Crediting God: Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism 978-0823233199, 0823233197

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Crediting God: Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism
 978-0823233199,  0823233197

Table of contents :
Contents
......Page 5
Half Title
......Page 1
Title Page
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Copyright
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Acknowledgments
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Introduction: Crediting God with Sovereignty
......Page 9
Religion and Polity-Building......Page 35
Religious Freedom: Preserving the Salt of the Earth......Page 37
A New Form of Religious Consciousness? Religion and Politics in Contemporary Muslim Contexts......Page 51
A Republic Whose Sovereign Is the Creator: The Politics of the Ban of Representation......Page 75
Confucianism’s Political Implications for the Contemporary World......Page 91
Religion and the Public Sphere in Senegal: The Evolution of a Project of Modernity......Page 110
The End of the Saeculum and Global Capitalism......Page 123
Should We Be Scared? The Return of the Sacred and the Rise of Religious Nationalism in South Asia......Page 125
All Nightmares Back: Dependency and Independency Theories, Religion, Capitalism, and Global Society......Page 150
The Evangelical-Capitalist Resonance Machine......Page 168
Questioning Sovereignty: Law and Justice......Page 185
‘‘The War Has Not Ended’’: Thomas Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, and the Paradoxes of Countersovereignty......Page 187
Natural Right and State of Exception in Leo Strauss......Page 198
Law and the Gift of Justice......Page 215
Drawing—the Single Trait: Toward a Politics of Singularity......Page 229
The Religion of Democracy: Tocqueville Beyond Civil Religion......Page 259
The Religious Situation in the United States 175 Years After Tocqueville......Page 261
The Avatars of Religion in Tocqueville......Page 281
Publics, Prosperity, and Politics: The Changing Face of African American Christianity and Black Political Life......Page 293
Conversion......Page 313
Notes
......Page 325
Contributors
......Page 381

Citation preview

Crediting God

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Crediting God Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism

Edited by

Miguel Vatter

fordham university press New York 2011

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Copyright 䉷 2011 Fordham University Press All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Fordham University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. Fordham University Press also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Crediting God : sovereignty and religion in the age of global capitalism / edited by Miguel Vatter.—1st ed. p. cm. Based on a conference held in May 2005 at Northwestern University. Includes bibliographical references (p. ). ISBN 978-0-8232-3319-9 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-8232-3320-5 (pbk. : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-8232-3321-2 (ebook) 1. Religion and politics—Congresses. 2. Globalization—Religious aspects—Congresses. 3. Capitalism—Religious aspects—Congresses. I. Vatter, Miguel E. BL65.P7C73 2011 201⬘.7—dc22 2010039505 Printed in the United States of America 13 12 11 5 4 3 2 1 First edition

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contents

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Acknowledgments Introduction: Crediting God with Sovereignty miguel vatter

1

Part One religion and polity-building 1.

Religious Freedom: Preserving the Salt of the Earth fred dallmayr

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A New Form of Religious Consciousness? Religion and Politics in Contemporary Muslim Contexts abdou filali-ansary

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A Republic Whose Sovereign Is the Creator: The Politics of the Ban of Representation shmuel trigano

67

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Confucianism’s Political Implications for the Contemporary World ranjoo seodu herr

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Religion and the Public Sphere in Senegal: The Evolution of a Project of Modernity souleymane bachir diagne

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3.

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Part Two the end of the saeculum and global capitalism 6.

Should We Be Scared? The Return of the Sacred and the Rise of Religious Nationalism in South Asia georges dreyfus

117

7.

All Nightmares Back: Dependency and Independency Theories, Religion, Capitalism, and Global Society hauke brunkhorst

142

8.

The Evangelical-Capitalist Resonance Machine william e. connolly

160

v

vi

9.

10. 11. 12.

Contents

Part Three questioning sovereignty: law and justice ‘‘The War Has Not Ended’’: Thomas Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, and the Paradoxes of Countersovereignty friedrich balke Natural Right and State of Exception in Leo Strauss miguel vatter Law and the Gift of Justice regina mara schwartz Drawing—the Single Trait: Toward a Politics of Singularity samuel weber

Part Four the religion of democracy: tocqueville beyond civil religion 13. The Religious Situation in the United States 175 Years After Tocqueville jose´ casanova 14. The Avatars of Religion in Tocqueville lucien jaume 15. Publics, Prosperity, and Politics: The Changing Face of African American Christianity and Black Political Life eddie glaude 16. Conversion thomas l. dumm

179 190 207 221

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Notes

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List of Contributors

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acknowledgments

The idea for this volume came out of the international conference ‘‘Theology, Faith, and Politics’’ held in May 2005 at the Alice Berline Kaplan Center for the Humanities at Northwestern University, which was organized by Robert Gooding-Williams, at the time the center’s director, and myself. I am grateful to Robert Gooding-Williams for his help, friendly advice, and unflagging support of this editorial project in the years since. I would also like to thank all the contributors to this volume, some of whom were present at the original conference and others who generously offered their texts for this project at a later stage. Last, I am greatly indebted to Helen Tartar, who encouraged me to pursue this project from the very beginning, and whom I am very lucky to count as my editor. Chapter 8 is from William E. Connolly, ‘‘The Evangelical-Capitalist Resonance Machine,’’ Political Theory 33, no. 6 (December 2005): 869– 886. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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introduction

Crediting God with Sovereignty Miguel Vatter

The rise of religious fundamentalism in the closing decades of the twentieth century continues to have enormous repercussions not only for politics, but also for the disciplines of the human sciences, philosophy, and theology. The sociology of religion, perhaps the paradigmatic achievement of the discipline of sociology, has been dealing with the effects of the crisis of its theories of secularization. The so-called deprivatization of religion has forced on the table the old-age question of the relation between God and society, or faith and the constitution of community, with the added complication that the community at stake nowadays is a global one.1 Political economy, whether one takes a Marxist or Simmelian approach, is structurally dependent on the idea of credit, which in turn is also ultimately rooted in an understanding of trust and faith, which are difficult to disentangle from theology.2 Philosophy, for its part, is coming to terms with an intuition already prefigured by Hermann Cohen, and now voiced by such diverse thinkers as Jacques Derrida, Ju¨rgen Habermas, and Hilary Putnam, among others, that no philosophical (‘‘scientific’’) foundation of ethics can hope to capture the full grammar of justice (which thus seems to call upon resources that are to be found only in religious experience).3 Furthermore, the deconstruction of metaphysics initiated by Heidegger and Wittgenstein, and the shadow it has since cast on the status

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of scientific knowledge, has brought to the fore the continued resilience of webs of belief, pre-predicative linguistic structures and practices, that must be taken on credit by our propositions if they are to make sense, with the result that many no longer see any point in accepting the Cartesian exchange of truth for certainty, and with the discontent with the modern project of epistemology, the path is once again being opened for a return to classical and medieval ontology, to Platonism and Aristotelianism in their manifold versions, and with that to a vision of the world that is more compatible with revealed truths.4 Given this context, where old modernist certainties have been recalled into doubt, it appears that no master narrative and no one disciplinary perspective are now capable of doing justice to the complexities of the new relation between religion and politics in the context of global capitalism.5 Why has religion, more so than politics or law, been able to capitalize on the processes of globalization? The question itself invites to approach the search for answers through a comparative perspective and a pluralistic methodology, which in any case has been the norm in the study of religious phenomena since at least Mircea Eliade’s path-breaking works after World War II. To understand the ‘‘return’’ of religion in the public sphere one can hardly ignore the reality of what has recently been called ‘‘alternative modernities,’’6 and its corollary: the plurality of Enlightenment projects. Last, but not least, the phenomenon that has recently been termed a ‘‘clash of fundamentalisms’’7 has opened up history in a way that the fall of the Berlin Wall had seemed to preclude. Derrida’s well-known refutation of Francis Fukuyama’s ‘‘End of History’’ thesis by way of reviving the category of the messianic contains a fundamental paradox for our times, namely: history has reopened in and through the various religious ways of rethinking the ‘‘end’’ of the saeculum and the renewal of the temporal categories of eschatology and apocalypse.8 All of the essays in this collection demonstrate their affinity to one or more of the above methodological commitments: they evidence comparativist and pluralist approaches to the phenomena of the theologico-political, and they indicate a consciousness of the peculiar paradox that the new historical open-endedness is achieved in and through an experience of the ‘‘end’’ of secular temporality. The collection owes its genesis to an international conference held at the Center for Humanities of Northwestern University in May 2005 entitled ‘‘Theology, Faith, and Politics,’’ organized by Robert Gooding-Williams and myself. Many of the papers given at the conference are presented here in revised versions, and some new papers have been solicited in order to provide coherence to the volume’s

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purpose. The conference intended to bring together an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars to think about the relation between religion and politics in the age of global capital under the four rubrics found in the book: ‘‘Religion and Polity-Building,’’ ‘‘The End of the Saeculum and Global Capitalism,’’ ‘‘Questioning Sovereignty: Law and Justice,’’ and ‘‘The Religion of Democracy: Tocqueville Beyond Civil Religion.’’ The spirit of this collection is the Wittgensteinian one of giving a perspicuous overview of a landscape, which naturally implies that many important features will be passed over, in all senses of the term. The volume does not pretend to have either a systematic or an encyclopedic goal; thus, not all of the major world religions receive due treatment, nor are all the disciplines of the human sciences represented.9 What ties these essays together and gives them coherence in the mind of the editor, instead, is that they explore different facets of one and the same hypothesis: the relation between religion and politics nowadays inevitably passes through the questioning of the relation between God (or the divine) and the concept of sovereignty. That the analogy between God and sovereignty can be questioned and is questionable is reflected by the fact that God needs to be credited with sovereignty. The rest of this introduction is dedicated to explore the meanings of this hypothesis.

Political Theology and Secularization The ‘‘clash of fundamentalisms’’ did not entirely appear from out of nowhere, albeit one of its components, namely, a theory of sovereignty, does operate always ex nihilo.10 Rather, the deprivatization of religion that made possible such a clash was prepared and announced, at least in the West, by the emergence of a discursive regularity that Carl Schmitt was the first to call ‘‘political theology.’’11 Political theology—which is one form in which an internal connection between religion and politics becomes thinkable—depends on the analogy between God and sovereignty, which permits the earthly sovereign to be conceived as the representative of the divine, the lieutenant of God.12 As a discursive regularity, political theology has at least two salient features. The first concerns its conditions of emergence: the problem of sovereignty is reignited in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the crisis of Deism and of modern ‘‘natural theology,’’ and the crisis of the political artifact that best corresponds to this Deism, namely, the

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modern idea of constitutionalism and the rule of law. The second feature is that the identification of God with sovereignty, or, as Erik Peterson says, the understanding of monotheism as a ‘‘political problem,’’13 cannot be reduced to Schmitt’s own rendering of this identification. For instance, a contemporary of Schmitt, Jacques Maritain, criticizes all attributions of sovereignty to the state precisely because he holds that sovereignty belongs exclusively to God: ‘‘In the last instance, no earthly power can be in the image of God nor vicar of God.’’14 In so doing, Maritain opens the way for a ‘‘democratic’’ understanding of political theology that ultimately gets concretized in a new Magna Carta, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and contains the doctrinal content of a new ‘‘democratic faith’’ that is shareable by all peoples, irrespective of their religious or cultural beliefs.15 Schmitt, by contrast, thought that God’s sovereignty was best captured by a theory of lieutenancy and vertical representativeness that is fundamental to Western Christendom, and that in an early work he associates with Roman Catholicism and later will consistently ascribe to Hobbes.16 The cases of Eric Voegelin or Leo Strauss are also instructive on the possibility of an anti-Schmittian political theology not centered on sovereignty. In Voegelin, unlike in Maritain, the Schmittian category of vertical representation is maintained, but it undergoes a division. The decisionistic sovereign is charged with the task of providing the ‘‘existential’’ representation of a political community.17 But vertical representation necessarily also entails an openness to a state-transcendent ‘‘truth,’’ of which the two crucial types are ‘‘anthropological’’ and ‘‘soteriological’’ truths. The philosopher and the religious thinker, rather than the sovereign, are charged with representing such truths, and in so doing they prevent the identification of the salvation of the soul with the security of the city.18 Yet another modality of political theology has been called ‘‘negative’’ by Jacob Taubes.19 It follows the path opened up by Peterson’s critique of Schmitt, namely, that the theological needs to be opposed to all forms of sovereignty (to ‘‘the concept of the political’’ in Schmitt’s sense) but nonetheless, as such a radical critique of sovereignty, it remains political and not merely privatistic and fideistic. This ‘‘critical’’ conception of political theology was carried forward by Johann Baptist Metz and Ju¨rgen Moltmann in the 1960s, then by liberation theology and more recently by the radical orthodoxy movement.20 For this variant of negative or critical political theology, the figure of Walter Benjamin is of particular importance because of his attempts at radicalizing the link between messianism and historical materialism, something that has recently been at the center of

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work by Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Slavoj Zˇizˇek.21 In all of these variants, the discourse of political theology remains a privileged matrix to understand the rise of religious fundamentalism precisely because these fundamentalisms all share the feature that God is reidentified with a source of sovereignty, and with sovereignty the political becomes expressed through the distinction between friend and enemy, and the ekklesia or community receives its militant constitution (ecclesia militans).22 But there is another dimension to the connection between political theology and religious fundamentalism, which is captured by the hypothesis that fundamentalism employs religion in order to ‘‘politicize’’ society and social relations, and in this way to open a path of alternative modernization.23 The possibility of making this connection between fundamentalism and modernization was already disclosed by Schmitt in Political Theology when he claimed that the crediting of God with sovereignty is, at one and the same time, the move that starts a process of secularization. Schmitt is correct in connecting political theology, sovereignty, and secularization. Seen from this perspective, the recent efforts by Milbank and Taylor to redescribe secularism as being itself a politico-theological movement that can be traced back to the ecclesiastical and legal reforms of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, associated with the rise of Scotist-Occamite nominalism and the first roots of reform, or the ‘‘rage for order,’’ as Taylor puts it, are following indications found in Schmitt’s own narrative.24 On this hypothesis, fundamentalism and secularization would not be mutually exclusive: if secularization and modernization are ways to reorder a society radically, then fundamentalism (as motivated by a ‘‘rage for order’’) is part and parcel of a project of modernization. Only a misconception with regard to the internal relation between sovereignty and secularization could lead modernist theories of secularization to the conclusion that religion had been terminally privatized and its utility had been relativized by scientific and technological achievements. But if, conversely, one sees secularization as the shadow cast by sovereignty, then the ‘‘return of the sacred’’ no longer appears as an entirely surprising event, for the politicotheological had never left modernity. More than a reaction to the purported privatization of religion in modernity (and it is in any case questionable whether secularization amounts to such privatization), the discourses of political theology react to the rise of another dimension of modernity, namely, the rise of the public sphere.25 It is Kant’s demand that all authority come under the scrutiny of public reason, his formulation of the transcendental principle of all law according to which ‘‘all actions affecting the rights of other

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human beings are wrong if their maxim is not compatible with their being made public,’’26 that poses a fundamental challenge not only to sovereignty but also to the public role of religion, especially if the latter is understood to have an internal relation to the possibility of ‘‘mystery, miracle and authority.’’27 That is why nowadays a great deal of the debate with regard to the proper configuration between politics and religion turns around the question of whether ‘‘religious’’ reasons are to be accepted in a public sphere that ought to be characterized by the practice of giving justifications (arguments) that do not require assent to some faith content.28

Political Religion, Civil Religion, Theocracy, and Democracy According to the hypothesis animating this collection of essays, then, there is no religious necessity to connect God (or the divine) to the figure of sovereignty; the necessity of this connection is rather a feature of the discourse of political theology. Religions are not as such political theologies.29 To define ‘‘religion,’’ I employ the characterization given by Mircea Eliade of the homo religiosus as that individual who seeks to ‘‘break out’’ into a transcendent dimension of existence, or the sacred: ‘‘For me, the sacred is always the revelation of the real, the encounter with what saves us, in as much as it grants sense to our life.’’30 For Eliade, the sacred takes up both the notion of the numinous (derived from Walter F. Otto) and the notion of the order of human reality that lies beyond the profane (following Marcel Mauss and Roger Caillois). The aspect of revelation of the sacred, its ‘‘incarnation’’ in profane objects, Eliade calls theophany.31 The hypothesis would then be that there is no internal relation between theophany and theocracy.32 When does religion become political? According to Eric Voegelin’s definition of a ‘‘political religion,’’ the transcendent is politicized when two things occur: first, the sacred is no longer understood as what breaks open the profane, but rather the sacred becomes enclosed in the profane; second, religion is politicized when it gives rise to a social hierarchy or a sacralization of political order. In short, by Voegelin’s account, political religions understand the substance of salvation to be political: this he calls their ‘‘Gnosticism.’’33 Voegelin, for his part, opposes to all political religions another possibility (which is no less politico-theological): the possibility that divine truth transcends every political order but is accessible directly to the individual soul without the mediation of a hierarchy.

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A recent typology of political theology, offered by Jan Assmann, is modeled on Voegelin’s idea of a ‘‘political religion,’’ that is, on what kind of relation is established between salvation and political order.34 But in Assmann, political theology is a more encompassing category than Voegelin’s ‘‘political religion,’’ since the latter corresponds only to the kind of political theology that Assmann relates to representation (that is, to the idea that the ruler is the representative of God). Voegelin’s own politicotheological alternative would seem to be closer to Assmann’s second type of political theology, namely, the idea of theocracy, where God rules directly and thus problematizes the possibility of kingship. The third type of political theology, for Assmann, consists in those societies that divide the work of salvation from the work of security or political order, along Augustinian lines, thereby installing a dualism between church and state. Though influential, Assmann’s typology cannot be received as such, for reasons I will explain. The temptation to credit the divine with sovereignty, to identify God with an absolute ruler—either in a theocratic or in a representative sense—is much higher in monotheistic religions, or, more generally, in axial religions, than in paganism. In Monotheism as a Political Problem, Peterson puts the point rather provocatively when he argues that the identification of God with a divine monarchy corresponds to the attempt to unify Hellenism and Judaism, primarily in Philo, but in any case comes under attack once Western Christendom opts for Trinitarianism. It is often claimed that in archaic societies (animistic, totemically structured, and so forth) ‘‘everything is religious’’ and that it is impossible to differentiate religious from political or social institutions. This may be the case, but it must also be remembered that in such societies the state does not exist, and thus no sovereignty either.35 To this there corresponds the worshipping of many gods, none of whom is really sovereign or absolute. And, as Freud shows in Totem and Taboo, in these societies the figure of the king is taboo, in the sense that it is the object of ambivalence because it functions as a reminder of the primordial killing and eating of the Father; it is exactly the opposite of the demand that is made by all axial religions, namely, the demand to a univocal love of the Father. But it is equally crucial to distinguish political theology (and political religion) from civil theology and civil religion. Civil theology is originally a product of polytheism: it is a designation apparently first coined by Marcus Varro and commented upon by Saint Augustine.36 Civil theology (the theology of the city) is one of three theologies listed by Varro, the other referring to mythical theology (theology of the theater) and to natural

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theology (theology of the philosophers). Civil theology refers to gods that are to be worshipped by the city and thus by citizens. It refers ultimately to the divinization of the powers of the community—essentially to the respect and recognition that the parts of the community give to one another (and later, the respect and recognition given to the parts of the empire and the adoption of foreign deities into a pantheon). The worship of civil deities acknowledges that in respect to the conduct (nec-otium) with others, there are unsurpassable limits; that in a civil society, as opposed to in a state of wilderness, one cannot do to others whatever one desires. Civil theology is a human creation and presupposes the existence of the city, as is clearly stated by Varro.37 This viewpoint neatly corresponds to the meaning of the relation between Romulus and Numa, archetypes of the sovereign and the priest in Roman society, uncovered by Georges Dume´zil, where the priest imposes a kind of limit on the sovereign.38 Thus civil theology, originated by Numa, in fact is a religion that stands, in many respects, in tension, if not in contradiction, with sovereignty. Consequently, there is no continuity between civil theology and political theology. Civil theology, in this sense, is a theology that goes well with a Roman idea of constitutionalism, and it is no doubt for these kinds of reasons that the problem of a ‘‘civil religion’’ reappears in early modernity, in the context of what Skinner calls ‘‘neo-Roman’’ republican revolutions. But it would be mistaken to identify what, from Rousseau to Bellah, is called ‘‘civil religion’’ with Varro’s civil theology. Modern civil religion is not to be identified with what Rousseau calls ‘‘divine positive right,’’ that is, with the religion of the citizen, because civil religion has a universalistic dimension that is entirely absent from pagan civil theology.39 Whereas the latter turns on the utility of religion for purposes of making war—as Machiavelli was the first to point out—modern civil religion, according to Spinoza and Rousseau, seeks to employ the ‘‘moderating’’ force of religious convictions for the sake of upholding universalistic principles of civil society, the droits de l’homme and not just the rights of the citizen. These universalistic principles, undoubtedly, could be read into the Gospel of Jesus understood—in Lessingian terms—as a ‘‘religion of Man’’ or as ‘‘divine natural right,’’ that is, a religion of universal fraternity (as opposed to what Rousseau calls the religion of the ‘‘priest,’’ meaning Christianity in its ‘‘positivity’’), but for Rousseau the problem with the religion of Jesus is that it is entirely apolitical and provides a justification for martyrdom more than a basis for a civil society in which religious persecution will no longer be tolerated. Thus Spinoza’s and Rousseau’s conceptions of civil religion will attempt to give political form to universal fraternity and

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reunite the rights of man with the rights of citizens. Civil religion, therefore, is a ‘‘religion’’ only in a very qualified sense: it is a ‘‘religion’’ that comes out of human natural right, and neither out of divine positive nor out of divine natural right. In this sense, civil religion can be called a ‘‘religion’’ of tolerance of all positive religions, a ‘‘religion’’ of democracy itself: it is neither an intolerant religion (such as Roman civil theology) nor a tolerant religion (such as Jesus’ religion, which corresponds to Locke’s conception of the spirit of Christianity).40 It is along these lines that the term is revived by Robert Bellah in his now-classic essay on ‘‘Civil Religion in America,’’ to which I will return.41 Naturally, in the creation of North American civil religion one has to factor in the fundamental role played by another, anti-Roman constitutional model, namely, the model drawn from the tradition of the ‘‘Republic of the Hebrews,’’ which centers on the idea that the social contract is itself based on a more original alliance between God and His ‘‘chosen’’ people, an idea of alliance that also speaks against the identification of God with sovereignty.42 In any case, the analogy between God and sovereign is compatible neither with civil theology, as Augustine knew very well, nor with the early modern search for a republican and universalistic civil religion. The distant sources for the monotheistic idea of God as sovereign are not to be found in civil theology, but, if anywhere, then rather in the doctrines developed by Pythagorean circles, which resided outside of the cities, and from the natural theology of the philosophers (Varro), which gave rise to the central concept of the sovereign as a ‘‘living law.’’43 Another source, as mentioned, is Philo’s original fusion of Hellenistic figures of kingship with a conception of Judaism as theocracy. The tension between polytheistic civil theology and monotheistic political theology is clear: on one view, all those who belong to the city do so in virtue of some power they exercise, and all powers of the city have their own gods; on the other view, a ‘‘foreign’’ god comes to the city from the outside to settle its orders once and for all, and in the process renders all social classes and castes ‘‘free and equal’’ and simultaneously ‘‘slaves’’ of the new lord. Traces of this tension are found already in Aristotle’s Politics IV, 14–17, with its discussion of the question of who ought to rule: whether the best man (leading to a justification of monarchy) or everyone in turn (constitutionalism). The tension between political theology and civil theology never abandons the Western tradition, and in someone like Rousseau (one recalls the tension between the principle of popular sovereignty and the necessity of a legislator) it acquires a particularly complicated physiognomy. It is the same tension that is present in the conflict between theistic

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and deistic readings of the U.S. Constitution (and now, more recently, of the project of a European Constitution). It is perhaps in order to master such ambivalence between particularistic and universalistic religions, between civil religion and political theology, that axial religions separate the sacred from the profane into distinct social orders, the people and the religious virtuosi, those dedicated to the profane life and those dedicated to the eternal life. But this division of society in the axial religions, which Charles Taylor understands in terms of a certain ‘‘complementarity’’ between the higher and the lower orders,44 can also receive an alternative interpretation and be understood in terms of what, for lack of a better term, I shall call an absence (of God) at the center of the very idea of a social order.45 Once the divine is understood as transcendent with respect to the profane order, that is, once there is a verticalization of the distinction between sacred and profane, and the divine is no longer what ‘‘surrounds’’ us as nature, but, in some way or another, lies ‘‘outside’’ of what surrounds us, there is no necessity for this vertical distance to assume the form of a monarchical relation. This is how Peterson understands Trinitarianism and the distinction between the City of God and the City of Man to have rendered political theology, in Schmitt’s sense, impossible. The transcendence of God in axial religions opens the political order to a moment of undecidability (and that means, to a moment beyond sovereignty, if Schmitt remains correct in ascribing decisionism to sovereignty). The postaxial relation between religion and politics oscillates necessarily between the theocratic and the democratic.46 God’s claim to rule (the Celestial City, no longer the earthly city) prohibits all representation of God in the earthly city as a ruler (and thus prohibits political theology in Assmann’s sense of representation), and this opens the path for a democratic understanding of the political order. The history of Roman Catholicism may be well viewed, in this sense, as a constant battle between a politico-theological and representational conception of the sovereign (pope, emperor, king) as vicar of God—as in Schmitt—and a theodemocratic conception of political order as antisovereign, which flows into conciliarism and later modern natural right.47 Put differently, the Augustinian tradition of the two cities would permit the earthly city to be monarchic or imperial for the sake of accomplishing the negative function of katechon, of withholding the Antichrist, but would require the heavenly city of the church to be democratic, and thus open to the possibility of conciliarism. On this view, it is undecidable whether the king or the people ultimately represent God because there is, at the heart of the political order, an absence of representation.

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The absence of God’s representative in the political order in modern democracy or republicanism, in turn, allows for the possibility that the political order receive an autonomous foundation.48 In A Secular Age, Charles Taylor claims that such autonomous grounding of political and moral order finds its vector in Protestantism, in particular in the Christianized stoicism of Grotius, for whom it is the disciplined self of the Calvinist who is first capable of thinking that a social order depends on the good will of men alone. This account of modernity gives short shrift to another project of modernity, whose principles were established by thinkers such as Machiavelli, Bruno, and Spinoza, and that turns on the identification of God with Nature, such that political order is now premised only on natural right, understood as divine right, which leads to a polity that grants the right to choose one’s religion to all and is itself not religiously founded, although it may have a civil religion. In my opinion, it is this republican, rather than Protestant, project of modernity that lies behind the Deistic path that resurfaces in the Declaration of Independence, where God stands for the self-evidence of individual rights, but coupled to the requirement of giving evidence to others, that is, coupled to the requirement of publicity and of a public sphere where the public use of reason can be exercised. The possibility of a republican connection between God and the public sphere, a possibility voiced again in our times by John Rawls, cannot be understood within the Grotian narrative of modernity proposed by Taylor. Revitalizing such a possibility is one of the red threads running through all of the presentations in this book.

Religion and Polity-building The essays of the first part of this book are dedicated to understanding axial religions in relation to what I have called the undecidability between theocracy and democracy. These essays offer interpretations of axial religions that bring into evidence their tension with political theology understood as a discourse on the sovereignty of God and of God’s representative in the political order. Thus, the first essay, by Fred Dallmayr, presents an Augustinian understanding of the relation between church and polity and argues for its continued significance in order to understand the role that religion can play in a liberal democracy. In a discussion that is clearly informed by the ‘‘new political theology’’ (from Metz to Taylor), Dallmayr argues that if religion is entirely depoliticized, if democracy undoes its tie

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to theocracy, then the project of transforming society for the sake of justice will also be undercut. But if religion is overly politicized, if the church does not maintain its separation from the earthly city, then it runs the risk of becoming merely a civil theology, if not a political religion. Dallmayr supports the post-Petersonian claim, of crucial importance to liberation theology and the ‘‘critical’’ political theology, that the church owes preferential treatment to the poor and to those who are systematically excluded from the civic order. Put in Rawlsian terms, Dallmayr’s point is that the role of the church, in and through its separation from the state, is to make sure that the second principle of justice not be forgotten. Abdou Filali-Ansary’s contribution is a discussion of the relation between religion and politics in contemporary Islam. It attempts to go beyond the standard debate between reformist and fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic civilization. Fundamentalism appeals to the possibility and necessity of bringing back the caliphate and reintegrating the ummah, the Islamic polity. Filali-Ansary shows that this fundamentalism, associated with the work of Qutb and others, may itself have been a reaction to another intellectual movement in Islam that sought to think critically through two basic claims: first, that the Qur’an contains a political constitution or program; second, that the Qur’an contains a catalogue of divine norms that are of atemporal validity (what Filali-Ansary refers to as the Platonism of Islamic thought). Filali-Ansary discusses this intellectual movement in relation to two books by Ali Abderraziq and Maaruf ArRusafi (not yet published in English), books that, in their very controversial history of reception, reveal both the difficulties but also the promise inherent in thinking together Islam and the public sphere. With respect to the first claim, Filali-Ansary discusses Abderraziq’s attempt to drive a wedge between the figure of the prophet and that of the king. With respect to the second claim, Filali-Ansary emphasizes how, within Islamic thought itself, there emerges the possibility of reading the Qur’an without already presupposing that the use of reason is a means to understand divine revelation, but rather turning that relation around, in the manner that had been envisaged, in the West, by Lessing, and thus speak of ‘‘revelation and reason’’ where the former is at the service of the latter. Filali-Ansary’s point is to show how a project of Enlightenment, that is, the reversal of the relation of revelation and reason whereupon the tradition can be rationally questioned and set up for public scrutiny of the best arguments as well as the religious rejection of the sovereignty of God in the sense of a political theology, can grow within Islamic civilization and does not stand in contradiction to it.49

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Filali-Ansary’s essay also discusses a second path-breaking work for contemporary Islam, namely, the rewriting of the life of the Prophet Muhammad by Ar-Rusafi.50 Ar-Rusafi, on Filali-Ansary’s account, presents Muhammad’s life at several degrees of separation from the life of a state-founder, a Romulus or Theseus or perhaps even Moses, and instead shows the Prophet as a creator of a posttribal civilization whose specific feature is precisely that of transcending political ‘‘identity’’ for the sake of achieving an open community based on principle. If the Prophet Muhammad was therefore a political figure, this is to the extent that he had the capacity to transcend cultural limitations in order to access universal principles of action and community. The contribution of Shmuel Trigano is a reading of the political philosophy of the Torah, and in particular of the structure of the Hebrew Republic, which is a question that was not only fundamental in early modern republican thought but is also a crucial question in Israel today.51 Trigano works out one possible way to understand the inner connection between theocracy and democracy in the sense that God’s rule is opposed to sovereignty and is best realized by a constitutional system that turns on the impossibility of representing God politically. Trigano’s discussion offers a way to understand the role of the Hebrew Bible in the setting up of modern constitutionalism, which falls neither into political theology nor into civil religion. In fact, much like Dallmayr, Trigano wants to maintain the critical potential that the Bible has to question the ‘‘idolatrous’’ elements in modern democracy, where the void of representation is filled up by a totalization of the people (a problematic that reappears in the essays found in last part of this collection). Ranjoo Herr’s essay treats of the political philosophy emerging out of another axial religion or cultural system, namely, Confucianism. Her treatment of Confucianism is framed by a general question that explicitly motivated Maritain’s project for a ‘‘democratic charter’’ for all peoples, and that was recently brought to prominence by Rawls in his Law of Peoples: to what extent can axial religions (or cultural systems) that are not, as such, liberal nevertheless incorporate and adapt premises of the modern moral order, that is, respect for human rights, economic justice, and democracy? Ranjoo Herr offers a reconstruction of Confucianism along lines borrowed from Rawls’s own political liberalism, namely, showing that for Confucianism it is the conception of a person, and not that of a given social order (be this family or state) that is fundamental, and that the idea of a polity is built around the idea of the respect owed to the dignity of such a person. One of the features that distinguish Confucianism from

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Protestantism (and this feature is reflected also in their varying relation to capitalism) is the central importance given by the former to the structure of the family, since even rulers come to be seen as ‘‘symbolic parents.’’ As reconstructed by Ranjoo Herr, the political philosophy of Confucianism also reveals the element of undecidability between theocracy and democracy mentioned earlier, insofar as there is an identity between the ‘‘mandate of Heaven’’ to which rulers can claim and the will of the people, with the consequence that a right of rebellion is extended to everyone. Likewise, Ranjoo Herr emphasizes the strong egalitarianism of Confucianism, which seems to be compatible with a socialist system of property. Last, the dual structure of profane and sacred order is maintained in Confucianism to the extent that rulers must be drawn from the learned classes (whose exclusive dedication is to study and law, not to moneymaking), but at the same time the literati do not quite form a distinct order, at least not in the sense that corresponds to a distinction between the profane and the sacred orders as these are represented in the West from Augustine onward. The last essay in the first part brings back a leitmotif connecting all of the previous essays, namely, the role of axial religions (in this case Christianity and Islam) in building a project of alternative modernity. What motivates Souleymane Bachir’s essay is the achievement of a ‘‘religious secularism’’ or a ‘‘spiritualist socialism’’ that keeps at equal distance both from what Taylor calls ‘‘exclusivist humanism’’ (which for both Taylor and Bachir is connected to the French understanding of secularism as laicite´) and from fundamentalism. As also seen in the previous essays, here too the drive behind a religious secularism or a spiritual modernization is the drive to social justice (this would be perhaps the basic principle of an Islamic community, but it is not different from Judaism, Christianity and Confucianism, just to mention the religions treated here). A second feature of this religious secularism is its emphasis on the ontological or cosmic element of religion, that is, religion is not a matter of belief but of being. Finally, the third crucial element of religious secularism turns on the invention of what Bachir calls a ‘‘Sufism of action.’’ Sufism has sometimes been identified as the ‘‘good’’ element of Islamic civilization because it is purportedly ‘‘mystical’’ and not ‘‘militant.’’ Bachir rejects this interpretation of Sufism, which rather ought to be understood as an attempt to bring together the contemplative and the active lives (in this way, undoing the premodern distinction of these two in distinct social orders) in order to orient religion toward the task of transforming the world (not escaping it) in the direction of social justice. On Bachir’s account, this practical Sufism is characterized by its inbuilt hospitality to a plurality of ways of worshipping God. Such hospitality

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to other religions is not an effect of the syncretism often attributed to ‘‘black Islam,’’ but rather is a feature that allows us to think about Islam as offering the basis of an overlapping consensus and of a public sphere, very much like what Filali-Ansary is also advocating. That is why Bachir closes his essay with a reflection on the compatibility of this practical Sufism with the republican principle of a separation between church and state, or, in the case of Senegal, of brotherhoods and the state. In sum, these essays present different ways in which theocracy and democracy, or monotheism and republicanism, can be thought as not being mutually exclusive from the perspective of axial religions. Moreover, they give support to the hypothesis that modernity is not a univocal process and that there may exist alternative modernities; in short, that it is possible to have a decent society without this society having to be a liberal one.

The End of the Saeculum and Global Capitalism The hypothesis that the politics which can emerge from axial religions is characterized by a certain undecidability with respect to their political form, which oscillates between theocracy and democracy, was received and radicalized by Spinoza—who counts as the founder of the modern republican attitude toward religion—when he rejected all attempts at crediting God with sovereignty (on the ground that it is an anthropomorphism) and identified God with Nature.52 But Spinoza, at the same time, follows the Bible when he lends credence to the idea that God reveals Himself first to an entire people (to a demos), and then only to its ruler (Moses).53 This means that, for Spinoza, divine revelation lends itself always to a deistic (democratic) as much as a theistic (theocratic) reading. But this ambivalence seems to characterize other radically modern accounts of secularization as well, such as those found in Feuerbach and Marx. On their accounts, realizing that the human species credits God with powers that really belong to the species alone is the first step to ending domination and establishing a real democracy. But, is this not to say that humankind, or the totality of social forces, needs to be understood as divine in order to finally abandon the idea of God as transcendent? If so, how can even this kind of radical humanism be appropriately described as an ‘‘exclusivist humanism,’’ in the sense of Charles Taylor? The question of whether democracy (or: the self-consciousness of human society, the general intellect of the human species) can put an end

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to theocracy, or whether politics and law can do without religion, structures the domain of modern secularization theory (from Marx to Durkheim to Weber and Luhmann). One can perhaps divide the approaches to secularization into two general types. On the first approach, which is shared by Marx as well as by Weber, secularization is essentially a matter of the rationalization of ways of life. The claim is that with secularization, the eternal question: ‘‘how should I live?’’ becomes a matter of correct conduct within the world (what Weber calls Lebensfu¨hrung, vocation).54 I shall call this the vocational approach to secularization. Weber’s claim is that with Protestantism the divine vocation gets folded into the profane path to achieve human welfare through the virtues of the capitalist spirit. The secularization argument is that once a social basis for religion, that is a specialized class of priests, and so a theocracy, is eliminated, then the path to transcendence also becomes closed off, and the need for religion will be replaced by something else, bringing religion itself to an end. An interesting correlate to this theory of secularization is that such a vocational path of secularization requires, more than anything else, the rise of the social and of political economy. The social and the economical both relativize law and politics—for neither law nor politics really offers a ‘‘vocation’’ that is accessible to all, whereas society and the economy are precisely the kind of structures (or ‘‘social imaginaries,’’ to use Taylor’s term) that allow everyone to find their most rational conduct of life (following Hayek’s definition of the form of economy as a catalaxia). Secularization requires the eclipse of the vita activa as an option for a vocation, as Arendt clearly saw.55 Thus, Benjamin’s thesis that capitalism is itself a religion must be understood as the most radical formulation of the hypothesis that only economics makes possible the collapse of the sacred into the profanity of a professional vocation.56 The second major approach to the problem of secularization has to do with the question of whether democracy is at all possible without religion. Here democracy must not be understood simply as a political form among others, but in the Tocquevillian sense of a social democratic order. I shall call this the democratic approach to secularization. It is this approach to secularization that one finds nowadays in the debate on public reason and the fundamental question: should theistic arguments be accepted in a deistically constituted public sphere? The debate is also found in a slightly different form in the problem of giving the European Union a constitution: is such a union possible with an Islamic nation, or is Europe the same as Christianity, and therefore should not the dependency of democracy on Christianity be inscribed in the European Constitution? It is, of course, a

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question with global implications: if democracy were not to be dependent on Christianity, then it could also be a form of government that could be adopted, in varying shapes and ways, by societies characterized by other religious traditions. The democratic approach to the problem of secularization offers two alternatives, starkly presented by the Schmitt-Blumenberg debate.57 On one side stand those accounts that see democracy as an autonomous product of modernity, closely linked to the rise of modern science, that have allowed human beings no longer to fear Nature or give themselves passively to Fate.58 Science, not religion, gives us access to our self-understanding as free and rational beings. From this perspective, theistic arguments that rely on faith in miracles and divine revelation for their justification would not be acceptable in a public use of reason, because they contribute nothing to man’s self-liberation from illusions. On this view, the separation between church and state is absolutely essential for democracy, which means that democracy depends on constitutionalism. On the other side stand those accounts that argue that democracy without religion leads to nihilism and relativism, and ultimately to a totalitarian society. On this view, by ‘‘closing’’ the public sphere to the voices of religious experience, liberal democracy triggers something like an autoimmune reaction and builds an immunity to its own tolerance, which undoes it—that is, undoes it as Enlightenment project. Schmitt, Strauss, Voegelin, Maritain, and even Taylor exploit this ‘‘dialectic’’ of Enlightenment when they claim that by cutting off the perspective of orthodoxy, or salvation, from the public sphere, liberalism acts in a prejudiced way, ‘‘blocking’’ a possible source of light and knowledge without sufficient grounds, and thus engages in intolerance.59 The essays in the second part of the book pursue aspects of both approaches to secularization theory. Georges Dreyfus’s essay helpfully resumes the debate on the vocational approach to secularization and its current crisis. He illustrates his claims with reference to the revival of religious nationalism in Southeast Asia. According to Dreyfus, it is precisely the globalization of the economy that has undermined the institutions, such as the nation-state, which helped establish the ‘‘modern’’ secular self, and thus has reopened the question of where individuals are to recover their sense of identity. Following Marcel Gauchet and others, Dreyfus sees religions currently providing for ‘‘identities’’ as well as extrainstitutional ways of creating communities for atomized individuals.60 The question is whether these identities and new forms of communal existence

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are ‘‘post-Durkheimian’’ or ‘‘neo-Durkheimian,’’ to follow Taylor’s distinction: do they present themselves as a ‘‘spiritual path’’ to be followed each in their own way, or do they provide ‘‘the link between adhering to God and belonging to the state’’?61 Dreyfus suggests that Hindu nationalism offers an example of a use of religion that serves a need to visualize a utopian political community that goes beyond the form of the nationstate, which has been relativized precisely by the disembedding of the social and of the economy from its prior constitutional limits. With this kind of religious nationalism, one would be confronted with a neo-Durkheimian reaction to globalization that, however, does not let itself be reduced to the form of a new civil religion, but rather presents itself as a religion for a new political formation beyond the constitutional state. Hauke Brunkhorst’s essay is an exploration of the democratic approach to secularization, a discussion of the theories in favor and against democracy’s dependence on religion. According to Brunkhorst, modern democracy combines the radical ideas of social justice and solidarity issuing out of monotheistic religions together with a dependence on legalism that is derived from Roman and neo-Roman republicanism. For this reason, it is not possible to construe modern democracy simply as being either dependent or independent from religion. Brunkhorst discusses Rorty’s postmodern account of why democracy is independent from religion, in which religious content is deprived of any truth-content but is given an ‘‘ironical’’ use for the purpose of expanding circles of solidarity, and compares it with the accounts of dependency found in Benjamin and Schmitt, in which the utopian or messianic aspect of democracy trumps the legal and constitutional form of the same. The essay offers an account of Habermas’s theory of communicative action as a way of bridging these two extremes. Habermas’s view allows us to take seriously the validity claims of theology (unlike Rorty) and so opens up the Enlightenment from its own danger of closure and from turning into an ideology, that is, a particularistic viewpoint imposed as a universalistic one. But Brunkhorst is also aware that opening up the public sphere to the claims of religion brings along with it an ‘‘opacity’’ present in religious faith that cannot be translated into publically verifiable truth claims. For Brunkhorst, as for Dreyfus, globalization appears as a process that disembeds both economies and religions from their constitutional frameworks. If the constitutional democratic state had been able, in its history, to include previously excluded constituencies, such as the poor through a welfare state or persecuted religions through the protection of religious freedom, it is unclear how the new exclusions generated by the disembedded economies and religions (the latter in the

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shape of militant fundamentalism) can find a constitutional and legal path of inclusion and redress, at least not until the possibility of a global state constitution is seriously considered. As I mentioned at the start, one of the paradoxes of the current revival of religion concerns the ironical way in which Fukuyama’s ‘‘end of history’’ thesis, which simply restates the secularization thesis in terms of the gradual disappearance of sacred time, leaving only the profane, empty form of progress without revolutions as the sole mode of temporality, is at once verified and falsified by the return of fundamentalisms, which install their own version of the end of history. So secularization brings about the ‘‘end’’ of religion not in the intended sense that unlimited progress of knowledge against illusion stands before us (in this sense: that history has come to an end, a` la Fukuyama), but rather conversely: in the sense that the eschatological and apocalyptic features of sacred time bring to an end the profane historical time of secularization theory, and nevertheless, this return of the ‘‘end’’ of times in a religious sense, actually serves to open up immanent time and historical becoming. The essay by Bill Connolly is an attempt to come to terms with this coincidence of opposites: the end of history according to secularization theory and the end of history according to a messianic reading of the history of salvation, with the result of a new openness of time. If the original Weberian thesis concerning vocation showed that salvation consisted, for the ‘‘Protestant ethic,’’ in a progress through an empty and calculable form of historical time, fundamentalism fast-forwards to the ‘‘end’’ of this saeculum or profane time as the time of salvation. Connolly’s essay takes up the question—which has recently been the object of much debate—between neoliberal, supply-side capitalism and U.S. evangelicalism.62 Connolly identifies a common ‘‘ethos,’’ a shared ‘‘sensibility’’ between these unlikely partners, one that is characterized by what Nietzsche called the ‘‘spirit of revenge’’ and by resentment against those who are seen as caring for the future of the world, in opposition to those who sacrifice it for present profits or in view of the destruction of the world in the Second Coming. Connolly gives an interesting reading of a feature common to all fundamentalisms, whether Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and so on, namely, the apocalyptic scenario. In order to resist the ‘‘resonance machine’’ composed by neoliberalism and evangelicalism, Connolly suggests that an overlapping consensus can be achieved between different constituencies that have in common their struggle against the spirit of revenge and, most importantly, a pluralistic outlook

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on faith, which can be rendered as a faith in an ‘‘open-ended’’ God and an ‘‘open-ended’’ universe or pluriverse.

Questioning Sovereignty: Law and Justice The essays composing the third part question the foundational structure of Schmittian political theology as a discourse that depends on the analogy between the omnipotence of God and the absoluteness of political sovereignty with respect to all constitutional binds. The juridical-theological characteristic of the sovereign consists in the establishment of order ex nihilo, that is, from a state of exception to constituted laws. But the concept of state of exception in Schmitt’s political theology is not without a reference to justice, just as the omnipotence of God is not entirely separable from justice. There is thus a tension between divine justice, which to some extent is necessarily unbound from law, and human justice, which is dependent on law (justice would be giving to each what is theirs according to law—as in Kant’s definition of the lex justitia). The constitutional conception of justice under law is thus, not coincidentally, dependent on an idea of God that is deistic, whose Providence is understood in terms of a rational, law-bound design that is accessible to unaided human reason. The essays in this part of the volume are attempts to think the state of exception outside and beyond the ways in which it operates in Schmitt’s political theology, and in this way to reconfigure the relation between human law and divine justice. Friedrich Balke’s essay offers a reading of Schmitt’s concept of sovereignty that no longer sees it tied to the figure of a king by divine right but that has become a subject-position, perhaps an office, that in modernity is opened up to everyone, in particular to a people as a whole. On Balke’s account, Schmitt’s political theology is not so much that of Roman Catholicism, but rather one that, paradoxically, draws from the Old Testament in seeking to understand political power as a function of an ongoing war between peoples rather than as a function of whoever can decide to end or begin a war (a feature of the Hobbesian idea of sovereignty). On this reading, Schmitt would be constructing his concept of sovereignty from out of a countertradition of modernity, discussed by Foucault, characterized by an antistatist discourse, for whom politics is a function of war between peoples, between classes and ultimately between races. Schmitt’s would thus be political theology for a biopolitical age.

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One way to think about Schmitt’s political theology is to see it as staging a particular reading of the Pauline tension between the (Roman and Jewish) law and (divine) justice, where the latter is conceived in terms of what exceeds (completes and transgresses) the law, and thus in relation to the state of exception.63 It is perhaps due to these Pauline roots that Schmitt’s political theology has also been questioned from the point of view of Judaism and Islam, which generally tend more to identify, rather than separate, law and justice. Likewise, Schmitt’s political theology has also been questioned from the perspective, which belongs to classical pagan political philosophy, according to which nature offers the criterion for justice. Undoubtedly, there are areas in which these two distinct visions concerning law and justice converge, not the least because in both the state of exception is still very much present, albeit not in the sense given to it by Schmitt. The essay by Regina Schwartz examines these questions in relation to the Mosaic lawgiver in Judaism, offering a reading of Emmanuel Levinas’s political theology as a counter to political theologies extracted from the Pauline tradition. Miguel Vatter’s essay, conversely, takes up the question of the state of exception from the perspective of natural justice (equity), as this is presented in Strauss’s reading of classical natural right. But Vatter questions the reading according to which Strauss, as opposed to Schmitt, countenances the possibility that a just politics must rest exclusively on nature and on its philosophical knowledge without relation to divine revelation.64 Instead, on Vatter’s reading, Strauss ultimately offers a comprehensive critique of the Western tradition of natural right, in both its ancient and modern guises, as a tradition of exception to the law, which ultimately reduces justice to power. The countervailing tradition would have to be sought in another Enlightenment, no longer reducible to a doctrine of natural right, to be found in the political philosophy that emerges from medieval Jewish and Arabic thought. The fourth essay in this part is an original elaboration of the Derridean attempt to go beyond Schmittian political theology and sovereignty, which Sam Weber refers to as ‘‘a politics of singularity.’’ In Derrida’s later writings, in fact, sovereignty is seen as a feature of the self in its radical autonomy; to move beyond sovereignty it is necessary to bring out the nonsovereign dimension of the self, its radical openness to alterity, which Derrida designates by the term of singularity.65 Weber, like Balke, returns to the Schmittian topos that connects God’s creation ex nihilo with the Hobbesian sovereign establishing a state out of the ‘‘nothingness’’ of the war of all against all. He offers an account of Genesis and its conception

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of ‘‘monotheistic-individualistic interpretation of guilt,’’ which, for him, accounts for the fundamental continuity between Christianity and modernity that remains essential for Schmitt’s idea of secularization. For Weber, the modern Hobbesian state secularizes the Christian belief in the resurrection, that is, the belief in the possibility that guilt and death may be surmounted by death, by providing salvation in the guise of universal security for the self. In order to think of a politics beyond the horizon of security, Weber offers a reading of Benjamin’s ‘‘Fate and Character,’’ which conceives of guilt from within the resources of Greek tragic drama (that is, in terms of a theory of fate). In the terms I introduced in the beginning, Weber’s essay can be read as a meditation on civil theology and its relation to mythical (or dramatic) theology and natural theology. But, unlike Augustine, who identifies the theology of the theater with that of the state, Weber here separates and opposes these: theatricality, the interplay between tragedy and comedy that is central to Benjamin, draws out the singularity of the individual from its selfhood and allows us to think of the exception outside of the sovereignty of the norm. Weber’s essay points toward the problem of individualism and its relation to civil religion in the United States, which is the theme of the fourth and last part of the book, dedicated to Tocqueville’s rethinking of the role of religion in the democratic social order.

The Religion of Democracy: Tocqueville Beyond Civil Religion In Rogue States, Jacques Derrida makes a connection between globalized Christianity (‘‘Urbi et Orbi’’) and the expression of sovereignty manifested by U.S. foreign policy, which, together, called forth a manifold of fundamentalist responses drawing from other religions. Much of the recent work on fundamentalism indicates that the conception of civil religion in the United States, coupled with ‘‘American exceptionalism,’’ is part and parcel of what has been called the ‘‘clash of fundamentalisms.’’66 In order to understand what lies behind these claims, this volume ends with four essays dedicated to a discussion of Christianity and democracy in America, which follows Tocqueville’s groundbreaking analysis of civil religion. This volume gives Tocqueville’s analysis pride of place for a number of reasons. In the first place, because Tocqueville is one of the first thinkers to question, avant la lettre, what would become the theory of secularization. Precisely his experience in the United States led him to see how a vibrant public sphere,

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the development of scientific and technological knowledge, a free market economy, were not barriers against the growing importance of religion in a society. What makes Tocqueville particularly relevant today is that he sees in democracy itself—understood as a social order rather than as a form of government—the vector of religion in modernity, rather than in the capitalist spirit (Weber) or in the state (Durkheim). Last, Tocqueville also understands the fundamental tension between religion and sovereignty, and in this sense his thinking about civil religion and political theology opens horizons that lie beyond the Schmittian problematization. The first two essays in this fourth part work out the two sides of what I call the antinomy that lies at the heart of U.S. constitutionalism, namely, the fact that the Constitution leaves itself radically open to both deistic and theistic interpretations, where the ‘‘wall of separation’’ between church and state is but the medium for a new joining of the political with the theological. Jose´ Casanova’s essay gives a reading of Tocqueville as the first critic of secularization theory. By this interpretation, the deistic civil religion of the United States leads to the transformation of religions into free, equal and competing theistic ‘‘denominations.’’ But theism is in no way kept in a private sphere, for Tocqueville, according to Casanova, shows how the religious identity, or denomination, is precisely the vehicle for attaining and exercising republican citizenship. In fact, theism casts its shadow on deism precisely because democratic politics depends in great measure on what goes inside the churches: not only because they instill the principles of ‘‘self-interest properly understood’’ but also because the congregation continues to foster the idea of self-government. But Casanova also problematizes the other side of denominationalism, namely, the way in which religious identity remains insufficient to deal with the exclusion that comes about through the other vehicle of acquiring an identity in American exceptionalism, namely, through the construction of racial identities. Last, Casanova discusses the question of whether the theistic reading of U.S. civil religion leads to fundamentalism. Denominationalism, in fact, depends on religion keeping itself out of the political arena, outside the reach of majorities. But has this been a temptation successfully avoided? Or is denominationalism simply the way in which an ‘‘idolatrous’’ worship of state power (civil religion) is established? Does the civil religion in the United States maintain the Augustinian separation of the earthly city from the divine city, or, contrarily, does it depend on the previous identification of the American nation as the ‘‘City on the Hill,’’ the New Jerusalem of evangelical fundamentalists as opposed to the new Rome envisaged by the deistic Founding Fathers?

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Lucien Jaume’s reading of Tocqueville offers what is in many ways the analysis of the other side of the antinomy: how a deistically inspired denominationalism ends up constituting what could be called a democratic political theology, where theocracy and democracy become indiscernible. Like Casanova, Jaume also argues that for Tocqueville democracy is a new way into religion, not out of it. But the fundamental reason for this has little to do with denominationalism, and everything to do with the emergence of democracy as a social form of order that turns on the rule of public opinion over a social basis composed by atomized individuals. The starting point is therefore a deistic reading of the constitution, in the sense that—following the republican intention of the Founding Fathers—the constitution was to establish a public sphere that could counterbalance the state. The public sphere is what allows a society characterized by individualism to fashion itself into a republic and constitute a polity and a people. But by Jaume’s reading, in a democratic social order deism turns into a theism because Tocqueville believes that the public sphere achieves the formation of a polity or republic only because it acts as a new church, the church of public opinion, which homogenizes individuals into a people over and above the apparent pluralism of distinct denominations. This democratic and invisible church is the ultimate source of ‘‘credit’’ because it is where common reason is deposited; it is what keeps together a society of individuals. The effective civil religion in the United States would then be this democratic Christianity, an entirely immanent Christianity, localized in the idea of public opinion, and whose purpose lies in giving reality to the body of the people, who rule, according to Tocqueville’s famous formula, ‘‘like God over the universe.’’67 Eddie Glaude’s essay approaches some of the questions left open by the essays of Casanova and Jaume because it addresses the different senses in which African American Christianity, and ‘‘black churches,’’ offer an alternative public sphere for a people that was excluded for great part of its history from ‘‘participation in the government of affairs,’’ to cite Jefferson. As I mentioned earlier, Bellah’s celebrated treatment of the idea of a civil religion was contested in the 1960s by the ‘‘new political theology’’ of Metz and Moltmann, which saw the true vocation of a Christian church as being the care for those who are left outside of the church, and in general those who are socially excluded, both for economic and racial reasons. This motif was strong in developing a black (liberation) political theology that explicitly contested Bellah’s picture of civil religion and opposed to it a prophetic, social-revolutionary understanding of African American religiosity, seen at work in the struggle for civil rights. Glaude’s

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essay serves to put into context this tension between religious and racial identities in the civil religion of the United States in relation to black churches. Glaude brings to bear the viewpoint of American pragmatism in his analysis, which is arguably irreducible to either secularization theory or to Tocqueville’s critique thereof. In particular, it offers an alternative way to understand the relation between religion and public sphere, which follows Dewey’s conception of publics. But Glaude’s essay also discusses the phenomenon of ‘‘megachurches’’ in ways that help to clarify the meaning of ‘‘self-interest properly understood,’’ the idea that belief in God ‘‘pays,’’ within the context of African American religion and the overdetermined relation between contestation and search for prosperity found in black churches. Charles Taylor ends his A Secular Age with a chapter dedicated to experiences of ‘‘conversion’’ in the twentieth century as evidence that the search for a transcendent source of meaning is still present in our societies. The last essay of the collection is also dedicated to the concept of conversion, but Thomas Dumm discusses this possibility within the context that inspires Glaude’s essay as well, namely, the thinking together of the African American experience within a society characterized by white supremacy, what Casanova calls a ‘‘white racial democracy,’’ and the philosophy of American pragmatism, primarily Emerson and Cavell. Here Dumm takes up the Tocquevillian motif of an individualism in American democratic society (‘‘loneliness’’) as the basis from which to begin to think about the possibility of freedom of thought, a freedom that, on one reading of Tocqueville, is impossible without religious faith: thus the conjunction of freedom with conversion. But in Dumm’s essay one can also hear perhaps a North American take on a theme that Foucault suggested in his last essay on the Iranian revolution of 1979, when the initial republican revolution had been run over by the regime of Khomeini. The article is entitled ‘‘Inutile de se soulever?’’68 and in it Foucault attempts to delineate the ‘‘spirituality,’’ at once religious and political, which supports every effort at resistance against power in the name of the following maxim: ‘‘Be respectful of every singularity that revolts; be inflexible every time power confronts itself with the universal.’’69 Dumm and Foucault, therefore, think of conversion not as what leads from immanence to transcendence, but conversion in the sense issued into Western consciousness by the greatest of all ‘‘conversi,’’ Baruch Spinoza, who proposed the basic terms with which we are all still struggling for how one should think about the relation between republicanism and religion.

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part one

Religion and Polity-Building

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chapter 1

Religious Freedom: Preserving the Salt of the Earth Fred Dallmayr

The history of the Jewish people, in large measure, is a history of exile, captivity, and diaspora—and also a story of redemption. The book of Exodus reports about the tribulations the Jewish people endured during their exile in Egypt, before Moses led them out into the wilderness. The same book also speaks of a promised land and of the ‘‘steadfast love’’ with which God guides the people to his ‘‘holy abode’’ (Exod. 15:13). With their arrival in their new home, the tribulations of exile did not end, but returned with even greater intensity and severity after the fall of the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. The books of Jeremiah and Lamentations tell us about the assault of the Assyrians and Babylonians, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the ensuing ‘‘Babylonian captivity’’ of the Jewish people. Lamentations is particularly eloquent in pouring out bitterness over the loss of ‘‘the city that was full of people’’ but has become ‘‘like a widow’’ and a ‘‘vassal.’’ Yet, both texts also speak in a different voice. Jeremiah exhorts Israel ‘‘not to be dismayed,’’ for the Lord ‘‘will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity’’ (Jer. 30:10). And Lamentations holds out the prospect that the Lord ‘‘will not cast off people for ever, but, though he cause grief, will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love’’ (Lam. 3:31–32). This combination or alternation of grief and promise has continued in Jewish history

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throughout the long period of the diaspora and up to the climactic events of holocaust and return to the biblical land. This entire history is replete with lessons and guideposts. One such lesson—too often or too readily sidelined—concerns the role of suffering in what is called ‘‘salvation history,’’ the role of transformative seasoning as a prerequisite for any kind of redemption. Another lesson has to do with the difference—or the difficult mutual implication—of land and Promised Land, of any given city and the ‘‘holy city’’ seen as that Lord’s ‘‘holy abode.’’ The problem is that the latter cannot just be any empirical location; for in that case it would be meaningless to speak of its special holiness. Nor can it be completely extraterritorial to any place or location; for in that case it could not be called a ‘‘city.’’ But the psalmist explicitly states, ‘‘Jerusalem aedificata sicut civitas’’ (Jerusalem built like a city; Ps. 122:3). Thus, the holy city, seen as the lodestar of religious faith, exhibits a peculiar ambivalence: finding itself at the cusp of territory and extraterritoriality, of place and no-place (or utopia). Christian scripture recognizes this ambivalence, or this location beyond location, when it exhorts faithful people to be ‘‘the salt of the earth’’ (Matt. 5:13). If the salt remained outside or aloof from the earth, it could not exert its seasoning or transformative role; at the same time, if it fused or coincided with the earth, its ‘‘saltiness’’ would be lost. This ambivalence was well captured by Paul Ricoeur when he wrote, in a somewhat hopeful vein: ‘‘After several centuries during which Christians have been preoccupied with the inner life of personal salvation, we are discovering afresh what is meant by ‘the salt of the earth.’ We are discovering that the salt is meant for salting, the light for illuminating, and that the church exists for the sake of those outside itself.’’1 Ricoeur’s reference to the ‘‘inner life of personal salvation’’ points to a momentous development in modern religion, and especially in postReformation Christianity: the growing withdrawal of religious faith from worldly institutions and entanglements into a realm of inwardness. This development, sometimes labeled ‘‘privatization of faith,’’ is surely one of the major achievements of Western modernity—but also one of its most dubious and problematic legacies. On one side, the turn to inwardness involved a decisive process of liberation, that is, the exodus of religious faith from the stranglehold of secular powers and potentates; under the rubrics of ‘‘religious liberty’’ or ‘‘free exercise of religion,’’ most modern democratic societies pay tribute to this achievement of individual liberation or emancipation. On the other side, by allowing itself to be ‘‘privatized,’’ religious faith paved the way to its own social obsolescence or

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atrophy in the face of the surging tide of materialism and consumerism. As a response to the latter danger, efforts have recently been afoot to rescue religion from its exile, that is, to ‘‘deprivatize’’ or ‘‘republicize’’ religious faith by permitting it to reenter the public sphere or the previously ‘‘naked public square’’ (to use an expression of Richard Neuhaus).2 The problem at this point is what precisely is meant by this reentry or, differently phrased, how the ‘‘saltiness’’ of faith can be restored without conjuring up the danger of dubious political entanglements or a new kind of ‘‘Babylonian captivity.’’ In the following, I wish to explore this problem with reference to contemporary contexts. After discussing, in a first step, the general issues involved in the privatization and deprivatization of faith, I turn in a second step to the recent reconnection of religion and political power in the United States (what has been called the ‘‘Americanization’’ of Christian faith). By way of conclusion, I wish to delineate a pedagogy of religious freedom that would safeguard the integrity of religious faith while also preserving its role as ‘‘prophetic witness’’ or as the salt of the earth.

Private and Public Faith During long stretches of human history, the public character of religion was obvious and taken for granted. In most societies, religious leaders exercised public power either directly or else in tandem with kings or military-aristocratic elites. According to a widely shared view, worldly society was supposed to be governed by kings and priests—or perhaps priestly kings—in the same way as the universe as a whole is governed by God’s will and spirit. Differently stated, society was seen as a ‘‘cosmion’’ reflecting the order and power structure of the ‘‘cosmos.’’3 In the Western context, this kind of analogical arrangement prevailed throughout the Middle Ages and even into early modernity (the French Revolution constituting a kind of watershed). Progressively, however, the individualizing tendencies of Reformation and Enlightenment gained the upper hand; increasingly, the turn to inwardness and, coupled with it, the demand for individual liberty eroded or laid siege to the traditional power structure—to what Charles Taylor calls the structure of ‘‘Christendom’’ with its amalgamation of religion and power. Despite religious wars and episodes of religious persecution, modernity steadily made room for a new form of religiosity, a mode of uncoerced religious freedom. This kind of freedom,

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Taylor comments, ‘‘we have only when nobody (that is, no particular outlook) is running the show. So a vote of thanks to Voltaire and others for (not necessarily wittingly) showing us this and for allowing us to live the gospel in a purer way, free of that continual and often bloody forcing of conscience which was the sin and blight of all those ‘Christian’ centuries.’’4 There can be no question that the upsurge of religious freedom was a crucial historical event, a kind of exodus of faith from worldly captivity (and also from a quasi-pagan cosmology). Taylor, for instance, praises the modern breakthrough for inaugurating ‘‘the freedom to come to God on one’s own or, otherwise put, moved only by the Holy Spirit, whose barely audible voice will often be heard better when the loudspeakers of armed authority are silent.’’5 While applauding the modern development, Taylor also perceives a drawback or dark underside in this liberating move: namely, the tendency to foster a self-enclosed humanism or anthropocentrism no longer open to (what he calls) ‘‘transcendence.’’ One way to understand better this underside is to place religious freedom in its historical context: the emergence of modern liberalism. As is well known, modern liberalism—as inaugurated by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke— erected its theoretical edifice on the basis of so-called natural rights, that is, endowments possessed by individuals in an original ‘‘state of nature’’ existing prior to the formation of a civic community. ‘‘Natural’’ individuals or people in the state of nature were conceived to be basically selfinterested or self-seeking in varying degrees—in Hobbes’s case quite nastily self-seeking, in Locke’s case somewhat less so. Among the natural endowments enjoyed by individuals in the original condition were primarily individual freedom and equality, with freedom gradually proliferating to encompass over time not only the freedom to own external possessions but also freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience and personal faith, and even freedom to own and control one’s own body and soul. The latter aspect seems to be the preeminent feature of what Taylor calls an ‘‘exclusive humanism,’’ that is, an anthropocentric outlook ‘‘based exclusively on a notion of human flourishing, which recognizes no valid aim beyond this.’’6 Again, it would be pointless or whimsical to deny some of the merits of liberal modernity, especially the fostering of creative talents and individual moral responsibility. Above all, liberalism’s doctrine of ‘‘natural rights’’ served—or was meant to serve—as a bulwark against the caprice of rulers and against absolutism of any kind. The basic drawback of modern liberalism, in its ‘‘founding’’ formulations, however, was its addiction to a static essentialism: its assignment of essential qualities to human beings quite

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apart from any effort of cultivation or nurturing. Human beings in the original state were assumed to be ‘‘free and equal’’ or to be endowed with ‘‘inalienable rights’’—all of this ‘‘by nature’’ or by the fiat of ‘‘nature’s God.’’ Differently put: modern liberalism assigned to individuals a ‘‘human nature’’ instead of conceiving them as a bundle of possibilities, as creatures endowed with multiple potentialities for good or ill— potentialities requiring exercise or cultivating practice, again for good or ill. Taylor comes close to this point when he detects in liberal modernity an inability or unwillingness to encourage self-transformation or a ‘‘change of identity.’’ Typically, modern liberal and Enlightenment philosophy starts from the premise of a shared rationality—the Cartesian ego cogito—a rationality that serves as a permanent yardstick and that is owned or possessed by ‘‘natural’’ individuals, without further ado. Pointing to both Christian and Buddhist religious traditions, Taylor finds there traces of a very different outlook: namely, an emphasis on a ‘‘radical decentering of the self,’’ involving possibly painful transformations. Being ‘‘human’’ in these traditions, he notes, implies not so much to possess a ‘‘stable identity’’ as rather to be open to a continuous search or quest. Acknowledging what he calls the ‘‘transcendent’’ hence means ‘‘aiming beyond [a given, empirical mode of] life or opening yourself to a change in identity.’’7 To be sure, liberal essentialism was not universally endorsed, even during the heyday of the Enlightenment. In the very heartland of enlightened thought—prerevolutionary France—voices were heard exposing the ambivalence or underside of enlightened reason. Probably the most eloquent of these voices was Jean-Jacques Rousseau as expressed at least in some of his writings. In his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Rousseau challenged and chastised the most praised achievement of the age: triumphant and self-confident reason. ‘‘It is reason,’’ we read there, that engenders self-love [or self-centeredness] and it is rational reflection that strengthens it. It is reason that makes ‘‘man’’ shrink into himself; and it is reason that makes him keep aloof from everything that can trouble or afflict him. It is [modern] philosophy that destroys his connections with other men; and it is in consequence of her dictates that he mutters to himself at the sight of another in distress: You may perish for aught I care; I am safe.

The same Discourse also contains a challenge to Hobbes’s postulate of ‘‘ferocious self-love’’ as the primary human impulse, a challenge mounted in the name of a different, more outgoing or other-directed disposition: namely, an ‘‘innate abhorrence to see beings suffer that resemble him,’’

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that is, the disposition of ‘‘pity’’ or compassion which is ‘‘suitable to creatures weak as we are and liable to so many evils.’’ Still more important as an antidote to liberal essentialism is another human trait mentioned in the Discourse: the ‘‘faculty of improvement’’ (or perfectibility)—a faculty that, given appropriate contexts, ‘‘successively unfolds all the other faculties and resides among us not only in the species, but in the individuals that compose it.’’8 To some extent, Rousseau’s remonstrations found a receptive echo across the Rhine—among some of the great literary figures of Sturm und Drang and the ensuing classical period. In terms of spirited e´ lan, the French thinker’s arguments were matched and further deepened by Johann Gottfried Herder, especially in the latter’s marvelously zestful Another Philosophy of History for the Education [Bildung] of Humankind, as well as his later Letters Toward the Advancement [Befo¨rderung] of Humanity. What troubled Herder most about the so-called age of reason was its addiction to abstract generalities and its disdain for concretely lived experience and its transformative pedagogic possibilities. In the opinion of many of his contemporaries, he noted, civilization had finally reached its zenith, a point where all human learning and wisdom of the past have successfully been assembled in a vast ‘‘encyclopedia of all human knowledge.’’ To this ‘‘highest pinnacle’’ of civilization Herder opposed a ‘‘heavier’’ and more difficult kind of approach: one concentrating on ‘‘slow maturation, profound penetration, and postponed judgment’’—that is, on the labor involved in the formation and transformation of habits and character and the persistent opening of new horizons. In actuality, what modern Enlightenment had yielded was a stabilization and self-confinement of the (Cartesian) ego cogito and the reduction of genuine inquiry to ‘‘abstracted spirit, a philosophy out of two maxims.’’9 As one should recall, Herder was not only a writer and philosopher, but also a Christian minister with pastoral duties; thus, the horizons he wished to keep open were not only those of literature and erudition but also those of faith and spirituality. To some extent, this concern with literary and spiritual horizons was shared by his great younger contemporary, the poet Friedrich Schiller, as is evident especially in his pedagogical writings. Partly under the influence of modern liberal teachings, Schiller saw education or civilization (Bildung) as an arduous process leading from a primitive ‘‘natural’’ condition to the higher level of art and ethical responsibility. In his view, emergence from this primitive condition was exceedingly difficult—so difficult, in effect, that people are often tempted to make a shortcut: namely, by claiming

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access to the higher realm while still being thoroughly mired in primitive selfishness. Instead of undergoing any seasoning or self-transformation, individuals here merely magnify their selfishness by subjecting even ethics and religion to the demands of possessive individualism. In Schiller’s poignant phrase (contained in his letters on ‘‘aesthetic education’’): ‘‘In the very midst of his animal condition, the drive toward the ‘absolute’ catches the individual unawares’’—and since in this state all efforts are directed toward material-temporal things, the impulse arises to extend self-interest indefinitely without any effort of self-transgression. Thus, the very same impulse, which is meant to lead to ‘‘truth and ethics,’’ now produces nothing but ‘‘infinite instinctual need.’’ As he adds, the fruits of this shortcut are ‘‘all your systems of unqualified eudemonism whether concerned with the present day or our whole life.’’10 The issue Schiller addresses here is a problem that has plagued religion and moral righteousness through the ages: the danger that they can be (and often are) used, appropriated, or instrumentalized for merely ‘‘worldly’’ or selfish interests. His letters on aesthetics are eloquent and forthright on this point. ‘‘Even what is most sacred in human affairs, the moral law,’’ he writes, ‘‘when it first makes its appearance in sensualinstinctual life, cannot escape this perversion’’ of abuse and instrumentalization. The reason for this perversion is that human beings are not stuck in a fixed ‘‘nature’’ or identity but can become human or be ‘‘humanized’’ only through transformative experiences. Because in ordinary life sensuality precedes moral conscience and ethical sensibility, the temptation is great for human beings to reduce the latter to positive-empirical objects amenable to appropriation and possession. For Schiller, the effects of this appropriation are corrupting both for human pedagogy and for the very meaning of ethics and the divine. In his words: From the angle of this corruption we have to do ‘‘no longer with a holy Being but only with a mighty or powerful Being.’’ At this point, the spirit in which human beings worship God is ‘‘the spirit of fear (Furcht) which degrades them, rather than reverence (Ehrfurcht) which would uplift them in their own estimation.’’11

Americanization of Faith? In our time, complaints about the use and abuse of religion are leveled mainly against non-Western forms of ‘‘fundamentalism,’’ especially against societies where religion and politics have traditionally been fused

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or mingled. Given the long-standing separation between faith and politics, or between ‘‘church and state,’’ Western democracies are usually exempted from such complaints. A closer look, however, reveals the exemption to be unfounded. American democracy is a case in point. Despite the vaunted ‘‘wall of separation’’ enshrined in the Bill of Rights, religion and politics in America are entwined and contaminated in many ways—and usually at the expense of religious faith. Although religious symbols are in principle banished from public places, public symbols— chiefly the national flag—are displayed prominently in all the churches of the country, usually in tandem with religious icons. Wherever this arrangement prevails, the ‘‘wall of separation’’ is basically sidelined in favor of the appropriation or colonization of faith by politics. Using different terminology, one can speak here of the ‘‘deprivatization’’ of religious faith—but a deprivatization with perilous and possibly abusive connotations. Basically, what is involved is the ‘‘nationalization,’’ more specifically the Americanization of faith. Concern about the cooptation of faith by American politics is not of recent origin; like a shadow, this concern has accompanied the unfolding of liberal Protestantism in America—a Protestantism bent on accommodating itself to modern liberal culture. Some seventy years ago, Richard Niebuhr—professor at the Yale Divinity School—denounced what he saw as a new kind of Babylonian captivity of Christian faith: namely, the ‘‘captivity of the church’’ at the hands of American popular culture. Sounding a wake-up call, his book The Church Against the World appealed to Christian believers to shake off their complacency and to embark on a new exodus from the ‘‘fleshpots of Egypt.’’ While faith and society or ‘‘church’’ and ‘‘world,’’ in Niebuhr’s view, were meant to be in fruitful tension, American religion was fast losing its ‘‘salt’’ by amalgamating itself too cozily with the surrounding civilization. When the church enters into alliance ‘‘with converted emperors and governors, philosophers and artists, merchants and entrepreneurs, and begins to live at peace in the culture,’’ he wrote, ‘‘faith loses its force . . . repentance grows formal, corruption enters with idolatry, and the church, tied to the culture which it sponsored, suffers corruption with it.’’ For Niebuhr, the task lying in wait for American religion, and especially for Protestant Christians, was momentous: it was nothing less than ‘‘the liberation of the church from its bondage to a corrupt civilization,’’ and hence the recovery of its transformative e´ lan enabling it to preach the ‘‘good news’’ to the world.12 Although quickly swept aside again by the tides of cultural accommodation, Niebuhr’s remonstrations were never completely silenced, with some

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of its echoes reverberating in our own time. Some sixty years after Niebuhr’s study, Laurence Moore—in a book titled Selling God—chastised American Christians for their lethargy and for cultivating a self-image promoted by popular culture and resting on nothing but ‘‘fast, friendly, and guiltless consumption.’’ Given this self-image, Moore concluded, American religion had indeed lost its ‘‘transformative power.’’13 A few years later, a group of evangelical Christians issued a ‘‘Declaration’’ that basically endorsed this indictment. ‘‘Evangelical churches today,’’ the declaration stated, ‘‘are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the spirit of Christ.’’ This domination was evident in their teaching: instead of preaching good news to the world, the emphasis is now on teaching a ‘‘self-esteem gospel’’ or a ‘‘health and wealth gospel’’ favoring the privileged few.14 Still more recently, in a book titled American Jesus, Stephen Prothero has attempted to trace the story of the progressive nationalization or Americanization of Christian faith—or, in terms of its subtitle, the story of ‘‘How the son of God became a national icon.’’ ‘‘How did the United States,’’ Prothero asks, ‘‘become a Jesus nation,’’ and how was it possible to transform the crucified Lord into ‘‘a personality, a celebrity, and finally an icon’’? His answer: ‘‘Jesus became a major personality in the United States because of the ability of religious insiders to make him culturally inescapable. He became a national icon because outsiders have felt free’’ to appropriate him and ‘‘to interpret him in their own fashion.’’15 Prothero’s book harks back to Niebuhr’s critical observations and his emphasis on a needed tension—in fact, an ‘‘optimal tension’’—between religion and politics or between faith and worldly culture. Wherever this tension is suspended or lacking, religious faith is in danger of being co-opted or leveled into dominant cultural paradigms. As Prothero writes, echoing Niebuhr: ‘‘Jesus has no doubt transformed the nation, but the nation has also transformed him. At least in the United States, he has been buffeted about by the skepticism of the Enlightenment, the enthusiasm of revivalism, and the therapeutic culture of consumer capitalism’’—with the culture increasingly winning out (yielding the predominance of the so-called religion of the market).16

Love in Two Cities The preceding discussion of nationalized religion was meant as a caveat or cautious reminder. Although designed to rescue faith from the exile of

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pure inwardness, a rigorous ‘‘deprivatization’’ of faith conjures up an equally great and perhaps still greater danger: the danger of captivity and enslavement at the hand of worldly powers and idola fori (idols of the market). This leads me back to a point stressed at the beginning: the differential relation and entwinement of world and faith, of place and ‘‘no-place,’’ city and ‘‘holy abode.’’ As one should note well, the relation between land and Promised Land is neither one of coincidence nor of segregation. The two ‘‘domains’’ (to use the term loosely) are neither identical nor extraterritorial to each other—for both cases would destroy the ‘‘saltiness’’ of faith. Although differentiated in their character and aim, the two realms are connected by a hidden or subterranean passageway. In distinguishing between genuine and corrupt or abusive forms of religious belief, the Iranian philosopher Abdulkarim Soroush ascribes the contrast to the different guiding ‘‘passion’’ of believers: that is, respectively to their selfish or else self-transcending passion.17 Another word for passion here is ‘‘love’’— which leads to the distinction between a selfish or self-aggrandizing love and a self-transforming or purifying love. In the Christian tradition, the classical text discussing this distinction is Saint Augustine’s City of God, and especially the section (Book 14) that deals with the different motivations or orientations guiding the ‘‘earthly’’ and the ‘‘heavenly’’ (or saintly) city respectively. Deviating from a merely worldly geography, Augustine acknowledges only ‘‘two kinds of society,’’ which can rightly also be called ‘‘two cities.’’ One kind, the earthly city, is the place where people ‘‘live according to the flesh’’ or their selfish desires; the other kind, the heavenly city, is where people ‘‘live according to the spirit,’’ that is, according to divine guidance. What matters most to Augustine at this point is not institutional structure but rather inner direction. In his words, the two cities have basically ‘‘issued from two kinds of love.’’ Whereas the worldly (or earthly) city is anchored in ‘‘a selfish love which dares to despise even God,’’ the heavenly (or saintly) city is ‘‘rooted in a love of God that is ready to trample on or transcend the self.’’ Setting his face strongly against religious cooptation or any nationalization of faith, Augustine adds the following passage designed to preserve the ‘‘saltiness’’ of faith. In the worldly city, he writes, ‘‘both the rulers themselves and the people they rule are dominated by the lust for domination’’; in the heavenly city or city of God, by contrast, ‘‘all citizens serve one another in charity.’’ Whereas the former city loves and exalts its leaders ‘‘as symbols of its own worldly power,’’ the second city ‘‘says to its God: I love thee, O Lord, source of my strength.’’18

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Several lessons can be gleaned from Augustine’s account. One has to do with the entwinement of the two cities: the fact that, although differentiated, both cities are connected by a hidden passageway—which is none other than love. This means that, properly guided or channeled, love has a transformative or self-transcending quality leading us from the prison of a self-seeking humanism toward wider unconditional horizons: the horizons of unconditional self-giving. Seen in this light, love provides a ladder of ascent sustaining a kind of ‘‘pilgrim’s progress’’ or transformative-spiritual pedagogy. This pedagogy is recognized by Augustine when he writes that both loves can and often do ‘‘coexist’’ in one and the same person, and adds: ‘‘This co-existence is good for human beings in that they can, by increasing in themselves the love for what is right, decrease their love of what is wrong until their whole life has been transformed to good and thus brought to perfection.’’19 In his epilogue to ‘‘A Catholic Modernity?’’ Charles Taylor follows both Plato and Augustine in stressing the role of moral pedagogy and the pilgrim’s progress. ‘‘For Plato,’’ he writes, ‘‘the very definition of justice requires that we identify a higher and a lower [domain] and distinguish our love of one from our love of the other.’’ In turn, Christian faith has adopted this model of transformative ascent while giving it additional spiritual connotations; thus, Augustine spoke explicitly of ‘‘two loves’’—a terminology followed by later Christian thinkers from Saint Bonaventure and Pascal to Kierkegaard and beyond.20 Another lesson, closely connected with the ladder of ascent, concerns the status and meaning of religious freedom. As previously indicated, modern liberalism—in its founding formulations—tended to assign to human beings a fixed identity or ‘‘nature’’ immune from transformative change. In this conception, human beings were defined by a series of basic endowments or ‘‘natural rights,’’ including freedom of conscience and religious freedom. Once the accent is shifted to moral ascent and the pedagogy of love, however, the plausibility of this liberal conception crumbles. For clearly, there cannot be a natural right to loving or being loved, just as there cannot be a right or entitlement to redemptive healing. Rather, loving and being loved are unearned gifts exempt from managerial planning and control. Seen in this light, religious freedom is not a human property but rather an enabling potency making room for open horizons and possibilities. By the same token, the ‘‘target’’ of religious faith—God or the divine—cannot possibly be appropriated, domesticated, or nationalized—for any such effort would ‘‘objectify’’ God, reducing him to a thing among other things. (This, in my view, is the deeper sense of monotheism as affirmed in the Jewish prohibition of images and the Islamic idea of

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tawhid. As I see it, the point here is not to substitute ‘‘one’’ preferred thing to a myriad of things in the world, but rather to abandon the entire impulse of clinging to any and all things amenable to appropriation—in favor of a released openness to redemptive grace and unearned love.) Viewed in terms of releasement, religious freedom is not the monopoly of monotheistic (or loosely Western) religions; the same kind of detachment or exodus from worldly bondage can also be found in pluralist and even nontheistic modes of faith. Taylor gives his example of Mahayana Buddhist teachings with their emphasis on self-overcoming in favor of ‘‘no-self’’ or the present-absence of selfhood. In Buddhism, he notes, the transformative change of identity is ‘‘quite radical,’’ for the famous ‘‘eightfold path’’ of liberation leads ‘‘from self to ‘no self’ (anatta),’’ that is, from identity to the emptiness or self-emptying of selfhood.21 A similar message of releasement and freedom is presented in the Bhagavad-Gita, the great sacred book of Hinduism. In that text, God—in the person of Krishna— instructs human beings about the path (yoga) to be followed in pursuit of spiritual ascent and transformation. Speaking specifically about the path of action (karma yoga), Krishna alerts us to the possibility of being actively involved in the world while being free from bondage or confining attachments. ‘‘Set thy heart upon thy work,’’ we read, ‘‘but never on its reward. . . . Perform work in the peace of yoga and, free from self-centered desires, be not moved in either success or failure.’’ Action done without selfish clinging is shown here to have a liberating and transformative quality; in fact, it constitutes a kind of worship exhibiting ‘‘sacramental’’ or consecrating features.22 As one should note well, religious freedom as releasement does not equal a simple retreat granting an alibi from worldly cares and obligations. In terms of the ‘‘saltiness’’ of faith, the basic question is not whether but how to be involved in the world. Augustine celebrates the immense freedom of believers, their releasement from corruption and false attachments; but he also insists on their engagement in the world through acts of love and charity.23 With this engagement, faith is subtly ‘‘deprivatized’’ (though without allowing itself to be co-opted); in a way, faith becomes embodied or ‘‘incarnated’’ in the world, thus recovering its role in an unfolding redemptive story. This emphasis on religious embodiment or ‘‘incarnation’’ is important at all times—but especially in our contemporary period as an antidote to a radical ‘‘transcendentalism’’ that, proclaiming the divine to be ‘‘wholly other,’’ offers the temptation of escapism. The importance of this emphasis is recognized by Taylor when he writes that ‘‘redemption happens through incarnation, the weaving of God’s life into

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human lives’’—where these lives are not blandly homogenized but ‘‘different, plural, irreducible to each other.’’ In even stronger and more forthright language, the corrective is underscored by the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo, who urges us to be ‘‘suspicious of an excessive emphasis on the transcendence of God, as mystery, radical alterity, and paradox.’’ Seen in the light of the ‘‘good news,’’ he states, ‘‘God descends from the heaven of transcendence . . . thus fulfilling the transition announced by the gospels, after which we shall no longer be called servants or children, but friends.’’24 As an expression of ‘‘incarnate’’ faith, love cannot be neatly segmented or limited to narrowly circumscribed sectarian or confessional groupings. In Christ’s biblical exhortation, loving others is not restricted to Catholics or Protestants, and not even to Christians, but extends to all fellow-beings; especially in our globalizing age, incarnate love necessarily acquires an ecumenical or cosmopolitan cast. Yet, although in principle addressed urbi et orbi (or to humanity at large), religious faith urges us to pay special attention to the needy, the marginalized, the persecuted. With its stress on the practice of justice and equity—‘‘justice, and only justice, you shall follow’’ (Deut. 16:20)—biblical faith, and in fact every genuine faith, places itself on the side of the victims rather the victimizers, the oppressed rather than the oppressors. In recent times, this has come to be known as the ‘‘preferential option for the poor.’’ In a speech given in 1980 shortly before his assassination, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador explicitly endorsed this option. ‘‘In a world which has no human face,’’ he stated, we have made the effort not to pass by, not to walk around the injured person on the road, but to go up to him as a good Samaritan. . . . We are dealing with a true ‘‘option for the poor.’’ This means that the church incarnates herself in the world of the poor, proclaims a good news, gives hope, inspires liberating praxis, defends the cause of the poor and participates in their destiny.25

Being released from, but also engaged or incarnate in, the world, religious people necessarily have the character of sojourners or friendly strangers—that is, of people who, while aliens to structures of injustice, befriend fellow-beings everywhere bringing good news and good wishes. As Augustine writes: ‘‘So long as the heavenly city is sojourning on earth, she invites citizens from all nations and all tongues, and gathers them into a harmonious pilgrim band. She takes no issue with the diversity of customs, laws, and traditions whereby human peace is sought and maintained.’’26 Thus, in Augustine’s view, sojourning on earth is an ecumenical

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enterprise—and this aspect must be even more strongly underscored in our globalizing age. Diversity of customs, traditions, and beliefs can and should be welcomed and encouraged—provided all the ‘‘pilgrims’’ set their sight on justice and the ‘‘holy abode,’’ while relinquishing their attachment to worldly power. In a recently published book entitled The God Who May Come, Richard Kearney elaborates on the Augustinian metaphor by emphasizing that the coming kingdom or ‘‘holy abode’’ can be neither accomplished or controlled nor abandoned by human beings. ‘‘The kingdom,’’ he writes, ‘‘is precisely that which can never be fully possessed in the here and now, but always directs us toward an advent still to come’’; indeed, ‘‘we can only ever find the kingdom by losing it, by renouncing the illusion that we possess it here and now.’’ However, releasement from mastery does not cancel human obligation to participate in the world, to act in such a way (he adds) as ‘‘to bring the coming kingdom closer, making it more possible, as it were, by each of our actions.’’27 Thus, without pretending to be in charge, all of our words and deeds should point quietly yet insistently in a direction. They all should, as it were, carry a silent subscript that says: Come. Yes indeed, may it come.

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chapter 2

A New Form of Religious Consciousness? Religion and Politics in Contemporary Muslim Contexts Abdou Filali-Ansary

Scholars of Muslim intellectual movements have described two predominant ‘‘moments’’ since the late nineteenth century. The first is widely seen as the reformist moment, and the second the moment of fundamentalism. Scholars in both Muslim and non-Muslim societies have been engaged in intense discussions about the relationship between these moments, debating whether the transition from the first to the second represents continuity or rupture.1 The continuity argument sees reformism as having paved the way for fundamentalism, which simply radicalized insights first developed under the banner of reform. For the rupture argument, reformism emerges from a fascination with modernity and culminates in an attempt to incorporate its symbols into categories derived from the Islamic heritage. Fundamentalism, conversely, rejects modernity by asserting the irreducible singularity of the ‘‘Islamic’’ model. This debate around two essential moments of modern Islamic political consciousness has attracted many scholars in the past few decades, who have focused on such intellectual developments as yet another layer of the Islamic heritage to be understood and contextualized. Generally, this approach has eclipsed a close study of the actual issues that the reformist and fundamentalist thinkers had chosen to face.

