Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Pentacost of Poverty

Your Sunday Sermon.

Ok folks what do these two points have in common?

Empire of Oil: Capitalist Dispossession and the Scramble for Africa
Michael Watts
Everyone’s worst urban nightmare—Lagos—grew from 300,000 to 13 million in over fifty years and is expected to become part of a vast Gulf of Guinea slum of 60 million poor along a littoral corridor 600 kilometers stretching from Benin City to Accra by 2020. Black Africa will contain 332 million slum dwellers by 2015, a figure expected to double every fifteen years. The pillaging and privatization of the state—whatever its African “pathologies”—and the African commons is the most extraordinary spectacle of accumulation by dispossession, all made in the name of foreign assistance. The involution of the African city, notes Mike Davis (Planet of Slums, Verso, 2005) has as its corollary not an insurgent lumpenproletariat but rather a vast political universe of Islamism and Pentecostalism. It is this occult world of invisible powers—whether populist Islam in Kano or witchcraft in Soweto—that represents the most compelling ideological legacy of neoliberal utopianism in Africa.

Monthly Review January 2006 James Straub Unions and Evangelicals In The Rust Belt

However, it remains undeniable that Bush’s Ohio victory did come in part from a massive outpouring of socially conservative evangelical Christians to the polls. A large majority of these Republican evangelicals were blue-collar Ohioans voting against their self-interest, many mobilized by Burress’s anti-gay marriage amendment.

Africa and America share a common problem. One has no manufacturing base and the other has lost it. When the poor get poorer they turn to religion rather than revolution. And in particular to evangelical faiths ( be it charismastic Islam or Christianity) and faithhealers, witchdoctors, etc. that profess a direct relationship with god, possession by god in fact (pentacost) , to feel that they have power in a world where they are in fact powerless.

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.

Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right

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