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An Interesting Comparison

It’s interesting to compare the account of an Antifa protest provided by Gods&Radicals with other people’s description of the incident. It’s even more interesting to compare actual footage, such as that found here and here. Keep in mind, I don’t actually support the views being expressed by either side in the video but the proper response is to keep debating not dump a bottle of piss on a woman’s head because she’s argued you into a corner and you can’t find your words.

Disgusting, and all too familiar.

I mean, all you have to do is look at the conversation I was having with C. Thompson here and here. He came bursting into an already existing conversation, did his chest-thumping schtick to intimidate us, started randomly accusing folks of being racist and when asked for concrete examples couldn’t provide a single one. He did lie, twist words, and repeat the racist charge like a mantra – but was completely unable to engage in civil and rational debate until he was finally chased off with his tail between his legs.

Anne Hatzakis, of the wonderful Greek Revivalist Mommy blog, posed the following:

I have read the articles in question, and as a Hellenic Reconstructionist/Revivalist, I heartily agree with Galina. I also think that those of us who ARE in the Reconstructionist movement need to speak up about what we ARE so that people know the difference between the truth and the spin about us.

I think we see here why more people aren’t speaking up.

They’re intimidated and afraid. They don’t want piss – whether metaphorically or literally – dumped on their heads for daring to question these people and their attempts to co-opt and pervert our religious traditions and communities for their own twisted political and ideological goals. They don’t want to be hounded, harassed, banned, censored, threatened and physically silenced. So they do it to themselves.

That’s not an option for me.

There’s other things I’d rather be blogging about – and have been, though they don’t get near the attention or traffic – but I’m also going to hold this line and keep calling these people out, even if I end up standing alone. As I mentioned a while back, many in my family died fighting authoritarian regimes on both the Right and the Left – and I will not dishonor their memory by letting some online bullies scare me into keeping my mouth shut.

So bring on the bottles of piss. I’ll take a shower and keep typing away at my keyboard.

The Mirkning of the American Liberal

It looks like the G&R crowd are starting to get rattled and letting their true colors shine through. C. Thompson, whose friends hold some very offensive views of ATRs which he’s apparently okay with as long as it “gets er dun” (“er” being shutting down those people who hold political views contrary to his own) has now set his sights on two of the most vocal critics of the Marxification of paganism. Mind you, this is nothing new. Look at how he hounded people over at J. Agathokles’ blog.

Unable to come up with any valid criticisms, this Cateran of Social Justice began sputtering out “But but … they’re RACISTS!!!

Because of course he did. That’s always what they do.

Anyone who’s spent five seconds reading through those blogs will see that they’re not card-carrying racists. Not even if you squint really hard. Maybe if you clap a lot and believe with all your might. But not in any kind of objective way.

Sure, they express ideas I don’t always agree with, or take things I do agree with to places I’m not particularly comfortable – but that makes them wrong, not racist. And if I think they’re wrong I’ll tell them that – just as I’m sure they’ll tell me when they think I’m wrong – I won’t try to drive them out of the community with pitchforks and torches.

It’s like Wayland Skallagrimsson says:

As you seem to think it appropriate to make judgments and condemnations of us without having bothered to do even minimal research, let me provide the history lesson you skipped. The modern heathen/Asatru movement was pretty disorganized in the eighties, the decade it really got going in. Anyone who said they were heathen was accepted as such. Then there was a series of schisms around the end of the decade, into the nineties. One of the most major of these, the one you could not have possibly missed if you had done even a cursory amount of research into us, was the schism between Folkish and Universalist heathens. And also Tribalist heathens, but they were more of a minority at first. The other two groups were dominant. In other words, the movement that birthed the Folkish heathens also birthed the other major camp, the left wing, multicultural heathens. You know, the ones whose existence you doubt. […] So your snide little comments about “the clear association between Heathenry and an openly racialist subculture,” and “But what is it about Asatru that creates a trajectory towards the folkish interpretation,” are, at best, disingenuous, and at worst actual lies. Our religion, our gods, are not props in your political struggles, Burley. You use us. You insult us. You misrepresent us. Fuck you. I have been in the heathen scene for a long time. I have written a lot, and run groups. I have spent a lot of that time and effort in fighting fascism. Like any true heathen, I have stood up against the right wing and fascist elements in my religion. But that does not make me left wing. I also stand against you and your left wing brand of fascism, Burley. You and your Gods & Radicals buddies are every bit as bad as the right wing variety. And I will take just as strong a stand against you. We don’t need Folkies stealing our traditions and pushing their own agenda with it. And we do not need a load of crypto fascist anarchist neo-maxi Zoom dweebies doing it either.

