World Youth Day Protests and the Universality of Economics

One should find interesting that, in the face of a slew of possible arguments protesters could use against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, the one that seemed to be most publicised in the media is the use of 50 million Euros of public money to fund the Catholic event.

The fact that the economic argument seemed to be gaining traction even among Catholics should give one pause to consider the dominance of homo economicus even in the postmodern cultural milieu, as well as arguments about the private nature of the Christian tradition. The former, seen as fundamentally characterising ALL people regardless of "personal" persuasions - like Catholicism - is given pride of place as an unshakable truth at the expense of the latter in the discursive mediascape.

Never mind the fact that the giving priority to the economic man entails a matrix of unverifiable presumptions and practices that seem disturbingly like the "religion" the protesters are really trying to attack. Without subjecting these presumptions to the scrutiny of their own methods of inquiry, many who give pride of place to homo economicus merely assert, rather than demonstrate, the universality of man's need for money and the blinkered nature of man's need for "religion".

One must indeed sympathise and stand in solidarity with the Spanish unemployed that the protesters implicitly say they are trying to represent, because chances are that the protesters are really not all that interested in the unemployed. What we must also be aware of here is that we are not seeing not an attempt to trump private religion with the universal truth of economics, but the attempt to trump one form of religion with another.

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