[Marxism] "Political Islam" (was: Frei Betto: Encounters with Fidel)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Aug 19 10:47:30 MDT 2006

Walter Lippmann:
>No such intransigent militance is focused on the fundamentalist
>variants of Judaism, or fundamentalist Christianity. Fundy Islam
>gets the brunt of the criticism. One wonders why it is that Islam
>gets all the criticism while Judiasm and Christianity don't? They
>aren't leading big fights against either U.S. or Israeli armies at
>this point, while the followers of Islam (among others), are right
>now leading this big fight.

I think that David Walters answered most of Lippmann's nonsense pretty 
well. I just want to take up the question of Judaism and Christianity 
getting some kind of special treatment here. Speaking for myself, I have 
been hammering away at Zionism *and* Judaism for nearly 40 years now and am 
as bitterly opposed to a Jewish theocracy as I am to a Muslim theocracy. 
Here's an excerpt from what I have written about Jewish religion and society:

The ultra-Orthodox sects, also known as the Hasidim, originated in 18th and 
19th century Poland and Russia in a time of great economic stress and 
persecution. Marxist historian Ilan Halevi explains their origins in his 
"Question Juive":

"The internal crisis of the Shtetl, whose roots are to be found in the 
crisis of Polish feudalism, was exacerbated and radically aggravated. The 
domain of Polish sovereignty was shrinking rapidly. A kingdom that had 
stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea grew smaller and smaller as 
around it tsarist Russia, the Hapsburg empire and the German states grew 
larger and larger. The Polish question became the European question and 
centuries-old Polish Jewry saw its territory carved up among several states 
Austria, which took Galicia, lightened the conditions of Jews there: but 
Russia, having seized the Ukraine and Byelorussia, oppressed them there, 
said Lenin, 'more harshly than the Negroes'. The Napoleonic conquest, short 
as it may have been, precipitated the disintegration, inducing a general 
upheaval in the empires of the centre and east. Following the French 
occupation, the whole map of the region was transformed. The new frontier 
of Austria and Russia, which shared the whole of what remained of Poland in 
1815, cut the Ashkenazi world in two, divided the dynasties of Hasidic 
rabbis, and determined new sub-problematics. The sociological unity of 
Ashkenazi Judaism was beginning to fracture."

Against this pattern of disintegration, the Hasidic rabbis created cults 
based on three key elements that were supposed to function as life-rafts:

--Strict observance of rituals, particularly those involved with "cleanness"

--Reverence for the rabbi, who in most instances were seen as a potential 

--Fervent recitation of prayers, dancing and singing meant to induce 
mystical states

For some secular Jews, and even some non-Jews, this last element has served 
to bring them into the fold. For instance, Bob Dylan drew close to the 
Lubavitcher Hasidic sect in the 1980s. He swapped these beliefs for 
Christian fundamentalism not too soon afterwards.

The Lubavitcher sect occupies a place in NYC politics not unlike the sect 
depicted in "Kadosh" with the blacks of Brooklyn standing in for the 
unfortunate Arabs. The Lubavitchers have used political clout to gain 
preferential treatment to gain access to subsidized housing in a 
neighborhood where it is in short supply. Such tensions provided the 
backdrop for the riots that broke out during the Dinkins administration 
when the lead car of a Hasidic caravan struck and killed a black child. A 
Hasidic scholar Yankel Rosenbaum, identical to the film's characters, was 
stabbed during the violence and Dinkins was blamed for his death. The 
Hasidic community then delivered their votes to the "law-and-order" 
candidate Rudy Giuliani who has done everything possible to intimidate the 
black community, just the way that the current Labor government in Israel 
is using every means at its disposal to intimidate Arabs.

full: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/culture/kadosh.htm


Yesterday, while looking something up on the Internet, I stumbled across 
Ayatollah Sistani's website. He is the spiritual leader of Iraq's Shi'ites 
and obviously very close to the Iranian government. Here's some of his wisdom:

§ Question : Is keeping beard wajib? What is your ruling on keeping beard?

§ Answer : It is not permissible to shave beard, as an obligatory precaution.


§ Question : I want to ask about talking to ones fiancee on telephone, is 
it permissible or not?

§ Answer : If talking is free of provocative words and if there is no fear 
of falling in sin, there is no objection.

If I were a young man growing up in a Muslim family, I would have had the 
same attitude toward Sistani that I had to the Rabbi from my village. He 
should rot in hell. That is the posture of all Marxists, from Marx to Isaac 
Deutscher. Breaking with organized religion is a first step in gaining 
freedom. I will carry that belief with me until the day I die.

As far as Walter's comment about anybody here having a double standard on 
Christianity, that is so ludicrous that is not worth answering. This 
mailing list would give Pat Robertson a heart attack.

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