The Modernist God State seeks to overturn the traditional secularization approach to intellectual and political history and to replace it with a fuller understanding of the religious basis of modernist political movements. Lackey demonstrates that Christianity, instead of fading after the Enlightenment, actually increased its power by becoming embedded within the concept of what was considered the legitimate nation state, thus determining the political agendas of prominent political leaders from King Leopold II to Hitler.
Lackey first argues that novelists can represent intellectual and political history in a way that no other intellectual can. Specifically, they can picture a subconscious ideology, which often conflicts with consciously held systems of belief, short-circuiting straight into political action, an idea articulated by E.M. Forster. Second, in contrast to many literary scholars who discuss Hitler and the Nazis without studying and quoting their texts, Lackey draws his conclusions from close readings of their writings. In doing so, he shows that one cannot understand the Nazis without taking into account the specific version of Christianity underwriting their political agenda.
Michael Lackey is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of English at the University of Minnesota, USA. He is the author of African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Socio-Cultural Dynamics of Faith (University Press of Florida), which won the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title in 2007. He has published articles in numerous journals, including Callaloo, African American Review, Philosophy and Literature, Journal of the History of Ideas, and Modern Fiction Studies.