Legality and Legitimacy

Duke University Press
Free sample

Carl Schmitt ranks among the most original and controversial political thinkers of the twentieth century. His incisive criticisms of Enlightenment political thought and liberal political practice remain as shocking and significant today as when they first appeared in Weimar Germany. Unavailable in English until now, Legality and Legitimacy was composed in 1932, in the midst of the crisis that would lead to the collapse of the Weimar Republic and only a matter of months before Schmitt’s collaboration with the Nazis. In this important work, Schmitt questions the political viability of liberal constitutionalism, parliamentary government, and the rule of law. Liberal governments, he argues, cannot respond effectively to challenges by radical groups like the Nazis or Communists. Only a presidential regime subject to few, if any, practical limitations can ensure domestic security in a highly pluralistic society.

Legality and Legitimacy is sure to provide a compelling reference point in contemporary debates over the challenges facing constitutional democracies today. In addition to Jeffrey Seitzer’s translation of the 1932 text itself, this volume contains his translation of Schmitt’s 1958 commentary on the work, extensive explanatory notes, and an appendix including selected articles of the Weimar constitution. John P. McCormick’s introduction places Legality and Legitimacy in its historical context, clarifies some of the intricacies of the argument, and ultimately contests Schmitt’s claims regarding the inherent weakness of parliamentarism, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.

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About the author

Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) was a leading German political and legal theorist. Among his many books are The Idea of Representation, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, Political Romanticism, and The Concept of the Political.

Jeffrey Seitzer is the author of Comparative History and Legal Theory: Carl Schmitt in the First German Democracy. John P. McCormick is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Carl Schmitt’s Critique of Liberalism and editor of Confronting Mass Democracy and Industrial Technology, published by Duke University Press.

Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) was a leading German political and legal theorist. Among his many books are The Idea of Representation, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, Political Romanticism, and The Concept of the Political.

Jeffrey Seitzer is the author of Comparative History and Legal Theory: Carl Schmitt in the First German Democracy. John P. McCormick is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Carl Schmitt’s Critique of Liberalism and editor of Confronting Mass Democracy and Industrial Technology, published by Duke University Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Feb 26, 2004
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9780822385769
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Essays
Law / Legal History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Carl Schmitt, the Thomas Hobbes of the 20th century, joined the Nazi party in 1933 and aspired to become the crown jurist and political philosopher of the Third Reich. But, because of his anti-Nazi past, friendships with Jews and Marxists, and contempt for biological racism, Schmitt was severely attacked by the SS in 1936 and warned to stop posing as a National Socialist thinker. Fearful of what this might imply in the rapidly evolving one-party SS state, Schmitt began to distance himself from his National Socialist adventure--even tempered his recently acquired anti-Semitism--and carefully started to reconnect himself in 1937 and 1938 to the pre-1933 Schmitt. Writing in 1938 under the pretext of studying the significance of the symbol of the leviathan in Hobbes's theory of state, Schmitt alluded to the demise of the Third Reich because of its rapid transformation into a totalitarian polity. As Schmitt recognized, in this state, the Hobbesian protection-obedience axiom was being heavily tilted in favor of obedience at the expense of protection. When this occurred, Schmitt observed, "the soul of a people...betakes itself on the 'secret road' that leads inward. Then grows the counterforce of silence and stillness", and "Public power and force may be ever so completely and emphatically recognized and ever so loyally respected, but only as a public and only an external power, it is hollow and already dead from within." Schmitt survived the fall of the Third Reich, and in the postwar years came to be recognized as one of the most significant political philosophers of the century. This is the first translation available of this important work which will be of great value to scholars and students of modern political philosophy, legal theory, and the history of Weimar and Nazi Germany.
A pioneer in legal and political theory, Schmitt traces the prehistory of political romanticism by examining its relationship to revolutionary and reactionary tendencies in modern European history. Both the partisans of the French Revolution and its most embittered enemies were numbered among the romantics. During the movement for German national unity at the beginning of the nineteenth century, both revolutionaries and reactionaries counted themselves as romantics. According to Schmitt, the use of the concept to designate opposed political positions results from the character of political romanticism: its unpredictable quality and lack of commitment to any substantive political position.

The romantic person acts in such a way that his imagination can be affected. He acts insofar as he is moved. Thus an action is not a performance or something one does, but rather an affect or a mood, something one feels. The product of an action is not a result that can be evaluated according to moral standards, but rather an emotional experience that can be judged only in aesthetic and emotive terms.

These observations lead Schmitt to a profound reflection on the shortcomings of liberal politics. Apart from the liberal rule of law and its institution of an autonomous private sphere, the romantic inner sanctum of purely personal experience could not exist. Without the security of the private realm, the romantic imagination would be subject to unpredictable incursions. Only in a bourgeois world can the individual become both absolutely sovereign and thoroughly privatized: a master builder in the cathedral of his personality. An adequate political order cannot be maintained on such a tolerant individualism, concludes Schmitt.

The secret to good government is a question no one in Washington is asking: “What’s the right thing to do?” What’s wrong in Washington is deeper than you think.

Yes, there’s gridlock, polarization, and self-dealing. But hidden underneath is something bigger and more destructive. It’s a broken governing system. From that comes wasteful government, rising debt, failing schools, expensive health care, and economic hardship.

Rules have replaced leadership in America. Bureaucracy, regulation, and outmoded law tie our hands and confine policy choices. Nobody asks, “What’s the right thing to do here?” Instead, they wonder, “What does the rule book say?”

There’s a fatal flaw in America’s governing system—trying to decree correctness through rigid laws will never work. Public paralysis is the inevitable result of the steady accretion of detailed rules. America is now run by dead people—by political leaders from the past who enacted mandatory programs that churn ahead regardless of waste, irrelevance, or new priorities.

America needs to radically simplify its operating system and give people—officials and citizens alike—the freedom to be practical. Rules can’t accomplish our goals. Only humans can get things done.

In The Rule of Nobody Philip K. Howard argues for a return to the framers’ vision of public law—setting goals and boundaries, not dictating daily choices. This incendiary book explains how America went wrong and offers a guide for how to liberate human ingenuity to meet the challenges of this century.

Kelsen, Hans. Pure Theory of Law. Translation from the Second German Edition by Max Knight. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967. x, 356 pp. Reprinted 2005 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN 1-58477-578-5. Paperbound. $36.95 * Second revised and enlarged edition, a complete revision of the first edition published in 1934. A landmark in the development of modern jurisprudence, the pure theory of law defines law as a system of coercive norms created by the state that rests on the validity of a generally accepted Grundnorm, or basic norm, such as the supremacy of the Constitution. Entirely self-supporting, it rejects any concept derived from metaphysics, politics, ethics, sociology, or the natural sciences. Beginning with the medieval reception of Roman law, traditional jurisprudence has maintained a dual system of "subjective" law (the rights of a person) and "objective" law (the system of norms). Throughout history this dualism has been a useful tool for putting the law in the service of politics, especially by rulers or dominant political parties. The pure theory of law destroys this dualism by replacing it with a unitary system of objective positive law that is insulated from political manipulation. Possibly the most influential jurisprudent of the twentieth century, Hans Kelsen [1881-1973] was legal adviser to Austria's last emperor and its first republican government, the founder and permanent advisor of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Austria, and the author of Austria's Constitution, which was enacted in 1920, abolished during the Anschluss, and restored in 1945. The author of more than forty books on law and legal philosophy, he is best known for this work and General Theory of Law and State. Also active as a teacher in Europe and the United States, he was Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna and taught at the universities of Cologne and Prague, the Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Harvard, Wellesley, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Naval War College.Also available in cloth.
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