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John Passant

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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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What to make of Mary MacKillop?

The world is going to hell in a global warming handcart. Maybe Mary MacKillop can save us.

After all, someone who can cure inoperable cancer 60 years after she has died shouldn’t find getting the major capitalist powers to agree on ways to address climate change too hard.

So come on Mary, get Obama and Wen Jiabao to agree on real, binding and transparent targets to reduce greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2020. And while you are at how about a Pauline conversion for Tony Abbott, Ian Plimer and their hangers on in the media?

There is a more serious point in all of this. Many people believe this saintly and godly mysticism. Many many more, it must be said, than believe or understand socialism. Why?

The struggle of humanity to understand the material reality around us has been one of our grand projects.

Of course that understanding is warped through the divisions of class society, but capitalism now provides us with the material base to transcend class and need and build a truly human society, a heaven if you like on earth.

The rise of capitalism and the enlightenment accompanying it saw the old religious mysticisms retreat in the face of knowledge.  

But mysticism regrouped and became an integral part of the ideology of a capitalism establishing and stabilising its rule in Europe and the United States at various times in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

The material base for this regrouping was not just the needs of capital.  Religion, Janus like, in fact appeals to both contending classes. 

But for workers the very nature of their position in capitalism – the alienation from their own products and the creation of an external world of commodities – mirrors itself in the religious fetishism of god in heaven while humans are trapped on earth in the unrelenting production of goods and services for profit.

God is the fetishism of the human spirit expressing itself under capitalism in wage slavery.

To appeal to a society divided along class lines god becomes both boss and worker. Capitalism witnessed the social democratisation of god. He is now the Gough Whitlam of paradise.

The profound alienation we as workers experience opens up our lives to non-material explanations of the world. Marx put it much better when he wrote:

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the 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.

In other words, like opium, it gives pain relief.  And like opium it doesn’t address the causes of pain but rather masks them.

We on the left can’t ignore the more than 60 percent of workers who believe in god or a spiritual being.  It is these workers who in remaking the world will remake themselves.

That means understanding the attraction of a long dead woman [or replace Mary MacKillop with another piece of mysticism here] to many workers in society. 

It means, as Lenin wrote, that we are concerned with creating the paradise of the here and now, as many workers will be at some stage too.  

When the oppressed arise, we must be on their side, even if they do believe in Mary MacKillop.

It is their power as workers that is the driving force of change and one we socialists want to relate to. We can only do that by understanding religion and the religious, not dismissing them.

reddit/australia has forbidden the submission of this article to its site.

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Comments

Comment from Dave Bath
Time December 21, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Well, the whole host of those the RC church has canonized or idolized have been particularly useless convincing the (supposedly) Xtian leaders of capitalist countries to do the decent thing.
Or maybe those frolicking in the clouds with harps have a different agenda…

Comment from Marco
Time December 22, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I consider myself an agnostic, as neither do I believe nor do I care much about the supernatural.

I mean: I know I’m going to grow old and sick and eventually, I will die and I will be forgotten, as billions of other humans being have.

In the mean time, I am still here and life is not easy. So, why should I care about a supernatural realm that may not exist and, if it does exist, may be different to what religions say?

Having said that, there are, in Latin America mainly, but also in other parts, Christian movements that take Christian ethics seriously. I believe they deserve our respect and gratitude and we would be lucky if we had something like this here.