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The Concept of the Political by Carl Schmitt
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The Concept of the Political

by Carl Schmitt

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  OberlinSWAP | Aug 1, 2015 |
A French edition of the original German version, written before the (US) War in Vietnam, but still relevant today

I actually read it because in Italy soon (April 25th) it will be the anniversary of the end of WWII, which saw in Northern Italy a significant role of Partisans, with guerrilla warfare

To quote from the book (page 216): "un ordre de Napoléon au général Lefèvre de 12 septembre 1813 : Il faut opérer en partisan partout où il y a des partisans."

characteristics (page 223): "l'irrégularité, le haut degré de mobilité du combat actif et le haut degré d' intensité de l'engagement politique.Je retiendrais volontiers un quatrième caractère distinctif du partisan authentique, ce que Jover Zamora a appelé son caractère tellurique. Celui-ci est très impor­tant pour la situation fondamentalement défensive du partisan, lequel change de nature quand il s'identifie à l'agressivité absolue d'une idéologie visant à la révo­lution mondiale ou techniciste"

interesting the note on page 251, reporting what Von Clausewitz wrote in 1809 (well before his famous book was published) to Fichte, stating why Machiavelli's way of war wasn't relevant anymore, and why times required something else "il y a infiniment plus à gagner en stimulant les forces individuelles qu'en cultivant un formalisme artificiel"

along with a general discussion on the historical development of the recognition of insurgents and partisans, including the genesis and evolution of Geneva Conventions, it is equally interesting the discussion on the relationship between partisans and external powers or other external source of authority, as the legitimizing force that might differentiate between what we would call now "illegal combatants" and partisans

page 304 "le caractère inéluctable d'une contrainte morale. Les hommes qui utilisent ces moyens contre d'autres hommes se voient contraints d'anéantir aussi moralement ces autres hommes, leurs victimes et
leurs objets. Ils sont forcés de déclarer criminel et inhumain dans son ensemble le camp adverse, d'en faire
une non-valeur totale, sous peine d'être eux-mêmes des criminels et des monstres. "... "En 1914, les peuples et les gouvernements d'Europe, comme pris de vertige, se sont précipités dans la Pre­mière Guerre mondiale sans hostilité réelle ... com­mença comme une guerre étatique conventionnelle du droit international européen pour se terminer par une guerre civile mondiale née de l'hostilité révolution­naire de classe."

the discussion ranges from the Peninsular War of Wellington and Napoleon, to the OAS in Algeria, via Indochina and WWII, and references to the psychological element of partisan warfare, and the distinction between the nature of enemies that still sounds relevant today, in our times where way too many invoke "absolute enemies" ( )
  aleph123 | Apr 19, 2015 |
Two ways to make a big deal of a book: make sure its author was momentarily a Nazi, and, by the logical principle of contagion, follow the logic: author was a nazi --> book is certainly nazified; reader reader book --> reader becomes a nazi. Bam! This is the most dangerous book you'll ever read!

Except it's barely 'political' in that sense at all, and is more of an essay than a book. The thought process is clear and not unreasonable: if there's something called politics, it must have certain characteristics. If we purify our concept of 'politics' from such extraneous concepts as morality, aesthetics, economics and so on, what are we left with? For Schmitt, at least, you're left with the opposition between friends and enemies, where enemies are people in the world who threaten the sovereignty of your (political) state. QED. Sure there's an odd suspicion that Schmitt really wishes there was more war between friends and enemies. His critique of liberalism as a theory which leaves no room for fighting people who undermine liberal state sovereignty might look icky, but only if you've drunk the pacifist cool-aid and think nothing's worth fighting for. Otherwise it just looks like a reasonable complaint against people who want to rid the world and our lives of all meaning.

So don't worry. You can let little Sammy read this book without fear that he'll suddenly goose-step his way over your face.

Otherwise, there are three commentators here, Strong, Schwab and Strauss. Strong is the most contemporary, and spends a bit of time talking about how Schmitt is the golden boy of the New Left Review types, as well as various reactionary lunatics. Schwab sets CP in its historical setting. Strauss, you will be surprised to learn, over-reads the text; makes wild and implausible assumptions about its argument really being about 'culture' and human nature; doesn't really say anything particularly concretely and does so in a rambling, repetitive and turgid manner. IT IS TO UNDERSTAND SOCRATES indeed. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
A must-read. ( )
  lukeasrodgers | Jan 30, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226738868, Paperback)

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. This edition of the 1932 work includes the translator's introduction (by George Schwab) which highlights Schmitt's intellectual journey through the turbulent period of German history leading to the Hitlerian one-party state. It also includes Leo Strauss's analysis of Schmitt's thesis and a foreword by Tracy B. Strong placing Schmitt's work into contemporary context.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:30 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In this 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. George Schwab's introduction to his translation of the 1932 German edition highlights Schmitt's intellectual journey through the turbulent period of German history leading to the Hitlerian one-party state. In addition to analysis by Leo Strauss and a foreword by Tracy B. Strong placing Schmitt's work into contemporary context, this expanded edition also includes a translation of Schmitt's 1929 lecture "The Age of Neutralizations and Depoliticizations," which the author himself added to the 1932 edition of the book."--Jacket.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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