C O U R S E L E C T U R E
The Necessity of War in Politics
Notes taken on February 19, 2016 by Edward Tanguay
Carl Schmitt (1888-1985)
the "crown jurist of the Third Reich"
1927 "Der Begriff des Politischen"
the existential interpretation of war and politics
dedicated to a fallen comrade in WWI
"Dem Andenken meines Freundes August Schaetz aus München gefallen am 28. August 1917 beim Sturm auf Moncelul"
while churches are predominant in religion or society is predominant in economics, the state is predominant in politics
the political is not equal to any other domain, such as the economic, but instead is the most essential to identity
the relationship between politics and war
1. the definition of the political is a tautology
the political is defined by the notion of the state, and the notion of the state is defined by the political
2. neutralize or suspend any particular conception of the state
3. what is specific about the political
based on distinction between good and evil
based on distinction between beautiful and ugly
based on distinction between true and false
based on distinction between friend and enemy
the utmost degree of intensity of either a union of friends or a separation
4. seinsmäßige Existenz
"Only the actual participants can correctly recognize, understand, and judge the concrete situation and settle the extreme case of conflict. Each participant is in a position to judge whether the adversary intends to negate his opponent's way of life, and therefore must be repulsed or fought in order to preserve one's own form of existence."
emphasizes teh ontological nature of the conflict
portrays the enemy as the other who poses an existential threat to a certain way of life, i.e. a way of life that is implicitly claimed as the true way of life
this existential sense of the enemy is not be understood metaphorically or symbolically, nor economically or morally
a public enemy, not a private adversary
it is the function of the sovereignty, or the state, to declare who is the enemy
"War is an existential negation of the enemy. It is armed combat between organized political entities."
takes Clausewitz's definition of war as antagonism, as a dual
adds and contradicts Clausewitz in saying that civil war is armed combat within an organized unit
referring to the civil war of 1918-1919 in Germany
military battle itself is not the continuation of politics by other means, but is the existential confrontation with an enemy
6. critique of the League of Nations
critique of the possibility of a world without war
"The Geneva League of Nations does not eliminate the possibility of wars, just as it does not abolish states. It introduces new possibilities for wars, permits wars to take place, sanctions coalitions, and by legitimizing and sanctioning certain wars it sweeps away many obstacles to wars."
the League of Nations is an alliance of different friends
still based on a distinction between friends and enemies
precisely toward those enemies towards the League of Nations
7. war is necessary for politics
a world in which there would be no possibility of war would be a world in which there would be no politics
it would be a depoliticized world
the political is based on an antagonism between friend and foe, and therefore based on the permanent possibility of war
a "war to end all wars", if it had been successful, would have been a war that would have ended all politics