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The Concept of the Political

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  816 ratings  ·  32 reviews

In this, his most influential work, legal theorist and political philosopher Carl Schmitt argues that liberalism’s basis in individual rights cannot provide a reasonable justification for sacrificing oneself for the state—a critique as cogent today as when it first appeared. George Schwab’s introduction to his translation of the 1932 German edition highlights Schmitt’s int

ebook, 159 pages
Published August 15th 2010 by Not Avail (first published 1927)
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Schmitt was a Nazi, or at least closely associated with them. Let's get that ugly fact out in front of the bullet-speckled walls. He penned anti-Semitic articles and openly praised the Nazi government during the Night of the Long Knives. Why he did this is still up to historical debate.

But Schmitt survives as something a more than a historical curio or a naked apologist for terror because of the originality of his ideas and how they still matter. Just a few weeks ago, I read a paper by none oth
Justin Evans
Two ways to make a big deal of a book: make sure its author was momentarily a Nazi, and, by the logical principle of contagion, follow the logic: author was a nazi --> book is certainly nazified; reader reader book --> reader becomes a nazi. Bam! This is the most dangerous book you'll ever read!

Except it's barely 'political' in that sense at all, and is more of an essay than a book. The thought process is clear and not unreasonable: if there's something called politics, it must have certa
Matthew W
Carl Schmitt, like Martin Heidegger, has the scary Nazi stain permanently covering his philosophical legacy. Despite his "tainted" reputation, "The Concept of the Political" is still regarded by those on the "right" and "left", as one of the best overviews on how politics work (or more like how they don't work).

Schmitt brings up such things as how whenever the leaders of a country want to go and mass murderer a bunch of people in war, the leaders go on about protecting "humanity." Of course, th
“The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy”. A very interesting exploration of what the political and non-political realm encompasses, a detailed categorization of different types of conflicts, as well as a strong criticism of liberalism as a system which destroys democracy (the way Schmitt understood and accepted democracy). Asserts the need of having a strong state as the decision maker and the ultimate power.
You'd think a "Nazi philosopher" would be on the outs, but serious, modern, liberal people are more into him than ever. Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule are really into him, and they make his work the basis for their new theory of the American Constitution in "The Executive Unbound." Apparently you cannot dismiss him--perhaps he is at bottom incoherent and ultimately a very bad guy--but you cannot dismiss some of his concerns. I'm still trying to figure out what to think.
Dan Richter
Carl Schmitt – Der Begriff des Politischen

Was für eine ungeheure Bildungslücke muss ich hier, siebzehn Jahre nach Beendigung meines Studiums schließen. Warum hat man uns damals Carl Schmitt nicht zur Lektüre empfohlen, anstatt auf ihn wie auf eine ansteckende Krankheit zu referieren?
Die Klarheit der Theoriebildung ist beeindruckend. Immer wieder muss ich denken: Er nimmt Luhmann vorweg. Zunächst entschlackt Schmitt den Begriff des Politischen von allen begrifflichen Nebenschauplätzen. Von der Re
As Richard Bernstein once called out to a friend of mine while she was reading this book:

"Don't be seduced!"
Schmitt argues that the basic distinction in politics is between friend and foe, in its extremity this leads to war, which the state alone can declare. The enemy is not necessarily morally evil or an economic competitor. The enemy is not a private enemy, but a public one.
There is an emphasis on the real enemy, real war, not the symbolic or metaphorical
The political has been lost to politics, that is the politics of sovereignty has been overcome by liberal efforts to constrain the politics by law
Pedro José
Now this book is not for everyone. It's cryptic and sparse language is difficult to digest, and if one is not on level with Schmitt's vast erudition, it can be hard to follow. Also, his arguments are based on massive amounts of assumptions that are not made entirely explicit all the time.

Regardless of all this, however, I find Carl Schmitt to be one of the greatest political thinkers of the twentieth century. Whatever one thinks of him, he poses one of the most formidable challenges to liberal
I'm glad I read through Leo Strauss' notes at the end, as the concept of "good" and "evil" being based upon "not dangerous" and "dangerous" gives me more to think about with respect to morality and anti-politics.

Schmitt, despite having detestable political leaning, was highly influential for Benjamin, Foucault, and Agamben, and the idea of friend and enemy carries through all of their works.
Pat Blanchfield
Dec 20, 2007 Pat Blanchfield rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
What a wham-bam shazzam tour-de-force! After finishing it, I'm not sure if I'm leaning more left or rightwards.

"It is a manifest fraud to condemn war as homicide and then demand of men that they wage war, kill and be killed, so that there will never again be war. War, the readiness of combatants to die, the physical killing of human beings who belong on the side of the enemy - all this has no normative meaning but an existential meaning only, particularly in a real combat situation with a real
Juan Pablo
De todos los libros que tuve que leer para Teoría Política,. este fue lejos el mejor. Pero una precaución: no estarecomendado para ilusos, utópicos, idealistas. Es para quien quiera llegar a "la esencia" de la política, que para Schmitt radica en el "conflicto", no verbal o económico, sino que "existencial", es decir, la oposición específicamente política es la de amigo-enemigo, y se define porque al menos existe la eventualidad de matarse mutuamente.
LA crítica al concepto de Estado tradicional,
While riding the subway to work and reading this one morning, a friend of mine flagged me down and cringed when she saw what I was reading. "What's that about?" she asked, and I responded "Well, not to spoil the surprise, but at the end like ten million people die."

