Wednesday, January 24, 2007


The Hobbesian Tendancy in Modern Fundamentalism

Fundamentalists, in seeking to recover to a more "authentic" religiosity, are thoroughly modern in their outlook as the very notions of authenticity involved in fundamentalism are at most only as old as "print culture" (and possibly date from the Enlightenment or the Romantic age). This irony is often noted by Catholics and JTS students and such. But one aspect of this tendancy is a rather Hobbesian (shall I resist the joke of making a comparison between Hobbes and Calvin here? too late, I guess ...) approach to morality, which is ironic considering that Hobbes was a materialist.

So when did Hobbesianism become a "religious" rather than "secular" way of looking at the world? Is it a function of "Big Mean Daddy in the Sky" theology as some feminists claim? Does this change in Orthodox Judaism correlate with Zionism become "kosher"? Does this change in fundamentalist Christianity correlate with an acceptance of what used to be known as "social Darwinism"? (some would claim that the Hobbesian and Social Darwinist world views are equivalent, so this question is a rather dumb one, but I think the two world views are distinguishable, so I'd say it isn't ... and it's my blog, so I get to make that decision. So there! ;) )

And what caused the change? Is it, as Marxists would claim, a matter of a certain kind of religiosity needing to change to better serve as an opiate to the masses: where the peasants were kept in their place by a promise of heavenly reward, today's worker bees require a different kind of indoctrination? Is it that what Nietzsche would call "slave religion" no longer just for the servile classes anymore and it's views must be adjusted to be more friendly to the already powerful? Or is something else afoot?

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