Religion is a form of Political Expression

Islam in Saudi Arabia is the means by which that ruling class expresses its political justification for exploiting and repressing its people. Any tolerance of any other view undermines it.

Christianity played the same role in Europe until quite recently. Where class ideology is expressed only in religious terms opposition will be expressed in those terms too – look at the English Civil War.

Protestant Christianity played the same role in Ireland – so Catholicism was seen as an political expression of opposition to British rule. Catholicism played a similar role in Poland under Stalinism. I’m sure the influence of the Church is waning now it’s ceased to be a focus of political opposition.

But as an opposition in 20 th century terms it couldn’t compare to proper working class movements like Solidarnosc for instance. Islam in Europe and America is not the expression of class rule like it is in Saudi, it’s either a cultural heritage of a particular community or for a minority it’s become a political expression of opposition to western imperialism.

The trouble is all religions are based on magic and myths are utterly useless as a political programme. In the early 20’s there were large unions organised – even soviets for a while in Iran for instance. We have a long way to go to get back to that.

Now we are seeing the repression of trade unions in Palestine – one has to wonder if Hamas is connected to this. It’s easy to understand why the Israeli govt wants to repress Palestinian trade Unions – but why is the Palestinian Authority doing this? We still tolerate religious control of schools in this country using public resources. No religion should be allowed to have any part whatsoever in public education.

In my view the left has been at best dithering on this question by confounding racism with “Islamophobia ” a term coined by the left itself. A religious political programme is always nostalgic, hailing some mythical golden age of the past. Isis calling themselves a “Caliphate” exemplifies this – a return to the golden times of the 9th century when Islam was on the march. The Diggers of the Civil war were similar hailing a golden age of pre Norman England. The people who are most similar today are Le Pen and Farage, hailing another mythical golden age of Colonial empire.

Religious extremism will lead to terrorism- if you are only accountable to some god it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, even if everyone is against you. The trouble is terrorism does what it says on the tin – it does provoke fear and terror – the result is a wave of revulsion that governments can and will ride on to take measures against everyone- especially those even remotely connected to the perpetrators. It will be counterproductive to their cause – but they won’t care because they are doing god’s work.

By rfzo47

Retired History teacher, Union activist, Union officer, Labour.

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