Carl Schmitt

Carl Schmitt: Theorist for the Reich

Joseph W. Bendersky
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvg6g
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  • Book Info
    Carl Schmitt
    Book Description:

    Basing his work on the writings of Schmitt and his contemporaries, extensive new archival documentation, and parts of Schmitt's personal papers, Professor Bendersky uses Schmitt's public career as a framework for re-evaluating his contributions to political and legal theory. This book establishes that Schmitt's late Weimar writings were directed at preventing rather than encouraging the Nazi acquisition of power.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5325-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. PART I: EARLY YEARS, 1888–1921:: From Apolitical Scholar to Political Theorist
    • ONE CATHOLIC HERITAGE, EDUCATION, AND THE STATE
      (pp. 3-20)

      The tranquil setting of Carl Schmitt’s birth revealed little of what the future held for the man and his country. When Carl was born on July 11, 1888, the seemingly incessant process of German industrialization had just begun to make its mark on his birthplace of Plettenberg, a small town in the heart of the Sauerland. With the Rhine valley to the west and the highly industrialized Ruhr Basin to the north, the Sauerland protected its small towns and villages within the bosom of its mountain forests. A glance at the beautiful countryside in which Plettenberg is situated would prompt...

    • TWO POLITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS, DEMOCRACY, AND DICTATORSHIP
      (pp. 21-40)

      By the end of 1918 the Wilhelmine order of Schmitf’s youth had fallen apart. Under the pressures of military defeat, demoralization, and domestic upheaval the Kaiser abdicated and a republic was proclaimed on November 9. These were agonizing times for Schmitt. Not only was the future political direction of Germany unclear, but the continued existence of the republic was in doubt from the very beginning. An unstable republic, lacking clearly established centers of power and authority, had replaced the most powerful state in German history. For decades the authoritarian state had been the cement which held German society together, despite...

  6. PART II: BONN YEARS, 1922–1928:: The Rise to Intellectual Prominence
    • THREE CHARACTER AND PERSPECTIVES OF A UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR
      (pp. 43-63)

      By 1921, Schmitf’s scholarship, his most recent works on dictatorship and sovereignty in particular, had placed him back on the path toward professional success. In the fall of that year, he received an appointment as a full professor of public law at the University of Greifswald. Although this was his first major academic position, he taught at Greifswald for only one semester, moving to the University of Bonn by the spring of 1922.¹ Greifswald, situated in the Baltic area of Prussia, had an atmosphere that was too alien for someone with Schmitfs Rhenish, Catholic temperament. He found Bonn much more...

    • FOUR PARLIAMENTARIANISM VS. PRESIDENTIAL POWER
      (pp. 64-84)

      The sleepy university town of Bonn, though far from the major power struggles in Berlin, did not isolate Schmitt from the political problems plaguing Germany. Less than a year after Schmitt arrived in Bonn, the country again lapsed into turmoil. It would be several years before the nation could recover even a perceptible degree of stability. Schmitt spent his first years at the university grappling with the problems caused by political instability and by the centrifugal forces debilitating the republic. These were challenging times for anyone studying politics. It was exceptionally difficult to retain a sense of scholarly detachment when...

    • FIVE FRIEND-ENEMY THESIS AND THE INVIOLABLE CONSTITUTION
      (pp. 85-104)

      During the final years Schmitt spent at the University of Bonn, 1926-1928, Germany experienced its most stable and prosperous interlude. The civil disorders and political violence that had characterized the early history of Weimar had ceased. The Hindenburg presidency offered many Germans a sense of psychological security and the government was at least functioning tolerably. The future of the republic appeared brighter than ever.¹ Like most Germans, Schmitt welcomed the new era of tranquillity. But he remained cautious and apprehensive. He never lost sight of the fact that little had changed in the relations among the diverse political and ideological...

  7. PART III: WEIMAR’S FINAL CRISIS, 1929–1933:: The Theorist of the Presidential System
    • SIX THE POUVOIR NEUTRE AS DEFENDER OF THE CONSTITUTION
      (pp. 107-126)

      Schmitt left Bonn in the spring of 1928 to accept the Hugo Preuss chair of law at the Berlin Graduate School of Business Administration. No doubt, it was the lure of the Preuss chair and the attraction of Berlin that convinced him to leave the University of Bonn for a position at the Handelshochschule. Berlin, the political and intellectual center of Weimar, offered a more prestigious setting, one befitting an ambitious scholar with a national reputation who was fascinated by politics. Schmitt’s selection for the Preuss chair depended upon the recommendation of his friend Moritz Julius Bonn, the director of...

