Scholarly article on topic 'Carl Schmitt: The Conservative Revolutionary Habitus and the Aesthetics of Horror'

Carl Schmitt: The Conservative Revolutionary Habitus and the Aesthetics of Horror Academic research paper on "Political Science"

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Academic research paper on topic "Carl Schmitt: The Conservative Revolutionary Habitus and the Aesthetics of Horror"


The Conservative Revolutionary

Habitus and the Aesthetics of Horror

RICHARD WOLIN Rice University

Carl Schmitt's polemical discussion of political Romanticism conceals the aestheticizing oscillations of his own political thought. In this respect, too, a kinship of spirit with the fascist intelligentsia reveals itself.

—Jurgen Habermas, "The Horrors of Autonomy: Carl Schmitt in English "

The pinnacle of great politics is the moment in which the enemy comes into view in concrete clarity as the enemy.

—Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political


Only months after Hitler's accession to power, the eminently citable political philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt, in the ominously titled work, Staat, Bewegung, Volk, delivered one of his better known dicta. On January 30, 1933, observes Schmitt, "one can say that 'Hegel died.' In the vast literature on Schmitt's role in the National Socialist conquest of power, one can find many glosses on this one remark, which indeed speaks volumes. But let us at the outset be sure to catch Schmitt's meaning, for Schmitt quickly reminds us what he does not intend by this pronouncement: he does not mean to impugn the hallowed tradition of German etatisme, that is, of German "philosophies of state," among which Schmitt would like to number his own contributions to the annals of political thought. Instead, it is Hegel qua

POLITICAL THEORY, Vol 20 No. 3, August 1992 424-447 © 1992 Sage Publications, Inc.

from the SAGE Social Science <Do\Uecaden WmtytXSjgepuRcomrireuNiiv of Illinois urbana on March 17, 2015

philosopher of the "bureaucratic class" or Beamtenstaat that has been definitively surpassed with Hitler's triumph. For "bureaucracy" (cf. Max Weber's characterization of "legal-bureaucratic domination")2 is, according to its essence, a bourgeois form of rule. As such, this class of civil servants — which Hegel in the Rechtsphilosophie deems the "universal class" — represents an impermissible drag on the sovereignty of the executive authority. For Schmitt, its characteristic mode of functioning, which is based on rules and procedures that are fixed, preestablished, and calculable, qualifies it as the very embodiment of bourgeois normalcy —a form of life that Schmitt strove to destroy and transcend in virtually everything he thought and wrote during the 1920s, for the very essence of the bureaucratic conduct of business is reverence for the norm, a standpoint that could not exist in greater tension with the doctrines of Carl Schmitt himself, whom we know to be a philosopher of the state of emergency—of the Ausnahmezustand (literally, the "state of exception"). Thus, in the eyes of Schmitt, Hegel had set an ignominious precedent by according this putative universal class a position of preeminence in his political thought, insofar as the primacy of the bureaucracy tends to diminish or supplant the prerogative of sovereign authority.

But behind this critique of Hegel and the provocative claim that Hitler's rise coincides with Hegel's metaphorical death (a claim that, while true, should have offered,pace Schmitt, little cause for celebration) lies a further indictment, for in the remarks cited, Hegel is simultaneously perceived as an advocate of the Rechtsstaat, of "constitutionalism" and "rule of law." Therefore, in the history of German political thought, the doctrines of this very German philosopher prove to be something of a Trojan horse: they represent a primary avenue via which "alien" bourgeois forms of political life have infiltrated healthy and autochthonous German traditions, one of whose distinguishing features is an authoritarian rejection of "constitutionalism" and all it implies. The political thought of Hegel thus represents a threat — and now we encounter another one of Schmitt's key terms from the 1920s—to German homogeneity.

Schmitt's poignant observations concerning the relationship between Hegel and Hitler thus expresses the idea that one tradition in German cultural life —the tradition of German idealism —has come to an end and a new set of principles—based in effect on the category of völkisch homogeneity (and all it implies for Germany's political future) —has arisen to take its place.3 Or, to express the same thought in other terms: a tradition based on the concept of Vernunft or "reason" has given way to a political system whose new raison d'être was the principle of authoritarian decision—whose con-

summate embodiment was the Führerprinzip, one of the ideological cornerstones of this new post-Hegelian state. To be sure, Schmitt's insight remains a source of fascination owing to its uncanny prescience: in a statement of a few words, he manages to express the quintessence of some 100 years of German historical development. At the same time, this remark also remains worthy of attention insofar as it serves as a prism through which the vagaries of Schmitt's own intellectual biography come into unique focus: it represents an unambiguous declaration of his satiety with Germany's prior experiments with constitutional government and of his longing for a total- or Führerstaat in which the ambivalences of the parliamentary system would be abolished once and for all. Above all, however, it suggests how readily Schmitt personally made the transition from intellectual antagonist of Weimar democracy to whole-hearted supporter of the National Socialist revolution. Herein lies what one might refer to as the paradox of Carl Schmitt: a man who, in the words of Hannah Arendt, was a "convinced Nazi," yet "whose very ingenious theories about the end of democracy and legal government still make arresting reading."4

The focal point of our inquiry will be the distinctive intellectual "habitus" (Bourdieu) that facilitated Schmitt's alacritous transformation from respected Weimar jurist and academician to "crown jurist of the Third Reich." To understand the intellectual basis of Schmitt's political views, one must appreciate his elective affinities with that generation of so-called conservative revolutionary thinkers whose worldview was so decisive in turning the tide of public opinion against the fledgling Weimar republic. As the political theorist Kurt Sontheimer has noted: "It is hardly a matter of controversy today that certain ideological predispositions in German thought generally, but particularly in the intellectual and political climate of the Weimar Republic, induced a large number of German electors under the Weimar Republic to consider the National Socialist movement as less problematic than it turned out to be." And even though the Nazis and conservative revolutionaries failed to see eye to eye on many points, their respective plans for a new Germany were sufficiently close that a comparison between them is able to "throw light on the intellectual atmosphere in which, when National Socialism arose, it could seem to be a more or less presentable doctrine." Hence "National Socialism... derived considerable profit from thinkers like Oswald Spengler, Moeller van den Bruck and Ernst Jünger," despite their later parting of the ways.5 One could without much exaggeration label this intellectual movement protofascistic, insofar as its general ideological effect consisted in providing a type of ideological-spiritual preparation for the National Socialist triumph.

