Una crítica de Carl Schmitt (Benno Teschke, 2011)
The publication of Carl Schmitt's The Nomos of the Earth and his Theory of the Partisan) has provoked a second wave in the Anglo-American Schmitt reception and beyond. Whereas the first wave of Schmittiana in the 1980s was largely an exploration of his critique of liberalism and parliamentary democracy – and thus confined to domestic political theory and legal studies – this second revival has extended Schmitt's reach to international political and legal theory.
Paradoxically, Schmitt's double attraction as a modern classic on the executive state and a significant figure against liberal universalism has led to a convergence – perhaps in a surprising complexio oppositorum – between the neo-Conservative Right and the post-Marxist Left…. This has positioned the neo-Schmittian literature simultaneously to the right and to the left of the predominant Kantian cosmopolitanism in the field of IR, outflanking the liberal mainstream in a pincer movement
- neo-Schmittian critique of a revitalized just war tradition, the re-moralization and juridification of international politics, and cosmopolitan humanitarian intervention (Zolo
- total war and liberal world-ordering, and the end of interstate politics and political geography threatened by the ‘spaceless universalism’ of an Anglo-American imperialism (Žižek
- In addition, it also enabled a new reading of the return to the politics of the exception (Hardt and Negri
- and a reappraisal of the figure of the partisan, the terrorist, and new modes of irregular warfare Mouffe
category of the nomos, conceived as a unity of law and space. Its attraction resides in its apparent ability to function as a fundamental world-ordering device, enabling a macro-periodization and interpretation of world history in terms of a succession of distinct nomoi – from the Conquista and the absolutist interstate order, via Britain's sea-appropriation and the US-designed post-Versailles transformation of international law, to Hitler's Großraumpolitik and beyond. Each new nomos was initiated by, and grounded in, comprehensive world-order constitutive acts of land-appropriation, referred to as ‘spatial revolutions’. In each case, ‘spatial revolutions’ reconfigured the relations between the spatial structure of world politics and the changing role of international law in mediating inter-spatial relations.
Tesis centrales de Schmitt
1) political decisionism (politics of the exception),
2) concept of the political (friend/enemy distinction), a
3) concrete-order-thinking (land-appropriations as determinants of changes in international law and order).
As Schmitt's intellectual preoccupations moved from constitutional to international law during the mid-1930s, he realized that political decisionism was insufficient to capture the geopolitics of land-appropriations and spatial revolutions, which he now privileged as foundational world order… This shift from decisionism to concrete-order-thinking as a sociologically enhanced new type of juristic thought was meant to remedy this explanatory vacuum
- Yet, Schmitt's rendition of the sociological that drove geopolitical expansion never incorporated the social sources and social processes that caused geopolitical conflict, spatial revolutions, and world-order projects.
- This resulted in a gap between the objectives of his theoretical premises and his de-sociologized and de-subjectified historiography that regressed into the power-political reifications of geopolitics as such.
- This suppression and elimination of social relations was already prefigured in his concept of the political – an ontologized friend/enemy distinction – that now informed his concept of the geopolitical
El muy válido procedimiento de contextualizar a Schmitt
- It situates Schmitt's intellectual production within his politics and his explicit and ideologically super-charged view of concept-formation as political combat
- Schmitt's politics of concept-formation – a political sociology of concept-formation and, ultimately, an ideology-critique. Schmitt's considerations on concept-formation warrant this procedure as his work is littered with sharp and apodictic assertions, encapsulated exemplarily in his axiomatic statement that ‘all political concepts, images and terms have a polemical meaning (in the literal meaning of Greek polemos, i.e. war). They are focused on a specific conflict and are bound to a concrete situation’
- Elsewhere, Schmitt avers that intellectual labour invariably involves ‘the forging and re-forging of scientific concepts as political concepts in a wider ongoing struggle over existential autonomy, individually and collectively’
- legal innovations and conceptual neologisms that accompany modern American imperialism, Schmitt notes that ‘he who has real power is also capable of determining concepts and words… a German legal–political counter-vocabulary was required to regain spiritual and existential autonomy in a geopolitical struggle for survival.
- For the neo-Schmittian tendency to provide a de-contextualized and de-politicized account of Schmitt's recasting of international thought, dissociated from his concrete intellectual project, contradicts and remains unaligned to Schmitt's own method of concept-formation
Contexto 1: La política como soberanía autoritaria en una situación de emergencia
- Schmitt formulated his definition of sovereignty in terms of political decisionism as an ultra-authoritarian solution to the intractable crisis of the Weimar Republic, destabilized by coup d’États, strikes, civil unrest, and revolutions.
