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jeudi, 18 janvier 2018

Patriotismo constitucional: Deconstrucción de la conciencia nacional

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Patriotismo constitucional: Deconstrucción de la conciencia nacional

Ex: http://www.katehon.com/es

El proceso separatista  catalán, con su punto álgido en el referéndum ilegal del  1 de octubre de 2017, provocó una reacción patriótica inesperada no solo en Cataluña, traducida en movilizaciones  populares en defensa de la Cataluña Hispánica y la unidad de España.


Una reacción  inesperada además, por las décadas en las que el mismo  régimen del  78 y su clase política, llenos de complejos y de una concepción ajena y beligerante contra todo planteamiento identitario – asociándolo erróneamente con el separatismo - han utilizado el denominado patriotismo constitucional como la respuesta del denominado “bloque constitucionalista” frente  al secesionismo.


Ciertamente el  régimen del  78 se encuentra  ante un fenómeno que se le puede  ir de las manos, por lo que empezó - a través de los partidos constitucionalistas (PP. Ciudadanos y PSOE) y movimientos cívicos afines a éstos-  la canalización de la reacción patriótica hacia un constitucionalismo, responsable por acción u omisión de la actual problemática territorial con los separatismos que no se circunscribe solo a Cataluña o País Vasco.
Y es que, la influencia alemana en el régimen del  78, no solo viene aplicada a la Ley fundamental de Bonn de 1949 o al asumir como propia la idea del “Estado social y democrático de derecho”, los partidos que se llevan turnando en el poder durante la Segunda Restauración, han asumido en sus idearios el concepto de patriotismo constitucional.


En el caso del PSOE era previsible por la matriz izquierdista y socialdemócrata de este concepto, pero en el caso del PP, fue asumido en una ponencia aprobada en su congreso nacional de Enero de 2002, evidenciando una vez más los complejos de la derecha española.


El constitucionalismo, entonces, tiene como base ideológica al patriotismo constitucional, un concepto surgido del “Institut für Socialforschung” (Instituto de Investigación Social), también conocido como Escuela de Frankfurt, en cual se agrupaban seguidores de Marx, Hegel y Freud.


El más conocido de sus teóricos, Jürgen Habermas, en su obra “Identidades nacionales y postnacionales” define al patriotismo constitucional de la siguiente manera:
“En este caso las identificaciones con las formas de vida y tradiciones propias quedan recubiertas por un patriotismo que se ha vuelto más abstracto, que no se refiere ya al todo concreto de una nación, sino a procedimientos y a principios abstractos.”


(…) “En el proceso público de la tradición se decide acerca de cuáles de nuestras tradiciones queremos proseguir y cuáles no.”
Si  nos  atenemos a las palabras de Habermas,  podemos comprender que la consecuencia de la  crisis de la conciencia nacional en España, se debe precisamente a un proceso de deconstrucción de ésta que el mismo Régimen del  78 ha ido realizando, como continuación de todos aquellos que desde el siglo XVIII impusieron la extranjerización y  el rechazo a nuestra identidad cultural e histórica, considerada como algo arcaico y oscurantista que debía ser sustituido por unos valores ilustrados que como aportación negativa, traían la ruptura del individuo con “su circunstancia”, esto es, tradición, identidad, cultura, Historia o etnia; para ser sustituido por un individuo desarraigado que pueda ser manejable por intereses ajenos a la nación de la que forma parte.


Y es que para que exista una conciencia nacional, ésta solo tiene sentido con la fidelidad a nuestras señas de identidad y asumiendo un relato histórico nacional que va desde la Roma Imperial hasta nuestros días, pasando por la reafirmación de España con la Reconquista.


Un patriotismo identitario, popular y soberanista que no suponga la adhesión a regímenes concretos, sino que éstos sirvan a los intereses de España y los españoles por encima de todo.

vendredi, 11 mars 2016

Un regard inquiet vers l’Allemagne

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«L’intoxication de la culture du débat»

Un regard inquiet vers l’Allemagne

par Karl Müller

Ex: http://www.horizons-et-debats.ch

En 1952, juste quelques années après la guerre et seulement un an après sa création, la Cour constitutionnelle fédérale allemande a interdit, pour la première fois dans son histoire un parti: la Sozialistische Reichspartei (SRP) [parti socialiste de l’empire]. Ce parti se considérait comme le successeur de la NSDAP [parti d’Hitler]. Quatre ans plus tard, en 1956, fut décidé jusqu’à nos jours, une nouvelle et ultime interdiction de parti, à savoir le Parti communiste allemand (KPD).