Schmitt himself was never an active member of the conservative revolutionary movement, whose best known representatives—Spengler, Jünger, and van den Bruck — have been named by Sontheimer (though one might add Hans Zehrer and Othmar Spann). It would be fair to say that the major difference between Schmitt and this like-minded, influential group of right-wing intellectuals concerned a matter of form rather than substance: unlike Schmitt, most of whose writings appeared in scholarly and professional journals, the conservative revolutionaries were, to a man, nonacademics who made names for themselves as Publizisten—that is, as political writers in that same kaleidoscopic and febrile world of Weimar Öffentlichkeit that was the object of so much scorn in their work. But Schmitt's status as a fellow traveler in relation to the movement's main journals (such as Zehrer's influential Die Tat), activities, and circles notwithstanding, his profound intellectual affinities with this group of convinced antirepublicans are impossible to deny. In fact, in the secondary literature, it has become more common than not simply to include him as a bona fide member of the group.6

The intellectual habitus shared by Schmitt and the conservative revolutionaries is in no small measure of Nietzschean derivation. Both subscribed to the immoderate verdict registered by Nietzsche on the totality of inherited Western values: those values were essentially nihilistic. Liberalism, democracy, utilitarianism, individualism, and Enlightenment rationalism were the characteristic belief structures of the decadent capitalist West; they were manifestations of a superficial and materialistic Zivilisation, which failed to measure up to the sublimity of German Kultur. In opposition to a bourgeois society viewed as being in an advanced state of decomposition, Schmitt and the conservative revolutionaries counterposed the Nietzschean rites of "active nihilism." In Nietzsche's view, whatever is already falling should be given a final push. Thus one of the patented conceptual oppositions proper to the conservative revolutionary habitus was that between the "hero" (or "soldier") and the "bourgeois." Whereas the hero thrives on risk, danger, and uncertainty, the life of the bourgeois is devoted to petty calculations of utility and security.7 This conceptual opposition would occupy center stage in what was perhaps the most influential conservative revolutionary publication of the entire Weimar period, Ernst Jünger's 1932 work, Der Arbeiter, where it assumes the form of a contrast between "the worker-soldier" and "the bourgeois." If one turns, for example, to what is arguably Schmitt's major work of the 1920s, The Concept of the Political (1927), where the infamous "friend-enemy" distinction is codified as the raison d'être of politics, it is difficult to ignore the profound conservative revolutionary resonances of Schmitt's argument. Indeed, it would seem that such resonances permeate

Schmitt's attempt to justify politics primarily in martial terms; that is, in light of the ultimate instance or (to use Schmitt's own terminology) Ernstfall of battle (Kampf) or war.

Once the conservative revolutionary dimension of Schmitt's thought is brought to light, it will become clear that the continuities in his pre- and post-1933 political philosophy are stronger than the discontinuities. Yet Schmitt's own path of development from arch foe of Weimar democracy to "convinced Nazi" (Arendt) is mediated by a successive series of intellectual transformations that attest to his growing political radicalization during the 1920s and early 1930s. He follows a route that is both predictable and sui generis: predictable inasmuch as it was a route traveled by an entire generation of like-minded German conservative and nationalist intellectuals during the interwar period; sui generis, insofar as there remains an irreducible originality and perspicacity to the various Zeitdiagnosen proffered by Schmitt during the 1920s, in comparison with the at times hackneyed and familiar formulations of his conservative revolutionary contemporaries.

The oxymoronic designation "conservative revolutionary" is meant to distinguish the radical turn taken during the interwar period by right-of-center German intellectuals from the stance of their "traditional conservative" counterparts, who longed for a restoration of the imagined glories of the earlier Germanic Reichs and generally stressed the desirability of a return to premodern forms of social order (e.g., Tonnies's Gemeinschaft) based on the aristocratic considerations of rank and privilege. As opposed to the traditional conservatives, the conservative revolutionaries (and this is true of Jiinger, van den Brack, and Schmitt), in their reflections on the German defeat in the Great War, concluded that if Germany were to be successful in the next major European conflagration, premodern or traditional solutions would not suffice. Instead, what was necessary was "modernization," yet a form of modernization that was at the same time compatible with the (albeit mythol-ogized) traditional German values of heroism, "will" (as opposed to "reason"), Kultur, and hierarchy. In sum, what was desired was a modern community. As Jeffrey Herf has stressed in his informative book on the subject, when one searches for the ideological origins of National Socialism, it is not so much Germany's rejection of modernity that is at issue as it is its selective embrace of modernity.8 Thus Nazism's triumph, far from being characterized by a disdain of modernity simpliciter, was marked simultaneously by an assimilation of technical modernity and a repudiation of Western political modernity: of the values of political liberalism as they

emerge from the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century. This describes the essence of the German "third way" or Sonderweg: Germany's special path to modernity that is neither Western in the sense of England and France nor Eastern in the sense of Russia or pan-slavism.9

Schmitt began his intellectual career in the 1910s as a traditional conservative, namely, as a Catholic philosopher of state. As such, his early writings revolved around a version of political authoritarianism in which the idea of a strong state was defended at all costs against the threat of liberal encroachments. In his most significant work of the decade, The Value of the State and the Significance of the Individual (1914), the balance between the two central concepts, state and individual, is struck one-sidedly in favor of the former term. For Schmitt, the state, in executing its law-promulgating prerogatives, cannot countenance any opposition. The uncompromising, antiliberal conclusion he draws from this observation is that "no individual can have autonomy within the state."10 Or, as Schmitt unambiguously expresses a similar thought elsewhere in the same work: "the individual" is merely "a means to the essence, the state is what is most important."11 Thus, although Schmitt displayed little inclination for the brand of jingoistic nationalism so prevalent among his German academic mandarin brethren during the war years, as Joseph Bendersky has observed, "it was precisely on the point of authoritarianism vs. liberal individualism that the views of many Catholics [such as Schmitt] and those of non-Catholic conservatives coincided."12

But, like other German conservatives, it was Schmitt's innate antipathy to liberal democratic forms of government, coupled with the political turmoil of the Weimar republic, that facilitated his transformation from a traditional conservative to a conservative revolutionary. To be sure, a full account of the intricacies of Schmitt's conservative revolutionary "conversion" would necessitate a year by year account of his political thought during the Weimar period, during which Schmitt's intellectual output was nothing if not prolific (he published virtually a book a year). Instead, for the sake of concision and for the sake of fidelity to the leitmotif of the "conservative revolutionary habitus," I have elected to concentrate on three key aspects of Schmitt's intellectual formation during this period that prove essential for understanding his political transformation: first, his sympathies with the vitalist (lebensphilosophisch) critique of modern rationalism; second, his philosophy of history during these years; and third, his protofascistic assimilation of the conservative revolutionary doctrine of the "total state." All three aspects, moreover, are integrally interrelated.

