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” points1 to a few of a series of embedded presumptions in a comment by “Anarcissie,”2 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

This is a Waterloo moment for Trump, the tea party and their alliance.  They have been stopped in their tracks not only by Democratic opposition but because of a mutiny within their own ranks. Although never particularly liked or respected, it is now clear that they are no longer feared. The bankruptcy of their ideas and their incompetence have been exposed. Their momentum has been dissipated. Their rejection of political norms has itself been scorned. Our long national nightmare may finally be coming to an end.

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One seasoned Democrat told me that among the reasons Trump won in 2016 was that a long year of Crooked Hillary talk, about emails and Goldman Sachs and the like, had steadily demoralised and demobilised the liberal base. If sustaining fury at Trump helps keep those same voters energised, so they eventually turn out to defeat him, it’ll be worth it, he says.

But it can’t just be in the form of world-weary, if witty, tweets. What’s needed is a coherent argument, one that explains why Trump’s repulsive behaviour matters. For Americans, that will surely centre on the state of their society. The civic realm is being degraded by Trump’s lies, vanities and insults. The national conversation is being coarsened. The basic democratic assumption, that disagreements can be resolved through discussion rather than coercion and violence, is being eroded from the very top. Note the language of Scaramucci’s outburst: “I want to fucking kill all the leakers.”

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[C]limate scientists have a strange kind of faith: We will find a way to forestall radical warming, they say, because we must.

It is not easy to know how much to be reassured by that bleak certainty, and how much to wonder whether it is another form of delusion; for global warming to work as parable, of course, someone needs to survive to tell the story. The scientists know that to even meet the Paris goals, by 2050, carbon emissions from energy and industry, which are still rising, will have to fall by half each decade; emissions from land use (deforestation, cow farts, etc.) will have to zero out; and we will need to have invented technologies to extract, annually, twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as the entire planet’s plants now do. Nevertheless, by and large, the scientists have an enormous confidence in the ingenuity of humans — a confidence perhaps bolstered by their appreciation for climate change, which is, after all, a human invention, too. They point to the Apollo project, the hole in the ozone we patched in the 1980s, the passing of the fear of mutually assured destruction. Now we’ve found a way to engineer our own doomsday, and surely we will find a way to engineer our way out of it, one way or another. The planet is not used to being provoked like this, and climate systems designed to give feedback over centuries or millennia prevent us — even those who may be watching closely — from fully imagining the damage done already to the planet. But when we do truly see the world we’ve made, they say, we will also find a way to make it livable. For them, the alternative is simply unimaginable.

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