Church, State, Resistance1

AuthorJean‐Luc Nancy
Publication Date01 Mar 2007
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2007.00378.x
JOURNAL OF LAW AND SOCIETY
VOLUME 34, NUMBER 1, MARCH 2007
ISSN: 0263-323X, pp. 3±13
Church, State, Resistance
1
Jean-Luc Nancy
This article problematizes a separation of Church and State that is
nevertheless identified as constitutive of politics. Democracy has come
to manifest a tension between the `autonomy' of t he political and a
`heteronomy' that, exceeding rationalist or social contractarian
accounts of our co-existence, is here presented as an irreducible
affect of our being together. Autonomy, it is argued, resists heteronomy
through all representations of democracy; yet, by contrast, heteronomy
resists autonomy, and does so with the force of this affect. So if civil
religion is impossible ± and if we know only too well where its
realizations lead: by default, to republican celebration, or by excess, to
fascism ± then we must take up again, and from scratch, the question of
the affect according to which we co-exist.
I
The separation of Church and State is the expression, linked in France to the
dominant Catholic Church, for the complete distinction of competences,
laws [droits] and powers between the religious order (be it ecclesiatical or
otherwise constituted) and the political order. It is understood that in any
civil or public matter the political order prevails; while in any religious
matter ± henceforth considered as private or as having to do with the
intimacy of conscience ± the authority exercised is defined by a religious
body [instance]towhich everyone is free to adhere.
Today this separation is recognized as a given of democracy, whatever the
precise form of its enunciation in public law (and even where, as in England,
there exists a very particular situation which may seem, but which is not
really, one of non-separation). The constitutional and/or institutional affirma-
3
ß2007 The Author. Journal Compilation ß2007 Cardiff University Law School. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd,
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA
*
Universite
Âde Strasbourg, 22 rue Rene
ÂDescartes, 67084 Strasbourg, France
nancy@umb.u-strasbg.fr
1 Translated by VeÂronique Voruz, Lecturer in Law at Leicester University, and Colin
Perrin, Commissioning Editor with Routledge.

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