Away With All Gods

Bob Avakian has written the first book in years that makes me actually want to re-read the Bible, but this time as freaky horror show, weirded out fiction and gothic nightmare.

Everyone should read Away With All Gods because it is necessary, critical and timely, but also because it is a book written with joy and humor. Avakian has a whole lot of fun mocking the absurdities of those who should be called `god-botherin fools’ – never better than when he retells old Richard Pryor routines about Cleveland or reminds us of the hypocrisy of Ronald Reagan as Christian leader while wife Nancy reads the tarot. The trouble is that the people who go in for this religious-fantasy foolishness are serious, and they must be stopped. Avakian shows how and why. Pointing out that the myth that Zapata had not been killed and would return to fight again some day was flawed because it overlooked the fact that he was just as dead as was the resurrected Jesus; showing that Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ’ movie perpetuates an anti-Jewish slander that the mob killed the son of God; equally critical of contortions such as the one where the Quran is as fair to women thieves as it is to men (`cut off their hands’ if they do not repent); and skewering Christopher Hitchens’ whose critique of religion is just as much an anti-Muslim tirade (‘God is not great’) as is the US War on Terror; Avakian eviscerates all manner of soft thinking on issues that have a mysterious afterlife in popular thought today.

Avakian has answers as to why religious fundamentalism (Christian or Islamic) is on the rise, and he does this not with candles and mirrors, dark robes and incense, but rather a philosophico-political analysis and a program for change. These are things we really need to hear.

Its even for sale here

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Comments

  • ben  On 11/04/2008 at 10:04 pm

    The same Bob Avakian who wanted to erase homosexuality under communism, and denounced the ruling class as “faggots”? No thanks.

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  • john  On 12/04/2008 at 9:32 am

    Hi Ben

    Really? Where are the actual quotes from Avakian? I’d like to see – I searched, expecting porn sites, but found only red scare anti-Mao parodies of Avakian. No mention of the erasure of homosexuals beyond a party statement from 1981 that thankfully seems to have been erased (its a long winding road…), the only reference to faggots from anyone actually in the RCP was this, rather different, botherin the god-botherers, piece, itself somewhat gauche in style:

    mlmist.blogspot.com
    “Gay, Communist, & Proud”
    By Carl Miller

    I was very happy and very energized by the events of the Gay Pride March in Cleveland. On this day, I saw the two Americas go head to head.
    The reality-based America confronted the faith-based America. The freedom-based America confronted the slavery-based America.

    Yes, I was there as a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade. We came armed with the latest issue of Revolution, with a cover story about the “vicious agenda behind the attacks on gay marriage”.

    I myself am a homosexual, and am proud to be such. I grew up in a small Christian fascist town, and I learned what the “land of the free” had in store for those who are gay.

    Yes, in the good old USA, I was invited to go to church groups to help me “overcome my sin” on a good day, and on a bad day called “faggot” and encouraged to “shove a broom up your ass” and other cruel All-American epithets of peace and tolerance.

    So, on this day, I came energized with Revolution newspaper, all ready to help mobilize my fellow homosexuals, against the system and the government that is repressing them.

    I sold many papers.

    I encouraged people to look at the section of the paper with quotes from the Draft Programme. This section showed how a communist revolution would liberate Gays and Lesbians as well as all of humanity.

    I sold a paper to one youth who said, “I didn’t know there were gay communists! That’s awesome!”

    I also sold the paper to a number of other people who thought a revolution was a good idea to remove homophobia from the halls of power.

    As the parade started, I felt energized. And then we turned the corner.

    A group of Christian Fascists had set up a microphone and two huge speakers, and was screaming homophobia at the top of their lungs.

    “You can be cured of homosexuality! Just because you are born in sin doesn’t mean you can’t be saved!”

    Suddenly, just as he began speaking, the fascist started screaming “Police! Police! Someone is trying to unplug my…”

    As some one who was already sick of this man’s hateful bullshit had unplugged his microphone. There was applause at this action.

    But of course, the microphone came back on.

    The Christian Fascist began spewing rhetoric that sounded so silly, that it is beyond me how one could take it seriously. The man was equating two people of the same sex making love, to eating to much candy!

    “My children want to eat a lot of candy, but it will make them sick. Just because you want to do something…”

    “I want some candy!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. “Give me some candy!”

    Some of the people around thought this was pretty funny.

    But the CF continued, for a while, only to find some lesbians riding motorcycles out in front of his encampment. They began revving up their engines in order to drown him out, and much applause was given to them for their action.

    But, within a couple minutes, four police cars had approached and were ordering the lesbians to move on and stop what they were doing.

    In life under the Bush regime, it seems drowning out the rantings of a modern Ku Klux Klansmen is not permitted.

    Other heroism by the crowd against Christian Fascism occurred throughout the day. People were clearly rejecting the message about “damnation” the CFs had to offer.

    At one point, I got up next to two fascists who were holding up the Bible and waving it around.

    “These people want to execute us!” I screamed.

    “They want to put us all back in the closet for fear of our lives!”

    I sold many newspapers after pointing out to people “nutjobs like that are in the Whitehouse!”

    But when I pointed out the CFs wanted to execute people like me, the CFs didn’t even challenge that.

