Politics and the Concept of the Political: The Political Imagination 2016003682, 9781138185814, 9781138185821, 9781315644233

A recent trend in contemporary western political theory is to criticize it for implicitly trying to "conquer,"

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Politics and the Concept of the Political: The Political Imagination
 2016003682, 9781138185814, 9781138185821, 9781315644233

Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
1. The Status of Politics and the Political
I The concept of the political
II The political and political theory
III Previous theories of the political and the “original position”
of politics
IV Outline of the book
PART 1: The State
2. Realism: Weberx
I Politics, economics, and ethics
II Science, philosophy, and politics
III Realism and political theory
3. Absolutism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism: Schmitt
I The political against ethics, economics, and liberalism
II Theology and politics
III Realism, authoritarianism, and social conservatism
4. Idealism: Ricoeur
I The ideal of the political and the reality of politics
II Religion, ethics, and politics
III Idealism in politics
PART 2: The Polis
5. Public and Private, Self and World: Arendt
I The political against the state and society
II Philosophy and the political
III Republicanism, citizenship, and public life
6. The Social, the Political, and Democracy: Wolin
I The social and the political
II Theory and the political
III Populism, economics, and culture
PART 3: Society
7. Economics, Culture, and the Political: Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe
I Lefort: the political against Marxism and philosophy
II Laclau and Mouffe: the political against essentialism
III Ontology and politics
IV Ideology, strategy, and organization
8. Theories of the Political, Political Theory, and Politics
I The political imagination
II Theories of the political and political theory
III Theories of the political and politics

Citation preview

This book establishes a much-needed line of communication between broadly postmodern theories of politics and the new political realism. Enzo Rossi, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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A recent trend in contemporary western political theory is to criticize it for implicitly trying to “conquer,” “displace,” or “moralize” politics. James Wiley’s book takes the “next step,” from criticizing contemporary political theory, to showing what a more “politics-centered” political theory would look like by exploring the meaning and value of politics in the writings of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Paul Ricoeur, Hannah Arendt, Sheldon Wolin, Claude Lefort, and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. These political theorists all use the concept of “the political” to explain the value of politics and defend it from its detractors. They represent state-centered, republic-centered, and society-centered conceptions of politics, as well as realist, authoritarian, idealist, republican, populist, and radical democratic traditions of political thought. This book compares these theorists and traditions of “the political” in order to defend politics from its critics and to contribute to the development of a politics-centered political theory. Politics and the Concept of the Political will be a useful resource to general audiences as well as to specialists in political theory. James Wiley has a Ph.D. in Political Theory from the Johns Hopkins University and has taught political theory and political science at the University of Rhode Island, Western Michigan University, the University of Delaware, St. Norbert College, the University of North Florida, John Carroll University, and the College of Wooster. He is the author of Theory and Practice in the Philosophy of David Hume (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

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First published 2016 by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2016 Taylor & Francis The right of James Wiley to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Wiley, James, 1956- author. Title: Politics and the concept of the political : the political imagination / James Wiley. Description: New York, NY : Routledge, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016003682| ISBN 9781138185814 (hbk) | ISBN 9781138185821 (pbk) | ISBN 9781315644233 (ebk) Subjects: LCSH: Political science–Philosophy. | Political theory. Classification: LCC JA83 .W538 2016 | DDC 320.01–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016003682 ISBN: 978-1-138-18581-4 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-138-18582-1 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-64423-3 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Taylor & Francis Books

For my mother, Jean Wiley, my sister, Nancy Wiley, and for Karen Taylor

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The Status of Politics and the Political



The State 2 Realism: Weberx 3 Absolutism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism: Schmitt 4 Idealism: Ricoeur

23 54 89


The Polis 5 Public and Private, Self and World: Arendt 6 The Social, the Political, and Democracy: Wolin

119 151


Society 7 Economics, Culture, and the Political: Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe 8 Theories of the Political, Political Theory, and Politics

187 222

Bibliography Index

247 289

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Politics is too often regarded as a poor relation, inherently dependent and subsidiary; it is rarely praised as something with a life and character of its own. Bernard Crick (1964: 15 or 2000: 1–2) It might be suggested … that both the proponents of social science and the ethicallyminded political philosopher advocate an approach which misses the same point. The issue is not solely methodological, nor even primarily ethical in character, but substantive; that is, it concerns the status of politics and the political. Sheldon Wolin (1960a: 288 or 2004: 258)

A recent trend in contemporary western political theory is to criticize it for implicitly trying to “conquer,” “displace,” or “moralize” politics. This book takes the “next step,” from criticizing contemporary political theory, to showing what a more “politics-centered” political theory would look like by exploring the meaning and value of politics in the writings of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Paul Ricoeur, Hannah Arendt, Sheldon Wolin, Claude Lefort, and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. These political theorists all use the concept of “the political” to explain the value of politics and defend it from its detractors. They represent state-centered, republic-centered, and society-centered conceptions of politics, as well as realist, authoritarian, idealist, republican, populist, and radical democratic traditions of political thought. This book compares these theorists and traditions of “the political” in order to defend politics from its critics and to contribute to the development of a politics-centered political theory. For readers who are familiar with Bernard Crick’s In Defense of Politics (1964 or 2000) and Sheldon Wolin’s Politics and Vision (1960 or 2004), this book aims to combine Crick’s defense of politics against its detractors with Wolin’s critique of political theory

2 Politics and the Concept of the Political

from the perspective of “the political.” Crick defined politics as “the activity by which differing interests within a given unit of rule are conciliated by giving them a share in power in proportion to their importance to the welfare and the survival of the whole community” (1964: 21 or 2000: 7). Crick excluded foreign politics, emergencies, and authoritarian politics from his definition. My definition is broader and generalizes from my authors. I define politics as “the struggle for, or cooperative use of, power, authority and ideology in order to advance interests and ideals in the name of some collectivity.” Borrowing from Wolin, I define “the political” as the “union of power and community.” The continual need to clarify the meaning and value of politics is due to a fundamental ambivalence about its “status.” As Crick complained, “Politics is too often regarded as a poor relation, inherently dependent and subsidiary; it is rarely praised as something with a life and character of its own” (1964: 15 or 2000: 1–2). Crick began his book by quoting a newspaper article that agreed with the Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar, who “detested” politics: “all those noisy and incoherent promises, the impossible demands … opportunism that cares neither for truth nor justice … the exploitation of the lowest instincts.” Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary defined politics as “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principle. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage” (2004: 307). No one is thrilled by Joseph Schumpeter’s characterization of democracy as “the rule of the politician” (2003: 285), but many believe it is accurate. Many utopian schemes promise a world free from politics. William Morris, in News from Nowhere, had his utopians declare, “we are very well off as to politics—because we have none” (1962: 256). Morris’s utopians use their parliament building to store manure. Many Americans, it seems, do not like politics and would agree with these negative assessments. According to two political scientists who have studied American attitudes toward politics: Participation in politics is low not because of the difficulty of registration requirements or the dearth of places for citizens to discuss politics, not because of the sometimes unseemly nature of debate in Congress or displeasure with a particular public policy. Participation in politics is low because people do not like politics even in the best of circumstances; in other words, they simply do not like the process of openly arriving at a decision in the face of diverse opinions. They do not like politics when they view it from afar and they certainly do not like politics when they participate in it themselves. (Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 2002: 3) By the last edition of his book (2000), even Crick was disappointed by the postCold War parliamentary democracies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and he added an appendix devoted to Thucydides’s (1972) description of the breakdown of ancient Greek politics during the Peloponnesian War. As Max

The Status of Politics and the Political 3

Weber wrote, politics is a “slow boring of hard boards” (1946c: 128). Because politics is frustrating, there is a continual need to explain its meaning and value. As the epigraph to this chapter by Wolin indicates, even political scientists and political philosophers who study politics are ambivalent about it and implicitly denigrate “the status of politics and the political” by trying to reduce it to ethics or to psychological, sociological, or economic processes. In Chapter 6 of his book (2000), Crick drew portraits of political theorists who also distrust politics: “the non-political conservative,” who wants to be “above” politics (Michael Oakeshott), “the a-political liberal,” who succumbs to self-righteous moralism, and “the anti-political socialist,” who sees political processes, with their compromises, as obstacles to radical change (Harold Laski). Today, there is an emerging cohort of political theorists, such as Michael Walzer (1981; 2007), Benjamin Barber (1988), Bonnie Honig (1993), Joseph Schwartz (1995), Mark Reinhardt (1997), John Gray (2000), Glenn Newey (2001), Pierre Manent (2006), Richard North (2010), Richard Bellamy (2010), John Horton (2010), Mark Philp (2010), Charles Larmore (2013), and Lorna Finlayson (2015), who argue that most of their fellow political theorists are professionally biased toward order, ethics, or the “juridification” of politics. Like the theorists of the political discussed in this book, these writers view most academic political theory as an attempt to “conquer,” “displace,” or “transcend” politics. Others, such as Bernard Williams (2005) and Raymond Geuss (2008), have argued that too much emphasis has been placed on “moralism” or “ideal theory” and that political theories need to be more “realistic” (Galston 2010; Rossi and Sleat 2014). Michael Freeden (2005; 2013) has been badgering the field for some time to take ideology (which he thinks is more authentically “political” than most academic political theory) seriously and Jeremy Waldron (2013) calls for a “political political theory” focused on institutions. This book aims to contribute to this emerging “politics-centered” literature by examining theorists who explicitly use the concept of the political in order to explore some of the implications of making politics central to theorizing. Its other aim is to articulate the meaning and value of politics, particularly for those who are ambivalent about it (as I am). But, first, what is this strange term, “the political”?

I The concept of the political The “concept of the political” was coined in 1927 by the controversial right-wing legal scholar Carl Schmitt (1947; 1976 or 1996a or 2007a). The “concept” of the political is different from the use of the term “the political” in the German das Politische, the French le politique, and the Italian il politico. These transform an adjective into a noun and in French, Italian, and Spanish usually refer to “the political (man),” or politician (the “politico”).1 But they are often used interchangeably with “politics” (die Politik, la politique, la politica) “without there being any semantic difference” (Vollrath 1987: 19). Thus many Continental writers

4 Politics and the Concept of the Political

(Ellul 1972; Castoriadis 1991a; Touraine 1997) use “the political” as a synonym for politics or the state. In a famous letter, Max Weber wrote “And then das Politische … it is my old ‘secret love,’” and this has been translated as both “the political” (Scaff 1989: 152) and “politics” (Mommsen 1989: 7). The term is used less often in the English-speaking world where the Continental terms are sometimes translated as “polity” or simply as “politics.” The demand for an explicit “concept of the political” arises whenever the common sense view of politics breaks down. According to Agnes Heller (1990: 114), this happens when the old ruling classes lose their monopoly on the control of politics.2 Schmitt coined the concept of the political in order to save the classical European state conception of politics, which he believed was being undermined by democracy and pluralism. Previously, according to Schmitt, “the political” could be identified with the state. Democracy, however, subjected the state to society’s wants and the state responded by expanding its activities into society, thereby blurring the distinction between politics and other activities: The equation state = politics becomes erroneous and deceptive at exactly the moment when state and society penetrate each other. What had been up to that point affairs of state become thereby social matters and vice versa, what had been purely social matters become affairs of state—as must necessarily occur in a democratically organized unit … In such a state, therefore, everything is at least potentially political, and in referring to the state it is no longer possible to assert for it a specifically political characteristic. (1976 or 2007a: 22) Schmitt pointed to, but did not dwell on, a paradox that lies at the heart of the “concept” of the political. Democracy leads to an expansion of the state: society is politicized. Everything becomes “at least potentially political.” But as everything becomes political, the political loses its particular identity. The state becomes socialized and “it is no longer possible to assert for it a specifically political characteristic.” The politicization of society and the socialization of the state present a paradox that requires a concept of the political in order to distinguish the genuinely political from the falsely or temporarily politicized. Forty years later, in the lead essay to the inaugural issue of the academic journal Political Theory, Giovanni Sartori made a similar point. The “democratization or massification of politics,” he wrote (1973: 21), means “above all, the ubiquity of politics.” But this ubiquity also produces a “sociologization of politics” (22), a reduction of politics to private demands by social groups, and then to complaints about the “dilution, emasculation, and eclipse” of the political (23). This paradox, that when the concept of politics expands it loses its identity, is also inherent in debates about whether or not “everything is political.” When Michel Foucault was asked to define “the political,” he defined it in terms of force and suggested that everything was political. But he immediately added this caveat: “To say that

The Status of Politics and the Political 5

‘everything is political’ is to affirm this ubiquity of relations of force and their immanence in a political field; but this is to give oneself the task, which has scarcely been outlined, of disentangling this indefinite knot” (1980a: 189). Pluralism poses a similar, though opposite, challenge. One purpose of Schmitt’s concept of the political (1976 or 2007a: 37–45 and 1999a) was to criticize French syndicalism and the British pluralist theories of Harold Laski (1968), G.D.H. Cole and J.N. Figges (Hirst 1989b), which upheld churches, unions, and other organizations as having the same claims on the loyalty of individuals as the state. By attacking the concept of the state, pluralism undermines the idea that there is a specifically political realm or activity. In contrast to the expansion of the democratic state (which politicizes society and socializes politics), pluralism creates the opposite paradox where a “socialization” or privatization of politics dissolves the state into interest groups and private associations, and then politicizes those social units in a new “feudalism.”3 Karl Marx (1978) described feudalism in terms of this inversion: it was a system where the state was “the private affair of a ruler and his servants” (45), while “the old civil society had a directly political character” (44). Critics of pluralism and “corporatism” often make a similar point.4 At the extreme where pluralism becomes “feudalism,” one can reverse the paradox of “everything” being political: where nothing is specifically political, then “everything” is. Thus, under modern conditions of democracy and pluralism, the question of what is political becomes especially salient. “The political” is now fashionable in Anglophone political theory, particularly among British writers or among those studying Continental political philosophy. Books and articles are published regularly with “the political” somewhere in the title. For example, there is Adorno and the Political, Lacan and the Political, Foucault and the Political, Derrida and the Political, Nietzsche and the Political, Heidegger and the Political, Lyotard and the Political, Deleuze and the Political, Interpreting the Political, Feminists Theorize the Political, Defining the Political, The Primacy of the Political, The Fate of the Political, Revisioning the Political, The Permanence of the Political, Reinterpreting the Political, Theology and the Political, Confronting the Political in International Relations, The Enlightenment Origins of the Political, Contesting the Boundaries of the Political, and most simply, The Political.5 Even the late John Rawls (1989) jumped on the bandwagon with an essay on “The Domain of the Political and Overlapping Consensus.” Many of these are excellent works and much can be learned from them. But the reader who opens these in search of insight into “the political” will find that there is a lot of discussion of the other topics in the titles and frustratingly little about the political itself. In contrast, the theorists of the political examined in this book attempt to articulate and defend those qualities that are specifically political, rather than philosophical, economic, or social. Briefly, Max Weber conceived politics as the struggle for power within and among states, and divided citizens into rulers (or leaders) and ruled. The meaning and value of politics for him was the power to resist evil and advance interests or

6 Politics and the Concept of the Political

ideals. In particular, the vast power of a state meant “the power to determine the character of culture in the future.” Power imposed moral obligations (which Weber called “our responsibility before history”), such as a nation’s collective responsibility to ensure favorable political, economic, and cultural conditions for its descendants and, more generally, for the world. Weber belongs to the tradition of western political thought known as realism. Carl Schmitt conceived the political as the friend–enemy relation and (like Weber) divided citizens into statesmen who make political decisions and subjects who obey. The meaning and value of politics for Schmitt was authority and the order, hierarchy, and discipline it imposed on a rebellious human nature. Schmitt is controversial and can be classified as an “absolutist” like Thomas Hobbes, a fascist like Benito Mussolini, or a Catholic authoritarian like Joseph de Maistre. Paul Ricoeur conceived the political as the ideal of the state (understood as justice, the “rule of law,” or the “organization of freedom”) and citizenship as a moral achievement over private interest. The meaning and value of politics was the power to realize ideals, such as justice, freedom, and equality. Like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and G.W.F. Hegel, Ricoeur believed that the state provided moral education, for both individual citizens and the human race. Ricoeur was an “idealist”—as are most political theorists. Hannah Arendt conceived the political as the public realm of freedom and citizenship as participation in government. The meaning and value of politics for her was freedom, understood as participation in government, and the chance for citizens to act in concert to initiate something new and memorable in the world. Arendt can be placed in a tradition of political thought historians call “republicanism” or “civic humanism,” which was inspired by the political ideals of ancient Greece and republican Rome, which centered on the polis, res publica, or city-state. Sheldon Wolin viewed the political as the union of authority and community and citizenship as the collaborative use of power. He initially identified the political with the state, but in his later writings concluded that democracy is the only authentic example of this union and collaboration. The meaning and value of politics was thus popular power, the ability of ordinary people to participate in the collective use of power. Wolin’s democratic politics was populist. Claude Lefort, Ernesto Laclau, and Chantal Mouffe conceived of the political as those practices of culture and hegemony that institute, maintain and transform society. For Lefort, the meaning and value of politics was freedom, understood as participation in perpetual debates and social conflicts that energize society. For Laclau and Mouffe, the meaning and value of politics was the chance for people to exercise their freedom and power by transforming social relationships and changing their world. Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe were former Marxists who became “radical” democrats. Another way to “fix ideas” is to note that the conceptions of the political and politics in Weber, Schmitt, and Ricoeur (as well as the political traditions I associate with them) derived from the historical institution of the state; the conceptions of Arendt and Wolin were inspired by the ancient Greek polis and

