[Marxism] Re: The hijab controversy

Jose G. Perez elgusanorojo at bellsouth.net
Mon Feb 16 21:20:44 MST 2004

Richard Fidler writes:
>>"Government and church should rather be equally excluded from any
influence on the school." How does that differ from what Paul Flewers
said, and said very well, IMHO?<<

It differs in this: Marx was writing in 1875, at the time of Bismarck's
anti-Catholic kulturkampf. Until a couple of years before (1872),
state-sponsored schools were under church control in Prussia. Bismarck
had just put the school under direct state control. To propose that the
German workers party *in 1875* raise the state being "excluded" from any
influence on the school, without at the same time saying "the church"
should be excluded would simply have been to repeat the demand of the
clerical Center Party for restoration of the status quo ante.

Paul Flewers' demand for "abolition of religious schools and their
resources being brought into the state educational system" in the name
of "secular society" is entirely at odds with Marx's position. This is a
bourgeois anti-clerical demand. The "secular society" being talked about
here is French racist imperialist "secular society." Its "struggle"
against "religious influence" is in reality imperialist oppression
against third world peoples. 

Marxists should *defend* the right of nationally oppressed peoples to
establish their own schools if the oppressed feel that is necessary to
combat and counteract their oppression. Support for this right should be
*unconditional* not subordinated to some phony bourgeois "secularism"
that seeks to fool working people into supporting imperialist oppression
by dressing it up in 1789 rhetoric when demands aimed against church
schools had an entirely different social and class content.

A struggle against "church" schools in general in imperialist countries
today is, at best, an entirely misguided effort. 

The reason working people believe that some unseen, unknowable, all
powerful force controls their destiny is because it *accurately*
describes the way they experience their insertion into society. "God" is
the anthropomorphic invention of the minds of working people who do not
understand the economic and social forces that keep them enslaved.
Religious beliefs cannot be overcome by preaching alone or even largely
by preaching. They can only be overcome by actual engagement of the
masses in the class struggle, through which they will learn the *actual*
source of their enslavement.

An exaggerated emphasis on atheist propaganda, or, worse, proposing
repressive measures against religious institutions, is a bourgeois and
idealist deviation from Marxism. It serves to inflame religious
antagonism, diverting the attention of working people away from their
real enemies and instead pitting Catholic against Muslim and believer
against nonbeliever. 

It is no accident that this reactionary and racist anti-Muslim measure
is being promoted by French imperialism now. It has everything to do
with the imperialist "war on terror" against Muslim and Arab peoples,
which the French imperialists supports just as wholeheartedly as the
American ones despite the doleful grimaces over not getting anything
near the slice of the Iraqi pie the French imperialists believe they are
entitled to.


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