Thoughts Concerning Human Non-Understanding

Nothing is definite, but these days, it seems, many people are defiant. If we took this seriesly, how many episodes should we have to watch?  I wonder, furthermore, whether we should have to take the arrival of the new ‘your – you’re’ (k) in Old York into account. For who’s to say whose idea it was to say that they’re staying there during their holidays?

Regardless, in the United States of America’s attempt to create a definite world order, they keep encountering unexpected defiance by the primitive, communist, homosexual barbarians (all non-American peoples in the world). Apparently, the ingenious underestimated the ingenuous, although applying the concept of innocence to either side would, at least for my money, be nonsense. You get a rapper for 50 cents, but sadly, only a dollar or more will save a child’s life. Unserious attempts in series to do so are legion. In other words, all attempts to change the world – and especially the human condition – in a positive manner have been either illegitimate or hindered by legislation. Legal corruption to a society’s core whose core principle consists in burying the answer to the question, ‘Who’s who?’, under a mountain of public apathy, assissted by a pathetic horde of mindless zombies worshipping the demigod irrelevancy. Their sermons are everywhere, here, there, and they’re not going to stop there till their infestation drowns the voice of conscience beneath the towers of death and despair which support the tops of abundance and decadence.

Where eating is a sin and not eating a disorder, where fake and fact become synonymous, where shallowness surpasses personality in esteem, happiness is sacrificed at the altar of conformity. – And we acceptantly pay the price.

No Hope in Hell

There is not a hope in hell,
Since hell does not exist.
There is no place for gods to dwell,
Just smoke and mirrors, mist.

The blind seek shelter in the night,
In mysteries of old.
The unexplained is their delight,
Thus, sceptics they will scold.

But reason cannot be undone,
And truth shall yet prevail.
Religion will be dead and gone,
And science be our sail.

Einige Gedanken zu gesellschaftlichen Strukturen, Entwicklungen und Veränderungen: Teil VII / Some Thoughts on Social Structures, Developments, and Changes: Part VII

Wie funktioniert die BG? (b)

Die zahlenmäßige Überlegenheit der wenig begüterten Bevölkerung muß die Bourgeoisie nicht bekümmern, solange sichergestellt bleibt, daß

  • (i) die unterdrückte, ausgebeutete Bevölkerung ihres wahren Zustandes nicht gewahr wird und
  • (ii) die unterdrückte, ausgebeutete Bevölkerung ihre Energien nicht zu bündeln und wider die Unterdrücker und Ausbeuter zu richten vermag.

Zur Aufrechterhaltung der BG, die notwendig Klassengesellschaft ist, bedient sich die herrschende Klasse mehrerer Mittel.

  • (1) Die arbeitende Bevölkerung, die mit Hilfe ihrer Arbeitskraft sämtliche gesellschaftliche Güter des Warenmarktes hervorbringt, wird permanent um den erzeugten Mehrwert der von ihr erzeugten Waren betrogen. Wiewohl der Arbeiter mit seiner Arbeitskraft dem Rohstoff das Wesentliche hinzufügt und ihn gesellschaftlich überhaupt erst nutzbar macht, behält sich der Kapitalist vor, dem Arbeiter den schon zu geringen Lohn durch den Verkauf des Produktes wieder abzunehmen – und betrügt ihn damit gleich doppelt.

  • (2) Die arbeitende Bevölkerung wird stets auf einer ökonomischen Ebene gehalten, welche nichts anderes als einen Kampf ums Überleben darstellt. Die hierzu benötigten Energien lassen sich nicht mehr für den Widerstand mobilisieren, sondern bleiben permanent in einen klasseninternen Kampf eingebunden – sie werden und bleiben neutralisiert.
    Bildung und Verteilung materiellen Wohlstandes spielen hierbei eine gleichermaßen bedeutende Rolle, denn materieller Wohlstand erlaubt den Zugang zu Bildung sowohl als die Muße zur allgemeinen und mithin gesellschaftspolitischen Reflexion. Kommt die Bevölkerung auch nur zeitweise in den Genuß von Bildung und materiellem Wohlstand, besteht sowohl die Gefahr, daß sie ihren wirklichen Zustand erkennt, als diejenige, daß sie ihre Energien durch Frustration und Wut um ein Vielfaches potentiert, zu bündeln und endlich wider ihre Unterdrücker und Ausbeuter zu richten.
    Tritt demzufolge vermehrt Widerstand aus der Bevölkerung auf, muß die herrschende Klasse den Lebensstandard senken, Bildungszugang erschweren bis verunmöglichen und die wenigen Intellektuellen, darunter Journalisten und die parlamentarische, namentlich aber außerparlamentarische Opposition, durch repressive Maßnahmen (Einsatz von Polizei und Militär wider die eigene Bevölkerung) einschüchtern.

