Carl Schmitt

Carl Schmitt was a German jurist who wrote a strong critique of the liberal system. His stance was that politics centered on an inescapable conflict between opposing faiths. Carl Schmitt authored a number of works in his lifetime and his thought largely influences

Nazi Mysticism: The Failure of Liberalism

SODOM & GOMORRAH: In this section, I discuss how liberalism failed to contend with such a powerful yet demonic ideology.

The modern reader will likely find such an account to be something out of a fairy tale.  It perhaps seems strange that everyday individuals would suddenly find themselves in the grip of a millenarian mania.  In our age, we look down on people who behave as though they wear pelts and horns.  We are tempted to call such people delusional, but we forget that our sober minds were unable to prevent the rise of such a group.  We have moved beyond the era of superstition, as we are told by the media and academics.  The Nazi movement received widespread support in the polls and with everyday people. (Heilbronner 1988)

Perhaps, as some might suggest, only idiots buy into the movement.  The leaders, echoing Rauschning, might really be more clear-headed than someone who sincerely believes themselves to be called to rid the world of the demons masking as humans who attend the synagogue down the street.  Hannah Arendt certainly demonstrated that Adolf Eichmann was not very intelligent, remarking once that “his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think.” (Arendt 1963, 49)  Eichmann, far from being the evil genius who organized the Holocaust, was an idiot who parroted party slogans and catch-phrases that reflected a failure to think through his actions.

Such a view overlooks obviously intelligent people such as Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt, both of whom were university professors who joined the party.  We may write such instances off as being the result of opportunism or fears of repercussion, but a couple of these professors refused to undergo denazifaction (the program instituted by the Allied forces in order to prove that individuals did not have allegiance to Nazi ideals).  We are forced to face the fact that people actually believed it, and in light of that we need to investigate how liberalism failed to resist mythical politics.  There are two primary ways that liberalism failed: first, its insistence on absolute free speech allowed for the growth of mythical politics; and second, its abstinence from value judgments failed to address the moral questions that myth concerned itself with.

Government by Discussion

Liberalism’s insistence on absolute free speech undermined its ability to resist mythical politics.  In order to understand this, we need to look at the role that free speech holds in the liberal framework.  As stated above, liberalism establishes a framework of individual rights meaning that it guarantees a plurality of liberties to members of the system.  We are singling free speech out for special consideration because free speech is particularly important to the assumptions of liberalism and because the ability for mythical movements and causes to rally support is severely aided by the freedom to disseminate views.  When enough people believe the myth, a fear of social ostracization prevents others from speaking out. (Tocqueville 1830)  The majority cows the others into silence and acceptance, made all the more likely and dangerous because most mythical movements (such as the Nazis) do not hold any allegiance to ideas about freedom of expression.

Free speech is central to liberalism.  One may even say that liberalism is government by discussion.  We mean by “discussion” the same definition Schmitt proposed, which is, “an exchange of opinion that is governed by the purpose of persuading one’s opponent through argument of the truth or justice of something, or allowing oneself to be persuaded of something as true and just.” (Schmitt 1926, 5)  In the writings of the classical liberals, such as Mill and Locke, discussion holds a very important role in determining truth.  Further, in the writings of modern liberals such as Mises and Hayek, free discussion is instrumental in attaining knowledge.  There is, in all of these writers, an unwavering faith in the ability of discussion to reach truth and justice.  This has been liberalism’s peculiar claim to legitimacy; it promises to be the best approximation of truth since it allows all opinions to be heard.

