Religion, Neoliberalism, the I-Zation of Society, and the Compassionate Tax

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Adam POSSAMAI, Western Sydney University, Australia
As religion was the sacred canopy in Middle Ages Europe, and as nationalism and its politics were the dominant civil religion during modernity, today neoliberalism is the dominant, and perhaps the most global civil religion. Its hegemony dominates more and more all aspects of life, and religion is not left untouched. While some faith groups are embracing this hegemony, and others are simply following the sign of the times, changes have been so significant that religion is no longer what it used to be. Since religions are increasingly informed and influenced by the logic of capitalism, this paper makes the statement that religions must today be understood in a completely different light to that in which they have traditionally been, as they now make more sense to the self than to the community. The theories of Fredric Jameson and George Ritzer will be adapted to this century and will shed light on these changes. The theory of the i-zation of society will then be proposed to reflect the development of digital capitalism and its impact on religion. One logical implication of this argument is the revision of tax exemptions given to religious groups (specifically for their religious rather than their charitable activities). Through a sociological lens, this paper proposes the creation of a global ‘compassionate taxe’ (i.e. a tax on non-charitable dealings by religious organisations). As religions are more and more mimicking, and even becoming, business groups, this paper claims that they should be tax exempt only for their specific charity work (acknowledging the hard work that many (not all) religious groups perform in the charitable sphere). Using the theories of Thomas Piketty, this proposed new global tax will be aimed at reducing the inequalities brought about by neoliberalism.