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(en) France, "Secularism, " the Celestial City and the Revolutionary Left [fr]

Date Tue, 31 May 2005 21:44:25 +0300


If in certain cases, wearing the veil signifies the domination of the
young woman within her family, is it the vocation of the
revolutionary Left to contribute to the accumulated forms of
domination used against high school students denied their right to
education? The problem of what position to take on religion
remains. While the atheist credo is legitimate, compulsively
reaffirming that fact everywhere serves a little too opportunely the
extreme-Right's strategy of substituting its racist theories on Islam.

The Left, including organizations calling for revolution, are making
a chorus of complaints in response to the Call by the Natives of the
Republic. On May 4 the Anarchist Federation published a text
stating that the Call "marginalizes and further imprisons the
concerned populations," that it "ethnicizes social problems" and
"makes divisions according to national origin." Along with Lutte
Ouvrière and part of the LCR [LO and LCR are
Trotskyist—Translator], the Anarchist Federation has confirmed
that organizations on the Left are distinguishable from the
dominant discourse only in their rhetoric. Basically, they repeat the
same clichés. Inspired by republican dogma, they evoke "the
internal regulation" of bourgeois democracy that Marx described a
century and a half ago: between the political community and civil
society, people lead "a double existence, celestial and terrestrial."
Therefore, in society, they want to impose traditional frameworks
in which struggles must be contained (limited to a private
preserve). It is of little importance to them that the methods of
domination evolve. It is of little importance, for example, that the
Call of the Natives demands responses to specific forms of
exclusion based on a common denominator in order to act (with
the participation of the social sectors it recognizes in its analysis).
As soon as that action breaks from struggles led "together" with the
guardianship and support of a censored and guaranteed theme, it
becomes "communitarianism." There's the paternalism of yore.

The Anarchist Federation's equation on the relationship between
colonized peoples and the peoples of the colonizing countries is
significant in this regard because it was the same position
expressed 60 years ago by the French Communist Party on the
Algerian question and was completely repudiated by the empirical
facts. Barely updated for new circumstances, it indeed seems to
suggest that racism and exclusion are no longer more damaging to
their direct victims than to the French people as a whole.
Furthermore, as far as citizenship is concerned, these organizations
claim their battle is a secular one concerned primarily with
disarming religious and ideological hegemonies by putting in place
a concrete principal of separation. But what they reproach in the
Call is indeed the fact that it challenges the republic of souls, the
dogma of the new city of God in which citizens pure of spirit must
rid themselves of all social substance (the meticulously considered
theory of the supposedly public, "secular" school system a new
invention to justify prohibiting the veil). The Call of the Natives
opposes the March 2004 law on the veil, and that opposition is
unpardonable. Therefore, while brutally imposing the pretended
"universal" norm on a category of the population, primarily
working-class immigrants, who are attacked relentlessly with no
other "justification" than paranoia, this law has had the effect of
reducing opportunities for citizenship, despite the official
mythology of a welcoming and solidaric Republic. It thus does
violence to a consciousness already subjected to the cruelty of
discrimination and exclusion. It is not enough to invoke
integrationist delusions to make this reality disappear: the wearing
of the veil, considered from all possible perspectives is, above all
and implacably, sociological behaviour.

Does the revolutionary Left fear this invasion of social reality into
public space? In this business about the law on religious symbols,
it is significant that these organizations of the Left have not
re-established the discussion in appropriate terms: the issue to
discuss is not whether one is for or against the veil, but whether or
not to be against a law showing so dramatically the repressive
character of the State. And the anti-authoritarian attitude of the
Left should be to oppose the law, not speak out with conviction
against the veil. If in certain cases, wearing the veil signifies the
domination of the young woman within her family, is it the
vocation of the revolutionary Left to contribute to the accumulated
forms of domination used against high school students denied their
right to education? The problem of what position to take on religion
remains. While the atheist credo is legitimate, compulsively
reaffirming that fact everywhere serves a little too opportunely the
extreme-Right's strategy of substituting its racist theories on Islam.
Atheism looks more honourable because it targets obscurantism,
religious oppression or the opium of the masses, allowing the
organization of a wide political arena with the good republican
consciousness of all. It even permits prettier denunciations of
racism and Le Pen. But thus ennobled, it still targets the same
people as the National Front, which knows full well that its
monopoly has deteriorated.

Whatever our personal religious convictions and prejudices, we
cannot accept that one religion and its adherents alone provoke
such a passionate rejection in the coalition of such a large number
of civic and political tendencies. We reaffirm that the Call of the
Natives of the Republic, including its position on the veil, must be
supported as a legitimate initiative among all other social protests,
even in the face of opposition from some revolutionary Left
organizations that have appointed themselves the new guardians
posted at the two levels of the bourgeois city, along with the liberals
and social-liberals, charged with keeping the heterodox challengers
out of Babylon and the heretics out of Jerusalem.
===============================
by Khaled Satour, May 20, 2005

http://toutesegaux.free.fr

(fr) La laicite, la cite celeste et la gauche revolutionnaire
a-infos-fr@ainfos.ca
Sat May 28 18:33:21 GMT 2005
http://www.ainfos.ca/05/may/ainfos00432.html

Translated from French by SonofTomJoad, Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada

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