This story describes how International Socialism and a program of World Socialist Revolution as defined and advocated by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), is not only compatible with my spiritual practice, but actually compliments it. I hope that my story can be of some value to other – especially younger, political students who might be struggling to relate the cultivation of their political consciousness with a spiritual consciousness.
Subsequent to becoming relatively privileged Australian pensioners enjoying what my partner and I now regard to be a modest yet comfortable standard of living, I am pleased to say that I have at last been able to concentrate more on cultivating my political consciousness. Consequently, I am now well and truly convinced that Socialism should be our next logical, global socio-economic form of governance and productivity. Moreover, that there is indeed only one viable form of Socialism – that which is informed by the scientific analysis of Karl Marx and the political leadership of Leon Trotsky. Socialism according to the teachings of Marx and Trotsky takes the form of a revolutionary International Socialism, a global form of governance and productivity that has yet to be made fully manifest and put to the test by us humans. The reason for this having become my preferred political perspective, is that it fully met my most essential search criteria, namely that of having to be compatible with my well cultivated world view, a very down to earth spiritual practice and last but not least, my personal values.
While I was much inspired by my partner and some of her highly recommended hard copy reading, eventually it was my online search that enabled me to find a political program and party advocating and preparing for a World Socialist Revolution – the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and its associated international branches of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP). Together the ICFI/SEP program and party informs and prepares what it refers to as the ‘international working class’ for a world socialist revolution. This it does very effectively via the pages of its own daily online publication – the World Socialist Website WSWS.org.
When defining the political and intellectual foundations and motivations of the World Socialist Website – 1998, point three places an emphasis on –
“the revival of a genuine socialist political culture within the working class as an essential intellectual and, one might add, “spiritual” premise of a new international revolutionary movement.”
It is this ‘spiritual premise’ that was and still is of particular interest to me. My world view, spiritual practice and personal values inform and convince me that for a world socialist revolution to succeed, it must have both political and spiritual components. I believe it is safe to assume that our human ancestors became spiritual creatures long before we became political creatures and it might well be argued that had we not become spiritual, it is most unlikely that we would have moved on to become political. Be that as it may, another reason for my conviction in this regard is that during the launching of the ICFI in 1938, my nowadays primary political mentor Leon Trotsky made it clear that –
“We are not a party like other parties. … Our aim is the full material and spiritual liberation of the toilers and exploited through the socialist revolution. Nobody will prepare it and nobody will guide it but ourselves.”
And, as my nowadays primary spiritual mentor Thomas Berry put it in his 1996 essay entitled ‘An Ecologically Sensitive Spirituality’ –
“In reality, every being has the right to be, the right to habitat, and the right to fulfil its role in the great community of existence.”
It was in fact my own personal spiritual journey and liberation that eventually inspired me to search for and find a compatible political story cum party. Subsequently, my partner Glenys Livingstone Ph.D. and I are both registered, paid up members of the Sydney NSW Australia branch of the SEP. Glenys also happens to be the author of ‘PaGaian Cosmology‘ (2005), a book based on her doctoral thesis, that expresses an earth based spiritual practice that celebrates earth’s seasonal moments and our human relatedness to them, using female metaphor. Glenys begins the Preface of her book with an explanation of the term ‘PaGaian’ –
“It expresses a reclaiming of the term Pagan as meaning a person who dwells in country, yet with Gaian spliced in, it expresses a renewed and contemporary understanding of that country. Gaia is a name for humanity’s habitat, an ancient yet new name which I understand to include whole Earth and Cosmos – there is no seam separating Earth from her context. And Pagan religious tradition offers a spiritual practice of celebrating Earth-Sun creativity manifest in this habitat. The cosmology described in this book makes a start on bringing all of this together..”
Why Socialism, or to be more precise, why International Socialism? Clearly the year 2020 with its Covid-19 pandemic has further exposed Capitalism as being a fundamentally flawed socio-economic system. Capitalism is a profit driven socio-economic system that has long since increased its emphasis on the accumulation of privately owned property and wealth, to the detriment of it being able to provide even the most basic social and cultural needs of a vast majority of the human population. Moreover, the science of physics informs us that every single atom throughout the entire universe is moving in the direction of ‘maximising manifestation’ (Vladimir Vernadsky ‘The Biosphere’ 1921), in other words, every atom including all those that we humans are made of, constantly move in the direction of making progress, toward an improved more advanced condition. Just as our progress from pre human to the earliest nomadic forms of human existence such as hunter gatherer, through to the socio-economic forms of feudalism and capitalism, so too at the species level we humans must now move beyond a dysfunctional capitalism toward a more sophisticated, science based socio-economic form of governance and productivity. My sincere hope is that as part of our ongoing human development, International Socialism will eventually be made manifest throughout the entire planet in the form of regional Federations of united socialist states.
Why PaGaian? Because it is a daily practice and a seasonal celebration of our relatedness to self, to other and to all that is. PaGaian Cosmology celebrates the interaction between us humans and our planetary – Gaian, environment, it is a personal, cosmic and seamless relationship cum celebration, poetically expressed, particularly during Earth Gaia’s seasonal moments, the annual cycle of eight solstice, equinox and quarter point moments, moments in space time that can be trusted, even worshipped. Hence the splicing of the words Pagan and Gaian to form PaGaian, it connects and celebrates the dialectical wisdom of our ancestors – the stories of old, with a contemporary scientific understanding of our place in space time – stories that are new and still unfolding.
Until now, I have deliberately avoided using the word religion because many people find it difficult to distinguish between religion and spirituality. As I suggested above, spiritual consciousness not only preceded and paved the way for the development of political consciousness, I believe it also preceded and paved the way for religion and religious practice. An easy way to distinguish between religion and spirituality is to relate religion to belonging and answers and spirituality to being and questioning. I hope that this story demonstrates that not only can we cultivate our political and spiritual consciousness simultaneously, but more importantly, it is most unwise to be cultivating one without the other.
Beltane 2020, – Southern Hemisphere.