For Mill, freedom of discussion is centrally connected to the very essence of human liberty.  He writes, “This, then, is the appropriate region of human liberty.  It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience, in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological.” (Mill 1859, 15)  Free speech, for Mill, is the expression of opinion.  This opinion can only be formed in that “inward domain of consciousness” that resides in autonomous individuals.  The individual must be granted full range to explore any domain of thought, for “Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being ‘pushed to an extreme’; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case.” (Mill 1859, 26)

It is inexcusable to silence any opinion since, “We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.” (Mill 1859, 21)  It is not just inadvisable or misguided to silence an opinion, even if it were false, but it is “an evil still” which signifies a moral judgment about free discussion.  Mill expresses a faith that this discussion will yield positive results.  He states, “[People are] capable of rectifying [their] mistakes, by discussion and experience.  Not by experience alone.  There must be discussion, to show how experience is to be interpreted.  Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument.” (Mill 1859, 24)  Mill presents us with a belief in an objective truth that is revealed only by the clash of opinion.  More openness will yield more truth, and the special value of liberalism lies in its tolerance of all opinion.  Myth, however, calls us to act solely on experience and intuition.  Discussion tends to debase mystery and can reflect a lack of faith in its power.

John Locke hints at a similar proposition.  The only way to avoid the violence of the state of nature is to engage in reasoned discussion.  Locke states that those who “renounced the way of peace, which [reason] teaches, and made use of the Force of War” have effectively “revolted” against their own species and become like “Beasts.”  (Locke 1690, 383)  Liberalism, via its emphasis on discussion, is the only system that promises relief from such a brutal lifestyle.

It is very interesting to note how the Lockean dichotomy between supporters of peace (who are by definition supporters of the liberal social contract) and the “supporters of force” has been carried into modern times by a writer like Mises.  Mises writes that “everlasting peace can be achieved only by putting the liberal program into effect generally and holding to it constantly.” (Mises 1927, 81)  He later elaborates on this by saying, “it is foolish to rely on arms, since one can deploy armed men only if they are prepared to obey” and that “liberalism had drawn no other conclusion than that, in the long run, truth and righteousness must triumph because their victory in the realm of ideas cannot be doubted.” (Mises 1927, 140)  The victory of liberalism, we are assured, is “certain.”

Friedrich Hayek follows the line established by Mill.  Hayek tells us that “freedom of research and belief and the freedom of speech and discussion [...] are significant only in the last stage of the process in which new truths are discovered.” (Hayek 1960, 33)  Hayek states that the freedom to do what one wants is instrumental to creating situations to discuss, but in the end we are left with a similar faith in the beneficial results of the entire endeavor of research.

For liberalism, free discussion is its claim to legitimacy.  From this rises the emphasis on legislative organs and transparency in government. (Schmitt 1926, 36)  We are told, “Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, freedom of discussion, are not only useful and expedient, therefore, but really life-and-death questions for liberalism.” (Schmitt 1926, 36)  Liberalism cannot bear to infringe on these issues since its entire claim to legitimacy and truth stem from free discussion.  Even when Weimar Germany was facing radicalism from both the left and the right, there was a reluctance to silence particular parties – even when those parties were direct and open about their intentions to dismantle liberalism. (Schwab)  Liberal thinkers will be forced to address the paradox between individual free discussion and the risk that mythical politics poses to the framework that guarantees it.

What’s Right for You is Not Necessarily Right for Me

The second reason why liberalism cannot survive a conflict with mythical politics is liberalism’s abstinence from value judgments created a failure to address moral issues.  A framework of individual rights that allows individuals to hold whatever opinions they please necessitates a non-interventionist attitude toward those opinions.

With Mill we have already seen his attitude toward opinion; we simply cannot know who is right in an intellectual dispute, so we should allow all sides to be heard.  Mill argues that nobody is in a position to say for certain what is right and what is false.  Mises, about 100 years later, argues the same.  He states, “Liberalism is derived from the pure sciences of economics and sociology, which make no value judgments within their own spheres and say nothing about what ought to be or about what is good and what is bad, but, on the contrary, only ascertain what is and how it comes to be.” (Mises 1927, 61)  Liberalism, claims Mises, “has nothing else in view than the advancement of [people's] outward, material welfare and does not concern itself directly with their inner, spiritual and metaphysical needs.” (Mises 1927, xix)  Aristotle tells us that political communities form in the pursuit of a good. (Aristotle, 1127)  This good is more than just a business arrangement or an economic organization, but is a moral and spiritual ideal.  He argues extensively that politics is only politics when some kind of moral good is pursued.  Moral relativism is prevalent in value-free political systems.