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Is this interest in the Muslim debate between reformism and fundamentalism simply an academic fashion, or does it come in response to contemporary concerns about political developments in Islamic societies? This interest likely reflects the influence of the media and global public opinion, which pose questions to which scholars feel compelled to respond. The media seems particularly able to shape global public opinion and academic research by establishing priorities about issues they consider to be most relevant. Fundamentalism—and Islamic fundamentalism in particular— has been designated as the most prominent threat to the modern way of life and the most worthy object of interest for scholars and academic research in general. Yet one must concede that the debate over Islamic fundamentalism speaks to the broader need for some kind of roadmap to the various options considered by Muslim intellectuals over the past century. These range from a total adherence to modernity and a complete dismissal of the traditional heritage, to the full idealization of the heritage and rejection of the modern ideal. In between these two extremes were a substantial number of attempts to reconcile the two concepts under a single banner, whether as ‘‘Islamizing modernity’’ or as ‘‘modernizing Islam.’’ However, an understanding of modern Muslim intellectual history as skewed along a single reform-fundamentalism axis risks missing important contributions to the debate from smaller movements or from individuals who may not fit along the axis at all. This is not just an offhand observation; this single axis may discount views whose significance for the future evolution of Muslim societies is actually much greater than is implied by the modest attention they currently receive. In fact, there are many intellectual efforts that are striking in their originality, their courage in facing previously unquestioned boundaries, and their determination to explore new directions. Some of the earliest emerged in what may be seen as an interregnum between the end of the early wave of reformism and the birth of fundamentalism in the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, a number of countries in the so-called Muslim world were experimenting with various forms of liberal and multiparty (although not fully democratic) systems. Egypt, Turkey, and Iran had recently become independent states and faced early struggles for control of state power structures. Monarchs, the military, modernists, and conservatives engaged in fierce confrontations in a context where it was generally assumed that a certain degree of pluralism and tolerance would prevail.2 This provided an interesting—and, to some degree, enabling— background. One wonders whether the spirit of the time provides the only

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explanation for these political evolutions. The emergence of individuals who raised questions that went well beyond the intellectual framework of classical times in the long history of Muslims, and surpassed as well the questions posed by reformists before them and fundamentalists after them, is noteworthy. Can we describe the emergence of a relatively large number of similar individuals as an intellectual movement without resorting to the need to propose a new label for them? While some contemporary scholars have applied labels such as liberal, progressive, or modernist Islam, it may be better to consider these thinkers as a constellation of individuals who shared the desire to discard preexisting categories, to challenge wellentrenched beliefs, and to question many norms, either in popular belief systems or within the received wisdom of scholars. They all accepted the need to draw on approaches that came with modern times, as opposed to the mindset that prevailed within traditional scholarly Muslim circles. Their methodology encapsulated a critical approach to historical narratives and distanced them from apologetics and from the language and attitudes that prevailed within circles of the faithful and among traditional learned men. We will ask later if this denotes a change of paradigm. Yet even if it was, we need to understand how this change was not simply an attempt to access better knowledge of the heritage, but rather to find answers to the great questions that weighed heavily on the consciousness of Muslims and that were not adequately settled, notwithstanding views from within the tradition. The first of those questions concerned religion and politics, prompted by the shifting conditions of life in Muslim contexts. In fact, social change was altering political forms and conceptions about the relationship between religion and politics within an Islamic context. Generally, questions about the status of politics in Islam were formulated in a traditional manner, as if this were any other inquiry into Islamic norms. This approach led, or was meant to lead, to reinterpretations of historical developments that had shaped the lives and views of Muslims over centuries. The predominant questions were: What attitudes does Islam require in political matters? And what is the Islamic norm in terms of politics? The quest for answers to these questions pushed the thinking beyond the domain of politics. The answers, however, remained, until the early twentieth century, inside the limits of the traditional religious norms that guided all aspects of life. In Muslim societies of the time, religion was seen as the only and ultimate source of values. Hence, answers had to take the form of prescriptions. These could be obtained, it was thought, through a

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straightforward, transparent process. The assumption here was that religious norms were fixed, but were also accessible to an individual who was equipped with the proper talents, abilities, and tools to understand them. These would allow him to examine the problem at will and determine the outcome with absolute certainty. This was the method employed by traditional clerics to provide answers (fatwas) to the faithful, who might feel lost when faced with new situations for which there was no obvious guidance in the canon of classical religious literature as it was commonly understood. The thinkers under study here go beyond the limits of traditional inquiry by incorporating methods typical of modern scholarship into their search for answers. In this new approach, historical conditions are no longer perceived as a staging ground for the unfolding of eternal, transcendent and absolute norms—as if they were ‘‘ideas’’ in the Platonic world—but rather as a way to access the meaning of the norms and their possible relevance to modern conditions. In classical Muslim contexts, the idea prevailed that historical conditions provide a pretext for the revelation of the Absolute, which expresses itself through and within them. History, in this way, is a stage that the Creator has put in place in order to illustrate His intentions. The new thinkers sought to understand the norms through their relevance for the conditions within which they were received. This can be seen as a reversal of the ‘‘Platonism’’ of traditional Muslim thinkers, and as a way of taking history (more) seriously. Some contemporary observers consider that this might be a return to the doctrines of Mu’tazilia, who held that the Qur’an was created, not co-eternal with God, and as such offered responses to questions that arose in specific historical conditions. However, what mattered most, and what would become a serious question for Muslim societies from this period onward, would be the question of the status of these religious norms. Although the elevation of these norms to the level of absolute, ahistorical parameters was itself a historical process like any other, their impact was deeply entrenched in the minds of most Muslims, whether they were deeply committed to the faith or not. What made the new consciousness of these thinkers so significant was their willingness to explore the historicity of the prescriptions themselves, and their recognition of the relevance of historical settings for the meanings of these norms. We will have to assess, through the examination of several examples, some questions emerging from this shift in consciousness. Among the most notable are these: What impact can we identify from the perspective

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of contemporary scholarship on historical and cultural expression and on normative views? If history shows that historicist attitudes were not born in modern times, but were rather foreshadowed in the Mu’tazilia effort to relate normative prescriptions to their historical settings, what does modern historical understanding entail? And, furthermore, in what ways does it determine the shift we can see in the attitudes of these new thinkers? Was it simply the exposure of these thinkers to the overwhelming predominance of ‘‘modernity’’ in Western contexts, so much admired and respected as the expression of progress?

Ali Abderraziq and His Famous Question: ‘‘Was the Prophet a King?’’ Many scholars consider Ali Abderraziq’s book Islam and the Foundations of Power: An Inquiry Into the Caliphate and Government in Islam an important event in the contemporary history of Muslims.3 Not merely an exceptional intellectual or literary event, the publication of the book represents an actual historical event with great impact on the development of Muslim societies in the twentieth century. The literature of contemporary Muslim intellectuals attributes an impressive list of effects on subsequent sociopolitical events to this book. These influences can be classified into the following categories: 1. Islam and the Foundations of Power is considered to have aroused the greatest controversy in the modern history of Muslim societies. It created a kind of intellectual exchange that did not exist in traditional Muslim societies, involving polemics on a large, public scale, and reaching out to popular opinion through the written press. In a more critical view, the book was seen to have revived something that Muslims had experienced earlier in their history: al-Fitna al-Kubra, the Great Dissent. The trauma of that ages-old, unbridgeable confrontation among Muslims was still vivid in the collective memory of Muslim societies, and Ali Abderraziq was accused of having revived it. 2. The book led to the first modern trial of an intellectual for his ideas. The battle over the book raged in the press and was brought into courts by the decision of the king of Egypt, who was seemingly offended by it. Not only were some parts of the book very hard on despotism and the monarchical system in general, but it also was purported that Abderraziq ridiculed the ambition of reviving the title of caliph, a trend that was growing in many Middle Eastern royal courts (including Egypt’s) at that time.

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The court before which Ali Abderraziq was tried was originally a disciplinary commission of the Al-Azhar faculty for the oversight of the behavior of Islamic scholars. The case of Ali Abderraziq was the first to be brought before this body of eminent theologians and members of the faculty from Al-Azhar. They were charged with determining whether the ideas presented in the book were acceptable from an orthodox point of view, and whether the author could still hold onto his title of ‘alim (theologian). The fact that Ali Abderraziq was a theologian, whose role was understood as a guardian of orthodoxy, was clearly a source of discomfort for the authorities of the time. Not only were deeply held beliefs and prescriptions being challenged, but they were also being challenged by a (then relatively) prominent and duly certified theologian of Al-Azhar. 3. Islam and the Foundations of Power also produced a deep political crisis in Egypt. At the time, the Egyptian government was composed of a coalition of two parties. The Liberal-Constitutionalists represented the high bourgeoisie, which included many relatives and friends of Ali Abderraziq. The second party in government had been created by the king to resist the overwhelming influence of the Wafd, the nationalist and populist party, which enjoyed strong support within the population. The book provoked a deep disagreement between the two coalition partners. The Liberal-Constitutionalist Party, siding with Ali Abderraziq, declared itself in favor of freedom of thought. The second party adopted the king’s and the traditionalists’ views, rejecting Abderraziq’s views and urging his exclusion from all official functions. The eventual fall of the cabinet and the failure of the coalition turned on the kind of problem that the case of Abderraziq raised. The alliance of conservative and liberal ideologies was unable to offer a credible alternative to the nationalist and leftist movements. 4. The book had a negative influence on attempts at the time to revive the institution of the caliphate. After the abrogation of the Ottoman caliphate in Turkey by Mustafa Kamal Atatu¨rk in 1923, prominent Muslim theologians and political activists began to call for reviving the caliphate, which was understood to be an essential institution for Muslims and a symbol of the unity and continuity of their community. It was mainly in the ‘‘peripheries’’ of the Muslim world, in countries where Muslims were a minority (India, East Africa), that the need for restoring the caliphate was most intensely felt. However, it was mainly in the central areas (the Middle East) that the moral and political benefits of holding the title were perceived. The kings of the Hejaz and Egypt competed for the title, and no agreement could be reached about who would be the next caliph. But Ali Abderraziq, speaking as an Al-Azhar theologian, argued that the

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caliphate was not a religious obligation for Muslims. Rather, it had produced deep and devastating dissent within their community. This dissent is said to have impeded the revival of the caliphate and discredited the arguments of its supporters. 5. Most important of all is the theory that Abderraziq’s essay initiated, as a counterreaction to his views, the birth of fundamentalist movements within Muslim societies. Many observers have pointed out a ‘‘troubling coincidence,’’ linking the book’s publication in 1925 to the creation in Egypt three years later of the Muslim Brotherhood, the first modern fundamentalist organization in the Muslim world. Was there a relation of cause and effect between these two events? Some scholars argue that fundamentalism is the outraged reaction of pious Muslims to ‘‘Western-inspired’’ secularists who promote an alien system of thought, which would strip Muslims of their identity, their faith and the very foundation of their worldview and social order. The assumption of a historical link between the publication of Abderraziq’s book and the birth of Islamic fundamentalism raises the question of whether fundamentalism is a reaction and defense against alien attempts at penetration and subversion of indigenous institutions of thought, faith, and the like. 6. Intimately linked to the first five points is the idea that Ali Abderraziq was a precursor of secularist movements within Muslim societies. In fact, before 1925, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many projects with the intention of modernizing Muslim societies were conceived. They proposed, in one way or another, to reevaluate the role of religion in social and political institutions, in effect introducing some degree of secularization. While a number of Muslim intellectuals edged up to this idea, the first clear defense of secularism comes with Ali Abderraziq’s book. Its thesis was subsequently adopted and supported by a line of thinkers, who, while formulating different answers to the question of the relationship between religion and politics, considered Abderraziq their master and the initiator of a new and promising methodology of historical and religious thinking. It has yet to be seen how this ‘‘revisionist’’ thinking will evolve and what its influence will be on Muslim societies.

The Historical and Intellectual Background of the Problem of Polity in Islam The issue of the caliphate, as it reemerged in the 1920s, galvanized the entire Muslim community. As an institution, the caliphate had a very turbulent, thirteen-century-old history. It was created immediately after the

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death of the Prophet Muhammad in order to maintain the cohesion of the community and to promote the dissemination of the message of Islam. The title of caliph was created shortly after the demise of the Prophet and was held initially by some of his prominent companions who were coopted by influential members of the community. Each of the first four caliphs, whom the Sunni majority considered afterward the ‘‘legitimate ones,’’ was selected in a different way.4 Eventually, the caliphate was held by a succession of ruling families, beginning with the Umayyads and ending with the Ottomans. The change from freely co-opted and religiously inspired rulers to a monarchical caliphate was seen by many of the religious scholars and historians as a coup d’e´tat, constituting a violation of Islamic principles and the integrity and freedom of the ummah, or Muslim community. The monarchical systems that ruled over Muslim communities were mostly accepted as legal but not considered to be truly legitimate. Over centuries, the title of caliph lost its prestige. The Ottoman rulers, following many others, chose to name themselves as sultans (kings) and not caliphs. In the eighteenth century, at a time where their authority was seriously challenged, they felt the need to recover and burnish the title. When Mustafa Kamal Atatu¨rk took power in what remained of the once great Ottoman Empire, he first stripped the caliph of his temporal powers (1922) and then abolished the institution itself (1923). This decision caused intense anxiety within the Islamic world. Already off-balance from the impact of European colonialism on the traditional social and political order, Muslims were gripped by an intense fear of the future. They did not know what the ummah would become. The end of an institution that had become the symbol of an Islamic continuity— though often a remote, weak and disappointing symbol—signified, to most Muslims, the end of the world in which Muslims had lived for centuries. Furthermore, no religious or political alternatives to the caliphate were in sight. This brought the question of the ummah back into a debate that had started with the very beginning of its history. A question that had been more or less forgotten over the course of thirteen centuries regained its relevance: How should Muslims organize themselves as a community or as a polity? Could the initial, authentic, and legitimate caliphate be reestablished? To that point, discussions about the modernization of Muslim sociopolitical institutions had not considered the caliphate as a realistic option for the Muslim community.

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In the meantime, another evolution was in the making. Egypt, which had become an autonomous entity within the Islamic world centuries before, seemed to enter a new era in its history. The confrontations between a foreign colonial power (Great Britain) and a strong nationalist movement were apparently leading to the birth of the first modern, liberal polity in the Middle East. Following a scenario already familiar in the region, Egypt’s king was pressing to reestablish traditional forms of political power, a system in which the monarch holds essential authority and religious scholars mediate between the king and the population, enforcing religious laws in civil matters and legitimizing, to some degree, the political system. From the king’s perspective, the modern ideas of rule of law and representative democracy were perceived as unbearable restraints. He attempted to mobilize traditional religious leaders and representatives of the high bourgeoisie to face the populist Wafd party’s mobilization of the population. Ali Abderraziq’s book was a direct blow to the king’s endeavors and, at the same time, a major challenge to the Wafd. From the perspective of the Egyptian nationalists, Abderraziq’s ideas disturbed the political game by returning to basic questions that were thought to have been resolved, or at least forgotten. In effect, he gave voice to an unexpected new argument in a political debate that had largely been restricted to the monarch and the Wafd. Thus, modern political militants striving for independence, modernization, and democratization—who should have been Abderraziq’s most enthusiast supporters—were dismissive of his book. The Wafd was pursuing politics on a secular front, while benefiting from rather favorable indifference from some religious authorities. Reactivating political debates in religious terms was considered potentially dangerous to the ongoing political evolution of the country, however favorable the new ideas might have been to Egypt’s nationalist project. It was as if two political games were being played at the same time. The first staked the liquidation of traditional political forms against their revival. The second turned on the adoption or rejection of modern political forms. Liberal thinkers such as Ali Abderraziq found themselves in a delicate position. They opposed traditional conceptions and practices defended by the monarchy and the theologians and also opposed the popular movement’s mobilizing the masses in favor of populist ideologies proclaiming, among other things, slogans about independence, equality, rule of law, and some form of democracy. What was important about this dilemma is that it brought to the fore an alternative worldview that differed from what had been known and

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recognized for centuries in traditional Muslim societies. As Andre´ Raymond has argued,5 even during a period of close proximity, like the French occupation of Cairo in the aftermath of the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt (1798), there was no effective exchange of ideas between East and West. Nothing or nearly nothing, he adds, changed in the way indigenous societies viewed the cosmological and historical order of the world. With the exception of a very small elite (Al-Gabarti, for example), local thinkers were not given access to the intellectual world of the occupying forces. However, little more than a century later, Muslims were becoming aware of another way of looking at the world, one which embraced a better knowledge of the physical world, of science, and of philosophy. An Arabiclanguage press had been born. Debates on Islam and modernity shaped a new awareness that was articulated by such leading thinkers as Jamal edDin Al-Afghani and Muhammad ‘Abduh. A new ‘‘space of public communication’’ was created for the expression of ideologies, ambitions, and desires that had originated in modern Europe and had become independent from their area of birth. Muslim societies were no longer living within their traditional conceptions of the world. It is worthwhile to note that the initial advances toward the evolution of these new ideas were made by Arab Christians, who were the first to be receptive to modern European trends and to convey them into wider circles within the Arab world. In this light, Ali Abderraziq articulated for the first time in the modern history of Muslims a perspective that allowed for the examination of Islamic religious traditions from an external, historical, and critical point of view. This would have two major consequences. The first was a return of rationality—not that rational approaches were lacking in the history of Muslim thought. In the early Muslim community, the rational analysis of religious matters was standard, entrenched practice. Religious attitudes were interpreted as ‘‘outbursts’’ of rationality in societies formerly imprisoned under irrational traditions. The use of rational, scientific thinking in Islamic theology reached its peak with the Mu’tazilites and a host of other philosophers who attempted to build rational religious systems as foundations for collective behavior. Over generations, however, after an impressive corpus of theology and law had been endowed with authority, the implementation of reason in religious matters became progressively unacceptable and intolerable. Ali Abderraziq hence spearheaded a return to the basic incorporation of reason into theologico-political matters, in the face of reformist and apologetic trends, for whom rational discourse rested within the domain of ‘‘tradition.’’

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A second consequence of this rebirth of rationality was that it applied reason to human affairs through disciplines that would be called the humanities and social sciences. These new fields would include historical critiques of canonical texts, the critical study of myths, the rejection of the authority of elders and of patriarchs, and so forth. A secularization of worldviews and a form of ‘‘disenchantment of the world’’ were achieved through the elaboration of this new kind of knowledge. As a consequence, an idea of positive truth came to be held as the ultimate reference point, as distinct from the primacy of revealed truth. This became the basic stake in the battle that Muslims were on the verge of engaging, pitting reason and secular and free thought against the authority of tradition. Although Muhammad ‘Abduh attempted to show the ‘‘rationality’’ of Islamic beliefs and practices, his attempt was to a large degree apologetic and limited by ideological considerations. It was Ali Abderraziq who made the first advances in the direction of applying scholarly processes of reason to religious matters. He attempted to solve, through critical inquiry, an old dilemma that had created the most intense drama in the history of the Muslim community.

A New Rational Theology? As noted earlier, the most interesting aspect of Ali Abderraziq was his status as a theologian, a member of the corps of ‘ulama, trained to preserve and implement religious concepts and rules. Moreover, he was the son of a notable, who was a rich landowner and a militant for the political modernization of Egypt. Like his elder brother Mustafa, Ali received the complete course of traditional education. His opponents highlighted the fact that he undertook ‘‘secular’’ studies in the newly founded Egyptian University shortly after getting his ‘alimiya degree. He then went on to Oxford for further education. It was said that he had been exposed to Western theories and Orientalist views, thus explaining his ‘‘deviation’’ from the orthodox path. In actual fact, his work does not show the influence of any European thinker. Abderraziq displays a real mastery of the traditional Islamic corpus, but does not seem to have any substantial knowledge of European political philosophy and of the works of the Orientalists on Islam. The only exception was the notable interest he manifests in authors who were ‘‘forgotten’’ or deemed secondary, such as the Mu’tazila and Ibn Khaldun,

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who had just been ‘‘rediscovered’’ by European Orientalists. His rationalist attitude in fact is closer to those of the Mu’tazila and Ibn Khaldun than to any of the European scholars. His essay is, in a way, a long reflection of the theories of Ibn Khaldun. A contemporary scholar, Leonard Binder, describes his style as being Aristotelian. Abderraziq researched his essay in his immediate postgraduate years but, as he says in his preface, did not decide to publish it until events forced him to do so. What were these events? The abolition of the caliphate and the reaction it stirred within traditional circles? The attempts to revive the caliphate? The apology for an ‘‘implicit Islamic constitution’’ by R. Rida? The maneuvers by the king to divert the process of political modernization? Probably all of these. One may be tempted to believe efforts to restore the caliphate and attempts to revive old symbols were perhaps the strongest incitement to the publication of this book. However, certain parts of the book seem to have been written particularly with the Egyptian conditions in mind, especially those regarding the ‘‘nature’’ of the monarchical system. It remains that the ideas developed by Abderraziq, although situated in specific historical contexts, are not completely limited to these contexts. He questions the problem of foundations of power, at a time when the debate was far too focused on specific confrontations intensely felt in his time, and hence leaving aside what was seen as unquestioned truths. He wanted to go beyond short-term concerns and reactions to tackle the essential issues at their roots. His method is striking in that it attempts create a tabula rasa regarding everything considered to be unquestioned truth, particularly the narrative associated with ‘‘authentic’’ Islamic traditions. Traditional theologians usually develop their ideas within the framework established by eternal truths. They attempt, smoothly and cautiously, to strengthen or attenuate some notions within this framework. Their thought is often presented as a ‘‘commentary’’ on some authority, whether a tradition, a conception, or an author. Ali Abderraziq offers none of this. He has the approach of a social scientist and a rational theologian who, from a distinct and external perspective, reexamines established beliefs as given, observable phenomena, before coming to conclusions as to the significance they may have for contemporary conditions. Muslims have held two different conceptions of the caliphate. The majority considered it to be a divinely originated power, sacred and unquestionable. A minority saw the caliphate as a ‘‘contractual’’ system, and saw the caliph as a representative chosen by the community who exercised his power by virtue of a general consensus. By formulating in explicit

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terms some widely held beliefs that had not been clearly conceptualized, Abderraziq exposed the deep contradictions within them. His aim is clear: to attain maximum clarity and coherence, to reach conclusions that can be asserted with certitude. Reason became the basic reference and authority, and tradition was submitted to its judgment, which was precisely the opposite of what theologians had done. In the later (post-Ghazzali) history of Islamic jurisprudence and theology, traditional schools used reason within the boundaries of sacred truths. They used reason as an instrument to settle technical problems arising in legal matters. When Ali Abderraziq was a young man, Muhammed ‘Abduh, the great Islamic reformist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was teaching that religion, and Islam more than others, was not opposed to reason. For ‘Abduh, Islam was in fact the most ‘‘rational’’ of the great religions. He recognized that Islam in the nineteenth century, as it was practiced by multitudes, was clouded by superstition and conformism, but he believed that these could be eliminated by a return to its original practices of transparent and easy to understand views. He used reason apologetically, advocating on behalf of a proclaimed ‘‘truth’’ that would heal the consciousness of Muslims under the threat of European domination. Reason was not mobilized to search for truth, but rather to justify existing, inherited truths and to comfort anxious Muslim communities facing the onslaught of modernity. Distinctly, this was not the approach of Ali Abderraziq, who invoked reason as a tool and as the ultimate reference point. Religious dogma was still accepted, but the narratives associated with dogma, through which it was received and internalized, were not. The dogmas were accepted without question. However, the traditions that were built around them, and through which they were formulated, were submitted to open and direct scrutiny. An initial phenomenological step leads him to describe the beliefs systems and implications of sacred texts, and the ‘‘bridges’’ between the two built by theologians. Theologians were often asked to find justifications to already accepted, preconceived beliefs. For example the theology of Shi’ism was propounded long after the Shi’a already constituted a separated denomination within Islam. Abderraziq was critical of this methodology, assessing it as follows: Muslims believe that the organization of their community into a political entity and the institutions that stem from it are required by their religion; however, the texts, traditions, and even the example of the Prophet do not define a constitution for the community; it was rather theologians who strove to mobilize contrasting analytic strategies to extract constitutional indications. Ali Abderraziq departs from

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this approach by saying that it is more logical, more faithful to the sources, to admit that political structures of Muslim communities belong to the history of Muslims rather than to the religious teachings of Islam. Muslims should free themselves from what has been a harmful ‘‘myth’’ and destructive institution—the caliphate and the monarchy—and from the idea that Islam imposes them on the Muslim community as the means of becoming a polity.

The Reception of Ali Abderraziq’s Thought The main feature of Ali Abderraziq’s book consists in its combination of the attitude of the believer, based on the most reliable theological knowledge of the time, with the boldest questioning of what believers had associated with the creed on questions of the sociopolitical order. What he proposed fuses a strict adherence to the sacred texts and their explicit and visible message, with the elimination—or at least rigorous rethinking—of the conclusions that generations have drawn from them. This leveled a direct blow at the orthodox establishment. The immediate reactions to his book were ‘‘refutations.’’ Three essays aimed at proving the falsity of the book were published the same year, and others were published subsequently. There were also a number of other reactions: polemics in the print media, a trial before a disciplinary court, the fall of the coalition government, the failure of Muslim congresses to agree on a consensual way forward. The echoes of the shock can still be heard decades after the publication of Islam and the Foundations of Power. Refutations of Abderazziq’s work have continued, even though many contemporary intellectuals (among them Khalid M. Khalid and Muhammad A. Khalafallah) share his basic views. The rise of the fundamentalist tide has made of Ali Abderraziq a kind of pariah, the emblem of what Muslims should never accept. Ali Abderraziq reacted with great courage and firmness during the first months of the controversy surrounding his book. A similar crisis was to be stirred one year later when Taha Hussein’s book on pre-Islamic poetry questioned some facts of pre-Islamic history. Eventually, Ali Abderraziq was obliged to retreat into a total silence. He never drew back, never denounced his thesis as an error, as did some other intellectuals who faced similar pressures. Nevertheless, he was silenced and did not continue his research or publish on the subject. His title of ‘alim was later restored,

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under a liberal government that was formed in 1948, but he would never return to his profession or defend his authority on the religious issues. The case of Abderraziq illustrates how repression and censorship operate in a context where no single institution has the exclusive responsibility for defending orthodoxy. The absence of such an institution does not mean that there is greater freedom of thought. On the contrary, the absence of a sole source of orthodoxy seems to make the system more constraining. When orthodoxy is not linked to a specific entity or corps, large numbers of individuals within the whole community assume ipso facto its defense. It becomes even more difficult to step outside of the often-implicit, mild, but firm consensus that holds the community together. This pattern continues in subsequent cases of religious controversy, one of the most recent of these being the case of Nasr Hamed Abou Zeid. Sometimes individuals or a small group, often one that represents an extreme activist segment of the community, voices concern over an author’s alleged assault on the sacred beliefs and values of the community. This concern is echoed by a large and embarrassed silence from the majority (and strident support from minority vices), one that marginalizes the critic who made the assault and eventually silences him or her. In the case of Ali Abderraziq, there was no popular manifestation against him in the immediate aftermath of the publication of the book. This denotes a nuance in the attitude of the ‘‘masses.’’ He faced traditionalist ‘ulama and some conservative voices in the political sphere, rather than the classic face-to-face model of the dissenting intellectual with the mighty general (and often silent but expressive) consensus. Can we infer, then, that Ali Abderraziq’s attitudes toward despotism, his challenge to a certain politics at the core of the Islamic faith, were more acceptable to the public? Perhaps, though Ali Abderraziq nonetheless became, in time, a pariah of sorts. In his time, he was a kind of moral winner, benefiting from the assent of the people while facing rejection from some elites. The second long-term impact of Ali Abderraziq’s work has been more positively assessed. The adoption of a scholarly approach in dealing with issues considered heretofore as religious—and therefore amenable only to traditional theological handling—was to become an important trend in contemporary thought within predominantly Muslim contexts. It has made of Islam—its theology, history, law, and popular mythology—a field of research for scholars both from within and outside the Muslim community. Eventually, the secularized humanities and social sciences have made their way into the heritage of Muslim civilizations, deploying the full array of their conceptual tools and methodologies, although the views developed

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by most contemporary academics have not made their way to the public consciousness. When they came to be applied to Muslim traditions, the social and human sciences were already mature, secularized disciplines, in the sense that they were the outcome of a long evolution within the western, Christian context. Religious dogmas, beliefs, and perceptions were for them objects of study that were not conceded any kind of privileged status. The truth they sought was beyond any religious revelation or tradition, accessible only through rational investigation. Ali Abderraziq was probably the first from within the Islamic faith to submit the religious corpus to approaches of this kind, and to attempt to solve one of its basic dilemmas towards such kind of scrutiny. This approach was probably the first that could be described as a true attempt at reforming the prevailing views within Muslim contexts. The term ‘‘movement’’ probably does not apply here, since the approach does not manifest the features of a movement. However, it is striking to observe an unplanned, unconscious convergence among different parts of the community, all aimed at constructing alternative views of Islamic beliefs, and building new Islamic religious attitudes. Although communication within the Muslim communities and across borders has benefited from modern technology, and a new space of communication has emerged, it should be noted that the division of the ‘‘Muslim world’’ into nation-states and the integration of these nation states into the new global order created obstacles among Muslims wishing to communicate with each other. And yet, one finds great similarities in the disparate efforts of M.M. Taha, FazlurRahman, Abdelmajid Charfi, and Abdlokarim Sorouch, in which clear echoes of Ali Abderraziq’s ideas and approach can be heard.

Maaruf Ar-Rusafi and His Famous Question: ‘‘Was the Prophet a Passive Receptacle?’’ Maaruf Ar-Rusafi (1873–1945) is well known to all who frequented public schools in the Arab world. A poet of the early twentieth century, he celebrated the pride of being an Arab while his fellow men, in his native Iraq and elsewhere, were asserting their national identity and the domination of the Ottoman Turks was fading before European expansion. His poetry, in form and content, is an example of the forceful mobilization of classical canons for a modern cause. Arabism was linked to freedom, equality, and all sorts of positive values.6

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Only very recently, another face of the poet was discovered. Late in his life, Ar-Rusafi turned his attention to the earliest foundational moments of Islamic history and the figure that made Arabs emerge as a force to be reckoned within the region and in the world. He dedicated eight years of his life to the study of the biography of Prophet Muhammad with the idea of ‘‘elucidating a sacred myth,’’ that is, scrutinizing religious conceptions in order to extract the ‘‘true facts’’ of history from the mythological narratives into which the Prophet’s biography had been placed. The book, completed in Fallujah in 1933, remained hidden from the general public for many years. Only in 2002 did it find a publisher.7 Maaruf Ar-Rusafi studied the traditional sources on the life of the Prophet with the idea of going beyond the allegories and narratives by which the myth of Muhammad as a religious figure has been constructed. Remarkably, though his agenda is modern, his sources, methods and style remained strictly traditional. He had almost no contact with modern trends of scholarship and shows no influence of Western approaches to religious or historical subjects. Besides Arabic, he seems to have had some knowledge of Turkish (he wrote for short periods for a few journals published in Istanbul) and some degree of Farsi, but no knowledge of European languages. His limited knowledge of some modern theories (such as Newtonian physics or Darwinism) came from his reading of Egyptian journals published in Arabic early in the twentieth century. However, he clearly showed a free mind, submitting the existing sources to a strictly rational scrutiny, discarding all preconceptions, including those that were most sacred for his fellow Muslims. As such, he seems to belong to the line of rationalist rebels who have attempted to cross the red lines erected around orthodoxy. The book opens with a strange declaration (which includes excerpts from his poems) in which ArRusafi proclaims Truth as the only divinity worth worshiping and asserts his intention of adhering to it whatever the cost may be. His reconstitution of the life of the Prophet brings back a wealth of anecdotes forgotten because later biographers discarded them. The effect, indeed, is to shed light on a historical, down-to-earth person. He tones down the supranatural flavor of stories about the Prophet’s life, tracing this approach to the imagination of later narrators, not to the contemporaries and witnesses of the Prophet. Through this secularized narrative of the Prophet’s life and deeds, a very strange picture emerges. Most striking is the extreme violence that predominates in the behavior and customs of the age. We become aware not only of the Prophet as living in a stateless society, but of a time long

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before modern sensibilities were born. Aggressive behavior and cynicism were extreme and widespread. The Prophet did emerge from the lot of his contemporaries not by being totally different in this aspect, but by being endowed with a personality that dominated the others and by having a vision that transcended the prevailing conceptions within his environment. Ar-Rusafi argues that the great strength of the Prophet’s personality was his capacity to free himself from the norms of the culture in which he was immersed. He was the one who was able to understand events and social processes beyond the limitations of his personal self and beyond the dominant views and values of his society. The revelations he received were the consequence of a long application of intellectual discipline through which he broke with the ethos and worldview prevailing among his contemporaries. Most individuals, argues Ar-Rusafi, think and react within the world of meaning built by the language and culture transmitted by their environment. They are thus unable either to distance themselves from their world, or to put into perspective the conceptions and values which they inherit. They are shaped, fully and inexorably, by the system of views and beliefs prevailing in their environment. Only a few have the capacity to distance themselves from the mold of their own culture and from the value system entrenched in their own societies. They raise themselves above the conventional wisdom and grasp the view of the total being. They therefore reach a kind of knowledge that is not accessible to their fellow men. According to Ar-Rusafi’s reading of scripture, this is why some men emerge as prophets. Muhammad was one of these men, probably the man who had gone as far along this path as possible. He had, in addition, the will to use the knowledge that he had accessed toward the transformation of the moral and political condition of his people, and of mankind. Ar-Rusafi cites numerous quotations in which the Prophet promised his Arab tribesmen a great destiny if they followed his teachings, including the building of an empire that would crush and dominate the existing powers of the time. Here Ar-Rusafi shows the limits of his critical reading. His criticism of early narratives does not lead him to question ideas that may be projections from the subsequent history. He sees them as the expression of a grand design that drove the actions of the Prophet Muhammad. For ArRusafi, the Prophet imagined and initiated the building of a new kind of community, one that was not built on tribal bonds or on the domination of strong monarchs surrounded by large armies, as were the empires of

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the time, but rather one that was founded on common beliefs and on regulatory systems grounded in religious creeds and founded on ethical principles. His grand design was thus to implement in actual history an alternative to tribe and empire, which were the only available forms that humanity had known until then. Monotheism and the ethics related to it—solidarity, social justice, and equality—were to provide the foundations of such a new community. The Arabs, being the ones who would champion its building and implementation, would have a privileged role in its subsequent development. The Prophet was not a man who passively received a message from a transcendent God, as is depicted in orthodox traditions, but one who had accessed the inner processes of nature and history, beyond the cultural framework of his time, and who developed a project that led to the greatest transformation in the history of mankind: the creation of a social order that enacted the ethical principles brought about by (a purified form of ) monotheism. The admiration of the poet for the Prophet is thus immense, but it is not derived from the traditional view prevailing among Muslims. The Arabs are credited with being the initiators of a new order, which is supposed to have taken humanity from the reign of tribal customs and brute domination, to the vision of communities built on shared beliefs and ethically grounded regulations. For Ar-Rusafi, the sacred is still there but it has another meaning.

A New Form of Religious Consciousness? In his book, Maaruf Ar-Rusafi does not seem to be aware of the ‘‘secularized’’ reading of the initial moments of Muslim history, which had been proposed by Ali Abderraziq a few years earlier. The resemblance between the two nearly simultaneous endeavors, at least in formal terms, is striking. In Islam and the Foundations of Power, Ali Abderraziq wanted to go beyond the traditional narrative of the early phases of the Muslim community in order to answer questions that had arisen in his time. His quest, coming immediately after the abrogation of the caliphate by Mustafa Kamal Atatu¨rk in 1924, was to assess the thesis that Islam encompasses both religion and politics. He, too, went back to traditional sources, armed only with reason, that is, without consideration of or even access to modern theories, methods, concepts, and learning. His conclusions, which may seem to be opposed to those reached later by Ar-Rusafi, are also strikingly original.

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The community created and led by the Prophet in Medina was by no means a polity, in the sense we give to these words today. Although it had some external features that resemble those of a polity (collecting taxes, building an army, administering justice, appointing envoys to neighboring states), it was fundamentally a religious community, intended to create a space where individuals could follow their new religious beliefs at a distance from the hostility of their tribal leaders, who had remained opposed to the new religion. Ali Abderraziq concluded his scrutiny of the early moments by stressing that the Prophet did not attempt or promote anything beyond this kind of community. The fact that he did not appoint a successor, as any political leader instinctively would (so Sunni Muslims believe), demonstrates that he was not motivated by political concerns. After the death of the Prophet, the Muslims decided to transform this religious community into a polity. In time, they made an empire of it. In order to defend his thesis, Ali Abderraziq also proposed a theory of prophecy. He did not question the idea of a message literally delivered from God, as did Ar-Rusafi, but stressed its exceptionality. He describes prophecy as a phenomenon that gives a chosen man total, comprehensive powers over his fellows. These powers included and exceeded those of kings and temporal leaders. The inclusion of politics within the realm of religion is thus an exceptional turn, a break into the ordinary course of social and political history, whereby a man endowed with a message and a mission transforms the prevailing order by providing new moral foundations. This exception is, by definition, not a lasting state and is not intended to outlive its founder. Although they had two different agendas, one rather liberal and the other nationalist, both Ali Abderraziq and Maaruf Ar-Rusafi wrote at a time when Muslim intellectuals enjoyed an unprecedented opening in the intellectual sphere. New explanations had to be sought and could—to some degree—be proposed. Both thinkers understood, and stressed, that the coming of Islam had deep and lasting political consequences, as it provided new models, new aspirations, and new values. They also argued that the understanding that prevailed in Muslim histories did not convey the depth of such a revolution. What it did was elevate the basic facts of Muslim history—the building of new empires and sultanates—to the status of an Islamic norm. This distorted the political message of the Prophet, which is that political systems had to be grounded on shared beliefs and ethical principles, not that religion had to provide the blueprint for any political systems or grounds to legitimate older forms of monarchical power. However, Ali Abderraziq was perhaps very cautious, since he did

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not publish anything after the controversy surrounding Islam and the Foundations of Power. Maaruf Ar-Rusafi entrusted his findings to an essay that could not be published during his life, nor even a few decades later, and that is likely to remain the work of a poet who did not master scholarly methods and discipline. Ali Abderraziq and Maaruf Ar-Rusafi have many things in common. Both belong to the same historical moment, a time when the old political institutions that had prevailed in Muslim contexts collapsed and new states, designed following modern conceptions and created as a consequence of European intervention, came to shape the lives of most Muslim populations. All this had taken place after long, painful, and profoundly disturbing confrontations with European powers. The challenge brought on by the encroachment of European powers and their direct presence in Muslim societies had been deeply felt. Reformism had been the immediate and main intellectual reaction. It had stressed the fundamental validity of Islamic beliefs and their relevance for the new age. Following this teaching, Muslims needed only to return to the core tenets of their faith and leave all the accretions that were gathered around it. The call was for a renewed adoption of the message, beyond the historical ‘‘deviations’’ including institutional and popular forms of devotion. Ali Abderraziq and Maaruf Ar-Rusafi understood that inherited interpretations of the faith in essential matters needed radical revision and that there were new questions that needed to be addressed seriously. Both of them had a solid traditional education, one as an ‘alim from Al-Azhar, the other in the Arabic language and literature. Neither of the two was a scholar belonging to an established school of thought or purporting to apply some predefined grids of interpretation. Neither was under the influence of identifiable Western currents or thinkers. Yet both attempted a radical reexamination of existing interpretations, by resorting to a critical study of early sources, in ways that are now familiar (and widely established) among scholars. Both were original. Their approaches were a clear rupture from what had come to prevail within learned circles. They did not seek the true and established interpretations among authoritative masters, but dared either to question such interpretations or to ignore them from the outset. The political implications of the faith and the exact nature of revelation were essential questions for Muslim societies, particularly as they underwent processes of deep change. What were the obligations of Muslims in religious, political, and legal matters? Are they bound by specific, welldefined, and unquestionable prescriptions conveyed by God through

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clearly stated orders, or could they rely on broad guidelines from a renewed reading of the sacred sources? The two thinkers reached conclusions that seem to be diametrically opposed. For Ali Abderraziq, the Prophet had not instituted in his lifetime a state in the meaning that we, or generations belonging to societies before the eighteenth century, give to the term. He created rather a religious community within which he played the role of an ultimate spiritual leader whose authority included, but was not restricted to, some attributions usually held by political leaders. The fact that he was a prophet leading his community of believers gave him a special status. The radical turning point came after the Prophet’s death, when some members of his community created a new polity, uniting all those who had accepted his teachings. What had been, under the leadership of the Prophet, a religious community became, with the early caliphs, a political entity where power came to be legitimized through religious symbols. The titles of caliph and Amir alMuminin (Commander of the Faithful), insists Ali Abderraziq, were invented when the new rulers faced opposition and felt the need for legitimization. This was a trend that continued and gained strength well afterward. The consequences of such interpretations were momentous. What had come to be viewed as Islamic institution or forms of political power that were sanctified by religion were now to be understood as historical forms that were created by Muslims but were not part of any religious requirement. It implied that Muslims were free to adopt the institutions that served their best interests. Institutions created by earlier generations of Muslims were by no means binding for Muslims, and they cannot be given the status of religious obligations. For Maaruf Ar-Rusafi, the Prophet’s genius gave him the ability to perceive realities beyond the frameworks of the culture and language of his time. He could envision a political framework where individuals and groups could be brought together beyond their tribal belonging, beyond their identities and particular conflicting interests, however irreconcilable they may have seemed. He not only envisioned such a possibility, but also lay the foundation for it in the form of a religious message. He pushed the endeavor to the point where he created a community following the principles he had reached. His prophecy cannot therefore be seen as a passive reception of divine messages and prescriptions, but as an active endeavor built on a perception of the world that bypassed the molds of the culture in which his contemporaries lived. His prophecy, again, had to be seen as an endeavor that aimed not at building a kingdom, an empire, or a polity (as he clearly did not seek worldly power), but rather at creating polities of a new type,

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based on adhesion to ethical principles rather than on mere domination or belonging. He thus enabled his people, the Arabs, to create a political entity of their own and to compete in favorable terms with other peoples. Thus, for one, politics is an accessory, a subproduct of the essentially religious message, while, for the other, it is the most important objective outcome of the whole message of Islam. Both reject the traditional (and today renewed) conception of Islam providing a blueprint of social and political order. Both reject the idea of the Prophet as a king of sorts, or having ordinary political attributions. Both, more importantly, stress that history has to be read differently, that historical (and critical) understanding should replace the ‘‘sacred’’ history that Muslims had come to adopt. ‘‘Profane’’ history had to replace or displace it. The sacred, if such a term could be used, should not be seen in the political forms that Muslims built after the death of the Prophet in order to ensure the continuity of his message, nor even (for Maaruf Ar-Rusafi) by the Prophet himself in order to implement his vision, but in the principles which ground them. The normative and prescriptive mode assigned to those forms, although encouraged by early (and supposedly devout) Muslim rulers in their endeavor to confer legitimacy to their own power, should not be seen as binding, or as part of the religious message itself. For both, none of the categories available to us nowadays is useful in conveying the meaning of the founding moment, if we dare to examine it with all our critical faculties working. The critical examination of history helps us discard the very categories with which prevailing conceptions are built. It helps us reach a higher level of clarity, and thus find appropriate answers to our questions, and fitting attitudes toward the challenges of our times. Beyond the apparent opposition between the two, there seems to be a profound convergence on the grounds on which the inquiry should be led, and on the outcomes for the interpretation of the faith. This is probably an epistemological shift that fits with the spirit of our time: critical or even ‘‘disenchanted’’ history rather than sacred history, leading to forms of understanding which clearly separate fact from value, which perceive principles, not particular actions or historical forms, as the real bearers of sacredness. For Ali Abderraziq, this shift is accomplished through drawing a clear line between the period where the Prophet was living (where his declarations and actions are seen as expressions of the sacred, as inspired by God), and the subsequent history of Muslims, which is seen as profane. In this, he acknowledges an important Islamic dogma (more or less forgotten by

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many Muslims), that is, the closing of revelation at the death of the Prophet. With Muhammad as the seal of Prophecy, all that came after him could not claim sacredness. Hence the forms, expressions, and institutions created by Muslims at various moments of their histories can in no way be seen as part of the Islamic articles of faith; neither can they be part of the Islamic pantheon of things to revere as part of the normative heritage. For Maaruf ar-Rusafi, this epistemological shift is achieved by rejecting the myths built around the Prophet’s personality and reaching to the grand design he conceived and began to implement, in order to bring about radically new forms of political and social order, which relegate to the shadows the collective identity based on belonging and invert the relationship between coercion and moral norms, by putting coercion to the service of moral norms rather than the other way around. Both, as we can clearly see, are amenable to modern views about political ideals. By rejecting the use of religion to legitimize traditional forms of power, they open the way to the adoption of ideals of democracy, rule of law, and human rights. Yet none of the two does it through an apologetic approach. None starts from premises that endow modern ideals with the highest value, then select from the early Muslim sources what may be in their favor. They are not acting like some modern advocates of modernity, who pick and choose within the religious texts whatever suits their cause and leave altogether (or interpret away) what does not. In fact, they go far beyond what most reformists did—namely, find arguments that support their wish to hold together their faith and universal reason. They do not come to the conclusions of fundamentalists, who see in the founding moments a golden age that needs only to be enacted again. Theirs is a much bolder endeavor and sophisticated approach. It entails questioning seriously the whole reception of the heritage that strips it from its historicity. It leads to addressing religious teachings transmitted by the tradition with a rational mind—all preconceptions discarded. What they discover, and attempt to accommodate in terms acceptable to ‘‘public reason,’’ is that the keys to the ultimate meaning of religious prescriptions (if such an expression could still be used) are to be found in history and that they fit within a broader framework of human struggles for an order built on ethical principles rather than merely reflecting power relations. By proposing such avenues for interpretation, they may outline some of the best possible directions for Muslims in the present time. Their religious consciousness, if such an expression may be used, would not entail a strict adherence to specific interpretations supposed to be sacred, but rather a deep respect for an endeavor that attempted to break the chains of servitude in which humans imprisoned themselves.

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chapter 3

A Republic Whose Sovereign Is the Creator: The Politics of the Ban of Representation Shmuel Trigano

There are many ideological and epistemological obstacles to understanding the politics of Judaism. Its foundational text, the Torah, both in regard to its biblical-Talmudic meaning and in regard to the historical condition of the Jews, has long been prone to misunderstanding. In order to approach the question of politics in Judaism, one must abandon the perception that this politics is theocratic. Since Flavius Josephus positively defined Israel’s political specificity in comparison with monarchic and oligarchic regimes in his book Against Apion, theocracy has become equivalent to the very negation of the political. Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise has established this negative understanding for modern minds. One must further abandon the belief that politics is impossible without a state. To speak about politics in relation to Judaism necessitates that politics not be reducible to the state, since there was no Jewish state during more than twenty centuries of exile. It is true, however, that the question of politics in Judaism returned to the forefront following the creation of the State of Israel. Inspired by the late Daniel Elazar, founder of the Jerusalem Center for Political Affairs, a school was born in Israel twenty years ago that produced an entire literature about the ‘‘Jewish political tradition.’’1 Today, the Jerusalem Merkaz Shalem has taken up the torch in a creative and more philosophical project.2 The bibliography in this domain

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has also increased.3 This evolution constitutes a turning point in the twocenturies-old history of emancipation. Longing for European citizenship, emancipated Jews depoliticized and dehistoricized Judaism in order to reconstruct it as a religious denomination and as a metaphysics that would not hamper their integration into the European nation-states. Citizenship concerned only individuals, and they therefore had to declare their political entity bankrupt. Once these ideological barriers have been cleared, there remains an epistemological barrier because the political in Judaism does not refer to an autonomous sphere as such. An effort is needed to seize it, especially when the biblical matrix is in question. The Christian understanding of the Hebrew Bible has both depoliticized and spiritualized it. Renouncing the category of ‘‘people’’ invoked in the biblical revelation, Christianity has excluded the Jews as a people from chosenness. A lot of terms and notions that have become insignificant in the Christian understanding of the text are, in fact, crucial notions if understood from a political perspective. The most significant example is the term Zekenim. The current translation as ‘‘Elders’’ suggests a group of old sages, whereas it actually refers to a legislative body analogous to what the Romans called the Senate. Other bucolic notions such as the ‘‘Congregation of the Children of Israel’’ or the ‘‘gathering of Israel’’ (Knesset Israel) refer to precise aspects of the Hebrew polity. My approach to the question of politics in Judaism is decisively not a ‘‘philological-historical’’ one. Opposed to the (undeclared) agenda contained within that approach (that is, the dismemberment of the cohesiveness and meaningful dimension of the biblical text), I am trying to seize the spirit and rationale of the politics of Judaism in the Hebrew Bible. This approach supposes that one accept the idea that this twenty-fivecenturies-old text, whatever its status, can be read from an anthropological or a politico-philosophical perspective. Indeed, its narrative illustrates how the society that identifies with this text and identifies in it a source of law has understood itself throughout history.

Inside Immanence: The ‘‘Covenant’’ Despite these difficulties of understanding, Judaism has an inescapable political meaning, not so much as a religion that governs the polity but as a phenomenon that cannot be dissociated from the existence of a people.

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And this people is larger than a religious congregation. From the biblicalTalmudic perspective, this people is the outcome of the Sinai revelation. Unlike Christianity and Islam, the Sinai revelation is not intended for a chosen individual whose authority comes from being divinely inspired. The Sinai revelation is given to an entire people, including the strangers among them (Exod. 12:33): ‘‘And the children of Israel travelled. . . . The men, apart from infants, were about six hundred thousands on foot, and also a great mixture had gone up with them.’’ The revelation institutes a people, not only a congregation of believers. The eighteenth-century Chassidic interpretation of the term Tsibbur, which means ‘‘the public,’’ illustrates the political referent of revelation. The term Tsibbur is interpreted as if it were an acronym of a reality composed of three different social strata: the righteous (Tsadikim), the average men (Beynonim), and the wicked (Reshayim). If there are wicked persons in this community, then it is not a brotherhood of ‘‘saints’’ or a sect. From an external and macroscopic perspective, Judaism is therefore immediately a political reality. But how do things look from an internal, microscopic perspective? It is not enough for Judaism to constitute a political fact. Politics must be also possible inside it. Here one is confronted with another characteristic of the politics of Judaism: the heteronomous character of its foundation. Indeed, according to the biblical narrative, the people form itself with the event of the Divine revelation on Mount Sinai. In this face-to-face between the Divine and the people, transcendence is articulated with immanence. The subsequent history of Judaism is governed by the unsteady balance between these two opposed dimensions and the temptation to succumb to the attraction of one or the other pole: either through a mundane politicization whereby the people of Israel seek ‘‘to be like the other peoples of the Earth,’’ as the prophet Samuel said or, more rarely, through a retreat from history, exemplified by the Qumran community or by the contemporary ultraorthodox communities. This heteronomy, identified with transcendence, does not eliminate the moment of immanence. The device which links transcendence and immanence together, even if it does so in an unsteady way, is unusual and surprising. I refer here to the notion of a covenant, which is supposed to bind together the one and immaterial God with the nebula of a people, rather than with an individual or a hierocratic caste. The covenant is the key idea of the politics of Judaism. It assumes, first of all, that there is consent between both partners of the covenant. The Sinai God cannot enter into an alliance with the people of Israel without their consent. This happened in the book of Exodus (4:2–9), when the Hebrews in Egypt, morose

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because of the cruelty of slavery, did not heed Moses. ‘‘They did not listen to Moses because of shortage of spirit and because of hard work.’’ Only some chapters further (Exod. 19 and 20), at the end of a true process of negotiation, do they give their consent to enter into the covenant: ‘‘We’ll do everything that YHWH has spoken’’ (19:8); and they accept Moses’ technical role of go-between: ‘‘And they said to Moses ‘You speak with us and we may listen, but let God not speak with us or else we’ll die’ ’’ (Exod. 20:9). The covenant also assumes that each partner is responsible. Indeed, it includes a charter, the Torah, which determines the system of relationship between the two partners. The Ark of the Covenant contains this charter, the ‘‘Scroll of the Covenant’’ (Exod. 24:7) (Sefer Habrit), which follows Israel in all its peregrinations and was settled in the heart of Jerusalem in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. The covenant and the election of God’s ally, the people of Israel, are not outcomes of the good will of a heavenly monarch: they are based on a true written contract governing the partnership between God and a people. The Talmud later defines man as God’s associate (Shutaf ) in the work of creation. In this account, which emphasizes the link between God and the people, the principle of the law is the axis of the Covenant. This law is intended for the polity, but this is not its sole purpose, because the Torah contains not only legal items but also narrative pieces. In modern terms, one could say that in the Hebrew polity the law is not reducible to the state. Insofar as this covenant with an immaterial Being depends on a written law given to man, the implementation of the covenant depends on its interpretation. The law is therefore irremediably ‘‘not in the skies’’ (Deut. 30:12). The Talmud confirms this principle (Bava Metsia 59 a b). The Talmudic literature is full of stories that demonstrate that, after the Torah was given to Israel, it is henceforth to be found in the human realm. In this way, the transition to the realm of human autonomy is achieved. In its origin the law is heteronomous, but, in its implementation, it is totally autonomous—that is, it is a human enterprise. This law, which instituted a people and not a caste, refers to a way of organizing and governing this society so that its understanding depends on a negotiation, a debate (the famous Talmudic Controversy) between its members, who fall along at least two positions (which are represented in the Talmud by the two Sages, Shammay and Hillel, whose opposite opinions are said to be God’s opinion). The covenant between God and Israel is at the same time a covenant between the members of this people. This is the meaning of the verse in Genesis 17:7: ‘‘And I’ll establish my Covenant between me

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and you and your seed after you for their generations as an eternal Covenant, to become God to you and to your seed after you.’’ This debate spins the web of the polity. It is a historical fact that the political history of Judaism is also the history of the different approaches to the Sinai constitution (one needs but think about the political-ideological division of the Second Temple society).

Immanence but Transcendent: The Void in the Polity This face-to-face of the Jews with themselves and with the transcendence of the covenant underscores the second main characteristic of the politics of Judaism. The allied God, the partner of the people of Israel, remains radically transcendent. It is very difficult to imagine how something that is not found in the immanent world can nevertheless still be a partner. This God who gives the law is therefore physically and concretely absent, unrepresentable by an image or a caste or any power, because everyone has enjoyed His revelation. Of course, the Torah is the trace of His passage, like the people of Israel, but His presence is absent. Thus, one of the tasks of the Jewish polity will always be to maintain in their midst, in physical reality, the memory of this absence, which testifies to God’s hidden presence. The political center of the polity is therefore the Ark of the Covenant upon which the Divine Presence is said to stay, as shown by the description of Israel’s camp in the desert found at the beginning of the book of Numbers. Later, this political center shifts to the Jerusalem Temple. But this center remains physically empty. Temple and Torah are the testimonies of the impossibility of representing God, of His absence, or, better, of His paradoxical presence. The ban on representation is thus at the heart of power so that power can never form one body with itself. This ban is the manifestation of a general principle of the biblical-Talmudic politics that I would define as the principle of separation. The covenant produces a set of separations within immanence that aim to safeguard the separate place of the unrepresentable within that immanence: to safeguard the place of the Other. To arrange the place of the Other, facing God, is the aim of Israel’s election. It is also the principle of life, if one goes by the beginning of Genesis, where Man appears at the end of a process of separation, dissociation, and differentiation. One could even say that the aim of the Jewish polity is to institute this separation in the assembly of men. Paradoxically, to make an alliance is rendered in

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Hebrew as ‘‘cutting, breaking’’ an alliance (likrot brit). What is cut or broken is the ‘‘esprit de corps,’’ or the possibility for a society to be identical to itself in such a way as to leave no place for the Other. But who is the Other? It is the second face of the Being, revealed to Adam, to mankind, with Eve’s ‘‘creation’’ (in fact, her revelation, because Adam was initially created ‘‘masculine and feminine’’). This place is mankind’s besides God. The covenant thus generates a politics of the void. In the union of the two allies, a place is kept vacant. What is the nature of this void? The experience of the void is the experience of a limit: it defines a place where one cannot enter, a forbidden space in the polity that can be neither occupied nor built upon. The polity cannot be perfect because of this incomplete side of the polity, which must remain empty. Because of such a void, nothing is totally realized in this world. This fact opens a horizon to men’s actions and makes it possible for them to move beyond the already accomplished acts: the void is the very place of freedom. This void indeed is not dedicated to nothingness or to the lack of difference. Because of it, the law is continuously created. The law is not sacred, as Durkheim thought, that is to say, a means of identification for the collective. It is not a mystery but a language: the text of the Torah. The void is not dedicated to anonymity. Inside it there stands the Name par excellence, which cannot be pronounced. The Name is not identified with a material power. It cannot be represented. The ban on representation is the basis of the polity. One can say that God ‘‘reigns but does not govern,’’ to employ the famous formula of the English monarchy. Through this vacant place, the absence becomes a carrier of presence, a presence that is defined not by the thirst for power but by the place made for the Other. The center of the polity is no longer the center of power. Exile becomes (for those who are God’s allies) the way to inhabit the world, rather than to leave the world. ‘‘You are aliens and visitors with me’’ (Lev. 25:23). How is this void instituted? I touched above on its spatial dimension with the Jerusalem Temple and, before that, with the Tabernacle in the Desert. The purpose of the Temple is to settle a vacant space in the city, the Holy of Holies, where no one enters. But the most important device of the void concerns all of society. I refer here to the tribe of Levi. Whereas all the tribes of Israel are settled and territorialized, a supernumerary tribe comes to blur the total account of the tribes and the sharing of the land. This tribe does not receive a fixed territory and remains mobile. Significantly, the Levites receive the task of dealing with the Tabernacle, which in the desert is portable and itinerant. The tribe of Levi

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has the duty of keeping the Book of the Constitution in the Ark of the Covenant, which is the most important thing in the Holy of Holies. The Levites teach the law, drawn from its interpretation. Their dispersal among the tribes embodies the universality of the political community and its mobile, not localizable unity. By its sole existence, the tribal morphology comes to include a declivity, a dislocation, a gap, or a discrepancy. With the Levitic institution there is a social embodiment of the vacant center, of the absent presence or a place of nonappropriation, but not nothingness. I would say that by their withdrawal inside the people, the Levites institute the polity but do not govern it or exercise political power over it. The way the Levites institute the polity is twofold: by hollowing out the collective body, which results from their deterritorialization and their dispersal among all the tribes, and also by the gift system that they introduce in the social relationships. Indeed, their existence has both a social and an economic consequence. They receive the tithe as a compensation for not receiving their part of land. Besides the tithe, they receive the sacrificial offerings of the Temple. The Levitic constitution also concerns the practice of fallowing all the land of Israel every seven years and canceling debts every fifty years, on the Jubilee. The Levites institute the framework in which politics develops. They institute the political domain without implementing a politics. This separation of the Levites from the Hebrew people is repeated in the organization of the Levitic tribe itself, which is dissociated according to the two functions it performs. The priests perform the sacrifices while the simple Levites perform the cult, the singing, the teaching and the judging. It is forbidden for the latter to perform sacrifices (Numbers 8:19– 26), which remains the priests’ privilege. The Levitical function is the backbone of the politics of the Bible: the Levites speak out the impossibility of representing the transcendent. They do not perform mediation between the people and God, which is characteristic of a theocratic regime.

The Principle of Separation The same principle of separation is active in the power system of the polity. The Temple depends on priestly authority: only the High Priest can enter the Holy of Holies, and simple Levites cannot sacrifice. Their specific authority concerns the Temple and the rites of purification: they manage the relationship of the collective to the void, or the vacant place in the

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city. They keep the sacred space vacant. Outside, in the city, the king governs. He manages the immanence and cannot enter the Holy of Holies. Such an infringement was committed by Saul, the first king, who performed a sacrifice (1 Sam. 8:8–14) and was therefore deposed by the prophet Samuel. Thus, there is a separation between the civil and religious authorities. Priest and king must be separated. However, this was not the case during the Second Temple period when the Maccabees, of priestly origin, were crowned kings. This event was the origin of the Pharisaic separation from active politics and the beginning of the road for the Talmud, for rabbinical Judaism. But neither of these two authorities has an exclusive privilege in their own domain. Thus, the king has to write for his own use a copy of the Torah (Deut. 17:18) that is in the Holy of Holies. This copy will always be with him. He has to meditate on it, and it is the symbol of his power. Similarly, the High Priest must give his consent to any war the king intends to engage. This system of power explains how the people of Israel can be defined by the Torah as a ‘‘kingdom of priests and a holy nation’’ (Exod. 19:6). The kingdom is with the priesthood and the nation with the holiness, folded together but not mixed or confused. The king’s authority is not absolute. The prophet Samuel imposed a charter to the kingship (1 Sam. 12:12–14) that is a sort of prototype of constitutional monarchy, and the king needs the people’s assembly (the Senate) to consent in order to be crowned, even after he has received God’s unction through the prophet. This Senate is itself the summit of numerous municipal, tribal, and intertribal senates. This explains why the Hebrew polity can be seen as constituting a republic as much as a constitutional monarchy. These two powers (priestly and political) are each governed by a covenant with the Divine. Concerning Aaron, his priesthood is defined as a ‘‘covenant of eternal priesthood,’’ ‘‘it shall be his and his seed’s after him’’ (Numbers 25:13). Concerning David, the kingdom is said to ‘‘endure forever before me’’ (2 Sam. 7). The priesthood’s function is to maintain the vacant place in the polity; and the king acts in such a city, within this limit: he cannot enter the vacant place. A third power is added to this duet. It does not enjoy the privilege of being fully institutionalized and performs a function analogous to the tribunate in the Roman Republic. Its function is to manage how the two other authorities perform their duties. This third power rests with the prophet, who remains vigilant so that these authorities do not capture the vacant place, either by the High Priest’s appropriation or by the king’s negligence of it. This void, this vacant place, refers to the divine Name. It

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is the vacant place that remembers an immaterial God. This authority— similar to what we would nowadays call a Supreme Court of justice— belongs to the prophet. His main message concerns the remembering of the desert (the covenant of the desert; Jer. 2:2–3) by the urbanites who have a tendency to take root and identify themselves with the land. This doctrine of power is established very clearly by the Talmudic literature in the second century and is known as the theory of the ‘‘Three Crowns.’’ It has been very popular throughout the history of Jewish tradition. According to Rabi Simeon, ‘‘There are three crowns: the crown of the Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of royalty, but the crown of a good name surpasses them all’’ (Avot, Mishna 13). Of all these three crowns, the most important one is the Torah, as represented by the prophet and, later, by the Sages. However, contrary to the two other crowns, which are hereditary, this crown belongs to all the citizens who are members of the covenant and who can reach it by their own merit. The crown of the Torah is greater than the political and the religious authorities, despite their institutional and professional strength. It is very significant—and a rare phenomenon in the history of religions—that the religious (or, more precisely ritual) authority is dissociated from the authority of the Torah. The disjunction of these different spheres in the polity keeps the void because it is a consequence of the void. The division of power between the three crowns does not concern their spatial domain of action but the approach to the problems of the polity. Each authority defends a special interest in the affairs of the polity. The political history of Judaism can be analyzed on the basis of the dynamics of the three crowns. It is interesting to study how this system works. This theory has been developed by Stuart Cohen.4 What is sure is that power has to be shared. A single body cannot concentrate all the attributes of power. Even God in this covenantal polity does not have absolute power. An example of this is the story of Abraham and the fate of Sodom (Gen. 18:25): ‘‘Shall the judge of the entire world not perform justice?’’ Another example is Moses, who tries to temper God’s wrath (Num. 16:22). Nevertheless, if the power is shared and divided, this division is different from the Christian theory of the two swords (papacy and Empire), which was the principle of medieval European politics. It is also different from Montesquieu’s tripartite division between among the legislative, executive, and judicial powers. The problem in the Hebrew polity is not how governmental institutions exercise their power or what their domain of operation is, but from whence they derive their authority and how it must be exercised. The

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division among the three crowns is not a division of function but of interest (sanctity for priesthood, mastery of violence for kingship, adherence to values and laws of the Torah for prophecy). Their distinction lies less in the needs they serve rather than in the perspectives they bring to bear on the polity. Good policy must be consensual and federal and receive the assent of each of the three crowns, the three spheres of authority. Prophets interpret the Torah and transmit God’s teaching, priests bring Israel in contact with God, and kings accord civil relationships with the covenant. The principle of functioning is autonomy. The notion of ‘‘crown’’ introduces the notions of authority and sovereignty. No crown has the right to impinge upon the domain of the other because it is based on a covenant with God. Each has its own hierarchy of officers and procedures of appointment. However, the three crowns are interdependent; they must participate jointly in the most crucial areas of government: judicial, legislative, sacerdotal, and military. It is a naturally unbalanced system of power. The checks and balances system here lies in the intertwining of the three authorities in the same domain of government. In fact, each authority checks the other two, so that the three have to come to agreement on each question. That is why this political system is inherently unstable and conflictridden but constitutes a good antidote against abuse of power and provides a strong basis for the continuity of the people of Israel. Indeed, if each crown can bear the responsibility for all the problems that occur in the Jewish polity, the system of the three crowns allows this polity to survive even after a disaster destroys the seat of any one of the crowns. One can understand why the Talmudic literature created this theory after the destruction of the second Jewish state, in which the Temple and the kingdom were both destroyed. Although there was no longer a king or a high priest, there remained the Torah and its leadership, the Sages, who were able to manage the affairs of the people. They did so by necessarily reducing the range of Jewish politics down to their own values and understanding, as far as the rewriting of history is concerned. Indeed, according to Pirke Avot 11, it is said that Moses received the Torah at Mount Sinai and passed it on to Joshua, Joshua to the Elders, the Elders to prophets, and the prophets to the members of the Great Assembly. This version of the history of power in Judaism emphasizes that there has been a direct continuity from Moses to the rabbis in which there is no place for priests and kings. The same thing occurred for the priestly authority after returning from the first exile in Babylon, when the Temple took charge of the destiny of the Jewish polity. In these two cases, continuity has been made

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possible, although a serious imbalance between the crowns occurred to permit it. In exile, the Jewish polity was governed only by the crown of the Torah. According to our model, this is an undesirable phenomenon. The ideal situation can be attained only when the three crowns are restored and their interplay is again possible. This model of government illustrates the limitation of power, which characterizes the politics of Judaism. The political sphere is itself limited. There is politics in Judaism, but it does not encompass all of reality.

The Political History of the Three Crowns The Talmudic model of the Three Crowns is but a theoretical systematization of the historical experience drawn from the Torah.5 The crucial element that permits the application of this model to the postbiblical experience of Jews, that is, to a people in exile and without coercive state power at their disposal, is the general capacity and competence of each crown to manage the entirety of public affairs. One can find in this model a prism to understand the political history of Judaism. When the Temple and the state were both destroyed, although the crown of the Torah took upon itself responsibility for the whole Jewish polity (which was henceforth an itinerant and fragmented polity), the other powers, although they were eclipsed, did not disappear. The royal power was deposited among the Parnassim, the lay chiefs of the Jewish communities, each having become autonomous unities without a concrete center apart from the now symbolical center represented by the Constitution of the Torah and the hope for the return of the exiles to Zion. After having been dominant during the entire period of the Second Temple (the State Temple), the priestly power disappeared before reemerging with the modern rabbis in the nineteenth century, after the emancipation redefined Jews as a confessional community. Napoleon made the synagogue subject to the state and constituted it as an institution, the Consistoire. At that point the world of the Yeshivot (the Talmudic academies) began to decline as a center of power, and the lay leaders began to come back on the stage. With the creation of the State of Israel, there occurs a cataclysmic return of political power (the crown of royalty), after twenty-five centuries in which it had vanished. But in reality this meteoric rise of royal power had been in preparation since the late nineteenth century, with the creation of Jewish international organizations, the first of these being the Alliance Israe´lite Universelle in 1860. With the contemporary strengthening of the religious sector in Israeli

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society, one may witness a possible return of the priestly power. The return of the Crown of the Torah has not yet happened. The world of the Yeshivot has indeed deserted the polity and looks out only for its own specific interests. According to the spirit of this system, which seems to structure the political history of Judaism, there might be a return of the prophetic tribunal role: there can be no political power without a countervailing prophetic power. The dynamic of the Three Crowns, in fact, seeks a homeostatic equilibrium among these powers. The messianic-times doctrine develops a vision of the perfection of the biblical polity where the three authorities would join their specific competences in an articulated and complementary fashion for political decision making.

A Contemporary Perspective Is such a political model relevant to understanding the political situation of world Jewry? It would have to be taken as a structural matrix, akin to Max Weber’s pure types of legitimacy, as a way of interpreting Jewish civilization. The application of the ancient model of the Three Crowns to our contemporary situation is rendered difficult by the fact that democracy is a typically modern phenomenon, even if one cannot deny that some forms of democracy existed in premodern societies. From the perspective of modern democracy, the most significant feature of the ‘‘Republic of the Hebrews’’ is its unique articulation of transcendence and immanence, of the religious and the political, without detriment to either of the two domains. In relation to this Republic, a French Jewish philosopher, Arnold Mandel (1913–1987), once employed the term ‘‘theo-democracy’’ to define its system of power. Consent, contract, responsibility—these characteristics of the democratic landscape are not absent from the system of the Crowns, despite the obvious difference that, in the latter system, the Divine is omnipresent and constitutional law is understood to be identical to revealed law. What is proper of democracy is the autonomy, and thus also the selfsufficiency of the political community, whereas the ‘‘Republic of the Hebrews’’ is fundamentally heteronomous in the sense that transcendence is structurally present in the founding contract, the Sinai alliance, which as a contract is necessarily established between two partners and in the terms of immanence. If this model concerns modern democracy at all, then it is because the will to autonomy, characteristic of democracy, has never been matched in reality and in democratic self-consciousness. As

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political history has shown, modern democracy has not been able to do without values, without founding myths, without ‘‘religiosity.’’ Such religiosity has not been that of religion but that of politics. I am referring here to that phenomenon characteristic of the democratic age that sociologists have called ‘‘civil religion’’ in order to describe the emergence of patriotic cults, nationalisms, and the great mass ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.6 Civil religion is the strange phenomenon of an erratic religiosity that ignores itself as religious, and is thereby completely unmasterable by politics. In fact, the religiosity of modern democracy is derived, in a dialectical way, from seeking the foundation of the democratic community exclusively in the dimension of autonomy. Is not the greatest modern myth that of the ‘‘social contract’’ itself? In the Hebrew model, this contractual moment is consciously assumed as an encounter with the Divine. In the Hebrew model, the contract remains secluded in the religious, whereas this is no longer possible in modern democracy since its will to autonomy leads to a total politicization of life and, surreptitiously, of the politicization of faith and of the imaginary. The religious domain can no longer be a separate domain. In the Hebrew model, because transcendence is recognized and assumed as such, a total politicization of life is impossible. Nevertheless a political domain is recognized as such. This disposition may be specific to the universe of Judaism, that is, to a cultural and imaginary context that makes such an attitude possible. The imaginary in Judaism is indeed governed by the ban of representation, so that the Divine remains unrepresented both in the imaginary and in the system of classes. In this model, transcendence is omnipresent, but without any materialization: the Divine appears greater than religion without religion being denied. Transcendence, therefore, becomes a source of freedom with respect to the constituted powers, to which both individuals and groups may appeal and that might be opposed to religious power. The prophetic power is an illustration of this original phenomenon. This exceptional alchemy could contain intellectual resources for contemporary thinking about the economy of beliefs and values without erring into a totalitarian ideology. Indeed, totalitarian movements arose in a democratic age, as Claude Lefort has shown throughout his work. The indeterminacy of democracy, its feebleness concerning the principle of obligation (depending on absolute and ‘‘transcendent’’ values), is open to totalitarian temptation despite its existence as a source of freedom. This is one of the risks of absolute autonomy.

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The void I have made the principle of Hebrew politics does not designate a conceptual or moral universe without rules, abandoned to relativism or nihilism or to the phantasm of human omnipotence: it is the paradoxical seat of the Law and of the principle of obligation. This does not prevent the Law from existing as the opposite of an idealism: ‘‘It’s not in the skies’’ (Deut. 30:12). These principles are the object of the hermeneutic controversy and of the jurisprudence of a worldly tribunal; it is not external to the debate of the polity. From this perspective, a fascinating prospect is to determine who could act nowadays as the Levitical class. In the end, all theorists of democracy have judged it necessary for the continued existence of a democracy that there be a body of citizens dedicated to the public good. This ambition has been hindered by being translated in terms of administrative and bureaucratic functions. But the Levites are not and should not be thought of as state functionaries. This point is fundamental because the key to the whole Hebrew political system is that the Divine is greater than religion, religion is greater than its clergy, and the Torah is greater than dogma. This hierarchy is the substance of divine sovereignty in the Republic of the Hebrews. Religious authority transcends the authority of the religious institution without negating the latter. Such a situation can rest only on faith and not on a formal institution. It must be interiorized in order to be effective. The key to this system is, naturally, a ban on representation. But the world that is made possible by this ban is entirely opposed to our own, where politics is wholly mediatized. The problem is that the image takes shape, comes always with a body, and creates an ‘‘esprit de corps.’’ It incorporates the collectivity and turns it into a mass. From this perspective, the Hebrew republic does not constitute a political ‘‘body.’’ There is no res publica. The public is not a thing (res), a closed totality. It is open at its center via transcendence. From this point of view, Hebrew politics is opposed to the Christian politics instituted by Saint Paul, who defined the political community as an incarnate, organic body: the body (the Church) whose head is Christ: ‘‘Now you are the body of Christ and members of member’’ (1 Cor. 12:27) and ‘‘he hath subjected all things under his feet and hath made him head over all the church which is his body and the fullness of him who is filled all in all’’ (Eph. 22:23).7 The unity of the Hebrew republic is never realized but remains hidden. It announces itself, like the Jewish profession of faith, the Shema Israel, only with eyes closed. All these characteristics of the Hebrew republic stand opposed to those of a totalitarian regime. Such a regime seeks to turn society into a body

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closed upon itself and without divisions, le phantasme du peuple-un, as Claude Lefort has described it.8 From this antitotalitarian perspective, the separation of powers is an important asset, although it also has disadvantages: its disorganized character, which leads to the fact that the competences of the Crowns are not defined by demonstrated ability but rather by selective and limited competence in public affairs. Clearly, the doctrine of the Three Crowns stands or falls on the presence of the Crown of the Torah, which incarnates prophetic authority. It is more usual to find in other religions a diarchy of religious and political power. This was the model of Roman Catholicism, which replaced the ‘‘people of Israel’’ with the church, defined as a body, the head of which was the king or the bishop (and, later, the sovereign state). The idea of the Crown of the Torah does not seem to be transposable into this Western Christian context. Neither the Supreme Court upholding the principles of a Constitution, as in the United States, nor the intellectual taking the side of spirit, as in the European tradition of Enlightenment and public engagement in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, can quite fulfill the role of the prophets. The prophet is not an intellectual (even less a professor, as Max Weber ironically remarks), nor is he a militant at the service of an ideology. The prophet can be compared with the Roman tribune. But is this power that the prophet represents (even though he is backed by prophetic brotherhoods) at all possible in a mass democracy? To speak to the public nowadays, it is no longer necessary to stand on the square of the Temple or in the city square. A complex strategy of power, influence, and intrigue is necessary in order to come to stand behind microphones and on scene. The great problem with the biblical model is its clash with the everyday bread of mass democracies: representation in all of its forms. Everything in Hebrew politics seeks to make representation impossible and thus avoids it. The principle of representation resounds in the definition of a political community itself: power can be conceived only as it is delegated by representation and referred to with an ‘‘image.’’ However, the human person as the Bible conceives it, ‘‘in the image of God,’’ cannot be the object of representation, of a definition, of an objectivation, and a fortiori a political man. The mediation of representation is thus impossible, both at the level of political delegation and at the level of collective identity. The unrepresentable presence of God, transmitted by a bond founded on a contract that is also a break (in Hebrew, to ‘‘make an alliance with somebody’’ is rendered by the expression ‘‘to cut a covenant’’) makes such a development impossible and the prophet exists in order to ceaselessly remind everyone

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of this fact. In the politics of Judaism we are no longer in a world of identity but of nonidentity,9 which is not simply the contrary of identity as sameness and total adhesion to oneself. The ‘‘break’’ that structures this nonidentity is not the anonymous and inhuman universal (necessarily bureaucratic) of some natural law or generic species, but the Divine, a nominal transcendence, which may be hailed by a name, in a personalized relationship without being a relation to a human despot representing him. The idea of man created in the image of a God who is unrepresentable and has no image—to put it succinctly, the Hebrew Tselem10 is not an icon and cannot become iconized11—is a revolutionary idea that stands just as much in antithesis to Rousseau’s idea of citizen and to the idea of generic humanity in the Declaration of the Rights of Citizen and of Man as it does to the idea of the ‘‘unalienated’’ human being in Marx. One could say that this is what always singularizes Jewish thought in relation to Christianity, which has ‘‘iconized’’ this ‘‘image,’’ and in relation to Islam, which has placed it so high that it no longer is reflected in the world and does not support a language.12 We are just beginning to consider the political significance of the Torah for modern democratic thought. The seeds of a new political philosophy are to be found in it, but they have not yet come to fruition. There is no prescribed regime, nor any model of the past from which to draw inspiration. Only a politics of the future may find in it its inspiration, not on this side of democracy but beyond it, to push the democratic ideal farther along than it has traveled in its last two centuries.

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chapter 4

Confucianism’s Political Implications for the Contemporary World Ranjoo Seodu Herr

Confucianism, as the dominant philosophical/cultural system of East Asia that has evolved over two millennia, is multidimensional and multilayered. Consequently, its interpretations diverge depending on which elements get emphasized and how they are arranged. Most, if not all, of such interpretations may contain some truth, but no one interpretation may capture the whole monolithic and unchangeable ‘‘Truth’’ of Confucianism. Confucianism is a living tradition in perpetual motion and survives through mutations, reflecting the needs and concerns of each generation of the cultural community. This does not mean that Confucianism does not contain some essence that would remain constant. Confucian values of four virtues, such as ren (benevolence), yi (righteousness), li (propriety), zhi (wisdom), and self-cultivation constitute such a core. However, even the core values are subject to reinterpretation to fit the pressing concerns of each generation. Some of the most pressing concerns of the contemporary world are economic justice, human rights, and democracy. Confucianism’s successful adaptation to the contemporary world is predicated on addressing these issues successfully. Many Westerners, including academics, however, express skepticism about Confucianism on the ground that it cannot adequately deal with such issues. The aim of this chapter is to argue that

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Confucianism can address these critical concerns by resorting to its own philosophical resources. I shall proceed by first providing a reconstruction of Confucian ethics by focusing on Confucian personhood. Second, I shall elaborate on a conception of the ideal Confucian polity entailed by the Confucian ethics. In this second part, I shall primarily rely on the political theory of a Korean Confucian, Jeong Do-Jeon (1342–1398), the ‘‘master architect of the [Confucian] Chosoˆn Dynasty.’’1 Third, I shall show how this conception of Confucian polity successfully addresses the three aforementioned concerns and is therefore applicable, with some modification, to contemporary East Asian societies. The hope is that this chapter demonstrates not only the timelessness of the core Confucian values and precepts but also their timeliness in their ability to adapt to the contemporary world.

Confucian Ethics The Confucian person is a ‘‘reflective and ceaselessly transformative being’’ conscious of his/her agency (cf. Analects 12.1).2 The reflection or thinking (si ) required of the Confucian self (Mencius 6A. 6, 6A.15), however, is not merely abstract and theoretical.3 Rather, it is always connected with the practical, based on the ‘‘moral mind’’ (xin ), which provides not only the ‘‘antecedent commitment’’ to but also the ‘‘actual activity’’ itself toward moral excellence (cf. Mencius 4A.12; 6A.15).4 The moral mind, according to Mencius, initially consists of the four kinds of feelings that provide the ‘‘beginnings’’ of Confucian virtues: Feelings of commiseration ), shame and dislike (xiuwu ), modesty and yielding (cir(ceyin ), and the sense of right and wrong (shifei ). If preserved, these ang feelings would transform into the four ‘‘constant’’ Confucian virtues of ren ( ), yi ( ), li ( ), and zhi ( ), respectively (Mencius 2A.6). The moral mind is ‘‘irreducible’’5 and common to all humanity, sages and ordinary humans alike (cf. Mencius 3A.1, 4B.32, 6A.7, 6A.10; Analects 17.2). Indeed the possession of the moral mind is ‘‘the defining characteristic of being human’’6 (cf. Mencius 4B.19; 6A.15). Yet the irreducibility of the moral mind does not guarantee a ‘‘spontaneous self-realization’’7 of the Confucian moral self for everyone. Although all humans have the moral mind, it is often ‘‘lost’’ due to inhospitable external circumstances (cf. Mencius 6A.7, 6A.8, 6A.15). Still, it is ‘‘recoverable’’8 through the ‘‘establishment of the will’’ to preserve or retrieve these four beginnings, which is innate in the ‘‘mind’’ as well.9

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If the original moral mind is preserved or retrieved and these emotional germinations are fully actualized, the Confucian person comes closer to the Confucian moral ideal of someone who embodies the four Confucian virtues. The underlying axiom of Confucianism, therefore, is that ‘‘all human beings are endowed with the authentic possibility to develop themselves as moral persons through the cognitive and affective functions of the mind.’’10 This potentiality to realize the Confucian moral ideal through the active preservation or retrieval of the moral mind is what renders Confucian persons equal to one another. In achieving the Confucian moral ideal, the most significant Confucian virtue is ren and the most important Confucian principle is that we ought to embody ren—I shall call this the precept of ren. What, then, is ren? Although it is notoriously multifarious and elusive,11 most Confucians agree that ren is not merely a ‘‘particular virtue’’ of human relations, but a ‘‘general virtue’’ in its ‘‘inclusiveness’’ of other Confucian virtues12 (cf. Analects 13.27). Some Confucians even attribute to it a special status as ‘‘a principle of inwardness,’’ which is ‘‘the self-reviving, self-perfecting, and self-fulfilling process of an individual’’ toward moral perfection.13 Construed thus, the process of actualizing ren is ‘‘practically identical’’ to the )’’14 (cf. Analects 14.25). Self-cultiprocess of ‘‘self-cultivation (xiushen vation is a strenuous, lifelong process of ‘‘self-education’’ to reach the highest stage of moral perfection, often involving pain and suffering, which stops ‘‘only with death’’ (Analects 8.7). The burden, however, is not imposed from without but is in fact ‘‘an internally motivated sense of duty,’’15 as ‘‘the uniqueness of being human is as much a responsibility as a privilege.’’16 Self-cultivation is not simply a process to reach an end.17 Consonant with the East Asian conception of persons as ‘‘processional’’—as ‘‘something that one does rather than is,’’18 the becoming process is also an ‘‘ultimate end in itself.’’19 Given the arduousness of selfcultivation as a perpetual incremental progress toward moral perfection, however, only a small number persists in self-cultivation to achieve the ) (cf. ‘‘authentic self.’’20 They deserve the title junzi (noble person Mencius 6A.15; 4B.19). Ren, however, is inherently linked to human relations. Ren’s sociality is due to its inextricable relation to another Confucian virtue, li, which provides ren with concrete content.21 The relation between ren and li is suggested in a seminal phrase in the Analects: Ren is ‘‘to subdue oneself ) and [to] return to li (fuli )’’ (Analects 12.1). Not surprisingly, (keji the first conjunct implies self-cultivation. Deciphering the phrase ‘‘return to li (fuli),’’ then, is crucial for understanding not only the sociality of

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ren but also the significance of li itself. As mentioned before, li refers to intersubjective ‘‘norms and standards of proper behavior’’ that accord with public expectations pertaining to each role in the ‘‘five human relations.’’ Fuli does not imply ‘‘uncritical conventionalism’’ of conforming to accepted conventions of one’s society.22 The Spring and Autumn period in which Confucius lived was a chaotic and violent time, and Confucius was deeply concerned about its corrupt state. When he spoke of li, therefore, Confucius was referring to the idealized li of Zhou ( ), which he believed was more in line with ren, not the existing conventions of his own time. Further, even though he looked up to the li of Zhou, Confucius did not follow it when it seemed ‘‘improper’’ to him. Instead, he showed the independence of mind by urging people to follow contemporary customs closer to the spirit of ren in such cases (Analects 9.3; cf. Mencius 4B.6). Li, then, represents ‘‘enlightened’’ norms of comportment in the spirit of ren.23 Consequently, fuli implies adhering to standards of proper behavior in human relations that conform to ren, as manifested in one’s self-cultivated/enlightened moral mind, predicated on the feeling of sympathy (cf. Analects 3.3, 15.17).24 The inexorable sociality of ren in its relation to li justifies its explication as ‘‘love’’ (ai ) in ‘‘concrete terms’’25 (Analects 12.22). Confucian love is not the raw emotion of affection, although affection, especially toward one’s family members, does provide its basis. The proper manifestation of Confucian love is rather ‘‘To be able from one’s own self to draw a parallel for the treatment of others’’ (Analects 6.28) and to ‘‘put oneself into the position of others.’’26 This is none other than the ‘‘Golden Rule,’’ encompassing both of its positive and negative requirements. The positive requirement is expressed in the concept of zhong (sincerity ), which is to ‘‘establish’’ and ‘‘enlarge’’ others as well as oneself (Analects 6.28; Zhongy13). The negative requirement is implied in the concept of shu ong ( ), or reciprocity,27 which prohibits imposing on others what one does not want to be imposed on oneself (Analects 1.4, 4.15, 5.11, 12.12, 15.23; 10). The ‘‘one thread that runs through [Confucius’s] docDaxue ) (Analects 4.15). The pretrines’’ is none other than ‘‘zhong and shu’’ ( cept of ren, therefore, means in practice following the principle of zhongshu in human relationships. Confucian love, especially in its Mencian interpretation, is often identi),’’28 indicating the Confufied with ‘‘love with distinction (chadengai cian emphasis on love between parent and child (Mencius 4A.27; cf. 1A.1, 6B.3, 7A.15; Analects 1.2, 2.5; Zhongyong 20). Yet it does not imply egoism centered on one’s family. Love with distinction, involving ‘‘an order, a

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gradation, or distinction, starting with filial piety,’’ is concerned primarily with ‘‘the application of love,’’ which ‘‘necessarily varies according to one’s relationship.’’29 Family is extremely important in Confucianism because it is the fundamental wellspring of love, in which children can practice love and learn the lessons of ren applicable to nonfamilial relations in later years. Yet the Confucian self must embrace all in his love (Mencius 7A.46)30 and ‘‘treat with respect the elders in my family, and then, by extension, also the elders in other families. Treat with tenderness the young in my own family, and then, by extension, also the young in other families’’ (Mencius IA.7). Indeed, Mencius’s statement ‘‘All the myriad things are there in me’’ (7A.4) implies that the true Confucian self is ‘‘an open system’’31 at the center of ‘‘a series of concentric circles . . . the outer rim of [which] never closes.’’ Self-cultivation requires ‘‘the broadening and deepening ‘embodiment’ of an ever-expanding web of human relationships’’ and the precept of ren requires ‘‘a continuous process of extension’’ of li.32 Refusing to extend oneself outward ‘‘restricts us to a closed circle,’’33 thereby stunting our moral growth. In other words, while self-cultivation starts with the individual, its completion must include ‘‘the universe as a whole.’’34 The final formulation of the precept of ren, then, is to follow the principle of reciprocity in an ‘‘ever-expanding web of human relationships.’’

Confucian Politics How would a Confucian polity be organized whose members conceive of themselves as Confucian persons? In portraying a normative vision of Confucian polity, I shall focus on the political theory of a fourteenth1342–1398),35 who century Korean Confucian, Jeong Do-Jeon ( played a pivotal role in founding the Confucian Dynasty of Chosoˆn ( 1392–1910) on the Korean Peninsula. Not only was Jeong a key political figure in establishing the Chosoˆn Dynasty, but his comprehensive Confucian political theory also laid its valuational and institutional foundation. Jeong’s theory is a particularly valuable resource for reconstructing a uniquely Confucian polity for two reasons. First, his ideas are far removed from the modernity so that they can be considered as unamalgamated ideas of Confucian origin without Western influence; second, some of his ideas were implemented in the Chosoˆn Dynasty with some success and

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constitute an inalienable part of Korea’s Confucian tradition. As such, they could be reinterpreted and revised to fit the contemporary situation of Korea and other East Asian societies with Confucian traditions.

