Politics, religion, and Christianity? Three questions to Marcel Gauchet [Politiek, religie en Christendom? Drie vragen aan Marcel Gauchet]
In The Disenchantment of the World Marcel Gauchet defines Christianity as the religion of the exodus from religion. This observation seems at the same time to serve as a paradigm for a political interpretation of religion as such, and for the understanding of modern secular politics. However, Gauchet himself affirms that he considers the primary heteronomous kind of religion as the standard for interpreting religion in general. The author, on his behalf, intends to show that Gauchet is mainly relying on the modern auto-critical and hermeneutical Christian religion as an explicatory scheme for religion as such and for modern politics. This raises the question whether we even can abandon the auto-reflexivity of the auto-critical religion. Can religiosity (le religieux) ever exist without religion (la religion)? If not, does it make sense to speak of a religiosity which, disjoined from religion, finds its outlet in the political, or are we facing the same aporia again, i.e. how to define the modern political disjunct from the practice of modern politics? The author concludes that actual modern politics is taking advantage of the auto-critical, self-obliging, ethical attitude of the Christian religion and that the modern constitutional state, as well as religious expression, may suffer when abandoning this. The alternative seems indeed to lead to the loss of social cohesion and the emergence of religious fundamentalism.