People want answers to questions about what is right and wrong.  Ceremonies and rituals give people’s lives meaning, which is why John Locke’s flippancy over such matters when he says (in relation to Baptism and Holy Communion) “The sprinkling of Water, and the use of Bread and Wine, are both in their own nature and in the ordinary occasions of Life, altogether indifferent.” (Locke 1689, 40)  Locke trivializes Baptism by saying “that the washing of an Infant with water is in itself an indifferent thing” (Locke 1689, 40) in order to apparently preserve the sanctity of these practices.  More likely, however, Locke is concerned about keeping the peace.  As we find echoed in his own work, he wants to prevent dissenters from openly fighting other religious believers. (Locke 1689, 10)  The supreme end for him, as he makes clear to the reader, is the prevention of violent conflict.  Yet if history is any indication, people are not concerned about dying.  If anything, they are more willing to march to certain death if it is for an ideal or mystery. (Berlin 1994, xxix)  Mythical politics dares to answer moral questions; it steps into that realm of value judgments and in doing so, it provides an ordering principle that can provide meaning to people’s lives.

The individualism promoted by liberalism leads to social atomization. (Guénon 1946, 88; Arendt 1958, 5)  When not reflected in the individual, groups become atomized and separated as they compete under a framework of identity politics. (Neiman 2009, 83) This means that individuals view themselves as individuals living separate and isolated existences away from a broader social group.  A framework of individual rights combined with an official doctrine stating that the use of these rights is not subject to any moral judgment means that individuals no longer have anything in common with each other.  As Aristotle demonstrated so long ago, this state of isolation makes us vulnerable to tyranny. (Aristotle, 1257-1259)  Tyranny, which is to say a government ruled by the self-interest of the rulers and not according to a common good, is successful only when it sows distrust between citizens, sparks arguments and competitions, and promotes an atmosphere of discord.  It is no wonder, then, that liberalism quickly gives way before a mythical politic; people simply find themselves powerless to resist.

Tell Me Who Your Enemy Is

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SODOM & GOMORRAH: Carl Schmitt once said, “Tell me who your enemy is and I’ll tell you who you are.”  Westerners haven’t and won’t listen to Schmitt’s wisdom when looking at the revolutions in the Middle East because the truth is uncomfortable.

The Economist recently ran an article pointing out that Islam will play a greater role in Arab politics than in other countries.  This author is still a little perplexed at how this is news, but he trusts that the editorial board knows what they’re doing.  The article discusses the role that the Muslim Brotherhood has had in the recent uprisings.  In particular, it’s mentioned how the Brotherhood has reassured the West as to its relationship with the extreme jihadists in the region.  The Brotherhood, it’s said, supports parliamentary government, women’s rights, and other liberal values.

The media in liberal democratic countries have accepted this narrative about the Brotherhood.  Why?  They have their theory about world history and the information that actually comes to their attention is bent to conform to the theory.  The theory is that revolutions are uprisings against illegitimate oppression and result in more democracy as part of progress’ unfolding plan.  In a Huntington-style wave, country after country has had a revolution.  Adherents to particular ideologies explain their reality by fitting events into their ideological theories.

But is this true?  Saul Alinsky, both one degree of separation from Satan and the current American President, would probably be the first on the left to point out that the Muslim Brotherhood is just being smart.  Alinsky argued that Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were only non-violent because they didn’t have enough guns.  When you think you can win a shooting war, you have no problem waging a shooting war.  When you think you’ll lose, you make do and find other ways.  The Brotherhood can’t come out and say that they’re the same radical group that’s been blacklisted in every secular Middle Eastern government and that they have a history of advocating strictly Islamic, non-pluralistic government – and they certainly can’t discuss their dream of a united Muslim state.  If they said these things, they would be left alone waging a shooting war against governments that have more guns.

