Maxim Fetisov 1, 2
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation
  • 2 Kozlova Center for Social Theory and Political Anthropology, Department ot Pholosophy, Russian State University for the Humanities, Miusskaya sq., 6, GSP-3, Moscow, Russian Federation 125993

Political Theology and Secularization: On the Inexorability of a Concept

2018, vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 30–55 [issue contents]
The collapse of the Soviet bloc and the demise of grand secular emancipatory ideologies led to a growth of interest in the topics concerning religion and secularization. One of the vivid manifestations of this interest is a significant resurgence of research interest in political theology during the last three decades. The paper is intended to deal not so much with political theology in the narrow sense of the term, usually associated with the names of Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss or Walter Benjamin as to explore some cases in the history of thought revealing the political power of religion. The first case deals with Michel Foucault’s experience of Iranian Revolution. It argues that his exploration of the so-called “political spirituality”, a vague and widely criticized notion, discloses the problematics of political theology not as a historical inheritance or a marginal intellectual activity but as a living constituent reality pointing towards the limits of Western political mind. The second case is devoted to a widely known study of religion within post-secular societies done by a renowned German philosopher Jürgen Habermas. It claims that his idea of “postmetaphysical thinking” boasting to have done away with the “old prejudices” of classical metaphysics and theology does not suffice to ensure the peaceful coexistence of various religious as well as secular worldviews within the Western public sphere. Postmetaphysical treatment of politico-theological problems as irrelevant leads to their reappearance under the new guises: this is what happened to the “problem of evil” that plays a crucial role in the drawing up of the most part of modern political distinctions. “Evil” is dealt with in the third case, as a subject of political theories of radical democracy. Some proponents of radical democracy such as Paolo Virno, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt consider that part of political theology to be very important for their own projects of “non-sovereign” political institutions that will arise when the current crisis of modern political rationality is over. The paper comes to a conclusion with the idea that political theology should be considered not only as a radical opposite to a political philosophy or secular reason in general but also as an ever-present possibility that comes to reactivation in the moments of crisis.
Citation: Fetisov M. (2018) Politicheskaya teologiya i sekulyarizatsiya: o nastoychivosti odnogo ponyatiya [Political Theology and Secularization: On the Inexorability of a Concept]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 17, no 3, pp. 30-55 (in Russian)
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