A few days ago I wrote a brief essay stating that though “the First World” (largely America at-least in the present day) is responsible for much oppression and suffering across the world, there is a tendency which I identified as “Marxist” to blame third-world suffering wholly on the misdeeds of the West – this is seen in the videos and psyche of Jason Unruhe, who assigns to the Third World a type of radical potential that is frankly illusory. However, there is another logical fallacy related to this that needs to be addressed. I call it the “Bill Maher fallacy” and I think we all know what I’m talking about. Namely either where one criticizes the ranks of one’s own group (as Maher consistently does for Liberals) for something that very few of them do. Ignoring the fact that Maher ignores the countries with largely peaceful and non-fundamentalist Islamic populations, yes, many Muslims across the globe are zealots, but is Islam the sole factor?
Someone of a more Marxist persuasion would say it’s solely material factors, someone like Maher, a “Liberal” who claims to be so open-minded but is so ignorant he can’t even differentiate Muslims in Iran and Turkey and says that Liberals are too easy on Muslims because they’re brown. Firstly, I’d like to ask, “Where?” Where (outside of Tumblr and a few college clubs) is there this mass-conception that Americans need to acquiesce to the cultural dictates of Islamic culture rather than Secularism and Liberal Democracy? If Maher is stating that Islamophobia doesn’t exist in the US, then he’s essentially a Republican, but we know he wouldn’t go so far as to make that point. He’s essentially saying that Left-of-Centre Americans need to demonize what they’ve been demonizing since time immemorial, but do it specifically against the Middle-East where they have no influence – how bold and clever. The Marxists have a better claim in saying that it’s largely a result of material conditions that cause religious zealotry. Islam is no worse than Christianity in teachings, but it currently is (in practice) because of material factors and as studies show the poorest countries are also the most Conservative in their psychology; not only this, but studies indicates that poverty causes Conservatism and harms the brain in ways that was otherwise unsuspected and unknown – at-least outside of academia, Anarchists and Marxists have been observing what simple-minded dolts the peasantry of various nations are for centuries, and how an increase in their material conditions will naturally increase their intellect at-least to a certain extent.
However, to blame the entirety of suffering and ignorance on material conditions, when it is religion that causes such ignorance and suffering is to be overly myopic in one’s views. One could argue that the religions are created from poor (or just from whatever features in their complexity are there) material conditions, but one would be ignoring the dialectic of cultural influences that have created and influenced various faiths and philosophies that though initially started from material factors are wholly independent from it. Like a machine whose operations were caused by a human mind initially, but now is entirely self-sufficient in creating its own causes and effects in production of goods. Religion is just as much a cause of suffering and ignorance (more so in some ways because it along with Capitalism and the State mandate their existence) in the world than mere material factors.
Ultimately both Marxists and the New Atheists (which is what Maher is essentially, an Atheist with a simplistic Right-wing Ideological view on the world divorced from material factors, much-like Harris and to some extent Hitchens) have the logical fallacy of myopia and generalization. It is the task of the Anarchist to look at reality as something of complex and myriad particulars rather than as components to be assimilated into one’s preconceived notions of the world and the people in it. Both New Atheism and Marxism suffer from an ideological construction of reality and it shows.