Anti-Climacus


"Thou shalt not extinguish thine anger, but shall master it, that thy conscience may not be blunted by adjustment to wrong causes."
-The Dutch Ten Commandments to Foil the Nazis

27.10.12

As a passing but fitting example of the sort of reflexive anti-Calvinist bias that shows up amongst people who (should) know better, there's this:


There was the idea that a particular state, a particular geographically-bounded and law-governed entity, should permit full citizenship to only some religious convictions. This was the solution adopted eventually by the English and the Swiss. John Calvin's Geneva forms something like an ideal example of this solution, yielding the convenient slogan cuius regio eius religio - which is to say, your place determines your religion. If you live in Geneva, you're a Calvinist; if you live in London, you're an Anglican.

cuius regio eius religio was language from the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, and one of the purposes of the language was to de-legitimate non-Catholic non-Lutheran churches, of which Calvin's Geneva is a perfect example: because it was not attached to a noble--the 'eius' whose 'religio' was in question, and which determined the religion of his people--its status as an independent political and religious unit was always under threat. Also, Augsburg gave no freedom to individual churches or the beliefs or conscience of individuals, so it couldn't possibly be the origin of 'religion' Griffiths claims to be discussing: it's not permitting "full citizenship" to "only some religious convictions": it allows one religious conviction, enforced on you whether you want it or not, and that religious conviction implies nothing at all about "citizenship."

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2 Comments:

At 8:34 am, Blogger Chris C. said...

Do people discuss this sort of thing with respect to Modern Israel? Because it would seem relevant.

 
At 11:43 am, Blogger Nicholas said...

It's less relevant than you might think, since there are a number of concepts that have become politically salient since then in a way not really relevant to discussing Europe in the 16th century. At a minimum: the idea of a 'nation,' the idea that each nation deserves its own physical space, self-determination (which cuts both ways in Israel) of peoples, modern liberal-democratic citizenship in which people give loyalty to a government in order to secure rights and privileges, and a more highly developed series of pseudohistories about who 'really' is 'from' a particular territory (short answer: no one is actually from the place they claim to be from).

None of these are quite relevant in the 16th-century case because it's hard to oversell how little the opinions of individuals mattered to the social environments they found themselves in: one would have to imagine modern Israel as a place where the opinion of the average Israelite and the average Palestinian counted for exactly the same--i.e. nothing.

 

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