how to become a human

W.E.B Dubois (in Black reconstruction) “In December, 1863, Morgan led Negro troops in the battle of Nashville. He declared a new chapter in the history of liberty had been written. “It had been shown that marching under a flag of freedom, animated by a love of liberty, even the slave becomes a man and a hero.” Between eight and ten thousand Negro troops took part in the battles around Nashville, all of them from slave states. When General Thomas rode over the battlefield, and saw the bodies of colored men side by side with the foremost on the very works of the enemy, he turned to his staff, saying: “Gentlemen, the question is settled: Negroes will fight.” How extraordinary, and what a tribute to ignorance and religious hypocrisy, is the fact that in the minds of most people, even those of liberals, only murder makes men. The slave pleaded; he was humble; he protected the women of the South, and the world ignored him. “The problem is solved. The Negro is a man, a soldier, a hero.”

Forging a Socialist-Islamist Alliance

An interesting article / book review of From Post Modernism to Post Secularism.

The former President of Iran, Dr. Ahmadinejad, made great strides in creating such an alliance with Latin American nations forging a path of 21st Century Socialism – that attempts to bring together classical socialism, and indigenous traditions. Such an alliance is necessary, and in no way contradicts Islamic precepts – in fact the coming together of independent nations, in the face of imperialism, is very much part and parcel of Islamic teachings. Because Islam is not an exclusive tribal religion, the call for justice, and the struggle against oppression is a responsibility of Muslims – regardless of who is being oppressed, and regardless of who the imperial aggressor is. The current problem for Muslims is to clarify who is the oppressor, and to not fall into the sectarian nonsense that is plaguing the community. And furthermore to rid of inferiority complexes, rooted in colonialism, that looks up to imperial nations as superior.

Thus far the alliance building has been done through socialist/islamic governments – and while some “grassroots” level contacts have taken place – primarily through the respective consulates in South American countries and in Iran, this has been limited. And with the emergence of Rohani (a capitalist-neo-liberal) in Iran, these contacts have been severely curtailed – as the point of foci has become appeasing western capitalist nations, and their mega-corporataion (invitations to these corporations for “investment” in Iran have already been issued).

Much more needs to be done, and the way forward is building on the foundations already laid with independent Latin American nations.

These are some of the questions Walberg addresses, trying to bring together the two main opponents of imperialism today: Islamists and socialists. Our foe is the entire Western corporate juggernaut, of which Israel is only a part. To survive, we must set aside our religious and political differences and form a united front. Shias, Sunnis, secularists, and socialists need to work together to defeat our common enemy. As Samir Amin wrote, “To bring the militarist project of the United States to defeat has become the primary task, the major responsibility, for everyone.” If we join in solidarity, we can win. Otherwise the imperialists will continue to divide and rule.

But it is essential for socialists to take Islamists seriously, and vice versa, for both sides to understand the various currents in the common resistance to imperialism, and to forge alliances that will be lasting. So far, Islam has been at best tolerated by socialists, at worst, dismissed and opposed. At the same time, Islamists have been suspicious of the socialist reaction to imperialism, in a sense, wishing a pox on both houses.

scandal of faith

An interesting article in the Socialist Review on Muslims and Islam – a couple of points:

There is, however, a more subtle reason for Islamophobia. Think of the sheer strangeness, in the eyes of sceptical modern Europe, of the presence of countless millions of ordinary men and women whose everyday lives are shaped and guided by belief. What sense can an agnostic, pragmatic society make of that? How can faith possibly fit into its materialistic priorities?

In the European world bus drivers, florists and dental assistants are not usually expected to hold complex ideas about the origins of the world, the purpose of life, or what it means to live a rich, fulfilled, fully human existence. They are simply expected to get on with their everyday lives and leave these more fundamental questions to scholars and clerics. This is not so in the case of Islam. A Muslim bank clerk or taxi driver is expected to be as concerned about these questions as an imam.


Religious faith has social, moral and political implications as well as personal ones. There are, for example, Islamic theologians for whom Islam and socialism are perfectly compatible. Islam began as a religion of the poor, and retains that legacy today. The very word Qur’an, meaning “recital”, reminds us that the early disciples of this faith needed its sacred text read out to them, as they were illiterate.

My comments: The problem with socialism, and other materialist ideologies, is not with their claim to be on the side of the poor and oppressed peoples. It is that they are materialist, and in being so – classical socialism (not liberation theology oriented ones, nor indigenous based ones such as the concept of sumak kawsay of the Andean region of South America) they end up not being able to see beyond the material world, and economics. The author is correct in pointing out the comprehensive nature of Islam, but this is not just true of Islam as an interpreted contemporary “religion” (the word more appropriate is deen – or way – as used in the Qur’an) – but is a fact of human nature – we are all created to strive towards becoming complete beings… a materialist socialism and capitalism ends up stunting that growth, by relegating the “spiritual” to a private domain.