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Thread: Carl Schmitt (ᛉ1888 - ᛣ1985) and Apolitical Democracy

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    Post Carl Schmitt (ᛉ1888 - ᛣ1985) and Apolitical Democracy

    Liberalism or Democracy? Carl Schmitt and Apolitical Democracy

    By Tomislav Sunic


    "Les temps sont durs; les idees sont molles." - Francois-Bernard Huyghe, La Soft-Ideologie


    Growing imprecision in the language of political discourse has turned virtually everyone into a democrat or, at least, an aspiring democrat. East,West, North, South, in all corners of the world, politicians and intellectuals profess the democratic ideal, as if their rhetorical homage to democracy could substitute for the frequently poor showing of their democratic institutions[1] Does liberal democracy - and this is what we take as our criterion for the "best of all democracies"-mean more political participation or less, and how does one explain that in liberal democracy electoral interests have been declining for years? Judging by voter turnout, almost everywhere in the West the functioning of liberal democracy has been accompanied by political demobilization and a retreat from political participation[2].

    Might it be, that consciously or unconsciously, the citizens of liberal democracies realize that their ballot choices can in no substantial manner affect the way their societies are governed, or worse, that the rites of liberal democracy are an elegant smoke screen for the absence of self-government?

    Liberal Parenthesis and the End of the Muscled State
    This paper will argue both that democracy is not necessarily an accompanying feature of liberalism and that liberal democracy may often be the very opposite of what democracy is supposed to mean. Through the arguments of Carl Schmitt, I shall demonstrate that: 1) democracy can have a different meaning in liberal society than in non-liberal society, 2) the depoliticization of liberal democracy is the direct result of voter mistrust in the liberal political class, and 3) liberal democracy in multi-ethnic countries is likely to face serious challenges in the future.

    Over the period of the last fifty years, Western societies have witnessed a rapid eclipse of "hard" politics. Theological fanaticism, ideological ferocity, and politics of power, all of which have until recently rocked European states, have become things of the past. The influence of radical left-wing or right-wing parties and ideologies has waned. "High" politics, as a traditional action and interaction process between the rulers and the ruled, and as a guide for purported national destiny, seems to have become obsolete. With the collapse of communism in the East, modern liberal democracies in the West appear today as the only alternative forms of government on the barren political and ideological landscape. Moreover, in view of the recent collapse of totalitarian ideologies, liberal democracy seems to have gained even more legitimacy, all the more so as it successfully accommodates differing political views. Western liberal democracy, people believe, can satisfy diverse and disparate opinions, and can continue to function even when these are non-democratic and anti-liberal.

    For Schmitt, liberal tolerance towards opposing political views is deceiving. In all of his works, and particularly in Verfassungslehre and Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus, he points to differences between liberalism and democracy, asserting that liberalism, by its nature, is hostile to all political projects. In liberal democracy, writes Schmitt, "politics far from being the concern of an elite, has become the despised business of a rather dubious class of persons."[3] One may add that liberal democracy does not appear to be in need of political projects: With its vast technological infrastructure and the free market network, argues Schmitt, liberal democracy has no difficulty in rendering all contending beliefs and opposing ideologies inoffensive, or, at worst, ridiculous[4].

    In liberal democracy, in which most collective projects have already been delegitimatized by belief in individualism and in the private pursuit of economic well-being, "it cannot be required, from any thinkable point of view, that anyone lays down his life, in the interest of the undisturbed functioning [of this society.]"[5] Little by little, liberal democracy makes all political projects unattractive and unpopular, unless they appeal to economic interests. Liberal democracy, writes Schmitt, seems to be fitted for a rational, secularized environment in which the state is reduced to a "night-watchman" supervising economic transactions. The state becomes a sort of inoffensive "mini-state" ["Minimalstaat"] or stato neutrale.[6] One could almost argue that the strength of liberal democracy lies not in its aggressive posturing of its liberal ideal, but rather in its renunciation of all political ideals, including its own.

    To some extent, this apolitical inertia appears today stronger than ever before, since no valid challenger to liberal democracy appears on the horizon. What a stark contrast to the time prior to World War II, when radical left- and rightwing ideologies managed to draw substantial support from political and intellectual elites! Might it be that the "Entzauberung" of politics has gone so far as to contribute to the strengthening of apolitical liberal democracy? Very revealing, indeed, appears the change in the behavior of modern elites in liberal democracies; left, right, and center barely differ in their public statements or in their political vocabulary. Their styles may differ, but their messages remain virtually the same. The "soft" and apolitical discourse of modern liberal princes, as one French observer recently wrote, prompts the "liberal-socialist" to exclaim: "I will die from loving your beautiful eyes Marquise." And to this the "socialist-liberal"responds: "Marquise, from loving your beautiful eyes, I will die."[7] Leftwing agendas are so often tainted with rightwing rhetoric that they appear to incorporate conservative principles. Conversely, rightwing politicians often sound like disillusioned leftists on many issues of domestic and foreign policy. In liberal democracy, all parties across the political spectrum, regardless of their declaratory differences, seem to be in agreement on one thing: democracy functions best when the political arena is reduced to its minimum and the economic and juridical spheres are expanded to their maximum.

    Part of the problem may result from the very nature of liberalism. Schmitt suggests that the notions of liberalism and democracy "have to be distinguished from one another so that the patchwork picture that makes up modern mass democracy can be recognized."[8] As Schmitt notes, democracy is the antithesis of liberalism, because "democracy ... attempts to realize an identity of the governed and the governors, and thus it confronts the parliament as an inconceivable and outmoded institution."[9]

    Organic Democracy vs. Apolitical Democracy
    True democracy, for Schmitt, means popular sovereignty, whereas liberal democracy and liberal parliament aim at curbing popular power. For Schmitt, if democratic identity is taken seriously, only the people should decide on their political destiny, and not liberal representatives, because "no other constitutional institution can withstand the sole criterion of the people's will, however it is expressed."[10] Liberal democracy, argues Schmitt, is nothing else but a euphemism for a system consecrating the demise of politics and thus destroying true democracy. But a question arises: why, given liberalism's history of tolerance and its propensity to accommodate diverse groups, does Schmitt adamantly reject liberal democracy? Has not liberalism, particularly in the light of recent experiences with "muscled ideologies," proven its superior and humane nature?

    The crux of Schmitt's stance lies in his conviction that the concept of "liberal democracy" is semantic nonsense. In its place, Schmitt seems to suggest both a new definition of democracy and a new notion of the political. According to Schmitt, "democracy requires, first homogeneity and second-if the need arises-elimination or eradication of heterogeneity."[11] Homogeneity and the concomitant elimination of heterogeneity are the two pillars of Schmitt's democracy, something which stands in sharp contrast to liberal party systems and the fragmentation of the body politic. Democratic homogeneity, according to Schmitt, presupposes a common historical memory, common roots, and a common vision of the future, all of which can subsist only in a polity where the people speak with one voice. "As long as a people has the will to political existence," writes Schmitt," it must remain above all formulations and normative beliefs. . . . The most natural way of the direct expression of the people's will is by approvals or disapprovals of the gathered crowd, i.e., the acclamation."[12] To be sure, with his definition of homogeneous democracy that results from the popular will, Schmitt appears to be holding the value of the traditional community above that of civil society which, for the last century, has been the hallmark of liberal democracy.[13] One may therefore wonder to what extent can Schmitt's "organic" democracy be applicable to the highly fractured societies of the West, let alone to an ethnically fragmented America.

    Schmitt insists that "the central concept of democracy is the people (Volk), not mankind [Menscheit]. . . . There can be-if democracy takes a political form-only popular democracy, but not a democracy of mankind [Es gibt eine Volksdemokratie und keine Menscheitsdemokratie]."[14] Naturally, this vision of "ethnic" democracy collides with modern liberal democracy, one of the purposes of which, its proponents claim, is to transcend ethnic differences in pluralistic societies. Schmitt's "ethnic" democracy must be seen as the reflection of the uniqueness of a given people who oppose imitations of their democracy by other peoples or races. Since Schmitt's democracy bears a resemblance to ancient Greek democracy, critics must wonder how feasible this democracy can be today. Transplanted into the twentieth century, this democratic anachronism will appear disturbing, not least because it will remind some of both fascist corporate and Third World states with their strict laws on ethnic and cultural homogeneity. Schmitt confirms these misgivings when he states that "a democracy demonstrates its political power by knowing how to refuse or keep at bay something foreign and unequal that threatens its homogeneity [das Fremde und Ungleiche . . . zu beseitigen oder fernzuhalten]."[15] Any advocate of liberal democracy in modern multicultural societies could complain that Schmitt's democracy excludes those whose birth, race, or simply religious or ideological affiliation is found incompatible with a restricted democracy. Foreign may be a foreign idea that is seen to threaten democracy, and a foreigner may be somebody who is viewed as unfit to participate in the body politic because of his race or creed. In other words, one could easily suspect Schmitt of endorsing the kind of democracy that approximates the "total state."

