Voyou Désœuvré

I think I may have been living in California too long, partly because I found myself saying “thank-you so much” to somebody the other day, and also because I was surprised yesterday when, on landing in London, the pilot wished everyone on the plane “Merry Christmas,” rather than some more generic holiday greeting. But of course this was a British pilot, who thus adopted the British form of secularism, which consists in removing the Christian content from nominally religious institutions while maintaining the form. People sometimes remark that it’s paradoxical that the officially secular US is a more religious country than the officially religious UK, but it’s not a paradox at all. As Marx pointed out in On the Jewish Question, when the state defines itself as secular, it does so by presuming a religious civil society against which to contrast itself; the secular state depends on and promotes religion in the private sphere. A better approach for unbelievers is to, well, simply not believe, an approach exemplified by the Christmas of Noddy Holder, mince pies, and public holidays; the nominal origin of these events in religion is irrelevant to their actual content.

All of which is to say, I hope you all have a good communist christmas.

Merry communist christmas


  1. Kathleen, 4:21 pm, January 2, 2009

    Just wondered what else you would expect the British pilot to say on arriving in London at Christmas? Or perhaps you could enlighten me on what I might expect an American pilot to say on landing in America during the season of goodwill?

  2. voyou, 5:02 am, January 4, 2009

    Well, something that doesn’t specifically mention Christmas, like “season’s greetings” or “happy holidays.” If you think of Christmas primarily as a religious event, rather than a generic winter holiday, it would be odd to say “merry Christmas” when some of the people on the plane might not be Christians.

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