Why Turbo-Capitalism wants to de-Christianize the West

In keeping with the theoretical framework outlined in my book, Minima mercatalia. Filosofia e capitalism [Small Business. Philosophy and capitalism], absolute-totalitarian capitalism or turbo-capitalism, as it has been implemented since the sixties of the “short century,” acts by annihilating every limit that can hinder or even slow down its logic of development and reproduction. This logic consists in the colonization without residue of the real and the symbolic, according to the rhythm of omni- mercantilization [conversion of everything into market and commodity], whose only teleological orientation is the unlimited and boundless will to power, and whose foundation is the destruction of every material or immaterial limit—turbo-capitalism becomes absolutus, “perfectly complete,” as soon as it becomes “liberated from” (solutus ab) every limit that can contain it, discipline it and, perhaps also, halt its advance. The incessant demolition of frontiers and bastions of resistance to this conversion of everything into a market is what, with total intentionality, is celebrated as “progress” by the new mental order generated by the completely new world order under the banner of capital.

In contrast, “regression” [“involution”] is the term with which the order of the dominant discourse delegitimizes every figure of the limit or, more simply, of non-alignment, with respect to the enveloping global movement that transforms everything into merchandise, reifying the world and life. And this, in post-1,989, is valid both for “material” and political elements stricto sensu, such as the national sovereign State (which I dealt with in Glebalizzazione. La lotta di classe al tempo del populismo [Glebalization: The Class Struggle in the Time of Populism]—“glebalization,” the serial production of new exploited, underpaid and precarious servants)—the last bastion of popular sovereignty and of the autonomy of the political; and for the properly spiritual dimension linked to cultural identities (at the center of my Difendere chi siamo. Le ragioni dell´identità italiana [Defend Who We Are. The Reasons for Italian Identity], to critical thought (which I studied in Pensare altrimenti [Think Otherwise]) and, especially, to the religion of transcendence.

That unlimitedly self-empowered will to power, in order to be able to realize itself, must colonize the entire planet, following the dynamics of what we usually call “globalization” (a pious name for the new figure of all-inclusive imperialism), and must, “uno motu,” take hold of each and every conscience, provoking the destruction of any cultural and spiritual sovereignty, specifically the dis-identification (the annihilation of all identity) and the de-divinization of the world (the neutralization of all sense of the sacred and of transcendence).

In this perspective, Christianity is in every way incompatible with the new spirit of capitalism since, apart from guarding the sense of the sacred and of transcendence, it lives historically in concrete institutions which, like the Church of Rome, have their own autonomy and, if you will, their own political as well as spiritual sovereignty. So that the so fashionable slogan “war of religion,” with which the postmodern discourse tends to liquidate tout court all religion of transcendence, insofar as it can be assimilated to the fanaticism of potentially terrorist revolts, can perhaps be replaced by the opposite locution “war against religion,” a formula with which, by means of a gestalt reorientation of thought, we refer: A) to the already evident incompatibility between religion of transcendence and atheistic religion of the market, between Christianity and capitalism; and B) to the no less adamantine “war”—now open, now underhanded—that the civilization of markets has declared on the religion of transcendence “ut sic.”

The “retreat of Christianity” is also explained, in part, in connection with the struggle against religion led by the materialistic and spiritless inspiration characteristic of the technocratic order. In the context of this “war against religion,” which is deliberately concealed under the rhetoric of the “war of religion” from the sphere of the globalized free trade zone, Christianity is granted only one possibility: to adapt to relativistic nihilism by pretending to remain itself and thus to lead the faithful and the West itself into the abyss of the nothingness of the civilization of the markets. In other words, and in accordance with what has been pointed out, turbo-capitalist globalization asks Christianity either to allow itself to be “killed” by the nihilism of techno-capitalist civilization, or to “commit suicide” by voluntarily diluting itself in this nothingness; that is, to redefine itself as a mere appendix of the civilization of the markets, assimilating and spreading the same relativistic and nihilistic vision of the world, stripped of any link with transcendence and the sacred, to ultimately end up being transformed into a megaphone of the same political, social and economic conception based on the dogmas of the sans frontières market, the free circulation of merchandise and commodified people, the neoliberal and American-centric one world, and the whims of consumption with rainbow tones for the ruling classes, improperly designated with the noble title of “civil rights.”

In short, globalization asks Christianity, sic et simpliciter, to continue to exist by renouncing its being and becoming an integral part of the very project of globalization founded on the fanaticism of the free market. And when attempts are made to escape this destiny, recovering the spirit of transcendence and the sacred, of tradition and the divine, as occurred during the brief but heroic pontificate of Ratzinger, the clash between Christianity and capitalism becomes irreconcilable. There is shown, in all its crudeness, the real enmity that pits the religion of the sacred against the nihil of the “horrendous order”—as Pasolini called it—of the civilization of capital; an enmity that, in this case, has been resolved in favor of the latter, through the restoration—with the appointment of “Pope” Bergoglio—of a new and more stable compromise of Christianity’s submission to the neoliberal oligarchic bloc. Pope Ratzinger was the extreme and epic attempt of Christianity to reverse its own tendency of evaporation and self-dissolution, resisting nihilistic relativism, thanks to a recovery of the heart of Christian doctrine and tradition, and vindicating in the full sense the reasons of the sacred, the eternal, the transcendent and the Corpus Christianorum.

In the preceding figure of “dialectical capitalism,” just as we have codified it in Minima mercatalia, religion was presented as an essentially dialectical element: it could justify both revolt in the name of the kingdom of heaven and subordination to the constituted power as an image of divine justice, depending on whether the “hot current” or the “cold current” of Christianity prevailed, to use Ernst Bloch’s syntax in Atheism in Christianity. At the time, religion could be used as an instrument of government and it was possible to find a bilateral agreement with it, as for example happened in Italy with the Lateran Pacts (1,929).

Absolute-totalitarian capitalism, for its part, not only no longer needs the religious phenomenon to prop up its own power, but it must get rid of it, recognizing it as an impediment—potential or real, depending on the context—to its own logic of development and reproduction. From a different plane, the Christian religion refers to a higher order that, however, should not necessarily always be understood as a structure of domination and power. Undoubtedly, in the past Christianity has represented an obstacle, because power also needed a religious justification. The power of truly totalitarian neo-capitalism and potentially superior to everything that has preceded it, no longer needs a “celestial” justification: it is strong enough to be self-sufficient. Furthermore, it fears that any possible reference to the higher order of the transcendent may turn out to be intrinsically contradictory, if only because of its appeal to a different and higher dimension than that of the totally colonized real in the form of a market.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the Intellectual, The Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns. [This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: “Christ Expelling the Money-Changers from the Temple,” by Nicolas Colombel; painted in 1630.