I found a link to the 'Marxism and Islam' stream a little while ago having missed the stream originally. I read with interest but was surprised to see how much focus there was on the originators of religions and what their intentions were. Its ok to accept that we recognise that individuals use religion as a comfort and as a way to try to understand the world but it is still a mystified world view. Whilst I would not pretend to have a detailed knowledge of the history of religions, there are a few points Id like to make.
I found Dawkins’ materials an interesting read in that he at least is rejecting the supernatural interpretations of the world but what he intentionally avoids is a social/political interpretation of religions’ role in society and I feel that that is what some of the discussion in the earlier does too. Only jk seemed to approach things in this way
Surely what Jesus and Mohammed thought is pretty irrelevant to us. What context they emerged in, what role their movements played in society and what their followers (in history) have done with the mythology is.
Islam’s origins lie in feudal times and this remains reflected in its ideas and practice today. A far as I understand it, Mohammed was a feudal ruler who successfully developed a new code of behaviour to strengthen himself and his regime. He was an element in the ascendant phase of feudalism. Its feudal origins appear in its perspectives of a unification of religion and the state and the consequent attempt to control and codify the behaviour (subservience) and the lifestyles of its population it rules over. Albeit without creating legal category of serfs as such, this approach is a feudal approach to civil society. Whilst religion may not be have been essential for feudal authority, it did provide a strong support for feudal structures and was in most parts of the world a key element in systems for learning, education and social control. Islam is a theocracy in a similar vein to the catholic church in its heyday whose structure and practice was also determined by its roots in feudalism.
As the state’s role in capitalism has expanded over the last decade, islam, with its retained focus on political power in the state, has been particularly suited to taking over the management of state capitalism and has become an ideal representative of state capitalism
Catholicism performed a similar role to islam in feudalism but with the emergence of capitalism in Europe, it was changed dramatically by the new social relations that were developing and confronted by the direct challenge of protestantism which was a more appropriate to the emergent capitalism. Islam does not appear to have experienced such a challenge, ie the period of enlightenment that is discussed in the earlier stream, and and now appears to have adapted well to the needs of society in decadent capitalism. Is this why is appears to have been growing so strongly in the 20th century?
Christianity today has a different role in society to islam even if it has some common history.
I see religions in different countries and regions of the world as performing similar but different roles. Whilst the tendency to accept religious ideas as individual can be shown a certain sympathy seems reasonable, It seems to me that is a view conditioned by experience of capitalism in the heartlands of capitalism where protestant religion is less of an active threat to wc struggle. Islam is a more dangerous religion in the sense that it seeks state power and seeks to dominate the everyday lives of workers within those states though brutal state regimes. In the revolution such religions wont passively lie down as the church of england is likely to; they will be on the forefront of the physical battle against the wc.
OK, it is necessary to keep an antipathy for religion in context and I know I have generalised quite strongly here, so I would be interested to hear whether comrades see this approach as reasonable or an overreaction to some of the extremes of Islam. After all during the revolutionary wave post WW1, I would think religion was a stronger force in European society than today and this did not prevent the wc struggles at that time. Also its not just a question of islam’s impact on society – catholicism still has a big role in some countries and as does evangelism in the USA.
I would also be interested to hear of the practice of revolutionaries in moslem countries and how they respond to the church there. What happens to in those countries where other religions have a big role in capitalist ideological controls?How is intervention in such countries affected ?