The Status of Politics and the Political 7

Roman res publica; and the conceptions of the political in Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe derived from the French revolutionary tradition, as modified by the social movement politics symbolized by May 1968. In this tradition, society (rather than the state or polis) is the context for politics, politics is ideological, and it is “institutionalized” as “the Revolution” or “the Movement.” These three conceptions of the political (statist, polis, or republic-centered and society-centered) also correspond to textbook conceptions of politics: as government, as public affairs, and as power and resources: Three clearly distinct conceptions of politics can be identified. In the first place, politics has long been associated with the formal institutions of government and the activities which take place therein. Secondly, politics is commonly linked to public life and public activities, in contrast to what is thought of as private or personal. Thirdly, politics has been related to the distribution of power, wealth and resources, something that takes place within all institutions and at every level of social existence. (Heywood 1994: 17)

II The political and political theory Theories of the political do not constitute an explicit “genre” or subfield in contemporary western political theory.6 In Anglo-American political thought, theories of the political (particularly those of Arendt and Wolin) are usually lumped together with other “grand theories” (such as those of Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin) and the history of the transformation of political philosophy into social science is understood primarily in terms of the shift in knowledge from philosophy to science rather than from the political to the social.7 In France, the political continues to be used as a synonym for the state. But there has been a tendency (called “the return of the political”) to identify the political with political thought and ideology, and to emphasize its role alongside material interests in producing events (Jennings 1997; Rosanvallon 2001). Ernst Vollrath (1996) reports that in Germany most political theory is subsumed under moral theory.8 In Italy, evidently under the influence of Benedetto Croce’s (1960) realist interpretation of Machiavelli and the “autonomy” of politics (as well as Schmitt’s influence during the fascist period), theories of the political do form a subfield. The Italian political theorist Alexander Passerin d’Entreves (1971) divided political theory into 1) the classical quest for the best regime, 2) the analytic concern with concepts and methodology, 3) the concept of the political, and 4) theories of legitimacy. But d’Entreves disliked the concept of the political because he believed that theorists like Schmitt who use this concept try to reduce politics to force in the name of either a brutal “realism” or fascism. The strong claim made by theorists of the political is that there is some sort of “rationality” or causal “logic” specific

8 Politics and the Concept of the Political

to politics and that it is the proper task of political philosophy to “extract” this “authentic” rationality (Vollrath 1987: 18). The easiest “logic” to establish is the realist logic of power, which on the one hand seems to emancipate politics from morality, and on the other hand can claim the empirical “primacy” of the state and politics over economic interests, social functions, or cultural and ideological beliefs. For many political theorists, realism is an unacceptable way to interpret politics, even if it seems capable of contesting economic, sociological, or philosophical conceptions of history and the “real” world. Political theory is, for the most part, “idealist” in its relation to politics. But there is a more fundamental tension between theories of the political and conventional political theory. As noted by Crick and argued by theorists of the political such as Wolin and Arendt, there is an ambivalence among political theorists about politics that goes back to the origins of political theory. In his “Seventh Letter,” Plato explained that as a young Athenian man from an aristocratic family he had planned to go into politics, but had been repelled by its sordidness. He was disillusioned in particular by the trial and execution of Socrates (1973: 112–14). In his Republic, the “founding” text of political philosophy, Plato quickly decides that the philosophic way of life is superior to politics and absorbs the content of politics into philosophy. In the chapter on Plato in Politics and Vision, Wolin complained that “Unless the distinctively political context is preserved, political theory tends to vanish into larger questions, such as the nature of the Good, the ultimate destiny of man, or the problem of right conduct, thereby losing contact with the essentially political questions that are its proper concern” (1960a: 43 or 2004: 40). Arguably, most political theorists (I include myself here) are mostly concerned with the “larger questions” of ethics and ultimate destiny instead of what Wolin considered “essentially political questions.” Many, if not most, traditional and contemporary political theorists either start with “larger questions,” as Wolin claimed, and deduce a theory of politics from them, or else conceive politics as a means to something higher. Dante Germino, representing this “traditional” view, argued that the political theorist “bases his political knowledge on his understanding of man’s essential human nature, since the natural political order will be a reflection of the order within the psyche of the representative human type” (1969: 102). More commonly, contemporary western political theorists tend to view political theory as a subfield of moral theory. According to Isaiah Berlin, political theory “is but ethics applied to society” (1991b: 2). Even writers who use the term “the political” usually reduce or expand it into something else in the ways that Wolin indicates. In Nietzsche and the Political, Daniel Conway (1997: 3) sees the political relevance of Nietzsche in his asking the question “what ought humankind to become?” But Conway identifies this “founding question of politics” as “a philosophical question of ultimate justification or legitimation” (6, italics added). The author of Derrida and the Political relegates his definition of the political to a footnote where “the ‘political’ is, in

The Status of Politics and the Political 9

Platonic vein, the trait that allows us to describe/recognize a gesture of thought or action as political” (Beardsworth 1996: introduction, note 1). The distinction between the political and politics is thus matched to Martin Heidegger’s distinction between the “ontological” and the “ontic” (1962a).9 This is also the approach of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy in Retreating the Political (1997). Similarly, Reiner Schurmann (1990), Fred Dallmayr (1990), and David Campbell and Mick Dillon (1993: 173) extract a notion of the political from Heidegger in which the political “is taken to be the site in which the conjunction of things, actions, and speech—all those features which constitute the unifying force of a dominant metaphysical referent—is exposed or revealed.” While these conceptions of the political are interesting and not “wrong” in any objective sense, they presume without argument the identity of metaphysics and the political. In contrast to these metaphysical conceptions of the political, the author of Heidegger’s Political Thinking (Ward 1995: xviii) identifies the political with action and practice, and thus as “the order of human things.” This led a reviewer (Sluga 1996: 180–1) to complain about an “overly broad conception of the political” which “fails to distinguish between the practical, the social, and the political and is, for that reason, unhelpful in isolating political lessons in Heidegger’s work.” The author was presuming Aristotle’s conception of political philosophy as the “philosophy of human affairs.”10 This is a broad view derived from Aristotle’s distinction between “theoretical” and “practical” philosophy, in which everything practical, and everything human, is by definition political (Strauss 1975b: 74–5; Lobkowicz 1967: 3–57). But this leads us back to the problem of “disentangling” Foucault’s “indefinite knot.” When the political is not identified with metaphysics, practice, or human affairs, many political theorists identify it with society, community, or collectivity. As part of their polemics against liberal individualism, some political theorists conflate any “we” identity with the political. Lacoue‑Labarthe and Nancy, when they are not identifying the political with the ontological, identify it with community.11 In a similar communal spirit, Jacques Derrida (1997) identified the political relation with friendship.12 Although they did not use the term “the political,” communitarians such as Charles Taylor (1989), Michael Sandel (1996), and William Sullivan (1986) appropriated “civic republicanism” for their polemics against liberalism, but, like the deconstructionists, mostly reduced its political content to the assertion of community against individualism. The same criticism can be applied to many theories of citizenship. Wilhelm Hennis asserts insightfully, “For all truly political thought, the relationship between man and citizen is the central political problem” (1991: 36). Yet, in an otherwise intriguing study linking Weber’s sociology to the republican political tradition of Machiavelli, Rousseau, and Tocqueville, Hennis (1988) ends with the disappointing conclusion that what these writers share is a sense of civic “duty” in opposition to bourgeois selfishness.13 Similarly, in essays on the history of the relationship of “bourgeois” to “citoyen,” both J.G.A. Pocock (1995) and Michael

10 Politics and the Concept of the Political

Ignatieff (1995) see socialism as the (failed) successor to civic humanism, but in so doing they reduce “citizen” to mean something like “unified personality” (the hapless bourgeois is always torn between private interests and civic duty, neither a “man” nor a “citizen”) and ignore both the variety of non‑political models of unified personalities (the philosopher, the saint, the artist) and the sense in which socialist “man” was intended to transcend both the political limitations of the citizen and the economic limitations of the bourgeois. These (alleged) confusions between political and social are common in political and social theory, and can be understood to derive from translating Aristotle’s “political animal” (zoon politikon) into Latin as “social animal” (animal socialis). Arendt (1958a: 23) protested against this (mis)translation because she believed politics involved more than simply social interactions and altruistic commitments. She complained in The Human Condition that western political traditions considered politics to be a mere means to some other non-political end like philosophy, religion, or social well-being: The substitution of making for acting and the concomitant degradation of politics into a means to obtain an allegedly “higher” end—in antiquity the protection of the good men from the rule of the bad in general, and the safety of the philosopher in particular, in the Middle Ages the salvation of souls, in the modern age the productivity and progress of society—is as old as the tradition of political philosophy. (1958a: 229)

If the reader will indulge further criticism of political theory (again, it takes one to know one), another characteristic approach of contemporary political theorists has been to try to deduce a theory of politics from epistemology, theories of language, hermeneutics, theories of judgment, social constructivism, hypothetical scenarios, etc. These “interpretive” methods are usually opposed to “scientific” or “positivist” approaches to politics and are claimed to provide better insights into politics. But according to Wolin, the methodological disputes in political science that during the 1950s polarized into “normative” (or interpretative) and “empirical” (or scientific) approaches to politics involved both sides taking the political for granted. Empirical social scientists tended to reduce politics to economic, social, or psychological processes while normative political philosophers tended to reduce it to metaphysics or ethics. These methodological disputes between political scientists and political theorists, Wolin complained, concealed a common substantive devaluation of the political: “It might be suggested … that both the proponents of social science and the ethically-minded political philosopher advocate an approach which misses the same point. The issue is not solely methodological, nor even primarily ethical in character, but substantive; that is, it concerns the status of politics and the political” (1960a: 288 or 2004: 258).

The Status of Politics and the Political 11

If most political theorists start with ethics, human nature, language, metaphysics, or method, and deduce theories of politics from them, theorists of the political proceed in the opposite direction. Beginning with a “substantive” commitment to a particular conception or ideal of politics, they in effect “deduce” everything else from politics. This is what d’Entreves seemed to mean when he wrote that “defining politics is therefore tantamount to taking a particular stand about the ends of human activity” (1971: 309). Stated in “ethically-minded” or normative terms, theories of the political either claim that politics and citizenship represent the “good life,” or (if they are unwilling to go that far) they provide a defense of politics and the citizen against the moralist, the philosopher, the bourgeois, the saint, etc. Hennis is right: “For all truly political thought, the relationship between man [or woman] and citizen is the central political problem.” Human beings are obviously “social animals” (contra Rousseau’s solitary “Orang-outangs” in his Second Discourse), but in what sense are they “political” animals or “citizens”? This problem cannot be decided simply by deductions from human nature, theories of power, or theories of reality because what is at stake is the value the theorist places on politics itself. And many political theorists don’t like politics, or at least are ambivalent about politics (as I am). Many of us would fit Crick’s caricatures of the non-political conservative, the a-political liberal, or the antipolitical socialist. It is logically quite possible for two political theorists to agree about metaphysics or human nature (or even ideology) while disagreeing about the political implications of these because they have different conceptions and evaluations of politics. This is what I take Wolin to mean by the “substantive” issue of “the status of politics and the political.” Stated in terms of “social science,” theories of the political either assert the “primacy” of the political over the moral, the economic, the social, etc., because (say) politics provides the preconditions of social order without which life will be “nasty, brutish and short,” or else they assert the “autonomy” of the political in relation to these other areas and activities. As Kenneth Minogue put it in a discussion of the state, society, economy, and culture as forms of human association: “Can we argue that one of the four forms of association is more fundamental than the others? This is perhaps the founding question of modern political philosophy” (1995: 51). This “founding question of modern political philosophy” cannot be answered simply by methodological means because the “status of politics and the political” involves a fusion of concept and evaluation. It is at least arguable that conceptions of politics and the political, rather than being deductions or inferences from higher principles, operate as “independent variables” in political theories.

III Previous theories of the political and the “original position” of politics Before presenting the plan of this book I want to clarify two things: the defects of previous theories of the political (particularly in Arendt and Wolin) and what I

12 Politics and the Concept of the Political

conceive to be the “original position” of politics, ethics, and philosophy in ancient Greece.

Defects of previous theories of the political As noted earlier, some conceptions of the political are considered objectionable because they are too oriented toward power and force. I answer this criticism in the chapters on Weber and realism and on Schmitt in relation to absolutism, fascism, and authoritarianism. Another defect of the concept of the political as a “genre” or subfield has been the tendency of its theorists to isolate politics from everything else. The attempt to divide the world up into various “spheres” (the political, the philosophical, the economic, etc.), even when not viewed skeptically, tends to create an abstract or “metaphysical” discussion that isolates this genre, especially (and ironically) from politics itself. The vice of Arendt’s The Human Condition and Wolin’s Politics and Vision was to produce either a rigid definition of the political that excluded a lot of things previously considered to be political (Arendt’s solution), or else to leave the definition of the political vague and mysterious (Wolin’s solution). Wolin conceded at the beginning of Politics and Vision that “the difficulties of preserving a clear notion of what is political forms the basic theme of this book” (1960a: 4 or 2004: 5). Politics and Vision was filled with demands that theorists consider the “truly political,” “distinctively political,” and “genuinely political” aspects of political theory (1960a: 51, 43, 433 or 2004: 48, 41, 388). The irony was that when Wolin confronted theorists like Machiavelli and Hobbes, who actually produced “truly political” theories, he accused them of severing the vital connection between politics and the beliefs and practices of the community. The original edition of Politics and Vision ended with Wolin still in search of the political. In his later writings, the political was clearer (it was “fugitive democracy”), but totally separated from everyday politics. The 1960 edition of Politics and Vison also focused on the anti-political trends in modern political thought, which either denigrated politics because of its coercion (classical liberalism) or “sublimated” politics into pluralist organizations. Aside from the rejected “visions” of Machiavelli and Hobbes, Wolin did not describe any other modern political visions. The 2004 expanded edition presented the economic vision of Marx, the cultural vision of Nietzsche, and the liberal visions of Rawls, Karl Popper, and John Dewey, but not any political visions other than fugitive democracy. This book presents seven distinct modern (twentiethcentury) political visions, including Wolin’s, and links them to older traditions of political thought. This brings up another defect of the political as a genre: the hostility of its theorists toward contemporary ideologies. Weber ignored ideology in his “realist” theory of politics and had an ambiguous relation to liberalism. Schmitt was a right-wing theorist who hated both liberalism and socialism and, in becoming a Nazi, or “clerico-fascist,” was far to the right of most contemporary conservatives.

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Arendt and Wolin also disliked liberalism and socialism, as well as most forms of conservatism. As former socialists, however, Ricoeur, Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe were sympathetic to various aspects of liberalism and socialism. Including them in this book partly balances the hostility of Schmitt, Arendt, and Wolin to liberalism and socialism. But all theorists of the political criticize liberalism, socialism, and conservatism for trying to subsume politics under ethics, economics, or social processes. This hostility toward mainstream ideologies (all of these theorists also downplay feminism and ignore ecology) isolates the genre. While it is important to criticize the non-political conservative, the apolitical liberal, and the anti-political socialist (as well as the anti-political elements in their particular ideologies), part of the purpose of criticizing them is to induce them to become “political” conservatives, “political” liberals, and “political” socialists. If a defect of theories of the political is their opposition to ideologies, an opposite defect (related to the isolation defect) is that theories of the political, by delineating an “autonomous” political sphere, exclude many things that should be considered political. A similar criticism of politics as excluding the real problems was made by Marx in his critique of Jacobin and republican politics and of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: “The principle of politics is the will. The more onesided, and therefore, the more perfected the political mind is, the more does it believe in the omnipotence of the will, the more is it blind to the natural and spiritual limits of the will, and more incapable is it therefore of discovering the source of social ills” (Marx 1975b: 199). Both Robespierre and Napoleon had tried to abolish poverty through legislation. The British established Poor Laws to alleviate poverty, but then came to blame poverty on their Poor Laws. Theorists under the spell of this “political illusion” cannot understand the systemic economic or social origin of social problems. They insist on an “administrative” solution or on blaming someone or something (the poor, the rich, counterrevolutionaries, Nature). Marx’s criticism of politics is also the criticism of Jacques Ranciere (2000), Alain Badiou (2005), and others, who see “theories of the political” (by Arendt, Lefort, and others) as trying to confine politics within acceptable bourgeois limits (which Ranciere calls “the police”). According to Ranciere and Badiou, the 1980s “return of the political” in France was a Trojan horse for “neoliberalism.” On this view, a theory of politics and the political is an ideology that obscures the real hierarchies of power and systemic problems in society. This criticism should be kept in mind. Against overly realist, isolationist, anti-ideological, and ideological conceptions of the political, this book is, accordingly, not concerned with isolating a single “essence” of the political. The conceptions of the political in this book fall into three categories that derive from historical western institutions such as the state (Weber, Schmitt, and Ricoeur), the ancient Greek polis (Arendt and Wolin), and a society-centered conception of the political derived from the French revolutionary tradition (Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe). I have also associated these

14 Politics and the Concept of the Political

theorists with existing political traditions such as realism, absolutism, authoritarianism, idealism, civic humanism, populism, and radical democracy. One of my objectives is to argue that “the concept” of “the political” is false (or needs to be proved rather than assumed by theorists) by demonstrating that there are several conceptions of the political. I have limited myself to three western political institutions: state, polis, and society. But there are other possible conceptions of the political derived from other historical political institutions such as empires, feudalism, tribes, the Sumerian “temple-state,” the ancient Chinese “family-state,” the Balinese “theater state,” etc.14 When someone writes about “the political,” or claims that “everything is political,” readers should ask “which political?” Finally, in order to prevent “isolation,” I have also, in part III of each chapter, tried to relate these “abstract” theories and traditions to practical political problems such as international relations, war, emergencies, culture wars, ideals in relation to reality, civic engagement and public life, populism, and ideology, strategy, and political organization.

