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Archive for the tag “communism”

Look who’s defending Western Christian Civilisation now!

Back in the 1950s and 1960s the National Party government in South Africa kept passing more and more repressive laws, which it claimed were necessary to defend Western (or “White” — the terms were interchangeable in Nat vocabulary) civilisation.

What were they defending it against?

The Communist menace, that’s what.

One of the first repressive laws they passed was the Suppression of Communism Act (Act 44 of 1950).

The National Party in South Africa and the Communist Party in Russia fell from power a couple of decades ago. The National Party has since disappeared from the scene, its remnants being absorbed into the DA and the ANC, which are now the two biggest parties in the South African parliament.

The Russian Communist Party, however, still exists, and look what they’re up to now:
В Госдуме создают депутатскую группу по защите христианских ценностей – говорят, что для пропаганды : Новости : Накануне.RU, which, being interpreted means

And here it is, from the horse’s mouth:

We intend to develop international cooperation for the common defense of Christian values, because we believe that the future of Europe, as well as the future of a revived Russian Federation does not conclude in a plantation of permissiveness, of total consumption, dehumanization, flouting the basic norms of human common life, and a return to traditional, orthodox Christian values.

That’s from Sergei Gavrilov, a Communist Party representative in the Russian Duma.

Sergei Chapnin, an Orthodox journalist in Russia, comments on Facebook:

What a disgrace for Russia! What a mockery of history! The Communists are going to defend Christian values​​, “the Communist Party Guide never took anti-Christian positions. You can not put the Communists in the current blame the sins of 20s, the acts of militant atheists YaroslavlGubelman or the latest large-scale Khrushchev’s persecution of the church in the early 60’s (S. Gavrilov, the Communist Party).

One doesn’t know whether to laugh of cry.

Who won the Cold War?

Who won the Cold War? In a book I read recently, Book review: A history of the English-speaking peoples | Khanya the author was in no doubt that Maggie Thatcher and Ronnie Reagan “won” the Cold War, but the author’s worldview was utterly anachonistic, and can only be described as neojingoism.

Clarissa takes a somewhat different view of it in Clarissa’s Blog: Who Caused the Collapse of the Soviet Union? Part I:

Nothing annoys me more than hearing people discuss completely in earnest whether the collapse of the Soviet Union was brought about by Ronald Reagan or by somebody else. Such discussions make just as much sense as trying to figure out whether world peace was achieved by this or some other politician. ‘Well, there is no world peace,’ you’d say. Right you are. And there was no collapse of the Soviet Union. Not in any meaningful sense, that is. As to the end of the Cold War, if you seriously think it’s over, you need to stop spending so much time listening to the American media and turn to some external sources of information every once in a while. The winner of the Cold War is yet to be decided but I somehow doubt that you can win any war by pretending it isn’t taking place.

I think her whole article is worth reading, though I disagree with the premiss that the Cold War is continuing.

To that extent I agree with the late Samuel Huntington, who said that the Cold War was primarily a clash of ideologies, while what we are seeing in the post-Cold War world is a clash of civilizations.

One of the relics of the Cold War is the term “Third World”, which still seems to persist, though its meaning seems to have changed, or rather dissipated. The “three worlds” view of geopolitics was composed of

  • First World: the capitalist world
  • Second World: the communist world
  • Third World: the non-aligned states

The Third World was founded by India, Indonesia and Yugoslavia, and Yugoslavia was the only Third-World state in Europe, and, in a sense, its disintegration, like that of the Soviet Union, marks the end of the Cold War.

If the Cold War was a war of ideologies, as Huntington says, then one could say that Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher “won” the Cold War, because their brand of free marketism is the dominant religion in the world today. That is where Huntington got it wrong; he posits Western Christianity as the religion of Western Civilization. It isn’t. Free Marketism is.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and Bolshevik rule in Russia is a somewhat different matter. By Brezhnev’s time, if not before, faith in communism had grown cold. The leaders of the ruling Communist Party uttered all the old slogans, but the conviction had gone out of them. All that was left was a clinging to power, and, as Clarissa points out, the most powerful men in Russia today resemble nothing so much as the Vicar of Bray.

American Communism and the Rise of Feminism

I read this article on American communism and the rise of feminism, and I couldn’t work out whether it was serious or a tongue-in-cheek send-up. savethemales.ca – American Communism and the Rise of Feminism:

In a 2002 book, Red Feminism: American Communism and the Making of Women’s Liberation, feminist historian Kate Weigand states: ‘ideas, activists and traditions that emanated from the Communist movement of the forties and fifties continued to shape the direction of the new women’s movement of the 1960s and later.'(154)

In fact, Weigand, a lecturer at Smith College, shows that modern feminism is a direct outgrowth of American Communism. There is nothing that feminists said or did in the 1960’s-1980’s that wasn’t prefigured in the CPUSA of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Many second-wave feminist leaders were ‘red diaper babies,’ the children of Communists.

Communists pioneered the political and cultural analysis of woman’s oppression. They originated ‘women’s studies,’ and advocated public daycare, birth control, abortion and even children’s rights. They forged key feminist concepts such as ‘the personal is the political’ and techniques such as ‘consciousness raising.’

Hat-tip to Ibid.

So what do you think it is?

Satire? A serious academic article? A loony rant? Or something else?

Saving the Soul of Secularism

Recently someone sent me, quite unsolicited, a link to this article Saving the Soul of Secularism:

Since February 2003, millions in the U.S. and around the world have participated in marches, rallies and varied protests, making a bold, ethical stand against U.S. military aggression. Citizens have engaged in persistent resistance to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of U.S troops.

While numerous humanists have and continue to be actively involved in the anti-war movement many others are too narrowly focused on issues such as church-state separation and promoting science education.

The time has come for humanists to actively assert that they are as committed to peace and ending U.S. militarism as they are to the separation of church and state. If we can see the threat to freedom posed by the mixture of church and state, we must see the threat to freedom posed by militarism.

The very legitimacy of secularism and freethought is at stake. Humanists, atheists, and assorted freethinkers along with the organizations that represent them: the American Humanist Association, American Atheists, Secular Student Alliance, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Center for Inquiry, among others, should join anti-war/peace organizations in calling for a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy away from neo-liberal imperialism and militarism.

This strikes me as very strange.

I can understand why humanists, who believe that human beings have intrinsic value, might see militarism as a threat to human freedom and therefore a bad thing.

What I find difficult to understand is the logic of urging atheists to support such a cause. I can see no logical connection between atheism and a response to militarism (or to pacifism, for that matter). There is nothing about atheism that makes it desirable that atheists should join anti-war or peace organisations. There is also nothing about atheism that makes it undesirable. Atheism, as atheism, is surely quite neutral in regard to such moral imperatives.

Why should an atheist, by virtue of being an atheist, believe that neoliberal imperialism is a bad thing? Some atheists have clearly believed that it is quite a good thing.

It is possibile to say, as Marx and Lenin did, that it is incumbent on a communist to be an atheist. But the reverse is not true. It is not incumbent on an atheist to be a communist. An atheist can just as easily be a neoliberal imperialist.

This seems to be “fluffy bunny” secularism, as some of my (neo) pagan friends would say. They seem to be getting carried away by moralism.

Recent reading: The Mitford girls

The Mitford Girls The Mitford Girls by Mary S. Lovell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’d only read one Mitford book before I began reading this joint biography of the Mitford sisters, and that was The American way of death by Jessica Mitford. But I often like literary biographies better than the works of the authors themselves. Perhaps that is because the lives of the authoers are sometimes more interesting than the subjects they write about, though it seems that the Mitford sisters took a lot of their material from their own lives, writing semi-fictionalised biography.

Though I have not read any of her fiction, the eldest sister, Nancy, also edited Noblesse oblige, with essays about class markers in English speech some 50 years ago, which popularised the linguistic theory of U and Non-U speech, some of which found its way into a new edition of Fowler’s Modern English usage, where one learns, for example, that the English upper classes say “napkin” and it’s terribly non-U (i.e. middle class) to say “serviette” — or at least it was 50 years ago.

So before reading this book I knew the Mitfords mainly through their writing about social customs: speech customs and funeral customs, specifically.

The book also brings out the wide political divergence in the family. Two of the sisters, Diana and Unity, had far-right views, being admirers, and in Unity’s case personal friends, of Adolf Hitler. Diana left her husband and married Oswald Mosley, the British Fascist leader. Jessica, on the other hand, was for a time a Communist activist, and eloped with her boyfriend to Spain during the civil war. As a result she and Diana did not speak to each other for years.

One of the things that struck me most about it was the changes in values in different generations, and especially the huge change following the First World War. The Mitford parents belonged to the Victorian-Edwardian age, and brought up their daughters with a view to marrying into an upper-class family, where they would stay at home and manage a household with lots of servants. They regarded school as unnecessary for girls, and university was unthinkable. For some of them, therefore, the only creative thing to do was to rebel against their upbringing. And perhaps it was this very thing that made them creative in a literary sense. If they had had a more permissive upbringing, and been allowed to go to school and university, they might not have rebelled, and might therefore have been less interesting people.

Of all the sisters, I found myself most in sympathy with Jessica, who did not have a society wedding. Her elopement caused great distress to her parents, and she never saw her father again. It seemed to cause even more distress than the society divorces and extramarital affairs of some of her sisters. Yet in marrying for love rather than money and social position, she seems to have had more inner stability than some of her siblings.

Another interesting thing for me was that it brought out the extent to which the countries fighting Fascism in the Second World War were infected by fascist tendencies themselves. Diana and her husband, Oswald Mosley were interned without trial during the war. And Jessica and her husband in the USA were persecuted by the FBI duing the McCarthy witchhunt period in a manner reminiscant of the South African security police during the apartheid era. Perhaps Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s craving for 90-day detention is not so unusual after all.

View all my reviews >>

November Synchroblog: money and the church

The theme for this month’s Synchroblog is Money and the Church.

I have posted my contribution this month at The Church and Money on my Khanya blog.

Here are the links to all the contributions:

The Check That Controls at Igneous Quill
Pushing The Camel: Why there might be more rich people in Heaven than in your local Church at Fernando’s desk
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz at Hello Said Jenelle
Zaque at Johnny Beloved
Walking with the Camels at Calacirian
Greed and Bitterness: Why Nobody’s Got it Right About Money and The Church at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Wealth Amidst Powers at Theocity
Money and the Church: A Fulltime Story at The Pursuit
But I Gave at Church at The Assembling of the Church
Moving Out of Jesus Neighborhood at Be the Revolution
Money and the Church: why the big fuss? at Mike’s Musings
Coffee Hour Morality at One Hand Clapping
Bling Bling in the Holy of Holies at In Reba’s World
Magazinial Outreach at Decompressing Faith
Money’s too tight to mention at Out of the Cocoon
Bullshit at The Agent B Files
The Bourgeois Elephant in the Missional/Emergent Living Room at Headspace
When the Church Gives at Payneful Memories
Who, or What, Do You Worship at at Charis Shalom
Greed at Hollow Again
Silver and Gold Have We – Oops! at Subversive Influence
The Church and Money at Khanya
Tithe Schmithe at Discombobula

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