La Cour constitutionnelle tenta, par ces deux interdits, à répondre aux dispositions de la toute jeune Loi fondamentale de la République fédérale allemande, dans ses articles sur les partis (Article 21 Lf.), exigeant une démocratie forte: «Les partis qui, d’après leurs buts ou selon le comportement de leurs adhérents, tendent à porter atteinte à l’ordre constitutionnel libéral et démocratique, ou à le renverser, ou à mettre en péril l’existence de la République fédérale d’Allemagne, sont anticonstitutionnels.» Et de continuer: «La Cour constitutionnelle fédérale statue sur la question de l’anti-constitutionnalité.» Notamment cette dernière disposition devait garantir que le reproche de l’anti-constitutionnalité ne devienne pas un instrument de campagne électorale et de diffamation des adversaires politiques et que la question de l’anti-constitutionnalité soit étudiée de façon approfondie au plan juridique.


On sait peu de choses sur la façon dont la Cour constitutionnelle avait défini l’anti-constitutionnalité et notamment la notion de l’ordre constitutionnel libéral et démocratique (FDGO) évoqué dans l’article 21. On ne peut omettre de rappeler cette définition :
«L’Ordre constitutionnel libéral et démocratique dans le sens de l’article 21 II GG est un ordre qui établit, en dehors de toute violence et contrainte, un ordre d’Etat de droit sur la base de l’autodétermination du peuple, selon la volonté de la majorité, dans la liberté et l’égalité. Il faut inclure dans les principes fondamentaux de cet ordre au moins: le respect des droits humains concrétisés dans la Loi fondamentale, notamment le droit de la personne à la vie et au libre épanouissement, le respect de la souveraineté populaire, de la séparation des pouvoirs, de la responsabilité du gouvernement, du respect de la loi de la part de l’administration, de l’indépendance des tribunaux, du principe du multipartisme et de l’égalité de chances pour tous les partis politiques avec le droit constitutionnel de la formation et de l’exercice d’une opposition.» (BVerfGE 2, 1; Leitsatz 2, 12s.)


Malgré cela, on est en Allemagne en passe de placer les opinions et les activités politiques indésirables sous le verdict d’«extrémisme» politique afin de les rendre anticonstitutionnelles. Pendant plusieurs décennies, au cours de la guerre froide, il était opportun de mettre en garde notamment contre l’«extrémisme de gauche» et de mettre cette étiquette sur nombre de mouvements sociaux critiques. Depuis le début des années 90, certains cercles n’ont pas hésité à utiliser cette notion à la suite de l’adhésion de la RDA à l’espace occidental du pays – malgré la situation catastrophique due à cette adhésion, tant sur le plan économique que social, des populations de cette partie du pays – et recommencent depuis quelques années à utiliser la grande menace de l’«extrémisme de droite» concernant les citoyens de la partie orientale de l’Allemagne.


L’ancien président du Bundestag Wolfgang Thierse a exprimé sa suspicion envers la population de l’Est de l’Allemagne. Ce fut le cas après que, dans une ville de l’est de l’Allemagne, une centaine de personnes avaient tenté, en criant «Nous sommes le peuple», d’empêcher les passagers d’un bus de sortir devant un centre d’hébergement pour réfugiés et que, dans une autre ville de la région, un autre centre tout neuf ait été incendié avant qu’il n’ait pu être utilisé. Thierse a su immédiatement qui dénoncer en affirmant que les populations de l’est de l’Allemagne étaient plus «réceptives pour des messages misanthropes» et «moins enracinées dans leurs convictions démocratiques et morales». Cela rappelle les années 90 lorsqu’on tenta d’expliquer des manifestations violentes d’une certaine jeunesse de l’Est par des thèses absurdes qui devaient surtout servir à dénigrer l’éducation et le système scolaire de l’ancienne RDA.

