The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04
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The Crisis of Liberal Democracy Poli 110DA 04. The enemy is not merely any competitor. Carl Schmitt. 1888-1985 Major German intellectual before and after WWII Joined Nazi party in 1933 Attacked in Das Schwartze Korps, but was protected by Göring Captured by US in 1945, relaeased in 1946

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The Crisis of Liberal Democracy Poli 110DA 04

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The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

The Crisis of Liberal DemocracyPoli 110DA 04

The enemy is not merely any competitor.


Carl schmitt

Carl Schmitt

  • 1888-1985

  • Major German intellectual before and after WWII

  • Joined Nazi party in 1933

  • Attacked in Das Schwartze Korps, but was protected by Göring

  • Captured by US in 1945, relaeased in 1946

  • Rejected all attempts at de-nazification

  • Articulated tension between liberalism and democracy

  • Defended Reich’s anti-Semitic policies

  • Argued for the importance of undivided authority

  • Defended politics as a separate sphere of human action


The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

  • Schmitt’s thought & Nazism

  • Contacting and expanding the horizons of political thought after the War


The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

  • “The concept of the state presupposes the concept of the political.” (19)

    • The state is a political entity, but what is the political? What is the relationship between the political and the state?

    • The political, not politics


The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

  • It is widely acknowledged, if only tacitly, that the political is a distinct sphere of human activity

    • Distinct from other spheres (religious, cultural, economic, legal, scientific, etc.) (23)


The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

  • Spheres of human thought and activity have their “own criteria which express themselves in a characteristic way.”

    • Moral: Good/evil

    • Economic: Profitable/unprofitable

    • Aesthetic: Beautiful/ugly (26)

  • When you speak in these terms, you are talking about the relevant sphere of human activity


The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

  • “The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.” (26)

    • A criterion, not an exhaustive description of all political content


The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

  • “The enemy is not merely any competitor or just any partner of a conflict in general. He is also not the private adversary whom one hates. An enemy exists only when, at least potentially, one fighting collectivity of people confronts a similar collectivity. The enemy is solely the public enemy...” (28)


The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

  • The friend/enemy distinction does not necessarily depend on those of other spheres of life.

    • Thus, the enemy need not be evil, ugly, irrational, etc.

  • Nonetheless, since this distinction is the “strongest and most intense” of any distinction, it often draws upon others for its support. (27)

    • Thus, the enemy is often perceived as ugly, evil, barbaric, etc. whether or not this is in fact the case.


  • The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • Thus, “the political enemy need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly; he need not appear as an economic competitor, and it may even be advantageous to engage with him in business transactions.” (27)

      • Politics is an issue of neither morality nor rational self-interest.


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • The enemy is “the other, the stranger; and it is sufficient for his nature that he is, in a specially intense way, something different and alien, so that in extreme cases conflicts with him are possible. These can neither be decided by a previously determined general norm nor by the judgment of a disinterested and therefore neutral third party.” (27)

      • The distinction is particular


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • “Only the actual participants can correctly recognize, understand, and judge the concrete situation and settle the extreme case of conflict. Each participant [collectivity] 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.” (27; emphasis mine)


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • “The distinction of friend and enemy denotes the utmost degree of intensity of a union or separation.” (26)

    • “For to the enemy concept belongs the ever present possibility of combat.... [Combat] does not mean competition, nor does it mean pure intellectual controversy nor symbolic wrestlings...” (33)

      • This is not a metaphor


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • “The friend, enemy, and combat concepts receive their real meaning precisely because they refer to the real possibility of physical killing. War follows from enmity. War is the existential negation of the enemy. It is the most extreme consequence of enmity. It does not have to be common, normal, something ideal, or desirable. But it must nonetheless remain a real possibility for as long as the concept of the enemy remains valid.” (33)


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • “Only in real combat is revealed the most extreme consequence of the political grouping of friend an enemy. From this most extreme possibility human life derives its specifically political tension.”

      • Politics is the friend/enemy distinction, and the resultant possibility of war.


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • “A world in which the possibility of war is utterly eliminated, a completely pacified globe, would be a world without the distinction of friend and enemy and hence a world without politics. It is conceivable that such a world might contain many very interesting antitheses and contrasts, competitions and intrigues of every kind, but there would not be a meaningful antithesis whereby men could be required to sacrifice life, authorized to shed blood, and kill other human beings.” (35)


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • “There exists no rational purpose, no norm no matter how true, no program no matter how exemplary, no social ideal no matter how beautiful, no legitimacy nor legality which could justify men in killing each other for this reason. If such physical destruction of human life is not motivated by an existential threat to one’s own way of life, then it cannot be justified.” (49)


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • Any difference, economic, religious, philosophical, etc., can become the focus of enmity, but at that moment it leaves its original sphere and enters the political:

      • “The real friend-enemy grouping is existentially so strong and decisive that the nonpolitical antithesis at precisely the moment at which it become political, pushes aside” its original criteria and motives, and subordinates them to “the conditions and conclusions of the political situation at hand.” (38)


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • “The grouping is always political which orients itself toward this most extreme possibility. This grouping is therefore always the decisive human grouping, the political entity. If such an entity exists at all, it is always the decisive entity, and it is sovereign in the sense that the decision about the critical situation, even if it is the exception, must always necessarily reside there.” (38)


    The crisis of liberal democracy poli 110da 04

    • To the state as an essentially political entity belongs the jus belli, i.e., the real possibility in a concrete situation upon the enemy and the ability to fight him with the power emanating from the entity.” (45)


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