The Goal of Politics A classical statement about the Confucian polity can be found in the Mencius, where it is stated that ‘‘the people (min )36 are the most important [element in a state]’’ (Mencius 7B.14). Jeong accepted and developed this idea further and argued that the people are the foundation (bon/ben ) of the state (Sambongjip, 10:63; 13:236). Indeed, the people are ‘‘the Heaven of the ruler’’ (Sambongjip 13:236), as the Heaven’s Will, ‘‘unfathomable’’ in itself, expresses itself through ‘‘the will of the people which can be known’’37 (Mencius 5A.5). Therefore, ‘‘the ruler must love the people wholeheartedly’’ and all state policies must aim at promoting the wellbeing of the people (Sambongjip 13:236; cf. Analects 12.2, 14.45). We may call this the principle of ‘‘people-centeredness’’ (min-bon/minben ) and 38 take it as the most central political principle of Confucianism. The principle of people-centeredness is in fact an application/extension of the precept of ren—the Confucian imperative to embody the virtue of ren in ‘‘an ever-expanding web of human relations’’—and politics and morality are one and the same in the ideal Confucian politics.39 This is why the ideal Confucian politics is called the politics of ren—renzheng , cf. Mencius 2A.3). This continuity can be understood in two different ( senses, depending on which aspect of ren gets emphasized. If we emphasize the aspect of ren as love, predicated on the feeling of sympathy and implying the adherence to the principle of zhong-shu, on one hand, the ideal ruler ‘‘acts on behalf of his people’’ because he ‘‘has a heart which cannot bear to witness the sufferings of others’’ and ‘‘extend[s] proficiently what [he feels] so as to affect others’’ (1A.7; see also 2A.6). The resulting government, then, would be one that ‘‘cannot endure that there be any suffering’’40 and thereby treats elders with respect and the young with tenderness in all families under its dominion (cf. Mencius 7A.30). Thus by extending ‘‘one’s kindliness to others, it will suffice to protect all within the four seas.’’41 If we focus on the aspect of ren as self-cultivation that requires ‘‘an ever-extending web of human relations,’’ on the other hand, then practicing politics according to the principle of people-centeredness constitutes the consummation of self-cultivation. The circle of human relations

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involved in politics is by far the widest, involving the last two stages of ) and self-cultivation mentioned in Daxue: governing the state (zhiguo ). When the ruler follows bringing peace to the world (pingtienxia the principle of people-centeredness, which is an extension of ren, then he practices the politics of ren (renzheng; cf. Mencius 2A.3). Only holy men (seong-in/shengren ) or wise men (hyeon-ja/xianzhe ) can practice renzheng, and ideally the ruler ought to be a sage ruler (Mencius 5A.5, 5A.6).42 As rulers practice renzheng, they follow the Confucian precept of xiujizhiren ( ), which aims not only at cultivating/rectifying the self or xiuji ), but also rectifying others (zhengren or (zhengji ).43 Rectifying others—more specifically, the people/subzhiren jects—is enabling them to cultivate themselves and strive toward moral excellence. In concrete terms, it entails enabling them to embody ren through li by exemplifying the proper norm expected of their respective role in human relations. Therefore, it implies the ‘‘rectification of names,’’ which enables ‘‘the father be a father, and the son be a son,’’ by ‘‘the ruler ; Ana[being] a ruler [and] the minister [being] a minister’’ ( lects 12.11, 13.3). The responsibility to rectify the people/subjects also entails the responsibility to promote their economic well-being, as those unable to meet their basic needs cannot have the ‘‘constant mind’’ (heng) necessary for pursuing morality (Mencius 3A.3); in other words, xin the people cannot be expected to be moral when their economic life is unstable and their basic needs are unmet (cf. Sambongjip 14:300). Therefore, Confucian rulers who aim to rectify the people must protect and promote the people’s economic well-being.44 The creation of an ideal Confucian society replete with peace in which all members are rectified is indeed the common good of the Confucian state acceptable to all self-cultivating members. Therefore, the people would be fully supportive of their rulers who practice renzheng, as they pursue this common good. Further, rulers are not egocentric or powerhungry politicians but junzis, who are superior practitioners of morality and moral educators of the people (Sambongjip 11:81; cf. Analects 12.19; Mencius 5A.5, 5A.6). They pursue politics out of moral obligation not only to cultivate themselves but also to rectify the people (Analects 14.44, 12.7, 19.3, 15.17; Mencius 2A.4, 5A.5). Renzheng categorically rejects rule by force or terror45 (cf. Analects 2.3; 13.3) and its gist is ‘‘following the peo) (Mencius 4A.9; cf. 1B.7, 1B.10, 5A.5). When this ple’s mind’’ (minxin is done, then rulers will obtain the people’s support and sympathy (deuk) (Sambongjip 13:214–215; 3:209; Analects 2.3, 12.7, 20.1; shim/dexin

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Mencius 4A.9, 7B.14, 1A.7) and the people will trust and follow rulers as their symbolic parents who truly care about their moral and economic well-being46 (Sambongjip 13:215; cf. 14:304; Analects 2.3,17.6; cf. Mencius 1B.7). The ideal Confucian politics, then, is a kind of trustee politics (shintak-jeongchi )47 (cf. Analects 12.7, 12.19, 14.44, 19.19, 20.1; Mencius 4A.7, 4A.9, 7B.14, 1A.7),48 and the Confucian state is a family-state (guojia ). In this ideal vision, an all-powerful central government would be justifiable49 (cf. Sambongjip 13:231).

Economy As Mencius rightly recognized, the people cannot be expected to be moral when their economic life is unstable and their basic needs are unmet50 (cf. Sambongjip 14:300). Therefore, keeping a stable economy and protecting people’s economic well-being are essential for the Confucian state (Analects 8.21, 12.9, 13.9; Mencius 1A.3, 3A.3) and the rulers ‘‘must take the protection of the people’s economic well-being as one of the most urgent tasks’’ (Sambongjip 14:293). To promote a stable economy, Mencius advocated an egalitarian distribution of land by the state so that each peasant would have his own small plot of land to till among nine plots of land roughly equal in size and quality. Peasants would be obligated to till a common plot of land located in the middle, the yield from which would belong to the state as tax (the ‘‘nine-squares division’’ system; 3A.3, cf. 1A.3). Jeong, as a faithful Mencian, proposed a similar, but more detailed, plan for an equitable distribution of land: First, the land should be appropriated by the government in toto. Second, the government ought to distribute the appropriated land equally to all farmers, so that every farmer will have their own plot of land (Sambongjip 13:236). Third, each farmer is to pay the state as tax one-tenth of the total harvest for the year. Only the state has the authority to collect tax, and no middlemen are allowed to interfere in this process (Sambongjip 13:240). At a time when the overwhelming majority of the population was peasantry—farming was indeed the national industry—this proposal amounts to radical egalitarianism. This proposal would promote other worthy goals as well, such as increasing food production, lowering the tax burden for ordinary people, and increasing the wealth of the state, which ought to be managed frugally and efficiently by the government (cf. Analects 1.5). The revolutionary nature of this proposal becomes more obvious when we consider the fact that, at the

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time, the land was mostly owned by landlords who would appropriate half of the total yearly harvest of their tenant farmers. Most, if not all, tenant farmers were severely exploited and the inequality between landlords and tenant farmers was stark.51 The Confucian state, which has the power to appropriate the land in toto and redistribute it equally to all farmers to achieve equitable redistribution, would be quite comprehensive and powerful.52 Yet it is not a socialist/communist regime, contrary to the claim of some Confucians.53 The economic proposal of Mencius and Jeong is more in line with the welfare state, which is not socialist requiring strict equality through controlled economy, but is rather based on capitalism. The welfare state allows the private ownership of even the ‘‘means of production,’’ including land. Although the state has the sole power to appropriate the land, it is only a temporary measure prior to an equitable distribution of land to all peasants. After distribution, peasants themselves own their plot of land and are in control of its production. Trading agricultural and other products would take place primarily in the market, which further characterizes the Confucian economy as basically capitalist. As a primarily capitalist system, some degree of inequalities will exist. However, with every household owning a relatively uniform-sized plot of land and producing the staple food, rice, inequalities would be small, and each would be able to meet the basic needs of its members under normal circumstances.54 During hard times when food is scarce, such as famine or right before harvest, the Confucian state aids the needy. In preparation for scarce times, the state has ) in the capital and other localities that release grain storages (ui-chang grain to the starving people when needed. The storages would be refilled with grain especially during times of good harvest (Sambongjip 13:251). Also, especially for the indigent, the state would provide medicine at a subsidized rate (hye-min-jeon-yak-guk ) (Sambongjip 13:252).

Government Structure This general description of the ideal Confucian polity may seem too optimistic, oblivious to the fact that rulers, especially hereditary absolute monarchs of Mencius’s and Jeong’s time, are only human. An all-powerful central government under the rule of a monarch who does not engage in self-cultivation would pose grave danger to all in the dominion. Jeong was keenly aware of this problem55 and dealt with it directly by arguing for a government in which the hereditary ruler/king is only a symbolic head.56

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The real power must rest in the hands of a wise prime minister (jaesang ) (Sambongjip 9:314–341; 13:220–225). The only power that the king has is to select the prime minister from among the high-ranking government scholar-officials (‘‘officials,’’ for short) and make authoritative decisions in consultation with the prime minister concerning matters of grave national significance (Sambongjip 9:324). It is the prime minister who has real power in making and implementing everyday decisions concerning the governance of the state (Sambongjip 9:314, 325, 332; 13:221). Indeed, the prime minister must be ‘‘in full control’’ of the state’s governance and ‘‘administer fairly.’’ Another role of the prime minister is to ‘‘help the king’’ (Sambongjip 13:221). This does not mean merely obeying the king’s orders, but rather aiding him to carry out good deeds and inter), so that the king would vening in his wrong deeds (heon-ga-che-bu ) (Sambongjip 9:318; cf. be led the correct path (in-gun-dang-do 13:221). The prime minister, powerful though he is, cannot do everything by himself and must delegate his authority to lower-ranking officials and bureaucrats. The government, therefore, forms a complex bureaucratic hierarchy stratified according to highly specialized functions, with the prime minister at the top to take ultimate control and responsibility for the governing of the state (Sambongjip 13:222–224).57

Confucian Government Scholar-Officials All government officials and bureaucrats must come from the class of Confucian scholars (literati) familiar with Confucian self-cultivation. Indeed, the Confucian scholar’s moral duty/ life goal is to serve in the government by becoming a government official or bureaucrat (yu-ri-wi-il /sa) (Sambongjip 3:266–268; cf. Analects 8:13; Mencius gwan-il-chi 7A:9), as the goal of Confucian self-cultivation is to rectify not only oneself and but also others. This explains why Confucius himself never gave up his dream to serve a wise king and rectify the world (Analects 13.10, 14.41, 17.1, 17.5, 18.7). The primary role of Confucian officials and bureaucrats ) (cf. Analects is therefore to educate/rectify others (gyo-hwa/jiaohua 19.13). Education in Confucianism is necessarily moral education and cannot be administered if the educator lacks moral virtues himself. Therefore, only ‘‘true Confucian scholars’’ (jin-yu/zhenru ) (Sambongjip 3:44–45) ought to be officials and bureaucrats.58 In principle, the literati class is not identical to aristocracy. Scholars (sa/ shih ) can come from any class of free people, especially farmers.59

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Between farmers and scholars, there ought to be no distinction (sa-nong).60 Historically, members of the literati class who had not il-chi [yet] become government officials had no other occupation than to apply themselves to the study of the Confucian classics every day. What made persons members of the literati is Confucian education, which was in principle open to all free people. Their life was not necessarily wealthy—and many members of the literati class were impoverished—as their main daily activity was primarily devoting themselves to studying and self-cultivation. Yet a true Confucian scholar must keep his constant mind even in a state of indigence (Analects 4.5, 4.9, 7.15, 15.31; cf. Mencius 3B.2). Indeed, those (small pertempted by bodily comfort and wealth are ‘‘so-in/xiaoren son)’’; a junzi must constantly plod along the righteous path of the Confucian way by following the words of the Confucian sages (Analects 4.11, 4.16). In order to remain righteous (yi ), he must be willing to persevere through any difficulty (cf. Analects 8.6; Mencius 2A.2) and sacrifice even his life to maintain the Confucian way of life.61 Han argues that Confucian ) righteousness (yi) refers to persisting on ‘‘the path toward min-bon ( ).’’62 Therefore, he interprets ‘‘dying for yi’’ as sacrificing and ui-min ( oneself to achieve a better world for the people (cf. Analects14.13). A true Confucian scholar, then, is someone who not only practices Confucian morality in his personal life but also struggles to protect and promote the people’s well-being (cf. Mencius 7A.9). When the time comes for him to assume a government post, he must practice what he preaches and strive to improve the lives of the people both morally and economically (Sambongjip 6:152).63

Education In order to produce true Confucian scholars, Jeong looked up to the educational system of Zhou, in which elementary education was universal. Although he did not think that the state has the responsibility to provide universal elementary education in his own time (Analects 15.39), Jeong believed that the state should be involved extensively in providing equal opportunity for education to all free people and advocated a wide circulation of books (Sambongjip 13:263–264; cf. Analects 7.7, 8.9,15:38; Mencius ) in the capital (Seoul) and 3A.3). Children would be taught at bu-hak ( ) in the countryside (Sambongjip 13:227). at hyang-hak /hyang-gyo ( Adolescent children of high government officials and talented commoners ), which would be taught at the Royal College (seong-gyun-gwan

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would be paid in full by the state and therefore free to those qualified (ibid.). Once selected, they would be trained to become government officials or bureaucrats at the state’s expense.64 In principle, Jeong advocated strict meritocracy not only in higher education but also in selecting government officials (Mencius 7A.20). Admitting talented commoners at the Royal College reflects this spirit, although this principle is mitigated by allowing children of high officials to be admitted regardless of talent. The ideal Confucian bureaucracy is also strictly meritocratic and the selection of officials and bureaucrats is based on talent rather than birth (Sambongjip 13:226, 264). The method by which they are selected is the Confucian examination system of various kinds (Sambongjip 13:227–228). Jeong suggested that tests should be the only way to select government officials in order to promote fairness (Sambongjip 13:228). Once selected, their tenure should be long enough to enable them to work toward their goals with relative independence from the whims of their superiors (Sambongjip 13:226).65

Division of Power and Freedom of Expression Despite the aforementioned measures to promote good Confucian governance, Jeong was fully aware of the possibility of corruption and the misuse of power within the government, whether by the king or high-ranking government officials, including the prime minister. Therefore, Jeong proposed many institutional mechanisms to minimize such eventualities. I focus on three such mechanisms. First, Jeong promoted symposia that would enable high-ranking officials not only to offer advice to the king on various policies but also to participate in the reeducation of the king in the Confucian classics, especially Daxue, which explicitly argues that govern) and bringing peace to the world (pingtianing the state (zhiguo ) must presuppose regulating one’s family (qijia ), which in xia ) (Sambongjip 13:263).66 turn is predicated on self-cultivation (xiushen Second, a notion akin to the modern idea of ‘‘division of power’’ was advocated. Jeong called this ‘‘keeping the path of words/expression open’’ ) (Sambongjip 2:202). He looked to the ancient (jak-gae-eon-ro times (Hsia, Shang, Zhou), during which freedom of expression was best protected, as the ideal. Back then, Jeong claimed, all persons within the territory were able to criticize the state freely and the state in turn actively promoted critical discourse. Since the demise of Zhou, however, the flow of expression was restricted. Although the institution of remonstration

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(gan-gwan ) was established, Jeong argued that this institution further restricted the flow of ideas, as only the officials of the gan-gwan were entitled to express ideas freely (Sambongjip 10:23–28). Jeong accepted the institution of gan-gwan (Sambongjip 10:23–37), but he argued that nonofficials should be allowed to exercise freedom of expression as well. The officials of the gan-gwan are to be selected from among the most morally upright, competent, and respected scholar-officials and the king must respect their opinion (Sambongjip 10:35). Their main task is to criticize the king’s unjust actions. They even have the power to impeach the king if he does not mend his ways. They are lower in rank but on a par with the prime minister in their entitlement to criticize the king without restriction (Sambongjip 10:29, 190).67 Another institution that serves a sim) (Sambongilar purpose is the institution of censors (gam-chal-gwan jip 10:15–23). The role of censors is not to criticize/impeach the king, but rather to criticize/impeach both high and low-ranking government officials, including the prime minister, who mislead the king by offering him bribes and personal favors to promote their self-interest, instead of acting on behalf of the people. These institutions maintain the ‘‘Confucian division of power’’ in the prime minister-centered government.68 Even ordinary people who did not serve in the government were allowed to express their opinion through certain authorized routes. Jeong argued that those who can write should be able to express their opinion ) (Sambongjip 13:267). directly to the king in writing (gu-eon-jin-seo Earlier Chosoˆn kings had actually adopted and implemented such institutions at various stages of the dynasty. Although Jeong himself did not propose this, those who were illiterate were allowed to appeal directly to the king with their complaints by hitting a large drum (shin-mun-go ) installed near the palace in the early Chosoˆn period. In the later Chosoˆn period, commoners were allowed to approach the king by hitting a metal instrument (jing) during his procession and appeal to him directly (gyeok). It is debatable how successful such institutions jaeng-sang-eon were in meeting their original purpose of protecting the freedom of expression. However, that these were implemented at all is significant in itself, inasmuch as it implies that the ideas were widespread and appealing enough to the ruling class at the time.69

Revolution If the king is a ruthless dictator and all measures to ensure good Confucian governance fail, then Jeong followed Mencius in advocating ‘‘revolution

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(hyeok-myeong/geming )’’ to depose the king by force if necessary (Sambongjip 13:214; Mencius 1B.8, 2B:2, 4A:1, 4B:3, 5B.9). The right to rule is endowed and justified by the ‘‘Mandate (Decree) of Heaven’’ (cheon) (Mencius 5A.5; cf. Analects 20.1). As mentioned earmyeong/tianming lier, the Heaven’s Will is ‘‘unfathomable’’ in itself and the people’s will functions as the medium for the Heaven’s Will. ‘‘Heaven and the people are one and the same’’ (cheon-in-gam-eung-seol ) (Sambongjip 3:216). Therefore, the ruler’s loss of the Heaven’s Mandate is indicated by the disapproval of the majority of the people and ‘‘the legitimacy of the ruler’s entitlement to rule is decided by whether the people voluntarily accept his rule’’ (Sambongjip 13:214). If one loses the Mandate of Heaven, the entitlement to rule dissipates and transfers to another person who is in turn endowed with the Mandate to rule anew. The preferable method of transfer would be the voluntary relinquishment of power by the previ) (Sambongjip 11:82). Transous king who lost the mandate (seon-yang fer by force (bang-beol ) is justifiable, however, if no other option is available (Sambongjip 11, ‘‘King’s Way’’). The change in the Mandate of Heaven to rule is ‘‘revolution.’’70 Mencius had first proposed the idea of revolution, but Jeong took it a step further. For Mencius, the revolution meant the removal of a king by another would-be king. For Jeong, the removal of a king by a subgroup of the people—in his case, a group of Confucian scholars who represent the people’s will, aided by the military—was justifiable. This opens the possibility of justifying revolution from the bottom.71

Political Implications for the Contemporary World Does the ideal Confucian politics as envisioned by Jeong have any implications for the contemporary world? Are Jeong’s political ideas relevant to contemporary East Asia? I believe so. A strong indication for this is that Jeong’s ideas can successfully address the three major concerns of the contemporary world: economic justice, human rights, and democracy, as I shall argue in this final section. My argument for the feasibility of Jeong’s political ideas, however, does not imply that Jeong’s theory can be transplanted to the contemporary setting without any modification. Jeong’s political theory is a product of his own sociohistorical context, designed to apply to a particular time-space set. There are clear limits in his theory from the contemporary perspective, as it was meant to apply to a world of feudalism in which the vast majority was illiterate peasants. For example,

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he takes for granted that some people, although a small minority, are unfree—slaves—and completely ignores them in his theory; also, despite the remarkable fact that he proposed some institutions for free common people to participate directly in the political process, they are mostly viewed as a passive majority. Still, considering his social milieu, Jeong’s theory contains arguably unprecedented and remarkably ‘‘modern’’ political ideas for his time, which may provide valuable insights in the reconfiguration of contemporary East Asia more in line with its Confucian tradition.

Economic Justice The Confucian state is a comprehensive welfare state that considers an equitable distribution/redistribution of collective wealth as well as an adequate increase of collective wealth as the two most crucial economic goals for the state. It may seem that only the first goal is directly relevant to the concept of justice understood as a fair distribution of resources. However, the second goal is also relevant to justice, for a fair distribution of resources is meaningful only when it ensures the well-being of all social members and enables them to lead decent human lives. What constitutes a decent human life that ensures the well-being of a person is a debatable matter. However, it is relatively uncontroversial that one necessary condition for leading a decent human life is being able to meet one’s basic needs for food, shelter, and health care.72 To enable all social members to meet their basic needs, it is crucial that society procures a sufficient amount of resources for the entire society. It is clear from the account provided in the second part of this chapter that both Mencius and Jeong promoted economic justice predicated on the aforementioned two goals. They both emphasized an equitable distribution of farmland, as their societies were agrarian, and explored ways to increase its productivity. Yet the main underlying idea endorsed by both is enabling every ‘free’ member of society to lead a decent human life through an equitable distribution and sufficient increase of collective wealth. This idea of justice is important for any society, including contemporary East Asian societies, although their current circumstances have changed dramatically from the days of Mencius and Jeong. Many contemporary societies of East Asia are no longer agrarian feudal economies but industrial or even postindustrial service economies, heavily influenced by the ideology of neoliberalism/libertarianism. This ideology has been the

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most dominant economic position since the ‘‘neoliberal revolution’’ led by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s, boosted by the collapse of communist regimes in the 1990s. It advocates an unfettered free market over which the state has minimal control, intervening only to provide ‘‘emergency relief to people in conditions of extreme distress.’’73 Neoliberalism excessively focuses on maximizing collective wealth, remarkably oblivious to the issue of its fair distribution, whether domestically or internationally. Neoliberalism, the spread of which has been aided by international economic institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, has transformed even the global economy itself so that Northern multinational corporations can freely roam the globe with the sole aim of maximizing profit. The result has been devastating for the majority of human population and the environment. Many East Asian countries went through the liberalization of their economies, in large part due to pressure from powerful Northern states and international economic institutions. Despite the dramatic growth of their overall economies touted by the West as ‘‘economic miracles,’’ East Asian countries have experienced extreme disparities of wealth among its citizens. The living standard of the majority has been stagnant or even falling, while a minority has been reaping the disproportionate economic benefit of economic liberalization and fueling unsustainable consumerism. In other words, the aforementioned first goal of economic justice has been largely ignored in this process, leaving the majority feeling alienated, resentful, and even envious, and increasing the potential for social conflict and unrest. At the same time, the environment has been devastated in the wake of irresponsible consumerism propagated by libertarian capitalism. Under such circumstances, East Asian societies may benefit in the long run by restructuring their economies to be more equitable as well as sustainable.74 Core ideas of the Confucian comprehensive welfare state that promote an equitable (re)distribution and sustainable75 increase of collective wealth may provide a better alternative vision of economy feasible in the East Asian context.

Human Rights What human rights are is an intensely contested question these days. Instead of addressing this question here, I shall simply assume that the conception of human rights represented in the Universal Declaration of

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Human Rights and other international charters are too ‘‘partisan’’ because they presuppose a particular cultural/philosophical framework— liberalism, predicated on the conception of persons as free individuals. A globally acceptable conception of human rights has to be minimal in order to be compatible with all ‘‘decent’’ societies,76 including Confucian polities, that do not subscribe to the liberal conception of persons. Human rights ought to be understood as ‘‘a special class of urgent rights that are necessary conditions of any system of social cooperation.’’77 In order for social cooperation to be possible, society must protect the basic well-being of members, necessary for them to lead decent human lives, as constitutive of the well-being of society itself. The basic well-being of each member is predicated on securing his/her vital human goods, such as life, physical security, subsistence, and self-respect, among others. ‘‘Human rights’’ compatible with all decent cultural frameworks would refer to entitlements to such vital human goods, and would consist of ‘‘rights’’ to subsistence, physical security, moderate amount of property, an institutional system that will treat similar cases similarly, and bodily and mental freedom to live one’s life without undue external interference.78 Being a comprehensive welfare state, the ideal Confucian polity would take it as its primary responsibility to protect the first three human rights of members. The fourth human right restates the principle of formal equality, upheld by any orderly state that administers law and justice fairly, and the ideal Confucian state would certainly uphold it. Some Westerners may claim that the last human right may not be protected sufficiently in the Confucian polity because it would not allow extensive individual freedom advocated by liberals. In the Confucian state, some individual liberties, such as freedom to pursue self-interest (li) at the expense of others (see Analects 4.12; Mencius A.1) or freedom to denounce the Confucian values/common good publicly, would be strictly prohibited. This, however, does not imply morally unjustifiable restrictions of individual freedom. All human societies uphold certain core cultural values advocated by the majority; promoting and maintaining such values may require restricting certain actions of individuals that vitiate such values. If so, not all restrictions of individual freedom would count as unjustifiable limitations, although the range of justifiable restrictions would vary from society to society.79 Given the moral nature and respectability of the Confucian values/common good elaborated in previous parts of this chapter, it is conceivable that the majority of the Confucian polity would approve of such restrictions in order to protect Confucian values/common good.

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Democracy Most Western political theorists and even some Confucian philosophers claim that the Confucian state is at best a paternalistic state or ‘‘benevolent dictator’’ and therefore incompatible with democracy.80 I disagree. Democracy is predicated on respect for the people and respect for the people looms large in Confucianism, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the people (min) were illiterate and ignorant peasants throughout the history of Confucian dominance. The primary basis of Confucian respect for the people is their equal potentiality for self-cultivation and moral perfection. Historically, this fundamental axiom of Confucianism was too progressive for a world in which the overwhelming majority lagged far behind. Hence, understandably, the Confucian classical texts contain condescending remarks toward the people as the individually indistinguishable ‘‘amorphous mass of commoners.’’81 Such remarks give rise to the impression that Confucianism is hopelessly elitist to some (see Mencius 3A.4, 2A.3).82 Yet there are as many positive references to the people as ‘‘a potential source of humanity,’’83 predicated on the Confucian recognition of equality in their moral potential. Especially in the contemporary setting in which members of East Asia are some of the most well-educated and wellinformed citizens in the world, more capable of self-cultivation than ever, the condition in which all members can cultivate themselves and realize the Confucian ideal is ripe. Consequently, respect toward the people can no longer be just respect for the collective whose aggregate will represents Heaven’s Mandate. Confucian respect for the people must be extended to each and every individual member of the people. Yet the Confucian common good of realizing a world in which every member is rectified still remains an elusive goal, given how difficult the process of self-cultivation is. Therefore, the Confucian requirement that politicians ought to be superior practitioners of morality and moral educators of the people is still a valid one and various political mechanisms ought to ensure that the right persons are selected as political leaders. If a political system whereby persons with superior moral and intellectual capacities are selected as political leaders qualifies as political ‘‘hierarchy,’’ then political hierarchy does not vitiate the Confucian conception of equality. Further, Confucian political hierarchy is compatible with democracy, understood as a politics that empowers equal social members to participate, free from coercion and deception, in the cultural/political/

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economic discourses aimed at actualizing the common good in their polity.84 If political leaders are true moral exemplars conscientiously promoting the Confucian common good, then the people would willingly entrust to the leaders with political power to govern the state at discretion and give them full support. Under circumstances in which leaders are doing their jobs properly, the lack of contestations in the public realm by the people does not necessarily imply that the latter is by nature passive or apathetic. To the contrary, Confucianism recognizes that ordinary members of Confucian polities are equal to leaders in their moral capacities and endorses equal education to promote self-cultivation for everyone. Furthermore, Confucianism advocates many political mechanisms to allow ordinary members to express their concerns about and dissent from leaders who betray their trust. Under extreme circumstances in which a dictator shuts down legitimate paths of dissent and public pressure, Confucianism even justifies revolution from the bottom up.

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chapter 5

Religion and the Public Sphere in Senegal: The Evolution of a Project of Modernity Souleymane Bachir Diagne

Those who led Senegal to independence and established the institutions of the new state, notably Le´ opold Se´ dar Senghor and Mamadou Dia, intended it to be based on the philosophical foundation of a socialism that would be both African and spiritualist. And they also meant it to be secular. African socialism, spirituality, secularism, those were the concepts that were to guide the state toward modernity and development. Socialism had transformed Russia into a world power; it was at work in China and elsewhere to bring progress to the lives of the ‘‘damned of the earth.’’ It was logical to think that in its African guise it would offer the promise of a new kind of development. But spirituality? Especially when combined with secularism, a term that is intimately linked to its particular French history in which it connotes anticlericalism, pronounced and haughty opposition to any manifestation of religion in the public sphere? That is why the very Catholic Senghor and Dia, the pious Muslim, both fundamentally convinced of the necessity of a secular state, believed just as firmly that religious fervor was a cultural energy essential for achieving modernization and development. And that is why they charged themselves and their fellow nation builders, the institutions, the party and especially political discourse with the mission of realizing the ideal of a nation

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uplifted by the spirit, committed to secularism and thus, ultimately prosperous. Some excellent studies on the role of religion in the public sphere in Senegal have shown how the connection between politics and Islamic brotherhoods functioned from the time when the French colonial administration understood that its authority would necessarily be conditioned by special forms of compromise with the domain of the marabouts. If one sees the postcolonial Senegalese state as the heir of the colonial administration in this regard and reduces the question exclusively to the way in which Senghor and his successors secured the political support of the marabouts in order to attain and remain in power, one omits an essential dimension: the philosophy that, at the moment of independence, defined the role of religion, considered the driving force in the modernization and development of a secular Senegalese nation. What was this philosophy? What was its evolution? Is it significant today for Senegal’s future?

Spiritual Socialism for a Modern Secular State In 1960, the same year of independence for a majority of African countries, at a time when public discourse was directed toward nation building and development, Le´opold Se´dar Senghor, thinking it urgent to insist on the role of religions in this construction, published an article in several newspapers calling for ‘‘Islamo-Christian cooperation.’’1 If Senghor mentioned only these two religions, inherited from Abraham, it was because, as he said, ‘‘Negro-African animism is dying out,’’2 and it was then up to Islam and Christianity to pour their spirit, that is to say their life and their heart, into forging a socialist model of modernity, given—and this point is crucial to the definition of Senghor’s spiritualist socialism—that in so doing these two religions simply would have been true to their own telos once this was well understood: The aim of Islamism and of Christianity . . . is to fulfill the will of God. For in order to fulfill this will, which is to gain heaven, we must achieve brotherhood among men through justice for all men here on earth. Indeed, what is this justice if not equality of opportunity given from the beginning to all men regardless of race or condition; and, along with work, the equitable distribution of national revenue among citizens, of world revenue among nations and finally, the equitable distribution of knowledge among all men and all nations?3

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We can readily see in this passage an essential aspect of the doctrine that charges man, the lieutenant (caliph) of God on earth in Quranic terms, with the task of transforming the world. Gaining heaven does not mean turning one’s back on earth, for that would be abdicating the responsibility that defines man and gives him a role in the organization of creation. The Quran speaks of the mandate that no creature, were it the highest mountain, could honor, and yet man has received it even if he proves quite often to be unworthy of it. Gaining heaven means first of all accepting this mandate, which is, among other dimensions, the duty of aligning the world with the demands of justice. To define justice is, by the same token, to enumerate the duties incumbent upon the believer: work toward equality of opportunity beyond individual differences; maintain equity among citizens of the same nation; and undertake the mission of promoting equity through solidarity among the nations themselves, with the understanding that this just distribution among men and among nations embraces not only material wealth but also immaterial wealth, the first of which is knowledge. Every individual, believer or not, says Senghor, can contribute to the implementation of this program; the believer, whether Muslim or Christian, who understands the aim of his religion sees in it, according to Senghor, the call to fulfill himself by fulfilling the will of God. To understand this aim is to understand that religion is direction and striving toward a future that will see justice gradually impose its order on the earth instead of the slavish imitation of a tradition. It is this dynamic movement that Senghor finds in the word of the Gospel that says, ‘‘seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you’’ (Matt. 6:33), and in the Quran that states, ‘‘God does not improve a people’s situation until a people improves its soul’’ (Al Ra’d 13:12). It is useful to point out the parallel between Senghor’s aforementioned views and the reflections of Mamadou Dia on Islam in order to show to what degree they shared the same faith in this spiritualist socialism that was to be, according to them, the motivating force of development in Senegal and in Africa.4 In the concluding lines of Islam, African Societies and Industrial Culture, Mamadou Dia writes, Islam must remind the Muslim world, at this juncture when it is taking its Promethean leap, that if it is required to act, it is so that one may fulfill oneself, that one may achieve even richer being. For industrial development to be a boon and not the ruin of mankind, it is crucial that it retain a human dimension, that it not give rise to a new kind of slavery under the pretense

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of promoting productivity or efficacy, that it not create progress that is in reality perversion, desire of well-being and not of better-being, that it not produce a world where ethics is sacrificed to power and spirit to matter, a world of inanimate objects. Islam cannot accept just any model of economic development without denying itself. It will give its blessing only to a development program that tends toward an order of social justice and human solidarity and is founded upon a code of ethics.5

Although this book was published some fifteen years after the founding moment of independence, it is the expression of a philosophy that informed Mamadou Dia’s first commitments and it is the philosophy of a modern Islam actively participating in a process of transformation of itself and of the world in conformity with the demands of justice. In analyzing more closely Dia’s remarks, one can see that these two thinkers are in total agreement in their vision of a dynamic world, where religions are both spiritual energy and call for social justice; and despite the events that separated them, one day history, in retrospect, will soon join these two men of action in one bicephalous figure that presided over the birth of modern Senegal. Note well this affirmation of Mamadou Dia: ‘‘if it is required to act, it is so that one may fulfill oneself, that one may achieve even richer being.’’ Translation: we must participate in self-transformation (improve one’s soul, according to the Quranic passage cited by Senghor) and this is accomplished through actions to transform the world. This world is itself life, becoming, where being is perpetually tending toward this betterbeing, this fuller life that the rest of the quotation tells us must not be confused with the mere quest for well-being, for satiation. There is also the work of Teilhard de Chardin influencing not only the thought of the Catholic Senghor, a well-known fact, but also that of the Muslim Dia, a less well-known fact. Or rather, in the latter’s thought, there is a great deal of the modernist philosophy of the Indian Muhammad Iqbal, whom Senghor called a ‘‘Muslim Teilhard de Chardin.’’ Declaring that man fulfills himself not through contemplation but through action in a world that is open and evolving, that is the basis of their shared vision. If such was the philosophy of Dia and of Senghor, that is, a spiritualist socialism bearing the seed of modernity in Senegal, what happened to it in the actual context of the religious and sociocultural realities? On June 7, 1963, three years after the official proclamation of Senegal’s independence, and some six months after what is commonly called ‘‘the December 1962 crisis,’’ which totally destroyed the bond between Senghor and Mamadou Dia, one of the worst tragedies of the political history of the

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country they had both created, Le´opold S. Senghor went to Touba, the spiritual capital of the Murid tariqa, to attend the inauguration of the new mosque, which, as we know, is, with its five minarets, the very symbol of the spiritual doctrine founded by Cheikh Amadou Bamba. Responding to the words of welcome of the then caliph, that is the lieutenant, of the founder, Cheikh Falilou Mbacke´, Senghor delivered a speech devoted to the significance of ‘‘secularism’’ for Senegal as stated in its constitution and, going even further, to what he called ‘‘the basis of our national policy.’’6 To define ‘‘secularism’’ is to say first of all what it is not: neither atheism, explained the president in his speech, nor the desire to banish from the public sphere, through intense propaganda, religions and currents of thought in their diversity and mutual understanding. In insisting on this point, Senghor of course wanted to show that in this regard Senegal is not an heir of France, at least not of its history where secularism, born of a long and violent anticlerical movement, is a kind of permanent hostility to any manifestation of religion. In showing that, on the contrary, the aim of the constitution was to guarantee the ‘‘autonomy’’ of the religious communities, it seemed more fitting to refer to the ‘‘secularism’’ of the pluralistic Anglo-Saxon model. After showing what secularism was not, the president’s speech addressed the meaning of religion and its role, which was not only compatible with but was even required by the very notion of the secularism to be implemented: a role by which it supports the state, a role of culture, said Senghor, who defined the concept cosmogenetically, shall we say, paraphrasing his master Teilhard de Chardin, meaning ‘‘the demiurgic process of socialization, of totalization,’’ which would culminate in ‘‘the Civilization of the Universal.’’ It is a totally unique philosophical concept that Senghor called ‘‘secularism’’ that he presented on that day in June 1963, in circumstances that were rich in spiritual significance on the occasion of that ceremony that was also homage to the legacy of Ahmadou Bamba. Secularism is defined by what it does, by what it makes possible, which is of course the liberation of religions from political control, but also and perhaps especially their liberation from their own fossilization, their ‘‘scleroses,’’ said Senghor, one sign of which is superstition: ‘‘magical practices.’’ The effect of the philosophical concept of secularism would then be that religions would be restored to their own cosmic movement toward ever more unity, toward the realization of the complete earth that will be humanized after having been hominized, as Teilhard de Chardin liked to say. For Senghor the spiritualist socialist, what is called ‘‘liberation theology’’ is not a political choice; it is the very nature of things, a willingness to understand and

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promote the cosmogenetic movement of the world. Evidence of this view is found in this passage of the Postface written for the proceedings of the colloquium ‘‘Black Priests Ponder Their Mission and Offer Suggestions’’: ‘‘The Church would not be catholic if it resisted this movement of ‘panhuman convergence’. . . . [It] would be neither catholic nor apostolic if it worked independently for the totalization and the socialization of the Earth.’’ These words follow a quotation establishing ‘‘an intimate link between the presence of Christ in the Church and the presence of Christ in the poor.’’7 One sees once again the parallel to be made between what Dia said of the internal link between an Islam faithful to its spirit of movement and a political program oriented ethically toward solidarity and social justice. It would be wise to examine the way in which Senghor conceived of this renewal of religions through a return to their principle of movement so as to be more open to the future: he said they must ‘‘assimilate scientific discoveries as well as social realities.’’8 Religions that would be mindful of the evolution of societies and the movement of ideas and so of the way in which scientific concepts modify our way of thinking including how we think of religion itself (how can we not think of the evolutionist theology of Teilhard de Chardin?), that is the spiritual energy that the poet-president thought would contribute to development and modernity in collaboration with the secular state. The concluding homage that Senghor made to the work of the founder of Muridism reiterated these ideas. In saluting the sanctification of work, one of the pillars of Cheikh Amadou Bamba’s doctrine, he saw in it a clear indication that the spiritual development of the individual is realized not in contemplation but in the action of transforming the world by transforming oneself.

Brotherhoods and Modernity If the sanctification of work as a spiritual endeavor is often associated with Muridism it is, in reality, an essential component of what could be called a Sufism of action which was precisely the origin of renewal movements that arose at the end of the eighteenth century in the Islamic world in Africa, Morocco, the Sudan, and all the Sahel, leading to the creation of new tariqas or revitalizing traditional tariqas.9 This school of Sufism, rather than dissociating them, placed the vita contemplativa at the very heart of the vita activa. Thus the Tijaniyya—comprising, with the Muridiyya, the Qadiriyya, and the Layene brotherhood, the four most visible

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tariqas in Senegal—adheres to the spirit of a school of Sufism known as malamatiyya (literally ‘‘the blameworthy ones’’), which requires that the essential reality of spirituality be covered by the veil of commitment in and for the world. It is then to this neo-Sufi spirit of the spiritual significance of work and of commitment in the world that Senghor as well as Mamadou Dia appeal for the project of modernity they conceived. This appeal can sometimes seem hostile to Sufism; one might say it is the rejection of a Sufism of contemplation and immobility in the name of a dynamic Sufism in which, according to Muhammad Iqbal, the aim is not to see but to be, to become. Certain passages of Mamadou Dia’s book also seem anti-Sufist when he writes, for example: ‘‘The submission to the will of God gave rise to a philosophy of resignation and an ethic of passive quietism only because of an indisputable travesty of Quranic teaching due in part to Sufism and a no less evident distancing from the tradition of the Prophet whose entire life was a constant struggle both to save souls and to reform the established material order.’’10 This rejection of a fatalistic Sufism turning its back on the world and refusing the primary human responsibility, which is to reform it constantly, is a founding criticism of modernist Muslim philosophy, found also in the thought of Al Afghani, of Iqbal and many others. But it is often made in the name of a Sufism that needs no other label than to profess itself a return to the source in accordance with the Prophet’s example, whose message was to transform the world by and for justice.11 What Senghor did not fail to praise as being the very spirit of Sufism, and thus of the Islam of the brotherhoods, is the disposition to pluralism and tolerance, which is the respect of the difference that allows dialogue with it. That is the meaning of the conclusion of the speech that insisted on unity, in prayer to the ‘‘same God,’’ of Muslims and Christians ‘‘believers of equal status.’’ We must open here a long parenthesis to examine this linking of Sufism to tolerance, open-mindedness, and pluralism, which is a crucial question, especially now when much is being said of a ‘‘conflict of civilizations’’ or even of religious wars.12 It is not possible to give a definition of Sufism, which is not one of the major divisions created by the schisms that have characterized the Islamic world (Shiites, Sunni, Khariji, and so forth). Nor is it one of the several juridical or theological schools existing in Islam. Sufism refuses the designation of a philosophical doctrine, even if eminent scholars in the field have written treatises setting forth the metaphysical bases of what is, above all, a spiritual way. In short, the je ne sais quoi designated by this term, the origin of which is not known, is better explained as being an attitude, a disposition of the spirit, a way of

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life that can be found in all the sects and schools and that thus transcends them all. We might say that the ‘‘invitation to the voyage’’ that is Sufism is based on the following Quranic verse: ‘‘And when your Lord brought forth descendants from the loins of Adam’s sons and made them bear witness unto themselves: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ they replied ‘Indeed yes, we bear witness to that . . .’ so that you may not say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily we were not mindful of it’ or that you may not say (simply): ‘Our ancestors in the past gave allies to Allah and we are their descendants, [having come] after them. Will You destroy us for what the impostors have done?’ ’’ (Al A’raf 7:172–173). This passage, often quoted in Sufi literature, evokes the moment beyond time when God, after having placed in His presence all future humans, makes them bear witness to the fact that it is indeed He who has created them: thus their identity is this moment, this ‘‘day’’ when they passionately said ‘‘yes’’ to their Creator by giving themselves to Him. Once they enter into time and live in the world they will forget, humans that they are, this first encounter imprinted by fire on their essential nature. That is why desire ever pushes them to undertake the voyage, through remembrance (zikr), toward their deepest being: that ‘‘yes’’ of their submission to God on the day He asked them ‘‘am I not your Lord?’’ The Quranic evocation of this first Covenant has a double consequence. First, the notion of a primordial nature (fitrah) of the human being who professes that there is no other god but God and affirms the individual’s responsibility to his Lord by eliminating every possibility of finding an excuse for his ignorance in that of his forefathers. Second, and it is this aspect that defines the spirit of Sufism, this covenant between man and God means that He is always the ultimate object of the desire and the quest of His creature. Muhammad Iqbal expresses this in these famous verses that reflect the pervasive influence of his spiritual master Rumi: ‘‘Love sees no difference between the Ka’aba and the Temple of idols: The latter is the epiphany of the Beloved, the former His sanctuary.’’ The attitude described by these lines, the expression of understanding and love for the different ways in which the truth manifests itself, is the essence of Sufism. Tolerance is not a value adopted from without; it is its nature to be restlessness for God and to recognize this same restlessness in the force that moves all beings. When in the twelfth century Sufism was incorporated in mass movements, the brotherhoods, whose faithful are counted by the millions, this spirit of hospitality for the different ways of worshiping the same God remained the essence of these spiritual doctrines. It is important to go back to the origin of Sufism’s tolerance for

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difference because the concept, an ethnological one, of a ‘‘black Islam’’ that has been used to explain why African societies were particularly disposed to syncretisms and compromises, is, in the final analysis, a catchall simplification. Observe how Islam is practiced in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country numerically speaking, to appreciate how, in that country also, it has incorporated local spiritual traditions that predated the spread of the Quranic message.13 And this is true of the Muslim world in general, from Pakistan to North Africa. In a word, it is not because Islam in subSaharan Africa is black that it embraces pluralism, it is because it is, in general, Sufi. Finally, on this point, it is to this natural pluralism that Senghor appealed when he ended his speech by inviting all to a communion of ‘‘believers’’ in prayer. To sum up: commitment to transforming the world, acceptance of modernity, a spirit of tolerance and of pluralism, such are the characteristics that the Dia/Senghor modernity project wanted to find in Islamic brotherhoods and in the church in Senegal. Their philosophy of spiritualist socialism was largely based on these principles and was meant to translate into a collaboration between the secular state and the Christian and Muslim religions, with both remaining faithful to their spirit of movement and, in a spirit of cooperation, participating in the promotion of education, which for Senghor, in the final analysis is the real meaning of development. There could have been no better emblem of this collaboration and this cooperation for a profound social transformation than the Family Code adopted by Senegal in 1972. It was under Mamadou Dia that the first committee was created by the decree of April 12, 1961, charged with the mission of reflecting on a family code that would take into account the totality of the laws and customs in force in the country. We will probably never know what would have resulted if the Dia administration had completed this project. We could suppose, given the modernist commitment of the President of the Council that would have precluded any fear of opposing the marabouts, that radical decisions would have been made, along the lines of reforms made by Habib Bourguiba in the newly independent Tunisia. But this is of course pure speculation since the Dia administration disappeared, victim of the coup d’e´tat of 1962. It was then under Senghor, alone at the helm, that in 1965 a ‘‘Committee of Options for the Family Code’’ took up the work that would lead, seven years later, to the code as it exists today, born in controversy and still giving rise to criticism from both sides, conservative and reformist. It is interesting to note that the marabouts vehemently expressed their opposition to a text

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that, according to them, dared to legislate in areas where divine law had already ruled. Nevertheless, the state adopted the code that established into family law the option between a secular way and that of religious law. The code was to signify the state’s will of transformation; the marabouts had declared that the space they controlled symbolically (and sometimes physically) was extraterritorial: thus was established a modus vivendi that satisfied neither the conservatives nor the partisans of change.14 Modus vivendi: the art of living together while mutually supporting one another will soon be all that will remain of the ambitious project of realizing together the vision of education for transformation in which a modern, committed religion would be spiritual energy for development. This option of compromise was the same one the colonial administration had used to deal with the brotherhoods. In his speech at Touba in 1963, Senghor did not fail to mention the protection and support given him as a political figure by Cheikh Fallou Mbacke´. It was no accident that this was said a few months after the crisis with Mamadou Dia, who had not been quite as accommodating with the marabouts who had opposed his reformism, the philosophical aspect, and his project of development of cooperatives in rural areas, the economic aspect.15

The Post-Senghor Period Senghor himself had been obliged to renounce the philosophy of a spiritualist modernism based on the collaboration of the state and the religions and accept a compromise pact that assured the politicians the support, especially during elections, of the marabouts, who thus became participants in the ‘‘political game.’’16 We can well imagine that after him, there would be no further mention of this project of spiritualist socialism. It was said of his successor, Abdou Diouf, by way of reproach, that he had launched a process of de-Senghorization and had abandoned the philosophy of his predecessor. It remains to be seen if there was indeed a systematic and programmed de-Senghorization. But one question must be asked: can we even imagine what it would have been like to continue a Senghorian discourse without Senghor himself? Who could have attempted it without exposing himself to ridicule? Senghor and his word were as one and it could have been spoken only by him. To follow him meant, obviously and necessarily, to speak and act differently. Thus ended the spiritualist discourse on the demiurgic role of religion, leaving only the art of securing the support of the marabouts and of demonstrating that one benefited from it or of presenting oneself as a faithful

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member of the church. From the head of state to the least civil servant of the administration, this art is widely practiced and is an integral part of the relations between politics and religion in Senegal. All agree, however, and that is also characteristic of the ‘‘Senegalese social contract,’’17 that as long as this art is practiced in the context of pluralism and equilibrium between the doctrines and cliques, and republican and secular decorum is respected, the contract can withstand the multiple difficulties posed by the negotiated interventions of the brotherhood leaders in the political sphere. This contract can be efficacious while the country awaits the actual establishment of the political reality and the open society yet to be realized. This is all the more true, in fact, given that the tariqas’ role of social moderator, their function as peacemakers in the public arena is deemed necessary. And so, in a recent interview, the spokesman of the Tijani brotherhood of Tivaouane, Abdoul Aziz Sy, declared in regard to the role of religious leaders like himself: ‘‘We are the firefighters of the political arena.’’18 And, after recalling that during the colonial period his own father, the caliph Ababacar Sy worked toward peaceful elections in the ‘‘four communes’’ (Saint-Louis, Dakar, Rufisque, and Gore´e, whose residents were French citizens), he explained in these terms this comparison with firefighters: ‘‘In the present situation in Senegal our role remains, and those who protest that religious leaders should not speak out on the political situation do not understand the meaning of our action. We do not speak of politics. The marabout who interferes in politics is someone seeking privileges or positions of responsibility from those in power. The marabout must not interfere with politics in this way; his mission is to assume his responsibilities in matters of religion. But if the political game begins to create negative consequences for the people, then our role is to intervene in order to preserve peace.’’ Concerning the nature and forms of this intervention, he explains, ‘‘our discourse must insist that promises be followed by results and that neither invectives nor vulgar language serve the country. . . . We constantly ask the ruling party to engage in dialogue, all the while enjoining the opposition to argue in a respectful manner.’’19 The first thing to point out in Abdoul Aziz Sy’s statement is the fact that what he calls the intervention of religious leaders in the political sphere is often the inability of the leaders in this arena to find, on their own, strategies that would make dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition a permanent process, make the democratic arena a space of calm debate. The implicit consequence of this way of looking at the situation is that the answer to religious interventionism in the public sphere will be primarily in a consensus of the political leaders to make up the

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democratic deficit and remedy the lack of mechanisms that would guarantee that this sphere remain one of pluralism, but also of convergences that would ensure peace and stability. In other words, to defend the autonomy of the public sphere is to work at giving it rules of operation that ensure both stability and the continually deepening development of a democracy of permanent dialogue: it is when the mechanisms are lacking or insufficient that the nature of things, which abhors a vacuum, calls upon the marabouts. The second point is that the religious leader’s remark concerning the nature of the marabouts’ intervention in the political arena is more a prescription for what should be than a description of what really happens. For, in the present state of the situation in Senegal, a country that is particularly characterized by the role of the brotherhoods and their leaders in the political arena, many people are of the opinion that too many new phenomena have appeared that are, as the journalist interviewing Abdoul Aziz Sy put it, ‘‘likely to blur the dividing line between politics and religion.’’ First of all, there is a certain blurring of the vitally necessary distinction between private individuals, followers of a spiritual doctrine and the institutions of the republic. That newly elected members of parliament go to thank their marabout should in no way have any bearing on the republican ideal, unless they intend to take the parliamentary institution as such to pledge allegiance. The same thing is of course true for the presidential institution. An article was written to protest the image of the president of the republic prostrating himself before the leader of a brotherhood; this article became a reference, constantly quoted and reproduced by many citizens who thought, like the author, that a line had been crossed, leading to the blurring of the delimitations that define the meaning of the institutions. The coming together of a pen dipped in talent and the need of many to express the growing uneasiness with a policy of permanent display of brotherhood membership accounted for the success of that article.20 Among the new phenomena that have blurred the lines of demarcation between religion and politics, there is the one that has been termed ‘‘the marabout-politicians.’’ This is not exactly new, and Abdoul Aziz Sy recalled in his interview that his brother, Cheikh Tidiane Sy, had himself created a political party in opposition to Senghor: to have entered politics to succeed his brother was, he confessed in the interview, ‘‘the greatest error of [their] life.’’ But today an intensification of this phenomenon makes one wonder whether the marabout-politicians are not transferring to the public sphere their confusion as to their own identity.

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Conclusion Senegal is sometimes called ‘‘the paradise of the brotherhoods,’’ where, according to the Senegalese historian Mamadou Diouf, ‘‘the marabouts are an integral part of the political system.’’21 President Abdou Diouf long benefited from their support, as did his predecessor Senghor, and such support is not lacking today either for President Wade. Interviewed after he left his political functions about the possibility of political Islamism developing in his country, President Diouf declared, in substance, that the existence of brotherhoods and the Sufi character of Senegalese Islam were ramparts against such a possibility. It is doubtless true that the mindset characteristic of Sufism and present in the different spiritual persuasions in Senegal would support this view. It is highly unlikely they would produce or support a real Islamist agenda that would threaten the secular character of the state. It is correct to say, however, that increased implication of the brotherhoods in public life, signs or mere premises of which are in greater evidence today, constitute greater challenges for Senegal. Ultimately they come down to the question of the future of the aborted modernity project. Much has been said about the promises of independence that were never kept. The programs of development and modernization failed, leaving in their stead techniques of adjustment and reduction of poverty in its most unbearable aspects. But there is no alternative to the modernization and development of an open society in constant movement toward greater open-mindedness. The answer to the failure of modernization programs is the revival and reworking of the modernity project. For such a project, Senghor and Dia, during their intellectual and political partnership in their philosophy of spiritualist socialism, envisaged religions playing an essential role as they returned to their principle of movement. In today’s circumstances and terms, the need to articulate such a project of modernity, more necessary than ever, raises the issue once again. Translated from French by Sylvia Washington

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part two

The End of the Saeculum and Global Capitalism

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chapter 6

Should We Be Scared? The Return of the Sacred and the Rise of Religious Nationalism in South Asia Georges Dreyfus

The last two decades or so have seen a spectacular transformation in the perception of the importance of religion in the contemporary world among Western intellectuals. Whereas religion was previously dismissed as irrelevant and kept apart from more respectable objects of intellectual discussions, it has emerged as the focus of numerous, though not always well-informed, discussions. This surge in interest follows a worldwide resurgence of religion in the modern world that even the most hardened secularists find hard to deny. Although this resurgence does not affect equally all parts of the planet, it is hard to dispute that in many countries religions, particularly in their most conservative forms, are on the rise. This phenomenon is obvious, but what are less so are the reasons for this rise and the dangers that it represents. One of the explanations often proposed is the thesis of the return of the sacred, the irruption of tradition in a world that had forgotten its sacred roots. This essay argues against this hypothesis, showing that the resurgence of religion is not a return of the repressed past but a function of contemporary developments, particularly of the loss of vitality of some of the fundamental narratives of the Western Enlightenment and of their institutional expressions within the new global context. This situation, I further argue, leads to an increasing focus on identity and thus opens the way to religious traditions, which

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provide rich resources for the formulation of identity in a world where institutional roles offer less support than previously. Thus, the rise of religious movements is not a return to an atavistic past, as it is often portrayed, but a consequence of the extreme individualization of late modernity. This does not mean, however, that it is without its dangers, for as individuals become more committed to these religious traditions, they form new forms of community that often have important political consequences. To illustrate some of the political implications of the rise of conservative religiosity, I focus on South Asia where religious resurgences have led to the rise of religious nationalisms. These ideologies have been adopted by large political movements, which have attempted to impose it as state ideology, with particularly destructive consequences. The essay argues that far from being limited to South Asia, these developments illustrate some of the possible dangers associated with the contemporary religious resurgence, which may be far from benign, contrary to the arguments made by some of the more perceptive scholars of religion. In speaking about the reasons behind the rise of religions in the contemporary world, I proceed comparatively, making sweeping generalizations about cultural and historical processes that vastly differ. This approach is highly problematic, since it is not just politics that is local but history as well. Generalizing some trends out of the complex history of such vastly different cultures without distorting them is impossible. The religious developments examined here take place in countries as different as the United States, Brazil, Nigeria, and India, and to lump them together is dangerous, if not preposterous. Nevertheless, one cannot but be impressed by the similarities in the rise of religious movements in various and not obviously related parts of the world. Hence, it seems hard to avoid theorizing about this phenomenon, despite the pitfalls that such an attempt necessarily entails. I can only hope that some of the insights derived from this approach will outweigh the problems created by its necessary oversimplifications.

The Secularization Thesis and Its Predictive Failures Let me start my discussion by emphasizing that although the resurgence of religion is widespread, it is far from universal. There are many countries where the trend toward religious revival is far from clear. The best example is Western Europe, where religion shows little signs of occupying center stage, contrary to the United States. Although it may be argued that

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there is a renewal of individual interest in religious matters in Western Europe, the place of religion in these cultures is very limited. This was clearly shown in France with the recent debate on the banning of the Islamic scarf and other external signs of religiosity in public places.1 Although most of the religious denominations were united in their opposition, the measure received massive public support and thus passed easily in parliament. The situation of religion in other Western European countries is similar. Churches find it difficult to play a large role in the public life where many people keenly resist attributing public value to religious beliefs.2 Even in Italy, where the Catholic Church used to play a defining role, social and political life tend to escape its efforts to reassert control, as shown by the liberalization of laws concerning divorce and abortion and despite the resistance to the liberalization of homosexuality. This trend toward a lesser role for religion in public life is well in keep with the predictions of many of the great Western thinkers of modernity, who had argued that the future would see an increase in the role of rationality and a correlative decline in the place of religion. Freud and Marx were radical critics of religion, decrying it as an illusion whose time had passed, an opiate of the people whose role was to hide the oppressiveness of social structures. Nietzsche captured the same antireligious spirit in his famous claim that God is dead. Durkheim and Weber were more moderate in their critiques, finding a more positive role for religion but still mournfully predicting its demise. Weber, for example, says: With the progress of science and technology, man has stopped believing in magic powers, in spirits and demons; he has lost his sense of prophecy and, above all, his sense of the sacred. Reality has become dreary, flat and utilitarian, leaving a great void in the souls of men, which they seek to fill by furious activity and through various devices and substitutes.3

For Weber, the demise of religion is not to be celebrated, for it is dangerous, leaving fundamental human needs unfulfilled. Nevertheless, such demise is not in doubt, however worrisome it may be. Similarly, Durkheim assumed that religion, at least as it has existed historically, is on the wane, despite its fundamental role in forming the basis of social solidarity. As Durkheim put it, ‘‘the old gods are growing old and dying, and others have not been born.’’4 Thus, regardless of their views on the role of religion in human societies, all these thinkers agreed in their judgment that the prospects of religion in modernity are bleak. In doing so, these thinkers subscribed to what has come to be known as the secularization thesis, the view that as societies modernize, they

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undergo a ‘‘process by which sectors of society and culture are removed from the domination of religious institutions and symbols.’’5 For Peter Berger, who was at an earlier time one the chief proponents of this thesis, the essential task of religion is the creation and maintenance of an allembracing order through which the solidarity of social groups is sacralized and thus given great authority. Religion is particularly effective at doing this, since it relates precarious human constructions to an ultimate reality on the basis of which social knowledge is grounded and plausibility structures are maintained. The modernization of society, however, tears apart this sacred canopy, this all-encompassing shelter of meaning, undermining its self-evident nature and exposing the contingency of its order. Modernity also undermines the binding character of religion, which becomes a matter of personal choice and aesthetic taste rather than a communal affair to which one feels obligated regardless of one’s inclinations. The consequence is that religion loses its centrality and becomes an optional leisure activity, a supplement of soul to be chosen among a variety of supplements, in accordance with modern pluralism. As argued above, this prediction has not been verified and the premature announcement of God’s death has been replaced by claims about His return. Far from becoming marginal or irrelevant, religions, old and new, have become more vital and central to both private and public domains in many parts of the world. This trend is clear in many parts of the American continent, where Evangelicals and Pentecostals have greatly increased their influence. This is also the case in sub-Saharan Africa, where Pentecostals and other conservative Christian denominations have come to occupy a dominant place in religious life. A similar trend is also observable in the Muslim world, where, from Algeria to Indonesia, Islamicists have increased their audience and are fast becoming key players in the political and religious lives of these countries. This trend is also clearly in evidence in Israel and in the Jewish world, where previously marginal orthodoxy has moved to the center of Jewish life. In the face of this resounding predictive failure, one may be tempted to dismiss the secularization thesis. This would be a mistake. Rather, we should seek to understand why this thesis has turned out to be wrong in its predictions. The answer to this question is bound to be complex, since its proponents predicted the demise of religion for different reasons. Many were following their own prejudices as followers of the Western Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason as central to human emancipation and its devaluation of myths and traditions as being obstacles to human happiness. But the secularization thesis is not just the expression of the

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rationalist prejudices of the Enlightenment. It is also an important source of insights into some of the main trends of modernity. In fact, I argue here that the predictive failure of the secularization thesis is not due to its failure to capture some of the deeper trends of modernity and their relation to religion, but to an inability to comprehend some of their consequences. Hence, what we need to do is to reflect on what its proponents overlooked in their predictions. What did they miss? And, at a deeper level, what are some of the reasons behind the present rise of interest in religion in the contemporary world?

The Return of the Sacred? One of the answers to these questions is offered by Daniel Bell through his idea of the ‘‘return of the sacred,’’ according to which religion corresponds to deep-seated human needs such as the necessity to confront death, to understand the meaning of tragedy, to find the place of love, and so on.6 Those are fundamental needs that concern all, but they remain unaddressed by the scientific and technological achievements of modernity. It is only within the religious traditions that one can find answers to these human predicaments. Bell puts it in this way: Within this purview, religion is a set of coherent answers to the core existential questions that confront every human group, the codification of these answers into a creedal form that has significance for its adherents, the celebration of rites which provide an emotional bond for those who participate, and the establishment of an institutional body to bring into congregation those who shared the creed and celebration, and provide for the continuity of these rites from generation to generation.7

Fundamental questions are unaffected by sociohistorical changes, and every generation is confronted to them. Although particular metaphors and cultural associations may vary, the deep questions remain constant across space and time, and each culture needs to find resources to address them. For Bell, these resources are uniquely found among religious traditions, and this is why those have endured across the ages. The problem with modernity is that it does not recognize the constitutive role of religions and see them as optional. This dramatic change occurred from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, during the period Bell calls, paraphrasing Polanyi, ‘‘the Great Profanation,’’ when the ways in which Western culture addressed perennial questions underwent profound changes.

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This transformation is marked by the rise of three new orientations: the development of modern individualism in socioeconomic and political matters and the increasing concern with the self in contemporary culture, the decline of belief in the transcendent, particularly the idea that there is no life after death and hence no transcendent retributive order, and the crossover from religion to art, particularly in the domain of human relationships and the life of the emotions. For Bell, these three trends are veritable profanations that threaten the very basis of social life, the sense that people have of leading a life that makes sense. Such an evolution, however, cannot continue without threatening the cohesion of modern societies, and hence there is bound to be a return of the sacred through the creation of new religions or the revival of the old ones. Bell’s hypothesis has been influential and is all the more remarkable that it was written in the mid-1970s, when the rise of interest in religion was still in its infancy. But despite its foresight, this hypothesis does not explain adequately the present religious revival. For, if Bell were right, that is, if the present revival was the return of the sacred dimension constitutive of human experience that had been profaned by modernity, it would seem that this return would be all the more vigorous in societies where the profanation is the more advanced. Thus, we would expect the members of the most secular societies such as Sweden and the Netherlands to be feverishly engaged in religious revivals, rather than North Americans, Nigerians, or Mexicans, who live in societies where religion has historically played a larger role. The fact that this is not the case and that these societies continue unperturbed in their happy secular trajectories shows that the present religious revival cannot be understood adequately as a return of a repressed constitutive dimension of humanity. Hence, we need to continue our inquiry into what are some of the factors that have led to this revival, factors that we will find in sociohistorical changes rather than in perennial needs.8

Religions and Hypermodernity One of the relevant characteristics that accounts for the present changes but had been missed by the earlier proponents of the secularization thesis is the degree to which the corrosive nature of modernity has affected the institutions that it has created. As Polanyi, Foucault, and others have argued, the process of modernization is not smooth but involves the destruction of the old communal order and its forceful replacement by

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new disciplinary institutions such as schools, hospitals, prisons, and welfare offices. It is through the creation of these institutions that the chaos engendered by industrialization was brought gradually under control and a balance between the forces of the market, civil society, and the state was created. The arrangements that support this balance evolved over time but reached their climax in the few decades after World War II, when Western societies seemed to have found the magical formula, reaching a state of unparalleled prosperity and stability. But in modern societies, the balance between market forces and social institutions is always precarious at best, and the Keynesian postwar arrangement, what David Harvey has called Fordism,9 was in turn undermined by the new developments of the 1970s, when the roots of globalization were planted. This is when industrial societies took a turn that has been variously described but whose importance for understanding the present religious revival cannot be overemphasized. Some thinkers stress the degree to which this new period represents a rupture with the earlier institutionalized modernity, a rupture that they see occurring at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. In his famous La condition postmoderne, Jean Franc¸ ois Lyotard stresses the degree to which the present times have moved away from the guiding principles of the Enlightenment, such as reason, progress, and truth. In this new situation, all the grand narratives that undergird modernity have lost their credibility and are submitted to a relentless critique. This questioning is not just theoretical but affects all the great modern institutions, from the nation-state, to schools, universities, and scientific establishments. The credibility of these institutions is put in doubt and the codes and values they embody are disputed. Other thinkers, balking at the idea that a radical break with modernity has occurred, emphasize the degree to which present developments are logical continuations of modernity itself. They offer various characterizations of the present situation, from Daniel Bell’s postindustrial society to David Harvey’s flexible accumulation, Antony Giddens’s late modernity, Manuel Castells’s global network society, Arjun Appadurai’s logic of flows, Marc Auge´’s surmodernite´, or Max Pages’s hypermodernity.10 These characterizations are not identical, and each has its own merit, but together they mark quite well the scope of the large transformations that have occurred in the last three decades, the emergence of a global network of economical, technological, and informational exchanges, the consequent weakening of national institutions, and the difficulty to develop new legitimate organizational forms.11 In this new condition, Marx’s statement ‘‘all what is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned’’12 does not just

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apply to traditional institutions such as the family or the church, as Marx himself thought, but also affects the very principles of modernity, such as rational inquiry and secularization, as well as the institutions that embody these principles. The void created by the new global context and the weakening of the institutional and ideological framework of modern societies has led to a situation in which individuals are largely left to their own device to figure who they are and what they want to do. Whereas in earlier periods, institutions connected to the state or the market provided individuals with stable frameworks of reference, the creation of global markets, the consequent multiplication of possibilities, and the fragility of employment have created a situation in which people have to find within themselves the means to use the resources they are offered. It is not society and its institutions that are in charge of providing individuals with the ethical and cognitive maps that allow them to make sense of the world and of their place therein; it is now the self that is in charge of this process and that has to figure things out. It is true that modernity has always implied this kind of questioning, particularly in periods of transition and crisis. Inasmuch as it presupposes the displacement of local kinship networks as the basis of relationship and professional life, modernity challenges individuals to find who they are, whom they want to associate with, and what they want to achieve. But in previous periods, aptly described by Franc¸ois Dubet as institutional modernity,13 institutions such as the state, schools, churches, political parties, the army, or industrial firms offered to most people the frameworks that allowed them to find relatively satisfying solutions, and only a few were tempted to break away from what was expected of them. Although this is still the case for many, more and more people are now put in a situation where they have to discover who they are and what they want to do, quite independently of their social milieu and schooling. Institutions still provide structures for experience and answers to life’s questions, but their authority is greatly weakened by the plethora of such answers and their consequent devaluation within a climate of skepticism and cynicism. The crisis of legitimacy undergone by the institutional frameworks of modern societies creates considerable challenges for individuals, who now need to find within themselves the resources to face life’s difficulties. This puts a lot of pressure on the self and self-esteem, pressure that often translates into a sense of emptiness well described by Daniel Ehrenberg as the ‘‘lassitude of being oneself,’’14 leading to personal implosions, depressions, and addictions. In this context, concerns for identity are central, for they

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provide the kind of unification that is more necessary than ever to keep going but less readily available in the social environment. The French psychologist and essay writer Jean-Claude Kaufmann explains: Identity has precisely as function to alleviate this lack [of structure] and to respond to the cacophony. It singularizes and unifies the individual, creating a symbolic universe that is integrated within a particular context and a particular moment. [Identity] forges (bricole) links between phases of identification to create continuity in the biographical duration [and] constructs through the valorization of the certain themes, self-esteem, which is the energy necessary for action. In short, [identity] invents a little tune that gives sense to life and without which everything collapses.15

The multiplication of possibilities and the loss of authority of institutions create a new situation in which the questioning of oneself and of one’s life trajectory becomes ever more important. In this condition, people need to discover who they are by settling on a fundamental identificatory narrative, the kind of tune that will be able to guide them in their choices and provide the necessary energy to move forward. The question then is: where does one find one’s tune in the present cacophony? My contention is that religions provide a rich source for these tunes in the confusion created by the devaluation of institutional answers. This may be at first quite surprising, since religions are mediated through churches or similar organizations, which are quintessentially institutional. But a quick look at the contemporary religious landscape shows that the kind of religions that are flourishing mostly operate outside of the usual religious institutional channels. This is quite clear in Latin America, where Pentecostals are making large inroads at the expense of the Catholic Church. This is also the case in the United States, where the less institutionalized Evangelicals are thriving and the more established churches are steadily losing their members.16 This is even true of Europe, which, so far, has been spared the religious revival witnessed in many other parts of the world. Even there, however, religious groups such as Buddhism, Scientology, and New Age sects, as well as Evangelicals, have been quite successful in enlarging their followings, despite the general indifference that surrounds religious questions in these cultures.17 Thus, for the most part, religion prospers nowadays outside of and despite the usual institutional channels as response to the devaluation of institutional models. The present rise of religions is not due to a return of a repressed primordiality but to the new focus on identity associated with late modernity and its devaluation of the central institutions of a modern society.

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But this contention raises a further question: why do the models provided by religions have greater appeal than the numerous other ideological models? The answer to such a question is bound to be complex. For example, the demise of communism and the consequent discredit in which Marxism and other leftist projects are held is certainly relevant. This demise is not just the result of isolated political events but is symptomatic of the weakening of the institutions of modernity and the consequent individualization discussed here. It is not just left-wing projects that have lost their appeal; most of the narratives of the Western Enlightenment are being questioned, leaving individuals to tinker with the elements of various visions. In this context of increasing disorientation, religious visions have an advantage over their competitions, since they sacralize and primordialize their symbolization of reality and moral codes. Religions can claim to provide strong answers to those who are afraid of the confusion of the hypermodern world and who feel the need for greater certainty. Moreover, because of the ways in which religion is constructed in modernity as being based on personal convictions, people have the sense of being addressed by religions as individuals, something of deep significance in this highly individualized age. Of course, religious answers are not for everybody. They tempt only some people and leave others cold. But the ones who are tempted find responses to their anxieties that bring them a level of satisfaction and of stability that secular ideologies find it difficult to match. Although the renewed interest in religious matters concerns individuals, it also leads to the creation of new communities. People do not just entertain religious visions for themselves; they also share with others their interests and thereby validate their beliefs and practices. Isolated individuals find it difficult to transform their visions into long-lasting sources of inspiration and remain motivated. It is only when they share with others their interests that they find a more stable personal identity and a greater sense of satisfaction. This need for a sense of belonging rooted in mutual recognition and validation leads to the creation of new communities based on a common search for meaning and an investment in the answers provided by a particular tradition. This recreation of communities explains one of the paradoxes of the present period. On one hand, it is marked by a strong pressure of the various forces of modernity, particularly of the global market, on communities, which find it ever more difficult to maintain their integrity. This process leads to an ever-increasing mobility and extreme individualization. But it would be a mistake to assume that this individualization entails the end of communities, for as the process of

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atomization unfolds, the weakening of older communal forms creates the need for new communities more attuned to individual demands. Despite, or, rather, because of their insertion in a hyperindividualistic culture, people feel a renewed need for belonging to meaningful groups based on evaluative schemes that give meaning to their life. Hence, there is a multiplication of communities of meaning based on personal choice rather than just those given by the social milieu, communities that are perhaps less stable than the older forms of associations but that require commitments from their members and thus bring them strong emotional satisfaction. This need for the recreation of community greatly favors religious traditions, which have traditionally provided a strong sense of a community rooted in sacred values. But whereas in the past this communal sense overlapped with kinship networks and social bonds, it is now increasingly based on individual choices and commitments. The individualistic basis of the reactivation of religious interest explains why the rise of interests in religions does not augur a return to the past or reenchantment of the world. Whereas religions traditionally embodied some of the organizing principles of human societies, they are now providing individuals with resources to cope with the difficulties of life. Hence, they satisfy individual needs but are powerless to reverse the process of modernization. Even when they gained lasting power as in Iran, conservative Islamicists have been unable to reconstruct a communal alternative to modern individualism. In fact, the very idea of being fundamentalist, that is, of standing firm for one’s own personal certainty in the face of modern pluralism, is not only a modern phenomenon but is also in itself a vector of individualization, transforming religions into matter of personal certainty rather than communal belonging.18 Thus, Durkheim and Weber were quite right to argue that modernity marks a fundamental change in the role of religions in human societies, but they were wrong to argue that this entails their necessary demise. The old gods are not tired, contrary to what Durkheim argued; they are alive and well, satisfying the needs of their devotees, but they have left the city to its own device. Thus, the religious revival that many countries experience is less the manifestation of perennial human spiritual predispositions than the expression of much more minimal social needs. The claim here is not that religions represent a deep and eternal dimension of human existence, but, rather, that in the present context of hyperindividualization, it is able to satisfy the more modest needs for meaningfulness and a sense of belonging. Humans in the future may cease to find satisfactory the responses provided by religious traditions and may turn to other ideologies, but at

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the present moment, religious traditions seem to be in a unique position to offer to their followers the strong sense of identity and coherence as well as the prospect of meaningful communities that they seek.

Dangers and Possibilities This clear conclusion does not close our inquiry into the present religious revival. For if it is true that the rise in religious movements, even the most conservative ones, result from the process of individualization described here, does it follow that they are harmless and will accommodate themselves to the religious pluralism of which they are the products? This seems to be the conclusion of some of the more perceptive scholars of the contemporary religious revival. For example, Christian Smith has offered insightful analyses of the rise of Evangelicals in the United States, insights that I have incorporated into the present essay. His main thesis is that in a modern society religions are best understood as subcultures. Resisting the view that modernity implies the destruction of differences and the homogenization of the social space, Smith rightly argues that although modernity puts pressure on local communities to conform to abstract models, it also gives rise to a host of subcultures that differentiate themselves through the symbolic reassertion of boundaries. Smith summarizes his point so: ‘‘Religion survives and can thrive in a pluralistic, modern society by embedding itself in subcultures that offer satisfying morally orienting collective identities, which provide adherents meaning and belonging.’’19 For Smith, religion can flourish within the process of symbolic differentiation basic to social life, even in the modern period. Hence, far from being threatened by the plurality of beliefs and the consequent weakening of plausibility structures, as previously argued by Berger, religions can be reinforced by the confrontation with other options when, rather than claim exclusivity, they become part of the dominant pluralistic culture, which recognizes and affirms the diversity of options open to individuals, what Smith calls ‘‘pluralism reinforcing pluralism.’’20 Smith concludes that this is ground for optimism for both religious traditions, which are likely to survive the permissive pluralist society, and for the society at large, which can be confident that however conservative denominations may be, they will ‘‘occupy well suited niches in mutual coexistence and interdependence.’’21

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Smith’s argument goes some way toward explaining some of the reasons behind the present vitality of religions in modern societies as well as the limits that modern pluralism tends to impose on such vitality. Modern religions are subcultures in a larger social landscape where they remain minorities. Hence, however the strong enthusiasm may be at some point, in the long run only a limited number will be willing to remain committed to a radical religious tradition. Even in a country such as Iran, where radical Shiite Islam has the political and religious monopoly, the level of religious practice has tended to diminish as the society modernized. Although Iranians may pay lip service to the radical orthodoxy officially espoused, the majority has no desire to follow their more radical leaders. This seems to support Smith’s prediction that in the long run the more orthodox and radical versions of a tradition will be unable to impose their views on the rest of society. There are reasons, however, to question Smith’s optimism, for even if radical religious engagement only concerns a minority, it hardly follows that their integration will be smooth. This optimism seems to be rooted in a functionalist view according to which religion plays an essentially integrative function. In this perspective, religions will remain in the long run well attuned to the societies in which they exist, despite possible momentary difficulties. Smith’s optimism also seems to assume a version of the secularization thesis we examined earlier. For what is the guarantee that particular religious groups will remain content with being a cognitive minority? Is there some structural configuration that guarantees that modern societies will remain secular as a whole and not fall prey to the more radical groups? In recent years, Jose´ Casanova has argued for such a view. In response to many of the criticisms against the secularization thesis, including those of Berger himself, who has made a radical U-turn on this question,22 Casanova has argued that the secularization thesis in its old formulation is too sweeping and that some finer distinctions must be made between three possible interpretations. The first one, the decline of religion thesis, argues that the secularization of modern societies entails the shrinking of religious practice and belief. Religion becomes only one option among many, and an increasingly unpopular one at that. The second possible interpretation is the privatization of religion thesis, which argues that with the advent of modernity religion loses its importance in public life and becomes relegated to the private domain. Religion is then limited to the circle of believers and loses its influence on society at large. The third interpretation is the differentiation thesis, according to which the ‘‘societal

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modernization of society entails a process of functional differentiation and emancipation of the secular spheres—primarily the state, the economy, and science—from the religious sphere and the concomitant differentiation and specialization of religion within its newly found religious sphere.’’23 For Casanova, the first thesis is too vague to be really useful. How can one measure religious practice and belief? If it is by church attendance, then it does not seem to be borne out, except in a few countries of Western Europe. The second thesis is also not acceptable and has been contradicted by many of the recent events, which show an increasing relevance of religion in political matters. Far from being relegated to the private, religions are becoming more and more part of the public conversation. For Casanova, however, this deprivatization of religion does not contradict the secularization thesis, which should be understood as arguing for a process of structural differentiation that takes place regardless of the political influence of religious groups. This, concludes Casanova, is ground for optimism, which he sees being borne out by the religious developments in countries as different as Poland, Brazil, and the United States. This is not the place for discussing in details Casanova’s arguments, but we should note that it expresses a view not unlike Smith’s. Both seem to agree that modernization entails a functional and structural process that guarantees the separation of most spheres of activity from religion and is thus ground for optimism in the future of religions and in their relatively smooth integration to modern pluralistic societies. One cannot but wonder, however, when one considers recent political events, including the increasing intervention of religious groups in scientific research and the renewal of the debate concerning the theory of evolution in the United States. As Talal Assad argues, ‘‘when religion becomes an integral part of modern politics, it is not indifferent to debates about how the economy should be run, or which scientific projects should be publicly funded, or what the broader aims of a national education should be.’’24 Thus, the argument for differentiation may not be as strong as Casanova assumes. Moreover, recent political events show the degree to which Casanova’s and Smith’s optimism is unfounded. In fact, I would argue that there are serious reasons to worry that the integration of religious groups may be far from being as smooth as they predict. Let me mention briefly one before expanding on the second. The first cause of concern is the development of the by now-infamous weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The danger comes from the conjunction of scientific and technological progress, which makes ever easier

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the development or acquisition of such weapons, and the rise of radical religious groups. This development is dangerous, since it is likely to enable a variety of fringe groups to get hold of frightening engines of death. As long as such weapons are within the hands of states, there may be ways to dissuade these states to use them and thus effectively restrain their use. This logic of dissuasion does not apply to marginal religious groups, which do not operate as territorial entities and thus cannot be so easily threatened. Moreover, there is some reason to believe that, although religious groups may not be more violent than any other groups, their violence may be more lethal. Because their worldview is based on the total vision of an all-out war with the forces of evil, radical religious groups may be less constrained by conventional moral codes.25 The recent events of 9/11 obviously come to mind, but so do others, such as the attack on the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.26 Finally, the apocalyptic orientation of many religious groups and their popularity as attested by the great success of Evangelical apocalyptic literature,27 represent another real threat in an age of readily available deadly technologies. But the rise of apocalyptic movements and their promises of violence, however real and terrifying they may be, is not the only troublesome trend. Perhaps it is not even the most dangerous one.28 There are other developments that may be more troubling and that radically question the optimism of the secularization thesis. One of them is the rise of religious nationalism, as illustrated by some of the recent developments in South Asia.

South Asia and the Rise of Religious Nationalism One of the particularly noticeable developments in South Asia in the last two or three decades has been the rise of religious nationalisms in India and Sri Lanka.29 These developments may have surprised those who thought of these cultures as peaceful or tolerant, but the significance of these movements goes well beyond disproving some of the standard Orientalist cliche´s about so-called Eastern spiritualities. My claim is that, far from being marginal to the dynamics of the contemporary period, these movements expose some of the more real threats of the rise of conservative religious movements, threats that may be in the long run more significant than the spectacular but not always implemented apocalyptic visions briefly evoked earlier.

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An even reasonably competent analysis of the development of religious nationalisms in South Asia is obviously well beyond the purview of this short essay. Hence, here again, I will have to proceed by making exceedingly broad claims, hoping that my sweeping generalizations will at least capture some of the characteristics of the South Asian situation, particularly that of India, where in the last two decades Hindu nationalism has risen spectacularly. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which represents Hindu nationalism in the political arena, has become the largest political party in the country, eclipsing the Congress Party, which had represented throughout most of the twentieth century a dominant and less explicitly religious Indian nationalism.30 Similarly, regional Hindu political parties such as the Shiv Sena, which is even more radical than the BJP in its antiMuslim rhetoric, and Hindu organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), which used to be considered fringe groups, have become important players, and their vision of India as defined by its Hinduness (Hindutva) has become central to the ways in which many Indians understand their identity.31 One of the central issues used by Hindu nationalists to promote their cause has been the dispute surrounding Ayodhya, a site where a mosque, the Babri Masjit, is supposed to stand on the birthplace of Lord Rama, one of the most important manifestations of the Hindu god Vishnu. This dispute concerns more the symbolic dimension than historical reality, since there is precious little evidence backing the Hindu claims.32 But what is most remarkable is that the dispute is hardly new. It started in the 1950s, when Hindu nationalists occupied the mosque to claim it for their tradition by establishing a Hindu altar. They were not allowed to do so by the central government and the courts, and for years the situation remained unchanged, with the mosque closed and the altar left untouched. That is, until the beginning of the 1990s, when the BJP was able to revive this previously barely noticed issue to win elections and take power. Since then the Babri Masjit has been seized and destroyed, but the efforts of the Hindu nationalists to build a new temple have still not met with success. The reasons for the dramatic change in Indian politics marked by the rise of the BJP and the increased importance of questions of religious identity are complex and cannot be examined in detail here.33 Some are particular to the country and do not relate directly to the broader trends examined here. For example, the success of the BJP is in part due to the decline of the Congress Party and its ability or even willingness to defend Nehru’s vision of India as a secular country. Other factors have to do with

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the intensification in the 1980s of affirmative-action programs to remedy caste inequalities and the strong resentment that these measures created within the higher castes.34 Finally, the rise of Hindu nationalism also obviously relates to the long-lasting difficulties involved in the relations between Hindus and Muslims, difficulties that were exacerbated by the colonization of the country and its subsequent partition. And yet, despite these local factors, it is doubtless that the rise of Hindu nationalism also reflects the broader trends we have been examining here, the move away from secular liberal policies and their replacement by a new emphasis on politics of meaning and questions of identity, emphasis that we find in many other countries around the world. The rise of Hindu nationalism is also a reaction to the development of the role of the market within the Indian economy, the encroachments of globalization and the weakening of the institutions that support liberal secular values. It illustrates the new roles that religions play and the dangers that these roles entail. The use of religion for the reinvigoration of nationalism may surprise in several respects. For one, the very existence of religious nationalism may be questioned, since nationalism is often assumed to be secular, arising upon the destruction of traditional forms of communal life. The argument is that it is only once traditional local communities organized around religious structures have melted in the broader social networks functioning on the basis of market mechanisms and under the guidance of state institutions can nationalism become a significant force. Hence, it would seem that nationalism must be secular, that it must represent, in Benedict Anderson’s words, ‘‘a secular transformation of fatality into continuity, contingency into meaning.’’35 And yet, several parts of the world have seen in recent years the rise of religious nationalism, India being only one of the most significant examples of a global trend toward the fusion of nationalism and religious conservatism. This trend, which although far from being universal is quite widespread, makes sense once we realize that the destruction of traditional communal forms of religiosity does not mean the elimination of religion. With modernity, religions do not disappear but change in various ways. They become, for example, ideological, and this transformation allows their being used in the creation of religious forms of nationalism. Another reason for the skepticism with which the rise of religious nationalism is often met is that nationalism itself is seen as being out of place in the new global world, where economic activities and new means of communication are supposed to undermine the power of nation-states.

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This downplaying of nationalism has a long history in the scholarly literature, where the dominant tendency has been to demythologize nationalism by arguing that despite its claim to represent and defend the original roots of a people, nationalism is in fact a modern creation.36 Nationalism is thus depicted as ‘‘an invention of tradition,’’37 an artificial creation mythically retrojected into the past of a human community in order to legitimize its present political organization. This justified suspicion toward nationalist ideologies among social theorists often translates into a less justified neglect of nationalism and a downplaying of its role. This neglect has a new actuality within the situation created by globalization. The claim is then that because states are not able to control economical and communicative exchanges as they used to do, their power is rapidly diminishing in favor of the market and of regional and supranational institutions, which are more adapted to this new situation in which the flows of capital, goods, communications, and immigration undermine any bounded entity. Kenichi Ohmae is perhaps the most radical of these proponents of the hollowing of the nation-state when he claims: What we are witnessing is the cumulative effect of fundamental changes in the currents of economic activity around the globe. So powerful have these currents become that they have carved out entirely new channels for themselves—channels that owe nothing to the lines of demarcation on traditional political maps. Put simply, in terms of real flows of economic activity, nation states have already lost their role as meaningful units of participation in the global economy of today’s borderless world.38

For Ohmae, the economical and communicative flows of globalization are beyond the regulative power of nation-states, which are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Hence, nation-states tend to be bypassed by regional powers, which are more in touch with real economic activities as they take place on the ground, or by supranational institutions such as the European Union or the WTO, whose global reach give them greater ability to regulate transnational activities. Other thinkers have argued that the role of the nation-state is jeopardized by the pattern of population movement and flows of ideas, which weaken the control and legitimacy of the nation-state. This is particularly true when a large ethnic group moves to a new country, such as in case of Latinos in the United States and people from the Maghreb in France. Such a large immigration population tends to keep greater ties to their culture of origin, thus creating a situation in which a significant segment of the population has divided loyalty and

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refuses full integration.39 A related effect is produced by the flow of communication in a transnational culture that bypasses state control. The creation of transnational public spheres weakens the degree to which people feel bound to their national community and concerned by its social and political issues. This leads to a deterritorialization of the imagination central to the formation of a national community and its loss of legitimacy.40 These developments are not, however, to be mourned as auguring the demise of the nation-state. For Arjun Appadurai, for example, this may be a reason to be hopeful, for this fluidity opens new discursive possibilities, leading to the creation of new modes of political life and of new forms of social solidarity based on transnational networks.41 Although these claims are not without merit, they leave out the dialectical complexities of the contemporary situation. It is true that the role and legitimacy of the nation-state is challenged in various parts of the world and that the loyalty of its citizens is at times weakened by the flow of population and the creation of regional or supranational institutions. It is also true that the large impact of the global markets of goods and ideas weakens the state’s ability to control people and resources. Still, the announcement of its imminent demise is grossly premature. It ignores the fact that the state is still in charge of most of the institutions necessary to a modern society, from schooling to health care, welfare, and the protection of its population. The thesis of the demise of the nation-state also fails to take into account the countermovements that the challenges to the nation-state create. For, as the pressure of the global market and the breaking down of borders weaken the power of nation-states, movements toward the reassertion of threatened national communities tend to take place. Hence, far from being irrelevant, nationalism has become more significant in the new global world of the 1990s than it was previously. Even in Western Europe, where the process of creation of a supranational entity is, perhaps, further advanced than in any other parts of the world, nationalism has made a comeback in national politics, and the prospect of a Federal Europe has receded, as illustrated by the serious challenges faced by the European Constitution. It is in this perspective that the renewed role of religious nationalism can be understood, that is, as a response to the processes through which global forces undermine the power and legitimacy of the nation-state and weaken its institutional basis. In a situation where the institutions and the ideology of the secular state are under duress, religious traditions can provide resources for the reassertion of the national community. This process can be observed in India in the opposition of Hindu nationalists to foreign

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influence. Contrary to what one would expect, this opposition has been less directed against the penetration of foreign capital and the taking over of various sectors of the Indian economy by multinationals than against the apparently harmless spread of consumer goods such as Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 1995, in a rather bizarre incident, the BJP local government closed the KFC franchise in Delhi under the rather surprising pretext that flies had been found within its premises. Since then, the BJP has kept demonstrating against various Western products and customs, as it did on Valentine Day 2005, when it destroyed many of the cards sold on that day under the pretext that they represent a foreign influence that weakens the Hindu spirit. These reactions may appear odd, but they make a great deal of sense within the new emphasis on questions of meaning and identity in the context of globalization. The rejection of Western products represents the stance of Hindu nationalism against the intrusion of the West on the motherland, an intrusion that reenacts the Muslim invasions of the past. The Hindu nationalist claim is that against such a threat, Indians should focus on their Hindu inheritance and reject any foreign influence, Muslim or Western. In this way, Indians will be able to reestablish the integrity of their civilization and take their rightful place in the world. This use of religion as a way to reassert identity makes all the more sense in a situation where the secular institutions and ideologies of the Indian nation-state are undermined and threaten to be absorbed into the still mostly Westerndominant culture governed by the global market. When secular ideologies appear tainted by their association with the West, whose products are taking over a culture previously largely isolated from the global market, it makes sense that religious discourse comes to be seen by many as the most obvious source of mobilizing power in the service of the nation. In this situation, religious discourse is all the more relevant because it focuses on questions of identity and meaning, rather than socioeconomic issues. It is not the case that the BJP wants to close down India, retreating to a nostalgic isolation where the economic integrity of the nation could be guaranteed. Like its electoral basis, the BJP is not opposed to the opening of the Indian market to foreign consumer goods, for it realizes that this corresponds to the wishes of the Indian middle classes, on which it relies for its electoral successes. But, for the Hindu nationalists, this attraction is dangerous, for it opens the national body to foreign contaminations. This fear is particularly in evidence in the BJP reactions against the permissiveness of Western media, which it sees as threatening the purity

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of the sexual morality of the nation in the same way that Western food threatens its dietary purity. This strategy of using cultural issues to mark political points is far from unique to the BJP and is shared by other religious conservative movements all over the world. What is striking and frightening about the Indian situation is the degree to which the BJP has been successful in its use of religious discourse as a source of mobilizing power to promote a politically conservative vision of the nation standing in opposition to the encroachment of threatening outsiders, be they Muslim or Western. This shows the relevance and power of religious discourse in the global world where many of the institutions of the nation-state are under duress. In this situation, religions, which have the resources to primordialize and sacralize communities by mobilizing individual beliefs and practices to that effect, may be uniquely suited to support a vigorous reassertion of national identity. When most institutional answers are devalued and global trade and communication expose the increasingly contingent and transient nature of national communities, it is more tempting than ever to refer to an eternal order for reaffirming the integrity of the nation.

