Category Archives: Catholicism

Why Do Some Countries Lack a Class Conscious Working Class?

John Engelman: Contrary to what Karl Marx said, for most people most of the time loyalties of nation, race and ethnicity are stronger than loyalties of class. The working class in the United States has always been more diverse than the working class in European countries. It is becoming more diverse with the influx of non whites.

To get class consciousness you really need a homogeneous working class. It helps if the working class is ethnically distinct from the upper class. In Scotland the upper class is English, or Anglicized Scottish. That is to say Scottish, but educated in England, and often speaking with English accents.

The clear majority of Scots vote for the British Labour Party. English workers are more likely to vote for the British Conservative Party.

The argument is circular in a sense because as you look around the world, generally what you see in most cases is an ethnically homogenous working class.

Would you describe the working classes of Latin America as homogeneous or diverse? They seem to be a mixture of White, Indian and Black and the mestizo, mulatto and Zambo mixtures, correct? Yet the diverse working classes down there have high working class consciousness despite their diverse nature.

Aren’t North African and Gulf countries fairly mixed between Blacks and Arabs?

Certainly in Arabia, lands with diverse working classes of Kurds, Arabs and Iranian working classes are all very left.

I believe Sri Lanka even with the vicious Tamil versus Sinhalese war, the diverse working class is leftwing. In Burma the working class is very left although there have been wild ethnic wars sputtering on for decades.

In Russia and other nations of the former USSR, there are many ethnic minorities, but the workers are still working class.

A recent exception is Ukraine where workers have gone radical Right. The former Yugoslavia is still very leftwing even after all of the ethnic conflict and even slaughter of past years. Spain’s working class is very radical despite an armed conflict in the Basque region and separatists in Catalonia. The different religions hate each other in North Ireland, but the Scottish Protestant workers are as class conscious as the Irish Catholic ones. Switzerland is divided between three ethnic groups – French, Germans, and Italians – yet it is a very leftwing country.

The extreme tribalism in Africa has not prevented the working classes from being class conscious.

Is the working class of England voting Tory yet? Or do you just mean that they are more likely to vote Tory than the Scots are?

Most workers in Europe, Arabia, North Africa, Africa, the former USSR, China, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Japan, South Korea, Nepal are the same ethnicity as the ruling classes of those places, yet workers have a high degree of class consciousness in all of those places.

The places where working class consciousness has been harder to develop were those that had a Chinese ruling class as in Philippines and Indonesia.

I think we need to come up with some better theories about the poor class consciousness of the US working class. If you are looking for examples elsewhere, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia, the Baltics and Colombia are places with quite poor working class consciousness.

In Australia it is recent as US style conservatism is imported.

A similar trend is underway in Canada and has been since Thatcher in the UK. But the UK is in nearly a revolutionary situation. A lot of the working classes are militant and radicalized, while a lot of the country has at the same time gone Tory. When Thatcher died, there were anti-rich riots in housing estates across the land. Thatcher was burned in effigy in the streets. Can you imagine that happening in the US?

The recent riots in the UK also had a class undercurrent. I was dating a British woman at the time, and she told me that local storeowners who treated the community well were spared by rioters. Rioters focused on stores selling upscale goods to the rich. Many corporate outlets were also smashed.

She told me that a number of those outlets had a reputation for not paying taxes to the UK by hiding money offshore. She said the rioters knew who those companies were, and they were brutally singled out. Many outlets were burned to the ground. Can you imagine heavily Black rioters in the US having class consciousness like that?

The Baltics are a case of entire nations full of complete idiots who hate Communism so much that they went into an extreme overreaction against Communism and turned against anything socialist, left, liberal or mildly progressive. Fascist heroes including many Nazis with a lot of Jewish blood on their hands were celebrated. Communist parties were outlawed, and Russian minorities were viciously maltreated.