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Les différents points de vue entre l’Est et l’Ouest du pays est illustré par le livre d’un partisan du mouvement PEGIDA (Sebastian Hennig: «Pegida. Spaziergänge über dem Horizont. Eine Chronik» [Une promenade au-dessus de l’horizon. Une chronique]). On peut lire dans la préface: «On ne peut nier: la majorité des manifestants de Pegida sont des personnes ayant déjà été dans la rue en automne 1989. […] L’engagement de Pegida de 2014/2015 n’est pas la suite de la révolution de 1989/90. Mais il y a des ressemblances: en y regardant de près même des ressemblances étonnantes. Nous sommes confrontés à une accumulation de problèmes qu’on ne peut exprimer avec le vocabulaire du système politique au pouvoir. Ceux qui tentèrent de poser ouvertement les questions dérangeantes dans leur propre langage furent rapidement traités de nazis par la presse alignée – ou se présentant comme telle. Cette réaction stupide de la presse a attisé les protestations et a finalement accentué la mobilisation des forces. Le fait de parler d’une ‹manifestation nazie› n’est que le reflet d’une impuissance des responsables politiques, incapables de sortir de leurs idées fixes, ne voulant pas se confronter à la nouvelle réalité. La phrase d’introduction du premier appel de Neues Forum de septembre 1989 reste entièrement d’actualité: ‹Dans notre pays, il semble que la communication entre l’Etat et la population est perturbée›.»


Michael Beleites, auteur de la préface du livre a tout de même été représentant de la Saxe pour les documents de la Stasi pendant 10 ans, de 2000 à 2010. Ne serait-il pas possible qu’un grand nombre des habitants de l’Allemagne de l’Est ait une plus forte sensibilité face aux mensonges et à la tromperie en politique et aux tendances dictatoriales?

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Un collègue de parti de Wolfgang Thierse, le ministre allemand de la Justice Heiko Maas est allé plus loin encore. Il a placé tous ceux qui émettaient des doutes quant à la légitimité de la politique allemande actuelle concernant l’asile et les réfugiés, dans le groupe des «incendiaires spirituels» [geistige Brandstifter]. On ne fit pas même halte devant l’ancien juge de la Cour constitutionnelle Udo Di Fabio, ayant rédigé une expertise juridique pour le gouvernement bavarois, ce qui incita un journal tout à fait conformiste («Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger») d’écrire le 15 février 2016: «La perversion de la culture du débat en est venue à ce que le ministre de la Justice Heiko Maas (SPD) place l’ancien juge de la Cour constitutionnelle Di Fabio dans le groupe des incendiaires spirituels.» Le triste dérapage verbal du politicien de la CDU et commissaire de l’UE Günther Oettinger face à la présidente du parti Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) Frauke Petry, n’a retenu l’attention des médias que brièvement. Normalement, de tels manquements à la dignité d’autrui exigeraient une démission.


Mais une telle perversion de la culture du débat n’est pas due au hasard. Son objectif est la diffamation et l’affaiblissement de la démocratie. Il s’agit d’empêcher une opposition «fondée sur la Constitution et capable de représenter une opposition». En ce basant sur le bon vieux principe «diviser pour régner!». C’est le résultat du fait que la classe politique du pays veut gouverner contre la volonté du peuple et qu’il n’est donc plus possible de lutter avec des arguments. Et cela se passe dans une situation où de lourdes tâches nous attendent. En fait, la politique allemande se trouve, depuis un certain temps déjà, face à une série de crises sérieuses et très réelles. Un coup d’œil attentif dans les journaux le prouve. Mais en réalité, on ne s’efforce pas de trouver des solutions à ces crises, mais bien au contraire de les attiser (sciemment?). Au lieu de chercher avec la population des solutions, auxquelles les gens pourraient faire confiance, on construit des états d’exceptions, on parle d’«absence d’alternatives», on impose de force des solutions, on gouverne contre le peuple – et tout cela avec le soutien des médias, mais aussi avec celui de personnalités et de pays étrangers, voire d’organisations internationales. Une chose est certaine: ce n’est pas ainsi qu’on trouvera des solutions correspondant au bien commun.


