Gramsci viewed popular religion as having the possibility of being a progressive movement against the bourgeois hegemony produced and reproduced in symbiosis with official religion and the state. In this pre—mass consumption society, there was the germ of a revolt in popular religion that could help the revolutionary push needed and guided by earlier Marxists. The goal of this chapter is to argue that with the entry of popular religion into the consumer societies of the Western world, popular religion has not moved further in terms of its opposition against the state. A case study of hyperreal religions and more specifically of Jediism will form the thread of the chapter. Following Simmel and Beck, I will argue that popular religion, like money, now individualizes and standardizes and by this process loses its oppositional strength.
In pre-consumer and pre-cyber culture, Gramsci argued that popular religion could help with counterhegemonic forces and that this could offer an opposition to the state. Could this still be the case today? Jediism is a spirituality that has been inspired by the Star Wars franchise. It is a subset of popular religion that has emerged in consumer and cyber culture and will be used as a case study for the purpose of this chapter.
Jediism has infiltrated a few censuses around the world and is actively present on the internet.