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People watch: Marxist philosopher starts to “get” religion

Peter Berger

Sociologist Peter Berger says, public intellectual Jurgen Habermas seems to have noticed, somehow, that Christianity (and, by definition, Judaism) spread the notion of equality in society:

Phase three is more interesting. As of the late 1990s Habermas’ view of religion is more benign. Religion is now seen as having a useful public function, quite apart from its private consolations. The “colonization” of society by “turbo-capitalism” (nice term—I don’t know if Habermas coined it) has created a cultural crisis and has undermined the solidarity without which democratic rationality cannot function. We are now moving into a “post-secular society”, which can make good use of the “moral intuition” that religion still supplies. Following in the footsteps of Ernst Bloch and other neo-Marxist philo-Godders, Habermas also credits Biblical religion, Judaism and Christianity, for having driven out magical thinking (here there is an echo of Max Weber’s idea of “ the disenchantment of the world”), and for having laid the foundations of individual autonomy and rights. – Peter Berger, “What Happens when a Leftist Philosopher Discovers God?” The American Interest , September 21, 2011

And, in epitaph mode:

Edward Gibbon, in chapter 2 of his famous history of the decline of the Roman Empire, has this to say: “The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful”. When you cross the philosopher with the magistrate, you get Habermas.

Which is why many well-governed nations do not allow philosophers to be magistrates. It’s easy to think of at least one nation where all such experiments have proven disastrous. Airheads in office = loss of civil liberties. They far too easily confuse the Life of Virtue with thought control by thugs.

And what woman ever needed anyone to tell her that Judaeo-Christian approaches to life lead to more equality? Consider the record.


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