Dans son livre «Mit der Ölwaffe zur Weltmacht» [Vers la domination du monde avec l’arme du pétrole] William F. Engdahl a intitulé un chapitre «Le ‹projet Hitler›». Il y décrit les réseaux du monde de la finance des Etats-Unis et de la Grande Bretagne dans les années 20 et 30 du siècle passé, qui mirent tout en œuvre pour affaiblir les démocraties européennes et permettre aux dictateurs de prendre le pouvoir. D’autres ouvrages importants confortent les thèses du livre d’Engdahl. Ce sont entre autres ceux de l’historien anglais Antony C. Sutton «Wallstreet und der Aufstieg Hitlers» [Wallstreet et la montée d’Hitler], de l’historien suisse Walter Hofer paru en 2001 et de l’historien américain Herbert R. Reginbogin «Hitler, der Westen und die Schweiz 1936–1945», ou encore celui paru il y a quelques années de Hermann Ploppa «Hitlers amerikanische Lehrer. Die Eliten der USA als Geburtshelfer des Nationalsozialismus» [Les maîtres américains d’Hitler. Les élites américaines comme accoucheuses du national-socialisme].


Aujourd’hui, même sans l’apparition d’un nouveau Hitler, le danger de la dictature est bien réel, également d’une dictature en Allemagne – cette fois-ci venant d’une autre direction géopolitique et avec d’autres formes de propagande que celle utilisée au cours des 12 années entre 1933 et 1945. Quel autre sens pourrait avoir sinon ce chaos voulu? Faut-il croire que la classe politique allemande voit sa voie vers la démocratie bouchée par l’ignorance et l’arrogance? Ou y aurait-il un plan caché dans tout ça?

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Martin Niemöller, ce théologien évangélique poursuivi par les nazis, nous a transmis la pensée suivante: «Lorsque les nazis ont déporté les communistes, je me suis tu, car je n’étais pas communiste. Lorsqu’ils ont mis en prison les sociaux-démocrates, je me suis tu, car je n’étais pas social-démocrate. Lorsqu’ils s’en prirent aux syndiqués, je me suis tu, car je n’étais pas syndiqué. Lorsqu’ils s’en sont pris à moi, il n’y avait plus personne pour protester.»


Cette pensée n’a-t-elle pas regagné en actualité face à la «perversion de la culture du débat», des tentatives d’exclusion sociale et de dénigrements en Allemagne? 

mercredi, 13 janvier 2010

L'insegnamento della Costituzione di Fiume

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L'insegnamento della Costituzione di Fiume

 

Giorgio Emili - Articoli

Scritto da Giorgio Emili   

Ex: http://www.area-online.it/ 

La politica si spezza il cuore a forza di predicozzi e buoni sentimenti, nell’era del conflitto sociale.
La Costituzione dovrebbe fare da collante e i valori in essa contenuti dovrebbero essere totalmente condivisi. La realtà, come bene abbiano visto, è un’altra: addirittura opposta. Lo scontro è aperto, i valori non sono condivisi, aleggia da decenni l’idea non dichiarata di una parte giusta che ha vinto e che reca in sé tutto il bene possibile.

