Death of Carl Schmitt, Political Philosopher Instrumental in Nazi Rise to Power

Carl Schmitt, a leading political philosopher in Germany whose ideas were instrumental behind the Nazi rise to power, dies in Plettenberg, Germany. It's difficult to underestimate the importance of Carl Schmitt's ideas both to Nazi Germany in particular and to authoritarian politics generally.

Schmitt describes politics as a war where compromise and "working together" is a recipe for losing. Schmitt argued that liberals cannot be political because liberals tend to be optimistic about human nature and believe in the possibility of neutral rules that can mediate between conflicting positions. Schmitt, though, argues that "all genuine political theories presuppose man to be evil" and that there is no real neutrality. Every rule, even ostensibly fair rules, are just expressions of the victory of one political faction over another.

Liberals believe that there is a society which exists independently from the state. Schmitt, though, argues that pluralism is an illusion and even a danger because no real state can ever allow other forces, like family or church, to contest its power.

Liberals, to be succinct, are uncomfortable around power and this is why they criticize politics more than they participate in it. Conservatives, in contrast, recognize the truth that humans are inherently evil or depraved, that all rules are the result of victory over opponents, and that pluralism must be destroyed. Thus only conservatives can truly engage in real politics and, therefore, conservatives will always win real political battles.

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In Defense of Politics

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