Political Theology

Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty


Publisher: The University of Chicago Press


Language: English | Number of Pages: 116 | Format: Paperback

Isbn-10: 0226738892 | Isbn-13: 9780226738895 | Publish date: 

Curator: George Schwab

Also available as: Hardcover

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Book Description
Written in the intense political and intellectual tumult of the early years of the Weimar Republic, "Political Theology" develops the distinctive theory of sovereignty that made Carl Schmitt one of the most significant and controversial political theorists of the twentieth century. Focusing on the relationships among political leadership, the norms of the legal order, and the state of political emergency, Schmitt argues in "Political Theology" that legal order ultimately rests upon the decisions of the sovereign. According to Schmitt, only the sovereign can meet the needs of an "exceptional" time and transcend legal order so that order can then be reestablished. Convinced that the state is governed by the ever-present possibility of conflict, Schmitt theorizes that the state exists only to maintain its integrity in order to ensure order and stability. Suggesting that all concepts of modern political thought are secularized theological concepts, Schmitt concludes "Political Theology" with a critique of liberalism and its attempt to depoliticize political thought by avoiding fundamental political decisions.
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    sovereign is he who decides on the exception.

    1) the core
    '...but it is a sociology of the concept of sovereignty when the historical-political status of the monarchy of that epoch is shown to corres ...continue

    sovereign is he who decides on the exception.

    1) the core
    '...but it is a sociology of the concept of sovereignty when the historical-political status of the monarchy of that epoch is shown to correspond to the general state of consciousness that was characteristic of western europeans at that time, and when the juristic construction of the historical-political reality can find a concept whose structure is in accord with the structure of metaphysical concepts. Monarchy thus becomes as self-evident in the consciousness of that period as democracy does in a later epoch.'_ pp.45-6

    2) the line of development
    17th &18th cent. ~ dominated by the idea of 'One Sole Sovereign', i.e. God (transcendent)
    19th cent ~ people, like God (immanence), become the sovereign; law, without exception. extreme form (left-Hegelians): atheism/anarchic freedom.

    3) Schmitt 先生,我想跟你說⋯⋯真的很沒品誒你
    the first sentence of ch4
    "German romantics possess an odd trait: everlasting conversation. novalis and adam müller feel at home with it; to them it constitutes the true realization of their spirit" (alas ur urge to seek redress for Bonald, de Maistre & Cortés is totally understandable, 但你媽媽難道沒教過你說「會讓別人心流血」的話,絕不要從我們的口中說出嗎?!lol)
    however, it's not before long that i realized that Cortés is nothing better: "man's blind reason, his weak will, and the ridiculous vitality of his carnal longings appeared to him so pitiable that all words in every human language do not suffice to express the complete lowness of this creature."

    4) ch4 - shiny pieces with a brilliant final touch
    "every political idea in one way or another takes a position on the 'nature' of man and presupposes that he is either 'by nature good' or 'by nature evil.' this issue can only be clouded by pedagogic or economic explanations, but not evaded."_ p.56

    by nature evil (catholicism) vs. by nature good (atheist socialism)
    bourgeois liberalism: let's discuss......okey-doke, here we go, we "wanted a monarch but he had to be powerless", we "demands freedom and equality but limited voting rights to the propertied classes (i.e. not the colonies)", we "abolished the aristocracy of blood and family but permitted the impudent rule of the moneyed aristocracy, the most ignorant and the most ordinary form of an aristocracy"... ohhh boyyy what do we actually want?! alright, the truth is, we 'oscillated between the two enemies and wanted to fool both' shh! that's our dirty little secret. _ pp59-61 (this aristocracy point hits extremely close to home!)

    anarchists' paradox: to decide against the decision is to be the dictator of an antidictatorship. (but schmitt, do you agree that sometimes we have to abandon our legal order in order to protect it? sounds like we're dealing with another paradox here.)

    AFTERWORD (...)
    i happened to read žižek's 'shoplifters of the world unite', and it turned out that, mind you, some of his critique deeply resonates with schmitt's, say this one,

    "it tells us a great deal about our ideological-political predicament and about the kind of society we inhabit, a society which celebrates choice but in which the only available alternative to enforced democratic consensus is a blind acting out. Opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself in the form of a realistic alternative, or even as a utopian project, but can only take the shape of a meaningless outburst."

    you can read the article here: http://www.lrb.co.uk/2011/08/19/slavoj-zizek/shoplifters-of-the-world-unite

    said on