When death stalks us it is not bankers we turn to, or corporate executives, or hedge fund managers. Nonetheless, those are the people our societies have best rewarded.
Marx is misunderstood. His use of the word materialism is not the thing denounced by spiritual teachers. He never advocated it as way of life; rather, as way of understanding history, seeing through the self serving lies and delusions of those who rule. There is a deeply spiritual aspect to Marx, permeating all his work, above all in his materially anchored analysis of alienation.
I don’t know if one of my favourite bloggers, the calmly reasoned Jonathan Cook, sees himself as a Marxist. I’m sure from the way he writes he’s an admirer. Be that as it may, here’s his post of March 15 on his View from Nazareth site. It begins like this:
If a disease can teach wisdom beyond our understanding of how precarious and precious life is, the coronavirus has offered two lessons.
The first is that in a globalised world our lives are so intertwined that the idea of viewing ourselves as islands – whether as individuals, communities, nations, or a uniquely privileged species – should be understood as evidence of false consciousness. In truth, we were always bound together, part of a miraculous web of life on our planet and, beyond it, stardust in an unfathomably large and complex universe.
It is only an arrogance cultivated in us by those narcissists who have risen to power through their own destructive egotism that blinded us to the necessary mix of humility and awe we ought to feel as we watch a drop of rain on a leaf, or a baby struggle to crawl, or the night sky revealed in all its myriad glories away from city lights.
And now, as we start to enter periods of quarantine and self-isolation – as nations, communities and individuals – all that should be so much clearer. It has taken a virus to show us that only together are we at our strongest, most alive and most human.
In being stripped of what we need most by the threat of contagion, we are reminded of how much we have taken community for granted, abused it, hollowed it out. We are afraid because …