Truls Lie
Editor-in-chief, Modern Times Review. Also head of the Norwegian monthly newspaper NY TID. Based in Oslo/Barcelona.

Was Jesus only an illegitimate child who made up stories about his dad being up in heaven, asks philosopher Peter Sloterdijk in his latest book After God (Nach Gott)

Germany’s great freethinker recently celebrated his 70th birthday with a comprehensive, in-depth interview in Der Spiegel. Next month, a Norwegian version of his book In the Same Boat (I samme båt) is out.

In line with Nietzsche who believed that God is dead, Sloterdijk believes we killed off Jesus’ dad ages ago. In other words, our current globalisation has weakened religion, traditions, family and rituals with what Sloterdijk deems the new “mobility of the hyper-civilisation “.

The Norwegian newspaper Class Struggle (Klassekampen) recently indicated that more people than ever feel negative towards globalising. It is understandable that many see it as threatening with strangers knocking on your door and your national identity and welfare in danger. Besides, it was hard enough to gather people under one national banner, so why would you be willing to be part of a diverse global citizenship?

In the epilogue of the Norwegian version of the latest Sloterdijk book, In the Same Boat, translator Anders Dunker hints that instead the world now forces people to stick together through the media’s cynical stress they inflict on people to stay in business: “A constant communication of mutual problems and potential dangers, using terror threats as a prime example.”

According to Sloterdijk, the road took us here because, over time, we developed into different “immunity spheres “, protected local communities. The original herd – the family and the little, ancient communities – all had their own techniques and rituals for cosy togetherness and protection. As a result, claims the philosopher, we are not yet ready to embrace the sudden and ubiquitous global community. The phase of globalisation makes people anxious: “Living in a synchronised world is a massive attack on the human mental structures.”

Politically active in the radical 1968 movement, Sloterdijk has become increasingly conservative with age. He no longer defends the conservatism of the 1800’s where you “preferred 100 years of despotism over three days of anarchy “. On the other hand, his own so-called historical conservatism is interspersed with an anthropological pessimism.  Sloterdijk wants to preserve the order painstakingly built up by society; new ‘little advancements’ should not tear these down. As he points out, there are no guarantees that the next generations will be able to live in peace, with welfare and State protection.

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