Editor’s Note: We thank the author for offering this piece to us at the beginning of a new season. The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and may not correspond to DGR. DGR is a biophilic and feminist organization. Our stance puts us in conflict with religion many times, but we are not an anti-religious organization. The following article is published as a critical analysis of religion and capitalism, not to oppose any religion.
For further insight into DGR’s views on spirituality, read this portion from the Deep Green Resistance book.
By Paul Edwards/Information Clearing House
Is this, our lifetime, the critical moment when the survival of life on earth will be determined; or just another of the ongoing crises that have always defined human existence? For a great majority of people it’s the latter: a time like any other. To most people, beset as they are with daily struggles, the question doesn’t even occur. One of the mixed mercies of human limitation is their blindness to what threatens them and the capacity to ignore it.
But assume that it is. Assume that in our time the future of life will be decided. This idea, as Dr. Johnson said of the prospect of being hanged, concentrates the mind wonderfully. If we imagine this is where we are—that whether human life continues truly does depend on us now—then all would agree that it’s imperative to abandon the hypocritical bullshit that prevents us from acting to preserve it. Humanity has never had to face the certainty its actions will determine whether life continues, and has never had to make ultimate choices irrevocably. Suppose that now it does.
Beneath and behind the cowardly sophistry that has prevented humanity from acting for its own survival, there are two powerful conceptual anchors that support our refusal to accept the iron fact of finity and prevent our acting rationally. They provide both cover and tacit permission for our self-elected suicide.
The first—longest enduring, and deepest—is the absolutism of organized religion; not of one religion, but all religions, religion itself. We understand why they exist. Awareness of finity, that fear we feel of our inevitable mortality, in addition to the random miseries living entails, create a desperate yearning for protection, hope, and safety every human experiences. Since life provides no such dispensation, a magic answer had to be devised. All religion originates in this need and is an attempt to address it.
Humanity in the mass found relief in religion; it assuaged the eviscerating hopelessness and mollified the inescapable dread mortality imposes. It’s psycho-spiritual gift has come at great cost, however. In insisting upon godly direction of Man’s destiny, religion allowed him to obliquely offload responsibility for his actions onto deity. The notion that “Man proposes and God disposes” has been used not just to provide a fantasy heaven, but as an excuse for the horrors Man inflicts on his own kind.
The appalling tragedies Man has perpetrated on himself and the living world through the ages, have found ultimate excuse and explanation in the Will of God. Religions have provided historic justification for Man’s long saga of cruelty and murder of his own. This is not because gods are portrayed as malevolent, but rather as omnipotent and incomprehensible. Man is not ultimately in charge of himself and his actions. God is. Religion requires Man to conform to a destiny he is unable to understand. Deus lo vult!
Although science has so long and so thoroughly exposed all religions for the specious, infantile fantasies they are, weak Man continues to use God myths to justify his brutality, and to elude, in his own mind, responsibility for the disasters he has planned and executed that are leading him and the living world to an end.
The second categorical imperative of human policy is Capitalism. It has been said that it’s easier for men to envision the end of the world than the end of Capitalism. Because it has proven the best means to amass the wealth that insures power and privilege, it is the ruling economic system of the world, and all business of significance is conducted through Capitalism. It is absolute.
Economics—a “social science”—has no more relation to ethics than chemistry has to politics. It is simply the study of the way people contrive to exchange goods and services. Its “laws” or, more accurately, practices, are not subject to ethical strictures or regulated by social effects. Economic systems simply enable servicing of the needs and wants of Mankind, and Capitalism is one of them. There is nothing inevitable and numinous about its so-called “laws”. They are a human created collection of rules that serve the interests of money power; in other words, stories.
In spite of that fact, Capitalism, the most powerful engine of wealth generation in history, has assumed a mythic character of permanence, an aura of inevitability, that has raised humanity’s belief in it to the level of a sanctified religion. The fact is, that human-created economic systems work as money power wishes them to work, but are riddled with cruelties and failures, and are subject to change if and when humanity demands it.
For the same reason religions continue their hold on the vast majority of humanity, Capitalism is virtually invulnerable to honest criticism. It has been portrayed as somehow holy, and ultimately necessary for the survival of humanity. Nothing could be more false and ridiculous. Ages of lying indoctrination and relentless force-feeding of dishonest propaganda by the money power has rendered it unchallengeable as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The combined power and dominating influence of these forces—religion and Capitalism—which virtually all mankind upholds and fiercely defends—is rapidly destroying the physical bases of human life and the prospect of any possible future for Mankind.
To return to our premise, if this is the age in which survival of our species will be determined, which seems certain, then unless the tyranny of these deeply evil belief systems is broken there is no hope for Mankind. Perhaps, the sense that any possible future is ours to determine, if widely disseminated, will provide the moral strength to break free and live? The choice is ours to make.
Paul Edwards is a writer and film-maker in Montana. He can be reached at: email@example.com