    Nor does Schmitt treat the liberal principles of legality with much sympathy. In his essay "Legalitat und Legitimitat," Schmitt argues that the kind of liberal democracy creates the illusion of freedom by according to each political group and opposing opinion a fair amount of freedom of expression as well as a guaranteed legal path to accomplish its goal in a peaceful manner.[16] Such an attitude to legal rights is contrary to the notion of democracy, and eventually leads to anarchy, argues Schmitt, because legality in a true democracy must always be the expression of the popular will and not the expression of factional interests. "Law is the expression of the will of the people (lex est quod populus jubet)," writes Schmitt, [17] and in no way can law be a manifestation of an anonymous representative or a parliamentarian who solely looks after interests of his narrow constituency. Indeed, continues Schmitt, an ethnically homogeneous and historical people has all the prerequisites to uphold justice and remain democratic, provided it always asserts its will.[18] Of course, one may argue that Schmitt had in mind a form of populist democracy reminiscent of the 1930s' plebiscitary dictatorships which scorned both parliamentary parties and organized elections. In his Verfassungslehre, Schmitt attacks free parliamentary elections for creating, through secret balloting, a mechanism which. "transforms the citizen (citoyen), that is, a specifically democratic and political figure, into a private person who only expresses his private opinion and gives his vote."[19] Here Schmitt seems to be consistent with his earlier remarks about ethnic homogeneity. For Schmitt, the much-vaunted "public opinion," which liberals equate with the notion of political tolerance, is actually a contradiction in terms, because a system which is obsessed with privacy inevitably shies away from political openness. True and organic democracy, according to Schmitt, is threatened by liberal secret balloting, and "the result is the sum of private opinions."[20] Schmitt goes on to say that "the methods of today's popular elections [Volkswahl] and referendums [Volksentscheid] in modern democracy, in no way contain the procedure for genuine popular elections; instead, they organize a procedure for the elections of the individuals based on the total sum of independent ballot papers."[21]

    Predictably, Schmitt's view of democratic equality is dependent upon his belief that democracy entails social homogeneity, an idea Schmitt develops more fully in Verfassungslehre and The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy. Although liberal democracy upholds the legal equality of individuals, it ignores the equality of rooted citizens. Liberal democracy merely provides for the equality of atomized individuals whose ethnic, cultural, or racial bonds are so weakened or diluted that they can no longer be viewed as equal inheritors of a common cultural memory and a common vision of the future. Undoubtedly, equality and democracy, for Schmitt, are inseparable. Equality in a genuine organic democracy always takes place among "equals of the same kind (Gleichartigen)."[22] This corresponds to Schmitt's earlier assertions that "equal rights make good sense where homogeneity exists."[23] Could one infer from these brief descriptions of democratic equality that in an ethnically or ideologically fragmented society equality can never be attained? One might argue that by transferring the political discourse of equality to the juridical sphere, liberal democracy has elegantly masked glaring inequality in another sphere-that of economics. One could agree with Schmitt that liberal democracy, as much as it heralds "human rights" and legal equality and proudly boasts of "equality of (economic) opportunity," encourages material disparities. Indeed, inequality in liberal democracy has not disappeared, and, in accordance with the Schmitt's 'observations regarding the shifts in the political sphere, "another sphere in which substantial inequality prevails (today, for example the economic sphere), will dominate politics. Small wonder that, in view of its contradictory approach to equality, liberal democracy has been under constant fire from the left and the right.[24]

    To sum up, Schmitt rejects liberal democracy on several counts: 1) liberal . democracy is not "demo-krasia," because it does not foster the identity of the governed and the governors, 2) liberal democracy reduces the political arena, and thus creates an apolitical society, and 3) in upholding legal equality, and pursuant to its constant search for the wealth that will win it support, liberal democracy results in glaring economic inequality.

    The Rule of the People or the Rule of Atomized Individuals?
    From the etymological and historical points of view, Schmitt's criticism of liberal democracy merits attention. Democracy signifies the rule of the people, a specific people with a common ethnic background, and not the people construed, after the manner of some liberal democracies, as the atomized agglomeration flowing from a cultural "melting pot." But if one assumes that a new type of homogeneity can develop, e.g., homogeneity caused by technological progress, then one cannot dispute the functionality of a liberal democracy in which the homogenized citizens remain thoroughly apolitical: Hypothetically speaking, political issues in the decades to come may no longer be ethnicity, religions, nation-states, economics, or even technology, but other issues that could "homogenize" citizens. Whether democracy in the twenty-first century will be based on apolitical consensus remains to be seen. Schmitt sincerely feared that the apoliticism of "global liberal democracy" under the aegis of the United States could become a dangerous predicament for all, leading not to global peace but to global servitude.[25] As of today, however, liberal democracy still serves as a normative concept for many countries, but whether this will remain so is an open question.

    In view of the increased ethnic fragmentation and continued economic disparities in the world, it seems that Schmitt's analysis may contain a grain of truth. The American experience with liberal democracy has so far been tolerable: that is, the U.S. has shown that it can function as a heterogeneous multi-ethnic society even when, contrary to Schmitt's fears, the level of political and historical consciousness remains very low. Yet, the liberal democratic experiment elsewhere has been less successful. Recent attempts to introduce liberal democracy into the multi-ethnic states of Eastern Europe have paradoxically speeded up their dissolution or, at best, weakened their legitimacy. The cases of the multi-ethnic Soviet Union and the now-defunct Yugoslavia-countries in endless struggles to find lasting legitimacy-are very revealing and confirm Schmitt's predictions that democracy functions best, at least in some places, in ethnically homogeneous societies.[26] In light of the collapse of communism and fascism, one is tempted to argue that liberal democracy is the wave of the future. Yet, exported American political ideals will vary according to the countries and the peoples among whom they take root. Even the highly Americanized European countries practice a different brand of liberal democracy from what one encounters in America.

    Schmitt observes that liberalism, while focusing on the private rights of individuals, contributes to the weakening of the sense of community. Liberal democracy typifies, for Schmitt, a polity which cripples the sense of responsibility and renders society vulnerable to enemies both from within and without. By contrast, his idea of organic democracy is not designed for individuals who yearn to reduce political activity to the private pursuit of happiness; rather, organic, classical democracy means "the identity of the governors and the governed, of the rulers and the ruled, of those who receive orders and of those who abide by them."[27] In such a polity, laws and even the constitution itself can be changed on a short notice because the people, acting as their own legislators, do not employ parliamentary representatives.

    Schmitt's democracy could easily pass for what liberal theorists would identify as a disagreeable dictatorship. Would Schmitt object to that? Hardly. In fact, he does not discount the compatibility of democracy with communism or even fascism. "Bolshevism and Fascism," writes Schmitt, "by contrast, are like all dictatorships certainly antiliberal, but not necessarily antidemocratic."[28] Both communism and fascism strive towards homogeneity (even if they attempt to be homogeneous by force) by banning all opposition. Communism, for which the resolute anti-Bolshevik Schmitt had no sympathy, can surely be democratic, at least in its normative and utopian stage. The "educational dictatorship" of communism, remarks Schmitt, may suspend democracy in the name of democracy, "because it shows that dictatorship is not antithetical to democracy."[29] In a true democracy, legitimacy derives not from parliamentary maneuvers, but from acclamation and popular referenda. "There is no democracy and no state without public opinion, and no state without acclamation," writes Schmitt [30] By contrast, liberal democracy with its main pillars, viz., individual liberty and the separation of powers, opposes public opinion and, thus, must stand forth as the enemy of true democracy. Or, are we dealing here with words that have become equivocal? According to Schmitt, "democratic principles mean that the people as a whole decides and governs as a sovereign."[31] One could argue that democracy must be a form of kratos, an exercise, not a limiting, of power. Julien Freund, a French Schmittian, concurs that "democracy is a 'kratos.' As such it presupposes, just like any other regime, the presence and the validity of an authority." [32] With its separation of powers, the atomization of the body politic, and the neutralization of politics, liberal democracy deviates from this model.


