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Michael Bremner, 1530

Grant Poetcker, PhD


PHI380
20 March 2016
SCHMITTS POLITICAL ENTITY: LEFT TO EVIL
Thesis: In trying to separate the private sphere from the public sphere, Schmitts political
entity actually finds itself in a private sphere of self-interest. Thus, it fails as a solution
and alternative to the liberal federation.
I.
II.

Introduction.
The European duel and the just enemy and just cause and the neutral third

III.

party.
Liberal ideology takes advantage of the just enemy concept in a negative way.
A.

Just enemy opens up the possibility of the eradication of nations by the


possibility of an unjust enemy, with religion as the prime example, and

IV.

V.

VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.

this makes the neutral third party not possible.


B.
Liberal ideology makes possible the unjust enemy in modern Europe
The liberal state values the private sphere over the public
A.
The liberal concept of humanity for politics.
B.
Humanity as European humanity.
C.
The outlaw of humanity, dehumanization of nations, and imperial
expansion and eradication of the enemy.
D.
The blurring of borders.
Schmitts Solution: The political entity.
A.
Bracketing the private and political spheres by specifying that the
political is about friend enemy distinction
B.
The political entity must be sovereign.
The Jus Belli: The ability to make law for war.
Christian living must be bracketed to private sphere. Matthew 5:44 and the
hostis and inimicus.
Schmitts exegesis of Matthew 5:44 fails.
Augustines City of God: Good vs. Evil; Public vs. Private
A.
Cities not ultimately conceived of in making political decisions
B.
The private sphere as self-interest which is evil
1

X.

C.
D.

The public sphere, or public good as love of God and neighbor.


Humans as social beings: Our responsibility to do what we can to turn

E.

human endeavors object of love to God.


It does not follow that the division of political from religion places the

political in a public sphere.


Reasons why Schmitts conception of public and private spheres is
problematic.
A.
Schmitts image of religion is problematic in that it tries to place

XI.

B.

religion into a private sphere


Schmitt has not separated the private sphere from the political sphere,

C.

but rather his project puts it into a private sphere right from the start
The Jus Belli is from the start self-interested, and thus private and

D.

evil.
Schmitts project is moral from the beginning. He never truly

separated them.
Schmitts violent political entity
A.
A self interested sovereigns concern is to preserve its power
B.
To preserve power, its best interest is to eliminate those who challenge
C.
D.

XII.

it.
The eradication of a once friend now enemy within its reach.
Schmitts Political entity does not allow neutral third parties. It must

meddle in other sovereign affairs.


Conclusion.

This essay gives an account of Carl Schmitts critique of liberalism, and also
explains Carl Schmitts view of religion as private and the political as public. Carl
Schmitt is adamant that private and public spheres should not merge,1 because it leads to
the possibility of a genocidal European federation that is hostile to non-European
peoples.2 St. Augustines work on public and private spheres in the City of God will show
that trying to separate religion from the political does not lead to a political entity
separate from private spheres. This essay will argue that in trying to separate the private
sphere from the public sphere, Schmitts political entity actually finds itself in a private
sphere of self-interest. Thus, it fails as a solution and alternative to the liberal federation.
Schmitt observes that European states could war against each other in a manner
much like a duel.3 This is made possible because European sovereigns saw each other
1 Charles E. Frye, Carl Schmitts concept of the political, The Journal of Politics 28, vo. 4 (Nov.,
1966): 823.

2 Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum,
trans. G. L. Ulmen (New York, NY: Telos Press, 2003), 142.

3 Ibid., 141.

as a justus hostis,4 or simply a just enemy. A just enemy is another sovereign state that
is granted certain rights as other European sovereigns. Borders could be redrawn, but the
eradication of a just enemy is never permissible. This allowed for the possibility of
neutrality for third party states.5 That is, like the European duel, war was not seen as
aggressive or criminal by those found observing duels. Even though there is harm done to
the two who are dueling each other, no one interfered or sought to reprimand the duelers
on account of the harm. This is true no matter what the third parties believed of the
duelers reasons to duel. As far as the third parties were concerned, the duelers had a
Justa causa,6 or a just cause to war, on the account that they were a just enemy, both
equals with equal rights. Their wars were just not on account of how they did war, but
on account that they were a European sovereign. Schmitt does like this and does not want
to dispose of the neutral third party or the sentiment that a war is just on account of it
being waged by a political entity. However, the existence of this political environment
was at risk precisely because of the just enemy concept.7
4 Ibid., 142.

