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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is The Left Religious?

There is this disconcerting question among activists, the left, and anti-capitalist rhetoricians: is anti-capitalism, communism, anarchism, etc. religion-esque? This question is disconcerting because like a critical analysis it challenges the set of beliefs one has. Unlike a critical analysis that points out a contradiction or assumption in a belief, the accusation that anti-capitalism, communism, anarchism, etc. is religious-esque seeks not to point out contradictions or assumptions but to undermine through associating it with religion.

For the sake of my argument I'll abandon my post-modernist paradigm and argue that there are three three kinds of beliefs. 1. Religious beliefs 2. Secular beliefs 3. Philosophical beliefs. The first two are similar in the way that they do not require or encourage believers to challenge their beliefs but to have blind faith. For example, a Christian is required to believe without question that God created the earth, then created Adam and Eve, and sent Jesus his one and only son to teach us how to live and die for our sins. Or for example, one might believe that education is the best thing for someone, or that men and women are naturally better at some things than the other, and that heterosexuality is normal. What religious believers and secularists have in common is neither set of beliefs are based on empirical evidence or pure reason. Philosophical beliefs, contrary to religious beliefs and secular beliefs are based on both empirical evidence and pure reason. I bring this up because last night some friends and family got into an argument about beauty which led to my sister's fiance arguing that all beauty is socially constructed, and my uncle arguing that beauty is subjective. This eventually led to the discussion of capitalism being fundamentally corrupt, and at one point my uncle called my soon to be brother-in-law prophetic "sort of like a fundamentalist Christian." I interpreted this as a jab at my sister's fiance, and I immediately wanted to defend him because I have also been the receiver of similar accusations. I think that any anti-capitalist, communist, anarchist, etc. accused of proselytizing or being dogmatic can turn the finger and argue that secularists are actually more like religious bigots because although the left and secularists are fervent about their beliefs, at least the far left and post left (IDK about post-left) base their beliefs off reason and are open to new interpretations.

But maybe I missed the point, maybe the statement that the left is religious-esque is not about their beliefs but about their stridency and proselytizing. While not everyone on the left believes in raising consciousness, etc. a number of us do, but so does the right, and so do the bipartisan. Politics just like religion is all about morality and how one should live their life -- if you think it's not then I'd ask if you are confusing politics with government -- the latter being the process of running a system that is based on ideology.

Anyone who has an understanding of semiotics can tell you that there are three aspects to a word: the sign, the signified, and the signifier.

(to be continued)
Going back to

I want to point out that there is a difference between religion and philosophy.

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