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Re: <nettime> ACT4MASCHINENDIGEST [Foti, Marcelo]
Benjamin Geer on Wed, 17 Jan 2007 14:59:48 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> ACT4MASCHINENDIGEST [Foti, Marcelo]

On 16 Jan 2007 13:21:11 "Alex Foti" <alex.foti {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

> We are not occidentalists [...] We are rather for secularism
> wherever we can find it.

What do you mean by secularism?  Do you mean separation of church and
state, anticlericalism, militant atheism, or what an old European
leftist once told me: "I don't like religious people"?

Whichever of those meanings you choose, you can be sure that, in much
of the world, secularism is indeed identified with occidentalism, so
your assertion above will tend to be seen as a contradiction at best.

I have spent a lot of time talking to European atheists and to Middle
Eastern Muslims about the different perceptions of religion in Europe
and the Middle East.  The European atheists tend to see all religion
as an instrument of domination, at best as a necessary evil, to be
confined to private life and tolerated as little as possible, in the
hope that someday it will disappear completely thanks to universal
education based on Enlightenment principles.  The Middle Eastern
Muslims tend to see religion as the source of all ethical inspiration
in human life (both public and private), as the source of ideals of
altruism, generosity, responsibility, justice and social harmony, as
an essential tool for self-criticism and self-improvement, and they
imagine that life without it would be horrible, indeed almost
inconceivable.  (Therefore they are astonished to learn that many
Europeans are atheists.)  I can hardly imagine a greater depth of
misunderstanding between two groups of people.  In both groups, most
of the people I talk to are highly educated, yet their education has
completely failed to teach them anything about the other group in this

In the _Networked Politics_ reader, Moema Miranda says, answering a
question of yours: "We cannot face the challenges of today if we
reduce our understanding of anti-capitalist struggles and of politics
to just the rationalistic dimensions of our movements. For example,
here in Brazil, Liberation Theology and the Ecclesial Grassroots
Communities were essential in the struggle against dictatorship and in
creating the basis for the PT. [...] These dimension of spirituality
[...] were badly interpreted in the formulations of classical left. So
there is a great challenge to open up the scope of who we talk to."[1]

That observation applies at least as well to the Middle East.


[1] http://www.networked-politics.info/index.php/Reader_Networked_Politics

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