The “original position” of politics, ethics, and philosophy As we saw, Wolin and Arendt criticized philosophers, beginning with Plato, for being hostile to politics. Plato and Aristotle were contesting the ancient Greek view that politics was the “best way of life.” The ancient Greeks (who gave us our political vocabulary) believed that the political life was the “best way of life” for free male human beings. Aristotle famously argued that men were “political animals” who naturally sought to live the “good life” provided by life in a polis (or what we would call a “city-state”).15 The “good life” consisted of the material abundance, diversity of people and skills, and self-sufficiency of life in a city. But, the good life also meant participation in politics. The citizens were united in sharing a common conception of justice and took turns “ruling and being ruled.” Pericles’s Funeral Speech, as reported in Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War (1972: 143–51, Book 2, Section 41), conveyed the ordinary Greek citizen’s view of the good life of politics: wealth, power, glory, public festivals, and freedom. It was, as Leo Strauss phrased it, the combination of “freedom and civilization” (1949: 38–9 and 1964: 30). The Greeks contrasted their polis, or city-state, to the large Asian kingdoms (which had civilization but not freedom) and to the northern barbarian tribes (which had freedom but no civilization).16 Echoes of this Greek view of the good life as combining freedom and civilization survive today when theorists (for example, Manent 2006) defend the modern liberal democratic nation-state as the right size for defense, a sufficient economy, and the preservation of freedom. But most people today tend to see freedom and the “good life” as private rather than public or political. The Greek ideal of the good life obtained by politics, however, had a “realist” side: it depended on war and empire, hierarchy, and slavery. Thucydides notoriously depicted the Athenians at Melos asserting that “justice depends on the

The Status of Politics and the Political 15

equality of power” (1972: 402, Book 5, Section 89), that “the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept,” and that it is a “law of nature to rule wherever one can” (404, Book 5, Section 105). These views seem cynical or realist to us, but they were the “Homeric” ethos of a warrior society based on hierarchy, slavery, and war. The Athenians visiting Sparta before the war expressed the same opinions as the Athenians at Melos (80, Book 1, Section 76). This harsh Homeric ethics had been modified over the decades by the idea that the gods rewarded good and punished evil in the afterlife and by the idea that justice was admirable as a secondary virtue, after advantage (Adkins 1960). The advent of the polis had also created a formal political equality among citizens and a “higher” loyalty to the collective interest. But Homer remained “the educator of Greece” and the aristocratic ethos persisted. Civic equality required popular struggles against the aristocracy and derived from the military need for hoplite infantry or rowers for the navy, not from an ethics of egalitarianism. Many citizens, like Alcibiades, put their personal honor and interests above loyalty to their city. Aeschylus’s tragedies, which all extolled the interests of the polis over the interests of personal and family honor, suggest the need to continually remind Athenian audiences about where their primary loyalties ought to lie. At the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians (like all imperialists) defended their empire in “moral” terms as more “moderate” and “just” than other empires (Thucydides 1972: 80, Book 1, Section 76). But the fact was that they now were applying the aristocratic “right of the strongest” to fellow Greeks, not to barbarians and slaves, and the prospect of permanent subjugation of fellow Greeks was the central moral ambiguity of the war.17 Pericles praised the Athenian empire in his Funeral Speech, but in his last speech Thucydides had him admit the “empire is now like a tyranny” and that its victims hate being ruled (161, Book 2, Section 63). In Cleon’s speech in the debate over Mytilene the empire was no longer “like” a tyranny, it was one (213, Book 3, Section 37). These more cynical views (which culminated in the Melian dialogue) were the effects of the hubris of power, the stress of a long war of attrition, and the fact that the Athenians could no longer reconcile their professed “moderation” with the fact of their “tyranny.” But according to historian Yvon Garlan (1995: 56), “we know of no Athenians in the fifth century who were opposed to imperialism in and of itself” and even Thucydides supported the empire (Grene 1966). There are no “idealists” in our sense in Thucydides. It was this Homeric warrior ethics (and its later corrupt or cynical Sophistic forms) that Plato and Aristotle were trying to dislodge by introducing virtue into politics. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates rejected not only the cynicism of the Sophist Thrasymachus, but Polemarchus’s “political” ethics of helping friends and harming enemies. No ordinary Greek would have agreed with Socrates that it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. Plato wanted to ban Homer and the other poets from his ideal society because they taught the wrong moral lessons. He also

16 Politics and the Concept of the Political

wanted Greeks to fight and enslave barbarians, not other Greeks (1985: 161, Book 5, 469c–d). Aristotle did not like the Greek political obsession with war and conquest (1995: 256, 286–7, Book 7, Chapter 2, 1324b20 and Chapter 14, 1333b5–1334a). His ideal city would be isolated and the citizens would use their leisure time to pursue philosophy instead of war (1995: 259, Book 7, Chapter 3, 1325b14). In ancient China, at around the same time, the philosopher Confucius was trying to do the same thing, challenge the old warrior ethics (and its corrupt forms) with a new ethics. The conflict between “ethics and politics,” as well as the conflict between politics and philosophy, originates here. Politics is not devoid of ethics (and one of the claims of this book is that “all politics is moral”), but the original ethics is a harsh ethics of warriors who believe that their own “freedom and civilization” is possible only by subjugating and exploiting others. Plato, Aristotle, and Confucius modify and soften this harshness by redefining virtue (arête, or excellence) and aristocratic-warrior ideals in moral terms and by redefining politics as guided by this new ethics. The “good life” of the polis becomes the life of virtue or justice. This is the origin of “idealism” in politics. For Plato, Aristotle, and Confucius, the new ethics derived from a philosophical or metaphysical conception of “nature,” “ideas,” or the “Way.” Plato and Aristotle believed the best way of life was the contemplative life of philosophy. For both, virtue was knowledge and so morality derived ultimately from philosophy. The job of the political philosopher was to persuade political actors that the life of virtue was the best way of life (and so to control politics with the new, philosophically derived morality). Again, to justify this new morality, they had to explain how it embodied or reflected the “true reality” of Nature, Reason, or God. The philosophers were the first “idealists” or “moralists” in our sense. But their conception of morality remained aristocratic. They, too, believed in hierarchy and slavery. It was left to later religions, such as Christianity, and philosophies to provide more egalitarian morals and ideals. As this brief and “schematic” presentation of the “original position” of politics and philosophy is meant to suggest, politics was originally “autonomous” and had its own ethics. This ethics was subsequently challenged by philosophers and religious thinkers who formulated a new ethics derived from metaphysics or religion. This new ethics was then “imposed” on politics from the “outside” and this creates the tension within political philosophy between its political side and its ethical, philosophical, religious, or theoretical side. In response, theorists of politics and the political then complain that politics has been “conquered” or “displaced” by moral, metaphysical, or religious concerns. Philosophers and moralists reply that without a philosophical or religious conception of morals, politics will revert to the brutal “right of the stronger” (as it did under fascism and totalitarianism). Today, the metaphysical and religious foundations for ethics are in doubt and hence the chief theoretical task of political theory understandably seems to be the need to restore these foundations (or else to learn to live without them

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(Strong 2012)). Moreover, philosophers and religious thinkers would reject my “schematic” presentation of the problem as originating in conflicting “ways of life” and replace it with theories in which ultimate reality is the basis for everything else. But this means, as the critics complain, that most political theorists are preoccupied with either metaphysics or ethics—and not with politics. If this complaint is valid, then what would a “politics-centered political theory” look like? My argument is that it would look like the theories of the political of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Paul Ricoeur, Hannah Arendt, Sheldon Wolin, Claude Lefort, and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. As we will see, these theories do contain metaphysics and morals, but their relationship to politics is different from that relationship in “traditional” political philosophy.

IV Outline of the book This book has eight chapters and is divided into three parts: Part 1 is on the statecentered conceptions of politics in Weber, Schmitt, and Ricoeur. Part 2 is on the polis-centered conception of the political in Arendt and Wolin. Part 3 is on the society-centered conceptions of the political in Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe. Each chapter also has three parts: the first part or section of each chapter describes each author’s conception of politics and its meaning and value. The second section of each chapter demonstrates the tensions or “asymmetry” between politics and metaphysics, ethics or religion. This is a major theme of this book. I argue that politics and the political are “autonomous” from ethics, religion, metaphysics, etc. But there is still a relation between politics and these other areas because we often enter politics to advance ethical or religious ideals and because we often judge politics as a whole from these “outside” perspectives. I call this relationship the “asymmetry” between politics and ethics, religion and philosophy. By “asymmetry,” I mean not “inequality,” but a “lack of” (a-) “balance or evenness” (symmetry). Asymmetry can be understood as a stronger (more autonomous) version of the “relative autonomy” of politics. The “relative” in relative autonomy, however, undercuts the “autonomy.” Politics is autonomous. That is why its relations with other activities are “asymmetrical.” The third section of each chapter shows some practical applications of the ideas of the other two parts or relates those ideas to political traditions such as realism, social conservatism, human rights, republicanism, populism, socialism, and radical democracy. Briefly, Chapter 2 describes Max Weber’s realist and statist conception of politics, the autonomy of politics that emerges when power is pursued for its own sake, and the political “visions” of “reason of state,” nationalism, and a cosmopolitanism that sees states and political actors as having a larger “responsibility before history.” The second part describes Weber’s positivist and value pluralist challenges to political theory, and explains why, even if philosophers, theologians, and political theorists could overcome these challenges, they would still confront

18 Politics and the Concept of the Political

the “asymmetry” between politics and “metaphysics.” This section also describes the debate in analytic political philosophy between “ideal” theorists and realists. The third part defends a normative realism and the long-term project of building a world state to avoid great power wars. Chapter 3 uses three interpretations of Carl Schmitt to describe the political visions of Hobbesian absolutism, fascism, and Maistrean authoritarianism, traditions not often examined in political theory. The second part describes Schmitt’s political theology and the asymmetry between politics and theology that emerged when Schmitt tried to unite the two in his endorsement of novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky’s figure of The Grand Inquisitor. The third part argues against Schmitt’s tendentious conceptions of “enemy” and “bracketed” war, describes the dilemmas of emergencies and domestic enemies, the role of authority in the culture wars, and the religious vision of social conservatism. Chapter 4 examines the idealist tradition of political theory from the perspective of Paul Ricoeur’s statism, in which the state is both an ideal and “idea” of justice and the rule of law. In this political idealist vision, the conflict between ethics and politics is “resolved” through understanding the paradoxical relationship between ideals and reality. In part II, the asymmetry between ethics and politics emerges at the religious or philosophical level in the conflict between Christian love, philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’ ethics and post-Nietzschean ethics, and political justice. The third part describes how religious idealists, political idealists, and realists might interact positively in the “real” world of politics. Part 2 of the book switches from examining statist visions of politics to the political theories of Hannah Arendt and Sheldon Wolin, which were inspired by the ancient Greek polis. Politics as domination and violence is replaced by the cooperative use of power and the idea that politics represents “the good life.” “Asymmetry” shifts to the conflict between politics and philosophy. Chapter 5 examines Arendt’s revival of the Greek ideal of politics in part I and situates it in relation to other spheres of life. Part II examines Arendt’s critique of philosophy and her alternative “metaphysics” of “worldliness.” Part III examines republicanism as a historical phenomenon and ideal that haunts modern “statist” and “bourgeois” political thought. It also looks at efforts to revive citizenship and public life in order to counteract the privatizing tendency that Alexis de Tocqueville called “individualism.” Chapter 6, part I, describes Wolin’s distinction between “the social” and the political and his early statist vision of the political as the union of authority and community. Wolin later concluded that democracy was the only example of this union and he contrasted democracy both to Arendt’s “elitist” republicanism and to the state. Part II examines how Wolin’s conceptions of theory changed as he moved from liberal statism to democracy. I criticize Wolin for not developing a populist political theory and I sketch a populist ideal-type in part III. Part 3 switches from statist and polis-centered theories of the political to society-centered and ideological conceptions of politics, which derived from the

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French revolutionary tradition. In Chapter 7, I examine the theories of the political of Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe, in which the political is the “mode of institution” of society (and therefore pervades “everything”) and politics is the attempt to transform social relationships. Part I describes Lefort’s “metaphysical” vision of democracy as the society without certainty. Part II describes Laclau and Mouffe’s conception of hegemony and their vision of radical democracy. In ideological conceptions of politics, philosophical and “ontological” issues are intrinsically part of political theories. Part III of Chapter 7 describes the “ontological turn” in political theory and the ontologies of Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe. I criticize Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe for not offering alternatives and strategies and so, in the last part, I sketch a socialist alternative and strategy. The purpose of this book is to expand “the political imagination” beyond the usual alternatives of liberalism, conservatism, and socialism and beyond the exclusively normative and ontological concerns of much contemporary political theory. In Chapter 8, I compare these political visions, describe how they might contribute to a “politics-centered” political theory, and explain how they might induce those who are ambivalent about politics to appreciate its meaning and value.

Notes 1 The sixteenth-century French party of “les Politiques” can be translated as “the Politicals,” which presumably captures how that term sounded at the time. See Sternberger (1982: 33). As in German, Spanish uses the neuter article for the concept of “the political” and Schmitt’s book is translated as El Concepto de lo Politico. 2 For other views on the origin of the need for a concept of the political, see Arditi (1994), Valentine (2006), Palonen (2007), Marchart (2007: Chapter 2), and Jay (2010). 3 This was how Schmitt (1997: 272) viewed Weimar politics, with its multiple parties, each organized as a “total” party with its own social, sports, and youth clubs that attempted to encompass the lives of its members in a society within society: “M.J. Bonn, a clear-eyed critic of these developments, has characterized this transformation as a transition toward a new feudal society of orders.” 4 This is how Wolin characterized pluralism in Politics and Vision, Chapter 10. See also Morgenthau (1962). 5 Hammer (2006), Stavrakakis (2005), Simons (1995), Beardsworth (1996), Conway (1997), Beisteigui (1998), Williams (2000), Patton (2000), Carver and Hyvarinen (1997), Butler and Scott (1992), Howard (1989 and 2010), Villa (1996), Hirschman and DiStefano (1996), Schwartz (1995), Langsdorf and Watson with Smith (1998), Ebata and Neufeld (2000), Davies, Milbank and Zizek (2005), Bates (2012), Benhabib (1996), Ingram (2002). 6 I use “political theory” interchangeably with “political philosophy” throughout this book. Analytic political theorists often call their own theorizing “political philosophy” (Estlund 2012) and “political theory” is everything else (Dryzek, Honig, and Phillips 2008). 7 Pocock (1981: 70) and Gunnell (1979), for example, place Arendt and Wolin with Strauss and Voegelin in a line of “grand theories” that they want to dismantle. Strong (2012), who covers three of the theorists of the political in this book (Weber, Schmitt, Arendt), is more interested in their attempts to “think without a banister” than in their theories of politics.

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8 For a contrary view, which sees Weber, Schmitt, Franz Neumann, Otto Kirchheimer, and Jurgen Habermas as obsessed with “the political,” see Thornhill (2000). But Thornhill does not claim these efforts constitute an established genre in German political theory. 9 “Ontic” refers to “surface realities” (such as politics, economics, art, religion, etc.) which are derived from a deeper “ontological” reality. “Ontology” is the study of being or reality and is the same thing as “metaphysics.” For the view that the distinction between the political and politics is the metaphysical distinction between ontology and ontic, see Marchart (2007). 10 Aristotle (1962: 302, Book 10, Chapter 9, 1181b15, translated by Martin Ostwald). W.D. Ross (McKeon 1941: 1112) and J.L. Ackrill (1973: 181) translate it as “philosophy of human nature,” while Barker (1962: 359) translates it as “philosophy of things human.” 11 In other words, the political is the ontology of community. Although Nancy claims the political-as-community involves power relations, these follow from the prior existence of community: “there would be no power relations … if the political were not the place of community—in other words, the place of a specific existence, the existence of being-in-common, which gives rise to the existence of being-self” (Nancy 1991: xxxvii). See also Lacoue-Labarthe (1990: 68–70). Their conception of community is “political” in the sense that it is “communist,” but this reinstalls the political ambiguity of communism, which seeks a non-political community in which the abolition of classes also abolishes politics. 12 Derrida was examining the paradox attributed to Aristotle, “Oh my friends, there is no friend,” as well as contesting Schmitt’s emphasis on “the enemy.” But although Aristotle wrote that friendship is necessary to the polis, he claimed in Politics, Book III, Chapter 9 (1280b) that friendship is primarily concerned with “social life” (to su zen) and that this is different from the “good life” (to eu zen) specific to the polis (Barker 1962: 120 and note 2). 13 Similarly, Scaff (1989: 152, 181–5) tantalizes the reader by quoting Weber as writing that “the political” is “my old ‘secret love,’” but merely interprets the political in terms of Weber’s ethics of responsibility. 14 See, for example, Crone on tribes (1986), Finer on Sumeria (1997: Chapter 1), Hahm on Confucianism (2004), and Geertz on the Balinese theater-state (1980). Finer covers other political forms as does Black (2009). An important new subfield is comparative political theory. See Parel and Keith (1992), Dallmayr (2010), Godrej (2011), Black (2011), and Freeden and Vincent (2012). 15 Aristotle, Politics, Book 1, Chapter 2, 1252b28–1253a18. 16 See Aristotle, Politics, Book 7, Chapter 7, 1327b20–30, where he contrasted the Greek “spirit” to the spirit of the Asians and northern barbarians. 17 This is distinct from the other moral theme in Thucydides, the decline of concern for the public interest, which only Pericles had been able to uphold, and the ensuing struggle for personal power by Athenian politicians (which was gained through telling the people what they wanted to hear, rather than what the public interest required).


