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Carl Schmitt on Politics - Dictionary of Arguments

Höffe I 386
Politics/Carl Schmitt/Höffe: (...) Schmitt(1) [relativizes] the rank of the state by declaring "the political" a prerequisite and denying the state a monopoly in this area. Friend/Foe-Dichotomy: This formula, which caused a sensation at the time and is still provocative today, is intended to represent the decisive alternative for the political world in analogy to basic distinctions in other areas of life, such as good and evil in morality, beautiful and ugly in aesthetics, and profitable and unprofitable in the economy. Schmitt's use of the term "enemy" emphasizes the distinction between the political concept, the public enemy (hostis), and the private enemy (inimicus). Therefore there is no objection in the Christian commandment to love one's enemies. According to Schmitt's "anthropological creed", the human is "evil," because he/she is sinful and dangerous.
Höffe: Schmitt's political thinking (...) rejects the idea of a world state that guarantees eternal peace. And it criticizes liberalism, in which, depending on the variety, the political degenerates into spirit, education, business, or property, the state into society or humanity, and domination into control and propaganda. (SchmittVsCosmopolitanism, SchmittVsLiberalism).


1. C. Schmitt, der Begriff des Politischen. 1927/1932.

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Gaus I 397
Politics/state/Schmitt/Bellamy/Jennings/Lassman: (...) in his The Concept of the Political(1) first published in 1927 Schmitt's starting point is a rejection of the unsatisfactory circularity of the conventional depiction of the conceptual relationship between the state and politics (Schmitt, 1985(2); 1996(3)). For Schmitt, before we can talk about politics we require an understanding of the defining characteristic of 'the political'. This is to be found in the antithesis between friend and enemy. Any genuine politics presupposes an understanding of 'the political' in this sense. 'The political' refers to the most extreme and intense antagonism in human relations. Who counts as 'the enemy' at any particular moment is based upon a decision made by a political state. Clearly,
Gaus I 398
for Schmitt and other like-minded thinkers of the Conservative Revolution, this vision of 'the political' must be intensely hostile to liberalism in all of its forms. Liberalism is taken to be a clear example of the 'neutralizing' and 'depoliticizing' tendencies of the modern age. Furthermore, Schmitt (1996)(3) argues that the political state, as 'friend', must express the political unity of a people.


1. Schmitt, C. (1963) Der Begriff des Politischen: Text von 1932 mit einem Vorwort und drei Corollarien. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot.
2. Schmitt, C. (1985) The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy (1923). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
3. Schmitt, C. (1996) The Concept of the Political. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bellamy, Richard, Jennings, Jeremy and Lassman, Peter 2004. „Political Thought in Continental Europe during the Twentieth Century“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Schmitt I
Carl Schmitt
Der Hüter der Verfassung Tübingen 1931

Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-06-20
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