  • (3) Die doppelte Funktion der Ehe. In der BG erfüllt die Institution der Ehe dieselben zwei Funktionen als in der SG. Einerseits ermöglicht sie die Besitzstandswahrung mit der einhergehenden Macht durch Verschwägerung der herrschenden Klasse untereinander, zum anderen sorgt sie in der unterdrückten, ausgebeuteten Klasse für (a) Nachwuchs der Ressource Humankapital und (b) Förderung des Überlebens- und damit klasseninternen Kampfes.
    Religiöse Einwände wider die Ehe zwischen gleichgeschlechtlichen Partnern dient nur als Vorwand. Die gleichgeschlechtliche Ehe erzeugt keinen Nachwuchs, womit weder Besitzstandswahrung der Eliten noch der Nachwuchs an Humankapital gewährleistet bleiben. Dies ist der wirkliche Grund für die Ablehnung der gleichgeschlechtlichen Ehe.
    Sollte die Ehe nämlich nach Vorstellung des 18. Jahrhunderts als Vereinigung zweier Liebender verankert werden, bedürfte es gar keiner gesonderten Regelung.

  • (4) Ideologische Gleichschaltung der Medien, permanente Propaganda. Die Medien dienen in ihrer Mehrzahl nicht der freien Informationsverbreitung und -zugänglichkeit. Sie sind vielmehr das Propagandasprachrohr der herrschenden Klasse. In der BG gelten die Medien zwar nicht als gesetzlich gleichgeschaltet, müssen aber auf Grund ihrer Konzentration in der Hand weniger Großkonzerne als ideologisch gleichgeschaltet angesehen werden.
    Die Diversifikation der Medien erlaubt es mittlerweile, die Bevölkerung permanenter Propaganda auszusetzen und mithin abzulenken, ihre Energien zu zerstreuen und wider einander zu richten.

How does the BS operate? (b)

The numerical superiority of the sparsely prosperous population need not trouble the bourgeoisie as long as it is guaranteed that

  • (i) the oppressed, exploited population does not become aware of its true condition and
  • (ii) the oppressed, exploited population remains unable to pool its energies and turn them on the oppressors and exploiters.

For the maintenance of the BS, which necessarily is a class society, the ruling class employs several means.

  • (1)

    The working population, who, by means of its manpower, yields all socials goods for the market, is permanently cheated out of the surplus value of the goods yielded by them. Although the worker adds the substantial amendments to the raw material by means of his manpower and thus makes it socially usable in the first place, it is for the capitalist to take away the already too low wages from him time and again by selling the product to him – and thereby tricks him twice.

  • (2)

    The working population is kept upon an economic level, which is nothing more than a struggle for survival. The energies required for this can no longer be mobilized for resistance, but remain permanently embedded in a great internal struggle – they are and remain neutralized.
    Formation and distribution of material wealth play an equally important role, because material wealth allows access to education as well as the leisure to general and hence socio-political reflection. Is the population even temporarily to benefit from education and material wealth, there is both a risk that it recognizes its true condition, and that it increases its energies by frustration and anger many times over, pools and finally turns it on its oppressors and exploiters. If, consequently, resistance from the population arises more often, the ruling class must lower the standard of living, make the access to education more difficult or even impossible, and intimidate the few intellectuals, including journalists, parliamentary, and especially extra-parliamentary opposition, by repressive measures (deployment of police and military against their own people).

  • (3) The dual role of marriage. In the BS, the institution of marriage fulfills the same two purposes as in the ES. On the one hand, it allows grandfathering including the associated power through intermarriage of the ruling class among itself, on the other hand, it guarantees among the oppressed, exploited class (a) procreation of the resource of human capital and (b) promotion of the struggle for survival and and thereby class-internal struggle.
    Religious objections to the marriage of same-sex partners is just an excuse. Same-sex marriage does not produce offspring, which leaves no guarantee for grandfathering of the elites or for the procreation of human capital. This is the real reason for the rejection of same-sex marriage.
    For if marriage, according to the idea of the 18th century, were to be established as the union of two lovers, no separate regulation would be required.

  • (4) Ideological conformity of the media, constant propaganda. In their majority, the media are not for the free dissemination of information or its accessibility. They are rather the propaganda mouthpiece of the ruling class. In the BS, the media are not considered legally forced into line, but, due to their concentration within the hands of a few large corporations, to be considered ideologically in line.
    The diversification of the media allows by this time to expose the population to permanent propaganda and thus distract it, to divert its energies and make it turn them on one another.

