The Guardian • Issue #2093


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2093

In the 18th century, there was joy among civilised people because thought had finally broken free of the cant of religion. It was hailed as ‘The Enlightenment.’ Science had at last replaced superstition and fear of the unknown. It was thought these twin evils, having been cast aside at last would never rise again. There was much – indeed, an enormous amount – that was still unknown, but it was also clear that everything in the universe was in fact knowable. It was just a matter of time and research.

It was also the age of the triumph and consolidation of capitalism, which in the 18th and 19th centuries supplanted feudalism. Capitalism’s drive for sources of profit in turn required the rapid development of science and technology. A skilled workforce, an educated populace, was a prerequisite for the further development of this new dominant social system. Ignorance and superstition were a hindrance to it.

Except, paradoxically, when they were of use, such as in times of war. Because of capitalism’s promotion of greed and law-of-the-jungle “competition,” wars were frequent. Ignorance and superstition were of use too during the various economic crises that capitalism is prone to, crises that caused great misery and suffering among that same skilled, educated and increasingly secularised workforce.

Meanwhile the proponents of religion and other forms of obscurantism were not idle, fighting back with all their might to regain their lost hold on the minds of the people, to rebuild their position of influence, to undermine and overthrow the new dominance of science in intellectual life. Today, in the period of capitalism’s decadence, this assault on a scientific world-view is more vigorous, more widespread and more sophisticated than ever before.

Ours is a time when political reaction is attacking democratic rights and freedoms around the globe. At the same time the people are rallying to resist these attacks and to overthrow oppressive regimes. In these circumstances, right-wing political forces have passionately embraced religious fundamentalism – Christian, Islamic, and Jewish – as a potent weapon in this ideological struggle.

Once again, ignorance and superstition are being promoted with all the resources capitalism commands. The Enlightenment, like everything, is a process, and clearly it is a process that still has a way to go.

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: The Albanese government. Their rushed move to introduce the Migration Amendment (Removals and Other Measures) Bill is yet another attempt to deflect criticism from Peter Dutton rather than protect asylum seekers from being harmed by detention or dictatorial governments. Like other aspects of the Migration Act this is more fundamentally flawed and draconian legislation that will allow the government to discriminate against non-citizens.

Instead of putting a conclusive end to indefinite detention (see page 1), Labor is introducing a backdoor to maintain discriminatory totalitarian powers. Instead of standing up for human rights, the government wants powers to force asylum seekers to meet government officials of authoritarian states. Previous attempts by Australian governments to bring Iranian, Chinese, and Vietnamese government individuals into detention centres to identify ‘persons of interest’ have been strongly resisted.

Labor knows that the fast-track system introduced by Morrison is fundamentally flawed, but has done nothing to review the cases that have  been rejected.

Stated Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition: “It is a farce that this legislation has anything to do with protecting the Australian community; it is all about Labor protecting itself from being attacked by the Liberals for being soft on refugees. As so often in the past, Labor is throwing more human rights principles overboard. This draconian legislation must be opposed.”

For more information contact Ian on 0417 275 713

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