We don’t need these White Knights gatekeeping our communities – especially when they’re coming in from other communities to do so. (Pssst! Hey neopagans, before you start lecturing Heathens on ethics, maybe do something about that whole pedophilia and rape problem you’ve got, yeah?)

Better yet, why don’t we actually listen to the voices of PoC instead of their “PC interpreters.” News flash: I know it’s a radical concept but PoC are actually capable of thinking and communicating for themselves and don’t need you to fight all their fights for them. Something, unfortunately, RMD felt was necessary to remind folks here:

as an AA woman I kinda wish sjw’s (especially non poc one’s) would let me gather my thoughts and speak for myself before jumping up to yell racism on behalf of me or any other ethnic person or group. We’re capable of figuring out what’s offensive and harmful to us, and frankly such reactions reek of trying to avoid being tagged with the racist label oneself and infantilizing the group’s one claims to be speaking for. These types of so called allies also tend to have as stereotypical view of AAs/POC as any other prejudiced person: That our experiences are only about struggle and pain and only that narrative of Blackness is acceptable.

Well said.

And if you don’t think that C. Thompson and his friends’ slurs against Santeria and Vodoun shouldn’t matter, maybe consider reading these articles by Lilith Dorsey and Crystal Blanton.

A Heathen Shouldn’t Have To Be The One Saying This But…

Since this latest imbroglio started with Rhyd and the G&R crowd, I’ve noticed that the terms ‘racist,’ [and ‘fascist’] are being thrown around with less and less care. What started out with Rhyd’s underhanded rhetorical free-for-all is turning into (just as many of us predicted) a witch-hunt. Now, it seems one is a “racist” if one doesn’t agree with Rhyd and his supporters. That is apparently all it takes. Racial bias need play no actual part.

In addition to crying “bullshit,” I want to parse that out a little bit because it’s an incredibly damaging trend, and not particularly damaging to our traditions, mind you, but damaging to the very work of social justice that Rhyd and his buddies purport to want to do. How?

Well, to go back to an argument that we’ve had ad nauseum: words mean things. If we start accusing everyone of being racist (or fascist, or sexist, or any other –ist) every time they disagree with our positions on other matters, those words are going to lose their meaning. When that happens, we will be numb and blind to actual incidents of racism and violence that very much deserve our attention and action. Language shapes our ability to perceive our world accurately. What they’re doing with their unfounded accusations (or founded on nothing save that the person disagrees with them on some other topic) is eliding the meaning of these words and that elision has the power to damage our long term ability to participate in recognizing the types of system inequalities and institutional biases that are so at work in our country and that so make up the fabric of racism in America today.

Basically if everything is racist than nothing is.

Here’s an exemplum to help you: It’s like the incident a few weeks back when college students supposedly got “traumatized” by pro-Trump graffiti. This isn’t trauma. Trauma is having a student suddenly have an abreaction wherein they viscerally relive childhood abuse right in front of you; trauma is a veteran crippled by PTSD, trauma is a survivor of domestic abuse unable to get close to anyone romantically out of fear, trauma is a survivor of rape who wakes up every night screaming, trauma is the mother of a young black child who has to worry about whether or not her kid is going to get shot on the way to school simply because he’s black, trauma is a lot of things larger and smaller in emotional scope than this but what trauma isn’t? Seeing Trump 2016 written in chalk and having a melt down over it. Trauma does not mean seeing something you don’t like and personally disagree with and choosing not to handle it like an adult. That’s not trauma. It’s also not racism. (And before the Rhyd brigade can accuse me of it, let me be clear: I’m in no way a Trump supporter. I find the man vile).

Let me let you in on a little secret: we can have different political beliefs and still behave like decent human beings. Disagreeing does not make us racist. Disagreement in the instances with which we’ve been dealing lately in our communities means that we’ve considered the same material that another person has and we’ve come to a different opinion about the way we’re going to practice our religion and live our life.

