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“enemy” (der Feind)

Gregg Lambert a
Department of English, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA

Online Publication Date: 01 December 2007

To cite this Article Lambert, Gregg(2007)'“enemy” (der Feind)',Angelaki,12:3,115 — 125

To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/09697250802041194


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journal of the theoretical humanities
volume 12 number 3 december 2007

y contribution to this forum is drawn

M from my current project in which
I attempt to think a thoroughly ‘‘post-war’’
concept of ‘‘the friend’’ (philos), departing from
Gilles Deleuze’s later philosophy, but also from
other sources, including Blanchot, Derrida,
Agamben and Schmitt. By placing the Greek
word ‘‘philos’’ in quotation marks, I am only
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invoking the common philosophical metaphor

that has overdetermined our understanding of
the political as a higher realm of friendship.
In his last work written with Félix Guattari,
What is Philosophy?, Deleuze argues very
elliptically that this is an understanding that has
been placed ‘‘in distress,’’ so much so that the
early philosophical analogy may no longer
designate a ‘‘living category’’ from which the
gregg lambert
idea of political association can be thought.1 By
the term ‘‘post-war’’ not only am I referring to
the historical period of post-war societies – that
is, the period we continue to be in the process of ‘‘enemy’’ (der Feind)
departing from, but have not yet left, a period
that makes of us all, in a very strange way,
survivors and deportees – but, rather, I am also this problem from the earlier philosophical
referring to the overturning of the Platonic understanding of friendship (philia), I feel we
ground of an earlier philosophical idealism that must first turn to the concept of ‘‘the enemy’’
invoked friendship as the destination of the (der Feind) that has appeared decisively in
political, and the emergence in its place of what the writings of Carl Schmitt, specifically in
I will call a non-philosophical understanding The Concept of the Political (1932).
that has determined war (polemos), and even As we know from several recent commentaries
‘‘permanent war,’’ as the ultimate ground from on Schmitt, particularly those offered by
which any realistic understanding of the concept Agamben and Derrida, in this work Schmitt
of the political must depart. Certainly, two focuses almost exclusively on what he calls ‘‘the
thinkers who come immediately to mind who concrete situations’’ of the determination of the
could be employed to demonstrate this non- enemy relationship in order to arrive at what
philosophical understanding are Schmitt and he claims to be a pure concept of the political as
Marx (the latter for reasons that would need to being, first of all, founded upon the need to
be reserved for another occasion); therefore, in determine the friend–enemy distinction –
keeping with this tradition, before approaching i.e., the need to identify the enemy of my

ISSN 0969-725X print/ISSN1469-2899 online/07/030115^11 ß 2007 Taylor & Francis and the Editors of Angelaki
DOI: 10.1080/09697250802041194


friend, and the friend of my enemy – as a point of determination of the friend–enemy distinction;
certainty that structures the social field. In his in a Hegelian sense, we are conscious of the
reading of Schmitt, which I will return to in certainty of the identity of the state and the
greater detail below, Jacques Derrida is com- political by its function to wage war on the basis
pletely accurate in determining the character of of this distinction. It is in relation to the state
this as not an epistemological certainty but rather and its power to determine the enemy that the
a practical certainty (praxis), which is why subject becomes conscious of the political as
Schmitt calls it a ‘‘concrete situation,’’ referring such. The importance of Marx was to have
the nature of the knowledge to the subject who recognized the certainty of this identity and this
knows, who is capable of acting, in this case power and to turn this instrumental function
referring to one who is capable of knowing and into a weapon that could be wielded by other
acting upon ‘‘who is the enemy’’ and ‘‘who is the classes. Marx ‘‘de-mythologized’’ this identity by
friend’’ among all the social relationships in revealing that ‘‘the state’’ was itself only an
which the subject is situated. As Derrida writes, instrument invented by a certain class, which
could in turn be turned against them. In order
If the political is to exist [in Schmitt’s sense],
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for this to happen, a new class consciousness

