Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Factory and cathedral

Let religion industrial. Monastery, manufacture, usine. Une genealogy of the enterprise
Forfatter: Pierre Musso
Forlag: Les éditions Fayard (Frankrike)


In an official White House press release, the 31. In October, Trump announced in a rare high-pitched official language that he urged all Americans to take part in the November celebration "of that year's two thousand and seventeen years" as a "national entrepreneurship month." According to Trump, the particular American entrepreneurial tradition must be hailed for its "innovative, hard-working entrepreneurial spirit." But it is not only in America that entrepreneurship is celebrated. Also in France, which has not yet gone so far as to institute a new national month, is start-ups by President Macron has repeatedly been highlighted as the breeding ground for the nation's future growth and prosperity.

Although Trump and Macron appear to be somewhat close to each other's political contradictions, they both seem to share a belief in the mysterious entrepreneurial spiritwhich is embodied as a life-giving and charitable principle for the social organism. As Trump said in his press release: "Entrepreneurship is the fuel that drives the engine of the American economy, and this month I appeal to all Americans to honor the entrepreneurs who strengthen our economy, drive creativity and promote the vitality of our magnificent nation."

From the monastery. For the French philosopher Pierre Musso, the belief in this entrepreneurial spirit is an expression of the latest phase of what he calls in his book of the same name let religion industrial, «The industrial religion». The basic assumption of the book is that religion has not disappeared, but has simply changed over time, parallel to the rise of capitalism.

The origin of the industrial religion we find "in the silence of the monasteries, in the illuminated premises of the factory and inside the smoke and steam of the factory ..."

Musso's thesis inevitably leads the mind back to the famous German sociologist Max Weber, who, as you know, developed a thesis on the connection between the ethics of Protestantism and the spirit of capitalism. In a kind of extended attempt at a neo-Weberian representation of this development, Musso describes the emergence of what we might call Trump the "entrepreneurial spirit." This spirit is the final phase of a long and complex historical process that Musso tries to reconstruct. Where Weber started the Reformation, we must go back to the monastery with Musso to find the origin of the industrial religion: «In the silence of the monasteries, in the illuminated premises of the factory and behind the smoke and steam of the factory, this religion has evolved towards today , where it appears fully enlightened as triumph of business…»

The Imago mundi of religion. Musso's study of how the entrepreneurial spirit permeated both established politics and technology enthusiasm in, for example, Silicon Valley – where entrepreneurialism should almost be considered an official article of faith – is an entertaining and engaging tour de force in the history of ideas in the West, sort of Da Vinci Mystery for intellectuals. The ambition is far-reaching, as evidenced by the book's oversized 800-page format. The method is the so-called genealogical, in the French tradition of Michel Foucault, but Musso's study of the monastic world seems rather roughly cut in comparison with Giorgio Agamben's philosophical accuracy in Homo sapiensseries.

The historical course of the book is thus cut into three major pieces – such as the subtitle Monastery, manufacture, usine also indicates – each of which deals with a historical period in the formation of what Musso calls 'the industrial religion' image would", Its worldview: The monastery and the Christian worldview, respectively; about the manu- facture and the mechanistic conception of reality of the period; and finally about the factory contract (l'usine-contracting) as "the cathedral of modern industrial religion".

With technology against paradise. Entrepreneurship is thus the non-place in the collective world of imagination where the industrial religion deposits the past mythology of the past. Heaven and hell resurface as the constant alternation between two poles, between utopia and dystopia. The hell of exchange is always opposed to the dream of "the paradise of automation" and the elimination of work, Musso writes. It is the central contradiction in the worldview that, according to Musso, has accompanied industrial development to the present day, where we are supposed to be on the eve of the "fourth industrial revolution".

Musso's thesis on the industrial religion is thus motivated by the attempt to identify and criticize the grand recitation of the "Industrial Revolution", "The great narrative of the industrial revolution," from the first to the fourth, the fifth – God knows what revolution we are about to reach. The narrative is the same throughout, namely that industrial and technological progress (for example, in the form of automation of production) in itself will carry humanity forward to the realization of paradise on earth: «Industrial belief operates with this fundamental idea of ​​a ' revolution 'heralding a future state of happiness ... the promise of this state of happiness is repeated with every new techno-scientific wave, soon by a new social class of messianic aspirations, soon by hero contractors or technogenics, from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs. "

Horizontal world order. While it may be difficult to see exactly what Musso is contributing to both Weber and Agamben regarding Christian's secular afterlife in capitalism, it is precisely the analysis of the appearance of entrepreneurial ideology in the midst of early industrial capitalism that makes Mussos book deserves all the attention. This is especially because it is aimed at the eccentric son of aristocrat Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and his utopian socialism, which was a crucial source of inspiration for much of the rising socialist mass movement in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Although Trump and Macron are each other's political opposites, they both share a belief in the mysterious entrepreneurial spirit.

Saint-Simon launched his industrial religion under the term "a new Christianity", where, as Musso writes, science and industry took first place in place of theology and politics. Thus was the vertical world order, with its former regimehierarchies, by giving way to a vision of the world as a horizontal network structure; a modern "atheist" religion without any kind of anchorage in the hereafter. A world where both religion and politics have been made redundant in favor of what technology critic Evgeny Morozov has described elsewhere as "a policy without politics", based on the idea that society and production thrive when left to an "algorithmic regulation".

Christianity in Metamorphosis. Thus, one of the central elements of Saint-Simon's teachings was also the idea of ​​the production's spontaneous "organization", an idea that re-emerges in much of the so-called new-public-managementbusiness philosophy as well as in the Silicon Valley ideology that technology can replace politics. With Musso's presentation of the Saint-Simonist doctrine, one begins to understand that such conceptions are closely interwoven with the history of Christianity. But not, as Weber thought, as an enchantment of the religious world, not as a secularization of Christian Protestant ethics, but rather, as Musso argues, "as a new metamorphosis of Christianity" assuming an "industrial scientific form."

Let religion industrial is hardly a neo-classic in line with Agambens Gay-sacerwork, and probably won't go down in history as the replacement for Weber's widely famous book. Nevertheless, it is a good place to start if you gather shootings for a more fundamental critique of the dogma of humanity's general "progress" as brought about by industrial technological development alone. The book also contributes to an understanding of the neo-religious zeal and passion with which Trump, like Macron (and beyond Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg) promotes the occult qualities of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Dominique Routhier
Dominique Routhier
Routhier is a regular critic of Ny Tid.

You may also like