Einige Gedanken zu gesellschaftlichen Strukturen, Entwicklungen und Veränderungen: Teil VI / Some Thoughts on Social Structures, Developments, and Changes: Part VI

Wie funktioniert die Bürgerliche Gesellschaft (BG)? (a)

Schon der Begriff des ›Bürgers‹ ist im deutschen Sprachgebrauch irreführend, da zweideutig. Während das Englische und das Französische dem ›bourgeois‹ jeweils den ›citizen‹ und den ›citoyen‹ gegenüberstellen, kennt das Deutsche sowohl für den Bourgeois als für den Staatsangehörigen lediglich den einen Begriff: ›Bürger‹. Inwiefern dahinter eine bestimmte Absicht stecken mag, sei einmal dahingestellt.
Im Gegensatz zur Ständischen Gesellschaft (SG) beruht die Macht in der BG allein auf Besitzverhältnissen. Alles weitere folgt aus diesen. Die SG legitimierte sich religiös. Die gesellschaftlichen Strukturen galten als gottgegeben und -gewollt, so daß jedwedes Bestreben, an dieser Ordnung zu rütteln, von vornherein delegitimiert war. Gott als Weltschöpfer und -lenker konnte per definitionem nicht in Frage gestellt werden: Allwissenheit, ein Attribut, welches Wissen über die Vergangenheit, die Gegenwart und die Zukunft einschließt, sowie Allgüte, welches Attribut den göttlichen Plan ausschließlich zum Bestmöglichen verpflichtet, machen die Instanz Gottes und damit dessen Willen und Handeln unangreifbar. Daß die Attribute Allmacht und Allwissenheit einander widerstreiten, einander ausschließen; daß ferner das Theodizee-Problem keine befriedigende Antwort erhalten hat; daß Allgüte nicht einmal ein notwendiges Attribut eines vollkommenen Wesens ist; all das mußte Adel und Klerus, den ersten Stand, in der SG nicht kümmern. Wahrhaft religiöse Menschen haben den Satz, Gottes Wege seien (abgesehen von den jeweiligen religiösen Führern) für den Menschen unergründlich, verinnerlicht. Dem untersten Stand, der überwältigenden Mehrheit der Bevölkerung von ungefähr 98 %, zumeist Bauern, blieben die theologischen Weisheiten der Kirche ohnedem unverständlich und fremd, wie Emmanuel Le Roy Laduries Autour de Montaillou – un village occitan; histoire et religiosité d’une communauté villageoise au Moyen Âge exemplarisch belegt.
Die Personenverbandsgesellschaft – von ›Personenverbandsstaat‹ zu sprechen heißt bereits, neuzeitliche Konzepte auf die Vergangenheit zu übertragen – fußte namentlich und wesentlich auf den Verpflichtungen zwischen einzelnen Personen. Rechtsprechung erfolgte in der Regel auf Grund von Improvisation (Urkundenrecht), die allzuleicht zu manipulieren war (Urkundenfälschung), da man Urkunden weder archivierte noch Kopien von ihnen anfertigte. Die Macht der Herrschenden, insonderheit der Könige, stand unter andrem ebendarum auf besonders fragilen Füßen. Die Macht eines Königs basierte des weiteren auf der Bindung an seine Vasallen, deren Macht wiederum auf der von ihnen beherrschten Bevölkerung basierte. Dieses Bindungssystem machte die gesamte welchtliche Herrschaft leicht angreifbar, und zwar bezüglich des gesamten ersten Standes.
In der BG existiert diese Fragilität nicht. Zwar hängt die Macht von Individuen erheblich von der Gunst bestimmter Interessengruppen ab, nicht jedoch die Macht der Bourgoisie als solcher. In der BG gibt es keine persönlichen Bindungen im Sinne der SG. Die Mächtigen verbindet in der BG lediglich der Besitzstand, die damit verbundene Macht und schließlich das Interesse daran, beides zu erhalten.
Die BG legitimiert sich zunächst rein materialistisch, griff aber letztlich doch wieder auf die (christliche) Religion zurück, wie Friedrich Engels schildert. Heute hingegen scheint die BG eine doppelte Strategie zu verfolgen, indem sie sich auf beides – obzwar einander widerstreitend – beruft. Sie hat sich, mit andren Worten, Orwells Konzept des ›doublethink‹ zu eigen gemacht, das ist, zwei einander widerstreitende Aussagen gleichzeitig für wahr zu halten. Es ist die BG als Gesellschaftsform folglich eine Naturnotwendigkeit (materialistisch) oder eine gottgegebene und -gewollte Ordnung (religiös) oder beides.