- The option for defining sovereignty in terms of the exception was not the result of a dispassionate and scholarly observation on the ultimate locus of sovereignty, but a politicized and normative intervention into the jurisprudential debates on the interpretation of Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution – the scope of presidential emergency powers and executive government by decree for the restoration of social order.
Contexto 2: La política como distinción entre amigo/enemigo
- Similarly, the attempt to define the political in terms of an existentialist, ontological, and agonal friend/enemy grouping served the purpose to unify a fragmented industrial and mass-democratic society as a homogeneous community against outside threats and to redeem Weimar Germany's lost right to conduct war.
Contexto 3: surgimiento del Nomos, las “apropiaciones de tierra” y las revoluciones espaciales
- Equally, Schmitt's reinterpretation of the history of international law during the 1930s and 1940s is bound to the concrete situation of the intellectual and political crisis of legitimacy generated by Hitler's spatial revolution, for which Schmitt offered the most incisive and comprehensive politico-jurisprudential justification, grounded in concrete-order-thinking
- Consequently, Schmitt's research-organizing Leitmotiv revolves around the central axis of the pre-juridical and legitimacy-constituting act of ‘land-appropriation’ that establishes a radical title to land and, by extension, a new nomos of the earth
- The Nomos, written between 1942 and 1945, and Land and Sea, published in 1942, were conceived as long historico-legal detours to accumulate the intellectual resources and arguments to legitimize Hitler's Raumrevolution – a rewriting of history by one of the leading intellectuals of the ascendant axis-power
La era dorada del derecho público internacional (1492/1648 hasta 1919) (Schmitt, throughout the course of the book, progressively shortens the duration of the ius publicum lasting ‘for 400 years’, for ‘300 years’, and finally ‘for more than two centuries’)
- as a functioning system of legal norms, regulating the excesses of interstate anarchy in a geopolitical pluriverse without erasing the essence of sovereign statehood: the public decision to conduct war
- This unity of space and law – termed by Schmitt as nomos in contradistinction to the universal medieval and liberal-capitalist cosmos – revolved around the core categories of the state as the only legitimate subject of war and peace, secularized and absolute state sovereignty, the executive as the final arbiter over the state of exception, the idea of iustus hostis (just enemy) and the associated concept of ‘non-discriminatory war’.
- This arrogation of the monopoly of violence by plural absolutist states formalized a double distinction – between public and private, de-legitimizing and de-militarizing private actors (lords, cities, estates, pirates, military orders) while elevating the public state to the only subject of international law and politics, and between inside and outside, separating a domestically neutralized and pacified ‘civil society’ from an international sphere of interstate war and peace. This dualism fortified the distinction between public international law and private criminal law.
- This move towards a ‘non-discriminatory concept of war’ entailed, according to Schmitt, the ‘bracketing of war’ – including its civilization, rationalization, and humanization – and a clear distinction between belligerents and neutrals, combatants and non-combatants, states of war and states of peace
- The ius ad bellum came to be divorced from ‘just cause’ considerations (iusta causa), which were declared immaterial for determining the legitimacy of war. This gave rise to the notion of a ‘non-discriminatory concept of war’, which superseded medieval just war doctrines. Thus, juridically externalized, the reasons for war-declarations were placed outside any legal, moral, or political judgment, implying the retention of the status of the enemy, even during and after war, as a just enemy, rather than its demotion to a foe, criminal, or barbarian
- Morality, in that sense, came to be divorced from politics proper. A destructive moral universalism, as expressed in the 15th and 16th century wars of religion, was replaced by a salutary moral relativism in interstate relations. Accordingly, the ius publicum implied a decisive rupture with medieval just war theories, grounded in the moral universalism of the respublica christiana.
El Tratado de Versalles termina con la era dorada del derecho público internacional
- This line of reasoning was powerfully invoked by Schmitt against the post-World War I (WWI) criminalization of the German Reich as an ‘outlaw nation’, whose distinctly political status as a sovereign state was revoked by the ‘Versailles Diktat’
- As Germany was not admitted to the peace negotiations, and as ‘war guilt’ and ‘war crime’ were not juridical concepts in interstate relations (nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege), their formulation and intrusion into international law after 1919 transformed public interstate law into an incipient world domestic law, starting to re-moralize and juridify the inter-political by introducing a new ‘discriminatory concept of war’
- This move castrated, according to Schmitt, the essence of the political – the sovereign decision to go to war against an enemy
- Worse, the Wilsonian invocation of the concept of humanity reconnected post-Versailles conceptions of international law to medieval just war doctrines that contained a tendency towards the total negation of the formerly ‘just enemy’ and its degradation to an enemy of mankind – a non-human
- Correlatively, it generated a new and distinct liberal way of war – more total in its war aims than the bracketed and limited wars of pre-1914 Europe – as it aimed, next to the killing of non-humans, at the direct transformation of politics, society, and subjectivities: the making of liberal subjects.
