Synthesis of the discussion on Islam

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jk1921
Synthesis of the discussion on Islam
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Synthesis of the discussion on Islam. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
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jk1921
So, after listening to three

So, after listening to three days of the media ask how a 12 minute Youtube film protraying Muhammad in an unflattering light can spark such massive anti-American violence across the Muslim world, it seems that the consensus of the bourgeois experts is as follows (paraphrasement):

In the Muslim world, there is no real separation of the individual from society and/or the state. It is a "collectivist" culture. The idea of "freedom of speech" makes no sense in such cultures. Thus, when they learn that there is a film made in America denigrating the prophet, they apply the principle of "collective guilt." All of America and all Americans, society and state, are responsible for the blasphemy. Any attempt to explain to Muslims that this film was the act of a isolated crackpot and it does not represent the views of the vast majority of those in the West falls on deaf ears. The suspicion persists that the West itself is against Islam. If such a film were to be made in a Muslim country, the offender would be swiftly dealth with. The idea that in the West individuals have "freedom of speech" and can say whatever they want without fearing punishment is a thinly veiled attempt to hide the West's total contempt for Islam.

Whatever its veracity, this analysis seem to link up niecely with the right-wing trope that assimilates Islam and Marxism (and which in its most extreme versions, argues that Obama is simultaneously a Muslim and a communist) in that both systems are seen as governed by a "collectivism" that has no respect for individual rights, individual freedom--or the individual himself. Thus, by association the kind of irrational violence and hatred for the rights of the individual seen in the constantly repeated b-roll of Islamic mobs storming U.S. embassies, is what can be expected under communism as well.

Of course, there is another interpretation of all this; one that is supposed to be more in line with Marxism itself that argues that the Muslim world, because it never experienced an Enlightenment in which the individual was separated from church and state, is unable to produce the necessary social and political cleavages that would allow a workers' movement to gain traction.

I think in reality, these are both overly simplistic interpretations, but I agree with the premise of this summary that this is an important topic that we must continue to discuss and try to bring some clarity to, avoiding easy formulaic answers and acknowledging that there is a real problem here, we cannot easily wish away.

jk1921
I think one thing that needs

I think one thing that needs to be emphasized is that as revolutionaries we do not shy away from the critique of religion. In the aftermath of the U.S. embassy riots, all the voices of bourgeois order--from Obama and Clinton to the various academic talking heads--have stated emphatically that we should reject the attack on a "great religion."

While we would should certainly reject blind religious bigotry, we should not fall for this trap of "respecting" religion. We can respect believers for their humanity, without legitimating the religious illusions they are so attached to. This may be a bit of a tightrope to walk, but we should not shy away from exposing religion's role in reproducing class society.

jk1921
I feel a little like I am

I feel a little like I am talking to myself in here. But on the issue of the criticism of religion--what do we as revolutionaries support? I haven't watched the movie, film, whatever it is, in question, but it has been universally derided as a piece of bigotry that nobody should support. That may in fact be true, but what about other critical explorations of religion that many may take offense at? Some may be literary, and as such explore themes in a way that are deeply offensive to the believer, but which are intended to be a form of literary crticism. Do we support these? When the dominant system denoucnes something as bigotry, do we accept that or do we need to look deeper?

What about Salman Rushdie's novels? Bill Maher's Religoulous, etc.? Are these examples of dissmissive bigotry or are they valuable attempts at criticism?

Red Hughs
Well I appreciate the

Well I appreciate the discussion,

I read that 30K people in Libya demonstrated against the generally Islamist militias recently.

One side of the bourgeois engages in the most vile attacks on Mideastern people while the other side engages in the most patronizing "efforts at understanding" imaginable. Even the many intelligent and radical people fall into the trap of viewing the area as "a place we shouldn't try to understand on our terms" not noticing that this "inscrutibility" is exactly the mainstream racist and reactionary position.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fred
Didn't Lenin say that we

Didn't Lenin say that we shouldn't worry too much about religion prior to the revolution, but leave it till afterwards, when presumably it might just disappear of it's own accord, like Link says questions about (Luxembourgian) economics will. Lenin gets a bad press these days, but I think he's right on this. My idea is that all these guys look for something to thunder against (or for) out of frustration with their conditions, with their ruling classes, and with not always being aware that it's capitalism tbey should be fighting against - though sometimes they are as they were in Egypt in disposing of Mubarak, or in Libya as Red Hughes suggests above. When you see young men on the tv throwing stones at the American Embassy, some supposed insult to Islam is only providing the excuse, I doubt it's the true reason. Throwing stones at the Americans is a substitute for throwing stones at the devil as happens in the Hajj, and only a substitute at the moment for throwing stones at capitalism. Religion doesn't really come into it. It's just the excuse. People are driven to religion by the boredom and emptiness of everyday life, which is boring and empty. I think their apparently passionate commitment to FAITH, any faith, is actually superficial and can easily be dispelled by something more worthwhile when it turns up. So the question isn't how do we challenge religion, but how do we spread awareness of the alternative to the shit we're all immersed in now, and which in fact is staring humanity in the face.

jk1921
Freedom of Speech?

Red Hughs wrote:

Well I appreciate the discussion,

I read that 30K people in Libya demonstrated against the generally Islamist militias recently.

One side of the bourgeois engages in the most vile attacks on Mideastern people while the other side engages in the most patronizing "efforts at understanding" imaginable. Even the many intelligent and radical people fall into the trap of viewing the area as "a place we shouldn't try to understand on our terms" not noticing that this "inscrutibility" is exactly the mainstream racist and reactionary position.

It was interesting, after all the talk about "freedom of speech" and "freedom of expression," You Tube (or was it Google?), actually prevented access to the video in Egypt and Libya, while refusing to block access in the West. Isn't this blatant hypocrisy? The message is that Muslims can't handle freedom of expression, just as the West continues to preach to them the value of if.

 

jk1921
Lenin?

Fred wrote:
Didn't Lenin say that we shouldn't worry too much about religion prior to the revolution, but leave it till afterwards, when presumably it might just disappear of it's own accord, like Link says questions about (Luxembourgian) economics will. Lenin gets a bad press these days, but I think he's right on this. My idea is that all these guys look for something to thunder against (or for) out of frustration with their conditions, with their ruling classes, and with not always being aware that it's capitalism tbey should be fighting against - though sometimes they are as they were in Egypt in disposing of Mubarak, or in Libya as Red Hughes suggests above. When you see young men on the tv throwing stones at the American Embassy, some supposed insult to Islam is only providing the excuse, I doubt it's the true reason. Throwing stones at the Americans is a substitute for throwing stones at the devil as happens in the Hajj, and only a substitute at the moment for throwing stones at capitalism. Religion doesn't really come into it. It's just the excuse. People are driven to religion by the boredom and emptiness of everyday life, which is boring and empty. I think their apparently passionate commitment to FAITH, any faith, is actually superficial and can easily be dispelled by something more worthwhile when it turns up. So the question isn't how do we challenge religion, but how do we spread awareness of the alternative to the shit we're all immersed in now, and which in fact is staring humanity in the face.

 

I don't know Fred if Lenin's point was that we shouldn't worry about religion. I think he cautioned us to be realistic about what we can do about it. Clearly, its a problem if people continue to think their salvation will come in the after life, rather than fighting for it here on Earth. That said, its true that it would be a mistake to think the revolution can't happen until the entire working-class is atheist. 

In terms of the situation in the Middle East, I think its clear that many of these "protests" are not spontaneous, but are organized by various bourgeois elements in order to score domestic political points. Still, I doubt anyone could get that many people to rally over much of anything on a regular basis in the West.