Neoliberalism as Religion: Sacralization of the Market and Post-truth Politics | Luca Mavelli | International Political Sociology

Since the 2008 financial crisis, depictions of neoliberalism as a religion, system of belief, and “kind of faith” have multiplied in an attempt to explain neoliberalism’s remarkable power and resilience. These accounts, however, have remained largely impressionistic. In this article, I interrogate the meanings, implications, and value of conceptualizing neoliberalism as religion and advance two main claims. First, the power of neoliberalism stems from being a rationality of government that continuously evokes religious meanings and significations. Neoliberalism displaces and redraws the boundary between secular and religious and appropriates an aura of sacredness while concealing itself behind an authoritative secular rational façade. Second, one of the outcomes of the neoliberal “sacralization” of the market has been the emergence of so-called “post-truth politics.” The latter, I contend, can be conceptualized as a neoliberal “truth market” of news production, circulation, and consumption that is governed simultaneously by logics of commodification and belief. This analysis aims to contribute to existing debates on secularization, on neoliberalism’s resilience, and on post-truth politics. It shows their interconnectedness through a critical approach that focuses on the disarticulation, rearticulation, and deployment of the categories of the secular/profane and religious/sacred in neoliberal regimes of power and knowledge.

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