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published on April 7, 2020

Adrian Johnston

The Triumph of Theological Economics
God Goes Underground

Both Marx and Freud are children of the Enlightenment in certain manners. As such, they each display a qualified but firm optimism about history inevitably making progress in specific desirable directions. Freud predicts that continuing scientific and technological advances eventually will drive religiosity from human societies once and for all. Marx likewise forecasts the withering away of religions. Moreover, he treats this predicted process as symptomatic of even more fundamental socioeconomic developments, namely, his (in)famous anticipations of subsequent transitions to socialism and communism. However, the past century of human history has not been kind to any sort of Enlightenment-style progress narratives. My intervention on this occasion takes inspiration especially from Lacan’s reckoning with a “triumph of religion” defying Freud’s expectations of relentlessly broadening and deepening secularization. I argue that socio-political phenomena of the past several decades bear witness to religious superstructures having infused themselves into economic infrastructures.

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