Emilio Gentile: Politics as Religion


There’s an interesting Emilio Gentile interview on “sacralization of politics”: 

DH     How do you see the sacralization of politics extending into the 21st century?

EG      It’s been present in modern times since the American and French revolutions. We need to distinguish it from any type of politicized religion in old and present times.

In the Egyptian monarchy, the pharaoh was a god, or a son of a god, or embodied the god. In the Roman Empire, after Christianization, the emperor was in a sense consecrated by the church. And the Christian monarchs in Europe were always consecrated by institutional religion. This is not sacralization of politics in the sense that politics has become a religion. It is a politicization of a religion—the use of religion to sanctify monarchs in terms of the traditional gods, or the God of the Bible. In the period after the French and American revolutions, you have the secular entity of the nation. The nation is not a person, nor does the church consecrate it. It is consecrated because it is a new secular entity now conveying the meaning of life. The sacralization of politics is politics becoming religious, independent of the traditional church. It was not the pope who consecrated Hitler as the leader; it was not the pope who consecrated Napoleon (and I mean more than the fact that Napoleon took the crown from the pope and placed it on his own head). The sacralization of politics in modern terms is an autonomous form of religion based on politics, not on traditional church-state religion.

The rest of the interview is here.

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