Schmitt

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  • Schmitt
    • Most famous for writing during the Weimar period, between about 1918-32
      • Joined the Nazi party from 1933-1936, then quit.He had some distance from the party but not much, still a public intellectual in Nazi Germany.
      • Arrested as a potential war criminal but he was not charged and not triedIn the 1970s and 80s people rediscovered what he had written before he was a Nazi and became more well known;In particular his work in IR and ‘The Concept of the Political’
    • Known for thinking about what happens in an emergency in politics, therefore became very influential post 9/11
      • Very interested in Hobbes and had a similar view of politics, wrote a book about Leviathan
    • Main arguments
      • Anti-Romantic Anti-Liberal Political Romanticism: irresponsible Thinks liberalism is really dangerous in politics
        • Why?  liberalism contrasts with decisionism
        • Liberals looking for an objective truth everyone can agree on eventually, but there may not be an objective truth and it may also take so long.
        • Politicians can't talk forever and they need to make decisions quickly
      • Liberalism and democracy don’t belong together. Democracy means decision making; the people decide or they elect a representative to decide for them.
        • Not for democracy against liberalism, but for decision making against anti decision making.
          • The British state before the reform acts was a robust liberal state which wasn’t a democracy; fine because decisions were made. The thing that stops parliament from being decisive is in a liberal democracy politicians are always worrying about the voters.
            • We think democracy goes with liberalism, Schmidt thinks that democracy goes with dictatorship; like the Roman dictators who stayed for 6 months to save the state and reactivated the constitution.
      • Politics is about what happens in an emergency
        • in an emergency the elected president of the republic should be able to come a dictator and take the sole decisions, suspend the constitution.
          • In economic, military crises, the president should be able to suspend parliament, conscript people, expropriate property.
            • Eg in Greece and Italy in the Euro crisis suspended their parliaments briefly and brought in unelected technocrats.
        • These emergency decisions are about safety
          • political decisions are about who is our friend and who is our enemy. ‘The friend-enemy distinction’; because of the permanent state of conflict
            • Only the actual participants […] can settle the extreme case of conflict’ p.27 ‘… to preserve one’s own form of existence
              • EXISTENTIAL QUESTION
                • rather than tying Hobbes' state of war to a prepolitical state of nature, it is an inescapable part of political / everyday life: continual state of conflict and war
                  • Hobbes believed that a sovereign state could put an end to war
                • rooted in an important truth; the world is a dangerous place
                  • therefore takes the extreme situation (war, existential threats) and turns it into the norm
                  • compare to Kant; we could all get along if we followed the rules of international justice
                    • international bodies very ineffective at creating justice
              • Untitled
              • The political is the most  most intense and extreme antagonism which becomes that much more political the closer it approaches to the extreme point; that of the friend and enemy grouping
                • Humanitarian appeals attempts to avoid the truth of conflict and the need for a politics of group solidarity
            • Feared fighting wars over economics, this would happen if state cared about economics. Raise stakes high enough so people don’t want to politicise things. Don’t politicise moral decisions.
              • ‘The concept of humanity excludes the concept of the enemy, because the enemy does not cease to be a human being- and hence there is no specific differentiation to the concept’. p.54
                • critique of USA post 9/11 involved in wars in the name of universalism
          • Need for heterogeneity; those who are other from us are our 'enemy'?
            • ‘Emotionally the enemy is easily treated as being evil and ugly, because every distinction, most of all the political, as the strongest and most intense of the distinctions and categorisations, draws upon other distinctions for support. This does not alter the autonomy of such distinctions.’
            •  What is politics? ; schmitt searching for the ‘essential’ character of politics BASED ON opposition of friend-enemy which supersedes the other oppositions! every other antithesis eventually turns into political because it groups people into friends and enemies
              • doesn’t denote a specific sphere but the polarisation of all other spheres into politics; the intensity which regroups us
              • Is ‘friend’ enemy only between states? No; according to Schmitt it is also internal threats, in particular the ‘partisan’; not limited to just the actions of states
    • Criticisms
      • 'friend enemy distinction' is the ‘existential’ problem; fundamental to the existence of the state, life and death. But also limited; only one decision among many
        • Is this ‘friend-enemy’ distinction merely political? and merely restricted to the enemies of the state? what about religious, moral, economic antagonism on its own, is that necessarily less intense, polarising into political?
          • a lack of proof; that whatever bring about this friend-enemy alignment is more about politics than the other spheres which brought it about
      • Liberal democracy; true that Weimar didn’t work, but Weimar is not the only thing that’s ever happened in the history of liberal democracy; eg USA. Weimar constitution was trying to do too many things for everyone; you can’t have everything.
      • Existential thinking: l; Schmitt did not spot that he shouldn’t have signed up with the Nazis because he thought that a dictator was necessary for Germany to make the decisions  Schmidt familiar with Roman dictatorship; didn’t realise it was actually totalitarianism. Order is the state NOT intruding into life.
        • Why should the struggle between friend an enemy stay an inter state rivalry; wouldn't it become a subject of internal conflict of teh extistential logic of friend and enemy cuts down
          • logic points not only to conflict between states but ongoing civil war within states; could even result in the destruction of sovereign states (Steven B. Smith)
      • what is 'German social, cultural and political life.'? In reality there is very little heterogeneity with a nation even/ especially on a class basis
        • Humans have a capacity for choice (self determination); not just put into a place by birth
      • Is survival the only thing that's important; surely it matters what you do as well?

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