Shedding Light on the Conspiracy: A Reply to ‘The Sacred Conspiracy: Religion, Nationalism, and the Crisis of Internationalism’

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Abstract

Religion plays a central role at the global political level despite being often portrayed as dead, marginal, or irrelevant. The way in which it plays that role, however, is not always immediately apparent or transparent. Professor Berman's essay attempts to illustrate the various ways – direct and indirect – in which religion is still central in today's debates about international law and politics. He does that by bringing us back to the interwar period, which saw an abundant flurry of arguments about international law, nationalism, and religion. He focuses in particular on the avant-garde movement led by Georges Bataille, who called for the shaking of civil society by appealing to the destabilizing forces of the (left) sacred in opposition to the conservative forces of the (right) sacred. Bataille's key insight is that religion has a contagious energy that is far more sweeping and powerful than the mere force of Western rationality. From this viewpoint, (international) law is incapable of taming the crisis of the West and of keeping at bay the perils of religion and nationalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-66
JournalLeiden Journal of International Law
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date6 Feb 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

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