Greg Melleuish and Susanna Rizzo’s “From Secular Temporality to Post-Secular Timelessness: Trekking the Past’s Future and Future’s Past” appears in Telos 163 (Summer 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.
This essay is built on the assumption that History is as much about the future as it is about the past and that there is a “politics of history” that determines the relationship of the past to the present and the future. The secularization thesis created a model of history in which human beings passed from a condition in which they were religious, primitive, and querulous to one in which they were moving toward a world that would be not only secular but also peaceful. At the same time, the end of History can be understood in eschatological terms in which we are always at the end of days waiting for the purging that will allow the purpose of History to be fulfilled. The return of religion destroys this narrative and allows others to return, including History as irony and the possibility of the story as a denial of History. Post-secular History reflects both the crumbling of this once certain narrative and the legitimacy of the modern state that was built on that narrative. It is a crisis of authority, as can be seen in the proliferation of views and ideas that can be found on the world wide web, and the seeming erosion of the capacity of historians to control History and structure its narratives.