Radical rightwingers were elected in all of these lands, and Chicago Boys Friedmanite experiments were undertaken. The results were predictable. In the recent economic crash, the most neoliberal European countries were the most devastated of all. Estonia was eviscerated, and Latvia was almost wiped off the map. 1/3 of the Latvian population left the country, including almost all of the educated people.

The Philippines and Indonesian cases are up for discussion, but these are Latin American situations of a ruling class of a different ethnicity than the working classes holding forth brutally and anti-democratically over the people. In addition, the workers have little consciousness.

Taiwan has a similar legacy where extreme hatred of Communism resulted in being ruled by reactionary fascist anti-Communists for decades. There is a nascent Left now, but it has little power yet. The wealth of the country seems to have gotten in the way of working class consciousness. Probably the extreme anti-Communism helped too, as any working class movement could be quickly portrayed as Communist.

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Anti-Germanism in a Nutshell

Anti-Germanism is a Left philosophy started by, you guessed it, Germans! They hold that Germany has been rotten from the start, that German culture is evil and irredeemably poisoned, and that Germany needs a complete Cultural Revolution to destroy German culture and replace it with something humane. There are only a few Jews in Germany right now, but there are quite a few Jews in the anti-German movement. The percentage of Jews in the anti-German movement is much higher than in the population. However, most anti-Germans are not Jewish. For the life of me, I cannot see why the Jews want to pick a fight with the Germans. Haven’t Germans and Jews fought enough and wreaked enough destruction on the world?

I came across this on Facebook and I think it sums up anti-Germanism quite well. I removed some crap about Communism, Frankfurt School, and postmodernism because this is some weird Alt Right crap that got tacked onto what is otherwise a Leftist discourse. It is interesting to see Leftist anti-German theory adopted, modified, and warped by some weird sort of Alt Right types.

The country that I despise the most is Germany. Germany has had only a history of destroying what is right and civilized, not to mention their Germanic love of totalitarianism.

During the days of the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire, the Romans were spreading civilization throughout Europe, bringing technology and civilization to wherever they conquered. However, the greatest enemy of the Romans were the barbaric and savage Germanic tribes, who later spread all over the Roman world, plundering, destroying, and raiding wherever they went. They eventually managed to destroy the Roman world, annihilating its advancements, and pushing Europe into a Dark Age for nearly 1,000 years.

During this period of the Dark Ages, a new power, Prussia, emerged on the European theater. Born from Germanic knights slaughtering an entire ethnic group and enslaving Poles, they brought nothing of merit into the world, bringing only tyranny, militarism, and terror.

Once Europe fully recovered from the first large scale attack on civilization, a new Germanic Empire took hold, even surpassing the Roman world, with the spread of new ideas such as Protestantism. This empire was the Holy Roman Empire – which was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an empire; but in fact a Germanic tool to fight civilization and anti-totalitarianism. The empire waged brutal wars of religion in an attempt to reinstate corrupt Catholic rule all over Europe. This finally culminated in the 30 Years War, the bloodiest European War until the next European-wide war, also commenced by Germany. However, the German plot was stopped.

Finally, a bit later, in a book called Von Krieg (On War in English), the Germanic elite of Prussia revealed their plans, which are still being implemented to this day. Here are a couple of quotes from the book:

Just as Prussia has been fated to be the core of Germany, so Germany will be the core of the future German Empire of the West..Conquered people shall be left with nothing but their eyes to weep with.

The Germanic states then clamped down further upon liberalism and liberty, maintaining an absolute monarchy until unification. Otto von Bismarck was their leader – an absolute monarchist/militarist. He then started three aggressive wars: against Denmark, against Austria, and against France. He created Germany as a brutal, totalitarian monarchy, hell bent on conquering the world. Prussia had become the core of Germany, and a new leader now needed to make it the future German Empire of the West.

That new leader came – Kaiser Wilhelm II. Plotting to destroy all other nations and achieve a worldwide German Reich, he took the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, as his opportunity. Knowing full well that the Habsburgs, his fellow Germans, would use the assassination carried out by one man, who just so happened to be a Serb, to carry out an aggressive war against Serbia, despite knowing full well it would lead to war with Russia and the rest of the world, Wilhelm promised to unconditionally support Austria-Hungary.

