The Quest for Locke’s Political Theology
Theological and political concepts and practices are frequently deeply related in political thought. If this statement is true in general, it is particularly accurate for the case of John Locke, to the extent that we can apply the label “political theology”—following Carl Schmitt’s approach to the topic—for evaluating his project. Elisabeth A. Pritchard’s recent book Religion in Public: Locke’s Political Theology centers on that specific “label,” which has sometimes been used, albeit not frequently, by other scholars. Speaking of a Lockean political theology means that liberalism does not represent the official end of every kind of political theology. In Pritchard’s understanding, Locke’s political theology consists of the shared conviction or consensus that individuals are the sacred property of a transcendent and benevolent creator. As a result, in his view Locke condemns every kind of political theology that compromises with hierarchical and competitive structures, providing differential access to the sacred. In this article I will defend a competing argument: In John Locke’s writings we can find a political theology of sovereignty, even though he argued using liberal political presuppositions. In the end he consecrates political power just as the previous political tradition did, even if he uses a different argumentative path for achieving legitimation. He creates the fiction that political intervention, even in sacred matters, can be eliminated from the political arena.
Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Montserrat Herrero, "The Quest for Locke’s Political Theology", in: "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2016) XVIII/2", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2016, pp. 83-109