    Conclusion: The Liberal 'Dictatorship of Well-Being'
    If one assumes that Schmitt's "total democracy" excludes those with different views and different ethnic origins, could not one also argue that liberal democracy excludes by virtue of applying an "apolitical" central field? Through apolitical economics and social censure, liberal democracy paradoxically generates a homogeneous consumer culture. Is this not a form of "soft" punishment imposed on those who behave incorrectly? Long ago, in his observations about democracy in America, Tocqueville pointed out the dangers of apolitical "democratic despotism." "If despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them."[33] Perhaps this "democratic despotism" is already at work in liberal democracies. A person nowadays can be effectively silenced by being attacked as socially insensitive.

    Contemporary liberal democracy amply demonstrates the degree to which the economic and spiritual needs of citizens have become homogenized. Citizens act more and more indistinguishably in a new form of "dictatorship of well-being."[34] Certainly, this homogeneity in liberal democracy does not spring from coercion or physical exclusion, but rather from the voter's sense of futility. Official censorship is no longer needed as the ostracism resulting from political incorrectness becomes daily more obvious. Citizens appear more and more apathetic, knowing in all likelihood that, regardless of their participation, the current power structure will remain intact. Moreover, liberal democrats, as much as they complain about the intolerance of others, often appear themselves scornful of those who doubt liberal doctrines, particularly the beliefs in rationalism and economic progress. The French thinker Georges Sorel, who influenced Schmitt, remarked long ago that to protest against the illusion of liberal rationalism means to be immediately branded as the enemy of democracy.[35] One must agree that, irrespective of its relative tolerance in the past, liberal democracy appears to have its own sets of values and normative claims. Its adherents, for example, are supposed to believe that liberal democracy operates entirely by law. Julien Freund detects in liberal legalism "an irenic concept" of law, "a juridical utopia . . . which ignores the real effects of political, economic and other relations."[36] No wonder that Schmitt and his followers have difficulty in accepting the liberal vision of the rule of law, or in believing that such a vision can "suspend decisive [ideological] battle through endless discussion."[37] In its quest for a perfect and apolitical society, liberal democracy develops in such a manner that "public discussion [becomes] an empty formality,"[38] reduced to shallow discourse in which different opinions are no longer debated. A modern liberal politician increasingly resembles an "entertainer" whose goal is not to persuade the opponent about the validity of his political programs, but primarily to obtain electoral majorities.[39]

    In hindsight, it should not appear strange that liberal democracy, which claims to be open to all kinds of technological, economic and sexual "revolutions," remains opposed to anything that would question its apolitical status quo. It comes, therefore, as no surprise that even the word "politics" is increasingly being supplanted by the more anodyne word "policy," just as prime ministers in liberal democracies are increasingly recruited from economists and businessmen.

    Schmitt correctly predicted that even the defeat of fascism and the recent collapse of communism would not forestall a political crisis in liberal democracy. For Schmitt, this crisis is inherent in the very nature of liberalism, and will keep recurring even if all anti-liberal ideologies disappeared. The crisis in liberal parliamentary democracy is the result of the contradiction between liberalism and democracy; it is, in Schmittian language, the crisis of a society that attempts to be both liberal and democratic, universal and legalistic, but at the same time committed to the self-government of peoples.

    One does not need to go far in search of fields that may politicize and then polarize modern liberal democracy. Recent events in Eastern Europe, the explosion of nationalisms all around the world, racial clashes in the liberal democratic West - these and other "disruptive" developments demonstrate that the liberal faith may have a stormy future. Liberal democracy may fall prey to its own sense of infallibility if it concludes that nobody is willing to challenge it. This would be a mistake. For neither the demise of fascism nor the recent collapse of communism has ushered in a more peaceful epoch. Although Western Europe and America are now enjoying a comfortable respite from power politics, new conflicts have erupted in their societies, over multiculturalism and human rights. The end of liberal apolitical democracy and the return of "hard" politics may be taking place within liberal democratic societies.


    Source: http://www.evrazia.org/modules.php?...article&sid=567

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    by Paul Hirst

    Since 1945 Western nations have witnessed a dramatic reduction in the variety of positions in political theory and jurisprudence. Political argument has been virtually reduced to contests within liberal-democratic theory. Even radicals now take representative democracy as their unquestioned point of departure. There are, of course, some benefits following from this restriction of political debate. Fascist, Nazi and Stalinist political ideologies are now beyond the pale. But the hegemony of liberal-democratic political agreement tends to obscure the fact that we are thinking in terms which were already obsolete at the end of the nineteenth century.

    Nazism and Stalinism frightened Western politicians into a strict adherence to liberal democracy. Political discussion remains excessively rigid, even though the liberal-democratic view of politics is grossly at odds with our political condition. Conservative theorists like Hayek try to re-create idealized political conditions of the mid nineteenth century. In so doing, they lend themselves to some of the most unsavoury interests of the late twentieth century - those determined to exploit the present undemocratic political condition. Social-democratic theorists also avoid the central question of how to ensure public accountability of big government. Many radicals see liberal democracy as a means to reform, rather than as what needs to be reformed. They attempt to extend governmental action, without devising new means of controlling governmental agencies. New Right thinkers have reinforced the situation by pitting classical liberalism against democracy, individual rights against an interventionist state. There are no challenges to representative democracy, only attempts to restrict its functions. The democratic state continues to be seen as a sovereign public power able to assure public peace.

    The terms of debate have not always been so restricted. In the first three decades of this century, liberal-democratic theory and the notion of popular sovereignty through representative government were widely challenged by many groups. Much of this challenge, of course, was demagogic rhetoric presented on behalf of absurd doctrines of social reorganization. The anti-liberal criticism of Sorel, Maurras or Mussolini may be occasionally intriguing, but their alternatives are poisonous and fortunately, no longer have a place in contemporary political discussion. The same can be said of much of the ultra-leftist and communist political theory of this period.

    Other arguments are dismissed only at a cost. The one I will consider here - Carl Schmitt's 'decisionism' - challenges the liberal-democratic theory of sovereignty in a way that throws considerable light on contemporary political conditions. His political theory before the Nazi seizure of power shared some assumptions with fascist political doctrine and he did attempt to become the 'crown jurist' of the new Nazi state. Nevertheless, Schmitt's work asks hard questions and points to aspects of political life too uncomfortable to ignore. Because his thinking about concrete political situations is not governed by any dogmatic political alternative, it exhibits a peculiar objectivity.

    Schmitt's situational judgment stems from his view of politics or, more correctly, from his view of the political as 'friend-enemy' relations, which explains how he could change suddenly from contempt for Hitler to endorsing Nazism. If it is nihilistic to lack substantial ethical standards beyond politics, then Schmitt is a nihilist. In this, however, he is in the company of many modern political thinkers. What led him to collaborate with the Nazis from March 1933 to December 1936 was not, however, ethical nihilism, but above all concern with order. Along with many German conservatives, Schmitt saw the choice as either Hitler or chaos. As it turned out, he saved his life but lost his reputation. He lived in disrepute in the later years of the Third Reich, and died in ignominy in the Federal Republic. But political thought should not be evaluated on the basis of the authors' personal political judgments. Thus the value of Schmitt's work is not diminished by the choices he made.

    Schmitt's main targets are the liberal-constitutional theory of the state and the parliamentarist conception of politics. In the former, the state is subordinated to law; it becomes the executor of purposes determined by a representative legislative assembly. In the latter, politics is dominated by 'discussion,' by the free deliberation of representatives in the assembly. Schmitt considers nineteenth-century liberal democracy anti-political and rendered impotent by a rule-bound legalism, a rationalistic concept of political debate, and the desire that individual citizens enjoy a legally guaranteed 'private' sphere protected from the state. The political is none of these things. Its essence is struggle.

    In The Concept of the Political Schmitt argues that the differentia specifica of the political, which separates it from other spheres of life, such as religion or economics, is friend-enemy relations. The political comes into being when groups are placed in a relation of enmity, where each comes to perceive the other as an irreconcilable adversary to be fought and, if possible, defeated. Such relations exhibit an existential logic which overrides the motives which may have brought groups to this point. Each group now faces an opponent, and must take account of that fact: 'Every religious, moral, economic, ethical, or other antithesis transforms itself into a political one if it is sufficiently strong to group human beings effectively according to friends and enemy.' The political consists not in war or armed conflict as such, but precisely in the relation of enmity: not competition but confrontation. It is bound by no law: it is prior to no law.