The Kaiser of Germany singlehandedly began the most destructive conflict the world had ever seen in an attempt to annihilate all non-Germans. He invaded neutral Belgium, raping and massacring innocent civilians; began using poison gas, which was banned by the rules of war; and sunk without warning merchant shipping. However, liberty and civilization won, and totalitarianism and barbarism lost.

 

After the war, the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Ferdinand Foch had the correct analysis, “This is not a treaty, this is a 20 year armistice.” The way that quote is taken in our pro-German history books is that those evil Allies were so cruel, and those evil Allies forced the evil Treaty of Versailles upon those poor Germans. However, the quote meant what the real case was: this treaty was no hard enough, and why is Germany still allowed to exist? Unfortunately, we learned the hard way that it was not harsh enough. Worst of all, we didn’t even enforce the treaty and allowed Germany to expand and attempt to conquer the world again.

During the Weimar Republic, there was another Germanic ideology that was created in attempt to utterly annihilate the West – Nazism.

As we all know, the Nazis won at first, and with the power they had, they created one of the most totalitarian regimes ever been created in the world, and the Germans marched across Europe and spread genocide, tyranny, terror, and barbarism. However, the world finally managed to destroy the 3rd German Reich and discredit Nazism forever. We thought we destroyed Germanism, however, once again, we were wrong. We made the fatal mistake of feeling sorry for the Germans, and allow the continual existence of the German state.

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Hinduism As Social Segregation Sanctified

From the comments. I agree that this is the basic nature of the religion. The base of the religion itself is the religiously sanctified social segregation or, I would argue, stratification. The Dharma and reincarnation stuff may well be tossed in as pie in the sky. the way the Catholic churches sold pie in the sky to the working classes for centuries.

Lin: Hinduism is social segregation sanctified, with ‘spirituality’ like ‘dharma’,’ reincarnation’ thrown in as opioid to instill fatalism/defeatism to the downtrodden or vanquished races. Go ask Mr. Singh, your ex-prime minister:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/dec/28/india.mainsection

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Sunnis As Protestants, Shia As Catholics

Despite being banned by Islam, many local forms of Islam developed that were outside of the original laws laid down by Mohammad. For instance, it was very common to have graveyards with gravestones in the Muslim World, especially in Central Asia. Worship of God via intercessionary saints and their temples was also quite common, especially in Northern Mesopotamia and over into Central Asia.

Both of these were associated with Sufism, the innovated Islamic form which has frankly always been the official Islam of the Sunnis of Iraq, including Saddam’s regime. Some of the later rebel groups in the Iraqi resistance were Sufis, even though Sufism is fairly quietist as far as Islam goes. Sufism is also very big in the Kurdish area, in Iran among the Shia as a Shia Sufism sanctioned all the way up to the mullah level, and of course into Afghanistan, which is really Ground Zero for this sort of shirk, innovation, etc. That some of the most fundamentalist Islam of all came out of such a central area of Islamic deviation is odd, or perhaps the fundamentalists were rebelling against all of the shirk and innovation.

It is well known outrage against all sorts of forms of shirk and heretical innovation in the Arab World that has led to the development of political Islam, the Salafists and onto Al Qaeda and ISIS. Make no mistake, the Salafists, Sunni fundamentalists, Salafists, Al Qaeda and ISIS are all products of the Arab World originally. Al Qaeda itself came out of Saudi Arabia and Egypt and then on to Sudan. The spread to Central Asia, where Al Qaeda relocated to Afghanistan, was a later development in context with the Islamic revolt against the Marxist regime there beginning in 1978-79.