The vitalist critique of Enlightenment rationalism is of Nietzschean provenance. In opposition to the traditional philosophical image of "man" qua animal rationalis, Nietzsche counterposes his vision of "life [as] will to power."13 In the course of this "transvaluation of all values," the heretofore marginalized forces of life, will, affect, and passion should reclaim the position of primacy they once enjoyed before the triumph of "Socratism." It is in precisely this spirit that Nietzsche recommends that in the future, we philosophize with our affects instead of with concepts, for in the culture of European nihilism that has triumphed with the Enlightenment, "the essence of life, its will to power, is ignored," argues Nietzsche; "one overlooks the essential priority of the spontaneous, aggressive, expansive, form-giving forces that give new interpretations and directions."14

It would be difficult to overestimate the power and influence this Nietzschean critique exerted over an entire generation of antidemocratic German intellectuals during the 1920s. The anticivilizational ethos that pervades Spengler's The Decline of the West— the defense of "blood and tradition" against the much lamented triumph of the forces of societal rationalization—would be unthinkable without that dimension of vitalistic Kulturkritik to which Nietzsche's work gave consummate expression.15 Nor would it seem that the doctrines of Klages, as embodied in the title of his magnum opus from the late Weimar period, Geist als Widersacher der Seele (Intellect as the Antagonist of the Soul; 1929-31), would have captured the mood of the times as well as they did had it not been for the irrevocable precedent set by Nietzsche's work, for the central opposition between "life" and "intellect," as articulated by Klages and so many other German "anti-intellectual intellectuals" during the interwar period, represents an unmistakably Nietzschean inheritance.

While the conservative revolutionary components of Schmitt's world-view have been frequently noted, the paramount role played by the "philosophy of life" —above all, by the concept of cultural criticism proper to Lebensphilosophie—on his political thought has escaped the attention of most critics. However, a full understanding of Schmitt's status as a radical conservative intellectual is inseparable from an appreciation of this hitherto neglected aspect of his work.

In point of fact, determinate influences of "philosophy of life" — a movement that would feed directly into the Existenzphilosophie craze of the 1920s (Heidegger, Jaspers, and others) —are readily discernible in Schmitt's pre-Weimar writings. Thus in one of his first published works, Law and Judgment

(1912), Schmitt is concerned with demonstrating the impossibility of understanding the legal order in exclusively rationalist terms, that is, as a self-sufficient, complete system of legal norms after the fashion of legal positivism. It is on this basis that Schmitt argues that in a particular case, a correct decision cannot be reached solely via a process of deduction or generalization from existing legal precedents or norms. Instead, he contends, there is always a moment of irreducible particularity to each case that defies subsumption under general principles. It is precisely this aspect of legal judgment that Schmitt finds most interesting and significant. He goes on to coin a phrase for this "extralegal" dimension that proves an inescapable aspect of all legal decision making proper: the moment of "concrete indifference," the dimension of adjudication that transcends the previously established legal norm. In essence, the moment of "concrete indifference" represents for Schmitt a type of vital substrate, an element of "pure life," that stands forever opposed to the formalism of law as such. Thus at the very heart of bourgeois society—its legal system — one finds an element of existential particularity that defies the coherence of rationalist syllogizing or formal reason.

The foregoing account of concrete indifference is a matter of more than passing or academic interest insofar as it proves a crucial harbinger of Schmitt's later decisionistic theory of sovereignty, for in its devaluation of the adequacy of existing legal norms as a basis for judicial decision making, the category of concrete indifference points toward the imperative nature of the juridical decision itself as a self-sufficient and irreducible basis of adjudication. The vitalist dimension of Schmitt's early philosophy of law betrays itself in his thoroughgoing denigration of legal normativism—for norms are a product of arid intellectualism (fntelligenz) and, as such, hostile to life (lebensfeindlich)—and the concomitant belief that the decision alone is capable of bridging the gap between the abstractness of law and the fullness of life.

The inchoate vitalist sympathies of Schmitt's early work become fullblown in his writings of the 1920s. Here, the key text is Political Theology (1922), in which Schmitt formulates his decisionist theory of politics, or, as he remarks in the work's often cited first sentence: "Sovereign is he who decides over the state of exception [Ausnahmezustand]"16

It would be tempting to claim that from this initial, terse yet lapidary definition of sovereignty, one may deduce the totality of Schmitt's mature political thought, for it contains what we know to be the two keywords of his political philosophy during these years: decision and the exception. Both in Schmitt's lexicon are far from value-neutral or merely descriptive concepts. Instead, they are both accorded an unambiguously positive value

in the economy of his thought. Thus one of the hallmarks of Schmitt's political philosophy during the Weimar years will be a privileging of the Ausnahmezustand, or state of exception, vis-à-vis political normalcy.

It is my claim that Schmitt's celebration of the state of exception over conditions of political normalcy —which he essentially equates with the reign of legal positivism and "parliamentarianism" — has its basis in the vitalist critique of Enlightenment rationalism. In his initial justification of the Ausnahmezustand in Political Theology, Schmitt leaves no doubt concerning the historical pedigree of such concepts. Thus following the well-known definition of sovereignty cited earlier, he immediately underscores its status as a "borderline concept" —a Grenzbegriff, a concept "pertaining to the outermost sphere."17 It is precisely this fascination with extreme or "boundary situations" (Grenzsituationen — K. Jaspers) — those unique moments of existential peril that become a proving ground for individual "authenticity" — that characterizes Lebensphilosophie's sweeping critique of bourgeois "everydayness." Hence in the Grenzsituation, "Dasein glimpses transcendence and is thereby transformed from possible to real Existenz"1* In parallel fashion, Schmitt, by according primacy to the "state of exception" as opposed to political normalcy, tries to invest the emergency situation with a higher, existential significance and meaning.

According to the inner logic of this conceptual scheme, the "state of exception" becomes the basis for a politics of authenticity. In contrast to conditions of political normalcy, which represent the unexalted reign of the "average," the "mediocre," and the "everyday," the state of exception proves capable of reincorporating a dimension of heroism and greatness that is so sorely lacking in the routinized, bourgeois conduct of political life.

Consequently, the superiority of the state as ultimate, decisionistic arbiter over the emergency situation is a matter that, in Schmitt's eyes, need not be argued for, for according to Schmitt, "every rationalist interpretation falsifies the immediacy of life"19 Instead, in his view, the state represents a fundamental, irrefragable, existential verity, as does the category of "life" in Nietzsche's philosophy, or, as Schmitt remarks with characteristic pith in Political Theology, "The existence of the state is undoubted proof of its superiority over the validity of the legal norm." Thus "the decision [on the state of exception] becomes instantly independent of argumentative substantiation and receives an autonomous value."20

But as Franz Neumann observes m Behemoth, given the lack of coherence of Nazi ideology, the rationales provided for totalitarian practice were often couched specifically in vitalist or existential terms. In Neumann's words,

[Given the incoherence of Nazi ideology,] what is left as justification for the [Grossdeutsche] Reich? Not racism, not the idea of the Holy Roman Empire, and certainly not some democratic nonsense like popular sovereignty or self-determination. Only the Reich itself remains. It is its own justification. The philosophical roots of the argument are to be found in the existential philosophy of Heidegger. Transferred to the realm of politics, existentialism argues that power and might are true: power is a sufficient theoretical base for more power.21

In Political Theology, Schmitt is quite forthright concerning the vitalistic bases of his political thought. As he observes early on, "Precisely a philosophy of concrete life must not withdraw from the exception and the extreme case, but must be interested in it to the highest degree."22 At issue in this judgment are existential considerations —the "choice" of a worldview — which simultaneously express an aesthetic sensibility: that of an "aesthetics of horror" {Ästhetik des Schreckens), which has been defined by Karl Heinz Bohrer as propagating a temporal semantics of rupture, discontinuity, and shock. According to Bohrer, whereas this modernistic aesthetic of "suddenness" (Plötzlichkeit) is primarily of Nietzschean provenance, it is "renewed in the 1920s through the works of Max Scheler, Carl Schmitt, and Martin Heidegger."23 Only in light of this vitalist intellectual historical lineage and the aesthetics of rupture that underlie it does Schmitt's partisanship for the exception over the norm first become fully intelligible. Hence what is important is not merely that the exception presents itself as superior to the norm. Rather, the temporal semantics of discontinuity and horror embraced by Schmitt culminates in the insight that "the norm is destroyed in the exception."24 From the ashes of the norm, an ontologically higher condition of political life will emerge, as it were.

