Religion and Marxism

I agree with “Religion, faith and communism” (PWW 12/4-10) in that Marxists should work with the religious community. In fact, I often paraphrase Lenin to my religious friends: It is more important to unite and fight and build a better world on earth than to argue about whether there is a better world in heaven.

I also agree “communism is not anti-religion.” After all, communism (with a small “c”) predates Marxism, and there are religious forms of communism.

But I think it is wrong to suggest that there is no contradiction between the philosophical outlook of Marxism (materialism) and the philosophical outlook of religion (idealism). In his essay “The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion,” Lenin wrote, “Marxism is materialism. As such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion as was the materialism of the 18th century.”

I’m not suggesting that we should proclaim an ideological war on religion. As Engels said, that would be stupid. But I think it is naïve to suggest that there isn’t any conflict between Marxism (and, for that matter, all science) and religion.

Kevin LindemannWinfield IL

Stop sacrificing young

In anticipation of our “moral values” president reactivating the military draft to provide more cannon fodder for his current hegemonic war in Iraq and others expected soon in Iran, Syria and maybe even North Korea, draft counseling of young people is growing by leaps and bounds. If you know of people in need of such counseling, the best way to find help is to go online and seek out on the web “Conscientious Objector.” You will find an array of choices that probably will lead you to someone in your home community.

Otherwise, find a local veterans group or ask members of the clergy. If this catches on en masse we can choke off the supply of bodies for Bush to sacrifice and maybe force him to end his empire building at the expense of our younger generation. While we’re at it, we all must demand of our congresspeople that they call for an immediate end to this illegal, immoral war and vote to end its funding NOW!

Willard B. Shapira Minneapolis MN

No ‘just’ wars

The editorial, “Ditching Private Ryan, Saving Mr. DeLay” (PWW 11/20-26), has the following line: “It also shows the horrors of war — even a just one.”

Coincidently, on Nov. 20, I was participating in an E-discussion about the war in Iraq, sponsored by the Washington Post, when one of the other participants asked the question what makes a “just” war.

I responded by saying, “War is humanity at its worst. As such, humanity cannot afford to accept the concept of a ‘just war.’ To talk of war as being ‘just’ or ‘unjust’ is to legitimize the ultimate evil that it is. World leaders who talk of ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ wars do so to cover up their failure to prevent the conditions for war to develop. The greed for wealth and power lay the foundation. The rush to build on that foundation at the expense of others leads to the conflict.”

When it is the workers, or the sons and daughters of workers, who fight the wars, should we be saying the war is “just”? Even in the struggles of liberation we strive to bring about change through peaceful means, taking up arms only when attacked, and even then only when the all other options are exhausted. In this case the response is “just.” The war is tragedy!

Bill AppelhansChicago IL

Black men and racism

I was just reading some appalling statistics about the number of Black males incarcerated, mainly on drug trafficking charges. Black males constitute 43.9 percent of all detainees. Five percent of all Black males are behind bars, compared to 0.6 percent of white males. The legal system is so institutionally racist that Black males have little if any chance for success in this political economy. First, they are born into a social inferno that leaves no margin for error. The likelihood that they will be born into poverty is almost 100 percent, which helps lead the racist society at large to write off an entire Black male population, generation after generation.

Another problem concomitant with the staggering incarceration statistics is that once a Black man is released, he has to overcome the additional burden of a criminal record, on top of being Black. Black and a convicted felon — the double whammy — who can overcome those hurdles?

As a society, we simply have to do better. Locking up all Black young men is not the answer.

A readerVia e-mail

Why is the U.S. meddling in Ukraine?

It takes an open and brazen attempt by U.S. imperialism to take over Ukraine. This recent and most blatant move to add Ukraine — with over 500 years of close harmony with Russia — to the list of new U.S. “satellite states” marks a critical and qualitative change in American-Russian relations that could have dire consequences.

For the veterans of hanging chads and missing voting machines it far exceeds the hitherto unknown limits of chutzpa to charge, as Colin Powell has done, that there were voting irregularities in the recent voting in Ukraine. In his defense it probably can be said that if anybody would know about voting irregularities, he would.

There seems to be no limit to American imperialism’s gargantuan appetite. Its slogan might well be, “Today the world, tomorrow the universe!” One can readily see Bush being introduced on world TV as the commander in chief of the earth, the moon, and all nine planets as he mouths a folksy, down-to-earth speech on the virtues of poverty written for him by a former ad writer for Smell-o toilet cleaner. You bet!

Phillip BonoskyNew York City NY