Politische Theologie, Bd.1, Vier Kapitel zur Lehre von der Souveränität
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Politische Theologie, Bd.1, Vier Kapitel zur Lehre von der Souveränität

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  447 ratings  ·  21 reviews
"Sovereign is he who decides on the exception." So begins Political Theology, the book that, marked Carl Schmitt as one of the most significant political and legal theoreticians of the 20th century.

Writing amid the intense political and intellectual ferment of the early Weimar Republic, Schmitt argued that the essence of sovereignty ties in the absolute authority to decid

Paperback, 70 pages
Published 1996 by Duncker & Humblot (first published 1922)
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W. C.
Forget the neoconservatives. Their bogus neo-Platonism predicated on the noble lie was a merely half backed version of their somewhat inscrutable master, Leo Strauss. No, here it is---the description of the realm of realpolitik as it is practiced by our current administration. Back in the 1920’s, Schmitt formulated what is to my mind the most succinct version of the nature of the political in its raw form: “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.” Such is the first line of the book and the...more
"Schmitt's insistence on the necessarily and irreducibly human quality of political and legal actions is key. Those who would elaborate a set of rules by which decisions can be made take human life out of politics: Schmitt is concerned to keep them. ... Decisions and judgements would always be necessary." (Tracy Strong's forward, xix)

"[W]e know that any decision about whether something is unpolitical is always a political decision." (2)

"The sovereign is he who decides on the exception." (5)

Schwab correctly calls Schmitt; The Hobbes of the 20th century.
In this book Schmitt tries to define his concept of the political sovereignty. He believes that first of all we need to define the 'exception' -not the norm- to grasp the meaning of this concept. "sovereign is he who decides on the exception." (p.5) All laws are 'situational laws.' Because in the case of emergency there exist no law. "There is no norm that is applicable to chaos." (p. 13) At the end of the day, this is the sovereign...more
Nov 24, 2007 Robert rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in politics
This book laid out a distinct political program that helped lead the way to the Third Reich's lunatic dictatorship and underpins the rationalization of any leader who acts outside the law (including several of the last American Presidents, various mob bosses, vigilantes, and world leaders all over the globe). I say all this first, lest we forget the potential dangers of this kind of thinking. But there is a solid and undeniable truth in what Schmitt says on page 30, "Every concrete juristic deci...more
In this book Schmitt explains the contradictions of an immanent legal system whereby the state of exception becomes concealed underneath a veil of laws - yet, it is the state of exception that determines the sovereign, and only with the emergence of such a state, i.e. WW2, can one observe the transcendent authority of the sovereign. Schmitt, who has been a Professor of Law in Nazi Germany, declares that a dictatorship is the only meaningful method of governance that relieves us from such contrad...more
Schmitt argues that sovereignty cannot be possessed by the law or norms, but must, in the ultimate instance, be possessed by man. It is in the exception that sovereignty is formed. Liberal constitutional order tries to repress the sovereign, but it cannot. A state of exception cannot be legal circumscribed in advance. Schmitt argues that God was present in the world until the rise of Deism (and rationalism), which took God out of the world and turned the 'miracle' into the 'exception' in the nat...more
Steven Wedgeworth
Schmitt here continues his critique of liberalism, showing that "the political" requires a notion of a sovereign to be meaningful and that this sovereign must have the power of the exception. This exception is largely rejected by liberalism, however, as it would rather view politics as a science, governed by laws. The sovereign and the exception are dependent upon a theological framework.

Schmitt shows how liberalism historically transferred theological concepts to the state and then eventually...more
I had a hard time coming up with a rating, the old should I go with what I think of the ideas contained within in (negatively viewed as it practically advocating fascism which goes to explain, in part, his Nazi ties) or the quality of the argument. A twentieth century Hobbes of sorts, I am not convinced with the arguments he comes up with (his ideas surrounding the intersection of religion and the type of sovereign people advocate for was a really interesting chapter). What made the experience r...more
Chris Schaeffer
Three stars for illuminating my understanding of juridical theory and political sovereignty in Weimar Germany. Negative two stars for literally espousing fascism. I look forward to using Schmitt in the future, and was very pleased to read him firsthand after a semester of coming across him in dimly lit footnotes and editorial asides, but Christ, come on. Still--still! Fascinating, compellingly argued, and VERY elegantly written. I can see why Benjamin kept up a correspondence with the guy. Gotta...more
Wtf did I just read?
really interesting treatment of executive power. on the eve of political breakdown, of a moment of "exception" for which the written laws offer no remedy, he says the executive needs the freedom to make decisions. problem is, it can go both ways depending on who's in charge. he assumes that the executive respects the rule of law in all other respects, and reluctantly acts to decide on exceptional events. but what if the executive is, like, bush?
Pedro José
Again, like all Schmitt's works, this is a difficult read. I would say it is one of the most difficult of his writings. However, it cements one of the key concepts of his thought: the fundamental nature of theology and politics beyond anything else.

To say more without writing ten pages would be insufficient. Read the book, it's fascinating.
Jeremy Vernon
If you're a Hobbesian, you owe it yourself to read this. Frequently, and rightly attacked as the foundational intellectual work for totalitarian fascism of the mid-twentieth century. It's important to understand what kind of thinking guides people like Hitler and Mussolini so we can avoid those dangers.
Alp Eren Topal
One of the best books I have read on political theory and easily the most readable. Schmitt achieves in just 60 pages something which would take 300 pages in the hands of another scholar or philosopher. His style is so clear and concise, you simply one to read and reread most passages.
If it wasn't for my book club I might not have heard of this book. Even though it's definitely not an easy 66 pages of reading material, but the book raises a good argument about what is sovereign and who should have the power to make decisions.
morning Os
This is a very short, interesting work of Schmitt. I still think 'The concept of political" is more fun and representative, though.
To me, Schmitt is either incredibly profound (Concept of the Political) or unreadable (Nomos). This one is of the former kind.
yay for throwing out the rules.
Ft. Sheridan
Overrated Nazi go home.
Mar 03, 2013 sally marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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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...
The Concept of the Political The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy Theory of the Partisan 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 exception is more interesting than the rule. The rule proves nothing; the exception proves everything. In the exception the power of real life breaks through the crust of a mechanism that has become torpid by repetition.” 19 likes
“All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts not only because of their historical development - in which they were transferred from theology to the theory of the state, whereby, for example, the omnipotent god became the omnipotent lawgiver - but also because of their systematic structure, the recognition of which is necessary for a sociological consideration of these concepts. The exception in jurisprudence is analogous to the miracle in theology. Only by being aware of this analogy can we appreciate the manner in which the philosophical ideas of the state developed in the last centuries.” 6 likes
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