Go here  and read the comments. This is thoughtful and thought provoking discussion happening. For instance in the comments Eric S. asks a question that I think is quite salient to this current argument:

“That leaves me wondering: how safe will the coming decades be for polytheists, druids, hermeticists, etc.? Is there a possibility that, say, an act of domestic terrorism could get tied to some odinist skinhead group and lead to a crackdown on potential sites of radicalization, and that essays like the one on G&R could inform who winds up on watchlists? Or that, in the event widespread radicalization in the community, the entire occult scene, whether political or not starts looking to outsiders like a hotbed of sedition? One advantage of the pagan community since I’ve been involved has been the fact that the it’s been safe to be public and open, to hold rituals in parks, have public clergy, and so on without worrying about much more than being called silly or getting witnessed to. Do you see it as a possibility that within the next decade or so, we might have to learn to return to the same sort of cultural marginalization and tight-lipped discretion of the ‘60s and ‘70s?”

and likewise commenter “Kevin” notes:

“I’ve read Wildermuth’s article closely, and concur with your assessment. At one point he explicitly endorses the notion of guilt by association, actually using that word as he exhorts the reader to pin the tail on those secret persecutors who have ever read or discussed the works of Julius Evola. It all sounds to me like a game of Spot The Evil Space Lizard.

Even worse than the dubious slipshod logic, there’s something off about his tone, an unpleasant fusion of aggression with paranoia. I hope it doesn’t spread, but fear that your prognostication may prove well-founded.”

Now I don’t agree with everything Greer posited, not even close, (his lumping of polytheisms under the neo-pagan umbrella being first and foremost on that list) but I don’t have to in order to engage with his ideas and in order to appreciate the conversation that it has provoked. Ideas are being discussed and in some cases (thank you Eric S. whoever you are) taken to their most disturbing conclusions, a type of forethinking that seems to be perilously lacking at times in our communities (a failure of fortitude or one of imagination, I don’t know).

and yet if you go here, the second commenter, C. Thompson, says the following

“Now, they’re not even pretending that anymore and are just openly taking racist and right-wing stances along with the most dishonest forms of character assassination I’ve seen in a long time.”

Obliquely (or maybe not so obliquely) accusing Greer (and the rest of us in case you missed it) of being racists. That’s not thought provoking. That’s obscuring the discussion. Show me where that’s happening that doesn’t involve merely disagreeing with Rhyd. I’ve gone over Greer’s article closely and this is a laughable assertion.

[EDIT: C. Thompson has clarified his racist comments here.]

Rhyd and his supporters are attempting to hammer home one narrative of what it means to be a polytheist, devotionally inclined, of what it means to be anything other than aligned with his version of the radical left. They are giving us one narrative into which we must of needs be pressed ,a narrative that, when we attempt to speak for ourselves, says “toe this ideological line or you’re racist, you’re a fascist, you’re a monster.” It no longer matters if any of it is true.

So let me be quite clear: they’re using obfuscation and insinuation (without ever providing examples) to shut down discourse, distract when they’re losing an argument, and besmirch reputations. That is the very definition of a McCarthyite witch-hunt.

Enough of these foofaraws. Stop trying to colonize our religious communities with your oppressive and dictatorial politics. Stop trying to get co-religionists to be suspicious of and hateful towards one another. Stop attacking our traditions and our Gods. Stop making a power and money grab by stirring up endless controversy. Or know that we’ll be here to stop you. And we Heathens don’t back down. 

Musings on Heathenry

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I’ve been musing a lot about Heathenry the past day, what it was, what it is now, what it could be. I think we’re very lucky. For one thing, I think there is something profoundly powerful in throwing off the yoke of Christianity and/or secularism and seizing the threads of our ancestral traditions. It’s a beginning, a renewal, and a restoration and I think that is a good and holy thing. It’s the first step, a necessary step toward restoring our Gods to sovereignty in the world.

Yes. I said that. For all that I am severely critical of Heathens who use the lore to block and control their experience of the Gods, I do think we should allow ourselves to be inspired by our ancestors, by the stories in the Sagas and other lore. We should be ravening berserkers in driving back the filth of monotheism, in honoring our Gods, in offering to Them, and most of all in rebuilding our traditions. The lands of the north once belonged to Odin and His kin and they should again. I’d like to see sacrifices every holy tide in every major city in Northern Europe, and in Heathen communities in North America. That’s my dream anyway. It would be a start, a resanctification of the land and our relationship with both it and our Gods.

I remember a conversation my mother and I once had on esoterically warding our homes. She didn’t. She was ferocious in tending her space because she looked at her house as likewise the home of her gods. She said that nothing malignant could exist in her home because she made the environment one (by prayer, devotion, and quite practically and literally cleaning every day—she was what in German is called a ‘Putzteufal’ or cleaning devil) that was so hostile to filth (of every kind) that nothing spiritually impure could exist there. I wish we could make ourselves and our traditions the same, not through thought-policing, but through carefully tending to our devotions, encouraging the inter-generational process of offering and veneration, and protecting the Mysteries of our Gods’ cultus—all those things that comprise our “traditions.”

