Crediting God: Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism

Crediting God: Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism

Edited by Miguel Vatter
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 374
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Crediting God: Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism
    Book Description:

    Tocqueville suggested that the people reign in the American political world like God over the universe.This intuition anticipates the crisis in the secularization paradigm that has brought theology back as a fundamental part of sociological and political analysis. It has become more difficult to believe that humanity's progress necessarily leads to atheism, or that it is possible to translate all that is good about religion into reasonable terms acceptable in principle by all, believers as well as nonbelievers. And yet, the spread of Enlightenment values, of an independent public sphere, and of alternative projects of modernitycontinues unabated and is by no means the antithesis of the renewed vigor of religious beliefs.The essays in this book shed interdisciplinary and multicultural light on a hypothesis that helps to account for such an unexpected convergence of enlightenment and religion in our times: Religion has reentered the public sphere because it puts into question the relation between God and the concept of political sovereignty.In the first part, Religion and Polity-Building,new perspectives are brought to bear on the tension-ridden connection between theophany and state-building from the perspective of world religions. Globalized, neo-liberal capitalism has been another crucial factor in loosening the bond between God and the state, as the essays in the second part, The End of the Saeculum and Global Capitalism,show.The essays in the third part, Questioning Sovereignty: Law and Justice,are dedicated to a critique of the premises of political theology, starting from the possibility of a prior, perhaps deeper relation between democracy and theocracy. The book concludes with three innovative essays dedicated to examining Tocqueville in order to think the Religion of Democracybeyond the idea of civil religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4876-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Crediting God with Sovereignty
    (pp. 1-26)
    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...

    • CHAPTER 1 Religious Freedom: Preserving the Salt of the Earth
      (pp. 29-42)
      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...

    • CHAPTER 2 A New Form of Religious Consciousness? Religion and Politics in Contemporary Muslim Contexts
      (pp. 43-66)
      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...

    • CHAPTER 3 A Republic Whose Sovereign Is the Creator: The Politics of the Ban of Representation
      (pp. 67-82)
      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 bookAgainst Apion, theocracy has become equivalent to the very negation of the political. Spinoza’sTheological-Political Treatisehas established this negative understanding...

    • CHAPTER 4 Confucianism’s Political Implications for the Contemporary World
      (pp. 83-101)
      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 alivingtradition 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...

    • CHAPTER 5 Religion and the Public Sphere in Senegal: The Evolution of a Project of Modernity
      (pp. 102-114)
      Souleymane Bachir Diagne

      Those who led Senegal to independence and established the institutions of the new state, notably Léopold Sédar 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...

    • CHAPTER 6 Should We Be Scared? The Return of the Sacred and the Rise of Religious Nationalism in South Asia
      (pp. 117-141)
      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...

    • CHAPTER 7 All Nightmares Back: Dependency and Independency Theories, Religion, Capitalism, and Global Society
      (pp. 142-159)
      Hauke Brunkhorst

      Modern capitalism in the 1960 s and 1970 s 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 1960 s and 1970 s, 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)...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Evangelical-Capitalist Resonance Machine
      (pp. 160-176)
      William E. Connolly

      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...

    • CHAPTER 9 “The War Has Not Ended”: Thomas Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, and the Paradoxes of Countersovereignty
      (pp. 179-189)
      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...

    • CHAPTER 10 Natural Right and State of Exception in Leo Strauss
      (pp. 190-206)
      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 entitledConstitutional 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...

    • CHAPTER 11 Law and the Gift of Justice
      (pp. 207-220)
      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...

    • CHAPTER 12 Drawing—the Single Trait: Toward a Politics of Singularity
      (pp. 221-250)
      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...

    • CHAPTER 13 The Religious Situation in the United States 175 Years After Tocqueville
      (pp. 253-272)
      Joseé Casanova

      InDemocracy in Americathere 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...

    • CHAPTER 14 The Avatars of Religion in Tocqueville
      (pp. 273-284)
      Lucien Jaume

      One of the complexities presented byDemocracy in Americais 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...

    • CHAPTER 15 Publics, Prosperity, and Politics: The Changing Face of African American Christianity and Black Political Life
      (pp. 285-304)
      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,...

    • CHAPTER 16 Conversion
      (pp. 305-316)
      Thomas L. Dumm

      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...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 317-372)
  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 373-376)