[Marxism] Secular Chauvinism (was How to answer these questions?)

Sayan Bhattacharyya ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com
Tue Aug 1 01:26:08 MDT 2006

On 7/31/06, Mark Lause <MLause at cinci.rr.com> wrote:

> I'm very sympathetic to the idea that resistance is resistance, regardless
> of its motives, but I don't see how secularism is particularly western,
> however much they think they may be.  I suspect that Americans are every bit
> as non-secular--even anti-secular--in their thinking as anybody else.  I
> mean, a majority of them believe in angels.

I don't think the US is representative of the West in this matter.
Secularism is in fact an idea that originated in the West, and is
intimately connected to the Enlightenment, which happened in the West
(for historical reasons). We should not feel quesy about
acknowledging this. Secularism is a great idea that came out of the

The US was settled, in many instances, by religious people who left
Europe precisely for religious disagreements, and so it should not
come as a surprise that the US is much more religious than Europe.
Consider, however, that the founders of the US were not very religious
(many were Deists) and tried to enshrine the separation of church and

With regard to what attitude to take towards non-secular resisters of
capitalism/imperialism: it seems to me that the line to be drawn
should have to do with coerciveness with regard to religion. For
instance, an anti-capitalist  woman who wears the hijab voluntarily as
an expression of religious faith (or maybe as a sign of resistance to
capitalism and commodification, additionally) deserves our support and
solidarity. But a woman who, say, coerces other women to wear the
hijab, should not be supported. (I admit that the distinction may
often be difficult to draw in practice, of course, because there isn't
a clearly marked boundary between coercion and non-coercion).

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