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Revolutionaries, secularism and multiculturalism

jeudi 9 septembre 2004

As revolutionaries and atheists we defend the freedom of thought for any individual or group. That means :

- Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Bouddhists, Jews, etc. should not be impeded to build praying halls, mosques, churches, temples, synagogues, etc. but they should not expect the State to finance them.

- All religious buildings should be financed by the believers and not by the State.

- No private school, college or university should be funded by taxpayer’s money.

- Inside the public school system, history of religions should not be teached separately from the other matters. They should be part of history, litterature, philosophy, etc. The religious texts should be studied in their historical context and not as sources of scientifical truths. Students may be schocked by this approach, so it should be performed carefully and the same rational treatment should be applied to all religions. Students should have the possibility to express their doubts and opposition to this approach without fearing of being sanctioned in their curriculum.

- The majority of the population of Western countries is today composed of non believers and non practitionners. The fact that the various religions are in a deep crisis and have lost their grip on the majority of the population explains some strange alliances between religious currents which have been competing for centuries.

- Concretely, in France, there is an ideological offensive against secularism. This offensive comes not only from its traditional opponents (the Catholic Church) but also from new forces (the various kinds of Muslim currents which try to void secularism of its content in the name of the fight against racism or « islamophobia »).

This offensive receives also the help of some socialist intellectuals (Régis Debray, Max Gallo) who have worked for President Mitterrand for years and are new-born Catholics who praise the Gospel, Joan of Arc, De Gaulle, etc. They are also helped by other socialist intellectuals who are struggling for a French form of multiculturalism (Alain Touraine, Michel Wieworka).

The political weight of these individuals is important because they are omnipresent in the medias and because they have always participated to all sorts of antiracist, antifascist and even anti-imperialist initiatives which have transformed them into « moral authorities ».

- Secularism is intended to help individuals to think by themselves, to join freely any party, religion or community they want, but also to resist to the pressures of any group : family, sect, church, political group, etc.

- The respect of the different cultures has some objective limits if one wants to defend equal democratic rights for everyone. If culture means philosophy, litterature, arts, religion, etc., all cultures are respectable.

But each culture also transmits reactionary customs (excision of women, polygamy, etc.) and traditions of domination (forms of oppression of men by women, control of the father over his children, etc.). The sources of oppression and domination defended by each culture should be fought without making any concession to the socalled « respect of differences ».

This attitude can only be productive if, in France concretely, one also struggles against French or European traditions which maintain domination and oppression : European nationalism, racism and antisemiticism, male chauvinism, cult of the State, respect of the social hierarchy, etc.

Revolutionaries, secularism and multiculturalism

As revolutionaries and atheists we defend the freedom of thought for any individual or group. That means :

- Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Bouddhists, Jews, etc. should not be impeded to build praying halls, mosques, churches, temples, synagogues, etc. but they should not expect the State to finance them.

- All religious buildings should be financed by the believers and not by the State.

- No private school, college or university should be funded by taxpayer’s money.
- Inside the public school system, history of religions should not be teached separately from the other matters. They should be part of history, litterature, philosophy, etc. The religious texts should be studied in their historical context and not as sources of scientifical truths. Students may be schocked by this approach, so it should be performed carefully and the same rational treatment should be applied to all religions. Students should have the possibility to express their doubts and opposition to this approach without fearing of being sanctioned in their curriculum.

- The majority of the population of Western countries is today composed of non believers and non practitionners. The fact that the various religions are in a deep crisis and have lost their grip on the majority of the population explains some strange alliances between religious currents which have been competing for centuries.

- Concretely, in France, there is an ideological offensive against secularism. This offensive comes not only from its traditional opponents (the Catholic Church) but also from new forces (the various kinds of Muslim currents which try to void secularism of its content in the name of the fight against racism or « islamophobia »). This offensive receives also the help of some socialist intellectuals (Régis Debray, Max Gallo) who have worked for President Mitterrand for years and are new-born Catholics who praise the Gospel, Joan of Arc, De Gaulle, etc. They are also helped by other socialist intellectuals who are struggling for a French form of multiculturalism (Alain Touraine, Michel Wieworka).

The political weight of these individuals is important because they are omnipresent in the medias and because they have always participated to all sorts of antiracist, antifascist and even anti-imperialist initiatives which have transformed them into « moral authorities ».

- Secularism is intended to help individuals to think by themselves, to join freely any party, religion or community they want, but also to resist to the pressures of any group : family, sect, church, political group, etc.

- The respect of the different cultures has some objective limits if one wants to defend equal democratic rights for everyone. If culture means philosophy, litterature, arts, religion, etc., all cultures are respectable.

But each culture also transmits reactionary customs (excision of women, polygamy, etc.) and traditions of domination (forms of oppression of men by women, control of the father over his children, etc.). The sources of oppression and domination defended by each culture should be fought without making any concession to the socalled « respect of differences ».

This attitude can only be productive if, in France concretely, one also struggles against French or European traditions which maintain domination and oppression : European nationalism, racism and antisemiticism, male chauvinism, cult of the State, respect of the social hierarchy, etc.

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