There are many Heathens that I disagree ferociously with about how Heathenry should be practiced. That’s ok. We have different traditions within Heathenry and I would stand shoulder to shoulder even with someone I utterly detested to defend our Gods and our right to practice unmolested. The traditions are more important. Seeing them thrive is more important. Re-mapping our world with a renewed awareness of our Gods is most important of all.

I want a Heathenry that doesn’t just obsess about the folk now but on where our traditions can be in a hundred years and how to best get there. It’s important to remember, crucially important I think because this is a bleak and dirty fight at times, that things can change in the matter of a generation. Our traditions were undone in the span of one or two generations. We can reverse that process. We are reversing it. We need to keep on changing it.

Midgard is a very special place. It is not that the Gods can’t simply work Their will here, but that in creating Midgard, They have given us a world where our voices and choices matter too in the forming of things, and I think They took a chance, those three creator Gods when They (perhaps foolishly) breathed life into this thing called “humanity.” I think we have been given a say in how Midgard unfolds. It was certainly the poor choice of some of our ancestors (and of others under coercion) to abandon our traditions a thousand plus years ago. We can choose differently now. I think maybe it’s part of our wyrd and if we choose to welcome the Gods, if we choose to burn down fiercely anything that would keep Their voices from shaking every inch of this world again, then we can bring those traditions back every bit as strongly as they were before, on the broken backs of those who would destroy them again if need be.

I care about one thing and one thing only: venerating the Gods, seeing our traditions restored, returning the world to polytheism. I want to see our world infused with the Gods at every level. I don’t know how to achieve that, but I do know that devotion and a commitment to our traditions is key. Maybe the Gods will help us with the rest.

So when you read things like this, put it in context. It, and so much else of the garbage floating around, is written by someone hostile to the very idea of Gods. What have they to do with any of our traditions? 

 

(I like the mood evoked by “The Vikings.” It may not be 100% historically accurate but it inspires nonetheless.)

A Very Interesting Round Up

Druid elder and respected environmental activist John Michael Greer has provided some reasoned and well balanced commentary on the situation with G&R and Rhyd: 

History shows that when a religion discards its deities, politics fills the void that the gods leave behind. The result does not keep well. Liberal Christianity in the United States made that choice in the 1960s, discarding its faith in the Risen Christ in favor of agnosticism and social-justice activism, which is why churches that dominated the American religious scene in the middle of the 20th century are now selling their buildings, going to part-time unpaid clergy, and facing extinction once the remaining parishioners die off or get bored and wander away. That’s beginning to happen to eclectic Paganism right now.

 

Read the full article here

Lucius Helson has a final solution for our Pagan Problems here.

They’re going to have to go to the elders who have so long been abused, get down on their knees and say “I’m sorry for what has happened. I am sorry I didn’t do enough to stop it. But let us try again, together, the right way. With respect for you, and knowledge for me.” And elders are going to have to understand that the days of fame and fortune are over…for now. Their best gifts will not earn them money, but can earn the respect and honor, places of privilege within their own religions traditions. And then, down the line, fortunes may come, because people want solidity in their religions, something unique, fulfilling, and immutable. Practice that, preach that, enforce that, and you will find people come to you much more than they ever have to something homogeneous.

Gods and Radicals blogger C. S. Thompson and his comrades perpetuate racist stereotypes about African Traditional Religions here:

As we were making our introductions, another protester walked by carrying an effigy of Donald Trump, filled with needles and pins like a so-called “voodoo doll.” Surprisingly enough, this led to a debate between two of my comrades over the relative merits of Vodou and Santeria! (Neither of which actually uses this type of magic, but that’s beside the point.) I turned to them and said “whatever gets the job done” and they burst out laughing. That was the end of the debate.

and finally, on account of this and more, Hellenic polytheist Julia Ergane is calling for a boycott of Many Gods West here. I think we can all see why. 

I am urging that people of good will and ethics to BOYCOTT the Many Gods West conference. In addition, I also do not TRUST the bona fides of the organizers for this conference. If you already have reservations — cancel them. If you are a presenter — cancel your appearance. People who are enmired in the amount of miasma that these organizers have perpetuated will imbue the conference with it. Do Not be a party to it!

That is all for now, folks. 