The State

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And then the political … it is my old “secret love.”

Max Weber1

The sociologist Max Weber (1864–1920) and the realist political tradition play two roles in this chapter, one in relation to traditional political theory (which is, for the most part, “idealist”), the other in relation to analytic political philosophy and the controversy over the “ideal” or “ethics-first” theory or “moralism” of John Rawls (1971 or 1999b; 1993; 1999a) and his “realist” critics, such as Bernard Williams (2005) and Raymond Geuss (2008). Political realism is the tradition of political thought that most consistently asserts the “autonomy” of politics from economics, ethics, and other areas of life, and so should be a major concern for political theorists.2 Realism, however, is controversial. In contrast to “idealists” who stress morality, cooperation, or the struggle for ideals in politics, “realists” (usually including “canonical” political theorists like Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Hobbes) appear to separate morals from politics and define politics as the struggle for power among individuals and groups (which, according to the realist Hans Morgenthau (1978b), gives politics its “autonomy”). Realists also believe the struggle for power today still takes place within and among states, which they define, with Weber, as “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory” (2004a: 33 or 1946a: 78). Most political theorists are idealists, and many identify realism with backstabbing opportunism, warmongering, stupidity, and with conservatism, fascism, and authoritarianism. Others see globalization as making the Weberian state obsolete and an obstacle to progress. Weber is important to debates over realism/idealism and over ideal theory versus analytic realism because he was both an “idealist” (a German nationalist

24 Politics and the Concept of the Political

and a cosmopolitan “man of culture”) and a realist, whose “secret love” was das Politsche (the political or politics), which he understood as the struggle for power within and among states.3 Geuss considers Weber the most important political theorist of the twentieth century (2010: 40) and Williams invoked Weber’s ethics of responsibility as the appropriate “political” response to “moralism” (2005: 12). Weber also represents an earlier form of realism that believed in war as the path to glory and in imperialism (the moral right of nations to rule other peoples).4 In contrast, today’s realists share with idealists a rejection of both great power war and imperialism. Weber also pioneered the use of “ideal-types,” which are the social science equivalents of the hypothetical “thought experiments” and “ideal theory” of analytic political philosophy. In the first part of this chapter, I summarize Weber’s view of politics and its meaning and value. The second part discusses the “metaphysical” and “existential” basis of Weber’s realism, as well as the analytic debate. By “existential,” I mean a secular equivalent of religious or spiritual concerns. Finally, in the third section, I return to the contemporary realist tradition and argue for its (and Weber’s) continuing relevance for politics and international relations.

I Politics, economics, and ethics Like the other theorists of the political considered in this book, Weber contrasted politics to economics. “In every sphere we find that the economic way of looking at things is on the advance,” he complained in his 1895 Freiburg Address, “The Nation State and Economic Policy” (1994b: 17). Weber is most famous for “refuting” the Marxist economic world view in his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and other writings that distinguish autonomous economic, social, cultural, and political spheres. But, in his Freiburg Address (1994b: 15) and the 1916 article “Between Two Laws” (1994a: 78), Weber was more concerned with the influence of “liberal” or “bourgeois” economics, which he believed adopted a “universal” point of view concerning the global economy (and its overall efficiency and “peacefulness”) to which the national economies of the world must adapt. Weber believed economic competition was a continuation of the Darwinian struggle for existence and hence was not “peaceful.” “In the final analysis,” he wrote, “processes of economic development are power struggles, too” (1994b: 16). Economics supported the dominant economies of the British Empire and a rising America. Weber believed nations like Germany needed to adopt whatever strategies (free-market, protectionist, or imperialist) that they believed would help them in the global economic struggle. Weber, like most realists (Gilpin 2001), was a “mercantilist.” As he put it in the Freiburg Address, “the ultimate criterion for economic policy, as for all others, is in our view ‘reason of state’” (1994b: 17). Economics should be subordinate to politics.

Realism: Weber 25

Weber’s statist conception of politics In “Politics as a Vocation” (2004a: 32 or 1946b: 77), Weber defined politics in a broad sense in terms of the exercise of any kind of leadership and power.5 Power (Macht) was “the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance” (1978a: 53). Weber paired power with authority (Herrschaft), “the probability that a command with a given specific content will be obeyed by a given group of persons” (53). In turn, the probability that a command would be obeyed depended on legitimacy, the belief of those being commanded that they ought to obey the commands of the person exercising authority (alongside whatever fear or interest they might have in relation to the authority). Weber sometimes used the phrases “legitimate power” or “legitimate domination” to designate what he meant by authority, and this underscores the fact that all successful authority must be considered legitimate, or morally right.6 If legitimate or morally right domination is central to social and political action, then morality is an intrinsic part of most social action, including politics. Weber famously distinguished three types of legitimacy: tradition, charisma, and legality. The first two legitimate personal authority. Legality legitimates the impersonal authority of the state and its officials. Subjects obey officials because they consider their legal office or role (police, judge) to be legitimate, rather than the persons themselves. Weber also mentioned a type of rational-legal legitimacy that he considered a “purest type of legitimacy based on value rationality,” which was natural law (1978a: 37). Natural law was morality derived from reason and it combined facts and values. This is the “holy grail” of legitimacy that many political theorists seek. Natural law had inspired the American and French revolutions, according to Weber, but it had degenerated into an ideology of the bourgeois and fell victim to the scientific separation of facts and values. Natural law had been replaced by the value-neutral legitimacy of legality. In practice, however, domination was usually legitimized by a combination of tradition, charisma, and legality (1978a: 263–4). Because a definition of politics solely in relation to power and authority makes politics ubiquitous, Weber (like most political scientists and theorists) narrowed his definition to mean power in relationship to a state: “what ‘politics’ means to us is to strive for a share of power or to influence the distribution of power, whether between states or between the groups of people contained in the state” (2004a: 33 or 1946b: 78). Weber defined the state (as quoted earlier) as: “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” In the chapter on “Political Communities” in Economy and Society, Weber described the gradual development of the state out of primitive kinship systems. There, he showed that violence was not originally recognized as ever legitimate. The idea of a “legitimate” violence originated within tribal military fraternities as a means to punish the treason or cowardice of

26 Politics and the Concept of the Political

their members (1978a: 906). Once certain uses of violence inflicted on members became accepted as morally right, the idea of a legitimate or moral use of violence was gradually applied to other forms of violence. The legitimate or moral use of violence means violence used for defense, law enforcement, or to punish convicted criminals. Critics of Weber’s definition of the state sometimes argue that in a world of terrorists, organized crime, and armed gangs the state no longer possesses a “monopoly on violence,” but they overlook the fact that the issue is legitimate violence, of which the state still possesses a monopoly. Many pacifists, of course, would deny that violence, even for defense, can ever be legitimate. But most citizens, even Kantians and other non-pacifist exponents of an “ethics of conviction,” believe that defense, law enforcement, and punishment of crimes are moral or legitimate uses of violence. If politics involves using legitimate violence, then politics will also be moral—as well as violent. The state divides a society into rulers and ruled: “the state represents a relationship in which people rule over other people” (2004a: 34 or 1946b: 78). Weber believed politics follows the “law of small numbers” (1978a: 952). A minority, because it is easier to organize, can and will always dominate a majority. In “Politics as a Vocation,” Weber narrated a history of the state from ancient times to the present in which elites establish control over the masses (there are no popular uprisings in his account) and then struggle among themselves. With the help of a household staff of advisors, literati, soldiers, tax collectors, administrators, and other bureaucrats, the ruler is gradually able to defeat the aristocracy and expropriate their means of violence. This expanded royal household becomes the modern territorial state, characterized by the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence and administration by a trained bureaucracy. In turn, power is wrested from the ruler by the advisors in his “cabinet” and later, by parliament, which gains control of the cabinet. Meanwhile, everyday control of the state passes to the bureaucracy, which Weber believed was the effective “ruling class” in modern societies (1978a: 225). Weber believed parliamentary “politicians must be the countervailing force against bureaucratic domination” (1978b: 1417 or 1994d: 178). Weber saw parliament, once it gets control of the monarch’s cabinet, as the fusion of legislative and executive power in cabinet government. The cabinet consists of the leaders of the majority political party who formulate policy, which the majority party in parliament then approves. Political parties are initially led by “notables” or bureaucrats, but in mass democracies these give way to a “charismatic” party leader who is skilled at appealing to the emotions of the voters (Weber’s models were the British Liberal Party leader William Gladstone and US president Andrew Jackson, who built disciplined party “machines” loyal to themselves). Modern democratic politics means not “parliamentary democracy” but “plebiscitary democracy,” the election of executives (2004a: 62 or 1946c: 103). Weber believed proportional representation produced “leaderless” democracy (2004a: 75 or 1946c: 114) and he was famous (or infamous) for advocating “leader

Realism: Weber 27

democracy” (Fuehrer-Demokratie) (1978a: 268, 269; Mommsen 1984). Weber believed that the fact that the leader would be held responsible for whatever happened, the leader’s dependence on the support of his party, and the party’s dependence on winning elections, was a sufficient check on executive power in modern democracies. In practice, modern democracy, with its “pluralist” interest groups and frequent partisan “gridlock,” arguably resembles “leaderless democracy” more than it does Fuehrer-Demokratie, but Weber’s conception is an “ideal-type” in which the state rules over society, the state is run by civil servants, and “the people” elect politicians and leaders who try to control the bureaucracy. This “statist” conception is usually taken for granted by everyone, but then ignored or resisted because most of us are “pluralists” of one sort or another. It seems that only Theodore Lowi (1969 and 1995), classical liberals like Friedrich Hayek (1960), and the “bringing the state back in” movement (Evans et al. 1985) believe the state, bureaucracy, and politicians ought to rule over society.7

Ethics, “reason of state,” and “politics as destiny” Weber argued that the three qualities necessary for effective politicians were 1) passion for a cause, 2) a sense of responsibility for the success of the cause, and 3) a sense of judgment, distance, or proportion that allowed the politician to control his passions, acknowledge realities, and successfully advance his cause (2004a: 76–7 or 1946b: 115–16). These qualities are important because they mean that genuine politicians (those who live “for” politics, rather than “off of” politics) are those who enter the political realm to advance some “cause,” which, although it often is a “material” interest (business, unions, farmers), can also be an ideal ( justice, socialism, nationalism). Weber is famous for advocating an “ethics of responsibility,” particularly in politics, but it is important to see that it, and the contrasting “ethics of conviction,” are forms of ethics, rather than substantive ethical positions.8 Weber’s own ethics was a secular or worldly ethics of what he called, in “Science as a Vocation” (2004b: 23 or 1946d: 148), “manly conduct” or a “human code of honor” (Manneswurde). This formed the ethical basis of what he termed, in “Between Two Laws” (1994a: 78) “a place of worldly ‘culture,’ one devoted to the beauty, dignity, honour and greatness of man as a creature of this earth.” The young Weber had argued that the task of the current generation of Germans was to “breed” a nation with “those characteristics which we think of as constituting the human greatness and nobility of our nature” (1994b: 15), which were “the old, general types of human ideals” (19). These secular ideals derived from an aristocratic ethics of a warrior society, as tempered by medieval chivalry, Renaissance humanism, bourgeois rationalism, and a “Victorian” sense of personal moral responsibility. This secular ethics was diametrically opposed to the “other-worldly” pacifist Christian ethics of the Sermon on the Mount. In “Science as a Vocation,” Weber contrasted the Sermon’s “resist not him that is evil” (Matthew 5: 39) with this

28 Politics and the Concept of the Political

manly ethics “that preaches something altogether different, namely, ‘Resist evil, otherwise you will bear some of the responsibility for its victory’” (2004b: 23 or 1946d: 148). In The Discourses, Machiavelli said the same thing in criticizing the pacifist ethics of St. Francis and St. Dominic (1983: 389, Book 3, Chapter 1) and it has been echoed by Arendt (1958a: 78). This is a substantive ethical difference about resisting or not resisting evil, not a formal difference between good intentions and responsibility for success and consequences. The meaning and value of politics for Weber was the power to resist evil and advance interests and ideals. What makes a secular manly ethics political is the willingness to use a specific means to resist evil or to advance one’s idealistic or materialistic goals: the legitimate violence of the state. In “Politics as a Vocation,” Weber made the same contrast as in “Science as a Vocation” between the Sermon on the Mount and secular manly ethics on resisting evil. But the Sermon quote there reads “resist not him that is evil with violence” and the (now political) response is: “You shall use force to resist evil, for otherwise you will be responsible for its running amok” (2004a: 82 or 1946b: 119–20).9 The political sphere is distinguished from other value spheres by its “highly specific means, namely power, behind which violence lies concealed” (81). Wielding power or violence imposes great moral responsibilities on the political actor for how this power will be used and great power imposes even greater responsibilities. Whereas the ordinary “man” who fails to resist evil successfully will only “bear some of the responsibility” for the victory of evil, the political actor will be totally responsible because he can use force against it. He therefore, ethically, “shall use force to resist evil.” The main “content” of the ethics of responsibility in politics involves deciding whether or not the end (resisting evil or advancing some “cause”) justifies the means (power, force). The ethics of conviction evades any sense of responsibility to make these means/ends decisions (2004a: 85 or 1946b: 122). But, for Weber, the political actor was morally responsible, both for using violence to ensure that his cause succeeds and for the foreseeable consequences of his use of violence. It is the legitimate (moral) use of force (and not corruption) that causes all the ethical problems of politics for Weber: [F]orce and the threat of force unavoidably breed more force. “Reasons of state” thus follow their own external and internal laws. The very success of force, or of the threat of force, depends ultimately upon power relations and not on ethical “right,” even were one to believe it possible to discover objective criteria for such “right.” (1946c: 334) As this passage indicates, although politics is supposed to be a means to an end, Weber also believed the means of power and force follow their own “external and internal laws,” which, as in “reasons of state,” tend to turn power and force from a means for achieving an ethical ideal into an end in itself. The

Realism: Weber 29

transformation of distinct means (power, profit, intellect, etc.) into ends (power, profit, and intellect for “their own sake”) is what causes a distinct “value sphere” ( politics, economics, science) to develop. “Reason of state” took two forms for Weber, one rational, the other bad. Weber liked to criticize the “mere ‘power politician’” or “the stupid and Philistine representatives of Realpolitik” (2004a: 78 or 1946b: 116; 1946a: 390). These “Machiavellians” or “realists,” in the pejorative sense, had no cause to advance and so hid their lack of conviction or sense of responsibility behind talk of power (1994c: 60). Many Germans in particular adapted their ideals to those of the winning side and called that Realpolitik (2012b: 318). Weber criticized the German Kaiser and his foreign ministry for conducting a foreign policy that foolishly adapted Germany’s goals or ends to its present means and opportunities (319). This blustering “Weltpolitik” had led to Germany’s diplomatic isolation and threatened its security. A rational Realpolitik adapted means to ends, but, as noted above, the ends involved maintaining or expanding power. In war and foreign policy, force breeds more force, as well as alliances of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” sort. If power is the essential means for advancing goals, there will be a tendency to accumulate power beyond what is needed to achieve immediate goals because one can always use power for new goals or unexpected needs. The “logic” of reason of state is empire, or, if other states resist successfully, a balance of power (Haslam 2002; Meinecke 1957). It is here that the “autonomy” of the political sphere asserts itself, in the pursuit of power for its own sake. Weber believed that even domestic political institutions and policies were ultimately shaped by “reasons of state”: In the final analysis, in spite of all “social welfare policies,” the whole course of the state’s inner political functions, of justice and administration, is repeatedly and unavoidably regulated by the objective pragmatism of “reasons of state.” The state’s absolute end is to safeguard (or to change) the external and internal distribution of power. (1946c: 334) Weber believed that reason of state in its rational sense gave “the realm of politics … a peculiarly rational mystique of its own, once brilliantly formulated by Napoleon” (1978a: 600–1). Napoleon told the German poet Goethe that politics had replaced the ancient notion of fate, or destiny, in modern tragedies: La politique, c’est la fatalité, or “Politics is destiny.”10 Modern “fate” was decided not by the gods, but by great power politics and great power wars. Foucault believed Napoleon was referring to the French Revolution, which brought bourgeois men like himself to power and which, as “The Revolution,” had a life of its own in world politics.11 Weber invoked this mystique in his 1916 “Between Two Laws” when he argued that, once Germany became a Machtstaat, it assumed “the

30 Politics and the Concept of the Political

historical obligations imposed on one’s own nation by fate” (1994a: 78). Insofar as Germans were not pacifist Christians, they must know that they were: bound by the laws of this earthly world and that these include, for the foreseeable future, the possibility and inevitability of wars fought for power and that [they] can only fulfil the “demand of the day,” whatever it may be within the limits of these laws … [E]verything that shares in the goods of the Machtstaat is inextricably enmeshed in the law of the “power pragmata” that governs all political history. (1994a: 78, brackets added) Reinforcing the mystique of reason of state and politics-as-destiny was Weber’s belief in a “Darwinian” struggle for existence. In the Freiburg Address, Weber declared: “We do not have peace and human happiness to hand down to our descendants, but rather the eternal struggle to preserve and raise the quality of our species” (1994b: 16). Weber argued that everyone, even the pacifist, was implicated in this struggle for existence: Anyone who has even a penny of investment income which others have to pay directly or indirectly, anyone who owns any durable goods or consumes any commodity produced not by his own sweat but by that of others, lives off the operation of that loveless and unpitying economic struggle for existence which bourgeois phraseology designates as “peaceful cultural work.” This is just another form of man’s struggle with man, one in which not millions but hundreds of millions of people, year after year, waste away in body or soul, sink without trace, or lead an existence truly much more bereft of any recognisable “meaning” (Sinn) than the commitment of everybody (including women, for they too are “fighting” the war if they do their duty) to the cause of honour, which means, simply commitment to the historical obligations imposed on one’s own nation by fate. (1994a: 78) This Darwinian struggle was the ultimate source of political conflict and great power wars, which, as the second part of this quote indicates, Weber believed were more honorable than economic struggles. Weber believed in imperialism (for overpopulation and economic reasons) and he welcomed World War I (Mommsen 1984: 190–1). This shows the power or “autonomy” of the political sphere over anyone who takes up politics. You end up obeying its “laws.” Again, the “vision” and “logic” of realism in this “pure” sense of “reason of state,” “power pragmata,” or “politics is destiny” is empire, or, if other states resist successfully, a balance of power among great powers. But now Weber’s “reason of state” and “ethics of responsibility” seem to be the same as the amoral Machiavellianism denounced by idealists.

