Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Militant secularists are Lenin's protege

I've heard militant secularists said that the involvement of religion in the public square is the main cause of violence in general, political violence in particular. They always use the crusades and inquisition of the medieval times as cases in point.

They of course missed out the fact that these events happened in a socio-political reality which are very different from our current contemporary globalized world. Why don't they look at historical events that are located nearer to contemporary time and sentiment, like those risen regimes during previous century? They don't dare to look at those? I wonder if their ignorance of these regimes are deliberated since that would jeopardize their entire argument to eradicate religious from the public issues.

I was reading Lenin's writings and was shocked to see how similar his antagonistic opinions on religion and religious values are with those belonging to the militant secularists of our day. For example, here is one of Lenin's views:
"We have translations of all the major works of Marx and Engels. There are absolutely no grounds for fearing that the old atheism and old materialism will remain un-supplemented by the corrections introduced by Marx and Engels. The most important thing [...] is to know how to awaken in the still undeveloped masses an intelligent attitude towards religious questions and an intelligent criticism of religions."
(Vladimir Lenin, 'On the Significance of Militant Materialism', dated 12 March 1922, in Lenin’s Collected Works (Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 33, 1972), pp. 227-236, Translated: David Skvirsky and George Hanna. The online version is available here.)
John Gray, who does not hold or practice any religion, parallels Lenin's regime's policy with today's militant secularists's argument and its implied severe results:
"There are some Maoist movements in Nepal, Peru. In Sri Lanka, there are Marxist-Leninist movements, the Tamil Tigers, who by the way were the first who perfected and developed the technique of suicide bombing, not Muslims, not even religious; they are Marxist-Leninists. They recruit mainly from the Hindu population on the island, although they also recruited some former Christians. And they are devoted to old Marxist-Leninist idea of a world without religion. [...] They think that death is the end. Complete end, and yet willing to give up their lives in the act of killing others in order to bring about a better world..."
(John Gray, The New Atheism lecture dated June 16, 2008, at an event co-hosted by Theos and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.)

"The influence of secular revolutionary movements on terrorism extends well beyond Islamists. In God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens notes that, long before Hizbullah and al-Qaida, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka pioneered what he rightly calls "the disgusting tactic of suicide murder". He omits to mention that the Tigers are Marxist-Leninists who, while recruiting mainly from the island's Hindu population, reject religion in all its varieties. Tiger suicide bombers do not go to certain death in the belief that they will be rewarded in any postmortem paradise. Nor did the suicide bombers who drove American and French forces out of Lebanon in the 80s, most of whom belonged to organisations of the left such as the Lebanese communist party. These secular terrorists believed they were expediting a historical process from which will come a world better than any that has ever existed. It is a view of things more remote from human realities, and more reliably lethal in its consequences, than most religious myths."
(John Gray, The atheist delusion, The Guardian, Saturday 15 March 2008.)
Noticed the last two sentences, "These secular terrorists believed they were expediting a historical process from which will come a world better than any that has ever existed. It is a view of things more remote from human realities, and more reliably lethal in its consequences, than most religious myths."

While the militant secularists consider themselves fully justified to equate religious people facing contemporary issues in our current world with those who lived 400 to 1000 years ago in an entirely different socio-political system, they are reluctant to acknowledge a profound similarity they share with Lenin's regime which was merely less than 100 years ago.

Not only do these neo-Leninists/militant secularists are clueless of the real world, they deny even their own historical precedence. A people who is simply lost in reality and history. Yet they dare to table their agenda as a prospectus for public consideration.

2 comments:

scruffy said...

For one thing, I appreciate your posts because I am merely on the "tip of the tip" of the iceberg when it comes to public or political theology. Social contract theory, political science etc these things are admittedly foreign to me. So let me say as a sort of 'disclaimer' that as always, as a newcomer to such topics in public discussion, I am open to being corrected.

Having said that, I am concerned at what I think is a growing demonization of people who express religious convictions. Whilst I deplore religiously motivated militants that seek to arbitrarily impose religious ideologies on the public space, i also think that to expect a person to divorce his religious beliefs from his thinking (during certain times) is not only an impingement on his/her rights and personhood but is also not even biologically, philosophically or metaphysically possible.

If secularists solution to the issue is to exclude religion and people who express convictions or opinions that might somehow be related or similar to religious convictions, then that is no solution at all. Sharing some similarities with something is not the same as being it. Excluding or pushing for the expulsion of people from debate simply on the basis of "he/she is religious" merely means that "we can't play nice together with people who are different from us, so we won't let them come to the playground at all." Despite the abuse of the public space by both militant secularists and religious fundamentalists, a public space where people feel threatened to speak up on the basis of just being who they are (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist etc) is surely not the answer.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi scruffy,

You put it very accurately: "Despite the abuse of the public space by both militant secularists and religious fundamentalists, a public space where people feel threatened to speak up on the basis of just being who they are is surely not the answer."

I think one of the tactic employed by militant secularists is to make the public sphere not hospitable to others, making it threatening to participate in public discourse AS WHO WE ARE.