State, Religion And Society - The Sumerian Example
First and foremost there is this incomparable concentration of power against the individual, and the ethnic group the individual identifies himself with, ...
«The slave-holding civilisation of Sumer was raised above the values created during the nearly 10,000 years that Neolithic [young stone age] society lasted in the Fertile Crescent [the region from the Eastern Mediterranean to the plateaus of Iran]. By a judicious mixture of trade and violence, but predominantly by convincing neighbouring communities of the productivity of its system, did this civilisation appropriate the whole of Neolithic technics and know-how. It also managed to institutionalise it in the form of crafts and distinct professions and thus turn them into extraordinary riches and fecundity. In a striking parallel to US imperialism’s attitude towards peoples across the globe in the contemporary world, ethnic groups and peoples of the Neolithic era were paralysed vis-à-vis the emergence of Sumerian slave society. Especially during the Assyrian era Sumerian imperialism uprooted and overwhelmed peoples of its time to such an extent that lasting influences still remain in the Middle East and across the world. Staking to the ground, crucifixion, deportation and forcible dispersal became methods of terrorism and genocide and left lasting marks in the human memory. This first planned and systematic domination and exploitation of the human species within class society has been maintained, developed and continued unto our contemporary era. If, with the aid of the technical progress, planned and systematic massacres are exercised on an ever-mounting scale in our era, this should be related to the depth in which the first civilisation’s practice has been ingrained in human memory. Once the wheel of cruelty and exploitation was established in human history, it has not, so far, been possible to stop this wheel. Humankind managed to split the atom but is far from being able to break this whirling wheel.
«It is this situation that in the human mind, which now has a consciousness different to that of animals, causes pain, generates a notion of honour and leads the way to a different line in history, the emergence of resistance and a tendency towards freedom. The institution of prophecy in the Middle East has exactly this meaning. As can be seen from this magnificent first example, civilisation starts with the grand scale theft of the inventions of Neolithic society, a form of egalitarian and peaceful communal life that is reflected in human memory as the dream of paradise. Those who escaped this theft were treated as outcastes and condemned to be non-historical. With the invention of the state structure and all the values that Sumer assimilated, the new form of society turned into a true monstrosity that devoured all the ill-equipped individuals and ethnic groups.
«Being the first and most original example, Sumer gives us the most suitable tool to analyse civilisation and clearly outline the source of the power that the state has. First and foremost there is this incomparable concentration of power against the individual, and the ethnic group the individual identifies himself with, particularly against the sections of society excluded from the state apparatus. In the process of state building the masterly and cunning ideological inventions of the Sumerian priests shaped the society’s mind and wonderfully created the image that the designed state structure was the celestial system’s reflection on earth. The main purpose of mythology and theology has always been to ensure that the birth of a sacred and eternal class society would be regarded as an integral function of the order of nature. The divine authorities were really the dynasties of the emerging kingdoms. But if this had been put bluntly, it would have been difficult to make society believe in the system and perhaps its establishment and continuity would not have been possible at all. First and foremost the state must be made out and established on the ideological level. The state emerges when ideological conviction is unified with Neolithic society’s technology and the creation of a surplus product. As the former is secured, the latter will create benefits, and this man-made fusion leads to a previously unforeseen productivity.
«The Sumerian temple is clearly the uterus of the state. in defiance of later explanations, the state is not the scientific expression of human reason, but the theological and dogmatic expression of the human mind. I am offering a new and straightforward description: Civilisation, or strictly speaking the state as its essence is the theological expression of dogmatic understanding of the world at the primitive stage of class differentiation where scientific thought has not yet formed. Its foundations were the dogma of belief and not science. Perhaps in this context the most outdated tool is the state itself, especially its classical forms that do not include the people. In later chapters we will see that, although to a limited degree, Europe took an important and progressive step ahead and ingrained democracy in the character of the state. This of course was only possible because of the unprecedented resistance and liberation struggles of peoples, classes, nations and individuals.
«There is a very close relationship between the state and god, particularly between a highly centralised state and the idea of monotheism. [...] it seems to me that Marx’s assessment to the effect that the ideological power at the root of the state is a mere reflection [of relations of production] carries an omission with a dangerous tendency. One of the fundamental reasons for the lack of practical success of Marxian theory is his underestimation of religion which he simply labels as «the opium of the people». In my opinion ‘theology’ deserves a thorough analysis as much as money and the state do. In order to understand Sumerian civilisation one must analyse its
theology. Theology is the Sumerian science of class struggle. Without analysing the social projections of concepts of theology one cannot possibly analyse Sumerian ideology and thus the whole of antiquity which is based upon it. Again, without analysing monotheist religions one cannot analyse the classical and medieval ages, let alone understand the formation of modern day logics and literature. Theology leaves its imprint in the consciousness of all societies. Without deciphering this imprint and erasing it one cannot create a positive society on a scientific basis. As I am intending to show in great detail, one of the biggest omissions and mistakes of «real socialism» was that they did not come anywhere near the ideological and historical sphere of society and were biased in their analysis of the state. Social reality cannot be satisfactorily explained by mere analysis of money and capital. Quite the contrary, this only leads the way to falling into a different form of the idealism that the materialists continually criticised. In the end, this is just what real socialism did by surrendering itself to capital. It seems it was inescapable that flawed Marxist thought would lead in this direction for the reasons we have attempted to explain.