How Religious Is Hindu Nationalism? Some may wonder, however, about the religious nature of Hindu nationalism. Is my description of Hindu nationalism as religious accurate? After all, nationalisms are often associated with religions, but this does not make them religious. In Northern Ireland and in ex-Yugoslavia, for example, religion functions as a marker of difference, separating communities that otherwise would be hard to distinguish, but this does not make these nationalisms religious. It does not influence their character, which is essentially ethnic or political and hence largely secular. Is not Hindu nationalism similar, manipulating Hindu symbols for essentially ethnic or political and hence nonreligious goals? This question needs to be examined much more carefully than can be done here. Let us first notice, however, some of its presuppositions, in particular, the assumption that religion is a clearly separable domain of human endeavor, and that religious goals, presumably because they are nonworldly, can be easily differentiated from political ones. This assumption is, however, highly questionable. Religion is not easily separable from other human activities, and hence asking whether a particular movement is really religious or merely uses religion for political purposes does not

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always make much sense. What is important, however, is to examine the way in which religion is used by particular movements, for not all the nationalisms that invoke religion use it in the same way. The Hindu nationalism discussed here does not just deploy Hinduism as a marker of ethnic differences, as, for example, Croatian nationalism does with Catholicism. Hindu nationalism obviously does that too, but its use of religion goes farther.42 Like other forms of nationalism, Hindu nationalism imagines the community it claims to defend. But what marks it as religious is that its imagination of the national community uses the resources provided by Hinduism for reformulating the nation. Central to this process of imagination is the idea of a utopian transformation of the nation in accordance with a golden era religiously defined.43 This golden age is at times identified with the Vedic period, when the Hindus established their domination east of the Indus and laid the foundations of their civilization. At other times, the legendary figure of the god Rama, who after his victorious confrontation with the dark forces of the South returned to Ayodhya, where he ruled as the virtuous dharma king, is identified as the founder of the Hindu nation. Regardless of their differences, these religious utopias function in the same way, allowing Hindu nationalists to define politically India as the land of the Hindus, those ‘‘who love and worship India as being the land of one’s ancestors as well as being sanctified by the blood of Hindu martyrs and the presence of Hindu gods.’’44 This religious definition of the nation is not just meant to support a vigorous determination of identity but supports a whole outlook as well as a political program based on a diagnosis of the problems that ail India. By this view, it is when Hindus stop being dominant in their own land, when their birthright to live according to their ancestral traditions is infringed, that the nation is in trouble. Historically, this took place when India was first invaded by the Muslims and later colonized by the British, but even nowadays there are troubling leftovers from this dark period—the Muslims and Christians who reside in India. They do not worship this land, their holy land is somewhere else, and their mythology does not concern India. Hence, they are forever alien and represent a constant source of danger. To protect the nation from this danger, laws must be passed to guarantee that they are unable to interfere with the rights of the majority to live according to its ancestral customs. In fact, Christians and Muslims would be better off outside of India. If they insist on staying, they should at least remain in a position of grateful subservience and should be prevented from using the mechanisms of liberal democracy to obtain special

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privileges, which undermine the rights of the Hindu majority. Only then can the nation be protected from the alien elements that threaten its integrity and strength. This perception of the danger represented by these threatening others seemed to have become particular salient in parts of Indian public opinion during the 1980s, when the BJP reached national stature. Then the rise of the economical power of Arab countries, the radicalization of Islamicism, the conversion of many low castes to Islam or Christianity, the development of Christian missions in India, as well as the rise of separatist movements in Kashmir and Punjab, gave rise to the impression that Hindu society was under threat. This siege mentality among many Hindus in the middle class was reinforced by the development of affirmative action policies aimed at favoring the lower castes in education and state employment. It was further strengthen by the riots that followed the Ayodhya incidents in the early 1990s. Since then, the BJP and its allies have attempted to keep this feeling of being under siege alive, with various degrees of success. The religious definition of the nation has enabled its proponents to mobilize the resources of popular Hindu religiosity to support their cause. The BJP has been particularly skilled at using Hindu rituals and symbols. Its most spectacular success was perhaps the Ekatmata Yatra of November 1983, a triple procession that crisscrossed India, displaying divinized images of Mother India and the Ganges transported with great fanfare on elaborated processional chariots. The use of these symbols was extremely judicious. Most Hindus worship Mother India and the Ganges as gods regardless of sectarian affiliations; at the same time, they stand for modern political entities. As such, they are ideal supports for a religious vision of the nation. Wherever it went, the procession was received with great enthusiasm by local inhabitants, who saw it as a genuine expression of their devotion as well as a symbol of their threatened identity. The dangers of this religious nationalism are obvious, as illustrated by the spread of anti-Muslim feelings and activities that has marked the rise of BJP. Nehru’s mythical but liberal vision of India as an old civilization of tolerance is being replaced by a much more aggressive and equally mythical vision of India as the land of the Hindus standing in opposition to the contamination by foreign elements. This chauvinistic vision of India has had negative consequences for the inclusion of minorities and the development of democracy, creating an opening for the authoritarian solutions favored by the most extreme Hindu nationalist organizations such as the RSS and the VHP. It has also led to numerous anti-Muslim riots, veritable pogroms in which thousands have been killed by mobs

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organized by Hindu nationalist elements and pushed into action by the chilling slogan, ‘‘The proper place of Muslims is either Pakistan or the cemetery (kabristan).’’45

Conclusion This conjunction of conservative religiosity and aggressive nationalism is not unique to India and concerns other countries where similar trends can be observed. This is particularly true of the United States, where the events 9/11 have shown the continuous potency of the combination of nationalism and religion. How many times did we hear the claims that after the ‘‘events,’’ people felt more American than ever, that people realized the importance of religion, that God is more popular than ever, and so on? These often repeated cliche´s seem to illustrate the two dominant responses to the attack, the reliance on religion and the eagerness to declare allegiance to the nation. These reactions show the power of the twin combination of nationalism and religiosity, particularly in its conservative forms, and the degree to which any claim about the hollowing of the nation-state or the exit of religions is mistaken. Obviously, the importance and dangers of religious nationalism should not be overblown. There are many countries where secularism is quite alive, leaving little prospect for the rise of such a phenomenon. But the fact that religious nationalism is relevant only to certain parts of the world does not diminish the threat that it represents. This fact does expose, however, the considerable complexity of the contemporary world, where societies are moving in very different directions, committing themselves to diametrically opposed projects, despite the increasingly close links that bind them. This diversity may be ground for some optimism, raising questions about the durability of the present religious revival and its conjunction with nationalism. Will this trend be long-staying, providing ideological bases for new forms of political domination and leading to disastrous confrontations, or will it be a temporary aberration in a troubled period of transition? At this point, one cannot but wonder. Here again, India, where in 2004 an alliance of the Congress, caste-based, and classical left-wing parties inflicted a surprising defeat on the BJP, provides an interesting and somewhat hopeful example of the possibility of a reassertion of a more tolerant outlook. But how robust and viable this reassertion will be remains to be seen. The purpose of this essay is not to make predictions

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but to draw awareness to the present rise of religious nationalism and the sociocultural conditions that have led to such a development. What we, as intellectuals, need to do is to remain keenly aware of the dangers of these developments and not fall prey to the temptation of dismissing them too quickly, however aberrant they may seem.

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chapter 7

All Nightmares Back: Dependency and Independency Theories, Religion, Capitalism, and Global Society Hauke Brunkhorst

Modern capitalism in the 1960s and 1970s was called late capitalism, and this index of time—the word ‘‘late’’—implied that modern capitalism, with free markets of labor, real estate, and money, had come to an end. Its final decay was supposed to be only a question of time, political power, and successful regime change. During the 1960s and 1970s, the leftist alternative seemed to be clear and present. The variety of socialist alternatives was overwhelming: Grassroots democracy, democratization of the economy, a strong social welfare state, state or market socialism, but socialism (or social democracy) in any case. This was an illusion. Today it seems that there is nothing left from socialist experiments. Social democratic leaders have become neoliberal defenders of the so-called Washington consensus. Socialism and great parts of the former Left, old and new, have disappeared, and what is left is liberal capitalism—ironically, with the highest growth rates in China, which still is governed by an efficient and authoritarian communist party—and once again we can make the striking observation that the capitalist economy fits very well to every political regime that is efficient, even to a communist dictatorship.1 In the 1960s and 1970s, not only the end of capitalism was predicted. At that time, there existed also a well-established social theory that predicted and explained the necessary decay of religion: the so-called theory

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of secularization. Whereas the theories of late capitalism in the 1960s and 1970s were broadly accepted by the Left and rejected by neoconservatives and neoliberals, the theory of secularization united all political and academic parties, and objections came only from a small minority. That the time of religion was over, and that religion was going to be replaced by mere rational Enlightenment, seemed sound to political philosophers, functionalist architects, and sociologists, as well as to Western liberals and Eastern dictators. The argument was simple: ‘‘Modernization leads to a decline of religion, both in society and in the minds of individuals.’’2 But during the last thirty years we have observed that neither capitalism nor religion vanished. On the contrary, religion today seems more alive than ever before. Even Max Weber’s earlier rejected thesis of an internal linkage between religious, and in particular Protestant rationalization and rational capitalism has now come back (one hundred years after the publication of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism), and today this linkage is more present than ever before. It seems that Protestant sects are still the ethical avant-garde of capitalism, but other religions follow the same track of rationalization. There is some evidence that religious neofundamentalism supports just those values that are most important for today’s rational capitalism and rational bureaucracy.3 Transgressing traditional borders, religion sometimes supports and reinforces the values that neoliberal capitalism needs for expansion. This is most obvious in case of neofundamentalist Protestant sects like those of Evangelicalism in Latin America. But in a more moderate version, the same statement seems also true for the sub-Saharan or Asian Islamic fundamentalists.4 Sometimes religious groups oppose Western capitalism, as many of the nationalist or terrorist Islamic groups such as Hezbollah and the Taliban do. Sometimes, eventually, religious communities do both: they criticize capitalism in theory and support it (and some of its most important ethical values) in practice, as was the case of Opus Dei in General Franco’s late days, or of the Roman Catholic Church under Pope John Paul II.5 But religion is very different from modern capitalism when it comes to solidarity. Contrary to markets and capitalism, religion is internally linked with solidarity.6 Yet, even if religion is not opposed to democratic political solidarity, it is far from being necessarily democratic. Religion was and still is one of the most important resources of societal solidarity and normative integration. Hence, religious communities are often very critical about the negative externalities of the uncontrolled growth of markets, capital, and consumerism, and this criticism sometimes is mixed with strong criticism of Western democracy. Even Evangelicals are never in favor of capitalism

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as such because their priority is the moral and ethical foundation of capitalism. Protestant ethics involuntarily invents and reinforces the spirit of capitalism, the two are not the same. Even if modern democracy is a completely secularized project, this project has some striking and internal linkages to the religious sources of solidarity. All democratic constitutions combine ideas that originate from two ancient sources, and these are Greek and Roman republicanism and biblical monotheism.7 Roughly speaking, modern democracies take from monotheism the ideas of universal equality and of the equal value and worth of every single human being—‘‘that all men are created equal,’’ as the Declaration of Independence holds. And they take from classical republicanism the idea that democratic equality and freedom need a legal framework and an institutional embodiment, outlined in the constitutional law of checks and balances, which is called in German Staatsorganisationsrecht. Only the reference to these two very different sources of Christian transcendental universalism, which have been combined within the Catholic Church since the twelfth century,8 can explain the specific and highly improbable dialectical mix of a radical utopianism with legally binding, procedural limitations, which is characteristic of all democratic constitutional revolutions since the late eighteenth century. There no longer exists a modern democracy once this institutionalized tension between utopianism and legalism vanishes; and democracy faces its most serious crisis ever when utopianism overrules legalism or legalism represses utopianism. In the Western legal tradition, law not only fulfills the conservative function of a social immune system, the stabilization of expectations (Luhmann), but at the same time law also works as a progressive and emancipatory medium to change the world. Law is not only oriented to the past but also to the future. Hence, since its very early beginnings in the Papist revolution of the twelfth century, modern law is distinguished from all other, premodern or nonmodern law by the tension between future-oriented utopianism and past-oriented legalism that is internalized in the very structure and ordinary performance of legal communication. This tension enables modern law, and in particular modern constitutional law, to reconcile the lasting contradictions and conflicts between past and future, between social systems and social classes, between individual as well as collective interests, and between values and spheres of value. Now, there are several questions left open. Does democracy also depend conceptually on religious meaning or not? Are there ways out of the strict alternative, either dependency or independency? In this essay I discuss how the early Habermas had found one plausible solution to the dilemma.

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I then discuss briefly how the democratic nation-state has solved the problem within the realm of a completely secularized society. In the last section, I come to the central question of my essay: What is the possible destiny of democratic solidarity in times of global capitalism, global religion, and global public power?

Democracy’s Dependence on and Independence from Religion There are two mutually exclusive readings of the theory of secularization. I will call them the independency and the dependency theories. I start with a brief sketch of the classical eighteenth- and nineteenth-century version of the independency theory, and then switch to the postmodern version of the independency theory. For the critique of ideology from Holbach to Marx, from Freud to Sartre, modern political and practical concepts such as Enlightenment, civil society, emancipation, state, autonomy, positive law, popular sovereignty, universal moral dignity, freedom, equity, democracy, and solidarity can be justified completely within an exclusively postmetaphysical and posttheological conceptual framework. From this point of view, traditional religion, religious fundamentalism, monotheism, and metaphysics are all ideological obstacles on the road toward a better life and a better society. Enlightenment is the great force of liberation from religious heteronomy: from ‘‘cheating priests’’ (Holbach), from the ‘‘opium of the people’’ (Marx), from ‘‘illusion’’ (Freud). Therefore Marx once argued that we should get rid of the ‘‘nightmare’’ of ‘‘the traditions of all dead generations.’’9 Freud went in the same direction when he gave psychoanalysis the goal of overcoming the dominance of the past over the present. Only then, Marx argued, shall we become free for the construction of our own ‘‘substance,’’ and the ‘‘creation’’ of the ‘‘poems of the future.’’10 For Marx, modernity is equally distant from the pagan-republican nightmares of ancient Rome and Athens, as from the religious nightmares of Jerusalem and Roman Catholicism. Once modernity is completely developed, all dependency on these nightmares that stem from the European past will disappear. Postmodernists or neopragmatists such as Rorty agree with the independency theory, but they argue (together with Blumenberg) against Holbach, Kant, Marx, and Freud that classical Enlightenment is not independent enough from the repressive, elitist and authoritarian universalism of monotheism and metaphysics.11 We can become independent of

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Marx’s nightmares. But we can get rid of the nightmares of the past only if we get rid of all ideas of justification or self-justification of freedom, democracy, and solidarity, because scientific justification is the modern heir of the repressive universalism of monotheism and metaphysics, and self-reflection is only a modernist variation of the Platonic ‘‘mirror of nature.’’12 If we forget about justification, validity, and all claims of truth, then the nightmares of the European tradition that originate in Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome will disappear, and—unlike Marx’s expectation—we shall be able to preserve all the great old, but now harmless (because invalid) metaphors of the European past for our present use. Because we can make a self-liberating and democratic use of them, we must not ban the old images and burn the old books. Rorty’s basic idea is not to overcome metaphysics (like Marx) by changing the substance but (like Dewey or Gadamer) by changing the interpretation; and to reread people like Marx as revolutionaries, not because of their discoveries, but because they have invented new vocabularies that enrich our lives and enforce our abilities to cope with social problems. Marx was wrong to expect the creation of a new ‘‘substance’’ from the socialist revolution, but he was right to inspire us to create the ‘‘poems of the future.’’ Therefore, Rorty argues, the domination of the past over the present, which Marx, and Freud were right to criticize, ends, together with the end of justification, validity, and truth. Only when this end is reached shall we be free: not, as Marx thought, from all the old metaphors and semantics, but free to use the endless sources of metaphoric meaning for our own purposes. Only then can we make an emancipative and egalitarian use of these sources to construct our identity ironically, to transform contingency into individual freedom, to invent inspiring narratives of democratic solidarity. It is not utopianism that separates us from Marx but justification. Whereas Marx argues that the partition of objective and universal truth from its me´lange with oppression is the condition for universal liberation, Rorty argues that only the liberation from objective justification and universal truth makes us free for a reinterpretation of the past. If we take away the truth claims, we can see (for example) that the message of the Bible and the message of the Communist Manifesto are the same, and hence, we can take the best out of each and put them together for the purpose of making the world a better place.13 We should not try to convince everybody that our universal propositions are true but simply try to ‘‘expand the reference of us as far as we can.’’14 On the other side, opposing Marx and Rorty, stand the proponents of the dependency theory. Political theologians such as Carl Schmitt on the

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Right and Walter Benjamin on the Left object to the independency theory and defend a thesis that all major political concepts of modern society are deeply dependent on the biblical heritage of Europe, and therefore concepts such as freedom, democracy, solidarity, empire, sovereignty, and autonomy are never free-standing, nor can they find a justification without reference to religious meaning and substantial religious truth.15 Philosophers like the late Heidegger or the late Horkheimer agree on this point with Schmitt when they suggest that ‘‘only a god can save us’’ (Heidegger), or that there is ‘‘no moral justice without God’’ (Horkheimer).16 If there is no longer any objective religious legitimacy or justice behind positive law available, then neither—so the right-wing political theologians claim—will the state have a chance to survive when a serious crisis emerges (Schmitt),17 nor—so the left-wing political theologians hold—would the revolutionary opponents of the capitalist state have any chance to perform the waltenden Gewalt or ‘‘prevailing power’’ (Benjamin) of revolutionary or divine justice, and to make the one and only revolution that brings the history of decay to an end, to a messianic ‘‘standstill.’’18 Dependency on religious meaning in all these cases is transcendental. Whatever we do we cannot avoid it, and if we try to suppress religion we must repress the truth and follow illusionary projections of the modern ‘‘age of neutralizations’’19 (Schmitt) or false consciousness, commodity fetishism, and reification (Benjamin). Schmitt’s basic assumption is that the process of secularization can never reach a rational foundation or a reinterpretation of individual freedom and democratic solidarity that is independent from religious, and in particular independent from Christian, truth claims. Every step that follows modern ideas of Enlightenment and rational discourse is a step into decadence, and a victory of the Antichrist. All we can do to prevent accelerating our decay is to defend authoritarian state power as the kat-echon, the resisting force against all temptations of equal freedom and democratic solidarity. Secularization for Schmitt means that concepts that stem from a process of secularization can never emancipate us from their theological origins, and therefore democracy, popular sovereignty, autonomy, Enlightenment, and so on are damned from the very beginning. ‘‘Secularization’’ in Schmitt’s reading is an ironic term that denies its own possibility.20 Walter Benjamin is not so far from this version of a negative philosophy or theology of history. But there is an important difference. For Benjamin, contrary to Schmitt, there was never a better past. For him, Schmitt’s authoritarian Christian state (with inquisition, torture, and jus ad bellum) was a nightmare. His political theology relies on the idea of

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a weak messianic power that is completely internal to modernity and in particular to modern art. His utopia is not the past (of a realm of God that already exists since the birth of Jesus Christ) but the future, the coming messianic redemption from all evil. Benjamin’s completely unorthodox theological—or as Habermas once called it, his crypto-theological—point is that modern society destroys all strong (and metaphysical) powers of (as we now can see) false Messiahs, and leaves us only a weak messianic power, which is the power of the true Messiah. Not despite but because of its weakness, messianic power is strong enough to make the one and final revolution. This is so because the messianic power, for the first time in its long and disastrous history, is not quite entirely, but almost entirely internalized within modern society, and hence can transform that society from within.21 Therefore mere innerworldly forces, like revolutionary action, aesthetic performance or aesthetic criticism can disclose the waltende Gewalt (‘‘prevailing power’’) of messianic justice. The true universal solidarity is revealed by criticism, is performed by works of art, and in the end realized by a revolution that is at the same time the performance of divine justice. This is the true revolution that realizes not only the solidarity that can be reached by human and social action but also a kind of biblical or (in Benjamin’s words) messianic solidarity that brings justice to all victims of the so-called historical (including social democratic) progress, the living as well as the dead. For Benjamin, a revolution that performs messianic solidarity therefore must leave behind all viable, hence reformist, institutionally limited and legally self-organized versions of (social) democratic solidarity. The argument Benjamin here has in mind is that only from the biblical perspective of redemption can a justice and solidarity be conceived that is not unjust and socially exclusive in the moment of its realization. In Benjamin, utopianism clearly trumps legalism. Unlike Marx, Benjamin considers that the paradigm of criticism is not the critique of ideology but aesthetic criticism. Hence, a radical critique of modern society, Benjamin argues, presupposes not only (with Marx) the unchaining of all forces of technical productivity, but also (against Marx) the unchaining of the latent meaning of the biblical tradition, and Benjamin suggests that it is this meaning of redemption that is hidden within the fragmented constructions and figurative constellations of vanguard works of modern art. The humpbacked gnome (bucklig Zwerg) of theology must become the secret director of the Marxist project. For Benjamin, the socialist revolution would not be realized if it were achieved without a

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material or worldly equivalent of redemption and resurrection, and Benjamin never really made clear what that equivalent could be, simply because he presupposed that once we try to construct it, we must destroy it. Benjamin’s approach coincides with Schmitt’s fundamentalist criticism of liberal and social democratic progress, but for him, and here he no longer agrees with Schmitt, the potential that leads out of the ‘‘catastrophe’’ of all former history, on which Paul Klee’s famous Angel of History looks back, is nothing else than a self-radicalization of modernity.22 Here Benjamin’s idiosyncratic (eigensinnige) version of modernism and criticism becomes relevant for Habermas’s theory of communicative action.

Communicative Action and Messianism In the early 1970s, Ju¨rgen Habermas made a pathbreaking attempt to reinterpret Benjamin’s basic idea of the weak messianic power of aesthetic criticism in terms of a theory of communicative action.23 For Habermas, Benjamin’s idea of aesthetic criticism is interesting not because of the notion of a messianic revolution that ends all revolutions and all history, but because in important aspects Benjamin’s aesthetic criticism fits with an unrestricted, no longer technically or functionally one-sided, and no longer stubbornly instrumental interpretation of rationality that is modern. It appears to Habermas that there is a plausible way to reconstruct Benjamin’s cryptotheological idea of aesthetic criticism within the categorical framework of a theory of communicative rationality. Habermas agrees with Marx and Benjamin that the democratic, liberating, and productive potential of modern society is, in some important respects, repressed by modern capitalism, class rule, and other forms of structural domination. But one of the strong post- or neo-Marxist points of the theory of communicative action is that it covers both, Marx and Benjamin, because it replaces the old Marxist idea of the unchaining of all the productive forces of technical productivity by the post-Marxist idea of unchaining all the productive forces of communication, and then Benjamin’s redemptive criticism (rettende Kritik) can be included in one of the branches of communicative powers.24 This includes the idea, at one end of a communicative continuum of practices, that even the potential of technical productivity can be made explicit only by reaching an understanding in a theoretical discourse. And the basic idea of communicative power includes, at the other end of the same continuum, the interpretation of the world in the light of our needs (including the need of redemption from

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injustice, suffering, and oppression). This interpretation of our needs, Habermas argues later in his Theory of Communicative Action, can be made explicit only by aesthetic criticism or expressive (or therapeutic) discourses. To do the latter we must make use of the semantic potential of the past, and to do this, we must take seriously the claims of validity that are related to the old narratives and past ideas of tradition.25 It is decisive for my argument not to understand Habermas’s branches of rationalities and discourses in a substantial way as fundamental differences or as a series of dualistic differences. In my interpretation, the epistemological point of Theory of Communicative Action consists in the Deweyan move from dualistic oppositions such as Verstand versus Vernunft or ‘‘instrumental’’ versus ‘‘communicative reason’’ to a continuum of discursive rationality. Habermas calls Benjamin’s version of aesthetic-theological-political criticism redemptive criticism, which he distinguishes in his 1972 conference on Benjamin from the consciousness-raising critique of ideology (bewusstmachende Kritik). With this distinction Habermas decenters both redemptive as well as consciousness-raising criticism. Whereas for Benjamin redemptive criticism still was the one and only revolutionary method of criticism, and whereas for Marx it was the critique of ideology that made a similar claim to totality and total truth, Habermas’s theory of communicative rationality pluralizes the universe of critique into a lot of different perspectives that no longer cover the old Hegelian and Marxist unity of reason and reality or reason and revolution. Therefore, Habermas’s idea of redemptive criticism resembles in some respects Rorty’s radical reinterpretation of traditions, but there is an important difference. For Rorty, it is just the loss of validity and truth that is needed to disclose the semantic richness of the past for present expropriation, whereas for Habermas, the disclosure and radical reinterpretation of the tradition presupposes that we take the metaphysical or theological validity claims of the past seriously. This is what connects him with Benjamin and separates him from Rorty. For Habermas, it is in particular the loss of these claims that closes the access to the semantic richness of the past, which is needed to create new identities and new narratives of solidarity. Only our claims to validity, which are co-original with the evolution of communicative language, connect the past with the future through our present talk. The point that Habermas makes with Benjamin is that the sources of radical reinterpretation and public solidarity can be dried out through the repression of validity claims that are related to the semantics of our tradition.

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For Habermas, this conjecture has two implications. First, redemptive criticism implies that there is no democracy without a political (or practical) idea of truth, although truth receives a postmetaphysical meaning. All who are concerned (or affected) have to be included within the process of collective self-determination, and if it comes to the way we organize our relation to the tradition publicly, then also those who are no longer or not yet able to talk have to be represented in a public discourse that claims to be valid for everybody. That is why Habermas argues today, as he always did, that a ‘‘ ‘post-truth-democracy’ . . . would no longer be a democracy.’’26 Habermas’s argument is that a post-truth democracy would not be able to distinguish the free and equal acceptance of legal decisions by all who are concerned, from one that is enforced and ideologically stabilized, and hence not democratic. Truth in this sense belongs to the very meaning of democracy, simply because we never would accept an (violently or ideologically) enforced understanding as being democratic. If people such as John Stuart Mill believe that the political equality of women ends once they decide to marry, then we would call that an ideology which is deeply antidemocratic. In a post-truth democracy, critique of ideologies no longer would make sense. But if there is, as Habermas presupposes, an internal relation between truth and democracy, then the universal claims of truth have to represent also all the voices of the past, which could have had an argument against our particular claims of truth, and that we have rejected only because it was and still is repressed by an ideological world view. Art, historical ideology criticism, historical psychoanalysis, or simply people who still believe in the truth of traditions that no longer are generally accepted can give us hints to what might be wrong or ideological with a particular understanding that we have reached now. These hints then could be taken as a reason to open the discourse again for possible revision (or an appeal procedure). Second, repression and domination have, as Marx or Rorty assume, not only the materialist or social structural meaning of economic expropriation and political oppression, but also, as Bloch, Benjamin and Adorno or the later Foucault and Judith Butler argue, the ethical, cultural, or metapolitical meaning of discourse-power, discourse-police, semantic exclusion, silencing, and so forth. Therefore, the truth claims of the silenced voices matter when it comes to a public discourse about the direction of our common life, in local communities as well as in global communities/ community. An understanding which is gained at the price of silencing anyone or misrepresenting a voice that cannot speak for itself cannot itself count as a universal understanding achieved through no other force than

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the force of the better argument—but the latter could just be the silenced voice (and that is why we must try to give the silenced voice a fair chance of articulation or representation if it cannot speak for itself ). The point Habermas makes against Marx and Benjamin is that the consciousness-raising critique of ideology does not necessarily exclude redemptive criticism and vice versa. Both versions of modern criticism raise complementary claims to different aspects of truth in an open spectrum of different discourses. The distinction of these two types of criticism can be integrated into a postmetaphysical and secular framework of discourses, and the distinction then can be used to overcome the contradiction between the independency and the dependency theories of secularization on the grounds of communicative rationality that is modern. The idea of redemptive criticism opens the independent and self-reflexive realm of autonomous discourse for validity claims that depend on the semantic potential of the past. What is true about the dependency theory is that there is no sufficiently universal, equal, and free public discourse if it is closed against the claims of validity that stem from the voices of the past. But, on the other hand, any undistorted practical discourse presupposes self-reflexive autonomy, egalitarian access, freedom of speech, and so on.27 Therefore all the repressed, silenced, lost, and forgotten voices of the past can come back as present voices within the modern discourse, if and only if we drop any idea of higher truth, and pose for the voices of the past the same counterfactual claims to validity as we do for any other proposition.28 Habermas needs Benjamin’s or a Benjamin-like idea of redemptive criticism, first, because communicative rationality has the same extension as universal solidarity. Communicative rationality is only the discursive side of the performance of solidarity. It is not separated from but belongs to the performance and expression of solidarity. Second, Habermas needs a rationalized equivalent for that kind of universal solidarity that Benjamin (or Horkheimer) always had in mind and that was present in all monotheistic religions, simply because the communicative concept of truth implies universal acceptability for all potential speakers, dead or alive, born or unborn. For Benjamin (and Horkheimer) a truly universal solidarity must include not only all potential speakers (who in actuality may be silenced) living today and in the future, but also those who cannot raise their voices because they are dead. As Habermas demonstrates, any reconstruction of Benjamin’s redemptive criticism in terms of communicative rationality must drop the religious hope that all people substantially should be represented, but he keeps the idea of a virtual participation through present interpretation.

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Yet, even if we—for the sake of argument—accept this rational and postsubstantial, hence postmetaphysical reconstruction of Benjamin’s weak messianic power, there remains a conceptual problem with the religious sources of solidarity. It is not a problem of understanding Benjamin; rather, the problem is that the communicative constructions and reconstructions of redemptive criticism and expressive discourse do not cover, and cannot make explicit the ‘‘opaque core of religious experience.’’29 The problem is that there exists a stubborn religious experience in society, and this experience is, first, ‘‘abysmally alien’’ (abgru¨ndig fremd) for a ‘‘thinking that is discursive,’’ and, second, this experience is not simply irrational or unenlightened. On the contrary, it still works as a reasonable or comprehensible source of public solidarity. It is reasonable or comprehensible because the religious sources of solidarity still create important (theological and philosophical) arguments, inspire practical learning processes, and motivate the (sometimes and in some respects) reasonable use of political communicative power. Religious experience, therefore, and insofar as it is an important source of public learning processes, is not a private but a public matter. Even extreme criminal actions of fundamentalist groups are not only a problem of public security and penal justice, but they also can—as Derrida (in his Adorno speech) and Habermas (in his Friedenpreis speech) argued immediately after September 11—remind us that Western perspectives could be one-sided, exclusive, silencing; that our way of performing secular politics may not be secular enough; that our liberal universal cosmopolitism could be latently imperial and repressive. Terrorism does not come out of the blue or out of the evil heart of darkness. Terrorism, anti-Western nationalism, and other more or less aggressive fundamentalist movements have social causes, which are different from case to case, but usually hang together with the experience of repression, expropriation, torture, colonialism, and imperialism. They have these social causes, even if the reasons given for anti-imperial activities are the worst—or the people who give them are not oppressed underclass populations but (as is usually the case in all modern social movements) petit bourgeois or bourgeois intellectuals.

The Permanent Legal Revolution The Habermasian idea of overcoming the contradiction between the independency and the dependency theories on the grounds of communicative

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rationality comes close to, but never reaches, the core of religious experience, which remains opaque. But the Habermasian idea seems to fit very well with what one could call in Rawlsian terms the ideal theory of a modern democracy. This is so because up to now the modern democratic public sphere, despite all its faults, seems to be capable of opening itself again and again for any claim of excluded voices to validity, and to learn from these voices, hence to transform the many and overlapping clashes of civilizations and social classes that modern society does produce, construct, and experience in every new decade into a radical reformism that leads to the ‘‘inclusion of the other.’’30 The political idea of the inclusion of the other or what Susan Marks (in reference to international law) has called the principle of democratic inclusion that never ends at the existing modes of representation, citizenship, and (national) borders,31 on one hand, follows the utopian message of monotheism and messianism—but, on the other hand, such a secularized principle of social and political inclusion misses the ‘‘opaque’’ and ‘‘abysmally alien’’ core of religious experience. It is the best translation we have of the Jewish-Christian hope for redemption into a completely secularized public language, and it is not only a translation into the language of a philosophical discourse, but also a translation into the language of constitutional law. But it can never reach an understanding with the believer because the gap between truth and faith remains unbridged. Since the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century, we can observe an impressive progress of social and institutional learning that regularly led to the inclusion of formerly excluded voices, persons, groups, classes, sexes, races, countries, regions, and so on. In the words of Rawls: ‘‘The same equality of the Declaration of Independence which Lincoln invoked to condemn slavery can be invoked to condemn the inequality and oppression of women.’’32 The experience of a successful learning process of social inclusion can be, and has been stretched to the virtual voices of dead generations as well as to the real voices of non-Western cultures. Yet, the reality of Western democracies often looks different, and the faults and even crimes against international law and violations of human and civic rights reach from symbolic exclusion over imperial war to the declared or nondeclared state of siege. The story of impressive normative learning processes is not the whole story. If we tell the whole story, then we have to accept that in many cases (and in some way in all cases) the expansion of social inclusion comes with the price of new exclusion, or new forms of first latent, later manifest oppression. The history of Western civilization and Western democracy is not only a success story of

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expansion through the inclusion of the other. It is at the same time a story of expansion through imperialism. Since the first European division of the world in the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas between Spain and Portugal, imperialism has vanished and reappeared with ever new means, and under ever new covers and labels, even anti-imperialist labels.33 It is true that the many faces of imperialism are always followed by ever new pushes for social inclusion. But the story is also true the other way round. From the Christian robbers, missionaries, inquisitors, and humanists of the sixteenth century, every expansion of inclusion, every new emancipation, every extension of democracy and human rights was at the same time a reinvention of exclusion and oppression. This includes even critics of imperial law, such as Vitoria, as well as the Eurocentric ideology of civilizing the heart of darkness that emerged since the eighteenth century, including both the perspectives of Kurtz and of Marlow. The same ambivalence darkens the humanist project of the gentle civilizers of nations (the new international lawyers) since the nineteenth century,34 as well as the whole process of decolonization, developmental politics, and nation-building since the 1960s or the politics of humanitarian intervention and the war on terrorism in the present day. Even the present state of inclusion of the other in the new cosmopolitan civil society sometimes appears to be nothing else than the expression of the highly exclusive ‘‘class consciousness of frequent travelers.’’35 But all this does not change the fact that all modern democratic constitutions are relying on the one universal legal principle of the exclusion of inequalities.36 I call this, with Christian Joerges, the facticity of normativity.37 The normative facticity of the exclusion of inequalities becomes manifest when communicative power appears as the ‘‘power of revenge,’’ as ra¨ chende Gewalt (Habermas). Legal texts, and in particular constitutional-law texts, are not only talk, but also ‘‘objective spirit’’ (Hegel). Legal texts can be taken seriously by people, by officials or judges, and then can be enforced even against those who have invented them in their own interest, simply because they had the power to do that. That makes legal texts more objective or real than mere moral or ethical deliberations. Their ‘‘objectivity’’ is that they are or can be combined with coercive power. Legal texts can be misused; they can be implemented by and in the particular interest of a small ruling class; but they also ‘‘can strike back’’ if we the people ‘‘act in concert’’ (Arendt) to remind the ruling classes that they are valid norms that bind all of us, including the hegemonic powers.38 The objectivity of the constitutional spirit of the revolutions of the eighteenth century is the modern nation-state. This state always had many

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faces, and they include the Arendtian face of violence, the Habermasian face of administrative power, the Foucauldian face of surveillance and punishment, the faces of imperialism, colonialism, the war on terror, and so on. But the nation-state, once it became democratic, had not only the administrative power of oppression and control but also at the same time the administrative power to exclude inequalities with respect to individual rights, political participation, and equal access to social welfare and opportunities. Only the modern nation-state had the idea and the power to do that. Up to now, all advances in the reluctant inclusion of the other are advances of the modern nation-state. National constitutional regimes have solved the three basic conflicts of the modern capitalist and functionally differentiated society. They have solved the crises of the religious civil wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (which the so-called absolutist monarchies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries or the developmental dictatorships of the twentieth century could repress with only relative effectiveness); constitutional struggles over public autonomy (or public autonomy versus administrative power) of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and social class conflicts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (which authoritarian or communist regimes could only repress). In the end, it was the advance of egalitarian mass democracy that transformed the bloody revolutionary fights over public autonomy into a permanent and legal revolution.39 And it was the legally limited yet still untamed utopianism of democratic constitutional regimes that tamed the social class fights of modern capitalism by implementing the freedom of markets together with the freedom from the negative external effects of markets, and it was the communicative power of the same legal utopianism that implemented the equal freedom of, together with the equal freedom from, religious and other belief systems. In all these cases of revolutionary conflicts, the modern democratic nation-state could disclose two sources of solidarity and fuel social change and radical reformism from the still existing religious sources as well as from the new and independent profane sources of solidarity, which were the original invention of the eighteenthcentury Enlightenment.

Global Society and the Disembedding of Religion The modern nation-state until 1945 was the state of the regional societies of Europe, America, and Japan, and the rest of the world was either under

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their imperial control or kept outside. The exclusion of inequality until the middle of the twentieth century did mean internal equality for the citizens of the state and external inequality for those who did not belong to the regional system of states. There was no serious or legal claim for a global exclusion of inequalities. Yet, during the time from 1945 to the present day, classical imperialism (not hegemony) vanished, Eurocentrism was completely decentered, state sovereignty was legally equalized, the state went global, and together with the globalization of the modern constitutional nation state all functional subsystems that from the sixteenth century until 1945 were bound to state power and to the regional societies of Europe, America, and Japan, became global systems. Even the rational and secular regional culture of Europe and North America has become a rational and secular culture of the world, and it constitutes the basic orientations of all main actors of the global society—of states, organizations and human individuals.40 At the end of the twentieth century, human-rights violations, social exclusion of global and local regions, and tremendous inequalities did not disappear. But now (and this is the difference between the beginning of the twentieth and that of the twenty-first century) they are perceived as our own problems, and not only because we need each other to solve our specific problems but because we now have serious and legally binding claims for a global exclusion of inequalities. International law has deeply changed since the founding of the United Nations, the European Union, the human-rights treaties of the 1960s, and so on. The old rule of equal sovereignty of states became the ‘‘sovereign equality’’ under international law (Art. 2 par. 1 UN), individual human beings became subject to International Law, democracy became a legal principle that is valid also against sovereign states, and the right to have rights, which Arendt missed in the 1940s, is now a legal norm that binds the international community. All these legal rules are broken again and again, but what is new is that they exist as legal norms, and hence, can be taken seriously. The dependency of the life of all human individuals on access to the educational and the economic system, which is just a brute fact, together with the shaping power of the existing world culture, makes individualism and rational life plans unavoidable for everybody without exception. This global society is a completely secularized society, with rational power politics, positive law, experimental sciences, academic professions, autonomous art, instrumental economy and technique, a secularized global human rights culture, global mass culture and a global semantics of political and economic progress, and last but not least an autonomous sphere of

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religious values—which stands not vis-a`-vis but within the modern, functionally specialized, hence secular society. The most dramatic effect of this process of the formation of the global society is the decay of the ability of the nation-state to exclude inequalities, even within the highly privileged OECD world. This becomes very significant, first, with the economic system. Here we can observe the complete transformation of the state-embedded markets of regional late capitalism into the market-embedded states of global turbo-capitalism.41 Yet, surprisingly enough, when it comes to the religious sphere of values, we can make a similar observation. Religion went global, was decontextualized, individualized, universalized, deterritorialized, and detraditionalized, in particular by the strong impact of fundamentalist movements on all modern religions.42 Hence, the global society makes the same proposition that is true for the capitalist economy, true for the autonomous development of the religious sphere of values. We now are confronted with the transformation of state-embedded religions of Western regional society into the religion embedded states of global society. Until the 1960s, religion was embedded everywhere in the world in the respective nationstates, be it via institutionalized and legally regulated religious freedom (as in the United States), or be it via more or less brutal repression (as in Iran or Egypt). Since the 1970s, everywhere religious communities crossed borders and were escaping from state control—be they Evangelicals in the Americas or Islamic fundamentalists in Asia and in Southeast Asia. No nation-state—not the United States, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia—can now control the global networks of decentralized religions. During the last three decades, the freedom of and from markets and the freedom of and from religion to a certain degree have been deconstitutionalized. The first striking effect of this deconstitutionalization is that the freedom (and heavy, sometimes warlike competition) of markets explodes globally, and the freedom from their negative externalities decays rapidly. And the second striking effect is that the freedom of religions explodes, to such an extent that sometimes it even leads to religious war, but at the same time the freedom from religion comes under pressure from public and administrative power. The rapidly emerging global public and the executive powers of the public also have emancipated themselves from the bonds of the nation state, and therefore also have been deconstitutionalized. What becomes obvious now, after seeing how the pen of a cartoonist of a Danish provincial newspaper can cause a global hurricane, is that the global public not only enables the first flourishing of a cosmopolitan civil society, but at the

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same time also lacks all the constitutional regulations and the dense legal networks that only can guarantee the equal freedom of speech, and that existed up to now only within the democratic nation-state.43 Hence, in regard to the great hope of a globalization of deliberative democracy, it seems that again the same proposition that is true for capitalism and religion becomes true for the global public. With the turn from a state-embedded public to a public-embedded state, we are experiencing the return of the old European problem of heavy fighting over public autonomy. The public sphere went global together with a dense network of ‘‘free associations’’ (Tocqueville), nongovernmental organization of all kinds, reaching from Amnesty International over to the International Chamber of Commerce up or down to Al Qaida. The problem is that we already have something like a global res publica (global common matters, which are debated all over the world, such as the Iraq War and the session of the Security Council before its declaration, cartoons featuring Islamic holy figures, Princess Diana’s death, and so on), but we have no global state. The problem is that we have all these Tocquevillian associations, but instead of legislation and jurisdiction to concretize the international human right of free speech we have something like ‘‘Western liberty’’ and ‘‘Western law’’ (Lee Marvin’s title character to the Eastern lawyer performed by Jimmy Stewart in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence). To sum up these points in one last sentence: All the nightmares that appeared in Europe one after the other, each with a comfortable time lag of hundreds of years, now reappear all at once on a global scale. These are hard times for democracy.

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chapter 8

The Evangelical-Capitalist Resonance Machine William E. Connolly

Resonance: to resound; a vibration of large amplitude caused by a small periodic stimulus of the same or near the same period as the natural vibration of the system; the intensification and enriching of a musical tone by supplementary vibration; the enhancement of an atomic, nuclear or particle reaction by excitation of internal motion in the system. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

I What is the connection today between evangelical Christianity, cowboy capitalism, the electronic news media, and the Republican Party?1 Can these connections be understood through the terms of efficient causality, in which you first separate factors and then show how one is the basic cause, or how they cause each other, or how they together reflect a more basic cause? Does, say, a corporate-Republican elite manipulate the evangelical wing of this assemblage, leading the latter to subordinate its economic interests to spurious appeals to faith? Or are the leading parties to this coalition linked first and foremost by economic interests, in which evangelical and corporate leaders together manipulate their followers? Or, alternatively, do they share a general doctrine or creed that defines their common interests and allegiances? My sense is that none of these explanations, or others like them, quite fills the bill. If this is correct no political economy or religious practice is self-contained. Rather, in politics, diverse elements infiltrate into the others, metabolizing into a moving complex—causation as resonance between elements that become fused together to a considerable degree. Here causality, as relations of dependence between separate factors, morphs into energized complexities of mutual imbrication and interinvolvement, in which

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heretofore unconnected or loosely associated elements fold, bend, blend, emulsify, and dissolve into each other, forging a qualitative assemblage resistant to classical models of explanation.2

II It is impossible to approach the resonance machine to be interrogated in a mood of political neutrality. Any attempt to do so would defeat itself through the terms of description it deployed. So let me enunciate a few critical axioms, asserted from a perspective that is egalitarian in outlook, pluralist in aspiration, and democratic in ambition. They provide the perspective from which this resonance machine is appraised and assessed. It is not cowboy capitalism alone, but it in conjunction with the theocratic ambition of the most militant section of American Christianity, that generates the greatest threat to democracy. The electronic news media now serve as the echo chamber of this capitalist-evangelical complex, doubling and tripling the obstacles democratic movements face in promoting economic security, reducing inequality, and fostering multidimensional pluralism. Movements to reduce economic inequality and to extend cultural diversity are more congruent than opposed to one another. To make progress on either front today, it is necessary to make some progress on the other. Democratic action on behalf of these objectives must occur at several sites, including local political involvement, countrywide social movements, direct pressure on corporate structures, participation in national party politics, and cross-state citizen networks to challenge the American state from inside and outside at the same time. It is when actions at several sites resonate together that the prospects for positive democratic achievement improve. The capitalist-evangelical assemblage is aligned against such objectives and aspirations. It finds expression in the market apologism and scandalmongering of the electronic news media, mobilization drives by the Republican Party and Fox News, administrative edicts to overturn environmentalism and weaken labor, attacks on Social Security, curtailments of minority rights in the name of religious morality, pressure for rightwing appointments to the Supreme Court, support for preemptive wars,

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tolerance or worse of state practices of torture that flout the Geneva Conventions, and propagation of a climate of fear and loathing against the Islamic world and large parts of Europe. This resonance machine both infiltrates perception and inflects economic interest, even as it subordinates the latter on occasion. So it is important to come to terms with the affinities of identity that energize the assemblage, affinities that translate some economic interests into corporate greed and infuse others with religious intensity, affinities that convert some articles of religious faith into vindictive campaigns against the economic interests of those outside the faith and imbue others with a drive to vengeance. The major constituencies in this machine do not always share the same religious and economic doctrines. Affinities of sensibility also connect them across links and differences in formal doctrine. The complex becomes a powerful machine as evangelical and corporate sensibilities resonate together, drawing each into a larger movement that dampens the importance of doctrinal differences between them. At first, the parties sense preliminary affinities of sensibility; eventually they provoke each other to transduct those affinities into a massive political machine. And the machine then foments new intensities of solidarity between these constituencies. One way to challenge the machine is to focus publicity and protest on the economic effects on ordinary people of corporate-government practices. Many attempt this strategy. Thus, to focus on the alliance between the Enron debacle and the Bush administration for a moment, you could show how Enron manipulated the energy market, Dick Cheney and Enron cooperated to stifle state regulation of the market, the electronic news media ignored the emerging crisis, and media programming after the event helped to draw attention away from it.3 All that is very relevant. But what draws Cheney, Fox News, the Republican Party, and Enron together here? Is it simply that they all believe in the free market? Or, a bit better, that they support deregulations that give specific corporations the power to manipulate markets? Or, better yet, that they are linked by a history of economic ties, campaign contributions, and so on? Yes, all those things. But, again, how did those links become so overwhelming? And what separates the parties to this alliance from other parties who hold similar formal views about the market and role of the government? Is it greed magnetized to maximum intensity? Or would any party, company, CEO, or media outlet participate in it if given the chance? Perhaps so, to some degree. But, still, what impels this particular constituency to push the envelope so relentlessly? Here, as elsewhere, the question of degree is critical. What

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else, then, draws these parties together into such an aggressive constellation, calling upon them to manipulate the market and to defend the market interpretation of events belligerently even when it strains available evidence?

III One possibility is that amidst the creedal linkages and differences the parties also share a spiritual disposition to existence. Their ruthlessness, ideological extremism, readiness to defend a market ideology in the face of significant evidence, and compulsion to create or condone scandals against any party that opposes their vision of the world, express a fundamental disposition toward being in the world. The imbrications between that spirituality and those programs then amplify the spirituality. To the extent they succeed in installing the structures they support the practices become more imperative institutionally, even to those who do not share the spirituality. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that a particular existential sensibility is the cause. Rather, it works by infiltrating and inflecting a variety of perceptions, creeds, interests, institutions, and political priorities; each of them in turn recoils back upon it, modifying it in this way and intensifying it in that. Nor do I suggest, as we shall see, that other doctrines and movements are immune to this sort of contagion. Nor will I surmise here what propels one socially defined constituency more than others toward such an economic spirituality. The variety of possible influences is large. Finally, I am not saying that everyone who believes in a deregulated market economy is infused with such a bellicose sensibility. Clearly, many are not. I am saying that the corporate side of the resonance machine is imbued with an existential orientation that encourages it to transfigure interest into greed, greed into antimarket ideology, antimarket ideology into market manipulation, market manipulation into state institutionalization of these operations, and the entire complex into policies to pull the security net away from ordinary workers, consumers, and retirees—setting some of the latter up, too, to translate new intensities of resentment and/ or cynicism into participation in this machine. Above all, the spirituality encourages its participants to forge alliances with those in other walks of life who share its dispositional intensities. Given the intensity of the ethos binding the parties together amidst variations in religious doctrine, economic creed, and life conditions, any

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constituency or social movement that crosses them is subject to sharp castigation and accusation. This is the kernel of truth in Bill Clinton’s assertion that the Republican Party possesses a ‘‘destruction machine’’ that the Democrats lack. He should know. What Clinton underplays, however, is how the machine extends well beyond a political party and how it is as much involved in initiating corporate policies and political programs as in the character destruction of opponents. I am confident that this account, as so far presented, will seem implausible to many, partly because it draws into the fabric of political economy itself existential elements many take to be irrelevant to those structures. The account may become a bit more plausible, however, as we shift another gear in the same machine. As a preliminary to that turn, consider political economist Mark Blyth’s account of how Keynesianism, which had been hegemonic for a couple of decades in Europe and the United States, was overturned in the 1970s and ’80s by the doctrine of an unfettered market, supply-side economics, and state deregulation. Blyth contends that this shift cannot be explained sufficiently by reference either to structural determinants or to the economic interests of those who supported the doctrine. He looks beyond that to the emergence of a distinctive set of economic ideas, their publication through new think tanks on the Right, their amplification through the media, their partial acceptance by President Carter, and their embrace by President Reagan. In periods of economic uncertainty, Blyth suggests, ideas and the differential capacities agents have to publicize them play a significant role in shaping political and economic interests. Keynesians, in this instance, lost the competition of ideas, even though the predictions and promises attached to the contending economic theory failed dismally. Later in the book Blyth asks how some economic ideas come to prevail over others during periods of uncertainty. He says that ‘‘one possible answer is that in moments of crises, when agents are uncertain about their interests, they resort to repertoires of action that resonate with their core identities.’’4 Today, too, identity plays a role in the second installment of this same movement. Identities are composed of a mixture of faith, doctrine, and sensibility. The affect-imbued ideas that compose them are installed in the soft tissues of affect, emotion, habit, and posture as well as the upper reaches of the intellect. These sensibilities trigger the responses of those imbued with them even before they begin to think about this or that event. This is particularly so when complementary dispositions loop back and forth in a large political machine, with each constituency helping to crystallize, amplify, and legitimize the dispositions of the whole.

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The element of identity most significant to this movement, I suggest, is the insistence by its members that they are being persecuted unless they are thoroughly in power, and the compensatory sense of special entitlement that accompanies the rise to power of a constituency that so construes itself. It remains to be seen whether such a bellicose disposition also expresses a deeper existential orientation.

IV The right leg of the evangelical movement is joined at the hip to the left leg of the capitalist juggernaut. Neither leg could hop far unless it was joined to the other. Some may explain the association between them in simple terms: corporate self-interest harmonizes with the economic interest of the evangelical right, as the latter manipulates poor and older citizens to pour money into its coffers to save their souls. True enough, to some extent. But again, why does one wing of the evangelical movement give such intense priority to its economic interest, instead of pressing the state and corporations to protect the weakest among us? Why not preach the Social Gospel, as innumerable Christian believers have in the past, giving the Jesus of Luke priority over the Christ of Revelation? The cutting edge of the evangelical Right is organized around a vision of the Second Coming, dramatized in the best-selling series of novels, Left Behind. The series has sold more than 50 million copies to date. In the first novel, itself entitled Left Behind, millions of born-again Christians around the world are lifted suddenly to heaven during the Rapture. The rest of humanity is ‘‘left behind.’’ The sudden departure of these millions creates innumerable traffic jams, interruptions in medical surgery, airplane crashes, government chaos, and grieving spouses who have lost partners and children. If you think the terrorism of Al Qaeda and the Bush torture machine has been traumatic, it is a tempest in a seaside resort by comparison to the global terror of this Christ figure. A few of those left behind figure out what has happened, and they eventually give themselves totally to the Christ of Revelation. As they are born again—a process covering four hundred pages—and just after the UN has been taken over by a benevolent-appearing Antichrist, the new cadre prepares itself for seven years of total war against nonbelievers and the UN. ‘‘The task of the Tribulation Force was clear and their goal nothing less than to stand and fight the enemies of God during the seven most chaotic

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years the planet would ever see.’’5 That is the closing line of the first novel, with several others to follow. Later, on the Day of Judgment, Christ will heave the world’s Muslims, Jews, agnostics, atheists, and many Catholics into everlasting fire. Looking back on this wondrous day to come in a vision a crusader recalls that ‘‘Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and they . . . tumbled in, howling and screeching.’’6 The most significant thing about the heartfelt promise of Rapture, Christo-terrorism, and the Day of Judgment is not the horrendous future it anticipates, though that is notable. It is its effect upon the current conduct of millions of people who entertain the vision. To embrace this vision is to place a series of defiled doctrines, institutions, and constituencies under daily suspicion; it is to foment a collective will to revenge against nonbelievers held to be responsible for the time of tribulation and obstacles to future bliss awaiting believers. Moreover, the Antichrist and his followers are visualized as consummate masters of deception and intrigue. Believers must distrust those who promise social progress by humanist means. For followers of the devil often present themselves as agents of beneficence. So an aura of suspicion, resentment, and revenge is slipped into the daily perceptions of the faithful, encouraging them to make the worst interpretations of outsiders and to accept any scandalous story against them contrived by right-wing talk shows, the Republican advertising machine, Internet blogs, and preachers on the Right. The combination of the terrible fate reserved for most and radiant promise for a few triggers feelings of anxiety among the faithful—who worry whether they are faithful enough. One way to ward off that anxiety is to displace it by defining your adversaries as wanton sinners. The pressures to do so escalate during a period of enhanced global awareness, as believers discover that Christianity is very much a minority religion in the world as a whole. Hence the worldwide compass of the Left Behind series. These doubts and uncertainties are transfigured into an implacable drive to revenge against those who deny that Christ is the son of God, has been resurrected, and will return to pass judgment. To be born again is to be protected; it is also to adopt unquestioning obedience to those ordained to interpret the will of Christ before the Rapture. As you come to grips with this existential element in the evangelical movement it is possible to discern affinities of sensibility between it and the right edge of the corporate machine. It also becomes clear why correlations between economic interest, class position, formal religious doctrine, education level, and age, on one hand, and participation in the

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resonance machine of the right, on the other, are incomplete and uncertain. The elements of sensibility and ethos intervene, drawing some in congenial subject positions toward the machine, touching others in the same positions less intensely, rendering others indifferent, and impelling others yet to run as fast as possible. The social factors deployed to explain participation in a political assemblage are compromised and complicated by the disparate intensities of spirituality that also help to compose it. That is why it is a mistake to equate belief in evangelical doctrine with fervent commitment to the resonance machine. The Left Behind series, indeed, is designed to tap latent intensities so that a larger number of believers are drawn into the machine.

V Why, though, assert that the economic leg of the assemblage is joined at the hip to the religious leg? Do not some cowboy marketeers hold their noses when they hear the promise of divine revenge? Do not others identify with creeds and cultures, such as Judaism and secularism, that place them at risk on the last day? Yes, yes, yes. . . . But, still, why merely hold your nose while participating in this ugly alliance, rather than breaking publicly with constituencies that press such vengeful stories and promises? Or, at the very least, working openly to curtail the intensities insinuated in them? What, that is, is the attraction to the spirit of the story amid dissent from the letter of its doctrine? An abstract will to revenge against the world and the weight of the future helps to differentiate cowboys who align themselves with the right edge of the evangelical movement from marketeers who break with it. The existential bellicosity of those infused with economic greed reverberates with the transcendental resentment of those visualizing the righteous violence of Christ. One party discounts the future of the earth to extend its economic entitlements now, the other to prepare for the Day of Judgment against nonbelievers. These electrical charges resonate back and forth, generating a political machine more potent than the aggregation of its parts. They find expression in the promise to plunge millions into a fiery hell; the legitimation and displacement of corporate crime; decisions to support a preemptive war in the name of antiterrorism when you could know that Al Qaeda was not based in Iraq; casual acceptance of Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo Gulag disguised as insistence that it is merely the work of a few ‘‘bad apples’’; the production, purchase, use, and state

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deregulation of SUVs even when the parties know the threats the vehicle poses;7 the demand for new tax breaks for the rich when they impose sacrifices on the poor now and entire generations in the future; the decision by the gang of five on the Supreme Court to cast aside their own myth of ‘‘strict constructionism’’ to put their man in office; the endless scandal campaigns pushed by Fox News against Clinton and any actor or activist to the left of him; the constant sense of urgency in the voice of Wolf Blitzer as he charts new dangers to the country and deflects every critical voice; and a generalized readiness to table any economic evidence or theological uncertainty that might temper the drive to revenge against economic egalitarians, pluralists, and nonbelievers. You could epitomize this machine as ‘‘The O’Reilly Factor’’ to dramatize how the poster boy expresses its temper in his facial expressions, timbre of voice, insistent interruptions, demand for unquestioned authority, and accusatory style. You could also call it ‘‘The Bush Syndrome’’ to dramatize how George W. pulls its elements together in one persona, through his rhetoric drawn from Revelation, cadence of voice, definitive phrasing, shady governmental accounting, economic cronyism, aggressive nationalism, and readiness to impose new economic burdens on lowincome citizens and future retirees. Recall the argument, widely reported in the media, that George W. had with his mother about whether those who do not believe in Christ are doomed to hell. She denied it was so, according to the reports, and called upon Billy Graham to support her. George W.’s apparent belief that all who are unbaptized are doomed to burn in hell resonates with the practices of the Guantanamo Gulag and Abu Ghraib. It is pertinent to see how figures such as Bush and O’Reilly dramatize the resonance machine. But while doing so, it is critical to remember that they would merely be oddball characters unless they triggered, expressed, and amplified a resonance machine larger than them. They are catalyzing agents and shimmering points in the machine; their departure will weaken it only if it does not spawn new persona to replace them.

VI Is it possible to deepen our understanding of the ethos circulating through the machine? One might draw upon Baruch Spinoza or Max Weber here. Spinoza draws attention to how the results of the struggle between the positive and negative passions that always circulate in a society infuse the

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state, economy, and religious dispositions. Weber charts how the paradoxically structured spirituality of one wing of Protestantism set the historical table for the pursuit of profit without pleasure and disciplinary labor without love even before the institutions of capitalism were wheeled securely into place. Valuable as his analysis of the emergence of capitalism is, the spirituality he charts differs in tone from that discerned here. And he believes that once the appropriate institutional structures were installed, a spirituality no longer played such a prominent role in the system.8 I suggest that the porous structures of capitalism move along a relatively open temporal trajectory, one less closed than either Weberian, neoclassical, or Marxist theory sometimes suggests. Thus the quality of the ethos inhabiting these structures is pertinent to its operation. A little closer to the bone, then, are the insights of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. He speaks to a cultural spirituality of ressentiment that grows out of a will to revenge against mortality, time, and the world. Behold, this is the hole of the tarantula. . . . Welcome tarantula! And I also know what sits in your soul. Revenge sits in your soul. Wherever you bite, black scabs grow; your poison makes the soul whirl with revenge. . . . And where there was suffering, one always wanted punishment too. But now learn this too: the will itself is still a prisoner. Willing liberates; but what is that puts even the liberator himself in fetters? ‘‘It was’’—that is the name of the will’s gnashing of teeth and most secret melancholy. Powerless against what has been done, he is angry spectator of all that is past. The will cannot will backwards; and that he cannot break time and time’s covetousness. . . . That time does not run backwards, that is his wrath.9

Zarathustra says existential revenge whirls in those who resent most intensely ‘‘the obdurate fact’’ of mortality and a world in which you cannot will the past again. This is the resentment of time and its ‘‘it was.’’ Such resentments can also whirl, as he understood, in a larger complex, producing a hurricane out of heretofore loosely associated elements. Cultural induction into the idea of a vengeful God; intensification of the human fear of death and secret resentment against a world that requires it; floating resentment against the imperious demands of your God that must not be articulated; compensatory drives for special economic entitlement and comforts in this world; ugly campaigns to vilify those whose difference in faith throws the self-confidence of yours into doubt—these are some of the dispositions a powerful political assemblage can foment and amplify, installing them in habitual patterns of perception, identity, interest, and judgments of entitlement.10

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Prior to World War II, the vengeful side of the evangelical movement was somewhat less connected to an overt political movement.11 The dominant tendency was to warn followers to prepare for an event that human politics could not promote or prevent. But, today, partly because of political initiatives from the corporate right initiated in the 1980s, partly because of Karl Rove’s campaigns to put key issues such as abortion and gay marriage on the political agenda, and partly because of 9/11 and the intensified antagonism between Christianity and Islam it fomented on the right, the right edge of evangelism is highly politicized. The important thing, under these conditions, is to come to terms with the spiritual element that draws two major constituencies into one theo-econopolitical machine. It is pertinent to see, first, how neither party in the machine ever declares the ugliest existential investments that inspire it and, second, how this silence itself is politically potent. Such a spirituality does its most effective political and theological work when it finds indirect expression in the tonalities and intensities of its leaders and their selection of enemies. Consider, in this regard, the structure of Robert Schumann’s Humoreske (1838), as reported by Frank Ankersmit. There are three staves. The upper is played with the right hand, the lower with the left. But the melody in the middle is not played. Rather, it is heard by the listener because of its location between the upper and lower hands. Here is what Ankersmit and Charles Rosen, the historian of music he draws upon, say: Put differently, the melody . . . will be listened to by the listener, without actually being heard by him. Hence what one listens to . . . is the echo of an unperformed melody; it is both interior and inward, a double sense calculated by the composer. . . . It has . . . its existence only through the echo.12

The will to revenge energizing the evangelical-corporate machine subsists as an unsung melody. It reverberates back and forth between leaders and followers, until it becomes uncertain who directs and who sings the chorus.13 Thus early in the 2004 presidential campaign the George W. Bush entourage sped around a NASCAR track in front of 100,000 fans. He emerged from the only SUV in the entourage to an incredible roar of approval. The crowd responded to the SUV as a symbol of disdain for womanly ecologists, safety advocates, supporters of fuel economy, weakwilled pluralists, and internationalists. Bush played upon the symbol and drew energy from the crowd’s acclamation of it. Resentment against those

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who express an ethos of care for the world was never named: a message expressed without being articulated. Today resentment against cultural diversity, economic egalitarianism, and the future whirl together in the same resonance machine. That is why its participants identify similar targets of hatred and marginalization, such as gay marriage, women who seek equal status in work, family and business; secularists, atheists, devotees of Islamic faith, and African American residents of the inner city who do not appreciate the abstract beauty of cowboy capitalism. Take, for instance, the Bush-Rove campaign of feminization against John Kerry in 2004. The logic is first to consign women implicitly to a subordinate status as flighty beings—a view already circulating within cowboy marketeers and the evangelical movement, and then to define the Democratic candidate as womanly during a time when the unwavering hand of a masterful leader of military aggression is required. The TV image of Kerry tacking back and forth as he windsurfs amplifies resentment against the effete branch of the upper class as it visualizes the style of a flip-flop artist. The contrast is to Bush in blue jeans cutting underbrush with a no-nonsense look on his face. The Karl Rove campaign of 2004, indeed, replicated one Richard Nixon ran against George McGovern in 1970 in the middle of the Vietnam War. To be a ‘‘flip-flop artist’’ is to be womanly, to lack unwavering commitment to a jealous God (‘‘the Almighty’’), to be wary of neoliberal economic policy, and to retreat from bellicose nationalism. The conviction that Kerry is a flip-flop artist was first peddled in ads early in the campaign when most people were not attentive to the campaign. That strategy, according to advertising specialists attentive to the findings of neuroscience, is an excellent way to plant an idea.14 It enters the thought-imbued feelings of viewers before being subjected to critical scrutiny. The plant is then harvested months later, when much of the electorate concludes that it is now being reminded of a disposition it had already discerned. The politics of perception. Fox News iterations, Bush ads, endless repetition by the Cheneys, and statements by Catholic Bishops that Kerry did not deserve communion because he was a soft supporter of his own faith coalesced to consolidate the perception. Kerry himself did not help to disperse these charges, of course, and the security frenzy gripping the country set the stage for them. But the campaign took its toll too. The point is to discern how media presentations both do much of their work below the level of explicit attention and encourage the intense coding of those experiences as they do so. Part of the reason, I think, is that

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the TV and film viewer is immobilized before a moving image and sound track, while the everyday perceiver is either mobile or one step removed from mobility. The position of immobility amplifies the affective intensities received, just as a basketball coach feels the intensities of the contest more than the players on the floor who absorb the intensities into action.15 This difference, indeed, dramatizes the wisdom of Nietzsche’s commendation to act upon specific resentments before they ossify into ressentiment. Alongside the feminization campaign was another that deflected public attention from how politics and show business have melded together. Talking heads on Fox News repeatedly debated the question ‘‘Should actors take public positions on political issues?’’ focusing as they did so on actors who criticized the war in Iraq. The question was not posed about business celebrities or retired generals or several Republican candidates who had been actors. The form of the question thus encourages people to identify show business with unpatriotic criticism, instead of discerning how critical films, rock music, selective TV dramas, and jazz are often associated with the Democratic left while country music, radio ‘‘talk shows,’’ and evangelical-corporate celebrities are often linked to the right. Reiteration of the question in this form delinks the resonance machine of the right from show business while binding its opponents to it. The result is to divert attention from how politics, religion, and advertising all participate in show business today.16 Those who received these messages, however, were not simply manipulated by the media to accept them; many were predisposed to the message through the spirit of their preliminary orientations to being.

VII To expose and counter the politics of existential revenge does not mean that you demean specific grievances, resentments, and critical energies that propel positive democratic energies forward. That would be to subtract critical energies from your own cause in the name of a spurious intellectualism that ignores the role of passion in religious practice, economic activity, thinking, and political struggle. The target is the congealed disposition of ressentiment, not every mode of resentment. Nonetheless, the drive to existential revenge, while more amenable to some economic creeds and religious doctrines than others, can in fact inhabit any faith, constituency, doctrine, institution, or machine. That is the rub, and the challenge. Zarathustra eventually came to appreciate this

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danger after ‘‘his ape’’ repeated his own phrases back to him in a frothy tone of existential revenge. Indeed, I suspect that no major existential tradition anywhere, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, and no minor or minute tradition such as Epicureanism, Kantianism, Nietzscheanism, and Levinasianism has succeeded in forging a fully satisfactory response to the obdurate fact of mortality, time, and undeserved suffering. The possibility of existential resentment thus resides in any and every mortal, existential faith, and political movement. As a corollary, some advocates of any creed can overcome the drive to revenge often attached to it, particularly if a countermachine is available to them. It is faith in this potential tear or rent between a mode of sensibility and a creed or doctrine to which it is commonly attached that makes it possible for Nietzsche to call for a ‘‘spiritualization of enmity’’ between noble partisans of different existential and religious doctrines. So let’s turn to a legitimate question posed to people like me: How do you forestall the all-too-human slide from specific political resentments to ressentiment? For the risk grows as disaffection from the electronic news media, state economic policy, and a large segment of the American electorate deepens. Accumulated resentments can, in this way, congeal into a disposition of fixed resentment against the actually existing world. So how to respond to the risk? The most noble collective response would be to transduct the mutual inability of diverse existential faiths to resolve definitively some of the very issues and needs that call them into being into reciprocal connections across lines of doctrinal difference. Common points of insufficiency or uncertainty could provide a basis for political connection across notable differences in creed and philosophy. But such an agenda of deep pluralism is not in the cards today, to say the least. Today, the most viable response involves moving back and forth between diagnosing the resonance machine of the right and pursuing selective lines of connection with constituencies on the edge of it. Such an effort involves engaging the economic, security, and existential pressures that encourage the politics of ressentiment in many, a task I have explored elsewhere.17 A complementary task is to engage a positive minority movement within either evangelism or market capitalism itself.

VIII I note, then, a minority report within evangelism that may plant the seed of a future coalition. Evangelical proponents of ‘‘Open Theism’’ contend

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that the view of God as omnipotent and omniscient makes God complicit in evil. Open theists pray to a limited, loving God who learns as the world turns. They thus embrace an image of time as becoming which touches both the nontheist Nietzsche and the American philosopher of a limited God in a world of becoming, William James. John Sanders, author of The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence, came to Open Theism a few years after his young brother died and fellow parishioners explained to him how the death was part of God’s inscrutable plan. He resisted that story. Later, he read scripture with this issue in mind, dissecting sections in the Old and New Testaments, as he calls them, where God listens, reconsiders, or reassesses. The Bible, he says, is full of such instances, including the successful attempt by Moses to convince Yahweh not to kill the Jews who had sacrificed the calf and moments when Jesus implores his God to listen. Prayer itself may suggest a God who listens, thinks anew, and periodically changes its mind. Sanders summarizes his reading of Scripture at one point, In wisdom God decided to fulfill his promises through the particular path Jesus took. In wisdom God decides how he continues to fulfill his promises, and the divine wisdom takes the changing circumstances of the world into account. . . . God is free to do new things and so identify himself in new ways.18

Some advocates of Open Theism have been convicted of heresy in their schools and churches, but others seem to be standing tall to date.19 And the debate is moving into the pews of evangelical churches. This countermovement holds some promise to pluralize evangelical Christianity from within, as it challenges the dominant theology of omnipotence, time, knowledge, morality, and responsibility. Most profoundly, its leaders express a desire to replace a spirituality infused with revenge with one inspired by care for the fragility of the world. Those confessing this faith also make contact with the worldly quest of Zarathustra when he says, ‘‘For that man be delivered from revenge, that is for me . . . the bridge to the highest hope and a rainbow after long storms.’’20 There are here, then, affinities of sensibility stretching across significant doctrinal difference, affinities that might be worked upon to draw proponents of several creeds into a larger assemblage of resonance. To undertake the effort, however, requires radicals, liberals, and secularists to reconsider the role that existential dispositions play in politics and economic life, overturning the self-defeating drive to quarantine creeds and modes of spirituality in the private realm.

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Consider the potential. A risking and learning God might learn to expand its care for the diversity of being. It might decide someday that homosexuality is not a sin, that the world’s resources are not infinite, that women are not ordained to be subordinate, that morality does not always take the shape of a command, and that neoliberalism is no more necessary to economic life as such than an omnipotent God is to religion as such. Of course, such issues and questions would be subjected to a series of painful debates, within churches as well as outside them, for any of these moves to emerge. And those of us outside the evangelical movement who appreciate the role of spirituality inside a cultural economy and a culture of economic life would have to place some of our favorite orientations under critical review too. The intercoded domains of scripture, philosophy, literature, church, labor organization, investment portfolios, media, and family turmoil would all be brought into play. To remain outside those debates and domains today is to withdraw from the passion of politics. Those who resist the drive to existential revenge whirling within the evangelical-capitalist machine need to make connections with dissidents on the edge of that machine. Not because our creeds reflect theirs, though they may in some cases. But, first, because they seek to insinuate an active pluralization of faith into evangelical Christianity; second, because they convey a protean care for being that must grow if democratic energies are to expand; third, because they diminish the element of dogmatism in the ethos of faith; and fourth, because they drive a wedge into that ungodly alliance between cowboy capitalism and extremist Christianity that smothers the prospects for egalitarianism and pluralist democracy. The participants in such a countermachine might assemble around an anonymous bit of graffiti scrawled on a wall after 9/11. It said, ‘‘Protect us God from those who believe in you,’’ forecasting as it did so the connection between those who terrorize in the name of Allah and those who remain silent about the Bush torture machine under the rubric of Godliness. Many in such a countermovement would embrace (some variant of ) the God called upon to protect us, while others might draw a complementary disposition from this or that nontheistic faith. A series of existential affinities across lines of creedal difference might lay the seedbed for a larger political movement. The struggle might not be that much more difficult than it was to draw the carriers of capitalist greed and transcendental revenge into a theopolitical machine of ressentiment.

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part three

Questioning Sovereignty: Law and Justice

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chapter 9

‘‘The War Has Not Ended’’: Thomas Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, and the Paradoxes of Countersovereignty Friedrich Balke

Thomas Hobbes’s political philosophy is based on a paradox: Hobbes, one could say, gives too much and too little to the state at the same time. He can thus be seen in the tradition of Leo Strauss, as the father of liberalism, but also, from a liberal perspective, he is dismissed as the guardian of state absolutism. Hobbes stresses the absoluteness of state power, being the sovereign, that is highest, not surmountable power, so strong that he denies to the subjects aligned with each other in the person of the Leviathan every right to defy a sovereign decision or to doubt its legitimacy. It is impossible to call the legislator to account in the name of the law. Thus, in the person of the sovereign, the power to give law coincides with the ‘‘right’’ to transgress it. Hobbes marks this point of indifference of law and unavoidable lawlessness with this memorable argument: But it cannot be deny’d but a prince may sometimes have an inclination to doe wickedly; but grant then that thou hadst given him a power which were not absolute, but so much onely as suffic’d to defend thee from the injuries of others, which, if thou wilt be safe, is necessary for thee to give; are not all the same things to be feared? For he that hath strength enough to protect all, wants not sufficiency to oppresse all.1

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We are thus unambiguously faced with the manifestation of an ‘‘excess of power’’ that cannot be increased, since it completely surrenders the subjects to their sovereign’s whim. The power of such a ruler is truly incomparable to any other power on earth, as the biblical quotation on the top of the frontispiece notices. Do we not thus have to call the power of such a state as embodied in the Leviathan a truly godly power? Similar as to the counsel and judgment of God, there can be no objection to the laws and decrees of the sovereign. Hobbes accordingly calls the sovereign a ‘‘deus mortalis’’ several times. And yet it was Carl Schmitt, held by many to be a political theologian, who in 1938, in his treatise on The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes, apodictically noticed: ‘‘That the state is characterized as ‘god’ has no particular meaning in Hobbes’ construction of the state. To the extent that this characterization does not constitute a mere turning point of the Middle Ages or of the time of Louis XIV, it projects a strong polemical thrust.’’ Hobbes, according to Schmitt, faced with the confessional Civil War, cannot ‘‘simply relinquish the divinity to his opponents and to the church.’’2 The creation of a commonwealth out of a contract of everybody with everybody indeed contradicts the political-theological idea of a transcendental origin of the state. The ‘‘omnipotence’’ of the Leviathan, attested again and again by Hobbes, ‘‘is not at all divinely derived: It is a product of human work and comes about because of a ‘covenant’ entered into by man.’’3 Hobbes thus is not a political theologian; he should rather be called a political anthropologist. He concedes to the state much more power than any political theologian would, yet he only does so to be able to guarantee the peace and safety of the society. The absoluteness of state power is thus put into perspective by the fact that Hobbes assigns it a strictly functional value.

The Subject of Decision One can detect a certain contempt in Carl Schmitt’s statement that Hobbes omnipotent commonwealth is finally only ‘‘a product of human work.’’ But, one would have to ask Schmitt, why does one as a political philosopher, and as solicitor of public power, take offense at the mode and manner of its coming into existence? Does it really matter for the functioning of a state if it is of godly origin or human appointment? Could one not leave the criticism of Hobbes’s political theology to the political theologians, since it basically misses the point of the function of public

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order and the state’s raison d’eˆtre? Would Schmitt himself have given his professional and journalistic support to the respective state power contingent on it not being reduced to a ‘‘manmade, artificial product’’?4 Would he have agreed that a state deserves obedience only if its sovereignty is attained by more than ‘‘an effectively functioning mechanism of command’’?5 Even in the book with which Schmitt ‘‘took office’’ as a political theologian, he praises the Catholic counterrevolutionaries not for their affiliation to a concrete religious-moral ideology, but for their advancing the ‘‘reduction of the state to the moment of the decision, to pure decision not based on reason and discussion and not justifying itself, that is, to an absolute decision created out of nothingness.’’6 Did not Schmitt himself praise the ‘‘greatest representative of decisionist thinking,’’ Donoso Cortes, for the fact that as early as 1848, at the moment of the revolution, he had clearly seen that ‘‘the epoch of royalism was at an end’’? ‘‘Royalism is no longer, because there are no [more] Kings. Therefore legitimacy no longer exists in the traditional sense.’’ There is only one solution left: dictatorship. And, Schmitt significantly adds, ‘‘It is the solution that Hobbes also reached by the same kind of decisionist thinking, though mixed with mathematical relativism. Auctoritas, non veritas facit legem.’’7 For a consistent political theologian such as Schmitt is generally held to be, there should actually not be a similarity between an orthodox Catholic counterrevolutionary and a ‘‘relativistic,’’ agnostic, even atheistic political philosopher.

The Sovereign Without Body In order to focus the thesis a bit more: to the ‘‘problem of sovereignty,’’ which haunted Schmitt all his life, the title ‘‘Political Theology’’ is only ornamental. The problem of sovereignty can be tackled from various ‘‘ideological’’ angles and perspectives, religious and atheistic because the sovereign decision is precisely marked by a specific nonrelatedness to particular ‘‘contents.’’ ‘‘The problem of sovereignty,’’ Schmitt captions the second chapter of his Political Theology, is the ‘‘problem of the legal form and of the decision.’’ The sovereign decision maker, we could say using a phrase by Michel Foucault, is marked by an ‘‘ubu-esque’’ or ‘‘infamous’’ self-conception: characteristically, he does not possess a binding ideological ‘‘key attitude’’ (Gehlen); he is basically indifferent to political opinions, as long as order—as long as one order—can be sustained.

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In Political Theology, Schmitt ceaselessly stresses the significance of the ‘‘subject of decision’’ for legal theory; however, one never learns about the qualifications of such a subject. The famous first sentence of Political Theology is perhaps the most often quoted sentence from Schmitt’s work: ‘‘Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.’’ The sentence’s conciseness should not deceive us and belie its characteristic indeterminacy. What does it consist of? What strikes the reader is that Schmitt does not name a specific sovereign subject (state, nation, class, empire, and so forth). The figure of the sovereign seems to be inseparable from a certain indeterminacy, and the question of who is sovereign remains unanswered. Schmitt does not even provide an analogical or metaphorical determination of the sovereign, although, as Ernst Kantorowicz and others have shown, probably the most characteristic argument of all political theology since the Middle Ages has been the sovereign as vicarius dei. Schmitt does not incorporate any representational structure into his definition: sovereign is not he who acts or decides in the name of. The sovereign’s power is no longer derived from any legitimizing source—perhaps because the process of legitimizing or authorizing the sovereign has suffered a profound ‘‘ideological’’ crisis. Therefore, Schmitt calls sovereignty a ‘‘borderline concept,’’ which it obviously was not during the periods in history when the representative capacity of the sovereign was not questioned. Schmitt’s sovereign, the sovereign of his initial proposition, does not have a body, neither a first body nor a second body. The subject of the proposition does not refer to an institutionally embodied sovereign but to an arbitrary sovereign: anybody, even he who must be considered unqualified according to the criteria of political theology, can occupy this position, which is vested with the greatest political power and almost unlimited administrative discretion.

Ubu Roi: The ‘‘Abased’’ Sovereign Our classic image of the sovereign shows him in sublime reclusiveness: ‘‘As the top (summum, supremus),’’ Jean-Luc Nancy writes, ‘‘the sovereign is not only elevated: he is the most elevated. His name is a superlative in the truest sense of the word: he, who distances himself to the top, who no longer belongs to the comparative and relative order. He is not held in comparison to someone anymore, he is absolutum.’’8 This sovereign, I think, is not Carl Schmitt’s sovereign, at least not the one from the introductory sentence of Political Theology. Schmitt emphatically distances himself from the commonly used definition that goes back to

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Bodin—‘‘Sovereignty is the supreme and absolute power.’’ He does not explicitly renounce it as wrong; he is in fact rather indifferent to it; it appears to him as an ‘‘often repeated but completely empty phraseology.’’9 This does not mean, however, that the case of sovereignty now shows a more humane face: what it loses in sublimity, it gains in ‘‘baseness.’’ Even if in the Political Theology there is no trace to be found of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi—Schmitt, the author of a treatise on Political Romanticism and of various semiliterary satires, was more than familiar with the artistic and literary avant-garde of the turn of the twentieth century, in particular with its French varieties—the sovereign of Political Theology functions on an ubu-esque basis, in Foucault’s use of the term, as the ‘‘maximization of power effects on the basis of the disqualification of he who produces them.’’10 This maximization of power effects is a constant topic with Carl Schmitt—the disqualification of he who produces them, however, has to be understood in a structural sense. More precisely, it is less an open disqualification than a de-qualification of the subject of decision, insofar as virtually ‘‘anybody’’ could occupy this position. Foucault adds the following: ‘‘This, I think, is not to be understood as just an accident in the history of power, or an error in the machine.’’ From the Greek tyrants via the Roman emperors to the totalitarian Fu¨hrer, countless examples of the phenomenon of an ‘‘ubu-esque’’ or ‘‘infamous sovereignty’’ come to mind. Their existence is notorious through various epochs and systems of sovereignty, and even plays a role, as we are reminded of today, in liberal democracies—I will come back to this. With regard to our Western societies, Foucault, however, does not so much have in mind the ‘‘great dictators,’’ but more the grotesque of a self-empowering bureaucracy, which one should not only regard with Max Weber as the modern power of ‘‘disenchantment’’ or even ‘‘rationalization’’ of social relations. The terrifying aspect of this modern sovereign exertion of power is its infiltration of the whole field of everyday government practices since it is no longer bound to the lofty reclusiveness of a visibly exhibited and personally embodied central power. In Carl Schmitt, it is no longer the old sun of sovereignty that diffuses its radiance of representation. As we know, ‘‘There are no more kings.’’ Such a modern sovereignty is entirely compatible with a social system that operates without head, top, and center, and with ‘‘flat hierarchies.’’ Sovereignty and governmentality do not exclude each other, because both of them are not justified by law and legislation, but under certain circumstances they ‘‘except’’ themselves from that very law or use it tactically, in any case taking into political and strategic account its situation-specific, ‘‘occasional’’ suspendability. The

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weakening of classic sovereignty, ‘‘as a unified locus for state power’’ (in the body of the king or of the people), cannot foreclose ‘‘that it might emerge as a reanimated anachronism within the political field unmoored from its traditional anchors.’’11

The Return of Political Theology? In Schmitt’s 1938 book on Hobbes’s Leviathan, political theology, which paradoxically is somehow missing in the book of that same title, seems to return as the perspective from which Schmitt diagnoses Hobbes’s pivotal and most profound mistake, which grows into a ‘‘failure’’ of the ‘‘symbol’’ connected to his political theory—the Leviathan. While in 1922 Hobbes could still operate as ‘‘classical representative of the decisionist type (if I may be permitted to coin this word),’’12 since due to his personalism he had a grasp of the ‘‘contrast between the subject and the content of a decision,’’13 Schmitt now writes that ‘‘the sovereign-representative person could not hinder the mechanization of the image of the state that occurred in the following century.’’14 Personification does not only not arrest the process of mechanization, but it is even ‘‘completed’’ by it.15 When Schmitt dismisses a state thus contractually founded on the ‘‘accumulated anguish’’ and ‘‘fear of death’’ (Strauss) of the contractual partners, and thus in a rather ‘‘unheroic’’ act of legislation, does this mean, conversely, that he joins in the ‘‘medieval conceptions’’ that refer to ‘‘an existing commonwealth forged by God and of a preexistent natural order’’?16 Does Schmitt attack Hobbes in the persona of the political theologian? Yet, in Schmitt’s study of Hobbes, the contours of his own political theology do not become apparent. Schmitt notes that Hobbes hollowed out monarchy, which he made into a ‘‘mere form of a state’s legal system,’’ by destroying ‘‘its traditional and legitimate foundations for asserting divine right,’’17 but his own concept of the political does not aim at the reconstitution of these ‘‘traditional and legitimate foundations for asserting divine right.’’ Schmitt wants us to consider that Hobbes’s ‘‘thinking was no longer pious,’’18 But with this objection, he pronounces a judgment on his own thought. Schmitt is not a Christian, and neither is he a Catholic political philosopher. The Concept of the Political—as is generally known— traces the political back to nothing but the ‘‘distinction between friend and foe.’’ Such a distinction, however, is as such not yet a political-theological distinction. What Schmitt takes offense at in The Concept of the Political is

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the conviction that the modern constitutional state has completely succeeded in banishing hostility and war from its territory, or at least to shift it to the borders of that territory. This attitude firmly places Schmitt in the tradition of a powerful discourse that Michel Foucault has reconstructed in a series of lectures in the 1970s, which have been posthumously published under the title Society Must Be Defended, and the roots of which not accidentally reach back to the epoch in which Thomas Hobbes established his model of the sovereign commonwealth.

‘‘Resurrection History’’ and Hobbes’s War According to Foucault, the history of our society has long been a ‘‘Jupiterian’’ one, but with the form of discourse emerging at the threshold of the seventeenth century, a historiography comes into existence that is no longer dazzled by the glory of gods and kings, a ‘‘counterhistory’’ no longer singing the ‘‘continuous chant’’ of sovereign power, but completely antithetical to history ‘‘as constituted up to that time.’’ Instead of recounting history as an uninterrupted sequence of victories, a ‘‘counterhistory of dark servitude and forfeiture . . . of prophecy and promise’’ emerges,19 a history the symbolic center of which is no longer Rome, but Jerusalem, a history as well that only evokes the past in order to completely break with it. This discourse of counter-history wants ‘‘war . . . [to] provide a valid analysis of power relations, and . . . act as a matrix for techniques of domination.’’20 The historico-political discourse sees in war the ‘‘motor behind institutions and order,’’21 even in times of peace. This discourse states that ‘‘the war has not ended’’ because history shows that just the state that promises to bring peace, order, and safety is born in the ‘‘mud of battles.’’22 A strictly binary conception of the state takes the place of all attempts to turn the commonwealth into an ‘‘organism,’’ or, as in Hobbes, a ‘‘machine’’ (machina machinarum), and to reduce the political to an orderly and ordered cooperation of organs, or to ‘‘exact functioning.’’23 A ‘‘battlefront runs through the whole of society, continuously and permanently, and it is this battlefront that puts us all on one side or the other. There is no such thing as a neutral subject. We are all inevitably someone’s adversary.’’24 In The Concept of the Political, Schmitt says of the adversary that possible conflicts with him ‘‘can neither be decided by previously created general norms, nor by the judgment of an ‘uninvolved’ and thus ‘impartial’ third party.’’25 Schmitt thus no longer situates the political in a state above society. He rather defines it by reducing it to the binary pair of friend vs.

