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The Lesson of Carl Schmitt’s Realism

The Autonomy and the Primacy of the Political

Attila Gyulai

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.

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The Will of the People?

Schmitt and Rousseau on a Key Question in Democratic Theory

Samuel Salzborn

he question of how to adequately represent the demos in a democracy has always been an issue. Of the many different aspects in the debate between representative and direct democratic approaches, one key point of contention is “the will of the people.” Here, an oft-overlooked question is what takes precedence: “the will” or “the people.” This article addresses the issue by examining Carl Schmitt’s reading (and one-sided slanting) of Rousseau and how it has influenced today’s debate in unacknowledged ways. In scrutinizing Schmitt’s body of work and its particular development of “the will of the people,” I demonstrate that “identitarian” democratic concepts must ultimately remain trapped in a dilemma produced by Schmitt’s reading—one that can only be resolved through representation.

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'Delinquents, Troublemakers, Pirates and Gangsters'

New Wars in the Postpolitical Borderland

Mikkel Thorup

This article tries to actualize Carl Schmitt's critique of liberal internationalism in what the author calls the 'liberal globalist paradigm', which substitutes a post-sovereign humanitarian-moralist discourse for political arguments. This discourse helps shape a new inequality in the interstate system based on the ability to invoke humanist language; an ability that is systematically skewed in favour of Western states. The post-sovereign discourse hides an aggressive liberal antipluralism which only acknowledges liberal-capitalist societies as legitimate and reserving the right to intervene and criticize globally. The new re-configuration of power manifests itself in the war on terror and in humanitarian interventions.

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Bridging the Political Gaps

The Interdiscursive Qualities of Political Romanticism in the Weimar Republic

Christian E. Roques

Political romanticism is one of the keys to accessing the intellectual debates of the Weimar Republic. This article tries to adopt a radically historicized approach centered on the concept of reception. Such an approach allows it to focus on the strategic nature of the different uses that were made of the romantic paradigm between 1918 and 1933. This article contends that one of the main features that romanticism offers in the German context is its interdiscursive quality that renders it able to transcend traditional political divisions like left /right and conservative/progressive. This idea is illustrated in this article with a series of examples covering the entire lifespan of the Republic and the entire political spectrum therein, which can be represented by such figures as Sigmund Rubinstein, Thomas Mann, Hans Freyer, Carl Schmitt, Karl Mannheim, Othmar Spann, Wilhelm von Schramm, and Paul Tillich.

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Gregory Smulewicz-Zucker, Timo Pankakoski, Burkhard Conrad, Henrik Björck and Bogdan C. Iacob

Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori, eds., Global Intellectual History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 342 pp.

Stefan Breuer, Carl Schmitt im Kontext: Intellektuellenpolitik in der Weimarer Republik [Carl Schmitt in context: The politics of intellectuals in the Weimar Republic] (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2012), 303 pp.

Olaf Bach, Die Erfindung der Globalisierung: Entstehung und Wandel eines zeitgeschichtlichen Grundbegriffs [The invention of globalization: Emergence and transformation of a contemporary basic concept] (Frankfurt and New York: Campus Verlag, 2013), 270 pp.

Anna Friberg, Demokrati bortom politiken: En begreppshistorisk analys av demokratibegreppet inom Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti 1919–1939 [Democracy beyond politics: An analysis of the concept of democracy within the Swedish Social Democratic Party 1919–1939] (Stockholm: Bokförlaget Atlas, 2012), 314 + [37] pp.

Victor Neumann and Armin Heinen, eds., Key Concepts of Romanian History: Alternative Approaches to Socio-Political Languages (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2013), 516 pp.

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Tina Campt: Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender, and Memory in the Third Reich (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press 2004)

Review by Kader Konuk

Agnes C. Mueller, ed., German Pop Culture: How “American” Is It? (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2004)

Review by Barbara Mennel

David Crew, ed., Consuming Germany in the Cold War (Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers, 2003)

Review by Jennifer Jenkins

Paul Lerner, Hysterical Men. War, Psychiatry, and the Politics of Trauma in Germany, 1890-1930 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003)

Review by Frank Biess

Pertti Ahonen, After the Expulsion. West Germany and Eastern Europe 1945–1990, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

Review by Henning Süssner

Jan-Werner Müller, A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Postwar European Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003)

Review by Peter C. Caldwell

Gerhard Hirscher and Karl-Rudolf Korte, eds., Information und Entscheidung: Kommunikationsmanagement der Politisichen Führung (Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag GmbH, 2003)

Review by Steven A. Weldon

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Political Theology

The Authority of God

Avishai Margalit

There are two theses that are intimately related to the idea of authority. One is political theology. It is associated with the name of Carl Schmitt. The second is moral theology. It is associated with Elizabeth Anscombe (though she never used the expression ‘moral theology’). Political theology is the claim that key notions in modern and secular political doctrines are unwittingly moored in theological and teleological world views. These notions in their secularized versions make no sense and can be validated only within a theological frame for which they were designed. ‘Sovereignty’ and ‘authority’ are paradigmatic cases of such key notions. Moral theology is a parallel claim. Key moral notions in modern moral doctrines are moored in a theological and teleological frame. They gain their currency only in such a frame. Unmoored, as these notions are in a current secular frame, they have lost their sense. ‘Obligation’ and ‘duty’ are paradigmatic examples of such notions anchored in the old idea of God the law-giver. Without God the law-giver these notions make very little sense. Secular morality is like the famous explanation of what wireless is. Well, you know what wire is. It is like a dog: you pull its tail in Jerusalem and it barks in Rome. Now, wireless works like wire, but without the dog. Morality without God is like wireless without the dog.