The enemy as the unthinkable: a concretist reading of Carl Schmitt’s conception of the political

History of European Ideas 43 (8):1016-1028 (2017)
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ABSTRACTThis article offers an unconventional interpretation of Carl Schmitt’s conception of the political. It first identifies two alternative readings – an ‘exceptionalist’ and a ‘concretist’ one – to make the claim that in the late 1920s he laid the foundations for a theory of politics that overcame the flaws of his theory of exception. It then explains why the concretist reading provides an insightful key to Schmitt’s take on the relationship between politics and law as a whole. Despite this, the chief aim of this analysis is not interpretive. Rather, the article claims that such a paradigm change was related to Schmitt’s pondering on the elements that were menacing to draw the experience of modern statehood to an end even more seriously than any upheavals and revolutions. For he came to the conclusion that the mere claim to political self-sufficiency on the part on non-state social entities was able to defy the idea of the state as the political entity par excellence. While these reflections urged Schmitt to reformulate many features of his conception of the political, the article contends that this particular juncture in his production sheds light on a crucial feature of contemporary politics.



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