Anorexic Republicans, Starving Our Body Politic

From Eric L. Santner’s essay “The New Idolatry: Religious Thnking in the Un-Commonwealth of America,” currently posted at The Chicago Blog:

…one might think about the similarities between the attitude of Republicans to taxes and that of anorexics to food. For both, less is always better, and nothing would be best of all. Republicans have a “taxation disorder” just as anorexics have an eating disorder. Both groups treat what is essentially a practical matter—how much money is needed by the state given the current needs of the country and its people; how much food is needed given the demands of the body—as a matter of a quasi-sacred ethical stance concerning the purity of the body. In both cases, we find a demand for “starving the beast,” a personal or collective body felt to be disgustingly fleshy, to be always too much, to be in need of ever greater reduction, thinning, cutting, fasting. In both disorders we find a deeply pathological form of what Max Weber characterized as the “spirit of capitalism,” a fundamentally this-worldly asceticism fueled by a religious sense of duty and obligation aimed at assuring our place among the divinely elected.

(h/t Elizabeth Castelli) Continue Reading →