Blank stare in response although I don't know whether it was because she got the joke, or because she didn't.

The companion material in this book does a pretty good job of elaborating on Schmitt's ideas; Schmitt himself is a pretty rea
Timmy Stolz
A seminal reading in the theory of political realism and illiberal political philosophy. While I find Schmitt's friend/enemy distinction illuminating in how the State operates, I always question a heavy handed use and the validity of binaries in metaphysics, aesthetics, and political philosophy. He inherits much from Admiral Clausewitz in his discussion on war.
Luke Echo
I was surprised by the Existentialist aspect of Schmitt's arguments.
Daniel Atzori
By defining 'the concept of the political' as the friend-enemy grouping, Schmitt articulates an incisive critique of liberalism and of its alleged attempt of 'neutralizing the political' by depoliticizing the economy. Schmitt affirms the importance of reviving the political which, in his view, has been concealed by liberalism. Leo Strauss' notes are important to understand the distance between Hobbes and Schmitt, since the former is seen as the father of liberalism, and the latter as his most or ...more
A very interesting essay by Schmitt, widely considered to be his most influential work. The language is clearly dated, and the translation is a bit odd in parts (particularly regarding how Schmitt's noted are just incorporated into the text rather than footnoted). However, it is a good book and key to understanding the development of 20th century political thought in general and totalitarianism in particular.
Andrew Maxwell
Trying to understand Schmitt in the 'light' of Straussianism (itself an unnatural construction) and a historicist conception of liberalism. Struggling with the de facto statism and what strikes me as a romantic essentializing of binary antagonism, quite apart from any system that might guide one's choice of affines. Not a little problematic in that Schmitt was so damn poor in choosing his own.
Jack Lindgren
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sadly known for spawning the execrable neo-cons through the machinations of one Leo Strauss, Schmitt should be better known for being an arch-realist political thinker, focused on power and authority rather than idealistic ephemera. Schmitt could be considered the culmination of the Latin legitimists like de Maistre and Cortes, taking their philosophy into the 20th century.
schmitt suggests that the concept of the political is rooted in the "friend-enemy" distinction. not a moral enemy, a business enemy...but an existential "other" that always implies the possibility of conflict and war. it's eerie how this book, written in the late 20's, speaks very much to the current political landscape - i mean, US and china? yeah.
Miles Maftean
I liked it, strictly for the critique it presents for a liberal constitutionalist democracy. I might not necessarily agree with the substance of his argument, but he has quite the realist outlook on politics and makes sure not to have too much intellectual hogwash in his conceptualization.
Steven Wedgeworth
Schmitt is a challenging thinker, and not a little controversial, but he makes some very sound criticisms of late liberalism. His critique of wars and political forces that seek world domination in the name of humanity, justice, or other abstract values is very necessary for today.
A frank explanation of politics, and the fact of an ever-present adversary in some form. No 'political science' is really science, and most 'political theory' is nonsense, but Schmitt seems to be saying things that match up with reality here.

I need to read this again.
William Durden
I've taken up this work in my graduate studies. Schmitt argues that the basis for politics is the distinction made between friend and enemy, that this distinction is public and not private, and that there is Greco-Christian precedent for such a distinction.
When I give this book "five stars," what I mean is, "I wrote my thesis on it." Schmitt became my main focus in grad school. I would hardly say I loved this book, but it's an essential part of my life as a scholar.
what it takes to be a real asshole

here's a link to a relevant article, that puts this book in it's place.
So much theory, so neatly packed into such a thin book. Hard to agree Schmitt and his ideas, but he argues well
right we are pro-dictatorship here.
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Carl Schmitt's early career as an academic lawyer falls into the last years of the Wilhelmine Empire. (See for Schmitt's life and career: Bendersky 1983; Balakrishnan 2000; Mehring 2009.) But Schmitt wrote his most influential works, as a young professor of constitutional law in Bonn and later in Berlin, during the Weimar-period: Political Theology, presenting Schmitt's theory of sovereignty, appe ...more
More about Carl Schmitt...
Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy Theory of the Partisan: Intermediate Commentary on the Concept of the Political The Nomos of the Earth: In the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes: Meaning and Failure of a Political Symbol

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“The political enemy need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly; he need not appear as an economic competitor, and it may even be advantageous to engage with him in business transactions. But he is, nevertheless, the other, the stranger; and it is sufficient for his nature that he is, in a specially intense way, existentially something different and alien, so that in the extreme case conflicts with him are possible. These can neither be decided by a previously determined general norm nor by the judgment of a disinterested and therefore neutral third party.” 0 likes
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