Carl Schmitt

  • The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy

    The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy

    Carl Schmitt

    The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy offers a powerful criticism of the inconsistencies of representative democracy.

    Described both as "the Hobbes of our age" and as "the philosophical godfather of Nazism," Carl Schmitt was a brilliant and controversial political theorist whose doctrine of political leadership and critique of liberal democratic ideals distinguish him as one of the most original contributors to modern political theory. The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy offers a powerful criticism of the inconsistencies of representative democracy. First published in 1923, it has often been viewed as an attempt to destroy parliamentarism; in fact, it was Schmitt's attempt to defend the Weimar constitution. The introduction to this new translation places the book in proper historical context and provides a useful guide to several aspects of Weimar political culture. The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.

    • Paperback $35.00 £27.00
  • Political Romanticism

    Political Romanticism

    Carl Schmitt

    Carl Schmitt (1888-1985), the author of such books as Political Theology and The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy (both published in English by The MIT Press), was one of the leading political and legal theorists of the twentieth century. His critical discussions of liberal democratic ideals and institutions continue to arouse controversy, but even his opponents concede his uncanny sense for the basic problems of modern politics. Political Romanticism is a historical study that, like all of Schmitt's major works, offers a fundamental political critique. In it, he defends a concept of political action based on notions of good and evil, justice and injustice, and attacks the political passivity entailed by the romanticization of experience. The book has three strands. The first is an attack on received notions of the origins of the Romantic Movement. Schmitt argues that this movement represents a secularization, subjectification, and privatization in which God is replaced by the emancipated, private individual of the bourgeois social order. The second is an assault on political romanticism that includes a broader attack on the new European bourgeoisie, which Schmitt characterizes as the historical bearer of the movement. The third strand is a defense of political conservatism and a refutation of the view that political romanticism is intrinsically linked with romanticism. Here Schmitt argues that the political romantic is tied not to positions but to aesthetics, and can therefore as easily become a Danton as a Frederick the Great. Guy Oakes's introduction places the book in historical context and also suggests its continuing relevance through his discussion of the latest outcropping of political romanticism in the late 1960s, intriguingly brought out in his example of Norman Mailer as a political romantic.

    • Hardcover $25.00
    • Paperback $27.00 £21.00
  • The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy

    Carl Schmitt

    Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, first published in 1923 and revised in 1926, has had a persistently controversial place in German thought.

    Described both as the "Hobbes of our age" and as "the philosophical godfather of Nazism," Carl Schmitt was a brilliant and controversial political theorist whose doctrine of political leadership and critique of liberal democratic ideals and institutions distinguish him as one of the most original contributors to the theory of modern politics. Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, first published in 1923 and revised in 1926, has had a persistently controversial place in German thought. The introduction to this new translation places the book in proper historical context and provides a useful guide to several aspects of Weimar political culture.The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy offers a powerful criticism of the inconsistencies of representative democracy. It argues that the original, liberal underpinnings of parliamentarism have been lost and have been increasingly perceived to be so. In this situation democratic institutions have become relics that continue to exist more from inertia than from conviction. Schmitt argues that the will that determines the outcome in democratic societies is a particular rather than a general will, and parliamentary openness functions only as an antechamber for special interests. With the bourgeoisie morally enfeebled and the socialist labor movement devoid of any genuine democratic theory, there was a clear shift toward more authoritarian forms of government. Accordingly, Schmitt concludes his essay by analyzing the roles of myth, irrationality, and violence in politics. Richard Thoma, a leading exponent of parliamentary government, reviewed Schmitt's book in 1925, portraying it as a direct attack on the Weimar Republic's democratic institutions. Increasingly, however, the problems Schmitt identified in the balance of liberal institutions and democratic principles have been recognized as fundamental. Because Schmitt's ruthlessly systematic attack on liberal democracy has remained unanswered and largely ignored, his perceptive analysis remains an intellectual force to be reckoned with. The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.

    • Hardcover $21.00
  • Political Theology

    Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty

    Carl Schmitt

    Written in the intense political and intellectual ferment of the early years of the Weimar Republic, Political Theology develops the distinctive theory of sovereignty that marks Carl Schmitt as one of the most significant political and legal theoreticians of the 20th century. Focusing on the relationship between political leadership, the norms of the legal order, and the state of political emergency, Schmitt argues that the essence of sovereignty lies in the absolute authority to decide when the normal conditions presupposed by the legal order obtain. Because the norms of a legal system cannot govern a state of emergency, they cannot determine when such an exceptional state holds or what should be done to resolve it. Thus every legal order ultimately rests not upon norms, but rather on the decisions of the sovereign. Schmitt underpins this analysis of sovereignty and its commitment to the priority of decisions over norms with a "political theology," which argues that all the important concepts of modern political thought are secularized theological concepts, and a sociology of the concept of sovereignty, which argues that the conceptualization of the jurisprudence of an epoch is linked to the conceptualization of its social structure. He concludes with an attack on liberalism and its attempt to depoliticize political thought by avoiding fundamental moral and political decisions.Schmitt's unerring sense for the fundamental problems of modern politics and his systematic critique of the ideals and institutions of liberal democracy, a critique that has never been answered, distinguish him as one of the most original figures in the theory of modern politics.

    • Hardcover $20.00
    • Paperback $9.95 £6.95