Thinking about Anarchism

Religion & belief

The devil himself once said "There's enough religion in the world to make everybody hate each other - but not enough to make everybody love each other." Religion has a track record of leading people down the path of intolerance and hatred.

Firstly let me clarify something. We see religion as a personal matter. Everyone should be free to worship as they want and hold whatever beliefs that they want. We condemn totally any attacks on an individual's religious freedom.

Anarchism - or most anarchists - have been opposed to Religion. This stems from the fact that we see ourselves as materialists. We understand that there is a real and concrete basis for the way society is organised right now. My Webster's dictionary II defines it not much differently "Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power accepted as the creator and governor of the universe". Religions are authoritarian to a greater or lesser extent. From Catholicism to Islam - there is general requirement of 'faith' and obedience. Over the years and in many instances religion has proved to be on the side of the status quo.

We believe that people should be empowered to be in control of their own destinies. That means opposing the power of the churches. In the Republic of Ireland - the Catholic Church remains a very wealthy organisation with control of most primary schools despite all of the cost of wages and 90% of the cost of the buildings are being paid by the state. They also control 67% of all second level schools.

We have fought many battles directly opposing their edicts, which they've had successfully written into the laws of this land. As anarchists we don't believe in limitations being set on our freedoms. This has meant that we have been on a collision course with the churches in Ireland. It appears that deValera drew up the constitution of this country as a love letter essay that he later handed into the Bishops, hoping to get good marks for. This has meant that we have fought with them on such battlefields as contraception, divorce and the abortion issue. We see all these as rights for the individual concerned to make up their own mind on - and not edicts from church authorities that are handed down for us all to obey.

Beware of Fundamentalists

For us religion is a private matter. It has no part to play in the running of a country or the laws of the land. We are for separation of the Church and State. Yes we oppose the state as well - but primarily we are concerned with fighting for improvements in people's lives in the here and now. We are not waiting for the promise of something in an afterlife. We want to eliminate poverty, injustice and oppression on this earth. If we attack these then we are fighting the root causes of religion. The fundamentalists of any religion whatever it is do not bring about progress or freedoms. They obstruct social progress. It can be seen by the fact that over 6,500 Irish women travel to England to receive an abortion - or the sight of women in other lands being beaten and refused an education or the right to a decent existence.

As Bakunin said, if God existed it would be necessary for human freedom and dignity to abolish it. I myself am an atheist. For me that means I don't believe in a god - but my beliefs are strong in the need to change this world to one where people can live in a free society without poverty, hatred or oppression. If that makes me an unbeliever then I'm proud of it and remember that when they get around to burying me.

Dermot Sreenan

Workers Solidarity

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This edition is No67 published in Nov 2001

Cover of Workers Solidarity 67

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