These Salafists are back to basics purists similar to what a lot of fundamentalist Protestants nowadays claim to be. It was also similar to the Protestant Revolt, which was actually a back to basics revolt against the Catholic Church, mostly due to corruption due to selling of indulgences, writing the books in Latin, and the Church’s great wealth. Corrupt priests are hardly Christians at all. Writing the books in Latin a language few could read led to the religion being distorted into whatever the priests wanted it to be instead of the Word itself.

Jesus’ message was go forth and bring the good news to the common man, hence the missions of the Mormons and other missionaries, the Bible translation of SIL, etc. A real Christianity would write the books in whatever language the people could read. Writing in a language that the layfolk can’t even read is anti-Christian. And indeed, the most back to basic folks in Christianity nowadays are still the Protestants, analogous to Sunnis who believe that the Koran was divine word and must not be deviated from.

In contrast, the Shia are like the Catholics. The Catholics actually believe that the Christianity must constantly be reinterpreted to go along with the times, sort of like liberal living Constitution types in Constitutional law. This itself is actually quite progressive and it is the lack of a central authority banning back to basics and mandating living Christianity that leads to almost all true literary Biblicalist fundamentalists nowadays being Protestants.

The Vatican learned its lessons early on via Galileo in being anti-science. They have changed quite a bit. For God’s sake, the Vatican even has its own astronomer!

The resistance to the theory of evolution was mostly coming from the Protestants in the years after Darwin. The Catholic Church simply went agnostic on the subject, which I believe is still doctrinal to believers who can choose to believe or not even if the Church itself says that evolution is true.

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The King As God and Pie in the Sky When You Die

The Catholic churches sold pie in the sky to the working classes for centuries, urging them to accept their downtrodden role in life as religiously sanctified. Yes, this life is terrible, they said, but this is your lot in life, essentially ordained by God and religion (notice the connection with Hindu caste here) to live this life, there is glory, beauty and valor in suffering, after all suffering being at the heart of Christianity since He died on the cross.

Revolting now would be a sin, the Church preached. I am not sure how they conjured up how it was a sin, but perhaps given the connections between religion and  the state in those days the priests said that the monarchs  were ruling via God and hence rebellion would be rebellion against God and religion itself. How can you fight a war against God, Jesus and the Bible? Talk about a heresy! And in this way, the people were calmed.

The Nepalese Hindus were told the same thing and hence they were banned from rebelling against the state. If you prayed, lived a good life as sin-free as possible or at the  very least had your sins absolved regularly, you could accept your miserable lot in this earthly life on the grounds that if you lived religiously properly, you could have “pie in the sky when you die.”

In other words, keep your head down, don’t complain too much, don’t rebel, accept your lot in life and just try to be a good Christian you will rewarded with an eternity in Heavenly bliss when you die. You wonder why the early Marxists hated religion so much and called it the opium of the people. I believe it was mostly for this reason – religion sapping the normal revolutionary will of the people in service to a powerful elite who abused the common people.

As noted above, in Europe it was common for the monarchs to claim to be ruling in God’s place acting via intercession in place of God Himself and religion.

In this sense, the monarchs in Old Europe were God. There were the people and then God and religion. In between stood the priesthood and especially the monarchs. The latter in particular made great pains to show that they had been chosen directly by God to rule and that it was actually God and religion which was ruling the people via the monarch.

In ancient times, it was supposedly not uncommon for rulers to claim to be ruling in place of God or via God. In this sense, God and religion themselves were ruling the people and the monarch was simply a pawn, a tool of the Gods, forced to implement the will of God and religion and an intercessionary conduit. The ruler was barely even a human. He was in fact something of a Human Pipeline, transmitting the will of religion and God to the people via decrees and rules. If you are being ruled by God and religion themselves, how can one revolt.

The Hindu monarchy in Nepal does the exact same thing.

I am not sure the extent to which the Muslim rulers pulled this off as intercessionary prayer is supposedly banned in Islam as being one step from idolatry while also being a prohibited innovation. However, many of the sultans and imams who ruled the Arab World were in a sense religiously sanctified often by being the genetic line of Muhammad himself. If you are being ruled by Muhammad’s descendant via the laws that Muhammad laid down himself with the imam being in a sense intercessionary to Mohammad, God, and religion (though never stated explicitly as such).