Realism: Weber 31

Nationalism and “responsibility before history” I have claimed that the meaning and value of politics for Weber was actually moral: the power to resist evil and advance interests and ideals. Weber’s initial political “cause” or “ideal” was the German nation. In the Freiburg Address, economics served reason of state, but reason of state served the German nation: “The economic policy of a German state, and equally, the criteria of value used by a German economic theorist, can therefore only be a German policy or criterion” (1994b: 15). In this inaugural lecture, where he was supposed to “justify openly the personal and … ‘subjective’ standpoint from which one judges economic phenomena,” Weber openly judged economics and politics from the standpoint of his “nationalist value judgments” (1994b: 1, 13). Weber classified “the nation” as a “value” concept, rather than an empirical one (1978a: 922). The pleasures of prestige that people get from having great power merge with feelings of prestige associated with a culture: [T]he idea of the nation for its advocates stands in very intimate relation to “prestige” interests. The earliest and most energetic manifestations of the idea, in some form, even though it may have been veiled, have contained the legend of a providential “mission.” Those to whom the representatives of the idea zealously turned were expected to shoulder this mission. Another element of the early idea was the notion that this mission was facilitated solely through the very cultivation of the peculiarity of the group set off as a nation. Therewith, in so far as its self-justification is sought in the value of its content, this mission can consistently be thought of only as a specific “culture” mission. The significance of the “nation” is usually anchored in the superiority, or at least the irreplaceability, of the culture values that are to be preserved and developed only through the cultivation of the peculiarity of the group. (1978a: 925–6) Intellectuals were particularly attracted to nationalism and to the idea of a cultural “mission” to impose on other nations. The lesson of “Science as a Vocation” was that science cannot decide among values and it was therefore the responsibility of individuals to choose among the “warring gods,” the ultimate values. The German nation was Weber’s “god.” Weber’s “Lutheran moment” (in which the ethics of responsibility yielded to the ethics of conviction, 2004a: 92 or 1946b: 127) came with World War I. Even if you could have persuaded him that it would turn out to be a disaster for Germany (and the world), he would have replied, “Here I stand on my nationalism, I can do no other.” In contrast to the ideologies of liberalism, conservatism, and socialism, nationalism requires passion more than ideological sophistication and it thrives on being able to combine contradictory liberal, conservative, and socialist values (such as Burke’s “proud

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submission” (1968: 170) or “national socialism”). Despite modern “disenchantment,” nationalism partakes in “traditional” legitimacy (usually by inventing a national past) and it is a “public” value in contrast to Weber’s claim that most ultimate values in the modern world have retreated to private life. Nationalism’s demand that every “nation” or “people” get its own “state” is still a vital, disruptive, and tragic force in contemporary politics (Mann 1997 and 2012).12 Weber never developed his ideas about the German nation theoretically, or even coherently. The closest he got was his description in “Between Two Laws,” written during World War I, where he contrasted German culture to the cultures of Britain and Russia: Future generations, and particularly our own successors, would not hold the Danes, the Swiss, the Dutch or the Norwegians responsible if world power—which in the last analysis means the power to determine the character of culture in the future—were to be shared out, without a struggle, between the regulations of Russian officials on the one hand and the conventions of English-speaking “society” on the other, with perhaps a dash of Latin raison thrown in. They would hold us responsible, and quite rightly so, for we are a Machtstaat and can therefore, in contrast to those “small” nations, throw our weight into the balance on this historical issue. That is why we, and not they, have the accursed duty and obligation to history and to the future to resist the inundation of the entire world by those two powers. (1994a: 76) Weber believed Germany offered a cultural alternative to English “monotony,” Russian “barbarism,” and French “grandeloquence” (Mommsen 1984: 208). Weber understood that culture often flourished best in the “little nations” that were unburdened by great power responsibilities (1994a: 75–6). The great German culture of Goethe, Beethoven, and Kant flourished while Germany was still divided into petty principalities. But Weber also believed that political power inevitably brought prestige to whatever culture it expressed. “World power” thus meant “the power to determine the character of culture in the future.” If Germany had won World War I, we would all be learning German and reading Goethe. But the quote above also goes beyond nationalism because “the power to determine the character of culture in the future” extends to the world, civilization itself, or history. In the Freiburg Address, the German nation had responsibility for handing on to its descendants a situation and culture that would earn the respect of future Germans (1994b: 15). The quote above relating “world power” to “culture in the future” indicates something larger, an “obligation to history and the future.” Weber believed the power to determine the character of culture in the future imposes a “responsibility before history,” a phrase Weber used in both the 1895 Freiburg Address (1994b: 27) and the 1916 “Between Two

Realism: Weber 33

Laws” (1994a: 75). In “Politics as a Vocation,” the actor who enters the political sphere wants to “grasp the spokes of the wheel of history” and one of the pleasures of holding power was the belief of the political actor that “he holds in his hands a strand of some important historical process” (2004a: 76 or 1946b: 115). Insofar as Weber was a “man of culture” (Kulturmensch) more than a nationalist, the meaning and value of politics is the power to determine the future of the world and its culture. Realists caught up in the mystique of reason of state (including Weber in his nationalist writings) often describe the purpose of the state as to preserve or expand its power, or to use power to display prestige. But this power is ultimately only a means to some “higher” cultural end. Future generations and historians will judge us for what we did and for what we failed to do and they will judge not only the political situation, but the quality of the culture that we leave to them. Note that this larger perspective can be understood in terms of either an ethics of conviction (cultural values must trump political values, which is an “idealist” position) or an ethics of responsibility (we are responsible for the effects of politics and nationalism, i.e. war, on history and civilization). In a nuclear age, idealism and realism converge. There are three tensions in Weber’s political thought that reflect the conflict between “ethics and politics”: 1) the conflict between power, or “reason of state” and ideals, 2) the conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitan ideals and 3) the conflict between pacifist ideals or the ethics of conviction and non-pacifist ideals or the ethics of responsibility. Only the third involves what I call the “asymmetry” between politics and other values. As we will see in part II, Weber gave this a “metaphysical” basis in his division of reality into autonomous and conflicting “value spheres.” But there is also tension at the political level between Weber the German nationalist and Weber the scientific “man of culture” and a tension between a nationalist ethics of conviction and a “cosmopolitan” ethics of responsibility to prevent the possibly disastrous effects for “culture in the future” of politics and nationalism. This point is relevant to part III, where I discuss the desirability of a world state as an alternative to great power war.

II Science, philosophy, and politics Weber presents two challenges to political theory. The most familiar challenge is Weber’s depiction of modernity as a time of rationalization and disenchantment that simultaneously reveals ultimate values and beliefs to be subjective and in conflict with each other. We have a responsibility to choose among conflicting ultimate values, but reason and science separate facts and values. Reason can only tell us the implications of our choices and it undermines our deepest beliefs. Weber himself seems to have believed that life and the universe were objectively meaningless (2012c: 119). Meanwhile, rationalization was leading to an “iron cage” of bureaucratization that threatened to produce a culture of “specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart” (1992: 123, 124). Weber’s conception of

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reason and science divides political theory into “empirical” political science, which can be objective, and “normative” political philosophy, which is about subjective values. Weber is the “nemesis” to be refuted in Strauss (1953), Voegelin (1952), MacIntyre (1981), Horkheimer and Adorno (1972), Habermas (1984), and many other works. But, even if we could overcome disenchantment and value conflict and restore an “objective” reason or natural law to guide us, or if we could reunite normative and empirical “methods,” we would still confront Weber’s second challenge to political theory, which was his claim that politics is an autonomous value sphere. Weber believed that reality was divided into conflicting “value spheres” such as religion, politics, economics, intellect (or science), art, and eroticism (Weber 1946c).13 These value spheres are also part of the human condition, not just modernity, and they seem to develop whenever the means specific to each— power, profit, intellect—become ends, “for their own sake.” Weber believed that, if we pay attention to everyday experience, we should naturally become polytheists, “sacrificing” to the gods of politics, economics, intellect, art, etc. as we move through each sphere (2004b: 22 or 1946d: 147). For centuries, the great religions and philosophical systems suppressed this “polytheism” (which meant the domination of the religious or intellectual spheres over the others). But even when they were dominant, religion and philosophy were forced to make compromises with the values and “logics” of these “autonomous” value spheres. Modernity returns us to the “original position.” But in modernity the spheres are more obviously differentiated and powerful. Thus, we must both subjectively choose among conflicting ultimate values and confront our ultimate values with the demands of each value sphere, in our case, politics.

The existential significance of the political sphere Weber’s emphasis on conflict may have been why he personally valued the political sphere, where conflict is recognized and legitimated. Some interpreters (Owen and Strong 2004; Strong 2012) see politics and the heroic politician depicted in “Politics as a Vocation” as the only “mature” response to disenchantment and the irreconcilability of values depicted in “Science as a Vocation.” Others, such as Schmitt (1985; 1996d), but also proponents of “pluralism” and “democracy” (Warren 1988) see politics as the only way to “manage” a “Nietzschean” world of Weberian “subjectivists” fighting over “irreconcilable” values. In the section on “the political sphere” in “Religious Rejections of the World and their Direction” (1946c), Weber argued that politics has an independent source of “existential” meaning that can rival religious claims over the human soul. War had a mystique for Weber that provided an “existential” basis of politics that allowed politics to compete with religion for the allegiance of men’s souls:

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The mutual strangeness of religion and politics, when they are both completely rationalized, is all the more the case because, in contrast to economics, politics may come into direct competition with religious ethics at decisive points. As the consummated threat of violence among modern polities, war creates a pathos and a sentiment of community. War thereby makes for an unconditionally devoted and sacrificial community among the combatants and releases an active mass compassion and love for those who are in need. And, as a mass phenomenon, these feelings break down all the naturally given barriers of association. In general, religions can show comparable achievements only in heroic communities professing an ethic of brotherliness. (1946c: 335) Alongside the intense sense of community generated during wartime, Weber believed that death in war was also an answer to Leo Tolstoy’s claim that death in the modern age was meaningless (Weber 2004b: 13 or 1946d: 140) and to the religious idea that death itself, without hope for an afterlife, was meaningless. According to Weber: war does something to the warrior which, in its concrete meaning, is unique: it makes him experience a consecrated meaning of death that is characteristic only of death in war … This location of death within a series of meaningful and consecrated events ultimately lies at the base of all endeavors to support the autonomous dignity of the polity resting on force. (1946c: 335) This was also where nationalist sentiments came into play: The individual is expected ultimately to face death in the group interest. This gives to the political community its particular pathos and raises its enduring emotional foundations. The community of political destiny, i.e., above all, of common political struggle of life and death, has given rise to groups with joint memories which often have had a deeper impact than the ties of merely cultural linguistic, or ethnic community. It is this “community of memories” which … constitutes the ultimately decisive element of “national consciousness.” (1978a: 903) In this sense, nationalism is complicit with the “death instinct” of politics. Weber believed the modern citizen of the nation-state lacked the economic, legal, and political privileges of the ancient and medieval citizen. Instead, the modern state offered its citizens “sheer physical security and the minimum of subsistence, but also the battlefield on which to die” (1994d: 105). This, as critics point out (Barbalet 2010), is a rather “thin” conception of citizenship, but it underscores Weber’s “statist” and “warrior” conception of politics and its

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existential claims to a meaningful death. In the earlier quote in part I about even pacifists being involved in the pitiless economic struggle for existence, Weber implied that fighting and dying for national honor is at least as meaningful as, if not more than, economic actions. As I noted in Chapter 1, the Greek political ethos was originally a warrior ethos that saw politics and war as the path to power, wealth, and glory. This ethos survived alongside philosophical and religious ethics. It was “rationalized” into “reason of state” and the mystique of “politics is destiny”—as well as merged with nationalism. But World War I, then World War II and the advent of nuclear weapons changes this martial ethos of politics. The mechanized slaughter of conventional “total war” in the two world wars and the prospect of mutual annihilation in nuclear war seem to render the notion of death on the battlefield meaningless. As Morgenthau argued, in “Death in the Nuclear Age” (1971c), nuclear war would destroy all the monuments and memories that made death in war meaningful to previous ages. Modern realists reject great power war as a “rational” instrument of policy because conventional total war and nuclear war are devastating to all sides. But, as in Morgenthau, they also reject the “existential” meaning of “politics as destiny,” which ends in a now meaningless death in nuclear war. As I will argue in part III, avoiding great power war requires a world state, which Morgenthau also endorsed.

From relativism and positivism to analytic political philosophy The “moral” lesson of “Science as a Vocation” was that “the plain duty of intellectual integrity” meant that individuals have a responsibility to choose which values to believe and act upon (1946d: 155 or 2004b: 31). This choice, however, is subjective and closer to religious faith than to reason because ultimate values cannot be proved by reason and values conflict with other values and are rationally irreconcilable. At the same time, insofar as individuals engage in economic, political, aesthetic, religious, scientific, or other activities, they must confront their ultimate values with the means of power, profit, intellect, etc. Weber’s position is sometimes equated with the “value pluralism” of Isaiah Berlin (1982), but Weber’s is a “sphere pluralism” combined with what has been called “value collision” (Schluchter 1996: 15, 29, 50). To critics such as Strauss (1953), Weber’s position was a relativism and subjectivism that cannot condemn cannibalism or criminality (if these are freely chosen and in tune with a person’s “authentic” self). In the following passage, however, Weber tried to distinguish his “value collision” from relativism: The fruit of the tree of knowledge, disturbing to human complacency yet inescapable, is precisely this [insight]: that we cannot avoid knowing about these conflicts, and must therefore realize that every single important act— and to an even much greater extent: life as a whole, if it is to be lived in full

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awareness and is not just to unfold like a natural event—involves a series of fundamental decisions through which the soul, as Plato [describes it], chooses its own fate—the meaning, that is, of its activity and being. It is therefore a gross misconception of the intentions of the representatives of the theory of value collision when their standpoint continues, from time to time, to be interpreted as “relativism”—as a conception of life, that is to say, that is based on the diametrically opposite view of the interrelations of the value spheres, and is only meaningfully tenable (if it is to be consistent) on the basis of a very special (“organic”) type of metaphysics. (2012b: 315, italics added; for a different translation, without “value collision,” see 1949b: 18) As Weber’s reference linking relativism to “organic metaphysics” indicates, it is not clear what he meant by relativism.14 Many German “historicists” and “relativists” (as well as many Realpolitiker) had “teleological” views of history or were Christians, so that what appears relative or contingent in the “parts” is ultimately explicable from the “objective truth” of History or God. Relativism seems to thrive in democracies (as Plato noted in The Republic, Book 8, long before disenchantment) and under capitalism (where values are subjective and relative to price). But, relativism is also a reaction to ethnocentrism, which, as Herodotus noted long ago, is the starting and ending point of most people’s reflections on values.15 The dominant interpretation of Weber at a famous 1964 conference in Germany was that he was a “bourgeois relativist” (Roth 2008), but today Weber is denounced for his ethnocentrism, “Eurocentrism,” and “Orientalism” (Allen 2004). Weber’s emphasis was really on subjective choice among a finite and perennial set of what Strauss (1953: 36, 39) conceded were “timeless values.” As Tenbruck (1980) has argued, Weber’s “polytheism” was confirmed for him by his historical and comparative sociology, which revealed a finite set of “ultimate values” (cannibalism and criminality do not seem to be among them) that recur throughout different cultures and historical periods. The problem is similar to the Straussian predicament of choosing between “Athens” (philosophy) and “Jerusalem” (religion) and the solution (for those afflicted by “disenchantment”) is Strauss’s “esoteric” Socratic skepticism (Tarcov and Pangle 1987: 919–21). Arguably, Socratic skepticism (we know that we do not know) is the only philosophically viable response to disenchantment and it seems to be the fundamental attitude of the realist analytic philosophers Bernard Williams and Raymond Geuss.16 Positivist philosophers such as A.J. Ayer (1952) notoriously ejected both metaphysics and ethics from philosophy, thereby reducing philosophy to analyzing the meaning of concepts and statements. When Peter Laslett (1956: vii) declared political theory to be “dead” in 1956, part of the reason for its death was attributed to the dominance of positivist ideas. When Laslett subsequently resurrected political theory (Wolff 2013), it was in response to contributions by post-positivist