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foe. There is no place for the possibility of a right, connected to a ‘‘third position,’’ neither here nor in the historico-political discourse as described by Foucault. In the course of reconstructing this historico-political discourse—a type of discourse that emphasizes the power of history against state institutions and its legitimate foundations—Foucault arrives at a completely new localization of Hobbes’s political theory. To summarize Foucault, one could say that Hobbes’s theory of sovereignty does not simply repeat Jupiterian history, as it was told before the historico-political discourse arrived on the stage. Hobbes’s theory is marked by the damage that this very discourse inflicted on sovereignty. Thus, Hobbes’s project is the attempt to eliminate this type of discourse and its binary schema. This line of attack becomes visible in the way that Hobbes speaks of war. War is the hot topic of this enemy discourse whose name must not be spoken: this discourse aims at deciphering war beneath the surface of peace that the commonwealth claims to protect. Hobbes replies to this return of war at the center of sovereign power by dislocating it to an imaginary realm before and outside of the state. Hobbes’s war is imaginary insofar as it is—as a war of every man against every man—a war without battles. Not war as a historical reality, but as a possibility motivates man in the state of nature to move to the civil commonwealth and to create the sovereign. ‘‘There are no battles in Hobbes’ primitive war, there is no blood and there are no corpses. There are presentations, manifestations, signs, emphatic expressions, wiles, and deceitful expressions. . . . We are in a theater where presentations are exchanged, in a relationship of fear in which there are no limits; we are not really involved in a war.’’26 In contrast to Schmitt’s version, the absolute state of Hobbes in fact entertains a relation to what it releases. The ‘‘individualistic right of freedom of thought’’ which according to Schmitt proves to be the ‘‘seed of death that destroyed the mighty Leviathan from within and brought about the end of the mortal god’’ is an indispensable resource for the cominginto-existence of that commonwealth.27 This commonwealth draws all its power from the subjective considerations of those that are subject to it—it is thus wrong, as Schmitt does, to assume that the Leviathan can ‘‘demand everything but only outwardly.’’28 To what degree Hobbes acknowledges the ‘‘superiority of the inner over the outer’’29 for the production and maintenance of sovereign power becomes clear in the case that states are not ‘‘acquired’’ by institution, but by acquisition: ‘‘A Common-wealth by Acquisition,’’ according to

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Hobbes, ‘‘is that, where the Soveraign Power is acquired by force.’’30 In the case of a commonwealth by acquisition, it seems, we finally ‘‘are involved in what we were looking for from the start, or in other words, a real war, with a real battle and a real relationship of force. There are winners and losers, and the losers are at the mercy of the winners, at their disposal.’’31 However, a state by acquisition does not come into being by conquest. A commonwealth comes into being only if those conquered subject themselves to the sovereign by giving up resistance, in order to save their lives. The will of these subjects, manifested in respective signs and behaviors, to preserve their lives, to prefer this to a certain or probable death, constitutes sovereignty, as juridical and legitimate as the one established by mutual contract. Thus Hobbes is able to proceed from sovereignty by acquisition to the sovereignty of parents over their children, for Hobbes yet another type of sovereignty because even the silent ‘‘consent’’ of the children to the ‘‘sovereignty’’ of the parents counts as a sign of approval of sovereignty: ‘‘Basically, it does not matter if we have a knife to our throats, or if what we want is explicitly formulated or not. For sovereignty to exist, there must be—and this is all there must be—a certain radical will that makes us want to live, even though we cannot do so unless the other is willing to let us live.’’32 Sovereignty is never constituted ‘‘from above,’’ by a decision made by the stronger one, winner or parents: ‘‘Sovereignty is always shaped from below, and by those who are afraid.’’33

The Defense of Society Carl Schmitt’s affect against the ‘‘state machine,’’34 against the ‘‘command mechanism’’ or the ‘‘apparatus,’’ thus does not spring from a certain politico-theological option, but from the refusal of a particular image of ‘‘bare life’’ (Agamben) that the sovereign state can only protect by previously separating it from all ‘‘religious, metaphysical, juristic, or political considerations or aims’’ and by constituting it as a ‘‘physical existence.’’35 In line with the discourse reconstructed by Foucault, Schmitt, in The Concept of the Political, sullenly objects to the modern state’s claim that it does speak and act in no other name than that of the law. For Schmitt, the jurist, the bottom line is below the level of law and right, where war takes place in the midst of peace. Schmitt had always seen himself as a ‘‘fighter’’— Positions and Concepts in the Struggle against Weimar–Geneva–Versailles is the name of a 1940 collection of his essays published at a historical moment

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when the Leviathan, as one of Schmitt’s pupils, Franz Neumann, put it, had been replaced by the Behemoth of the National Socialist regime. Schmitt does not belong to the Leviathan who puts an end to civil war. He takes sides with the Behemoth, which, however, does not simply embody the antistate counterprinciple to sovereign power, but the paradox of a countersovereignty that ultimately occupies the place of the previous sovereign. Carl Schmitt’s sovereign does not dazzle, does not shine, as the absolute monarchs did; he operates as an ‘‘intensifier’’36 of oppositions in internal politics, not as a pacifier. This is why Schmitt, as I have shown in the beginning of this essay, shifts sovereignty from the level of state institutions to the level of the act of differentiation, of dissociation from social groups. Schmitt’s sovereign does not possess dignitas, he is, as in the case of the Fu¨hrer, who ‘‘protects the law’’37 by ‘‘producing immediate justice,’’ an ‘‘ignoble,’’ infamous potentate. The Concept of the Political articulates the matrix of the historico-political discourse as described by Foucault, which, as is generally known, undergoes a development in the course of which the previously antistate discourse is co-opted by the state itself. The focus of this discourse on linguistically, legally, and culturally alien ‘‘groups’’ and ‘‘races,’’ confronting each other on the same territory, with one party being in possession of state power, changes in the course of the nineteenth century into the vision of a society that is ‘‘biologically’’ homogeneous and is being ‘‘threatened by certain heterogeneous elements.’’ It is not by accident that Schmitt turns the difference between homogeneity and heterogeneity into the main difference of his identitarian theory of democracy: with acts of purification and political ‘‘dissociation,’’ the subject of democracy, the people, has to constantly expel elements that threaten to put its identity at risk, without these elements being openly adversary against the social order. Civil war becomes a category of latency, hostility no longer manifests itself in a particular behavior, but is being ascribed to the mere existence of particular social groups. Schmitt’s anti-Semitism has its origin in this monistic transcription of the topic of a ‘‘binary society,’’ and his distinction of ‘‘friend-foe’’ respectively. The state has to subject the ‘‘life’’ of the citizens itself to a differential evaluation. This is precisely Schmitt’s dissent with Hobbes, who provides his powerful state machine for ‘‘the service of ensuring the physical protection of those governed’’38 without questioning this physical being as to whether it is worth protecting or not, because it is ‘‘unreal,’’ as Judith Butler says. ‘‘Whose lives are real?’’39 Whose life is to be grieved, whose life does not count, not even after it has been killed: this question, posed by Butler,

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is also the question Carl Schmitt is asking. With Butler, this is not a question of political theology, but of political ontology, since the answer to this question decides on the being of life—its dependence on assumptions about the dangerousness of subjects for public safety and order. Not what someone does, but what someone is or what someone is up to thus becomes a criterion of the political, and thus for the definition of the ‘‘membership’’ or ‘‘nonmembership’’ in ‘‘human society.’’ Even liberal societies that do not feel indebted to a political theology deem persons to be dangerous without needing evidence of dangerous activities. Thus deprived of any form of legal protection, they are turned into humans that are no longer regarded as human beings, but treated as ‘‘bare life,’’ the existence of which is subject to the caveat of sovereign decision. The ‘‘war against terror’’ of the Western world is an endless, interminable war because it is related to the ascription of unverifiable, unobjectifiable assumptions of dangerousness that no grandiose military victory whatsoever can dispose of once and for all. I want to finish with a sentence from Carl Schmitt’s already mentioned essay from 1934: ‘‘In the nineteenth century, Dufour, one of the fathers of French administrative law, defined every governmental act [acte de gouvernement] that evaded judicial review in such a way that its goal is the defense of society, whether against internal or external, clear or hidden, present or future enemies.’’40

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chapter 10

Natural Right and State of Exception in Leo Strauss Miguel Vatter

In his work on the state of exception, Giorgio Agamben relies extensively on the study of emergency powers made by an American political scientist, Clinton Rossiter, in a 1948 book entitled Constitutional Dictatorship. Rossiter shows that when constitutional democratic governments have faced severe political or economical crises, they have not hesitated to employ dictatorial means in ‘‘an unconscious but nonetheless real imitation of the autocratic methods of their enemies.’’1 He goes on to claim that modern democracies differ from totalitarian regimes on this count because in democracies the state of exception is itself used only exceptionally. Agamben’s thesis, on the contrary, is that in modern democracies, ‘‘the state of exception has become the rule.’’2 For Rossiter, a constitutional exception to the constitution makes sense only against the background assumption that the constitution remains valid independently of the situations that it has to face. That is why the state of exception cannot really be a lasting ‘‘state’’ but is merely ‘‘temporary,’’ having its ‘‘self-destruction’’ already prescribed to it in advance by the very fact that it is constitutionally sanctioned. For Agamben, such reasoning betrays an ignorance of the logic of exception. Following Carl Schmitt, he argues that whether a law can be applied in any given case requires a prior legal decision as to whether the case is normal or exceptional. But the only way in which law can take into

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account what is an exception to law is by suspending its own validity. It follows that there exists applicable law, that the rule of law is in force, only because law is always already in a suspended state. Here the normal case makes no sense apart from its relationship to the exception. In this way, the exception to valid law becomes a permanent state and ceases to be ‘‘temporary’’ and ‘‘self-destructive.’’ In this essay, I shall not try to resolve the thorny question of whether the exception confirms the rule, as Rossiter argues, or whether the rule confirms the exception, as Agamben does. For sure, after ‘‘September 11’’ and the implementation of an indefinite ‘‘War on Terror,’’ this problem is not simply of academic consequence. Here I would like to approach the question somewhat indirectly. By a peculiar coincidence, the same year in which Rossiter’s book appeared, Leo Strauss also published his first American work, an interpretation of Xenophon’s Socratic dialogue Hiero, under the title On Tyranny. The coincidence is remarkable because both Rossiter and Strauss thematize the shortcomings of the rule of law and provide justifications for its suspension. Both do so by working (explicitly in Rossiter’s case, implicitly in Strauss’s case) under the shadow of Carl Schmitt’s theorization of the state of exception. In what follows, I give a brief reading of Strauss’s texts on classical natural right of the late 1940s in order to explain his doctrine of the state of exception, and then attempt to put this doctrine in what I take to be the general politico-theological context of his thinking.

Strauss on Tyranny and Classical Natural Right On Tyranny is mainly concerned with establishing the difference between ‘‘Socratic political science and Machiavellian political science.’’3 This difference has often been understood as follows: for Strauss the just life is essentially the philosophical life. Socrates proved that philosophy is threatening both to political rulers and to the ignorant masses, who, when they join forces, tend to favor tyrannical governments. Philosophers therefore have the duty to become advisors to the rulers in order to prevent the persecution of philosophy. On this reading, On Tyranny could be read as a ‘‘liberal’’ text that seeks to defend the freedom of thought against the potentially totalitarian deviations of mass democracy, whose foundations were laid down by Machiavellian political science, and later taken up by Hobbes and the entire tradition of modern natural right.4

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I would like to suggest that the central concern of On Tyranny is not the problem of freedom of thought in relation to power, but rather what Strauss calls the ‘‘problem of justice’’ or ‘‘the problem of law and legitimacy.’’ For Strauss, all ideas correspond to problems. Platonic political philosophy gives rise to the idea of natural right, and this idea corresponds to the problem of justice.5 The first explicit formulation of this problem in Strauss’s thought is found in On Tyranny. There is a great deal of controversy over what Strauss meant to achieve with his book: Straussian commentators say he wanted to refute tyranny, whereas critics of Strauss say he wanted to defend it.6 I agree with the critics insofar as I believe that for Strauss classical political philosophy is ultimately a teaching of tyranny. But I share the Straussians’ conviction that Strauss did not himself identify with this teaching. I conclude from this that, to the extent that Strauss rejects the tyrannical teaching of classical political philosophy, he must also seek an alternative to classical natural right, which he does by turning to the opposing tradition associated with Jerusalem. In histories of political thought, one commonly runs across the assertion that Socratic political philosophy maintains steadfastly the difference between a king and a tyrant, that is, the difference between a legitimate or best political order and an illegitimate or corrupt one. In these same histories, Machiavelli and Hobbes are usually the ones who are charged with doing away with the distinction between king and tyrant.7 The problem posed by Xenophon’s Hiero is that its teaching seems to contradict what is traditionally believed to be the Socratic position because Xenophon argues that ‘‘beneficent tyranny is highly desirable.’’ In his commentary, Strauss defends the unorthodox thesis that Xenophon eliminates the difference between king and tyrant in order to claim that ‘‘tyranny may live up to the highest political standard.’’8 In reality, between Socrates and Machiavelli there exists only ‘‘the subtlest and indeed decisive difference.’’9 Greek political thought defined kingship as a form of rule exercised over willing subjects and in accordance with the laws of the cities, whereas tyranny is rule over unwilling subjects and without laws.10 According to Strauss’s reading of the Hiero, Xenophon modifies the idea of tyranny so that it ceases to be a form of rule over unwilling subjects, but remains a form of rule without laws, an absolute form of government.11 For Xenophon, it is clear that without laws there can be no civil freedom.12 The point of Xenophon’s dialogue is to ask whether the absence of civil freedom due to the absence of laws also thereby disqualifies ‘‘tyranny at its best’’ from living up to ‘‘the highest political standards.’’13 Without freedom and laws there is no democracy: but can there still be virtue?14 This

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question is what Strauss calls ‘‘the problem of the law and legitimacy.’’ He understands Socratic ‘‘tyrannical teaching’’ as the ‘‘most forceful expression’’ of this problem. If virtue were impossible without freedom, then every legitimate political order would be based on the maintenance of the freedom of its subjects. Strauss believes that Xenophon’s answer is that tyranny and virtue are not mutually exclusive because virtue does not have a necessary relation to freedom. If one analyses correctly the problem of the law, one sees that ‘‘as a matter of principle, rule of laws is not essential for good government.’’15 Furthermore, Strauss argues that Xenophon’s ‘‘tyrannical teaching’’ faithfully represents a belief taught in Socratic circles and espoused by Plato.16 The idea of classical natural right corresponds to the problem of justice. The problem is that what is just and what is legal are not the same. More radically, one can have a perfectly just regime without any laws, that is, the common good can be achieved in a regime that is technically a tyranny, albeit a beneficent one. Absolute rule of a man who knows how to rule, who is a born ruler, is actually superior to the rule of laws, in so far as the good ruler is a ‘‘seeing law’’ [Cyropaedia VIII, 1.22] and laws do not ‘‘see,’’ or legal justice is blind. Whereas a good ruler is necessarily beneficent, laws are not necessarily beneficent. To say nothing of laws which are actually bad or harmful, even good laws suffer from the fact that they cannot ‘‘see.’’ Now, tyranny is absolute monarchic rule. Hence the rule of an excellent tyrant is superior to, or more just than, rule of laws.17

What is the status of this teaching in Platonic political philosophy? Strauss claims that such a tyrannical teaching has ‘‘a purely theoretical meaning.’’18 By which he means that for ‘‘practical purposes’’ the ‘‘tyrannical teaching’’ advanced by Xenophon cannot be put into practice. Among Straussian interpreters, this point is understood as an argument ‘‘to establish the necessity of the rule of law and at the same time to reveal the necessary limitations of law, thereby revealing the necessary limits of politics as such.’’ If the beneficent or excellent tyrant is a utopia, so goes the argument, it must follow that the opposite of tyranny, that is, the rule of law, is ‘‘necessary.’’ At the same time, that something is necessary does not make it good or the best. What is good or best is the philosophical life, and such a life has an antipolitical component.19 In reality, the theoretical project of classical natural right, that is, the project of pointing out the limitations and contradictions of civic freedom and the rule of law, does have a political finality, but one that goes counter

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to the political finality of the republic qua republic, which is the real reason for why the realization of the tyrannical teaching in the city is ‘‘impracticable’’ and needs to be cloaked rhetorically. Strauss reveals the political finality of the Socratic tyrannical teaching when he says that despite being a ‘‘purely theoretical’’ endeavor, this teaching sufficed for Socrates and his pupils to be perceived as a danger to democracy, ‘‘for it prevented them from believing that democracy is simply the best political order. It prevented them from being ‘good citizens’ (in the precise sense of the term) under a democracy.’’20 Furthermore, Strauss argues that ‘‘if the city is essentially the community kept together and ruled by law, the ‘tyrannical’ teaching cannot exist for the citizen as citizen.’’ This would explain why Socrates does not, as such, give voice to the teaching (for he always remained a ‘‘citizen-philosopher’’), and why both Plato and Xenophon entrust their discussions of ‘‘the problematic character of the ‘rule of laws’ to a stranger.’’ In the case of Xenophon, the stranger is Simonides, a poet—and thus a stranger to philosophy; in the case of Plato (in the Statesman) the stranger is the Eleatic Stranger. The symbolic importance that strangers in Socratic dialogues hold for Strauss becomes clear as soon as one recalls that, for him, modern historicism is essentially motivated by a modern and romantic rejection of all natural right on the grounds that such right ‘‘alienates the people from their place on earth. It tends to make them strangers, and even strangers on earth.’’21 Contrary to such political romanticism, Platonic political philosophy and its idea of natural right defends the possibility of transcendence and thus seeks to make ‘‘man as man’’ feel a stranger to this world.22 This may be one of the reasons why Socrates’ political thought is never delivered by Socrates as a citizen-philosopher, but always by some stranger. The question remains open as to whether one should look for the substance of such a politics of transcendence in the tradition of classical natural right, or in another alternative tradition. I shall suggest an answer to this question in the last section of this essay. On Tyranny therefore is a thought-experiment designed to call into question the identity between ‘‘good government’’ and ‘‘rule by laws,’’ which is a fundamental principle of modern republicanism, at work in the Constitution of the United States of America. Perhaps the delicate political moment in which Strauss writes On Tyranny, with the United States just coming out of a war in which Roosevelt made extensive use of emergency powers and with the country facing a nuclear Cold War against the Soviet Union, a situation sure to call for further states of exception, as

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Rossiter himself underscored, may explain why Strauss, in spite of shrouding such potentially controversial opinions in the form of an esoteric commentary on a little-known, esoteric classical dialogue, nonetheless chose to voice them at all. In order to demonstrate that the whole of ‘‘Socratic political philosophy’’ can be reduced to the ‘‘tyrannical teaching’’ presented by Xenophon, Strauss needs to refute the traditional reading of Socrates according to which virtue or justice is the same as legality or obedience to laws, and is thus incompatible with tyranny understood as rule without laws.23 To this potentially fatal objection, Strauss replies that ‘‘tyranny would become morally possible if the identification of ‘just’ and ‘legal’ were not absolutely correct, or if ‘everything according to law were (only) somehow [pous] just.’ ’’24 The last phrase is a citation from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, which Strauss leaves without commentary. I shall return below to this allimportant reference. For the moment I wish to emphasize the point that Strauss employs the distinction between the just and the legal, between legitimacy and legality, as an argument in favor of the possibility of beneficent tyranny. Throughout his interpretation, Strauss never mentions any of his contemporaries. And yet his text becomes understandable only if it is understood in its proper context, namely, as a text that looks back and intervenes ex post facto in the fateful debate on legality and legitimacy that involved Weber, Kelsen, Schmitt, and other jurists and philosophers of law in Weimar Germany and in the early years of the Nazi regime.25 In particular, Strauss’s thesis that the supralegal difference between legality and legitimacy can be understood to favor the possibility of a tyrant who acts in accordance with the common good while remaining unbound by the laws consented to by the citizens is far closer to Schmitt’s prewar rehabilitation of dictatorship than to the line of argumentation adopted by Weber and Kelsen, for whom the reduction of legitimacy to legality, indeed, the generation of legitimacy through legal procedures guaranteeing individual rights or liberties, is the essential juridico-philosophical presupposition of modern liberal democracy.26 Strauss’s reconstruction of the Socratic teaching on tyranny directly undermines the democratic basis of the rule of law. For Xenophon ‘‘there is only one sufficient title to rule: only knowledge, and not force and fraud or election or, we may add, inheritance makes a man a king or ruler.’’ From this point of view, constitutional political rule based on free and open elections of representatives is no more legitimate than tyrannical rule acquired through force and conspiracy. The ultimate source of legitimacy

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is the ‘‘extent to which the tyrant or the ‘constitutional’ rulers will listen to the counsels of him who ‘speaks well’ because he ‘thinks well.’ ’’ The beneficent tyrant is ‘‘the tyrant who listens to the counsels of the wise.’’27 Remarks such as these have led some interpreters to claim that Strauss is an advocate, if not of the philosopher-king, then at least of philosophers becoming the advisors of politically elected leaders. To date, all the attempts to link Strauss to neoconservative members of successive American political administrations, or to deny that such links exist, are based on this assumption. But it seems to me that if one follows the guiding thread of the problem of law, another possibility comes into view to explain how these texts by Strauss may have influenced policymakers. To illustrate this other possibility, I should like to move to a brief discussion of Natural Right and History, a text that Strauss first delivered as a series of lectures at the University of Chicago in 1949. It is generally acknowledged that this text contains Strauss’s most complete argument against modern natural right. Strauss is said to reject modern natural right based on the claim that the moderns ‘‘historicize’’ the standards of natural right. As a consequence, the moderns deny natural right, whose very idea depends on their being an internal relation between ‘‘what is right’’ and an unchangeable, natural order of value. A careful reading of the chapters dedicated to the ‘‘origin’’ of the idea of natural right and to its ‘‘classical’’ conception in Plato and Aristotle, though, reveals that what initially seems like an enormous difference between the unchangeable and the historicized versions of natural right, between its classical and its modern conceptions, is an illusion. In these chapters of Natural Right and History, Strauss returns to and expands on the point concerning the ‘‘slight’’ difference between legality and legitimacy on which the possibility of beneficent tyranny depends. The ‘‘tyrannical teaching’’ that Strauss uncovers in the Socratic school boils down to this: rule of laws cannot assure that ‘‘the right thing’’ is being done at any given moment. In Natural Right and History, Strauss radicalizes this insight by arguing that, according to classical natural right, all human laws contain a self-contradiction: laws are designed for the safety of the city, yet what is good cannot be conventional, because a convention cannot make good for the city what is in fact bad for it. What is good for the city at every given moment is not something that can be legislated. Therefore, the fixity of the laws actually makes it impossible to do what is good for the city at every moment. The laws are responsible for the ruin, not the safety, of the city.28 The result of this argument is that

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knowledge of what is just here and now, which is knowledge of what is by nature, or intrinsically, good for this city now, cannot be scientific knowledge. . . . To establish what is just in each case is the function of the political art or skill. That art or skill is comparable to the art of the physician, who establishes what is in each case healthy or good for the human body.29

This passage is crucial in Strauss’s understanding of classical natural right, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it signals the rejection of the exoteric standpoint according to which natural right refers to unchangeable, universal and abstract principles. Strauss now sees that ‘‘natural right’’ cannot as such be unchangeable, and therefore cannot be the object of theoretical wisdom or sophia, but must instead be a function of a political ‘‘art’’ or ‘‘knowledge,’’ in which one can easily recognize the traits of Aristotelian phronesis.30 Moreover, abandoning the idea that natural right is unchangeable reveals that Strauss’s ‘‘Platonic political philosophy’’ is a rhetorical construction, in both a negative and a positive sense.31 In the negative sense, the initial assumption that the idea of natural right consists in unchangeable and eternal principles or norms (a position that is often identified as Strauss’s own standpoint) turns out to be ‘‘mere’’ rhetoric. In the positive sense, though, the shift entails the admission that natural right can be realized only if something like Aristotelian phronesis exists and provides uncontestable knowledge as to ‘‘what is right by nature’’ for every political situation. With the shift from Plato to Aristotle (which is simply a radicalization of the problem of natural right), rhetoric comes to be seen as essential for ‘‘political philosophy,’’ the heart of ‘‘political philosophy,’’ because the question of how the abyss between the universal validity of translegal justice and the singularity of real historical situations is to be bridged, is nothing short of the question of rhetoric. The master rhetor or orator is, according to Aristotle and Cicero, precisely he who knows what principles to appeal to in every situation so as to get his or her listeners to do or feel the right thing. The real or effective ‘‘tyrannical teaching’’ of the Socratic school, therefore, is not to be found in Plato’s philosopher-kings but rather in Aristotle’s model of the prudent statesman. The Platonic society in which justice is possible because ‘‘wise men are in absolute control’’ turns out to be impracticable.32 On the surface, Strauss claims that philosopher-kings are not a realistic possibility because the wise cannot make themselves be understood by the unwise. They lack the ability to persuade the ignorant

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masses. The philosopher-king would seem to be ignorant of rhetoric. In reality, Strauss thinks that Plato’s solution to the problem of justice is impracticable because the requirements of ‘‘wisdom’’ stand opposed to the requirements of ‘‘freedom under laws’’ advocated by the people in democracies. The real problem is not that ‘‘the wise’’ are not persuasive enough about their wisdom, or that the ‘‘unwise’’ are too uncultivated to understand this wisdom. The real problem is that the requirements of wisdom and of its ideal of justice are incompatible with freedom because they are essentially related to the exercise of rule and domination over others. According to Strauss, for classical natural right wisdom requires that individuals control their ‘‘lower impulses’’ by ruling their body. This rule over the body is not done through persuasion. Strauss then adds: What is true of self-restraint, self-coercion, and power over one’s self applies in principle to the restraint and coercion of others and to power over others. . . . In fact, it is not altogether wrong to describe justice as a kind of benevolent coercion. Justice and virtue in general are necessarily a kind of power.33

Strauss offers no argument in support of this last assertion. This silence is indicative, and honest: for it seems very difficult, if not impossible, to persuade anyone that the restraint and coercion involved in controlling one’s body is ‘‘in principle’’ applicable to others without their consent and for the sake of establishing a relationship of justice with them. To argue this point is to argue that the relation between self and other is analogous to that between soul and body: it is to ‘‘persuade’’ others that they are ‘‘natural slaves.’’ Aristotle’s move away from philosopher-kings, according to Strauss, implicitly recognizes that a beneficent tyranny needs to justify itself before citizens who do not understand themselves as ‘‘natural slaves.’’ ‘‘The city requires that wisdom be reconciled with consent.’’34 Aristotle’s more ‘‘political’’ conception of natural right poses the crucial test case for Strauss’s problem: how can the sovereignty of the good be brought down to the level of the city and of its human laws without having to give up its claim to radically transcend the legality of these laws? How much ‘‘facticity’’ can natural right take and still maintain its claim to ahistorical, universal ‘‘validity’’? Or, put in more practical terms, how can democracies be driven to give their consent to a beneficent tyranny? The answer given by Strauss turns on the realization that natural right is about ‘‘concrete decisions rather than general rules’’: ‘‘In every human

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conflict there exists the possibility of a just decision based on full consideration of all the circumstances, a decision demanded by the situation. Natural right consists of such decisions. Natural right thus understood is obviously mutable.’’35 Here Strauss offers a decisionistic reading of Aristotelian phronesis: justice lies not in following established laws, but in the kind of decision one takes in the state of exception to such established laws. Although this reading departs from the Thomistic tradition, which emphasizes the idea that natural right is fundamentally about unexceptionable rules, it is not unheard of; for instance, Martha Nussbaum’s readings of Aristotle are also radically particularistic. But where Strauss differs quite markedly, say, from Nussbaum is in the kind of explanation he gives of the normative priority assigned to decisions over rules. That natural right resides in concrete decisions and not in general rules follows from the difference between the principles of commutative and distributive justice and the common good. Normally, Strauss says, the common good is the same as the other types of justice, but this is no longer the case when ‘‘the mere existence, the mere survival, the mere independence, of the political community’’ is at stake. In these ‘‘extreme situations’’ citizens can be persuaded to leave decisions as to what is the right thing to do in the hands of a beneficent tyrant who will decide on the situation of exception without appealing to one necessary and unchangeable principle. Let us call an extreme situation a situation in which the very existence or independence of a society is at stake. . . . In extreme situations the normally valid rules of natural right are justly changed, or changed in accordance with natural right; the exceptions are as just as the rules. And Aristotle seems to suggest that there is not a single rule, however basic, which is not subject to exception.36

At this pivotal moment of Strauss’s entire reconstruction of classical natural right, his discourse dovetails with the problem of the ‘‘decision on the state of exception’’ brought to prominence by Schmitt’s political theology.37 Precisely when the discourse of natural right encounters its ‘‘limit case,’’ namely, when the question becomes whether in every situation it is in principle possible to find what is just by nature, Strauss turns the question around and uses the concept of the ‘‘extreme’’ situation of political ‘‘survival’’ in which ‘‘there is not a single rule, however basic, which is not subject to exception’’ as a standard to determine what is natural right. Where Schmitt employs the distinction between ‘‘normal’’ and ‘‘extreme’’ situation to call into question the possibility of natural right, Strauss makes of the state of exception the very condition of possibility of justice.

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Schmitt and Strauss both exploit the philosophical problem of whether it is possible, as a matter of principle, to distinguish a normal from an exceptional situation. For every situation has something singular about it that may occasion the question of whether it can or cannot fall under a general rule as its ‘‘normal’’ particular case. This problem is usually formulated in terms of the paradox that there is no rule to follow a rule, that is, the application of a norm is itself normatively underdetermined. Beginning with Political Theology, Schmitt employs this characteristic of all norms to define sovereignty in terms of the authority to decide on the exception. Strauss’s reading of Aristotle seems to argue that the decision on the state of exception can be based on ‘‘practical wisdom’’ (phronesis) rather than on ‘‘authority.’’ But is this difference between Strauss and Schmitt tenable in the end?38 The actual passage in which Strauss tries to justify his turning the state of exception to every human law into what safeguards the very possibility of natural right, and therefore of legitimacy, is remarkable and worthy of being cited in full: There is no principle which defines clearly in what type of cases the public safety, and in what type of cases the precise rules of justice, have priority. For it is not possible to define precisely what constitutes an extreme situation in contradistinction to a normal situation. Every dangerous external or internal enemy is inventive to the extent that he is capable of transforming what, on the basis of previous experience, could reasonably be regarded as a normal situation into an extreme situation. Natural right must be mutable in order to be able to cope with the inventiveness of wickedness.39

If this is the case, then the principle that justifies the state of exception in Strauss is not ‘‘politico-philosophical’’ but politico-theological. There is nothing ‘‘natural’’ left to Strauss’s conception of classical natural right by the end of his discussion of Aristotle. Instead, classical natural right is seen to depend on the principle of a fundamental distinction between friend and enemy that overlaps a theologically grounded distinction between good and evil. In sum, Strauss’s point of arrival in his reading of Aristotle is the belief that natural right can change with the circumstances, even to the point of breaking with justice as commonly or normally understood, while still remaining ‘‘just.’’ How can this be? Because natural right suspends all legality always and only as a ‘‘response’’ to some ‘‘dangerous external or internal enemy,’’ who is believed to have been the first to change the situation from normal to exceptional. The change of situation is thus determined to be, in principle, the action of a ‘‘wicked’’ enemy, without Strauss

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for all that giving any criterion for who is wicked and what is wickedness (other than the intention of changing the state of the situation from order to chaos). Wickedness assumes all the unstable contours of a diabolical principle. Furthermore, it follows that natural right justifies taking exception to valid law in a preventive yet self-defensive manner, in order to safeguard against the exceptional situations that the ‘‘wicked enemy,’’ by necessity, must bring about in the future. The least that one can say at this point is that this particular kind of ‘‘inventive wickedness’’ is not a concept to be found in any Greek or Roman political philosopher, perhaps least of all in Aristotle.40 On Strauss’s reading, Aristotle’s phronimos starts to look like a twin of Machiavelli’s principe, but they are nonetheless not identical twins. The gist of Strauss’s reading is that Machiavelli, much like Schmitt, ‘‘takes his bearings not so much by how men live as by the extreme case. He believes that the extreme case is more revealing of the roots of civil society and therefore of its true character than is the normal case. The root or the efficient cause takes the place of the end or of the purpose.’’41 Supposedly, this is not the case with Aristotle, who is driven to the extreme case only for the sake of defending the idea of natural right according to which every situation can be made right (or, to every situation there corresponds a right thing). But, with his usual, devastating honesty, Strauss admits that there exists ‘‘no legal expression’’ for this difference between Aristotle and Machiavelli, that is, between classical and modern natural right. Such an admission is a hard blow for those who read Strauss’s intentions in terms of a desire to simply return to classical ‘‘natural right,’’ as if that, by itself, could counteract the project of modernity. It may also help to explain why Straussians tend to see Aristotelian-minded statesmen, or their advisors, where everybody else sees Machiavellian politics.42 Two concluding remarks can be made on the topic of natural right in Strauss. The first is that the vocabulary of political theology is found at the heart of those very texts by Strauss on classical political philosophy that are regularly used to support the claim that Strauss values the philosophical life above all else.43 The second remark is that in these texts Strauss is forced to appeal to the figure of the ‘‘external or internal enemy,’’ who is both radically ‘‘wicked’’ and radically ‘‘inventive,’’ to explain why natural right can suspend all the principles of natural right as ‘‘normally’’ understood and still remain ‘‘just.’’ One is tempted to say that classical natural right in Strauss has the same function that corresponds to the jus belli in Schmitt’s conception of the political. This usage of the friend/enemy distinction means that the state of exception has become the

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rule of nature. We have returned in the proximity of Agamben’s claim that the state of exception is the real and secret nomos of the entire Western tradition of political thought, that is, the tradition of natural right, both ancient and modern.

Athens and Jerusalem: Ethics, Philosophy, Faith I would now like to put what has been said so far about Strauss’s reading of Greek political thought in the wider context of his thought. In my opinion, Strauss himself is neither an adherent of classical natural right nor a secret adherent of modern natural right in its Machiavellian or Nietzschean guises. If Strauss thinks that the Socratic tyrannical teaching qualifies as a kind of liberalism, as some interpreters have argued, then this is only because such teaching betrays a profound suspicion toward the law and indeed favors a state of lawlessness. Strauss does not judge both ancient and modern liberalisms from the standpoint of their traditions of natural right: he judges them from the standpoint of Jerusalem, from the traditions of divinely revealed law. In a late essay, Strauss writes that ‘‘the common ground between the Bible and Greek philosophy is the problem of divine law. They solve the problem in a diametrically opposed manner.’’44 On Tyranny and Natural Right and History try to argue that Greek philosophy, by turning toward nature, resolves the problem of divine law by dissolving the ethical majesty of the law. Strauss had made clear the standpoint from which to understand both his reasons for returning to classical natural right, as well as his distance from such a doctrine, some ten years before he wrote On Tyranny, in his last book written in German which is also the last book of his which does not employ an esoteric art of writing. (Strauss begins to write esoterically only once he reaches the United States.) In Philosophy and Law: Contributions to the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors, Strauss establishes the central motivation behind his later investigations into classical political philosophy: ‘‘the necessary connection between politics and theology’’—that is, political theology—can be understood only ‘‘beginning from Platonic politics (and not from the Timaeus or from Aristotelian metaphysics).’’45 Platonic political philosophy is a preface, an initiation, into political theology. Plato offers ‘‘the unbelieving, philosophic foundation of the belief in revelation.’’46 Strauss therefore recovers Platonic political philosophy convinced that it is the only effective way, in the modern age of unbelief and of the unrestrained freedom to philosophize, through

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which individuals can be led philosophically to the point in which they may, but only may, sense the need for a return to the faith in the fact of revelation as law. But Plato on his own does not guarantee such repentance. Plato’s philosopher-king offers only an ‘‘approximation to the revelation without the guidance of the revelation.’’47 This was known to Maimonides and his Arabic predecessors, according to whom—this being the main thesis of Philosophy and Law—‘‘the prophet is the founder of the Platonic state; the prophet carries out what Plato called for.’’48 Given these relations of proximity and of approximation between Platonic political philosophy and Jewish and Islamic medieval prophetology, how do things stand for Strauss between Athens and Jerusalem? The answer must be considered both from the standpoint of philosophy as well as from that of ethics. From the standpoint of ethics, the alliance between Platonic political philosophy and Jewish and Islamic prophetology receives its clearest formulation in the argument of Persecution and the Art of Writing. Strauss begins the argument by giving an interpretation of the struggle between the Islamic falasifa (philosophers) and the Islamic theologians. According to his reading, the theologians uphold a belief in ‘‘rational commandments,’’ that is, a belief in divine revelation as wholly rational. According to Strauss, the Islamic philosophers, beginning with Farabi and climaxing with Averroes, reject ‘‘the notion of ‘rational commandments,’ ’’ and, most importantly, they justify this rejection by means of their reading of Plato. In so doing, ‘‘the falasifa implied that the principles of morality are not rational, but ‘probable’ or ‘generally accepted.’ ‘The rational laws (nomoi)’ which they admitted, are distinguished from the ‘rational commandments,’ or the natural law, by the fact that they do not have obligatory character.’’49 In other words, the falasifa reject the possibility of a rational foundation of ethics. They show that philosophy may at best ground principles of ethics that are ‘‘probable’’ or hypothetical, but not ‘‘absolute’’ or categorical moral principles. For Strauss, the reference to Plato in Arabic and Jewish medieval philosophy denotes ultimately the thesis that the philosophic way of life is extramoral. The novelty and provocation of Strauss’s return to Plato consists in uncovering Plato as the fundamental philosophical ally of the standpoint of Jerusalem, which rejects the project of a philosophical or scientific foundation of ethics in favor of its foundation in divine revelation as law.50 Both the followers and the detractors of Strauss make much out of the thesis that the philosophical way of life is extramoral or supramoral. They believe that it explains the ‘‘danger’’ that the city poses for the philosopher, the ‘‘persecution’’ that the philosopher encounters in the city, and

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the subsequent need for the philosopher to proffer ‘‘noble lies’’ to the city in order to save the philosophic way of life from persecution. In reality, the thesis of the extramoral character of philosophy is always and only an intermediary one in Strauss’s overall argument. For the lack of a rational (that is, human) foundation of categorical moral principles leaves open the possibility that if such principles exist, then they can only be grounded in divinely revealed law as stipulated by the prophets. The main achievement, in this sense, of the Arabic falasifa and the medieval Jewish philosophers who follow them, is that of protecting the primacy of revelation as law against its misinterpretation by rationalist theologians, who, in a show of self-defeating dogmatism, end up making of the divine law a pure construct of human reason (that is, of human interpretation) and thus relativize its ethical validity.51 The actual conclusion of the argument advanced in Persecution and the Art of Writing is put by Strauss in the citation that ends the central chapter dedicated to Halevi, who, along with Maimonides, counts as the highest representative of medieval Jewish rationalism: But precisely by going so far with the [Islamic] philosophers, does he [Halevi] discover the fundamental weakness of the philosophic position and the deepest reason why philosophy is so enormously dangerous. For if the philosophers are right in their appraisal of natural morality, of morality not based on Divine revelation, natural morality is, strictly speaking, no morality at all: it is hardly distinguishable from the morality essential to the preservation of a gang of robbers. Natural morality being what it is, only a law revealed by the omniscient and omnipotent God can make possible genuine morality, ‘‘categoric imperatives’’; only revelation can transform natural man into ‘‘the guardian of his city’’ or, to use the language of the Bible, the guardian of his brother.52

For Halevi, in this interpretation, the possibility of morality does not rest on philosophy but only on faith in divine revelation. The idea that it is possible to offer an answer to the question of ‘‘what is the just life?’’ according to demonstrable rational principles actually undermines the possibility of a ‘‘genuine morality.’’ Strauss then remarks in closing: ‘‘In defending Judaism, which, according to him [Halevi], is the only true revealed religion, against the philosophers, he was conscious of defending morality itself and therewith the cause, not only of Judaism, but of mankind at large.’’53 But can the idea that the possibility of morality depends on the absence of a rational foundation make sense from a philosophical standpoint?

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Toward the end of Philosophy and Law, Strauss says that all Jewish and Arabic medieval philosophers, in spite of their professed adherence to some form of Aristotelianism, are actually Platonists because they accept ‘‘the primacy of inquiry about the good, about the right life,’’ whereas Aristotle stands for the ‘‘the primacy of interest in the contemplation of that which is and in knowledge of being.’’54 Maimonides, in particular, is secretly a Platonist because he always remained faithful to the difference between the God of Israel and the God of Aristotle: ‘‘for him [Maimonides] it can never at any time be left at a matter of the primacy of theory.’’55 The possibility of the just life depends on belief in the God of Israel. For this reason alone Plato is to be favored over Aristotle because the former, unlike the latter, ‘‘compels [philosophers] to care for others and to guard them, in order that the state may really be a state. . . . Even the philosopher as such stands under the state, is answerable for himself before the state; he is not simply sovereign.’’56 The freedom of the philosopher stands lower than the sovereignty of the law. Strauss’s medieval Plato turns Socratic tyrannical teaching on its head. Philosophically, this priority of morality over philosophy (which Plato allows for and Aristotle rejects) appears in the form of a radical revaluation of the facticity of law over its validity. The priority assigned to facticity over validity that is so fundamental in Heidegger’s critique of metaphysics is here appropriated by Strauss to an entirely different end. What Plato called for . . . is fulfilled in the age of belief in revelation. . . . The Platonism of these [Jewish and Arabic] philosophers is given with their situation, with their standing in fact under the law. Since they stand in fact under the law, they admittedly no longer need, like Plato, to seek the law, to inquire into it: the binding and absolutely perfect regimen of human life is given to them by a prophet. Hence they are, as authorized by the law, free to philosophize in Aristotelian freedom: they can therefore aristotelize.57

This is a remarkable passage in which the validity of classical political philosophy (as well as the validity of the return to classical political philosophy as practiced by Strauss himself, who also ‘‘aristotelizes,’’ as I showed above) becomes a function of the situation in which philosophy comes to find itself in relation to the happening of revelation. Plato is ultimately validated in so far as his thought ‘‘calls for’’ divine revelation, and Platonism in general (understood as a discourse which posits the existence of a sphere of absolute validity) acquires its transhistorical validity only once it is factically situated by the event of divine revelation.

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Strauss’s point is that the sphere of absolute validity is attained only from within a particular historical situation, namely, the situation of contemporaneity to the fact of divine revelation into which one is thrown by the act of faith. In Strauss, Platonic political philosophy becomes a discursive practice that is capable of translating any individual whatsoever into a position from which the leap of faith can be taken. Platonism here comes to mean exactly the opposite of what the main Western tradition takes it to mean: not a discourse that upholds the possibility of a conception of truth that is completely transcendent with respect to all historical situations, but a discourse that defends faith in the fact that the absolute happens in history. Now, this belief that the absolute happens in history is precisely the sole basis for holding that historical distance is not productive of meaning. And such a belief is the fundamental tenet of Strauss’s hermeneutics, for which one can and ought to understand a thinker as he understood himself, irrespective of historical distance. In sum, it is only faith in the historical happening of divine revelation that grants validity to Platonism, where Platonism is understood as the project of philosophically posing the question concerning what is the just life. The function of Platonism is to keep this question open in every historical period, but Platonism as such can never answer it.

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Law and the Gift of Justice Regina Mara Schwartz

What is the relation of theology to politics? Of revelation to revolution? To approach this question, I want to turn not to the constitution of the subject (Alain Badiou’s preoccupation) or to the constitution of the community (Paul’s preoccupation), because in the end these entities are not sufficient to achieve the robust political ends imagined for them. Instead, I want to turn to the question of justice (the preoccupation of the Hebrew Bible), for the infusion of this ethical concern is vital: political life must be lived under the horizon of justice. A radical identity of the law and justice characterizes revelation in the Hebrew Bible, especially in Exodus. Because elsewhere the gap between justice and the law is so wide—in Christian theology when it sees the Pharisaic law as inhibiting the realization of justice; in philosophy, where, from Plato on, law is formal while justice is substantive; in political theory, which includes those who endorse ‘‘procedural justice’’ when they abandon substantive justice—this radical biblical vision, when the law is justice, is unique. In his work on justice, Derrida elaborates an aporia: the instability of the ‘‘distinction between justice and law, between justice (infinite, incalculable, rebellious to rule and foreign to symmetry, heterogeneous and heterotropic) on one hand, and, on the other, the exercise of justice as law, legitimacy or legality, a stabilizable, statutory, and calculable apparatus

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[dispositif], a system of regulated and coded prescriptions.’’1 He adds, ‘‘Everything would be simple if this distinction between justice and law were a true distinction, an opposition the functioning of which was logically regulated and masterable. But it turns out that law claims to exercise itself in the name of justice and that justice demands for itself that it be established in the name of a law that must be put to work (constituted and applied) by force.’’2 Again, what is radical in the biblical instance described in Exodus is that this justice that typically shows itself as prior to the law also inheres in the law, constituting the law. And what is this law? There is only one God, only his law, and only his law is just. Without this condition—obeying only one God—there can be no justice, and no law. The biblical case defies the usual logic that would separate justice from law, the oft-noted importance of reserving a possibility of a justice that would exceed the law, contradict it, or even be indifferent to it. Here the justice so often believed to be beyond the law is also the justice of the law. When one understands how radical the biblical case described in Exodus is—that justice is the law—the anti-Semitic charges of pharisaic legalism become ludicrous. The biblical case is radical in another sense: the force of the law is executed, in this narrative, on those who are in the very process of receiving it. They are accountable to the law, must answer to the law, but are not yet under the law. This radical understanding of the institution of law—that authority and justice are both outside and inside the law—makes it utterly impossible to reject. This law can and is broken; but it cannot be refused. The option of living within this law or not is not offered. It comes into being in a condition of complete inevitability. While political theory may call this totalitarianism, Judaism has called it revelation. Once it is given, there is no way to be outside of this (divine) justice. Anything else is false, a fake. In his discussion of three kinds of knowledge, Emmanuel Levinas describes ‘‘ ‘accepting the law before you know what the law is’ as the third option: not the one offered by philosophy, a knowledge you exercise before action, a consideration you gain, with a safe distance, in security, and then having known, acting, nor the second option, of acting in the dark, impulsively, without knowledge, or naively, like a child. The horizon of philosophy offers these two options, one the obverse of the other.’’ Levinas turns to another resource, religious, to discern a third option, loving the source of the law, accepting it as a responsibility that will widen into horizons heretofore unknowable. And this option of accepting a

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potentially infinite responsibility leads him to invoke the Talmudic commentary: it is ‘‘as if God were tilting the mountain like a basin on top of the Israelites and telling them, you may either accept my law or I drop the mountain on you.’’3 If the biblical name for justice is revelation, then the biblical name for injustice is idolatry. The command that signals this radical entry of the law and of justice is clear: not to make idols. What does this preoccupation with idolatry mean? Idolatry is not only the wrong object of worship, but also the wrong manner of worshipping.4 When we imagine that we possess God, we can use him as a legitimating instrument for our violence. Such a God can authorize the slaughter of our enemies. When we imagine that God possesses us, we can explain the terrors of history as his righteous wrath for our infidelity. The violence of possession proliferates: as God possesses us, so we possess land and men possess women, and all of this ownership leads to anxiety over the borders of possession and inevitable violence.5 If I have been suspicious about the adequacy of narratives about God, it is not only because such narratives tend to be projections of human life, human desire, human possession, and human violence but also because of the idolatry of any such description. To speak of representation as idolatry is not new: it is several thousand years old. But to speak of the idol, not as a visual representation, a statue, a painting, but a verbal one, a narrative, seems to still be somewhat controversial. And yet it is our narrative idolatries that hold us in their grip and so demand critique. But the command against idolatry in Exodus is meant in another, although related, sense, not only against the effort to submit the ineffable to instrumental use. Here, where the identity of justice and the law is asserted, the commandment against idols signals that only the genuine article will do—the one true god who has the true law and true justice— and all else are not admissible. Simply put, justice can break no compromise. This is not the same as denying other idols due to a logic of scarcity, not an exclusivism that forbids a multicultural approach to worship, for instance. To the contrary, this is a claim for revelation that is generous. The difference is between the false universalism that excludes any outside of its purview—the logic that ‘‘all men are brothers,’’ which reduces the non-brother to inhuman—and universalism that endlessly proliferates, without excluding. Levinas has shown how the pact that began as particular to Israel is opened up until it becomes universal.6 The pact of Exodus is revisited (among other places) in Deuteronomy 27 and Joshua 7. Deuteronomy describes the recommendations for a ceremony that is to take place upon

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the Israelites entry into the Promised Land (of course, after Moses’ death). ‘‘And on the day you pass over the Jordan . . . you shall set up large stones, and plaster them with plaster; and you shall write upon them all the words of this law. . . . And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones; you shall lift up no iron tool upon them . . . and you shall write upon the stones all the words of this law ‘very plainly’ (ba’er hetev)’’ (Deut. 27). And then Joshua describes: ‘‘And then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, ‘an altar of unhewn stones, upon which no man has lifted an iron tool . . . and there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.’ ’’ Who receives this law? All of Israel. ‘‘And all Israel, sojourner as well as homeborn, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark—and he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law.’’ Indeed, but all of Israel: when the Mishnah deals with this story, it specifies the blessings and curses that are read: ‘‘They turned their faces toward Mt. Gerizim and began with the blessing: Blessed be the man that maketh not a graven or molten image. And both these and these answered Amen. . . . And afterward they brought the stones and built the altar and plastered it with plaster. And they wrote there all the word of the Law in seventy languages, as it is written ‘very plainly.’ ’’ As Levinas notes, what had begun as a particular, concrete community is now universalized: the law is written in seventy languages—the law that was broken by some is now given to all. The Rabbis (Sanhedrin 56a) reasoned that since Noah is the father of all mankind, the seven commandments given in the Noachide Covenant (Gen. 9:7 ff.) are binding on the whole human race: prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, adultery, the eating of animal flesh with blood in it, as well as a positive commandment to set up courts of justice. According to the tradition, the justice that marks the Hebraic revelation is universal. Much contemporary political theory takes refuge in the notion that it is law—and not justice—that can offer a true universal. After all, they say, substantive justice is particular, contingent, and culturally specific. Because one person’s notion of justice is so different from another’s, which emerges in another culture, they must adjudicate their differences through law. Thank goodness for law, for procedures, for offering them a formal universal. Stuart Hampshire has offered a clear expression of this: ‘‘fairness

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in procedure is an invariable value, a constant in human nature. . . . Because there will always be conflicts between conceptions of the good, moral conflicts, both in the soul and in the city, there is everywhere a wellrecognized need for procedures of confliction resolution. . . . This is the place of a common rationality of method.’’7 The contract is understood as a constraining effort to impose peace on this warring state of nature. But in Exodus, law is not making the claim of being a universal procedure, a dead letter; rather, law is offered as universal justice. Here, again, the Bible distinguishes between a true universal—the reign of justice—and a false one, of procedure. The true one is most radically realized in the image of the interiorized covenant, written on the heart: ‘‘The time is coming,’’ declares the Lord, ‘‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant. . . . This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord, I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.’’ (Jer. 31:31)

In Derrida’s own version of this interiorized justice, this transcendence made immanent, he understands a paradox: ‘‘the inaccessible transcendence of the law [loi], before which and prior to which man stands fast, only appears infinitely transcendent and thus theological to the extent that, nearest to him, it depends only on him, on the performative act by which he institutes it. . . . The law is transcendent and theological, and so always to come, always promised, because it is immanent, finite, and thus already past.’’8 This internalization of justice is not the same as the incarnation, as the Logos of Christianity. Levinas distinguishes them by means of the Law: ‘‘God is real and concrete not through incarnation but through Law.’’9 Indeed, for Judaism, ‘‘it is precisely a word, not incarnate, from God that ensures a living God among us.’’10 Furthermore, Levinas offers a radical corrective to the procedural justice embraced by so much political theory: Justice cannot be reduced to the order it institutes or restores, nor to a system whose rationality commands, without difference, men and gods, revealing itself in human legislation like the structures of space in the theorems of geometricians, a justice that a Montesquieu calls the ‘‘logos of Jupiter,’’ recuperating religion within this metaphor, but effacing precisely

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transcendence. In the justice of the Rabbis, difference [between man and God] retains its meaning. Ethics is not simply the corollary of the religious but is, of itself, the element in which religious transcendence receives its original meaning.11

In the book of Amos (1:2), we are shown the force of this transcendent justice: The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.

And as the word/commandment of the Lord makes the mountains wither, so a famine of the word of the Lord—of justice—will bring desperation. ‘‘Behold, the days are coming,’’ says the Lord God, ‘‘When I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, But they shall not find it.’’ amos 8:11

The Torah, words or commandments of the Lord, is life-giving; take away the Law and Israel dies, thirsting for the revelation of justice. The biblical Amos also takes pains to separate religious ritual from keeping the law of social justice. One does not suffice for the other; in fact the hypocrisy of imagining that it could is offensive to God: ‘‘they lay themselves down beside every altar upon garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined’’ (Amos 2:8). When ritual is empty, divorced from the law of justice, it is despicable: I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your sons: to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:21–24)

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Here again, justice is not imagined as controlling a primordial war for scarce goods; this justice is ever-flowing abundance. In these ways, the Bible distinguishes between a false universal and a true one: the first is a demand of obedience to an empty law, including an arbitrary exclusivity that even enjoins destroying others in the name of God. The second is a demand for universal justice that knows no compromise. Idolatry can be read in both ways: under the reign of exclusivism, ‘‘other gods’’ are regarded as threatening because the option of multiple notions of the Good threatens the community. Under the reign of universal justice, ‘‘other gods’’ signal a threat to justice itself: in this sense, if the biblical name for injustice is idolatry, the biblical name for justice is God. That is why the first patriarch referred to God as ‘‘the Judge of all the Earth.’’ Alain Badiou argues that a ‘‘truth event’’ breaks disruptively, unpredictably, into the given in all of its irreducible, incommunicable singularity, beyond all law, consensus, and conventional understanding, adding that ethics is not that singular revelation of truth, but an ongoing process; that is, the process of remaining faithful to that truth constitutes the subject. And while he has had no difficulty associating the truth-event with the advent of Christ, Badiou pursues the analysis in his book on St. Paul, where, as one New Testament scholar has put it, Paul is virtually a Maoist—he is notably less interested in the radical revelation that marks the Sinai event. And yet this revelation exemplifies his understanding beautifully: the narrative describes the creation of subjects who are asked to be faithful to the event—and it gives dire warnings against pseudo-events, fake truths, and false idols. I hardly need to rehearse the aura of the exceptional that fills the narrative of the Sinai revelation, the radical break from the ordinary, from life as they knew it—with Moses leading them, not only out of Egypt, out of their habitual slavery, but also out of their camp in the wilderness to be suddenly subjected to a terrifying sound and light show: now at daybreak on the third day there were peals of thunder on the mountain and lightning flashes, a dense cloud, and a loud trumpet blast, and inside the camp all the people trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the bottom of the mountain. The mountain of Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke, because God had descended on it in the form of fire. Like smoke from a furnace. . . . Louder and louder grew the sound of the trumpet. Moses spoke, and God answered him with peals of thunder (Exod. 19:16–19)

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The form of fire is indistinct; the voice of thunder is unintelligible. This is not a deity who is easily reduced to a being, even a supreme one, nor for that matter, to any concept of being. The Truth that is delivered has no place in the prior situation: under the terms that reigned prior to revelation, it would be unnameable, unintelligible. The demarcation of the place of the event also points clearly to its break with the prior situation: ‘‘God said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn this people not to pass beyond their bounds to come and look on God, or many of them will lose their lives. . . . Mark out the limits of the mountain and declare it sacred’ ’’ (Exod. 19:21–24). In the philosopher’s language: ‘‘A truth punches a ‘‘hole’’ in knowledges, it is heterogeneous to them, but it is also the sole known source of new knowledges.’’12 The atmosphere at Sinai trembles with something else besides the shock of newness—with threat, even with violence—but why? The people tremble before this God, begging Moses to intercede lest they die (Exod. 20:19). The face of Moses is radiant from his encounter with God, and he must veil himself for others even to be able to withstand the sight of him. Only before God and before the elders, to whom he communicates this startling justice, is he unveiled. It seems that not only the message, but also the messenger is unbearable. The revelation of the law is felt as a crisis: with the entry of the demand for justice, the world changes decisively. Furthermore, because the subject who is created by this event did not exist under the horizon of justice prior to it, that justice commands the hearer to a terrifying moment of decisiveness: will he accept this call to justice or turn away? The first answer is univocal and affirmative: when Moses relates the words of God to the people ‘‘all the people said with one voice, ‘All that he has spoken we will do; we will obey’ ’’ (Exod. 24:3, 7). In his comments on the revelation, Levinas has pointed out that ‘‘The term evoking obedience here [‘‘we will do’’] is anterior to that which expresses understanding [‘‘we will listen’’] and in the eyes of the Talmudic scholars is taken to be the supreme merit of Israel, the ‘wisdom of an angel.’ . . . This obedience before understanding is against Kantian logic, for this biblical ethic cannot be reduced to a categorical imperative in which a universality is suddenly able to direct a will. It is an obedience, rather, which can be traced back to the love of one’s neighbor . . . a love that is obeyed, that is, the responsibility for one’s neighbor.’’13 The demand of Revelation, then, is not a list of rational universals—rather it is a ‘‘love of God that is obeyed.’’ Fidelity to this remarkable event proves to be difficult—a ‘‘difficult freedom,’’ as Levinas refers to it. The difficulty of being faithful to the

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event—of being just—preoccupies the biblical narrative during and after the portrayal of the revelation, and that difficulty has also preoccupied subsequent human history—in this sense, the Revelation is indeed understood as a process, the process of struggling to remain faithful to the truth of the revelation. The wrong paths soon beckon. According to Badiou, there are three ways to betray the truth-event: disavowal, trying to follow old patterns as if nothing had happened; false imitation of the event of truth; and a direct ‘‘ontologization’’ of the event of truth, that is, its reduction to a new positive order of being. The Exodus narrative depicts the ancient Israelites betraying the revelation in every sense. They doubt the validity of event, murmuring, ‘‘Is Yahweh with us or not?’’ (Exod. 17:7), disbelieving, ‘‘you have brought us to this wilderness [not to emancipate us] but to starve this whole company to death!’’ (Exod. 16:3). They give their allegiance to a pseudo-truth, and they reduce their emancipation to an order of being—signaled by their creating an idol of gold: ‘‘They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and worshipped it, ‘Here is your God, Israel, they have cried, ‘who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ ’’ (Exod. 32:8–9). ‘‘Ontologization’’ is offered up as the danger of idolatry, of betrayal, of evil: ‘‘you know how prone these people are to evil,’’ laments Aaron (Exod. 32:23). From another perspective, this is also the idolatry Paul slips into before the Sinai event. By reducing it to prescriptions, to a positive law with rules, he also refuses the event of revelation, and he does so contrary to Jesus, who, like Moses, is faithful to that revelation: ‘‘I come not to oppose the Law but to fulfill it.’’ For his purposes, Paul engages in three different contradictory betrayals of the Sinai event: he denies the enormity of its importance, he ontologizes it as a system of universal rulemaking, and then he claims it is oppressive (the yoke of the law). When the revelation is betrayed, it is destroyed. And when the people of Israel are unfaithful to the Event, it disappears for them. The narrative depicts this as the destruction of the tablets, the destruction of the laws of justice. The people cannot receive this law, are not qualified to receive it, and are not deserving of it. So the law is thrown down and they are punished. Not qualified according to what? Is it according to the principle of justice that precedes the law, an ‘‘impossible justice’’ as Derrida has called it, that must be prior? According to that reading, the story would recount how, having violated justice, the people cannot have the law. But this reading quickly collapses before one of the most compelling aspects of this narrative: it is precisely the first command of the Law—I repeat, the Law, and not a prior justice—that they are violating: the first law is ‘‘thou shalt

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not make a graven image.’’ They are worshipping idols at the very moment that the law prohibiting that act is given; hence, they are disqualified to receive the law forbidding their worship of idols. How are we to understand this seeming tautology? Are we seeing that at its inception, law includes enforcement? In Kant’s understanding of enforceability: there is no law that does not imply in itself, a priori, in the analytic structure of its concept, the possibility of being ‘‘enforced,’’ applied by force.14 In his ‘‘Acts of Religion,’’ Derrida has endorsed this sense: ‘‘there are, to be sure, laws (lois) that are not enforced, but there is no law (loi) without enforceability and no applicability or enforceability of the law (loi) without force, whether this force be direct or indirect, physical or symbolic, exterior or interior, brutal or subtly discursive—even hermeneutic—coercive or regulative, and so forth.’’15 Still, in the biblical scene of the giving of the law, the enforcement of the law is not a response that follows upon the heels of lawbreaking; rather the enforcement is part of the lawgiving. The law is broken even as it is given, and enforced even as it is given. Here, where justice is violated, the law is broken. There is no law without justice. And this is the way the law is introduced into the social order. It is an order that is corrupted, failing in the most fundamental way—worshipping a false god, not the god who brought the people out of the house of slavery—and that must be corrected, however brutally, for social justice to reign. The Pauline example of the truth event is a sudden conversion that renders the new subject non-existent before, but the Hebrew subject is more complex: first he declares fidelity to the event, faith to the revelation—‘‘all that he commands we will do, we will obey’’—and then, despite the intention of fidelity, despite these promises, he backslides, betraying the true event with a false one (idolatry), falling victim to a failure of courage—‘‘because there were no graves in Egypt, did you take us to die in the wilderness?’’ (Exod. 14:11). Paul well understood this subject: ‘‘Though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good thing I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want.’’ When I act against my will, then, it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me’’ (Rom. 7:18–20). But in Pauline terms, this is not a subject; this is sin. In the Exodus narrative, Moses is offered in contrast to this widespread response as embodying unswerving fidelity and missionary zeal on behalf of the truth, a true revolutionary set in relief against the backsliding people who were also given but cannot bear the difficulty of the truth. Moses

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demands fidelity to the Revelation, and only that fidelity can constitute the future community. Those who refuse become the enemy—not only to God, but also to emancipation: ‘‘Gird on your sword, every man of you, and quarter the camp from gate to gate, killing one his brother, another his friends and another his neighbor’’ (Exod. 32:27). And so the Marxist Badiou need not frame Paul as the first biblical revolutionary; he could have turned to Moses whose priesthood of believers is formed at the cost of brothers and sons (Exod. 32:29). The Revelation starts a revolution. But Moses demands fidelity to what? When the lawgiving is renewed, instead of the finger of God writing on the tablets, Moses does the writing, and the voice of God—no longer reified in stone—becomes the foundation of the oral Law, with authority equal to the written one. What he says is what the rabbis puzzle over. If, as I am arguing, what God offers is not merely a series of prescriptions, not ‘‘the yoke of law,’’ what does he confer in this breach with the past, and what is asked of the new subject? In fact, there is hardly any positive ‘‘content’’ in the Revelation, as such, even in the Exodus narrative. And this absence is represented in one of its legacies: on the U.S. Supreme Court’s building where a frieze in the east portico depicts Moses, among other historical lawgivers, holding up two tablets, the tablets are blank. The entrance door to the building’s courtroom also has two tablets with the Roman numerals I through X on them, but no words. Levinas argues that in the living interpretation of the Revelation, what is asked is not fidelity to any positive law, but to justice itself: again, the prior world is ruptured by the radical entry of the demand for justice. Just as the first ‘‘decalogue’’ (Exod. 20) rehearses the need for fidelity to the lawgiver and respect for the other, so the renewed ‘‘ten words’’ (Exod. 34) concern remaining faithful—the demand of allegiance, to remember allegiance, to commemorate allegiance—with warnings and promised rewards. What is required is fidelity to the truth of justice; hence, the warning is made again and again, in different ways, against false truth, against idolatry. ‘‘You shall bow down to no other God’’ (Exod. 34:14), ‘‘you shall make yourself no gods of molten metal’’ (Exod. 34:17); and you shall remember the feast of unleavened bread that commemorates the exodus from the prior condition; you shall dedicate your first fruits to God, dedicate a day in every week to God, the festival of harvest, three more days a year—that covers the ‘‘ten words’’ that are the terms of the covenant, all except for the last sublime metaphor for injustice: ‘‘you shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.’’ What gives life cannot be used to deal death. Surely this image offers a love that is obeyed.

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Levinas has seen this revolutionary aspect of the revelation, and by turning away from the understanding of the subject as solipsistic but instead as constituted by its responsibility for another, Levinas has not only delineated an understanding of the subject that is preeminently social, but also political, despite the frequent charge against him that his ethics lacks a politics. But political, up to a point—the limit is Levinas’s palpable suspicion of the political. Levinas’s distrust of the state is the distrust of someone who, having endured the state crimes of the Nazis, has every reason to be wary: ‘‘The police official does not have time to ask himself where the Good is and where the Evil; he belongs to the established power. He belongs to the State, which has entrusted him with duties. He does not engage in metaphysics; he engages in police work.’’16 He fears that if in order to fight evil we adopt the tactics of politics, we would find ourselves in the service of the state. How can we engage responsibly in political action when we cannot be sure about the nature of evil, about what is evil?’’ Interpreting the Rabbis, he writes, ‘‘Unquestionably violent action against Evil is necessary. And we shall soon see that this violence takes on all the appearances of political action.’’17 But he sees the rabbis seeking deeper understanding, insisting on the necessary prior question, how do you recognize evil? For Levinas, here ‘‘lies the difference between a police action at the service of the established State and true revolutionary action.’’18 Ethical thought has two approaches that merge in one another: one focuses on the problem of evil, of how to recognize it and how to defeat it. Another focuses on the problem of good, of how to recognize it and to cultivate it. Again, not separable, and yet these are different emphases and they often presuppose different anthropologies and even different understandings of evil. Levinas has been critiqued for the impotence of his ethics of the other before true evil. How can I bear responsibility for the other if the other is a monster? How would I be able to discern its monstrosity? How be able to defeat it, if I am responsible. Before these difficulties, he offers his ethic of the priority of the other. For him, the evil of self-interest, of instrumentality, is not so far afield from the positive evil of a Hitler. As Adorno has shown, the evil of instrumentality can become the holocaust. When Levinas explicitly distinguishes between the heirs of Abraham, the universal family of humanity, and the state, he does so nervously, knowing that this will make some readers unhappy, adding, ‘‘it is suggested by the text. Let not the worshippers of the state, who proscribe the survival of Jewish particularism, be angered!’’ ‘‘There is more in the family

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of Abraham than in the promises of the state. It is important to give, of course, but everything depends on how it is done. It is not through the state and through the political advances of humanity that the person shall be fulfilled, which, of course, does not free the state from instituting the conditions necessary to this fulfillment. But it is the family of Abraham that sets the norms.’’ Privileging the ‘‘children of Abraham’’ over the state, Levinas takes pains to qualify that community as not a blood group; this is not ‘‘petit-bourgois racism and particularism.’’19 So who are the heirs of Abraham? ‘‘Those to whom their ancestor bequeathed a difficult tradition of duties toward the other man, which one is never done with, an order from which one is never free. . . . So defined, the heirs of Abraham are of all nations: any man truly man is no doubt of the line of Abraham’’ (my italics).20 Nonetheless, justice is not achieved; we are not there yet. Its violation led to the breaking of the law in a graphic depiction of the difficulty of that achievement. What Genesis Rabbah says about the justice of God makes this clear: When Abraham addressed his plea to God, ‘‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly? The meaning of his words was: If You desire the world to continue there cannot be strict justice; if you insist on strict justice, the world cannot endure’’ (Gen. R. xxxix:6). The failure of justice, the hidden face of God, is both part of the suffering of Judaism and the threat to the entire creation. As Levinas writes, in Volozhiner’s Nefesh ha’Hayyim (The Soul of Life), published posthumously in 1824, man has a partnership in the creation. For ‘‘through God’s will, man’s acts, words, and thoughts . . . condition or disturb or block the association of God with the world.’’ God needed man to give life to the beings of the world, to sustain them, ‘‘and thereby bring them into existence.’’21 How is this participation in the sustenance of the world achieved? Through each act of justice: this is ‘‘participation’’ in divinity, but not in the Augustinian sense. ‘‘Let nobody in Israel—God forbid! wrote Volozhiner, ask himself: ‘what am I, and what can my humble acts achieve in the world?’ Let him rather understand this, that he may know it and fix it in his thoughts: not one detail of his acts, of his words and of his thoughts is ever lost. Each one leads back to its origin where it takes effect in the height of heights. . . . The man of intelligence who understands this in its truth will be fearful at heart and will tremble as he thinks how far his bad acts reach and what corruption and destruction even a small misdeed can cause.’’22 ‘‘In this way,’’ writes Levinas, ‘‘man becomes, in turn, the soul of the world, as if God’s creative word had been entrusted to him to dispose of as he liked, to let it ring out, or to interrupt it.’’

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This responsibility, with God, for the beings of the world, is for Volozhiner the meaning of Gen 1:27 which describes man as being made in the image of God. Man is not in the image of God as possessor of the earth, as sovereign with dominion over it—as in Gregory of Nyssa—but as responsible for keeping the created order, for bearing responsibility for the other, in a word, for justice. As Levinas remarks with wonder, ‘‘the contribution of the readers, listeners and pupils to the open-ended work of the Revelation is so essential to it that I was recently able to read . . . that the slightest question put to the schoolmaster by a novice constitutes an ineluctable articulation of the Revelation which was heard at Sinai.’’23 Because so much of humankind is unjust, the just man will undoubtedly suffer. But in the end, the ‘‘God Who hides His face and abandons the just man, this distant God, comes from within,’’ from the intimacy of one’s conscience and the moral law. ‘‘This is the specifically Jewish sense of suffering that at no stage assumes the value of a mystical atonement for the sins of the world.’’24 If the Revelation offers the gift of justice, neither Levinas nor the Hebrew Bible ever underestimate how difficult this gift of justice is. If the Bible portrays humanity as persistently failing, and, the human history of agony confirms that failure, it also insists that the radical entry of justice into the world cannot be compromised with cheap solutions—what it calls idolatry. In Paul, the gift of grace works differently, imputing righteousness through the death of Christ. What the gift of justice does, on the other hand, is present one with the harsh reality that only acts of justice performed by the subject, and only by him, can help to create a just world and only this can relieve despair. There is no other way out—no imputed righteousness, as in Luther. And this is what makes the covenantal demand of justice ultimately political: while Revelation is a radical rupture into the status quo, it does not offer a miraculous solution to human pain.

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chapter 12

Drawing—the Single Trait: Toward a Politics of Singularity Samuel Weber

Politics, in its theory and even more in its practice, has always tended to subordinate the singular to the general, generally by equating it with the particular, which, qua ‘‘part,‘‘ already implies its dependency upon and subservience to a ‘‘whole.‘‘ At the same time—a ‘‘time’’ that is first of all that of Western ‘‘modernity,’’ here defined as the period ushered in by the Reformation, the ensuing Wars of Religion and the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) and extending until today, ‘‘postmodernism’’ notwithstanding— theoreticians of ‘‘liberal democracy’’ have sought to legitimate the institution in which the Whole materializes itself politically—either juridically, as the nation-state, or morally, as ‘‘the people’’—as providing the indispensable condition for the development of the individual qua self-fulfillment. Nothing is more familiar than this claim, going back at least to Hobbes, and yet nothing is more enigmatic. For after all, what is a ‘‘self’’ and what does its ‘‘fulfillment’’ entail? In the Christian tradition out of whose crisis the political systems and strategies of ‘‘Western modernity’’ develop, the self is generally understood as that which marks the ability of an individual to stay the same over time. In this sense, the self can be considered as the secular successor of the ‘‘soul.’’ As the quintessence of the ‘‘individual,’’ the self thereby becomes humanized. For we—‘‘we’’ here being especially English-speakers1—can

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all too easily forget or overlook the fact that ‘‘an individual’’ does not have to be a human individual: it can be any entity understood to be in principle in-divisible and thereby self-contained. In short: autonomous. U.S. English speakers can all too easily overlook this fact because in this version of English, the word ‘‘self’’ is almost inevitably associated with a person, and hence with a human being.2 This is not necessarily the case in other languages, for instance French or German. The soi in French, and the Selbst in German need not refer primarily to human individuals. In French, despite the growing influence of Foucault’s publications on the souci de soi3—the care of the self—the word soi has a more linguistic or logical than a referential or human significance. Soi designates a reflexive movement, in which something—not necessarily human—returns to that which it was, to its essence or its origin. Similarly, Selbst in German is by no means the simple equivalent of ‘‘self,’’ as indicated by its adverbial function, in which the word tends to refer not to the completion of an identity but to its limits: ‘‘Selbst die Amerikaner’’: ‘‘even the Americans,’’ or ‘‘the Americans themselves. . . .’’ But the fact that U.S. English tends to privilege the association of ‘‘self’’ with the human individual is hardly pure accident. For although ‘‘self’’ as a reflexive marker need not refer only or primarily to human beings, ever since Descartes a certain notion of reflexivity—of something returning to what it was—has found its exemplary articulation in the human individual, and this by virtue of a long but nevertheless delimitable tradition, which Heidegger has aptly designated as ‘‘onto-theological.’’4 If, in this tradition, only a human can be a law unto itself, it is because only human beings are construed as created in the image of a Being—a divine Creator—that is simply identical to itself. Human autonomy thus derives from the notion of man as created in the image of a single and self-identical Creator. Thus, contrary to the opposition often supposed to define the relation of secular autonomy and religious heteronomy, the notion of autonomy and its association with man is in profound accord with the biblical account of the creation of the world through the divine logos. ‘‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth’’5 (Gen. 1:1) and then ‘‘every living creature after his kind’’ (Gen. 1:21). Each living being is thus created as an individual that is exemplary of a ‘‘kind,’’ instantiation of a genus or a genre. The individual is indivisible in its essence because the latter is grounded in the ‘‘kind’’—in the genre it exemplifies—which in turn reflects the self-identical structure of the Creator: God as One and as Self. In the monotheistic Creator-God, individual and genus are absolutely one and the same. In His Creation, all creatures are created in the

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image of such identity, which, however, is no longer immediate and absolute. Only man approaches such immediate self-identity of individual and genus. But this approach is not unequivocal: man is both singular and plural, splitting the story of creation into two versions just as he himself is split into man and woman, Adam and Eve. Both are human, which is to say members of a single genus. But that genus is split generically. And it is precisely that split that will seal—or open—the fate of ‘‘man.’’ To begin with, however—and this beginning will determine both the terminus ab quo and ad quem of the ‘‘human’’—man, made in the image of God, is the epitome of a self-hood that is grounded in the unity of the Creator and that therefore informs all creatures in the creation as their measure. As a world of selves, the Creation is already, in and from the beginning, organized hierarchically. Man is created in the image of God to rule over all other creatures on Earth just as he in turn is ruled over by his Creator. According to Genesis, in the beginning God created the living to live on and proliferate without limit. God’s first words to the newly created man and woman link such proliferation and generation to dominion: Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish in the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen. 1:28)

In the beginning, then, there was life without death, and time served to measure the space of such limitless life, marked by growth but not decay, fulfillment but not destruction.6 And yet, the creation of the world as the space of unlimited life demands limitation if that life is to take place as the living—as living beings that are somehow individuated. It is not enough that the Earth is defined by opposition to the Heavens, or to the Oceans—it too must be individuated, localized, turned into a place. Life is thus localized in and as the Garden of Eden, which God is said to ‘‘plant’’ rather than to ‘‘create’’ and in which he ‘‘put the man whom he had formed’’ (Gen. 2:8) There is now an ‘‘inside’’ and hence necessarily also an outside, even if that outside at first has no significance other than to serve as the condition of the inside. This inside is a place of life as pure generation, a process marked by the growth of trees: And out of the ground made the lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 2:9)

Two trees in the Garden, nourished by a river that ‘‘went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four

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heads’’ (Gen. 2:10). One garden, two trees, four arms—or ‘‘heads’’—of the river. In this place, then, life proliferates without limit. Life, and human life in particular, is thus created to flourish without death. Death will enter this world of pure life only as the result of a deliberate human action—an act of disobedience. But the condition of possibility of such disobedience, and hence of the introduction of mortality into the world, is that a certain negativity already be present in the Garden of Eden. And it is precisely this that occurs immediately following the initial description of the Garden, when God addresses man as follows: And the lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Gen. 2:16)

Freud writes in Totem and Taboo that where there are prohibitions, there must first be desires to prohibit.7 But how could there be a desire of the sort that God thus feels obliged to prohibit? For, as Walter Benjamin observes in his 1916 essay on ‘‘On Language as Such and On the Language of Man,’’8 in the beginning everything that God had created was per se— per creatum—good: there was no evil. And hence, the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil could have no purpose, no reason to be. Except perhaps that of standing in the shadow of its neighbor, the Tree of Life. Or conversely, that of casting its shadow over its neighbor. Whatever its reason for being there, the sanction for violating the divine prohibition seems unequivocal: ‘‘For in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.’’ Read in view of what comes to pass, this ‘‘in the day of’’ is all the more striking, since Adam and Eve will not die immediately following their transgression. Death will enter the biblical account specifically only after they have left the Garden, and as the result of another crime—this time that of fratricide. Abel will be the first person explicitly named as suffering death, and he will suffer it at the hands of his brother, who is therefore marked by God—not, however, to be killed in turn, out of vengeance, but rather to become a wanderer. Death therefore, the divine prohibition notwithstanding, will take time, take its time—taking time in the world outside of Eden, into the exile to which Adam and Eve are condemned. And the form it will assume at first will be indirect: not death itself but rather hard labor and suffering. Death is thus put to work while biding its time. The Divine prohibition lays down the Law in the Garden of Eden. But if this law has no ostensible reason to be there, here, in the world outside,

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it has a function, a purpose: that of assigning guilt. The Divine prohibition marks the introduction of the Law, and with the Law, the ascription of guilt. Whoever eats of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil will be found guilty. But guilty of what? And again: why should one want to eat of the forbidden tree, when its ‘‘object’’—the difference between good and evil—has no ‘‘purchase’’ in the Garden of Eden? The words with which the serpent tempts Eve suggest a response. The serpent tells Eve that ‘‘in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil’’ (Gen. 3:5). To eat of the Tree of Knowledge would be ‘‘to be as gods.’’ And thereby to change the single Creator God into a genus, ‘‘Gods.’’ To know the difference between good and evil would thus be tantamount to transforming the singularity of the Deity in its radical Otherness into the similarity of a genre. The act of eating from the Tree of Knowledge threatens to bring about this transformation. God responds to this act by pronouncing sentence on the transgressors, but not before acknowledging that He is no longer alone in his Divinity. In order to explain and perhaps also to justify the punishment He will mete out, God can no longer simply speak, as when he created the world: he must address others. And the only others who would be qualified to be so addressed in the first-person plural (assuming the translation is at all accurate) are precisely those he must punish for such hubris: And the lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us,9 to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (Gen. 3:23–24)

Labor and suffering are thus introduced as a form of punishment, as the divine response to guilt and transgression. Work and suffering are death deferred—but only deferred. But beyond the content of the punishment, it is its enunciation that concerns us here. Whom does God so address, as he judges and condemns Adam and Eve for violating his prohibition and wanting to ‘‘become as one of us’’? Who is this ‘‘us’’? A ‘‘royal we’’? In any case, the deity is exempt from the punishment to be visited on the disobedient humans, from death and from the labor and suffering to which man will be condemned as punishment for his guilty act. Through its consequences, this act links the Tree of Knowledge to its neighbor in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life. First, one partakes of knowledge—and not just any knowledge but the knowledge of good and

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evil as relative to, and therefore dependent upon, one another. The same holds for life, which is relativized by being linked to death. Henceforth, good will be linked to evil as life to death. This linkage is depicted ambivalently: on one hand, as the result of deliberate human action, violating the divine law, and on the other, the existence of that law already presupposes not just the desire of humans to become immortal, which is to say: divine, but also that to which such desire seeks to respond: death as enabling condition of (human) life. To know good in relation to evil opens the way to knowing life in relation to death and hence, to desiring life to be eternal. It is only by acquiring the knowledge that distinguishes good from evil that life is distinguished from—and hence, related to—death. Death thus imposes itself upon the living, but as an extrinsic obstacle to be overcome. This is the consequence of eating of the Tree of Knowledge, at least in the biblical narrative. Man has eaten from the Tree of Knowledge—his next step, God speculates, is to try his hand at the Tree of Life. God responds, however, not by immediately imposing the death sentence as announced in his interdiction, but rather by deferring execution through exile, labor and return to the earth. What this biblical account suggests, notwithstanding its many ambiguities, is that the knowledge of good and evil is implicated in the relation of life to death. To know good and evil—which means to distinguish the one from the other but also to recognize their inseparability—is a first step in the desire to be(come) immortal, like God. But if such knowledge is only a first step, it implies the recognition of mortality, if only as a stage to be transcended. This stage is marked by two things: first, by shame—the shameful awareness of man’s ‘‘nakedness,’’ and second, perhaps more important, by something that is not just an affect, but a state of being: guilt. In eating from the Tree of Knowledge, man becomes guilty, which in the biblical narrative means deserving of lifelong punishment. Mortality is the name of that punishment, and work and suffering are its immediate manifestations. Death is not merely introduced into human life: it is justified as punishment for transgression. Man becomes mortal because he becomes guilty as a result of his deliberate actions, in which he knowingly violates divine law. Guilt plays an ambiguous role in this story. Man becomes mortal by virtue of his guilt, but he becomes guilty implicitly in order to gain knowledge that would overcome mortality, although the biblical narrative cannot acknowledge this. What it does indicate is that the guilt-producing transgression is made possible only because ‘‘man’’ is not simply a unified or univocal genre but rather gendered, which is to say, split. It is Adam’s

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other, Eve, who is addressed by the serpent. Man’s other responds to the serpent and convinces Adam—‘‘man’’—to commit the fateful act. As gendered, the genus man is not alone, not self-identical, but already enmeshed in an uncanny gendered alterity. The unity of genre is broken by the divisibility of gender. But if in this rendition disobedience emerges as the ultimate cause and justification of death, then it stands to reason—that is, to reasoning that is based on equivalence, reciprocity, and reversibility—that only the restoration of obedience can possibly undo the punishment provoked by its lack. If man is condemned to finitude as a result of his reaction, this death sentence might turn out to be amenable to appeal. In this sense, the ‘‘fall’’ is always potentially also fortunate: a felix culpa, wherein the Christian tradition, from Augustine to Aquinas and beyond, has seen the negative condition of redemption.10 If the desire to know brought about the fall, another kind of knowledge, called ‘‘faith,’’ can perhaps undo it in the end. If death came about through human action qua disobedience, might it not be overcome equally through human action, as faithful obedience? Precisely this thought is uttered by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (1:15): For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Hobbes quotes this passage in Chapter 38 of his Leviathan, one of the founding texts of modern political theory. It also explains the reason for the brief excursus just made into Biblical exegesis. If, as I have tried to show elsewhere,11 protection is the defining project of the nation-state in modern political theory, and often also in practice, then this presupposes a question that is rarely asked although it informs most conceptions of politics: protection from what and for what? The beginnings of an answer, I suggest, can be found in the essentially Christian notion of original sin as a fortunate fall. If death came into the world through the actions of man—actions which are presented as ‘‘original’’ and hence as exempt from any further questioning—it can be surmounted—so the Christian Good News— through more of the same. It is this promise of salvation and of ‘‘resurrection’’ through action—modified to include another form of intentional activity, namely ‘‘faith’’—that the modern nation-state, whether conceived of as a Leviathan or more liberally, as a consensual collective, is expected to secure. Homeland Security is thus to be achieved through protracted war against all the forces of evil, of death and destruction—the true ‘‘war

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against terror’’—beginning with (sinful) man himself, defined as the ‘‘terrorist’’ and the ‘‘enemy.’’ In this light, the sovereign nation-state appears on one hand as heir to a Catholic Church whose universality had been decisively challenged by the Reformation; and on the other hand, as heir to the Reformation’s insistence on irreducible particularity, on the individual as locus of faith and hence of salvation. Of course, a nation-state is not a universal Church, although it belongs to an order that tends to appropriate the monotheistic claim to universality, a claim that inevitably brings it into conflict with other nation-states, a conflict that in turn produces the justification of single-state hegemony. In the wake of immensely destructive wars of religion—intra-Christian wars, for the most part—the modern system of nation-states sought through ‘‘international law’’—or, as it is called in German: Vo¨lkerrecht (a more literal translation of the Roman ius gentium)—to regulate the inevitable conflicts that emerged between particular political entities whose legitimation involved claims to universal validity that inevitably promoted conflict. The task inherited by the secular nation-states from the Church shifted from that of organizing ‘‘salvation’’ to that of assuring ‘‘safety.’’ (In French, one word fits all, a fact that suggests their proximity even today: salut.)12 The raison d’eˆtre of the modern state is no longer directly soteriological or redemptive, but rather protective.13 It seeks to secure the lives and livelihoods of its members. In the process it shifts the notion of ‘‘guilt’’ from a religious one, the original sin of Adam and Eve, to a moral and legal one, the ‘‘guilt’’ of those who violate the laws—laws presented as the condition of security and of protection, of public safety. In the judicial system, as in the biblical narrative, the cause of guilt is bound up with intention. Just as original sin was brought into the world by a deliberate act, so juridical guilt is dependent upon intention. And just as criminal guilt can be purged by punishment—another intentional act—sin can be purged by penance or repentance. The goal of such penance or repentance, of such punishment, is to ‘‘redeem’’ the ‘‘guilt’’ of the living, qua individuals, by assuring the survival of the nation or people. The Christian promise of individual salvation devolves upon the political collective. But that collective is never simply present to itself: it always involves a promise, which is to say, the future. Faith in the future determines the future of faith. Hence also the importance of nouns such as nation and people, which can claim to provide a bridge, a link, from the individual present to the collective future: only as the member of such groups can vulnerable and guilty individuals hope to survive, if not to be ‘‘saved.’’

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Hence, the importance of the ‘‘nation’’: it can claim to secure a ‘‘state’’ that transcends the transience of finite living beings. The nation—whether as ‘‘state’’ or as ‘‘people’’—can claim to provide its citizens—and above all its ‘‘natives’’—with the time-transcending space of the Same, where birth comes into its own by ostensibly being emancipated from death. The nation fascinates and persists as the virtual fulfillment of the promise of the Nativity and it is this that ultimately informs and defines its demographic ‘‘biopolitics.’’ Birth and contiguous territory, which constitute the temporal and spatial conditions of a providential nation-state that must also be localized, thus acquire a phantasmatic and thinly veiled theological significance when the primary political task is defined as that of protecting the innocent by punishing the guilty. Borders and walls, fences and enclosures are erected to demarcate this binary opposition, beginning with that of separating the inside from the outside, the ‘‘native’’ from the ‘‘foreign.’’ Through its interdictory function, law defines guilt and legitimates punishment. The death penalty is the exemplary legal sanction in a political realm that defines its primary task as that of affirming the sanctity of life— not simply in general but that of its citizens. It confirms its sovereignty by demonstrating its power to take life in order to protect life.14 The legal prerogative of taking life provides occasions for the state to demonstrate not just its own power, but through it, the power of life as such over death. The ‘‘execution’’ of the death penalty thus comes to exemplify the very notion of ‘‘execution’’ itself. The legal putting-to-death of the guilty is presented as the paradigmatic actus purus. By this act the living seek to assert their power as the power of life over death, revealing the ‘‘true’’ nature of death, from the biblical standpoint just discerned, namely as the product of an intentional act. Death is thus counteracted and the life of the body politic thereby ‘‘secured’’—that is, redeemed. ‘‘For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.’’ As Rechtsstaat, the nation-state seeks to embody this redemptive promise of resurrection— not of individuals but of a collective that survives and even thrives on the death of the individuals that it sacrifices. Execution of the guilty foreshadows redemption to come. Without guilt, no redemption. Without law, no safety. Without punishment, no law. Without death, no life. This interpretation and administration of ‘‘guilt,’’ which is endemic to the political-legal systems that it in turn informs and sustains, derives its staying power ultimately from an onto-mono-theological interpretation of ‘‘life’’ as essentially ‘‘birth’’ and ‘‘rebirth,’’ and thus as a generic process that transcends individual death. In this interpretation, which is also at

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the core of the Christian Gospel, death is defined as that which life must presuppose, but only in order to transcend. In this tradition, sovereignty always entails the power to give and to take life, long before this ability takes on the specifically ‘‘biopolitical’’ forms of population control and management analyzed by Foucault. In the Christian tradition, all politics is biopolitics, which also means thanatopolitics. But the rhetorical and political staying power of this tradition depends crucially on a very distinctive determination of guilt, construing it not simply as indebtedness to or dependency on the other but rather as the product of a deliberate, intentional act: in other words, as a product of the self. (Note that in most jurisprudence the principle of mens rea—the thing in the mind—remains an essential condition for the determination of guilt: if acts are committed unconsciously or involuntarily, ‘‘guilt’’ and ‘‘punishment’’ are more difficult to assign.)15 It is this act that ultimately defines the subject of history as an individual living being, who qua living individual is mortal, but who at the same time has been created by and in the image of a unique and immortal God. Individualism seems thus essentially linked to the monotheistic tradition, although clearly not all monotheism must necessarily lead to individualism. This link is therefore neither simple nor without contradiction. Indeed, the very possibility of law seems to depend upon a maxim that in part appears to contradict mens rea: the maxim that ignorantia legis neminem excusat, ignorance of the law excuses no one from being subject to it. If not a mystery, at the very least this installs an enigma at the heart of the individual’s relation to the law, and through it, to the state of law, the Rechtsstaat. One is expected to be aware of the consequences of one’s act in order for law to be ‘‘applied’’ to individual acts; and yet one cannot plead lack of knowledge as a reason to be exempted from law, as for example ‘‘K’’ attempts to do at the beginning, and throughout, Kafka’s Trial. As K. quickly discovers, ‘‘guilt’’ does not depend upon knowledge of the law—although in many cases, it may depend on knowledge or awareness of the consequences of one’s acts.16 Given the massive fact and influence of this tradition, which today is inseparable from what is called globalization—although it is also not simply identical to it—any alternative to what I will call the dominant monotheistic-individualistic interpretation of guilt and its obverse, the good citizen, will have to build on internal contradictions and tensions rather than appealing to an exteriority that qua exteriority is already included in the internal logic and program of the mono-theological political system and its institutions.

