Friday, 12 September 2008


I'd happily go to my grave not reading as Fascist philosophy; but for reasons that are still a little opaque to me, Carl Schmitt keeps sticking his head into the Internet (here, say). Strange, that.

In Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. (translated by George Schwab: Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985), Schmitt gave voice to his dislike of liberalism: "the essence of liberalism is negotiation, a cautious half measure, in the hope that the definitive dispute, the decisive bloody battle, can be transformed into a parliamentary debate and permit the decision to be suspended forever in an everlasting discussion." It seems egregious to point it out, but there's a misunderstanding here. The half-measure is actually the valorising the purging, decisive violence of interpersonal conflict (very fascist, that): a half-measure because it exists halfway in myth ... a 'natural seeming' myth, the popularity of which informs (say) most Hollywood cinema: that violence directed against the Other solves problems. But liberalism is also predicated upon a decisive act of purging violence: the violent restraint of self, a trickier battle and a more important victory, but necessary to mediate civilisation and its discontents. Internalised, of course, but its a child who thinks that the external action is more important, because more visible, than the internal one.

Also: "all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts ..." Surely not. 'All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are aggrandised familial concepts' would be closer to the mark.

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