Translating Politics and Religion: A New Model

  • Roland Boer
Keywords: church, party, politics, radical religion, translation

Abstract

What is the relationship between (radical) politics and religion? Is it a process of secularisation, in which once theological terms are emptied of their content and replaced with political content?

Is it a relation of absolute source and origin, which thereby continues to determine the nature of political debate (Schmitt 2005 [1922])? Or is religion merely one narrative, one set of terms or language that has its own limits and possibilities? Only to the last question do I offer a positive answer. This answer takes the form of a model of translation for understanding the relations between politics and religion, using the example of party and church (I have dealt elsewhere with revolution and miracle (or grace) and with Marxist history and eschatology). The model has four parts. The first proposes that politics and religion may be seen as languages or codes, with each term constituted by a semantic field. When the fields come into contact, the overlap between them is never complete, for something is always left over. Second, this situation means that translation may enhance the terms in question, but certain senses particular to each field may also be lost. Third, the terms in question also resist complete absorption by each other. Indeed, the very act of translation fosters resistance and semi-autonomy, so that the terms develop counter meanings. This leads to the fourth point, which concerns dialectical interchange, in which the semantics fields engage, move and back and forth, seek each other out, and yet resist being completely transformed. The argument closes by considering implications for understanding the model of translation, specifically the absence of any absolute claim by either politics or religion, the undermining of a hierarchical relation between these languages, and the ad hoc production of meaning within and between each language.

Author Biography

Roland Boer

Professor of Philosophy of Religion; Professor of Literary Theory
University of Newcastle; Renmin University of China
University Dr, Callaghan, Australia NSW 2308
e-mail: roland.boer@newcastle.edu.au

 

 

References

Agamben, Giorgio (2011). The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (Homo Sacer II.2) [2007]. Trans. Lorenzo Chiesa and Matteo Mandarini. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Berdyaev, Nikolai (1948). The Origin of Russian Communism [1937]. Trans R. M. French. London: G. Bles.

Blumenberg, Hans (1966). The Legitimacy of the Modern Age. Trans. Robert M. Wallace. Cambridge: MIT.

Boer, Dick (2002). Een Heel Andere God: Het Levenswerk van Karl Barth (1886–1968). Amsterdam: Narratio.

Boer, Dick (2009). Verlossing uit de Slavernij: Bijbelse Theologie in Dient van Bevrijding. Amsterdam: Skandalon.

Boer, Roland (2007). Criticism of Heaven: On Marxism and Theology. Leiden: Brill.

Boer, Roland (2009). Criticism of Religion: On Marxism and Theology II. Leiden: Brill.

Boer, Roland (2011).”Marxism and Eschatology Reconsidered.” Mediations 25.1: 39–60.

Boer, Roland (2012a). Criticism of Earth: On Marx, Engels and Theology. Leiden: Brill.

Boer, Roland (2012b). “The Dynamic Equivalence Caper.” In Ideology, Culture, and Translation, eds. Scott S. Elliot and Roland Boer, 13–23. Atlanta: Society of Bibli- cal Literature.

Boer, Roland (2013a). Lenin, Religion, and Theology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Boer, Roland (2013b). “Ontology, Plurality and Roman Catholic Social Teaching: An Engagement with Liberation Theology.” In Politics in Theology. Religion and Public Life, ed. by Gabriel Ricci, 93–120. Edison: Transaction.

Boer, Roland (2014). In The Vale of Tears: On Marxism and Theology V. Leiden: Brill.

Davis, Creston, John Milbank, and Slavoj Žižek eds. (2005) Theology and the Political: The New Debate. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

De Vries, Hent, and Lawrence E. Sullivan, eds. (2006). Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World. New York: Fordham University Press.

Dennett, Daniel C. (2007). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Engels, Friedrich (1978). “The Peasant War in Germany” [1850]. In Marx and Engels Collected Works, Vol. 10, 397–482. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Engels, Friedrich (1990a). “On the History of Early Christianity” [1894–95]. In Marx and Engels Collected Works, Vol. 27, 445–69. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Engels, Friedrich (1990b). “Introduction to Karl Marx’s The Class Struggles in France” [1894–95]. In Marx and Engels Collected Works, Vol. 27, 506–24. Moscow: Prog- ress Publishers.

Gabel, Paul (2005). And God Created Lenin: Marxism vs. Religion in Russia, 1917–1929. Amherst: Prometheus.

Gramsci, Antonio (1995). Further Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Trans. Derek Boothman. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Gramsci, Antonio (1992). Prison Notebooks [1975]. Trans. Joseph A. Buttigieg and Antonio Callari, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gramsci, Antonio (1996). Prison Notebooks (1975). Trans. Joseph A. Buttigieg, Vol. 2. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gutiérrez, Gustavo (2001). A Theology of Liberation [1969]. Trans. Caridad Inda and John Eagleson. London: SCM.

Hitchens, Christopher (2007). God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve Books.