La Costituzione italiana – serve parlar chiaro -  in molte parti nasconde questa realtà.
Per molti aspetti continua a essere la Costituzione del dissenso, prodotta da una frattura della storia italiana.
Le istituzione cercano, giustamente, di evidenziare le note concilianti, il sapore pieno di salvaguardia della democrazia e dei valori innati. L’evidenza dei fatti e la scarsa considerazione, da parte dei comuni cittadini, del tessuto della nostra Costituzione (certo, quanti la conoscono realmente?, quanti hanno approfondito le sue norme?) testimoniano che il passo decisivo verso la reale distensione degli animi non è ancora compiuto. Del resto perché tanti tentativi di riforma, perché tante dichiarazioni sulla necessità di un suo adeguamento?
La fiducia nella Costituzione ha, da sempre, sopito il conflitto, rasserenato gli animi, colmato i buchi di ogni possibile deriva. Questo però, a quanto pare, non basta. Fiducia cieca nella Costituzione, ci mancherebbe, ma è bello ricordare che esiste (è esistito) un modello costituzionale diverso (e per certi versi controverso) che ha un filo conduttore invidiabile.
Da uno scritto di Achille Chiappetti abbiamo scoperto una felice ricostruzione della Carta del Carnaro, la Costituzione di Fiume.
«Lo Statuto della Reggenza italiana del Carnaro, promulgato l’8 settembre del 1920, costituisce da sempre – scrive Chiappetti - un angolo oscuro quasi perduto della coscienza costituzionale del nostro Paese. Il suo testo predisposto dal socialista rivoluzionario Alceste De Ambris rappresenta infatti un insieme di estrema modernità e di inventiva anticipatoria di quelli che sarebbero stati i successivi sviluppi dell’organizzazione economica dello Stato fascista e delle democrazie moderne. Il suo impianto – spiega - fondato sul sistema corporativo e sul valore del lavoro produttivo, come fondamento dell’eguaglianza e della libertà, nonché sul non riconoscimento della proprietà se non come funzione sociale, costituisce un modello che e stato troppo spesso dimenticato». Ma la parte più affascinante di quelle considerazioni sullo statuto fiumano riguarda l’analisi di singole norme, soprattutto se confrontate con le attuali della nostra Costituzione.
«La Reggenza riconosce e conferma la sovranità di tutti i cittadini  - dice lo Statuto -, senza distinzione di sesso, di stirpe, di lingue, di classe, di religione». «Amplia ed innalza e sostiene sopra ogni altro diritto i diritti dei produttori». Ancora: «La Reggenza si studia di ricondurre i giorni e le opere verso quel senso di virtuosa gioia che deve rinnovare dal profondo il popolo finalmente affrancato da un regime uniforme di soggezione e di menzogne». Si respira  - chiosa Achille Chiappetti - «un aria di positività e di concordia quasi da costituzione statunitense e non il clima di tensione e scontro che risuona nelle prime parole della nostra Carta repubblicana».
Le conclusioni hanno forte sapore dannunziano e meritano di essere segnalate. Si innalza, infatti, su tutti l’articolo XIV della Carta del Carnaro: «La vita è bella e degna che veramente e magnificamente la viva l’uomo rifatto intiero dalla libertà».
«È nello Statuto fiumano, dunque, che e possibile trovare l’ispirazione per un concetto di socialità posto in maniera differente e del tutto a-conflittuale che meriterebbe di essere ripreso per dare forza ad un nuovo risorgimento italiano».
Ecco. La felicita nella nostra Costituzione non c’è – dice Chiappetti - . E non solo lui.

samedi, 13 juin 2009

The Political Theory Carl Schmitt

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The Political Theory of Carl Schmitt

By Keith Preston - http://attackthesystem.com/

 

Discussion:

 

Carl Schmitt

The Crisis of Parliamentary Liberalism 

The Concept of the Political

 

The Weimar Republic Sourcebook (p. 331, 334-337, 342-345)

 

          The editors of The Weimar Republic Sourcebook attempt to summarize the political thought of Carl Schmitt and interpret his writings on political and legal theory on the basis of his later association with Nazism between 1933 and 1936. Schmitt is described as having “attempted to drive a wedge between liberalism and democracy and undercut the assumption that rational discourse and legal formalism could be the basis of political legitimacy.”(Sourcebook, p. 331) His contributions to political theory are characterized as advancing the view that “genuine politics was irreducible to socio-economic conflicts and unconstrained by normative considerations”. The essence of politics is a battle to the death “between friend and foe.” The editors recognize distinctions between the thought of Schmitt and that of right-wing revolutionaries of Weimar, but assert that his ideas “certainly provided no obstacle to Schmitt’s opportunistic embrace of Nazism.”

 

          As ostensible support for this interpretation of Schmitt, the editors provide excerpts from two of Schmitt’s works. The first excerpt is from the preface to the second edition of Schmitt’s The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, a work first published in 1923 with the preface having been written for the 1926 edition. In this excerpt, Schmitt describes the dysfunctional workings of the Weimar parliamentary system. He regards this dysfunction as symptomatic of the inadequacies of the classical liberal theory of government. According to this theory as Schmitt interprets it, the affairs of states are to be conducted on the basis of open discussion between proponents of competing ideas as a kind of empirical process. Schmitt contrasts this idealized view of parliamentarianism with the realities of its actual practice, such as cynical appeals by politicians to narrow self-interests on the part of constituents, bickering among narrow partisan forces, the use of propaganda and symbolism rather than rational discourse as a means of influencing public opinion, the binding of parliamentarians by party discipline, decisions made by means of backroom deals, rule by committee and so forth.

