[OPE] The "Islamic threat" in Holland: mosques save the Dutchtaxpayer 150 million euro

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 02:53:50 EDT


I think you are right about that, and certainly when Frederick Engels rejected the notion of "spirit" he meant a "supernatural" spirit. I assume also that Alex Callinicos meant to reject a "supernatural" interpretation.

However, I think the human spirit does not simply refer only to emotions, or to the higher "moral emotions" - it also refers importantly to a personal choice of meaning. If e.g. I go to a performance which I find inspiring and uplifting, it is not simply a question of the event making me "feel good", but it also involves a personal interpretation of meaning which is experienced as stimulating, emancipating and personally rewarding. Inversely, if I go to a performance which is uninspiring and dull, it's partly because it lacks meaningfulness for me. Intrinsic to the "human spirit" is the human ability of humans to create new meaning, and for people to create their own meaning, even in spite of terrible oppression (cf. Viktor Frankl).

Similarly we can speak of the "essence", "soul" or "spirit" of a person, in the sense of those qualities and meanings which are distinctive or uniquely characteristic of that person, or which animate the person. We can even say that this "spirit" etc. lives on after the person dies, inasmuch it continues to influence (or is transmitted to) successive generations, a sort of "spiritual continuity". This does not necessarily require any reference to the supernatural, only a more realistic idea of the human mind and its social connnections. Indeed, in his new (and somewhat idealist) book, the erudite liberal archaeologist Colin Renfrew discusses the enormously long epoch of human prehistory in terms of "the making of the human mind".

One reason why Marxism fails, as anarchists have argued with some justice, is because it involves an intellectual dishonesty: the moral and spiritual problematics so essential to emancipatory processes are not acknowledged as moral and spiritual questions, and consequently the central importance of human autonomy and freedom disappears from view. In the monolithic Marxist-Leninist view, people are only ants conforming to the grandiose, inexorable laws of motion of history purveyed by the central committee. This means that the original libertarian impulse of Marx is first transformed into rhetoric, and then into an empty ritual of symbols of which the purpose is not even clear anymore.


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Received on Thu Mar 26 02:56:41 2009

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