Political realism claims that politics should be understood
as politics and not as a derivative of any other field of human activity.
While contemporary realists often argue for the autonomy of politics,
this article suggests that only the primacy of politics can be the starting
point of political realism. The aim of the article is to expose a conceptual
deficiency, namely, the unclear difference between the autonomy and
the primacy approach in contemporary realist theory by going back to
Carl Schmitt’s contribution to political realism. It will be argued that
Schmitt’s concept of the political foreshadowed the ambiguities of contemporary
realist theory, exemplified by key authors such as Bernard
Williams, Raymond Geuss and Mark Philp.