This Topic of the Week is “Devotional Anarchism” which inaugurates the Theme of Three Weeks of “Religion”.
Anarchism, like religion, is a word that lumps together a great variety of disparate people, practices and traditions. Though its etymology is disputed – much like anarchy’s – many authors claim that the word “religion” comes from the Latin verb religare, which means “to bind”, which some have to interpreted as bringing together the people to worship. Others claim it comes from the Latin verb religere, which means “to recover”, which some have to interpreted as “mending their ties with God”. Yet one etymological interpretation of “anarchy” means “without priests” as much as it means “without rulers”. One can in read in Gelderloos’ “Worshiping Power” – discussing various sources, among them, Federici”s “Caliban and the Witch” and Evans’ “Witchcraft in the Gay Counterculture”- about the historical role of religion in processes of state formation. How is anarchism bound and recuperated by religion?
Recently I watched the recording of the Jewish Anarchists Panel that was part of the Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist Bookfair. They spoke of a resurgence of a new wave of rejuvenated and queered Jewish Anarchism, as well as the Jewish origins of Anarchism. This discussion promoting the launch of the anthology “There Is Nothing So Whole as a Broken Heart: Mending the World as Jewish Anarchists”, as well as another, took place in the context of a heating up of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. During this week, in discussion of this topic in various posts, there was mention of Anarca-Islam and Muslim Anarchism in general in the comments section.
Days later, an article titled Christian Anarchism for Absolute Beginners got posted. Nietzsche insulted anarchists for their brand of secular Christianity, some trace the origins of anarchism to the Anabaptists. “New Age” religions as well as “New Atheism” are also looked at with derision. So are stale subversions of Christian themes turned cliche, like that much memed image from that portion of the Sistine Chapel fresco by Michelangelo, where God is represented as a veiled floating bisection of a human brain.
Should we throw Buddhist Anarchism into the discussion as well? Some would say it’s a philosophy, not a religion. What else? The overlap between Anarchy and Daoism, as an article from the recent Resurgence of The Anvil explores?
How contentious is it to lump all these under the banner of religion, and then lump them in with anarchism as well? How to frame the discussion? With what care and respect, devotion or scorn? How are rich and diverse traditions used to bolster weak arguments? How does philosophy derive metaphysical imperatives from religion? How do autonomous decentralized demagogues spice up their rhetoric with the esoteric? How are these old tricks used to fan the flames of waning interest in anarchism? How is anarchism used to spruce up these old religions?