This paper considers the relevance of Franciscan monastic practice to contemporary postcapitalist politics in the time of the Anthropocene. Giorgio Agamben’s reflections on the monastic revolution of the eleventh and twelfth centuries explore the different relationships between the rules governing monastic life and materiality, wherein the renunciation of property and the practice of highest poverty give the greatest expression of a collective, monastic form of life. The embodied connection between having a rule and living it contrasts starkly with emergent Church doctrine that introduced a cynical split between the sacred and the material: good or bad, the priest only need say the words. Centuries later, a version of this cynical split seems operative in contemporary “green consumerist” responses to the Anthropocene, amounting to a palliative gesture when what is required is revolutionary transformation. In contrast, this essay considers how contemporary postcapitalist politics, like monasticism, rests upon embodied forms of collective life.
Healy, S. (2016). Saint Francis in Climate-Changing Times: Form of Life, the Highest Poverty, and Postcapitalist Politics. Rethinking Marxism, 28(3-4), 367-384.