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Sermon to the Princes (Revolutions) Paperback – 1 Jun 2010

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"Omnia sunt communia - all things are common." Thomas Muntzer."

About the Author

WU MING are five Italian writers who are the authors of the novels '54, Manituana and Q.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9b277edc) out of 5 stars 1 review
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b1823fc) out of 5 stars Excellent Collection Full Of Passion And Fire. 31 Aug. 2011
By Robert Blake - Published on
Format: Paperback
Long before Marx and Bakunin there was Martin Luther and Thomas Muntzer. Like the division between Marx, the promoter of political Communism, and Bakunin, the fiery prophet of the collectivist anarchist smashing of the state, the Reformation unleashed various streams of thought and action which eventually clashed despite some mutual agreements. While Luther promoted the separation of church and state (while depending on the protection of powerful German monarchs and families against the wrath of Rome) as well as respect for the law-abiding order of things, Muntzer went far beyond, calling for a revolutionary upheaval that would destroy the old world and inaugurate a new, equal society. Even within the Protestant world, Muntzer has been carefully locked away, a fiery spectre that provides a dangerous reminder of what the soul of the Reformation was moving towards, and it was nothing like Rick Perry's idea of Christianity. Ironically, humanist and Communist movements have done a better job at keeping Muntzer's memory alive: Marxists admire him as a kind of proto-Lenin ahead of his time while even anarchists celebrate his grassroots ideals and revolutionary spirit, the Italian writers' collective Wu Ming resurrected Muntzer for the anti-globalization age in the novel "Q." Now thanks to Verso's "Revolutions" series, Muntzer's key writings are being made available again at a time when the world seems to wobble on its axis once more.

Muntzer's work here is a treasure for scholars, students and your average proletarian seeking to smash the old state. 500 years later and there is still a powerful urgency in the core message. In pieces like "The Prague Protest," Munzter preaches against corrupt institutions, both the Catholic Church and the monarchy/oligarchy ruling Germany. The man's vision is a dynamic, sometimes hallucinatory call to arms against monks and priests who take advantage of the poor, the peasants and the illiterate to manipulate the masses through superstitious rituals and empty jargon. In an especially memorable phrase, Muntzer ends his message with "Thomas Munzter will not pray to a dumb God, but rather to one who speaks."

Some may find it curious, especially in our time when "rationality" means approving of a blowhard like Christopher Hitchens, that Muntzer would be included in a book series with such anti-clerical figures as Leon Trotsky, Fidel Castro and Mao, but as Engels knew when he wrote his famous study of the German Peasants' War, there is much more to Muntzer than religion, the man was providing a very radical social vision which included important class, economic issues that are incredibly relevant in the modern world. In works such as the "Sermon To The Princes" Muntzer uses Biblical imagery to attack the greed and institutional corruption of the oligarchs, even more fiercely than the corruption and abuse of the Vatican. Even in his "Confession" Muntzer lays out ideas for social organizing in a ways we would later see in the socialist, anarchist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Long before the 1871 Paris Commune, Muntzer and the German peasants were already attempting to dissolve the old state and replace it with a communal order based on social equality. His powerful, religious vision is but a product of his own time and era, but modern Protestants would do well to come back to their roots and dump Sarah Palin. One very fascinating element in Muntzer's writings is his idea concerning the worldly state and a higher, general moral set of laws. Muntzer believed that the laws and states established by the Vatican or the monarchies which ruled over Europe were obsolete, and irrelevant, in comparison to the revolutionary, spiritual, moral codes or laws of God and the people. The people of Greece today could surely relate to such thinking, as the old state seems more and more useless and obsolete as the economic crisis grows and the masses struggle to form new, communal ideas.

"Sermon To The Princes" is a great volume because it brings back to a wider audience one of the Reformation's most astounding characters, it is a curious accident of history that Muntzer belongs today more to the secular world than to the Baptist, Anabaptist institutions which have decide to trade him over for the ghastly form we have today, much like the old Soviet Union condemning Trotsky to the shadows of memory. Maybe some see Muntzer as too violent, too dangerous, as most great revolutionary thinkers have been stamped. But here for the general reader is a great collection full of memorable prose and even more important, memorable ideas. Here is the version of the Reformation you won't get in Sunday School.
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