Franz J.T. Lee, June, 2007
The Achilles Heel of most theological and religious socialisms
Learning from Thomas Munzer: religious ideologue of revolution
In the epoch of the rapid decay of capitalism, world politics, that is, class struggles, revolutions, imperialism and globalization, all concern mighty global power structures and fierce national social struggles, that obey no idealist morality, religious reconciliation, anti-apartheid truth commissions, platonic dialogues, Gandhist pacifism or reformist "socialist" models, Kautskyian modules or Bernsteinian "democratic" modulations.
Across the millennia, across the globe, endlessly billions of religious prayers were launched against all master-slave production relations, were filling all spaces of the solar system, were reflecting the alienated sighs of all oppressed creatures, of slaves, serfs and workers, that till this very day are still coming from the hearts of a heartless world, from the dying souls of soulless exploiting labor conditions, and yet ... across the ages all the supreme, patriarchal gods of the five world religions remained silent, deaf and dumb. In fact, it seems that they were too busy in constructing a heavenly capitalist paradise on earth for their arrogant creators, for all the ruling class lords, overlords, water lords and warlords of all colonial calibers and globalized genres.
It is not strange that so many "sinners" were and are still praying, what is absolutely flabbergasting is that after centuries of natural science and social philosophy, after the Renaissance and Reform, after the French and Industrial Revolution, after Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, Engels and Bakunin, after Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Ludovico Silva and Jose Carlos Mariategui, so many downtrodden and "wretched of the earth" are still praying today. Sometimes even the revolutionary vanguard encourages the staunch alienated believers to pray more than ever to a god that in scientific terms never ever showed his face to the poor, not to anybody with a sane ming anywhere on planet earth.
In the epoch of globalization, where the lords themselves are creating and cloning, are developing the human genome and performing genetic engineering, are applying nano technology, are producing UFOs, by using Tesla technology, it becomes clear why these prayers never reached their destination outside the universe: at the speed of light they are still on their way, will reach the Redeemer sometime within the next millions of light years. However, although many of us still reflect the superstructure of the Dark Ages, of the state religion of the Inquisition, fabricated by the Dominican order, aided by Roman theologians and "fathers of the Church," modern science has discovered a way to reach the gods within fifteen minutes across the practically instantaneous scalar waves, and now the gods have no excuse anymore, they could reply within fifteen minutes. Till now, not a single sign of divine existence came from the heavenly kingdom.
Why are we stating the above?
It is not that we are damn atheists, that we hate Christians, or that we are pagan beasts of prey.
During the Peasant War, during the emancipatory revolts in feudal Europe against the brutal oppression of the Roman Catholic Church, against the corrupt clergy and decadent nobility, in medieval Germany, the "theology of revolution" of the Protestant left-wing reformer Thomas Munzer (1489-1525) did play a central role. Also, similarly in the 20th century Latin American revolutionaries tried to launch their "theology of liberation" against obscurantist religious beliefs and massive imperialist Yankee "full spectrum dominance."
To a certain extent, President Hugo Chavez Frias wants to realize a type of Christian socialism in Venezuela and Latin America. A while ago, he stated the following:
“el modelo socialista es bendito, bendito seas sueño socialista, por ti lucharemos toda la vida, para hacer realidad el sueño, la idea de Cristo del Padre Redentor y el Libertador Simon Bolivar."
"Blessed is the socialist model, blessed is the socialist daydream, for you we are fighting all the days of our life, to convert reality into this dream, into the (common) idea of Christ the Father and Redeemer and of our Liberator Simon Bolivar." (our free translation)
In the case of Munzer's "theology of revolution," the Reformation was essentially reformist, not revolutionary in a bourgeois sense. Never mind its idea of founding a secular imperium on earth, it still wanted social change within the then existing feudal system, within European, Western, Christian Culture and Civilization.
Precisely this is the Achilles Heel of most theological and religious socialisms.
In the scholarly work, published on Internet, "Communalism: From Its Origins to the Twentieth Century," this is expressed as follows:
"The Reformation of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, when it came, was certainly a revolution, but it was a revolution within society, within the dominant culture, and within the general process of history of Western civilization."
