Divine Democracy: Political Theology after Carl Schmitt

ISBN : 9780190942366

Miguel Vatter
304 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
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How secular are the political and legal concepts that underpin liberal democracy? Carl Schmitt first coined the term political theology to show the dependency of modern western jurisprudence and political science on Christian theological discourse, and in so doing criticized the claim to religious neutrality of liberal institutions. In this book, Miguel Vatter reconstructs how and why the discourse of political theology was adopted and repurposed by anti-Schmittian thinkers, from Eric Voegelin through Jacques Maritain and Ernst Kantorowicz to Jurgen Habermas, to bolster the legitimacy of liberal democratic government. The book traces the way in which crucial political concepts for liberal democracy-including sovereignty, representation, government, constitutionalism, human rights, and public reason-are transformed when they become part of a discourse on political theology. Vatter's aim is to provide an intellectual history of political theology in the 20th century. His study reveals the overdetermined role that religion plays in contemporary democratic political and legal theory as an ultimate source of legitimacy for government and as wellspring for revolutionary aspirations.


Introduction: Political Theology and Democratic Legitimacy in the 20th Century
Chapter 1: Carl Schmitt and Sovereignty
Chapter 2: Eric Voegelin and Representation
Chapter 3: Jacques Maritain and Human Rights
Chapter 4: Ernst Kantorowicz and Government
Chapter 5: Jurgen Habermas and Public Reason
Conclusion: Only a god can resist god. Gnosticism and Political Theology

About the author: 

Miguel Vatter is Professor of Politics at Flinders University, Australia. He is author of The Republic of the Living: Biopolitics and the Critique of Civil Society.

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