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This essay seeks to evaluate the methodological and theoretical relevance of Agamben’s the kingdom and the glory to a radical critique of contemporary politics and economics. In particular, it explores what is meant by the “theological genealogy of the economy and government” announced by the book’s subtitle. This involves subjecting to scrutiny Agamben’s reliance on a certain understanding of secularisation, of the kind that permits him to declare that modernity merely brings to completion the Christian “economy” of providence, or indeed that Marx’s notion of praxis “basically is only the secularisation of the theological conception of the being of creatures as divine operation.” The paper tries to show that Agamben’s work relies on a type of historical substantialism that clashes with his claim to be engaging in a genealogy. It also investigates the blindspots in Agamben’s treatments of the crucial themes of money and administration.

Keywords: Agamben; Marx; chrematistics; economic theology of government; failed secularisation; method

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology,Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross,London SE14 6NW, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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