How does the Bourgeois Society (BS) operate? (a)

Even the term of the ‘Bürger’ is misleading in German usage because it is ambiguous. While English and French contrast the ‘bourgeois’ with ‘citizen’ and ‘citoyen’, respectively, German has only one term for both the bourgeois and the national subject: ‘Bürger’. To what extent there may be an itention to this, may remain undecided.
In contrast to the Estates-based Society (ES), in the BS, power is based solely upon property relations. Everything else follows therefrom. The ES legitimized itself religiously. Social structures were considered God-given and -ordained, so that every endeavour to undermine this order was delegitimized from the outset. God as the world’s creator and controller could not be called into question by definition: Omniscience, an attribute which includes knowledge about the past, the present, and the future, and omnibenevolence, which attribute committed the divine plan exclusively to the best possible, made the authority of God, and thus His will and action, unassailable. That the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience conflict with each other, exlude each other; that furthermore the theodicy problem has received no satisfactory answer; that omnibenevolence is not even a necessary attribute of a perfect being; all of that did not have to trouble the nobility and the clergy, the first estate, in the ES. Truly religious people have internalized the sentence, God’s ways are (with the exception of the respective religious leaders) unfathomable for humans. To the third estate, the overwhelming majority of the population of about 98%, mostly peasants, the theological pearls of wisdom of the Church had to remain incomprehensible and alien, anyway, as Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie’s Autour de Montaillou – un village occitan; histoire et d’une religiosité communauté villageoise au Moyen Âge demonstrates exemplarily.
The Association-of-Persons-based Society – even speaking of an ‘Association-of-Persons state’ means to transfer modern concepts to the past – was based particularly and substantially upon the obligations between individuals. Jurisdiction was usually carried out upon the basis of improvisation (legal documents), which was all too easy to manipulate (forgery), since legal documents were neither archived nor were any copies made of them. The power of the rulers, and more especially of the kings, was, among other things, for this very reason built upon a particularly fragile foundation. The power of a king was also based upon his ties to his vassals, whose power, in turn, was based upon the population they ruled. This loyalty system made the whole secular rule particularly vulnerable to attack, and that with respect to the entire first estate.
In the BS, this fragility does not exist. The power of individuals depends significantly upon the favour of certain interest groups, but not the power of the bourgeoisie as such. In the BS, there are no personal ties in the sense of the ES. In the BS, the only thing common to those in power are acquis, the power associated therewith, and eventually the interest to retain both.
The BS initially legitimized itself in purely materialistic terms, but ultimately resorted to (the Christian) religion, as Friedrich Engels describes. Today, by contrast, the BS seems to follow a dual strategy by invoking both – albeit contradicting – rationalizations. It has, in other words, adopted Orwell’s concept of ‘doublethink’, which is to hold two conflicting statements to be true simultaneously. It is the BS, as a form of society, therefore, a natural necessity (materialistic) or a God-given and -ordained order (religious), or both.

Einige Gedanken zu gesellschaftlichen Strukturen, Entwicklungen und Veränderungen: Teil II / Some Thoughts on Social Structures, Developments, and Changes: Part II

Religiöse Wahrheit

Im Grunde birgt die religiöse Behauptung, die religiösen Wahrheiten könne man nicht wissen, sondern nur glauben, einen Widerspruch. Glauben stellt eine Annahme dar, die aus vorigen Erlebnissen und damit zumindest Wissen über die eignen kurzfristigen Wahrnehmungen erfolgt, also geschlossen wird. Glauben setzt folglich, wie rudimentär immer, Wissen voraus.
Jedenfalls verlangt die Behauptung, selbst ausschließlich auf Grund von Glauben als wahr anerkannt zu werden, was aber wiederum ungewiß bleibt, weil man es nicht wissen kann – oder aber die Behauptung verlangt, als Wissen zu gelten, woraus sich sodann die Frage ergibt: Wie kann man wissen, daß etwas wahr sei, wenn man nicht wissen, sondern nur glauben kann, daß es wahr sei?
Selbst wenn sich darin kein offener Widerspruch finden oder ein solcher sich auflösen lassen sollte, bleibt die Aussage befremdlich und, jedenfalls ohne weitre Qualifikation beziehungsweise Erläuterung, unplausibel.

System und Faschismus

  1. Systeme (politisch – wirtschaftlich – gesellschaftlich) sind keine intentionalen, selbständig handelnde Akteure. Menschen richten Strukturen ein und wirken durch ihr an diesen Strukturen orientiertes Handeln auf sich selbst und andre zurück.
  2. Faschismus bedarf keiner besondren Klassenstruktur für die Rekrutierung; Faschismus ist eine Art zu denken, die Welt zu interpretieren.
  3. Je aussichtsloser die Situation eines Menschen, desto größer die Bereitschaft beziehungsweise der Wille, radikal-einfache Lösungen (Scheinlösungen) für eine Vielzahl komplexer oder vermeintlicher Probleme anzunehmen. Die Sehnsucht nach Sicherheit und Geborgenheit, der Wunsch, eine bestimmte Rolle in einer Gemeinschaft zu spielen, überwältigt, als emotionaler Pfad (Amygdala), das differenzierende, rationale Denken.