So the same thing was going on in the Arab World except that noticing it and stating it out loud were virtual heresies akin to saying that the ruler himself was a heretic.

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A Motto of the Alt Left, Via Liberation Theology

La gente, unida! Jamas sera vencido!

The people, united! Will never be defeated!

– An old Castroite Marxist revolutionary chant from Central America and South America, with roots back especially to the great Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the FMLN in El Salvador (who I used to buy guns for), the URNG in Guatemala, probably the ELN in Colombia, and probably the great FARC in Colombia.

All of these movements except the FARC were “Christian Communists” or “Catholic Communists.” Most of the rank and file guerrillas all the way up to the leadership were Catholics. In Nicaragua, leader Daniel Ortega was and still is a practicing Catholic and one of the top leaders of the Sandinistas was Tomas Borge, a Catholic priest. The ELN was led by a former Catholic priest named Camilo Torres, who traded his frock for an AK-47 and led a guerrilla group in the mountains of northwestern Colombia. He was killed soon after he started the ELN in 1964. The ELN has never renounced its Catholic roots and is a de facto “Catholic Marxist” organization.

 

The Eastern Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodox have been much more progressive than the  Catholic hierarchy, but that was not so at the  beginning of the century when the Cheka executed over 12,000 top ranking Orthodox officials in first several years of the Revolution. The Russian Orthodox Church or at least many believers are quite leftwing these days. They often hobnob with Communists, Leftists and even monarchists. Even the monarchists are pretty leftwing in Russia today.  Russia is a place where everyone is leftwing. There is no Right in Russia. Well actually there is,  but the Right has only 10-15% support. Putin’s party is defined as “Russian conservatism” but Putin says he still believes in the  ideals of Communism and socialism which he regards as very similar to the Biblical values of the Russian Orthodox Church. This marriage is not unusual and high ranking Church officials even today regularly make pro-socialist and pro-Communist remarks. Sort of ” Jesus as a Bolshevik” if you will. Stalin himself was studying to be a priest in a sen\minary of the Georgian Orthodox Church when he gave it up to be a full-time bank robber/revolutionary.  The thing is that you cannot understand Stalin at all until you understand his deep background in the Orthodox religion. Although Stalin called himself an atheist, he remained deeply Orthodox in  his mindset until he died. He ever revived the Church during and after the war for patriotic reasons. Stalin was very much a social conservative and his social conservatism was deeply inflected by his Georgian Orthodox seminarian roots, which he never renounced.

The Orthodox Christian churches of the Arab World have always been leftwing, along with the Church in Iran and Turkey. George Habash, founder of the Marxist PFLP in Palestine, was a Greek Orthodox. Many of the rank and file even of the PFLP armed guerrilla have always been Orthodox Christians. The Greek Orthodox SSNP in Lebanon and Syria are practically Communists. Interestingly, this was the first group to widely use suicide bombings early in 1982 and 1983 in the first years of the Lebanese Civil War. Most of the first suicide bombings, up to scores or hundreds in first few years, were by Communists, often Christian Orthodox Communists. Many of these suicide bombers were even women. It was only later that the Shia adopted the technique.

The man who created the Baath Party, the Iraqi Michel Aflaq, was an Orthodox Christian. The party had Leftist roots as an officially socialist party. Tariq Aziz, high-ranking member of Saddam’s Baath party, was an Orthodox Christian and a Leftist. Assad’s party in Syria is a Leftist party. Most Syrian Orthodox Christians are strong supporters of Assad, the Baath Party and Leftism. Recently the Syrian Defense Minister was a Christian.

The few Orthodox Christians left in Turkey are typically Leftists.

Many Greek Orthodox are Leftists. Serbian Orthodox laypeople and hierarchy long supported Milosevic, who was a Communist.

