Sometimes I wonder at the blanket hate of Christianity. Even as an atheist I do not hate the naïve and sentimental, the one’s who genuinely believe and care, those who follow their master’s actual living example. I’ve always envisioned him as a radical, a man who stood up against the power and system of his day. A man who did not cower against the hate of politics or religion, but fought for the poor and the rejected. He died not for some unearthly kingdom, but for the people of this world who remained outside the care and protection of power. For whoever he was the man Jesus – lost in the palimpsest of parchment – the gospels present a man who hated the rich and powerful, and cared for the sick, weak, and outcasts, the poor and excluded – the lepers, the untouchable caste of that day.
The parchment records that have been put together in the Bibles that began with the Vulgate down to our modern versions were collections of letters passed among these peoples of those early centuries. Even experts in Greek know that these texts are palimpsests of revision and marked changes over hundreds of years. Will we ever know the truth of the man? No. We see what we see, and even as an atheist I do not despise the man, but what the various institutions have done with his message, how they have depolitized his revolutionary intent and made of him a luke warm preacher of some refined spiritual message. He was a radical, acted as a radical, upended the money-changers, overturned the power structures, preached against the oppressive power of Rome and the Priests. A man who went down into the streets and spoke to those in need, helping them, caring and tending them, sharing his message with the victims of power. And when he spoke to power he let them know in no uncertain terms that he knew just who and what they were: evil. Evil is a word we bandy about, but there is real evil and it hides in the power brokers of the world. He hides behind the Law, the Bankers such as in Belgium who enforce impersonal and indifferent legalisms of austerity and slavery across the nations. It is in America where our government steals from the people to pay the great banking and lending systems trillions of our taxpayer dollars under the lie that they are too big to fail. What of us? Are we of lesser need, that we can be allowed to fail but not these banks? Our world is turned up-side-down, topsy-turvy. We are all barbarians now.
Is this not what the Left used to envision as the bedrock of their thought concerning existence, this need to protect those who could not protect themselves. Wasn’t this the true van guard of that system, those who would reach down and help a sister or brother in need, give them the shirt off their backs, food from their plate, money from their pockets? How have we lost our way in all the fetid intellectualism of our moment, of our hatred and bitter voices. Have we forgotten the basics of what we once stood for?
What I despise is what Jesus despised: the institutions of hate, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the money-changers and lenders, the whole apparatus of sacrifice to the State. We are blind to the inner workings of the revolution within the deep worlds of those early Christians, and have let our hatred of the institutions of Catholic or Protestant lies overrule the truth. Same for Islam and the Jewish religions… all religions for that matter. As an atheist I choose truth over stupidity, always have. People seem to use less reason and more affect in their judgements of these histories…
Reading and rereading Marx and Engels one gets to know two men devoted to helping those less fortunate, the workers who were bound under slave conditions of bare subsistence. Even now we spend more time attacking trivialities than actually getting out on the streets and producing a world worth living in. I’m disgusted with the state of the Left in our age… we have no clear platform, only lies and deceit prevail in our politicians. When will we demand more? When will we truly get angry and force the hand of our worldly leaders to shame?
Listen to Engels describing those of the mass of workers, uneducated and bound to belief systems:
What the moral and intellectual character of this class was may be guessed. Shut off from the towns, which they never entered, their yarn and woven stuff being delivered to travelling agents for payment of wages– so shut off that old people who lived quite in the neighbourhood of the town never went thither until they were robbed of their trade by the introduction of machinery and obliged to look about them in the towns for work – the weavers stood upon the moral and intellectual plane of the yeomen with whom they were usually immediately connected through their little holdings. They regarded their squire, the greatest landholder of the region, as their natural superior; they asked advice of him, laid their small disputes before him for settlement, and gave him all honour, as this patriarchal relation prescribed. They were ‘respectable’ people, good husbands and fathers, led moral lives because they had no temptation to be immoral, there being no groggeries or low houses in their vicinity, and because the host, at whose inn they now and then quenched their thirst, was also a respectable man, usually a large tenant farmer who took pride in his good order, good beer, and early hours. They had their children the whole day at home, and brought them up in obedience and the fear of God; the patriarchal relationship remained undisturbed so long as the children were unmarried. The young people grew up in idyllic simplicity and intimacy with their playmates until they married; and even though sexual intercourse before marriage almost unfailingly took place, this happened only when the moral obligation of marriage was recognized on both sides, and a subsequent wedding made everything good. In short, the English industrial workers of those days lived and thought after the fashion still to be found here and there in Germany, in retirement and seclusion, without mental activity and without violent fluctuations in their position in life. They could rarely read and far more rarely write; went regularly to church, never talked politics, never conspired, never thought, delighted in physical exercises, listened with inherited reverence when the Bible was read, and were, in their unquestioning humility, exceedingly well-disposed towards the ‘superior’ classes. But intellectually, they were dead; lived only for their petty, private interest, for their looms and gardens, and knew nothing of the mighty movement which, beyond their horizon, was sweeping through mankind. They were comfortable in their silent vegetation, and but for the industrial revolution they would never have emerged from this existence, which, cosily romantic as it was, was nevertheless not worthy of human beings. In truth, they were not human beings; they were merely toiling machines in the service of the few aristocrats who had guided history down to that time. The industrial revolution has simply carried this out to its logical end by making the workers machines pure and simple, taking from them the last trace of independent activity, and so forcing them to think and demand a position worthy of men. As in France politics, so in England manufacture, and the movement of civil society in general, drew into the whirl of history the last classes which had remained sunk in apathetic indifference to the universal interests of mankind.1
In this reading you do not hear a man who hates or despises these people for being who and what they are, instead he understands them and sees how power and dominion, oppression and miseducation operate and enforce their rule upon them. When people of the Left speak of our own countrymen, whether in the EU or America they speak with derision and hate rather than with the clear eyed truth of an Engels or Marx. We have lost the art of seeing that it is not the people, the workers, the ill-educated who live in the cities or country towns who we should despise for having been deceived by their leaders. It is us who have allowed our own hate to bind us to false consciousness and progressive imbeciles in high places who have taught us this dark thought to begin with. Instead of reading such men as Marx and Engels, or even of the Biblical Jesus or other men of compassion – a Buddha, or others we have allowed ourselves to lambast and parody the great masses. Shame on us for having lost the original vision of such men as Marx and Engels.
- Engels, Friedrich. The Condition of the Working Class in England (Classics) (Kindle Locations 888-897). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.