5 Ibid.

6 See Ibid., 154.

7 Schmitt is clearly satisfied that war can be waged without moral reprimanding from others, he
does agree that it is repulsive for states to eradicate each other.

The risk for Schmitt was the just enemy concept transformed by the non-political,
as a result making possible the eradication of nations. That is, the existence of the just
enemy leaves open the possibility for its opposite, the unjust enemy.8 The unjust enemy
could be punished or even eradicated, much like criminals who are outside the law and so
do not have any of its protective rights. Schmitt saw this unjust enemy utilized most
clearly with religious wars. Religious entities were able to take the reins of the political
and decide who was an enemy. Schmitt reasoned then by nature [religious wars
became] wars of annihilation wherein the enemy is treated as a criminal and a pirate.9
The religious authorities saw their enemies as breaking some kind of moral/religious code
that resulted in the enemy being labeled as evil. For this reason the killing of an enemy
can be seen as just for the purpose of the propagation of the good. Schmitt was concerned
that the liberal state falls into this same problem, writing that liberal thought evades or
ignores state and politics 10 and so the state potentially embraces every domain11 such

8 See Schmitt, Nomos, 169-172.

9 Ibid., 142.

10 Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab. Expanded ed. (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2007), 70.

11 Ibid., 22.

as religion.12 Liberal concepts will again allow the mixing of the public political sphere
with the religious private sphere, and so allows entities to make decisions that they
should not. It has an effect on the way the liberal political entities see their purpose. They
will see something they deem unjust or evil and so seek intervention into the state of
affairs that they disagree with, even though it is outside of their sovereign control. Thus,
they seek to advance what they think is good, and utilize the instruments they have at
their disposal to do so (which is war). The possibility of the neutral third party is no no
longer possible.
Schmitt suggests that ultimately the problem is that the liberal values the
individual and personal sphere [over] the public and political ideas.13 The liberal is
concerned with the individual along with what concerns and satisfies the individual. War
has negative effects on the private citizens of states because ones ability to satisfy
themselves is hampered. This is in fact why there is much interest and motivation by
liberal thinkers such as Kant for developing a theory of perpetual peace based on the
concept of humanity. A doctrine Schmitt says is open to imperialist expansion,14 and so
12 Ibid., 23.

13 Carl Schmitt, Der unbekannte Donoso Cortes in Positionen un beriffe im kampfmi WiemarGenf-Versailles 1923-1939 (Hamburg, Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1940), 120; quoted in Frye, Carl
Schmitts concept of the political, 823. See also Schmitt, The Concept of the political, 28.

14 Ibid., 54.

the eradication of non-liberal states. For example, Kant writes of a worldwide liberal
federation of states as only possible when one imagin[es] himself as a citizen of a
supersensible world15 for the establishment of innate rights, which necessarily belong
to humankind.16 When one participates in such an activity, they are imagining what the
good life should be for citizens in other nations (and all over the world).
But as Schmitt comments, when Kants conception of politics becomes human
wide, it is not humanity that actually in view. For what the liberal means by
humanity [is] understood, above all, [as] European humanity. 17 The nations that do
not meet these conceptions of the good European (liberal) life are then able to be seen as
semi-civilized, and barbarian peoples.18 They are under the danger of being seen as
subhuman, and so they become the unjust enemy to the liberal federation and its

15 Immanuel Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History,ed.,
Pauline Kleingeld, trans. David L. Colclasure. Rethinking the Western Tradition (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 2006), 74.

16 Ibid.

17 Schmitt, Nomos, 228.

18 Ibid.

collective states. Thus for Schmitt, the political sphere meddling in the private sphere and
vice versa is the main issue. The very real possibility is Liberal persecution of other
sovereign states, not because one is an enemy, but because they become an outlaw of
humanity.19 The liberal federation has no respect for borders and so blurs them because
it conceptualizes everyone living as part of a worldwide human society, and so its
authority and power become a potential tool to right wrongs within its world-humancitizenry. The concerned liberal states can interject however they need to in order to stop
any activities they see as unjust or evil. Thus, the ability to live as a distinct peoples even
within ones own borders would be impossible.
For this reason, Schmitts lifelong project is to set up this concrete definition of
political from abstract and other private matters in order to offer an alternative to the
consequences of liberal democracy. Schmitts definition of political boils down to the
state being able to make a particular kind of decision. Schmitt writes, The specific
political distinction to which political action and motives can be reduced is that between
friend and enemy.20 More specifically, what Schmitt has in mind is an entity that will
decide for a nation who belongs to the nation within its borders21 (friends) and who does
not (enemies). A friend cannot be defined as another partner nation, even if there were to

