I would like to change direction a little in this reflection on one hundred years of political theology. My interest for some time has been the complex intersections – or translations – that take place between Marxism and religion. I find unpersuasive the assertion that Marxism is a secularised or pseudo-religion, a political movement that relies upon a religious framework in order to develop its positions. This is to fall into the double-trap of a secularisation narrative and making theology an absolute and thereby the source of all modern political thought.
Mikhail Rostovtzeff is barely remembered in our time. Yet the paradox he embodied – a staunch anti-communist who championed economic analysis of classical Greece and Rome – is worth reconsideration. To his great credit, Rostovtzeff set out to shift the focus of ancient historiography on politics and military matters to economic concerns. Classically trained, a man of prodigious learning and without fear of grand narratives, Rostovtzeff boldly reconstructed the economies of ancient Greece and Rome in terms familiar from capitalism, that is, in terms of neoclassical economic theory.
Roland Boer argues that both the Right and the Left contribute to a false dilemma and an alienated politics….In the current, sad situation of politics in the bourgeois state, we seem to be trapped in the tired old opposition of big government versus small government. If one is a political-junky of the USA(I find it a snore), this issue has once again come to fore by the selection of Paul Ryan to be Mitt Romney’s Republican running mate in the elections of 2012. Ryan is a classic proponent of small government, trailing the dust of von Hayek, Friedman and the rest. Toss out government programs (national health scheme, age care etc.) and then savagely cut taxes to put more money in the pockets of the owners of capital so they can spend it to stimulate a failing economy. Elsewhere you encounter the slogan of ‘big society’, beloved of David Cameron’s Tories in the UK, with the assumption that the state should thereby be small. And you find it the standard move of ‘privatising’ state assets, assuming that the ‘private’ sector will run them better. In reality, of course, it is merely selling off state assets to one’s buddies in the business world. Through it all runs the mantra that the state should not be in business of, well, running businesses. It is supposedly inefficient, lax and corrupt…..
In this interview Simon Critchley discusses his new book, “The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology,” with Dave True of Political Theology. Along the way Critchley touches on an array of topics: his respect for religion, the experimental nature of free thought, what love has to do with a politics of resistance, the genius of the Occupy Movement, nonviolence and its limits, the wisdom of Antonio Gramsci, and the illusions of Marxism. Earlier responses to the book can be accessed….
The field of political theology has not yet been rigorously defined. It is more a field of affinities than a clearly delineated disciplinary space—a kind of “zone of indistinction” between theology and political theory where the terms of debate are still very much up for grabs. Even as the range and shape of political theology as a field of inquiry remain somewhat inchoate, however, there are points of reference that already seem more or less obvious or obligatory. The work of Giorgio Agamben is surely one of them, a status that The Kingdom and the Glory will just as surely reinforce. […]
In our present context, it is easy to see why, even in the Church, such a manner of life, in which possessions were held in common, as is described in Acts 4 would be greeted with as much scorn and ridicule as if one had suggested the normalization of pedophilia.