Religion in theAge of DigitalReproduction
The general consensus of the contemporarymass media is that the return of religion hasemerged as the most important factor in globalpolitics and culture today. Now, those whocurrently refer to a revival of religion clearly donot mean anything like the second coming of theMessiah or the appearance of new gods andprophets. What they are referring to rather is thatreligious attitudes have moved from culturallymarginal zones into the mainstream. If this is thecase, and statistics would seem to corroboratethe claim, the question then arises as to whatmay have caused religious attitudes to becomemainstream.ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThe survival and dissemination of opinionson the global information market is regulated bya law formulated by Charles Darwin, namely, thesurvival of the fittest. Those opinions that bestadapt to the conditions under which they aredisseminated will, as a matter of course, havethe best odds of becoming mainstream. TodayÕsopinions market, however, is clearlycharacterized by reproduction, repetition, andtautology. The widespread understanding ofcontemporary civilization holds that, over thecourse of the modern age, theology has beenreplaced by philosophy, an orientation towardthe past by an orientation toward the future,traditional teachings by subjective evidence,fidelity to origins by innovation, and so on. Infact, however, the modern age has not been theage in which the sacred has been abolished butrather the age of its dissemination in profanespace, its democratization, its globalization.Ritual, repetition, and reproduction were hithertomatters of religion; they were practiced inisolated, sacred places. In the modern age,ritual, repetition, and reproduction have becomethe fate of the entire world, of the entire culture.Everything reproduces itself Ð capital,commodities, technology, and art. Ultimately,even progress is reproductive; it consists in aconstantly repeated destruction of everythingthat cannot be reproduced quickly andeffectively. Under such conditions it should comeas no surprise that religion Ð in all its variousmanifestations Ð has become increasinglysuccessful. Religion operates through mediachannels that are, from the outset, products ofthe extension and secularization of traditionalreligious practices. Let us now turn to aninvestigation of some of the aspects of thisextension and secularization that seemespecially relevant to the survival and success ofreligions in the contemporary world.
1. The Internet and the Freedom of Faith
The regime under which religion Ð any religion Ðfunctions in contemporary Western seculardemocratic societies is freedom of faith.
journal #4 Ñ march 2009 Ê Boris Groys
Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction
08.25.10 / 20:13:56 UTC