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It is with this in mind that I turn to a short text of Walter Benjamin’s, which does not directly address political questions at all, but only aesthetic ones. If it can be read as having political implications, this reading will therefore have to proceed by readdressing the much-vexed question of the relation of politics to aesthetics, beginning with the question of how those terms are to be understood. In the process, it may turn out to be advisable to revisit the meaning that Kant sought to reserve for the term, ‘‘aesthetics,’’ in a famous note at the beginning of his ‘‘Transcendental Aesthetics’’ of space and time, in his Critique of Pure Reason, in which he argued for a return of the meaning to its Greek origins, associated with the study of sensual appearance rather than with the appreciation of beauty or art.17 As we will see, the implications of Benjamin’s text can be understood better as a continuation of this Kantian critique than as the development of an aesthetical conception of politics articulated in the years following Kant’s Critiques first by Schiller and then by Hegel and many others.18 The text is entitled ‘‘Destiny and Character’’—Schicksal und Charakter. It was written in 1919 but not published until 1921. Although not directly concerned with political issues, it was composed at the same time that Benjamin was elaborating what he initially hoped would be a general theory of politics, of which however only one text, his ‘‘Critique of Violence’’ (‘‘Kritik der Gewalt’’), has survived; two other major essays, ‘‘The True Politician’’ (‘‘Der wahre Politiker’’) and ‘‘True Politics’’ (‘‘Die wahre Politik’’), either have been lost or never were written. Benjamin’s attitude toward ‘‘Destiny and Character’’19 as documented in his correspondence was somewhat ambivalent. On one hand, in a letter to Gershom Scholem dating from 1919, he counts it among ‘‘my best works’’ and associates it with another lost text: a critique of Ernst Bloch’s Spirit of Utopia (GS 2. 3, 941).20 On the other hand, in a letter written several years later to Hugo von Hofmannsthal he describes the essay as not entirely successful: A few years ago I tried to liberate the old words, destiny and character, from their terminological servitude and to render their original life accessible in the spirit of the German language. But this attempt reveals to me today just how difficult such a project is. Where insight proves to be insufficient . . . [a] forcing [takes place]. (GS 2. 3, 941)

Benjamin still defends such ‘‘forcing’’ as preferable to the false ‘‘sovereignty’’ that marks much writing of the time, but he nevertheless points to his subsequent discussion of ‘‘destiny’’ in the essay on Goethe’s Elective Affinities as an improvement over the earlier and much shorter text. It should however be noted that this later discussion, like the one that will

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follow it, in his 1924 study of the Origin of the German Mourning Play, builds on the earlier essay, which it quotes at length. It can therefore be argued that the earlier text, notwithstanding its imperfections, still provides the best access to Benjamin’s thinking on the question of ‘‘destiny,’’ and above all on its complex but significant relation to what he will analyze as ‘‘character.’’ It is therefore significant that when Benjamin describes his struggle to ‘‘liberate’’ certain concepts from a terminological tradition that had arrested their internal dynamic, he names only one of the two words that will constitute the title and subject matter of the essay, namely ‘‘destiny’’ (Schicksal). About the other word, ‘‘character,’’ he says nothing. To be sure, the main focus of the 1919 essay—and this will also hold for both of the later texts mentioned: the essay on Goethe’s novel and the study of the German baroque mourning play—remains the first of the two terms: destiny. However, as the title suggests and the essay itself makes clear, the two words, although distinct, are not to be separated. It is in their relationship that they unfold their significance. In his examination of destiny, Benjamin turns for examples to the aesthetic genre that ever since Aristotle has been placed at the summit of poetry, namely tragedy; character, on the other hand, he associates with a traditionally less valued literary form, namely comedy, but also with a nonaesthetic domain, if under ‘‘aesthetics’’ we understand strictly ‘‘fine arts’’: with physiognomy. In his 1924 essay on Elective Affinities, to which Benjamin refers in his letter to Hofmannsthal, he will devote several pages to a discussion of destiny, but very little to the question of character, understandably enough since its comic dimension is allotted very little space in Goethe’s novel. This comic dimension of ‘‘character,’’ however, will turn out to be of considerable relevance for the particular set of questions we are pursuing here; but to get at it, we will first have to examine the way in which Benjamin situates it with respect to tragedy and ‘‘destiny.’’ He begins his essay by attacking the prevailing manner in which destiny and character are generally related to one another, namely causally, with character being understood as the cause of destiny. Causality here he describes as a perspective that implies the ability to prognosticate: If the character of a human being, i.e. its manner of reacting, were to be known in all of its detail, and if on the other hand the events of the world were known in all of the regions in which they could meet up with that character, it would then be possible to say both what that character would

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encounter as well as what acts it would perform. In short, its destiny would be known. (GS 2.1, 171/SW 1, 201)

Against this prevailing modern conception, which tends to see in character the ‘‘cause’’ of destiny, thus treating the two as inseparable, Benjamin will go on to distinguish them radically, but also to emphasize certain essential attributes that they share. The most significant of these is that both are accessible not directly, but only through signs: character through (mainly) bodily signs, destiny through both bodily and ‘‘signs of external life’’ (172/202). Having thus emphasized the semiotic dimension of both character and destiny, Benjamin emphasizes that this excludes all causality or determinism: ‘‘A signifying connection (Bedeutungszusammenhang) can never be grounded causally’’ (ibid.). Just how this connection should be understood Benjamin is not ready to say: he restricts his discussion to the semantic dimension of the signified or designated—die Bezeichneten—rather than analyzing its specifically semiotic function with respect to character and destiny. The traditional, causal explanation of the relationship of destiny and character presupposes a dichotomy between the external and the internal that for Benjamin is untenable: For it is impossible to form a concept of the outside of an active (wirkenden) human being whose nucleus would consist in character. No concept of an external world can be distinguished from the concept of an active human being. Between both there is rather interaction (Wechselwirkung), their spheres of action intermingle. . . . The outside that an active human being encounters can be derived from his interior and vice-versa—indeed each can be considered to be in principle inseparable from the other. From this perspective, character and destiny, far from being theoretically distinct, converge. Thus Nietzsche, when he observes: ‘‘When one has character, one also has an experience that returns again and again.’’ (172–173/202)

Nietzsche’s observation allows Benjamin to conclude not just that it is theoretically untenable to determine the relationship of character to destiny in terms of the opposition ‘‘inside-outside,’’ since the tendency is then to subordinate the one to the other, the external to the internal, with the result that where there is character, there precisely can be ‘‘no destiny,’’ but only a certain recurrence—to which he and we will later return. Having thus challenged the prevailing tendency to associate character with destiny as its internal cause, Benjamin begins to deploy his arguments in favor of their radical separation. Once again, he does so by challenging the prevailing view, which associates destiny with religion and character with ethics. He begins by advancing what will be his major argument with

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respect to destiny, namely, its constitutive relation to ‘‘guilt’’ (Schuld). And it is here that his remarks connect with—and indeed inspired—our introductory reading of the first books of Genesis. For in attempting to arrive at a genuine understanding of the relation of ‘‘guilt’’ to ‘‘destiny,’’ Benjamin first of all challenges the prevailing interpretation of guilt as the result of a transgressive action, and of destiny as consisting in the ‘‘response of God or of the Gods to [such] religious wrongdoing (Verschuldung)’’ (174/203). Destiny, he argues, is indeed linked to guilt, but not to guilt understood in a religious or moral sense. For the latter presupposes—again the biblical reference is clear—a state of innocence, a nonguilt (in German, Unschuld), a paradisiacal situation in which guilt is absent. The model of such innocence and its loss is of course the Garden of Eden, but for Benjamin this is precisely not what marks the notion of guilt with which he is concerned and in which he sees the explanation of destiny. The text that informs his notion of guilt, which is tied not to innocence but to misfortune, is therefore not that of Genesis but that of Greek tragedy, above all the Oresteia of Aeschylus, to which he will explicitly refer in his subsequent discussion of tragedy in the Origin of the German Mourning Play. For it is in Greek tragedy, according to Benjamin, that the essence of destiny and of guilt is both revealed and transcended: In tragedy the pagan senses that he is better than his Gods, but this knowledge strikes him dumb; language remains muted (verschla¨gt ihm die Sprache, sie bleibt dumpf ). Without declaring itself (ohne sich zu bekennen), it seeks secretly to marshal its forces. It does not place guilt and atonement on a scale to be measured, but rather shakes them up together. (GS 1, 288–289)21

Note here how in the process of tragedy, the subject has shifted from the tragic hero as a person, to the language in which he is engaged, albeit negatively, by refusing to speak. It is not so much ‘‘he’’ that is struck dumb as language itself, which ‘‘remains muted.’’ Or rather, not language itself, but the preexisting, predominant language of a certain pagan polytheism. This language is for Benjamin not religious, but both mythical and legal in both origin and structure. Its salient characteristic emerges in an image that Benjamin invokes to describe it: that of the ‘‘scale’’ of legal justice— which in turn is based on equivalence, on the commensurability of guilt and atonement, of Schuld and Su¨hne.22 Hence, the figure of the ‘‘scale of Justice’’ (174/203), which in turn presupposes the separability of what it measures, ‘‘guilt’’ and ‘‘atonement’’ (brought about through punishment):

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The laws of destiny, misfortune and guilt, are elevated by the Law (das Recht) to measures of the person. [. . .] The Law condemns not to punishment but to guilt. Destiny is the guilt nexus [Schuldzusammenhang] of the living. (GS 2.1, 174–175/ SW 1, 203).

Far from being at home in the realm of religion, then, ‘‘destiny’’ for Benjamin belongs to the juridical realm. But this statement in turn requires further elaboration. For Benjamin’s association of guilt with both ‘‘atonement’’ (Entsu¨hnung) and punishment (Strafe) shows that his notion of the judicial is already informed by certain moral-religious concepts. And as the last (and often cited) sentence of the passage just quoted indicates, this moral-religious dimension is inseparable from a ‘‘biological’’ one, which in turn is not without its biopolitical implications. What is decisive is that the ‘‘person’’ subjected to fate through guilt and misfortune is, in the judicial system, measurable. And this, in turn, means subordinated to criteria that render it commensurable. What is the basis of such commensurability, which provides the ‘‘scale’’ on which the legal subject is judged—which is to say, condemned or exonerated? It is precisely its appurtenance to ‘‘the living,’’ which in this case designates a generic category, what Feuerbach and Marx call a Gattungswesen, a ‘‘species being’’—a term that has recently become frequent in biopolitical discourses. Benjamin elaborates this biogeneric dimension of ‘‘guilt’’: The judicial condemns not to punishment but to guilt. Destiny is the guiltnexus of the Living. This corresponds to the natural constitution of the Living. . . . At bottom it is not man who has a destiny . . . but rather the bare life in him that partakes of natural guilt and of misfortune by virtue of its phenomenality (Kraft des Scheines). (175/204)

For Benjamin, then, all destiny is manifest destiny—tied to phenomenality, to appearance and to illusion, since all three of these meanings are wrapped up in the untranslatable German word, Schein (literally, ‘‘shine’’ or ‘‘semblance’’). But the basis of its manifestation is also ‘‘natural,’’ which here suggests that it is linked to an interpretation of human life that can be described—although Benjamin does not—as paradoxical. For it is a life that on one hand is construed as ‘‘natural’’ in the sense of being intrinsically meaningful, self-contained, and on the other as guilty and unfortunate, which implies not so much unhappiness as involvement with and dependence on others. One of the most significant, if not the most significant, attributes shared by living beings as individuals, however, is mortality. It is only by participation in something other than themselves, some sort of supraindividual

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project: familial, communal or collective, that they can hope to attain a certain measure of ‘‘survival.’’ The question then becomes: survival in what form? In ‘‘Destiny and Character,’’ Benjamin’s response is twofold, but also fragmentary. As we have seen, one part of it points to Greek tragedy as the historical moment when ‘‘man senses that he is better than his gods,’’ something he can express only by not expressing it, or rather by refusing to express it in the language available to him. The tragic hero, like Orestes, falls silent, but his fall is fortunate insofar as it disrupts the scale of (existing) law and order as well as that of grammar and meaning, the scale of a certain commensurability. This falling-silent is also tantamount to a ‘‘secret marshalling of forces’’—the forces of another language, or perhaps—and this is not at all the same thing—of a language as other. Other than what? On one hand, other than the present prevailing language informed by pagan polytheism. Man senses that he is better than his gods. This ‘‘sensing’’—in German, sich besinnen—implies a reflexive movement in which the individual ‘‘hero’’ returns to him or herself (sich), for it is in and as this self that the forces of a future discourse are collected and silently promulgated. But this also introduces a radically temporal dimension into the process, one that defies the ‘‘return of the same’’ that is otherwise associated with destiny, or with immutable guilt. The paradoxical implications of this tragic-heroic refusal to speak are elaborated by Benjamin in his study of the German Mourning Play, primarily through extended quotation of Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption: By falling silent (indem der Held schweigt), the hero breaks the bridges that bind him to God and the World and lifts himself out of the fields of personality, which demarcates and individualizes itself by speaking, into the icy solitude of the Self. The Self knows of nothing outside of itself, it is solitary without limit. (GS I.1, 287/SW I, 108)

And Benjamin also quotes Luka´ cs: ‘‘The essence of these great moments of life is the pure lived experience (Erlebnis) of selfhood’’ (ibid.) What is paradoxical about this lived experience, however—what makes it not just ‘‘lived’’ by an individual but essentially historical—is that its significance is not limited to itself, to the self, but is rather tied to a certain abandonment or sacrifice of the self, which Benjamin describes as follows: The further the tragic word falls behind the situation—which could no longer be called tragic where the two coincide—the more the hero has escaped from the old institutions, to which, when they finally catch up with him, he abandons only the mute shadow of his being, his Self as sacrifice,

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while the soul is saved in the words of a distant community. . . . The profoundly Aeschylean drive for justice [Zug nach Gerechtigkeit] animates the anti-Olympian prophesy of all tragic poetry. (287–88/109)

The phrase that Benjamin uses in German to describe the distinctive dynamics of Greek tragedy, which he identifies with Aeschylus, contains a word that is difficult to translate but that will recur in a different context in Destiny and Character: the word Zug, which I translate here as drive, is derived from the verb ziehen, to pull. Its dynamic dimension tends to be lost in the usual English translation, trait, unless one remembers that every trait has to be traced and describes therefore not just a static trajectory but a movement away from something and toward something else. In the passage quoted, the movement pulls away from the judicial-legal—for Benjamin ultimately mythical—order of law and toward the more elusive, more indeterminate area of Gerechtigkeit, a justice that is no longer based on commensurability, on guilt as misfortune. Above all, what the passages from Rosenzweig suggest is that this pull involves both a return to and ultimate abandon of selfhood. What is it that characterizes such selfhood? As we shall see shortly, it is a certain absence of ‘‘character,’’ at least in the sense that Benjamin will seek to give to the word in the second, shorter part of ‘‘Destiny and Character.’’ But before we come to that discussion, we can already determine what this paradoxical insistence on the self as that which must be abandoned signifies for Benjamin: nothing more nor less than the acknowledgement of a genuine temporality, which is to say, of time as a medium of alterability, rather than of self-fulfillment as staying the same. The self-isolation and abandonment of the tragic—more precisely Aeschylean—hero reveals the nature of destiny only by breaking with it and by gesturing toward something else: a temporality informed not by the present, but by what is to come. And in this gesture—the eloquent refusal to speak—it opens the ‘‘guilt-nexus of destiny’’ to a different future. For, as Benjamin emphasizes, The guilt-nexus [of destiny] is only inauthentically temporal, in kind and measure entirely distinct from the time of redemption, of music or of truth. On the fixation of the particular kind of time of destiny depends the completed illumination of these things. The card-reader and fortune-teller teach in any case that this time can at all times be rendered contemporaneous with another [time that is] (not present). (176/204)

Benjamin does not so much conclude as break off his discussion of destiny here, with the admission that the ‘‘fixation of the particular kind of time’’ involved in destiny remains to be ‘‘completed.’’ Its ‘‘inauthenticity’’

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appears to be measured by the criterion of a certain linearity: that of a future toward which the tragic hero silently gestures. The temporality of destiny, by contrast, seems to be more simultaneous than successive: that of the ‘‘card-reader’’ or ‘‘fortune-teller’’ for whom signs mark a certain ‘‘contemporaneity’’ of the present with the past and the future. Throughout his life Benjamin was fascinated by the interpretive practices of astrologists and physiognomists, graphologists, soothsayers, and mediums of all sorts. By associating their practice with the semiotics of ‘‘destiny,’’ Benjamin had reached a point in his essay where any simple oppositions or critiques—for instance of ‘‘destiny’’ as purely ‘‘mythical’’—seemed to have become highly problematic. It is therefore precisely at this point that he turns to the second topic of his essay: to the question of ‘‘character.’’ This turn appears within the overall structure of this text highly ambivalent. On one hand, it is a turn away from the question of ‘‘destiny’’ insofar as Benjamin will insist that character, properly understood, has nothing to do with destiny. On the other hand, it is a continuation of his analysis of destiny, insofar as he emphasizes that both destiny and character share the quality of being accessible only through signs, which in turn necessitate ‘‘interpretive practices’’ (deutenden Praktiken). How Benjamin deals with this ambiguity is in itself significant: he distinguishes the two by reasserting that they ‘‘belong’’ or are situated in two very different ‘‘spheres.’’ Destiny, as we have seen, belongs to the ‘‘sphere’’ of myth, which for Benjamin is the origin also of law (and hence, of a certain politics). It derives from an attitude that construes human being as essentially ‘‘natural,’’ that is, selfcontained, in particular with respect to ‘‘life.’’ The result is guilt, or rather, the mythical-juridical-political—and I would add, although Benjamin does not: theological—system that confirms guilt by institutionalizing and attributing it.23 Comedy, on the other hand, Benjamin assigns to a different ‘‘sphere,’’ which he at first assimilates to the ‘‘sphere’’ of destiny by designating it as a ‘‘natural sphere’’ (Naturspha¨ re), a term he had not used previously, despite his emphasis on the ‘‘natural’’ dimension of ‘‘destiny,’’ its connection with ‘‘bare,’’ that is, ‘‘natural’’ life. And once again, in order to distinguish character from destiny, Benjamin continues to emphasize the reasons why they have previously been conflated: above all, the belief that their ‘‘naturalness’’ would provide a basis for knowledge of the future, that is, for a knowledge that would overcome the uncertainty of temporal

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existence. The most prominent term that Benjamin employs in this connection, and which he will use precisely to distinguish destiny from character, is that of the ‘‘net’’ (Netz) or ‘‘tissue’’ (Gewebe). But not just any tissue or net: indeed, what makes the tissue, or text, into a net is just its seeming ability to reduce the spaces between its component stitches: the tissue is ‘‘firm’’ (fest) insofar as the net is drawn tightly closed (verdichtet), and it is this tautness of the netting that transforms it into a solid ‘‘cloth’’ (Tuch). Character is thus understood as the basis and object of what could be called—Benjamin does not—characterology, the organized and systematic knowledge that determines character in terms of ‘‘properties’’—in German, Eigenschaften. Knowledge of character is possible by virtue of such properties, which once determined resist the contingencies of time and space, remaining constant and always the same. Although Benjamin does not pursue this line of thinking, today’s notion of ‘‘profiling,’’ and the use of character analysis in criminology, would be one effect of this attitude. But it is based on a conception of character that Benjamin then goes on to reject, for the simple or not so simple reason that character— and the moral sphere to which it is assigned24 —can never be determined by ‘‘properties but only by actions’’ (177/205). In this context, it should be noted that as soon as Benjamin begins to outline his approach to character, he introduces another word that can be seen as providing an alternative to the notion of Eigenschaft (property, feature, characteristic), namely: ‘‘trait.’’ Characteristic of his use of this term is that the first time he employs it is when he begins to insist on the necessity of demarcating character from destiny in a radical manner, despite their both belonging to ‘‘natural spheres’’: On the other hand, the concept of character will also have to divest itself of those traits [Zu¨ge] that constitute its erroneous connection to destiny. (176/204)

Already this first, negative use of the word Zu¨ge (traits) displays what will turn out to be one of its essential qualities: that of being removable. They are something that can be shed, removed, replaced by other traits. And indeed, removability is what distinguishes the ‘‘trait’’ from the ‘‘property’’—which cannot be removed, legitimately at least, from its ‘‘owner’’ or subject. It should be noted that in German the word Zug has a very different set of connotations from those of its English ‘‘equivalent,’’ trait. Zug, which as noted is the nominalization of the verb ziehen, to pull or to draw, thus suggests not just movement, but often the transition from stasis

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to movement, a change often brought about by an external force, or at least by a force that is not entirely internal, and hence, not entirely ‘‘natural’’ (in the usual sense of that word). A Zug even today names a ‘‘train’’ or a ‘‘procession,’’ but also a ‘‘draft’’ (of wind) as well as a ‘‘move’’ in a game. In conjunction with ‘‘character’’ a Zug becomes then a ‘‘trait.’’ But the associations just mentioned indicate that this ‘‘trait’’ is inseparable from its movement—both that of which it is the trace, and that which can detach it from its current location and move it elsewhere. Such connotations explain the rather surprising way in which Benjamin goes on to define the ‘‘natural sphere’’ to which character belongs, and that in fact then seems anything but natural: the theatrical stage. If ‘‘destiny’’ is associated with ‘‘tragedy,’’ but in a way that does not emphasize theatricality but rather its mythical-legal dimension, ‘‘character’’ for Benjamin is at home in comedy, which in turn is inseparable from the stage. At the ‘‘center’’ of comedy is, Benjamin asserts, ‘‘character comedy,’’ just as comedy itself is the milieu in which ‘‘character’’ must be understood—or rather experienced. For unlike destiny, character comedy, such as that of Molie`re, does not pretend or claim to offer knowledge—neither psychological nor moral: If the object of psychology is the inner life of man considered as an empirical being, Molie`re’s dramatis personae (Personen) are not even useful as material for demonstrations. Character unfolds itself in them like a sun in the brilliance (Glanz) of its singular trait (seines einzigen Zuges), which allows no other to remain visible in the vicinity of its blinding light. (178/205)

It is not just the character ‘‘trait’’ that distinguishes it from destiny and thereby defines its essence for Benjamin: it is the fact that in the ‘‘sphere’’ that is the setting of character—namely, the theatrical world of comedy, the ‘‘trait’’ must be understood as being radically singular: The sublimity of character comedy rests on this anonymity of human beings and of their morality and of their morality in the midst of the highest unfolding of the individual in the singularity of its character trait. (ibid.)

For those who would be tempted to reduce Benjamin’s thought to a celebration of naming and of the name, his emphasis here on anonymity can serve as a useful corrective. The ‘‘highest unfolding of the individual’’ in this context at least leads not to anything like a proper, or even improper name, but to a certain anonymity that marks the radical singularity of character—but also its comic dimension. If one considers the use of

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names solely in the comedies explicitly mentioned here by Benjamin— those of Molie` re, but without naming any one play in particular—the notion of ‘‘anonymity’’ would have to be understood as having a certain ‘‘generic’’ quality about it: the Misanthrope, the Miser, the Imaginary Patient—all of these would normally be understood as names of general types. At the same time, however, Benjamin insists on the dimension of ‘‘individuality’’ in character comedy, and he does so in a very distinctive manner. By comparing the comic character to the ‘‘sun,’’ he places it at the center of a solar system, which, however, it also seeks to blot out and render invisible through the power of its manifestation. Benjamin repeats this solar allusion a bit further on, in order to illustrate the distance that separates character from destiny, for which he once again invokes the image of the net: The character trait is therefore not the knot in the net. It is the sun of the individual in the colorless (anonymous) sky of human being, which casts the shadow of the comic plot. (ibid.)

This is a strange ‘‘sun’’ indeed: instead of creating the conditions of visibility, it blinds—this itself of course is a long-standing topos going back at least to Plato. However, Benjamin adds a new twist to it: the sun blinds not itself, but the others in its vicinity. And the ‘‘comic plot’’ emerges not as the light it emits, but as the shadow it casts. But something is missing: for however single and solitary the sun may be, it can never ‘‘cast a shadow’’ all by itself. There must be something else that blocks its rays. The sentence that follows the one just quoted suggests what that other might be. Benjamin places it within parentheses: (This [the shadowy comic plot cast by the singular trait] provides the context in which [Hermann] Cohen’s profound dictum may be understood, namely, that each tragic plot, however sublimely it strides on its stilts, casts a comic shadow.) (Ibid.)

But, if tragedy and comedy are thus portrayed as inseparable, however distinct they may be—a thought Benjamin develops in his book on the Mourning Play25—then all of Benjamin’s efforts to clearly separate and distinguish destiny from character may turn out to be more complicated then it might seem. If we try to reconstruct what Benjamin calls the ‘‘eigentlichen Zusammenhang’’—the ‘‘authentic context’’ for Cohen’s remark, by juxtaposing it with Benjamin’s images, then the ‘‘sun’’ of the comic character appears to be overlaid with the ‘‘tragic plot’’ described by Cohen: both cast the shadow that is the ‘‘comic plot.’’ The ‘‘tragic plot’’ however is

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what according to Benjamin seeks to break through the net of destiny. That breakthrough, then, would take the form of the ‘‘comic plot,’’ marked now not by the silence of the hero, as in tragedy, but by the ‘‘singular trait.’’ How, then, is this strange phrase to be understood? One more passage from Benjamin’s text may put us on the track of a possible response, one that denaturalizes the light-image of comedy and thereby casts it in a new light—and at the same time, shadow: While destiny unrolls the enormous complexity of the guilty and indebted (verschuldeten) person, the complication and bonds of their guilt, character reacts to the mythical enslavement of the person in the guilt-nexus of the living by giving the response of genius. Complication becomes simplicity, fate freedom. For the character of the comic person is not the scarecrow (Popanz) of the determinist: it is the beacon (Leuchter: chandelier) in whose rays the freedom of his deeds becomes visible. (178/205–206)

As so often with Benjamin, images that one otherwise might expect to clarify and render concrete in fact render more obscure and complex—not the least irony in a passage that celebrates the replacement of ‘‘complication’’ by ‘‘simplicity.’’ But this is perhaps also part of its comic character. In any event, the ‘‘sun’’ here reveals itself to be anything but a lumen naturalis: it is a chandelier, a candelabra, a Leuchter that shows the way, the beacon that beckons. But the way it lights up with its chiaroscuro rays—its light turned to shadow—is that of the stage, on which character is stripped of its moral pretensions by a theatricality that is characterized here as the ‘‘response of genius’’ to the ‘‘guilt-nexus’’ in which destiny enmeshes and thrives. The ‘‘single trait’’ that defines comic character—that defines character as comic and as theatrical—is thus described by Benjamin as ‘‘the response of genius,’’ and a few lines later on, as ‘‘manifestations of the new global age (Weltalter) of genius.’’ A new conundrum thus emerges in the constantly evolving Vexierbild (puzzle image) that characterizes the writing of Walter Benjamin in general, and ‘‘Destiny and Character’’ in particular. For what, after all, are we to understand by ‘‘genius’’? The response to this question passes first of all by a consideration of translation. Genius is not simply equivalent to ‘‘genius,’’ and this for reasons that any reader of Saussure—but how many still read his Course in General Linguistics?—will well understand. For Saussure insisted that the ‘‘value’’ of a linguistic sign was dependent not on what it appears to refer to—its referent—but on its differential relations to other signs belonging

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to the same system or group. This is why the German Genius can not simply be translated by the English ‘‘genius,’’ any more than German words such as Repra¨sentation or da can be adequately translated by ‘‘representation’’ or ‘‘there.’’ For in each case there are other words in German that more closely approximate the apparent English equivalents. In the case of ‘‘genius,’’ that German word is Genie. The word ‘‘genius’’ therefore has first of all to be understood as different from Genie, a difference that disappears into the English ‘‘genius,’’ which conflates the two. In a recent book, Giorgio Agamben begins an essay entitled ‘‘Genius’’ with a very helpful reminder: The Romans named Genius the god to which each man was entrusted at the moment of his birth. The etymology is transparent and remains visible in the proximity of genius to engender. That Genius should have something to do with engender appears moreover evident if one recalls that for the Romans the ‘‘genial’’ object par excellence was the bed: genialis lectus, because it was there that the act of generation was accomplished.26

What is implied in this link between ‘‘genius’’ and ‘‘engendering’’ is not simply the continuation of the same in the other, in offspring for instance, but rather a separation of subject from the process of generation: We must therefore consider the subject as a field of tensions in which the antithetical poles are Genius and Ego. The field is traversed by two forces that are both linked and opposed: the one that goes from the individual toward the impersonal, the other from the impersonal toward the individual. The two forces cohabit, overlap, separate, but they can neither isolate themselves entirely from another nor identify with each other fully. . . . Genius is our life insofar as it doesn’t belong to us. (16)

Although Agamben’s only literary reference in this essay is to Ariel and Prospero, his emphasis on the tension between ‘‘the individual and the impersonal’’ and the mention of The Tempest, a play if not a ‘‘character comedy,’’ can help put us on the track of Benjamin’s cryptic use of the word ‘‘genius’’ in regard to the comic character and its ‘‘singular trait.’’ For Benjamin too no doubt had a literary text in mind when he invoked this word, although it was not Shakespeare, nor probably not even a comedy, but rather the poetry of Ho¨lderlin. Several years earlier, in 1916, Benjamin had written an essay on ‘‘Two Poems by Friedrich Ho¨lderlin’’ in which the word occupies a small but decisive part. One of those two poems, entitled in German ‘‘Blo¨digkeit’’—usually translated as ‘‘Timidity,’’ but, as Peter Fenves, inspired by Avital Ronell, has recently suggested, could also be rendered as ‘‘Stupidity’’—begins thus:

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Are then many of the Living not known to you? Does your foot not tread on the true as on carpets? Therefore, my Genius, step only Unprotected into life, and be not concerned! Sind denn dir nicht bekannt viele Lebendigen? Geht auf Wahrem dein Fuss nicht, wie auf Teppichen? Drum, mein Genius! Tritt nur Bar ins Leben, und sorge nicht!27

Ho¨lderlin’s Genius, like Agamben’s, is inseparable both from the individual and yet irreducible to it—quite simply because it is defined precisely by its divisibility, its separability, its inability to stay with and be absorbed into an integrated ego. Nor can it even remain—so Benjamin, commenting Ho¨lderlin’s passage in his essay—within the sphere of poetry. It must ‘‘step unprotected into life,’’ as a sphere that is not simply reducible to poetry, although not simply isolatable from it. Ironically, in view of his later essay, in the earlier one Ho¨ lderlin’s admonition to his Genius is placed by Benjamin under the sign of a profound ‘‘destiny linking the Living with the poet’’ (GS 2, 116/SW 1, 28)—yet another indication that the ‘‘response of Genius to destiny’’ does not dissolve the link to it—even in the comic character with its singular trait. Rather, it suggests that the singularity of that trait has to do with the fact that it cuts both ways: toward and away from the guilt-nexus of destiny. What it ‘‘shadows’’ is precisely that guilt nexus. And it does so not by cutting all ties with it, but by reinscribing it in a space that it can no longer entirely dominate. In Benjamin’s commentary to Ho¨lderlin’s poems, that space is designated as a Lage—the ‘‘layout’’ that is always more or less ‘‘opportune’’ (gelegen), and thus always more or less temporally relative and relational. In the case of the comic character, individuality becomes ‘‘singular’’ and a ‘‘trait’’ by being set on stage. The stage, whether tragic or comic, or neither, always involves a relative, relational situational placing in which space and time converge but never close or conclude. The space of the stage is always open to transformation: always open to the invisible others, not just as the audience of a single night, but as audiences yet to come, as well as audiences gone by and even those that will never actually see or hear the play— but will be affected by it or its aftereffects. The single trait is thus ‘‘comic,’’ lends itself to laughter and to amusement, by presenting itself in isolation, and yet never being absolutely cut off from its surroundings, its past and its future. It is the materialized, corporealized cut, and therefore always tendentially on the move, on the

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run, drawing away from something and toward something else. It always seeks to place itself at the center of its world, whether as the sun in a solar system or the chandelier in a theater. But it seeks not so much to make visible as to blind to whatever surrounds or approaches it. It seeks to do this, but remains comical in never attaining what it seeks. Nonfulfillment is already inscribed as the comic dimension of its singular trait. Comedy has long been understood to have an eminently social significance. And one can see how this tradition is continued in the ambivalence of Benjamin’s singular trait. But what about politics? Can there be a politics of the singular trait? Would it be a comic politics? Here I will have to limit myself to two very brief indications in response to this question which, after all, is what interested me in the project to which this text belongs: that of exploring how a ‘‘politics of singularity’’ might be thought. First, Benjamin’s essay, ‘‘Destiny and Character,’’ although written in 1919, was published only in 1921. In the same year Sigmund Freud published Mass Psychology and Ego Analysis. A central chapter in that book was devoted to the problem of ‘‘identification,’’ which Freud described as an inevitable process in the formation of the ego, but also as one that always remains highly ambivalent. Focusing as almost always on the male child, Freud wrote that identification marks the child’s ‘‘earliest emotional tie to another person.’’ It is an ambivalent tie insofar as it involves the desire to be ‘‘like’’ the other person, which ultimately means replacing the other by occupying its place. For a self-conscious ego, only one body can occupy one place at one time. There is therefore, from the point of view of this ego, place for only one person at one time. To identify with another—with the father or mother—is therefore to replace that person, often by ingesting it. Freud thereby cites cannibalism as an early tendency and instance of such identification. As Freud went on to describe this process, however, it emerges that identification, which plays such a decisive role in the formation of the identity of the subject, is itself anything but all-inclusive. It is, as Freud writes, often ‘‘partial’’ insofar as it identifies not with the other as a whole person, but only with a part of the other—as Freud puts it, with ‘‘a single trait’’ (einzigen Zug) of the other. This form of identification Freud then interprets as a powerful force in the formation of groups, of ‘‘masses,’’ and in the organization of such masses through identification of and with a leader—Freud’s term, in 1921, was Fu¨hrer. Freud’s use of the expression in the same year that Benjamin’s essay appeared, would probably have been forgotten had it not been for Lacan, who in his 1962 lectures on the problem of ‘‘identification’’ placed Freud’s notion of the ‘‘singular

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trait’’—translated as the ‘‘trait unaire’’—at the heart of his reinterpretation of psychoanalysis in general. Hitherto, Lacan told his listeners, philosophy from Plato to Kant (and presumably beyond) had placed its emphasis on the One as the symbol of Unity. By contrast, the Freudian experience and experiment emphasized not the unity of the subject, but rather the ‘‘singular trait,’’ this ‘‘unsituatable thing, this aporia for thought that consists in the fact that it is the most purified, simplified, reduced to a whatever (n’importe quoi).’’ He continues: The paradox of this One is that the more it resembles . . . the more the diversity of all appearances is erased in it, the more it supports, even incarnates . . . difference as such. The reversal of the position around the One results in the fact that we pass from the Unity (Einheit) of Kant to singularity (Einzigkeit), to uniqueness as such. . . . If the function that we assign to the One is no longer that of Unity but rather of Singularity, we have passed—and this is the novelty of psychoanalysis—from the virtues of the norm to those of the exception.28

The subject of the signifier, represented by a subject to another signifier, thus inscribed the notion of the trait unaire in a network of signification that paradoxically defined singularity as a differential but fully relational notion, a trait or trace, as Derrida would later call it, to stress its temporal relation to what had gone before and what would be coming after. Whether Freudian, Lacanian, or read through the perspectives of both, the ‘‘singular trait’’ defines a process by which the subject—including the political subject—defines its place in a social and political context determined as irreducibly ambivalent. The claim to be self-identical and indeed omniscient, which is a claim that derives not just from individuals but also from the legal system that defines in part their functions and obligations as members of a polity—this claim derives from the legal system itself, and not just from a particular set of laws, but from the Law itself. If Josef K. is awakened one morning to find himself accused of a crime of which he knows nothing, not even of what he is accused, this ‘‘Kafkaesque’’ situation reflects nothing specific to Kafka, but the very basis of the legal system itself: the legal ‘‘fiction’’ that everyone is expected to know the law in all of its dimensions, and negatively, that ignorantia legis neminem excusat: ignorance of the law excuses no one. And yet this same system of law also recognizes that other principle already discussed, which is almost as universal and indispensable as the first, namely the principle of mens rea: that intention or awareness of the effects of one’s acts is a constitutive

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element in determining guilt. Perhaps this is why the ‘‘man from the country’’ must wait in vain before the Gate of the Law before learning, shortly before his death, that this gate was for him alone: his trait unaire.29 It is this apparently irresolvable aporia at the heart of all law, and hence of all politics—or is there a politics conceivable that would be beyond, before or outside the law?—that leads Benjamin to refer, in his ‘‘Critique of Violence,’’ written shortly after ‘‘Destiny and Character,’’ to the fact that something is ‘‘rotten [Morsches] in the law’’ (GS 2.1, 188/ SW 1, 242) and that the institutional agency charged with administering it therefore deserves particular attention, namely the police force.30 This brings me to my second and concluding point—and text. And this time it is in fact a theatrical text, and a comic one to boot. Indeed, it could almost be classified as a modern, contemporary ‘‘character comedy,’’ although significantly it bears the name not of a character type, as with Molie`re, but of a place: Jean Genet’s ‘‘The Balcony.’’ The Balcony turns out to be both the balcony of a bordello and the balcony of a kind of theater. For in this whorehouse the clients come to play out their fantasies by assuming social roles that are not their own: general, judge, priest. On this balcony, but also in their private rooms, these characters exhibit themselves and watch themselves on display. The owner of the bordello is Mme Irma, who is assisted by her friend, the Police Chief. Against a background of political insurrection that at times threatens to engulf her establishment, the Police Chief takes on an ever more important role, in all senses of that word. But this Police Chief is troubled. He has a problem. Whereas the other bulwarks of the social and political order: judge, general, priest— are all objects of social esteem and aspiration, are all included in the ‘‘pantheon’’ of iconic figures, the police chief, like the police itself, suffers from a lack of recognition and esteem. To the police falls the dirty work of applying the laws, making them work—what Benjamin in his ‘‘Critique of Violence’’ calls their dual function of preserving laws by making new ones. This is simply because the police are called upon to bridge the gap between the structural generality of the law and its indispensable application to singular ‘‘cases’’—a process that requires both force and intelligence (again in all sense of that word). Benjamin can hardly find words strong enough to describe and disqualify this hybrid function of the police: ‘‘anti-natural,’’ ‘‘ghostlike,’’ ‘‘shameful’’ (Schmachvolle) (GS 2.1, 189/SW 1, 242), concluding that ‘‘its force’’—and it should be noted that the title of Benjamin’s essay is ‘‘Critique of Force’’ (Gewalt) in the sense of a police force and not just more abstractly of ‘‘violence’’—‘‘its force,’’ he writes ‘‘is shapeless (gestaltlos) as its unfathomable, ubiquitous spectral appearance in

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the life of civilized states’’ (ibid.). Moreover, the police ‘‘look everywhere the same,’’ even though their violence, Benjamin argues, is far worse in democratic states than in dictatorships or monarchies, where their potential violence and role is not augmented by the separation of powers (thus Benjamin writing in 1921). In Benjamin’s essay ‘‘Critique of Violence’’ (or force), however, there is precious little clue of any element of the comic. But there is a description of the police that allows us to relate his text to Genet’s much later play. As already indicated, in ‘‘The Balcony,’’ the Chief of Police, who remains anonymous, like all the other characters (a few do have first names, but none last names)—the Police Chief suffers from the lack of what today might still be called ‘‘image.’’ And much of his effort in the play is devoted to trying to find ways of improving his image, so that he too may one day be granted entrance into the pantheon of political icons. He, too, hopes one day to be an object of identification, a role that the clients of Mme Irma ‘‘play’’ out in their fantasies, and in her rooms. And then, suddenly, he stumbles upon a possible strategy to overcome the fear, and disgust, inspired by his office: I fear that they’re afraid, jealous of a man, but . . . (he searches) but not of a wrinkle, for example, or a curl of hair . . . or a cigar . . . or a riding whip.31

The Police Chief has stumbled upon the secret of identification, and perhaps of political identity, at least in our societies: people can be afraid of a ‘‘man,’’ but not of a partial trait: a curl of hair, a cigar, a riding whip. The partiality of identification that Freud observed, Genet in this play interprets as a response, not simply of Genius to Destiny, but of anxiety to what it desires but also most fears: the whole individual, that is, the primal father. The superego that says, ‘‘Be like me: be yourself!’’ To take the place of the other as a whole means doing away with the whole as other—and therefore with the identificatory basis of constructing oneself as a whole. And so a compromise is reached, unconsciously, in an identification that could be called ‘‘synecdochal’’: pars pro toto. And so, at about the same time that Lacan had begun elaborating his theory of the imaginary, The Police Chief comes up with the following project: The Police Chief. The last project of an image that was submitted to me . . . I hardly dare to speak to you of it. The Judge. It was . . . so bold? The Police Chief. Very. Too much. I don’t dare tell you. (Suddenly he seems to decide.) Gentlemen, I have confidence in your judgment and your

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dedication. . . . Here it is: I have been advised to appear in the form of a giant phallus! Irma. Georges, you? (127)

The Police Chief is successful; the defeated revolutionary comes to Irma’s house to play the role of the Police Chief and castrates himself. And the Police Chief celebrates his consecration—political monotheology—by taking his leave with these words: Police Chief. Did you see? Did you see me? There, just a short while ago, bigger than big, stronger than strong, deader than dead. Well, I have no need to stay with you any longer. . . . I have won the right to take my seat and to wait two thousand years. (To the assembled photographers) You, watch me live and die. For posterity: shoot! (Three magnesium flashes, almost simultaneously). Won! (He enters the tomb backwards . . .) (145)

And his final words echo the cry of Oedipus at Colonus, and the ghost of the King Hamlet: ‘‘Think of me!’’ In this character comedy, the ‘‘single trait’’ that alone is allowed admission to the political-theological pantheon is that of the giant phallus, symbol of the whole man, whole before gendered sexuality, whole as representative of the human genre: of the human as single genre. In Lacanian terms, this is identification based on the single trait as imaginary, synecdochal representation of an object. It follows, as Benjamin acknowledged at the outset of his essay on ‘‘Destiny and Character,’’ a logic of the signified, not of the signifier. But the notion of the singular trait, in its singularity, entails also and perhaps above all a partiality that cannot be absorbed into such a totality. Just as the I, whether as Freudian ego, Jakobsonian shifter, or Ho¨lderlinian poetic I—is itself never simply alone. And in this fact there persists perhaps the possibility of another kind of politics, for which the singular trait would not simply be a moment in the consecration of the indivisible individual.

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part four

The Religion of Democracy: Tocqueville Beyond Civil Religion

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chapter 13

The Religious Situation in the United States 175 Years After Tocqueville Jose´ Casanova

In Democracy in America there is a passage in which Tocqueville clearly states what he takes to be the real relation between religion and freedom, and it is only appropriate to begin by citing it: Eighteenth-century philosophers had a very simple explanation for the gradual weakening of beliefs. Religious zeal, they said, was bound to die down as enlightenment and freedom spread. It is tiresome that the facts do not fit this theory at all. . . . In America the most free and enlightened people in the world zealously perform all the external duties of religion. The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States. The longer I stayed in the country, the more conscious I became of the important political consequences resulting from this novel situation. In France I had seen the spirits of religion and of freedom almost always marching in opposite directions. In America I found them intimately linked together in joint reign over the same land. My longing to understand the reason for this phenomenon increased daily. To find this out, I questioned the faithful of all communions . . . all thought that the main reason for the quiet sway of religion over their

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country was the complete separation of church and state. I have no hesitation in stating that throughout my stay in America I met nobody, lay or cleric, who did not agree about that.1

One can derive four basic propositions from this lengthy quotation. First, Tocqueville is one of the few modern social theorists, William James and Vilfredo Pareto being perhaps the only two others, who did not share the basic premises of the theory of secularization, which the social sciences adopted uncritically from the Enlightenment critique of religion. The basic premise of all versions of the theory of secularization, which until very recently had attained the status of an uncontested paradigm within all social sciences, and particularly in my own discipline sociology, was that the more ‘‘modern’’ a society the more ‘‘secular’’ it will be, that religious beliefs and practices will tend to decline in modern societies, and that religious institutions and norms will tend to become an increasingly marginalized, privatized and publicly irrelevant social phenomenon. Originally, as seen by Tocqueville’s response, it was either the advancement of knowledge, science, mass literacy, and secular education, in a word, Enlightenment, or the advancement of liberal democracy and political freedoms, which were allegedly responsible for the decline of religion. Later theories placed greater emphasis either on indicators of economic modernization, such as economic well-being and the expansion of the welfare state or on more abstract theories of functional differentiation and expansion of the secular spheres at the expense of an equally differentiated but greatly diminished religious one. Second, in America Tocqueville found empirical confirmation of his doubts concerning the Enlightenment assumptions about the future of religion. Like so many other European visitors, Tocqueville was immediately struck by the vitality of religion in America and by the ‘‘innumerable multitude of sects’’ he found there. Today we would talk instead of an innumerable multitude of ‘‘denominations.’’ But in Tocqueville’s times, although he already observed the phenomenon, neither the name nor the theory of ‘‘denominationalism’’ as the great American institutional religious invention had yet been discovered or formulated.2 Tocqueville visited the United States in the midst of the Second Great Awakening, precisely at the time when denominationalism as the American religious system of free, voluntary, pluralistic, competitive, and formally equal religious denominations was becoming institutionalized and as the churching of the American population was taking off.3 Unlike so many later European visitors and professional observers who tended to minimize or

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explain away the relevance of this phenomenon by referring to ‘‘American exceptionalism,’’ as if the vitality of religion in America was simply the exception that confirmed the general rule of European secularization, Tocqueville saw it clearly as a ‘‘novel’’ situation, that is, as the product of modern developments and not simply as a traditional residue that was eventually bound to disappear with progressive modernization. Third, seeking an explanation for the extraordinary religious vitality and religious pluralism, Tocqueville found it in the ‘‘complete separation of church and state,’’ an explanation that Karl Marx will borrow from Tocqueville when in his essay ‘‘On the Jewish Question’’ he characterizes the United States paradoxically as a model of ‘‘perfect disestablishment’’ and as ‘‘the land of religiosity par excellence,’’ an explanation, moreover, that as Tocqueville himself indicated was taken for granted as a truism by every ordinary American, lay or cleric, in the 1830s. It would take another century and a half for sociologists of religion in America to rediscover this basic explanation and turn it into a new American paradigm, but now embellished with the problematic claims of being a scientific theory of general universal validity for all times and places, on the basis of a very questionable utilitarian rational choice theory of human action and of a reductionist supply-side theory of religious markets. What is indisputable is that the uniquely American pattern of separation of church and state codified in the dual clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, namely ‘‘free exercise of religion’’ and ‘‘no establishment,’’ created the institutional structural conditions for the emergence of ‘‘denominationalism’’ as a uniquely American religious system. Eventually, all religions in America, churches as well as sects, Christian and non-Christian, irrespective of their origins, doctrinal claims and ecclesiastical-organizational identities, will turn into congregational ‘‘denominations,’’ formally equal and competing in a relatively free, pluralistic and voluntaristic religious system. But unlike contemporary American supply-side theorists of religious markets who are primarily interested in the competitive internal dynamics of growth and decline of religious firms within a supposedly differentiated and self-regulated free religious market, Tocqueville was much more interested in the institutional structural features of the denominational model and its elective affinities and effects on modern individualism, on the voluntary associationism of civil society and on the political system of American democracy as a whole. Fourth, Tocqueville indeed makes clear that despite the evident privatization of religion, the denominational religious system had ‘‘important political consequences,’’ pointing out that in America the spirit of religion

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and freedom, instead of marching in opposite direction as in France, were intimately linked together. Clearly, for Tocqueville the separation of church and state did not mean the separation of religion and politics, and as he indicates in another passage ‘‘religion, which never intervenes directly in the government of American society should (still) be considered as the first of their political institutions.’’4 Religion, according to Tocqueville, contributes powerfully to the maintenance of American democracy at three levels: 1. At the individual level, religion offers the modern individual a form of self-transcendence, a way of transcending solipsist privatistic individualism by turning the individual toward public affairs and by applying the doctrine of self-interest properly understood to religion. ‘‘Not only do the Americans practice their religion out of self-interest, but they often even place in this world the interest which they have in practicing it.’’5 2. At the organizational-institutional level, religion is a form of voluntary association. The religious congregation, for Tocqueville, is the prototype of all voluntary associations of American civil society, and civil associations in turn are schools of democracy that pave the way for political associations, which on their part expand further the techniques and the purposes for more and wider association in a sort of virtuous circle, so that, according to Tocqueville, ‘‘when they (citizens) are allowed to combine freely for all purposes, they come in the end to think of association as the universal, one might almost say the only, means by which men can attain their various aims.’’6 3. Finally, at the societal level, despite the innumerable multitude of sects and their internal religious differences, religion in America contributes most to democracy by teaching the same habits of the heart, by propagating similar public opinions and by inculcating the same mores. According to Tocqueville, all religious denominations in America tend to ‘‘agree concerning the duties of men to one another,’’ all tend to ‘‘preach the same morality in the name of God,’’ and also tend to agree that most important for society is ‘‘not that all citizens should profess the true religion but that they should profess religion.’’ After examining the tendency of Catholics in America to become democratic and republican, thus belying the widespread assumption in his own France that Catholicism was ‘‘a natural enemy of democracy,’’ Tocqueville arrived at the conclusion that ‘‘there is not a single religious doctrine in the United States hostile to democratic and republican institutions. All the clergy there speak the same language; opinions are in harmony with the laws,

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and there is, so to say, only one mental current.’’ Moreover, he adds, all Americans think that religion is ‘‘necessary to the maintenance of republican institutions. That is not the view of one class or party among the citizens, but of the whole nation.’’7 Without yet having a name for it, Tocqueville was clearly describing what later would be called the ‘‘American civil religion,’’ a religion which while being disestablished, having no ecclesiastical institutional form, and being different from any particular denomination was shared, as Will Herberg would point out, by all denominations in America, ‘‘Protestant, Catholic and Jew.’’8 Thus, by tying his explanation of the striking pluralism and vitality of religion in America to a historical theory of modern individualism, to a historical theory of modern civil society, and to a historical theory of modern civil religion, Tocqueville offers a more persuasive explanatory institutional theory of the unique vitality of the very particular American system of religious denominationalism, than contemporary supply-side theories of the American religious market that are based on dubious anthropological presuppositions of a single and universal type of rational human action based on the utilitarian calculation of costs and benefits; on an ahistorical theory of religious markets according to which the demand for religious commodities is universally constant, what changes is the supply along with changes in the level of regulation and free competition in the religious market; and on an ahistorical theory of a self-differentiated and self-regulated religious market which appears disembedded from the American state, from the legal-constitutional system, from the American nation, and from American culture, and is therefore a model which presumably can be exported to any society in the world or can naturally flourish once state regulation of religious markets disappears. But even assuming that one finds persuasive my claim that Tocqueville offers a convincing explanation of the tremendous vitality and variety of American religion and of its important contribution to American democracy at least in the nineteenth century, one should raise the question whether the religious situation in America today remains basically the same as the one described by Tocqueville 175 years ago or whether instead American religion has not undergone in the meantime fundamental structural transformations. Furthermore, one should ask the additional and no less relevant question whether in the United States today ‘‘the spirits of religion and of freedom’’ are still found intimately linked together, or whether instead, as so many critics argue, a new form of illiberal ‘‘fundamentalist’’ religion does not reign politically over the land, a form of religion that is perhaps no longer contributing to maintaining freedom in

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America and that is arguably contributing to culture wars that are dividing rather than uniting the nation, not to speak, of course, of the threats which the influence of such a religion on American imperial projects may pose to the rest of the world. In this essay I would like to address both important questions by examining schematically the most important historical transformations of religion in America and by evaluating the contemporary religious situation in America at the individual level of analysis, at the level of associationaldenominational religion, and at the level of national civil religion.

Individual Religiosity and Spirituality It was Tocqueville who actually introduced the term ‘‘individualism’’ into the American discourse to express a new idea and a new condition, which as he indicated ‘‘is of democratic origin and threatens to grow as conditions get more equal,’’ for, ‘‘in ages of equality, every man finds his beliefs within himself, and I shall now go on to show that all his feelings are turned in on himself.’’9 Thus, Tocqueville already points to the modern self as the experiential source and tabernacle of religious transcendence. But he still conceived of this modern religious force as being embedded in and channeled through organized religion. Moreover, organized religion still meant for him Christian religion for, as he observed, ‘‘all the sects in the United States belong to the great unity of Christendom.’’10 One will have to wait until the turn of the century to find the first compelling phenomenological analysis of the modern varieties of individual or ‘‘personal religion,’’ in the work of William James, or its first typological classification in Ernst Troeltsch’s concept of ‘‘individual mysticism’’ as a modern form of ‘‘spiritual religion,’’ along with the two traditional types of organized religion, ‘‘the church’’ and ‘‘the sect.’’11 One will have to wait even longer, until the 1960s, to observe the first mass expressions of what Thomas Luckmann will call ‘‘the invisible religion’’ of selfexpression and self-realization, along with the triumph of the therapeutic. 12 Finally, it will be in the 1990s when all types of discourses and practices of pastoral self-care of the soul will become big business.13 By the end of the century an increasing number of Americans, roughly 20 percent, will reject organized ‘‘religion’’ in the name of a broader, eclectic, and more ecumenical ‘‘spirituality’’ that is supposed to offer a more sure and authentic path to the inner self and to the sacred. They form the new category of ‘‘spiritual but not religious.’’14 But one can safely assume that an even

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larger number of Americans experience similar spiritual journeys while still belonging to traditional denominations or by joining all kinds of new religious communities. Indeed, unlike the old world of monopolistic churches and sedentary territorial parishes throughout Europe, the United States always offered a fertile ground for free-floating and unaffiliated expressions of individualistic and autonomous religiosity along with, and often also inside, an ever proliferating number of congregations, denominations, and religious communities of all sorts that individual Americans could voluntarily join. At the time of independence, when a majority of Americans remained unchurched, large numbers of them could have agreed with Thomas Paine’s expression, ‘‘My mind is my church,’’ or with Thomas Jefferson’s equally felicitous one, ‘‘I am a sect myself.’’15 Even if one was ready to dismiss such particular formulations as paradigmatic ‘‘high culture’’ Enlightenment expressions of individual religiosity, unlikely to be widespread among ordinary Americans, historians of American religion have documented the widespread reception of all kinds of popular religion, and of paranormal, occult, spiritual, and spiritualist practices that took place outside or on the margins of organized religion, in what Jon Butler has aptly characterized as the ‘‘Antebellum Spiritual Hothouse.’’16 The widespread reception of Freemasonry and Mesmerism ¸ of Swedenborgianism and Spiritualism, and the ‘‘occult’’ and ‘‘healing’’ connections of many of these elements, which one can trace at the origins of such typically ‘‘American’’ religious movements as Mormonism and Christian Science already presage the countercultural self-help and spiritual movements of the 1960s and the more recent counterreligious spirituality of the New Age.17 The profound resonance that the message of Swami Vivekananda, the global missionary of ‘‘Hindu spirituality,’’ encountered in his visit to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 and in his subsequent lecture tours across the United States already anticipates the impact that Eastern religions and Eastern mysticism were going to have on the new religious movements of the 1960s.18 These new religious movements and the radical individual and group experimentation that accompanied the counterculture of the 1960s, a phenomenon that was immediately characterized by observers as ‘‘a new religious consciousness’’ or as a ‘‘consciousness reformation,’’ appeared so utterly ‘‘new’’ only because it emerged from and as a reaction to the most triumphantly orthodox, uncontested, and domineering run of organized denominational religion in American history.19 In retrospect, the dominance of organized denominational religion after World War II appears

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as the extraordinary apex of a long process of gradual accretion of vast organizational infrastructural resources first by the main Protestant denominations and then by the new immigrant religions, American Catholicism and American Judaism. Robert Wuthnow, who has offered us both the most comprehensive study of the restructuring of organized American religion since World War II and the most insightful analysis of the transformation of American spirituality since the 1950s, has characterized this change structurally as organized religion’s loss of monopoly over individual spiritual and religious practices and phenomenologically as the passage from collectively ‘‘dwelling in the House of the Lord’’ to ‘‘seeking new spiritual freedom within the inner self.’’20 One could certainly interpret the loss of control and authority of religious institutions over individual religiosity and spirituality as evidence of structural secularization. But it is less evident that the change can be interpreted as religious decline rather than as a transformation of individual religiosity both outside as well as inside the religious denominations. The ‘‘baby boomers’’ have been rightly characterized as a generation of ‘‘seekers’’ who have brought a vanishing of boundaries between religion, spirituality, and secularity within as well as without religious denominations.21 The proportion of Americans who attend weekly religious services has certainly declined from the extraordinary heights of the 1950s, but it still remains strikingly high by any comparative standard, as high as in any other period of American history, and probably much higher than at the time of Tocqueville’s visit. The number of those who claim never to attend religious services has increased moderately since the 1970s and somewhat more dramatically since the mid-1980s, and it is lately hovering in the upper teens. But lack of religious attendance does not mean necessarily irreligion. Other indicators of individual religiosity, such as ‘‘belief in God’’ or ‘‘belief in the after life’’ or ‘‘frequency of prayer’’ remain as high or higher than ever. Even the slight increase in the 1990s, from 8 percent to 12 percent, in the proportion of Americans who declare ‘‘no religion’’ as their religious preference, does not necessarily mean a growth of irreligion. It could also mean simply no particular denominational affiliation, or ‘‘spiritual’’ rather than traditionally ‘‘religious.’’ It can also mean so many different forms of ‘‘Sheilaism,’’ the kind of individual religious expression, which a respondent described in the following way: ‘‘I believe in God. I’m not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It’s Sheilaism. Just my own little voice.’’22 Without any attempt at precision, one can estimate that roughly 40 percent of Americans remain ‘‘unchurched.’’ One can further

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subdivide the unchurched roughly into three different groups: the loosely affiliated, who only attend religious services occasionally, several times a year, on high holidays and special occasions, constitute roughly one-fourth of them, that is, 10 percent of the general population; the ‘‘spiritual but not religious’’ who constitute slightly over 20 percent of the general population, that is, half of the unchurched; and the ‘‘no religion’’ proper, a group that constitutes approximately one-fourth of the unchurched and one-tenth of the general population. Included in this group would be atheists, the irreligious, and secular humanists, but even half of those apparently have some religious beliefs, since the number of Americans who confess ‘‘belief in God’’ or ‘‘belief in life after death’’ has remained constant at about 95 percent for decades. Following Charles Taylor one could certainly say that Americans are living in a ‘‘paradigmatically Jamesian’’ world, and that the type of ‘‘spiritual religion’’ that Troeltsch denominated ‘‘individual mysticism’’ has become one of the main varieties of religious experience today.23 But this variety appears not so much to supplant as to complement and add ferment to organized religion. Moreover, while James argued that this form of personal religion, which individuals experience in their solitude, is primordial, while all forms of organized institutional religion are secondary and derivative, Wuthnow has clearly shown that all forms of individual and popular spirituality are actually ‘‘rooted in experiences shaped by institutional religion.’’24 From a Western monotheistic perspective such a condition of polytheistic and polyformic individual freedom may seem a highly novel or postmodern one. But from a non-Western perspective, particularly that of the Asian pantheist religious traditions, the condition looks much more like a traditional state of affairs. Individual mysticism has always been an important option, at least for elites and religious virtuosi, within the Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist traditions. What Inglehart calls the expansion of postmaterialist spiritual values can be understood in this respect as the generalization and democratization of options until now only available to elites and religious virtuosi in most religious traditions. As the privileged material conditions available to the elites for millennia are generalized to entire populations, so are the spiritual and religious options that were usually reserved for them. I would not characterize such a process, however, as religious decline, or as secularization. But what is certainly new in our global age is the simultaneous presence and availability of all world religions and all cultural systems, from the most ‘‘primitive’’ to the most ‘‘modern,’’ often detached from their temporal and spatial contexts, ready

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for flexible individual appropriation. Anybody can be initiated into any ancestral cult, be born again or reincarnated into any religious self, or remain a permanent ‘‘seeker’’ attuned to partial and consecutive revelations or illuminations.

American Congregational Denominationalism and Its Sources of Renewal The story of American congregational denominationalism, ‘‘the multitude of innumerable sects’’ organized as a congregational voluntary association joined in denominations has been told numerous times and Tocqueville got the story basically right. There is no need to elaborate it further here, other than first, to correct the myth of Puritan origins, which Tocqueville and some nativist writers today like Samuel Huntington still reproduce, and second, to add two key components, immigration and race, which Tocqueville either misses, ignores, or distorts but are in my view crucial for the persistent and recurring vitality of congregational denominationalism, indeed are the key to ‘‘American exceptionalism’’ and to questions of American national identity.25 In trying to explain why the spirits of religion and freedom were intimately linked together in America while they marched in opposite directions in France, Tocqueville reverts to the American myth of Puritan origins, according to which the Puritans and other religious dissenters came to America seeking religious freedom from established churches and confessional states in Europe and founded the system of religious freedom that became eventually institutionalized in the American Constitution. To this he adds the Tocquevillian twist of viewing the New England democratic township paradoxically as the survival in the new world of the feudal medieval European tradition of autonomous townships, which was destroyed by centralized royal absolutism in France, but was better preserved in England and then transposed by English settlers onto the new world. There was in Tocqueville’s developmental view of history the good old medieval ancien regime of aristocratic liberties and medieval free democratic towns, both of which would be destroyed by the bad parvenu absolutist ancien regime and its policies of anti-aristocratic equalization and antilocal centralization. The alliance of throne and altar under absolutism would in turn generate the rabidly antireligious policies of the French revolution, which in turn would generate the counterrevolutionary, antirepublican, and antidemocratic Catholic reaction, so that the spirits of

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religion and freedom in France and in much of continental Europe would march almost always in opposite directions. But as the American case demonstrates, the opposition of religion and freedom was not intrinsic to modern democratic revolutions but was a conjunctural, that is, contingent and nonessential, French development due to particular historical circumstances. Later historians have debunked the American myth of Puritan origins showing that intolerant Puritan New England was neither as ‘‘free’’ nor as ‘‘religious’’ as the myth implied and could hardly have been the model for the free competitive and pluralistic religious denominationalism that became institutionalized after independence. What remains valid is Tocqueville’s insight that, as a voluntary association, the religious congregation remains the key democratic institution of the colonial township and the school of local municipal democracy after independence. The ‘‘congregation’’ was indeed and has always remained the primary and constitutive institution of the American religious structure, irrespective of ecclesiology or denominational system.26 But the congregation in early colonial America, across the colonies, was not the transposition of a European institution, but rather the local similarly recurrent response to the structural conditions of immigration into ‘‘the wilderness’’ and to the need to reconstitute some form of community to guarantee individual and collective survival. The story repeats itself in Puritan Boston, in Dutch Reformed New Amsterdam, in Quaker Philadelphia, and in Anglican Charleston. The autonomous democratically self-governed congregation comes first, the federation or incorporation into some denomination comes later. The same story will repeat itself throughout the American frontier. The same story will be repeated by all later immigrants, by German Lutherans in Pennsylvania, by Catholics and Jews. The local congregation, the ethnic parish, the local synagogue comes first, while the incorporation into diocese and/or national denomination comes later. The same story is being repeated today with the new immigrants, Christian and Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist. They all start by building local, selfgoverning congregations.27 The competitive diversity and the at least formal legal equality of American denominationalism was structured institutionally by the particular pattern of separation of church and state codified in the dual clause of the First Amendment, ‘‘free exercise of religion’’ and ‘‘no establishment.’’ After independence, the establishment of any particular church at the federal national level was probably precluded by the territorial distribution

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and the relative equal strength of the three colonial churches: Congregational, Presbyterian, and Anglican. However, either multiple establishment or the establishment of a generalized Christian (that is, Protestant) religion could have been likely outcomes, had it not been for the active coalition of Jefferson, Madison, and dissenting Baptists in Virginia. It was the Virginia Statute on Religious Liberty, written by Jefferson, that served as the model for the dual clause of the First Amendment, in turn written by Madison. At first, this diversity and substantial equality was only institutionalized as internal denominational religious pluralism within American Protestantism. America was defined as a ‘‘Christian’’ nation and Christian meant solely ‘‘Protestant.’’ But eventually, after prolonged outbursts of Protestant nativism directed primarily at Catholic immigrants, the pattern allowed for the incorporation of the religious others, Catholics and Jews, into the system of American religious pluralism.28 A process of dual accommodation took place whereby Catholicism and Judaism became American religions, while American religion and the nation were equally transformed in the process. America became a ‘‘Judeo-Christian’’ nation and Protestant, Catholic, and Jew, became the three denominations of the American civil religion. The fact that religion, religious institutions, and religious identities played a central role in the process of incorporation of the old European immigrants has been amply documented and forms the core of Will Herberg’s well-known thesis.29 Rather than decreasing, as one would expect from conventional theories of modernization and secularization, religious identities tended to gain salience in the particular context of immigration to America. Herberg’s thesis implied that collective religious identities have been one of the primary ways of structuring internal societal pluralism in American history. Moreover, Herberg’s claim that immigrants became more religious as they became more American has been restated by most contemporary studies of the new immigrant religions in America.30 It is important to realize, therefore, that immigrant religiosity is not simply a traditional residue, an old world survival likely to disappear with adaptation to the new context, but rather an adaptive response to the new world. Moreover, it is not the general context of immigration per se, as neo-Durkheimian theories of religious responses to the anomic strain of immigrant uprootedness would tend to imply, nor the ‘‘theologizing’’ experience of immigrant uprootedness, uncertainty, and estrangement,

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but rather the particular context of immigration to America and the structural and institutional context of American society that provokes this particular religious response, which is not found in other immigrant societies.31 The thesis implies not only that immigrants tend to be religious because of a certain social pressure to conform to American religious norms, something that is undoubtedly the case, but also, more important, the thesis implies that collective religious identities have always been one of the primary ways of structuring internal societal pluralism in American history. In my view, the thesis also offers a more plausible explanation of American religious vitality than rational choice supply-side theories of competitive religious markets. Racialization and racial identities have been the other primary way of structuring internal societal pluralism in American history. Not religion alone, as Herberg’s study would seem to imply, and not race alone, as contemporary immigration studies would seem to imply, but religion and race and their complex entanglements have served to structure the American experience of immigrant incorporation, indeed are the keys to ‘‘American exceptionalism.’’ 32 Herberg’s Protestant-Catholic-Jew examines the process of incorporation only of European immigrants, and thus is absolutely silent about non-European immigrants and their non-Judeo-Christian religions, such as Japanese Buddhists, or Chinese Taoists, or Arab Muslims. Though a serious oversight, one could still argue defensively that those were at the time relatively small minorities. The real problem is that Herberg ignores the truly relevant racial minorities among the religious groups he is studying, the Christian ‘‘others’’: Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics. After all, Herberg wrote his study in the 1950s, at the high point of the great internal migration of African Americans from the rural South to the Northern urban industrial centers and of the Puerto Rican migration to New York. Strictly speaking, of course, African-Americans and Hispanics were not immigrant ‘‘aliens.’’ But it is the fact that Herberg constructs ‘‘Protestant,’’ ‘‘Catholic,’’ and ‘‘Jew’’ as the three imagined religious communities making up the imagined community of the American nation, that makes the omission of ‘‘blacks’’ and ‘‘Hispanics’’ the more problematic and revealing. What the omission of black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics reveals is that in the 1950s those groups remained the invisible racial ‘‘alien’’ at a time when European immigrants, Catholics and Jews, had been incorporated into the imagined community of the American nation.

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Strictly speaking, Tocqueville did not ignore the issue of race. On the contrary, the final chapter of volume 1, ‘‘Some Considerations Concerning the Present State and Probable Future of the Three Races That Inhabit the Territory of the United States,’’ offers a mordant critique of the policies of extermination of the Native Americans and of the inhuman and degrading system of slavery. He anticipates that the Union may split asunder over slavery and is well aware that the abolition of slavery will not bring an end to the logic of racialization built into the American social system but will only make racial relations more difficult and violent. By a sleight of hand, Tocqueville is able to place his analysis of white racial hegemony at the end of his study, as an excursus or postscript to his study of Democracy in America, for, as he conveniently writes, ‘‘these topics are like tangents to my subject, being American, but not democratic, and my main business has been to describe democracy. So at first I had to leave them on one side, but now at the end I must return to them.’’33 This allows him to treat the subject with the critical seriousness it requires, but without having to revise his otherwise glowing review of American democracy, and thus without having to confront the fact that it is after all a white racial democracy founded on the enslavement, extermination, segregation, and apartheid of the racial others. It would take another century after abolition for American democracy finally to confront its system of racial apartheid, and it only did so reluctantly because of the emergence of a civil rights movement nurtured, organized, and carried by the black churches, proving that religious congregations could be not only schools of democracy affirming the status quo, but also voices of ethical prophetic judgment placing the nation and American democracy on trial for failing to live up to the principles of the American civil religion. The draconian anti-immigration laws of the 1920s, which brought an end to the system of relatively open immigration to the United States, began as racial quotas and as racist anti-Chinese and anti-Asian legislation. The 1965 new immigration law, which opened again the gates of immigration to people from all races and all regions of the world, would have been unthinkable without the civil rights movement and the change it brought to American race relations. The United States has become an immigrant society again. But the new immigrants are primarily non-Europeans, mostly from Asia and the Americas, and bring with them a tremendous range in all forms of human diversity, skills, and resources. From the particular perspective of my presentation, however, the most important characteristic is the extraordinary religious pluralism and diversity they bring to a country that was already

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the most religiously diverse and pluralistic in the world.34 Since U.S. government agencies cannot gather information on the religious makeup of the population, we do not have reliable data even on the denominational religious affiliation of the new immigrants.35 But it is safe to assume that the immense majority of all new immigrants, somewhere between twothirds and three-fourths, are nominally Christian, Protestant and Catholic in various proportions, depending upon the port of entry. In this respect, the most significant religious impact of the new immigrants is likely to be the replenishing and renovation of American Christianity. But since they bring non-European versions of Christianity, the new immigrants are also going to contribute to the de-Europeanization of American Protestantism and of American Catholicism.36 But the most striking new development with extraordinary potential repercussions, both national and global, is the arrival of increasing numbers of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, indeed of representatives of all world religions. American religious pluralism is expanding and incorporating all the world religions in the same way as it previously incorporated the religions of the old immigrants. A complex process of mutual accommodation is taking place. Like Catholicism and Judaism before, other world religions are being ‘‘Americanized,’’ and in the process they are transforming American religion, while the religious diasporas in America are simultaneously serving as catalysts for the transformation of the old religions in their civilizational homes, in the same way as American Catholicism had an impact upon the transformation of world Catholicism and American Judaism has transformed world Judaism. The United States is bound to become ‘‘the first new global society’’ made up of all world religions and civilizations, at a time when religious civilizational identities are regaining prominence in the global stage.37 Of all the new immigrant religions, Islam represents the most interesting testing ground and challenge to the pattern of immigrant incorporation for three interrelated reasons: 1. Because of geopolitical rationales and the common portrayal of Islam as fundamentalist, Islam today as Catholicism before is often represented as ‘‘the other’’ and therefore as ‘‘un-American.’’ Tragically, these debates have only exacerbated in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11 by Muslim militants and the U.S. military response. Paradoxically, however, these developments are forcing not only a debate about the alleged civilizational clash between Islam and the West, but also a recognition that Islam has taken roots in America and is becoming a major American religion.

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2. The challenge confronting Islam in America is how to transform diverse immigrants from South Asia, which today constitute the largest and fastest growing group of Muslim immigrants, from Arab countries, and from West Africa, into a single American Muslim ummah. In this respect, the process of incorporation is not unlike that of different Catholic national groups into a single American Catholic church. 3. Because of the still growing Islamization of the African American community, in a process which African American Muslims often depict not as conversion but rather as reversion to a preslavery African Islam, the often contentious dialogue and dynamic interaction between African American and immigrant Muslims is bound to have a dramatic impact upon the transformation of American culture. It is still an open question which kind of internal denominational structure Islam in America is going to assume. But if it is able to overcome in any way the pattern of congregational racial segregation, which has plagued American Christianity and to bridge the divide between immigrant and African American Muslims, it will have a significant impact upon American race relations.

Protestant Fundamentalism and American Civil Religion Nobody is likely to question the fact that religion in America remains an important political institution. Less clear is whether one could still claim with Tocqueville that it ‘‘never intervenes directly in the government of American society’’ and that ‘‘the spirits of religion and of freedom’’ still march ‘‘intimately linked together.’’38 In my book Public Religions in the Modern World, I argue that from independence to the present, American Protestantism had gone through three consecutive processes of disestablishment.39 The ‘‘first disestablishment,’’ the constitutional one, constructed the still disputed ‘‘wall of separation’’ between the Protestant churches and the federal state. It brought about the separation of the state from ecclesiastical institutions and the dissociation of the political community of citizens from any religious community. But the secularization of the state did not bring in its wake either the decline or the privatization of religion. By the time of Tocqueville’s visit at the end of the Second Great Awakening, evangelical Protestantism had become established de facto as the American civil religion, that is, as the public religion of American civil society. The homogenization of the main Protestant denominations made possible the launching of a transdenominational evangelical crusade to ‘‘Christianize’’ the people, the social order,

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and the republic. Indeed, under Andrew Jackson, the first ‘‘evangelical’’ president, the democratization of the aristocratic republic and the democratization of Christianity went hand in hand. The ‘‘second disestablishment’’ cannot be traced back to one single event or to a series of events, but the final outcome is clear: the secularization of American higher education and the loss of Protestant cultural hegemony over the public sphere of American civil society and over the newly emerging large industrial urban centers in the Northeast and Midwest, where an increasingly divided Protestantism had to face the arrival of large new immigrant Catholic and Jewish majorities. Protestant fundamentalism emerged at the turn of the century as a modern antimodernist reaction against the ‘‘second disestablishment.’’ It fought its battles on three fronts: against the liberal-modernist heresies within the northern evangelical denominations, against the teaching of Darwinism in the public schools, and against ‘‘rum and Romanism’’ in urban America. Despite some Pyrrhic victories with Prohibition and the Scopes trial, the fundamentalists lost the main battles and retreated to their separate congregations in a self-imposed religious and cultural ghetto. Most intellectuals assumed that defeated fundamentalism had been relegated to the dustbin of history. For a few more decades the Protestant ethic continued to dominate public morality, the American way of life and ‘‘the American self.’’ The New Deal, the welfare state, World War II, the Cold War, and the post– World War II economic boom made possible the rapid assimilation of the non-Protestant immigrant population into ‘‘the American way of life.’’ By the mid-1950s, Protestant-Catholic-Jew had become the three denominational forms of a renewed American civil religion that had the Protestant ethic and faith in America’s millennial role as its moral and doctrinal core. But the celebration of the new national consensus, symbolized in the election of the first Catholic president, did not last very long. By the late 1960s, the counterculture, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the antiwar movement, and the Catholic aggiornamento all had contributed to putting the American civil religion on trial, and there were numerous indications that a ‘‘third disestablishment,’’ the disestablishment of the Protestant ethic from the American way of life, was under way. From now on, ‘‘the American way of life’’ would be characterized by the plurality of ways of life, by multiculturalism and by what could be called moral denominationalism. From the first to the third disestablishment, the interpretation of the First Amendment was progressively

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extended from the constitutional protection of the ‘‘free exercise of religion’’ to freedom of inquiry, thought, and speech to freedom of mores, that is, of conduct, exemplified above all in the new right to privacy and in the gender and sexual revolutions. It is in reaction to this third disestablishment that Protestant fundamentalism reemerged publicly and was reborn politically in the project of the Moral Majority and of the New Christian Right in 1979. But the very foundation of the Moral Majority as a transdenominational Judeo-Christian coalition attempting to include, in Jerry Falwell’s words, ‘‘Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Mormons, Fundamentalists,’’ would seem to indicate that Falwell did not believe that the reestablishment today of nineteenthcentury Protestant hegemony was either desirable or possible. Only if such a majority of religious conservatives and ‘‘moral’’ Americans could be put together could the restoration of the Protestant ethic and of the American civil religion take place, presenting a serious threat to the civil liberties gained since the 1960s. The impact of the mobilization of the New Christian Right on the 1980 elections has long been debated. The movement may not have driven the Reagan revolution, as some of its leaders claimed, but it was at least riding on its coattails. Yet in 1987, one year before Reagan’s departure from the White House, Falwell abandoned politics to rededicate himself full time to the management of his gospel conglomerate, but also acknowledging that the Moral Majority had failed to place its moral agenda at the center of the platform of the Republican party and had failed to bring conservative Catholics and Jews into the Moral Majority coalition. (Both things would happen with the election of George W. Bush in the year 2000.) It is true that Catholics could become important allies on certain moral issues, on abortion, homosexuality, and generally on family and gender issues. But in their attempt to develop a consistently ‘‘pro-life’’ public moral position based on the sacred dignity of the human person, a ‘‘seamless garment’’ in the words of Cardinal Bernardin, the Catholic bishops and Catholic lay leaders made clear that their public moral agenda was much wider and included issues of social and economic justice at home and abroad, as well as issues of just war, world peace, a fair and just international order, and the moral use of power by the United States in the world. Their 1983 pastoral letter The Challenge of Peace and their 1986 pastoral letter Economic Justice for All were directed unambiguously at two central policies of the Reagan administration, namely at the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union and at Reaganomics. In the first Gulf War, led by George H. W. Bush, a large number of American bishops, including

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conservative Cardinal O’Connor of New York, followed Pope John Paul II in declaring the war unjust. During the Iraq War, initiated by George W. Bush, American bishops have not dared to speak publicly against the war despite the Vatican’s antiwar position. Consumed by their own pedophile scandal, a Catholic hierarchy that has lost its most liberal and critical voices only dares to speak up publicly on those public moral issues on which it is in agreement with the Protestant fundamentalists. Public morality in American politics and in the public sphere of American civil society have been reduced to pelvic issues, and the discourse of the American civil religion is once again sacralizing the manifest imperial destiny of the United States to make the world safe for democracy and free trade. Defending himself against accusations that his concept of an American civil religion was used to support an idolatrous worship of the American nation, Robert Bellah replied that he always conceived of ‘‘the American civil religion not as a form of national self-worship but as the subordination of the nation to ethical principles that transcend it in terms of which it should be judged.’’40 Today it is obvious that the fusion of Protestant fundamentalism and the Republican Party has reestablished the nineteenth-century postmillennial Evangelical Protestant vision that America is a City on a Hill, the redeemer nation that is building the Kingdom of God at home and abroad. Bellah himself now concedes that ‘‘we must recover the idea that we are nothing more than a deeply flawed city of man’’ and that ‘‘our quest for freedom without limit is endangering the very basis of life on this planet.’’41 Only alternative public moral voices, secular and religious, that can reformulate the discourse of the American civil religion in a clear critical direction will be able to unseat the established Christian-Republican coalition. A secular antireligious discourse alone cannot do it. Religion has always been central in every major political and social transformation of American history, on both sides of the barricades in every contested issue and in every culture war. In Revivals, Awakening, and Reforms, his well-known interpretation of American history as a series of religious revivals, great awakenings, and social reform movements, published in 1978, the historian William McLoughlin argued that the United States found itself in the midst of its Fourth Great Awakening, but that no national consensus yet had been reached and its ultimate direction was still unclear. At some point in the future, clearly in the 1990s at best, a consensus will emerge that will thrust into political leadership a president with a platform committed to the kinds of fundamental restructuring that have followed our previous awakenings—in 1776, in 1830, and in 1932. He

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expected the new ideological reorientation to include ‘‘a new sense of the mystical unity of all mankind and of the vital power of harmony between man and nature’’ as well as ‘‘some form of Judeo-Christian socialism’’ as the new political ideology. It is obvious that McLoughlin was not anticipating the triumph of the Republican Christian fundamentalist coalition. But is this triumph only a temporary cultural backlash against the third disestablishment, or is it the consolidation of a new hegemonic Evangelical establishment? I wish I had a credible way to answer this question, but I have no better crystal ball than any of you, and social science has rarely proved very reliable in predicting future. I am willing to bet only that religion will continue to be vital in America at the three levels of individual spiritual religion, of free and ever more pluralistic denominationalism and of shaping American nationalism through some kind of civil religion and that Europeans (and now increasingly Canadians as well, particularly Quebecois) are going to continue to be struck, even dumbfounded if not horrified, when encountering such incomprehensible religious vitality in an otherwise modern, secular, and progressive (in the sense of future-oriented) nation. It contradicts most of the assumptions we have inherited from the Enlightenment, from scientific positivism and from social science theories of modernization and secularization.

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chapter 14

The Avatars of Religion in Tocqueville Lucien Jaume

La folie consiste a` pre´fe´rer sa propre raison, son autorite´ individuelle, a` l’autorite´ ge´ne´rale ou au sens commun. lamennais, Essai sur l’indiffe´rence en matie`re de religion

One of the complexities presented by Democracy in America is that Tocqueville continuously intertwines his observations of the American case (including the exceptional factors that distinguish the first ‘‘republic in a large country,’’ as one used to say in that period) with the attempt to define a type (or ideal type) that stands out through the American example. This complexity is particularly felt in the case of Tocqueville’s discussion of religion, a topic where he pursues several related or parallel questions: First, what is the common trait that characterizes all of the sects of American Christianity? Second, in what way does religion in America, which is separate from the state, nevertheless relate to the spontaneous ideology present in civil society, which Tocqueville calls ‘‘self interest properly understood’’? Third, in what sense is modern democracy a new and specific form of religion? For the most part, interpreters have left aside the last question, as if Tocqueville did not himself take seriously the chapter ‘‘On the Principal Source of Beliefs Among Democratic Peoples.’’ From my perspective, however, this chapter is of essential importance.1 In that chapter Tocqueville asserts that democracy is not an ‘‘exit from religion’’ (sortie de la religion), to use Marcel Gauchet’s expression,2 but rather a new way into religion:

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Regardless of what political laws men are subject to in ages of equality, we may anticipate that faith in common opinion will become a sort of religion, with the majority as its prophet.3

Only in America could Tocqueville observe this reign of the majority (or, as he says in the same chapter, of the public), this religious deference of the democratic individual toward the new authority of modernity. Only in America were the necessary factors in place that favored the formation of a strong and lively public opinion: more democratic elections than the ones found in Europe; freedom of the press and of association; abundant diversity of newspapers; lively sociability within the townships of New England; and a plurality of religious groups. In fact, the question of the metamorphosis of the religious in the thought of Tocqueville confirms, more than in other domains, the three aims pursued by Democracy in America: to grapple with America, to expose in a comparative and critical way the case of France under the July monarchy,4 and to extract an ideal type of modern democracy that is at once favorable to the development of despotism and liberty. In order to position oneself on firm ground, it is useful to start from the question that Tocqueville asked himself, which may explain his interest in the religious transformed into the religion of the public. This question can be put as follows: what can turn democracy—this ‘‘social state’’ that is continuously menaced by the centrifugal forces of individualism—into a community? In fact, Tocqueville does not invent this question: it is widely debated in his time, given the specter of social dissolution in France after the Revolution.5 Moreover, in the literature emerging out of the tradition of Bonald and Lamennais, Tocqueville finds the answers to this question associated with the domain of religious beliefs. Just as Claude Lefort has shown that in Michelet the theologico-political question is both a recovery and a subversion of the monarchical or medieval imaginary,6 so it is useful to grasp the context in which Tocqueville has thought about the phenomenon of the religious dimension inherent to the democracy of free and equal individuals. In this essay, I shall first discuss Tocqueville’s debt to Lamennais, notably with respect to the fear of individualism and the means to maintain the social bond. Second, I shall examine the new meaning that Tocqueville gives to the concept of the religious, and why religion in America can be identified with what he calls the general opinion, that is, the opinion generally shared. This entails an examination of the new ‘‘authority’’ that is constituted by the public, an authority that fulfills the function of persuasion of individuals’ minds and, in that way, forms a new

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ecclesiastical structure.7 My fourth and last point is that through this structure the ‘‘body of the people’’ possesses a fresh visibility under different and successive shapes. According to Tocqueville, Americans are ‘‘naturally religious,’’ not only because of the Christianity that was brought by the Puritans in the seventeenth century, but also because in America one sees the conditions under which a religion was formed that is tied to the democratic form itself. The historical march of democracy cannot but extend this discovery, which is at once the source of wise limitations to human desires and the source of dangerous collective follies. The contextual approach, which, as a historian of ideas, I adopt with respect to this text of 1835–1840 is intended to shed light on our present, that is, on our ‘‘democracy of opinion’’ in developed societies.

