Individual Presentation or Panel Title

The Civic Gospel Revisited: The Soul of Who We Are

Titles of Presentations in a Panel

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus: The Catholic American Far Right in the 21st Century

Abstract

This panel will explore the changes and consistencies in the political impact of the Christocrats, who are explained and analyzed in the original book, The Civic Gospel: A Political Cartography of Christianity (2009). The ways in which right wing religion (particularly the Christian religion) and politics have intertwined (preaching the Gospel is preaching politics) in many ways will be one of the subjects of discussion. The current historical moment is a time when the closing down of alternative discourse continues to gain strength, a time when dissent is equated to being Anti-American or worse a socialist, a time when surveillance is ubiquitous, a time when racism helps to win presidential elections, a time when freedom is given up for the sake of security, a time of pandemic when being a good citizen means being a good consumer at the cost of your health, a time when schools have become the place of information processing and warehousing. It is within this historical context the presenters discuss several perspectives on the civic gospel. These will be developed in the 2nd edition of the book, The Civic Gospel Revisited: The Soul of Who We Are.

Presentation Description

The Catholic right wing in America has faced a recent division between liberal conservatism who maintain that the Bill of Rights and classical liberalism are advantageous to Catholics as a countercultural minority and illiberal localists and integralists who reject liberal protections both qua protections and as an imposition that limits the potential for Catholic politics. These positions, rising out of the perceived failure of the Right in the culture war narrative, mark the end of liberal conservatism’s hegemony and a broader shift on the Right toward illiberal politics. Their thought returns to 19th century Latin American and European theorists of Catholic dictatorship and illiberalism and juxtaposes these thinkers alongside de Tocqueville, Hamilton, and the framers of the American Constitution in whose writings they locate an illiberal republicanism that can be oriented around the Catholic Church to recreate the res publica Christiana. The new American integralists and localists are few but sit in proximity to power, whether on the faculty at Harvard Law School or as a friend to Hungarian dictator Viktor Orbán, and present a real challenge to liberal conservative politics that may have broader implications for conservative politics in America and Europe. This paper charts the origins, motives, and strategies of the American integralists and localists and contextualizes them within both historical and contemporary conservative and counterrevolutionary political thought. ​ The counterrevolutionary impulse of the new American localists and integralists comes after a perceived final defeat in the culture war on the terms of liberal conservatism. The Obergefell decision marks liberal minoritarian institutions as inexpiable and unwinnable for Catholic politics and suggests the need to develop a new model of counterrevolutionary minority politics for aggrieved conservative Catholics. Localists suggest withdrawal to communes or to state and municipal politics while integralists choose a Schmittian strategy focused on the organs of the executive and the formation of a Christian Deep State. These strategies are formed alongside critical affirmations of conservative populism, seizing on the present strength of the American Right while warning that its success will be temporary if it does not accept the strategies of Catholic integralism or localism. Understanding these theories is vital to understanding debates on the Right about the longevity of the populist surge and the changing dynamics of the American conservative moment.

Location

Stream A: Curriculum Dialogues

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Presentation (Open Access)

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Jun 11th, 5:15 PM Jun 11th, 6:30 PM

The Civic Gospel Revisited: The Soul of Who We Are

Stream A: Curriculum Dialogues

This panel will explore the changes and consistencies in the political impact of the Christocrats, who are explained and analyzed in the original book, The Civic Gospel: A Political Cartography of Christianity (2009). The ways in which right wing religion (particularly the Christian religion) and politics have intertwined (preaching the Gospel is preaching politics) in many ways will be one of the subjects of discussion. The current historical moment is a time when the closing down of alternative discourse continues to gain strength, a time when dissent is equated to being Anti-American or worse a socialist, a time when surveillance is ubiquitous, a time when racism helps to win presidential elections, a time when freedom is given up for the sake of security, a time of pandemic when being a good citizen means being a good consumer at the cost of your health, a time when schools have become the place of information processing and warehousing. It is within this historical context the presenters discuss several perspectives on the civic gospel. These will be developed in the 2nd edition of the book, The Civic Gospel Revisited: The Soul of Who We Are.