- and the structural impossibility of concluding peace in the absence of a legal enemy – a war without end…war to end all wars’, being paradoxically total in purpose and unending in space and time
- Beyond this deployment of Schmitt, some neo-Schmittians re-mobilize, normatively, Schmitt's idea of Großraum – a greater territorial space or a pan-region – as the elementary building block for an anti-cosmopolitan, anti-universal organization of international order, based on a plurality of coexisting Großräume, each one under the leadership of an imperial nation.
- Against the imminent threat of a ‘spaceless universalism’, pan-regions are meant to provide guarantees against the homogenization of the world into a liberal flatland – essential for the maintenance of difference and pluralism – indeed essential for the very possibility of the political, the friend/enemy distinction, encased in mutually exclusive regional blocs
Decisionismo, soberanía y emergencia
- Schmitt famously redefined sovereignty from the angle of the emergency situation, captured by Schmitt's decisionism, forged during the early Weimar period in his critique of Kelsen's legal normativism
- As legal norms could only function in normal situations, legal normativism was liable to a de-personalized, apolitical, and ahistorical blindness. Sovereignty, according to Schmitt, is not invested in the state as an impersonal and objective legal subject (an aggregate of rules and statutes), but intermittently crystallizes if and when political crises and social disorder – liminal situations – escape constitutional norms
- Decisionism captures the idea that sovereignty resides ultimately in that power that can declare and enforce the state of exception, suspending the constitution in an emergency, whose declaration cannot be derived from extant legal norms and standard procedures of decision making
- The sovereign decision is a self-referential and unmediated act of authority – singular, absolute, and final. Jurisprudentially, it appears ex nihilo. This discretionary element of ‘political surplus-value’ re-established the primacy of politics over the rule of law. Legality does not exhaust legitimacy.
Política como amigo/enemigo y democracia
- within the inside, that which had to be externalized. This precipitated a redefinition of the meaning of democracy. For Schmitt, ‘democracy requires therefore, first homogeneity and second – if the need arises – elimination or eradication of heterogeneity’ (Schmitt 1985a, 9), rather than the ‘perennial discussions’ of parliamentarian democracy grounded in liberal pluralism
- Democracy, according to Schmitt, is thus redefined in identitarian terms as the direct representation of a unified people (Volk) by the political leadership, possibly weakly mediated by irregular acts of spontaneous acclamation and plebiscitary elements that intermittently renew the bond between the leader and the led – the national myth of direct democracy
“Pensamiento ordenado concretamente” y “apropiaciones territoriales”
- Although Schmitt criticized through decisionism legal normativism ‘from above’, his growing interest in international law and geopolitics precipitated a move after 1933 towards an alternative method – concrete-order-thinking – which attacked normativism and decisionism ‘from below’
- Neither normativism nor decisionism had an answer to the question what foundational ur-act of legitimacy precedes acts of international legality.
- It is premised on a single thesis, stating that all legal orders are concrete, territorial orders, founded by an original, constitutive act of land-capture
- act of appropriating, dividing, and pasturing. ‘Nomos is the immediate form in which the political and social order of a people becomes spatially visible
- The great land-appropriating powers are the historical carriers of international law projects. Legal concepts have spatial origins. Might generates right.
- Schmitt vacillates between three poles of explanation – the Discoveries (1492), the rise of the absolutist state (1648), and English balancing (1713).(retener elementos de emergencia superestructura capitalista) In the end, he fails to clarify their interrelation and causal hierarchy
- This explanatory vagueness is compounded by an unsure periodicity and an untenable idealization of the form and substance of early modern international relations.