19 Schmitt, Concept of the Political, 54.

20 Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab. Expanded ed. (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2007), 26.

be a strong and long lasting alliance. For, the mere possibility of an alliance brings to our
attention two separate entities since both have a separate existence from one another. For
this reason, each is the enemy of one another, even though there are no hostilities shared
between the two. Furthermore, the one (or the group) who is political is the sovereign.22
The political entity must be free from being subject to other entities in the private sphere,
like religious or economic institutions. Thus, the political is significantly distanced, put in
its own sphere with its own object of contemplation and love.
On account of this authority and sovereignty, the political entity has under it the
Jus Belli,23 the power to decide who will possibly be the target of war, and who has the
right to fight enemies and utilize the political entitys resources. For this reason, there is
no more moral criteria for war.24 And Schmitt thinks this is the way it should be, or else
we can end with the imperial expansion of the liberal federation, or something else like it.
Strictly speaking, Schmitt claims the criteria for making decisions of war is whether the

21 Claudio Minca and Nick Vaughan-Williams, Carl Schmitt and the Concept of the Border,
Geopolitics 17 (2012): 758. Minca notes that in Carl Schmitts final works, Schmitt predominately and
clearly saw the border as inscribing a division between an inside and an outside.

22 See Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans.
George Schwab, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 1.

23
Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, 45.

24
Ibid., 27.

adversary intends to negate his opponents way of life.25 In other words, the question to
ask is whether another political entity threatens the existence of a people? If so, then the
act of war is necessary. There is no criteria needed to go to war other than this, no
questions of just cause or unjust cause or whether an enemy is a just enemy or an
unjust enemy. And Schmitt still thinks it will preserve what is good about the European
just enemy.26 Thus, if one is to look at Germany and ask who the political entity is, they
do not need to look at any concepts or abstract political theories. Instead, all they need to
observe is who decides who is a German and who is not a German, and who decides who
is worthy of war and who is worthy of peace.
The friend/enemy distinction to be made must be in a different sphere that the
average citizen would operate. This is most clear when Schmitt gives us his exegesis of
Matthew 5:44, which reads, love your enemies. Schmitt claims that the enemy within
this passage is a private adversary that one hates.27 Namely, those who one happens to
find themselves in conflict with because of some self-interest. In order for one not to
25
Ibid.

26
As a refresher, Carl Schmitt likes that in the concept of the just enemy, their war
endeavors are just on account of them being the just enemy. He would just like it if all
political entities had were just enemies. That is, he ultimately wants the political entity to
be able to utilize military action and combat without being seen as evil.
27
Ibid., 28.

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conflate the political need to war against enemies with this Matthew command, Schmitt
brings to us two Latin terms hostis and inimicus.28 Inimicus is the latin word used in
the Matthew passage and means private adversary. While hostis is the public enemy, the
other. Schmitt reasons that since hostis is not in view in the Matthew passage, there is no
reason to love or support those that the sovereign declares an enemy.29 Thus,
Christianitys command to love the enemy has been completely bracketed from the public
sphere of the political.
This exegesis offered by Schmitt does not work because the passage does refer to
Schmitts political public sphere.30 That there is a distinction in the Latin term is of no
consequence to the Greek and Hebrew languages that this passage comes from. That is,
the Leviticus 19:18 passage echoed in Matthew has in mind an ,, which means a
people, and not merely a private connection to someone. This means that Schmitts public
sphere is in view. Likewise in Leviticus 19:10 there is the call by God for justice31 for the

28
Ibid.

29
Thats a scary thought, and another reason why its hard to see this political sovereign work.

30
Jacques Derrida. The Gift of Death, trans. David Willis (Chicago: University of Chicago Publishing, 1995),
104. Derrida writes, The sphere of the political in Schmitts sense is already in play.

31
Elisabeth Weber, ed., Living Together: Jacques Derridas Communities of Violence and Peace (NY:
Fordham University Press, 2013), 133. Weber basically brought the idea to my attention, but she did not
use these examples.

