[Marxism] Re: Ali Shariati and Liberation Theology

Michael Hoover mhhoover at gmail.com
Fri Jul 14 09:16:03 MDT 2006

On 7/13/06, Yoshie Furuhashi <critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
> It's not for nothing that Marxism is called historical materialism,
> not just materialism.  What does the "historical" part of historical
> materialism mean?  Among other things, it means that a historical
> materialist can take a historical materialist perspective on
> historical materialism itself, i.e. historical materialism can regard
> itself as transient, emerging under certain conditions at one
> historical stage and disappearing under others at another historical
> stage (though most Marxists take an un-Marxist attitude that Marxism
> is the last word on earth).
> in Latin America and the Middle East, synthesis of a certain kind
> of religion with a certain kind of Marxism has been often productive
> and will probably continue to inspire many.  In the process, a kind of
> religious reformation has happened in Catholicism and Shiism, too
> Yoshie

There is a western socialist history/tradition that rejected Marx's
historical materialism in favor of an essentially moral critique of
capitalism (which is not entirely absent in Marx). Here, socialism is
believed to be morally superior because people are ethical beings
connected to one another by compassion, love, and sympathy. Christian
socialists embrace what they call "universal brotherhood" (altough i
guess they would now add "and sisterhood" or refer to "personhood")
whereby respect is accorded to all individuals as "God's creations."
Thus, the "ethical socialism" of the likes of R. H. Tawney and Norman
Thomas was rooted in their religious sense that the social class
system is reprehensible.

North American leftists have been fond of highlighting the Marxist
elements of Latin American "liberation theology." However, the
"socialism" of religious socialists in that region as well as in
predominantly Muslim countries of North Africa the Middle East, and
Asia stems from and is sustained through spiritual exhortation of
religious principles such as charity, cooperation, social justice.
Morever, Latin American liberation theologists uphold Catholicism's
traditional antagonism to usury and Islam specifically prohibits the
practice.   Michael Hoover

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