In search of Atheism: Benjamin and Nietzsche on secularity and occult theologies
In this article, I argue that atheism is different from secularism. Secularism is based on a faux elimination of theology which effectively preserves that theology in the guise of overcoming it. To achieve atheism (a term that I draw from the work of Maria Aristodemou), I argue that one needs to directly confront the theological element in order to come to terms with it. In this essay I look at how two political theological thinkers, Nietzsche and Benjamin, accomplish this. Nie-tzsche accomplishes atheism via his thesis of the “death of God,” a death that is not always literal but which creates a space for human life that is not determined by theological terms. Benjamin does the same thing with his idea that God vacates divine powers of judgment and determination in order to allow an atheistic space where human beings can engage in their own self-determination (even as the notion of God remains to challenge any would be human spokespersons for that role). I ultimately argue that atheism and anarchism are related concepts based not just on a rejection of certain forms of theology and all forms of archism, but also in terms of the way they allow a posi-tive and undetermined human response.