February 28, 2004

On the Origins of Materialist Philosophy

By Lil Joe


Travelers, merchants, artisans and scientists from throughout the Afro-Asian Mediterranean world passed through the busy seaport towns of Miletus, Colophon, Ephesus, and Abdera buying and selling commodities and exchanging ideas. These cosmopolitan settings fermented debate and commerce. As the Greco-Ionian city-states on the coasts of Asia Minor were at the crossroads of international commerce the citizens were cosmopolitan.

The natural stability of economies based in agriculture, based on farm labor of free farmers, serfs and slave labor, erected stable dynasties. Consequently the authority of stable priesthoods articulated cosmologies of these economies. In the polis based in commerce there were no ancient dynasties in power or conservative priesthood castes in authority.

In contrast to agrarian, sedentary, sacerdotal populations of Egypt, Persia and Israel with their caste hierarchies, the Greco-Ionian City-state populations were mobile and relatively irreligious. There were no embedded religious ideas resulting from tens of centuries of religious culture. Priests and prophets had no absolutist authority or backing by state power. Intellectual authority, did not have the backing of a monarchy.


February 20, 2004

Philosophy, Religion, and Politics in Ancient Afro-Asian Mediterranean Political Cultures

By Lil Joe

This essay reviews the political nature of religion and philosophy in class society, especially in the early Afro-Asian-Mediterranean cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Israel, and Persia. In these societies, class politics assumed the form of political religion. In the Greco-Ionian polis philosophy arose, in the 6th century BCE, as an alternative world-view. We note, in addition, a movement from kinship (clan-tribal) structures to class structures in which the most powerful, economically dominant class is the most powerful, politically dominant class and thereby its ideology dominates, rather than the religious perspectives of the old privileged clan-tribe.

Religion posits gods and devils as the basis of material existence and the justification for the dominant relations of production, family, morality, politics, and so on. It is therefore conservative and reactionary where changes threaten the status quo.



``These exchanges were significant not only for the
development and flowering of the great civilizations of
ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Persia (Iran),
India and Rome but also helped to lay the
foundations of our modern world.''