Hoezl, Michael, and Graeme Ward, eds. (2008). The New Visibility of Religion. London: Continuum.

Holyoake, George (1860). The Principles of Secularism. London: Austin & Co.

Holyoake, George (1896). English Secularism: A Confession of Belief. Chicago: Open Court.

Jameson, Fredric (1988). The Ideologies of Theory, Essays 1971–1986. Vol. 2:

Syntax of History. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Kautsky, Karl (1897). Communism in Central Europe in the Time of the Reformation. Lon- don: T. Fisher Unwin.

Kautsky, Karl (1906). Ethics and the Materialist Conception of History. Trans. John B. Askew. London: Charles H. Kerr and Co.

Kautsky, Karl (2007). Foundations of Christianity [1908]. Trans. H. F. Mins. London: Socialist Resistance.

Kautsky, Karl (1976a). Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus I: Kommunistische Bewegungen mm Mittelalter [1895–97]. Berlin: Dietz.

Kautsky, Karl (1976b). Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus II: Der Kommunismus in der deutschen Reformation [1895–97]. Berlin: Dietz.

Kautsky, Karl, and Paul Lafargue (1977). Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus III: Die beiden ersten grossen Utopisten [1922]. Stuttgart: Dietz.

Kee, Alistair (1990). Marx and the Failure of Liberation Theology. London: SCM.

Kołakowski, Leszek (1981). Main Currents of Marxism. Vol. 1. Trans. P.S. Falla. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lenin, V.I. (1963a). “Ivan Vasilyevich Babushkin” [1910]. In Collected Works. Vol. 16, 361–4. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1963b). “Paul Singer: Died January 18 (31), 1911.” [1911]. In Collected Works, Vol. 17, 92–95. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1963c). “Speech Delivered in the Name of the RSDLP at the Funeral of Paul and Laura Lafargue November 20 (December 3), 1911” [1911]. In Collected Works, Vol. 17, 304–5. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1963d). “Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Death of Jospeh Dietzgen” [1913]. In Collected Works, Vol. 19, 79–82. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1963e). “August Bebel” [1913]. In Collected Works. Vol. 19, 295–301. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1964). “Harry Quelch” [1913]. In Collected Works. Vol. 19, 369–71. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1965a). “Speech in Memory of Y. M. Sverdlov at a Special Session of the All- Russia Central Executive Committee, March 18, 1919” [1919]. In Collected Works, Vol. 29, 89–94. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1965b). “Speech Delivered at the Funeral of Yakov Sverdlov, March 18, 1919: Newspaper Report” [1919]. In Collected Works, Vol. 29, 95. Moscow: Progress Publishers.


Lenin, V.I. (1965c). “Speeches on Gramophone Records: In Memory of Comrade Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov, Chairman of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee” [1919]. In Collected Works, Vol. 29, 239. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1965d). “A Publicist’s Notes” [1920]. In Collected Works, Vol. 30, 352–62. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1966a). “Nikolai Ernestovich Bauman” [1905]. In Collected Works, Vol. 9, 436–37. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1966b). “Eugène Pottier: The 25th Anniversary of His Death” [1913]. In Col- lected Works, Vol. 36, 223–24. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lenin, V.I. (1966c). “In Memory of Comrade Proshyan” [1918]. In Collected Works, Vol. 36, 497–98. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Lindemann, Hugo, and Morris Hillquit (1977). Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus IV [1922]. Stuttgart: Dietz.

Löwith, Karl (1949). Meaning in History: The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

MacIntyre, Alasdair (1971). Marxism and Christianity. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Milbank, John (1990) Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason. Oxford: Blackwell.

Polsky, Michael (2002). The New Martyrs of Russia. Wildwood: Monastery Press.

Roslov, Edward E. (2002). Red Priests: Renovationism, Russian Orthodoxy, and Revolution. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Schmitt, Carl (2005). Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty [1922]. Trans. George Schwab. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sharpe, Matthew (2012–13). “On Eschatology and the ‘Return to Religion’.” Arena 39– 40: 203–28.

Stites, Richard (1989). Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stout, Jeffrey (2008). “2007 Presidential Address: The Folly of Secularism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 76.3: 533–44.

Taubes, Jacob (2009). Occidental Eschatology [1947]. Trans. David Ratmoko. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Taylor, Charles (2007). A Secular Age? Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap.

Tumarkin, Nina (1981). “Religion, Bolshevism, and the Origins of the Lenin Cult.” Rus- sian Review 40.1: 35–46.

Tumarkin, Nina (1997). Lenin Lives! The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Turton, Katy (2007). Forgotten Lives: The Role of Lenin’s Sisters in the Russian Revolution, 1864-1937. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Žižek, Slavoj, and John Milbank (2009). The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? Cambridge: MIT.
Published
2015-12-29
How to Cite
BoerR. (2015). Translating Politics and Religion: A New Model. Stasis, 3(2). Retrieved from http://stasisjournal.net/index.php/journal/article/view/39