Religious Truth

At root, the religious claim that religious truths cannot be known but only believed upon faith contains a contradiction. Faith constitutes an assumption which follows from previous experiences and thus at least knowledge about one’s own perceptions of the near past, that is to say, it is inferred. Faith therefore requires, howsoever rudimentarily, knowledge.
At any rate, the claim demands to be acknowledged as true solely on the ground of faith itself, which, in turn, remains uncertain because it cannot be known – or else the claim demands to count as knowledge, wherefrom the question results: How can one know that something is true if one cannot know but only believe upon faith that it is true?
Even if no open contradiction should be found in this or it could be resolved, the claim remains disconcerting and, at least without further qualification or explication, implausible.

System and Fascism

  1. Systems (political – economic – social) are not intentional, autonomously acting agents. Man establishes structures and affects himself and others by means of his actions oriented to these structures.
  2. Fascism does not require specific class structures for recruitment; fascism is a manner of thinking, of interpreting the world.
  3. The more desperate a human’s situation, the stronger their disposition or willingness to accept radical-simple resolutions (pseudo solutions) for a multitude of complex or perceived problems. The desire for security and comfort, the wish to play a certain part within a community, overwhelms, as the emotional path (amygdalae), the differentiating, rational thinking.

Einige Gedanken zu gesellschaftlichen Strukturen, Entwicklungen und Veränderungen: Teil I / Some Thoughts on Social Structures, Developments, and Changes: Part I

|378|Für Deutschland ist die Kritik der Religion im wesentlichen beendigt, und die Kritik der Religion ist die Voraussetzung aller Kritik.

Die profane Existenz des Irrtums ist kompromittiert, nachdem seine himmlische oratio pro aris et focis |Gebet für Altar und Haushalt| widerlegt ist. Der Mensch, der in der phantastischen Wirklichkeit des Himmels, wo er einen Übermenschen suchte, nur den Widerschein seiner selbst gefunden hat, wird nicht mehr geneigt sein, nur den Schein seiner selbst, nur den Unmenschen zu finden, wo er seine Wirklichkeit sucht und suchen muß.

Das Fundament der irreligiösen Kritik ist: Der Mensch macht die Religion, die Religion macht nicht den Menschen. Und zwar ist die Religion das Selbstbewußtsein und das Selbstgefühl des Menschen, der sich selbst entweder noch nicht erworben oder schon wieder verloren hat. Aber der Mensch, das ist kein abstraktes, außer der Welt hockendes Wesen. Der Mensch, das ist die Welt des Menschen, Staat, Sozietät. Dieser Staat, diese Sozietät produzieren die Religion, ein verkehrtes Weltbewußtsein, weil sie eine verkehrte Welt sind. Die Religion ist die allgemeine Theorie dieser Welt, ihr enzyklopädisches Kompendium, ihre Logik in populärer Form, ihr spiritualistischer Point-d’honneur |Ehrenpunkt|, ihr Enthusiasmus, ihre moralische Sanktion, ihre feierliche Ergänzung, ihr allgemeiner Trost- und Rechtfertigungsgrund. Sie ist die phantastische Verwirklichung des menschlichen Wesens, weil das menschliche Wesen keine wahre Wirklichkeit besitzt. Der Kampf gegen die Religion ist also mittelbar der Kampf gegen jene Welt, deren geistiges Aroma die Religion ist.

Das religiöse Elend ist in einem der Ausdruck des wirklichen Elendes und in einem die Protestation gegen das wirkliche Elend. Die Religion ist der Seufzer der bedrängten Kreatur, das Gemüt einer herzlosen Welt, wie sie der Geist geistloser Zustände ist. Sie ist das Opium des Volkes.

|379|Die Aufhebung der Religion als des illusorischen Glücks des Volkes ist die Forderung seines wirklichen Glücks. Die Forderung, die Illusionen über einen Zustand aufzugeben, ist die Forderung, einen Zustand aufzugeben, der der Illusionen bedarf. Die Kritik der Religion ist also im Keim die Kritik des Jammertales, dessen Heiligenschein die Religion ist.

