Endgame Capitalism

9780415246552Nathan Schneider interviews Simon During over at The Immanent Frame:

NS: Why is capitalism the focal point of your recent book? And what about capitalism is “postsecular”?

SD: Can I begin with the “postsecular”? It’s a rather confusing term. Mainly it points to a ceasefire—or, anyway, a slowdown—in the long battle between secular reason and religion. That’s ultimately what it implies in the recent work of Habermas, for instance. And that’s also what it means in the kind of intellectual history that uncovers the religious prehistory of secular concepts. But I suspect such work can usually be understood as secularism proceeding under the flag of its own decease. I am more interested in two other possibilities that occur when we think about a zone that is neither secular nor non-secular. The first appears when the limits of the (secular) world become apparent in everyday or mundane life, outside of religion. The second appears when we are compelled to radical leaps of faith—again, outside religion.

Both of these have a direct relation to democratic state capitalism. That’s because democracy and capitalism have each become compulsory and fundamental. They ground everything we do, including religious practice—so we can only get outside them through the kind of postsecular leap of faith that I am talking about. That realization is one of the things that is important about Alain Badiou’s thought. Such leaps may also be relevant to situations in which we encounter secularism’s limits—when secularism can’t contain the ethical and epistemological demands we make of it.

NS: Why can’t secularism itself contain leaps of faith? Why do we need to move past it, to the postsecular?

SD: Of course, there are all kinds of secular leaps of faith. But the will to get outside democratic state capitalism requires something else. It’s true that secular reason is useful in adjudicating upon the current system. You can at least attempt to measure its benefits—the joys, capacities, wealth, and opportunities that it does indeed provide us, and the way that it makes so much seem “interesting,” for instance—against the insecurities, inequalities, restrictions, and controls that it also imposes.