When Gramsci discusses the relation between state and society, he criticises the idea of conceiving the state as an abstract institutional apparatus, that is as 'statolatry
' or in other words, the state "conceived of as something in itself, as a rational absolute." (17) He, in turn, defines the state as "the entire complex of practical and theoretical activities with which the ruling class not only justifies and maintains its dominance, but manages to win the active consent of those over whom it rules." (18)
Many evangelical Christians agree, and join in this chorus of statolatry
with their "obey the powers that be" mantra....
The tendency to concentrate solely on such features--common in much mainstream debate--was pejoratively referred to as 'statolatry
': it entailed viewing the state as a perpetual entity limited to actions within political society (Gramsci 1971: 178, 268).
"Today the fashionable philosophy of statolatry
has obfuscated the issue.
And he is right that both fascism and socialism are statist--they rest on what he calls "statolatry
" or "state worship," the principle that, in Wilson's words, "all idea of a limitation of public authority by individual rights [should] be put out of view," and "that no line can be drawn between private and public affairs which the State may not cross at will."
Indeed, in his important study, Fascism and Dictatorship, Nicolas Poulantzas (1974) describes three consistent elements of fascist ideology: 1) Status-quo anticapitalism, which is "against big money and great fortunes, but in favor of the [capitalist] status-quo"; 2) Aspirations to social mobility, which entails a desire to rise above economic hardship while skirting allegiance to the traditional bourgeoisie; and 3) Power fetishism, or a form of Statolatry that believes a strong central government can-in the proper hands-protect the middle classes from both predatory big money capitalism from above and revolutionary socialist wealth distribution from below (pp.
In terms of recognizing Buchanan's power fetishism and statolatry, it appears to us that the maximalist economic and political overhauls that Buchanan calls for as immediately necessary responses to dramatic and even sovereignty-threatening historical crises are probably impossible to accomplish within the existing parameters of politico-economic relations without somehow completely restructuring the global balance of power (see Galbraith, 1985; Kolko, 1985; Mandel, 1992).
The arguments of some of their adversaries would lead to Statolatry, the worship of the state.
"If men were less blind and headstrong, they would see that the higher law can be asserted without any attack upon legitimate civil authority, and legitimate civil authority and the majesty of the law can be vindicated without asserting the absolute supremacy of the civil power, and falling into statolatry - as absurd a species of idolatry as the worship of sticks and stones."