one must know who everyone is, who is a
needed to emerge that would find itself directly
friend and who is an enemy, and this knowing
in opposition to the certainty of the political
is not in the mode of theoretical knowledge
but one of practical identification: knowing
founded upon the state. The certainty of national
consists in knowing how to identify the friend identity, by which the friend–enemy distinction
and the enemy. (116) was determined by the different national classes
of bourgeoisie competing for their own particular
This could also be demonstrated with regard to class interests through the political instruments
the praxis demanded by a Marxist determination they had invented, would need to be replaced by
of knowledge, ‘‘scientific materialist practice,’’ the ‘‘concrete situation’’ of a new universal class
and it is here that the recognition of the ‘‘enemy’’ at war against all national elites, who in the end
becomes an acute political problem, in some ways would be revealed to be only the different
lending credence to Schmitt’s analysis. In other bourgeoisies each in their own spheres of
words, something striking occurs when we realize influence, all having an integral role to play in
that in both concepts of the political – that of the states they had instituted to pursue their own
Schmitt and that of Marx – the fundamental order particular interests. What it might be important
of determination is focused upon the enemy. The to see in this is a radical overturning of the
enemy comes first, prior to the friend, in original Greek concept of the polis as the
the order of this distinction; it is only after the common or open space (agora) that is shared
enemy is determined that the relation to by friends who must organize the form of conflict
friends (or comrades) is made possible. It is the (stasis) into generalized forms of competition
certainty of the identity of the enemy that first (philotimia) that do not approach the extreme
allows for the ‘‘recognition’’ of the friend; thus, division implied by war (polemos). Let us be
the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Of course, clear on this point: war (polemos) is still a
this already fulfills Schmitt’s argument that the distribution or partition of space (even when this
polemical character determines the concept of distribution takes the form of occupation or
the political as a pragmatic or concrete situation colonization), as well as an economic distribution
of alliances in a more or less generalized situation of goods (even through their destruction);
of war, something that can also be found in however, it is this distribution or economy that
Marx’s concept of the political as the image of Plato wanted to keep ‘‘outside’’ the polis,
class war. admitting only those forms of antagonism that
In the case of Schmitt’s concept of the belong to the term stases. In the original Greek,
political, this allows for the emergence of the stasis indicates both homogeneity and strife, and
modern state as the purest and most instrumental it is the identity of the two opposing and


contradictory meanings that forms a specific presupposes the concept of the political’’ (19),
dialectical trajectory for the history of the polis in the sense that the state emerges from the
to resolve. ground of a decision to kill, which then
As Leo Strauss has already observed in his subsequently must be deprived of its simple
epilogue to the 1976 re-edition of The Concept of moral meaning for the individual (i.e., it must be
the Political, one of the distinctive characteristics sanctioned, legalized, condoned, excused,
in Schmitt’s analysis of the political is that, ordered, etc.). If, for Hegel, the state represents
unlike other regions of culture and society, the the specific historical entity of the community,
political has no sphere of its own.2 In other according to Schmitt it does so only as bearing all
words, the friend–enemy antithesis can be found the responsibility and all the right for the
in other spheres and regions of ‘‘Culture’’ (civil community’s decision to kill for the sake of the
society), such as the religious, economic, legal, community itself (to preserve, to protect, even to
scientific, ethical; however, it is only the political expand or to subjugate other communities in its
that names the point of actuality and ‘‘concrete own interest).
determination’’ of a particular friend–enemy And yet, if Schmitt derives his theory of the
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grouping at a given historical moment. state from Hegel, he clearly departs from Hegel
Religious conflicts can intensify within or by so narrowly defining the character of the
between societies, but they become political decision upon which the personality of the state is
only to the extent that they become actualized grounded. Although for Hegel the state repre-
as lethal conflicts, empowering each side with the sents the conscious decision of the community to
ability to kill or to sacrifice the members of its bring itself into existence as a subject, as an
own association. Although it would seem that emanation of the desire of consciousness itself to
Schmitt is founding the political on the actuality become embodied in an entity, Hegel would not
of war – a thesis that is more in keeping with so narrowly define the consciousness of negation
Foucault’s – he reminds us many times that it is as the power to annihilate the subject who stands
not the actuality of war that proves to be most opposed to the I, since for Hegel negation takes
decisive in determining the political but rather on many forms only some of which involve
its pure possibility, which takes the form of a murdering the other I in itself in order to restore
‘‘right to kill,’’ or jus belli. The political, then, the subject to its own certainty. For Schmitt,
would be the purest expression of a decision to however, it seems that the specific negation that
kill and it is for this reason that it enjoys no stands for the concept of the political is nihil
separate sphere of its own. Rather, it exists below negativum. In this sense, Schmitt is thinking as
every sphere of culture, every religious argument, a jurist and not as a philosopher, and thereby
every quarrel between neighbors, every encounter determines the deciding issue, or precedent, that
with a stranger, in every murderous impulse or will function as a rule determining the case of
thought; however, in all these expressions it is each ‘‘concrete situation’’ in which the political
missing the power to actualize itself, that is, to appears as the condition of the state. As noted
become decisive. The political would then be the above, the rule that Schmitt claims is jus belli:
name for the ‘‘concrete situation’’ of a decision ‘‘the right to demand from its own members the
once it has been made; it would come after the readiness to die and to unhesitatingly kill its
thought of killing but before the actual act of enemies’’ (46). It is on the basis of this ruling that
killing. It would become not only possible but the concept of the political can be clarified, in its
also a form of potentiality that can be realized at purest expression, from all the murkiness it has
any moment afterward, and in this sense we can been subjected to by romantic philosophy and
understand the nature of this decision as some- liberal humanists. It becomes similar to
thing that divides time into a ‘‘before’’ and an Ockham’s razor in the sense that it will allow
‘‘after’’ and institutes itself as a Ground. It is only Schmitt to identify precisely the transformation
in this way that we might understand Schmitt’s of cultural association into political association
clarification that ‘‘the concept of the state (e.g., religious association into a political entity)


