Protests over cartoons: Neither democracy nor religion

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Whose side should we take?

The western newspapers who have published crass cartoons of Mohammed, the sole aim of which was to provoke and insult a minority group under the pretext of ‘free speech’?

Or the Islamic demonstrators who parade the streets calling for a repeat of the 9/11 and 7/7 massacres against ‘Britain’ or ‘Europe’?

Which set of values and traditions should we identify with? Modern western democracy, or Islam? Which ‘civilisation’ has the better morals, the better answer to humanity’s problems?

For us – communists, internationalists, partisans of the class struggle – the answer is neither. The ‘clash of civilisations’ is a clash inside one single civilisation: capitalism. And this civilisation is everywhere in its decadent stage.

The ‘defenders of free speech’ pose as the standard bearers of progress and enlightenment against mediaeval superstition and religious censorship. But capitalism, including in its democratic form, has long ceased to represent progress for humanity. The current sermonising of the bourgeoisie in favour of secularism and freedom has nothing in common with its former heroics, with its revolutionary struggles against feudal obscurantism. It has become no more than a pretext for sordid racist campaigns against ethnic minorities or for imperialist adventures abroad.

On the other hand, there is no worldwide ‘Muslim community’ which offers an alternative to the ‘decadent West’. The ‘East’ too is decadent. The domination of religion in so many ‘underdeveloped’ countries is the ideological expression of a system which has subjected the whole world to its laws but can never truly unite it and develop it. If millions are turning so desperately to religion today, it’s because the present world order offers them no future beyond poverty and war.

The ‘Muslim lands’ are capitalist nations too, even if they are mostly weak and uncompetitive ones. This wouldn’t change even if the present Muslim regimes were transformed into one fundamentalist Caliphate.  Far from transcending class divisions, Islam, like all religions, is used throughout the world as a way of yoking the exploited to the ambitions of their exploiters. 

The working class has the historic mission of freeing humanity from all illusions and mystifications. Islam and Christianity are still powerful mythologies used to perpetuate the existing system. But democracy is perhaps the most powerful mythology of all, precisely because it pretends not to be one. To choose one against the other can only serve the interests of our rulers and prevent us from developing our own world outlook, which is the real standpoint of humanity: communism.
Amos, 4.2.06   

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