The Russians who violently split away from Ukraine in the Donbass were so Leftist that they called their new states “people’s republics.” Most of the leadership and the armed forces are Orthodox Christians. The armed groups had priests serving alongside in most cases. They often led battlefield burials for the troops.

There are deep roots of this sort of thing in Russia. Tolstoy is very Christian in an Orthodox sense, but he is also often seen as a socialist. Dostoevsky’s work is uber-Christian from an Orthodox point of view and he is not very friendly to radicals. However, before he started writing, he was arrested for Leftist revolutionary activities and sentenced to prison in Siberia. Most of his colleagues were hanged and Dostoevsky only barely escaped by the tip of his nose. Dostoevsky was not very nice to the rich either. No Russian writer of that time was, not even Turgenev. The rich destroyed 19th Century Russia. Anyone with eyes can see that. It would have been hard for any artistic heart above room temperature to not hate the Russian rich and feel sympathy for the peasantry. Turgenev’s first books were paeans to the Russian peasantry, and he was raised on an estate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Liberation Theology: Jesus Christ as Marxist Guerrilla in the Jungle with a Machine Gun

From the Sandinistas of Nicaragua to the URNG of Guatemala to the guerrilla column in Honduras led by the Irish Catholic priest in 1983 to Father Aristide’s Lavalas in Haiti to the ELN in Colombia to the Chavistas in Venezuela, all of these radical leftwing groups had one thing in common: they all came out of Liberation Theology, more or less a “Jesus Christ, Marxist guerrilla in the jungle with a machine gun” type of armed to the teeth Catholicism.

Liberation Theology came out a movement of Professors of Pedagogy in Brazil in 1964, especially an influential book written by a priest named Gutierrez. The argument was that teaching in Latin America was an overtly political act, and teachers should ideally by Leftist revolutionaries. Out of this flowed many documents laying out Liberation Theology or “the preferential option for the poor.” It was most powerful among lay workers, of which there are many in Latin America. In heavily Catholic areas, Catholic lay workers are nearly an army.

The French Communist Party in  France long had Catholic roots as did the PCI in Italy. Near the end of his life, Fidel Castro praised Catholicism and said he was a “cultural Catholic.” Hugo Chavez and the Chavistas were of course a ferocious part of the Catholic Left. Chavez Leftism was heavily infused with the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

Even the viciously anti-Christian Sendero Luminoso in Peru had many supporters in the Catholic Church, mostly at the lay and priest level but surprisingly all the way up to the bishop level. Sendero killed many reactionary Protestant missionaries in their war, but they left the priests alone.

The great Edith Lagos, a 19 year old year revolutionary woman who led one of the first Sendero columns, was killed in battle in 1982. Her funeral in Ayacucho at night a bit later attracted 30,000 visitors, nearly the entire population of the town. Everyone was in line for the funeral – the local police, the local government and of course the entire local  Catholic clergy. The line wormed all through the city for hours far into the night. She was treated to an actual Catholic funeral right there in the church led by the local priest. Her casket stood next to the priest as he delivered his sermon. It had a Sendero Communist flag on it.

A communist flag on a coffin in a Catholic church! The crowd then filed out through the town to the graveyard where she was buried in the middle of the night. Her tomb exists to this day, although it has been repeatedly bombed by reactionaries. Local Indians make patronages to the tomb on a regular basis, leaving flowers at it. Rumor has it that she has obtained informal sainthood and is now Saint Edith Lagos in the local Catholic Churches.

FARC called itself officially atheist, although they had the support of many priests in the countryside where the FARC held sway. Nevertheless, most FARC rank and file were Catholics.

In Paraguay, a former guerrilla was elected president. He was also a former Catholic priest.

The armed Marxist Left in Uruguay and Brazil also had deep links to the Catholic Church.

In the US, we have something called Cold War liberals. This is the pathetic Left of the United States,  people who would be rightwingers or center-right anywhere else on Earth.