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which is the stranger or sojourner, or the temporary dweller.32 The other is always
in view in these passages as well. Likewise, the Greek word used in Matthew is ,
and it is the same word used to describe political enemies in the Septuagint. For example,
Genesis 14:20 has Melchizedek bless Abraham after God delivered [his] enemies into
[his] hand. The enemies happen to be outside of Abrahams own people. Whether Plato
envisioned the word differently is of little consequence. Thus, for Christians it appears
that there is no exegetical foundation to bracket this love of the enemy to a private
sphere.
St. Augustines concept of the city of men and city of God give more reason why
Schmitts privatization is not possible by offering us a better conception of the public and
private sphere. Ultimately, St. Augustine notes that there are two cities, one composed of
the good, the other of the wicked, angels or men indifferently.33 Notice that for
Augustine that the city of men does not exist merely because it makes decisions about
government. Rather, the cities are ultimately founded upon what is good and what is evil.
Evil, St. Augustine claims, is like the Angels when their wills and desires34 have gone
32
Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced BrownDriver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 158. See
also, William S. Durden Public and Private Responsibility: Christianity and Politics in
Carl Schmitt's The Concept of the Political Christianity and Politics, Christianity and
Literature 60, No. 4 (Summer 2011): 569.

33
Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo), City of God, trans. Marcus Dods (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson
Publishers, 2009), XII.1;342.

34
Ibid.

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wrong. They have lapsed to [the] private good of their own, from the higher and
beatific good which was common to all.35 Instead of continuing as the ministering spirits
for the sake of leading men to God, they chose to make alliances with men for their own
gain. The Angels concern is solely on their own power.36 That is, evil is that which
glories in itself,37 and so trusts in its own power. Thus, evil is the elevation of the
private sphere, their interest has turned away from God.
And it is only love of God and love of neighbor that can be this evils contrast.38
St. Augustine observes that the cause of the blessedness of the good is the adherence to
God. And so cause of the others misery will be found in its contrary, that is, in their not
adhering to God. 39 And adherence to God in Book XIX is the Love of God and the love

35
Ibid.; emphasis mine.

36
Ibid. See also Durden, Public and Private Responsibility, 566.
37
Augustine, City of God, 14.28;430.

38
Schmitt would not have much disagreement with Augustine regarding this, for it has already been shown
that Schmitt is not fond of the liberal tendency to focus on the private sphere.

39
Augustine, City of God, 12.1;342.

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of our Neighbor40 since it is what the divine Master, inculcates.41 That is, it is what
God teaches, and so implies an expectation of adherence to these teachings. It is for this
reason elsewhere that St. Augustine writes, two cities have been formed by two loves:
the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of
God, even to the contempt of self.42 The earthly city is that which is pulling away from
the public good and turning inward. The public good is God Himself and of loving Him
along with neighbour. This means that like Schmitt, St. Augustine has also conceived of
two spheres, the public and the private.
And it is St. Augustines criteria that better fits with what we have seen in
Matthew 5:44.43 St. Augustine is able to conceive of the public good in a way that does
not make the false distinction that Schmitt has in Matthew 5:44. It does not leave love of
God to a private sphere. Sure, men live as a pilgrim44 from the world which sounds
quite private, but since these pilgrims do live in the city of men, St. Augustine
40
Ibid., 19.14;625.

41
Ibid.

42
Ibid., 14.28;430.

43
For, contrary to Schmitts claim, the passage never makes a hostis/inimucus distinction.

44
Augustine, City of God, 19.17:628-629.

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emphasizes that the pilgrims life is inevitably a social one.45 The Christian and his
religion is never envisioned as retreating from the world. What follows from this is that
the heavenly pilgrims who find their abode in this life should take their social
responsibility and say what needs to be said in opposition to the private good. Namely,
they have much responsibility in ensuring the political endeavors object of
contemplation is God, since God is the only one who is able to perfectly order. Unlike
Schmitts claim, to turn human endeavors to the public good (God) is positive. It allows
for the purpose of bodily peace, which is the harmony [that] is preserved between46 the
earthly city and the city of God.47 So both the pilgrim and those of the earthly city are
interested in an orderly city or nation for the purpose of temporal peace, but only the
pilgrim has anything to offer that brings about the best earthly peace. This is because he
is exhorted to give up love of the private sphere (self-interest) and to seek the love of God
and neighbor. Thus, the giving up of the private requires religion, but Schmitt never does
this and instead does the opposite. It follows that by the fact itself Schmitts isolation of
the political puts it in the private sphere. It is for this reason that we can see that
bracketing of a friend/enemy decision as political from religion does not necessarily
45
Ibid.

