Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory

Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory

Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory

Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory

Synopsis

Gottfried looks at Schmitt as a critic of modern liberalism and as a defender of the national state who carefully examined Western historical and political traditions. Challenging the view that Schmitt was a mere polemicist who set out to subvert "German Democracy," Gottfried's work argues instead, that Schmitt criticized liberal democracy from a highly liberal reflective position that combined analytical depth with staggering erudition. This new source also provides a useful bibliography on secondary literature dealing with Carl Schmitt's work.

Excerpt

This book began as an essay on sovereignty that expanded gradually but inescapably into a study of Carl Schmitt. This development occurred for two reasons. One was my discovery that Schmitt had first posed the questions about political authority that had come to engage my own attention: for example, whether sovereignty can coexist with democratic pluralism; and why the extension of government often coincides with its growing inability to maintain public order. I was also drawn to Schmitt because he provided thoughtful answers to these queries, though some of his answers were plainly occasioned by time-bound and personal circumstances.

After extensive research on my subject, I now perceive that the silence and even abuse that long greeted his work in the United States, and still does in some circles here, resulted from his opening questions that some Americans prefer to keep closed. The tension between liberalism and democracy, the incompatibility between a stable political order and the pursuit of value-based politics, and the association of political life with friend-enemy distinctions are Schmittian themes that many self- described democratic pluralists, both inside and outside American universities, would like to ignore. Schmitt would have explained this attitude by pointing to the "tyranny of values": the structuring of political discourse around those things that engaged intellectuals both value and seek to impose universally. Those who complain that the resulting dialogue is a manipulated one will likely be exposed to contempt or neglect from the outraged participants. In the Anglo-American world Schmitt has suffered both fates and, more recently, the indignity of having had dredged up . . .

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