and, thereby, the basis for the emergence of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, and also to
new and separate entities and peoples in the Josephus’ account in The Antiquities of the
geopolitical sphere. Jews. There, we have a distinct politeuma
If Schmitt narrows and cauterizes, in a certain (the Jewish people), which is represented by the
sense, Hegel’s theory of the state, it is not the case religious tribunal of the Sanhedrin on one side,
that he simply invents a new definition or merely and by the sovereignty of King Herod on the
reduces all existing definitions to one rule, the other. Between these authorities, and transcend-
rule of jus belli, for the sake of ease. In point of ing both, is Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator
fact, I would argue that Schmitt actually derives of Judea in charge of the garrison in Jerusalem.
his precedent from a concrete situation in the In the midst of these different authorities, a man
history of law itself, which will become decisive is brought to the Sanhedrin under a charge of
in transforming the nature of jus belli and its violating the Jewish religious laws; after a
relationship to sovereignty. This situation is that hearing, a ‘‘decision’’ is made to execute this
of the Roman imperium where the rule of man, Jesus of Nazareth. However, having no
jus belli is claimed exclusively by the personality power to act on this decision, the man must be
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of the state (Caesar and his procurators) in the brought before the Roman authority, Pilate,
situation of its sovereignty and imperial jurisdic- the only authority invested with the power to
tion. One of the distinctive features of Roman law confer upon this decision an official sanction that
was the separation of Roman imperial sovereignty will result in the execution of this man. Upon
from the cultural and religious sovereignty of questioning this man, initially Pilate finds no
subjected peoples or ‘‘nations’’ (ethne), which claim that could support the exercise of his right
were defined as politeuma (a term that signifies to kill; basically, Pilate does not identify Jesus as
‘‘commonwealth,’’ or ‘‘state,’’ but also gradually ‘‘an enemy of Rome.’’ Although he has become
comes to designate a ‘‘colony,’’ particularly a a popular religious leader, he has not incited war,
colony of foreigners within the urban precincts of he has not claimed for himself jus belli, which
the polis).3 Subjected peoples, placed under the would place him in the position of a sovereign
jurisdiction of Roman sovereignty through war enemy. At the same time, Pilate perceives a
and colonization, could still maintain their ethnic tricky situation among his own politeuma, and so
identity, religious and cultural laws, and even he defers his own decision to the Jewish king,
certain aspects of their political personality Herod. In other words, he grants a ‘‘state of
(usually in the form of the despot or rulers); exception’’ to Herod and this implies that Pilate
however, as the price of preserving their separate temporarily gives to Herod the power of capital
identity and distinctive personality as a people or punishment, to exercise only in this concrete
culture, subjected colonized peoples had to situation and only in this case.4 However, Herod
sacrifice to the Roman sovereignty two things perceives the predicament and redirects this
essential to the preservation of a completely authority back to Pilate, under the terms of
independent sovereignty: the rights to kill and Roman law that it would be a violation of his own
to make war (to exhort the people to martyr authority to exercise this power even just once.
themselves for the preservation of their own Pilate is again at an impasse, and decides once
sovereignty). It is here we see the separation of more to exercise a state of exception and to offer
the political from jus belli, and perhaps the very an actual ‘‘enemy of Rome,’’ one of the Sikarites
beginning of the creation of a modern concept of (or terrorists) who has committed political
the political that is deprived of the very murder and is already under Pilate’s ban of
sovereignty upon which the identity of the death, thinking that the people would agree with
modern state will appear as a distinctively him as to who is the greater enemy of Caesar and
separate entity based on the ‘‘right to kill.’’ spare the life of Jesus. The people, however,
We can easily illustrate the function of Roman choose the other man, and the elders threaten
imperial law by referring to the Christian gospels, that if he does not condemn Jesus, then he
particularly the Gospel of John, surrounding will prove himself to be ‘‘no friend of Caesar’’


