By George Shulman
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A second reason is that political theorists tend to orient themselves by canonical engagements with modernity in European rather than American terms, through the Holocaust rather than white supremacy, and so in genres other than prophecy, whose political revision in America remains theoretically unexplored. Prophecy goes missing if or when we theorists split politics and redemption, Europe and America, modernity and race. But focusing on modernity and race in America reveals prophetic practice remaking the relation of redemption and politics.
We seek in Continental philosophers a vocabulary post-Marxist, postidentity, and now postsecular. Obviously, European thinkers differ greatly among themselves in the ways they work through the Judeo-Christian legacies shaping late-modern political life. But our encounter has not been an occasion to take prophecy seriously in its biblical forms, let alone in its American ﬁgurations. Our work seems cut off from the place where we Americans live and from the prophetic voices haunting it. It is strange, really: Theorists read Agamben or Arendt on a genocide that Americans did not cause or experience directly, but not Douglass, W.
And we Americans are the peculiar, chosen people—the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. 34 As Rogin argues, this messianic project, of extending freedom to “political pagans,” takes jeremiadic form: “Since the Puritan founding, American history has proceeded by consciousness of decline from the faith of the founders and efforts at heroic renewal. ” He takes the prophet’s role in a jeremiad against a world grown dead in sin. The problem is not prophecy as such, he insists, but who uses it for what ends: For Bellah, William Lloyd Garrison and Eugene V.