As Half Sigma points out, heads of state in this part of the world actually take their religion seriously.  When religion is turned into a political force, the religious community begins to identify political enemies based on religion.  Make no mistake; efforts to empower revolutionaries will enable them to destroy the enemies of Islam.  Unfortunate for our well-meaning friends in the media because they are on the radicals’ short list.

The Road to Serfdom

SODOM & GOMORRAH: This follows two articles that attempt to demonstrate that Dr. Mises and Dr. Hayek were closet fascists. The fear of knee high leather boots might be the only reason the acclaimed Mises Institute doesn’t have a swastika on their coat of arms. Naturally this author is joking. Libertarians really do believe they’re fighting fascism; in fact, their very sincerity is what’s so frightening.

The careful reader of the previous articles will note that, at most, it was demonstrated that the liberal international order we see embodied in the United Nations and the uncompromising mindset of the progressive are all logical outgrowths of classical liberal thought (which is why we may agree with the libertarians of today when they say they’re the heirs of that tradition). There was not, however, a clear demonstration that libertarian government leads to tyranny as the modern reader understands it. It leads to a tyranny of the soul, a tyranny of our own personal interests trumping every other concern, and a tyranny of a liberal international order seeking to evangelize by force. But these are all tyrannies the modern reader will either fail to notice, actually agree with, or attempt to stamp out with a liberal application of liberalism. That police state with the concentration camps and mass arrests that everyone likes to invoke whenever TSA gets grabby is still yet to be seen.

This article attempts to show you one vision of what happens when the anarchists take power. Now naturally a real anarchist will contest that last sentence – anarchists don’t “take power”, they’re “against power.” These are simply the words of an anarchist who is not yet in power. Revolutionary movements are all centered on power, even if that power is attained with the end goal of eliminating power. Unlike other writers on the so-called right, this author won’t tell you that the revolutionaries secretly want to oppress you. They want to free you from oppression. Their very sincerity is what’s so frightening. So we should briefly look at one of the most sincere, well-meaning groups of revolutionaries: those who ran Soviet Russia for over 70 years.

Very few people on the right will tell you that the Soviets weren’t tyrannical. With all the gulags, mass murders, and secret police activity they are a perfect example of tyranny and fear. Despite what anti-crowd sentiments we have, we may agree with the crowd this one time: the Soviets were about as tyrannical as they come. But it is inaccurate call them “statists” or the outcome of “big government.” But we may say that they are the logical outcome of Marxism practically applied, while agreeing with the political scientists who say that they betrayed the original Marxist position, but we would be going to far if we agreed with anyone who says that the Revolution looked nice on paper but just didn’t work out as planned. (The last statement is particularly disgusting; it seems to invite a second attempt.) Instead of focusing on the size of their state, this author takes a different stance: there was no state in the Soviet Union.

The word “state” comes from the Latin status meaning “a manner of standing, position, condition.” In Primitive Indo European it was a root meaning “to stand.” When the word was used to describe government, it began to stand for a supreme political and civil authority. In English today, we use this word interchangably to describe government as well as generally unchanging conditions. Even when we say that something is in a state of disarray, it’s typically assumed that it will stay that way until something or someone intervenes to change the situation into another state.

Revolutionaries have historically identified themselves as members of movements. They may be the relatively mild mannered rights/labor/gender movements we see today, or they could be socialist and anarchist movements. But they all move when they’re in these movements. It makes sense; progress is thought of as a movement toward a better state of being, or more specifically an infinite movement toward infinite perfection. There’s never any stop in the march of progress, it is a continuous process (and needs to be in order for the revolutionary movement to exist – should the leadership become satisfied, a more radical base will grow impatient and take over). Because progress is continuous, these “better states of being” aren’t really lasting conditions, but stepping stones to more bliss. To really get to the point of what I’m saying, a movement is the very antithesis of standing. Every revolutionary cries “peace, peace” but there is no peace, since peace is rest and there can be no rest in an eternal movement. So in the sense of “a manner of standing, position, condition” we can say that revolutions cannot be pro-state.

