Series: Crooked Timber Comments on Schmitt

Concept of the Political as Concept of Conception (Blog Comment)

(longer version of a comment left at a typically impossible discussion of Carl Schmitt at the Crooked Timber blog.) the single most interesting question he raises, if not uniquely, then signally, is the constitutional paradox of the constituting/constituted power. That

Posted in Featured, notes, Philosophy Tagged with:

2nd Comment on “David Brooks: Better in the original German” (Schmitt and the neo-imperial moment)

(proofread version of comment at Crooked Timber) Mr. Timberman @125 [Italics in original comment], “converting freedom into political [or any kind of] obligation” appears to translate as “converting freedom into its opposite.” If I’m obligated to you and yours at

Posted in History, Neo-Imperialism, Philosophy, War Tagged with: , , , , ,

Nth Comment at Crooked Timber on Schmitt-Brooks and the End of History

The early modern political philosophers… did rather exhaustively examine these questions and the related ones on the nature of power or the origins of authority. They did provide answers. They knew we wouldn’t all like them or fully understand them. Indeed, to a very significant degree the early modern philosophers not only acknowledged, but rather depended on the latter – on general incapacities of understanding. They hoped and trusted that enough of us would accept and implement their proposals under well-considered modifications. If we are in fact still living with those answers, showing no sign of succesfully implementing alternative ones, then Hegel was right, as far as we can say, to claim that in his time humanity had reached the end of history in principle.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, The Exception Tagged with: ,

Order of orders: possibly last comment on Brooks-Schmitt, this one not posted at CT

…why Schmitt arguably does qualify as Hegelian, and why his two main practical-political projects, synthesis of his theological conservatism with ideological liberalism, and then with Nazism, were, despite superficial dissimilarities, versions of the same “political theological” project, which had to fail, as a committed opportunism lacking opportunity: He was a statist-conservative in an epoch of the (self-)destruction of the nation-state, a believer in “concrete order” whose own position was built on quicksand. Or you could say simply that he identified as an individual with a society bent on collective suicide. For Heidegger, it was something similar. For Brooks and contemporary Americanists of his broad type, there are distinct parallels, but on a different order of orders.

Posted in History, notes, Philosophy Tagged with: , , ,

again as to the irrational underestimation by rationalists of the rationality of irrationalism

“The Temporary Name” points to a few of a series of embedded presumptions in a comment by “Anarcissie,” and, naturally, responds on the basis of a few of his or her own, but, rather than try to establish some sort

Posted in Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics, Religion, The Exception Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Twice more into the breach: Hume, Kahn, Schmitt; faith <-> violence (un/reason)

1. Intro by way of a response to Mr. Halasz at the Crooked Timber thread: @239: The Wikipedia entry on Kahn is a good capsule summary. I often wonder why, given that he’s a distinguished professor at Yale (not some

Posted in Anismism, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, The Exception, War Tagged with: , , ,

Noted & Quoted

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The most painful aspect of this has been to watch people I previously considered thoughtful and principled conservatives give themselves over to a species of illiberal politics from which I once thought they were immune.

In his 1953 masterpiece, “The Captive Mind,” the Polish poet and dissident Czeslaw Milosz analyzed the psychological and intellectual pathways through which some of his former colleagues in Poland’s post-war Communist regime allowed themselves to be converted into ardent Stalinists. In none of the cases that Milosz analyzed was coercion the main reason for the conversion.
They wanted to believe. They were willing to adapt. They thought they could do more good from the inside. They convinced themselves that their former principles didn’t fit with the march of history, or that to hold fast to one’s beliefs was a sign of priggishness and pig-headedness. They felt that to reject the new order of things was to relegate themselves to irrelevance and oblivion. They mocked their former friends who refused to join the new order as morally vain reactionaries. They convinced themselves that, brutal and capricious as Stalinism might be, it couldn’t possibly be worse than the exploitative capitalism of the West.

I fear we are witnessing a similar process unfold among many conservative intellectuals on the right.

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The precarious feeling of uncertainty will nonetheless persist, at least until U.S. authority, in Europe or anywhere else, is seriously challenged. And there are signs that a challenge is coming. In the past few days, the Russian government has recognized passports from the phony “republics” that Russian-armed, Russian-controlled “separatists” have created in eastern Ukraine — perhaps, as one Russian official suggested, as a prelude to granting them Russian passports or even annexing the territories outright. Russian planes repeatedly buzzed a U.S. destroyer on patrol in the Black Sea. Most ominously, Russia has reportedly deployed a new generation of cruise missiles, a move that violates existing arms treaties and could make it easier for Russian bombs to reach European capitals.

There is no reason to think that these small “tests” will not be repeated. And if any one of them explodes into something worse, then talk of “shared values” will not help. Nor will repeated reassurances from Cabinet members. At some point, the enforced ambiguity will fall away, it will not be possible to disguise reality with “Swedish incidents” and we will learn what the president actually believes. I just hope that we are all prepared.

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Our partners in the international order we created - some of whom we conquered to make it possible - are now seeking to defend it from us. Let's say that again, Defend it from us. How do we now as loyal Americans look at the warnings of the French and the Germans, as well as the British and our other erstwhile allies' warnings? This is a complicated question which different people, depending on their professions and governmental responsibilities and personal dispositions, must answer in different ways. But we cannot ignore the fact that the American experiment is now in a kind of exile - taken refuge elsewhere - and the executive power of the American state now under a kind of, hopefully temporary, occupation.

We face a comparable dynamic at home. I have been thinking for weeks that the central challenge and reality of the Trump Era is what do you do as an institutionalist when the central institutions of the state have been taken over, albeit democratically, by what amount to pirates, people who want to destroy them? To put it another way, do the institutions and norms which Trump and his gang are trying to destroy become shackles and obstacles in the way of those trying to defend them? There['re] no easy answers to these questions.

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@CK_MacLeod

State of the Discussion

bob
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+ I dunno, I think a lot of people looked at the TPers not as patriotic Americans but as bat shit crazy. Their difficulty in [. . .]
On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP
CK MacLeod
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+ They will still have to cope with a version of the same conflict at every stage and level. Sooner or later, or constantly, any political [. . .]
On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP
bob
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+ Sure, that's a fair characterization of the discussion outlined in the tweets. My point is that the information we have about "the left" is [. . .]
On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP

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