Thursday, November 08, 2012

God and Class

 "The religious reflex of the real world can, in any case, only then finally vanish, when the practical relations of every-day life offer to man none but perfectly  intelligible and reasonable relations with regard to his fellowmen and to Nature."Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I

It is too often overlooked that economics is inextricably mixed up with religion. The economic order is a reflection of the religious order. The linkage is utterly central to religion as a cultural and political forc - the connection between religion and class inequality. Because there are no remedies for social inequality within the present system of society the great masses of humanity are best kept sedated by pious delusions.

Reliable findings from the United Nations show that the wealthiest 10% of adults and the poorest 50% possess 85% and 0.01% of the world’s total wealth respectively. The World Bank reported last year, women own just 0.01% of the world’s wealth. In the United States, 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom half of the population. According to the 2010 Census, 46.2 million Americans, including nearly one-quarter of the nation’s children, were living below the official poverty line.

In 2009, Gallup Polls measured religiosity in 143 countries. They showed that in nations “where average annual incomes are $2,000 or less,” 92 percent of residents “say religion is an important part of their daily lives.” By contrast, among the wealthiest countries surveyed, “those where average annual incomes are $25,000 or more” the percentage was 44 percent. In the U.S. religiosity closely correlates with income inequality.  Nine of the ten poorest states are located in the Bible Belt (the tenth one, New Mexico, is partially in the Belt).  Sikivu Hutchinson author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars says “For urban communities of color, the lifeblood of organized religion is economic injustice.” Hutchinson added: “The domino effect of de facto segregation, job discrimination, unemployment, foreclosure, mass incarceration, and educational apartheid has bolstered the influence of religious institutions in many black and Latino neighborhoods where storefront churches line every block.”

Michael Parenti writes that in the Middle East “Sharia is put forth as the one source of social justice for both the very poor and “the ruffled professionals.”  and that “As with Islam so with the Christianist Pentacostals: church membership surged as poverty deepened in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere.” He goes on "Denied a material means of betterment, many people turn to the “spiritual.” The Christianist missionaries—or the mullahs and the imams—explain to victims why bad things happen to good people: They were not that good; they believed in false gods and evil material solutions such as leftist social revolution. Their suffering on earth is punishment for their sins. Once their worldly struggles against colonizers and rulers are thwarted, the people [quoting David S. Pena] “lapse into obscurantism and misdirected otherworldly supplications” that make “oppression more bearable and the ruling class more secure.”"

Chomsky once told an interviewer that the new atheist message “is old hat, and irrelevant, at least for those whose religious affiliations are a way of finding some sort of community and mutual support in an atomized society lacking social bonds.” If “it is to be even minimally serious” he continued, “the ‘new atheism’ should focus its concerns on the virulent secular religions of state worship” such as capitalism, imperialism and militarism. Radical scholar and anti-Zionist Norman Finkelstein, derided Christopher Hitchens’ anti-god attitude as “pissing on other people’s mostly innocuous beliefs.” It is argued by many liberals that the Church is no longer an inordinately powerful institution and a mis-directed target. But religion as a force is not nearly as moribund as suggested. If religion can be shown to play a significant role in the oppression of a substantial number of people, discussion of the linkages between the two is essential. And we can hardly link religion to economic injustice if we evade and avoid criticism of religious thought and practice. Chomsky and Finkelstein ought to know better than to be complacent about religion. It is said that the question of God’s existence was answered decades ago and it is utterly futile to keep on talking about it. A recent Pew Research Center of religious belief found that 80 percent of American adults said "they never doubt the existence of God.” One-half of the American people reject the theory of evolution in favour of scipture-based claims of creationism. How is that possible if religion is so weak?

Unlike many of the popular atheists who don't have much say about the evils of capitalism as opposed to the evils of religion, the materialists of the World Socialist Movement understand the roots of supernatural belief and direct their energy to the removal of its causes, poverty and alienation. People should evaluate economic systems not by rhetoric or ideology, but by whether or not they increase economic well-being for all individuals and groups, increase the sum of human satisfaction, and enhance the quality of life. The absence of a god means we have no celestial paternal-guardian but more importantly, we are also free of any divine oppressor.

“The idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty.”
- Mikhail Bakunin

Freely adapted from an article here

No comments: