The British Marxist tradition in which I received my political training has historically had a sneering attitude to religious belief (which goes along with the cultural philistinism which Ben Watson complained of, where all art is judged by its utility as agitprop and agreement with the Marxist worldview). I am reminded of Rick from The Young Ones: "There's no ghosts, there's no God! There's a perfectly rational explanation for any phenomenon you might encounter!"
And then the British SWP found itself on the same side of the barricades as the British Muslim community, when liberal secularists decided that the Church of England wasn't as tempting a target as immigrant women in hijab to indulge in a little Voltaire or Galileo-before-the-Inquisition roleplay. I don't need to argue on this blog that Western secularism is increasingly used to rally support around an imperialist and racist project - and that, behind the Enlightenment verbiage, the content is "worship of consumer goods and lifestylism". It is the enemy of what Chaos Marxism stands for.
Anyway, good to see that the British SWP has come from this to having a serious debate on religion in their theoretical journal, based on the principle that you have to interpret all religious belief (like everything else) not by the words or concepts it uses, but by "its fruits" as the Prophet Jesus would have said - its actual social contents. John Molyneux is responded to by Roland Boer. Comments?
Seriously, the more serious arguments against the cold sterility of the "unreconstructed" Marxist tradition, the better. Read the comments on this post in a Marxist blog from a slightly different tradition, and decide whether you really think the self-declared defenders of fundamentalist secularism are on our side or not. I've pointed out in the past the same sterility in a traditional Marxist attitude to psychotherapy - that apparently it's cheating and copping out to try to be happy under capitalism, and the only real fulfilment possible to anyone is hard political work in a Leninist cadre party.
Fundamentalist materialism not only leaves no room for religion, but art, culture and psychotherapy are all devalued, or relegated to some irrelevant realm called "the personal". It splits the life and consciousness of the revolutionary cadre into (a) regimented political activism; (b) "leisure time" which is based on personal preferences and worldview which have nothing to do with column (a). That is precisely the same split which you find in everyday life, between the world of the office and the world of the hedonistic consumer. This is a travesty of the Marxist world view, which like the Sufi and Buddhist worldviews, is essentially non-dualistic.
A real revolutionary political practice must include Greater as well as Lesser Jihad - if you're not changing yourself and your immediate environment, you're not changing the world. At best you're just jerking off - at worst, you're well on the way to becoming the pigs who overthrow the farmer just to wear his old clothes. Fundamentalist materialism is non-dialectical, in that it does not understand that the spiritual world is real because it is based on the material world and there is no real distinction. To simply assume that once we've got the politics and economics right, human freedom will flower, is the same repulsive seed of determinism, mechanical materialism and "ends justify the means" from which Stalinism grew.
Nature abhors a vacuum in the spiritual half of the consciousness - "fundamentalist Marxism", much like liberal secularism, has an idealist undertone which often blossoms into some pretty nasty crypto-religious worship of idols and corresponding cult behaviour. When you have state power, you end up worshipping at Lenin's tomb, or Mao's, or Kim Il Sung's - short of that, you just bully and act like an asshole to "heretics" in your own movement. And then you wonder why you're irrelevant.