    For Schmitt: 'The concept of the state presupposes the concept of the political.' States arise as a means of continuing, organizing and channeling political struggle. It is political struggle which gives rise to political order. Any entity involved in friend-enemy relations is by definition political, whatever its origin or the origin of the differences leading to enmity: 'A religious community which wages wars against members of others religious communities or engages in other wars is already more than a religious community; it is a political entity.' The political condition arises from the struggle of groups; internal order is imposed to pursue external conflict. To view the state as the settled and orderly administration of a territory, concerned with the organization of its affairs according to law, is to see only the stabilized results of conflict. It is also to ignore the fact that the state stands in a relation of enmity to other states, that it holds its territory by means of armed force and that, on this basis of a monopoly of force, it can make claims to be the lawful government of that territory. The peaceful, legalistic, liberal bourgeoisie is sitting on a volcano and ignoring the fact. Their world depends on a relative stabilization of conflict within the state, and on the state's ability to keep at bay other potentially hostile states.

    For Hobbes, the political state arises from a contract to submit to a sovereign who will put an end to the war of all against all which must otherwise prevail in a state of nature - an exchange of obedience for protection. Schmitt starts where Hobbes leaves off - with the natural condition between organized and competing groups or states. No amount of discussion, compromise or exhortation can settle issues between enemies. There can be no genuine agreement, because in the end there is nothing to agree about. Dominated as it is by the friend-enemy alternative, the political requires not discussion but decision. No amount of reflection can change an issue which is so existentially primitive that it precludes it. Speeches and motions in assemblies should not be contraposed to blood and iron but with the moral force of the decision, because vacillating parliamentarians can also cause considerable bloodshed.

    In Schmitt's view, parliamentarism and liberalism existed in a particular historical epoch between the 'absolute' state of the seventeenth century and the 'total state' of the twentieth century. Parliamentary discussion and a liberal 'private sphere' presupposed the depoliticization of a large area of social, economic and cultural life. The state provided a legally codified order within which social customs, economic competition, religious beliefs, and so on, could be pursued without becoming 'political.' 'Politics' as such ceases to be exclusively the affair of the state when 'state and society penetrate each other.' The modern 'total state' breaks down the depoliticization on which such a narrow view of politics could rest:
    quote:

    Heretofore ostensibly neutral domains - religion, culture, education, the economy - then cease to be neutral. . . Against such neutralizations and depoliticizations of important domains appears the total state, which potentially embraces every domain. This results in the identity of the state and society. In such a state. . . everything is at least potentially political, and in referring to the state it is no longer possible to assert for it a specifically political characteristic.



    Democracy and liberalism are fundamentally antagonistic. Democracy does away with the depoliticizations characteristic of rule by a narrow bourgeois stratum insulated from popular demands. Mass politics means a broadening of the agenda to include the affairs of all society - everything is potentially political. Mass politics also threatens existing forms of legal order. The politicization of all domains increases pressure on the state by multiplying the competing interests demanding action; at the same time, the function of the liberal legal framework - the regulating of the 'private sphere' - become inadequate. Once all social affairs become political, the existing constitutional framework threatens the social order: politics becomes a contest of organized parties seeking to prevail rather than to achieve reconciliation. The result is a state bound by law to allow every party an 'equal chance' for power: a weak state threatened with dissolution.

    Schmitt may be an authoritarian conservative. But his diagnosis of the defects of parliamentarism and liberalism is an objective analysis rather than a mere restatement of value preferences. His concept of 'sovereignty' is challenging because it forces us to think very carefully about the conjuring trick which is 'law.' Liberalism tries to make the state subject to law. Laws are lawful if properly enacted according to set procedures; hence the 'rule of law.' In much liberal-democratic constitutional doctrine the legislature is held to be 'sovereign': it derives its law-making power from the will of the people expressed through their 'representatives.' Liberalism relies on a constituting political moment in order that the 'sovereignty' implied in democratic legislatures be unable to modify at will not only specific laws but also law-making processes. It is therefore threatened by a condition of politics which converts the 'rule of law' into a merely formal doctrine. If this 'rule of law' is simply the people's will expressed through their representatives, then it has no determinate content and the state is no longer substantially bound by law in its actions.

    Classical liberalism implies a highly conservative version of the rule of law and sovereignty limited by a constitutive political act beyond the reach of normal politics. Democracy threatens the parliamentary-constitutional regime with a boundless sovereign power claimed in the name of the 'people.' This reveals that all legal orders have an 'outside'; they rest on a political condition which is prior to and not bound by the law. A constitution can survive only if the constituting political act is upheld by some political power. The 'people' exist only in the claims of that tiny minority (their 'representatives') which functions as a 'majority' in the legislative assembly. 'Sovereignty' is thus not a matter of formal constitutional doctrine or essentially hypocritical references to the 'people'; it is a matter of determining which particular agency has the capacity - outside of law - to impose an order which, because it is political, can become legal.

    Schmitt's analysis cuts through three hundred years of political theory and public law doctrine to define sovereignty in a way that renders irrelevant the endless debates about principles of political organization or the formal constitutional powers of different bodies.
    quote:

    From a practical or theoretical perspective, it really does not matter whether an abstract scheme advanced to define sovereignty (namely, that sovereignty is the highest power, not a derived power) is acceptable. About an abstract concept there will be no argument. . . What is argued about is the concrete application, and that means who decides in a situation of conflict what constitutes the public interest or interest of the state, public safety and order, le salut public, and so on. The exception, which is not codified in the existing legal order, can at best be characterized as a case of extreme peril, a danger to the existence of the state, or the like, but it cannot be circumscribed factually and made to conform to a preformed law.



    Brutally put: ' Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.' The sovereign is a definite agency capable of making a decision, not a legitimating category (the 'people') or a purely formal definition (plentitude of power, etc.). Sovereignty is outside the law, since the actions of the sovereign in the state of exception cannot be bound by laws since laws presuppose a normal situation. To claim that this is anti-legal is to ignore the fact that all laws have an outside, that they exist because of a substantiated claim on the part of some agency to be the dominant source of binding rules within a territory. The sovereign determines the possibility of the 'rule of law' by deciding on the exception: 'For a legal order to make sense, a normal situation must exist, and he is sovereign who definitely decides whether this normal situation actually exists.'

    Schmitt's concept of the exception is neither nihilistic nor anarchistic; it is concerned with the preservation of the state and the defence of legitimately constituted government and the stable institutions of society. He argues that ' the exception is different from anarchy and chaos.' It is an attempt to restore order in a political sense. While the state of exception can know no norms, the actions of the sovereign within the state must be governed by what is prudent to restore order. Barbaric excess and pure arbitrary power is not Schmitt's object. power is limited by a prudent concern for the social order; in the exception, 'order in the juristic sense still prevails, even if it is not of the ordinary kind.' Schmitt may be a relativist with regard to ultimate values in politics. But he is certainly a conservative concerned with defending a political framework in which the 'concrete orders' of society can be preserved, which distinguishes his thinking from both fascism and Nazism in their subordination of all social institutions to such idealized entities as the Leader and the People. For Schmitt, the exception is never the rule, as it is with fascism and Nazism. If he persists in demonstrating how law depends on politics, the norm on the exception, stability on struggle, he points up the contrary illusions of fascism and Nazism. In fact, Schmitt's work can be used as a critique of both. The ruthless logic in his analysis of the political, the nature of sovereignty, and the exception demonstrates the irrationality of fascism and Nazism. The exception cannot be made the rule in the 'total state' without reducing society to such a disorder through the political actions of the mass party that the very survival of the state is threatened. The Nazi state sought war as the highest goal in politics, but conducted its affairs in such a chaotic way that its war-making capacity was undermined and its war aims became fatally overextended. Schmitt's friend-enemy thesis is concerned with avoiding the danger that the logic of the political will reach its conclusion in unlimited war.

