Theodicy

            It has always puzzled me how the very secular history of the 20th century has resulted in the incredibly sacred conflicts of the 21st. The ism’s of ideology (capitalism, communism, colonialism, imperialism) have morphed into the honorifics of identity (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist). Sometime ago Rick Santorum gave a speech concerning “Satan’s influence” on America. A couple of weeks ago Louis Farrakhan gave a speech concerning “Satan’s influence” on America. And today the news is of young people being hunted down and stoned to death for allegedly being under “Satan’s influence” in Iraq. The preference for fundamental religious historiography has resulted in the obsolescence of sophisticated and convoluted ideology much as cell phone demand has done in land lines. The political economic tomes of a Jameson or a Negri pale before what is touted as driving today’s conflicts. Little mention is given of the mega rich (the thousand plus some billionaire’s listed by Forbes) and those totally reliant on their own labors for support. Could it be because the Murdoch’s et al own most of the media necessary to report such a perspective? The different “Gods” and “Satans” of today’s news headlines make the political economy epics of the late 20th century read like the Futuristic manifestoes from the early part of that century. Is it because the various honorific identities escape the economic language of franchise? That eventually all the crusades, jihads and “God’s Army” cataclysms will only justify and advance pure business practices and unregulated markets as a relief and a blessing?

            “But in fact if you look at what we do under our pleas of economy, you see that no merely practical motives could inspire these labors.

            Political economy is the modern form of theodicy, and our labors are our religious mysteries.”    (Stanley Cavell [Captivity and Despair] pg. 402, Walden and Resistance to Civil Government, Henry D. Thoreau, edited by William Rossi, Norton 1992)

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