[…]

Es ist also die Aufgabe der Geschichte, nachdem das Jenseits der Wahrheit verschwunden ist, die Wahrheit des Diesseits zu etablieren. Es ist zunächst die Aufgabe der Philosophie, die im Dienste der Geschichte steht, nachdem die Heiligengestalt der menschlichen Selbstentfremdung entlarvt ist, die Selbstentfremdung in ihren unheiligen Gestalten zu entlarven. Die Kritik des Himmels verwandelt sich damit in die Kritik der Erde, die Kritik der Religion in die Kritik des Rechts, die Kritik der Theologie in die Kritik der Politik.1

Dies (»Der Mensch macht die Religion, die Religion macht nicht den Menschen«) gilt ursprünglich. Danach aber gilt: Mensch und Religion machen einander wechselseitig, in dem Sinne: vom Menschen geschaffene gesellschaftliche Strukturen wirken auf den Menschen als Individuum zurück: der Mensch als Individuum paßt sich sozialen Normen an (Spielregeln, Gesetzen, Werten, Moralvorstellungen) – so auch der Religion, die nicht nur Kult und Kultur ist, sondern auch Welterklärung und -deutung, mithin soziale Strukturen vorgibt (namentlich Hierarchien in der Herrschaft).
Der religiöse Führer (Schamane, Priester) befindet sich durch seine spirituelle Vorrangstellung zugleich in einer hierarchischen Vorrangstellung: Er hat die Deutungshoheit über natürliche Phänomene als das Wirken überirdischer (im weitesten Sinne: göttlicher) Zeichen. Damit bestimmt er aber, was die Menschen seines Umfeldes glauben. Wer aber kontrolliert, was die Menschen glauben, kontrolliert auch zu einem beträchtlichen Teil, was sie tun: weil Menschen gemäß Überzeugungen handeln; nicht jedoch monokausal: viele Überzeugungen treffen in einem Menschen zusammen, die meisten davon sind die meiste Zeit über nicht bewußt. Kausal wirken Überzeugungen nicht auf der sprachlich-sozialen Ebene; andernfalls könnte man aus jeder Überzeugung eine eindeutig festgelegte Handlung erschließen; sondern auf der biologischen und physikalischen Ebene in Form der Gehirnströme im weitesten Sinne.
Wer die moderne Gesellschaft verstehen will, muß folglich nicht allein den Menschen, sondern auch und namentlich die Religion verstehen. Dieses Verständnis darf indes kein innerreligiöses sein, denn der Religiöse hat noch nicht den Punkt erreicht, an dem man alle konkreten Ausformungen der Religion vergleichend nebeneinanderstellen kann, ohne sie an der eignen Religion zu bemessen. Nur der Irreligiöse (ursprünglich oder retrospektiv) vermag die Religion im allgemeinen als das zu sehen, was sie ist beziehungsweise worauf sie beruht: Aberglaube.

For Germany, the criticism of religion has been essentially completed, and the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism.

The profane existence of error is compromised as soon as its heavenly oratio pro aris et focis [“speech for the altars and hearths,” i.e., for God and country] has been refuted. Man, who has found only the reflection of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven, where he sought a superman, will no longer feel disposed to find the mere appearance of himself, the non-man [Unmensch], where he seeks and must seek his true reality.

The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. 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.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

[…]

It is, therefore, the task of history, once the other-world of truth has vanished, to establish the truth of this world. It is the immediate task of philosophy, which is in the service of history, to unmask self-estrangement in its unholy forms once the holy form of human self-estrangement has been unmasked. Thus, the criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.2

This (‘Man makes religion, religion does not make man’) applies in the beginning. Then, however, applies: man and religion make each other, in the sense: man-made social structures influence man as an individual: man as an individual accomodates to social norms (game rules, laws, values, morals) – and so to religion, which is not only cult and culture, but also explanation of the world and interpretation of it, thus prescribing social structures (especially hierarchies as to rulership).
Owing to his spiritual pre-eminence, the religious leader (shaman, priest) is at the same time pre-eminent hierarchically: He has the prerogative of interpretation as to natural phenomena as the work of supernatural (in the broadest sense: godly) signs. He thereby determines, then, what the people in his social environment believe. Who controls what people believe, though, also controls to a large extent what they do: because people act according to beliefs; not monocausally, however: many beliefs concur in a human, most of them are not conscious most of the time. Beliefs do not work causally upon the linguistic-social level; otherwise, a precisely defined action could be derived from each belief; but upon the biological and physical level in form of brainwaves in the broadest sense.
Who wants to comprehend modern society, therefore, needs to comprehend not only man, but also and especially religion. This comprehension must not be an innerreligious one, however, for the religious has not yet arrived at the point where one can compare all concrete forms of religion without assessing them in virtue of one’s own religion. Only the irreligious (originally or retrospectively) is able to see religion as what it is or whereupon it is based: superstition.

