The study, Last and First Men, attempts to critique historical materialism, and to consider the place of religions, past, current, future, in the context of the idea of a new communism. The purpose was not to substitute junk spirituality there, far from it. The critique is of ‘materialism’ and ‘spirituality’ as a too frequently abused category/opposite. But the question remains, what is the future left going to do in relation to the legacy religions, and how should it mediate the confusions of religious beliefs. There is no simple answer there. I have been addressing this question here, over the last year. With no result, actually. My first suggestion was a ‘sufi communism’. That was to put an intelligent communism in the context of the Islamic tradition. But that idea won’t work. There are too my reactionaries in the sufi world, which, for all I know is now infiltrated by the CIA in the labors of the State department to promote this sphere of cultists.
Nope, won’t work.
The essays today here on Stark’s disgusting supercapitalist Xtianity is a warning that using Xtianity for progressive change is going to backfire: the same gangsters promoting capitalism are now promoting ‘wealth based Xtianity’ and have essentially corrupted Xtianity beyond repair, despite the Pope’s nominal efforts to stay the tide of this demonic concoction of the Bible Belt and Wall Street. At least it is clear, that a battle for the future will be with ‘Xtians’ determined to damn the poor as sinners who could not suffer the grace of riches.
Another sphere of potential is the world of Indian religion: the original buddhism was a revolutionary movement. But it has become entangled in a kind of esoteric fascist strain that would emerge instantly to corrupt any kind of progressive leftist, what to say, communist buddhism. That’s a pity. Buddhism has the essence of what is needed for a religious consideration on the left. So much for that.
But the world of someone like Osho/Rajneesh suggests a variant here: his now classic, but hardly known, Communism and Zen Wind Zen Fire is a blast over the bows of capitalism. But the commercialization of his ashram is a decided ambiguity. The group that he assembled was the source of one of the most amazing communes in modern history, before it was betrayed by confusion, and the construction of a new kind culture/city on ‘commune-ist’ lines is provocative. And the 300+ discourses of Osho/Rajnessh point the way to a new future of Indian religion. But that group has little chance of turning into a vehicle for postcapitalism, so we cannot proceed there until the current Club Med atmosphere is dispelled for something serious. It would not be hard to bring that about, but it requires the work of sannyasins themselves.
So perhaps Marx was right. Historical materialism is the one way you can slam the door hard in the face of all the religious idiots bound up in conservative hypnosis by their hidden masters. The most disgusting of these must be the figures like Stark who have turned Xtianity into a cult of wealth, none the wiser as to hidden communism of the Jesus figure.
We should consider the latent power of the modern transition (check out WHEE) to see that the answer was seeded centuries ago: the Reformation was actually two possibilities in one, the centrist world of Luther soon to be the religion of the Princes and the new commercial classes, and side parallel of the remarkable Thomas Munzer who pulled a new form of ‘communist’ Xtianity complete with a strain of eschatological prophetic testimony. A bit crude in hindsight, but the core rings true and could easily be upgraded to a form of futurist context. The world of Luther is falling away into a demonic endgame of capitalist ideology. The left flank of the Munzerians can take up the trek to postcapitalism, in the realization of a prophecy of the sixteenth century. So much for the Reformation. It’s not quite what you think.
The Preface to LFM goes in another direction and takes up an old theme here, the virtual church of the Holy Brick, a way to study the question, rather than decide on a cultic conversion, and then again study the question, all the way to…a postcapitalist reconstruction of material/spiritual man.
In the nonce, figures like Stark, who suggest that the Cosmic Christ condones the exploitation of helpless proletarians in a cult of wealth by Christian capitalists throws down the gage for a religious war to come, of great future moment, and after the fashion of Lincoln’s words, if necessary til the last remnant of capitalist wealth is taken to the commons or to the bottom of the sea. Best to consider the words of Jesus on the subject and see if you have enough time left to change your story, ‘in a new York hurry’.