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by George Schwab,Tracy B. Strong,Leo Strauss,Carl Schmitt

Free eBook The Concept of the Political: Expanded Edition download ISBN: 0226738922
Author: George Schwab,Tracy B. Strong,Leo Strauss,Carl Schmitt
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press; Enlarged edition (May 15, 2007)
Language: English
Pages: 126
Category: Other
Subcategory: Social Sciences
Size MP3: 1752 mb
Size FLAC: 1894 mb
Rating: 4.9
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In this, his most influential work, legal theorist and political philosopher Carl Schmitt argues that liberalism's basis in individual rights cannot provide a reasonable justification for sacrificing one-self for the state - a critique as cogent today as when it first appeared.

Translation, Introduction, and Notes by George Schwab. Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, by Leo Strauss. With The Age of Neutralizations and Depoliticizations (1929) translated by Matthias Konzen and John P. McCormick. With Leo Strauss's Notes on Schmitt's Essay, translated by J. Harvey Lomax. Reprinted by permission of John P.

In this, his most influential work, legal theorist and political philosopher Carl Schmitt argues that liberalism’s basis in individual rights cannot provide a reasonable justification for sacrificing oneself for the state-a critique as cogent today as when it first appeared.

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The Concept of the Political (German: Der Begriff des Politischen) is a 1932 book by the German philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt, in which the author examines the fundamental nature of the "political" and its place in the modern world

The Concept of the Political (German: Der Begriff des Politischen) is a 1932 book by the German philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt, in which the author examines the fundamental nature of the "political" and its place in the modern world. For Schmitt, the political is reducible to the existential distinction between friend and enemy.

Carl Schmitt : Political Theology and the Concept of the Political. Tracy B. Strong - 2011 - In Catherine H. Zuckert (e., Political Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: Authors and Arguments. Cambridge University Press. Kant: Political Writings. Immanuel Kant - 1991 - Cambridge University Press. History of Political Philosophy. Leo Strauss & Joseph Cropsey (ed. - 1987 - University of Chicago Press.

User reviews
Others have described the book quite well, so I simply wanted to add a corrective to Mr. Dermeval's review, which criticized Schmitt's analysis as being crudely bipolar relative to Weber. While I agree that Weber's analysis is superlative, it does not in fact contradict Schmitt's theory at all. Schmitt views "the political" as a particular process that pervades human life to varying degrees, depending upon the particular degree of friend/enemy antagonism that is involved in a given social situation. Obviously, not every judgment that involves some aspect of the political rises to the highest point of friend/enemy antagonism. Battles over health care rights, for example, are inherently less "political" in Schmittian terms than is an outright war. The health care conflict is resolved with more rational and bureaucratic elements -- for example, determining which approach will likely be lowest in total cost. Schmitt's theory takes full account of this varying intensity of the political in social life; in fact it is premised on it.

It is thus a mistake to think that the "friend/enemy" distinction is fully manifested in every judgment made by a state. Many (if not most) such judgments are apolitical decisions made on generally rational grounds, consistent with Weber's description of the state. On Schmitt's theory, such particular rational judgments are not truly (i.e. distinctively) political, even though made by a political entity. Such judgments *become* political to the extent they involve one group seizing advantage over another group, rather than a purely rational technical analysis based on accepted criteria.
Schmitt is not easy reading but as one of the main voices of the Conservative Revolution it is well worth your time. In his terminology the political isn't the recurring charade that passes for politics in a liberal democracy. I may be overstating it somewhat but for Schmitt the political is war. For the political there is no compromise with the enemy, no common ground, and no surrender. Areas in which a compromise is possible aren't of deep enough importance to be political. When it comes down to friend or enemy there is no neutral middle ground.
Nice exploration and development.
This is a great book but one that must be read with the greatest of care. This is so for various reasons. As some of the other reviewers have pointed out, Schmitt's book is full of words whose meaning has changed, e.g., liberalism and democracy. Secondly, Schmitt is a slippery writer. O heck, there are times when he writes deceptively. Thirdly, Schmitt assumes a lot without argument.
Finally, there is the evidence of his own life (he entered the Nazi Party within several months of publishing the 1933 edition of his book and never publicly expressed any regret about his involvement with that regime.) In that sense, we can state that his own life provides a sort of worst-case demonstration as to where his thinking leads.

