On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods
Date: April 2009
Publisher: Duke University Press
Translator(s): Heather MacLean and Cathy Porter
Belief is not a state of mind, but a result of the relationships between peoples; this has been known since Montaigne. The visitor knows, the visited believes; or quite the opposite, the visitor knew, the visited makes him understand that he only thought he knew. Let us apply this principle to the case of the Moderns. Everywhere they drop anchor they soon put up fetishes, that is to say that in all the peoples they encounter, they see worshippers of objects that are nothing. Since of course the Moderns have to explain away the strangeness of a worship that cannot be justified objectively, they endow the savages with a mental state that has internal instead of external references. As the wave of colonization advances, so does the world fill with believers. He who is modern believes what others believe. On the contrary, the agnostic does not ask himself whether to believe or not, but why the Moderns need belief so much before they can have a relationship with others.