Bird’s Eye View – Many a true word is spoken in jest
‘The Islamic religion not only bans pork and booze; Islamic governments are totally anti-LGBTQ. In Muslim countries you are not allowed to eat, drink or be Mary. It was interesting to watch the Qatar team score its first goal. When the players got excited about it and celebrated by hugging each other, it was surprising they were not immediately stoned by authorities. Karl Marx was not right about much, but he hit the nail on the head when he said, “Religion is the opium of the people”’ (Daily Caller, 1 December, bit.ly/3VQdv5P).
Indonesia today, unlike Qatar, is an example of what passes for democracy under capitalism, yet its recently amended penal code would not look out of place there. Both say there is no room for the proliferation of the LGBT movement. Even worse:
‘Spreading communist, Marxist, or Leninist ideologies, or philosophies deviating from the national ideology of pancasila—five largely secular guidelines for Indonesian life introduced by the country’s first president—will be punishable by up to 10 years in prison. And the country’s rules on blasphemy will be expanded to include apostasy (persuading a believer of one of Indonesia’s six recognized religions—Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism—to become a nonbeliever), punishable by up to four years in prison’ (Time, 6 December, bit.ly/3iDfpIC).
Verily, the past lies like a nightmare upon the present. Worse still, the growth of socialist knowledge, the mass understanding and conscious change at which we aim, can only be hindered by such legislation. Marx said, 175 years ago in the Communist Manifesto, ‘law, morality, religion are to him [the working class] so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests’. In other words, the ruling class will employ any moralistic ideals at its disposal to tape over the brutal system of exploitation which we run in their interest.
As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly
China Miéville, author of A Spectre, Haunting, On the Communist Manifesto (2022) stated recently:
‘I constantly look around at the world and I think this cannot be as good as we can do. This can’t be as good as we can do and there are only so many times we can say if you just let us tinker with that a little bit, it’ll get better. And when that keeps failing, and keeps failing and keeps failing, we have to say to ourselves there is something in this structure that is leading to this. And when the structure itself says our driving energy is profit, not human need, it is not rocket science to think this might be related to the problems of the world’ (MSNBC, 7 December, bit.ly/3ULNQu2).
This voice of reason makes a welcome change from what passes for informed comment in, for example the American Thinker (sic!):
‘On a personal note, I know these clowns don’t read the book, because I ask every time I meet one; I have yet to find a “communist” who has actually read the Manifesto. (There’s really no excuse given the fact it’s basically a pamphlet, and contains an ideology responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million people, so what could they possibly have going on that’s more important than getting to the bottom of it, especially if they’re actively advocating and voting for communist policies that pave the way for more of the most horrendous tyranny known to man; but what do I know?)’ (MSNBC, 2 December, bit.ly/3Bp9eym).
Echoing the Manifesto’s ‘Society can no longer live under the bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society,’ Miéville states in a by far better, earlier interview:
‘Marxism isn’t about saying you’ll get a perfect world: it’s about saying we can get a better world than this one, and it’s hard to imagine, no matter how many mistakes we make, that it could be much worse than the mass starvation, war, oppression, and exploitation we have now. In a world where 30,000 to 40,000 children die of malnutrition daily while grain ships are designed to dump food into the sea if the price dips too low, it’s worth the risk’ (Science Fiction Studies, November 2003, bit.ly/3PerFvx).
The pen is mightier than the sword
‘In her 50 years of filmmaking, Reichert won two Primetime Emmy Awards and was nominated for four Oscars, winning one with her partner Steven Bognar for “American Factory” in 2020. She quoted “The Communist Manifesto” in her speech, saying “things will get better when workers of the world unite”‘ (abcnews, 2 December, bit.ly/3XRF5RC).
Indeed. But what then, you may well ask, will be socialism’s attitude to existing religions?
‘All religions so far have been the expression of historical stages of development of individual peoples or groups of peoples. But communism is the stage of historical development which makes all existing religions superfluous and brings about their disappearance.’
And, to be clear for the old trope-believing American Thinkers out there:
‘Communism is the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat’.
Liberation, not elimination! To be fair, those Thinkers probably have not read The Principles Of Communism in which these passages appear, one of Engels’ two early drafts of what would become the Communist Manifesto (bit.ly/3hbg3wL). In fact, setting to one side the capitalist measures at the end of section 2 (which Marx and Engels in their joint preface to the 1872 edition declared obselete) there is still much that socialists today would incorporate into a Manifesto for this century including:
‘The working men have no country. We cannot take away from them what they have not got.’
‘…every class struggle is a political struggle.’
The struggle for socialism ‘is the independent movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority.’
‘The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.’
‘Workers of the world, unite!’