I wrote a series of posts here on Harris forthcoming book, but they were too harsh and I dumped them at The Gurdjieff Con.
We can proceed with a dialectical approach to Harris’ idea. later…
Meanwhile it is of interest to consider our idea of a challenge to historical materialism (with marxist praxis remaining intact) in the open matrix approach of LFM, which doesn’t distinguish material and spiritual. Communism and capitalism appear in relation to the macro effect, along with the great religions of the Axial Age. This should remind us that just like ‘revolutionary Xtianity’ of the Roman era, a religion of the proletariat, revolutionary communism has/will have a social and not just economic framework. This is not to say these are the same or similar phenomena. The macro shows a kind of ‘theatre’ effect and very different things can appear in the same context with very different core meanings. But the left might take note and adopt a more complex sociology of religion than what we see from nineteenth century legacies of the ‘Iron Cage’. There are millions of Jews, Christians, Moslems, Buddhists who can’t be expected to adopt historical materialism to reach socialism/communism. It was always a wrong strategy there. We can use our idea of a framework generalization or theatre to do the same thing to a revolutionary movement that we did to religions of the Axial Age.
Christianity at its core has an affinity to the communist theme, but the theological aspects of Christianity are so exotic that we must wonder how such a stark contradiction of opposites could be managed in hardhat marxist/communists. Actually the solution is easy. The core ‘ideology’ of the left is a thematic of modernity, revolution, democracy, economic critiques and the expropriation of Capital elements and Primitive Accumulation.
A secular communist could approach Christianity in a multiple perspective approach:
solidarity with (Munzerian) communist revolutionaries, (Jews, Moslems, Buddhists…),
a critical stance toward religion balanced with the insight of the ‘macro effect’ (cf. LFM) into the spectacular macro phasing of world religion (as in the Axial Age)
a robust respect for the momentum of the Axial Age religions as their momentum drives them into a new era as they were…
a kind of dialectical juggler’s act (note the deep triadic dialectical metaphysics of juggling) over issues of theism and atheism. There is absolutely no reason why the two cannot coexist under the rubric of the original monotheism: the IHVH: or sacred silence toward the mundane use of ‘god’ terms and talk. In this context the warring (a)theists could even claim they were the same hombres. In the context of the pointing referent, IHVH, we see that there are no theists or atheists. These fingers pointing to the moon…
The theology of Christianity is so strange to many with so many strange claims and elements that the whole subject causes many, not only secularists, to baulk at the whole ‘circus’ like enigma of elements.
I puzzled over this for many years, and suddenly the answer came to me. who cares? I have seen almost all the Hollywood Jesus films and must confess that I have never solved the riddle of the Christological lift-off moment. It is a majestically clever disinfo saga hiding the real miracle. Suddenly you see that the whole dramatics is really a form of veiled communication. We can see, remarkably, by stepping backward the stupendous fact of religious emergence in the Axial period, so we know that, whatever our enlightenment bafflement over this starting point, the larger reality more than proves the larger central ‘miracle’ if we care to use this term.
The riddle of the life of Jesus has yielded to some extent to historical and skeptical analysis, but the larger context has never been touched: it simply defies rational analysis, for the simple reason that skeptical debunking can never take away the larger dynamic of a religion that finally overtook the Roman Empire and sowed the seeds of abolition. These issues should warn us to be wary of skeptical debunking. A revolutionary communinist in the modern period can suddenly wonder to himeself, how could we manage such a stupendous clever veiling of project in action? To this day we are still outclassed by these Jesus gypsies.
And we can see that Munzer (and Luther) are part of that dynamical mystery. So the problem is resolved. A somewhat teethgritting ‘materialist’ can easily manage a tolerant solidarity with these archaic beauties of religion destined by their immense momentum to coast into a new era there to endure transformation in a new future. We can baulk at the confusions of a still enigmatic New Testament, but we can verify the larger mystery of its epochal force of becoming and conclude that the mystery of the Biblical texts, while insoluble, is nonetheless a significant frame of action, on the way to a new unity. We are left with a very cogent wonder, what was that???
The term secular is vexed: it is not the antithesis of theism or religion, but the signal of a new epoch in world history. There the Reformation opens the discussion, yielding slowly to the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, but not dissipating so rapidly as the rationalist expected. We can thus see that ‘religion’ is not in contradiction to the ‘secular’.
I think that the onset of a new era will slowly but surely transform the religions of antiquity, but the stance of the modern secular atheist has not really resolved the coexstent potential of a set of religions that can greatly assist the value revolution of a transition to communality, the commons, communism, and a shared universe of discourse, however discordant at first.
Armed with Kant and Hegel there is no reason a committed materialist can’t find solidarity with religious legacies on the way to a new future. Skepticism is fine, but, as we have argued, it failed to resolve the New Testament jugglery which in fact proceeds, like Babe Ruth pointing to the stands, to a home run of its own.
In any case, we can see that one suppressed aspect of the Reformation is the classic German Peasants’ Revolt and the new Christian apocalyptic church of the proto-communist Thomas Munzer. We forget that modernity dawned with a revolutionary dialectic of the Lutheran and Munzerian versions of Christianity. And at the end of our travels through modern economy. A new Church of Munzer on the left can be taken in two ways:
If you read the Preface of LFM you can see the idea of a ‘virtual church’: the secularist can first adopt the idea of a revolutionary Christian Church of Munzer as an instant ‘as you go’ concept, fully avowing his allegiance to this Church as he confronts the corruption of religion in the ‘capitalist Christian’ delusions.
From there a second possibility emerges in the actual realization of a Christian communist Church at the hands of newly won fellowships with revolutionary Christians at the twilight of capitalism. A new and enlarged framework or communion will rapidly transform these ancients legacies, and in the process the left will be left to create a new set of perspectives for a new era, something more cogent than the ‘rushed job’ of the era of Feuerbach.