Franz J.T. Lee, April, 2005
Venezuela: Revolutionary sublime cliffs, where angels fear to tread!
Today, asking Brother Google, What is Ideology?, we got some 7,060,000 answers. Insisting with, What is Religion?, we got some 86,200,000 references. However, the concept Theory beats both Religion and Ideology and acquired the gold medal with 90,900,000 explanations.
Of course, we have to analyze further the data of other search machines, the class nature, the socialization values and the educational merits of all these postings.
However, what concerns us here, is that nearly 6.5 billion people on this planet, even if they cannot really afford food, clothes, books, university fees, or even computers, could in one way or the other still inform themselves about the meaning of such central concepts like religion, ideology and theory, about world realities and fascist virtualities.
Specifically in Venezuela ... as a result of huge, past alphabetization campaigns, of educational missions, Bolivarian schools and universities and the government donations of information computers, distributed to the indigenous peoples, reaching the very jungles ... there is no excuse anymore, not to study, not to know what happened to us historically, about colonial and neo-colonial thought slavery, about mind control and the intellectual holocaust, that since half-a-millennium have played havoc with our very vulnerable, precious existence.
For today, within the context of global mourning for the Pope, including globalized ruling class crocodile tears, it is pertinent to take up the most delicate concept of them all, the issue of colonial, neo-colonial and imperialist religion. Abusing of their most sacred human feelings and sentiments, it is simply horrible to see how unknowingly and ideologically millions subconsciously and deliberately are being led astray by massive, global propaganda, to participate in bombastic religious festivals that have nothing to do with their earthly well-being.
Any conscientious student of past history could detect, that in the social, global context, various regional polytheistic and monotheistic world religions, mainly the latter, in their dominant phases, corresponded to specific dominant classes that produced them, more precisely, belonged to definite modes of production; also, that they were used for imperial and imperialist purposes; they faded away with the decaying of the cultures and civilizations of these obsolete ruling classes themselves. Progressively other dominant religions and ideologies replaced them.
Of course, in the minds of the oppressed slaves, serfs, peasants and workers, this religiously induced strychnine still lived on for many centuries to come, causing serious problems for revolutionary and emancipatory efforts.
Long before the European conquistadores arrived in South and Central America, even in North America, the indigenous peoples had their very own beliefs, rituals and customs, sacred things and places, human feelings and sentiments.
What all these had to do with the European concept of God or Religion remains to be analyzed very precisely by ourselves.
Within this delicate context, we should recollect that what Che Guevara had underlined: the duty of all real, true revolutionaries "is to make the revolution", to act (práxis) and to think (theory) it.
In time, before the fascist night forever darkens our emancipatory horizons, this also implies to warn the comrades, the yearning masses of peoples, about mortal ideological dangers, no matter how delicate they may seem to be, even touching "forbidden fruits" and "sacred cows".
How often, I have heard: "I agree with everything that you say, but, please, do not touch my sacred religion!"
What we explain here is being done with great revolutionary responsibility, very lovingly and careful, it is not meant to offend or criticize anyone.
Well, it is our sacred emancipatory duty, transhistorically backed by billions of desperate prayers of poverty against opulent global fascism, to touch it, because, ever since the "discovery", it painfully touched us very deeply too. It painstakingly burned us on the stake, quartered us, threw millions of Africans slaves into the Atlantic Ocean, crucified our thinking faculties, changing them into passive, belief receptors. In the name of "Knoweth ye the Truth, and the Truth shall make thee free", representing the "wretched of the earth", I write this topical VHeadline commentary, with the healthy watchword: errarum humanum est!
If we want to develop our own "ideology", our own "socialism", our own "Bolivarian Revolution", then it must be Venezuelan, Latin American. Nothing truly human is strange to us, and, really, we are not strangers to anything humane and humanist. If we want, if we need religion, our own religion, where is the problem? Let us have it!
However, we have to know ourselves, identify ourselves, and, hence, we have to discover the truths and realities of our very souls, to know what happened to them, and why, after 500 years, we are still in mental slave bondage. We have to uproot this Mental Holocaust; no European financial reparation could ever wipe away the tremendous damage caused in the colonial world by European Slavery, Feudalism and Capitalism.