    They didn’t step up and say, “No, we don’t!” They just stood there, continuing to wave their holy book around. Here is solid proof of what they have on their agenda.

    As we were leaving, we saw a Christian Fascist verbally assaulting a lesbian.

    “Did you get raped? Is that why you turned your back on God?”

    “You can kiss my gay ass!” She responded.

    But the fascist continued, quoting scripture and nearly foaming at the mouth with hate.

    Then, a woman from our contingent stepped in.

    “The Bible was written by assholes like you who hate women!” She screamed.

    She really let this fascist have it, to the chagrin of other people.

    As we left, I felt energized. It impressed me to see that so many people were standing up the fascists.

    But one thing that frustrated me was the fact that many were pouring their hopes into democrats and other reformist groups.

    The democrats would not even call for equal rights for gay couples, and call for a wimpy middle of the road solution called “civil-unions”, basically a second-class form of marriage for couples not fully legitimate in the eyes of the government.

    I did my best to bring out that revolution was the hope for gay people. I did my best to rally people to an understanding that seizing state power was key in defeating gay oppression.

    I talked with many people about Bob Avakian and the hope he presented for actually bringing down this system.

    I can only hope that the movement for gay equality can align itself with the fight to free all humanity once and for all. That is my goal.

    # posted by Carl Miller @ 6:29 PM 2 comments
    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    j

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  • Ben  On 12/04/2008 at 3:43 pm

    Sorry, it was from memory, and not directly attributable to Avakian. And it was the “withering” of homosexuality under *socialism*, rather than communism:

    [W]e did see it as a political and ideological objective of the socialist revolution to transform people’s outlook and practice such that homosexuality would ultimately cease to exist (in effect, would “wither away”) in socialist society. (http://revcom.us/margorp/homosexuality.htm)

    Obviously, they’ve recanted this position, but this was a formal and noteworthy position of an established communist organisation, and a blot that isn’t easily washed out. It wasn’t a failure of analysis or a mistaken tactic, but a kind of pathologisation that far exceeds other Marxist organisations’ dismissal of, say, feminism.

    And from A. Belden Fields’ Trotksyism and Maoism: Theory and Practice in France and the United States (Autonomedia, New York, 1988):

    The constitution of the RCP required its members to “uphold proletarian morality”… Both people practicing homosexuality and men and women living together outside legal marriage have been seen as violators of “proletarian morality.” The RCP has viewed homosexuality as “bourgeois decadence,” and leaders of the RCP have been known to refer to the capitalists as “faggots.” (p.209)

    In his postscript, Fields describes the RCP’s softening on these issues:

    While the attitude toward homosexuality or lesbianism within the party is far from supportive, it is very doubtful that today Avakian or any other member of the party would refer to the capitalists as “faggots”. Even where it has not changed its basic positions, the party has “cleaned up ” its language to make it more acceptable… (p.279)

    In my reading, this distinction suggests that Fields was attributing the earlier use of “faggots” to Avakian himself, although this isn’t entirely certain, Meanwhile, I’m under the impression that Fields is somewhat sympathetic to revolutionary communism, having conducted his study in these circles over several decades. He is at least a leftist activist, rather than a red-baiting anti-communist, and he certainly uses some Marxist concepts.

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  • Ben  On 12/04/2008 at 3:44 pm

    Ooops, that last paragraph was me, not Fields.

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  • john  On 12/04/2008 at 4:17 pm

    Good, glad we cleared that up then. Actually I am none the wiser overall – I did screen Avakian’s very very long (8-plus) hours of lecture at Goldsmiths a few months ago – Not many wanted to sit through it all, but there was nothing offensive and indeed a lot of good stuff in it. Sometimes the detail was glossed (say on central America or on Indonesia) but as with my talk at the Revolution bookshop in NYC, I found that once you get past a certain wariness on their part (born of all those anti-comm pilloryings I did find) the RCP folk are good comradely people very keen to open up debate. This is very very welcome. Ray Lotta and Bill Martin came to our “Why Mao Why Now” conference two years back and were great (for controversies raised about all that, and daft comparisons, see here: http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2006/11/29/dear-diary-maoist-controversies/ and here: http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/cultural-studies/mao.php)
    - though my highlight experience of the RCP so far was arriving in New York in 2005 for the Republican convention protests and turning on the TV to find that 18 year old Maoists had “taken over Central Park”. It was PBS of course, but glam all the same.

    Red Salute. J

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  • James B  On 16/04/2008 at 3:28 pm

    Sounds worth a read, will try to have a look. But despite the suggestions that he’s doing something a little more valuable than the usual rationalist denouncements of religion (Dawkins, Hitchens etc), still unfortunately sounds like he’s taking on the same old easy targets – Mel Gibson, religious fundamentalism, War on Terror?! Obviously, religious thinking looks bad if these are your examples. What I don’t get is the step from this to the need for “a truly scientific approach to understanding and transforming reality.” (website for the launch at Revolution bookshop Seattle). The in-between stage always seems to get left out – where the argument moves from “some religion is bad” to “all religion must be abandoned in favour of science.” On the other hand, I’m saying this without having got hold of the book yet, so maybe I will have my own prejudices reversed when I do.

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