    Schmitt modernizes the absolutist doctrines of Bodin and Hobbes. His jurisprudence restores - in the exception rather than the norm - the sovereign as uncommanded commander. For Hobbes, laws are orders given by those with authority - authoritas non veritas facit legem. Confronted with complex systems of procedural limitation in public law and with the formalization of law into a system, laws become far more complex than orders. Modern legal positivism could point to a normal liberal-parliamentary legal order which did and still does appear to contradict Hobbes. Even in the somewhat modernized form of John Austin, the Hobbesian view of sovereignty is rejected on all sides. Schmitt shared neither the simplistic view of Hobbes that this implies, nor the indifference of modern legal positivism to the political foundation of law. He founded his jurisprudence neither on the normal workings of the legal order nor on the formal niceties of constitutional doctrine, but on a condition quite alien to them. 'Normalcy' rests not on legal or constitutional conditions but on a certain balance of political forces, a certain capacity of the state to impose order by force should the need arise. This is especially true of liberal-parliamentary regimes, whose public law requires stabilization of political conflicts and considerable police and war powers even to begin to have the slightest chance of functioning at all. Law cannot itself form a completely rational and lawful system; the analysis of the state must make reference to those agencies which have the capacity to decide on the state of exception and not merely a formal plentitude of power.

    In Political Theology Schmitt claims that the concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts. This is obvious in the case of the concept of sovereignty, wherein the omnipotent lawgiver is a mundane version of an all-powerful God. He argues that liberalism and parliamentarism correspond to deist views of God's action through constant and general natural laws. His own view is a form of fundamentalism in which the exception plays the same role in relation to the state as the miracles of Jesus do in confirming the Gospel. The exception reveals the legally unlimited capacity of whoever is sovereign within the state. In conventional, liberal-democratic doctrine the people are sovereign; their will is expressed through representatives. Schmitt argues that modern democracy is a form of populism in that the people are mobilized by propaganda and organized interests. Such a democracy bases legitimacy on the people's will. Thus parliament exists on the sufferance of political parties, propaganda agencies and organized interest which compete for popular 'consent.' When parliamentary forms and the rule of 'law' become inadequate to the political situation, they will be dispensed with in the name of the people: 'No other constitutional institution can withstand the sole criterion of the people's will, however it is expressed.'

    Schmitt thus accepts the logic of Weber's view of plebiscitarian democracy and the rise of bureaucratic mass parties, which utterly destroy the old parliamentary notables. He uses the nineteenth-century conservatives Juan Donoso Cortes to set the essential dilemma in Political Theology: either a boundless democracy of plebiscitarian populism which will carry us wherever it will (i.e. to Marxist or fascist domination) or a dictatorship. Schmitt advocates a very specific form of dictatorship in a state of exception - a "commissarial' dictatorship, which acts to restore social stability, to preserve the concrete orders of society and restore the constitution. The dictator has a constitutional office. He acts in the name of the constitution, but takes such measures as are necessary to preserve order. these measures are not bound by law; they are extralegal.

    Schmitt's doctrine thus involves a paradox. For all its stress on friend-enemy relations, on decisive political action, its core, its aim, is the maintenance of stability and order. It is founded on a political non-law, but not in the interest of lawlessness. Schmitt insists that the constitution must be capable of meeting the challenge of the exception, and of allowing those measures necessary to preserve order. He is anti-liberal because he claims that liberalism cannot cope with the reality of the political; it can only insist on a legal formalism which is useless in the exceptional case. He argues that only those parties which are bound to uphold the constitution should be allowed an 'equal chance' to struggle for power. Parties which threaten the existing order and use constitutional means to challenge the constitution should be subject to rigorous control.

    Schmitt's relentless attack on 'discussion' makes most democrats and radicals extremely hostile to his views. He is a determined critic of the Enlightenment. Habermas's 'ideal speech situation', in which we communicate without distortion to discover a common 'emancipatory interest', would appear to Schmitt as a trivial philosophical restatement of Guizot's view that in representative government, ' through discussion the powers-that-be are obliged to seek truth in common." Schmitt is probably right. Enemies have nothing to discuss and we can never attain a situation in which the friend-enemy distinction is abolished. Liberalism does tend to ignore the exception and the more resolute forms of political struggle.
    __________________
    Last edited by Moody; Friday, December 1st, 2006 at 06:45 PM. Reason: merged two consecutive posts

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    Post

    Schmitt was a brilliant law professor who joined the NSDAP in 1933 when he was in his mid-forties.

    At the moment I am much interested in his idea of the Friend/Enemy antithesis as referred to in the above article.
    I will quote Schmitt himself;

    "Let us assume that in the realm of morality the final distinctions are between good and evil, in aesthetics beautiful and ugly, in ecomomics profitable and unprofitable.
    The question then is whether there is also a special distinction which can serve as a simple criterion of the political and of what it consists".
    [Schmitt, 'The Concept of the Political']

    This is a brilliant premise; we should look at all areas and seek this basic antithetical criterion in order to clarify our thinking;

    "The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy".
    [ib.,]

    Politics = Friend vs, Enemy.
    This is a brilliant insight; Schmitt goes on;

    "The political enemy is the 'Other', the stranger, and it is sufficient for his nature that he is, in a specially intense way, essentially something different and alien, so that in the extreme case, conflicts with him are possible".
    [ib.,]

    Those of us interested in racial politics see the truth of this criterion - Schmitt has hit upon a great truth.

    "Each participant is in a position to judge whether the adversary intends to negate his opponent's way of life and therefore must be repulsed or fought in order to preserve one's own form of existence".

    Again, this makes our political situation very clear;

    "The friend and enemy concepts are to be understood in their concrete and existential sense, not as metaphors or symbols, not mixed and weakened by economic, moral and other conceptions, least of all in a private-individualistic sense as a psychological expression of private emotions and tendencies".
    [ib.,]

    These are very important points.
    The Latin gives us 'hostile' and 'inimical', which are synonyms in English; but in Latin, the former referred to this political 'friend/enemy' antithesis, while the latter to the personal and private 'friend/foe' antithesis.
    Schmitt is not referring to the latter; he is talking of only the PUBLIC enemy, and not the PRIVATE enemy. Those missing this distinction can get about over-wrought in politics and persue public enmities as if they were private ones - this is unnecessary and ignoble.
    Also, as Schmitt points out, the political antithesis is separate from any others, although of course, conflict between states may be based on a combination of the friend/ememy and other antitheses, most usually the economic.
    Last edited by Moody; Friday, December 12th, 2003 at 05:55 PM.
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    Moody, that's very similar to what Yockey says in 'The Nature of Politics' in 'Imperium'. Yockey then goes on to define a 'State' as an organisation of people who have somehow gained a monopoly on the 'friend-enemy' distinction, IIRC. Interesting insight, whether you think this State monopoly is a good thing or not. It would seem Yockey was highly influenced by Schmitt, which is something that could be mentioned in friedrich's research paper.

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    Post Carl Schmitt

    There is a short, four page article, in English, titled "Public Law in a New Context" by Carl Schmitt in a book called "Nazi Culture", by, (in reality edited by) Geroge L. Mosse, 1966, The University Library Grosset & Dunlap, New York

    If you are interested and can not get a copy of this book, please contact me privately and I can photocopy it and send it anywhere you wish.
    Last edited by Moody; Friday, December 1st, 2006 at 06:49 PM. Reason: merged threads

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    Thousands of monographs and abstracts have already been written on Carl Schmitt, the Schmittiana alone (where almost everything Schmitt ever brought to paper in his life is collected, interpreted and reproduced) consist of 13 massive volumes. My former prof alone contributed at least three monographs and two dozen abstracts to the Schmitt bibliography. Even for a master thesis in the U.S, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with all this literature, which will take years. Try to find a subject nobody has examined yet. That eliminates pretty much all the problems of peer review - because there is no reference for comparison.

    German monographs: 177 on Amazon.de alone (check Subito for abstracts)
    English language monographs: 30 on Amazon.de alone

    If you cannot read dry academic German I'd really recommend another topic. Most English references are lousily researched and biased, and most quotes are translated woefully inaccurate.
    Last edited by Moody; Friday, December 1st, 2006 at 06:50 PM. Reason: merged threads
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    Post Carl Schmitt’s “The Land Appropriation of a New World"

    I read this article tonight, and I'm excerpting passages on anti-colonialism as a 20th century ideology directed against Europeans.

    Toward a New World Order:
    Introduction to Carl Schmitt’s
    “The Land Appropriation of a New World”
    Gary UlmenToward a New World Order:
    Introduction to Carl Schmitt’s
    “The Land Appropriation of a New World”
    Gary Ulmen

    ...

