Cavanaugh & Trägårdh


I seminariet på Ersta i onsdags fortsatte samtalet som påbörjades i Between the State and the Eucharist  kring stat, individ och gemenskap mellan historikern Lars Trägårdh och teologen William Cavanaugh. Att den senare vågade vara just teolog gjorde det hela än mer intressant. Här ett utdrag ur Cavanaughs föredrag:

I think Lars has misunderstood my intent when he writes that I “aim to debunk what so many feel, which is loyalty to the nation and membership in the nation.” He says that I am “empirically speaking on shaky ground. If there is one thing that nationalism has been successful in accomplishing, it is instilling in citizens the passions of loyalty that make them willing to die for the nation” (19). Of this I have, and always have had, no doubt whatsoever. What I doubt is that just because people have such passions, they are a good thing. Here I cannot help but use theological, not just sociological, criteria to make judgments about what the true ends of human life really are. Lars thinks I employ a sort of Marxist view of “false consciousness,” that “if people would only ‘get’ that the modern nation-state does in fact not do what is claimed—providing a comfortable mix of freedom and community, of rights and duties—the odds would increase that the Church can re-complexify the social space and eke out a larger role for itself as the purveyor of an alternative moral authority as well as more humane social services and a promise of a Christian economic order that challenges the cold logic of the market” (19). If my argument remained on this level of social analysis—that the nation-state does not deliver what it claims, that the mix of freedom and community is not comfortable for all, that the church needs to claim a bigger social space and recapture some of its former market share as purveyor of moral authority and social services—then the argument would not only be incomplete, but distorted. I do not want to have this conversation without considering theological criteria. I do not think that what ultimately matters is some neutral criterion like “community,” and talk of God is expendable. I do not think we can have a fruitful conversation about how social life is organized without talking about the ultimate ends of human life, and, as I have argued, I think the way we view social life has been distorted precisely by the attempt to exclude consideration of ultimate ends. To be clear: I have no desire to impose any theological vision on the whole of society through state enforcement. But this is precisely why I think a pluralism of communities with shared ends needs to be allowed and encouraged. If there can be no return to Christendom–and thanks be to God there cannot be—then we should not replace Christendom with the unitary society of hard or closed secularism. For hard secularism imposes its own ends on society, regardless of its rhetoric of letting each individual choose her or his own ends. What is needed is what Taylor calls “open secularism,” which allows a true pluralism of communities with different ends.



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