Life, Death, and the State. On the Latest Junctions of the Political and the Sacred
The author postulates that the recently widely discussed alternatives to the state as a political form and to specific states—empire, terrorist networks, transnational corporations, and international organizations—shared the qualities of transboundariness and extraterritoriality, while the state’s substantive feature had always been territoriality which helped it survive many conflicts. The first political effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is also global and transnational, is the revitalization of the state and especially its territorial dimension, that is, its right to establish and strengthen external and internal borders. Yet another, more important political effect of the pandemic is that the state has regained its sacred (in the sociological sense of the word) status and the role of the “salvation operator,” which it had had primordially and which temporarily receded into the background due to the widespread perception of the state exclusively as a “service structure.” The author believes that this return will significantly affect the course and outcome of another emerging conflict—between the state and digital platforms that are rapidly acquiring all the features of the sacred, in Durkheim’s interpretation of the term. The author concludes that it is the new junctions between the political and the sacred that will determine the further development of the world and the state.