    Anti-colonialism is more historically significant than
    either anti-fascism and anti-communism. As Schmitt pointed out in 1962: “Both in theory and practice, anti-colonialism has an ideological objective. Above all, it is propaganda — more specifically, anti-European propaganda. Most of the history of propaganda consists of propaganda campaigns which, unfortunately, began as internal European
    squabbles. First there was France’s and England’s anti-Spanish propaganda — the leyenda negra of the 15th and 16th centuries. Then this propaganda became generalized during the 18th century. Finally, in the historical view of Arnold Toynbee, a UN consultant, the whole of Europe is indicted as a world aggressor.”45 Thus it is not surprising that the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of America was greeted with more condemnation than celebration.46 Anti-colonialism is primarily anti-European propaganda because it unduly castigates the European powers for having sponsored colonialism.47 Given that there was no international law forbidding the appropriation of the newly discovered lands — in fact, European international and ecclesiastical
    law made it legal and established rules for doing so — the moral and legal basis for this judgment is unclear. On closer analysis, however, it turns out to be none other than the West’s own universalistic pretenses. Only by
    ontologizing their particular Western humanist morality — various versions of secularized Christianity — as universally valid for all times and all places can Western intellectuals indict colonialism after the fact as an international
    “crime.” Worse yet, this indictment eventually turns into a wholesale condemnation of Western culture (branded as “Eurocentrism”) from an abstract, deterritorialized and deracinated humanist perspective hypostatized
    to the level of a universally binding absolute morality. Thus the original impulse to vindicate the particularity and otherness of the victims of colonialism turns full circle by subsuming all within a foreign Western frame-work, thereby obliterating the otherness of the original victims. The
    ideology of anti-colonialism is thus not only anti-European propaganda but an invention of Europeans themselves, although it has been appropriated wholesale and politically customized by the rest of the world. As for world order, this propaganda has even more fundamental roots: “The odium of colonialism, which today confronts all Europeans, is the
    odium of appropriation,”48 since now everything understood as nomos is allegedly concerned only with distribution and production, even though appropriation remains one of its fundamental, if not the most fundamental, attributes. As Schmitt notes: “World history is a history of progress in the means and methods of appropriation: from land appropriations of nomadic and agricultural-feudal times, to sea appropriations of the 16th and 17th centuries, to the industrial appropriations of the industrial-technical age and
    its distinction between developed and undeveloped areas, to the present day appropriations of air and space.”49 More to the point, however, is that “until now, things have somehow been appropriated, distributed and produced.
    Prior to every legal, economic and social order, prior to every legal, economic or social theory, there is the simple question: Where and how was it appropriated? Where and how was it divided? Where and how was it produced? But the sequence of these processes is the major problem. It has
    often changed in accordance with how appropriation, distribution and production are emphasized and evaluated practically and morally in human consciousness. The sequence and evaluation follow changes in historical
    situations and general world history, methods of production and manufacture — even the image human beings have of themselves, of their world and of their historical situation.”50 Thus the odium of appropriation exemplified by the rise of anti-colonialism is symptomatic of a changed world situation and changed attitudes. But this state of affairs should not prevent our understanding of what occurred in the past or what is occurring in the present.
    In order to dispel the “fog of this anti-European ideology,” Schmitt recalls that “everything that can be called international law has for centuries been European international law. . . [and that] all the classical concepts of existing international law are those of European international law, the ius publicum Europaeum. In particular, these are the concepts of war and peace, as well as two fundamental conceptual distinctions: first, the distinction between war and peace, i.e., the exclusion of an in-between situation of
    neither war nor peace so characteristic of the Cold War; and second, the conceptual distinction between enemy and criminal, i.e. exclusion of the discrimination and criminalization of the opponent so characteristic of
    revolutionary war — a war closely tied to the Cold War.”51 But Schmitt was more concerned with the “spatial” aspect of the phenomenon: “What remains of the classical ideas of international law has its roots in a purely Eurocentric spatial order. Anti-colonialism is a phenomenon related to its destruction. . . . Aside from . . . the criminalization of European nations, it has not generated one single idea about a new order. Still rooted, if only negatively, in a spatial idea, it cannot positively propose even the beginning
    of a new spatial order.”52

    ...

    [Footnotes omitted.]

    http://www.angelfire.com/biz/telosp...es/ulmen109.pdf

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    Post Arbitrary Excerpts About Schmitt

    I liked this metaphor so I thought I would post it.

    "Those opposed to Weimar soon realized that Schmitt had provided them with another supremely effective weapon in the battle against liberal democracy. Ernst Jünger, for instance, wrote to Schmitt that,

    today the rank of an intellect is determined by its approach to the question of armament. You have succeeded in a technical-military invention of a special kind: a mine that explodes silently. One watches how, magically, the wreckage caves in, and the destruction is done before anybody knows it. For myself, I feel particularly strengthened by your food for thought.
    Jünger's reference to armament was not accidental. After all, much as Schmitt would later deny it, the distinction between friend and enemy had a primarily military dimension. Recognizing the real enemy was crucial for the capacity to engage in politics - and arming oneself adequately required unmasking the enemy, a revelatory experience that so many of Schmitt's students, especially of his pieces on international law, seem to have shared."

    Jan-Werner Müller, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), pp.33-34
    The Phora

    "There are no principles; there are only events. There is no good and bad, there are only circumstances. The superior man espouses events and circumstances in order to guide them. If there were principles and fixed laws, nations would not change them as we change our shirts and a man can not be expected to be wiser than an entire nation."
    —Honoré de Balzac

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    Post Re: Arbitrary Excerpts About Schmitt

    I often saw a certain degree of anger in many white young people, especially young men. Just look at the "white music" in the USA, the rock, heavy metal etc. music. But its just a self-destructive tendency because it leads to nothing.

    It probably goes against their parents, their culture, even their own race and heritage and even if its something more useful, its just against "blacks, hispanics" etc and sometimes against Jews too.

    But they dont know what structural problems are behind the symptomes, behind their emptiness, which hurt themselves, which hurt their souls and believe in themselves and another future than the liberal one.

    As long as all the people which are not satisfied with the status quo do not recognize the structural problems of the western world there can be no effective alternative.
    Magna Europa est patria nostra
    STOP GATS! STOP LIBERALISM!

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    CARL SCHMITT AND DEMOCRACY

    by Paul Gottfried

    http://thescorp.multics.org/18schmitt.html

    Schmitt's critics, from scandalized fellow Catholics to self-proclaimed liberal-democrats, have maintained that his distinction between liberalism and democracy was purely contrived. Indeed it was intended to achieve a baneful political effect: discredit the battered remnants of Weimar German parliamentary government and prepare the ground for a fascist dictatorship bottomed on a mythic popular will and without constitutional restraints. This argument is stated most exhaustively by Jrgen Fialowski in Die Wendung zum Fhrerstaat in 1958, but it also continues to spill over into invectives against Schmitt encountered in The New Republic and elsewhere.

    To this particular brief against Schmitt, as a perpetually calculating proto-fascist, his recent defenders, including myself, have responded by citing his documentable opposition to the Nazis in 1931 and 1932. One can also point to his proposals from the twenties on, to make the Weimar Constitution workable by institutionalising sweeping presidential powers in the face of threats to the German state and Weimar regime. Note that Schmitt supported a broad use of executive power under the socialist president Friedrich Ebert as well as Ebert's conservative successor, Paul von Hindenburg.

    What unites Schmitt's critics and defenders however, is the belief concerning his steady preference for democracy over liberalism. Most interpreters are inclined to accept what Giovanni Sartori has remarked in this connection, that liberalism can be defined as whatever Schmitt was not; and certainly there is enough deprecation of liberals and liberalism in Schmitt's corpus to prove his antagonistic relationship to both.

    Even so, his views of liberalism and democracy were more problematic than is often imagined; and though Schmitt treated his two points of reference as polar opposites, he did not conceptualize them always in exactly the same way, even less did he attach the same value judgement to both from the early twenties onwards. In Political Theology in 1922, Schmitt ridicules what Juan Donoso-Cortis had called "la clasa discutidora", the liberal bourgeoisie, who sought to turn all principled positions into the bases for mere compromise.

    Taking a leaf from the Spanish Catholic counter-revolutionary of the 1830s and 1840s (Donoso), Schmitt goes after middle-class parliamentarians for excessive reliance on legal arrangements. He ascribes this political faith to the prevalent Deism of the European bourgeoisie, going back to the eighteenth century Enlightenment. Bourgeois liberals had transferred to the political realm the deistic belief in a self-regulating universe overseen by a divine watchmaker, whence their lack of understanding for the necessarily conflictual nature of political life and the need for sovereigns to settle the otherwise widening disputes between classes and interests.