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analytic philosophers such as Brian Barry (1965), John Rawls, and the legal theorist H.L.A. Hart (1961). These theorists benefited from analytic critiques of positivism that rejected the analytic-synthetic distinction and the strict separation of facts and values. But their real innovation was to borrow ideas from economics and game theory for analyzing normative political problems. These are versions of Weber’s “ideal-types” (Weber 2012c: 124–32; 1978a: 4–7, 9–12, 20–2) for “testing” reality or ideas by comparing them to “rational” models. As Rawls saw, the “state of nature/social contract” device of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau was a version of these ideal-types, or “thought experiments.” Ideal-types like the state of nature and the social contract can replace controversial “metaphysical” speculations about reality or human nature, as Hobbes found when he published his De Cive (On the Citizen) separately from (and before) his treatises on “Body” and “Man” (and it is easy to start Leviathan with Chapter 13). The “clarity” revealed by ideal-type analytic devices is confirmed by personal intuition, as in Hobbes’s “Read thyself” (Leviathan, introduction) and Rawls’s “reflective equilibrium.” Since Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971), normative analytic (and liberal) political philosophy has thrived and, in an example of Weberian rationalization, has pushed aside the older, historically oriented normative political theory of Isaiah Berlin, Hannah Arendt, Michael Oakeshott, Leo Strauss, Sheldon Wolin, Judith Shklar, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Charles Taylor. Political theory today (at least in the eyes of analytic theorists and historians) is divided into normative analytic political philosophy (real philosophy) and the Cambridge School of the history of political thought (real history). Everyone else is “Continental” or “postmodern.” Within normative analytic political philosophy, however, a current controversy is raised by analytic “realists” such as Williams and Geuss, who criticize what they see as the “Kantian turn” in analytic political theory. This Kantian turn involves reliance on “ideal” theory and presupposes the priority of ethics over politics. By “ideal theory,” Rawls meant “strict compliance” by citizens to the principles of justice (1999a: 8; 2001: 13), but, more broadly, a theory that is “realistically utopian” (2001: 13). Ideal theory also relies on “abstract conceptions” (Weberian ideal-types), such as Rawls’s “original position,” which “are used to gain a clear and uncluttered view of a question seen as fundamental by focusing on the more significant elements that we think are most relevant in determining its most appropriate answer” (2001: 8). Rawls believed A Theory of Justice was a practical response to the real-world conflict between liberty and equality (2001: 2). But he distinguished three levels of practical political philosophy (interests, social theories, and moral doctrines) and placed his theory of justice at the “ideal” level of moral doctrines: This conflict is rooted not only in differences of social and economic interests but also in differences between general political, economic, and social theories about how institutions work, as well as in different views about the probable consequences of public policies. Here we focus on another root of

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the conflict: the different philosophical and moral doctrines that deal with how the competing claims of liberty and equality are to be understood, how they are to be ordered and weighed against each other, and how any particular way of ordering them is to be justified. (2001: 2) In a strict sense, then, A Theory of Justice was (as the critics contend) a moral debate over the correct moral doctrine (utilitarianism, intuitionism, perfectionism, or Rawls’s own contract or “constructivist” theory) for a theory of justice that addressed the conflict between liberty and equality. It had little to do with “general political, economic, and social theories” (except for some assumptions about human motivations and individual talents) and nothing to do with “social and economic interests.” Rawls’s subsequent “political not metaphysical” phase (1985; 1993) meant “not metaphysical” rather than “political” in a realist sense. Geuss, with his Leninist “who (does what to) whom?” question (2008), implies that a realist political theory must address actual social and economic interests. If so, it would be political commentary. Most analytic realists don’t want that kind of realism, but neither do they (Horton 2010: 445) want to address “general political, economic, and social theories about how institutions work.” That leaves them at Rawls’s ideal level, with analytic realists like Williams (2005: 52) “reminding moral philosophers of truths about human life which are very well known to virtually all adult human beings except moral philosophers,” in this case, common-sense truths about politics. Critics would agree with Weber that two dangers of using ideal-types (whether in sociology or normative political theory) are a tendency to confuse ideal-types with reality (Weber 2012c: 132) or a tendency of researchers to insert their personal values into the ideal-type and then use it to judge reality (129–30). But another concern of analytic realists is to separate politics from morals, a concern that involves us with Weber’s second challenge to political theory: the autonomy of politics. The new realists see their task as asking “political” questions about the legitimacy of political coercion and a “modus vivendi” among citizens with conflicting interests and moral beliefs, rather than “moral” questions about justice. Analytic realists are also “Hegelian” in trying to discern the “rationality” of existing social and political institutions (Sangiovanni 2008: 162), rather than imagine “realistic utopias.” For realists, successful practices such as politics, science, and ethics must have some “internal” validity, whereas “Kantians” believe “validity” must take an “a priori” and “universal” form.17 Toward this end, the new realists want to incorporate historical and institutional “context” into their analytic political theories as a means of better understanding the origin and function of our concepts and values (Williams 2014). It is not clear how far this effort can go without becoming identified with the rejected historically oriented normative political theory.18 The new realists are also not interested in “grand theories,” such as are implicit in Weber. If new realist readers turn to the Ricoeur chapter

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in this book, they will probably find that their analytic interests are better served by the idealist Ricoeur’s Hegelian “idea of the state” than by Weber and realism. Returning to Weber: in contrast to the formulations of Lefort and Laclau, as well as the “post-foundational” theories of the political in Nancy and Oliver Marchart (which I discuss in Chapter 7), Weber does not see conflict, “contingency,” or lack of “foundations” as inherently “political.” Weber believed that cultural transformation was for prophets and philosophers and any fundamental change must involve changes in human character or personality (2012b: 320–1). This was why, despite his preferences for an ethics of responsibility, he also valued the ethics of conviction, as mentioned in this passage from his “Value Freedom” article, which combines politics and culture: In a sense, it is true that successful political action is always “the art of the possible.” However, it is equally true that, very often, the possible has only been attained by reaching for the impossible that lay beyond it. After all, it was not the only really consistent ethic of “adaptation” to the possible—the bureaucratic morals of Confucianism—that created those specific qualities of our culture to which all of us probably, in spite of all [our] other differences of opinion, subjectively attach a (more or less) positive value. I, for one, would regret it if [our] nation were systematically weaned away, particularly in the name of science, from [acknowledging] the fact … that action has not only a “result value” but also a “convictional value.” (2012b: 318, brackets in original) But any new possibility is only a possibility. In the meantime, Weber insisted, we are compelled to deal with the “demands of the day”—including the demands of politics.

III Realism and political theory Interest in realism revived during the debate over the 2003 Iraq War, in which realists (Mearsheimer and Walt 2003; Mearsheimer 2005), along with the pacifist and anti-imperialist left and “isolationist” social conservatives, opposed the war, while neoconservatives and many liberals supported it.19 Realists also opposed the 1991 Gulf War (Layne 1991; Tucker and Hendrickson 1992) and the Vietnam War (Morgenthau 1965a; 1965b; Niebuhr 1970). Most of today’s realists, however, insist that realism should be considered an “empirical” approach to politics, separate from moral and ideological concerns (Gilpin 2001). They reduce realism to the thesis that states are the primary actors in international politics, states are “unitary” and “rational,” and international relations take place under a “structure” of anarchy that forces each state to pursue security interests over other concerns (Grieco 1997; Wohlforth 2008). They consider attempts to reintroduce morals into realism (Rosenthal 1991; Murray 1997; Lebow 2003; Michael C.

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Williams 2005) to be a “normative realism” or a “classical realism” distinct from empirical or scientific realism. In contrast, I want to defend a normative or classical realism as part of a “politics-centered” political theory. I also want to use this “classical” realism to criticize the “new” realism of analytic political theorists such as Williams, Geuss, and others. As critics have noted (Freeden 2012; Scheuerman 2013; Rossi and Sleat 2014), these analytic realists have, for the most part, ignored classical realism.

Human nature and morals Realists have a “pessimistic” view of human nature, which is meant as a contrast to idealist conceptions of human nature as good or capable of transformation. But, as we will see in the next chapter, there is a big difference between seeing human beings as “dangerous” (a realist position) and seeing them as inherently evil or “depraved” (an authoritarian position). From a realist perspective the issue is not one of deciding controversial “metaphysical truths” about human nature or anything else (realists notoriously do not care about these), but rather showing that the world is full of serious dangers that often need to be confronted, rather than evaded or defined away. From this perspective, realist Kenneth Waltz’s three “images,” or “levels of analysis” (1954), show that the world is a “dangerous” place, prone to conflict and war, whether one derives this from human nature, the nature of the state and its domestic institutions, or from the anarchic “structure” of international relations. Realists are suspicious of morality in politics because morality is usually used to mask or excuse aggressive or selfish actions. According to Weber: In contrast to naive, primitive heroism, it is typical of the rational state systems for groups or rulers to line up for violent conflict, all quite sincerely believing themselves to be “in the right.” To any consistent religious rationalization, this must seem only an aping of ethics. Moreover, to draw the Lord’s name into such violent political conflict must be viewed as a taking of His name in vain. In the face of this, the cleaner and only honest way may appear to be the complete elimination of ethics from political reasoning. (1946b: 334–5) “Reason of state” attempts to replace moral hypocrisy with rationality. Most realists are “rationalists” who try to “deduce” rational behavior from the premises of the “levels” mentioned above (human nature, the state, or the international structure). Morgenthau (1978b) argued that a rational foreign policy that coherently related a state’s present power to its national interest (security) was a “good” policy and he took this “ideal-type” of the rational use of power as the standard by which political scientists could evaluate the actions of politicians and states. The typical realist criticism of a state’s foreign policy is that it is not a coherent or

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rational expression of the national interest. This rationalist bias differentiates realism from behavioralism and rational choice theory.20 According to Henry Kissinger (1994), Cardinal Richlieu and Otto von Bismarck (with whom the terms “raison d’état” and “Realpolitik” are associated) were the great masters of the calculation of power and the rational deduction of “good” policy from these calculations. But Richlieu and Bismarck are ambiguous figures because the Catholic cardinal’s “rational” policies of supporting the Protestant Germans against Catholic Austria sacrificed the Counter-Reformation to the security of France and prolonged the Thirty Years’ War during its most destructive phase. Bismarck provoked wars, and betrayed his fellow Germans (again, the Austrians), in order to build the German Empire. Both men succeeded in making their respective countries the strongest powers in Europe, but left an ambiguous legacy to their successors. Rational calculations of power told Richlieu and Bismarck to stop with their victories and to defend the new status quo. But their successors calculated that they had the power to conquer their neighbors. Louis XIV and Wilhelm II failed, but Napoleon and Hitler proved those calculations were correct. Sheer rationality or “reason of state,” it seems, cannot tell statesmen whether to defend or overthrow the status quo, or when to stop expanding.21 This is why even Kissinger concluded that morality is needed to restrain the will to power: Power is too difficult to assess, and the willingness to vindicate it too various, to permit treating it as a viable guide to international order. Equilibrium works best if it is buttressed by an agreement on common values. The balance of power inhibits the capacity to overthrow the international order; agreement on shared values inhibits the desire to overthrow the international order. Power without legitimacy tempts tests of strength; legitimacy without power tempts empty posturing. (1994: 77) Classical realists like Morgenthau argued that morals are important because they place limits on what individuals and nations are permitted to do. Morals also define the goals individuals and nations pursue and the means appropriate to achieving those goals: First, morality limits the interests that power seeks and the means that power employs to that end. Certain ends cannot be pursued and certain means cannot be employed in a given society within a certain period of history by virtue of the moral opprobrium that attaches to them. Second, morality puts the stamp of its approval upon certain ends and means which thereby not only become politically feasible but also acquire a positive moral value. These moral values, then, become an intrinsic element of the very interests that power seeks. (1971a: 279)

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For Morgenthau, as for Weber, political action involved morals: To say that a political action has no moral purpose is absurd; for political action can be defined as an attempt to realize moral values through the medium of politics, that is, power. The relevant moral question concerns the choice among different moral values, and it is at this point that the realist and the utopian part company. (1971c: 235) I think Morgenthau’s position on politics is the same as Weber’s. Power is an “interest” because it is a means of attaining one’s goals (which can be ideal as well as material or selfish). Politics is a struggle for power, but it is for purposes of advancing ideals as well as material interests. Yet, “moral principles can never be fully realized, but must at best be approximated through the ever temporary balancing of interests and the ever precarious settlement of conflict” (Morgenthau 1978b: 3–4). This often means that one must aim at “the realization of the lesser evil rather than of the absolute good” (1978b: 4). It is important to understand that, contra some of the new realists, there is no separate “political ethics” and there is no “collective” or “state” morality. As Geuss admits (2008: 1–6), there is an “anodyne” sense in which moral evaluations are always bound up with politics and most new realists distinguish their approach from the amoral Realpolitik or reason of state described above. Williams was a liberal and Geuss is a critical theorist (of the Adorno, not Habermas, variety).22 What the new realists oppose (and here they agree with Weber and the classical realists) is the pacifist, Christian, Kantian, or anarchist “ethics of conviction,” the Kantian derivation of morality from “apriori” assumptions about “moral persons” and Rawls’s claim (1971: 3) that “justice” (rather than order or security) “is the first virtue of social institutions” (Williams 2005: 12). In contrast, they would agree with the Christian realist Reinhold Niebuhr (1944: 123) that “Order precedes justice in the strategy of government.” Confusion or disagreement, however, seems to exist over whether “order” is a moral value or a “fact” that the state must establish before there can be morals at all (a position frequently identified with Hobbes, for whom “where there is no common power, there is no law: where no law, no injustice”).23 But order is a value and Williams’s own “first political question” (2005: 3), the “Hobbesian” question of “the securing of order, protection, safety, trust, and the conditions of cooperation” is a moral question of prioritizing these values over other values like justice. Williams also asked whether or not his “Basic Legitimation Demand” (that political authority not be worse than anarchy) “is itself a moral principle” (5). Surely it is and, moreover, comes straight out of Locke’s objections to Hobbes. As I argue in the next section, part of the confusion is over the distinctions among a modus vivendi, a theory of political legitimacy and a theory of justice. The new realists seem to believe that Rawls believed a theory of justice was necessary for political legitimacy or

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they believe that in a “disenchanted” world that can no longer legitimize the state with natural or divine law, legitimacy and a modus vivendi are the same thing. Ethics in politics also involves the “agent-principal” problem (Stiglitz 1987). Politicians are supposed to be agents acting on behalf of the public (the principal) or for the national interest. Often, they will do for “the people” or the “national interest” what they would never do for themselves. But it is important to see that the “agent-principal” problem is pervasive in social life. Lawyers and clients, trustees and beneficiaries, employees and employers, CEOs and their stockholders, and parents and children are all examples of agents and principals. Parents (agents) will do things for their children or their families (the principals) that they would never do for themselves. Conversely, the agent-principal problem also explains the corruption that is associated with politics and that many critics see as its defining evil. Politicians can use their power to advance their own interests, or the interests of their financial backers, at the expense of the public interest. Similarly, history is full of lawyers who overbill clients, trustees who cheat beneficiaries, employers who ignore labor laws, workers who “shirk” on the job, CEOs who give themselves exorbitant salaries, and parents who abuse, neglect, or exploit their children. Weber believed that corruption was usually caused whenever lines of responsibility were vague or shared among different individuals or agencies (1994d: 129). One of the ambiguities of the agent-principal problem in politics is that politicians are responsible both to the voters and to their partisan or financial supporters. Bureaucrats are responsible both to legislatures (which approve their budgets) and to executives, and, as more government tasks are “outsourced” to private contractors, responsibility becomes more diffuse. But unclear or multiple lines of responsibility are also pervasive in social and economic life, not just in politics. Thus, although the agent-principal problem is endemic to politics, and corruption remains a serious problem, this is not what makes politics unique. Nor is selfishness or the presence of evil people, nor lying and deceit. These are also serious problems in other dimensions of life. What makes politics unique is the use of legitimate violence. The moral dilemmas of politics arise, as Weber argued (and as Williams acknowledged), from using power or violence as a means to advance interests or ideals (such as order, protection, safety, justice, etc.). Violence breeds more violence and states pursue power as an end (as in reason of state), if only to maintain the status quo. This is why Morgenthau often characterized political decision making as involving choosing “the lesser evil.” In a strict sense, today’s realists reject great power wars not for moral reasons but because great power wars are suicidal “total wars” (whether conventional or nuclear) and so war can no longer be a “rational” instrument of policy or a “legal” means of changing the international status quo. What Morgenthau and other modern realists neglect to mention is that, in addition to rejecting modern “total war” as a rational instrument of policy, they do not share the aristocratic warrior belief, common to realists from Thucydides to Weber, that imperialism

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(the right of one nation to rule other nations against their will) is legitimate. This “moral” principle against imperialism is part of whatever moral consensus exists in our globalized world and today’s realists share it along with liberal internationalists, neoconservatives, pacifists, and socialists. Realists today tend to associate “the imperial temptation” (Tucker and Hendrickson 1992) with idealist cultural “missions” that seek to remake the world in their image.