- But none of these fragmented causes, even combined, can explain the nomos-constituting act of the Discoveries – Schmitt's ur-cause – and link it to the rise of the Westphalian interstate system. The problem of causality extends to the very core object of Schmitt's analysis – the European nomos
Primera revolución espacial: la época de los descubrimientos (1492-1648)
- If this sounds like the tautological identification of power with legitimacy that generates legality
- If Schmitt's institutional historicism immunizes against the timeless verities of realist provenance, it embraces simultaneously an asociological and non-geopolitical stance that fails to decipher the encounter between the land-appropriating and land-owning group: the nature of 16th Century Spanish absolutism, the relations between the Conquistadores and the Spanish Crown
- The native Amerindians remain missing from his account of the regionally differentiated resolutions of land and property conflicts in the Americas… They are nullified and written out of history
- The concrete processes of land-appropriation, distribution, and property-relations in the Americas – the geopolitical encounter with the natives as historical subjects – remain not only off-screen
- Quite paradoxically, that the Conquests did not precipitate the ‘spatial revolution’ and the subsequent rise of the new European interstate nomos that he generically associated with the enclosure processes overseas
- The first repartition of the oceans after the Discoveries in form of the rayas (divisional lines) meant the territorialization of the seas and the newly discovered lands. America, the Atlantic (and the Pacific) remained firmly within the reach of the late medieval pre-global law-governed cosmos of the res publica Christiana, including the papal missionary mandate and the just war doctrine over and against non-Christians
- Schmitt, as an interim result, provides ample evidence – rayas, scholasticism, res publica Christiana – that the Discoveries, rather than dissolving the old medieval cosmos, were jurisprudentially assimilated to prevailing discourses of Christian expansion and aligned to late medieval practices of conditional territorialization
Segunda revolución espacial: Absolutismo (1648-…)
- the decisive passage from the ius gentium to the ius publicum europaeum is now precipitated by the rise of the state…Schmitt equates the generic term ‘state’ with the absolutist state.
- And as the absolutist state was pre-representational or pre-parliamentarian, as it conceived of itself as legibus absoluta, it provided the ideal-type for Schmitt's theory of the ‘modern state’, encapsulated in its decisionist nature, that is, the power to decide by dint of authority and not debate or legal normativity – ‘absolved from law’
- But if Schmitt's account of the rise of the absolutist interstate system is substantively causally unrelated to the Discoveries – occasional verbal counter-assertions notwithstanding
- His analysis proceeds at the level of a de-contextualized interpretation of a selection of political theorists, eclectically mobilized to construct an ideal-type of absolutism and the attendant ius publicum.10 The corollary is an idealized, de-sociologized and historiographically discredited politicist account of absolutism, supplemented by an à la lettre acceptance of the legal normativism in international law, which Schmitt condemned so unequivocally in relation to the Weimar public law, weakly codified in le droit public de l'Europe
- This pretence to legality by the Great Powers is characteristically un-Schmittian. Logically speaking, the legal groundlessness of the subjective decision should have operated in external relations as much as in internal relations – a conclusion that Schmitt failed to draw.
- Sovereignty did not belong to the state as a de-personalized and autonomous sphere of the political, but was a property of the Crown or the ruling dynastic family – it was personalized
- Sovereignty could never be exercised over and above ‘societal interests’; rather, absolutism relied on ‘social collaboration’ (Beik 2005) with an increasingly amorphous ruling class, most notably the regional and court nobility of both aristocratic and bourgeois origin, including the financiers, tax-farmers, jurists, and the venal office nobility. This rendered the exercise of absolute sovereignty dependent on social coalitions and interests: indeed, re-privatizing its absolutist pretences, as the bombastic court society of Versailles
- Absolutism was not de-theologized, secularized, and neutralized either. Rather, early modern polities were confessionalized dynastic-composite states claiming a sacralized form of sovereignty
- Although the age of absolutism did break with the trans-territorial theological absolutism of the Vatican, it simultaneously fragmented the unitary confessional papal claims and reassembled them across the spectrum of a pluriverse of creedal mini-absolutisms post-1555 and post-1648
- did not endorse religious toleration at the level of private subjects, but sanctioned the right of regional rulers to determine and enforce, if in internationally agreed form, the faith of the land. In the French case, the nascent absolutist state did not simply guard over the de-politicized and neutral character of domestic politics and religion, but actively established during the Reformation and the Wars of Religion (1562–98) its catholic absolutism in a violent, directly politicized century-long campaign, leading to the repression and expulsion of the Huguenots with the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685)
- Yet, even within Schmitt's own analysis, there is ample evidence that absolutism failed to generate the distinction between the private and the public, dominium and imperium….princely “houses”, such as the Hapsburg and the Bourbon, i.e. the great dynastic families, aggregated various crowns under one power, such as the Bohemian and the Hungarian, as well as lands, rights of succession, and other legal titles. They became and remained, into the 18th century, the true agents of European politics and, thus, also the subjects of international law… These sovereign persons created and sustained the ius publicum europaeum, thereby maintaining their mutual relations with one another as human individuals, clearly not as small men, such as private individuals dominated by the state, but as “great men” and personae publicae
- Furthermore, the rise of the ius publicum was internal to European politics, resting on a double narrative of spatio-temporally diverging Anglo–French developmental trajectories, geopolitically articulated and synchronized from 1713 onwards.