In Political Theology, Schmitt attempts to justify his exaltation of the exception in terms explicitly culled from the vitalist aesthetics of suddenness or rupture described by Bohrer: "The exception is more interesting than the rule," observes Schmitt. "The rule proves nothing; the exception proves everything: It confirms not only the rule but also its existence, which derives only from the exception. In the exception the power of real life breaks through the crust of a mechanism that has become torpid by repetition"75

The "mechanism that has become torpid by repetition" is none other than a society of bourgeois normalcy, where, in Schmitt's view, positive law reigns supreme. This society of "normalization" (Foucault) must be subjected to an "aesthetics of rupture" (Bohrer), which is the point at which the exception enters the scene, for the exception alone, qua borderline concept (Grenzbegriff) allows "the power of real life" —here, a type of existential

transcendens — to explode the society of "mechanized petrifaction" (Weber) that bourgeois Zivilisation has wrought.26 Only the will to power of "real life" possesses the capacity to break through the inertial character of society qua encrusted mechanism. It is precisely in this spirit that Schmitt will praise the Bergsonian origins of Sorel's apotheosis of violence, for, in Schmitt's estimation, Sorel's "reflections" on this concept are of value precisely insofar as they are grounded in a Bergsonian "theory of unmediated real life."27

It is in precisely this sense that the German literary theorist Peter Burger has characterized the distinguishing feature of Schmitt's work as aesthetici-zation of the political:

From behind the rational veneer of Schmitt's argumentation an aestheticist Lebens-philosophie emerges, which acknowledges the exception alone, and not the everyday, as "real life." The antithesis between the mechanism of the everyday life and the search for an extraordinary experience is a feature of the aesthetic opposition to bourgeois society with which the romantics were already familiar and which characterizes the world-view of many artists since the second half of the nineteenth century. It seems to me that the scandalous aspect of Carl Schmitt's writings lies in the fact that he develops a political theory from this world-view. The aesthetic desire for the exception, which surpasses the ordering categories of the understanding, becomes the foundation of a theory which has the formation [Gestaltung] of reality as its goal. On the basis of this transfiguration, it follows logically that Schmitt is able to assimilate the aesthetic categories of the "new and the strange" to the decision, which he conceives, following the model of the free act of the artistic genius, as an absolute act.28

Schmitt's partisanship for the moment of absolute decision, which can only emerge once conditions of political normalcy have been suspended in the Ausnahmezustand, represents a transposition of Kierkegaard's "teleolog-ical suspension of the ethical" from the moral to the political sphere.29 For both thinkers, a fascination with boundary situations and an aesthetics of rupture or suddenness subtends a critique of the present age qua embodiment of an impoverished ethico-political normalcy.

Thus Schmitt grounds the foundational concepts of his mature political philosophy in a fundamental existential value judgment: a condemnation of the prosaicism of bourgeois normalcy combined with an exaltation of the capacities for transcendence embodied in the emergency situation. The latter, which Schmitt characterizes as "more interesting than the rule," thereby receives a quasi-aestheticist justification. Employment of the word "transcendence," moreover, is far from accidental insofar as it is one of Schmitt's profoundest beliefs that "all significant concepts of the modern theory of state are secularized versions of theological concepts."30 Thus the state of exception in Schmitt's view represents nothing less than a return of the repressed

in the form of a return of the sacred. In keeping with the discourse of political theology, the state of exception is to politics what the miracle is to theology.

But in this connection it is equally important to recognize the historical-contextual status of such arguments as set forth by the leading jurist of the Weimar republic, for it was precisely this vitalist/conservative revolutionary devaluation of political normalcy, on one hand, coupled with an exaggeration of the value of emergency powers, or government by executive decree (as embodied in the notorious article 48 of the Weimar constitution), on the other, that formed an indispensable precedent for the advent of Hitler's dictatorship. Thus, according to Franz Neumann, "the idea of the totalitarian state grew out of the demand [during Weimar] that all power be concentrated in the hands of the president."31

Schmitt's 1923 critique of parliamentarianism concludes with a treatment of "Irrationalist Theories of the Direct Use of Force." Unsurprisingly, the doctrines of Georges Sorel occupy pride of place in his analysis. Schmitt's barely concealed admiration for Sorel qua apostle of revolutionary violence and myth is fascinating insofar as it suggests the many points in common shared by "left" and "right" variants of the critique of bourgeois normalcy. In one telling passage, Schmitt cites the views of the nineteenth-century Spanish counterrevolutionary stalwart, Donoso Cortes, with whom Schmitt himself identified profoundly. Donoso Cortes, interestingly enough, praises the doctrines of "radical socialism" as the only "worthy opponent" of his own counterrevolutionary ideology, insofar as it is these two standpoints alone that demand a total, eschatological break with bourgeois conditions of life. To be sure, in the eyes of Donoso Cortes, anarchist socialism was tantamount to radical evil, in league with the devil, and, as such, worthy of summary eradication. Yet, as Schmitt comments, "Today it is easy to see that both were their own real opponents and that everything else was only a provisional half-measure."32

Of course, as a twentieth-century clerico-fascist, Schmitt's own intellectual sympathies are infinitely closer to the view of the nineteenth-century counterrevolutionary philosophers of state, Donoso Cortes, Bonald, and de Maistre. But this does not prevent him from mining the doctrines of Sorel, this "worthy adversary," for all that they are worth. What Schmitt appreciates about Sorel is the fact that in his celebrations of violence, the "warlike and heroic conceptions that are bound up with battle and struggle were taken

seriously again ... as the true impulse of an intensive life."33 Sorel is thus praised as an apostle of Nietzsche, a proponent of "active nihilism," an unrelenting advocate of the powers of desublimated instinct, and of those martial virtues that have been allowed to atrophy owing to the predominantly rationalist temper of modern Zivilisation. The views that Schmitt attributes to Sorel — indeed, he never tries to conceal this fact — are very much his own. Thus, as Schmitt goes on to observe, "Whatever value human life has does not come from reason; it emerges from a state of war between those who are

inspired by great mythical images to join battle____Bellicose, revolutionary

excitement and the expectation of monstrous catastrophes belong to the intensity of life and move history."34 Here, the vitalist advocacy of "intensive life" flows seamlessly into the conservative revolutionary embrace of that mentality of Sturm und Kampf that would play such a pivotal role in the worldview of National Socialism.35

Schmitt's confrontation with Sorel thus proves a crucial waystation on his path to a conservative revolutionary glorification of a militaristic, aggressive "total state," a position to which he would accede unambiguously in his provocative work of 1927, The Concept of the Political.

