State God

Post-Structuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote in a section called Capitalism situated in the Deleuze Reader,

The State is assuredly not the locus of liberty, nor the agent of a forced servitude or war capture. Should we then speak of “voluntary servitude”? This is like the expression “magical capture”: its only merit is to underline the apparent mystery. There is a machinic enslavement, about which it could be said in each case that it presupposes itself, that it appears as preaccomplished; this machinic enslavement is no more “voluntary” than it is forced. (244)

Deleuze, I believe, correctly identifies the citizen’s relationship to the State. Citizens are born in particular territories and must follow the laws that had been set. In one sense, for the individual, the State is the eternal authority who overlords power that cannot be challenged. Eternal, as defined, both as a place where power derives and  ahistoricity. Thus, citizens are indoctrinated with this ideology that grants the State all authority, without question. This bleeds into society like the superweeds overcoming the Monsanto soybeans. For example, our idea of the State influences the way that we think about God. The terms “eternal” and “authority” can be found in the Christian tradition, yet in U.S. context God and the State share the same definition. God serves the same purpose as the State. God has set laws from eternity past and followers of particular religions must abide by these laws, i.e. Jews obeying the Ten Commandments. The challenge here is not to separate religion from the State, but to be conscience of how we are responding to each. Do you allow the State to have rule over your life more than religious convictions? If State and religious ideals contradict one another, which should you choose?These are difficult questions in a difficult age.

Published by brother timothie

I am a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. My interests include constructive theologies, liberation theologies, documentaries, far-left politics, homelessness ministries, creative liturgies, poetry, and pop culture.

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