Tercera revolución espacial: equilibrio inglés (1713…)
- had transformed the European terrestrial order by introducing the antithesis between firm land and free sea, opening up two distinct spatial orders. They were characterized by regulated interstate wars on terra firma and anarchy ‘beyond the line’
- While this initial period undermined Spanish maritime supremacy and hardened a tough-minded amphibious national character, England only fully embraced this ‘maritime existence’, based on its ‘sea-appropriation’, at Utrecht….England alone took the step from a medieval feudal and terrestrial existence to a purely maritime existence that balanced the whole terrestrial world. (…) England thereby became the representative of the universal maritime sphere of a Eurocentric global order, the guardian of the other side of the ius publicum europaeum, the sovereign of the balance of land and sea – of an equilibrium comprising the spatially ordered thinking of international law
- Schmitt concludes with a broad analogy: ‘There is a historical and structural relation between such spatial concepts of free sea, free trade, and world economy, and the idea of free space in which to pursue free competition and free exploitation’
- In this sense, the new ‘beyond the line’ only extended prevailing practices of militarized trading routes – armed merchant-men and convoy-sailing tactics – characteristic of the age of mercantilism. This did not imply free economic competition, governed by competitiveness and market-pricing, but free politico-military competition, creating a morally and legally unencumbered state of nature ‘beyond the line’. Free trade across open seas had to wait until the 19th century.
- But if capitalist free trade was not the inner secret of England's 17th Century ‘spatial revolution’, the island was, according to Schmitt, decisive in dissolving the terrestrial-Christian order and in altering and co-determining, from 1713 onwards, the ius publicum – a rupture that opens up an explanatory vacuum amply filled with geo-elemental reifications and mythological allusions. ‘So it came that England became the heiress, the universal heiress of that great change in the existence of the European nations. How was that possible’
Emergencia de la Guerra total y el universalismo liberal
- This thesis was encapsulated in his notion of a non-discriminatory concept of war among iusti hostes – a claim that ties the rise of ‘total war’ to the liberal universalism of the French Revolution and, more decisively, to the Anglo-American age of liberal international law
La época dorada del derecho público internacional fue en realidad un período de intensas y prolongadas guerras
- Although the demise of medieval feuding through the arrogation of sovereignty and the ius belli ac pacis by multiple dynasties had decisively transformed the subjects and nature of warfare, it simultaneously augmented its magnitude, frequency, duration, intensity, and costs
- In addition, absolutist sovereignty gave military conflict an unlimited, irrational, and de-humanized character that could not be controlled by the amorphous collection of texts (treaties, diplomatic protocols, juridical treatises) that constituted the ius publicum
- These developments have prompted scholars of early modern Europe to characterize the age of absolutism as the age of the ‘military revolution’, the ‘permanent-war state’ and the ‘fiscal-military state’ – an age organized for warfare
- But in contradistinction to what the neo-Weberian literature tends to argue – war made states and states made wars – the mismatch between public resources and military expenses changed in the longue durée the sociopolitical complexion of anciens régimes and ultimately destroyed the very financial-fiscal foundations of the absolutist interstate system. Its dynamics did not lead to a self-reinforcing dialectic between war and modern state-making, but to a destructive downward spiral driven by military overstretch, financial bankruptcies, and social revolt – the unmaking of the absolutist state (Teschke 2003). This was linked to the superior military-fiscal and economic capacities of the capitalist constitutional monarchy of balancing Britain
- It finally prepared, in conjunction with the Britain-monitored and balanced ‘Concert of Europe’, the 19th Century Hundred Years’ Peace – an empirical result un-noted by Schmitt, which also counters his thesis that this century belongs to the liberal era of ‘total war’ (criticar)
- Inflation in numbers, in conjunction with innovations in weapons technology, translated into a new quality… For example, at the end of the Seven Years’ War, casualty figures in the Prussian Army stood at 180,000 soldiers, which was the equivalent of two-thirds of the Prussian army, and one-ninth of the Prussian population
- Scale and intensity, in turn, were radicalized by the frequency of war. Quincy Wright noted an uninterrupted rise in the incidence of major battles during this period, before we see a significant reduction in the 19th century (Wright 1964, 641–44). This was compounded by their prolonged duration.