(John 19.12); in other words, it is the consensus make war, that the personality of sovereignty is
that Pilate exercise his sovereign power to crucify no longer a ‘‘temporary state of exception’’ (in
Jesus as an enemy of Caesar. According to all the a situation of colonization or post-bellum
gospel literature, new evidence is brought in to occupation) but rather should be regarded as a
justify this decision, including that Jesus has permanent feature of modern state power.
ordered the people to stop paying taxes, and that Perhaps this would go a long way in explaining
some people have been calling Jesus ‘‘King of the the contamination between the two senses of
Jews,’’ which would directly violate Roman rule, conflict noted above, between polemos and stasis,
since the people already have King Herod, as well various confusions that occur between the
who has been identified by Roman authorities determinations of the public and private enemy,
as the only legitimate sovereign personality of the or of the internal and external precincts of the
people by blood. Thus, fearing a popular polis, the former being subject to the dialectic of
appearance of a second king, a king identified the political, and the latter being circumscribed
as the return of the archaic personality of David, as belonging to the conditions of total war against
who would liberate Israel and restore her anyone who is determined to be ‘‘a natural enemy
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sovereignty under God’s rule and not that of of the state.’’ For example, in a post-9/11 world,
Caesar, Pilate agrees under the weight of this new it might serve to outline the archaic imperial
piece of evidence to identify Jesus of Nazareth as grounds of the various justifications made by the
an enemy of Rome and to order his execution Bush administration to jus belli against an
outside the gates of the city, along with other ‘‘enemy’’ who, according to the definition offered
criminals and enemies of the domestic peace, by Schmitt, has decisively demonstrated ‘‘the
or Pax Romanum. According to the legend, readiness to die and to unhesitatingly kill its
therefore, Jesus is crucified and one of the enemies’’ (46). Ironically, according to Schmitt’s
garrison soldiers nails a placard above his corpse own logic, if the concept of the political can be
carrying the sentence IESVS NAZARENVS understood to appear in its purest and most
REX IVDÆORVM (which is also translated threadbare sense in the current ‘‘war on terror,’’
into Greek and Hebrew) as the name of the it is because any moral sense of evaluation
capital offence. (i.e., that of a ‘‘just war’’) must be assumed
From this example we could immediately already to express a polemical or oppositional
confirm the validity of Schmitt’s thesis that the meaning and cannot be employed theoretically
power of the state rests upon the various or scientifically to grasp the truth of the situation.
mechanisms that flow from jus belli, including It is from this ‘‘concrete situation’’ that we
the legal-juridical power to identify the enemy might now return to the original context of The
who is subject to the ban of death. And yet the Republic, where the determination of civil
very nature of the example already reveals a strife (stasis) is set apart from a more violent
‘‘state of exception’’ that cannot logically be opposition with a ‘‘natural enemy’’: the war
assumed to apply to all incarnations of the state, (polemos) between the Greek and the
either past or present, given the fact that ‘‘Barbarian’’ (barbaros). In other words, the
this example belongs to a particular imperial character of the friend–enemy distinction can
formation, which one would expect might only be only emerge from within the Greek polis in which
applied to situations of colonization, occupation, there is a tacit identity that unifies opposites
or territories secured and administered as in the form of conflict that can then be submitted
‘‘tributes’’ of war. Of course, what I am implying to the specific labor of the dialectic to unify
has already been suggested by Marx (and can be opposites on the basis of a produced recognition
found encrypted in Schmitt as well), that the of identity. This distinction can only occur
theory of the modern state is thoroughly derived among Greeks, and between Greeks, and can
from the juridical and political institutions never be extended to encompass the form of
adapted from the period of the Roman Empire, antagonism between Greeks and Barbarians,
including the exclusive reservation of the right to whom Plato defines as ‘‘those who are by