    It is certainly possible to glimpse in Political Theology the beginning of a critique against liberalism, which Schmitt was already developing in the early twenties. Significantly, the same work does not set over against the image of bovine and politically simple-minded liberals an attractive democratic alternative, quite the contrary. Democrats are shown to be idolaters of the popular will who yearn for revolutionary violence. Schmitt describes democrats as typically pantheistic; he takes, without attribution, Alexis de Tocqueville's warning from Book Two, Chapter Seven of Democracy in America that pantheism is the philosophic system most likely to seduce the human spirit in democratic centuries.

    Schmitt's exaltation of an organic conception of democracy against liberalism indifferent to historical specificities and the need for unified authority was not a permanent aspect of his thinking. It marked only one period of time in his working career of more than seventy years, from the late twenties until Hitler's accession to power in January 1933. Schmitt viewed the Nazi regime as a sovereign dictatorship that had irreversibly replaced the preceding German government. He did not represent it as a mere continuation of a reformed Weimar constitutional order born of a legal revolution, nor did he consider Hitler's regime to be the flowering of German democracy. Schmitt, we may presume, was serious when he spoke of Germany in the mid-thirties as exemplifying the total state in the era of integral politics. Even at his ingratiating worst under the Third Reich, Schmitt presented the totalist politics of the modern era as a historical fate, what the Greeks had called ta peproma, an allotted destiny that is inflicted rather than freely chosen. In an Italian paper delivered in 1936, The Era of Total Politics, Schmitt notes that

    "the current concept of politics has revealed its characteristic totality in the fact that war has become total, that it is a given quantity, from which there must proceed any analysis of internal as well as external politics. Through total war the essential necessity of the fullest inner unity of every belligerent power had displayed itself, together with total hostility toward the outside."

    I for one do not read these passages as an ecstatic affirmation of the New Europe. Schmitt's own writings warn against total, ideologically-driven wars; and his thirty-year defence of the vanishing European order of sovereign states was related to his stated concern about avoiding the war of all against all. Schmitt defended the European state system that arose in the early modern period as a bulwark against unrestricted violence within and between countries. He did not praise that system for helping to mobilize populations for total war.

    Equally implausible is the claim that Schmitt identified the German total state under the Nazis with authentic democracy. In fact, it may be argued that Hitler's sovereign dictatorship appeared to him as the outcome of Germany's failure to embrace Schmitt's own democratic remedy. Hitler took advantage of liberal anarchy and the absence of a German plebiscitary democracy to establish his total state. Schmitt's construction of a democratic alternative to what he considered Germany's collapsing liberal regime was devised specifically between 1928 and 1932 as a quid tertium. It was intended to foster a conservative executive as opposed to a parliamentary liberal regime, that would keep alive the German state and permit it to deal with revolutionary extremists. It is of course undeniable that Schmitt shouldered this legal and conceptual task with his own theoretical baggage. As most of his sympathetic critics concede, he was a conservative of a decidedly authoritarian bent, though not a socialist and not much of a nationalist. Schmitt clearly valued the state and his tracts of the early thirties was far more concerned with using the German president to preserve what remained of political authority than to uphold the Weimar Constitution. His prescription for rebuilding the Weimar regime around an expansion of Presidential powers derivative from Article 48 of the Constitution would have done more than simply provide the President with a strengthened basis for rule. It would have had the effect of reconstructing the German government by transferring the locus of authority away from parliamentary coalitions towards a popularly elected head of state.

    It must also be admitted that Schmitt makes an overly desperate attempt to divorce democracy completely from the principle of equality, e.g. insisting that "in democracy there is only the equality of the truly equal and the will of those who belong to them", that "self-proclaimed democracies practice domination over colonies while teaching the equality of citizens at home", and finally, that "democratic equality really means homogeneity" and is inapplicable as an ideal for "all of humanity". Such definitions highlight aspects of democracy that most modern theorists ignore, but then, modern democracy has become synonymous with what Schmitt calls "mass democracy", as opposed to classical republicanism.

    The association of democracy with cohesion and unity was a feature of pre-modern republicanism; but it is far from clear that the term democracy in the twentieth century applies predominantly to communities. Though not false, Schmitt's definition of democracy is at least somewhat forced and made to serve as an authoritarian traditionalist pole to liberal constitutionalism. Even more important, it was a response to a real political predicament, the breakdown of Weimar parliamentary government. Schmitt may have exaggerated the dangerous and naive character of normativism of whom there are by now there are few genuine practitioners left, yet in the twenties and early thirties, Hans Kelsen and other influential legal theorists represented a wide spread view that constitutional government, barring unexpected catastrophe, was reducible to properly constructed legal rules. Presumably the Weimar Constitution contained such norms and through legally prescribed rotation of party coalitions under a watchful but not over-bearing executive, German parliamentarianism could weather any storm, just about any, one should add. Constitutional architects like Hugo Preuss conferred emergency powers on the President, in the eventuality of the parliamentary system breaking down, though such a breakdown, it was hoped, would never be more than temporary. The President, moreover, could decide when emergency powers were needed, but he was also expected to return as soon as possible to Cabinet government which commanded a parliamentary majority.

    After 1931, when the Nazis and the Communists in the Reichstag could block other parties efforts to form an effective government, Hindenburg ruled by emergency decree. His impressive re-election in 1932, against Hitler, signified for Schmitt a mandate for the powerful executive rule. Schmitt urged Hindenburg to govern as a "constitutional dictator", preserving the state under extended use of Article 48, until he threat to the German state had passed. The fallout effects of the German Depression, the spread of street violence, and the meteoric rise of Nazi and Communist electoral strength in 1931 and 1932 all argued for the need for steady national leadership, able to rise to the challenge of exceptional events.

    In the face of persistent defenders of party government and of parliamentary supremacy, Schmitt in Legality and Legitimacy in 1931 mocked the idea that governments were to give every-one, including declared subversives, an equal chance to rule. The Weimar republicans, Schmitt noted, were willing to commit political and even physical suicide, provided that Hitler's followers obtained 51% of the vote, thereupon they would step aside and allow the Nazis to take over the German state. One of Schmitt's most outspoken critics, Ludwig Monsignor Kaas of the Catholic Centre Party, did exactly that, exhorting Hindenburg on January 26th, 1933 to name Hitler as German Chancellor. Though Kaas had grave misgivings about Hitler, he thought that Germany would cease to have a parliamentary system unless Hindenburg gave the Nazi leader, with his national electoral base, the chance to form his own party government.

    Kaas believed that Schmitt wished to keep Hitler from the chancellorship at least partly out of contempt for parliamentary government. Although he may have been correct in this, it is also likely that Schmitt appreciated the cataclysmic consequences that would attend Hitler's elevation, and whatever other reasons Schmitt had for defending legitimate organic democracy against pale liberal legalism, one of his overriding concerns was obviously to save the German national state from both parliamentary chaos and violent extremists. This may not have been the only reason for his changing definition of democracy but it was a crucial one.

    A powerful executive drawing authority from a national plebiscite could confront threats to the state and public order more effectively than squabbling party leaders, and a recognised military hero, such as even the doddery Field Marshall von Hindenburg, sustained by periodic acts of electoral homage, could speak more plausibly for the national will than parliamentary parties, and even, it was hoped, the would-be nationalist dictator Hitler. It was a traditional protector of civil order that Schmitt had in mind when he penned these controversial words in 1929: "The stronger the power of democratic sentiment becomes, the more certain seems the knowledge that democracy is something other than a system of registering secret ballots. For a democracy in the vital, not technical, sense, a parliament tied to liberal thinking, appears as a mere contrivance, while dictatorial methods can be not only sustained by popular acclamation but be seen as a direct expression of democratic substance." Though contemptuous of any attempt to reduce democracy to parliamentary techniques, Schmitt was here making an argument, further developed in the early thirties, for a strong executive established on plebiscitary support.

    It is possible, let me repeat, to find other reasons for this identification of democracy with organic community, but it may be problematic to look for them apart from the political situation Schmitt was addressing. The Italian scholar, Michele Nicoletti, offers an original and voluminous interpretation of Schmitt's political thought in Trascendenza e Potere, emphasizing religious and existentialist themes. Exploring Schmitt's spiritual odyssey from before the Great War into the 1960s, Nicoletti dwells on Catholic theologies, the existentialism of Kierkegaard and the sin-obsessed meditations of the German Lutheran Heinrich Gogarten.