 

Connecting the Dots

There are two great pieces from Lucius Helson here and here. In the first one, he shows how dangerously unhinged the G&R folk are and in the second he really connects the dots and shows what they’re trying to accomplish and why, and how we can resist that. 

This is a very thought provoking piece (and I love the Classical references — cherry on the Sundae for me). 

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Demand Transparency and Accountability in our Communities

Did you guys read those posts on Gods&Radicals condemning the Florida Pagan Gathering for trying to cover up the fact that they invited pedophilia advocates the Frosts to present?

Yeah, I haven’t either – because they don’t exist, which actually says a whole lot.

Rhyd and his friends are willing to stoke fears and lead witch hunts against dangerous elements in our communities such as people who believe in tradition and hierarchy but when actual threats to our safety and well-being rear their vile heads these valiant social justice “warriors” remain silent.

Aside from telling you everything you need to know about the morality of their cause, I think it is worth probing a little deeper and asking why.

The answer is simple.

In covering this story The Wild Hunt wrote:

Sage, a former FPG staff member, told The Wild Hunt that he and several others resigned over this very issue. Until recently, Sage was the FPG workshop coordinator and he said, “I resigned largely because I was instructed that it was my job to keep secret certain workshops that the Board of Directors was aware would upset some portion of the community. This deceit came in direct conflict with my moral and ethical codes of conduct.” There are also reportedly some copyright issues involving the printing and publication of the two versions of the festival booklets, which have nothing directly to do with the workshop issue itself. Sage did add that he personally will not be attending the event.

If that sounds familiar it should because that’s the same approach that the organizers of Many Gods West favor. All decisions are made by a cabal without transparency or accountability. Once a decision has been made (such as banning someone for posting satirical critiques of Rhyd’s hysterical rhetoric) there is no process by which it may be appealed (even though numerous people tried to do so.) In fact until everything blew up we had no idea who the organizers of the conference even were beyond spokesperson Niki Whiting – and, as we subsequently discovered, there was good reason for that secrecy.

One of the organizers of the conference is Syren Nagakyrie. If that name isn’t familiar to you it should be. Not only is she a regular contributor to Gods&Radicals, she’s one of its co-founders and their current Treasurer. So while Rhyd has done his best to distance himself publicly from MGW (despite being part of a panel that will be presenting on anti-fascism) in case there’s any blowback from his “righteous” crusade it’s clear that the connections run deep. (Which explains why they were so quick to silence criticism.)

In fact far from being enemies at the gate and radical subversives the Gods&Radicals crowd are deeply enmeshed in mainstream neopaganism. When Rhyd made his backpedaling quasi-apology once we started calling him out it wasn’t at Gods&Radicals, where the original offending post had appeared, nor even at his personal blog as one might expect – but at Patheos Pagan, where he used to write and where several of his fellow G&R comrades such as John Halstead currently blog. He is also a frequent contributor to The Wild Hunt and for several years has been a fixture of the conference circuit attending and often presenting at events such as the Polytheist Leadership Conference, the Pagan Activist Conference and Pantheacon.

No wonder they don’t want to call out Florida Pagan Gathering and similar venues for inviting people like the Frosts – if you rock the boat too much it might end up costing you speaking gigs or cause Patreon donations to dry up.

Some of us are willing to speak out no matter who it offends or what the consequences are – about real issues and real threats to our communities. (I guess protecting our daughters* from rapists isn’t a political enough issue for them.)

Remember their silence the next time Rhyd and pals make their vile insinuations about Heathens, Druids, Reconstructionists, devotional Polytheists and basically anyone who isn’t part of their clique. More to the point, think long and hard about who they associate with and whether you want to associate with those people too – especially when they’re hosting a conference with such a high price tag attached.

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*while abuse happens to children of all genders, the Frosts specifically advocated in their book the abuse of girls.

 

Take Him At His Word

Not only has Rhyd mocked homeless veterans and compared police officers to terrorists; he has also tried to smear Hindus engaged in resisting Muslim forced conversion and joked about advocating the genocide of the Yezidi.

But what else would you expect from a self-confessed Marxist?

Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class. (V. I. Lenin, “About the attitude of the working party toward the religion“)

[If] Marxist thinking and the notion of a historical dialectic were finally proven correct, then American Indian people and all [I]ndigenous peoples would be doomed. Our cultures and value systems, our spirituality, and even our social structures, would give way to an emergent socialist structure that would impose a notion of the good on all people regardless of ethnicity and culture. (George Tinker, as quoted by David Bedford in “Marxism and the Aboriginal Question: The Tragedy of Progress“)

Gee, where have I heard that kind of language before?

