Where is Julio Pino? on religion

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Tue Jan 2 15:56:57 MST 2001

Doyle wrote:

>Lou's comment about spiritual feelings being
>private is a form of Cartesian split.  The presumption is we can't know
>someone else is feeling "spiritually".   Why?  What is the physical
>limitation to that?  Tell us what the dividing line is where things are

>definitely outside and inside the personal.

Hi Doyle!

I generally agree with the notion that there is no _clear_ line
separating the private from the physical world, or public from private
or personal from political. However,  I, personally don't think that Lou
had an assumption of  _Cartesian split_ in his mind when he was
discussing spirituality. What I understood was that  there are _certain_
things in the realm of religion that are up to individuals. It is
difficult to decide what the _real_ content of these things are, but
sometimes belief is just a belief just like sex is just a sex. Frankly,
I don't have a certesian divide in my mind when I am having sex. I do it
as I see it. Such issues are complex (as well as _political_) hardly
reducible to abstract Cartesian constructs of the kind, for example,
post-modernists would like to see. Generally, people who criticize
others for relying on Certasian splits are themselves guilty for seeing
the world _only_ in binary terms. We should move beyond reducing
spirituality to a Cartesian split, and look at the political meaning

I was out town for a while so I could not keep track of the discussions
so closely. Today, I have had the chance of reading Danielle's post. I
totally agree with her. In a _truly, secular& socialist_ society,
sprituality&religion will be up to individuals. In this truly secular
formulation, state will impose neither religion nor atheism. It will
stay out of the realm of faith while still _making sure_ that religion
does not intervene in  politics or vice versa. That religion has the
potential of becoming counter-revolutionary does not mean that it should
necessarily be so. We strongly _oppose_ when it becomes
counter-revolutionary and/or oppressive of women, minorities and sexual
identities . The problem with bourgeois democratic societies is that
they have _failed_ to achieve a  truly secular society. so they have
failed to achieve a truly democratic society. Conservatives are not
_alone_ guilty for that. Liberals are as quilty as conservatives  for
politicizing religion. It was under the administration of liberals that
some schools imposed sex education teaching chastity for _girls_ as a
way of promoting sexual protection in the US. Not surprising. It was
again  liberals who assimilated American Indian cultural values when
they literally forced Indian women to modern practices of womanhood as a
way of _diciplining_ their sexuality: Modern, domesticated and
submissive women as the ideal model of Social Darwinist morality..

I don't believe in religion or spirituality at all, but if there are
others who for some reason _value_ spirituality as a  matter of personal
use or utilize religion for political purposes in the sense of
mobilizing people around the questions of justice, equality,
nationalism,  anti-imperialism ( theology of liberation,
Palestinian/Islamist anti-imperialist resistence), that is OK with me. I
would not go around forcing them to be an atheist or preaching them a
materialist analysis of religion. This is not only an intellectual self-
masturbation, but also an serious mistake of loosing the popular
grounds&alliences with those who might otherwise be useful for marxist
struggle. The problem is to gain them on our sides, not to exclude
them.  In the case of  Palestinian Islamist struggle, for example,
religion is completely a _tactical/pragmatic question for me (that is
where Julio Pino would diagree with me I guess, where are you Pino?). I
endorse it as long as it is an anti-imperialist struggle with a specific
agenda of fighting against Israeli&US imperialism. On the other hand, I
disagree with their agenda of establishing the state on religious
grounds, because as a woman I don't see it particularly useful for my
own sex, given what I have observed about the status of women under
actually existing Islamist regimes. Forcing women into veil is a sign of
gender oppression.  Hence,  we agree on the _tactics_, but disagree on
the _political outcome_. Religion/politics division is _still_ an
important terrain within which Marxists of the oppressed nations
continue to struggle.

Granted that It is difficult to decide _what is_ up to individual or
what it means to maintain religion as a _private affair_ in a socialist
society,  there is no reason for Marxists to get rid of public/private
distinction _compeletely_. This distinction can still be radicalized in
a secular direction, ie 1) opposing when _religion_ becomes oppressive,
either  in _state religion_ form or liberal conservative form (sex
education)  2) opposing when _state_ becomes oppressive of religion. The
problems is to find the right balance _at the right time_,  not to
deconstruct the public/private division radically.

Remember Marx's discussion of the Jewish question. Unlike a vulgar
materialist reading of that text,  Marx had no problem of Jews
demanding  _political_ rights from the state, which are basically
bourgeois democratic rights. He had problems with the Christian nature
of the German state imposing religion on its citizens.




Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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