If we are going to talk about Carl Schmitt, it is worth noting that we in the West have lived de facto in a continuous State of Exception since 2001. In the case of some western polities, de jure.

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My favorite author on politics (writing in the book with highly uninformative title "Congress: The Electoral Connection," made an observation exactly opposite of Schmitt: the role of party leaders is to dampen excessive partisanship and create an environment where you could do mutually beneficial politics--that actually does stuff--without making undue noise that cause friction (not quite in these words, thus nobody seems to have actually read them). He attributed the development of this system to the relatively successful and peaceful politics in United States for much of 20th century and foresaw the rise of modern telecommunication technology as the harbinger of its destruction. That was back in 1970s, and he saw a particular threat to its survival in, again prophetically, the rise of C-SPAN (to those unfamiliar with US politics, Newt Gingrich and the "New" Republicans used it in 1980s to make noise that sharply delineated who their "enemies" were.)

I think there's a lot that can be synthesized by looking at Schmitt and Mayhew together, of how political institutions are built and maintained and the role of leaders in a stable polity should be. Alas, Schmitt has won that debate, it seems.

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What a delight. I regret that I have but one "heart" to grant it.

I did wonder, though, why you chose to go all the way back to the squabbles among the early Roman Christians rather than to the much more recent horrors of the 30 Years War -- the event in Europe that I take to have been the final nail in the coffin of explicitly sectarian Christian intermural warfare?

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"That is to say that, whereas politics in Schmitt's view should be just the responsibility of the State, other groups could play a political role if they organized themselves to do so."

I would argue, instead, that what is most unique about Schmitt's conception of friend/enemy is that the political (for Schmitt) is no longer determined by the State, but on the contrary the concept of the state now presupposes the concept of the political.

It seems for Schmitt that the political no longer belongs to the "proper" place of the state and, as you mentioned. is instead defined by the autonomy and specificity/intensity of the friend-enemy distinction. And it is largely the degree of intensity which implies this distinction. In other words the quantitative augmentation of the intensity of an opposition results in a qualitative transformation--politicization. Schmitt seems to introduce this idea of potentiality as a defining factor of the concept of the political.

It also may be the case that with Schmitt's displacement of the state's monopoly on politics

there is no longer an objective structure to mark the line between political and non-political--everything is merely not yet politicized.

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There are tradeoffs between freedom and security, and between freedom and properity. Personal sacrifice made for the common good can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. I think everyone recognizes this in one form or another.

What, then, are we as a nation to be for? For balance? For practical decision-making? Schmitt's philosophy was possibly the least successful political philosophy of all time, judging by the Nazi experience. We seem to be having a similar experiene with the current western leadership . I'm looking forward to next week's edition of this substack!

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" Put bluntly, nobody has ever gone out to die for Liberalism, for lower property taxes, fewer regulations"

No Taxation Without Representation/Boston Tea Party (Tea was the fancy latte of that era). Shays' Rebellion. The fights in the UK against fencing. Hell, even the Civil Right movement could be depicted as "fewer regulations".

This essay could have stopped at the point where professional politicians, divorced from the desires of the represented, started making Enemies of each other.

The rest is unimportant since it is the class-based break that ultimately matters.

Nor am I the least bit impressed with the attack on the general historical philosophy of Liberalism.

Freedom of Speech is liberal. Freedom of Religion is Liberal. Freedom in general is liberal.

I don't consider the present self-depicting Liberal ideologues to be actual Liberals any more than the Democratic Party is really about Democracy.

They're all about power. period.

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You start with recognzing Schmitt's central question of "Who is my enemy". At the end of your wrting it appears that you consider that question irrelevant.

"Immigration is harmful" is not a political statment in Schmitt's view. "Immigration is harmful to us" or "immigration is benefical for us" are political statements.

Likewise “Feminism Hurts Both Men and Women” does not address Schmitts central question. Schmitts does not accept a global "we" for which benefit is sought. "Feminism (within our group) is bad for us" or "feminism is good for us" is a political statment.

Schmitt's contribution is that groups with different interests exists, and that these groups persue their interests. "Right" and "Left" are names that are presently assigned to such groups (or collections of groups). Any of these groups might consider it to be of tactical benefit to hide who benefits from any political measure, but Schmitt's view is that any political measure harms some group(s) and benefits others., essentially is only made to fight an enemy. If you think that Schmitt has a point then nothing is gained by a discussion that does not address who is harmed and who benefits from any polical act.

Your (or maybe Robinson's) examples of political argumemnts do not address Schmitt's central question and are therefore at best a discussion with a straw man.

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Mar 8, 2023·edited Mar 8, 2023

My opinion of Schmitt went up a few notches by reading this.

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