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SCHMITT and the Concept of the Political - Joseph Belbruno

SCHMITT and the Concept of the Political - Joseph Belbruno

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Published by nieschopwit
Critique of Carl Schmitt's political philosophy
Critique of Carl Schmitt's political philosophy

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Published by: nieschopwit on Mar 10, 2013
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Tuesday, 24 July 2012
A ‚theory‛ is an explanation of life and the world that attempts to encompass them in
‚totality‛ by ‚con
necting‛ their ‚parts‛ in a ‚systematic‛ manner that is internally consistentand that, through this ‚consistent
nexus rerum
‛, achieves the
adaequatio rei et intellectus
ofScholastic fame. It follows that a theory must connect the relationship of the parts to one another
in a manner consistent with the ‚systematicity‛ of the whole. Consequently, regardless of the
content of the theory, the con-nections between parts and of the parts in their totality must be
‚necessary‛. This ‚necessity‛ removes any ‚freedom‛ that the parts may have had in relation tothe totality in such a manner that the theory admits of no ‚exception‛ that is not re
-conducible toor con-
sistent with the totality and its ‚systematicity‛.
notion of
‚freedom‛ as the opposite of logical necessity has nothing to do with the
notion of freedom. It is instead the opposite of ‚contingency‛, and in fact ought not to becalled ‚freedom‛ at all! Freedom is a political notion –
the opposite of ‚coercion‛ (Arendt in‘LotM’). Once the notion of ‚freedom‛ is reduced to the opposite of logical necessity, then it becomes mere ‚contingency‛ and is reduced to an ‚onto
logical‛ problem. The fact is that, as we
are demonstrating here, there is no such thing as
‚logical necessity‛ so that all ‚truths‛ are‚contingent‛.
But the fact
that ‚truth‛ can be understood as ‚logical necessity‛
- that the
‚necessity‛ of logic is what makes it ‚true‛
and that ‚freedom‛ can be mistaken for‚contingency‛ means that ‚truth‛ o
r logical necessity can be abused or be used instrumentally
for the purpose of political coercion! By this process, ‚freedom
the will‛ can be mistaken for a‚telos‛ that, by positing the ‚systematicity‛ of life and the world as a ‚totality‛ becomes a qu
for ‚freedom
the will‛ –
which is what the
negatives Denken
claims whilst at the same time,
 by denying the existence of ‚freedom‛ in a political sense (because it understands freedom only
ontologically), denies the possibility of political freedom or else reduces it to contingency, to
superfluity (Sartre’s ‚
de trop
‛, Heidegger‛s de
-jection and
as pro-ject). Freedom is
understood then as ‚universal Eris‛, as total conflict so that freedom is no longer a function of the
will but the will becom
es a function of ‚freedom‛ understood as cosmic ‚contingency‛
Arendt correctly distinguishes between freedom (political) and contingency (ontological),pointing to their discrete opposites
coercion or necessity, and logical necessity or
‚irresistibility‛. But she fails to see that there is nothing ‚irresistible‛ or ‚true‛ about logico
-mathematics and science, that these are contingent, and that therefore these (contingent, arbitrary)conventions can be utilized for the purposes of coercion
 by erecting ‚measurable frameworks‛ ofconduct (institutions) that force human conduct and choices into ‚measurable‛ channels or behavioral straitjackets. The ‚irresistibility‛ of mathesis can ec
sist only as a value, as ‚truth‛, andtherefore as a ‚will to truth‛ that is ‚internalized‛ to coerce human behaviour. This is the‚necessity‛ of mathesis –
precisely, a ‚restriction‛ or channeling of human freedom understood
not ontologically (as contingency, which is categorically not, and can-
be affected by mathesis) but rather
negatives Denken
understands ‚free
dom‛ as the
of conflict
wills. ForWeber, for instance, the individual will
acts freely
if it acts ‚rationally‛; and ‚rationality‛ isdefined as the will’s choice of adequate means in pursuit of its own ends. This ‚choice‛ the will
makes is therefore con-ditioned by the choices of other wills in conflict with it. In essence, forWeber, rationality is the game-theoretic strategy that is chosen by independent and conflictingwills
pursuing their irreconcilable ends or wants whose provision is scarce. The ‚freedom‛
of the will is de-
fined not intrinsically as in the ‘Freiheit’ of German Idealism but rather
instrumentally in terms of the relationship of given
means to projected ends. It is ‚free
dom‛ inthe sense of ‚room to manoeuvre‛ (
) - to maneuvre
other wills, that is.
Thus, there can be no ‚freedom of the will‛ in the objective genitive. It is the will that is a
function of free-dom, not the other way around
which means that the ‚freedom of the will‛ has
no positive universalistic telos or
inter esse
 , but is rather the op-posite, the contrary of this
. For the
negatives Denken
there is no ‚freedom‛ in an ab
-solute, idealistic sense: freedom exists
only as ‚contingency‛, as the opposite of ‚necessity‛, not of ‚co
- onto-logically, notpolitically! And insofar as there is freedom, as in Schopenhauer or Heidegger, this ec-sists only as