Marxism isn’t just a failed economic policy – it’s responsible for more deaths and the destruction of more ancestral traditions during the 20th century than all the monotheisms put together, and that’s saying something since they weren’t exactly resting on their laurels!

What, you forget so quickly?

My immediate ancestors died fighting against the Nazis and Soviets so I have a personal investment in remembering the atrocities committed in the name of Marx.

You know, like what happened to the Lithuanians:

The Lithuanian pagan movement was stopped by Soviet occupation in 1940. The Soviet Union forcefully annexed Lithuania in 1940 and renamed it the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. Due to the nationalist nature of Romuva, the faith was suppressed during the Soviet occupation and many practitioners were executed or deported to forced labor camps in Siberia. After Joseph Stalin’s death the cultural life became more free. A clandestine Romuva group is known to have existed within a labor camp in Inta, Russia. After the members were released and returned to Lithuania around 1960, some of these practitioners, along with Jonas Trinkūnas, formed the Vilnius Ethnological Ramuva and began organizing public celebrations of traditional Lithuanian religious holidays, starting with Rasos festival in 1967. In 1971 the Soviets expelled the members from the university they attended and exiled the leaders.[36] By 1988, when the power of the Soviet Union was waning and Lithuanian independence was on the horizon, Romuva groups began reorganizing in the Baltic nations and practising their religion in the open.

Or the Setos:

“The biggest threat during my lifetime was the beginning of the Soviet occupation in the 1940s,” Kala Maria says. “We were really afraid and we had to hide all the silver and all of our national costumes. We didn’t dare to sing because people were arrested and deported. We just did not know what would happen next. It was forbidden even to speak the Seto language.”

Or the Mari:

The collectivization of agriculture, which began in the late 1920s, heavily affected the Mari and other Finno-Ugric peoples who were predominantly peasant. During this campaign, private land was expropriated and the owners were made to join collective farms under the threat of deportation to labor camps.31 In the mid-1930s, Mari cultural life suffered a serious blow when a great number of Mari writers, teachers, scholars, scientists and artists were killed or imprisoned. While it has not been possible to document the full effects of these purges, it has been estimated that as many as 2,000 Mari intellectuals may have been murdered.

Or the Buryat:

Under Soviet ideology, shamans were regarded as particularly dangerous, savage purveyors of cultic and primitive religious practice. To that end, shamans were often cast out of mainstream Soviet society, denounced formally by the government, and denied basic rights such as suffrage. In addition to the shaman’s status as a religious professional, the Soviet government also attempted to extirpate shamans during the Stalinist purges because of their ability to act as powerful sources of resistance, working to undermine Soviet governmental structures in order to preserve indigenous culture. In the eyes of the Soviets, shamans were powerful symbols of anti-revolutionary subversion that needed to be forcefully suppressed in order for communist ideology to take hold in Siberia. As such, any shamanic practice during the Soviet era was forced underground. In this same vein, Soviet leaders in Moscow developed an aggressive campaign of “Russification” during the mid-twentieth century that sought to modernize the indigenous peoples of Siberia. In the Buryat ASSR, for example, public schools were forced to stop teaching the Buryat language and Mongolian script; traditional forms of art were proscribed; and any discussion of traditional Buryat heroes, such as the Mongol King Geser, was banned outright. At the heart of these nationalization efforts was an attempt to downplay the ethnic and cultural similarities between Siberian indigenous communities and Eastern Asia. Although the most violent era of the Soviet period came to a close with Stalin’s death in 1953, shamanism remained heavily persecuted during the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras.

Or the Khanty:

Already in 1926 “the crime–prevention committee in the Tobolsk region decided to consider shamanism as a crime, and hence used the militia to persecute shamans who insisted young people should participate in worship or in sacrificial rituals (Glavatskaia online:21). The aftermath of the Kazym Rebellion of 1933 further complicated the situation. After the happenings of the rebellion every manifestation of shamanic culture such as owning a shaman drum was declared illegal and subjected to persecution. Anyone who took part in the Bear Funeral Rites or other rituals of Khanty culture was subject to 10 years imprisonment. Bear hunting was also forbidden and anything connected with Khanty culture, such as sacred ground, pagan shrines or burial grounds were destroyed. These laws were only relaxed during the 1980s as part of the glasnost policies of Mikhail Gorbachev.

