Monday, October 15, 2007

New Atheists' Ideological Inversion

Richard Dawkins, one of the so-caled New Atheists, is quoted as saying in the Guardian:
"When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told -- religious Jews anyway -- than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place." (Ewen MacAskill, "Atheists Arise: Dawkins Spreads the A-word among America's Unbelievers," 1 October 2007)
Dawkins' remark on Jews and atheists illustrates the problem of the New Atheists.

One, aside from not being theists, atheists have little else in common with one another. Atheists can be left-wing, right-wing, or chicken-wing. Moreover, in many societies, including the USA, atheists tend to be more often found among the ranks of the better off than among the poorer half of society. That means that atheism, despite Dawkins' wishful thinking, is a particularly poor foundation for left-wing class politics.

Two, once you begin to see things mainly through the perspective that divides the world between the religious and the irreligious and pits the latter politically against the former, you begin to imagine, for instance, that the Israel lobby = the Jewish lobby = a religious lobby. The subjective pillar of Zionism, however, is not religion except for Christian Zionists, and, objectively, it is not Zionism that moves the US-led multinational empire but the empire that makes use of Zionism -- just as it exploits any other kind of identity politics, whether it is based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, occupation, or whatever -- and will discard it if it ceases to be useful to it. In other words, the New Atheists' ideology, just like religion that they criticize, inverts the real world. A profane illusion is no substitute for a sacred one.


Read it in Spanish, translation courtesy of Julio Fernández Baraibar: "La inversión ideológica de los Nuevos Ateos," Critical Montages, 15 October 2007.

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