 

          Schmitt recognizes a fundamental distinction between liberalism, or “parliamentarism”, and democracy. Liberal theory advances the concept of a state where all retain equal political rights. Schmitt contrasts this with actual democratic practice as it has existed historically. Historic democracy rests on an “equality of equals”, for instance, those holding a particular social position (as in ancient Greece), subscribing to particular religious beliefs or belonging to a specific national entity. Schmitt observes that democratic states have traditionally included a great deal of political and social inequality, from slavery to religious exclusionism to a stratified class hierarchy. Even modern democracies ostensibly organized on the principle of universal suffrage do not extend such democratic rights to residents of their colonial possessions. Beyond this level, states, even officially “democratic” ones, distinguish between their own citizens and those of other states. At a fundamental level, there is an innate tension between liberalism and democracy. Liberalism is individualistic, whereas democracy sanctions the “general will” as the principle of political legitimacy. However, a consistent or coherent “general will” necessitates a level of homogeneity that by its very nature goes against the individualistic ethos of liberalism. This is the source of the “crisis of parliamentarism” that Schmitt suggests. According to the democratic theory rooted in the ideas of Jean Jacques Rosseau, a legitimate state must reflect the “general will”, but no general will can be discerned in a regime that simultaneously espouses liberalism. Lacking the homogeneity necessary for a democratic “general will”, the state becomes fragmented into competing interests. Indeed, a liberal parliamentary state can actually act against the “peoples’ will” and become undemocratic. By this same principle, anti-liberal states such as those organized according to the principles of fascism or bolshevism can be democratic in so far as they reflect the “general will.”

 

            The second excerpt included by the editors is drawn from Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political, published in 1927. According to Schmitt, the irreducible minimum on which human political life is based is the friend/enemy distinction. This friend/enemy distinction is to politics what the good/evil dichotomy is to morality, beautiful/ugly to aesthetics, profitable/unprofitable to economics, and so forth. These categories need not be inclusive of one another. For instance, a political enemy need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly. What is significant is that the enemy is the “other” and therefore a source of possible conflict. The friend/enemy distinction is not dependent on the specific nature of the “enemy”. It is merely enough that the enemy is a threat. The political enemy is also distinctive from personal enemies. Whatever one’s personal thoughts about the political enemy, it remains true that the enemy is hostile to the collective to which one belongs. The first purpose of the state is to maintain its own existence as an organized  collective prepared if necessary to do battle to the death with other organized collectives that pose an existential threat. This is the essential core of what is meant by the “political”. Organized collectives within a particular state can also engage in such conflicts (i.e., civil war). Internal conflicts within a collective can threaten the survival of the collective as a whole. As long as existential threats to a collective remain, the friend/enemy concept that Schmitt considers to be the heart of politics will remain valid.

 

           An implicit view of the ideas of Carl Schmitt can be distinguished from the editors’ introductory comments and selective quotations from these two works. Is Schmitt attempting to “drive a wedge” between liberalism and democracy thereby undermining the Weimar regime’s claims to legitimacy and pave the way for a more overtly authoritarian system? Is Schmitt arguing for a more exclusionary form of the state, for instance one that might practice exclusivity on ethnic or national grounds? Is Schmitt attempting to sanction the use of war as a mere political instrument, independent of any normative considerations, perhaps even as an ideal unto itself? If the answer to any of these questions is an affirmative one, then one might be able to plausibly argue that Schmitt is indeed creating a kind of intellectual framework that could later be used to justify at least some of the ideas of Nazism and even lead to an embrace of Nazism by Schmitt himself.