- In this context, war aims were not ‘limited’, but assumed an imperial, totalizing character, as Europe was regarded by dynastic rulers as a kind of property-map…the horizontal need to accumulate territories – led to intense re-distributional conflicts among the personalized owners of sovereignty in zero-sum conflicts over limited European territory. The divisions of Poland exemplify this totalizing logic
- Wars were not ended by rational design, but by mutual exhaustion and financial-military attrition, leading to unsustainable public debts and, repeatedly, to public bankruptcies.
- These deepened the concessions that rulers had to make to their nobilities, tax-farmers, and financiers. But as absolute sovereignty was essentially a contested institution – relying on an unstable compromise between dynasties and their nobilities – war-endings also blended quickly over into prolonged civil wars
- The conduct of war was not humanized, either in terms of ius in bello, or in terms of a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants. The effects of war on civilian populations were devastating. As war-logistics were not properly developed and soldiers lacked permanent provisioning, early modern armies lived ‘off the land’, either from looting and pillaging on foreign soil, or by way of sequestration and ransom
- The absence of a clear set of rules and powers of enforcement concerning the treatment of prisoners and non-combatants implied their ransom for money or other prisoners, if they were not killed outright
- Forced conscription of civilians was a common practice. Any sociology of contemporary armies shows that in spite of all the (Weberian and Foucauldian) emphasis on the increasingly rationalized, professionalized, and disciplined character of the new standing armies, soldiers were generally not salaried bureaucrats, but ‘in pay’ of noble officers who had usually themselves bought their military commissions. Armies were not public armies, but precisely ‘the king's armies’; yet, essentially beyond their disciplinary control
- War was not, as Schmitt suggests, an intermittent, temporally limited, and formalized affair of a polity's outward relations, neatly divorced from the inner constitution of pre-existing entities, but the central preoccupation of early modern polities that directly penetrated their internal constitution and their very raison d’être… Schmitt's metaphorical depiction of early modern warfare as a gentlemanly ‘duel’ – a civilized affair – is a mystification. It is grounded in an abstract-literal reading of the ius publicum
¿La época del liberalismo universalizante? (1918…)
- For the inclusion of the Monroe-Doctrine into the Covenant did not only exclude the Western Hemisphere from the League's jurisdiction
- the League also lacked authority to deal with relations between states within the Western Hemisphere who were also League members (Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo, Panama, Nicaragua) and with relations between them and European states
- This strategy, according to Neil Smith, presented a political project of global domination – the rationalization of global space driven by a non-territorial capitalist imperialism for American ‘economic Lebensraum’.This rested on the central insight that economic expansion could be de-coupled from territorial aggrandizement, divorcing political geography from international accumulation….Where Schmitt excavates the roots of the new universal order, he is pressed into an analysis of the IPE of American world order – falsifying his axiomatic statement that every international legal order is grounded in an original act of land-appropriation
- But although liberal international institutionalism and a capitalist world market were clearly designed to restructure the Continent, this did not and could not precipitate a turn towards a non-political ‘spaceless universalism’ as it did not erase the European interstate system. Schmitt overlooked the qualitative difference between an America-centric universal empire and an America-supervised European interstate system…. In fact, Mussolini's turn towards a mare nostrum conception and Nazi Germany's progressive construction of an autarchic economic Lebensraum and security zone are the clearest examples of the limits of the apolitical ‘spaceless universalism’ ascribed to the American project.
- What Schmitt, contrary to his own diagnosis, was witnessing in the interwar years was the making of an inter-spatial European regionalism, territorially re-configured at Versailles, transnationally better integrated, constitutionally assimilated and internationally codified in the League, supervised from afar by a politically absent isolationist US and, closer to home, by the weakly committed powers of France and Britain. No spaceless universalism was on the historical agenda. Schmitt had to wait until after WWII, when the combination of US-American political and economic presence on German soil – military occupation plus Marshall Plan plus Truman Doctrine – moved Europe a step closer to the spacelessness that he had already envisaged for the interwar period. But even this did not generate a state-cancelling universal empire
Crítica al decisionismo
- Analytically, Schmitt's notion of the extra-legal decision that instantiates the politics of the exception is little more than a passe-partout that can be ‘applied’ to an indiscriminate range of polities under duress that turn to emergency powers.