Before concluding our discussion of Schmitt's relation to Sorel, it would perhaps be worthwhile to mention the point at which their respective paths diverge. Ultimately, Schmitt parts company with his confrère of the outerRhein insofar as, in Schmitt's view, Sorel's Marxism threatens the autonomy of the political. The problem with Sorel's apotheosis of violence is that violence is placed in the service of unpolitical powers: namely, the powers of a "social class," the proletariat. From Schmitt's perspective, this solution is too reminiscent of the evils of modernity that must be cured: namely, that in the modern world, claims to political sovereignty have been usurped by the prepolitical interests of social classes, a phenomenon that comes to light in the interminable jockeying for position among the various interest groups in parliament. As Schmitt observes, the drawback of Sorel's position is that he "sought to retain the purely economic basis of the proletarian standpoint, and despite some disagreements, he clearly always began with Marx."36

The rejection of Sorel drives Schmitt into the arms of the aforementioned counterrevolutionary philosophers of state, albeit a position from which he never really strayed to begin with. According to Schmitt's philosophy of history, political life since the seventeenth century has fallen into a state of permanent decline. Whereas in the age of absolutism the twin pillars of state, God and sovereign, occupied their rightful niches of supremacy, since then both have suffered debasement at the hands of the ascending bourgeois class and its proletarian heir-apparent. In the secularizing doctrines of the eigh-

teenth and nineteenth centuries, the concept of "God" was supplanted by the idea of "man" and the majesty of the sovereign proper was irreparably decimated by the ideal of popular sovereignty. As a result, "the decisionistic and personalistic element in the concept of sovereignty was lost."37 More generally, the sublime virtues of transcendence were sacrificed in favor of the prosaic terms of immanence. This concerted assault against traditional religiosity could only end in atheism, disorder, and anarchic freedom. It was the chief merit of the Catholic philosophers of state to have confronted this situation head on and to have never shied away from drawing the logical conclusion from this turn of events. Thus since the legitimacy of the ancien regime had been irreparably damaged following the revolutions of 1848, from this point hence, dictatorship alone could save the world from the godless era of secular humanism. Schmitt's reflections on the implications of this new historical situation could hardly be less equivocal. Once again, he relies on the wisdom of Donoso Cortes to make his point:

The true significance of those counterrevolutionary philosophers of state lies precisely in the consistency with which they decide. They heightened the moment of decision to such an extent that the notion of legitimacy, their starting point, was finally dissolved. As soon as Donoso Cortes realized that the period of monarchy had come to an end... he brought his decisionism to a logical conclusion. He demanded a political dictatorship. In ... de Maistre we can also see a reduction of the state to the moment of decision, to a pure decision not based on reason or discussion and not justifying itself, that is, to an absolute decision created out of nothingness. But this decision is essentially dictatorshipy not legitimacy,38

A politics of dictatorship, grounded in a "decision ex nihilo," will also become Schmitt's solution to an era of relentless depoliticization.39

Moreover, although the Marxist Sorel is correct in his estimation of the value of political myth making, he is mistaken in his belief that the myth of proletarian internationalism will prove a source of inspiration to future generations of political actors. Instead, according to Schmitt, today we know that "the stronger myth is national and that "the national myth has until today always been victorious."40 Thus it is the national myth as propagated by Mussolini and Italian fascism that represents the embodiment of all future hopes for the return of an authentic politics, that is, a politics in which the values of "intensive life" might once again come to the fore. As Schmitt observes, "The theory of myth is the most powerful symptom of the decline of the relative rationalism of parliamentary thought." This is true not least of all insofar as, for the first time in the modern era, it raises the prospects of "an authority based on the new feeling for order, discipline, and hierarchy."

Italian fascism thus represents the model to be followed by all future attempts to reverse the bourgeois sublimation of politics and realize an authentic repoliticization of modern life:

Until now the democracy of mankind and parliamentarianism has only once been contemptuously pushed aside through the conscious appeal to myth, and that was an example of the irrational power of the national myth. In his famous speech of October 1922 in Naples before the march on Rome, Mussolini said, "We have created a myth, this myth is a belief, a noble enthusiasm; it does not need to be reality, it is a striving and a hope, belief and courage. Our myth is the nation, the great nation which we want to make into a concrete reality; for ourselves."41

The Concept of the Political is the work in which Schmitt's propagation of the conservative revolutionary aesthetics of horror becomes most transparent. In this text, the vitalist correlation between violence and intensive life, which Schmitt first discovers in the theories of Sorel, receives its fullest elaboration. It would be a mistake, however, to view this key text of the late 1920s in isolation, that is, apart from a series of related writings from the late 1920s and early 1930s in which Schmitt elaborates his views on the totalitarian or total state, for the conclusions that Schmitt reaches in this series of works represent both the consummation of his political thought during the Weimar period and a crucial anticipation of his later partisanship for the National Socialist cause.

We have already referred to the rudiments of Schmitt's philosophy of history during the Weimar period, which it might be said revolves around the theme of the eclipse of the political. According to Schmitt, the salient feature of the past three centuries of European history has been the fact that political energies have been placed in the service of heteronomous, nonpolitical forces and interests — above all, in the service of bourgeois economic interests. With respect to the political, then, Schmitt describes recent historical trends as culminating in an "age of neutralizations and depoliticizations." All bourgeois encroachments on sovereignty, claims Schmitt, "aim with undeniable certainty at subjecting the state and politics partly to an individualistic, and thus private-legal morality, partly to economic categories — and thus robbing it of its specific meaning."42 Schmitt's lamentations concerning the sublimation of politics in the modern world suggest his affinities with the traditional conservative political thought of fellow Germans, Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin, and with the nonconservative traditionalism of Hannah Arendt.

