Friday, April 22, 2011

What we're reading

File Under "Know Thy Enemy":

Schmitt changed universities in 1926, when he became professor for law at the Handelshochschule in Berlin, and again in 1932, when he accepted a position in Cologne. It was in Cologne, too, that he wrote his most famous paper, "Der Begriff des Politischen" ("The Concept of the Political"), in which he developed his theory of "the political". Distinct from party politics, "the political" is the essence of politics. While churches are predominant in religion or society is predominant in economics, the state is predominant in politics. Yet for Schmitt the political was not an autonomous domain equivalent to the other domains, but rather the existential basis that would determine any other domain should it reach the point of politics (e.g. religion ceases to be merely theological when it clear distinction between the "friend" and the "enemy"). The political is not equal to any other domain, such as the economic, but instead is the most essential to identity.

Schmitt, in perhaps his best-known formulation, bases his conceptual realm of state sovereignty and autonomy upon the distinction between friendand enemy. This distinction is to be determined "existentially," which is to say that the enemy is whoever is "in a specially intense way, existentially something different and alien, so that in the extreme case conflicts with him are possible." (Schmitt, 1996, p. 27) Such an enemy need not even be based on nationality: so long as the conflict is potentially intense enough to become a violent one between political entities, the actual substance of enmity may be anything.

Although there have been divergent interpretations concerning this work, there is broad agreement that "The Concept of the Political" is an attempt to achieve state unity by defining the content of politics as opposition to the "other" (that is to say, an enemy, a stranger. This applies to any person or entity that represents a serious threat or conflict to one's own interests.) In addition, the prominence of the state stands as a neutral force over potentially fractious civil society, whose various antagonisms must not be allowed to reach the level of the political, lest civil war result.

How the Union Resurgence Got Quashed by the Union Leadership in Wisconsin:

After that, the movement completely died down at the precise moment when it should have been at its peak. Suddenly everything became about recall campaigns and legal challenges. The legal challenges to the bill were based, not on the content of the bill, but on a technicality about how it was voted on. As such, they can just vote on it again if it gets thrown out. And by the time any recall campaign can take effect, the bill, having passed will effectively destroy the public sector unions. And then, at best, we'll replace the party funded by the anti-union Koch brothers with the party funded by the anti-union Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And yet, this strategy was deemed to be "reasonable" because apparently "reasonable" and "passive" are the same thing.

I'm More and More Convinced It's the End of the World (As We Know It):

The world is already apocalyptic, and .... there is no event to wait for, just the zones in which these revelations are forestalled and the sites where we can take a stand ... to refuse either a sense of reconciliation with this world order or an illusion of the ease of bringing it down.


Those of us who still find dignity in the idea of the human spirit - who even now consider ourselves as part of "the Left" - ought to discard these reactionary tendencies to hold onto the crumbling past and prepare for the ruins of the future.

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