 

 

 

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The Reactionary Catholic Church Hierarchy and a Link to Secretive Syncretic Religions of the Middle East

The Catholic Church hierarchy nearly everywhere has been reactionary.  The Catholic Church had been in with the ruling classes in Europe forever. This was one of the main reasons why the Bible was never translated into the vernacular and why masses were always held in Latin. The people could neither read not speak Latin, hence there was a huge disconnect between the Church hierarchy and the people.

This is similar to many other religions, especially eclectic religions of the Middle East such as Yezidism, Alawism and Druze. In all of these religions, the secrets of the religion are usually held in secret by a priestly caste of mostly men, though the Druze actually have female priests. For a long time, the secret book of the Yezidis was thought  to not even exist except perhaps only in oral form – this is how secret it was. This ended when an actual copy fell into Western hands around 1900.

In all of these religions, the “real true” religion is in the hands of the priestly caste and they make sure not to tell any outsiders what the religion is about. Hence it has been very hard to get good data on any of these religions. The people are fed some watered down version of the religion that doesn’t mean much of anything and  if you ask the average Alwai, Druze or Yezidi what their religion is about, you will only get some diluted harmless synopsis acceptable for outside ears. Usually what the people say the religion believes and what it really believes are two different things altogether.

The Catholic Church was in with the rich and in Europe especially in the Middle Ages it was very wealthy. It was this extreme wealth that enabled the Church to build those huge architectural masterpieces we see in the form of Medieval churches across the north of Europe, especially in France and England. They sold the peasants pie in the sky when you die like religions always do. It was this anti-people, pro-rich philosophy that made Marx so hostile to religion. He was not so much against it because he was a materialist and he thought it was superstition; he was also against it because he thought it was reactionary.

The hierarchy of the Church remained reactionary all through the  20th Century. Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and the four Catholic priests assassinated in 1989 at the start of the great guerrilla offensive (a crime that was plotted in the US ambassador’s office of the US Embassy two days before) were the exceptions to this rule. The Church hierarchy in Venezuela and Nicaragua remain rightwing and hostile to the Sandinistas and Chavistas to this very day. Same with the church hierarchy in Spain to the best of my knowledge.

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Catholic Communism: The Story of the Catholic Left in Europe

The link between Catholicism and the Left has been ongoing for some time now. In Eastern Europe, especially in Czechoslovakia, Catholic Communists were common enough to form an actual movement. Obviously there were Catholic Communists in Spain and particularly in the Basque Country. The ETA was virtually a Catholic Communist revolutionary movement. The armed Left, especially the Communists, started killing priests in the Spanish Civil War. Although burning churches has been an odd tradition in Spain for a good century now, the actual killing of priests did not go over well. Of course the same could be said of the great IRA in Ireland, most of whom were Catholics.

In Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania, unfortunately, the Catholics were virulently anti-Communist for whatever reason. The Communists under Stalin brutally repressed the church, killing many priests and lay workers. In Poland and Ukraine, Catholicism got wrapped up in an anti-Communism in a horrible way. One of the main beefs against Communism particularly in Poland was that the Communists were not only anti-nationalists but mostly that they were anti-Catholic. At any rate, Catholicism and nationalism are so wrapped together in Poland that one can hardly see where one ends and the other begins.

Nevertheless, most of the virulent Polish nationalist Catholic anti-Communist were committed socialists. However, many of these folks who were often also anti-Semites as these Poles linked Communism with Jews. Anti-Semitism in Poland is as old as dirt. Yitzhak Rabin once noted that Poles learn their anti-Semitism at their mother’s breast – it’s that deeply rooted in the culture. There was a nationalist rally in Poland recently that drew a huge crowd of 50,000. One of the things that they demanded was a Judenfrei Poland. The problem is that there are probably no more than 4,000 Jews in Poland to this day. One wonders what evil effects such a tiny community could have on the national body politic, yet this shows you the intensity and paranoia of Polish antisemitism.

