The Market Order as Metaphysical Loot: Theology and the Contested Legitimacy of Consumer Capitalism

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The mechanism through which the ideology of market capitalism emerged has mostly been interpreted as part of an incremental, inevitable, and thus legitimate ousting of theological concepts from a public sphere that became organized around the principles of the Enlightenment as a secular project. This article stresses the illegitimate aspects of this process, that is the expropriation and re-appropriation of theological devices and ideas for what was merely an alternative political-theological project. This project, namely the establishment of the priesthood of the individualized ‘common man’, allowed for the mobilization of individual choice as a principle of social organization. The same process was responsible for underpinning the often unjust and illiberal market order with the vision of the world as an ordered and benign kosmos that emerged spontaneously from chaos.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)281-297
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Carl Schmitt
  • Hans Blumenberg
  • History of Ideas
  • Markets
  • Market Ideology
  • Theology

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