‚transcendence‛, as a ‚leap of faith‛, as ‚intelligible freedom‛ (even in Kant), as ‚astutetheology‛ (note the etymological link between ‚theory‛ and ‚theo
negatives Denken
replaces the Idealist
which, as we have seen, turns by reason of its
‚systematicity‛ into a quest for ‚freedom
the will‛, from its ‚arbitrariness‛, with theconversion of this teleological ‚freedom‛ into an instrumental ‚free
dom‛, one that is intendednot as a telos, as an aspiration, but rather as its opposite, as ‚contingence‛, a mere l
ack of
conceptual or material ‚necessity‛; and thus it conceives of the Will as an antagonistic ‚universalcondition‛, as the obverse of Kant’s
Dinge an sich
. The de-
struction of the telos of ‚freedom‛invites and elicits the destruction of any ‚system‛, of any teleological ‚rule‛ by means of ‚theexception‛. For the
negatives Denken
the exception is not what con-
the rule, not Hegel’s
negation that is meaningfully re-
absorbed by the ‚negation of the negation‛. No such ‚
is possible. Instead, it is the exception that determines the very
of the rule, the ‚truth‛ of
the system, by de-fining its
. Schmitt quotes from Kierkegaard (in PT, p15): ‚The exceptionexplains the general *the rule, the system+ and itself.‛ Yet if the exception ‚explains the general‛,it can do so only if it ‚de
structs‛ the general or rule or system –
if it negates the ‚system‛ as a‚totality‛, as ‚truth‛. Any attempt to erect the system to a universal application –
as theSozialismus seeks to do in politics
will result only in the suppression of any ‚free
dom‛ that
remains beyond the grasp of the system and within the purview of the exception. Schmitt writes(p15):
It would be consequent
to say that the exception proves nothing and thatonly the normal can be the object of scientific interest. The exception confounds theunity and order of the rationalist scheme.
Here the
negatives Denken
can conceive of the will only as a destructive force that ‚works‛ or‚uses‛ the world only in the sense of ‚consuming‛ it –
because the opposite, the will andits
as the ‚creation‛ of ‚wealth‛, would entail the possibility of a ‚
wealth‛, of
inter esse
common to all wills, and not merely a subjective ‚greed
dom‛ or
. This de-structio
n of ‚truth‛, of the telos of freedom, entails also the de
-struction of Reason and the Ratioas the
summum bonum
of humanity, as the Platonic Good. In this perspective, not only can the
Logic not be a ‚science‛ as in Hegel and even in Kant where synthetic
a priori judgements are
made ‚possible‛ by Reason, but it becomes a mere instrument of the intellect –
this lastunderstood as mere perceptions or sensations (
) in accordance with causality andthe principle of sufficient reason. Yet in much of the
negatives Denken
 , from Schopenhauer to
Weber for instance, the attachment to ‚science and rationality‛ (even when conceived as
instrumental) remains steadfast. We have seen that Nietzsche ridicules this Schopenhauerian
atavistic attachment to ‚scientific and logical rationality‛, although it was his ‚Educator‛ whofirst insisted on the purely ‚instrumental‛, non
logical, ontological status of logic (see G.
Piana, ‘Commenti su Schopenhauer.’, 2). Schmitt remains attached to this ‚juridical‛ notion o
f theexception:
That a neo-Kantian like Kelsen does not know what to do with the exception is obvious.But it should be of interest to the rationalist that the legal system itself can anticipate the
exception and can ―suspend itself‖….But how the syste
matic unity and order cansuspend itself in a concrete case is difficult to construe, and yet it remains a juristicproblem as long as the exception is distinguishable from a juristic chaos, from any kind
of anarchy…From where does the law obtain this
, and how is it
logically  possible
[m.e.] that a norm is valid except for one concrete case that it cannot factuallydetermine? (p15)
We saw earlier in our
that Bobbio moves the same objection to Weber and Kelsenagainst the neo-Kantian deter
mination of ‚the Norm‛ and its sociological implications –
the fact
that ‚Norm‛ must include also the notion of ‚apparatus‛ or ‚coaction‛ wherewith it can be
en- forced
. This calls into question the notion of ‚the State‛, which Schmitt so far does not expla
in. Forthe state of exception is one that, like the Hobbesian and Schopenhauerian and Nietzschean, callsinto question the entire socio-ontological foundation of the state and society, and not merely the
concept of a ‚juridical legal order‛. Schmitt corre
ctly identifies the two moments of the legalorder
the norm, what gives ‚legitimacy‛ to the legal order, and the decision, which gives effectto the ‚legal order‛ when it has ‚legality‛. But the two moments –
legitimacy and norm on oneside and legality and decision on the other
remain distinct and separate to the point that they
are aporetic and irreconcilable: this is the reality that ‚the exception‛ and the state of exceptionexpose, regardless of whether the ‚state‛ of exception is an organized stat
e or a state of anarchy!By pre-
serving the conceptual legitimacy of ‚the state‛ as an entity Schmitt has a
-voided thequestion that he had posed himself originally: -
that is, how can a ‚state‛ exist as the foundationof a legal order founded on a ‚norm‛
when in fact the exception shows that it has no socio-ontological foundation?

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