Against the classical liberalist trope of modernity as rational, disenchanted, and enlightened, this article argues to reconstruct it as spell-bound by religion – namely, by capitalism as religion. The argument is drawn from combining a line of thinkers starting with Marx and ranging from Weber via Lukács and Benjamin to Goldmann and Berman. At the latest since the Marxian twist, any consequent emancipatory critique of religion incorporates a critique of capitalism as well – any project of modernity that is not self-contradictory can no longer be identified with capitalist modernisation. More succinctly, the former, conceived of as a political project, must precisely be about overcoming the latter. This is because, if capitalism is to be grasped as a religion, then any humanist or enlightened society would have to be postcapitalist. Accordingly, since we are not postcapitalist today, we are not humanist or enlightened either. The article will deliver the foundation of that argument by demonstrating why capitalism must be deciphered as an immanent material cult religion whose worldview is tragic, if not bleakly apocalyptic.
Chapter draft October 1, 2020: Martin Bohle, ed. “Geo-societal narratives – contextualising geosciences” (Palgrave)
This chapter proposes a geocentric turn in economics that aims at radically transforming the performative functions of economics in contemporary capitalism: Inspired by an expression of John Stuart Mill, I outline the idea of the Earth as a ‘community of advantage’. The argument proceeds in two steps. The first is to switch from an anthropocentric to a geocentric conceptualization of the purpose of economic activity: The economy does not primarily serve human consumption but is a central element in Earth system regulation. This reflects the rise of the technosphere as a new regulatory layer in Earth system processes. The second is to combine the economic concept of externality with the creation of non-human rights which are represented in legal persons that are owned by non-human entities. This metamorphosis of rights is grounded in the fundamental norms of Rights of Earth. Non-humans are owners of legal persons which are managed by humans as stewards. As a result, the economy and the legal system morph to including both human and non-human interests in their operations. This implies that the performative functions of economics, after the geocentric turn, would also incorporate the geosciences and the life sciences. In the Earth as a community of advantage, geoethics would achieve a human scale, in the sense of realistic moral demands and commitments.