Anmerkungen/Notes
1. Marx, Karl: »Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie. Einleitung«, zitiert nach: http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me01/me01_378.htm. (Kursive Hervorhebungen im Original. Fette Hervorhebungen von mir.)
2. Marx, Karl: ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction’, cited from: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/critique-hpr/intro.htm. (Italic emphases in the original. Bold emphases by me.)

Delusion and Paranoia: Robert Spaemann on the ‘Crime’ of Blasphemy

In an article entitled ‘Beleidigung Gottes oder der Gläubigen?’ (‘Offence Against God or the Faithful?’), published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on July 25th, 2012,1 the German ‘philosopher’ – in my view rather a philosophaster – Robert Spaemann avers that ‘something is wrong’ (‘Irgendetwas stimmt nicht’), because German law allowed that which is most sacred to the religious citizen to be publicly mocked, ridiculed, and dragged through the mud (‘mit Schmutzkübeln ügergossen’) with impunity. He considers it an affront that according to German law, this is only (!) punishable, if it endangers public peace.
He then proceeds to compare Christianity with Islam. Only the latter now enjoyed, writes Spaemann, protection by law, since Islam, in contrast to Christianity, reacted violently to offence. Christians, on the other hand, confined themselves to peaceful protest, so that offence against their religion would not be construed as an endangerment of public peace. Christians had always accepted the state’s monopoly upon the use of violence. Even though the Roman authorities had forced Christians to worship the Emperors’ statues and killed the ‘confessors’, they had never allowed themselves the degree of infamy, as it were commonplace today, as to that which were most sacred to the Christians and which they died for.
Hereupon, he asks three questions to be answered:

(1) Ought offence against religion to be punishable, and if so, why?
(2) What, exactly, are the relevant elements of the offence?
(3) Ought penalties for offence against religion to be draconian or mainly symbolic? Whose honour is the law supposed to protect: God’s honour or the faithful’s?

As we did not live in a theocracy, Spaemann concludes that God need not be protected, but those humans to whom God mattered. They needed to be protected, since they were offended more severely by offence against their religion than against themselves.
A state could not expect its citizens to feel as a part of its community, unless it protected that which be most sacred to them.
After this, Spaemann makes two specific and outstanding statements:

(i) Those to whom the offence against religion be so important that they are willing to pay the price of having a criminal record, ought to pay it.
(ii) The penalty for offence against religion ought to be twice as much as for offence against a human.

He admits that there need be some scope for judicial discretion, since otherwise absurd sensitivity would be rewarded.
The next paragraph outlines an example what, according to Spaemann, would be an objectively justified offence taken. He asks the reader to imagine that somewhere a picture of a gas chamber with the title ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (‘Work Brings Freedom’) would surface in which there would be countless half-dead frogs. No one, Spaemann alleges, would deny that the offence taken by people would be objectively justified. He equates this to mocking the victims of the Holocaust.
Finally, he maintains that since Christianity belonged to the most important routes of our civilization, it needed special, effective protection by law. He also mentions that the Grundgesetz (an improvised constitution written when the Bundesrepublik Deutschland [German Republic] was founded, and originally to be replaced by a full constitution later; Germany still has no constitution to this day) placed itself in an affirmative relation to faith in God, when speaking of the founding fathers’ responsibility before God. The constitution of North Rhine-Westphalia defined ‘Ehrfurcht vor Gott’ (‘reverence for God’) as an obligatory target of school education. Notwithstanding, legislation with respect to religion confined itself to the protection of the faithful’s feelings, not the object of these.
The last paragraph deals with Spaemann’s own perception of a sign he saw at the entrance of Notre Dame in the seventies. It read, ‘Respect for the feelings of those who deem this cathedral a holy place’. As the cathedral were the property of the Church, Spaemann thinks this ‘a scandalous declaration’ and ‘a too extreme expression of French secularism’. The sign had been replaced by a more appropriate one.
He ends his article by stating that the state need not ignore its unwritten preconditions, and could not garantee them, either, but that it could treat them with care, which were its duty. This, in turn, entailed effective protection by law.

