Reply on Religion and Marxism: 2

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Mon Jan 1 16:15:37 MST 2001

On Mon, 1 Jan 2001 17:26:44 -0500 Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at>
> >Jim:
> >
> >>I should point out that if we deny the
> >>cognitive value of mystical experiences
> >>as I do, there is no denying the importance
> >>of mystical experiences as empirical
> >>phenomena.
> >
> >_You_ deny the cognitive value of such experiences, but of course
> the
> >_mystic_ doesn't. Your argument is based entirely on the categories
> of
> >analytical philosophy and of inductivist empiricism, which of
> course the
> >yogi would reject as one-sided (as would many marxists). (For a
> powerful
> >critique of the analytical problematic, see Bhaskar's *Dialectic:
> the
> >Pulse of Freedom*.)
> >
> >You certainly did 'throw the book' at Gyan, but not the book of a
> >dialectician.
> >
> >My own view is that there is epistemological stalemate re
> 'materialism'
> >vs 'idealism', atheism vs theism, etc ie re the existence of God or
> not.
> >And that, given stalemate, it is rational to trust your own
> experience,
> >i.e. if you have religious experiences, to believe in God; if not,
> not.
> >
> >Mervyn Hartwig
> In that case, what's the difference between "critical realism" and
> post-modernism, Rortyesque pragmatism, & other champions of
> "judgmental relativism" & "incommensurability"?

I suspect that there is none at all.  It is a curious fact that
we have in recent weeks had the oppurtunity on this
list to replay the whole debate over the "god-builders"
and "god-seekers" that had Russian Marxists had
experienced following the failed 1905 revolution.
Just as that debate can be understood as a reaction
to the defeat  that Russian Marxists had experienced
in that time so the current version of the debate can
I think be understood in terms of the defeats that
Marxists and the left in general have been experiencing
over the past twenty years, including not only the
triumphs of Thatcherism & Reaganism in the UK
and US with their assault on the welfare state which
soon spread to most capitalist nations, then followed
by the collapse of Soviet socialism in 1991, followed
by further assaults on social democracy and the
welfare state (in many cases speaheaded by
putative social democrats).

E.P Thompson in his *The Making of the English
Working Class* noted that in Britain, religious
revivals among workers typically occured following
major defeats for that class.  I suspect that we
are seeing a similar phenomena here.  Intellectuals,
I would submit are by no means immune to the
same type of phenomena.  The religious revivals
that the US has seen within the past twenty years
including both the whole "born again" fundamentalist
revival as well as the New Age upsurge can be seen
as a reaction to the defeats of the great social movements
of the 1960s.  (In the 1960s when these movments
were going strong, secularism was much more

Jim F.

> Yoshie

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