    • SEVEN PRESIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT IN THE MIDST OF CONTROVERSY
      (pp. 127-144)

      The elections of September 14, 1930, were a turning point in the history of the Weimar Republic and a great disappointment to Schmitt. In hisVerfassungslehre,Schmitt had argued that the right to dissolve parliament and call new elections was one of the democratic means available to a president to counteract an obstructionist Reichstag.¹ The direct appeal to the people, Schmitt wrote, was a procedure that no good democrat could contest. And to a large extent, the viability of the presidential system, as Schmitt envisioned it, depended upon this authority. Although Bruning’s decision to dissolve the Reichstag was in no...

    • EIGHT LEGALITY, NEUTRALITY, AND REALITY: THE CONSTITUTION, THE COURT, AND THE NAZIS
      (pp. 145-171)

      Throughout the convulsive year of 1932, Schmitt was preoccupied with the dual threat of civil war or an extremist seizure of power. Not since the upheavals of the early republic had there been such heightened political tension and radicalization within a single year. The German people were saturated with constant political activity which, rather than alleviating their troubles, only contributed to the deterioration of the body politic. It was a year of countless electoral campaigns at all levels of government and a time of public disorder, despite the institution of numerous emergency decrees intended to assure civil peace. Within a...

    • NINE THE CONSTITUTIONAL DILEMMA AND HITLER’S LEGAL ACQUISITION OF POWER
      (pp. 172-192)

      In the months between the July 20 action against Prussia and the October decision of the supreme court, the government’s position deteriorated as the political and economic crisis intensified. Despite the government’s failures, Schmitt still saw the presidential system as the best alternative and he continued to advise the Schleicher clique along the lines of the arguments he had set forth inlegalität und Legitimität.While it is doubtful that Schleicher ever read this book, he had, through his aides and his own conversations with Schmitt, become familiar with the general ideas of his legal adviser. Beginning in mid-August, the...

  8. PART IV: THE NAZI EXPERIENCE, 1933–1947:: Collaboration, Repudiation, and Reckoning
    • TEN THE “CROWN JURIST” OF THE THIRD REICH
      (pp. 195-218)

      In the early months of 1933, Schmitt found himself in a predicament similar to the one he faced in 1918-1919. Once again there was the possibility of an abrupt change from one legal and political system to a new order, the precise nature of which, though not readily apparent, was potentially disastrous. During the upheavals that followed World War I, his anxiety had stemmed from the spectre of a dictatorship of the proletariat; now he was equally apprehensive over the eventual establishment of a National Socialist dictatorship. When the monarchy had collapsed, Schmitt had wondered to what extent the left...

    • ELEVEN THE PURGE OF AN IDEOLOGICAL DEVIANT
      (pp. 219-242)

      Contrary to Schmitt’s expectations, the SA purges had not tempered the more radical elements within the party, but rather had opened the way for a more extreme group, the SS, to emerge gradually as the most powerful party institution. Along with the increasing power of the SS, there also developed a more intensified effort at ideological purification. For some time, there had been a growing concern among the party old guard that the tremendous influx of new members since the seizure of power threatened the purity of the movement. The older members were particularly sensitive about those writers whose interpretations...

    • TWELVE THE SECURITY OF SILENCE? FROM GROSSRAUM THEORY TO NUREMBERG
      (pp. 243-273)

      As the months passed without further incidents, Schmitt felt more and more secure in his belief that Goring’s intervention had definitely ended the SD campaign. He had been greatly shaken by this experience and would do everything possible to avoid attracting the attention of the party. When the SD ceased its attacks on him, a relieved yet suspicious Schmitt withdrew from public life. Never again did he provide legal or political advice for Nazi officials or institutions; thereafter questions related to Nazi laws and domestic politics were never addressed in any of his works. Similarly, his personal associations with Goring...

  9. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 274-288)

    After his release from Nuremberg it seemed that Schmitt actually intended to remain within the “security of silence.” He did not return to Berlin, but instead went to his birthplace in Plettenberg, where his wife and daughter had since moved. The chances of someone with Schmitf’s tainted reputation returning to university life were slight indeed. And whatever possibility might have existed disappeared when he refused to go through denazification because he considered the entire process meaningless in his particular case. His attitude was best summed up in a favorable newspaper article that appeared later: “He could neither be nazified nor...

  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 289-312)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 313-320)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-321)