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Eugene McCarraher

The Revolution Begins in the Pews

Trotsky and St. Benedict

I didn't vote last November 2nd. Not that friends and colleagues didn't beg me to perform my "civic duty." To them, Every Vote Counted in an epic conflict between the forces of light and darkness; to me, it was Imperialism, Plutocracy, and Capital Punishment versus Imperialism, Plutocracy, and Abortion. Eclipsed by those triads of iniquities, "my vision," to borrow Jim Wallis' words, "was not running in this election." So I stayed home on election night, watched a movie on the couch with my beloved wife, and retired in the knowledge that the empire would remain in someone's untrustworthy hands. (I also won $50 predicting both the winner and the margin of victory. Why should William Bennett have all the fun?)

The triumphant triad was the right-wing version of our nation's civil religion, the perverse religiosity of late-capitalist America, the current incarnation of the earthly city marked, as Augustine wrote, by "its lust after domination." That civil religion—whose sectarian disputes are the "culture wars"—defines redemption as inclusion in the capitalist market and pledges allegiance to what Philip Bobbitt has called a "market state," which facilitates capital mobility and labor "flexibility" while promising a bare and ever-shrinking minimum of justice and protection. Whatever the name of the covenant theology—"globalization," "neo-liberalism," "democratic capitalism"—its beatific vision is the worldwide expansion of individual "choices," whose mediation through "values" occasions the virulent but circumscribed sectarian differences. Its most compact creedal statement, promulgated by the Bush Administration in the fall of 2002, is the National Security Strategy of the United States, outlining the doctrines of "preemption"—what William Kristol of The Weekly Standard has candidly termed imperialism—and of "opening societies" to "the single sustainable model for national success": "free markets and free trade," i.e., deference to unfettered ...

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