Answering the claim that revolutions, particularly the one wrought by the Soviets, oppose “supreme political authority” is a little trickier. As Carl Schmitt wrote, “Although the Bolshevist government repressed the anarchists for political reasons, the complex to which the Bolshevist argument actually belongs contains an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist chain of thought.” [1] In other words, though the Soviets stamped out other revolutionary movements, their identity rested on an anarchist base. For the ideas of Marx, Sorel, Proudhon, and Bakunin to hold the status of sacred texts in the Soviet intellectual system, this system had to fundamentally agree with the revolt against authority contained within these authors. Schmitt writes further, “For Proudhon and Bakunin, anarchism meant a battle against every sort of systematic unity [...] The concrete individual, the social reality of life, is violently forced into an all-embracing system.” [2] When the individual is forced to confront all authority as evil, that individual has become completely anarchic; when that individual is constrained by the logical conclusions of anarchy (i.e. total destruction, total disunity) their intellectual system has grown to become totalizing, totalitarian.

However, we must refrain from calling this intellectual system an “authority.” Nor can we, for long, say that it has “power” over people. Hannah Arendt wrote a piece that explored the differences between the words, power, authority, force, strength, and violence. She said that people use these words as synonyms since we associate them with individuals making other individuals do things, but this is inaccurate because there are different means of persuasion. [3] To summarize: power is when people act in concert to accomplish goals, authority is an unquestioning recognition of truth, force is “the energy released by physical or social movements”, strength is a quality that relates to the character of a thing or person that’s independent of them, and violence is the instrumental use of physical persuasion.

The Soviets began by dismantling the Czar’s government and establishing syndicalist councils called soviets, which were gatherings of workers. These quickly degenerated and the country fell into a state of social atomization and totalitarianism.

How did this happen? The movement exists as a cohesive unit capable of acting. Internally, at least, the movement has power. It multiplied this power so that it can have the instruments of violence at its will, which it uses by force to get people to think that the intellectual system is an authority. However it is not and cannot be an authority since its basis rests on the ultimate, perpetual questioning of authority. Left to itself, the movement will always consume its own (Stalin always follows Lenin) as this questioning is carried out. With the disintegration of all authority, the violence itself assumes power. Under a system of perpetual surveillance and mass arrests, which were carried out by the movement, social atomization begins to isolate individuals from each other. Anyone can be an informant and so everyone is alone. There is no power, even in the secret police, since no one can act in concert. We are left with nothing but violence and the fear of it, we are left with totalitarianism. What have we learned? It isn’t about the size of your state but the motion of the ocean.

Joel 1:4
[1] Schmitt, Carl. The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy. (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 1988), 65
[2] Schmitt, Carl. The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy. (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 1988), 67
[3] Arendt, Hannah. On Violence. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Publishing Company, 1970), 43-46

Book Review: Carl Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political

SODOM &GOMORRAH: Carl Schmitt presents a consistent critique of liberalism. Authors on the right such as Leo Strauss and Hermann Rauschning have contended that Schmitt was neither right wing nor consistent, but this author feels he was both. For one, Rauschning’s sensibilities were likely to be offended by Schmitt’s emphasis on the universal conflict; he was likely to see there the seed of fascism that was responsible for Schmitt’s membership in the party. He likely saw a man who joined the party, then proceeded to praise the struggle of the age. There was no need to dig any further. Strauss, on the other hand, saw past Schmitt’s alleged fascism and deserves credit for ironing out some of Schmitt’s issues, but still fundamentally misunderstood his position.

Though Schmitt left us a few works, we will look first to The Concept of the Political. This work is rather infamous in academic circles for being the book that promoted one of Schmitt’s core ideas: politics is about friends vs. enemies. It is infamous rather than famous because academics are offended by such a suggestion. With it vanishes all opportunities for world peace, international cooperation, and any kind of world that does not exist in a state of perpetual fear of war.