The state and legitimacy A discussion of Weber always raises the question of “legitimacy and the state” in a disenchanted world (Connolly 1984b). Similarly, almost every introduction to political theory (for example, Miller 2003) rehearses the “state of nature” and “social contract” arguments of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, which legitimate “political authority.” These theories, however, presuppose the state as the “answer” to the problem of social order. But there were always political alternatives to the state such as tribes, feudal government, leagues, empires, and, especially for Arendt and Wolin, the ancient Greek polis. Human beings are “social animals” and they always live in groups, never in a “state of nature.” Humans are also “political animals” in the sense that they need to “govern” themselves, whether this is tribal government, feudal government, or a state. For political theorists, this should mean that any discussion of the legitimacy of “political authority” should not start with refuting “anarchy” (which in the strict sense never exists) but with comparing the benefits and costs of life in a state to life under tribal, feudal, or other forms of government. Historically, realism was allied with the state (as in reason of state) and international relations realism today is an ideology of “great powers” (only they exist in a situation of “anarchy”). But realists should study power relationships in general and, if studying tribes and other non-state forms, should study the power relationships in them.24 The relevance of this point for the relationship of “analytic realism” to institutional “context” is that we tend to forget that most of our political values and concepts have been formed by the institution of the state. Our concept of justice (whether Rawlsian or realist) is a state-centered concept that contrasts with the justice of tribal revenge. Foucault noticed this (1980b), which was why he advocated a proletarian summary justice as superior to the legal procedures that reinforced state authority. Hedley Bull (1977) argued that our conceptions of order presuppose “the domestic analogy” of the order provided by a state. This prevents us from seeing order in non-state societies and in international relations. Michael Mann (1984) has chided sociologists for ignoring how their concepts of society (as a bounded “societal” entity) presuppose the national societies (French society, German society) created by states. As in Weber, politics itself is defined as the struggle for power within and among states. Part of my reason for categorizing conceptions of the political as statist, polis-centered, and society-centered and comparing them is to be able to reveal the influence of the institution of the state on our “presupposed” values and concepts.

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Weberian sociologist Randall Collins (1986a) has argued that Weber had a fourth conception of legitimacy (besides tradition, charisma, and legality) to justify political authority, which was the ability of the political unit to successfully protect its members. If it cannot do this, no amount of tradition, charisma, or legality will preserve it. For centuries, the state competed with tribes, feudalism, and empire until it eventually became the dominant political form (Crone 1986; Spruyt 1996). The legitimacy of the state itself is only challenged by globalization and the possibility of either a world state or a “new medievalism” as alternatives. The problem of legitimacy is instead usually about the type of government (democracy, dictatorship) that runs the state and about the scope and activities of the state (for example, the welfare state). Whenever a modern government (democracy or dictatorship) loses a war or is unable to deal with an economic crisis, it loses its legitimacy and is usually overthrown (as was the German monarchy at the end of World War I, the Weimar Republic during the Depression, the Argentine dictatorship after the Falklands War and several Arab dictatorships during the depression-induced “Arab Spring”). In less dire circumstances, the opposition party is elected or there is a turn to a new governing ideology such as New Deal liberalism or fascism (in the 1930s) or conservatism (in the 1980s). In retrospect, the “legitimation crisis” of the 1960s and 1970s (Habermas 1973; Connolly 1984b) turned out to be a crisis of the liberal or social democratic welfare state, not a crisis of the state or of constitutional democracy. There seems to be confusion among new realists (they would say the confusion is among the Rawlsians) about the distinctions between a “modus vivendi,” the legitimacy of the type of government, and a theory of justice. Rawls implied that a theory of justice (because it is the first virtue of social institutions) is needed to legitimize “constitutional democracy” (no justice, no peace?), but he presupposed (and explicitly confined his theory of justice to) western constitutional governments (1985; 1993). Williams complained (2005: 2) that Rawls disdainfully rejected a “mere modus vivendi” among conflicting groups as an adequate basis of stability. Horton (2010) believes a modus vivendi is a more realistic description of how social and political relations become stable and legitimate than a Rawlsian theory of justice. But Horton redefines a modus vivendi (439–40) from a temporary balance of forces (Rawls’s definition) to a legitimate consensus. When A Theory of Justice was first published in 1971, it was widely interpreted as an analytic justification of the welfare state. The welfare state, it turns out, was a “modus vivendi” (in the sense of a temporary balance of forces) that conservatives, radicals, and even Rawls (1999a: xiv–xv; 2001: 135–40) never considered legitimate. The crisis of the 1960s and early 1970s was “solved” by a conservative or “neoliberal” ideological and policy shift to the right. Legitimacy requires genuine belief in the rightness of a political arrangement such that, in addition to obeying out of hope or fear, citizens obey out of a sense of obligation or allegiance. “Modus vivendi liberals” like John Gray (2000) seem to believe legitimacy is no longer possible in a disenchanted world.25 But, for realists

Realism: Weber 47

like Weber and David Hume (1888; 1985), political legitimacy was based on the strong interest humans have in order and stability, and if a particular government successfully provides these, then most people will find reasons (including tradition, charisma, legality, and others, which have varied throughout history) to obey it.

International relations and a world state In a globalized world, political theory today must incorporate the perspective of international relations. In a famous article, “Why Is There No International Theory?” Martin Wight (1966c) argued that there was no specifically “international” theory because all the theories of international relations (realist or idealist) were political theories, centered on states and their foreign policies. For classical realists like Morgenthau and Kissinger, international theory takes place at the “level” of the state, and the crucial question is whether a particular great power is a “status quo” power or a “revisionist” power seeking to overthrow the status quo.26 Neorealist Kenneth Waltz’s innovation (1979) was to insist that a properly “international” theory had to be a theory of the overall “system” or “structure” within which states operated. For Waltz this structure was “anarchy,” the absence of a world government that could control state behavior. States were on their own, and Waltz believed state behavior was dictated by the “logic” of the structure of anarchy, which was the “logic” of the “balance of power.” The goal of a properly international theory was to study this balance (was it bipolar, multipolar, unipolar?) and deduce rational state behavior from it (pursuit of traditional national interests instead of ideological crusades, balancing instead of “bandwagoning,” greater stability under bipolarity).27 According to Waltz, theories of foreign policy were not properly part of international theory, but were useful for explaining why states sometimes did not behave rationally. For neorealists, what can be called the “ontology” (or underlying reality) of “the international” is thus not states themselves, but their relation in a balance of power that shapes their behavior (and neorealism is also called “structural realism”). The “English School” (Dunne 2011) might be more acceptable to idealists than realism. English School theorists such as Wight (1991) and Bull (1977) shared with realists a belief that international order involved a balance of power among great powers and they doubted the liberal faith in collective security organizations like the UN and NATO. But, unlike the realists, they believed the “ontology” of international order was not an anarchic “system” of states, but an “international society” that shared moral norms (including international law) and for the sake of which great powers often cooperated. The old European international society shared many common values. The rulers were all Christians and aristocrats, and they were all related to each other by marriage, which was part of their diplomacy. It was this shared morality and culture that seemed to both classical realists and English School theorists to be missing post-World War II. On

48 Politics and the Concept of the Political

the one hand, the world was divided politically and ideologically by a “Cold War” between the US and USSR. On the other hand, after decolonization, the post-war world was no longer a European or western international “society,” but a global “system,” with a majority of non-western members who did not necessarily share, or who resented, “western” values. Peace during the Cold War apparently rested on only the nuclear “balance of terror” between the two superpowers and on their control of their respective allies. Under these conditions, Morgenthau (1978b) believed the old multipolar balance of power system and the nation-state were obsolete because both conventional “total” war and nuclear weapons meant war could no longer be a “rational” policy of states and states could no longer protect their populations. He also believed a bipolar system was inflexible and turned superpower politics into a zero-sum game. But he believed the “idealist” alternatives of morality, international law, arms control, disarmament, collective security, and international organizations did not work either. Breaking with most realists, however, Morgenthau concluded that the only solution to great power war was a world state (1978b, Chapter 29 on the world state). In a nuclear world, Hobbes’s “logic of anarchy” applies to states as well as individuals. “There is no shirking the conclusion that international peace cannot be permanent without a world state,” Morgenthau wrote (503). A world state, however, presupposed a world community and a world community presupposed the settlement of great political disputes such as the Cold War. Morgenthau therefore counseled reviving traditional diplomacy to settle disputes (his “peace through accommodation”).28 But “diplomacy” seemed a thin reed for maintaining peace and most readers did not read past Morgenthau’s “Six Principles of Realism” to discover his advocacy of a world state.29 Neorealism was more optimistic because it did not depend on shared values and because Waltz (1964) believed the bipolar “structure” of the system was more stable than multipolar ones. He also believed (Sagan and Waltz 2002) that nuclear proliferation promoted stability. Despite this, however, all realists seem to believe that, in the long run, great power wars are inevitable (what Mearsheimer calls “the tragedy of great power politics”).30 Among realists, only Morgenthau and a few others see a world state as necessary to prevent this “logic of anarchy.” The end of the Cold War produced a number of speculations about what a future world order would be like, some optimistic, others not: a UN-led “new world order,” “the end of history,” “zones of peace/zones of turmoil,” “the coming anarchy,” “the clash of civilizations,” “democratic peace,” “jihad versus McWorld,” etc.31 Realists have debated whether or not a unipolar world is desirable or can last. Most realists seem to prefer a bipolar or multipolar world, and see China and Russia as trying to bring this about (in what Mead (2014) calls “the return of geopolitics”). Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” theory is believed by many social conservatives, both western and non-western. Despite its

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pessimism and cultural stereotypes, it is the only well-known theory that takes seriously the fact that “international society” is no longer “western.” Many theorists will complain that realist and English School accounts are too “state-centric” and that they ignore the reality that power (and legitimacy) has shifted away from the nation-state, not only “downward” toward subnational regions, cities, and localities or “upward” toward supranational institutions such as the EU, IMF, WTO, etc., but also “outward” toward transnational corporations, non-government organizations, offshore banking networks and tax havens, migrants and diaspora groups, criminal organizations, terrorists, armed gangs, etc. Instead of a system of states or an international society, we have a “new medievalism” of overlapping jurisdictions and authorities. Hedley Bull had speculated about this (1977: 254–5) and the idea has proved attractive to others.32 On the optimistic interpretation, a new medievalism means the end of interstate wars, their replacement with concern for “human security,” and the emergence of “global governance” by a cosmopolitan and democratic “civil society” of cooperating political and non-political entities (Archibugi and Held 1995; Kaldor 2003; Hampson 2008). It thereby achieves much of what is expected of a “world community,” without needing a “homogenous” world culture or a world state. But, on the pessimistic interpretation, a new medievalism signals a “coming anarchy” (Kaplan 1994) and a descent into “new wars” (Kaldor 1999) in which war, crime, and economic activity merge and in which civilians, rather than soldiers, are the intended targets. Whether optimistic or pessimistic, new medievalism suggests that what we now have is a multi-entity “global politics” instead of a state-based “international relations.” In relation to the “ontological” question of “the international,” new medievalism would either be “pluralist” (individuals and “corporate” entities such as city-states, regional and supranational organizations) or else “individualist” (with individuals choosing which entities to give their loyalty to). Today, states (or transformed states like Philip Bobbitt’s “market state”) still seem to be the primary actors.33 But whether they form a stable “international society,” a unipolar or multipolar “state system,” are sliding into “anarchy” (or, more likely, into “zones of peace/zones of turmoil”) or a new medievalism, or are inching toward a “post-western,” “post-colonial,” or “cosmopolitan” world community or world state is as much a question of collective will as it is of prediction. In this context, I want to defend Morgenthau’s “realist” alternative of a world state. Ironically, the ideal of a world state is not popular, even (or especially) among idealists (Tamir 2000). The world state “enshrines” Wight’s “statist” paradigm of politics and Weber’s rule by bureaucracy, this time at the world level. International politics will become domestic politics and political theory will continue to rule international theory. This “New Leviathan” could easily be a new despotism, or a “failed state” wracked by civil wars. Many conservatives see a world state as a liberal or socialist Tower of Babel and a sign of the advent of the Antichrist

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(Schmitt 1951). Only the liberal constructivist Alexander Wendt (2003), it seems, really wants a world state. Liberals since Kant prefer a federation of republics or democracies (what today is called “democratic peace” theory). Cosmopolitans prefer a “global civil society” or new medievalism (Lu 2006). Nationalists and English School “pluralists” (Jackson 2003) defend the uniqueness and autonomy of cultures, and therefore continue to support nation-states. But it is important to see that Morgenthau’s reason for wanting a world state was the problem of great power war in a nuclear age. If this problem can be solved in some other way, a world state, whatever its other advantages in being able to enable global collective action, is not necessary.34 Morgenthau believed the path to a world state would have to duplicate the same path taken previously by the nation-state. Just as, earlier, people had to replace their local loyalties with a national loyalty, they would now have to develop a supranational loyalty. There would have to be mechanisms for peaceful change so that minorities and dissidents could have their claims to justice recognized, and there would eventually have to be an overwhelming power to “overawe” everyone. Morgenthau agreed with David Mitrany’s (1948) “functional” approach to transformation, where international institutions like NATO and the European Community were formed to solve practical problems that nations could not solve on their own.35 These and other activities would aim at gradually creating a “world community” by creating a supranational culture that would one day gain people’s loyalties. As Weber’s friend and admirer, Karl Jaspers, realized (Derman 2008), this requires rejecting Weber’s nationalism and his “value collision” and replacing it with the cosmopolitan perspective of the “man of culture” and with “liberal,” “Rawlsian,” and “Habermasian” efforts at continuous communication aimed at mutual understanding and possible agreement. Perhaps then we would resolve the debate about relativism, subjectivism, and universal values. At the end of this long process would be the world state. In the meantime, it would be necessary to settle all those political, economic, and cultural conflicts that continue to divide the world.

Notes 1 Letter to Mina Tobler, January 17, 1919. The italicized words are das Politische. Lawrence Scaff translates them as “the political” (1989: 152), as does Lassman (1994: x). They are translated as “politics” in Mommsen (1989: 7). 2 Political realism is distinguished from philosophical realism, literary realism, etc. In addition to Weber, realism is represented by Niebuhr (1960), Carr (1964), Kennan (1951), Morgenthau (1946 and 1978b), and Kissinger (1994). The “neorealists” are represented by Waltz (1979) and, for economics, Gilpin (2001). Mearsheimer’s more pessimistic neorealist position is called “offensive realism” (2000). There is also “neoclassical realism,” which seeks to join “classical” and “neo” realism. For surveys by realist authors, see Wohlforth (2008) and Haslam (2002). 3 For overviews of Weber and his works, written by sociologists, see Ringer (2004), Whimster (2007), Brunn (2007), and, critically, Allen (2004). Weber was promoted

Realism: Weber 51


5 6 7


9 10


12 13

outside Germany as a founder of sociology and social scientific methodology by Talcott Parsons, Edward Shils, and other American and émigré social scientists. In particular, Weber’s sociology was contrasted to Marx’s. In 1959, Mommsen (1984) portrayed Weber as a nationalist, imperialist, and forerunner of Schmitt and Hitler. In the 1980s and 1990s, the focus shifted to more “cultural” themes such as rationality, modernity, Weber’s studies of religion, the problem of human character, and the influence of Nietzsche on his thought. See, for example, Lash and Whimster (1987), Scaff (1989), Bryan S. Turner (1992), Charles Turner (1992), Horowitz and Maley (1994), and Schluchter (1996). Imperialism as an ideology alongside liberalism, communism, etc. was noticed by the neoconservative Fukuyama in his “End of History” argument (1989). Fukuyama believes the demise of imperialism renders the realist view of international politics obsolete. Valuable studies of Weber’s political thought include Beetham (1974), Collins (1986), Giddens (1972), Hennis (1988), Mommsen (1984), Kelly (2003), Maley (2011), and Breiner (1996). I stress the moral dimension of legitimacy over its legal connotations. Legitimacy originated in the desire of privileged groups to justify their privileges and good fortune, both to themselves and to everyone else (Weber 1978a: 953, 491). For Lowi, however, bureaucratic discretion is a recipe for corruption or arbitrary rule and so should be restricted by the classical liberal “rule of law” (Lowi’s “juridical democracy”). Unlike Hayek, who believed this worked only for a minimal state, Lowi believes Congress can write extensive, detailed rules instead of delegating rule making to bureaucrats. In contrast, James Q. Wilson (1984) argued that state officials need more discretion (as with the Scandinavian ombudsmen) in order to be responsible. Weber’s claim that all ethics divide into an ethics of conviction and an ethics of responsibility is interpreted by many as the contrast between deontological ethics (Kantianism) and consequentialist ethics (utilitarianism), but Weber compared both ethics to Kantian formalism (2012c: 314). For Weber the first distinction in ethics is between an “average” ethics that follows conventions and a “heroic” ethics that takes moral principles seriously (Schwentler 1987: 448); second is a distinction between heroic secular ethics of resisting evil and heroic religious ethics of brotherly love; and only then a distinction between heroic secular or religious ethics of conviction or responsibility. The syndicalism of Robert Michels was Weber’s example of a heroic secular ethics of conviction (2012b: 313–14, 318–19). I have changed the emphasis from the moral “shall” to the political “force.” Weber repeats this same point in 1946c (334). Napoleon supposedly told this to Goethe when they met on October 2, 1808 (Lewes 1965: 505). Napoleon had apparently developed this view of modern tragedy early on (he admired Corneille), and he used the idea in other reported discussions (Healey 1959: Chapter 7). “The question of the revolution has dominated all modern thought, like all politics … If politics has existed since the 19th century, it is because the revolution took place. The current one is a variant or a sector of that one. Politics always takes a stand on the revolution. When Napoleon said ‘the modern form of destiny is politics,’ he was merely drawing the logical conclusions from this truth, for he came after the revolution and before the return of another one. The return of the revolution—that is surely what our problem is … [T]he very desirability of the revolution is the problem today” (Foucault 1988a: 121–2). Nationalism is not popular among political theorists. For a defense of a liberal nationalism, see Miller (1995). It is not clear if Weber meant these to be examples or exhaustive. Many commentators add a legal sphere, a social sphere, or an ethical sphere. Weber’s discussion of the six