It is so strange, generally, we radically criticize, condemn and abhor all the material evils that feudalism had brought upon Latin America, yet the worst one of them all, the particular, spiritual, repressive, oppressive, depressive and suppressive religious superstructure, that concerns every single individual that lives in Latin America ... something that historically was totally alien to America ... that the Dominican Order of the Spanish Inquisition, of the burning at the stake, has institutionalized here, we do not even daydream about eradicating it forever.
The conquerors' brutal, inhuman values were introduced; ever since "Colon", we were colonized, Europeanized. All this Eduardo Galeano and others have described in detail. An assimilation of indigenous and colonial peoples took place, we began to pray in Latin, learned to speak Spanish and Portuguese, were "talking in strange tonques", were begging in strange languages, we became Latin Americans, "Small Venicians", Venezuelans.
We liberated ourselves physically, but what about our thinking, thoughts, our spirits? Was this not also the liberation plea of Jose Marti, of Simon Bolivar?
And, what happened to our original sacred ideas, sentiments, feelings and emotions? Today still, across five centuries, hopefully they echo from the Orinoco Delta and Amazonia! At least, now, our truly democratic Bolivarian Constitution fully guarantees their rights of existence.
What tried to wipe them out completely? What replaced them? And, everywhere, in everyday life, why are we defending colonial and neocolonial religion and ideology with our very lives?
Why are we just afraid of alien socialists, communists, terrorists, atheists and Marxists? Who taught us to be afraid of them? And why do we love our imported religion so dearly, painting so many "white" angels? Do we know anything about how European Religion was theologically fabricated in the Old World, from Plato, to Plotinus, to St. Augustine, over Marc Aurelio, Epitectus, Seneca, to St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope Gregory, etc.?
Apart from earning our daily bread, asking to be given our daily bread, we should know all these things, to know in what we believe! Even this is our sacred revolutionary duty! This is why we go to school, to the Bolivarian University.
To deepen the Bolivarian Revolution, to approximate its "ideological" mission, these are questions to be asked and studied, to be answered very seriously, before the next Conquest, the next Intellectual Holocaust of Big Brother: that is, before North America completely wipes out our very minds and souls! These urgent tasks have to be handled with special loving care, be published responsibly, and should not be ignored in our defense strategies and tactics, so that the critique of our arms ... the sword and the feather, práxis and theory ... really and truly becomes our arms of critique against Bush's aggressive Global Fascism.
Why do we want to conscientize the masses? Do they not have a conscience, are they not conscious? If not, what happened to their Christianized religious awareness over the last 500 years? How do we explain this strange phenomenon in our educational missions?
Hence, comrades, already between the devil and the deep, blue sea, to be fed to the sharks, let us challenge and access these revolutionary, sublime cliffs, where angels fear to tread!
Now, let us briefly summarize what the dialectical Negation within the French Revolution, that is, what true, real Socialism had criticized about the feudalist, absolutist, theological creation: about European, Colonial Religion in general; to know why Marx has underlined why all social revolutionary critique must begin with religious critique, with the critique of religious ideology.
Concerning European conscience and consciousness, that is, concerning the critique of religion, in the middle of the 18th century, the German philosopher and moralist, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (1804 - 1872) ... in his titanic work: Das Wesen des Christentums (1841; The Essence of Christianity) ... formulated the theory, that the European "civilized" man is to himself his own object of thought, and that Religion is nothing more than a “consciousness” of the Infinite.
His starting point was to analyze the “true or anthropological essence of religion.” As “anthropological essence”, he portrayed the European created God “as a being of understanding,” “as a moral being or law”, in a nut-shell, as “ love.”
For Feuerbach, it was as simple as all that. The Colonial God who was brought to America is Love! Conquest, by God's Grace, is Love!
But, for Feuerbach, the true consequence of this view is the idea that God is merely the extensive self-projection of man's intensive nature. In other words, Man, Big Brother, is the Creator of God, and not vice versa. This, 2500 years ago, already the ancient Greek Presocratic philosophers knew very well. Surely, for most of us this is blasphemy. Who and what introduced this in our very soul?
Long before Marx, other thinkers like the British Bishop Kingsley and Feuerbach already came to the scientific and philosophic conclusions that European Religion, exported to Latin America, and elsewhere, via the Conquest, is a fantastic mental invention of Man The Ruler. Billions of sincere, religious, devoted people do not have the foggiest idea of what really is happening, is happening to them.
