The Long Sunday symposium on Carl Schmitt is well under way. Several thought-provoking posts so far, including one by Anthony Paul Johnson on thought and politics as they relate to Schmitt and Deleuze and Guattari, which I need to read and chew over again. I especially like this bit from Nate’s post:

In all three [i.e., Schmitt, Marx, and the operaisti] there is a certain depoliticalization operating. A prior given unity is posited – the people, the class in itself, the technical and political composition of the class – which undergoes a fiery baptism such that it becomes capable of acting together. This prior unity, the precondition for the political entity, is placed outside the bounds of the political, such that it can not be decided upon, in an operation that at the same time serves to produce unity as the goal, again in a way that can not be decided upon or contested. That is to say, politics is circumscribed within the state and nation, or a sphere which is state-like/nation-like.


Schmitt’s primary fear is the practice and what he sees as the trend of the “shattering of social structures.” It is this political component, more than the technical challenge of policing partisan war and its possibilities, that makes the partisan such a troubling figure. “Commonality exists as res publica, a public sphere, and it is called into question when a non-public space forms within it, one that actively disavows this publicness.” (51.) The partisan indicates a political potential not appropriated or exhausted by the state, one which works toward the dissolution of the monopoly which constitutes Schmitt’s political entity as such. The partisan is evidence of a power to act and produce in common, to produce social relations which are not of the people but rather introduce a disunity that challenges the workings of the people as an entity. This is what Schmitt is most opposed to and fearful of, to such a degree that his work can barely recognize it: the existence of a power to dissolve the res publica and sovereignty. (Schmitt comes close in his polemic against Scelle’s methodological individualism in the paper translated as War/Nonwar.) It also should be noted that this power is what makes the partisan an important figure, not the reverse.


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