Or the Tuvans:

A census by the Tuvan People’s Republic in 1931, 13 years before it became part of the Soviet Union, reports that 82.2% of Tuvans were nomads with set migratory routes. The country had 725 shamans, just under half of them women (1). Tuva was incorporated into the Soviet Union on Stalin’s orders in 1944. The republic’s 32 Buddhist temples were destroyed and Buddhist lamas and animist shamans were persecuted and often killed. Despite stiff resistance by the nomadic population, farming was eventually collectivised, new animal breeds were introduced and crops were grown that required heavy quantities of fertilisers, which steadily degraded the land. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, there has been a resurgence of cultural life in Tuva. Nomadic lifestyles and migration patterns have returned. Interdependence with nature is deeply ingrained in the Tuvan psyche and fundamental to their way of thinking. There is a strong tradition of respect for natural places.

Or the Darhads:

During the Soviet era, all religion, including the shamanic tradition, was suppressed. Many shamans died in labor camps. “A shaman I knew named Gombo got caught during a ritual and was sent to jail for a year and a half,” Nergui said. By the time Nergui started practicing, the worst of the purge was over, but shamanism was still forbidden, and shamans had to perform in secret. “We hid our religion so that it wouldn’t fade away,” he said. “There were two places where we would do the ritual. The first one was at home, and we would have somebody sit by the door to see if anyone was coming. The second place was hidden in the mountains. Then around 1995, things changed, and we could practice freely.” Indeed, shamanism is now undergoing a great reawakening throughout its historic heartland in Central Asia, Siberia, and Mongolia—feeding a spiritual craving after 70 years of enforced atheism.

Or the Yakut:

Many of the more traditional aspects of Sakha culture were not valued by the Bolsheviks. As early as 1924, Moscow outlawed Shamanism, although the practice persisted in surreptitious form. Stalin’s regime went so far as to ban the summer solstice festival (Ysyakh), the Yakut’s major annual event. As horses play a major role in Yakut culture, they are also central to the celebration of the Ysyakh, which involves the consumption of fermented mare’s milk, tethering a horse to a pole and circle dancing around it, as well as horse (or reindeer) racing. The holiday was much beloved among the Yakut, and after Stalin’s death it began to revive. In the 1930s, the Soviet government mandated agricultural collectivization in Yakutia, disrupting the rural economy. Enforced grain production was particularly damaging. Guided by the irrationally optimistic ideas of Trofim Lysenko, the state insisted on arable agriculture even in such impossible environments as that of frigid Verkhoyansk. As plowing advanced in central Yakutia, hay harvests were compromised, increasing livestock mortality and in some locales generating a human subsistence crisis. Some scholars have argued that hunger and malnutrition resulting from the period resulted in a decline in the Yakut total population from 240,500 in 1926 to 236,700 in 1959. In the early 1950s, an official Soviet campaign targeted the “ideological faults” and “bourgeois nationalism” of prominent Yakut writers, although after Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in 1956, such strictures were relaxed. The ruinous agricultural projects also came to an end with Stalin’s demise. In the area studied by Terry Jordan-Bychkov and Bella Bychkova Jordan, grain fields in the early 1950s had yielded a miserable 196 pounds per acre, one seventh the amount necessary to break even. They provide a revealing anecdote: “Viewing a dead grainfield, the villagers reputedly indulged in a sarcastic verbal tribute: ‘Comrade Stalin is a great agronomist.’”

Or the h’Mong:

Unsurprisingly, from the viewpoint of Marxist-Leninsts, the majority of peoples of Africa, Asia and America were not seen as comparably developed and were thus either repressed or coerced into larger and more efficient economic units – the nungs in Vietnam under Ho Chi Min, the Miskitu indigenous tribes of eastern Nicaragua under the Sandinistas and the h’Mong in Laos under the North Vietnamese-allied Pathet Lao, among them. […] Subsequently, the Pathet Lao based itself in the middle of h’Mong territory and brought in Vietnamese forces to the area, forces comprised of cadres who traditionally harbored disdain for tribal groups such as the h’Mong as evidenced by their referral to the h’Mong as “moi” – a Vietnamese epithet meaning subhuman or savage. […] It is estimated that by 1970, 250,000 of the approximately 300,000 h’Mong had been displaced from their homeland and scattered among refugee camps along the Lao-Thai border. As Churchill writes, “The culture and society for which they had fought so hard and suffered so much was shattered.” From these historical recurrences, it would be easy to conclude that there is an insurmountable incompatibility between Marxist and indigenous struggles rooted theoretically in Marxism’s problem of economic determinism and human chauvinism, and practically in the selective and Eurocentric employment of the notion of the right to self-determination.