On the extreme left of the Reformation, which in Germany was centered around Luther, Thomas Munzer was moving between Muhlhausen and Frankenhausen and supported by the local apocalyptic Anabaptist commune, was trying to erect the mythological "millennial kingdom" as a kind of secular imperium.
By using biblical texts, supported by formal logical arguments and mixed with ideological dualistic morality, with terms like either "good" or "bad," either "angel" or "devil," Munzer tried to capture the bicameral, binary religious imagination of the brain-laundered, alienated masses, to revolutionize them on a continental scale. He did succeed to organize the unarmed peasant masses into a tragic, bloody historic battle, which ended with the macabre act of hanging his decapitated skull on a land post by the victorious feudal lords and right-wing reformers, as transhistoric warning to all future peasant and indigenous revolutionary leaders.
In spite of other times, other places, and other historic conditions, yet the praxical and theoretical lessons for the Bolivarian Revolution, and for President Chavez, are as clear as sunlight, it is not necessary to make special reference.
Needless to say, like Camilo Torres, Munzer could not kill the noble viper with its own religious venom. On the contrary, both became victims of its mental and physical holocaust. In the current globalized inferno, only scientific praxis and philosophic theory, that is, ever-changing, flowing, over-flowing scientific and philosophic socialism, in a word, Marxism, has an infinitesimal real, true possibility of annihilating this tenacious, superstructural pestilence.
This is the reason why Marxism is being hated left, right and center by all reformist forces, and why it is being declared dead for the 666th time, and why the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurs every year.
Munzer based his sermons on the Holy Scriptures, for example, on the Book of Daniel with which he terrorized the nobility. In this way, he was illustrating the fierce battle between his "League of the Elect" and the Devil. He petitioned the German status quo, the noble princes, to join his "army of the saints."
Lacking political economy, he could not understand that the upper and middle ruling clergy and nobility would never join a battle which definitely would spell their own historic doom. In other words, he still could not grasp what is class society, what is class struggle between masters and slaves.
However, guided by his theology of liberation, and supported by the peasants, eventually against Luther and the German princes, he unleashed the final battle of Frankenhausen (1525). His ideas outlived him, and they spread across Europe, generating a series of peasant revolts. However, as a result of the degree of destruction of nature and society by militarized globalization, no peasant revolution, for historic reasons, can still bring about a new mode of creation and creativity.
During his turbulent life time, and after his tragic death, Thomas Munzer remained an enigma. The ruling class dis-information campaigns and the papal censorship nearly deleted his very existence, very few Bolivarians and Christian socialists know anything about the lessons which he taught us centuries ago. Also, his very mistakes, like those of Camilo Torres, are even more educative.
In spite of a Thomas Munzer renaissance, and the latest discovery of many formerly unknown documents, mainly four versions have outlived the information black-out.
* For the orthodox Protestants Munzer was an Anabaptist, a member of 16th century radical religious dissenters, who were re-baptizing grown-ups and were driving radical sectarianism to its logical extreme.
* The Anabaptists themselves consider him simply to have been a totally aberrant religious fanatic.
* The Roman Catholic historians argued that Munzer was just the living example of extreme Protestant individualism and that Muhlhausen very clearly demonstrated the Reformation’s reactionary attack upon feudal religious law and order. In other words, his movement brought about political chaos, "ingovernability."
* Marxists elevated Munzer to revolutionary sainthood.
(See: Friedrich Engels, The Peasants' War in Germany, 1850)
They considered him to be the first political cosmopolitan, the theoretician of the Peasant War in feudal Europe.
Why did he get these socialist laurels?
According to Friedrich Engels he is worthy of such honor because his still religious philosophy was already approximating atheism and because his political program encompassed communalism, that is, communism. Both the reformist renegade Karl Kautsky (Communism in Central Europe at the Time of the Reformation) and the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch (Thomas Muntzer als Theologe der Revolution) agreed that he was a precursor of revolutionary communism, more precisely, that he was an early utopian communist.
Much later, in the aftermath of the incomplete French, bourgeois, democratic, capitalist revolution, it became clear that with a feudal religious superstructure we cannot even achieve a simple bourgeois revolution.
This Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Francisco de Miranda all knew too well.