As we have seen from our earlier discussion of Schmitt's interest in Sorel, Donoso Cortes, and Italian facism, Schmitt is constantly on the lookout for countervailing tendencies vis-à-vis the dominant historical trend toward neutralization/depoliticization. He believes that he has discovered precisely such prospects in the logic of technological concentration that emerged in the aftermath of World War I, for the outstanding characteristic of the Great War is that it has given the lie to the well-known Clausewitzian dictum concerning the relation between war and diplomacy ("war is the continuation of diplomacy by other means"), and in this respect, it has set the tenor for all wars to come. According to Schmitt, as a result of recent trends, the insight of Clausewitz must be reversed. Now, instead of war standing in the service of politics, the era of "total war" heralded by the conflagration of 1914-18 suggests that all energies of modern political life stand in the service of war. It is precisely in this vein that Schmitt sees concrete prospects for the reemergence of the political in the modern world, for through a strange instance of the cunning of reason, the bourgeois ideology of progress ultimately proves self-subverting. Forces of the modern economy that were originally directed against the autonomy of the political (i.e., against the values of the monarchical absolutism) now undergo a transformation from quantity to quality and reemerge as the guarantor of autonomous political energies. As Schmitt observes: "Economics is no longer eo ipso freedom; technology serves not only [the ends of] comfort, but instead just as much the production of dangerous weapons and instruments; its progress does not further eo ipso the humanitarian-moral perfection that was conceived of in the eighteenth century as 'progress,' and technical rationalization can be the opposite of economic rationalization."43 For Schmitt, this assertion represents an objective description of current social trends in addition to being a statement of political preference.

Walter Rathenau once observed that in the modern world, not politics but economics has become fate. But, according to Schmitt, Rathenau failed to realize the ultimate ramifications of this dictum, insofar as autonomous laws of economic-technological concentration have led to a situation in which the economy itself, of necessity, is repoliticized. One can see such tendencies developing throughout all Western industrialized societies, where the night watchman state of the nineteenth century has developed into the interventionist, total state of the twentieth century. Thus, according to Schmitt, the contemporary balance between state and society is conditioned by the fact that today "all problems are potentially political problems."44 Whereas formerly the state was subjected to alien, economic interests, this situation has now reversed itself and the economy itself has become an object of

political planning and control. The mastery of the new technological means — in the areas of economic production, warfare, and mass communications — has become, as it were, an imperative of survival for the modern state. As Schmitt observes, "Every political power is forced to take the new weapons in hand."45 No state can, for example, afford to neglect the new technological means of influencing public opinion, such as cinema and radio. "Behind the idea of the total state," observes Schmitt, "stands the correct realization that the contemporary state possesses new mechanisms of power and possibilities of enormous intensity, whose ultimate significance and consequences we can barely anticipate."46

In his arguments for the total state, Schmitt betrays his theoretical indebtedness to the most prominent representative of conservative revolutionary generation, Ernst Jünger, whom Schmitt praises as "a remarkable representative of the German Frontsoldaten." Or, as Schmitt avers in his 1931 essay on "The Turn toward the Total State," "Ernst Jünger has introduced an extremely pregnant formulation for this astonishing process [whereby the state extends itself to all spheres of society]: total mobilization "A1 In "Total Mobilization" and Der Arbeiter, Jünger argues that the distinguishing feature of modernity as an era of total war is that the entirety of society's resources — ideological, economic, and scientific — are of necessity incorporated into the war effort and that, consequently, the only form of political life proper to an era of "total mobilization" is that of a "total state." Thus the new realities of struggle in an era of technological concentration dictate that society as a whole be fashioned after a military model. As Jünger observes in 1930,

In addition to the armies who encounter one another on the battle-fields originate the modern armies of commerce, of food-production, of the armaments industry—the army of labor in general.... In this total incorporation of potential energies, which transforms the warring industrial states into volcanic forges, the beginning of the "age of work" [Arbeitszeitalter] is perhaps most strikingly apparent—it turns the World War into a historical phenomenon that is superior to the French Revolution in significance.48

The strong claim that I want to make is that in Schmitt's post-1927 writings, there exists a body of work and a complex of ideas, beginning with The Concept of the Political and including his various commentaries on the theme of the "fascist" or "total state," via which one can trace the transformation of his authoritarian political philosophy of the early 1920s into a protofascistic, conservative revolutionary partisanship for a totalitarian state. In light of this assertion, it would seem that Schmitt's option for a totalitarian resolution of the political ills of Weimar was made in theory some six years before it was registered in actual fact (Schmitt joined the Nazi party in March

1933). To be sure, the encomium to the glories of Italian fascism with which Schmitt concludes The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy points strongly in this direction. But it is not until his writings of the late 1920s that analogous themes occupy a position of primacy in his work, for it is at this point that Schmitt concludes, in a manner similar to Donoso Cortes some seventy years earlier, that in the modern era the integrity of the political can only be maintained through a plebiscitary, fascist dictatorship. From this conclusion, it is only a short step to the Gleichschaltung legislation that Schmitt drafted with alacrity at the behest of the Nazis in April 1933.49 Thus, already in 1929, with reference to developments in Italy, Schmitt, in an essay entitled "Wesen und Werden des faschistischen Staates," had concluded that, "the preponderance of fascism over economic interests . . . [signifies] the heroic effort to maintain and preserve the dignity of the state and of national unity vis-à-vis the pluralism of economic interests."50

Thus far, we have treated Schmitt's assimilation of the conservative revolutionary habitus as deriving from both his virulently antiliberal, deci-sionistic theory of sovereignty ("sovereign is he who decides on the state of the exception") and his preoccupation with the vitalist theme of intensive life. The latter preoccupation, it has been suggested, has its origins in an existential predilection for so-called boundary or extreme situations, which has been felicitously captured by Bohrer via the expression "the aesthetics of horror." It now falls due to us to examine how the motif identified by Bohrer is at work in Schmitt's 1927 work, The Concept of the Political— specifically, in Schmitt's glorification of war as the highest instance of (or Ernstfall) of politics, a conclusion that is strongly suggested by our opening citation, in which Schmitt contends that "the pinnacle of great politics are the moments in which the enemy comes into view in concrete clarity as the enemy."51

It has become fashionable among his defenders to refer to Schmitt qua proponent of political authoritarianism as the "Hobbes of the twentieth century." However, it is essential to clarify more precisely what it was that attracted him to the political thought of Hobbes. The stakes at issue have been incisively summarized by Leo Strauss, who observes, "Schmitt goes back against liberalism to its originator, Hobbes, in order to strike the root of liberalism in Hobbes' explicit negation of the state of nature."52 That is, it is not Hobbes qua theorist of the social contract whom Schmitt reveres; most

definitely not, for this is the Hobbes who becomes the intellectual progenitor of Western liberalism. Rather, it is Hobbes the theorist of the state of nature qua state of war that Schmitt finds worthy of intellectual admiration. As such, for Schmitt, war or the eventuality thereof becomes the basis and guarantor of great politics; it is the ultimate Grenzsituation, as it were, in which the very Existera of a people, or Volk, is put to the test. But there is no small irony here, insofar as Schmitt, the supposed defender of the autonomy of the political, thereby elevates a moment that for Hobbes epitomized the lawlessness and chaos of prepolitical existence—namely, the state of nature—to the position of existential raison d'être of politics tout court. Thus Schmitt's conceptual scheme in point of fact ends up by standing Hobbes on his head, insofar as the prepolitical bellum omnium contra omnes is turned into the essence of the political in general.

