schematic. In fact, there IS a common ground
>between religion (monotheistic religion, so far as I know, but I
>would even bet that it is a common ground with any form of religious
>belief) and us, a common ground that capitalism attacks.
>This ground is the field of trascendence. We Marxists, dialectical
>materialists, find trascendence of the limits of individual life -
>lifespan include, indeed- in social and  historic action (the Kingdom
>of this World), while religion seeks same thing in Heavens or
>wherever. The only social formation that has no structural haven for
>this feeling of trascendence is, no surprise, capitalism. Radical
>individualism will always find it hard to answer the question raised
>by individual death. Sense and meaning come to a close when
>confronted to this simple question. Thus, capitalism breeds the only
>truly atheistic social formation that has ever existed (this is
>precisely why religion can become a side issue in life).
>Western religions have seen capitalism come to life, so that they may
>calmly expect it to die. Common political work with religious
>movements does not only stem from eventual coincidences, it may also
>be fostered by this basic coincidence. In this sense, if religion is
>our "enemy", it is our "enemy" in the sense paganism was an enemy to
>early Christians, that is, we shall have to see if stripped off its
>links with power it will be able to survive in a socialist world. I
>would not take bets easily. There is much on our side to do if we
>think it important to fight religious feeelings once we get to power,
>not only "antireligious propaganda" (this was, IMHO, one of the most
>tragically senseless activities the Bolsheviks engaged into during
>the High Years of the Revolution: our work here must be on a deeper
>As to Third World Catholics, will send some comments one of these
>Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
>gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar

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