Letters

Religion and resistance

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I read Peter Keighron’s letter, “Is Marxist theory on religion still relevant?” (April SR).

I had to write an article recently about the Quaker families Fry and Cadbury and their chocolate products. I ended up saying “they may have been Christian evangelists but they did campaign against the slave trade in the 18th century, so let’s give credit where it’s due.”

It was Christians, led by William Wilberforce, who finally ended slavery in Britain and Ireland.

Oppose arms monopoly

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I disagree with Emma Davis’s call for tighter gun controls in the US (May SR).

Firstly, anyone who is intent on killing does not need a gun — homemade bombs, Molotov cocktails, machetes and cars driven at high speed are generally effective.

The constitutional right to bear arms should be defended because it ensures that the state does not have a monopoly on being armed. The same state that Emma quite rightly says would not be touched by any restrictions.

Contradictions in Israel

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The extraordinary nature of the alliance between Donald Trump and the evangelical right in the US was once again put on display at the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Two evangelical pastors preached at the event, John Hagee and Robert Jeffress.

They both believe that the adherents of Judaism are damned to the fires of hell for all eternity and Hagee has, in the past, actually described Adolf Hitler as having been chosen by God to force the Jews to settle in Palestine.

Marxism and religion

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I would like to thank Peter Keighron for his letter (April SR) responding to my article on the Bolsheviks and Islam.

To answer your first question regarding the socialist political theory of religion and whether it has been maintained, I believe that in Britain it has — this can be seen in the fight against Islamophobia. However, in some places, such as France, it has not, and that is very much reflected in the rise of Islamophobia. The left in France has sided with the oppressor against the oppressed in the name of secularism.

Going beyond gun control

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Simon Guy’s article, “We don’t want your thoughts and prayers” (April SR), looks at the huge movement in the US for action over gun control. The protests have been progressive and mainly led by young people. They have been a cry of rage against the Trump administration and the NRA.

But in order to tackle the gun violence in the US we have to go beyond the demand for tighter gun control, and look at the conditions which drive young people to commit such horrifying atrocities.

Mindfulness is limited

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Alongside his generous comments on my book Politics of the Mind: Marxism and Mental Distress, Stephen Tollyfield points to what he sees as a “notable omission” in the book — any reference to mindfulness (February SR).

He suggests that what the omission reflects is a materialist disdain for what he calls the “spiritual dimension of life”.

Fight austerity in or out of the European Union

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I disagree with Keith Cargill’s letter (April SR) about voting leave being the wrong decision in the EU referendum.

I have some sympathy for his uncertainty about what a “workers’ Brexit” might be like, because unfortunately the question of class has hardly got a look in in the discussion pre- or post-referendum.

Otherwise, Keith’s arguments fail to convince. Racism is indeed on the increase since the Brexit vote, but it is throughout Europe.

Make the theory fit the economic facts

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Mark Thomas’s review of Kim Moody’s book On New Terrain, the interview with UCU activists and Simon Gilbert’s article on the Chinese working class (April SR) all share a common theme, namely Marxists and the working class coming to terms with the restructuring of capitalism.

As Mark’s article states, “new concentrations of capital have also created new concentrations of workers” and therefore new opportunities for the left and our class.

This is a welcome addition to the left’s intellectual concentration on “the ongoing crisis of capitalism”.

Up with curationism?

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I enjoyed Noel Halifax’s review of the exhibition Another Kind of Life (April SR). It is a complex exhibition and as he says raises questions about the nature of photography and how it is exhibited.

I think that on the whole the rise of the curator is to be welcomed: it makes explicit the previously hidden biases of exhibitions. It makes clear that any artwork is a transaction between creator and viewer.

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