- The application of Schmittian concepts to the exception can only descriptively confirm a posteriori an already instituted state of affairs as a fait accompli, whose explanation is outside their remit and whose critique cannot be formulated from within the Schmittian vocabulary
- As Schmitt's method is bereft of any sociology of power, decisionism lacks the analytics to identify what balance of sociopolitical forces activates in what kind of situation the politics of the exception and fear
- For the state of exception is never a non-relational creation ex nihilo – a unique and self-referential event equivalent to the miracle in theology – as it remains bound to the social by an indispensable act of calculation preceding its declaration with regard to its chances of implementation, public compliance or resistance by those upon whom it bears – the social relations of sovereignty. The exception remains quintessentially inserted in a relation of power whose reference point remains the social.
- Schmitt's concept of sovereignty remains not only de-socialized, but curiously de-politicized, as he seeks to identify an Archimedean point not only outside society, but equally outside politics conventionally understood, super-insulated from any sociopolitical contestation, in order to govern not only against society, but to neuter domestic politics altogether – ultra-sovereignty. This extra-political vantage point is deliberately chosen – and here political theology and hyper-authoritarianism converge – to pinpoint that chimerical location that re-stabilizes social processes from nowhere – ex nihilo – yet with overwhelming force
- Sovereignty defined in terms of the exception constitutes a legal–political category and cannot explain what provokes and comprises concrete states of emergency as real historical phenomena
Crítica al “pensamiento ordenado concretamente” y las “apropiaciones territoriales”
- Yet, concrete-order-jurisprudence fails to provide guidance as to what processes drive the politics of land-appropriation, enemy-declarations, and world-ordering, leading to an asociological and curiously non-geopolitical – in the sense of geopolitics as an inter-subjective encounter between polities – stance
- Schmitt's law-antecedent act of land-appropriation, which generated the meta-juridical legitimacy upon which international legality is erected, is itself divorced from any further theoretical determinations. The ‘concrete’ is largely the factual
- And if the nomos-constitutive acts of conquests are socially disembowelled, the relevance of land-appropriations was already historically overtaken by the largely non-territorial and concrete-order-transcending nature of the US-American form of capitalist hegemony, which rendered Schmitt's concrete-order-jurisprudence anachronistic already at the time of his writing
Crítica a la política como distinción amigo/enemigo
- And as Schmitt's definition of the political referred to the intensification of unspecified antagonisms only – as it refers to the quality of antagonisms and not to a specific political process or substances (economic, cultural, ethnic, constitutional, etc.) – it lacks any indication as to which dynamics activate and intensify latent geopolitical differences to the point of open friend/enemy distinctions – or, indeed: forms of international accommodation and cooperation
- Which sociopolitical interests and conflicts around the control of the state and the direction of public policy – beyond an elementary and ontologized notion of existential national autonomy – politicize, de-politicize, and re-politicize geopolitical differences as liminal situations that call for emergency powers and the declaration of states of war
- Schmitt's thought contains no categories to capture the sociopolitical (civil war, revolutions, coup d’États) and geopolitical crises (war, terrorism, irregular warfare) against which he developed his vocabulary of law and order ‘from above’….Ultimately, Schmitt is taking politics and geopolitics out of his concept of the political. The content of the analysis lies outside his notion of the political
Crítica a la interpretación actual neoschmittiana
- But this attempt to read the history of 20th century international relations in terms of a succession of confrontations between the carrier-nations of liberal modernity and the criminalized foes at its outer margins seems unable to comprehend the complexities and specificities of ‘liberal’ world-ordering, then and now
Ejemplo 1: Alemania fascista contra eeuu liberal
- For in the cases of Wilhelmine, Weimar and fascist Germany, the assumption that their conflicts with the Anglo-American liberal-capitalist heartland were grounded in an antagonism between liberal modernity and a recalcitrant Germany outside its geographical and conceptual lines runs counter to the historical evidence. For this reading presupposes that late-Wilhelmine Germany was not already substantially penetrated by capitalism and fully incorporated into the capitalist world economy…It also assumes that the late-Weimar and early Nazi turn towards the construction of an autarchic German regionalism – Mitteleuropa or Großraum – was not deeply influenced by the international ramifications of the 1929 Great Depression, but premised on a purely political–existentialist assertion of German national identity
- Against a reading of the early 20th century conflicts between ‘the liberal West’ and Germany as ‘wars for humanity’ between an expanding liberal modernity and its political exterior, there is more evidence to suggest that these confrontations were interstate conflicts within the crisis-ridden and nationally uneven capitalist project of modernity.