nature enemies’’ (29 n.). This is a point that aesthetic, even moral). In the several commen-
Schmitt notes in passing early in The Concept of taries on Schmitt in Politics of Friendship,
the Political, and it is odd that he does not spend Derrida argues that these claims are founded on
any time dealing with the contradiction that it an impure presupposition (if not prejudice) of
implies (28–29). This is because the practical ‘‘the political as such’’ in a Platonic sense. This is
decision concerning ‘‘who is the enemy,’’ in the most clearly argued in a note that appears in his
case of the Barbarian, does not belong to the chapter ‘‘On Absolute Hostility,’’ where Derrida
concept of the political, but occurs before it quotes from the transcript of Schmitt’s interrog-
(‘‘naturally’’) and thus remains outside it (just as ation by the American prosecutor at Nuremburg,
the Greek term refers to the lawless area outside Professor Robert Kempner. When asked about a
the precinct of the city). For Plato, according to sentence in which Schmitt asserts that ‘‘Jewish
Schmitt’s note, it was unthinkable for such an authors’’ were not responsible for the creation of
antagonism to occur between civil identities, a theory of space (Raum), nor indeed for ‘‘the
since ‘‘a people cannot be at war with itself,’’ creation of anything at all,’’ Kempner asks, ‘‘Do
which is why civil war may not be understood as you deny that this passage is in the purest
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a creative conflagration (or the creation of a new Goebbels style?’’ Schmitt responds, ‘‘in its intent,
sovereign people) according to Plato’s argument. method, and formulation, it is a pure diagnosis
The Barbarian, however, names a ‘‘natural [. . .] a scholarly thesis that I would defend before
enemy’’ either through inheritance or desig- any scholarly body in the world’’ (134 n.). Here
nation; of course, Plato here is referring to the we see the word ‘‘pure’’ employed in Schmitt’s
Persians who are the natural enemies of the own discourse in a manner similar with regard to
Greeks. The very existence of the Barbarian is a intent, method, and formulation to its use in his
natural antithesis to everything Greek; such scholarly work The Concept of the Political.
an antithesis can only be resolved not politically It would seem that this scene, to Derrida’s mind
but rather by total war which seeks to at least, and here I am only speculating, has so
‘‘exterminate the Brutes!’’ according to Colonel contaminated the usage of this term as to
Kurtz’s famous line in Conrad’s Heart of make suspect any claim to the neutrality or
Darkness. This would seem to imply, however, scientifically objective, or ‘‘purely diagnostic,’’
that the friend–enemy distinction is secondary to status of his discourse. As Derrida writes:
this more archaic determination of the opposition ‘‘He [Schmitt] would wish – it is his Platonic
Greek–Barbarian: as an ‘‘exception’’ that must be dream – that this ‘as such’ should remain pure at
excluded from any purely political determination the very spot where it is contaminated’’ (116).
of civil hostility, even though it may continue to It is no accident, then, that Derrida frequently
persist as a ‘‘natural metaphor’’ that can be evokes ‘‘a Schmittian-style discourse’’ (perhaps
employed in the polemical sense of ‘‘winning an allusion to Kempner’s phrase just quoted, ‘‘in
hearts and minds.’’ Given the non-political origin the purest Goebbels style’’).
of the friend–enemy grouping, rather than Recalling again the passage in Plato’s Republic
attempting to erect a pure concept of the political upon which Schmitt’s own argument relies
on the grounds of an impure distinction (which is heavily, where Plato attempts to exclude the
already present in Plato), perhaps we should hostis from the boundaries of the polis, Derrida
begin to analyze the concept on the basis of this alludes to the long tradition of historical scholar-
‘‘other enemy’’ who arrives by nature and who ship on this passage to show that Plato is here
never belongs to the political as such.5 himself engaged in a polemic or diatribe, one
It is at this point that we might turn to which seeks to remove the political possibilities of
Derrida’s relentless attack on Schmitt’s purity of real war from ‘‘civil war.’’ As Schmitt himself
the concept, in his deconstruction of all of acknowledges in a note on the passage, ‘‘civil war
Schmitt’s claims to purify the term politics is only a self-laceration and does not signify
from every weakened, mixed, abstract and perhaps that a new state or people is being
metaphorical sense (economic, religious, created’’ (29). As Derrida rightly observes,


‘‘The purity of the distinction between stásis and the bourgeoisie as the natural enemy of the
pólemos remains in the Republic a ‘paradigm,’ proletariat. Perhaps this is enough to throw into
accessible only to discourse’’ (114); the concep- sharp relief Derrida’s criticism of Schmitt’s
tual distinction is only accessible through the constant claim to purify the concept of the
metaphors that Plato employs to establish the political from all abstractions (by which he means
difference between ‘‘killing the enemy’’ and from all weak analogies), and the friend–enemy
‘‘self-laceration.’’ In other words, for Plato civil concepts from all metaphor and symbol, when
war is tantamount to an act of misrecognition or the concept of the enemy is an abstraction from
mis-identification in which one thinks one is the start.
aiming at an enemy only to shoot oneself instead. At this point, turning now to conclude my
In politics, just as in war, the problem of brief observations, I would naturally want to ask:
‘‘friendly fire’’ is an ever-present threat and it is what of the friend in all of this? If I have spent
crucial to know ‘‘who the enemy is’’ and a lot of time talking about Schmitt’s enemy
practically ‘‘how to recognize the other who is concept, this is because the enemy naturally
the enemy’’ in order to avoid mistaking the comes first in the order of determination, and
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enemy for oneself (or one’s friend). To help out even in Plato the clear identification of the enemy
in this identification, Plato employs the analogy helps to ‘‘orient’’ the direction in which one will
of the Barbarian (or one ‘‘who is an enemy by look for one’s friends: the friend dwells inside
nature’’), in order to orient this distinction the city, close to one’s own proper body, or one’s
outward in an appropriate direction, away kind, towards whom one may bear a certain envy
from the polis, towards an outside; but also that approaches even enmity (in a psychological
metaphorically or poetically, away from one’s sense) but not hostility or open warfare. In other
own body or the body proper of the people itself words, beginning with the ‘‘concrete situation’’ of
towards the foreign body of the hostis. In other the enemy, we are led in a certain direction
words, Plato employs the paradigm of ‘‘Barbarian towards the friend, but the identity of the friend
vs. Hellene’’ to assist his contemporary audience remains equally abstract, either deferred to
in conceptually orienting this distinction between a future when one has complete practical
proper and improper identification, even though knowledge concerning who all one’s friends are,
at the same time he will then worry about the or deflected to a private and interior space that
metaphorical properties of this analogy when dwells closest to one’s own body (in its very
applied to antagonisms internal to the polis. nakedness), where the friend assumes a
Returning to Schmitt’s use of this identification – non-political determination of proximity with
and for the mechanism of identification at the the self. Perhaps this sense of privation, which
basis of the political decision of ‘‘who is the surrounds the identity of the friend almost like
enemy?’’ – how can this purely political determi- an aura, is constitutive of the concept as well.
nation be made on the basis of an analogy to one And yet, is friendship the result of the same
‘‘who is an enemy by nature,’’ which is to say, on forms of identification by which the enemy is
the basis of an impure, pre-political or non- determined, or is it the case that in the paradigm
political determination? Race would be only one of the friend–enemy one is more knowable than
concept today that has emerged on the basis of the other? We know that the modern state has
this analogy, perhaps in order to orient social developed a vast and constantly self-updating
antagonisms towards a foreign body; others no technology of identification (from the issuing of
less problematic have preceded it. In fact, we papers, birth certificates, social security numbers,
know that the entire history of the concept of the passport photos, verified signatures and finger-
political is plagued by the inappropriate, or prints, digital passwords, retinal scans, DNA
metaphorical, uses of this analogy, especially in encodings, etc.), which, according to Schmitt’s
the politico-strategic uses of ‘‘the natural enemy’’ thesis, are all telescoped onto the friend–enemy
up to and including the strategic use deployed grouping. And yet, is there not a fundamental
by Marx and Engels when they identified asymmetry in the history of corollary technology


