This ideological approach is needed to legitimate predominant relations of domination (obtaining primarily among a ruling elite of experts, professionals, politicians, etc., and a well-administered citizenry) as being neutral and natural. Not only does this framework require automatic dismissal of all other modes of political organization, but also discrediting ideas perceived to be their ideological foundations. The result is a series of distortions and misinterpretations, which instead of defending and strengthening American institutions as claimed, weaken and undermine them by systematically occluding their real nature, and redefining them in extraneous “republican” terms–terms abstracted from European political realities brought about by the French Revolution. It is paradoxical that a European thinker such as Schmitt, whose entire career was focused primarily on strictly European problems, provides some of the most powerful conceptual tools to make sense of this peculiar predicament–including the idiosyncratic reaction to his ideas by managerial-liberal apologists, who see him as a major threat to the oxymoronic system they describe as liberal-democracy.
Trapped within the metaphysical parameters of a unidirectional theory of history that can interpret radical differences only as deviations or pathologies, managerial-liberal thought confronts the 20th and now the 21st century through obsolete, historically-specific categories hypostatized to the level of universality. The result is the homogenization of history and the elimination of particularity. When not dismissing it outright, such a de facto Manichean approach can deal with “the other” only as a variation on the same. Thus, whenever otherness appears, it must either be persuaded back into full sameness or else summarily liquidated as evil. Despite all the rhetoric about openness through “undistorted communication” and interminable dialogue, participation in discussions and deliberations is conditional on the prior acceptance of unchallengeable rules concerning a formal rationality and mode of discourse which automatically exclude all but those intellectuals and professionals fully initiated into the predominant jargon. (5) Consequently, confrontation with “the other” cannot result in any Hegelian transcendence, whereby development takes place by internalizing and thus coopting the opponent’s moment of truth, but freezes radically opposing positions into a stalemate that only perpetuates conflict ad infinitum–pending resolution by other means. It is never a matter of reintegrating the radical opponent’s counter-claims, but of either demanding capitulation or proceeding with outright rejection.
Within such a dogmatic scientistic context pretending to be ideologically neutral, history becomes straightjacketed as an ontogenetic reconstruction of the triumphal march of managerial-liberal thought. Particular categories developed within particular contexts to explain particular phenomena are automatically integrated within the predominant universalist framework to apply anywhere, anytime. The same happens with particular political ideologies. Thus, competing systems such as Nazism, fascism and communism–and now even Islamic integralism–are not only systematically misinterpreted, but, like liberalism, also universalized as permanent threats to a managerial liberalism hypostatized as the natural outcome of evolution and, therefore, as normal and natural.
Uses and abuses of Carl Schmitt
Paul Piccone and Gary Ulmen
Another excerpt under the fold.
Critique of TechnologyThere is absolutely nothing “fascist” about all this. Unless categorical objectifications (including, first and foremost, the legal order) are grounded in some pre-conceptual dimension, the system of which they are a part tends to self-destruct. This is a predicament that, in some way or other, was confronted by some of the best minds of Schmitt’s generation as they sought to solve related problems. This is the context defining, among others, Theodor W. Adorno’s articulation of identity logic, Edmund Husserl’s critique of naturalism, John Dewey’s account of the naturalistic fallacy, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s vindication of the primacy of forms of life, or Alfred North Whitehead’s warnings about misplaced concreteness. As in the case of the unabridgeable gap obtaining between legal structures and all the concrete cases they must cover, being and thought do not and cannot correspond. Being always exceeds thought, and the elimination of the resulting residue by Enlightenment ideology leads to thought redefinition being done exclusively in terms of its abstract concepts (identity logic). The result is an ungrounded rationalism articulated through instrumental reason that can accommodate any political agenda, and can turn into the mad rationality typical of Nazi ideology. (57) The only solution is to ground this rationalism in the pre-rational and pre-conceptual dimension that has become occluded or forgotten: through mimesis for Adorno; in the lifeworld for Husserl; in experience for Dewey; in “concrete orders” for Schmitt, by returning to Being for Heidegger, in “forms of life” for Wittgenstein, etc.
All of this is part of the critique of technology by Heidegger, Schmitt, and many other conservative thinkers, and it has little to do with computers or machinery, which are indicted only when they contribute to this kind of “forgetting.” It is a critique of “the forgetting of Being,” or of becoming unable to think beyond prefabricated conceptual structures that have lost touch with their grounding and, therefore, can readily be instrumentalized by, e. g., the culture industry or totalitarian regimes. It is also a critique of that same “alienation” that a few original Marxist thinkers who managed to survive Stalinism began to articulate after WWII, following the publication of Marx’s Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, and which had such an impact on the New Left in the 1960s. (58) The notorious pessimism and elitism of the Frankfurt School was due primarily to their inability to envision how these conditions could be reversed, so that concrete being, and not its abstract otherness, could be accessed by means other than that art and philosophy practiced only by a few artists and intellectuals (Adorno). (59) Other critics were somewhat more optimistic in proposing solutions, such as a return to the ever-available pre-conceptual lifeworld (Husserl), (60) by privileging experience over purely instrumental concepts (Dewey), (61) and by emphasizing “forms of life” over “forms of thought” (Wittgenstein). (62) Even Georg Lukacs defined the concreteness necessary for a viable materialist analysis–something that an alienated social-democratic thought terminally fragmented by positivism was no longer able to deliver–in terms of relation to a totality in which being and thought were dialectically related. (63)