Chapter One

We begin in chapter one of the 1932 edition. This review foregos the use of the 1927 edition since we will discuss the changes between the two when we review Heinrich Meier’s Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue at a later date. No doubt, however, that the reading of that and other works has colored this review. The first sentence of the book, “The concept of the state presupposes the concept of the political.” [1] is very important for our purposes. Under Schmitt’s paradigm, the state exists only so long as the political is a (implicitly or explicitly) recognized concept. Likewise, concepts about the political influence the form that the state will take. Schmitt rejects the claim that the state is synonymous with politics whenever the state becomes involved with society. Whenever the possibility of a political dispute arises within the state, the state itself can no longer be considered the political unit. When this happens, the “neutral” domains of religion, economics, science, and culture (by neutral he means the non-political) become active in a political struggle. They carry with them the friend/enemy distinction and with it the possibility of violent conflict. “[t]he total state which no longer knows anything absolutely nonpolitical, the state which must do away with the depoliticalizations of the nineteenth century and which in particular puts an end to the principle that the apolitical economy is independent of the state and that the state is apart from the economy” is the state of a post-Enlightenment world. [2] Citing a work on Hegel, Schmitt points to the possibility that the non-interventionist state of the 19th century inevitably becomes a totalizing state of absolute control.

Chapter Two

Because of these confusions and developments, which shift the domain of the political to one sphere then back onto everything human society comes into contact with, we find ourselves in need of a stable definition. Thus, Schmitt writes, “The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.” [3] The political enemy doesn’t have to be a grotesque monster or a moral opposite (though as we shall see, Schmitt’s enemy is both), it just has to be something that sufficiently threatens a group’s way of life.

Chapter Three

He argues that the grouping of friends and enemies will always exist, and does exist in our liberal world. Schmitt then seemingly sidetracks to a discussion about personal and public enemies as the Bible treats them. He writes that most modern languages don’t have words that distinguish between the two but that Greek and Latin did. Thus the passages “Love your enemies” in Matthew 5.44 and Luke 6.27 apply only to the personal, private enemy but that the political opponent does not have to be loved. [4] One may accuse Schmitt of praising militarism. He does not. As he writes later, the military battle itself is not important. [5] What counts is the possibility of conflict. A world without that possibility is a world without politics, which contains nothing of real value or interest, simply entertainment. There is of course the effect that trying to stop war would have. Schmitt writes: “Nothing can escape this logical conclusion of the political. If pacifist hostility toward war were so strong as to drive pacifists into a war against nonpacifists, in a war against war, that would prove that pacifism truly possesses political energy because it is sufficiently strong to group men according to friend and enemy. [...] The war is then considered to constitute the absolute last war of humanity. Such a war is necessarily unusually intense and inhuman because, by transcending the limits of the political framework, it simultaneously degrades the enemy into moral and other categories and is forced to make of him a monster that must not only be defeated but also utterly destroyed.” [6] With Schmitt, there is a distinction between the enemy who must simply be defeated and the foe who must be annihilated.

Chapter Four

In chapter four, Schmitt continues to demonstrate that the division between friends and enemies is inescapable. Schmitt uses the formula to diagnose the true political nature of situations and in doing so he reveals more of his true colors. Writing about Bismarck’s assault on Socialism and Catholicism and how this assault failed because the two forces held more sway over people’s minds, Schmitt states that the Reich was “not absolutely sovereign and powerful.” [7] Other forces held the title of sovereignty and the political. In his explanation, he reveals his theological base by saying, “[t]he juridic formulas of the omnipotence of the state are, in fact, only superficial secularizations of theological formulas of the omnipotence of God. Pluralism, for Schmitt, is a negation of this omnipotence. When left to reach its logical conclusion, pluralism transforms the state into a realm on the same level as groups, associations, and “nonpolitical” spheres. This at once is the work of a negation of politics, but because politics cannot be negated it is a universalization of the political. Every group begins to possess the potential to group people according to friends and enemies.

