A “Catholic Layman of German Nationality and Citizenship”?: Carl Schmitt and the Religiosity of Life
Carl Schmitt positioned his constitutional theory in the context of a “political theology” and referred to himself repeatedly as a Catholic. Schmitt scholarship has long pursued this self-depiction without establishing a convincing “Catholic” doctrine, political position, or life praxis. This chapter provides an overview and critical interrogation of Schmitt’s self-description. By emphasizing his political and theological distance from his early background and from the political Catholicism of the interwar period, the chapter analyzes his systematic connection of theism, personalism, and decisionism, and considers Schmitt as a “religious” author and person. Schmitt’s apocalyptically dramatized perception and stylization of life as a permanent “state of exception” can be seen as a religious practice of testing contingency and sovereignty and self-assigning to “salvation.” Schmitt must thus be understood not as a part of majority Catholicism, but beyond it, among the religious movements in the history of modern secular faith.
John R. Wallach
This essay discusses the contribution of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue (1981) to a generation of moral theory. Pitched as a critique of liberal individualism (e.g., Rawls), modernity (e.g., amoral bureaucracies), and the antagonism toward the history of moral theory evinced by analytical philosophers, MacIntyre’s book urges a return toward moral traditions embedded in local communities as the best route to avoid what he regards as the soullessness of modernity and the abyss of Nietzschean philosophy. But his failure to reflect on the political valence of traditions in general or the Aristotelian and Thomist ones he values, seriously compromises his complaints about modernity and his suggestions for ways out.
The chapter addresses the topic of animals as scientific objects by drawing on recent literature that emphasizes the heterogeneous construction—or eventuation—of the object. As such, the animal object is understood to emerge from a version of biomedical science that encompasses various elements that derive from within and beyond the laboratory and the experimental system. The chapter thus traces a number of ways the animal is eventuated as an object, including the processes of animal supply and scientist self-selection, the procedures of animal care and ethical assessment, and the prospects of collaboration and clinical translation. Along the way, the chapter points to the complex and conjoint eventuation of animals as subjects and of humans as objects. The chapter ends with a brief reflection on how we might better engage with the complex ethics of the co-becomings of human and animal, objects and subjects.
Stephen R. L. Clark
Both “animals” and “religion” are contentious concepts, with many possible meanings and associations. This chapter takes animals to be eukaryotes distinct from protists, plants and fungi, and “religion” as the attempt to “live a dream.” I describe four principal ways of dreaming animals: triumphalist humanism (for which only “human” beings are of any interest); traditional notions of good husbandry (which requires “human” beings to care for the non-human, within limits set by human interests); notions of metempsychosis and transformation (where “human” and “non-human” are constantly shifting characters); and awakening to the real presence of others, and so—paradoxically—evacuating them of merely “religious” meaning.
This chapter analyzes the expansion of same-sex marriage around the world, its causes and its consequences. It argues that the domestic and transnational factors shaping a country’s adoption of same-sex marriage depend crucially on both time and place, encompassing the domestic and the transnational. It further suggests that the effects of same-sex marriage are likewise context-dependent, in most cases producing mixed results for LGBTQ people and movements. Incorporating cases outside of western Europe and the United States, this study urges a broader lens and a new focus on the short-term and long-term political effects of pursuing marriage equality.
Carl Schmitt’s political and juridical thought is anchored in a specific diagnosis of modernity. He develops the concept of the political because of how the location and address of the political become fundamentally questionable under modern conditions. Romanticism disempowers the state, the government, indeed all political-public structures and processes, turning them into mere “scenery” or simulacrums that hide an actual or substantial reality. This chapter traces the continued effects of Schmitt’s thought on various diagnoses of a political dialectic of modernity. Each has the changing form and function of sovereign power at its center. The work of Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, and Zygmunt Bauman shows that Schmitt’s thought is applicable to the paradox by which sovereign power of decision continues to have a latent effect under the conditions of a constitutional state.
Ulrich K. Preuß
This chapter explores Carl Schmitt’s response as a political, legal, and constitutional theorist to the permanent crisis of the Weimar Republic during its short-lived existence between 1919 and 1933. On the foundation of his conceptual edifice, it shows why Schmitt came to the conclusion that the Weimar Constitution did not provide an appropriate political system for the German people in their “natural” form. While the founders of Weimar sought to protect the polity’s diversity and contradictions, Schmitt regarded their constitution as inherently nondemocratic. A focal point of the analysis is Schmitt’s claim that democracy and dictatorship are by no means mutually exclusive. The chapter demonstrates why Schmitt’s faith in the constituent power of a homogenous German people invariably led to his preference for “democratic dictatorship” and a rejection of the Weimar constitution’s system of parliamentary democracy.
This chapter focuses on Carl Schmitt’s years in post–World War II Germany. After being released from the Nuremberg prison for war criminals, Schmitt returned to his birthplace, Plettenberg, and named his house “San Casciano,” invoking a village in Tuscany where Machiavelli spent his final years. Like Schmitt, Machiavelli too was deprived of public office, in the Florentine city-state. While other intellectuals who had sympathized with the Nazis—Martin Heidegger, Gottfried Benn, and Ernst Jünger, among others—returned to the public sphere soon after 1945, Schmitt’s fate was different. This chapter reconstructs Schmitt’s Plettenberg years in letters, journals, and reports from companions and shows how his reputation changed from a “monster” to a myth. Even in his private years, Schmitt remained a public figure, fascinating to friends and foes. The controversies with his fiercest enemies in particular renewed his fame.
Carl Schmitt accommodated himself to the ascendency of democratic thinking in the post–World War I world of the 1920s. No sovereign authority, he argued, could fail to acknowledge “the people” as the constituent power of an established political order. Consequently, democracy and “the political” become synonymous in his Constitutional Theory (1928). To champion democracy, however, Schmitt emphasized the historical distinction between democracy, based on equality and homogeneity of the collective, and liberalism, which features the primacy of the private individual’s liberty. This chapter shows that key to understanding Schmitt’s defense of democracy against liberalism are his notions of representation, acclamation, and plebiscitary leadership, as well as a strong sense of the public persona of the citizen. The chapter argues that even though we shun his reading of democracy today, a full understanding of the liberal-democratic compromise that we now call democracy benefits from a close reading of Schmitt.
Discussions of the relationship between justice and democracy are generally premised on the assumption that they are two different things, only contingently and externally related. As a result, genuine conflicts seem possible whereby we are forced to decide whether democracy should trump justice or whether justice has priority over democracy. By focusing on the work of Jürgen Habermas and Rainer Forst, this chapter aims to show that deliberative democracy can provide a constructivist conception of justice which challenges this premise by explaining the internal relationship between justice and democracy. There is no justice without democracy in the sense that only citizens can democratically determine the specific content of justice. At the same time, there is also no democracy without justice in the sense that democratic outcomes are legitimate only to the extent that they can be understood as proper elaborations of the substantive but abstract ideal of justice-as-impartiality.