I shall not restrain myself to false politeness. Spaemann’s article is the epitome of delusion and paranoia. Even though Germany is one of today’s most secular nations in the world, the state regularly and systematically violates the principle of neutrality in favour of Christianity, in particular the Catholic and the Protestant Churches. Huge amounts of taxpayers’ money are given to them every year in addition to church tax. Religious education – Catholic or Protestant – is a compulsary school subject the main goal of which is proselytization, and the schedule of which is made by the Churches alone. The Churches are exempted from general industrial law, and are allowed their own law, resulting in extremely poor working conditions for their employees, although the Churches pay only tiny amounts of the costs of their own institutions. Many jobs in the public sector are officially Catholic or Protestant and require employees to convert to the respective Church. Angela Merkel publicly announced that we needed God as a moral compass.
The more important point is, though, that in a state neutral in regard to worldviews, there can be no place for privileges for any specific worldview. Nothing can be exempted from either criticism or ridicule. Whatsoever people may deem holy, it will only be holy from their perspective. According to the principle of equality, if any view be exempted from criticism or ridicule merely because it is proclaimed holy by someone, all views proclaimed as such would have to be exempted from criticism and ridicule. This is a classical reductio ad absurdum.
Furthermore, as Muriel Silberstreif points out correctly in his article, it is impossible to offend religion. Spaemann appears to be only slightly aware of the difference, or at least distinguishes between them only now and then, between religion, construed as a specific faith, and people’s relation to it as an object. ‘Truth’, ‘reality’, ‘meaning’, and so forth are abstract objects, concepts, which are indifferent in the sense that they have, indeed cannot have, any feelings.
As regards public peace, I must sincerely ask what, exactly, endangers public peace: offence given by atheists, agnostics, or whomsoever else, or rather offence taken by the faithful? If someone says that they disagree with me, or insult me, it is up to me how to react. I can take offence, shout, insult them in return, perhaps sue them, or even use violence against them. That something be special and precious to me, however, does not justify or even allow me to attempt to silence them, just because they disagree with me upon my views. You can criticize and ridicule my views (and character traits) all you want: my mixture of humanism and misanthropy, my philosophic-scientific naturalism, my post-revolutionary democratic communism, my individualist feminism, my extreme sensitivity, my sarcastic-cynical humour, my taste in music, and so on. The right to disagree with and to point out mistakes in other people’s views is essential for an open society. If something appear ridiculous to you, you may laugh at it.
And, needless to say, few things could be further from being true than the contention that Christians had always granted the state the monopoly as to the use of violence. Throughout Christianity’s history, Christians have used and abused the authority of the state for their own purposes. Instead of respecting the state as the highest authority, they have insisted upon their own authorities to be accepted as such.
Moreover, Spaemann’s statement (i) can be easily reversed: those to whom their religion is so important that they are willing to pay the price of taking offence ought to pay it. And statement (ii) specifies the adequate severity of punishment arbitrarily. How, that is to say, by what measures, does Spaemann determine what is an appropriate penalty? He gives no argument whatsoever.
Besides, Spaemann’s following example of what would doubtless be an objectively justifiedly taken offence is not even remotely as clear as he deems it to be. Such a picture could, for instance, be used so as to demonstrate what humans do, day by day, to other species. We make them work for us, we make them suffer, and we kill them for all kinds of reasons which only relate to ourselves: because we want to get rid of them, because we want to eat their meat, because we want to make all sorts of things of them, or just for our own sadistic pleasure. Myriads of animals are systematically tortured and killed every day by humans. Why? Because we can. We do this even to those animals which (or should I say: who?) most resemble us, sensitive and intelligent beings. Only those who, in spite of all available evidence, still consider humans special in the sense of better than other living beings could take offence of such a picture or comparison.
Also, just because, from an historical point of view, Christianity has shaped our culture to a great extent, it does not deserve any special treatment. Rape has also shaped our culture, and so have aggression and violence, humanism, atheism, agnosticism, medicine. Do they need or even deserve special protection or privileges? Certainly not. That the Grundgesetz as well as the constitution of North Rhine-Westphalia affirm faith in God is an historical accident; you cannot always argue that because something be the case, it ought to be (and stay) thus.2 That religious education is a compulsory school subject is simply a violation of the principle of neutrality.
I am not sure what Spaemann wants to tell us by his anecdote as to the sign at the entrance of Notre Dame. There is no such thing as a too extreme secularism. Indeed, ‘secularism’ simply denotes the separation of government and religion, which belongs to the essential fundamentals of an open society. Therefore, it is not the state’s duty to protect certain views from criticism and ridicule, but, on the contrary, to protect the whole of society from those who aspire to impose their own views upon everyone else without having to face any opposition.

Notes
1. Spaemann, Robert: ‘Beleidigung Gottes oder der Gläubigen?’; published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on July 25th, 2012; http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/robert-spaemann-zur-blasphemie-debatte-beleidigung-gottes-oder-der-glaeubigen-11831612.html.
I first came to know of this article via Muriel Silberstreif’s article ‘Die doppelte Strafe ist angemessen’: https://ueberschaubarerelevanz.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/die-doppelte-strafe-ist-angemessen/.
2. The so-called ‘naturalistic fallacy’ only partly applies, to be sure. Of course, what ought to be follows from what is, but in a different sense than the concept of the naturalistic fallacy has it. For instance, it can only be ethically obligatory not to inflict pain upon others, if there be others, pain, and the view that the latter, from an inner perspective, be something undesirable.