«The power of ideology and forms of theology is not less than that of either money or the state. Nevertheless these three elements are interlinked and infiltrate one-another. Perhaps never in human history have three elements had the opportunity to infiltrate into one another and create such a great power as these three elements. This is what takes the appearance of the relationship between «the father, the son and the holy spirit». Not only an apparition this is - the mode of their formation is exactly the same: Whilst the one pushes towards materialisation, the other one increasingly spiritualises. In the Sumerians these three elements adhered to one another. From this threesome one gives birth to earthly power whilst the other creates eternal power.
«For reasons related to its failure to analyse the state and civilisation in conjunction with theology, the modern sciences are to be held responsible for their inability to prevent millions from becoming the victims of dogmatic regimes. Thus modern science has fallen into the same position as the sorcerer who became the victim of his own sorcery. When the modern society’s ideologists, who claim that they rely on scientific thought, manage to analyse the threesome of theology-state-money in a balanced manner and in its original form, and develop their social projects accordingly, only then will they be able to liberate themselves from the devastation emanating from this sorcery.
«Whilst examining the Sumerian class society and the history of the civilisation it created, one of the other important matters is the correlation between science and philosophy on the one hand, and mythology and religion on the other. It is generally accepted that the inventions made between 6000 and 4000 BC in the Tel Khalaf culture can only be compared to inventions and technologies that emerged after the sixteenth century AD. To regard class society as the source of scientific inventions and technology is erroneous. On the contrary, the greatest accumulation of knowledge and technology was realised before class society and the Sumerian example proves that the ideological hegemony of the state actually played a conservative role. What Sumer added to the knowledge and technical discoveries was limited. They were largely to do with monopolising the knowledge and technical wealth of the agricultural society and establishing an ideological hegemony upon it. Knowledge was idealised as the gods’ gift (kayra) to the humans who were regarded as the servants and functions of the gods, and not seen as the product of human labour and practice. This is one of the greatest distortions of history. The power of ideological illusion that the Sumerian priests created in the history of class society has the greatest share in the establishment of the state and the dominance of its class character over civilisation.
«Adam and Eve’s fall from grace especially is the most fundamental mythological expression of the beginning of class divisions and its mythological narrative is striking and poetic. [...] The conflict between Abel and Cain reflects the clashes of those dealing with agriculture and the domestication of animals.
«The weakness of women’s status is told with a poetic mythological narrative describing how the goddess lost her place and importance amongst the community of gods (pantheon). One step ahead in the monotheist religion the woman becomes the enslaved gender both in society and in its ideological expression and illusion. The woman is expected to shut up and be locked up. No trace remains from the era of goddesses. The woman becomes the offender and sinner who tempted Adam into committing the original sin. She is held responsible for all evils. There a striking superiority emerges in favour of the male gender, and mythology and its product religion justifies and attaches a dominant character to it. The male dominance is praised at every level and man is hailed as the sacred representative of religion. What we have here is the history of the sly augmentation of gender slavery. If you look at the older Sumerian mythology, the grand and wise father Enki still advocates compromise with goddess Inanna, but Marduk, who later emerges as the god of Babylonia, finally strikes down the mother goddess personified in Tiamat whom he kills and shreds into pieces. «Enuma Elish», the epic saga of Babylonian creation, is thus important in two directions. The absolutist nature of kingship has become a made out feature, and this was written down in the historically important Codex of Hammurabi.
«Sumerian mythology established its own rules in the form of religious laws and elevated them to a status whereby breaching them would be virtually unthinkable. This marks a qualitative step in class and gender slavery and brought with it multifacted processes of institutionalisation of hierarchies. The future for the establishment of an absolute authority equal to the divine powers was wide open. The women were doomed to private slavery in matrimony or public slavery in brothels and these steps were embodied in institutional and legal codifications.
«When polytheist religions regressed significantly in the culture and geography of the Middle East, the Patriarch Abraham came to symbolise the path that would lead towards the grand history of the monotheist religions.»