Chapter Five

In this chapter, Schmitt argues that the genuine political sphere possesses the right to declare war. Differing very little from the arguments of the prior chapters, Schmitt uses this chapter to emphasize how the political is fundamentally different than other spheres. This contradicts his statement in chapter one [8] that friend vs. enemy in politics equates to moral vs. immoral in ethics and beautiful vs. ugly in art. This contradiction is not an accident. Schmitt writes in defense of the political, for he equates the political with the theological. Politics is an issue of faith; all political statements are either orthodox or heretical. Schmitt’s base is not rational. [9] It is something outside the scope of human comprehension and thought.

Chapter Six

Chapter six consists of Schmitt’s destruction of the “world state” concept. He uses the inevitability of the friend/enemy distinction to target the liberal international order. A League of Nations or any political group claiming to represent humanity must, according to the logic of politics, dehuamnize and annihilate the enemy. “To confiscate the word humanity, to invoke and monopolize such a term probably has certain incalculable effects, such as denying the enemy the quality of behing human and declaring him to be an outlaw of humanity; and a war can thereby be driven to the most extreme inhumanity.” [10] “Humanity” is not a political concept for Schmitt. When it becomes one, it distorts the real political groupings. The world state as it’s conceived, which is to say a universal government that has successfully abolished war and conflict, cannot be anything more than a clearing house of commerce. It, as a result, strips us of all meaning. “For what would they be free?” [11] Schmitt asks of the inhabitants of this new world state.

Chapter Seven

Here we come to the heart of Schmitt’s argument. In chapter seven, he asks us to test political theories by their anthropology. The question of human nature is the basis of politics. The consistent political theories are those that assume human nature is bad or at least potentially dangerous. [12] Radicalism, which is to say intellectual shifts away from orthodox beliefs, is the product of affirming that human nature is good. The more benevolent you believe humans to be, the more radical your politics. Schmitt roots these views in theology. He argues that theology is only real theology when the theologian considers human beings to be sinful by nature. [13] Schmitt elaborates by saying, “The fundamental theological dogma of the evilness of the world and man leads, just as does the distinction of friend and enemy, to a categorization of men and makes impossible the undifferentiated optimism of a universal conception of man. In a good world among good people, only peace, security, and harmony prevail. Priests and theologians are here just as superfluous as politicians and statesmen.” [14] This “fundamental theological dogma” has the same effect as the friend/enemy distinction. One may posit that these two are related, though in order to identify Schmitt’s enemy and its connection with this theological dogma we will need to review Political Theology at a later date. We may only content ourselves by noting that Schmitt ends chapter seven by resting politics on the truth in Genesis 3.15. To affirm the scripture is to affirm Schmitt’s politics; to deny the friend/enemy distinction is to deny Genesis 3.15, which for Schmitt is a mere step away from denying the rest of the Word.

Chapter Eight

Chapter eight begins by briefly examining the nature of liberalism. Schmitt argues that it attaches itself to different traditions in order to gain power, arguing that Catholicism and even democracy are not liberal but in fact anti-liberal systems that liberalism just seeks to coalesce with. There is here no consistent liberal position. Liberalism, insofar as it is an individualism, will promote a constant distrust of authority. [15] Followed to its conclusion, there is always a negation of the state, of politics, of church, but no positive theory. Individualism is incapable of requiring a sacrifice for a higher ideal. All that is left is pure materialism and trade. What remains of the state is a small government dedicated to securing the conditions of this materialism. [16] The book wraps up with an exposition on how the progressive view of liberalism triumphing over feudalism and slavery has led to the creation of new political realities, so that the League of Nations (who, at the time, stood for peace and cooperation between countries) reserved the right to sever food supplies to civilian populations until target states liberalize. All of this is done by representing humanity while dehumanizing the opponent. There is, of course, no escape from the political.

[1] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 19
[2] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 25
[3] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 26
[4] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 29
[5] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 34
[6] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 36
[7] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 42
[8] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 26
[9] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 49
[10] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 54
[11] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 57
[12] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 61
[13] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 64
[14] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 65
[15] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 70
[16] Carl Schmitt. The Concept of the Political. (Chicago, IL: The University of the Chicago Press, 2007), 71