for the identification of the friend? If such virtual or actual, is precisely the point from
technology exists, I’m not certain what it might which all social divisions are ordered into a
be – what or who operates it. Perhaps as a result hierarchy in which the state emerges merely as
of this lack of equivalent development by the the most universal signification and most con-
institutions of state power, the concept of the crete realization of the friend–enemy designation.
friend remains no less an abstraction, but for By contrast, for Deleuze, even prior to the
different reasons. While in every given political designation of the friend or the enemy, the
society either today or historically there is a concept of the ‘‘Other Person’’ (Autrui) would be
general agreement (or consensus) concerning no less concrete, except that the form of its
‘‘who is the enemy?,’’ there can only be multiple signification would be ‘‘an-exact,’’ or ‘‘anom-
and highly variable responses to the question alous.’’ If the concept of the friend remains an
‘‘who is the friend?’’ Perhaps this is Schmitt’s abstraction, according to Deleuze, then this is
basic premise as to why in the friend–enemy owed to the failure of thinking the ‘‘Other
grouping the enemy always appears more Person’’ as the concrete situation of a multi-
‘‘concrete,’’ more knowable than the friend, and plicity, which remains trapped in a system of
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for that reason it is more useful for political univocal significations that banish it to the level
differentiation – useful, as I have underlined, in of the unconscious, or what Deleuze and Guattari
a practical manner, as a form of political praxis. call ‘‘molecular’’ groupings.
The enemy is always a ‘‘public enemy,’’ who can In conclusion, I will simply point to those two
become the subject of state propaganda and forms of abstraction that surround and determine
revolutionary treatises alike, whereas the friend the concepts of both the friend and the enemy,
always remains a nebulous and completely which should not be considered as an opposition
‘‘underdeveloped’’ concept. of two pure social identities but rather as two
This is the very problem that Derrida invokes forms of social differentiation of self and other –
in the following passage from the chapter according to Deleuze and Guattari’s terminology,
‘‘In Human Language, Fraternity . . .’’: ‘‘If a one molar and the other molecular. On the one
politics of friendship rather than war were to be hand, it is clear that the ‘‘enemy’’ is molar in the
derived, there would have to be agreement on the sense that it appears as the most abstract
meaning of ‘friend.’ But the signification of determination (i.e., lacking individuation) of
‘friend’ can only be determined from within the both the self and the other. According to
friend/enemy opposition’’ (246). What Derrida is Schmitt, Hegel conceived of the concept of the
calling our attention to in this passage is that the enemy in its purest sense as ‘‘the negation of
signification of the term ‘‘friend’’ is itself fated to otherness in the self.’’ The enemy would, there-
remain abstract within a system – linguistic as fore, be the site of an undifferentiated otherness,
well as social – that is ordered by the nearly which would be stripped of all its traits of
univocal agreement around the term ‘‘enemy’’ individuation save one, that of being opposed to
(der Feind). In other words, the friend suffers not an equally undifferentiated self. Thus, the enemy
from a lack of signification but rather from too is the most reductive and abstract form of
much signification, which is determined differentiation, a differentiation that lacks the
in various different manners: individualistic, character of individuation and inclusion, which
subjective, intuitive, culturally relative, probabil- is to say, the characteristics of a multiplicity.
istic, spontaneous, overdetermined. Here, we This is why the enemy is always one, and all the
might turn briefly to the philosophy of Deleuze traits of individuality can be submerged behind
in order to diagnose the failure of the concept of the appearance of this opposition. First of all, the
the friend to achieve a ‘‘concrete situation’’ in the enemy does not have a particular face (only a
Schmittian sense. Again, we must note in Schmitt general one), and likewise the enemy does not
that the literalness of the enemy designation speak (at least its expression is not individual and
exactly corresponds to the concreteness of the its speech is only undifferentiated hatred).
political signification; war (polemos), whether The enemy stands for the nothingness in the