From Lamennais to Tocqueville: Belief as a Limit to Individualism Tocqueville has always been preoccupied by the question of what holds a society together and, by extension, what grounds our ‘‘acting in common’’ (to employ his expression). The question of social integration constitutes one of the main links between the first part of Democracy in America and The Ancien Regime and the Revolution, written twenty years later. It is in the chapter ‘‘Beliefs Among Democratic Peoples’’ that Tocqueville is clearest on the relation between social integration and common action. Why are shared beliefs necessary? Because ‘‘without common ideas, there is no common action, and without common action, men may still exist, but they will not constitute a social body.’’8 What Tocqueville is thinking about here is not Montesquieu’s concept of a ‘‘general spirit of a people’’ as source of its deepest identity, but the foundation of sociability itself and its indispensable ‘‘prejudices’’ (as Burke or de Maistre would say). At issue are not the particular identities of peoples, but the general condition of possibility of the social: ‘‘If society is to exist and, a fortiori, to prosper, the minds of all citizens must be drawn and held together by certain leading ideas,’’ which entails ‘‘a certain number of ready-made beliefs.’’9 It is easy to see how this condition of sociability could be weakened by the tendency of individuals living in democracy to isolate themselves and forget both the present of their fellow citizens and the past of their ancestors: democracy ‘‘leads him back to himself and threatens ultimately to imprison him altogether in the loneliness of his own heart.’’10 What Tocqueville calls at times ‘‘opinion,’’ at times ‘‘dogmatic beliefs,’’ and at other

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times ‘‘religion,’’ possesses the essential trait of a collective phenomenon. Every religion, even the most intimate or personal one, such as Protestantism, has a primordial social, collective, and integrative character for Tocqueville. To believe is to recognize one’s subjection to a whole, whose rule one follows. Tocqueville expresses this idea boldly and with the tone of the most personal conviction: For my part, I doubt that man can ever tolerate both complete religious independence and total political liberty, and I am inclined to think that if he has no faith, he must serve, and if he is free, he must believe.11

Tocqueville speaks here not as a sociologist of religion but according to his personal preference. For the readers of his time, Tocqueville’s opinion inevitably echoes the popular work that Lamennais published in 1817– 1823: Essai sur l’indiffe´rence en matie`re de religion.12 The second volume of this work, dedicated to the question of certainty, discusses the dangers of modern individualism (understood as the result of Protestantism and of Cartesianism) and the necessary cure brought by the authority of ‘‘sens commun.’’ There are two doctrines at present in the world: one of these tends to unite men and the other tends to separate them; one preserves individuals by relating everything back to society, the other destroys society by reducing everything to the individual.13

Lamennais argues that the first doctrine—which refers to the absolute monarchy and its alliance with the spiritual authority of the church—is oriented toward generality and social integration.14 In the second doctrine, which refers to modern, liberal democracy, everything is particularized; duties are replaced by interests; authority is nothing but the independence everyone accords themselves; beliefs are but private opinions. Yet, for a public thinker like Lamennais, what matters is society; and society cannot survive without the general element of belief that emerges from the original revelation given by God and transmitted by the church. Society, moreover, is the vector of the ‘‘raison ge´ ne´ rale,’’ which is identical to the testimony of the church: ‘‘general reason is infallible,’’15 and society ‘‘subsists only because of its faith in the truths, transmitted from generation to generation, just like life.’’16 Lamennais became famous thanks to this argument, which evokes a sort of vulgarized Malebranche: society and humankind live on through a permanent communion with the truths of general reason, that is, with the Catholic dogma deposed in the church. This thesis was so successful that Guizot did not hesitate to take it up

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explicitly in his lecture course on the history of French civilization (which Tocqueville attended): The fundamental basis, the hidden bond of human society is a common belief, that is, one idea which is recognized and accepted as true. . . . A modern philosopher [Lamennais] was right when he said that there is only society between intelligent beings.17

In observing American religious communities, Tocqueville retains Lamennais’s idea that one must become a sociologist of the democratic common sense—but he does so not in the way that Lamennais understands common sense.18 Just as a single person cannot demonstrate for himself all the beliefs, convictions, and presuppositions upon which his form of life rests,19 so also ‘‘men therefore have an immense interest in developing very definite ideas [des ide´es bien arreˆte´es] about God, the soul, their general duties toward their Creator and their fellow man.’’20 This idea of generality, already at work in Lamennais, becomes important in this context: everything that takes democratic individuals away from particularity, everything that engenders the collective, is good, because by means of this persuasion they feel they belong to society. Tocqueville here is close to Durkheim, for whom God is the self-image a society gives to itself.21 Not coincidentally, Durkheim was a careful reader of Tocqueville. At bottom, it is not important that sects proliferate in America (here Tocqueville parts ways with Lamennais’s Catholicism), because Christianity is itself of such a great generality: a point on which Tocqueville insists from the first volume (1835) of Democracy in America. ‘‘Each [sect] worships God in its own way, but all preach the same morality in God’s name.’’ The question of which is the true religion is of no importance to the sociologist and to the political thinker: ‘‘Though it matters a great deal to each individual that his religion be true, this is not the case for society.’’22 As a consequence, what counts for modern democracy is the attainment of a society composed of various associations, something not far removed from the E pluribus unum model. As Tocqueville puts it, ‘‘all sects in the United States are encompassed within the overarching unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is the same everywhere.’’23

Tocqueville’s Displacement: From Content to Structure Does Tocqueville’s analysis of the religious bear on the content of beliefs (theology, dogma, rituals, and diversity of Christian sects) or on the

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modalities and social forms of belief? In fact, one finds several trajectories in this analysis because, as discussed, Tocqueville pursues a variety of questions in the American ‘‘laboratory.’’ In the first volume of Democracy in America, he emphasizes the historical originality of a republic that separates state and church only to give religion thereby, paradoxically, a greater political efficacy.24 In the United States, the ‘‘spirit of liberty’’ and the ‘‘spirit of religion’’ go together because Americans understand that ‘‘diminishing a religion’s apparent strength could actually make it more powerful.’’25 However, this authentic discovery made in the modern world is tied to the very principles of Christianity. To learn how to limit one’s desires; to be immersed in the fraternity of the children of God; to prepare for a future life: all this serves to subdue a democracy all too inclined to the limitless pursuit of ‘‘material pleasures’’ and to systematic egoism. In the second volume of Democracy in America, the emphasis changes: this time around, Tocqueville insists more on the idea of religion as a power of the collective in general, and as an exemplary case of the power of public opinion. But it remains true that this democratic opinion has determinate contents: the American priest cultivates, with stunning ability, the ambivalence between the integration to the world and the aspiration to transcendence: Seeking to touch their listeners all the more effectively, they are forever pointing out how religious beliefs foster liberty and public order, and in listening to them it is often difficult to tell whether the chief object of religion is to procure eternal happiness in the other world or well-being in this one.26

Happiness is the interest of the body as well as of the soul. Not the interest that is pursued through the unending search for material pleasures,27 but Tocqueville’s ‘‘self-interest well understood,’’ that is, an interest that guides the specific ‘‘devotion’’ valued by democracy, procuring the service to the collectivity and conversely the reward of recognition. Here Tocqueville contrasts aristocratic devotion, founded on personal allegiance and on honor, to the service given to the democratic collectivity, founded on competition and reward.28 Through this indulgence toward the earthly world, in which one must nevertheless live in an ‘‘honest’’ manner (that is, in a manner socially useful for others), American priests reveal the structural features of democratic Christianity. If, as Marcel Gauchet shows, the religious is authoritatively perceived as what is exterior, or alterity, as the separate and transcendent world,29 then these are all features of religion that are cast

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into question by American religiosity: Christianity emigrates to the immanent world of opinion. In Tocqueville’s words: ‘‘American clergymen do not seek to divert and focus all of man’s attention on the life to come. . . . Even as they hold out the other world to the faithful . . . they do not forbid the honest pursuit of prosperity in this one.’’30 At issue here is a major displacement in religious belief. Belief is no longer a means to escape the earthly world, but a modality of accommodating oneself to it as much as a factor of social integration: ‘‘the honest pursuit of prosperity.’’ As William James, the philosopher of pragmatism, will later say, God is an idea ‘‘that pays.’’ God belongs to a vision where ‘‘material pleasures’’ are rehabilitated in virtue of being inspired by the Holy Ghost. In this way, society reveals a phenomenon, which is nowadays widely recognized, that religion can penetrate all aspects of social and economic life, as in the case of the megachurch. As a new avatar of the ‘‘chosenness’’ that protects (according to Max Weber) material success, God enters into comfort and renders it ‘‘honest.’’ In a formula that reveals not only the displacement but also the metamorphosis of the religious, Tocqueville notes that in America, ‘‘if one looks into the matter closely, it becomes apparent that religion itself reigns there far less as revealed doctrine than as common opinion.’’31 But if religion becomes ‘‘democratic’’—in the sense of being the same as the common opinion present in the ‘‘social state’’—conversely, democracy (in Tocqueville’s sense)32 also becomes a form of religion. Structurally, the concept of religion changes its scope: it becomes consent to the authority that society exercises over itself. This central point of Tocqueville’s thought has not attracted the attention or the interest of his interpreters; with it I return to a discussion of the chapter ‘‘On the Principal Sources of Beliefs’’ in the form of society, which is the democracy of the moderns.

The Cult of Democracy: A Means of Self-Celebration for the Public I shall not be able here to develop the wealth of insight found in this short chapter, where Tocqueville develops a surprising dialectic so concisely that it is nearly obscured. On one hand, he demonstrates to the reader that democratic epochs are the least ready to accept new religious conceptions; on the other hand, democratic equality inevitably gives rise to a new faith. I will limit myself to pointing out the mechanism through which a great paradox appears before our eyes: democratic individuals, who are so proud of their independent judgment (the equality asserted between all minds)

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for the same reason are continuously losing confidence in their judgment. Democratic individuals, the children of the Enlightenment and of critique, cannot delegate their judgment to another, precisely because all are supposed to be equal: good sense, as Descartes says, is the thing best shared in the world (est la chose du monde la mieux partage´e). Yet, at the same time, these same individuals fear to come into opposition with the mass to whom they are ‘‘similar and equal,’’ whenever the opinion of this mass is present before their eyes (and ears). Tocqueville claims that with the decline of historical authorities (aristocrats, kings, lords, priests, and heads of household) ‘‘common opinion is the only guide left to individual reason in democratic nations.’’33 But this guide is also a despot since bad things will happen to whomever does not think like everyone else if the ‘‘public judgment’’ is believed to be known.34 Tocqueville adds: ‘‘In times of equality, men have no faith in one another because of their similarity, but that same similarity gives them almost unlimited confidence in the judgment of the public.’’ The object of the new credo is the public’s judgment. Certainly, the public judgment’s content is always changing, and the public has no visible face—two traits that distinguish it from the theologico-political characteristic of ancien regime societies. Nevertheless, the democratic individual determines his or her opinion ‘‘on faith in the public at large,’’35 as Tocqueville says, playing on the French expression. In the same chapter he takes up again the expression, which is therefore not used by chance: ‘‘we may anticipate that faith in common opinion will become a sort of religion, with the majority as its prophet.’’36 Why speak of religion in this context? Because the following traits have historically characterized religions: deference to an authority; acceptance of ideas or dogmas that surpass the capacity of an individual to ascertain their validity; and securing a personal bond to the collective through this acquiescence. In fact, it is in order to satisfy their desire to remain socially integrated that individuals agree to believe and to bend themselves to the common belief; the individual expresses his or her faith in society (or in the public) in and through what he or she believes in. Durkheim will make much the same point. Here, too, there is a reconfiguration of the classical theologico-political, because Tocqueville is not afraid to use a very strongly connoted term: the public becomes the depository (de´poˆt) where the truths of faith in a democracy ‘‘reside.’’ This de´poˆt designates, as I have shown, the Catholic Church as a depository of faith and tradition.37 Tocqueville uses this term only three times in his book, and it is always used in a religious context.

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The democratic religion (or, democracy as religion) is proclaimed in a brilliant formula: ‘‘Thus the question is not whether some form of intellectual authority exists in democratic ages but only where it resides and what its extent may be.’’38 The new theologico-political is nothing other than the concept of a ‘‘tyranny of opinion,’’ of which interpreters have often retained only its majoritarian and electoral features,39 whereas in fact, the perspective it opens up organizes the entire work. Through the concept of a ‘‘tyranny of opinion,’’ Tocqueville describes the voluntary servitude by which the individual, proud of his or her individuality, is undermined by the anxiety of not being like the others. The formula that describes this anxiety is this: One cannot be in the right against everyone else (On ne peut avoir raison contre tout le monde). If, in fact, this ‘‘everyone’’ (tout le monde) is composed of individuals equal in their capacity for judgment, why shouldn’t greater numbers (what is called public opinion) be the seal of truth, a sign of qualitative value? The fearful respect of majority opinion—or of what takes itself to be the majority—is, on the part of the individual, the recognition of an authority that is not institutional but nevertheless very visible. This is, for Tocqueville, one of the ways in which popular sovereignty gets expressed in society. In this respect as well, Lamennais had shown the way to Tocqueville, since what he had called the ‘‘law of authority’’ and ‘‘common sense’’ are nothing but the present collectivity and humankind in its becoming. Indeed, Lammenais was criticized by Catholics for confusing the church with society—in short, of having strengthened Protestantism.40 In these formulations, Tocqueville captures the novelty of democracy as an ideal type exemplified by the American case. The following lines from Lamennais appealed to him already before his voyage to America and found confirmation in that experience: ‘‘We shall not ask certainty of the human spirit, but only of the reason of society. We shall question the beliefs and the traditions of humankind, we shall take note of its decisions.’’ In this respect, Lammenais adds, we follow the ‘‘social path of authority.’’41 The primordial authority is therefore not to be found in the state and in its institutions: it lives in the bosom of civil society and configures the successive shapes of the collectivity. Tocqueville thought that modern democracy, which has decapitated traditional authorities, creates for itself an authority that is at once younger and mightier: a democratic religion and a religious democracy. The latter cannot be reduced to the particularity of one church or credo: religious democracy is not a theocracy, in the sense in which a religion of state is officially proclaimed. It is also not a matter of ‘‘civil religion,’’ as some authors have suggested.

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In a general sense, and abstracting from the American case, a ‘‘religious’’ democracy develops as the religion of the public, the new master of the modern age. This religion will be all the more influential and demanding the less individuals are conscious of the religious character of their attitude, that is, of their quest for equality in everything. ‘‘In fact, the political omnipotence of the majority in the United States increases the influence that the opinions of the public would otherwise have on the mind of each citizen, but it is not the basis of that influence. One must look for the sources in equality itself and not in the more or less popular institutions that equal men may establish for themselves.’’42 Equality generates the democratic religion, which in turn reinforces the pursuit of equality. In Tocqueville’s anthropology, human beings need to believe: incredulity is an accident, whereas faith is the normal state.43 Yet, democracy has undone all claims to preeminence, what Guizot calls the ‘‘natural superiorities’’ (supe´riorite´s naturelles): the need to believe is now regulated and channeled by the increase of material equality and the equality in principle established by the democratic revolution. It follows that the majority of those who are equal comes to occupy the place of authority, of the right to be believed and feared. Who would dare claim that the intellectual superiority of one could stand up to millions of opinions in agreement over something, for instance, bringing Hitler to power? Or over the need to proclaim the ‘‘correct’’ opinion? ‘‘In us we trust’’ could be the motto of the modern democratic religion! The democratic religion accomplishes the kind of seesaw that Tocqueville illustrates at different points of his work: by promoting individual liberty, democracy risks suppressing that very same liberty; by promoting economic resources on the basis of liberty, democracy brings ‘‘material pleasures,’’ which, in turn, distract citizens from the general interest and from public life. This ‘‘dialectic of democratic reason’’ recurs often in Democracy in America. The democratic individual who has detached him or herself from the traditional forms, rituals, and dogmas of religion may nonetheless enter unawares into the new cult promoting the self-celebration of society.

The Body of the People as the Imaginary of Opinion One of the most striking yet least understood messages of Democracy in America lies in its analysis of the avatars of religion as a form of subjection

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to authority. Tocqueville thinks that the new ecclesiastical form is immanent to democratic society, for this society lowers or eliminates the ancient authorities of state and church, in order to substitute new ones. New candidates for the role of authorities keep appearing: through the influence of local notables, but also in the family, in the township or parish, in literature, and in the religions of diverse sects. But all of them depend on the new master: the public and its opinion; or, in more political terms, the sovereignty of the people (whose juridical definition, according to Tocqueville, is no longer sufficient to understand its place and its extension). This master acts through ‘‘the powerful pressure that the mind of all exerts on the intelligence of each.’’44 Public opinion acts essentially through persuasion, which it has the right to exercise since, as the opinion of the majority, it has become the spiritual sovereign.45 In this respect, Tocqueville follows a current of thought prevalent in his times, according to which the self-consciousness of the social as a collective force is a religious spirit: followers of SaintSimon as much as Pierre Leroux46 or Lamennais, despite their conflicts, are in agreement on this point. The most striking testimony to the belief in the religious character of the social is perhaps expressed by Lacordaire: in his 1835 Notre Dame lectures (which were attended by the entire elite of July, Tocqueville among them), he renewed the image of the Catholic Church by asserting that its essence resides in methodical persuasion. As a Dominican, and a great orator of romanticism, Lacordaire exclaimed, ‘‘the church is nothing but persuasion at its highest level, nothing but the kingdom of persuasion.’’47 For Tocqueville, the new avatar of religion and the new theologico-political take form outside the traditional institution of the Catholic Church. However, this avatar reconstitutes, in its own way, both the religious and the ecclesiastical dimensions: a body of the people emerges into view, whenever a strongly constituted collective opinion is expressed. As with the Leviathan, ‘‘the people’’ acquires a body, a face, a unified voice when it confronts the isolated individual in the form of public opinion.48 This aspect of Tocqueville’s thought goes unnoticed by Marcel Gauchet in his analysis of religion and democracy. Indeed, in his brilliant essay La religion dans la de´mocratie,49 Gauchet situates himself on another terrain than the one I have explored so far. With respect to the historical part of his essay, Gauchet is concerned with the development of Gallican Catholicism once the republican state tries to substitute a culture of individual autonomy and secular spirituality (spiritualite´ laı¨que, as exemplified in Renouvier) for what the French church had traditionally provided.

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Gauchet then shows how this educational and moral republican state (imbued with Kantianism, rights of man, meritocracy) had to give way, in more recent times, to the waves of liberalism, the assertion of individualism, and various forms of identity politics. Only with respect to this question of identity politics could the connection to the ‘‘religion of the public’’ be further explored. I shall not do so here because Gauchet’s entire analysis concerns France and the French state, which is the element that is missing in my analysis because my essay concerns the metamorphoses of authority in civil society. The debate between Gauchet’s positions and my own should, on one hand, concern the value of Tocqueville’s concept of public opinion (or, sometimes, ‘‘common opinion’’), and, on the other hand, the debate should bear upon the idea of autonomy, which Gauchet claims is preserved by French republicanism.50 Can this republicanism resist the logics of ‘‘incorporation’’ in its complex relation of competition and domination with individualism that Tocqueville identifies with the rise of democracy? If I understand Tocqueville properly, democracy is the perpetuation of the religious spirit, which needs to be understood in a sociological manner, in return for a decisive displacement of the place of religion and a reorganization of its grammar. Translated from French by Yves Winter

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chapter 15

Publics, Prosperity, and Politics: The Changing Face of African American Christianity and Black Political Life Eddie Glaude

Some scholars and laypersons alike worry aloud about the current state of African American Christianity. They witness, especially on television, what many take to be peculiar performances of African American religiosity often draped in tailor-made suits with matching alligator shoes. They see enormous sanctuaries and massive gatherings of worshippers enraptured by very charismatic personalities who proclaim the word of God and offer a blueprint for individual healing. For some, these events—and they are events in scale and in emotion—confirm the somewhat standard claim that the tone and timbre of Pentecostalism have come to dominate African American religious expression, so much so that the label ‘‘neo-Pentecostal’’ has become a common description of early twenty-first-century black religious life.1 For others, the central characters in this contemporary religious theater have compromised the essence of the ‘‘black church’’: the pastors and those who follow them have sullied the one institution so central to the pursuit of African American freedom, and they have done so for their own individual benefit. In short, many believe they have sold their souls for a mess of pottage. At first glance, these two reactions to the powerful phenomenon of celebrity black preachers and their megachurches appear distinct.2 Claims about the ‘‘Pentecostalization’’ of African American religious expression

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are simply descriptive and reflect only the widening influence of Pentecostalism around the world. The latter claim, however, reveals a set of normative assumptions about what stands as authentic expressions of African American Christianity, what is the true nature of the black church, and what should be its formal role, political or otherwise, in the lives of African Americans. The two claims, descriptive and normative, ostensibly refer to different matters. Yet both descriptions of the ascendance of Pentecostalism and accounts of the depoliticization of black Christian institutions can be understood, though not necessarily, as intimately connected. For example, a brief glance at early histories of African American religion reveals a somewhat standard description of Pentecostalism as otherworldly—as a religious orientation that tends toward the ascetic and shuns formal engagements with political matters. Typically these descriptions stand alongside accounts of African American Christianity as this-worldly—as a religious orientation that aims to exemplify a social gospel in the struggle against white supremacy in the United States.3 Most often these accounts commend a view of black religious institutions as necessarily politically engaged. Pentecostalism is often emplotted in a narrative of decline as one of the main reasons why black churches are not as attentive to political matters as they once were.4 Descriptions of contemporary African American Christian life, then, as neo-Pentecostal can stand in for more substantive judgments about the state of black religious life and the role of its central institution in black public life. I mention all of this not so much to defend Pentecostalism, but instead to situate my understanding of celebrity preachers and their megachurches within a broader set of considerations about African American religious history and the conception of black public(s) that history presupposes. In an ironic sense, criticisms launched against certain megachurches and their pastors bear a family resemblance to received characterizations of Pentecostalism. Of course, there is an added worry. Pentecostalism’s biggest sin was and, for some, remains its supposed otherworldliness; but for many the problem is not only the nature of the politics of charismatic preachers (after all criticisms of otherworldliness are principally criticisms of a perceived lack of politics), but also the fact that they have been charmed by what Walt Whitman described as the magician’s serpent: the unseemly and ungodly pursuit of money.5 These preachers easily shade into the category of charlatan or street hustler, and their churches reflect not so much the Christian gospel but a gospel of greed.

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One might agree with the substantive judgment that many contemporary preachers, of whatever color, are charlatans of the worst sort. But that judgment, in my view, must emanate from a sustained assessment of their practices and not from some presumed understanding about what African American religion truly is or what might be its necessary function. In this essay, I consider how the blind spots in African American religious historiography block the way to a more nuanced engagement with the powerful phenomenon of celebrity preachers and their megachurches. More specifically, I examine W. E. B. Du Bois’s classic essay ‘‘Of the Faith of the Fathers’’ as a paradigmatic example of the evasion of forms of African American Christian expression that complicate traditional narratives of the prophetic role of black churches in African American politics. I maintain that a different story must be told about the relationship between African American religion and political debate if we are to understand more fully how shifts and changes among African American Christians today affect the form and content of black public debate about political questions. Too often certain rigid assumptions about that relationship impede inquiry.6 My aim then is not so much to engage in a close reading of the ministries of celebrity black preachers but, rather, to open up conceptual space for a fuller understanding of African American megachurches and their pastors at the beginning of the twenty-first century. I should say a bit more about the historical considerations informing my argument. Troublesome accounts of African American Christianity typically presuppose a reductive historical narrative about African American religion, which downplays its internal differences and its theological variety, and they hold a limited view of what constitutes the African American ‘‘public’’ (or ‘‘publics’’) and the various ways religious languages have informed reasoned deliberation therein. These historical narratives often characterize, and in some instances rightly so, African American churches as the central institution in black life. So much so that one could make the claim, as I have elsewhere,7 that African American civil society finds its beginnings within the sacred halls of black churches. But these sorts of accounts easily shade from phenomenological descriptions of the roles black churches have played into normative prescriptions as to what role black churches should play in the lives of black communities. This prescriptive account is then mapped on to the essence of the institution. The point becomes not simply that black churches play a central role in the lives of African American communities; instead, it is the case that this role, a prophetic and progressive one at that, inheres in the very nature of the institution itself.8

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If a more adequate assessment of contemporary African American Christian expression is to be had, scholars and laypersons alike must put aside this view of African American Christianity and confront directly the complicated and somewhat messy history shaping the contemporary black religious landscape. All African American churches were not and are not politically engaged in some recognizably progressive or prophetic sense. African American Christians, like most American Christians, range from conservative to liberal in their beliefs. This is not a recent development: it just happens to be obscured by one of the collateral effects of a particular kind of story of the role of religion in the public life of African American communities—one that assumes that the religious commitments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, best exemplify the commitments of good African American Christians and their churches. This view blocks the way to a fuller understanding of the complex relationship between contemporary expressions of African American Christianity, indelibly shaped by the ministries of high-profile preachers who pastor rather large congregations, and their place in black public deliberation.9

W. E. B. Du Bois and ‘‘Of the Faith of the Fathers’’ W. E. B. Du Bois rests at the center of this problematic. His extraordinary study of African American religion in ‘‘Of the Faith of the Fathers’’ stands as one of the first treatments of African American religion as an object of inquiry. He does not take himself to be explicating the faith claims of a particular religious tradition in this essay, nor does Du Bois understand his task to involve an historical description of a particular religious denomination. He is neither a theologian nor a church historian. Instead, Du Bois sets out to examine the social history of ‘‘the Black Church’’ and its then-current role in African American political life.10 This social history, of course, is written against the backdrop of enormous challenges confronting African Americans at the dawn of the twentieth century. In fact, throughout The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois concerns himself with the meaning of progress in a time of rapid industrialization and urbanization and in a moment marked by American imperial ambitions and the sedimentation of legalized segregation in the South. Questions then arise: how might black America respond to these transformations? What are the inadequacies of the then present responses to the difficulties of the day? What will be the response of the central institutions of black America? Or,

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as Du Bois asked, ‘‘What have been the successive steps of this social history and what are the present tendencies?’’11 Here we see the dynamism of Du Bois’s view of black publics. African American life strains under the pressures of significant transformations in the life of the nation. Black publics are inevitably affected and the challenge confronting black leadership of the time involves the efficacy of their response.12 Du Bois also suggests that African American churches are deeply impacted by these transformations, and this makes sense given his historical and sociological claim that ‘‘one can see in the Negro church to-day, reproduced in microcosm, all that great world from which the Negro is cut off by color-prejudice and social condition.’’13 The black church, he argues, stands as the social center of black life and, as such, the challenges of the day impact its role and function. He writes of this most important institution: Their churches are differentiating—now into groups of cold, fashionable devotees, in no way distinguishable from similar white groups in color of skin; now into large social and business institutions catering to the desire for information and amusement of their members, warily avoiding unpleasant questions both within and without the black world, and preaching in effect if not in word: Dum vivimus, vivamus. But back of this still broods silently the deep religious feeling of the real Negro heart, the stirring, unguided might of powerful human souls who have lost the guiding star of the past and are seeking in the great night a new religious ideal.14

What is striking about this passage is the juxtaposition of two important assumptions that continue to inform our understanding of black religious life. First, Du Bois notes that during this period, African American religious institutions experienced profound differentiation reflective of rapid growth among churches and deepening class divisions within African American communities. This view reveals the beginning effects of black migration from rural to urban areas that transformed historically small, African American communities into relatively large urban enclaves— indeed what was, at the time, a trickle of outmigration at the turn of the century would become a flood by the interwar period, affecting greatly the form and content of black religious institutions in these regions. Second, Du Bois juxtaposes this description with, perhaps, a more troubling assertion about ‘‘the real Negro heart.’’ Alongside what can be rendered as a dynamic account of institutional development in light of structural shifts, Du Bois asserts ‘‘a deep religious feeling’’ behind these

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developments that may counter what he takes to be disturbing trend lines among African American churches. In other words, Du Bois believes that a more authentic expression of African American religiosity involves a politics that, among other matters, challenges white supremacy. He ends the chapter with this sentiment: ‘‘Some day the Awakening will come, when the pent-up vigor of ten million souls shall sweep irresistibly toward the Goal, out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where all that makes life worth living—Liberty, Justice, and Right—is marked ‘For White People Only.’ ’’15 ‘‘Deep religious feeling’’ within ‘‘the real Negro heart’’ makes such an awakening possible and such a faith reasonable. In this sense, the hortatory character of Du Bois’s account of African American religion reveals a more acutely held commitment about the true, or what he hopes to be the true, religious character of African Americans.16 Such persons, with deeply held religious commitments, would stand between two extreme types of ethical attitude. They would reject the religious fatalism of the South and its attendant moral hypocrisy, and they would hold at arms length the potentially debilitating cynicism that follows from the excesses of radical complaint evident in the North. In this sense, Du Bois’s essay provides the narrative frame for early histories of African American religion: in addition to his account of the origins of African American religiosity and its form of expression through the preacher, the frenzy, and the music, Du Bois characterizes African American religious life in terms of a conflict between those with religious commitments who seek refuge from the world and those who engage it. This conflict becomes all the more acute in light of the significant transformations in black life wrought by the processes of modernization and urbanization. For him, the question confronting those with religious convictions is this: how might those convictions inform the kinds of political choices required by the moment of Sturm und Drang, of storm and stress? Obviously, a religious orientation that is otherworldly or one focused primarily on personal gain fail to respond appropriately to the conditions of black living at the turn of the century. Moreover, Du Bois’s appeal to some deep religious feeling among African Americans restrains the potential chaos unleashed by rapid change. That is to say, the dynamism of his institutional account runs aground in the face of his assertion about the religious nature of ‘‘the mass of the millions of Negroes, North and South’’ who reside between the two ethical extremes. What is requisite for the moment then is an expression of the religious feeling evident in the hearts of the ‘‘masses’’ of African Americans.

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One could argue that Du Bois does not assert here some essentially religious black subject. Instead, we could read his account as a kind of immanent critique within the context of a particular religious community. He commends a certain way of being Christian as opposed to another. We could also claim that what is really at stake in this account is Du Bois’s insistence on the need for a ‘‘new religious ideal.’’ This ideal reflects the demands of the moment and signals an evasion of the old dichotomies that defined African American religious life in the past. Both of these views are plausible, but are nevertheless buried under the assumption, an assumption informing much of the historiography of African American religion, that what Du Bois actually commends in response to the challenges of his day reflects a phenomenological account of what African American religious life actually is. Those forms of religious expression within African American communities that seep beyond the bounds of Du Bois’s normative account are easily dismissed as perversions of legitimate expressions of African American religiosity. The irony, however, is that the perversion rests not so much with a complex and differentiated religious landscape where there are ‘‘groups of cold, fashionable devotees’’ and ‘‘large social and business institutions catering to the desire for information and amusement of their members.’’ Instead, the perversion resides in attempts to flatten that complexity in the name of some inherently religious black subject or naturally progressive religious institution—all of which eases the necessary burden, to take up one’s cross if you will, of engaging the messiness of black life and its politics.

John Dewey, Black Publics, and African American Christianity Du Bois’s account of the sociological forces transforming the nature of black public life at the turn of the century was essential in his effort to mobilize constituencies to resist a conception of black politics that constrained democratic deliberation within African American communities. For him, Booker T. Washington’s machine hushed the criticisms of honest opponents. And this was a dangerous thing, precisely because it undermined the deliberative process, even to the extent of disrupting the selection of leadership within African American communities.17 Moreover, Washington’s descriptive account of black life obscured the complexities of the racial landscape and, thus, limited the sorts of actions available to African American citizens seeking formal redress from the state. His insistence, for example, on accommodating Jim Crow in the South narrowed

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the available political options for African Americans. We can understand then Du Bois’s study of the changing role of black churches in black public life as an account of one of the primary spaces for the exercise of what may be called, barbarously, black public reason, and its centrality in challenging an old, staid form of black politics. The conception of public reason invoked here is not located in the state and its organizations—even as the state, particularly its legal sphere, constitutes an important object of concern. It would be more than odd to assume otherwise given the curious question of the place of African Americans in American political life—a question not substantively resolved until the legislative acts of the 1960s. Instead, Du Bois’s turn to black churches signals, among other matters, a turn to a particular site for political participation among persons historically denied access to broader deliberative spaces.18 Charting the transformation of these institutions under the conditions of modernization and urbanization registers a consonant shift in the exercise of black public reason: if churches and their roles in African American communities are changing, then black public deliberation ought to reflect on the substance of these shifts and their implications for collective wellbeing. To refuse to do so results in the kinds of gross mischaracterizations of the moment evidenced by Booker T. Washington and his surrogates that eventuates in misguided action—especially in relation to the state. Turning a blind eye then to the eclipse of a black public tragically results in bad political choices. The metaphor of eclipse is not mine. John Dewey used it in his account of the impact, in the early part of the twentieth century, of technological and economic change on the form and content of American democratic life. Many held the belief that the distractions of modern life meant that genuine deliberation as a key feature of American democracy was impossible. People were simply too busy and problems were too complex for the average citizen to engage substantively in that flood of talk so central to a vibrant democracy. Dewey acknowledged that the technological, economic, and bureaucratic developments of modern American life had fundamentally transformed the nature of social interaction among citizens, and he conceded the claim that the public in light of these developments seemed lost or certainly bewildered. But Dewey rejected the conclusion that substantive deliberation could no longer be a feature of American democracy. The problem, he argued, was not with the incapacities of everyday, ordinary people, nor was the problem inherent to the very notion of democracy. What was required was a better understanding of

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American democracy as a historical phenomenon that is continuously reenvisioned, and the role publics, rightly understood, play in that process.19 On Dewey’s view, publics ‘‘consist of all those who are affected by the indirect consequences of transactions to such an extent that it is deemed necessary to have those consequences systematically cared for.’’20 Understood in this way, publics come into and go out of existence in light of consequences secured and those we aim to avoid as well as the changing material conditions within which we act and make such choices. Initially, we may find ourselves, under some circumstances, directly affected by a particular transaction. We work diligently, perhaps with the aid of friends, to secure consequences that favor us and to rid ourselves of others that do not. This mode of action is principally prepolitical in the sense that it illustrates what we, as social creatures, do in the face of problematic situations. Such transactions are direct and their effects are primarily local. But when consequences of transactions indirectly affect those who are not directly involved, Dewey argued, a more general public emerges; and, in some cases, this public emerges with individuals (officials) and material agencies (the state), whose task is to conserve and protect the interests of those affected. Here Dewey locates the emergence of the state and its representatives in ‘‘the doings and sufferings’’ of individuals/groups acting under specific conditions. As he says: ‘‘Ultimately all deliberate choices proceed from somebody in particular; acts are performed by somebody, and all arrangements and plans are made by somebody in the most concrete sense of somebody.’’21 In this view, the state is denied transcendental status; it is the consequence of efforts to protect the shared interests of those similarly situated. We can only escape the reduction of democracy to a form of government, an external way of thinking, as Dewey called it, when ‘‘we realize in thought and act that democracy is a personal way of individual life; that it signifies the possession and continual use of certain attitudes, forming personal character and determining desire and purpose in all the relations of life.’’22 Such an orientation entails embracing our responsibility to share in forming and aiding the activities of the various groups or associations within which we find ourselves; it demands ‘‘liberation of the potentialities of a group in harmony with the interests and goods which are in common.’’23 To be sure, technological innovation, industrialization, urbanization, and the ascendance of a new aristocracy made up of bankers and captains

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of industry radically transformed the quality and scope of indirect consequences. Yet, the political forms of government that developed under earlier and qualitatively different conditions continued to persist as these new forms changed the quality and content of American life. As a result, a new public remained inchoate and unorganized, and this public had ‘‘to break existing political forms’’24 if it were to take shape. It is important to remember that democracy remains vibrant in the habits of thought and actions of people; it is expressed through the practices ordinary citizens share in association or community with their fellows. The machine age required a reimagining of community in light of the new technologies that, at once, eclipsed prior communal formations and would aid, if intelligently utilized, in forging more meaningful forms of social interaction. Communication across various divides was necessary if genuine communal life, something so central to democracy, was to take shape. But, again, this necessitated breaking through established political forms, and Dewey’s view of publics placed in the foreground this sort of undertaking. Du Bois’s account of black churches sought to achieve a similar end: he wondered aloud how this important institution in black life might respond to the newfangled problems of the twentieth century. An answer to this question required, among other things, that Du Bois contextualize its role and function in black life and avoid, or at least attempt to avoid, the tendency to think about black churches apart from the interests and habits that call them into being.25 Du Bois sought instead to situate the black church historically and to account for it sociologically, a task all the more necessary given the challenges of the moment and the recalcitrance of extant forms—for example, the Tuskegee Machine—that blocked the way to imaginative and intelligent thinking. However, what remained obscured in his analysis were those features of African American Christian life that were not so easily placed within a liberatory project.26 Important concerns, for example, about salvation, sin, and the infallibility of the Bible were simply described as otherworldly or as features of a compensatory faith unresponsive to the daily conditions of African American living. Benjamin Mays would later argue, and in some ways echo Du Bois, that compensatory patterns ‘‘are conducive to developing in the Negro a complacent, laissez-faire attitude toward life. They support the view that God in His good time and in His own way will bring about the conditions that will lead to the fulfillment of social needs.’’27 These sorts of claims resulted in

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a failure to grasp fully the development of evangelicalism in African American communities and the relationship of that development to the transformations in black publics and in the exercise of black public reason that characterized the early twentieth century.28 To be sure, much has been written on the growth of white evangelicalism and its charismatic representatives. Stories, for example, of contemporary figures like James Dobson or Joel Osteen require that we look back to the final decade of the nineteenth century and its debates about the inerrancy of the Bible and the moral implications of a new industrial order; such stories also presume the significance of the Scopes Trial in 1920, the formation of Bible colleges, the organization of the National Association of Evangelicals in 1942, and the use of radio and, later, television in the development and expansion of evangelical ministries. What we see in these accounts is the emergence of a vibrant discursive formation and cottage industry around evangelicalism, which rejects religious modernism and does so via the mediums made available by mass-consumer culture (mediums that inevitably impact the theological content of the message). African Americans are, for the most part, absent from these stories. Apart from relatively recent histories of Pentecostalism, the complex interpenetration of evangelicalism (and its more familiar relative, fundamentalism) within African American communities and the potential overlap with white counterparts are lost to a more pronounced preoccupation with questions of the political efficacy of black churches. Among his heirs, Du Bois’s normative considerations overwhelm descriptive efforts.29 As such, the roles of Bible colleges, parachurch organizations, and the use of media in the development of evangelicalism among African American Christians are diminished, and we are left with little historical context to situate particular contemporary expressions of African American Christianity.30 But, a quick glance at the actual debates among African Americans in the early twentieth century reveals a somewhat complex engagement with issues surrounding fundamentalism and religious modernism—debates that disclose in rather interesting ways the prevalence of the former among black churchgoers. In 1927, The Messenger, a black socialist newspaper founded in 1917 by A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, published over the course of several months an interesting exchange between V. F. Calverton, Kelly Miller, and Gordon B. Hancock. The topic was ‘‘Orthodox Religion: Does it Handicap Negro Progress?’’ (and orthodox religion

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can be read here as a characterization of religious fundamentalism). Calverton, founder of The Modern Quarterly, answered the question with a passionate yes. In his view, the extraordinary religiosity of African Americans only obscured the more fundamental economic relations that defined their conditions of living. For him, African American Christianity was otherworldly, it denied the insights of science, Marx, and Darwin, and encouraged docility in the face of structural conditions that demanded active (earthly) struggle. Miller, the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University, countered by arguing, among other things, that Christianity formed ‘‘the bedrock for modern civilization’’ and this was evidenced not in the truth-value of its metaphysical assumptions but, rather, in the historical significance of Jesus upon human history. Miller also distinguished between reactionary and progressive tendencies among Christians and claimed that ‘‘only the backward, reactionary fraction of the Church’’ refused to acknowledge the insights of science. For him, religion had not impeded the progress of African Americans. In fact, the sphere of religious activity was the site of their greatest achievements. Gordon Hancock, a professor at Virginia Union University in Richmond was a bit more ambivalent. For him, orthodox religion was in fact conservative. But this was not necessarily a bad thing. Its conservative impulse secured the place of religious traditions in the lives of people, and these traditions provided the discipline necessary for progress. Only when African American Christians slipped into a militant dogmatism and denied the insights of science on the basis of the inviolable truth of the Bible, overemphasizing doctrine to the detriment of practice, did orthodox religion block the way to progress. Hancock wrote, ‘‘the present stage of the Negro’s development calls for some constructive expression of religion and the extent to which such expression is subordinated to theological quibbling the Negro is handicapped. The Negro needs a social gospel and not a theological gospel as some erroneous postulate in the name of orthodoxy.’’31 For Hancock, a liberal interpretation of religion was requisite for African American progress. What is interesting about this exchange is the extent to which Miller and Hancock quite explicitly invoke a modernist understanding of African American religion. Both want to hold off any claim that religion and science are irreconcilable. They maintain the importance of human experience, downplay the significance of religious dogma, emphasize the life and teachings of Jesus, and commend a social gospel that speaks to the conditions of African American living. They recommend these views in light of the prevalence of those who argued otherwise.

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This debate obviously included those persons who rejected the liberal theology of Miller and Hancock.32 But the histories of African American religion render them somewhat invisible. We can only see them in negative outline: as the ghostly and ghastly shadows of a more authentic form of black Christian expression. St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton, for example, in their classic book Black Metropolis, reported random comments that express deep-seated suspicion, among the churched and unchurched, about African American religious institutions. The most striking thing about [the] comments was the prevalence of grumbling against preachers and the church—a habit found among members and non-members alike. The major criticisms ran somewhat as follows: (1) Church is a ‘‘racket,’’ (2) Too many churches, (3) Churches are too emotional, (5) Churches are a waste of time and money, (6) Ministers don’t practice what they preach, (7) Ministers don’t preach against ‘‘sin,’’ (8) Church places too much emphasis upon money, (9) Negroes are too religious.33

For Drake and Cayton, such comments supported the view that the central role and influence of African American churches in the lives of black folk were changing in light of the complex differentiation and stratification that characterized black urban living. The comments also served as a prelude to a more general characterization of African American Christianity: black communities were overchurched and distinguished by an untrained ministry whose primary preoccupation was with sin and the last dispensation,34 all of which produced, at least in Bronzeville, a ‘‘revolt against Heaven.’’ It is reflected in continuous vitriolic attacks upon preachers and church members. It is a part of the general secularization of life in the urban, industrial society. In most cases, however, it is not frank and open atheism. It is not even an attack upon the church per se, for Bronzeville’s lower class seems to still feel that it ought to be religious. Rather, it takes the form of a protest against cupidity and hypocrisy of church functionaries and devotees.35

The comments reveal so much more. What is evident in the responses is a vibrant debate, as Du Bois prophetically noted and Drake and Cayton acknowledged, about the role and place of African American churches. But that debate included other voices—‘‘Ministers don’t preach against ‘‘sin’’ as well as the object of much derision: those pastors and their congregations who embraced what is today called a prosperity gospel.36

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The religious landscape of the early twentieth century was obviously quite complicated. Albert Raboteau has described many of these urban spaces as religious marketplaces, where African Americans faced a wide range of choices among a dazzling array of religious formations.37 From traditional mainline and storefront churches to black Jewish congregations, the Moorish Science Temple, to nondenominational Christian congregations, African American urban dwellers in the early twentieth century confronted a differentiated religious landscape with characters who peddled different theological paths to salvation.38 This rich variety, however, has been obscured in the scholarship—as evidenced in Du Bois’s classic essay—by what can only be called a manic preoccupation with the political function of black Christian institutions. The result has been, among other things, characterizations of some features of contemporary African American Christianity as new phenomena. Jonathan Walton’s recent book, Watch This! debunks the notion that the ministries of Creflo Dollar and that of Bishops Eddie Long and T. D. Jakes, just to name three particularly popular preachers, constitute new developments within African American Christian life. Instead, he situates these figures within a complex history of African American evangelicalism that includes an interesting cross-fertilization between black and white communities of faith. Here we find fascinating connections between Oral Roberts and Rev. Frederick Eikerenkoetter (better known as Rev. Ike). We see the significance of personalities like Elder Lightfoot Micheaux and Prophet Jones and the importance of various media in the promulgation of their ministries. Images of these personalities entered into the popular imagination of black communities throughout the nation. Just as Drake and Cayton noted the prevailing sentiment among the residents of Bronzeville about ‘‘the black preacher as huckster,’’ Walton discusses the circulation of images of a particular kind of religious personality—an image that simultaneously marks the presence of these religious characters and the unease they generate among those who hold a particular view of the black church. In other words, the image itself reveals the ghost that haunts a certain normative vision of black Christianity. Richard Pryor’s tragicomic characterizations of the ‘‘black preacher as huckster’’ were particularly compelling in this regard. During the very brief run of his 1977 comedy show, Pryor depicted in one skit a moneyhungry minister who preached a gospel of conspicuous consumption. The skit caricatured the black preacher as Pryor paraded around stage in a sequined jumpsuit and glaring diamonds proclaiming his desire for ‘‘the money.’’ He also portrayed this character in the 1976 motion picture Car

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Wash. Pryor appears in only one scene: Daddy Rich visits the car wash in his stretch limousine with an entourage of women (the Pointer Sisters) and during the interim seeks to spread his message of salvation through consumption. What is striking about the scene is not so much the tense encounter between his character and the ideology of black nationalism represented by Bill Duke’s character, Abdullah, but, rather, the juxtaposition of black Christian belief evidenced in Daddy Rich’s follower who shines shoes. Inviting Daddy Rich to his shoeshine stand, the man proceeds to tell Rich how his ministry has enriched his life. Framing Pryor’s character as he takes his seat are two portraits revealing the complexity of black Christian life: one of Daddy Rich himself and the other of Martin Luther King Jr. The old man who shined shoes found sustenance in both the messages of Rich and King—only to be fleeced by the unbridled greed of Daddy Rich (who paid for his shoe shine only to have the money returned, upon his direction, as a donation by the poor shoeshine man). Obviously, for the makers of the film, King’s Christian witness was much preferred over Rich’s. More often than not African American pastors of megachurches are associated with these sorts of representations.39 The presumption was and continues to be that their ministries offer little beyond a compensatory faith that leaves the believer looking away from her immediate condition to another world for a quick fix while enriching the pastor who trades in pipe dreams. Moreover, African Americans who find themselves committed to such ministries are urged to embrace a more authentic expression of black Christianity or face the charge of turning their backs on the black church or, even worse, of heresy.40 In either instance, African American pastors and their megachurches confront a standing caricature that circulates not only in the scholarship about African American religion but also in common representations of black religiosity. Such views have resulted in a failure to study carefully the significance of these personalities and their churches to African American politics at the beginning of the twentyfirst century.41 To be sure, religion, particularly Christianity, remains a vital part of African American life. Even as the data show that more and more African Americans are unchurched, we still find that the majority of African Americans believe in God, pray regularly, and draw on religious commitments as they navigate the challenges in their daily lives. But, again, many black folk simply are not going to church. Those who are, however, are increasingly attending megachurches. As Melissa Harris-Lacewell notes,

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‘‘While a lower proportion of African Americans are regular church attendees, those who do go to church increasingly choose nondenominational megachurches over mainline denominations.’’ These churches are in fact ‘‘the fastest growing segment of black religion in America,’’42 and do not easily fit within the standard narratives of African American religion. Sanctuaries often do not have the cross as a centerpiece. They appear as stages for an eventful production. Worship service stands as a complex cross between Bible study and ‘‘Pentecostalized’’ praise. Even the demographic profiles of megachurches are markedly different. They are principally located in Sunbelt cities like Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, and Dallas. Most of the churches achieved megachurch status after 1980; so they are relatively young ministries with relatively young parishioners who are disproportionately middle class. Also, their size typically dwarfs traditional black churches. As such, the scope and reach of their ministries, often amplified by television and radio, greatly advance traditional means of church outreach. Moreover, ‘‘the percentage of black megachurches within white Protestant groups is three times higher than that of black churches in general.’’43 These demographic differences suggest a profound shift within African American religious life, a shift consonant with changes in black public life. I have argued elsewhere that there have been, at least, three national black publics since the dawn of the twentieth century.44 My understanding of publics, of course, follows that of John Dewey. For Dewey, a more general public emerges when the consequences of transactions affect those who are not directly involved. In the case of the formation of national black publics, the actions of white fellow citizens in relation to African Americans have had far-reaching implications and have necessitated conjoint action to secure some consequences and avoid others. From the national black convention movement of the early nineteenth century to recent efforts to address the housing crisis, African Americans have sought forms of and created forums for political redress in light of the perceived effects of actions that extend beyond those immediately involved. In each instance, African American conjoint action changed, because of demographic shifts, international conflict, mass mobilization of black citizens, and the changing nature of race and racism in our country. And in each moment the role and function of African American churches fundamentally changed. Today is no different. The successes and failures of the civil rights and black power struggles alongside the tremendous transformations within

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African American communities and American society (witness the stunning success of Senator Barack Obama) have greatly complicated and intensified contemporary racial politics in the United States. So much so that a national black public cannot currently identify and distinguish itself. Economic realities (both local and global), technological developments (we now live in the computer age), various identity formations (class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity), and political transformations (we live in a post–Jim Crow era) have splintered and fragmented established forms of association among African Americans. We find ourselves awash in the Great Society, where the conception of ‘‘black community’’ that once informed notions of racial obligation and ideas about general racial advancement persist primarily in nostalgic longings for a time passed or in invocations of a politics formed in a context in which such notions of community actually made sense. But under present conditions, this idea of black community and its attendant notions of group interests obscure the complex experiences that inform the varied political commitments and interests of African Americans, blocking the way to the formation of a black public more reflective of current conditions of living. One of the more striking features of this problematic, as I have tried to show, is the rather old characterization of some features of black religious life. Megachurches and their charismatic leaders are typically seen as apolitical at best or handmaidens to white conservative evangelicals (and, by extension, the Republican Party) at worst. As black megachurches continue to grow in numbers and influence, as I am sure they will, the persistence of this kind of description further impedes the work of breaking through established political forms as new black publics are constituted and different languages are generated to engage in African American politics in the twenty-first century. R. Drew Smith and Tamelyn Tucker-Worgs presented some of the first available data on black megachurches. And what can be immediately noticed is that the kinds of judgments that circulate about these institutions do not come close to capturing the political complexity evidenced in their practice.45 Smith and Tucker-Worgs show that black megachurches are significantly involved in political issues and community development. Based on a survey of more than fifty black megachurches, they report that 96 percent of black megachurches are involved in voter registration drives, over 60 percent advocate on behalf of particular ballot issues, 73 percent report being directly involved in issues around affirmative action, and 60 percent around women’s rights/empowerment. This political activity stands alongside community development initiatives with 95 percent of

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black megachurches reporting some substantive engagement with business activity (ranging from childcare centers to church bookstores). Sixty one percent indicate they have helped in job referral and job training. Fifty-six percent indicate they have formed some kind of community development corporation.46 The point here is not so much to demonstrate that black megachurches and their charismatic leaders are akin to traditional black churches in their political orientations. There remain substantive differences politically and theologically. Instead, what is required is a more sustained analysis of the significance of these religious institutions without the normative baggage of the traditional scholarship on the subject. This demands a (re)turn to the early part of the twentieth century, that period of storm and stress, when so much of what would become contemporary black religious life was set in motion. W. E. B. Du Bois’s instinct to assess the role and place of black churches at the dawn of the twentieth century, in some significant sense, charts our path. He saw the demographic shifts that fundamentally changed the nature of black living: America imagining itself as an ‘‘Empire of Right,’’ the emergence of a new kind of economy driven by mass consumption, the sedimentation of racial apartheid in the South that would accelerate the urbanization of black America, and the challenges confronting democratic forms within black America as black individuals, particularly those who aspired to lead, struggled to make sense of their place in a country committed to democracy and white supremacy. For Du Bois, black folk struggled in the eddies of the fifteenth century while being swept on by the currents of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His was an attempt to offer a language to describe the eclipse of one public and the emergence of another. These realities fundamentally transformed the nature of black public reason and the spaces within which it would be exercised. Du Bois knew that this required sustained analysis of black churches. And he is right still. We simply must not repeat his descriptive mistake. Our nation currently finds itself standing on the precipice. Our status in the world has suffered greatly because of an unjust war. The economy teeters on a recession, as the axis of economic power tilts eastward toward China. The housing crisis has robbed many Americans, black and white, of the American dream of home ownership. The result has been a widening gap between the rich and the poor. All the while race continues to overdetermine the life chances of so many Americans—even as we witness the excitement around

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Obama. From health care to education, African Americans continue to lag behind while the rates of prison incarceration continue to skyrocket. Indeed, as it was at the dawn of the twentieth century, this is a time of storm and stress. And the question remains: What will be the response of the central institutions of black America? Du Bois noted at the time that black churches were differentiating into ‘‘cold, fashionable devotees’’ and ‘‘large social and business institutions.’’ He told of a continuous history that connected African American religious expression with that of Africa. He likened the black preacher to the African medicine man, and he wrote passionately of a particular gift to the world, a music that spoke of the sorrow of generations aspiring for a heaven-filled hope that might secure the future for their children. This emphasis on the preacher, the music, and the frenzy was framed by an overriding assumption about the social and political function of black churches. These institutions, so central to black life and politics, provided a crucial deliberative space for the exercise of black public reason. But Du Bois’s account gave little, if any, attention to the varied religious voices within black churches. And that oversight continues to haunt us. Smith and Tucker-Worgs have it right when they say that black megachurches ‘‘symbolize the organizational dynamism of African American (and American) church life.’’47 Received characterizations that box in these institutions as either otherworldly or as ‘‘religious rackets’’ offer little help in understanding their place in these trying times. Admittedly, when thinking about megachurches and their charismatic leaders, scholars and laypersons alike are forced to reconsider Du Bois’s tripartite description (the preacher, the music, and the frenzy) of the black church. For example, many celebrity preachers do not engage in the traditional homiletic of the black church; they seem more content with lecturing on a selected scripture. Also, many shy away from the political domain or the moniker of black leader. The music that characterizes their worship services is related but not reducible to the sorrow songs that so moved Du Bois. I recently attended a conference at Yale University about the future of African American religious studies, and a panelist vigorously complained about the substance, or lack thereof, of contemporary gospel music. He called it 7Eleven music: seven words repeated eleven times. Perhaps the most consistent feature remains the frenzy and this, for some at least, demonstrates the impact, negative or otherwise, of Pentecostalism on the form and content of African American worship. In each instance, the dynamism of megachurches unsettles stereotypes and resists easy characterization.

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For Du Bois, the differences between black churches mattered only to the extent to which those differences impeded the social and political function of black churches. Such a view narrowed the range of his consideration about this complex African American institution and, in some ways, blinded him to what has become one of the more significant features of African American religious life: black fundamentalism. The result, of course, was a reluctance to take seriously some of the more significant changes in black religious life at the dawn of the century. However, Du Bois insisted rightly that a vibrant democratic life within African American communities required a fuller understanding of those meaningful forms of social interaction necessary for genuine communal life—failure to grasp those forms might lead to the kind of disastrous politics epitomized by Booker T. Washington. And here we are today, some of us struggling mightily to understand the relationship of black churches to black public life in the twenty-first century. We saw during the 2008 Democratic primary how narrow descriptions of black Christianity can produce profound misunderstandings among fellow citizens. Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s fiery sermons shocked many white Americans and confirmed for others the prophetic function of the black church. Even Wright, in defense of himself against the wholesale onslaught against his lifelong ministry, took himself to be defending the black church against crude caricature. Yet and still, his defense failed to capture the vitality and vibrancy of black Christian life: that many African American Christians, in fact, reject his Afrocentric liberation theology and many of them attend megachurches. What is required of this moment, one of extraordinary change and challenge, is a fuller account of the expansiveness and vibrancy of African American Christianity, and its relation to the changing nature of African American politics. Du Bois was right to turn to black churches to begin an account of the changing face of African American public life. We ought to do the same. I also believe he was right to insist that we seek ‘‘in the great night a new religious ideal.’’ But this ideal is not rooted in the very nature of African American Christianity or the in the hearts of African Americans; it is found instead in our sense of the possibilities evident in our living—in our efforts to forge together a life that liberates us all.48 And megachurches, I am sure, have an important role to play in that effort.

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chapter 16

Conversion Thomas L. Dumm

There is a loneliness that can be rocked. . . . It’s an inside kind—wrapped tight like skin. Then there is a loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive, on its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far off place. toni morrison, Beloved

Two Feet Loneliness is deepest in the moments when we face the terror of nothing. But nothing rarely appears as itself. Instead, it takes on many different guises. Nonetheless, whatever guise it takes, nothing is the lack that drives us forward on many fronts of our lives. And it seems that all the kinds of nothing are surrogates for death, for nonexistence, the ultimate nothing. Perhaps the most extreme expression of nothingness is what Eyal Peretz has called the white event.1 He has described the white event as a catastrophe that shatters all possibility of knowing and places us in as close to an unmediated relationship to our life as is possible to be. The white event expresses an enigmatic paradox, not concerning death in itself, but the intertwining of life and death that exposes life’s fragility in every moment. It shows us in a shocking way how it is that we may come to be most alive in the moments when we are closest to death. But we run away from confronting that paradox. We do our best to forget our understanding of the white event because it is so terrifying, because it gives us over to the most painful part of our existence. Our embrace of loneliness is in this sense a form of solace from that pain. But there is an everlasting price we pay for this embrace. Our sorrow, our pain,

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our community of nothing in common recedes from view and we become ghostly in our existence, we begin to haunt ourselves. The loneliness I attempt to describe as being a way of life has an American inflection to it.2 Undoubtedly, this American emphasis can be explained in part as a matter of contingency, since my experience, and hence my writing, is shaped by the fact of my American life. But there is something else at work as well, something American in inflection concerning how the white event has informed a lonely way of life. Where and how tragedy has moved into our world is connected to this phenomenon. What does it mean to think about the white event in a culture of evasion, a place that is shaped by avoiding a meaningful confrontation with the pain of death? Americans have made all sorts of claims to being exceptional, but American exceptionalism has been fundamentally shaped by a measured ignorance of our condition. It is as though the flight from the powers of Europe was also a flight from our existent selves, a continued denial of the terrible things we have done in order to evade our nothings. The malice is at our root. And so it has been left to our artists to remind us of our malice, of the cruelty of our actions, a cruelty that has so often been linked to our desire to be alone. This cruelty has been most pronounced in how we continually learn to deny the humanity of others, connecting that denial to the achievement of some sense of our own autonomy. In no other circumstance has this temptation been more fully expressed than in the horror of chattel slavery and its aftermath, an ongoing injustice, an ongoing tragedy. Hence our truest literature of the politics of culture seems to be that which unflinchingly touches the open wound of racism and the heritage of our past hatreds, so alive in our present. In this sense there is a direct line of descent from Melville’s Moby-Dick to Toni Morrison’s Beloved. (A great intermediating link between these two novels is of course Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, which also could be the subject of a book unto itself.) In her great novel Morrison tells a ghost story, the tale of a ghost so strong as to show the living the twin powers of remembering and forgetting. And yet the heart of the tale is a debate about what constitutes the human itself, and how the forgetting that is entailed in our efforts to remember makes loneliness as a way of life a central problem of our existence. Sethe, a fictionalized version of the historical figure of Margaret Garner, joins a list of lonely characters forced to the conclusion that the only form of freedom is to be found in death. Sethe’s case is extreme in the sense that American slavery itself was extreme. Her action is a result of the

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threat of a return to one of the worst conditions one might imagine. She concludes that killing her child is the way to make her child safe, the only way to place her firmly where she will not be owned by another, no longer suffering the loss of self that comes from being owned by another. Much of the complex, repetitive, and multivocal narrative of Beloved makes the living death of chattel slavery palpable by providing details of its everyday, even under the relatively good conditions of the plantation called Sweet Home. It is those details that provide the unjustifiable justification for Sethe’s terrible action by showing the horror of what it means when one’s own body is not one’s own. In the writing of this story slavery becomes what it surely was—a catastrophe, a white event. What is to be our response to this catastrophe? Sethe’s decision is not uncontested. Indeed, she is an outcast because of her action, and the ghost that she honors, the unnamed Beloved, comes close to destroying her, a figment of her own bottomless love and dread. Paul D, the protagonist and lover of Sethe, reminds her that she has ‘‘two legs, not four,’’ when he learns that Sethe has killed her unnamed child.3 These are harsh words, invoking the humanity that Sethe has barely had an opportunity to experience, a chastening all the more powerful for the terrible knowledge that Paul D himself has of the condition of slavery, how he was treated as a nonhuman animal. This passage seems to me to be a deliberate and calculated reminder of the difficult position of the human: Morrison wants us to remember that being a slave, a condition in which one is owned by others, is a condition of animality, a particular kind of nonhumanity. She makes what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri have described as the ‘‘becoming animal’’ element of human existence specific to the condition of slavery.4 And yet the direction she is pointing toward, the movement she wants for Sethe, is what Emerson encouraged as well, to stand upright, to walk on our own two feet. Paul D’s accusation that Sethe has acted like an animal is something Sethe resists and resents, having countered Paul D’s claim with her own declaration of absolute love for her children. Her absolute love, however, also sets her outside of humanity, this time as a god if not as an animal. Sethe’s absolute love conjures her baby girl as a ghostly young woman; she honors her ghost by sacrificing herself. Her overwhelming presence as a mother is as frightening in its way as is the missing mother in Lear’s story. The ghost of her daughter beats her, is killing her, leading to an intervention by the women of the community that exorcises the ghost. And this too almost kills her.

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It is only upon the return of Paul D that a possibility of a future comes into being. What Paul D wants in the end, what he is surprised to find in Sethe, is what he recalls his friend Sixo describing: ‘‘She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order’’ (272–273). The path toward Sethe and Paul D’s final reconciliation entails negotiating their differences so as to aim them both toward something we might call the human. And it turns out that to become human has something to do with freedom and its troubled relationship to democracy. Beloved concludes with a reflection on the problem of remembering that echoes the most powerful claims that Emerson makes in ‘‘Experience.’’ The famously ambiguous sentence that sums up the import of the tale is repeated three times, like a biblical denial of Peter, who founds the Church. It was not a story to pass on . . . It was not a story to pass on . . . This is not a story to pass on . . . (274–275)

The double-edged meaning of the injunction is poignant, especially since Morrison tells us, ‘‘They forgot her like a bad dream.’’ It suggests that in the face of the white event we must forget in order to remember. The ghostliness of memory is at play here, all stories of the dead are ghost stories, and have their own dangers. (Morrison claims that if we were to touch the slightly changed photograph of a dear departed one, things would never be the same again.) This shift in memory is a revisiting of cataclysm, is the American way of forgetfulness, the harm we suffer out of trauma that is revisited to us again and again. This is the dark underside of experience, the unhandsome part, the representation of a grief so vast as to take us away from who we are, who we were, and who we want to become. This grounding of loneliness in grief has a double aspect. ‘‘There is a loneliness that can be rocked. . . . Then there is a loneliness that roams. No rocking holds it down. It is alive, on its own’’ (269). One loneliness burrows deep and is still, is infantile, and put to sleep. Another loneliness roams. What does she mean? If one thinks of Morrison’s claim in relation to Emerson’s ‘‘Experience,’’ this practice of loneliness could be thought of as an enactment of the internal tensions in Emerson’s essay between the futility of experience and the drive to change and transformation. A loneliness that is still is the original constraint of character—a loneliness that roams is above character, it is the action of the soul. Sharon Cameron

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has written of this tension, imagining the way out of the constraint of character to have something to do with the assertion of impersonality.5 There is no room for loneliness in the impersonal, yet we constantly vacillate between the personal and the impersonal. We remain lonely despite our respite to formal terms of address. Similar conversations permeate the texture of Moby-Dick, especially the final conversation of Pip with Ahab. What does Ahab find so tempting about Pip other than the possibility of remembering himself, a particular turn back toward the human and away from his becoming whale? Pip is taken in by Ahab because Ahab’s lack is compatible with his own. The excess of courage in Ahab is met by the overwhelming sense of cowardice that Pip feels, a sense that keeps him from himself. Ahab’s great worry is that ‘‘like cures like; and for this hunt, my malady is my most desired health’’ (C129). So Ahab leaves Pip because he must pursue his own disease to its end—a disease, as Michel Foucault suggested in another context, that is peculiar in the sense that it is composed only of the symptoms that constitute the disease itself.6 In this pursuit of the whale, Ahab becomes an outsider, in an anomalous conjoining with Moby-Dick.7 This attempt by Ahab to break through the wall, to become something other, to pursue the great whale, to answer that siren call, is, perhaps, a refusal of the human. But the lesson of Ahab also may be that there is something more than a refusal of the human in the anomalous. What would that be?

Thought-Divers Let us consider this comment in letter from Melville, shortly before he wrote Moby-Dick. For the sake of argument, let us call him a fool,—then had I rather be a fool than a wise man.—I love all men who dive. Any fish can swim near the surface, but it takes a great whale to go down stairs five miles or more. . . . Thought-divers . . . have been diving and coming up again with bloodshot eyes since the world began.8

This is Melville reporting to a friend upon first hearing Emerson lecture in 1849. This was shortly before the writing of Moby-Dick. In citing Melville, Deleuze is implicitly comparing Foucault to Emerson, as he uses Melville’s description of the thought-diver to grasp at the enormity of the thought from the outside that Foucault undertakes. But we may think for

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a moment about the description in its more primal context, in how Melville may be thought of as regarding Emerson as a carrier of the thought of the white event, and of Pip as the deepest diver in the novel, who emerges with something that may be called a thought, or a book of thoughts, in the guise of Ishmael. While Melville expresses doubts about Emerson—thinking him too transcendental, too satisfied with his own comprehension of the origins of things (he suggests in the same letter in which he praises him that Emerson seemed to think that had he been around when the world was made he might have made some improvements on the original plan), he nonetheless recognizes that Emerson faces the deepest problems: he fronts the white event in its fullness. I have come to understand Emerson as a thinker who, though embracing a set of transcendental commitments—to an idealism, as he puts it in ‘‘The Transcendentalist’’—in his expansiveness offers encouragement to those of us who are committed to thinking of our world in immanent terms. In other words, even as we may recognize Emerson’s transcendentalism as a doctrine of transcendence, we may also see in what may be called Emersonian expansionism the resources to pursue a kind of ethics of immanence. If we are in need of an ethics attuned to the finitude of the world, a way of thinking that would enable us to accept, in recognition of that finitude, the open possibilities of our fleeting existence, Emerson offers us a way. Those of us who are committed to plurality, openness, and the embrace of ambiguity and uncertainty see in those positions a platform for a politics which would enable us to accept the terms of our condition as separate beings without ending in the terminus of loneliness. Such a thought is consistent with the use to which Melville put his work in the creation of the character of Pip, the one who does indeed dive deeply for his thoughts. What we might call an Emersonian responsiveness to the tragic claims of the white event may mark the beginning of a path we might take away from the catastrophe that Peretz suggests quite correctly it is the duty of literature to describe. In what remains of this essay, I hope to point to some lines of thought that may aid in establishing such a path away from catastrophe. Stanley Cavell attends to Emerson, among other reasons, because he senses that in the romanticism that Emerson bears there is a possibility of a reconciliation of the split in Western philosophy that is coincident with the writing of Hume and Kant, the split between what comes to be called Continental philosophy and Anglo-American philosophy. Emerson is an American thinker who bears upon both traditions, and offers us a way of resolving the split, Cavell suggests.9 I would suggest in turn that this is yet

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another expression of what may be called the original Cartesian split upon which lonely reason and the lonely self are based. But Cavell’s philosophical resolution must also be a political and ethical one, a reconciliation of the feudal with the liberal, so to speak, or of the claims of the commons with the rights of individuals. Just how Emerson proceeds to underwrite this work is illuminated when we look at several instances of Emersonian expansionism contained not only in ‘‘Self Reliance,’’ but in an earlier text as well, ‘‘The American Scholar.’’ ‘‘The American Scholar’’ first presents the idea of a fragmented man in the form of the ‘‘old fable’’ that there was once One Man (this would be Marx’s man realizing his species being in the famous passage where he describes life under communism—fishing in the morning, thinking in the afternoon). ‘‘The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about as so many walking monsters,—a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man.’’10 Thus man becomes a thing, Emerson says, in fact, many things. One of those things is the thinker, the designated intellect. The scholar is man thinking, a much-valorized character, and the final resting point for some Emerson scholars, who sees the contemplative Emerson as the truest one, that is, who sees action, while essential to Emerson, as also subordinate for him.11 While there is textual evidence to support this view, I prefer this passage from Emerson, one that emphasizes the importance of contact with the world, even as one must remain self-trusting: The world,—this shadow of the soul, or other me, lies wide around. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me acquainted with myself. I run eagerly into the resounding tumult. I grasp the hands of those next to me, and take my place in the ring to suffer and to work, taught by an instinct, that so shall the dumb abyss be vocal with speech. I pierce its order; I dissipate its fear; I dispose of it within the circuit of my expanding life. . . . I do not see how any man can afford, for the sake of his nerves and his nap, to spare any action in which he can partake. It is pearls and rubies to his discourse. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation, want, are instructors in eloquence and wisdom. The true scholar grudges every opportunity of action past by, as a loss of power. (60)

This passage hints at how we partial beings are to overcome our partiality. He writes, Character is higher than intellect. Thinking is the function. Living is the functionary. The stream retreats to its source. A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think. Does he lack organ or medium to impart

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his truths? He can still fall back on this elemental force of living them. This is a total act. Thinking is a partial act. (62)

It is no simple matter to assert our selves in the world—the trickiness of Emerson is found in this term ‘‘character,’’ which is, as he points out in ‘‘Fate,’’ both fatal to us and the grounds for our assertion of freedom. But there is here more than a hint at the practical democracy that Emerson sees as lending itself to a richer realization of a remembered world—when he embraces the exploration of the near, the low, the common, the familiar as the object of his aesthetic. In contrast to Marx, for whom the inevitable unfolding of history is to shape the future, Emerson says, ‘‘Give me insight into today and you may have the antique and future worlds.’’ He will insist over and over that there is one design, that to realize this, or appreciate it, is necessary to achieve happiness. Cavell reads ‘‘The American Scholar’’ as Emerson’s declaration that provides a constitution for American thinking: Since the lives of this people, Emerson’s people, do not yet contain thinking, he cannot, or will not, sharing this life, claim to be thinking. But he makes a prior claim . . . namely, to be providing this incentive to thinking, laying the conditions for thinking, becoming its ‘‘source,’’ calling for it, attracting it to its partiality, by what he calls living his thoughts, which is pertinent to us so far as his writing is this life: which means, for far as ‘‘the grandeur of justice shine(s)’’ in the writing and ‘‘affection cheer(s)’’ it. Then this lowly roof, in which the anonymous will dwell with him, will provide them with the force of his constitution—this is no further fact, or no other way, of adopting it. (Cavell, ‘‘Aversive Thinking,’’ 150)

Emerson’s reading of the difference between the total and the partial act thus prepares the grounds for understanding the reason for an averting to conformity—as expressed in ‘‘Self-Reliance.’’ It is to encourage our thinking as a means of making us become more fully human, to become acutely aware of our partiality and of the need for us to avert conformity, which falsely unites us, presenting the deepest barrier to awareness of our partiality, and of the way in which we can more truly unite, as thinking beings. Thinking is a form of action, as both Emerson and Cavell emphasize. Thinking is a way of living our skepticism, taking one step out of our loneliness. Thinking begins our aversion to conformity in self-reliance. This is an instance of Emersonian expansionism, how the aversion to conformity, as an active thought, moves us to a more expansive way of being in the world. A contrast with the idea of self-possession, the more narrow way of being autonomous, is instructive here. Conformity is

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thoughtless action—akin if not identical to what Hannah Arendt called behavior, and which in its most basic etymological sense is a conflation of being with having. This of course is the driving force aboard the Pequod, the conditioning of the human through the reduction of worth to price. The horror of self-ownership is variously reflected by Emerson in ‘‘SelfReliance’’ when he compares society to a joint-stock company, when he suggests that a committed person (in the form of a politician, for instance, a president) is somehow owned by others, and when he also says, ‘‘There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold’’ (262).

Conversion It is this sense of aversion as a refusal to betray an affinity for the sake of conformity that separates self-reliance from self-possession. Aversion is also an element in what Emerson suggests it means to be emancipated—to become fully human. The final sentences of ‘‘The American Scholar’’ contain this idea as well. ‘‘We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds. . . . A nation of men will for the first time exists, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men’’ (73). To walk on our own feet is also to aspire to a becoming human. When Paul D chides Sethe he is also anticipating her recovery, and she reminds him of this rebuke when, from her bed, to weak to rise, she asks him if he is going to count her feet (272). To walk on our own feet is a state of independence, of adulthood. It is to suggest that the debilitated condition of the traumatic loss noted so powerfully by Morrison is to be overcome through a practice of active thinking, or, in Cavell’s phrase, ‘‘taking steps.’’ This affinity of a self with others is achieved, not by comparison, but by action. Shortly following on his comment about those by whom he is bought and sold, which is embedded in his infamous comment disavowing a sense of possessive responsibility for poor people (‘‘Are they my poor?’’ he asks), Emerson says: I ask primary evidence that you are a man, and refuse this appeal from the man to his actions. I know for myself it makes no difference whether I do or forbear those actions which are reckoned excellent. I cannot consent to pay for a privilege where I have intrinsic right. Few and mean as my gifts are, I actually am, and do not need for my own assurance, or the assurance of my fellows, any secondary testimony. (SR, 263)

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Reckoning, or measuring the value of someone, is comparing to a standard, placing someone on a scale, normalizing their value through comparison. (As Shakespeare’s Dogbury comments in Much Ado About Nothing, ‘‘Comparisons are odious.’’) Emerson insists, against this normalizing standard, that he is to be judged as a man, whom is to be judged as a thinking being, or, better, someone who may think some day. And yet the thinking is itself an act—I actually am—an action of aversion, here, as elsewhere, averting the measuring of someone through a counting of their worth. This counting of worth, inscribed in the American constitution through the three-fifths clause, is the most antidemocratic element of our being. It is the term of reckoning that is resisted by both Melville and Emerson. And yet we all know that we must count, that in the end we must, as Judith Butler says, give an account of ourselves. Cavell suggests that the paradox expressed here is that of language itself—one cannot speak it until one knows it, but one cannot know a language until one speaks it. He thus returns us to the grounds of the literature of the white event. He writes: ‘‘Each claim to speak for philosophy has to earn the authority for itself, say account for it’’ (‘‘The Philosopher in American Life,’’ 51). He claims that the essay ‘‘Self-Reliance’’ is just such a study of philosophical writing, hence of reading and thinking. He argues this by paying careful attention to the manner in which such words as character, expression, and communication are used throughout the essay to draw attention to the import of words. If we read certain passages of ‘‘Self-Reliance’’ reliably, this inflection becomes clear: [A]fter warning near the beginning ‘‘we but half express ourselves,’’ and claiming in the middle that while we may ‘‘err in the expression’’ of our intuitions we know that they are so (they are so, this way) and are ‘‘not to be disputed,’’ he speaks near the end of the wise man as ‘‘[making] men sensible [of something] by the expression of his countenance.’’ What the wise man is making us sensible of, says Emerson in this instance, is that the soul stays home, that even when he is called from his house he is still, whatever others say, at home. But since being called, for a wise man, is evidently being called by his genius, and since for Emerson, that is to write, Emerson is submitting his writing to the condition of acquiring whatever authority and conviction due to it by looking at its countenance, or surface. (‘‘The Philosopher in American Life,’’ 55)

Cavell suggests that Emerson’s implied claim here is that words, or surfaces, go the whole way down, that there is no way of thinking outside

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of words, that ‘‘words are no more ornaments of thought than tears are ornaments of sadness or joy’’ (55). Another moment that Cavell emphasizes is when Emerson refers to those who conform to usages, pointing out that he suggests that ‘‘every word that says chagrins us.’’ Emerson also says, ‘‘Their every truth is not quite true.’’ While one might say that this is the problem of conformity, it is also the interminable problem of language, in that we are dependent on conventional or ordinary language to communicate our meaning. As Cavell puts it, ‘‘If every one of our words is implicated in the conformity of usage, then evidently no word assures a safe beginning; whether a given word will do must accordingly depend upon how it allows itself to be said, the countenance in which it puts its utterer, whether it can be unuttered so as not to chagrin us, which is to say sadden us, to use a favorite Emersonian phrase, to raise and cheer us’’ (55–56). I find this understanding of the paradox of language to provide an explanation for the famous beginning of ‘‘Self-Reliance’’ as well. When Emerson suggests that ‘‘In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty’’ (129), he may be describing the fact that we are remembering that we have broken a promise that we have made to ourselves, and in that remembering—recognizing—we are engaging in the first act of thinking. Emerson, we may recall, is writing whimsically, which, as Cavell emphasizes, is to say that Emerson is writing in ‘‘Self-Reliance’’ as a cipher of God. It is as such a reader/writer that he is to be taken seriously, which is, to complete the circle, to say whimsically, as a philosopher (54). It is as this cipher of God—as an American philosopher—that Emerson finds the strongest resistance in Melville’s tragic vision of the self beyond redemption. Yet if the promise of literature is to provide us a way of representing the catastrophe of life itself, then it may also be our responsibility as writers of that literature and as participants in our own lives to respond to the call however we may. This is an act of conversion; it is the act of conversion that allows us to remember ourselves in a way that will move us, if only slightly, beyond the constraints of loneliness and toward each other. To look a little more closely: what does it mean to promise oneself, if it is not to recognize the distance that exists between one’s present and future, to realize that one is only here and now, or suspended in a series of which we do not know the extremes? Cavell thinks through the problem of language in Emerson’s reading of experience in order to illuminate the conditions of possibility for the very writing of an Emersonian essay. Those conditions, it turns out, are

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synonymous with the conditions of our thinking, of our living, of confronting and engaging our lives. Emerson’s poor student, Thoreau, made a similar claim when he went to Walden and wrote of his experience, insisting that the vehicle of writing itself was his means of finding a way to be present in his present. ‘‘In any weather, at any hour of day or night, I have been anxious to improve upon the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.’’12 To notch time upon his stick is to write through the experience of being present. Such a writing is also a practice of thinking, a way of recovering ourselves, what Cavell has called Thoreau’s mysticism of the moment,13 what we may call a way of being sane with ourselves, living in the knowledge of great absence, without prospect of anything beyond the duration of time, aware of our marking of it, writing it, looking closely at the conditions of our own possibility, of our own sanity in the writing of our own disaster, alone together. Looking closely requires that we think, and think again. The problem of promising, which Nietzsche takes to be the central question of humanity, is also present for Emerson and Thoreau, and for any of us who seeks to imagine the human prospect. The difficult answer to that question is that the question must always remain unanswered if we are to retain our humanity, there is no way to imagine a resolution to the problem of the catastrophic by appealing to its own terms. Instead, we must perdure in front of it, stubborn, resilient, sorrowful, yes, but smiling, gentle, listening, meeting the infinite with patient finitude, flapping our wings, being as still as a pond, peering into the eyes of each other as though we were the first to ever see what lies behind those eyes. Aware of such a path to conversion, to the aversion of what so many of us call conversion, cheers me and encourages me, even in the face of our common catastrophe. That we do not know our next step does not mean that we are lost. It means that we have yet to find ourselves.

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introduction: crediting god with sovereignty Miguel Vatter 1. On the crisis of secularization theories, see Jose´ Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). On globalization and religion from a philosophical perspective, see Jacques Derrida, Foi et savoir. Les deux sources de la ‘religion’ aux limites de la simple raison (Paris: Seuil, 2000), and Jean-Luc Nancy, La cre´ation du monde ou la mondialisation (Paris: Galile´e, 2002). 2. For recent philosophical and theological readings of the concept of credit, see Mark C. Taylor, Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004); JeanMichel Rey, Le temps du cre´dit (Paris: Descle´e de Brouwer, 2002); Melinda Cooper, Life as Surplus: Biotechnology and Capitalism in the Neoliberal Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008); and Philip Goodchild, Theology of Money (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2009). 3. Hermann Cohen, Reason and Hope: Selections from the Jewish Writings of Hermann Cohen, ed. Eva Jospe (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1993); Derrida, Foi et savoir; Hilary Putnam, Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008); Ju¨rgen Habermas, Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God and Modernity, ed. Eduardo Mendieta (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002); Ju¨rgen Habermas, Zwischen Naturalismus und Religion (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2005). 4. For a paradigmatic example, see John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 2nd ed. (London: Blackwell, 2006), but clearly such a postmodern and antifoundationalist ‘‘return’’ to orthodoxy was anticipated by thinkers such as Strauss and Levinas. 5. New master narratives have been proposed, most notably by Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007). 6. Shmuel Eisenstadt, ‘‘Multiple Modernities,’’ Daedalus 129 (2000): 1–29. 7. The term is to be understood in contraposition to Samuel Huntington’s ‘‘clash of civilizations.’’ See Tariq Ali, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades,

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Jihads, and Modernity (London: Verso, 2003), and Heinrich Wilhelm Schaefer, Kampf der Fundamentalismen. Radikales Christentum, radikaler Islam und Europas Moderne (Frankfurt: Insel Verlag, 2008). 8. On the messianic in this sense, see Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx (London: Routledge, 1994), and Giorgio Agamben, The Time That Remains (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005). 9. For other attempts at a comprehensive approach to the topic of political theology, see Peter Scott and William Cavanaugh, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology (London: Blackwell, 2006); Hent de Vries and Lawrence Sullivan, eds., Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006); and Michael Kirwan, Political Theology: An Introduction (London: Fortress Press, 2009). 10. On sovereignty as constitution of order ex nihilo, see Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988), and Nancy, La cre´ation du monde ou la mondialisation. 11. On this term in Schmitt, see Jacob Taubes, ed., Religionstheorie und Politische Theologie. Band 1: Der Fuerst dieser Welt. Carl Schmitt und die Folgen (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1983); Heinrich Meier, Die Lehre Carl Schmitts: Vier Kapitel zur Unterscheidung Politischer Theologie und Politischer Philosophie (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1994); Miguel Vatter, ‘‘Strauss and Schmitt as Readers of Hobbes and Spinoza: On the Relation Between Liberalism and Political Theology,’’ New Centennial Review 4, no. 3 (2004): 161–214; and Carlo Galli, Lo sguardo di Giano. Saggi su Carl Schmitt (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2008) and the literature therein cited. For a recent attempt at a history of political theology, see Mark Lilla, The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (New York: Knopf, 2007). But this work does not define the specificity of political theology in its difference from civil theology, civil religion, political religion, new political theology, and so on. 12. See Schaefer, Kampf der Fundamentalismen, for evidence that fundamentalisms depend on a politicization of society that follows upon the positing of God as sovereign. 13. Erik Peterson, El monoteı´smo como problema polı´tico, trans. Agustı´n Andreu (Madrid: Editorial Trotta, 1999). 14. Jacques Maritain, El hombre y el estado (Madrid: Ediciones Encuentro, 1983), 62. 15. For a recent and interesting, though unsystematic, treatment of Maritain, Weil, Levinas, and other French thinkers as political theologians, see the essays in Philippe Capelle, ed., Dieu et la cite´. Le statut contemporain du the´ologico-politique (Paris: E´ditions du Cerf, 2008). 16. Carl Schmitt, Ro¨mischer Katholizismus und Politische Form (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1984); Der Leviathan in der Staatslehre des Thomas Hobbes

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(Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1982); and Political Theology II: The Myth of the Closure of Any Political Theology (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008). 17. Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952), 49. 18. Ibid., 68 and 76. 19. Jacob Taubes, Die Politische Theologie des Paulus (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1993). 20. Erik Peterson, Theologische Traktate (Munich: Verlag Heinrich Wild, 1951); Johann Baptist Metz, Dios y tiempo. Nueva teologı´a polı´tica, trans. Daniel Romero A´lvarez (Madrid: Editorial Trotta, 2002). 21. Agamben, The Time That Remains; Alain Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003); Slavoj Zˇizˇek, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003). 22. The connection between monotheism and warfare has been a central feature in Weber’s reading. See Max Weber, Ancient Judaism, ed. Hans Gerth and Don Martindale (New York: Free Press, 1952). On Christ as Emperor and the beginning of martyrology, see also Peterson, Theologische Traktate; on the Christian roots of the formula pro patria mori, see Ernst H. Kantorowicz, Mourir pour la patrie et autres textes (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1984). 23. For analyses of how this politicization works, namely, as the employment of religion to fashion identity politics, see Schaefer, Kampf der Fundamentalismen, and Marcel Gauchet, La religion dans la de´mocratie (Paris: Gallimard, 1998). 24. Milbank, Theology and Social Theory; Taylor, A Secular Age. Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997) had already shown that this Christian movement of medieval reform is not to be divorced from a construction of sovereignty, though neither Taylor nor Milbank puts the emphasis on the category of sovereignty. 25. The problem of the public sphere in this sense is also closely linked to Schmitt by Reinhart Koselleck, Critique and Crisis: Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988) and then by Ju¨rgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991). Taylor calls the public sphere one of the three modern imaginaries, along with the state and the economy. It is no accident that Metz understands his ‘‘critical’’ political theology in terms of the inclusion of the ‘‘public use of reason’’ into the Church and into artificially ‘‘closed’’ societies which are founded on the exclusion of those who have ‘‘no part.’’ In Metz and Moltmann, the ‘‘inclusion’’ of the other becomes the doctrinal core of a theology of the Cross.

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26. See Immanuel Kant, ‘‘On the Agreement Between Politics and Morality according to the Transcendental Concept of Public Right,’’ in Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 126. 27. See the description of a mindset that is open to the possibility of a transcendence beyond human flourishing given by Taylor, A Secular Age, 25–42. ¨ ffentlichkeit’’ in Habermas, Zwischen Natural28. See ‘‘Religion in der O ismus und Religion, 119–154; and Cristina Lafont, ‘‘Religion in the Public Sphere: Remarks on Habermas’s Conception of Public Deliberation in Postsecular Societies,’’ Constellations 14, no. 2 (2007): 239–259, for critical commentary. 29. I take this to be a common point of departure shared also by Vries and Sullivan; see their Political Theologies. 30. Mircea Eliade, Tratado de historia de las religiones, trans. A. Medinaveitia (Madrid: Ediciones Cristianidad, 2009), 42; Eliade’s is also the operative definition of religion in Charles Taylor, where salvation is replaced by the idea of ‘‘fullness’’ (Taylor, A Secular Age, 5–7). 31. It is notable that in Eliade’s Tratado de historia de las religiones, the ‘‘cardinal problem of all religions,’’ namely, the revelation of the sacred within the profane, is condensed—for all religious phenomena—into the metaphor of incarnation, so that, for him, all religious theophany is in fact but a ‘‘prefiguration of Christ’’ (100 n. 2). This, in itself, may give good cause to work cautiously with Eliade’s definition of the religious sphere. 32. Given Eliade’s definition of the sacred, Agamben’s identification of the sacred with the sovereign is perhaps too quick. See Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 75–80. Agamben does not mention Eliade. 33. Eric Voegelin, Les religions politiques, trans. Jacob Schmutz (Paris: E´ditions du Cerf, 1994). 34. Jan Assmann, Herrschaft und Heil. Politische Theologie in Altaegypten, Israel und Europa (Frankfurt: Fischer, 2002), 28. 35. Pierre Clastres, Society Against the State, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Zone Books, 1987). 36. Saint Augustine, The City of God, trans. John O’Meara (New York: Penguin, 1984), VI, 5. For two important ways of focusing the significance of Varro, see Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, 81ff., and Juergen Moltmann, ‘‘Crı´tica teolo´gica de la religio´n polı´tica,’’ in Ilustracio´n y teorı´a teolo´gica, ed. J. Moltmann, J. B. Metz, and W. Oelmueller (Salamanca: Ediciones Sı´gueme, 1973), 20–22. 37. ‘‘Varro himself bears witness that the reason for writing about ‘human matters’ before ‘divine matters’ was that human communities first came into

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existence and divine institutions are afterwards established by them. Whereas it was not any terrestrial community that established true religion; it was true religion, without doubt, that established the Celestial City; and true religion is given to his true worshippers by the inspiration and teaching of the true God, the giver of eternal life’’ (Augustine, The City of God, VI, 5). 38. Georges Dume´zil, Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty (New York: Zone Books, 1988), where it is shown that ‘‘fides . . . respect for commitments, for justice’’ (56) is opposed to the sovereignty of Romulus, associated with ‘‘Jupiter, the divine protector of the regnum’’ (55). Numa introduces fides and thus founds law. Law is religious, and religion is understood in terms of a relation of exchange between men and gods (58–62); thus the original relation between ‘‘trust’’ and ‘‘credit’’ in relation to divine interactions (potlatch). 39. See the discussion of civil religion found in Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, trans. Maurice Cranston (London: Penguin Books, 1968), IV, 8, and the interesting interpretation given by Ronald Beiner, ‘‘Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau on Civil Religion,’’ Review of Politics 55, no. 4 (1993): 617–638. 40. On the contemporary debate over theories of toleration, see Rainer Forst, Toleranz im Konflikt (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2003). 41. For another reconstruction of the distinctions between political religion, political theology, and civil religion see now Richard Shorten, ‘‘The Status of Ideology in the Return of Political Religion Theory,’’ Journal of Political Ideologies 12, no. 2 (2007): 163–187. 42. For an initial introduction to the revival of political Hebraism, see Kalman Neuman, ‘‘Political Hebraism and the Early Modern ‘Respublica Hebraeorum’: On Defining the Field,’’ Hebraic Political Studies I (2005): 57–70. 43. On the figure of the ‘‘living law,’’ see Peterson, El monoteı´smo como problema polı´tico; Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005) and Bruno Blumenfeld, The Political Paul: Justice, Democracy and Kingship in a Hellenistic Framework, Journal for the Study of the New Testament (London: Sheffield Academic Publishers, 2001). 44. See Taylor, A Secular Age, 152ff. 45. For an influential topology of such absence, see ‘‘The Permanence of the Theologico-Political?’’ in Claude Lefort, Democracy and Political Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988). 46. This is why Assmann’s distinction between theocracy and dualism (or democracy) is problematic. For instance, it is possible to read Puritanism and Locke as a theocratic negation of sovereignty (in the sense that the either/or between Christ and Caesar comes to be predicated of the distinction between the individual and the absolute ruler, with the consequence that the real

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citizen is at the same time the real saint), which also establishes a democracy of equals. The original figure for this understanding of antisovereign theocracy comes from the political interpretation of the Mosaic constitution. 47. On this opposition, see Francis Oakley, Kingship: The Politics of Enchantment (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006). 48. Autonomy here means that a people gives itself the form of a state by virtue of their constituent power. In this case, the idea of constituent power would have to be construed very differently than in Schmitt, for whom such power is the secularized version of a theological concept of God as creator of the world. 49. Not unlike the complex experiment to rethink ‘‘What is Enlightenment?’’ in relation to the Iranian revolution that one finds in Foucault, especially his article ‘‘A` quoi revent les Iraniens?’’ Michel Foucault, Dits et e´crits. 1954–1988 (Paris: Gallimard, 2001), 2:688–694. 50. See Re´mi Brague, ‘‘Qu’est-ce que le ‘vrai islam’?’’ in Capelle, ed., Dieu et la cite´, 63–78, on the use and misuse of the Prophet’s life as source for ethical demands. 51. For an introduction to this area of study, see Daniel J. Elazar, ed. Kinship and Covenant: The Jewish Political Tradition and Its Contemporary Uses (Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1997). See also the work of Aviezer Ravitzky and others found in the Israel Democracy Institute, which turns on the question of whether a ‘‘Halakhic state’’ is possible (http://www.idi.org.il). 52. See Benedict de Spinoza, Theologico-Political Treatise, ed. Jonathan Israel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), Chapter 4. 53. Ibid, Chapter 17, where the connection between theocracy and democracy is rendered explicit. 54. In this sense, Taylor’s central thesis in A Secular Age that only a disciplined self is a buffered self (which is both separated from transcendence and disembedded from social relations), and that the achievement of secularization is such a buffered self, is strictly Weberian. 55. See Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), on the connection between Christianity and the rise of the homo laborans. 56. See Walter Benjamin, ‘‘Theologico-Political Fragment’’ and ‘‘Religion as Capitalism,’’ in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, ed. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996). 57. See Hans Blumenberg, Carl Schmitt, Briefwechsel 1971–1978 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2007). 58. In The Future of an Illusion, Sigmund Freud calls the Jewish-German poet Heine ‘‘one of our fellow-unbelievers’’ because he held the possibility open that ‘‘by withdrawing their expectations from the other world and

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concentrating all their liberated energies into their life on earth, they will probably succeed in achieving a state of things in which life will become tolerable for everyone and civilization no longer oppressive to everyone.’’ Freud, The Future of an Illusion (New York: Norton, 1961), 63. 59. See Taylor’s account of the ‘‘immanentist frame’’ in terms of a ‘‘closed’’ world and why modern epistemology undermines its own search for knowledge (Taylor, A Secular Age, 556ff.). Aspects of this argument were already sketched in Leo Strauss, Spinoza’s Critique of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997). 60. Gauchet, La religion dans la de´mocratie. 61. Taylor, A Secular Age, 531. 62. For an interesting treatment of the connection between neoliberalism and evangelicalism, see Cooper, Life as Surplus. 63. For readings of Paul as thinker of messianism, see Taubes, Die Politische Theologie des Paulus; Agamben, The Time That Remains; Badiou, Saint Paul; Zˇizˇek, The Puppet and the Dwarf. 64. See Heinrich Meier, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995). 65. Derrida, Foi et savoir; Jacques Derrida, Rogues: Two Essays on Reason (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004); Hent De Vries, Religion and Violence: Philosophical Perspectives from Kant to Derrida (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002). For a recent meditation on the distinction between self and singularity in Derrida, see Alexander Garcia-Du¨ttmann, Derrida und Ich (Berlin: Transcript, 2008). 66. See Martin E. Marty and Scott R. Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms Comprehended, vol. 5, Fundamentalism Project (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1995); Schaefer, Kampf der Fundamentalismen. 67. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Gerald Bevan (London: Penguin Books, 2003), Chapter 4. 68. Foucault, Dits et e´crits, 790–794. 69. Ibid., 794. 1. religious freedom: preserving the salt of the earth Fred Dallmayr 1. Paul Ricoeur, ‘‘Ye Are the Salt of the Earth,’’ in Political and Social Essays, ed. David Stewart and Joseph Bien (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1976), 105. 2. Richard John Neuhaus, The Naked Public Square (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1984). 3. See Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics: An Introduction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952), 54–55.

