Re: [OPE] William Kristol on Marx versus Obama

From: Paul Zarembka (
Date: Tue Apr 15 2008 - 12:59:56 EDT

But I did like that Kristol quoted more of Marx's context than is usual:

“Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering 
and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed 
creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of a soulless 
condition. It is the opium of the people.”


--On 4/14/2008 11:31 PM +0200 Jurriaan Bendien wrote:

> The Washington Neocon William Kristol, scraping around for some dirt,
> tries out a bit of disingenious red-baiting in the New York Times (to its
> credit usually on the side of free speech):
> "But it’s one thing for a German thinker to assert that “religion is the
> sigh of the oppressed creature.” It’s another thing for an American
> presidential candidate to claim that we “cling to ... religion” out of
> economic frustration."
>> &oref=slogin
> On this issue I think I would rather side with Barack Obama. It is one
> thing to "worship an awesome God" as the highest expression of a healthy
> celebration of life, lived to the full, cherishing all its blessings. It
> is another kind of spirituality altogether, if life is so horrible and
> oppressive that the only thing you still have, is a faith in God to get
> you through the day.
> And I think that this is what Mr Obama really meant: if you have
> sufficient health and wealth, it's easy to celebrate life in terms of the
> greatness of God's creation, but if that doesn't apply, then indeed
> religion can be "the sigh of the oppressed creature", offering solace in
> adversity when financial problems cannot be solved.
> That is just to say that what motivates particular spiritual beliefs may
> differ a great deal depending on one's circumstances of life. Rather than
> being a "Marxist devil in disguise", Mr Obama is just being objective,
> distinguishing between different kinds of motivations people can have,
> depending on the conditions they face.
> All this is lost on William Kristol, who after all is only trying to find
> something to smear Mr Obama with. But Mr Obama remains by far the
> superior candidate anyway, simply because he is the only one who can
> claim to be a "man of the people", and is far more successful in battling
> an ocean of negativity and discontent about political life. It is not
> easy to be an American politician these days, even if you are a
> plutocrat.
> As for Marx, what would he say? Among other things, I think he would say
> that American pragmatism is an approach which makes everything flexible
> and relativistic, and can find its absolutes or fixed principles
> ultimately only in religion. Needless to say, such a philosophy of life
> fits perfectly with the ever-changing requirements of capitalist trade
> and accumulation, in which what matters most of all it not what is really
> true, but what sells. The winner, defined in terms of successful sales,
> has the truth on his side, in American culture.
> A truly pragmatic president would never have invaded Iraq and Afghanistan
> (it did not even make much commercial sense) - it took a strongly
> religious president, surrounded by a coterie of religious fanatics, to do
> it. The outfall is totally poisonous, since it stirs up religious hatred
> and intolerance around the globe, distracting attention from murderous
> economic problems the world faces. My hunch is that Mr Obama has a very
> good chance of becoming president, not necessarily because he has a
> "better way" righ now, but even just because of his honest insistence
> that there's "got to be a better way". If there isn't, all there is left
> is the "the sigh of the oppressed creature".
> Jurriaan

THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF 9-11, P. Zarembka, editor, Seven Stories, May 2008
 $14 pre-sale at

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