Thursday, March 10, 2005

An Abstract To a Paper That Will Likely Go Unwritten

If his autobiography is to be believed, George W. Bush, Jr. is a leader "called by God." Even while governor of Texas, he cited the second verse of Charles Wesley's hymn "A Charge to Keep" as his life's mission: "To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill; O may it all my powers engage to do my Master's will." Such is perhaps one the most powerful of evangelical Christian sentiments, that one is imbued with the divine mandate and capacity to enact the will of God on earth. Since becoming president in 2000, but most starkly revealed to the world after 9/11, Bush's sense of calling has encompassed the responsibility of the United States to bestow and/or protect freedom, which he deemed "God's gift to humanity." Indeed, upon declaring victory in Iraq in 2003, the U.S. military was credited as a material Messiah: "Wherever you go, you carry a message of hope, a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah: to the captives, 'go forth,' to those who are in darkness, 'be free'" (Isaiah 49:9). However, inasmuch as Bush declares, "Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, are in a permanent state of war," or that America's ideal of freedom is sustained by moral "ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today and forever," the freedom to which such a call directs attention and investment is an impossible, static ideal of time wherein nothing happens except the forestalling of its end. With regard to the War on Terror, as with the Cold War, the neo-conservative mythmakers who frame the conflict have a speculative interest in maintaining the conflict: there is always another regime, another threat, etc. With regard to Bush's domestic policy, the economic independence of the proposed "ownership society," and its attendant Social Security and tax code reform, effectively render more people debtors without the recourse of bankruptcy – which, significantly, effectively coincides with the spiritual affirmation of his evangelical constituency's being "poor in spirit." As such, following the philosophical inquiry of Philip Goodchild's Capitalism and Religion, and the political critique of Giorgio Agamben's State of Exception, I will examine the nature of Bush's calling, namely the degree to which it co-opts the precedents of the Abrahamic and Davidic callings in a purely speculative, exceptional maneuver, i.e. unconcerned with the subsistence level of reality, to heighten the creation of political capital.
UPDATE: Well ... strike that post title. Guess I'll have to write a paper after all. It got accepted.