I want to outline what I think Schmitt is doing in this book. Along the way I will illustrate my points above. I will then offer a few suggestions as to why Schmitt remains an attractive and useful read (the two qualities are distinct).

Schmitt's first theoretical enemy is the use of rationality in the political (more on that usage in a moment). He is opposed to any attempt to transcend the individual state, to work toward a politics that embraces all of humanity.
His concept of the political is an odd one. It comes into being on a sliding scale, a political exemplar of Hegel's dictum that changes in quantity eventually become changes in quality. At some point, a dispute begins to enter the political. It can be a religious, a moral or an economic dispute. But at some point, according to Schmitt, it starts to get existential, it starts to be perceived as an issue about a way of life. At that point, it becomes political and leaves behind the religious, the moral, etc. At it's most extreme, it leads to war and possibly the annihilation of one's way of life.
This idea is just chock full of assumptions asserted by definition. The separation of the political and the other modes of being is a case in point. Consider this quote:
"The distinction of friend and enemy...can exist theoretically and practically, without having simultaneously to draw upon all these moral, aesthetic, economic, or other distinctions" p.27.
This is also a good example of the sneaky writing I mentioned. Notice that fact that all he is saying is that the political can exist without all of them simultaneously. He says nothing about the political being able to exist without some or any of them. The distinction between the political and the other modes of being is not clear cut as he wants to make out.
So the political seems to be nothing more than the intensification of disagreement in other modes of being. Schmitt wants us to believe otherwise but, to my reading, he does not succeed.

Schmitt's other great enemy is individualism. Schmitt believes that a consistent individualism is the negation of the political. This consistency is expressed in the (classical)liberal definition of the state as a minimalist state dedicated to the purpose "of protecting individual freedom and private property" p.70. (The discussion on these pages exemplify what I mean by his historically specific usages of words like liberalism and democracy).
So what is being argued for by Schmitt is a dissolving the the line between the private and the public sphere in the state. He sees the political as based on a people, a Volk, who have a traditional way of life that need on occasion to be defended. That way of life is what justifies ultimately that state's sovereignty. The ultimate expression of that sovereignty is the expectation that the individual will sacrifice his/her life for that state if need be.
Given that reading (especially when combined with Schmitt's well-documented antisemitism), it is easy to see how he could turn to the Nazi party as a means to achieve his idea of politics.

So why read the guy? For a variety of reasons. He exemplifies one of the weaknesses of liberalism/rationalism which is that together they are corrosive of all of the larger than life visions of the human good be those visions religious or political. It seems to me that Western political philosophy is fixated on the idea of (Augustine's)"things loved in common",i.e., on a shared sense of what is the just, the true, the noble and the beautiful as the foundation of a political society, of a state. For centuries, we had a sense of that in one or the other form of Christianity but we have outgrown that. Many of those on the left were seduced by the romanticism of one or the other form of Marxism. There are many on the left today that are trying to create a new ontology to meet that need or are turning back to Christianity in order to look for tools to create that shared sense of a way of life.
Those on the right try to reimpose Christianity in one form or another(Schmitt himself turned to Catholicism,I believe) or Islam or, in some cases, they indulge themselves in a conservative post-modernism.
Me, I prefer the road that I find suggested in the writings of Claude Lefort. I prefer to believe that that a shared sense of life is a work in practice, never completed, that largely relies on rational criticism but also on faith and reliance in the democratic masses in all their glorious otherness. Schmitt, like Hobbes, like Marx, is a tool set full of insights into the difficulties of the task and of the material (recalcitrant Humanity) but he is no guide. But then there are no guides. There is simply the work that we have to do of getting on with each other.
Very deep and sometimes dry content. I purchased this for a college course and while it was insightful, definitely not a favorite of mine.
The book arrived in better condition than described online and arrived quickly. I would order from this vendor again. Quite Satisfied!