 

          It would appear that the expression “context is everything” becomes a quite relevant when examining the work of Carl Schmitt. It is clear enough that the excerpts from Schmitt included in the The Weimar Republic Sourcebook have been chosen rather selectively. As a glaring example, this important passage from second edition’s preface from The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy has been deleted:

 

“That the parliamentary enterprise today is the lesser evil, that it will continue to be preferable to Bolshevism and dictatorship, that it would have unforseeable consequences were it to be discarded, that it is ’socially and technically’ a very practical thing-all these are interesting and in part also correct observations. But they do not constitute the intellectual foundations of a specifically intended institution. Parliamentarism exists today as a method of government and a political system. Just as everything else that exists and functions tolerably, it is useful-no more and no less. It counts for a great deal that even today it functions better than other untried methods, and that a minimum of order that is today actually at hand would be endangered by frivolous experiments. Every reasonable person would concede such arguments. But they do not carry weight in an argument about principles. Certainly no one would be so un-demanding that he regarded an intellectual foundation or a moral truth as proven by the question, What else?” (Schmitt, Crisis, pp. 2-3)

 

          This passage, conspicuously absent from the Sourcebook excerpt, indicates that Schmitt is in fact wary of the idea of undermining the authority of the Republic for it’s own sake or for the sake of implementing a revolutionary regime. Schmitt is clearly a “conservative” in the tradition of Hobbes, one who values order and stability above all else, and also Burke, expressing a preference for the established, the familiar, the traditional, and the practical, and an aversion to extremism, fanaticism, utopianism,  and upheaval for the sake of exotic ideological inclinations. Clearly, it would be rather difficult to reconcile such an outlook with the political millenarianism of either Marxism or National Socialism. The “crisis of parliamentary democracy” that Schmitt is addressing is a crisis of legitimacy. On what political or ethical principles does a liberal democratic state of the type Weimar purports to be claim and establish its own legitimacy? This is an immensely important question, given the gulf between liberal theory and parliamentary democracy as it is actually being practiced in Weimar, the conflicts between liberal practice and democratic theories of legitimacy as they have previously been laid out by Rosseau and others and, perhaps most importantly, the challenges to liberalism and claims to “democratic” legitimacy being made by proponents of totalitarian ideologies from both the Left and Right.

 

          The introduction to the first edition and first chapter of Crisis contain a frank discussion of both the intellectual as well as practical problems associated with the practice of “democracy”. Schmitt observes how democracy, broadly defined, has triumphed over older systems, such as monarchy, aristocracy or theocracy in favor of the principle of “popular sovereignty”. However, the advent of democracy has also undermined older theories on the foundations of political legitimacy, such as those rooted in religion (”divine right of kings”), dynastic lineages or mere appeals to tradition. Further, the triumphs of both liberalism and democracy have brought into fuller view the innate conflicts between the two. There is also the additional matter of the gap between the practice of politics (such as parliamentary procedures) and the ends of politics (such as the “will of the people”). Schmitt observes how parliamentarism as a procedural methodology  has a wide assortment of critics, including those representing the forces of reaction (royalists and clerics, for instance) and radicalism (from Marxists to anarchists). Schmitt also points out that he is by no means the first thinker to point out these issues, citing Mosca, Jacob Burckhardt, Belloc, Chesterton, and Michels, among others.

 

          A fundamental question that concerns Schmitt is the matter of what the democratic “will of the people” actually means, observing that an ostensibly democratic state could adopt virtually any set of policy positions, “whether militarist or pacifist, absolutist or liberal, centralized or decentralized, progressive or reactionary, and again at different times without ceasing to be a democracy.” (Schmitt, Crisis, p. 25) He also raises the question of the fate of democracy in a society where “the people” cease to favor democracy. Can democracy be formally renounced in the name of democracy? For instance, can “the people” embrace Bolshevism or a fascist dictatorship as an expression of their democratic “general will”? The flip side of this question asks whether a political class committed in theory to democracy can act undemocratically (against “the will of the people”) if the people display an insufficient level of education in the ways of democracy. How is the will of the people to be identified in the first place? Is it not possible for rulers to construct a “will of the people” of their own through the use of propaganda? For Schmitt, these questions are not simply a matter of intellectual hair-splitting but are of vital importance in a weak, politically paralyzed democratic state where the committment of significant sectors of both the political class and the public at large to the preservation of democracy is questionable, and where the overthrow of democracy by proponents of other ideologies is a very real possibility.