Without doubt, it is in his descriptions of war qua existential, ultimate instance of politics that Schmitt betrays most profoundly his intellectual affinities with the conservative revolutionary aesthetics of horror. With Jünger, "war is an intoxication beyond all intoxication, an unleashing that breaks all bonds. It is a force without caution and limits, comparable only to the forces of nature."53 For Schmitt, similarly, "war, the readiness for death of fighting men, the physical annihilation of other men who stand on the side of the enemy, all that has no normative only an existential meaning."54 Or, as Schmitt, in an observation strikingly redolent of Heideggerian Existenzphilosophie (Being and Time and The Concept of the Political both appear in the same year), affirms in The Concept of the Political, "The word struggle [Kampf], like the word enemy, is to be understood in its existential pri~ mordiality [seinsmàssige Ursprünglichkeit]."55 Similarly, the friend-enemy distinction in terms of which Schmitt seeks to ground his concept of the political must be understood "in [its] concrete, existential sense. . . . The concepts of friend, enemy, and struggle receive their real meaning especially insofar as they relate to and preserve the real possibility of physical annihilation. War follows from enmity, for the latter is the existential [seinsmàssige] negation of another being."56

Schmitt's proponents view his doctrines as praiseworthy insofar as they serve to defend the autonomy of the political in face of the modern denigration of politics in favor of the social. Apparent textual support for such claims is evinced by Schmitt's repeated emphasis on the specificity of politics vis-à-vis the other realms of modern life. Thus whereas beauty is the subject matter of aesthetics, good and evil that of morality, and wealth the focal point of economics, the inner logic of politics, so Schmitt claims, is grounded in terms of the friend-enemy dichotomy.

But it takes no special talent for hermeneutical decipherment to discern the speciousness of the claim for Schmitt as champion of political autonomy. In The Concept of the Political, it is clear as noonday that politics stands in the service of heteronomous, nonpolitical powers: namely, the powers of war. In Schmitt's scheme, the autonomy of politics is sacrificed on the altar of war. There is no small irony here, insofar as Schmitt thereby succumbs (mutatis mutandis) to the same charges of "occasionalism" that he levels against "political romanticism" in his book of 1919: like the political romantics, Schmitt's decisionist conception of politics proves devoid of intrinsic content and in need of an external pretext of "occasion" to realize itself, the occasion in this instance being the possibilities for existential self-realization embodied in struggle or war.

On closer scrutiny, Schmitt's attempt to separate politics from morality, allegedly in the name of preserving the autonomy of the political, also raises suspicions of intellectual chicanery. As we have seen, the separation of politics from morality in the name of a bellicose, social Darwinist ethos of existential self-preservation merely serves to deliver over the political to the alien powers of war and struggle. In this way Schmitt has rashly abandoned the classical doctrine of politics, according to which politics and morality are necessarily interrelated: for according to this political lexicon, a just political order proves most conducive to a life of virtue. An echo of this doctrine may be found in the tenets of modern liberal-democratic thought (e.g., J. S. Mill), where an absence of authoritarian political interference should prove conducive to the maximum development of individual talents and capacities. In both classical and modern theories, therefore, the proper end of political society is to varying degrees a conception of "the good life." But in Schmitt's political philosophy, we are forced to abandon any concept of higher political ends. Instead (and here the reliance on Hobbes is once again instructive), his existential definition of politics in terms of the primacy of the friend-enemy grouping compels us to relinquish all claims to "the good life" and instead to rest content with "mere life"— namely, existential self-preservation.

In a perceptive review essay of Ernst Jünger's 1930 anthology, Krieg und Krieger (War and Warriors), appropriately titled, "Theories of German Fascism," Walter Benjamin analyzes the cult of violence promoted by Jünger et al. as a perverse extension of the bourgeois doctrine of art for art's sake,57 for the celebration of the war experience as an end in itself, the idea that what is important about war and struggle is not so much the ends being fought for but the fact of struggle as an intrinsic good, is viewed by Benjamin as an endorsement of a fascist aesthetics of violence—of "violence for violence's sake." Schmitt's existential justification of war in The Concept of the Polit-

ical, where what counts is not the specific ends being fought for (and thus the concept of a just war would have no place in Schmitt's schema) but war as a touchstone and basis for political existence as such (for this reason, the prospect of a world government, as implied by the Kantian doctrine of "perpetual peace," signifies for Schmitt, "the end of politics"), must be viewed as of a piece with the "theories of German fascism" discussed by Benjamin in his 1931 review.

Schmitt remarks in the early months of Hitler's dictatorship that "to stand in the immediate presence of the political" means to stand in the presence of "intensive life." In the same breath, he goes on to give content to this remark by assimilating Heraclitus's well-known aphorism (fragment 43) concerning "war" as "the father of all things" to the ends of National Socialist "struggle."58 Yet this allusion to the integral relation between intensive life and war in no way symbolizes a break in his thinking; he has merely reiterated, under politically more propitious circumstances, the vitalist aesthetics of violence that he had already embraced in the 1920s.

1. Carl Schmitt, Staat, Bewegung, Volk (Hamburg: Hanseatischer Verlaganstalt, 1933), 32.

2. Max Weber, Economy and Society, edited by C. Wittich and G. Roth (Berkeley: University of California, 1968), 217ff.

3. One of the first to comment on Schmitt's remarks on the relationship between Hegel and Hitler was the philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse comments on the "profound comprehension" of Schmitt's judgment but then immediately points out its retrograde implications from the standpoint of the prospects for German freedom. For Marcuse, the "death of Hegel" signifies not only the demise of a specific philosophical system but the death of German idealism tout court; more specifically, it presages the obsolescence of the strong concept reason (Vernunft) that was the cornerstone of this magisterial philosophical enterprise begun by Kant. See Marcuse, "The Struggle Against Liberalism in the Totalitarian View of the State," in Negations, translated by Jeremy Shapiro (Boston: Beacon, 1968). Many of the implications of Marcuse's analysis have been elaborated by Georg Lukacs in The Destruction of Reason, translated by P. Palmer (New York and London: Humanities Press, 1980).

4. Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Meridian, 1958), 339.

5. Kurt Sontheimer, "Anti-Democratic Thought in the Weimar Republic," in The Road to Dictatorship, translated by Lawrence Wilson (London: Oswald Wolff, 1964), 42-43. Sontheimer's essay represents a condensed version of his book-length study, Anti-Demokratisches Denken in der Weimarer Republik (Munich: Nymphenburger, 1962), a work that contains a number of valuable discussions of Schmitt's thought in relation to the conservative revolutionaries. For a discussion of the conservative revolutionary movement in English, see Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984); Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair (New York:

Anchor, 1965). For an attempt to downplay Schmitt's affiliations with the conservative revolutionaries, see Joseph Bendersky, "Carl Schmitt and the Conservative Revolution," Telos 72 (1987): 27-42.

