A seminar today about the modern state’s becoming something like a church. The idea is not entirely new, and the conclusion is obviously biased, but it may nevertheless provide some new insights.
“The State as Church and the Politics of Sacred Community” – with Dr Markha Valenta. Landecker Seminar, Tuesday 23 November 16:30-18:00 UK time.
“Why do we consider states secular, when they so often act religiously? Rather than simply a matter of symbolism and ritual at best – or of failed secularism at worst – modern states’ religiosity is inherent and reflects the extent to which their structures and logic are those of the medieval church. The modern state did not so much displace or subdue the church, as much as internalize it. This ‘inner church’ of the modern state is essential to the power, legitimacy and effectiveness through which it produces the modern religion of nationhood – including on the one hand through such instruments as the law, courts and bureaucracy, and on the other hand through the sacralization of territory, the purification of the social body, and the existential disciplining of the moral community. In this fashion, the state strives to interpellate our most profound aspirations while being today the greatest source of cruelty and violence.”