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4. Charles Taylor, ‘‘A Catholic Modernity?’’ in Charles Taylor’s Marianist Award Lecture, ed. James L. Heff (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 17–18. 5. Ibid., 19. 6. Ibid.; C. B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 3. 7. Taylor, ‘‘A Catholic Modernity?’’ 21. 8. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, ed. Lester G. Crocker (New York: Pocket Books, 1967), 187, 201, 203. As one should note, Rousseau’s idea of education or pedagogy (perhaps under the influence of Hutcheson and Hume) placed great stress on ‘‘sentiments’’ as a corollary of and corrective to reason. ‘‘Let moralists say what they will,’’ the Discourse states (188), ‘‘human understanding is greatly indebted to the passions which, on their side, are likewise universally allowed to be greatly indebted to human understanding. It is by the activity of our passions that our reason improves.’’ See also La Nouvelle He´loı¨se (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1968) and Emile (London: Dent & Sons, 1933). I am not here in any way endorsing the gender biases evident in these writings. 9. Johann Gottfried Herder, Another Philosophy of History, and Selected Political Writings, trans. Ioannis D. Evrigenis and Daniel Pellerin (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004), 42, 45, 50–51. 10. Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, in a Series of Letters, ed. and trans. Elizabeth M. Wilkinson and L. A. Willoughby (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), 170–177. 11. Ibid., 178–179. 12. H. Richard Niebuhr, Wilhelm Pauck, and Francis Miller, The Church Against the World (New York: Willet, Clark, 1935), 123–124, 128. Niebuhr modified and nuanced his position somewhat in his later study Christ and Culture (New York: Harper, 1951). 13. R. Laurence Moore, Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 276, 275. 14. See ‘‘The Cambridge Declaration of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals,’’ http://www.alliancenet.orga/intro/CamDec.html. 15. Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), 12–16. Compare also Henry J. Cadbury, The Peril of Modernizing Jesus (New York: Macmillan, 1937). 16. Prothero, American Jesus, 297, 300. See also John M. Giggic and Diane Winston eds., Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2002). 17. Abdulkarim Soroush, Treatise on Tolerance, Praemium Erasmianum Essay 2004 (Amsterdam: Foundation Horizon, 2004), 17–18.

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Notes to pages 38–40

18. Saint Augustine, City of God, trans. Gerald G. Walsh et al., introd. Etienne Gilson (New York: Image Books, 1958), 295, 321–322 (Book 14, Chapters 1 and 28). 19. Ibid., 238 (Book 11, Chapter 28). 20. Taylor, ‘‘Concluding Reflections and Comments,’’ in A Catholic Modernity, ed. James L. Heft (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 120–121. ‘‘For Plato,’’ he adds (125 n. 5), ‘‘the issue was, What do you love (philein)?’’ Compare also Saint Bonaventure, The Enkindling of Love, ed. William I. Joffe (Paterson, N.J.: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1956); Blaise Pascal, Discours sur les passions de l’amour (Paris: Mille et une nuits, 1995); Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, ed. Howard v. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995); Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone: The Way of Revelation (London: Sheed and Ward, 1968); and Julia Kristeva, Tales of Love, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987). 21. Taylor, ‘‘A Catholic Modernity?’’ 21. For a philosophical discussion of the Buddhist notion of ‘‘emptiness’’ (sunyata) see Keiji Nishitani, Religion and Nothingness, trans. Jan Van Bragt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); see also my ‘‘Heidegger and Zen Buddhism: A Salute to Keiji Nishitani,’’ in The Other Heidegger (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993), 200–226, and ‘‘Sunyata East and West,’’ in my Beyond Orientalism: Essays on Cross-Cultural Encounter (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), 175–199. The Buddhist thinker Masao Abe has insightfully compared sunyata with the Pauline notion of the kenosis (self-emptying) of Christ; see Abe, Zen and Western Thought, ed. William R. LaFleur (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985), and John B. Cobb Jr. and Christopher Ives, eds., The Emptying God: A Buddhist-Jewish-Christian Conversation (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1990). Regarding kenosis, compare also Gianni Vattimo’s (Heideggerian) comment on the so-called death of God: ‘‘If it is the mode in which the weakening of Being realizes itself as the kenosis of God, which is the kernel of the history of salvation, then secularization shall no longer be conceived of as abandonment of religion but as the paradoxical realization of Being’s religious vocation.’’ See ‘‘The God Who Is Dead’’ in his After Christianity, trans. Luca D’Isanto (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 24. 22. The Bhagavad Gita, trans. with introduction by Juan Mascaro´ (New York: Penguin Books, 1962), 52, 56–57 (Gita, Book 2: 47–48, Book 3: 7, 9, 30–31). These passages have a clear parallel in Taoist teachings, especially in these lines from Tao Te Ching: ‘‘Being (tao) is a sanctuary. . . . Clever performances come dear or cheap. But goodness renders free.’’ See The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu, trans. Witter Bynner (New York: Perigee Books, 1972), 90 (Chapter 62).

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Notes to pages 40–58

23. Augustine, City of God, 191, 541 (Book 10, chapter 3, Book 22, chapter 30). Augustine (542) speaks of an ‘‘inalienable freedom’’ of believers, ‘‘emancipating us from every evil and filling us with every good.’’ 24. See: Charles Taylor, ‘‘A Catholic Modernity?’’ 14; Vattimo, After Christianity, 38–39. 25. Oscar Romero, ‘‘The Political Dimension of Faith,’’ trans. Dick Krafnich, reprinted in The Catholic Peace Voice (March–April 2005), 7. 26. Saint Augustine, City of God, 465 (Book 21, Chapter 17). 27. Richard Kearney, The God Who May Be: A Hermeneutics of Religion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 108, 110. 2. a new form of religious consciousness? religion and politics in contemporary muslim contexts Abdou Filali-Ansary 1. Scholarly literature on this subject is abundant. The survey provided by Albert Hourani is an important reference: Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798–1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). Among recent works, one does offer a relatively comprehensive survey of the historical events and the debates that took place: Reinhard Schulze, A Modern History of the Islamic World (New York: New York University Press, 2000). 2. See Hamid Enayat, Modern Islamic Political Thought (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982), Leonard Binder, The Middle East Crisis: Background and Issues (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967) and Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideologies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988). 3. No full translation of the book into English has been published yet. Excerpts can be found in Charles Kurzman, Liberal Islam: A Source Book, edited by Charles Kurzman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). My own translation into French has been published as Ali Abd al-Raziq, L’Islam et les fondements du pouvoir (Paris: E´ditions La De´couverte, 1994). 4. Historical surveys of Islam’s ‘‘ ‘founding moments’ ’’ are numerous. Among the scholarly works that attempt an overall survey and understanding of the deep processes of change, one should mention Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975), and Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). See also J. P. Berkey, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600–1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 5. Andre´ Raymond, E´gyptiens et franc¸ais au Caire, 1798–1801 (Paris: Institut Franc¸ais d’ Arche´ologie Orientale, 1998). 6. A short presentation of this author can be found in Abdou Filali-Ansary, ‘‘The Poet and the Prophet,’’ ISIM Newsletter 14 (June 2004): 38.

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Notes to pages 59–79

7. Maaruf Rusafi, Ash-Shakhc¸iya al-Muhammadiya aw Hal Al-Lughz alMuqaddas; trans. The Personality of Muhammad, or the Elucidation of a Sacred Enigma (Cologne: Al-Jamal Publications, 2002). 3. a republic whose sovereign is the creator: the politics of the ban of representation Shmuel Trigano 1. See Daniel J. Elazar and Stuart A. Cohen, The Jewish Polity: Jewish Political Organization from Biblical Times to the Present (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985). See also the Daniel Elazar Online Library, http:// www.jcpa.org/djeindex.htm; and the Jerusalem Center Journal, The Jewish Political Studies Review. 2. See the journal Hebraic Political Studies (Shalem Press) and its three important international conferences on ‘‘Political Hebraism: Judaic Sources in Early Modern Political Thought’’ (at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, August 23–16, 2004), ‘‘Political Hebraism: Jewish Sources in the History of Political Thought’’ (Mishkenot Sha’ananim, December 26–29, 2006), and ‘‘Jewish Sources in the History of Political Thought’’ (cosponsored by the Shalem Center, Hebraic Political Studies, and Princeton University Program in Judaic Studies, September 7–9, 2008). 3. There is not enough space here to establish a complete bibliography. It would contain very different studies, including historical ones such as David Goodblat’s The Monarchic Principle: Studies in Jewish Self-Government in Antiquity (Tu¨bingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1994); politological ones such as Daniel Elazar’s Covenant and Polity in Biblical Israel (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1995); and philosophical ones such as David Novak’s Covenantal Rights: A Study in Jewish Political Theory (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), Michael Walzer et al., The Jewish Political Tradition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), Yoram Hazony, The Dawn, Political Teaching of the Book of Esther (Shalem Press, 1995), and my own study Philosophie de la Loi. L’origine de la politique dans la Torah (Paris: Cerf, 1991), to be published by the Shalem Press in English, as well as new editions of seventeenth-century books such as Petrus Cunaeus, The Hebrew Republic (Shalem Press, 2006). 4. Stuart Cohen, The Three Crowns: Structures of Communal Politics in Early Rabbinic Jewry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 5. We can find in the book of Deuteronomy a sort of presentation: for royal or political power (17:14–20), for priestly power (18:1–8), and for prophetic power (18:9–22). 6. See Shmuel Trigano, Qu’est ce que la religion? (Paris: Flammarion, 2001), and L’ide´al de´mocratique a` l’e´preuve de la Shoa (Paris: Editions Odile Jacob, 1999), English translation forthcoming with SUNY Press.

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Notes to pages 80–85

7. See Ernst Kantorowicz’s The King’s Two Bodies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), analyzing Western politics according to this model. 8. See Claude Lefort, Essais sur le politique: XIXe–XXe sie`cles (Paris: Seuil, 1986). 9. See Trigano, L’ide´al de´mocratique, 292. 10. See the rationalist interpretation of Maimonides in The Guide for the Perplexed, I, 1. 11. See Shmuel Trigano, Le monothe´ı¨sme est un humanisme (Paris: Editions Odile Jacob, 2000), 109. 12. From an Islamic perspective, it is an act of sacrilege to speak of God as a ‘‘father.’’ But if it is possible to address in the Hebrew Bible God as ‘‘a father who is making himself a womb for his sons’’ (Ps. 103:13), that is not to say that His sons are gods, because of God’s unrepresentability. 4. confucianism’s political implications for the contemporary world Ranjoo Seodu Herr 1. I use pinyin transliteration, with thanks to Guanghui Ma of Bentley College, for regular Confucian concepts. I follow Korean romanization for concepts that pertain to Jeong’s works. When putting both together, I put Korean before pinyin. In Korean romanization, I follow the Revised Rule of Korean Romanization proclaimed by the Korean government on July 7, 2000, except ‘‘Chosoˆn,’’ which has long-standing usage. 2. I rely primarily on Tu Wei-Ming’s interpretation of the Confucian self and use his wording in quotations. My sources are Tu Wei-ming, ‘‘Pain and Suffering in Confucian Self-Cultivation’’ in Way, Learning, and Politics: Essays on the Confucian Intellectual (Singapore: Institute of East Asian Philosophies, 1989); Humanity and Self-Cultivation: Essays in Confucian Thought (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1979); and ‘‘An Inquiry in the Five Relationships in Confucian Humanism,’’ in The Psycho-Cultural Dynamics of the Confucian Family: Past and Present, ed. Walter H. Slote (Seoul: International Cultural Society of Korea, 1986). 3. Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, 67. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid., 65. 6. Ibid., 59. 7. Ibid., 65. 8. Ibid., 64. 9. Ibid., 62. 10. Tu, ‘‘Pain and Suffering,’’ 46.

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Notes to pages 85–87

11. Ren appears 105 times in 58 out of a total of 499 chapters of the Analects and assumes different roles. W. Chan, ‘‘The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen,’’ Philosophy East and West 4, no. 4 (January 1955): 296. 12. Ibid., 298. See also Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, 9; Yu-lan Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, ed. D. Bodde (New York: Macmillan, 1948), 72. 13. Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, 9. 14. Ibid., 6. 15. Tu, ‘‘Pain and Suffering,’’ 48. 16. Ibid., 45. 17. Indeed, ‘‘no one . . . [may] reach the perfect stage.’’ Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, 7. 18. David L. Hall and Roger T. Ames, The Democracy of the Dead: Dewey, Confucius, and the Hope for Democracy in China (Chicago: Open Court, 1999), 190, original emphases. 19. Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, 8. 20. Ibid., 9. 21. Li is ‘‘an externalization of jen in a concrete social situation.’’ Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, 18. 22. Ibid., 12. 23. A. S. Cua, ‘‘The Conceptual Framework of Confucian Ethical Thought,’’ Journal of Chinese Philosophy 23 (1996): 162. 24. See also Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 66, 70. 25. Chan, ‘‘Evolution,’’ 299. 26. Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 71. 27. This is Tu’s translation of the term in ‘‘An Inquiry in the Five Relationships in Confucian Humanism.’’ 28. Chan, ‘‘Evolution.’’ 29. Ibid., 301. 30. Ibid., 303. 31. Tu, ‘‘An Inquiry in the Five Relationships,’’ 183. 32. Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, 24. 33. Tu, ‘‘An Inquiry in the Five Relationships,’’ 188. 34. Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, 29. This, however, does not imply selfless altruism, as it is a process undertaken for the sake of none other than the realization of one’s ‘‘authentic’’ self (ibid., 25). In other words, ‘‘considerateness to others . . . is essential to our own self-cultivation’’ (Tu, ‘‘An Inquiry in the Five Relationships,’’ 179). 35. Jeong’s numerous works written in Chinese characters were compiled into fourteen books entitled Sambongjip in 1486 by the order of King Seong.

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Notes to pages 87–91

This book was translated into Korean by the Association of Minjok-MunhwaChujin as Sambong Jeong Do-Jeon Mun-jip (Seoul: Hanguk-haksul-jeongbo, 2006), consisting of three parts further divided into fourteen books. In reconstructing his theory, I rely on this Korean translation (2006) as well as the exegesis provided by Young-Woo Han in The Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty: Jeong Do-Jeon (Seoul: Ji-shik-san-eop, 1999). See also Chai-sik Chung, ‘‘Choˆng Tojoˆn: ‘Architect’ of Yi Dynasty Government and Ideology,’’ in The Rise of Neo-Confucianism in Korea, ed. William Theodore de Bary and JaHyun Kim Haboush (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985). 36. For a survey of how min was used in various Confucian sources, see Hall and Ames, Thinking Through Confucius (Albany: State University of New York Press 1987), 140–144. See also Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 111. 37. Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 117. 38. Han, Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty, 139. 39. This continuation is to be understood as ‘‘perfectionist.’’ See J. Chan, ‘‘Exploring the Nonfamilial in Confucian Political Philosophy’’ in The Politics of Affective Relations, ed. Chae-Hak Hahm and Daniel A. Bell (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2004), 63. 40. Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 112. 41. Ibid., 120. 42. Han, Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty, 151; see also Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 115–117. 43. In Analects 12.17 it is stated, ‘‘To govern (zheng ) is to rectify (zheng ( ).’’ See also 13.6, 13.13. 44. Han, Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty, 229–230, 232. 45. Ibid., 153. 46. Ibid. 47. Ibid., 152. 48. Tu calls it a ‘‘fiduciary community’’ that is ‘‘based on trust, rather than on contract.’’ See Tu, ‘‘An Inquiry in the Five Relationships,’’ 176. 49. Han, Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty, 171. 50. Ibid., 229–30. 51. Ibid., 154, 241, 248–250; Chung, ‘‘Choˆng Tojoˆn,’’ 66. 52. For a different characterization of the Confucian welfare state, one that does not attribute extensive power, see J. Chan, ‘‘Giving Priority to the Worst Off: A Confucian Perspective on Social Welfare,’’ in Confucianism for the Modern World, ed. Daniel A. Bell and Chae-Hak Hahm (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 237. 53. For example, Fung claims that the land is ‘‘the public property of the state’’ (A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 118).

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Notes to pages 91–99

54. This characterization of the welfare state follows criteria offered by Stephen Nathanson, Economic Justice (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1998), Part III. 55. Han even argues that Jeong may have realized that ‘‘hereditary absolute monarchy is not compatible with the politics of minbon/ui-min.’’ Han, Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty, 185. 56. The king does not even have the right to private property, since the king ‘‘owns’’ everything between Heaven and Earth. Ibid., 174. 57. Ibid., 175–176. 58. Ibid., 158, 161; Chung, ‘‘Choˆng Tojoˆn,’’ 72. 59. Free people consist of the class of literati, farmers, merchants, and artisans, excluding a small percentage of slaves and untouchables. 60. Han, Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty, 158 n. 35. 61. Ibid., 160. 62. Ibid., 161. 63. Ibid. 64. Ibid., 163–165. 65. Ibid., 163–170; Chung, ‘‘Choˆng Tojoˆn,’’ 65–66. 66. Han, Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty, 195. 67. For more on Chosoˆn institutions, see Chung, ‘‘Choˆng Tojoˆn,’’ 68. 68. Han, Architect of the Chosoˆn Dynasty, 187–194. 69. Ibid., 195–196. 70. Ibid., 142–145. 71. Ibid., 146–147. 72. Nathanson, Economic Justice, 105. 73. Ibid., 101. 74. Obviously, the international political/economic structure must undergo change in order to empower weaker nation-states to self-determine their political and economic fate. For more, see Ranjoo S. Herr, ‘‘Politics of Difference and Nationalism,’’ Hypatia 23, no. 3 (2008): 39–59. 75. Although sustainable economic growth has not been discussed explicitly by Mencius nor Jeong, this idea is certainly compatible with Confucianism. For more, see Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans, ed. M. E. Tucker and J. Berthrong (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998). 76. According to John Rawls, these are internationally nonaggressive and domestically well ordered societies that deserve toleration by the liberal states. The Law of Peoples (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001). 77. Ibid., 65. 78. Ibid. 79. See R. S. Herr, ‘‘Liberal Presumptions,’’ Political Theory 35, no. 3 (2007): 341–347.

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Notes to pages 100–8

80. J. Chan states, for example, ‘‘Confucianism may not contain any democratic ideas.’’ See ‘‘Political philosophy, Confucian,’’ in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/S102SECT2. See also Daniel Bell, Beyond Liberal Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 185. 81. Hall and Ames, Thinking Through Confucius, 142. 82. Fung, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, 114; Bell, Beyond Liberal Democracy, 185. 83. Hall and Ames, Thinking Through Confucius, 143. 84. See R. S. Herr, ‘‘In Defense of Nonliberal Nationalism,’’ Political Theory 34, no. 3 (2006): 304–327. 5. religion and the public sphere in senegal: the evolution of a project of modernity Souleymane Bachir Diagne 1. The text is entitled ‘‘Pour une coope´ration entre l’islam et le christianisme.’’ Senghor published it again in Liberte´ I: Ne´gritude et Humanisme (Paris: Seuil, 1964), 304–307. 2. Liberte´ I, 307. 3. Ibid., 305–306. 4. It is Senghor himself who insists, in the foreword of his book Nation et voie africaine du socialisme (English trans., Nation and the African Way of Socialism) (Paris: Presence Africaine, 1961), dated December 31, 1960, on the intellectual complicity and convergences between himself and the man he calls ‘‘my friend Mamadou Dia.’’ In presenting the two texts that comprise the book he writes that ‘‘the works of Mamadou Dia must be added [to them]’’ in order to have ‘‘the results of [their] research efforts’’ (9). 5. Mamadou Dia, Islam, socie´te´s africaines et culture industrielle (Dakar: Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines, 1975), 164. Italics mine. 6. This text was published under the title ‘‘Laı¨cite´’’ in Liberte´ I, 422–424. 7. Senghor, ‘‘Postface,’’ in Des preˆtres noirs s’interrogent et sugge`rent (Paris: Presence Africaine, 1963). 8. Liberte´ I, 423. 9. On this Sufi renewal, see also Zachary V. Wright, On the Path of the Prophet: Shaykh Ahmad Tijani and the Tariqa Muhammadiyya (Detroit: African American Islamic Institute, 2005). 10. Dia, Islam, 16–17. 11. M. Dia thinks along the same lines, finding the fervor of Sufism when he meditates on the words of the Muslim pilgrim to Mecca as he repeats ‘‘here am I, Oh Lord, here am I’’: ‘‘We can then understand,’’ writes Dia, ‘‘the eminently purifying virtues of the pilgrimage, an earthly voyage toward God,

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Notes to pages 108–12

offering of self and renunciation of everything, of one’s riches, honors, pleasures, to drink at the very source of eternal life, of eternal glory, of eternal bliss.’’ Ibid., 31. 12. The simplistic assertion is often made that the Sufis are the ‘‘nice’’ peaceful Muslims as opposed to the ‘‘bad’’ fundamentalists. 13. The New York Times, in the issue of Sunday, January 27, 2008, writing about the ‘‘mysticism’’ of former President Suharto, gave an enlightening presentation of this Islam of compromise to which Wahhabite rigorism is so hostile. 14. It is definitely a simplification to say, as does Roman Loimeier in his enlightening analysis ‘‘The Secular State and Islam in Senegal,’’ in Questioning the Secular State ed. David Westerlund (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996), 187, that there is one legal system for urban areas and another legal system for rural areas. 15. Loimeier accurately describes the confrontation between Dia and the marabouts. Ibid. 16. Loimeier insists on the importance of this notion of a ‘‘political game,’’ where the marabouts are implicated in the process. 17. See Donald B. Cruise O’Brien, ‘‘Le contrat social se´ne´galais a` l’e´preuve,’’ Politique africaine 45 (March 1992): 9–20. 18. See ‘‘Echos de la Banque Mondiale,’’ Magazine du Bureau Re´gional de Dakar 9 (November 2007): 14–17. 19. Ibid., 15. Just before the last presidential elections in 2006, Abdoul Aziz Sy was part of a Group of Elders, so to speak, with other religious leaders, among them the head of the Catholic Church in Senegal, designated to serve as ‘‘firefighters.’’ This is how the newspaper Sud Quotidien for July 26, 2006, described this group: ‘‘A group of religious intellectuals has set itself up as a rampart against the irregularities and verbal excesses noted in political intrigue and in the press. Following an audience with the President of the Republic yesterday, Tuesday, July 25, religious leaders like El Hadji Moustapha Cisse´, Serigne Abdou Aziz Sy Junior, El Hadji Moustapha Gueye, Seydina Issa Thiaw Laye, Monsignor The´odore Adrien Sarr, among others, decided to create a group of religious intellectuals. According to the bulletin received the same day their group is motivated by the duty to defend and promote the values of peace, truth and justice. Indeed, for some time now verbal excesses resembling insults and personal attacks have appeared in the political milieu and in the national press. We often hear remarks that are not compatible with our cultural and religious values. . . . We read in the bulletin signed by the coordinator of the Group, the religious leader and ambassador Moustapha Cisse´. For him, ‘if freedom of opinion and expression must be scrupulously respected, it is no less true that in Senegal, we must never abandon the values inherited from our ancestors.’ ’’

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Notes to pages 113–23

20. Ousseynou Kane’s text, ‘‘La Re´publique couche´e,’’ was first published in the daily paper Wal Fadjri for May 8, 2001. 21. In an interview in the daily paper. 6. should we be scared? the return of the sacred and the rise of religious nationalism in south asia Georges Dreyfus 1. Daniel Hervieu-Le´ger, Le pe`lerin et le converti (Paris: Flammarion, 1999), 201–252. For an only partly convincing discussion of the differences between religion in the United States and in Western Europe, see Grace Davie, Europe: The Exceptional Case (London: Longman, 2002). 2. Many polls illustrate this difference between the United States and Europe. For example, in June 2003 poll, 58 percent of Americans claimed that belief in God is a strong prerequisite of morality, whereas only 33 percent of Germans shared this attitude. American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, http://www.aicgs.org/research/religion/index.shtml. 3. Julien Freund, The Sociology of Max Weber (New York: Free Press, 1969), 24, quoted in Daniel Bell, ‘‘The Return of the Sacred? The Argument on the Future of Religion,’’ British Journal of Sociology 28, no. 4 (1977): 419–451. 4. Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, trans. K. Fields (New York: Free Press, 1995), 429. 5. Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy (New York: Doubleday, 1967), 107. 6. Bell, ‘‘The Return of the Sacred?’’ 428. 7. Ibid., 429. For another perennialist view of the return of the religious, see Peter Berger, The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religions and World Politics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1999). 8. Jose´ Casanova makes this argument in his excellent Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 224. 9. David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 125–140. 10. This last term was first coined by Max Pages in a study of American multinationals. See Max Pages et al., L’emprise de l’organisation (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1979). See also Nicole Aubert, L’individu hypermoderne (Ramonville: Eres, 2004), and Marc Auge´, Les non-lieux. Introduction a` une anthropologie de la surmodernite´ (Paris: Seuil, 1992). For the other terms, the relevant works are too numerous to be listed here. Let me just mention a few: Jean-Franc¸ois Lyotard, La condition postmoderne (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1979); Daniel Bell, The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting (New York: Basic Books, 1973); Antony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990); and Manuel Castells, The Rise of Network Society (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, 2000). 11. For Castells, an economy is global when its ‘‘core components have the institutional, organizational and technological capacity to work as a unit

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in real time, or in chosen time, on a planetary scale’’ (The Rise of Network Society, 102). 12. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: Norton, 1972, 1978), 476. 13. Franc¸ois Dubet, Le de´clin de l’institution (Paris: Seuil, 2002). 14. La fatigue d’etre soi. De´pression et socie´te´ (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1998). 15. Jean-Claude Kaufmann, L’ invention de soi (Paris: Armand Collin, 2004), 79. My translation. 16. For a view of this global phenomenon, see Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). For a study of Pentecostalism in Latin America, see David Martin, Tongues of Fire (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990). For a discussion of Evangelicalism in the United States, see Christian Smith, American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998). 17. For a description of the situations of sects in France, see Bernard Filliaire, Les sectes (Paris: Flammarion, 1996). 18. For such an argument, see Marcel Gauchet’s difficult but rich Le de´senchantement du monde (Paris: Gallimard, 1985). For an easier read, see Un monde de´senchante´? (Paris: L’Atelier, 2004). The description of Iranian Islamicists as fundamentalist is not without problems. The meaning of the term is not obvious when applied to Islam, and so is the lumping together of various Islamicist movements. Nevertheless, I believe that the term remains useful to capture the absolutist movements that hold scriptures to be inerrant and demonize modern pluralism, seeing themselves engaged in a struggle to the death against the evil represented by modern liberal values. See Gabriel Almond, R. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan, Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalisms Around the World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). 19. Smith, American Evangelicalism, 118. 20. Ibid., 113. 21. Ibid., 112. See also Christian Smith, Christian America? What Evangelicals Really Want (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). 22. Berger, The Desecularization of the World. See also his ‘‘Secularization and Pluralism,’’ in A Far Glory (New York: Anchor, 1992), 25–46, and ‘‘Secularism in Retreat,’’ The National Interest 46 (Winter 1996–1997): 3–12. 23. Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World, 19. 24. Talal Assad, Formations of the Secular (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), 182. 25. For a similar argument, see Magnus Ranstorp, ‘‘Terrorism in the Name of Religion,’’ Journal of International Affairs 50, no. 1 (Summer 1996): 41–62.

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26. Robert Jay Lifton, Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence and the New Global Terrorism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999). See also Walter Laqueur, ‘‘Postmodern Terrorism: New Rules for an Old Game,’’ Foreign Affairs 75, no. 5 (September–October 1996): 24–37. 27. For a thoughtful treatment of this literature, see Glenn Shuck, Marks of the Beast: The Left Behind Series and the Struggle for Evangelical Identity (New York: New York University Press, 2004). 28. Adam Donik has argued that the focus on the danger represented by religious groups is actually greatly exaggerated. See his thought-provoking ‘‘All-God’s Poisons: Re-Evaluating the Threat of Religious Terrorism,’’ in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment, ed. Russell Howard and Reid Sawyer (Columbus, Ohio: McGraw-Hill, 2003). 29. The literature on the Sri Lankan conflict and the role of religious and ethnic nationalism is large. See Gananath Obeyesekere, ‘‘Buddhism, Nationhood and Cultural Identity: A Question of Fundamentals,’’ in Fundamentalisms Comprehended, ed. Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 5:231–256; and Stanley Tambiah, Buddhism Betrayed: Religion, Politics and Violence in Sri Lanka (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). Some of the responses to Tambiah are R. Gunawaredana, ‘‘The People of the Lion: The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography,’’ in Sri Lanka: History and Roots of the Conflict, ed. Jonathan Spencer (London: Routledge, 1990), 45–85, and Ananda Abeysekara, The Colors of the Robe (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002). 30. The description of the Congress ideology, even as it was articulated by Nehru, as ‘‘secular’’ is problematic, since it stands in the Gandhian legacy and thus in the Hindu discursive tradition. In fact, the Congress Party’s Indian nationalism is more pluralistic than secular in the usual sense of the term. It has little to do with a separation of church and state, a concept that makes little sense in a Hindu context, than with the state’s willingness to view favorably all religious traditions. For a discussion of this question, see Peter van der Veer, Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), and Rajeev Bhargava, Secularism and Its Critics (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998). 31. For a study of the Shiv Sena and its anti-Muslim political rhetoric, see Thomas B. Hansen, Wages of Violence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). On the history of Hindu nationalism and of its most radical groups, the RSS and the more recent and more explicitly religious VHP, see Christophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), and van der Veer, Religious Nationalism, 130–137. 32. Sarevepalli Gopal, ed., Anatomy of a Confrontation: The Babri Masjid– Ramjanmabhumi Issue (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1990).

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33. For a discussion, see Thomas B. Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999). 34. I am referring here to the famous recommendations of the 1980 Mandal Report about the extension of affirmative action to low castes and the decision in 1990 by the V. P. Singh government to implement these recommendations. See Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India, 412–445. 35. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1983), 11. 36. See Ernst Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1983). 37. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983) 38. Kenichi Ohmae, ‘‘The End of the Nation State,’’ in The Globalization Reader, ed. Frank J. Lechner and John Boli (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), 207. See also Ohmae, End of the Nation State: The Rise of Regional Economies (New York: Free Press, 1995), as well as related arguments made by the Left, such as those of George Monbiot, Manifesto for a New World Order (New York: Free Press, 2004), which argues that the nation-state has become obsolescent. 39. See, for example, Samuel P. Huntington, ‘‘The Hispanic Challenge,’’ Foreign Policy (March–April 2004): 30–45. 40. For an argument about the imagined nature of nations, see Anderson, Imagined Communities. 41. See, for example, Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996). 42. For the purpose of this essay, I treat Hindu nationalism as a single movement. The reality is, however, much more complex, since there are a variety of groups, associations, and parties that agree on the principles of Hinduness, though each has its own agenda. 43. This utopianism is also central to Islamicism, which takes the Prophet’s original community, particularly as it existed in Medina, as politically normative. There is, however, an obvious and crucial difference. Islamicism is not nationalism, since it resolutely opposes the modern project of the nation-state as representing a move away from the ummah, the true community of believers. Olivier Roy has argued that the inability of Islamicists to use their ideology in the service of the national state is one of their great weaknesses, for despite all the challenges that it is encountering, the nationstate remains the central contemporary political institution. See Olivier Roy, The Failure of Political Islam (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994). See also Bassam Tibi, The Challenge of Fundamentalism: Political Islam and the New World Disorder (Berkeley: University of California, 1998). Parallels

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can also be found within the American Christian fundamentalist movement, particularly among followers of reconstructionist theology who argue that America should be a Christian nation and that hence its laws should conform to Biblical standards, much as they did in Calvin’s Geneva. See Frederick Clarkson, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1997). 44. Lise McKean, Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1996), 81. This is the formulation offered by Savarkar, one of the founders and leading proponents of the ideology Hinduness. See also Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India, 25–33. 45. Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India, 459. 7. all nightmares back: dependency and independency theories, religion, capitalism, and global society Hauke Brunkhorst 1. Hence, one could modify Horkheimer’s famous phrase from the 1930s, so that it fits global capitalism of the early twenty-first century: ‘‘Those who don’t want to talk about neoliberal economy should be silent about communist dictatorship.’’ Horkheimer’s original statement (in his essay on the authoritarian state) was, ‘‘Wer vom Kapitalismus nicht reden will, sollte vom Faschismus schweigen.’’ 2. Peter L. Berger, ‘‘The Desecularization of the World: A Global Overview,’’ in The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Washington, D.C.: Ethics and Public Polity Center, 1999), 1–18. 3. Olivier Roy, Der islamistische Weg nach Westen. Globalisierung, Entwurzelung und Radikalisierung (Munich: Pantheon, 2006), 73ff, 105ff, 122ff, 268ff. 4. See Berger, ‘‘Desecularization,’’ 12ff, 16ff., and Manuel A. Va´squez and Marie Friedmann Marquardt, Globalizing the Sacred: Religion Across the Americas (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2003). 5. Va´squez and Marquardt, Globalizing the Sacred, 165 ff, 180ff. 6. On the internal linkage: Ju¨rgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas McCarthy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985). See also Habermas, Between Naturalism and Religion (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008). 7. Hauke Brunkhorst, Solidarity: From Civic Friendship to a Global Legal Community, trans. Jeffrey Flynn (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005), Chapter 1. 8. Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983). 9. Karl Marx, Der 18. Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte, in Marx Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) (Berlin: Dietz, 1985 ), 11:97.

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10. Ibid., 101. 11. Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). 12. Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981). 13. See Richard Rorty, Das Kommunistische Manifest—150 Jahre danach (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1998), and ‘‘Heidegger wider die Pragmatisten,’’ Neue Hefte fu¨r Philosophie 23 (1984): 21. 14. Richard Rorty, ‘‘Solidarity or Objectivity,’’ in Post-Analytic Philosophy, ed. John Rajchman and Cornel West (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 3ff. 15. Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1922). ¨ ber den Begriff der Geschichte,’’ in Gesammelte See also Walter Benjamin, ‘‘U Schriften I 2 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1978), 693ff. 16. An important difference still remains: for Heidegger, ‘‘a god’’ refers to a pagan idea of divinity, whereas Horkheimer refers to the biblical monotheistic God. 17. Schmitt, Politische Theologie, 49. See also Ernst-Wolfgang Bo¨ckenfo¨rde, ‘‘Die Entstehung des Staats als Vorgang der Sa¨kularisation,’’ in Recht, Staat, Freiheit (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1991), 112. 18. Jacques Derrida, Gesetzeskraft. Der mystische Grund der Autorita¨t (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1991). 19. See the appendix to Schmitt’s essay ‘‘Der Begriff des Politischen’’ (1932), in Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). 20. Against this reading of secularization, Hans Blumenberg directed his Legitimita¨t der Neuzeit (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1976). Yet Blumenberg goes too far by dropping the term in his defense of the legitimacy of the modern age, simply because Schmitt makes a very idiosyncratic use of ‘‘secularization’’ which differs completely from Weber’s use. For Weber, secularization means that, for example, the spirit of capitalism works well even after its religious roots in Protestant ethics were no longer alive. There still remains a serious problem (of freedom and meaning of life) caused by secularization, by which is meant the loss of all ethical roots of this now merely instrumental (‘‘purposive rational’’) spirit (see the end of his Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism). But, conceptually, Weber (unlike Schmitt, Heidegger, or Horkheimer) had no problem with replacing the religious ethics of Protestantism with a completely profane ethics through a further rationalization of values (Wertrationalisierung). It is on this Weberian track that Parsons advances with his concept of an ongoing evolutionary process of value generalization. See in particular Talcott Parsons and Gerald Platt, Die amerikanische Universita¨t: Ein Beitrag zur Soziologie der Erkenntnis (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1990).

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21. Benjamin developed the idea of a weak messianic power in close contact with his friend Theodor W. Adorno, and it is obviously an unorthodox mix of Jewish, Christian, and historical-materialistic sources. 22. See Benjamin, ‘‘Theses on the Philosophy of History.’’ 23. Habermas, ‘‘Bewusstmachende oder rettende Kritik—die Aktualita¨t Walter Benjamins,’’ in Zur Aktualita¨t Walter Benjamins, ed. Siegfried Unseld (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1972), 173–223. 24. Habermas distinguishes four branches, but that should be understood not as a complete but as an open list: theoretical (scientific), practical, therapeutic, explicative (philosophical) discourses, and sometimes ‘‘criticism,’’ as in ‘‘art criticism.’’ 25. This idea goes back to interpretation of Freud given in Ju¨rgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1986). 26. See Habermas, ‘‘Religion in the Public Sphere,’’ in Naturalism, 144. 27. On undistorted (unverzerrte) vs. distorted (verzerrte) communication, see Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests. 28. Habermas, ‘‘Kommunikative Freiheit und negative Theologie,’’ in Dialektischer Negativismus, ed. Emil Angehrn, Hinrich Fink-Eitel, Christian Iber, and Georg Lohmann (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1992), 15–34. 29. Habermas, Naturalism, 143. The following quote is from there as well. 30. Habermas, The Inclusion of the Other (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000). 31. Susan Marks, The Riddle of All Constitutions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). 32. John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia, 1993), xxix. 33. Antony Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004). 34. Martti Koskenniemi, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law, 1870–1960 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001). 35. Craig Calhoun, ‘‘The Class Consciousness of Frequent Travelers: Toward a Critique of Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism,’’ The South Atlantic Quarterly 1001 (April 4, 2002): 869–897. See also Craig Calhoun, ‘‘ ‘Belonging’ in the Cosmopolitan Imaginary,’’ Ethnicities 3, no. 4: 531–553. 36. See Thomas H. Marshall, Bu¨rgerrechte und soziale Klassen (Frankfurt: Campus, 1992), 33ff. and Rudolf Stichweh, Die Weltgesellschaft (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2000), 52. 37. Christian Joerges and Ellen Vos, eds., EU Committees: Social Regulation, Law and Politics (Oxford: Hart, 1999). 38. Friedrich Mu¨ller, Wer ist das Volk? Eine Grundfrage der Demokratie, Elemente einer Verfassungstheorie (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1997), 4:54.

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39. Justus Fro¨bel, quoted in Habermas, ‘‘Ist der Herzschlag der Revolution zum Stillstand gekommen?’’ in Die Ideen von 1789 (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1988). 40. On global culture, see John W. Meyer, ‘‘World Society and the Nation-State,’’ American Journal of Sociology 103, no. 1 (1997): 144–181, and Weltkultur (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2005). 41. W. Streek, ‘‘Sectoral Specialization: Politics and the Nation State in a Global Economy,’’ paper presented at the 37th World Congress of the International Institute of Sociology, Stockholm 2005. As we now can see, the talk about late capitalism was not wrong but has to be restricted to state-embedded capitalism, and state-embedded capitalism indeed is over. But what has since appeared is not socialism but global disembedded capitalism, which seems to be as far from state-embedded capitalism of the old days as from socialism. 42. See Roy, Der islamistische Weg nach Westen; Berger, ‘‘The Desecularization of the World’’; and Va´squez and Marquardt, Globalizing the Sacred. 43. Cass R. Sunstein, Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech (New York: Free Press, 1993). 8. the evangelical-capitalist resonance machine William E. Connolly 1. An earlier presentation of the evangelical element in contemporary political economy was given in the spring of 2005, at the WPSA panel in Oakland, California, organized around the new edition of Sheldon Wolin’s Politics and Vision (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005). That edition adds a Part II to the classic 1960 text. While I disagreed with his account of Nietzsche, I drew upon Wolin’s account of America as ‘‘superpower’’ in Part II. This essay is dedicated to Sheldon Wolin, in appreciation of his groundbreaking work and the inspiration he provides to many who practice the vocation of theory. 2. For the idea of emergent causality drawn upon here, see William E. Connolly, ‘‘Method, Problem, Faith,’’ in Problems and Methods in the Study of Politics, ed. Ian Shapiro, Rogers M. Smith, and Tarek E. Masoud (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 332–339. That essay, as well as this one, is indebted in turn to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, ‘‘Micropolitics and Segmentarity,’’ in A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 208–231. 3. Here are some pieces that focus on the role that greed plays in this alliance. They do not, however, anchor that greed in anything over and above the normal processes of underregulated capitalism: ‘‘Enron’s Smoking Gun,’’ The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/utilities/nw/nw002172.php3; ‘‘Unveiling the Corporate Greed

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Market,’’ http://www.consciouschoice.com/cc 1709/hightower 1709.html; ‘‘Enron Flew Under the Radar,’’ Common Dreams News Center, http:// www.commondreams.org/views02/0212-03.htm 4. Mark Blyth, Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 267. 5. Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale, 1995), 468. 6. This quotation comes from a column by Nicholas Kristof, ‘‘Apocalypse (Almost) Now,’’ New York Times, November 24, 2004, 27. It is from the last volume in the series. I have not read that one yet. 7. There are now large, fuel-eating, dangerous, and destructive SUVs and others of smaller, more efficient design. The differences are reviewed in the April 1, 2005, New York Times report on the vehicles Republicans and Democrats respectively buy. Correlations between party and vehicle are fine, but what is needed are refined correlations between existential disposition and vehicle use. These, too, could be pursued, particularly in light of new brainimaging techniques that, advancing beyond those available for a few decades, can discern specific brain states that join communicants together in a relation of trust. 8. See Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958). ‘‘Wealth is thus bad ethically only in so far as it is a temptation to idleness and sinful enjoyment of life, and its acquisition is bad only when it is with the purpose of later living merrily and without care. . . . The emphasis on the ascetic importance of a fixed calling provided an ethical justification of the modern specialized division of labor. In a similar way the providential interpretation of profit making justified the activities of the business man’’ (163). These two statements measure both the contact and difference between Weber’s analysis of the spiritual element in the formation of capitalism and my more modest attempt to decipher the spirituality of a particular constellation in one country today. 9. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 99, 140. 10. To read Zarathustra as I do is to discern that the drive to ‘‘be equal’’— which he connects to the will to revenge—is mostly the demand that everyone either become the same (e.g., have the same faith, the same sexuality, the same ethnicity, the same belief in the market) or be punished for not being so. The ‘‘overman’’ is not a separate kind of human for Zarathustra by the end of the text; it eventually becomes a noble voice in many selves on behalf of affirmation. More than Zarathustra, I separate revenge against difference from the drive to reduce economic inequality. The first is a measure of my debt to him;

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the second of my agonistic response to his unconcern about economic inequality. 11. See Timothy P. Weber, Waiting for the Second Coming, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). Weber charts the movement from the beginning of the twentieth century to the 1980s. His view that ‘‘relative deprivation’’ only helps to explain its attractions is pertinent to the account here. His attention to millenialists, such as former Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield, who hold the key creedal beliefs but do not embrace the ugly politics, is also pertinent. Once again, it is the formal belief in conjunction with susceptibility or resistance to existential resentment that is important. That is why it may be possible to pluralize further the political orientations of evangelists. 12. Frank Ankersmit, ‘‘Democracy’s Inner Voice: Political Style as Unintended Consequence of Political Action,’’ in Media and the Restyling of Politics, ed. John Corner and Dick Pels (London: Sage, 2003), 19. Ankersmit’s objective is to show how political reality is not exhausted by the articulations of its contestants. 13. Perhaps this is the point at which to note that existential resentment can be expressed without being articulated because such an affective disposition is filled with ideas. So to say that people can share the same formal creed while differing in the sensibility infused into it is not to say that a sensibility consists of pure affect. Rather, an idea-imbued sensibility inflects the meaning of a publicly defined creed in this way or that. The explicit creed may say, ‘‘Only Jesus can save you.’’ The implicit, affectively charged idea might be either, ‘‘and you will burn in hell if you are not baptized,’’ or, ‘‘if you are a decent person he will save you.’’ Moreover, two people could share the first disposition but differ significantly in the intensity with which it is felt. 14. Robert Heath, The Hidden Power of Advertising: How Low Involvement Processing Influences the Ways We Choose Brands (Oxford: Admap Publications, 2001). 15. Heath’s Hidden Power of Advertising can profitably be read in conjunction with Mark B. N. Hansen, New Philosophy for New Media (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), especially Chapter 6. Hansen explores experimental art, which draws to the foreground affective dimensions usually left in the background of perception. An effective counterpolitics of perception must draw upon such experiments to fashion ways to challenge the image-sound media campaigns with which we are bombarded. 16. For an essay that explores the imbrications between media, show business, and electoral politics in England and the Netherlands, see John Street, ‘‘The Celebrity Politician: Political Style and Popular Culture,’’ in Corner and Pels, Media and the Restyling of Politics, 85–98. An insightful book

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that examines the role of entertainment in politics in the United States is Jeffrey Jones, Entertaining Politics (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). 17. I pursue this question on the registers of identity and economics in The Ethos of Pluralization, Chapter 4, ‘‘Fundamentalism in America’’ (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994). I am indebted to Patchen Markell, who, after making thoughtful comments on a first draft of this essay, also encouraged me to recall this earlier moment in my thinking. 18. John Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1998), 108. 19. ‘‘Can God See the Future?’’ Chronicle of Higher Education (November 26, 2004), 12. 20. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 99. 9. ‘‘the war has not ended’’: thomas hobbes, carl schmitt, and the paradoxes of countersovereignty Friedrich Balke 1. Thomas Hobbes, De Cive or The Citizen (New York: Sterling, 1949), Chapter 6. 2. Carl Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes: Meaning and Failure of a Political Symbol, trans. G. Schwab and E. Hilfstein (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996), 32. 3. Ibid., 33. 4. Ibid., 34. 5. Ibid. 6. Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. G. Schwab (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988), 66. 7. Ibid., 65–66. ¨ ber die Souvera¨nita¨t),’’ in Die 8. Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘‘Ex nihilo summum (U Erschaffung der Welt oder Die Globalisierung (Zu¨rich: Passagen, 2003), 125. 9. Schmitt, Political Theology, 7–8. 10. Michel Foucault, Die Anormalen. Vorlesungen am Colle`ge de France (1974–1975) (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003), 28. 11. Judith Butler, ‘‘Indefinite Detention,’’ in Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (New York: Verso, 2004), 50–100. 12. Schmitt, Political Theology, 33. 13. Ibid., 34–35. 14. Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes, 34. 15. Ibid. 16. Ibid., 33. 17. Ibid., 83. 18. The English translation renders gla¨ubig as ‘‘trusted’’ (glaubhaft), which misses the point of Schmitt’s argument.

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19. Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended. Lectures at the Colle`ge de France, 1975–1976, trans. D. Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), 73. 20. Ibid., 46. 21. Ibid., 50. 22. Ibid., 47. 23. Schmitt, Political Theology, 42. 24. Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, 51. 25. Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen. Text von 1932 mit einem Vorwort und drei Corollarien (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1963), 27. 26. Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, 92. 27. Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes, 56–57. 28. Ibid., 59. 29. Ibid., 61. 30. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. C. B. Macpherson (London: Penguin Books, 1985), 251. 31. Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, 94–95. 32. Ibid., 96. 33. Ibid. 34. Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes, 45. 35. Ibid., 42–45. 36. Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, 66. 37. Title of an essay by Schmitt from 1934, ‘‘Der Fu¨hrer schu¨tzt das Recht,’’ in Positionen und Begriffe im Kampf mit Weimar–Genf–Versailles 1923–1939 (Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1940), 199–203. 38. Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes, 35. 39. Judith Butler, ‘‘Violence, Mourning, Politics,’’ in Precarious Life, 19–49 and 33. 40. Schmitt, ‘‘Der Fu¨hrer schu¨tzt das Recht,’’ 201. 10. natural right and state of exception in leo strauss Miguel Vatter Versions of this paper were presented at the following conferences: Machiavel aux XIX et XX sie`cles, Paris, June 3–4, 2004 under the title ‘‘Machiavel et la pense´e neo-conservative ame´ricaine aujourd’hui’’; Theology, Faith, and Politics, Northwestern University, May 13–14, 2005; and Carl Schmitt y Leo Strauss: Teologı´a, Filosofı´a, Polı´tica, Goethe Institut, Buenos Aires, October 2008. A shorter, Spanish version of this essay appears in the proceedings of the latter conference in Deus mortalis. Cuaderno de Filosofı´a Polı´tica 8 (2010): 133–146. 1. Clinton Rossiter, Constitutional Dictatorship (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948), 6.

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2. Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, trans. Kevin Attell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 8–9, referring to Rossiter, 297. 3. Strauss, On Tyranny (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 24. 4. For a recent interpretation that takes account of this line of reading On Tyranny, which is centered on the problem of the philosophical life and, in particular, on the relation between the philosopher and politics as it appears in the Koje`ve-Strauss debate, see Steven B. Smith, Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), Chapter 6. 5. Strauss, On Tyranny, 76. 6. On Tyranny has received to date wildly disparate interpretations. For an example of two opposed views, compare Shadia Drury, The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988), and Catherine and Michael Zuckert, The Truth About Leo Strauss (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006). 7. Strauss simply asserts that in The Prince Machiavelli undoes the distinction between king and tyrant (indeed, he makes this absence of a distinction the sign that Machiavelli pursues a purely ‘‘scientific’’ or ‘‘valuefree’’ knowledge of political things). He also cites Hobbes’s famous dictum in Leviathan, ‘‘A Review and Conclusion,’’ that ‘‘the name of Tyranny signifieth nothing more, nor lesse, than the name of Sovereignty’’ (Strauss, On Tyranny, 24). In other words, Strauss’s interpretation of Xenophon in reality should be understood as his treatment of the problem of sovereignty. 8. ‘‘[Simonides] shifts the emphasis almost insensibly from the pleasant feelings primarily desired to the noble or praiseworthy actions which directly or indirectly bring about those pleasant feelings. He tacitly advises the tyrant to think not of his own pleasures but of the pleasures of others; not of his being served and receiving gifts, but of his doing services and making gifts. That is to say, he tacitly gives the tyrant exactly the same advice which Socrates explicitly gives his companions, nay, which Virtue herself explicitly gives to Heracles.’’ Ibid, 62. For the quotation here, see ibid., 75. 9. Ibid., 27. 10. Ibid., 68. This is the traditional reading of tyranny, found in Aristotle as much as in Aquinas, Ockham, or Salutati. 11. Ibid. For a comparison with the current scholarly understanding of Xenophon’s Socratic writings, see the issue of Les E´tudes Philosophiques 2 (May 2004) dedicated to ‘‘Les e´crits socratiques de Xe´nophon.’’ In his essay ‘‘Tyrannie et royaute´ selon le Socrate de Xe´nophon,’’ Donald Morrison confirms Strauss’s reading of the Hiero, namely, that tyranny is a form of rule without laws and over ‘‘willing’’ subjects (185), and points out how this possibility is ruled out in Xenophon’s Memorabilia where both a ‘‘good’’ and a ‘‘bad’’ tyrant rules without laws and without the consent of the subjects (182).

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In the end, Morrison claims that both Xenophon’s Cyropaedia as well as the Hiero lend credence to Strauss’s idea that it is possible to rule over ‘‘willing’’ subjects without laws, and thus that a ‘‘wise tyrant’’ is also possible (191), whereas he claims that ‘‘the idea of a ‘wise tyranny’ is incoherent’’ (187) if one follows only Xenophon’s reconstruction of Socrates’ thought found in the Memorabilia. 12. ‘‘The practical consequence of the absence of laws . . . is the absence of freedom: no laws, no liberty.’’ Strauss, On Tyranny, 68. 13. ‘‘The correction of tyranny consists in nothing else than the transformation of the unjust or vicious tyrant who is more or less unhappy into a virtuous tyrant who is happy. As for the tyrant’s subjects, or his city, Simonides makes it clear that it may be very happy. . . . He thus creates the impression that according to Xenophon tyrannical government can live up to the highest political standards.’’ Ibid., 69. 14. ‘‘As for Xenophon himself, we have to start from the facts that freedom was considered the aim of democracy, as particularly distinguished from aristocracy, the aim of which was said to be virtue; and that Xenophon was not a democrat. Xenophon’s view is reflected in Hiero’s implicit assertion that the wise are not concerned with freedom.’’ Ibid, 71. 15. Ibid., 76. Strauss expresses his views always cautiously, thus: ‘‘It is of very great importance that, according to Xenophon, the aim of the good ruler is much more likely to be achieved by means of laws than by means of absolute rule. This does not do away, however, with the admission that, as a matter of principle, rule of law is not essential for good government.’’ 16. I do not have the space here to discuss the complicated hermeneutics that allows Strauss to formulate such an unusual claim. Suffice it to say that for Strauss, Xenophon’s statements on Socrates remained throughout his career a focus of attention. 17. The citation is preceded by the following: ‘‘The just man is a man who does not hurt anyone, but helps everyone who has dealings with him. To be just, in other words, simply means to be beneficent. If justice is then essentially translegal, rule without laws may very well be just: beneficent absolute rule is just.’’ It continues after the citation as follows: ‘‘Xenophon’s realization of the problem of law, his understanding of the essence of law, his having raised and answered the Socratic question, ‘What is law?,’ enables and compels him to grant that tyranny may live up to the highest political standard.’’ Strauss, On Tyranny, 75. 18. Ibid., 76. 19. Zuckert, The Truth About Leo Strauss, 161, 165. Straussian interpreters often apply this reasoning, mutatis mutandis, to Plato’s utopia of the philosopher-king, the idea being that Plato wrote the Republic not to defend philosopher-kings but to refute them. On variations of this reading, see Thomas

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Pangle, ‘‘Introduction,’’ in Leo Strauss, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983) and Steven Smith, Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), Chapter 4. 20. ‘‘Good citizens’’: Strauss refers to Aristotle’s Politics, 1276b29–36; 1287b1–5; 1293b3–7. Strauss, On Tyranny, 76. 21. Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), 13. 22. Ibid., 15–18. 23. Ibid., 73. Strauss cites from Xenophon Memorabilia, 4.12ff. 24. Ibid. Strauss cites from Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, 1129b12. 25. See Carl Schmitt, Legality and Legitimacy (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004), and the introduction thereto by John McCormick. 26. Strauss begins Natural Right and History with an attack on the Weberian legacy in political thinking. 27. Strauss, On Tyranny, 74–75. Strauss adds, once again, that such tyrannical rule is ‘‘as a matter of principle, preferable to the rule of laws or to the rules of elected magistrates as such.’’ 28. ‘‘The law claims that it saves the cities. . . . It claims to secure the common good. But the common good is exactly what we mean by ‘the just.’ Laws are just to the extent that they are conducive to the common good. But if the just is identical with the common good, the just or right cannot be conventional: the conventions of a city cannot make good for the city what is, in fact, fatal for it and vice versa. The nature of things and not convention then determines in each case what is just.’’ Strauss, Natural Right and History, 101. 29. Ibid., 101–102. In Straussian readings, the self-contradiction of laws is softened to mean that they are necessary, but imperfect. 30. For a late pronouncement of this point, see the article ‘‘On Natural Law’’ in Leo Strauss, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 139–141. 31. Aristotle ‘‘teaches that all natural right is changeable.’’ Strauss, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, 140. 32. ‘‘If justice is to remain good, we must conceive of it as essentially independent of the law. We shall then define justice as the habit of giving to everyone what is due to him according to nature. . . . Just as only a physician truly knows what is good in each case for the body, only the wise man truly knows what is good in each case for the soul. This being the case, there cannot be justice, i.e., giving to everyone what is by nature good for him, except in a society in which wise men are in absolute control.’’ Strauss, Natural Right and History, 146. ‘‘This solution, which at first glance seems to be the only just

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solution for a society in which there are wise men, is, as a rule, impracticable. The few wise cannot rule the many unwise by force. The unwise multitude must recognize the wise as wise and obey them freely because of their wisdom. But the ability of the wise to persuade the unwise is extremely limited. . . . This being the case, the natural right of the wise must be questioned, and the indispensable requirement for wisdom must be qualified by the requirement for consent.’’ Ibid., 140. 33. Ibid., 132–133. ‘‘Man’s freedom is accompanied by a sacred awe, by a kind of divination that not everything is permitted. . . . Restraint is therefore as natural or as primeval as freedom.’’ Ibid., 130. See also the concise discussion in Strauss, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, 139. In general, it is this point that accounts for the vicinity between Socratic and Thrasymachean theses. On this highly contested feature of Strauss’s reading of classical natural right, see Zuckert, The Truth About Leo Strauss, 166–177, and Smith, Reading Leo Strauss, 93–100. 34. ‘‘But to admit the necessity of consent, i.e., of the consent of the unwise, amounts to admitting a right of unwisdom, i.e., an irrational, if inevitable, right. Civil life requires a fundamental compromise between wisdom and folly, and this means a compromise between the natural right that is discerned by reason or understanding and the right that is based on opinion alone. Civil life requires the dilution of natural right by merely conventional right. . . . In other words, the simply good, which is what is good by nature and which is radically distinct from the ancestral, must be transformed into the politically good, which, as it were, the quotient of the simply good and the ancestral: the politically good is what ‘‘removes a vast mass of evil without shocking a vast mass of prejudice.’’ It is in this necessity that the need for inexactness in political or moral matters is partly founded.’’ Strauss, Natural Right, 152. 35. Ibid., 159. 36. Ibid., 160. Emphasis mine. 37. On the debate concerning the relation between Leo Strauss’s political thought and political theology, see John McCormick, ‘‘Political Theory and Political Theology: The Second Wave of Carl Schmitt in English,’’ Political Theory 26 (1998): 830–854, and Miguel Vatter, ‘‘Strauss and Schmitt as Readers of Hobbes and Spinoza: On the Relation between Liberalism and Political Theology,’’ The New Centennial Review 4, no. 3 (2004): 161–214. 38. Classical natural right is also supposed to stand counter to ‘‘authority’’: ‘‘The emergence of the idea of natural right presupposes, therefore, the doubt of authority.’’ Strauss, Natural Right and History, 85. But this point does not affect my thesis because Strauss is careful to define ‘‘authority’’ in a nonSchmittian fashion: ‘‘authority as the right of human beings to be obeyed is

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essentially derivative from law, and law is originally nothing other than the way of life of the community.’’ Ibid. This very definition of authority is turned around by the central tenet of Schmitt’s political theology: Auctoritas, non Veritas fecit legem. Schmitt’s concept of authority is a function of the decision as to who is the enemy, and this decision, according to Schmitt, far from presupposing knowledge of ‘‘the way of life of the community’’ determines its very character. Thus Strauss’s definition of authority in Natural Right and History does not exclude his adoption of the Schmittian conception of authority in relation to his elaboration of ‘‘classical natural right.’’ 39. Strauss, Natural Right and History, 161. Emphasis mine. 40. Arguably, the closest figure in Aristotle that could correspond to Strauss’s ‘‘wicked enemy’’ is the deinos (who Aristotle contrasts with the phronimos). But in reality the deinos cannot be described as radically ‘‘wicked’’ and ‘‘inventive.’’ Interestingly, Strauss does not mention the figure of the deinos. 41. For Machiavelli ‘‘all legitimacy has its root in illegitimacy; all social or moral orders have been established with the help of morally questionable means. . . . Justice in any sense is possible only after a social order has been established; justice in any sense is possible only within a man-made order. Yet the founding of civil society, the supreme case in politics, is imitated, within civil society, in all extreme cases.’’ Strauss, Natural Right and History, 178. This idea is very similar to the one given by Figgis some forty years before: ‘‘Every nation would allow that there are emergencies in which it is the right and the duty of a government to proclaim a state of siege and authorize the supersession of the common rules of remedy by the rapid methods of martial law. What Machiavelli did, or rather what his followers have been doing ever since, is to elevate this principle into the normal rule for statesmen’s actions. When his books are made into a system they must result in a perpetual suspension of the habeas corpus acts of the whole human race.’’ John Neville Figgis, Political Thought from Gerson to Grotius, 1414–1625 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960), 99. 42. ‘‘It is important that the difference between the Aristotelian view of natural right and Machiavellianism be clearly understood. Machiavelli denies natural right, because he takes his bearings by the extreme situations in which the demands of justice are reduced to the requirements of necessity, and not by the normal situation in which the demands of justice in the strict sense are the highest law. Furthermore, he does not have to overcome a reluctance as regards the deviations from what is normally right. . . . The true statesman in the Aristotelian sense, on the other hand, takes his bearings by the normal situation and by what is normally right only in order to save the cause of justice and humanity itself. No legal expression of this difference can be found.

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Its political importance is obvious.’’ Strauss, Natural Right, 161. The slide from Aristotelianism to Machiavellianism in Straussianism is analyzed in Anne Norton, Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), and Nicholas Xenos, ‘‘Leo Strauss and the Rhetoric of the War on Terror,’’ Logos 3, no. 2 (2004). For an entirely different take on Straussianism, see the discussion in Zuckert. 43. See Heinrich Meier, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995) and Heinrich Meier, Leo Strauss and the Theologico-Political Problem (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), for a defense of this kind of reading. 44. Strauss, ‘‘Progress or Return? The Contemporary Crisis in Western Civilization,’’ in Modern Judaism 1 (1981): 17–45. 45. Strauss, Philosophy and Law (Albany: SUNY Press, 1995), 77. 46. ‘‘Plato’s approximation to the revelation furnishes the medieval thinkers with the starting-point from which they could understand the revelation philosophically. But if they were not to lose confidence in the revelation because of Plato, then it had to be the case that Platonic philosophy had suffered from an aporia in principle that had been remedied only by the revelation. The radical interpretation of the doctrine of the Islamic Aristotelians and their Jewish pupils presupposes, therefore, an interpretation of Plato’s Laws attentive to the fact that the Laws point to the revelation, but only point to it.’’ Ibid., 76. 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid., 125. The idea of Platonic political philosophy being a preface or prelude to political theology as prophetology shows no signs of betraying the ‘‘tension’’ and ‘‘undecidability’’ revealing ‘‘the deepest hesitations of Strauss’’ between the positions of Athens and Jerusalem, as Daniel Tanguay claims in Leo Strauss. Une biographie intellectuelle (Paris: Grasset, 2003), 96–97. 49. Leo Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 141. 50. To appreciate Strauss’s deployment of Plato during the 1930s and 1940s in order to defend the claims of ‘‘Jerusalem,’’ it is useful to remember that in those same years some German philosophers and classicists sympathetic to the Nazi regime were actively deploying Platonism in order to construe a thinly veiled justification of anti-Semitic and eugenic discourses. On this topic, see Simona Forti, ‘‘Biopolitica delle anime,’’ Filosofia Politica 3 (2003): 397–418. The connection between Platonism and totalitarianism forms the background of Karl Popper’s (but not only his: one thinks also of Arendt or Oakeshott) postwar rejection of Platonism as the main philosophical source for the ‘‘enemies’’ of ‘‘open societies.’’ 51. In chapters 14 and 15 of the Theological-Political Treatise, Spinoza also attacks the possibility of a rational revealed theology, but, obviously, he does

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not do so as a function of a defense of faith in divine revelation. Strauss’s later, somewhat more forgiving interpretation of Spinoza, for example in ‘‘How to Study Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise,’’ in Persecution and the Art of Writing, is understandable on the basis of their shared rejection of rational revealed theology. 52. Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing, 140. 53. Ibid., 141. 54. Strauss, Philosophy and Law, 130. 55. ‘‘He cannot assert this primacy unconditionally and unreservedly; if he asserts it, he must restrict it in some way, so that ultimately he calls into question through this restriction.’’ Ibid., 130–131. 56. Ibid., 132–133. 57. Ibid. 11. law and the gift of justice Regina Mara Schwartz 1. Jacques Derrida, Acts of Religion (New York: Routledge, 2002), 250. 2. Ibid., 250–251. 3. Emmanuel Levinas, ‘‘The Temptation of Temptation,’’ in Nine Talmudic Readings, trans. Annette Aronowicz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 30–50. 4. Moshe Halbertal and Avishai Margalit, Idolatry, trans. Naomi Goldblum (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992). 5. For further discussion of the violence of possession, see Regina Schwartz, The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997). 6. Emmanuel Levinas, ‘‘The Pact,’’ in Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures, trans. Gary D. Mole (London: Athlone Press, 1994), 68–85. 7. Stuart Hampshire, Justice Is Conflict (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 4–5. 8. Derrida, Acts of Religion, 270. 9. Frans Jozef Van Beeck, ‘‘Loving the Torah More Than God,’’ in Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism, trans. Sean Hand (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), 145. 10. Ibid., 144. 11. Emmanuel Levinas, Beyond the Verse (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 113, my italics. 12. Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. Peter Halliward (London: Verso, 2002), 70. My lengthier treatment of revelation, engaging Badiou explicitly, appears in Theology and the Political, ed. Creston Davis et al. (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005), 102–124.

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13. Emmanuel Levinas, ‘‘Revelation in the Jewish Tradition,’’ in Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures, trans. Gary D. Mole (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 146–147. 14. Derrida, Acts of Religion, 233. 15. Ibid. 16. Emmanuel Levinas, ‘‘Judaism and Revolution,’’ in Nine Talmudic Readings, 110. 17. Ibid., 109. 18. Ibid., 110. 19. Ibid., 113. 20. Ibid., 99–100. 21. Emmanuel Levinas, Levinas Reader (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 230. 22. Ibid., 230–231. 23. Ibid., 195. 24. Levinas, Difficult Freedom, 143. 12. drawing—the single trait: toward a politics of singularity Samuel Weber 1. In view of the multiform dimensions of the English language in its very different global manifestations, I should add that this usage applies particularly to that English spoken and written in the United States. 2. It being generally forgotten that the word person originally meant ‘‘mask’’—that through which (per-) sound (sona) passes. 3. Michel Foucault, Le souci de soi. Histoire de la sexualite´ 3 (Paris: Gallimard,1984). 4. I would be tempted to add the prefix ‘‘mono-’’ to this designation: ‘‘onto-mono-theological.’’ But this term should not obscure the constitutive ambiguity of the ‘‘one’’—which can signify not just unity in the sense of self, but also singularity as that which both initiates and perturbs the economy of the self. A similar ambiguity holds also for the related words ‘‘same,’’ ‘‘I,’’ and, indeed, even for ‘‘self’’ itself. One cannot invoke the economy of selfhood—that is, terms that would be self-identical—in order to question the unity of the self, even and especially concerning its linguistic articulations. The latter pertain to configurations of usage, not to individual words. 5. Translation throughout is the King James Version, references given in text. 6. It is true that the word ‘‘replenish’’ in the passage just quoted suggests an alternation of growth and decay: one can ‘‘refill’’ only what previously has been emptied. But the dominant emphasis is on fructification, not decay. 7. Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (New York: Norton, 1950), 87.

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8. Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996), 1:71. 9. But what of this ‘‘us’’ to and of whom ‘‘God’’ speaks? In what sense can the monotheistic Lord of the Creation entail a plurality? Is this a ‘‘royal we’’? At the very moment that the divinity defends his prerogatives against encroachment by his creation, the unity of those prerogatives are put into question, implicitly at least, by his mode of address. 10. ‘‘The phrase is sung annually in the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil: ‘O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem,’ ‘O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer.’ The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas cited this line when he explained how the principle that ‘God allows evils to happen in order to bring a greater good therefrom’ underlies the causal relationship between original sin and the Divine Redeemer’s Incarnation. Other goods that followed from this fortunate fall were Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and Last Judgment and man’s eventual hope of Heaven.’’ Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_culpa. 11. Samuel Weber, ‘‘Towards A Politics of Singularity: Protection and Projection,’’ in Religion Without Concept , ed. Hent de Vries (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), 626–646. 12. For some of the valences of salut, see Jacques Derrida’s Adieu—a` Emmanuel Levinas (Paris: Galile´e, 1997). 13. The French Minister of Justice at the time of this writing, Rachida Dati, has defended a law she has proposed that would mandate lifetime incarceration for criminals considered incorrigible—emulating the (in)famous ‘‘three strikes’’ law—by asserting in an interview with Le Monde (February 27, 2008) that ‘‘it is not playing with emotions to protect the French’’ (Ce n’est pas de jouer avec l’e´motion que de prote´ger les franc¸ais). She thereby echoes the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who campaigned under the slogan of ‘‘protecting the French.’’ 14. In democratic states, it is this demonstration that is decisive, even where the perpetrator(s) are not direct representatives of the state. This is perhaps one of the reasons why most of the major assassinations of the 1960s in the United States were carried out in public or before TV cameras: those of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert, and Malcolm X, but also of Lee Harvey Oswald. Martin Luther King, executed on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, is an exception. 15. ‘‘According to the traditional principle, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means that ‘an act does not make a man guilty unless the mind is guilty.’ In other words, without the existence of a guilty intention, a person should not be found guilty of committing some crime—accidental acts are not to be regarded as criminal.’’ http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/political/

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bldef_mensr ea.htm?rd⳱1. Although the term is Latin, originating in Roman law, the concept itself was ‘‘resurrected’’ in juridical practice by the Church: ‘‘Mens Rea began to be used after the 4th Lateran Council in 1215 during the Gregorian Reform. In the 1230’s, Bracton (law clerk for Judge Raleigh) reached back to Augustine and wrote material that was influential for the next 550 years of jurisprudence. Bracton was influenced by the Roman notion of culpa (fault) and Catholic Church’s emphasis on moral guilt. These legal principles were not new ideas, but were resurrected as a result of theological reforms within the Catholic church.’’ http://www.lawandliberty.org/justice.htm. 16. ‘‘ ‘Our authorities as far as I know, and I only know the lowest grades, don’t go out looking for guilt among the public; it’s the guilt that draws them out, like it says in the law, and they have to send us police officers out. That’s the law. Where d’you think there’d be any mistake there?’ ‘I don’t know this law,’ said K. ‘So much the worse for you, then,’ said the policeman.’’ Franz Kafka, The Trial, trans. David Wyllie (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/7849). 17. Immanuel Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, B35–36. 18. See Joseph Chytry, The Aesthetic State: A Question in Modern German Thought (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989). 19. Usually rendered in English as ‘‘Fate and Character,’’ but I prefer ‘‘Destiny’’ to ‘‘Fate’’ in order to retain something of the German verb, schicken—to send—out of which Schicksal is formed. 20. Benjamin references are to Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1980), in text as ‘‘GS,’’ followed by the Harvard University Press edition of Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, 4 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996), in text as ‘‘SW.’’ Page references in text refer first to the German, then to the English editions. I have modified the translations somewhat. 21. Walter Benjamin, Origin of German Tragic Drama, trans. John Osborne (London: Verso, 1998), 109–110. 22. This is also the German title of the novel by Dostoyevsky translated into English as Crime and Punishment. 23. Although Benjamin explicitly asserts that ‘‘destiny,’’ in being mythical, is not truly ‘‘religious,’’ that does not necessarily contradict or exclude my interpretation that it is nevertheless theological, insofar as the world of myth is a world that seeks to provide a logos of the gods—in the plural, to be sure. What is more difficult is the relation of Greek polytheism to Christian ‘‘monotheism,’’ since from this text as from others it is clear that Benjamin construes the latter as a continuation of the former: Greek guilt, which tragedy refuses, becomes Christian ‘‘original sin.’’ I will return to this difficult question briefly toward the end of this essay. 24. It should be noted that this conception of ‘‘morality’’ is resolutely preKantian, insofar as it equates morality with nature.

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25. This connection is grounded in the imperfect ‘‘solution’’ and ‘‘redemption’’ brought about by tragedy. Tragedy ends with a ‘‘non liquet,’’ suspending judgment, legal and otherwise. ‘‘The satyr play, which follows or precedes it, expresses the fact that the non liquet of the staged trial can only be prepared or reacted to by a comic e´lan’’ (296/117). It is decisive, here, that Benjamin associates the ‘‘comic’’ response or preparation of tragedy with an ‘‘e´lan’’—which is to say, with a movement that pulls-draws-away from its immediate manifestation. In short: with a Zug. Comedy zieht, and as we will see, in a most singular manner. 26. Giorgio Agamben, Profanations (Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2005), 7. 27. Cf. Friedrich Ho¨lderlin, Selected Poems and Fragments, trans. Michael Hamburger (London: Penguin 1998), 101. See also SW 1:22. The translation is my own. 28. J. Lacan, Seminar (unpublished) on ‘‘L’identification,’’ session of February 21, 1962. 29. See Franz Kafka, ‘‘Before the Law,’’ and Jacques Derrida’s essay of the same name in Acts of Literature, ed. Derek Attridge (London: Routledge, 1992). 30. Although this is not the place to do it, it would be instructive to explore the relationship between Benjamin’s discussion of the police in the ‘‘Critique of Violence’’ and Jacques Rancie`re’s elevation of the ‘‘police’’ to the transcendental principle of what is usually associated with ‘‘politics’’—namely, the organization of space so as to regulate the distribution of properties and property. (See Jacques Rancie`re, Disagreement, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999, 28ff.) In the context of the present discussion, I would suggest that Rancie`re’s determination of the political as a response to the ‘‘tort’’ or ‘‘wrong’’ involved in the relation of parts to whole in the political ensemble presupposes what it seeks to derive: a regime of law according to which ‘‘tort’’ can be determined. This legal regime, I would suggest, is what Benjamin associates with the ‘‘mythical’’ notion of the ‘‘guilt’’ of mere life, which ‘‘indebts’’ the singular living being to the notion of life as a general process. In this sense, Rancie`re’s ‘‘tort’’ would have to be reinscribed in the system of onto-mono-theology that I am seeking to retrace here. 31. Jean Genet, Le Balcon (Paris: L’Arbale`te, 1956), 127. My translations here and throughout. 13. the religious situation in the united states 175 years after tocqueville Jose´ Casanova 1. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 154.

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2. Sydney E. Mead, ‘‘Denominationalism: The Shape of Protestantism in America,’’ in The Lively Experiment: The Shaping of Christianity in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1976). 3. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America, 1776–1990 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1992). 4. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 153. 5. Ibid., 284. 6. Ibid., 280. 7. The quotations here are from ibid., 150–153. 8. See Will Herberg, Protestant-Catholic-Jew (New York: Doubleday, 1960), and Robert N. Bellah, ‘‘Civil Religion in America,’’ Daedalus 96, no. 1 (1967): 1–21. 9. See Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 271. The term had just been invented in the 1820s. See also K. W. Swart, ‘‘ ‘Individualism’ in the MidNineteenth Century (1826–1860),’’ Journal of the History of Ideas 23 (1962): 77–90, and Stephen Lukes, Individualism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973). 10. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 152. 11. William James, Varieties of Religious Experience (London: Longmans, Green, 1925). 12. Thomas Luckmann, The Invisible Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1967); Philip Rieff, The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith After Freud (New York: Harper & Row, 1966). 13. Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life (New York: Harper Collins, 1992). 14. Eugen Taylor, ‘‘Desperately Seeking Spirituality,’’ Psychology Today (November–December 1994), and Robert C. Fuller, Spiritual But Not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). 15. Robert N. Bellah, ‘‘Religious Evolution,’’ in Beyond Belief (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), 39–44. 16. Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990); Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989). 17. R. Laurence Moore, In Search of White Crows: Spiritualism, Parapsychology, and American Culture (New York, Oxford University Press, 1977), and ‘‘The Occult Connection? Mormonism, Christian Science, Spiritualism,’’ in The Occult in America: New Historical Perspectives, ed. Howard Kerr and Charles L. Crow (Illinois: Urbana, 1983); Robert S. Ellwood, Alternative Altars: Unconventional and Eastern Spirituality in America (Chicago: University of Chicago

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Press, 1979); E. Brooks Holifield, Health and Medicine in the Methodist Tradition: Journey Toward Wholeness (New York: Crossroad, 1986). 18. Peter van der Veer, ‘‘Spirituality in Modern Society.’’ Lecture, Utrecht University, October 2005. 19. Charles Y. Glock and Robert N. Bellah, eds., The New Religious Consciousness (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976); Robert Wuthnow, The Consciousness Reformation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), and Experimentation in American Religion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978); Robert S. Ellwood, The Sixties Spiritual Awakenings: American Religion Moving from Modern to Postmodern (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1994). 20. Robert Wuthnow, The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and Faith Since World War II (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), and After Heaven: Spirituality in America Since the 1950s (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998). 21. Wade Clark Roof, A Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journeys of the Baby Boom Generation (San Francisco: Harper, 1993); Dean R. Hoge, Benton Johnson, and Donald A. Luidens, Vanishing Boundaries: The Religion of Mainline Protestant Baby Boomers (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1994). 22. Robert N. Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985). 23. Charles Taylor, Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 111. 24. Wuthnow, After Heaven, 125. 25. Samuel Huntington, Who Are We? The Challenges to American National Identity (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004). 26. Timothy L. Smith, ‘‘Congregation, State, and Denomination: The Forming of the American Religious Structure,’’ William and Mary Quarterly 25, no. 2 (April 1968): 155–176; Mark Chaves, Congregations in America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004). 27. R. Stephen Warner, A Church of Our Own: Disestablishment and Diversity in American Religion (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2005). 28. Ray A. Billington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800–1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism (New York: Macmillan, 1938); John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860–1925, 2nd ed. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1988); R. Laurence Moore, Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). 29. Herberg, Protestant-Catholic-Jew. 30. Raymond Brady Williams, Religion of Immigrants from India and Pakistan: New Threads in the American Tapestry (New York: Cambridge

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University Press, 1988); Stephen Warner and Judith G. Wittner, eds., Gatherings in Diaspora: Religious Communities and the New Immigration (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998); Helen Rose Ebaugh and Janet Saltzman Chafetz, eds., Religion and the New Immigrants (Walnut Creek, Calif.: Altamira Press, 2000); Ho-Youn Kwon, Kwang Chun Kim, and R. Stephen Warner, eds., Korean Americans and Their Religions (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001); Fenggang Yang, Chinese Christians in America (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999); Prema Kurien, ‘‘ ‘We Are Better Hindus Here’: Religion and Ethnicity Among Indian Americans,’’ in Building Faith Communities: Asian Immigrants and Religions, ed. Jung Ha Kim and Pyong Gap Min (Walnut Creek, Calif.: Altamira Press, 2002). 31. Timothy L. Smith, ‘‘Religion and Ethnicity in America,’’ American Historical Review 83, no. 5 (December 1978): 1155–1185. 32. Eric C. Lincoln, Race, Religion and the Continuing American Dilemma (New York: Hill & Wang, 1984); Forrest G. Wood, The Arrogance of Faith: Christianity and Race in America from the Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century (New York: Knopf, 1990); Jose´ Casanova, ‘‘Immigration and the New Religious Pluralism: A European Union/United States Comparison,’’ in The New Religious Pluralism and Democracy, ed. Thomas Banchoff (New York: Oxford University, 2007): 59–84. 33. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 166. 34. Diana L. Eck, A New Religious America: How a ‘‘Christian Country’’ Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation (San Francisco: Harper, 2002). 35. The New Immigrant Survey (NIS) is fortunately going to remedy this situation. See http://nis.princeton.edu and next note. 36. R. Stephen Warner, ‘‘The De-Europeanization of American Christianity,’’ paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association on August 14, 2004. 37. Stephen Protero, ed., A Nation of Religions: The Politics of Pluralism in Multireligious America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005). Such a trend, of course, undermines equally Huntington’s two theses, the geopolitical thesis of the inevitable clash of civilizations and the nostalgic national thesis of an Anglo-Protestant American civilization that remains unchanged while it incorporates all immigrant ‘‘others.’’ 38. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 153–154. 39. Jose´ Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994) Chapter 6. 40. Robert N. Bellah, Beyond Belief (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 168.

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41. Robert N. Bellah, Imagining Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 61. 14. the avatars of religion in tocqueville Lucien Jaume 1. Democracy in America, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (New York: Library of America, 2004), abbreviated as DA. Here DA, 489–493. 2. Marcel Gauchet, The Disenchantment of the World: A Political History of Religion, trans. Oscar Burge (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999). 3. DA, 492. There is, for instance, no acknowledgement of this perspective in Doris Goldstein’s important book, Trial of Faith: Religion and Politics in Tocqueville’s Thought (New York: Elsevier, 1975). 4. That America constitutes the ‘‘veil’’ behind which Tocqueville speaks about France is one of the main themes of my Tocqueville: Les sources aristocratiques de la liberte´ (Paris: Fayard, 2008). 5. Recall, for example, the proposal by Royer-Collard regarding administrative centralization: ‘‘The revolution has left behind only individuals . . . of society, in tatters, administrative centralization has emerged. . . . In fact, where there are only individuals, all the business that is not theirs, is public business, business of the state. Where there are no independent magistrates, there are only representatives of power. This is how we have become an administered people, at the mercy of irresponsible bureaucrats, who are themselves centralized in the power of which they are the ministers.’’ Speech delivered on January 22, 1822, in Barante, La vie politique de M. Royer-Collard (Paris: Didier, 1861), 2:131. Tocqueville, who had a significant correspondence with Royer-Collard, whom he admired, had the representative’s speeches bound in his private library. 6. Claude Lefort, ‘‘The Permanence of the Theologico-political?’’ in Democracy and Political Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988). 7. In his words, the ‘‘question is not whether some form of intellectual authority exists in democratic ages but only where it resides.’’ DA, 490. 8. Ibid., 489. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid., 587, ‘‘On Individualism in Democratic Countries.’’ 11. Ibid., 503, ‘‘How Religion Uses Democratic Instincts.’’ 12. Lamennais, Essai sur l’indiffe´rence en matie`re de religion, 4 vols. (Paris: Belin-Mandar & Devaux, 1817–1823). I cite from the eighth edition of 1829. Tocqueville owned this work in his library, and he wrote a warm letter to Lamennais when he sent him the first part of Democracy in America (unpublished correspondence, forthcoming in Oeuvres comple`tes, Gallimard). An

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unpublished letter dated April 23, 1847, is also in my opinion addressed to Lamennais (see my Tocqueville, 114). 13. Lamennais, Essai sur l’indiffe´rence, 2:17–21. 14. ‘‘Everything is general: authority, beliefs, duties,’’ ibid. 15. Ibid. 239; Christianity itself is ‘‘the general reason manifested by the testimony of the Church’’ (ibid., 103–104). 16. Ibid., 242. 17. Guizot, Histoire de la civilisation en France (Paris: Didier, 1857), Chapter 13. 18. Lamennais’s notion of common sense is rather confused; it is equivalent to this ‘‘general reason,’’ in which the church controls the transfer of truths. 19. Tocqueville implies that such a demonstration could be done along the lines of the Cartesian methodological doubt, yet one would just as soon crumble under the anxiety and powerlessness of such an attempt. See the chapter ‘‘On the Principal Source of Beliefs Among Democratic Peoples,’’ DA 489–493. 20. Ibid., 501, ‘‘How Religion Uses Democratic Instincts in the United States.’’ 21. For one example among many, see Durkheim’s 1914 text, ‘‘L’avenir de la religion’’: ‘‘il existe une source de vie religieuse aussi vieille que l’humanite´ et qui ne peut jamais se tarir: c’est celle qui re´sulte de la fusion des consciences, de leur communion dans une meˆme pense´e, de leur coope´ration a` une meˆme oeuvre, de l’action moralement tonifiante et stimulante que toute communaute´ d’hommes exerce sur ses membres.’’ In Emile Durkheim, La science sociale et l’action, 2nd ed. (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1987), 311. Like Tocqueville, Durkheim derives from this social religion human rights, humanitarianism, the idea of the human in general. On this point, see his 1898 text, ‘‘L’individualisme et les intellectuals,’’ which can be compared with DA, 578: In a democracy, ‘‘the mind is obliged to adduce general truths derived from human nature in dealing with the particular affair at hand. This gives the political debates . . . a character of generality that often kindles the interest of all mankind. All men are interested in these debates because their subject is man, who is everywhere the same.’’ 22. Tocqueville evokes Montesquieu: in the social sciences, ‘‘l’on peut chercher entre les religions fausses celles qui sont les plus conformes au bien de la socie´te´; celles qui, quoiqu’elles n’aient pas l’effet de mener les hommes aux fe´licite´s de l’autre vie, peuvent le plus contribuer a` leur bonheur dans celle-ci’’ (De l’esprit des lois, XXIV, 1). 23. For these three passages, see DA, 335.

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24. See the subchapter ‘‘On Religion Considered as a Political Institution: How Mightily It Contributes to the Persistence of the Democratic Republic Among the Americans,’’ ibid., 332. 25. Ibid., 342. On the distinct and divided principles, in Europe, of the ‘‘spirit of religion’’ and the ‘‘spirit of liberty,’’ see DA vol. 1, part I, chapter 2. The Puritans exiled in America have miraculously united these two elements, paradoxically joining a religious virulence transposed into penal rules with an understanding of liberal principles that was absent in Europe. 26. Ibid., 616. 27. In my Tocqueville, I show that Tocqueville draws on Pascal’s fancy: according to the image of hunting in Pascal, it is the quest that organizes human desire more so than profit or consumption. No one would pick game pursued with such ardor, if it were offered without any necessary effort. One thinks of certain politicians who, once in power, discover they are bored. 28. ‘‘Thus a man may think about his fellow man for reason of ambition and may often find it in his own interest to forget himself, as it were.’’ DA, 591. On this interest, which socially appears as a form of disinterest, see my contribution to the Franco-American Tocqueville colloquium in Cerisy: ‘‘Le ‘coeur de´mocratique’ selon Tocqueville,’’ The Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville 28, no. 2 (2006): 199–216. 29. Gauchet, The Disenchantment of the World. 30. DA, 509. 31. Ibid., 492. 32. It is important to note that Tocqueville develops an idea of democracy, which, situated in his time, is unfamiliar today. Tocqueville’s definition of democracy is largely based on the mores and practices (beliefs, sociability, customs) and not on the political and juridically defined form of government. Democracy, in this sense, may well institute a despotic government. What some called, in Tocqueville’s time, the ‘‘social constitution,’’ underwrites democracy as well as the political regime. 33. DA, 491. 34. On this important point, see the unsurpassed study by Jean Stoetzel (philosopher, sociologist, and founder of public opinion research in France), The´orie des opinions (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1943); and my discussion of Locke and the law of opinion in La liberte´ et la loi. Les origines philosophiques du libe´ralisme (Paris: Fayard, 2000). 35. DA, 491–492, ‘‘Sur la foi de’’ meaning both religious faith and confidence with regard to someone or something else. 36. Ibid., 492. 37. Analogous usages can be found, for example, in Montesquieu: the depository of the laws (de´poˆts des lois). See my Tocqueville, 127–131.

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38. DA, 490. 39. That is, Chapters 7 and 8 of Part II of Democracy in America. 40. For instance, his disciple, Lacordaire, who broke with Lamennais in Conside´rations sur le syste`me philosophique de M. de La Mennais (Paris: Derivaux, 1834). Lacordaire argues that the doctrine of the authority of common sense is ‘‘the greatest Protestantism that had yet appeared’’ (le plus vaste protestantisme qui ait encore paru). On the development of liberal Catholicism and the case of Lamennais, see my L’individu efface´ ou le paradoxe du libe´ralisme franc¸ais (Paris: Fayard, 1997), 201ff. 41. For these two passages, see Essai sur l’indiffe´rence, 2:246. 42. DA, 492. 43. ‘‘Unbelief is an accident; faith alone is the permanent condition of humankind,’’ ibid., 342. 44. Ibid., 491. 45. On the face of it, Tocqueville says the exact opposite: ‘‘Rather than persuade people of its beliefs, it imposes them, it permeates men’s souls with them through the powerful pressure’’ (ibid.). Yet this is ultimately the same thing: the power of the public has no need to ‘‘persuade,’’ because individuals are always already persuaded by the authority of the spiritual sovereign; they have interiorized the constraint. ‘‘The people wills it’’ has replaced ‘‘The king wills it.’’ 46. See Michael Behrent, ‘‘Society Incarnate: Association, Society and Religion in French Political Thought, 1825–1912,’’ Ph.D. diss., New York University, 2006. It is surprising that certain commentators do not recognize how banal this idea was in the nineteenth century, especially among the French Socialists, for whom religion was constitutive of politics. See, for example, Constantin Pecquer’s 1849–1850 text Le salut du peuple, journal de la science sociale. In his book Dieu est ame´ricain (Paris: Fayard, 2006), Jean-Franc¸ois Co