Thursday, December 3, 2009

On Politics and Religion

Another two articles on religion in this week's The Economist (links below). The shortest of them about the increased interest of Anglicans for the Catholic Church given the increased liberalism that their church is experiencing, versus the tight set of rules of the one from Rome; the latter, no wonder, is happily welcoming those looking for something more conservative.

The other article "Misionary Positions", talks about the intermittency of British politicians in terms of their involvement with religion. First of all it describes the reluctance of most top British politicians to be identified with religious creeds which is, of course, a response to the high rates of agnosticism and atheism among the British. However, it also mentions the interest of both, conservatives and labour in looking towards religion for political ideas; i.e, those values traditionally linked to religions’ agendas like the welfare state, revival of the civil society, family integration and the fight against poverty, are now occupying important places in those parties’ agendas. The situation resembles a prisoner’s dilemma: given that the other party finds a major source of ideology in religion, it’s better for my party to follow suit and resort to religion too; the outcome, obviously, is worse for both parties than what they would have achieved if not constrained by the other's actions.

The article closes by saying: "But in a country where profound social problems have survived a decade of massive state spending, politicians could be forgiven for looking beyond secular technocracy for answers".

Beyond the seriousness of this assertion, the question that it brings back is that of the importance of economic and social conditions for determining the mindset of the society or if, on the contrary, is that mindset what would drive the economic and political decisions of a society.

Let us remember that the article opens up by reminding us the high levels of atheism and, one would say, the "won-battle" feeling of the people after so many centuries of religious domination. It is not hard to think that a highly educated society, conscious of the consequences it has lived thanks to religious creeds would show its disdain for religion in its penalization of religion-inclined politicians and in their attitudes when asked about religious matters. What results difficult to think is that due to the social and economic tensions of the last decade the only visible way out is a return to religion.

The article talks about the failures of "technocracy", but perhaps what it misses is the power of the ideology behind those easy answers offered by religion. Here, the fight should not be fought by technocracy but, instead, a real heavyweight which is the western thought developed over so many centuries and so many great minds, i.e, the western philosophy. British politicians would make a serious mistake if they are driven by social and economic problems to look for more religion instead of looking for a really rational thought and a serious understanding about the real problems of their society. Moreover, it can set a very bad precedent for less-developed societies that tend to rush to copy what is done in the more developed ones.

Anglo-Catholicism. The joys and perils of flying high
The religious influence in politics. Missionary positions

1 comment:

  1. Estimado doctor Arévalo,

    Buenas tardes.

    ¿Esta reseña ya la publicó en algún lado? Soy asistente editorial de una revista en cartagena y estoy interesado en que nos escriba una reseña y/o publique alguna reseña inédita como esta.

    Si estás interesado o desea ampliar la información, favor escribirme a:

    rfortich (arroba)


    Roberto Fortich