6. This is true of the works by Herf and Sontheimer cited in note 5. It is also true of a significant number of other works that treat the conservative revolution. Among them, one would have to include Christian von Krockow, Die Entscheidung: Eine Untersuchung über Ernst Jünger, Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger (Stuttgart: Enke, 1958); Armin Möhler, Die konservative Revolution (Stuttgart: Vorwerk, 1950); George Mosse, The Crisis of the German Ideology: The Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich (New York: Grosset Dunlap, 1964).

7. One of the classical articulations of the perspective was a militaristic tract by Werner Sombart during World War I entitled Händler und Helden (Merchants and Heroes) (Munich, 1915). For a good discussion of the way in which this opposition permeated the mind-set of the German intellectual mandarinate in the early decades of the twentieth century, see Fritz Ringer, The Decline of the German Mandarins (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,1969), 183.

8. Herf, Reactionary Modernism, Iff.

9. On Germany's search for a "third way," see George Mosse, Germans and Jews: The Right, the Left and the Search for a "Third Force " in Pre-Nazi Germany (New York: Fertig, 1970).

10. Schmitt, Der Wert des Staates und die Bedeutung des Einzelnen (Tübingen, 1914), 101.

11. Ibid., 108.

12. Joseph Bendersky, Carl Schmitt: Theorist for the Reich (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), 12ff.

13. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power (New York: Vintage, 1967), no. 254.

14. Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, translated by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1967), 79.

15. On Spengler, see Herf, Reactionary Modernism, 49ff. In all fairness, though, it seems that Herf s study exaggerates Spengler's sympathies for the forces of technocracy in modern society, especially in his late work, Man and Technics.

16. Schmitt, Political Theology, translated by George Schwab (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), 5.

17. Ibid.

18. Hans Saner, "Grenzsituation," in Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie, vol. 3 (Basel, 1974), 877.

19. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, translated by E. Kennedy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), 71; emphasis added.

20. Schmitt, Political Theology, 12,31; emphasis added.

21. Franz Neumann, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 19331944 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), 145-46.

22. Schmitt, Political Theology, 15.

23. Karl Heinz Bohrer, Asthetik des Schreckens (Munich: Carl Hanser, 1978), 334ff.

24. Schmitt, Political Theology, 12; emphasis added.

25. Ibid., 15; emphasis added. See also the commentary by Bohrer on the passage in question in Ästhetik des Schreckens, 342-43.

26. In this sense, Schmitt would find little to disagree with in the critique of modernity set forth by Weber in the concluding pages of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: "Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines it as attained a level of civilization never before achieved." See Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Scribner, 1958), 182.

27. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 67; emphasis added.

28. Peter Böiger, "Carl Schmitt oder die Fundierung der Politik auf Ästhetik," in Zerstörung: Rettung des Mythos durch Licht, edited by Christa Bürger (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1986), 174. The irony in Bürger's account, of course, is the suggestion that Schmitt has much in common with "political romanticism." Yet in a major work of this title (Political Romanticism, 1919), Schmitt lambasts the romantic movement for having sublimated politics in the direction of aesthetics and thus remaining incapable of decision. Because they lack intrinsic political energies, Schmitt characterizes the romantics' relation to the world (following Malebranche) as an "occasionalism." For an extremely perceptive characterization of Schmitt's own work as "occasionalist"—owing to its decisionistic biases (hence lack of intrinsic content)—see Karl Löwith, "Der okkasionelle Dezisionismus von Carl Schmitt," in Löwith, Sämtliche Schriften 8 (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1984), 32-71. A cross-reference to Heidegger might be of value in this connection. See Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Heidegger, Art, and Politics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), 61ff. Lacoue-Labarthe finds Heidegger's work to be in the greatest proximity to National Socialism—which he characterizes as a "national aestheticism" — in the mid-1930s when Heidegger, preoccupied with Hölderlin, becomes fascinated with the role of the poet as the founder of a cultural epoch.

29. Chapter 1 of Political Theology ends with an encomium to an unnamed "Protestant theologian [Kierkegaard] who demonstrated the vital intensity possible in theological reflection." Schmitt goes on to cite approvingly the following gloss on the relation of the "exception" to the "general" from Repetition: "The exception explains the general and itself. And if one wants to study the general correctly, one only needs to look around for a true exception. It reveals everything more clearly than does the general. Endless talk about the general becomes boring; there are exceptions. If they cannot be explained, then the general also cannot be explained. The difficulty is usually not noticed because the general is not thought about with passion but with a comfortable superficiality. The exception, on the other hand, thinks the general with intense passion."

30. Schmitt, Political Theology, 36. For a refutation of Schmitt's endorsement of the "secularization hypothesis," see Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, translated by R. Wallace (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1983).

31. Neumann, Behemoth, 47.

32. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 70.

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid., 71.

35. See the anthology edited by Ernst Jünger, Krieg und Krieger (Berlin: Junker Dunnhaupt, 1930), in which Jünger first published his influential essay on "total mobilization." Walter Benjamin wrote a highly critical review of the volume, which has been reprinted in his Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 3 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1972), 238-50.

36. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 173; emphasis added.

37. Schmitt, Political Theology, 48.

38. Ibid., 65-66; emphasis added.

39. For more on Schmitt's philosophy of history, see "Das Zeitalter der Neutralisierungen und Entpolitisierungen," in Der Begriff des Politischen (Berlin: Duncker Humblot, 1979), 96-115.

40. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 75; emphasis added.

41. Ibid., 75-76.

42. Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen (Berlin: Duncker Humblot, 1963), 71.

43. Ibid., 75.

44. Schmitt, "Weiterentwicklung des totalen Staats in Deutschland" (1933), in Positionen und Begriffe (Hamburg: Hanseatiscner Verlaganstalt, 1940), 185.

45. Ibid., 186.

46. Ibid.

47. Schmitt, "Die Wendung zum totalen Staat," in Positionen und Begriffe, 152. It should be noted that the praise of Jünger as a "remarkable representative of the German Frontsoldaten" cited earlier has been omitted from the reprint of this essay in Positionen und Begriffe. See the original publication in Europaische Revue 7 (April 1931): 243.

48. Ernst Jünger, 'Total Mobilization," in The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader, edited by Richard Wolin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 119-39.

49. See Bendersky, Carl Schmitt, 199ff.

50. Schmitt, Positionen und Begriffe, 110; emphasis added.

51. Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen, 67.

52. Strauss, "Comments on Carl Schmitt's Der Begriff des Politischen," in Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, translated by Georg Schwab (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1976), 90.

53. Jünger, Kampf als inneres Erlebnis (Berlin, 1922), 57.

54. Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen, 49.

55. Ibid., 33; emphasis added.

56. Ibid., 28,33.

57. See Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 3: "This new theory of war ... is nothing other than a reckless transposition of the theses of l'art pour l'art to war" (p. 240).

58. Schmitt, "Reich, Staat, Bund," in Positionen und Begriffe, 198.

Richard Wolin is Professor of History at Rice University. One of his most recent publications is Politics of Being: The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger (Columbia University Press, 1990).