Radical Democracy and Political Theology

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Columbia University Press, 2011 - Philosophy - 213 pages
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Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote that "the people reign over the American political world like God over the universe," unwittingly casting democracy as the political instantiation of the death of God. According to Jeffrey W. Robbins, Tocqueville's assessment remains an apt observation of modern democratic power, which does not rest with a sovereign authority but operates as a diffuse social force. By linking radical democratic theory to a contemporary fascination with political theology, Robbins envisions the modern experience of democracy as a social, cultural, and political force transforming the nature of sovereign power and political authority.

Robbins joins his work with Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's radical conception of "network power," as well as Sheldon Wolin's notion of "fugitive democracy," to fashion a political theology that captures modern democracy's social and cultural torment. This approach has profound implications not only for the nature of contemporary religious belief and practice but also for the reconceptualization of the proper relationship between religion and politics. Challenging the modern, liberal, and secular assumption of a neutral public space, Robbins conceives of a postsecular politics for contemporary society that inextricably links religion to the political.

While effectively recasting the tradition of radical theology as a political theology, this book also develops a comprehensive critique of the political theology bequeathed by Carl Schmitt. It marks an original and visionary achievement by the scholar the Journal of the American Academy of Religion hailed "one of the best commentators on religion and postmodernism."

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
chapter one Democracy More or Less
19
interlude Managing Democracy Abroad
50
chapter two Democracy Radically Conceived
57
chapter three Political Theology and the Postsecular
77
interlude The Iranian Revolution Redux
98
chapter four Political Theology Beyond Despair
106
chapter six The Theopolitics of Democracy
155
interlude The Messianic as a Democratic
173
conclusion From the One to the Many
180
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About the author (2011)

is professor and chair of religion and philosophy at Lebanon Valley College. He is the author of Between Faith and Thought: An Essay on the Ontotheological Condition and In Search of a Non-Dogmatic Theology, the editor of After the Death of God, coeditor of The Sleeping Giant Has Awoken, and associate editor of the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory.

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