Un ateismo religioso. Il bolscevismo dalla Scuola di Capri allo stalinismo (by Paola Cioni)


A new book on Alexander Bogdanov and Co.:

Capri, 1909: un gruppo di rivoluzionari russi, guidato da Aleksandr Bogdanov, Maksim Gor’kij e Anatolij Lunacarskij, crea una scuola di formazione per operai pur senza l’approvazione di Lenin. Le teorie di Bogdanov, all’epoca uno dei massimi leader bolscevichi, sulle quali si fondava la scuola erano in forte contrasto con l’interpretazione del marxismo di Lenin e ne rappresentavano una seria alternativa. Per questo motivo le sue idee furono per decenni censurate in Unione Sovietica e restano ancora in gran parte sconosciute in Italia, mentre di recente sono state rivalutate sia in Russia che nel mondo anglosassone, dove Bogdanov è considerato il padre della moderna cibernetica. Intorno alle vicende della Scuola di Capri, ricostruite dall’autrice in modo rigoroso su precise basi documentarie, si intrecciano le fila di molteplici fatti storici che, nel bene e nel male, hanno segnato il Novecento: le dispute ideologiche in seno al bolscevismo, il rapporto tra politica e cultura, le forme del marxismo, lo stalinismo come religione politica, il dibattito sull’ineluttabilità o meno della rivoluzione d’Ottobre, la possibilità del dissenso nel movimento e in un regime comunista. Reinserire le vicende della Scuola di Capri dentro la storia del bolscevismo consente di creare i presupposti per una nuova interpretazione dello stalinismo e di comprenderlo all’interno di un fenomeno di lunga durata che ha riguardato tutta l’Europa: le religioni totalitarie della politica.

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Terry Eagleton Fights New Atheists.


Tragic hero: Laurie Taylor interviews Terry Eagleton.

Reading the first sentence of Terry Eagleton’s review of The God Delusion in the October 2006 edition of the London Review of Books was not unlike watching a gunfighter kicking over a table of cards in an otherwise well-ordered saloon. “Imagine,” fired Eagleton, “someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.”

And that was only the opening volley. Further down the page Eagleton proceeds to shoot up Dawkins’s failure to do justice to the complexity of the God he sought to rout (“He seems to imagine God, if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap”), his literality and lack of imagination (“Dawkins occasionally writes as though ‘Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness’ is a mighty funny way to describe a Grecian urn”) and his belief in the progressive nature of history (“We have it from the mouth of Mr Public Science himself that aside from a few local, temporary hiccups like ecological disasters, famine, ethnic wars and nuclear wastelands, History is perpetually on the up”).

Iran and Revolution


It doesn’t seem like a good idea to attempt to silence a people that is basically brought up on the idea of revolution, especially if that revolution took place during the lives of many and its ideas formed the foundation of a nation. It would be like trying to install monarchy in the United States in 1800. In any case, it’s difficult to get a sense of what is happening, but this has been a news item – Grand Ayatullah Husayn (Hossein) ‘Ali Montazeri has issued a statement condemning the electoral fraud: Continue reading

Emilio Gentile: Politics as Religion


There’s an interesting Emilio Gentile interview on “sacralization of politics”: 

DH     How do you see the sacralization of politics extending into the 21st century?

EG      It’s been present in modern times since the American and French revolutions. We need to distinguish it from any type of politicized religion in old and present times.

In the Egyptian monarchy, the pharaoh was a god, or a son of a god, or embodied the god. In the Roman Empire, after Christianization, the emperor was in a sense consecrated by the church. And the Christian monarchs in Europe were always consecrated by institutional religion. This is not sacralization of politics in the sense that politics has become a religion. It is a politicization of a religion—the use of religion to sanctify monarchs in terms of the traditional gods, or the God of the Bible. In the period after the French and American revolutions, you have the secular entity of the nation. The nation is not a person, nor does the church consecrate it. It is consecrated because it is a new secular entity now conveying the meaning of life. The sacralization of politics is politics becoming religious, independent of the traditional church. It was not the pope who consecrated Hitler as the leader; it was not the pope who consecrated Napoleon (and I mean more than the fact that Napoleon took the crown from the pope and placed it on his own head). The sacralization of politics in modern terms is an autonomous form of religion based on politics, not on traditional church-state religion.

The rest of the interview is here.

Doctor Shot At A Church (Updated)


UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has a nice collection of link here

George Tiller, a doctor and abortion rights activist was shot at his church in Wichita Kansan  this morning

WICHITA – George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.
Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.
No information has been released about whether a suspect is in custody. Police said they are looking for white male who was driving a 1990s powder blue Ford Taurus with Kansas license plate 225 BAB.

I thought we were done with that sort of things in the 1990s. We should probably thanks hysterical right-wing radio/TV hosts for exciting the crazies and making them think it’s the end of the world or something. I’m sure they’ll do anything for the ratings, right? 

Still, shot in a church? Do they have any standards at all? Outrageous!

God Is Back


A discussion of a new book – God is Back: How the Revival of Religion is Changing the World, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge – on the issue of religion, sounds like a sensible position:

I wondered if they realised the alarm with which rationalists and atheists would greet their suggestions that as democracy increases around the world we should expect to see the emergence of more “parties of God”. Did they recognise that this was a kind of nightmare for many of us? “If the parties of God are Hezbollah then they are nightmares for us too,” says Micklethwait. “The thing is, when democracy is concerned the secular-minded always think that people will go off and vote for ‘normal guys’ but of course they don’t. It’s not just the most oppressed who do this – in India and Turkey the educated bourgeoisie, exactly the people who should be the most secular, the driving force of the economy, have flooded towards religiously inspired parties.” 

This is not necessarily a welcome development for either Micklethwait or Wooldridge. They are pragmatists. Religion is there, and you have to deal with it.