self and in the world. In facing the enemy I an inclination, and I am particularly interested
glimpse only the force of negation that threatens in the last sentence where Leibniz states that we
to reduce the self and the world to the same are more inclined to what happens or what will
nothingness. happen than to what will not. This would appear
On the other hand, in approaching the to imply that friendship is a particular form of
question of ‘‘who is the friend?,’’ is not the social habit that already predetermines the
seemingly spontaneous recognition of the friend concrete situation of recognizing ‘‘who is the
from an infinite number of possible different friend’’ – and we must admit that in the usual
social relationships an actual instance of a experience of friendships, especially intimate
concrete multiplicity? Yes and no. This would ones, there is a constant and often pathetic
depend, in my view, on the factors that assertion of homogeneity, or like attracting like,
predetermine the possibility of friendship and that is more inclined to what happens than to
we must recognize that this apparent spontaneity what will not. From a Leibnizian perspective, all
is always already limited by a number of prior our friends are predetermined in a manner that
determinations. In a short philosophical text also reduces the importance of individuation as
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on the nature of free will, Leibniz writes the a differential factor, since the one who is my
following on the limitations of spontaneity and friend as well as the one who will become my
predetermination: friend are, if not the same person, then at least
two expressions of the same general inclination.
Although we act with spontaneity, in that Given that such an inclination is both pre-
there is a principle of action within us, and we individual and unconscious, this is what Deleuze
are not without life and do not need to be and Guattari define by the term ‘‘molecular.’’
pushed around like puppets, and although Nevertheless, as we have seen, even this
our spontaneity is conjoined with knowledge
rudimentary form of social differentiation may
and deliberation or choice, which makes
still be far preferable to the enemy distinction
our actions voluntary, nevertheless we must
that reduces the social to one form of opposition,
acknowledge that we are always predeter-
mined, and apart from our previous since the distinction operated by friendship
inclinations and dispositions, new impressions still produces the concrete situation of multiple
from objects also contribute to incline us, and affirmations, even though this situation does not
all these inclinations joined together and result in an absence of conflict (stasis). Perhaps
balanced against contrary inclinations never this is because friendship must be understood
fail to form a general prevalent inclination. as a particular kind of ‘‘social conflict’’ that is
For as we are dependent on the universe, and usually experienced as its own negation, or to
as we act in it, it must also be the case that we employ Hegel’s terminology again, as a kind of
are acted upon. We determine ourselves, and self-negated otherness. To put it more starkly,
are free insofar as we act, and we are friendship is the concrete social experience of the
determined by external things and as it negation of the self as a unique, isolated, and
were subject to them insofar as we are acted
purely solipsistic existence; friends must ally
upon. But in one way or another we are
themselves against the existence of such a self
always determined on the inside or from the
outside, that is to say more inclined to what through the production of common experience.
happens or what will happen than to what Perhaps this is why in the practice of friendship
will not. (97) there is so much discourse on the mutual
affirmation of the same tastes, the same opinions,
Can we say, following the logic of this passage, the same culture; moreover, many occasions are
that friendship is predetermined in the same way? created in order to afford the opportunity of
In other words, the principle of spontaneity by mutual affirmation: dinner parties, concerts,
which we appear to choose friends is already outings of various kinds. Friends will go out
found to be determined ‘‘from the inside or from into the country to enjoy the landscape together,
without.’’ Leibniz calls this form of determination the first one saying, ‘‘Isn’t that beautiful?’’


