Augustine’s recognition of the lust to dominate and how it veils itself in concepts like “glory,” “honor,” and “nobility” are as relevant today as in his own time. Augustine’s deconstruction of Romanitas was done to offer all the people of Rome a greater project in its place. How often do we hear, like the Roman propagandists Augustine critiqued, that the benevolent empire advances liberty and prosperity? Augustine would take a step back and unmask American Exceptionalism and liberal exceptionalism to ascertain whether it really lives up to its promises. In fact, one could go as far as to say that Augustine was the first systematic deconstructionist in his penetration into the heart of Rome, its ideological mythology, and its self-understanding—revealing the lust to dominate, rather than love, as being at its core.
In my latest essay for Merion West, I concisely summarize St. Augustine’s political theology and cultural criticism and how it stands apart from classical political philosophy and prefigures the critical theory of Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Slavoj Zizek (all of whom acknowledge Augustine as an influence over them and their thoughts). You can read the full essay, ca. 3300 words, here: Augustine and the Politics of Love (11/1/2019)
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