Weber and the Persistence of Religion: Capitalism, Social Theory, and the Sublime

Weber and the Persistence of Religion examines the peculiar character of modern religious experience and practice in mature capitalist societies. Max Weber was one of the earliest social theorists to show how early Protestantism may have given rise to modern capitalism. But he also showed how the capitalist social formation, once fully elaborated, created an economic and social climate hostile not just to Christianity, but to any religious or spiritual practice that aimed to leave its imprint on public life. In this groundbreaking work, Professor Lough challenges Weber’s still popular treatments of secularization, rationalization, and institutionalization, showing how capitalism gives rise to its own peculiar spiritual and religious forms. These forms share with capitalism a highly problematic relationship to material reality in general and to the human body in particular, helping to explain why contemporary religious practitioners display a special readiness to mortify not only their own flesh, but specially the flesh of those whom they count their enemies. Professor Lough’s Weber study offers a fresh retheorizing for the complex relationship of economy, society, culture and spirituality that provides insights into the often violent shape of spiritual experience in the contemporary world.

A Deadly Silence: Spivak’s Subaltern in Critical Cultural Studies

A Deadly Silence explores the inclination of cultural studies scholars to overlook or downplay the social, historical, political and economic composition of their own scholarship and the many ways that their scholarship perpetuates and expands the very forms of domination that it seeks to expose. Taking Gayatri Shakrovorti Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” as its point of departure, Professor Lough reviews the ways that contemporary critical cultural studies elide the bodies of those whom their research examines as well as the body of knowledge in general. Lough shows how scholars might recuperate an embodied scholarly practice that promises to be both more analytically and theoretically rigorous and better suited to exposing the very elisions their scholarship is apt to conceal.

Možemo li Živjeti bez Države? Možda. [Can we Live without the State? Perhaps.

2014 J Lough Možemo li Živjeti bez Države [Can we live without the state].pdf

This provocative article is based on a paper Professor Lough delivered at a conference held in Banja Vrućica, Rpublik Srbska, in 2014 that was attended by many members of the Balkan financial and political oligarchy. Its title “Can we Live without the State?” is ironic. It explores the formal conditions under which the “state” as an outside authority might no longer be necessary. It finds these conditions lacking in the Balkans largely on account of the intimate relationship between private enterprise and public institutions. Insofar as oligarchic intervention into political and economic institutions introduces exceptional distortions into both economic and political life, the need for strong, independent public institutions in the Balkans is specially overwhelming. Only with strong, independent, and active public institutions might it be possible to live without the state. At least at present in the Balkans, the oligarchy is a de facto state, but one that rules arbitrarily in its own and its clients' private interests.

A Model for Economic Growth in Bosnia and Herzegovina

2014 J Lough A Model for Economic Growth in Bosnia and Herzegovina.pdf

This article is based on a paper Professor Lough delivered at a converence held in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2013 to a gathering of economists and business leaders eager to grasp how the transition to free market capitalism had failed Bosnia and Herzegovina. Using the rigorous economic modeling suggested in Robert Lucas Jr’s Lectures on Economic Growth, Professor Lough seeks to identify a roughly quantify a variable that accounts for the lack of foreign investment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Wages in BiH are somewhere between 10% and 15% of the average wages in the Eurozone. This should serve as an incentive to foreign investors eager to take advantage of the wage differential. And, yet, so little can foreign investors rely upon the rule of law in BiH and so costly are the rents they must pay to do business that the 85-90% gains they might enjoy from the wage differential disappear. The solution is for the European community and indigenous educated bourgeoisie to work to create strong, independent public institutions empowered to enforce basic commercial law and financially punish those oligarchs who take advantage of rent-seeking opportunities to dampen the investment climate.

© Joseph Lough 2016