Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Sermon - The Taborites

Many have challenged the Socialist Party’s refusal to permit membership to those who are of a religious persuasion. They say “Religion does not prevent my being a socialist. I believe both in God and in socialism. My faith in God does not hinder me from fighting for the revolution.” They are wrong. Religion and socialism are incompatible and mix about as well as oil and water.

Socialists regard social phenomena (the relationships between human beings, revolutions, wars, etc.) as processes which occur in accordance with definite laws on the basis of the theory of historical materialism. This theory explains that social development is not brought about by any kind of supernatural forces. The same theory has demonstrated that the very idea of God and of supernatural powers arises at a definite stage in human history, and at another definite stage begins to disappear as a childish notion which finds no confirmation in practical life and in the struggle between man and nature. But it is profitable to the exploiting predatory class to maintain the ignorance of the people and to maintain the people's childish belief in miracles and this is why religious prejudices are so tenacious, and why they confuse the minds even of persons who are in other respects able.

Religion will not be "abolished". God will not be "dethroned". Religious orders and the churches will gradually disappear without any violent assault or any suppression of beliefs. Religion is a social phenomenon in present-day society. Hence no amount of merely negative and critical propaganda by secularist, humanists and free-thinkers can destroy it. Only the positive achievement of a classless society can do that by abolishing its causes. The war against the gods is part the class war for a socialist society so atheists forward to the social revolution!

Religion will only completely disappear with the society of today, when people, instead of being dominated by the social process, will steer and consciously direct it. Every religious philosophy is based on feelings of man’s domination by the elements of nature and society, on feelings of man’s fear and slavish dependence on his surroundings. Those who are free from the feeling of slavish dependence, tries to explain, and then to use to their benefit, both nature and society. Religion gives absolute answers. After hearing them there is nothing left to question or investigate. Socialism like science gives no final answers or absolute truths, but only relative ones.

In Leftist literature you will often come across claims that Jesus was the first socialist and that the early christian church were the first communists. It matters little whether The-Carpenter-Who-Became-The-Christ existed or not. The point is of little consequence. We will even grant that it is possible that some individual was the basis of certain religious ideas that came to form the christian religion. Perhaps he was a mystic wanderer with a small core of disciples, drawing upon the ideas of the Essenes or others. Whatever the case, his ideas evolved and were changed almost beyond recognition by those who came after.

Was Jesus a socialist? Well, we could resort to that book of lies and quote chapter and verse of socialistic sayings. And we can just as easily cite passages that demonstrate the reactionary adherence to the the social status quo. Christianity’s meaning can be turned in many different directions. It can be selectively quoted to serve the inclinations of any.
In the middle ages religious sects not only criticised the existing social order but also preached a form of "communism" such as the Waldenses and the Lollards. As the largest landowner in every European country, the Church came to be seen as the very personification of evil – The Antichrist. The medieval heresies reflected a slowly crumbling feudalism and the classes within it searching for an ideal expression for their misery and protest. In the town of Tabor in what was known as Bohemia there arose a religious sect that were to become called the Taborites.

Historians describe how “Every one who came was ‘brother’ or ‘sister,’ as all social distinctions were unrecognised. The priests shared the work among themselves; some preaching in designated places (men and women being kept apart), others hearing confessions, while a third part communicated in both kinds. Thus it went on till noon. Then came the consumption in common of the food brought by the guests, which was divided among them, the want of one being made good by the superabundance of another; for the brothers and sisters of Mount Tabor knew no difference between mine and thine.”

The Taborites taught:–
“In these days there shall be no king, ruler, or subject on the earth, and all imposts and taxes shall cease; no one shall force another to do anything, for all shall be equal brothers and sisters. As in the town of Tabor there is no mine or thine, but all is held in common, so shall everything be common to all, and no one own anything for himself alone. Whoever does so commits a deadly sin.”

Any layman might become a priest. The members of that order were chosen from the community, and they in turn elected the bishops; but they were financially dependent on the community. Their functions, like those of the medieval priesthood in general, were in the main similar to those of the present state and municipal officials and teachers in Germany. Their duties were to organise and manage the various institutions of the Brotherhood, and regulate the connection between the several communities, as well as the relations of these with the outer world. One of their chief vocations was the instruction of children. The Taborites set great store by a general and good popular education.

The perpetual war, in which the Taborites were engaged led to their doom. This tiny community, which declared war against the whole existing order of society, could maintain its existence only so long as it remained unconquered in the field; and it enjoyed no peace nor even a single truce, for it was in direct antagonism to the interests of the ruling powers. The community was never able to gain a single decisive victory. It could defeat its enemies but not overthrow them. They divided themselves into two groups, of which one remained at home and laboured for the other whose functions were exclusively military, and who were always under arms. The two groups apparently alternated in their duties, the returning warriors taking up the handicrafts, while those who had been engaged in the latter went forth to fight. The Taborite army was regularly organised, and did not consist of a mere mass of untrained soldiers. It was divided into differently armed bodies, which were well drilled in military manoeuvres, controlled from a centre and coordinated with each other. The Taborites were also the first to employ artillery to good purpose in the field, and to perfect the science of marching, their forced marches alone gaining them many a victory over the unwieldy armies of their opponents. They had only one choice – victory or death. There was no compromise.

While the opponents of the Taborites were uniting in a coalition against them, the Taborites themselves were suffering division, first in the suppression of the Adamites, advocates of free-love. But more crucially, theTaborite communism was based upon the needs of the poor, and not on those of production. While the needs of the poor engendered the struggle for communism, those of production demanded the existence of private proprietorship. Hence communism could never become the universal form of society in those days, as the necessity for it among the poor must have ceased the moment they had established it, i.e., as soon as they ceased to be poor. This opened the path for the re-establishment of private proprietorship in the community. The rapid growth of wealth in their midst, due to the spoils they acquired, soon caused greed and envy to supplant the modes of thought essential to communism and brotherhood. Equality in the conditions of existence began to cease; there began to be richer and poorer brothers in Tabor, and the former became constantly less willing to relinquish their overplus for the benefit of the latter.

As soon as the nobility rose against the sect and began to enlist mercenaries, to whom (thanks to the wealth of the Catholic Church) it was able to offer momentarily better conditions, treachery became rife in all nooks and corners of the Taborite armies. On May 30, 1434, a decisive battle was fought at the village of Lipau, near Brod, in Bohemia. The forces of the nobility numbered 25,000 while those of the Taborites, was about 18,000. A slaughter ensued with no quarter being given. Out of 18,000 Taborite soldiers, 13,000 were cut down and killed. Tabor ceased to control Bohemia and the military strength of the town completely vanished, as well as its communism. Democracy was overthrown, and the nobility, in union with the trade merchant classes, set about re-arranging the exploitation of the country. Any feeble attempts at resistance and revolt here and there ventured on by the ill-used peasantry were easily overcome.

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