In Eastern Europe, there is a big difference between a socialist and a Communist. Almost everyone you meet in Eastern Europe is a socialist or practically one, although Poland is particularly pathetic in this regard, a sorry habit in light of the centuries of abuse the reactionary feudal lords committed against the 95% serf Poles for centuries. The Polish ruling class is still feudal in nature and has changed little since the days of the lords of the land. It also has deep ties to a deeply conservative Polish army, which has always had strong links to the feudal royal ruling classes.

It is a little told story, but when Communism first came to Poland, it was quite popular, particularly among the downtrodden peasants. It was also very popular among the urban proletariat and to some extent among intellectuals. But the brutality of the Polish Communists working in the model of Stalin quickly doomed the project. The Polish Communists were hoist on their own petard. Even Stalin recognized the futility of the project. “Imposing Communism on the Poles,” Stalin said, “Was like trying to put a saddle on a cow.” Basically doomed from Day one.

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Jesus Was a Socialist

Modern Protestant Prosperity Doctrine is such a perversion of the spirit of Christianity that it can only be seen as a heresy.

Jesus famously said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into Heaven.” This comment is very poorly understood – most seem to think he is talking about a camel actually walking through the eye of a sewing needle, which is of course not possible. However, at the time, “The Eye of the Needle” was a pass high in the mountains of Palestine. It was indeed passable, but it was such an ardous climb over such rugged mountains that many camels simply could not hack the trek and were not able to accomplish the journey. Hence, it was possible for a camel to go through the Eye of the Needle, but it was not an easy task at all, and many simply could not cut it. And so it was with the rich and their chances of heavenly grace and redemption according to Jesus.

Liberation Theology, the Catholic doctrine of the Social Gospel updated and radicalized in Latin America to “Jesus with a machine gun” was utilized by many armed guerrilla groups as a religion of revolution, even armed revolution.

The philosophy of this doctrine was to preach for “the preferential option of the poor,” and this is right in accord with Catholic Social Gospel if not a supercharged form of it. It is seen in Latin America as a nearly subversive and even insurrectionist doctrine, and in a sense it is, although most LT preachers and lay people are not armed.

In fact, Venezuelan Bolivarianism or Chavismo was profoundly influenced by Liberation Theology and there is evidence that many of the other New Left regimes in Latin America were also. LT was a huge influence on the Sandinistas, the FMLN guerrillas and now politicians in El Salvador, the ELN in Colombia (founded by an actual priest with a machine gun, Camilo Torres), the PT of Lula and Dilma Youssef in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, possibly Correa in Ecuador and certainly Paraguay under Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, a former priest and guerrilla who ruled that land until a US sponsored coup removed him.

The Lavalas Movement in Haiti of Jon Bertrand Aristide, also removed in a US-sponsored coup, was profoundly influenced by LT; in fact, Aristide himself was a preacher of Liberation Theology.

In recent decades, there has been a lot of discussion in Cuba about a “Catholic Communism” and now that believers may join the party, this movement seems to be on an upswing. The novel doctrine was that Catholicism and Marxism were indeed compatible with each other instead of being oxymoronic. Castro himself stated that he was a “social Catholic” a few years before he died.

The extent to which LT has influenced the regimes of Batchelet in Chile or Fernandez in Argentina, the former guerrillas in power in Uruguay under Jose Mujica, or Ollanta Humala in Peru is not known, although there were many LT preachers in Peru a few decades ago, and incredibly enough, many priests actually supported the Shining Path.

But the Social Gospel, Liberation Theology, and the “Catholic Communism” that developed in some European lands in the 20th Century have much more in common with a pure interpretation of Jesus’ teaching than the individualist and materialist Protestantism that developed in the US. “Jesus was a socialist” always makes more sense than “Jesus was a capitalist,” although most Evangelicals are loath to admit this. Nevertheless, they squirm and act uncomfortable when you bring it up, so it shows that on some level they at least worry it is true.

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