This work - a thorough interpretation of Carl Schmitt's controversial thought - moves along different lines of research: the history of modern European political philosophy, the history of German public law, German political-constitutional history between XIXth and XXth century. Schmitt's thought is carefully reconstructed through a philological and philosophical analysis of the concepts that he elucidates in his works (sovereignty, decision, exception, representation, political form, constituent power, the "political", the "nomos") and is set in context, as well as in the dramatic events of his age, through ample and deep references to such authors as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Sieyes, Hegel, Marx, Donoso Cortés, Kierkegaard, Dilthey, Simmel, Scheler, Nietzsche, Spengler, Sorel, Weber, Rathenau, Croce, Plessner, Bonn, Heidegger, Jünger, Benjamin, Freyer, Clausewitz, Stahl, Stein, Laband, Jellinek, Kelsen, Heller, Smend, Blumenberg, Barth, Strauss, Voegelin; moreover it is set in context in the leading debates that animated our century until today (i.e. the debates upon the relationship between liberalism and democracy, between politcs and technique, between politics and war, upon secularization, and post-modernism). This book also faces and takes into account the wide range of interpretations aroused by Schmitt's thought all around the world, with special reference to the significance of his "Catholicism" and his adhesion to the Nazi regime. The author maintains that there is a line connecting the manyfold phases of Schmitt's thought, albeit so different: i.e. Schmitt's work does not consist merely in the construction of an authoritarian ideology (decisionism), but it is also a reflection upon the complex and contradictory origin of modern politics, at the time of the most powerful crisis of political thought and of modern institutions (and chiefly the state). This genealogical side of Schmitt's thought is the source of both its unity and ambiguities, of its deep insights and contradictions, of its greatness and "misery": it is the source of his understanding power as well as of his falling on an authoritarian practice of "politics of the origin". Carl Schmitt's radical challenge and enigmatic intellectual legacy resides in the fact that in order to understand him interpreters have to understand great part of the theoretical and political development of modernity.
Contents: Introduction. - Part One: The problem of mediation. - 1. Rationalistic mediation and dialectical mediation. - 2. The crisis of mediation. - 3. The dissolution of mediation. - Part Two: Schmitt and "critical thought". - 4. The critique of the "critique of the age". 5. Political romanticism. 6. The "glorious" form. - Part Three: Age and form. - 7. Juridical mediation. - 8. The early juridical writings. 9. Political theology: sovereignty and secularization. - Part Four: The search for political form. - 10. The historical, political and constitutional context. - 11. The irruption of democracy: crisis and critique of liberalism and of the Rechtsstaat. - 12. Democracy and political form: constituent power and constitution. - 13. In the Weimar crisis. - Part Five: The syntheses. - 14. The "political". - 15. From Nazism to the nomos of the earth. - List of names. - List of abbreviations. - Bibliographical references.
Carlo Galli teaches History of Political Doctrines at the University of Bologna.