ต้นฉบับ : สหายS!nk
This is a loose translation of the text originally published in Thai language.
Throughout our shared past we’ve used spirituality or the supernatural to explain what we could not understand. The primary concern for many cultures was the nature and meaning of suffering. Spirituality provided us answers to these questions on suffering, which in a sense eased it, be it misguided or otherwise.
Today, we are still suffering, the grounds on which we lay our suffering are largely claimed by science and doctrinal organised religion– more often than not organised around the capital and capitalist state. Scientists tell us our bodies are sick, or our minds are mentally ill. While the monks tell us to devote ourselves to doctrine. Indeed, scientists follow a (supposedly secular) doctrine of their own.
We know that our suffering is due to our subjugation by the capitalist class. We know that to end our suffering we must liberate ourselves. But this knowledge alone does not ease our suffering.
We cannot deny that the principle of historical materialism is at the heart of communist theory. We, the comrades, typically see religion as a tool of the elite oppressor, to wield for subjugation, to justify the divinity of the elite. However, political and religious ideologies are both a means of interpreting and explaining the world, offering guidance for our actions within it, making them fundamentally the same thing.
As Marx said, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions, it is the opium of the people.”
To understand this quote, we can not simplify it to “religion is the opiate of the masses” as it leads to the misconception that religion exists because humans fail to see the illogic within it. The quote implies that if humans were more rational religion would simply become irrelevant. The application of this concept is similar to how the Thai Health commission approaches smoking. They assume that those of us who are still smoking simply don’t realise that smoking is dangerous, and so they continue to spread their awareness campaigns, long after any effectiveness has worn off.
From the same quote: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions”. When people are subjugated they suffer, they are in pain, they depend on that opium to ease their suffering. Would you refuse opium to a suffering patient in the hospital because it’s rationally not necessary? This is not purely an addiction, but medication for healing. We must examine the root cause of the sickness, not blame it on the patient who depends on opium to alleviate their suffering. We, who sail the ship upstream, need to utilise the spiritual tool for alleviating suffering, both for ourselves and for our comrades.
Any road to utopia will be a long and painful one. Perhaps someday we will eliminate the need for both opium and the opiate of the masses. But for the journey there, we must consider the need for alleviation.
The Randian Ubermensch is the idealist human form of capitalism. They see the human condition as a rational one, where he is designed to act on behalf of his greater individualistic utility. This human form, however, is contradictory to the real human lived experience.
We, have emotions and feelings. We are not robots possessed by mathematical logic, we should not be encouraged to perform self-exorcisms on our souls. We have spaces in our mind, such as the individual unconscious and collective unconscious, which are beyond individual comprehension. These spaces, go beyond self, utility and “logic”. This “logical” part of the mind is simply the tip of the iceberg of the human condition.
Personally, I have seen many, who, when discarding their previously held religious beliefs, try to establish themselves on the path of purist logic. They insist that they don’t need any spiritual anchor, only the ego self. Yet, when they face any existential crisis, they become overwhelmed, which results in one of two primary outcomes:
- Mental illness.
- Regression to their original religious beliefs or finding a newly established one (including self-help culture).
Often, these are the people who discard the spirit as a tool for social change.
Of course, across the political spectrum, there are those who hold on to their piety. But we cannot deny that the majority of hegemonic world religions have been developed or moulded to serve the elite classes.
We too cannot deny the power of spiritual mechanisms and any denial of opium on the abstract level will result in the denial of opium on the concrete level. This leads us to two primary outcomes:
1. To become addicted to black-market drugs.
2. To become addicted to legal drugs, often prescribed in the name of psychotherapy.
Both are equally as addictive and destructive.
For this reason, I will suggest the 6 commandments of spiritual leftism.
1. Secularism (เซคิวล่าร์ริซึีม)
We strive to stand against the institutionalised hegemonic religions of the state. While protecting and valuing differing spiritual thoughts. Valuing working democracy and justice beyond abstract moralism or theological beliefs. To strip religion as a political weapon away from the hands of the elite by any means necessary and deliver it as a form of healing for the proletariat.
2. Historical materialism (วัตถุนิยมประวัติศาสตร์)
We strive to understand and adapt spiritualism in line with the principles of historical materialism. Meaning we have to analyse the material conditions that are the foundations of any belief system and understand the historical context from its inception. Nothing is free from its historical context, including our own beliefs.
3. Immanentism (สภาวะในโลก)
We strive to separate the capitalist state, the law, and abstract morality, as not commandments from the divine. Our current beliefs, your current beliefs, are the cumulative experience and development of all human learning and social engagement over millenniums. It was made by two human hands, our contexts determine human belief, not some divine power. Thus, we can not claim that any system of values can transcend beyond our collective perception or practice. Any value or belief is not absolute, even if it is true within its own context. Any future values should be agreed upon by those in that specific community or context, not to differ or refer this power to some divine right, including that of the state of past generations.
4. Customicism (คัสตอมมิคซิสม์)
We strive to recognise that no one and nothing will ever be free from their own context. Our political and spiritual tools have to be critiqued and developed to suit the place and time in which they are practised. We must become proud revisionists. We must place primary importance on the historical materialist conditions more than the abstract truths of any doctrine, be it spiritual or political.
5. Collectivism (คอลเลคทีฟวิสม์)
We strive to become selfless. If we think of the commonalities between different religious ideologies, we see one overlapping value. To decrease egoism and even the redistribution of capital. Decreasing selfishness and supporting others. This drive towards selflessness is a reflection of the inner human desire to have the commune, a place where people are at home, where they feel acceptance, aid, and solidarity. Capitalism and the elite have sought to destroy this dream of commune’ism from humanity. So all that is left is only individualism. This is what leads to alienation sickness. Our spiritual target should be to come together to commune.
6. Psychosocial (จิตวิทยาสังคม)
We strive to address mental and spiritual health, to utilise spirituality as a practice of healing and to strengthen our comradeship through our collective consciousness. The predominant practice of mainstream psychology and religious practice has overlooked the socio-economic conditions that deeply affect the human psyche. This leads to mental illness being viewed as the responsibility of the individual, that we alone have to remedy. This is blamed on internal pathologies or chemical imbalances. This understanding is pure delusion and clouds us from seeing the root material cause of this suffering. If the tap water in one city has been poisoned, the solution should not be dependent on each individual person to buy the antidote.
I believe that the day of the revolution was not on the day that the Bastille was destroyed.
It was not the day that Lenin read the manifesto in Petrograd.
It was not the day 27/06/1932 in Thailand.
The flowers of any plant can not sprout without their roots and stems.
The beginning of the revolution is not the day that the old system is destroyed.
It is the day that the seeds for establishing a new system have been sown.