Ejemplo 2: relación de occidente con estados autoriatrios en Asia y Arabia
- For how can this optic explain that the ‘liberal West’ coexisted (and keeps coexisting) with a large number of pliant authoritarian client-regimes (Mubarak's Egypt, Suharto's Indonesia, Pahlavi's Iran, Fahd's Saudi-Arabia, even Gaddafi's pre-intervention Libya, to name but a few), which were and are actively managed and supported by the West as anti-liberal Schmittian states of emergency, with concerns for liberal subjectivities and Human Rights secondary to the strategic interests of political and geopolitical stability and economic access?
- Even in the more obvious cases of Afghanistan, Iraq, and, now, Libya, the idea that Western intervention has to be conceived as an encounter between the liberal project and a series of foes outside its sphere seems to rely on a denial of their antecedent histories as geopolitically and socially contested state-building projects in pro-Western fashion, deeply co-determined by long histories of Western anti-liberal colonial and post-colonial legacies
Ejemplo 3: ¿creación de sujetos liberales o apropiación de recursos?
- Similarly, it seems unlikely that the generic idea of liberal world-ordering and the production of liberal subjectivities can actually explain why Western intervention seems improbable in some cases (e.g. Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen or Syria) and more likely in others (e.g. Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya).
Ejemplo 4: ¿política exterior yanqui como un multilateralismo kantiano?
- For Schmitt diagnosed the turn towards a multilateral, if US-directed, liberal institutionalization of world politics during the interwar years as the key mechanism for the realization of his age of neutralizations. However, 21st century United States unilateralism seems to negate this diagnosis frontally, activating Schmitt's politics of the exception. If Schmitt's original position was articulated as a critique of the Kantian–Kelsian project,… or whether United States unilateralism can be squared with the Kantian project of liberal international law
- The Bush Doctrine and its ideological underpinning, Neo-Conservatism and the ‘Project for a New American Century’, were articulated against a liberal Kelsenite legalization and institutionalization of interstate relations, embracing the distinctly Schmittian idea of the selective transcendence of the liberal rule of domestic and international law – states of exception
- the Neo-Conservative project, Schmitt and Kelsen combine to form a paradoxical (mis-)alliance, as the political use of Schmitt is reserved for the US state, supervising a Kelsenite international institutional arrangement for the lesser partners within the liberal zone of peace. Liberalism is, by definition, a broad concept, but it cannot be indefinitely expanded beyond breaking point without loosing some sense of terminological coherence
- Whereas Schmitt articulated his concepts against capitalist crisis to defend German state autonomy domestically and internationally, the neo-Conservative ideology sought to defend the domestic autonomy and international primacy of the United States state in the context of its own capitalist crisis…But neo-Conservatism was not originally articulated as a response to international terror and foreign policy considerations. It was conceived in the 1970s as an alternative state strategy for the management of domestic disorder – analogous to the original function of Schmitt's decisionism in Weimar Germany – as the long economic downturn in the United States, the fiscal crisis of the US state, and the rise of the post-welfare state precipitated the turn towards Schmittian prescriptions
- Yet, neo-Conservatism reaches beyond a static friend/enemy dualism by adding an ideologically super-charged discourse of democracy and freedom promotion – redefined as polyarchy – that transcends the mere articulation of geopolitical differences to formulate a dynamic theory of American imperialism.
- The Schmittian net result during Bush's neo-conservative presidency, sketched in the Bush Doctrine and executed in the global War on Terror, includes, inter alia, the strengthening of executive prerogatives, the doctrine of pre-emptive war, the abrogation of basic civil liberties, secret renditions and indefinite detentions, the use of torture, war crimes, the refusal to apply the Geneva Convention to prisoners of war, and the disregard of basic human rights. These measures diverge from the normal liberal conception of the domestic and international rule of law and are more in line with decisionist prescriptions for their suspension and supercession – legibus absoluta. Significant differences in policy-formation and strategy disappear from view if Bush junior is equated with Woodrow Wilson.
Even Habermas, who once opined that ‘Carl Schmitt will [not] have a similar power of contagion in the Anglo-Saxon world’ [as Nietzsche and Heidegger] (1989, 135), now renders his reflections on world politics in terms of an elementary opposition between the Kantian project and Schmitt's ultra-realism
Schmitt derived the argument about the separation between the economic and the political and its international extension, the separation between a geopolitical interstate system and a transnational capitalist world market, from Karl Marx