 

          Schmitt examines the claims of parliamentarism to democratic legitimacy. He describes the liberal ideology that underlies parliamentarism as follows:

 

“It is essential that liberalism be understood as a consistent, comprehensive metaphysical system. Normally one only discusses the economic line of reasoning that social harmony and the maximization of wealth follow from the free economic competition of individuals…But all this is only an application of a general liberal principle…: That truth can be found through an unrestrained clash of opinion and that competition will produce harmony.” (Schmitt, Crisis, p. 35)

 

For Schmitt, this view reduces truth to “a mere function of the eternal competition of opinions.” After pointing out the startling contrast between the theory and practice of liberalism, Schmitt suggests that liberal parliamentarian claims to legitimacy are rather weak and examines the claims of rival ideologies. Marxism replaces the liberal emphasis on the competition between opinions with a focus on competition between economic classes and, more generally, differing modes of production that rise and fall as history unfolds. Marxism is the inverse of liberalism, in that it replaces the intellectual with the material. The competition of economic classes is also much more intensified than the competition between opinions and commercial interests under liberalism. The Marxist class struggle is violent and bloody. Belief in parliamentary debate is replaced with belief in “direct action”. Drawing from the same rationalist intellectual tradition as the radical democrats, Marxism rejects parliamentarism as sham covering the dictatorship of a particular class, i.e., the bourgeoise. True democracy is achieved through the reversal of class relations under a proletarian state that rules in the interest of the laboring majority. Such a state need not utilize formal democratic procedures, but may exist as an “educational dictatorship” that functions to enlighten the proletariat regarding its true class interests. Schmitt then contrasts the rationalism of both liberalism and Marxism with irrationalism. Central to irrationalism is the idea of a political myth, comparable to the religious mythology of previous belief systems, and originally developed by the radical left-wing but having since been appropriated by revolutionary nationalists. It is myth that motivates people to action, whether individually or collectively. It matters less whether a particular myth is true than if people are inspired by it.

 

          It is clear enough that Schmitt’s criticisms of liberalism are intended not so much as an effort to undermine democratic legitimacy as much as an effort to confront the weaknesses of the intellectual foundations of liberal democracy with candor and intellectual rigor, not necessarily to undermine liberal democracy, but out of recognition of the need for strong and decisive political authority capable of acting in the interests of the nation during perilous times. Schmitt remarks:

 

“If democratic identity is taken seriously, then in an emergency no other constitutional institution can withstand the sole criterion of the peoples’ will, however it is expressed.” (Sourcebook, p.337)

 

          In other words, the state must first act to preserve itself and the general welfare and well-being of the people at large. If necessary, the state may override narrow partisan interests, parliamentary procedure or, presumably, routine electoral processes. Such actions by political leadership may be illiberal, but not necessarily undemocratic, as the democratic general will does not include national suicide. Schmitt outlines this theory of the survival of the state as the first priority of politics in The Concept of the Political. The essence of the “political” is the existence of organized collectives prepared to meet existential threats to themselves with lethal force if necessary. The “political” is different from the moral, the aesthetic, the economic or the religious as it involves first and foremost the possibility of groups of human beings killing other human beings. This does not mean that war is necessarily “good” or something to be desired or agitated for. Indeed, it may sometimes be in the political interests of a state to avoid war. However, any state that wishes to survive must be prepared to meet challenges to its existence, whether from conquest or domination by external forces or revolution and chaos from internal forces. Additionally, a state must be capable of recognizing its own interests and assume sole responsibility for doing so. A state that cannot identify its enemies and counter enemy forces effectively is threatened existentially.

 

          Schmitt’s political ideas are more easily understood in the context of Weimar’s political situation. He is considering the position of a defeated and demoralized Germany, unable to defend itself against external threats, and threatened internally by weak, chaotic and unpopular political leadership, economic hardship, political and ideological polarization and growing revolutionary movements, sometimes exhibiting terrorist or fanatical characteristics. Schmitt regards Germany as desperately in need of some sort of foundation for the establishment of a recognized, legitimate political authority capable of upholding the interests and advancing the well-being of the nation in the face of foreign enemies and above domestic factional interests. This view is far removed from the Nazi ideas of revolution, crude racial determinism, the cult of the leader and war as a value unto itself. Schmitt is clearly a much different thinker than the adherents of the quasi-mystical nationalism common to the radical right-wing of the era. Weimar’s failure was due in part to the failure of political leadership to effectively address the questions raised by Schmitt.