Or the Cambodians:

In 1975 when the communist Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia, they tried to completely destroy Buddhism and very nearly succeeded. By the time of the Vietnamese invasion in 1979, nearly every monk and religious intellectual had been either murdered or driven into exile, and nearly every temple and Buddhist temple and library had been destroyed. The Khmer Rouge policies towards Buddhism- which included the forcible disrobing of monks, the destruction of monasteries, and, ultimately, the execution of uncooperative monks effectively destroyed Cambodia’s Buddhist institutions. Monks who did not flee and avoided execution lived among the laity, sometimes secretly performing Buddhist rituals for the sick or afflicted. Estimates vary regarding the number of monks in Cambodia prior to the ascension of the Khmer Rouge, ranging between 65,000 and 80,000. By the time of the Buddhist restoration in the early 1980s, the number of Cambodian monks worldwide was estimated to be less than 3,000.

Or adherents of Falun Gong:

The campaign of persecution has been generated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China , is carried out by government officials and police at all levels, and has permeated every segment of society and every level of government in the People’s Republic of China […] Vital organs including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas were systematically harvested from Falun Gong practitioners at Sujiatan Hospital, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, beginning in 2001. The practitioners were given injections to induce heart failure, and therefore were killed in the course of the organ harvesting operations or immediately thereafter […] Almost every woman’s genitals and breasts or every man’s genitals have been sexually assaulted during the persecution in a most vulgar fashion. […] the persecution of Falun Gong amounts to genocide as defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Or the Tibetans:

The Tibetan Government in Exile reports that 6,000 monasteries were destroyed by the Chinese armies in the first decade of their rule in Tibet. More than a million deaths have been attributed to Chinese oppression. Tibetans have been subject to mass reeducation programs, and resistance has meant abuse, rape, torture, and imprisonment. One nun gave this testimony of her beating by Chinese guards: “They told me to take off my clothes. They made me take off everything. They told me to lie with my face down, and started beating me with sticks. I died with shame as so many people were watching. Later the beating was so unbearable that I forgot about my shame.”

Or countless others.

So when Rhyd – who doesn’t just identify as a Marxist but actually worships the man – throws down a gauntlet such as:

Paganism in general—and apparently Devotional and Reconstructionist Polytheism in particular—have been long overdue for a reckoning.

I think the only responsible thing to do is take him at his word.

marx-racist1

Hate the War Not the Warriors

One of the dangers of the rhetoric that Rhyd is using is that it makes you forget we’re talking about real people.

War is when groups of people murder each other.

kurdish women

All the narratives of ‘nobility,’ ‘duty’,’service,’ and the pretty archetype of ‘warrior’ are just romantic ways of getting the murderers and their communities to be okay with it all.

And under Capital, those murderers also happen to be workers like the rest of us.

Like us, they’re hired by leaders and the rich to do their bidding.

I’m a social worker. People like to tell me how much they respect my job. I tell them not to: I get paid to get homeless people off the street so they don’t disrupt the lives of better paid workers.

We ‘respect’ the work of soldiers

but a few (including some of my veteran friends) will remind others that they get paid to murder people in other lands so the rich can secure their wealth.

Shameful

Oh look: Rhyd is disrespecting veterans, not for the first time shitting on the men and women who serve in the military. Why am I not surprised that this man who has never served himself, sees nothing wrong with condemning those who do.

In his article, he calls veterans and soldiers  “hired murderers” and when asked in the comments if he felt that way about the men who saved our ancestral lands from Nazis in WWII he responded: “War is when groups of people murder each other. All the narratives of ‘nobility,’ ‘duty’,’service,’ and the pretty archetype of ‘warrior’ are just romantic ways of getting the murderers and their communities to be okay with it all.”

Classy, Rhyd.

It’s especially egregious coming from someone who claims to be an advocate for the homeless. A terrible percentage of veterans end up homeless upon their return from service. Our nation is apparently perfectly fine with sending them off to die, but not so down with taking care of them once they return. At least 11% of the adult homeless population is comprised of veterans, and almost half of that is made up of young African American and Hispanic men.

You don’t have to hate the men and women who serve just because you have leftist politics. Look at Selena Fox and the amazing work Circle Sanctuary has been doing – for years—with our veterans.

Once again, Rhyd is targeting a vulnerable population. Do we see a pattern, anyone?