[Marxism] Re: Gay Discussion on Marxmail

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Mon Oct 24 12:52:15 MDT 2005

On Mon, 24 Oct 2005 11:02:23 -0400 Brian Shannon
<Brian_Shannon at verizon.net> writes:
>  >I think, Brian, this is a clear example of only paying attention to 

> I also feel that Castro’s attitude towards organized religion is 
> much 
> superior, indeed the opposite, of the policy of Lenin. It is also 
> much 
> firmer as a Marxist. You can’t overcome the need for comfort, 
> solace, 
> etc., by forming an organization to combat religion. It can only be 
> done by giving people more and more power over their own collective 
> destiny and demonstrating here on earth how we can achieve harmony 
> with 
> our lives and with others.

Well I don't know if Castro's policy is THE opposite of Lenin's but
certainly as it has evolved over the years, it has
diverged from Lenin's in some important respects
but then again Cuba is face with a rather different
situation than the one that confronted Lenin after
the October Revolution.  We might wish to
keep in mind that Lenin's own policies concerning
religion evolved over time in response to the
conditions that faced Lenin in Russia. Prior
to the October Revolution, most of Lenin's
statements concerning religion were not
too different from those of the German
Social Democrats.  The German Social
Democrats called for separation of church
from state, state protection of freedom of
conscience, and the provision of a secular
education in state schools.  In regards
to the workers movement, the Social Democrats 
welcomed both religious believers and 
non-believers into its ranks but many Party 
organizations went out of their way to promote the
circulation of freethought literature
among German workers.

Lenin's earlier views concerning
religion and the workers movement
seem to have been in line with what the
German Social Democrats were
advocating but once the Bolsheviks
took power in Russia they were
confronted with an Orthodox Church
that had been very much a pillar of
the old order and which for the
most part sided
with the Whites in the civil war.
The Soviet government found
the pervasiveness of supersition
among the peasants to be a
major barrier to modernization.
I don't think that it is too surprising
that once in power the Bolsheviks
took a strongly anticlerical, antireligious
stance given they were confronted
with staunchly reactionary churches
that were bitter enemies of their
regime.  In that respect the situation
confronting the Bolsheviks concerning
the Orthodox and other churches in
Russia was not unlike the one
that confronted the Jacobins in
regards to the Roman Catholic
Church in France.  The Jacobins too,
sought to suppress the Catholic
Church was a deadly enemy of
their regime.

If Castro has been pursuing rather
different policies in regards to religion
then that is because his situation
is rather different from the one
that Lenin experienced or even
what the Jacobins experienced.
By the 1960s, the Catholic Church
under Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI
had begun to undertake a process of
internal reform following Vatican II.
The Church had begun to loosen its
ties to the most reactionary elements
in Latin America and it officially
adopted an option in favor of the poor.
The Catholic bishops in Cuba have
not always been implacable opponents
of the Cuban Revolution.  Some of
the bishops have said that there are
many aspects of the Cuban Revolution
which they can support, while rejecting
other aspects of the Revolution.  And
as Castro, himself, has long emphasized,
many churchmen in Latin America
are not only not reactionaries or conservatives,
many have actually been on the side of
revolutionary movements and in some
cases have even participated directly in
revolutionary struggles.  In Nicaragua
under the Sandanistas, several cabinet
ministers were Catholic clergymen.

> Brian Shannon

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