Friday, March 13, 2020

Question on Carl Schmitt

Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) was a conservative German legal, constitutional, and political theorist. Schmitt is often considered to be one of the most important critics of liberalism, parliamentary democracy, and liberal cosmopolitanism. But the value and significance of Schmitt’s work is subject to controversy, mainly due to his intellectual support for and active involvement with National Socialism.
- From The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Has anyone here read Carl Schmitt? I've run across his name a couple of times already in László F. Földényi's Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts into Tears and the quotes sound intriguing, as do the descriptions of several of his books at the above link. I liked the following quote from Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, which was originally published in 1922:

As Carl Schmitt put it, the middle class wants a God, but he must be passive; it wants a ruler with no authority to rule; it demands freedom and equality but wishes to limit suffrage to the ruling class, so that by means of wealth and education it may bring its own influence to bear on legislation (as if wealth and education justified the exploitation of the poor and uneducated); it abolishes aristocracy based on family but supports the rule of a mercantilist aristocracy, which is still an aristocracy but an idiotic and commonplace one; it desires the sovereignty of neither king nor people. What—we could ask with Schmitt—does the bourgeoisie really want?

Parts of those comments seem to apply to the world today just as they did to Schmitt' world a century ago. I'm adding Political Theology to my wish list, mostly to find out more of the context of his arguments, but I'm curious to hear other readers' experiences with the "controversial" writer.

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