Correspondence: In Reply To ‘Heretic Teacher’
4 December 2006
The catholic ethos has good points as well as bad. It is not a black and white issue and neither does it lead to sectarian division. Actually I am amazed that ‘Heretic Teacher’ as a socialist tends to such an idealist interpretation of sectarianism (as resulting from ideas, beliefs and attitudes etc) rather than a materialist one (which would see sectarianism as resulting from economic competition and deliberate manipulation by the state). In short sectarianism is about power and has very little to do with anybody’s ‘ethos’.
Unionists have always tried make out that Catholic separatism in education or wherever plays a major part in fomenting sectarian hatreds but this is a standard “blame the victims” attempt to muddy the waters, as they know damn rightly that sectarian division is inscribed in the very structures of the NI state and economy. Instead of a proper materialist and therefore socialist analysis of sectarian division and sectarianism ‘Heretic Teacher’ swallows the usual Unionist guff that catholic teaching promotes sectarianism.
’Heretic Teacher’ might care to look at the history of socialism where he will find that a lot of socialist figures came from a Catholic background and had indeed imbibed a catholic ethos. Think of Castro, Connolly, Lumumba and many others. Central to the catholic ethos is the importance on value of doing things for others, an original communality, based on an early sense of inequality and injustice in the world. This translated easily into Marxist revolutionary thought the basic view that the evil in the world must be overthrown. In this way a catholic ethos lies embedded within socialism. So don¹t be in so much of a hurry to dismiss Catholicism as entirely negative. You will be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.