and the next repeating, ‘‘Yes, isn’t that beauti- in this context is that the gospel states that after
ful!’’ This is the exact labor of friendship, and the this gesture Pilate and Herod become ‘‘friends,’’
specific production of a sphere of culture that whereas they were ‘‘at enmity’’ beforehand
defines the association between friends, which (Luke 23.12). A further motive for Pilate’s political
strategizing is given by Josephus, who recounts
I think is one of the root meanings of culture.
that Pilate was already facing the revolt of the
Here, I believe, we have found again the two Jewish people against him for being the first
senses of stasis evoked above in reference to Roman procurator to bring effigies of Caesar into
Plato: the kind of conflict that defines friendship Jerusalem in violation of Jewish law. This action
as the mutual conflict against an otherness resulted in a six-day petition by multitudes
defined as the separate or isolated existence of from the city, ending on the seventh with Pilate
the self (or what Sartre defines as the struggle surrounding the crowds with soldiers and threa-
against absolute solipsism6); the enemy would tening to put them to death. As Josephus recounts
then be the name of a social existence reduced this scene, the people threw themselves on the
to its barest abstraction, bereft of ground and bared their throats, ‘‘saying that
they would take their deaths willingly rather
all other social relations, as well
than allowing the wisdom of their laws to be
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as all forms of dependency, transgressed’’ (379), at which point Pilate relented

and for this reason, condemned and commanded that the images be withdrawn
to death, or to nothingness. to Caesarea. I give here a more detailed account
of this incident since Josephus provides it as a
notes context for understanding Pilate’s decision
concerning Jesus, which Josephus refers to as one
1 See Deleuze and Guattari,Whatis Philosophy? 2^7. of many ‘‘sad calamities’’ that put the Jews in
2 See Leo Strauss, ‘‘Notes on Schmitt: The disorder during Pilate’s unhappy colonial adminis-
Concept of the Political’’ in Schmitt 83^107. tration as the Roman procurator of Judea. See
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, chapter
3 For a good discussion of the importance of 3, 379^ 80.
this political constitution in the urban centers
of the early Roman Empire, see Wayne Meeks, 5 We should also observe that the discourse of
The Origins of Christian Morality, esp. 37^52. jus belli is usually aligned with the sovereignty of
Although derived from the original Greek the state, just as the designation ‘‘Barbarian’’
politeia, civil constitution ^ as distinct from the belongs to the perspective of the polis. Of course,
later Christian ekklesia, gathering or ‘‘assembly’’ no self-respecting people would call themselves
^ the juridical meaning of politeuma seems barbaros. I would like to thank Rich Doyle for
adapted to the specifically urban and colonial recalling to my attention that Deleuze and
context of the Roman period, often referring Guattari produce their concept of the
to the political identity of groups of immigrants ‘‘war-machine’’ from a nomadic perspective that
and resident aliens, and other races (ethne) in is external to the state-form. (Thus the first
Hellenic cities under Roman rule. The term proposition in their ‘‘Treatise on Nomadology’’
even gains a further figurative sense after is that ‘‘the war-machine is external to the
the second century, referring to the political State-Form’’ (351).) Borrowing from the anthro-
constitution of Christians on earth; thus, pologist Pierre Clastres, they define the objective
‘‘Our home is in heaven, and here on earth we of war as precisely an attempt to ‘‘ward off
are a colony [politeuma] of heavenly citizens’’ the establishment of the State,’’ and this would
(Bauer 686). seem to make sense, particularly in the face of an
imperial encroachment.Therefore, it is important
4 In point of fact, only the Pauline gospel of Luke to note that Deleuze and Guattari, contrary to
recounts a third trial of Jesus before Herod, a long tradition of political philosophy in the
reporting that once Pilate hears that Jesus is West, actually seek to disarticulate the concept
originally from Galilee, and therefore under of war, if not also the concept of the political,
Herod’s ‘‘jurisdiction’’ (ethousia), he remands the from the latent perspectives of Greek polis and
case to come before Herod in the sense of the Roman imperial state-form. On Pierre
referring it to a higher court. What is interesting Clastres and the nomadic principle of the

‘‘war-machine,’’ see Deleuze and Guattari, A
Thousand Plateaus 359ff.
6 Of course, this is my own interpretation of
the argument against solipsism that appears
prominently in Sartre’s Being and Nothingness.
See esp. part 3, chapter 1, ‘‘The Existence of
Others’’ 301^ 400.

Bauer, Walter. A Greek^English Lexicon of the New
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.
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Deleuze, Gilles and Fe¤lix Guattari. A Thousand
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Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of

Minnesota P,1987.
Deleuze, Gilles and Fe¤lix Guattari. What is
Philosophy? Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham
Burchell. New York: Columbia UP,1994.
Derrida, Jacques. Politics of Friendship. Trans.
George Collins. London: Verso,1997.
Josephus, Flavius. The Complete Works. Trans.
William Whiston.Grand Rapids: Kregel,1960.
Leibniz, Gottfried W. The Shorter Leibniz Texts. Ed.
Lloyd Strickland. London: Continuum, 2006.
Meeks, Wayne A. The Origins of Christian Morality:
The First Two Centuries. New Haven:Yale UP,1993.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness.
Trans. Hazel E. Barnes. New York: Philosophical
Schmitt, Carl. The Concept of the Political. Trans.
George Schwab. Chicago: U of Chicago P,1996.

Gregg Lambert
Department of English
401 Hall of Languages
Syracuse, NY 13244