File under “Intra-Left Strife.”
Old school rationalist Edmund Standing of Butterflies and Wheels has a piece up lambasting the “far-left” (notably the Marxist left) for attempting to silence (through moral one-upmanship) critics of Islam. There’s some good stuff in there about the laziness with which many on the left equate racism with secular social democracy’s discontent with (illiberal) religion. But I’m generally at odds with the mission statement, if you will, over at B&W. They can be placed under the “militant atheist” umbrella, and most certainly gliding on the “rationalist” wing of the rationalist-pluralist liberal ornithopter (heh). B&W has endorsed Maryam Namazie’s “One Law for All” campaign, which seeks to outlaw Sharia courts – and all other religious courts, regardless of their level of social liberalism – in Britain. Namazie, not coincidentally, is a central committee member of the Worker Communist Party of Iran.
Anyway, this quote by Marxist John Molyneux caught my attention:
To put the matter as starkly as possible: from the standpoint of Marxism and international socialism an illiterate, conservative, superstitious Muslim peasant who supports Hamas is more progressive than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically).
Certainly a different sort of Marxist than Namazie! I’m always pleased to hear the implications of a political stance potentially too refined and obscure to be understood put clearly and unequivocally. It’s on par with “No, black people cannot be racist because racism equals power plus prejudice. They haven’t got power.” (That quote, heard so long ago, has stuck with me.)
I wonder, does Molyneux’s view find a corollary in hardcore Pluralist Libertarianism? The latter’s version might read something like this:
To put the matter as starkly as possible: from the standpoint of Pluralist Libertarianism and its universal application an illiterate, conservative, superstitious Muslim peasant who supports Hamas is more appealing than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically).
As you can read, the “translation” is a bit tortured. First, a Pluralist Libertarian would not attribute any kind of pluralist-minded libertarianism to the Muslim peasant himself, which is the reason for the insertion of the word “appealing.” Second, as Molyneux writes it, an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism need not be necessarily less appealing. Though two reasons come to mind as to why they are likely to be: (1) Zionism is colonialism, and (2) the Israeli state’s relationship with the U.S. make said Israeli objectively less conducive to the aims of a Pluralist Libertarian…especially one based in the U.S. itself.
I’m curious if a Marxist of Molyneux’s stripe would extend the same sympathy and label of “progressive” to the superstitious, illiterate and conservative enclaves within the western world. I’m guessing not, but then that’s not surprising given neo-Marxism’s hierarchy of the oppressed. One is more likely to find leftish sympathy for those groups on the part of scholars of religion or cultural anthropologists. Though in their case an appreciation of the worth of religious belief itself (and diversity, to which I’m partial if it be this or equality), as opposed to its instrumental value in achieving a worker’s state, is paramount.