    Nicoletti does not entirely ignore the Weimar political scene in carrying out his explication, but it would be fair to say that they furnish no more than a backdrop for his study. Throughout his 632 page book, we see each point in Schmitt's evolving legal and political thought keyed to an existentialist agony or theological breakthrough. Both Schmitt's remarks on organic democracy and his implicit justifications of power politics are traced to an immanentist theology, which Nicoletti sees by the late twenties overshadowing the transcendent moment in Schmitt's conceptualisation of the Deity: "la sostenza omogenea di un populo e di uno stato h dunque il frutto del processo di realizzazione dellunit` fondamentale" is: "innanzitutto un elemento esistenziale." Nonetheless, the "identity" of parts, which Schmitt associates with both organic democracy and an immanentist historical theology, Nicoletti assures us, cannot eliminate from his thought entirely "the transcendence which <Schmitt asserts> every political system conceals".

    Significantly, Schmitt's analysis of democracy reveals his dependence on the Catholic notion of representation: Earthly institutions properly formed not only permit humans to stand in for each, but also show forth the transcendent will that they incorporate, whence the distinction in Italian between rappresentatione and spiritual rappresentanza.

    Nicoletti insists that Schmitt never abandoned this Medieval concept of representation and tries to find its traces in his writings on liberalism and democracy. This theological investigation, interspersed with biographical details and some historical generalisations, is both engrossing and exhaustively researched. I would even recommend it, as does my friend Paul Piconne, to counter-balance the more secular interpretations of Schmitt brought forth by George Schwab, Helmut Quaritsch and myself. Nicoletti does justice to a side of Schmitt's thinking that those who stress his analytic rigour sometimes ignore; but it may also be advantageous to recall Schmitt's own maxim: Eine geschichtliche Wahrheit ist nur einmal wahr (a historical truth is only true once). This does not mean that all truth is relative.

    Schmitt believed that truths have a context, to which they must be referred in order to be fully understood. His own legal and political tracts came out of specific historical circumstances, and though they may refer to highly personal existential encounters, they must be examined, first of all, as studied responses to those circumstances. This does not exclude categorically the use of Nicoletti's hermeneutic, which yields some insight into his subject's motivation. What I am suggesting is the need to give priority to perspectives on Schmitt's thinking, including his views on democracy, which are more historically based. In offering these counsels I am following Schmitt's prescribed methodology, which was to study legal thought in terms of locating it historically (das Rechtsdenken geschichtlich zu verorten).

    The question may then be asked whether Schmitt's definitions of democracy and liberal democracy continue to be relevant. For his well-known critics, like Stephen Holmes, they most definitely are. Their Schmitt, despite his death, goes on furnishing the enemies of global democracy and human rights with the explosives to devastate our political culture. Schmitt remains for such critics the inventor of a grim alternative; and it is one that may become even grimmer, we are told, if authoritarian corporatists or anti-immigration nationalists, particularly Jean Marie Le Pen in France, rise to political power. Looking at the Western world now awash in human rights rhetoric and bureaucratic schemes for empowering victimised minorities, I for one find it hard to worry about these warnings, at least in the short term; and since I agree with Keynes about the long term, I have accordingly turned my attention to other problems. Then, too, it is hard to see why nationalists would have to read Schmitt in order to identify democracy with an organic, national community. They could find exactly the same ideas in Plato, Rousseau, Xenophon, Montesquieu, Renan and in dozens of other non-German authors.

    Do Schmitt's political definitions clarify our own historical situation? I think they do, once allowance is made for their immediate and by now time-bound polemical uses. Particularly revealing for me is Schmitt's dismissive treatment of "liberal democracy" as "just another form of liberalism intended not for self-identified communities but for the entire human race". This comment from Parliamentarianism and Mass Democracy (1929) underscores a troublesome feature of open, universal nations, a changing and particularly destabilising self-definition. Mere legal norms cannot determine permanently such nations social and moral relationships; bureaucratic controls proliferate within them, especially therapeutic ones aimed at shaping behaviour and instilling privileged values; and indeed such controls may even be warranted, as an alternative to worsening conflicts among conflicting cultures. Small wonder that these situations also bring to power intellectuals pushing their own highest universal values, a problem Schmitt treated in 1959 in a perceptive essay On the Tyranny of Values.

    A natural fit may then exist between the current practice of democratic pluralism and John Dewey's notion of democracy as something elevated to a "living faith" and having universal applicability. Value-indoctrination through political education and public policy has become increasingly important in pluralistic democracies combined with administrative states. Schmitt's remarks on liberalism and democracy illuminate this modern paradox of pluralistic societies imposing particular values by shame or by force. In the absence of settled community, such societies are left with an unpleasant choice: the persuasiveness of the political, which Schmitt understood as steadily erupting conflict, or the imposition of values created by intellectuals but reputed to be universal. There may be no way to avoid one or the other and it may even be possible to suffer both fates simultaneously. Recognising this to be the case should not be viewed as a hate crime, nor does it necessarily impel us to work for exclusionary public policies, which the present American bureaucracy would not enforce in any case; yet here too Schmitt's analysis of liberalism and democracy may be useful, particularly its emphasis on the correlation between societies that proclaim themselves to be elastic and those that cannot control their own violence and moral confusion.

    Another correlation which it may be useful to ponder and which is implicit in Schmitt's work is between societies which boast of open borders and cultural tolerance and those whose intellectuals successfully impose their own "universal values". All value-advocates are willing to make speeches in favour of democratic pluralism, whether they believe in them or not. In any case, the stance of openness can be used by intellectuals against their rivals pushing other values.

    Liberal legality has become the apparent dogma in pluralistic societies, but the quest for legitimacy goes on there as well as intellectual's work to impose uniform values through public institutions. Like Spinoza's nature, political societies, Schmitt reminds us, do not exist in vacuums. They will seek to legitimize themselves morally, whatever they call their institutions. They will turn to journalists and bureaucrats to occupy the social and spiritual positions from which kings and priests were once driven. Schmitt did not call this process "secularisation", a term he reserved for the shifting of power away from the Medieval Church to state sovereigns. He saw the modern project of wedding liberal legality to privileged values differently, as an unsuccessful attempt to re-establish political legitimacy. This was one more reason for his persistent misgivings about the fate of liberal democracy.

    Note by the author
    A legal theorist of international stature, Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) enjoyed his greatest fame in the inter-war period. It was then that his constitutional commentaries, expositions on the nature of sovereignty and original contribution to an understanding of political life, The Concept of the Political (1927), made Schmitt one of the most provocative and courted intellectuals of Weimar Germany.

    Originally identified with the Catholic Rhenish culture into which he had been born and the University of Bonn, where he taught in the early twenties. Schmitt then became associated with political celebrities in Berlin. Among those seeking his legal counsel were German President Paul von Hindenburg, Chancellor Heinrich Br|ning and General Kurt von Schleicher. Schmitt's firm belief in executive sovereignty put him at odds with the Weimar Constitution, which divided power between the President and the Reichstag; after the onset of the Depression and the political unrest to which it gave rise, he urged Hindenburg to rule by executive decree. Schmitt also supported the suppression of the National Socialists and other parties committed to the overthrow of the German state. The accession of Hitler to power in January 1933 left Schmitt at the mercy of a man and movement he had outspokenly opposed. Seeking to protect himself, once he had decided not to emigrate, Schmitt joined the Nazi Party in May and became identified for a time with Hitler's reconstruction of the German state. Note that though Schmitt initially defended Hitler's legal revolution, his own documented criticism of Nazi ideology aroused the regimes suspicions. From 1935 on he was kept under S.S. surveillance and his Serb wife accused of spying for the enemies of the Third Reich.

    After the war Schmitt suffered successive humiliations: being gaoled (but then released for lack of proof) as an abettor of Nazi imperialism; exclusion from German academic life; and the denunciations by "liberal democratic" critics as a totalitarian anti-liberal. Unable to recover his professorship at the University of Berlin, he retired to his home at Plettenberg in the Sauerland. There he wrote and received guests, as he himself observed, "in exile", until his death. His post-war magnum opus, Nomos der Erde in V”lkerrecht des jus publicum europaeum (1950) re-established Schmitt's reputation as a scholar of international law and of the evolving European state system. It also contained his ideas about the prospects for international order beyond the disintegration of the nation states, and it stressed the modernity of the state itself as a political entity characterized by united sovereignty and by national particularity.

    For those seeking information about Schmitt's work and studies about him in English, see the bibliographical essay at the end of my monograph, Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory (Greenwoood Press 1992) and the footnotes to the new introductory chapter of George Schwab's Challenge of the Exception, second edition (Greenwood Press, 1989).

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