Arjun Appadurai at The Immanent Frame:
Last week as I listened, along with many other Americans and others around the world, to President Bush’s most recent effort to reassure us about the current economic meltdown I had a “Road to Damascus” moment. It happened as I heard Bush repeat the word “faith”: faith in America’s institutions, faith in its workers, faith in capitalism, faith in our capacity to survive other disasters (such as 1929 and 2001). And, of course, the faith we needed to weather the recent crisis and get to the other side, such faith, in Bush’s rhetoric, being not only the need of the moment but the fulcrum for the journey to recovery.
I instantly saw that a great feat in reverse discourse engineering had occurred: we had moved into the era of the “Faith-Based Economy.” Many of us had already developed a certain worry about the place of “faith” in the Bush administration’s weird form of ecumenical evangelism, which had used the idea of faith-based organizations to allow the covert infiltration of a certain brand of religion into American civic life, with a definite bias towards white, Protestant, evangelical forms rather than say, to Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu or Rastafarian forms.
But now we are in a new Weberian moment, where Calvinist ideas of proof, certainty of election through the rationality of good works, and faith in the rightness of predestination, are not anymore the backbone of thrift, calculation and bourgeois risk-taking. Now faith is about something else.