Jack Layton, Canada’s leader of the official opposition was laid to rest this past week which really continued the issue that has arisen since his part’s electoral breakthrough: what exactly is socialism today and what does it mean within the actual political and social context? The short answer, which probably explains all the public hoopla is: Not much. Or very little. He ran his campaign within the 40 yard lines. …
“Of all the modern economic theories…Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. For this reason I still think of myself as half Marxist, half Buddhist” the Dalai Lama. As Martin Buber said “religion without socialism is a spirit without a body and socialism without religion is a body without a spirit” . If that’s the case Layton was clearly lacking.
The National Post is pretty much a right-wing rag with pretensions of liberal conservatism and small “c” opinion; table scraps to bulk up the distribution. Nonetheless, in light of the Buber comment and the Dalai-Lama quote an opinion piece by Father De Souza touched on similar themes, though I doubt the conclusions to be drawn would be complementary:
Raymond J. De Souza:That business about love and hope was no doubt thought a suitable rhetorical flourish — an update on Obama’s audacity of hope. Yet the drafting team forgot that the trope of hope belonged to Obama’s messianic phase. Love and hope are religious words, hence their resonance. The idea that love and hope are more powerful than anger and fear is a religious idea. The world certainly doesn’t teach that. Common experience teaches that it’s every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.
In contrast, St. John writes that perfect love casts out fear. So there were transcendent, even biblical, echoes in Layton’s coda. That was the problem faced by the eulogist, for Jack Layton’s life was unapologetically, unabashedly, unambiguously this-worldly, directed entirely to the mundane matters of politics.Read More:http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/08/31/father-raymond-j-de-souza-laytons-funeral-was-a-day-for-worshipping-idols/
What De Souza did not say is that the realization of socialism is essentially the fulfillment of a Christian ethic which I’m not sure De Souza would admit. Though, it has to be seen that radical criticism is inherent in every religion, there is a strong case to be made that acting according to the Christian commandment of love entails an advocacy of socialism. So, the religious principle is not limited to a particular religious sphere.
In its most dynamic and volatile form, religious socialism attempt to resolve the fixed and immobile opposition of the concepts of religion and socialist theory by working on the dynamics of their interactive relationship. I imagine this is what Buber thought of as religiosity being emancipated from the dogma and canon of perpetual ritual. So, the inherited and predominant forms of socialism and religion as fixed, determined, signed and sealed are not understood in terms of transforming them: a leap into the fearful unknown, but perhaps a true manifestation of Judeo-Christian humanism with all its bubbly tensions. You have to wonder whether morality, even within the discourse of religious thought, can be non-ideological; particularly given the tendency to view situations as “phenomenon” or even celebrity with the locus being on personalities: “… the same way you could extract the moral teachings of the Buddha from the religious system his followers instituted around him. similar with rabbi Jesus: after he died they made a religion about Jesus, rather than following the religion of Jesus.” ( Hune at Martin Buber Dialogical )
….Souza:When Layton won the NDP leadership in 2003, he defeated not only the caucus favourite at the time, Bill Blaikie, but the social gospel roots the ordained minister represented. It was the Christ
left that produced the early titans of the NDP, including Tommy Douglas, the Baptist minister whose courage in opposing the War Measures Act in 1970 initially attracted Layton to the NDP. Douglas would find it hard to recognize Layton’s NDP — 103 seats with nary a one in Douglas’ native Saskatchewan, and drawn from the most secular parts of the country.
Layton’s legacy is not love and hope properly understood, but rather an ideology so secular that love and hope are understood primarily in political terms. His funeral celebrated a life that marked the death of the Christian left as a political force in Canada. Read More:http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/08/31/father-raymond-j-de-souza-laytons-funeral-was-a-day-for-worshipping-idols/
In a time in which Communist regimes have been rightfully discredited and yet alternatives to neoliberal capitalist societies are unwisely dismissed, I defend the fundamental claim of Marxist theory: there must be countervailing forces that defend people’s needs against the brutality of profit driven capitalism.-Cornel West. Read More:http://workandentropy.tumblr.com/post/5295848815/in-a-time-in-which-communist-regimes-have-been
Souza:…It’s a fitting metaphor, the church decamping to the worldly stage. And so it was that Layton’s body went from home to Parliament to a final campaign stop in Quebec to Toronto’s civic chambers to a concert hall. He lived a grand life on a public stage, but with a narrow horizon. The horizon of the stage is only as broad as its curtain, and when the curtain comes down, there is only the dark. Turn off the lights, indeed.Read More:http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/08/31/father-raymond-j-de-souza-laytons-funeral-was-a-day-for-worshipping-idols/
Maurice S. Friedman:The mature expression of Buber’s concern with realizing the divine through true community is the religious socialism which he developed in the period immediately after the First World War. This development was decisively influenced by the socialism of Buber’s friend Gustav Landauer, the social anarchism of Michael Kropotkin, and the distinction between ‘community’ and ‘association’ in Ferdinand Tönnies’s work, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (1887). Community (‘Gemeinschaft’) Buber defines as an organic unity which has grown out of common possessions, work, morals, or belief. Association (‘Gesellschaft’) he defines as a mechanical association of isolated self-seeking individuals. It is an ordered division of society into self-seeking individuals held together by force, compromise, convention, and public opinion….
…Modern western culture, states Buber, is on the way from ‘Gemeinschaft’ to ‘Gesellschaft.’ The mechanical type of social living has replaced the organic. Marxism, the dominant form of modern socialism, desires to overcome the atomization of present-day life and sees itself as the bearer and executor of an evolutionary process. Yet it is nothing other than the process of development from community to association that it is completing. For what today is still left of an autonomy of organic community of wills must, under the working of this tendency, be absorbed into the power of the state. The state will indeed guarantee justice through laws, but the power of the state will be raised to an all-controlling dogma which will make impossible any spontaneous righteousness. Community which once existed universally, and which today exists almost alone in personal life and unnoticed fellowships, will not be able to withstand the all-embracing power of the new socialist state. Read More:http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=459&C=378