If we do not study historical processes and realities, we will never discover the truth about our current earthly existence, will not understand what is happening in Rome at this very hour. We should rather lament and mourn our very own alienation, and do something to get rid of it.
For this very reason, it is the inalienable revolutionary duty of all Bolivarians, not to create more "sacred cows", not to relish more "forbidden fruits", but to develop scientific praxes and philosophic theory about ideological and religious realities.
We do not have another 500 years to disalienate the world, the emancipatory moment is now and here. Our endeavors are delicate, have to be presented with velvet red gloves, have to be extremely cautious, yet, as new women and men, if we do not do it, who will ever do it for us? The destructors of the world are irresponsible, brutal and savage, see the Conquest, the aborted coup of April 11, 2002, Fallujah, Workuta, Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We have nothing against any gods, and they have no problems with us whatsoever. The crux of the matter is: if we really need them, then they have to be ours, our own, new, original, genuine gods. Not strange ones that are being hammered into our heads, into our souls, over the ages. We urgently need gods, who will not be crucified by us, who will not invade us by military means, who do not drop bombs on Sodom and Gomorra, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on Fallujah and Caracas, hence killing hundred thousands of innocent men, women and children.
This Revolutionary, Emancipatory Truth will not cause popular traumas, not even religious ones. What is mortal, fatal and lethal are ideological, fantastic, illusionary Big Lies, in a word, Ideology, nurtured by the slave masters across the centuries, nowadays disseminated by the international mass media, that currently so fiercefully slander the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and her President Hugo Chávez Frias.
Feuerbach proposed that the European feudalist, later capitalist God was the extension of human class aspirations. Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and others held similar views. Yet, across the ages, as capital accumulation advanced across the planet, for staunch and reformist Christians, God was Sustainer, Creator and Judge!
Of course, across the planet, across the ages, thousands and thousands of thinkers and writers, including many Latin American scientists and philosophers, have protested against these justifications of an omnipotent God that serves only ruling class interests.
They defended their own ideas and principles. Literature, drama and plays are full of examples in which writers, although heavily influenced by Christian culture, attacked such justifications, dogmas and doctrines. A classical example can be found in the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s treatment of the misery of children in The Brothers Karamazov. Even, in the Latin American "Theology of Liberation" movement, social leaders, like Ernesto Cardenal or Camilo Torres, criticized and are still fighting such European authoritarian, colonial ideas. In Nicaragua, long ago the masses themselves gave the late Pope a revolutionary good-bye.
Hence, what is being explained here is not new, what is innovative and genuine is that the Bolivarian Revolution should be at the vanguard of eliminating fantastic, alienating ideas and acts, that serve global fascism.
Now, finally, what did the "young" Marx say about European Religion? Remember, a few years before, he was still a staunch Christian. He did not yet develop a complete socialist scientific praxis and philosophic theory of alienation. He still wrote that "religion is the general theory of this world". Later he will be philosophically more precise, and speak about the German "Ideology" of the bourgeois, democratic, capitalist world.
As everybody already should know, he wrote:
“Man makes religion, religion does not make man, religion is indeed man's self-consciousness and self-awareness as long as he has not found his feet in the universe. ... Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point’d honneur, its enthusiasm, ... It is the fantastic realization of the human being inasmuch as the human being possesses no true reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly a struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.”
And now, here is Marx’s precise definition of European created religion:
“Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
Concerning the present global "carnival" of the international mass media, allow me, just to add: “Religion is being used and abused currently as the globalized, Euro-American, democratic Prozac of, by and for the people! It is a modern form of Newspeak”,
In conclusion: we have to develop our own definition and explanation of our own, new "religion", within our own, new socialism, this would be a mighty step forward for the Bolivarian Revolution in America. However, immediately Bush would protest and claim that his conceptions of religion and democracy radically differ from those of President Chávez and the Venezuelan peoples.
At all events, religion is a scientific measuring-rod for the immense misery, poverty and alienation that exist on Mother Earth: to annihilate the colonial, capitalist and imperialist conditions that need such a fantastic invention, to give the only succor to billions on the planet, is to abolish and demolish religion itself. An emancipated world will be a creative, creating, upright existence, where nobody needs to genuflect before divine lords, holy landlords and beautified warlords.