46
Ibid.

47
Of course, the goal of peace for Schmitt is important, given that his fear is the disruption
of peace to the point of genocide
15

turn the political into a moral-free entity within its own sphere opposed to the private.
And remember, Schmitts claim is that we need a sterile and pure political concept from
the private sphere and moral considerations as a solution to the possibility of genocide by
the liberal federation.
Yet, as we have seen, Schmitt puts the adherence to God (the love of God and
neighbour) into a private realm. This has two consequences. First, Schmitts image of
religion actually turns out to be evil, since religion is made private. Second, Schmitt has
bracketed the Jus Belli,48 from the public good (which is God). That is, the entity that
defines what actions are due to an enemy have been bracketed from love of God and love
of neighbour. Yet in bracketing these from the public good Schmitt has by default brought
the political entity and its jus belli into the realm of evil right from the start. As St.
Augustine would see it (and it seems he would be right), it was a moral action on
Schmitts part from the beginning. Even though Schmitt thinks he is cleanly separating
religion and morality from politics and so preserving the sovereign state from those
consequences he has perceived, Schmitt is in reality actively promoting the political to
evil. Schmitt has not truly given us a political entity that is not moral or religious.
In fact, Schmitts bracketing of the love command will lead to violence against the
enemys way of life, albeit from a different angle than the liberal. As we have seen,
Schmitts definition of the political is the sovereign who makes decisions on friend and
enemy. And, as Augustines two cities reveal, self-interest is what will be the object that
this sovereign pursues, precisely because the public good (God) is not in view. The ability
to make this friend/enemy decision requires an entity to hold the most power as
48
Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, 45.

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sovereign,49 so that the political entity may overcome any that try to arise against its
decisions. In order to hold to this power it is in the political entities best interests (as a
self-interested entity) to destroy other threatening sovereigns. It may deem those that
threaten its power as other, even if they may have been friend previously. For, the new
enemy threatens the sovereigns way of life. For this reason, there is no border for these
new enemies to retreat to, and their way of life is threatened with extinction. In fact, it is
definitely in the interest of the political entity to use its power to eradicate those that
stand against it, and it does have that power as the Jus Belli. Likewise, the outcome of
wars and harm in other nations will become very important to the political entity. The
shift in power of other sovereigns will threaten its own standing. Like the liberal state,
Schmitts state can never be a neutral third party. Instead it must meddle in other
sovereign affairs for its own self-interest. Ultimately, anyone who the political entity
decides threatens its very existence as sovereign is in for serious hurt. This seems to
betray Schmitts claim that his political entity is not militarism [or] imperialism.50
Rather, Schmitt offers us an entity just as dangerous and frightening as the liberal
federation that Schmitt was trying to overcome. Thus, Schmitts political entity has to
value the private over the public, which as we saw earlier was one of the problems
Schmitt claimed the liberal state found itself in.
In conclusion, it has been shown that Schmitt saw the possibility of the
49
Horst Bredekamp, Melissa Thorson Hause, and Jackson Bond, From Walter Benjamin to Carl Schmitt,
via Thomas Hobbes, Critical Inquiry 25, no. 2 (Winter, 1999): 255, 262.

50
Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, 33.
17

annihilation of other nation states on account of the merging of political with religious
and moral, and ultimately the private sphere into the political public sphere. For this
reason Schmitt tried to develop a political entity that was removed from the religious and
moral, which he conceived as private. However, St. Augustines ability to see what was
public and what was private brought some concerns with Schmitts proposals. It turned
out that Schmitt was not bracketing the political from the private sphere of self interest.
Rather, by divorcing the political from the religious all Schmitt really brought the
political into was the private sphere, not out of it. For this reason, Schmitts political
entity becomes a danger to nations that differ from it, especially if one threatens its
existence. Schmitts political sovereign cannot give us the neutral third party nations that
he wanted. So, although Schmitt is not concerned that the distinction of good and evil
are not reviewed51 by his works, it turns out by turning his eyes away from moral and
religious considerations he brought the political into a self-interested evil sphere. Thus, in
light of St. Augustines City of God, by attempting to separate the private sphere from the
public sphere, Schmitts political entity fails as an alternative that solves the threat of war
that eradicates the enemy because it ultimately finds itself in a private sphere of selfinterest.

51
Ibid., 58.
18

19

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20

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