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17 18



21 22 23

spheres takes place in his discussion of religious rejections of the world, where the other spheres challenge religious ethics. Art and sex initially challenge religion as sensual distractions from spirituality, but in modern times they have become rationalized and spiritualized as alternative sources of “salvation.” The six spheres may then represent six sources of ultimate meaning, rather than all the spheres of life. Weber characterized Wilhelm Roscher’s historical economics as both relativist and related to a Hegelian metaphysics that he avoided with religious faith (2012d: 26–8). According to Whimster (2007: 104), Weber associated relativism with the “reduction” of human actions to determination by biological or economic processes. If so, Weber never addressed relativism in the sense of “values and morals are always relative to particular persons or cultures.” Herodotus, The Histories, Book 3.38. This anecdote, in which the Persian king compares conflicting Greek and Indian burial customs and concludes that “custom (nomos) is king,” is sometimes interpreted as an expression of relativism. But it actually illustrates Herodotus’s point about ethnocentrism: “If one were to offer men to choose out of all the customs in the world such as seemed to them the best, they would examine the whole number, and end by preferring their own; so convinced are they that their own usages far surpass those of all others.” “This leaves us with no answers and a number of open questions, a result which should not in itself be lethally discouraging if Socrates rather than Kant or Bentham is one’s guiding star” (Geuss 2012: 156). See Williams (2009a). In contrast, Strauss believed Socratic skeptics should renew the quest for natural law, or at least promulgate it in their “exoteric” political philosophy. In practice, the arch-Kantian seems to have been, not Rawls (who displayed “Hegelian” traits in confining his theory to a constitutional democracy and the nation-state), but the late analytic Marxist, G.A. Cohen (2003). Williams (1980: 72) called this “history-of-philosophy philosophy” and suggested it be treated as a “funny kind of philosophy with archaizing elements” rather than as history. It is not clear how this funny kind of philosophy relates to “genealogy” in Williams (2014). See also the op-ed advertisement against invading Iraq in the New York Times of September 26, 2002, signed by 33 scholars of international relations including realists such as Robert Art, Robert Jervis, John Mearsheimer, Robert Pape, Stephen van Evera, Stephen Walt, and Kenneth Waltz (available at www.bear-left.com/archive/2002/ 0926oped.html). The unity and rationality of states is rejected by behavioralist and rational-choice approaches to international relations. Behavioralists emphasize the bureaucratic (Allison 1971) and “group-think” (Janis 1972) obstacles to rational decision making. Most group decisions involve “satisficing” (Simon 1947). Rational choice theorists (Bueno de Mesquita 2000) emphasize that political actors are as concerned with domestic politics and their own careers as they are with national interests. Mearsheimer’s “offensive realism” (2000), which holds that states can only be secure if they subdue all other states in their region, is deduced from the same “structure of anarchy” that “defensive realists” like Waltz believe justifies a defensive state strategy. On Geuss’s criticisms of Williams for adhering to liberalism and Geuss’s admiration for Adorno, see Geuss (2012). Hobbes (1968: 188, Chapter 13, paragraph 13). Morgenthau got into trouble for declaring “There is a profound and neglected truth hidden in Hobbes’s extreme dictum that the state creates morality as well as law and that there is neither morality nor law outside the state” (1951: 34). He said he was misunderstood because his next sentence was: “Universal moral principles, such as justice or equality, are capable of guiding political action only to the extent that they have been given concrete content and have been related to political situations by society.” See also, Morgenthau (1971c).

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24 An example would be the anarchist anthropologist Pierre Clastres (1987; 1994), who argued that tribal societies are not “innocent” of power relations and that the relationship between the chief and the tribe is a power relationship in which the tribe actively controls the chief. This “realist” analysis, and others that show that “equality” is a power relationship that must be actively maintained by countervailing powers and redistributive rituals and norms, contrasts with “idealist” portraits of tribes as “naturally” communal and egalitarian or else as simply “innocent” of power. 25 This is also asserted by Brian Turner (1992) and Connolly (1984b), who see Foucaultian discipline replacing lost legitimacy. 26 Liberal “democratic peace” theory (which says that democracies do not fight each other) is a state level theory as is Bobbitt’s (2002) neoconservative theory, which holds that states (for reasons of identity as well as security) always try to impose their domestic institutions on other states (this is the cause of war). 27 Realists believe ideological enthusiasm eventually gives way to traditional national interests because these better reflect the realities of power. On balancing instead of bandwagoning, see Walt (1985). On bipolar systems as more stable than multipolar ones, see Waltz (1964). 28 Morgenthau believed the Cold War could have been ended in the 1950s if the US had dispensed with ideological and moral objections and cold-bloodedly agreed to recognize a Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe (Gardner et al. 1970: 79–102, 119–22). 29 The revival of interest in this aspect of Morgenthau seems to begin with Craig (2003). See also Scheuerman (2011). 30 Mearsheimer’s offensive realism is the most pessimistic about this, but Waltz’s location of the causes of war in the “structure” of international anarchy also entails the inevitability of great power war. Even if the “logic” of anarchy is defensive, attempts to increase defense lead to the “security dilemma” and arms races that can get out of control. It is interesting that it is only an international historian (Trachtenburg 2012, Chapter 1) who believes the balance of power actually prevents great power wars. 31 President George H.W. Bush advocated the first. For the others, see, respectively: Fukuyama (1989), Singer and Wildavsky (1993), Kaplan (1994), Huntington (1993), Chan (1997), and Barber (1992). 32 An earlier version was Wolfers (1962: 242). See also Kobrin (1998), Friedrichs (2001), Gamble (2001), and Rapley (2006). The new medievalism idea is more often referenced as a foil by “state-centric” opponents (Slaughter 1997; Gilpin 2001). 33 Bobbitt (2002) sees the state as constantly transforming, from a Renaissance “princely state,” to an absolutist “kingly state,” a mercantilist “territorial state,” the nineteenthcentury “nation state,” to today’s neoliberal “market state” (which has “managerial” (German), “mercantilist” (Japanese) and “entrepreneurial” (US) variations). 34 Scheuerman (2011) goes beyond Morgenthau in this respect. He believes “progressive realists” want a world state in order to regulate the global economy, redistribute resources, and pursue global justice, as well as prevent nuclear war. 35 See Morgenthau (1978b, Chapter 30 on the world community, second section on “the functional approach”). Morgenthau criticized NATO for giving each member an equal vote. He believed its decision-making structure should reflect the fact that the US was the most powerful member and did most of the work. Morgenthau believed the European Community (now European Union), in addition to its economic advantages, had the realist purpose of controlling Germany, still the most powerful state in Europe.


To the political belongs the idea, because there is no politics without authority and no authority without an ethos of belief … Politics means the promotion of a specific type of validity and authority. Carl Schmitt (1996b: 17)

Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) coined the “concept of the political” and so a book on politics and “the political” can hardly ignore him. But Schmitt, a conservative law professor who joined the Nazis in 1933 and wrote pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic books, is extremely controversial and this controversy needs to be addressed first.1 There are three main interpretations of Schmitt: as a fascist, as a realist (or Hobbesian), and as a Catholic authoritarian or “political theologian.” Many interpreters (R. Wolin 1992a, 1992b; Dyzenhaus 1997; McCormick 1997; Scheuerman 1999) view him as a fascist and this is why he is so controversial. Schmitt admired Mussolini and Italian fascism from the beginning and in that sense was always a fascist (Mueller 2003: 28–9; Balakrishnan 2000: 61–2, 74–6, 122). Much of the debate thus turns on what is meant by “fascist” and whether or not this means Schmitt was a true Nazi, an Italian-style fascist, a “clerico-fascist” in the style of dictators Francisco Franco and Auguste Pinochet, or a fascist because he was an authoritarian. The second view interprets Schmitt as a realist (Bendersky 1983; Willms 1991; Forsyth 1996; Bolsinger 2001; Kennedy 2004), the “Hobbes of the twentieth century” (Schelsky in Meier 1998: 100 and note 102), an “authoritarian bourgeois liberal” (Schwab 1970 and 2000; Cristi 1998) or the “Lenin of the bourgeois” (Preuss 1999: 159).2 Those who interpret Schmitt this way come from both the political left and the right. Schmitt’s left-wing interpreters use him to criticize liberalism and cultural radicalism, and to find ideas for a “leftist

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Realpolitik” (Piccone and Ulmen 1987: 11) or for a “radical” democracy (Mouffe 1993b; 1999; 2000a; Kalyvas 2009).3 Some leftists oppose his theories, but treat them as essential for understanding the authoritarian (or fascist) nature of the modern liberal state (Agamben 2005; Walker 1995: 34; Hirst 1989a; 1999). Conservatives use Schmitt to defend realism and cultural conservatism, and to attack liberalism and socialism (Kosselleck 1988; Gottfried 1990; Benoist 2013). Both conservatives and leftists use Schmitt to endorse a multipolar international politics that resists liberal imperialism and the specter of world government (Odysseos and Petito 2007). Those who interpret Schmitt as a realist or Hobbesian distance him from Nazism by focusing on his Weimar and post-war writings, emphasizing his initial opposition to Hitler, downplaying his Nazi involvement as due to personal “opportunism” rather than political philosophy, and pointing out the differences between Schmitt’s Nazi era writings and official Nazi ideology. It is this interpretation that accounts for Schmitt’s “rehabilitation” as a political thinker. The third interpretation, widespread in Germany and brought to the Anglophone world by the Straussian Heinrich Meier (1995 and 1998), argues that Schmitt was an unorthodox Catholic authoritarian like Joseph de Maistre (the “Maistre of the twentieth century”), or a “political theologian,” or “Grand Inquisitor” (Bockenforde 1996; Bates 2006; Hohendahl 2008).4 Interpreters of Schmitt as a “political theologian” rely on Schmitt’s early Catholic writings (and the fact that he later told people that he always considered himself a Catholic), his theory of secularization (in which theological concepts were transferred to the political sphere), his admiration for Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” (in the famous story in the novel The Brothers Karamazov) and the nineteenth-century Catholic counter-revolutionaries Maistre, Juan Donoso Cortes, and Louis de Bonald, and his references to the state and to himself as a katechon, or “restrainer” of evil and “delayer” of the Judgment Day. Early on, contemporary liberal critics suspected Schmitt’s ideal was “an alliance between a nationalistic dictator and the Catholic Church” (Thoma 1988: 82) and Jan-Werner Muller (who believes Schmitt was a “conservative in despair” who experimented with various rightwing positions, none of which “worked”) concedes that, “arguably, Franco’s Catholic authoritarianism put into practice what Schmitt ideally would have wanted in the early 1930s” (2003: 6). In contrast, those who interpret Schmitt as a realist or fascist argue that Schmitt lost his faith in the 1920s and became some sort of amoral “existentialist.” I believe the authoritarian interpretation of Schmitt is correct and that he was not a realist or an existentialist, and I argue this below. But I use these diverse interpretations of Schmitt to delineate the differences among realism, Hobbesian absolutism, fascism, and Maistrean authoritarianism as traditions in political theory, each with its own conception of politics and its meaning and value. Realism has been covered in the Weber chapter and I assume that description when I contrast it to absolutism, fascism, and authoritarianism, political theories

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that are usually ignored or conflated. In political science today, “authoritarianism” is a “residual” category that includes all forms of government that are not considered “democratic” (Svolik 2012: 17–28). Yet, until the advent of modern democracy, most societies were thoroughly “authoritarian” and authority, as well as order, was affirmed as more valuable than liberty or justice. During wars and political emergencies (as Schmitt knew), people rediscover the “value” of authority. The US “culture war” between conservatives and liberals (Hunter 1992; Lakoff 2002; Haidt 2012) is to a great extent a struggle over the role of authority in morality and social relations. For these reasons, a survey of politics and the political should not ignore the importance and dilemmas of authority and the similarities and differences among realism, absolutism, fascism, and authoritarianism. In order to avoid misunderstandings, I also distinguish Schmitt’s “Maistrean” authoritarianism from “Burkean” social conservatism and “Tocquevillian” communitarianism at the end of this chapter. Similarly, any survey should not ignore the relationships between politics and religion, particularly today when fundamentalist religions make claims against secular public authority in what Gilles Kepel (1994) has called “the revenge of God.” In addition to coining “the concept of the political,” Schmitt coined the term “political theology,” a concept that involves claims about the theological basis of politics and claims about the need to bring religion under political control. Schmitt’s political theology, which aims to unite religion and politics, reveals, I argue, the “asymmetry” between religion and politics. In the first part of this chapter, I summarize Schmitt’s friend-enemy concept of the political and the realist, absolutist, fascist, and Catholic authoritarian interpretations of it. In the second part, I examine Schmitt’s conception of “political theology” and the relationship of religion to politics. In the third section, I distinguish realist conceptions of war, emergencies, and authority in society from authoritarianism, and distinguish authoritarianism from social conservatism and communitarianism.

I The political against ethics, economics, and liberalism In his 1932 The Concept of the Political, Schmitt conceived “the political” as the friend-enemy relation: “The specific political distinction to which political actions can be reduced is that between friend and enemy … The distinction between friend and enemy denotes the utmost degree of intensity of a union or separation, of an association or dissociation” (1976: 26; pagination is the same in the 1996 and 2007 editions). The enemy was a “public” enemy, not a private one. Only groups could be enemies, not individuals. “An enemy exists only when, at least potentially, one fighting collectivity of people confronts a similar collectivity,” Schmitt wrote (28). “The enemy is solely the public enemy.” Schmitt did not specify how small these collectivities could be and still be “public.” Schmitt insisted that the friend-enemy relation was not metaphorical. The political was closely linked to war: “The friend, enemy, and combat concepts

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receive their real meaning precisely because they refer to the real possibility of physical killing” and “war follows from enmity” (33). Schmitt distinguished his conception of the enemy from “liberal” replacements such as the economic “competitor” and the parliamentary “debating adversary” (28). He also distinguished “agonal” from “political” attitudes toward struggle. The “antagonist” is not the enemy because, Schmitt wrote, “a merely ‘agonal’ competition that affirms a common unity is present.” This was to be distinguished from “a genuine friend-enemy opposition that negates the political unity” (Meier 1995: 64, note 68). Instead, “The political is the most intense and extreme antagonism and every antagonism becomes that much more political the closer it approaches the extreme point, that of the friend-enemy grouping” (Schmitt 1976: 29). Note this emphasis on intensity and extreme antagonism, which contradicts Schmitt’s later distinction between “enemy” and “foe” hatreds and conflicts. Schmitt also believed that the elimination of the possibility of war would mean the elimination of politics: A world in which the possibility of war is utterly eliminated, a completely pacified globe, would be a world without the distinction of friend and enemy and hence a world without politics. It is conceivable that such a world might contain many very interesting antitheses and contrasts, competitions and intrigues of every kind, but there would not be a meaningful antithesis whereby men could be required to sacrifice life. (35) The “primacy” of the political over other categories of life thus derived from this permanent danger of war against enemies and from the sense of seriousness involved in the possibility of the sacrifice of life. The concept of the political supported the state and sovereignty because the specifically “political” moment was the recognition of the enemy and a decision (made by a sovereign) as to what to do. It also allowed Schmitt to distinguish the political from politics: from these “primary political decisions and under the protection of the decision taken, numerous secondary concepts of the political emanate” such as legislative, party, domestic, and electoral politics (30). These conflict-laden aspects of “normal” politics were not political in the friend-enemy sense unless they escalated to civil war (32). Schmitt’s concept of the political was not neutral or objective. It was directed polemically against liberalism, which Schmitt defined as a humanitarian individualist ideology that tried to reduce politics to either ethics or economics. According to Schmitt: In a very systematic fashion liberal thought evades or ignores state and politics and moves instead in a typical always recurring polarity of two heterogeneous spheres, namely ethics and economics, intellect and trade, education

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and property. The critical distrust of state and politics is easily explained by the principles of a system whereby the individual must remain terminus a quo and terminus ad quem. In case of need, the political entity must demand the sacrifice of life. Such a demand is in no way justifiable by the individualism of liberal thought … With great passion political viewpoints were deprived [by liberalism] of every validity and subjugated to the norms and orders of morality, law, and economics. (70–1, 72) Liberals accepted the state as a necessary evil, but tried to “subjugate” it with ethics and economics, and with laws, constitutions, and parliaments. Liberals believed in free markets, but Schmitt insisted that economics depended on the state and economic competition was a mercantilist zero-sum game. In his 1923 The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, Schmitt (1988) argued that parliament was a liberal institution justified only by its claim to find rational answers to political questions through open “discussion.” But instead of deciding issues, liberals endlessly debated them. In his 1923 Political Theology (1985: 62) he cited the Spanish reactionary Donoso Cortes’s comment that if they had to decide between “Christ or Barabbas,” liberals would adjourn or appoint a committee to study the matter. At the same time, as classical liberalism adapted to the twentieth-century expansion of the welfare state, it adopted a potentially anarchistic pluralism (represented in theory by the British pluralists John Figges, G.D.H. Cole, and Harold Laski, and the French syndicalist Leon Duguit) that saw the state in “feudal” terms, as merely one institution bidding for the individual’s loyalty alongside churches, unions, and other types of associations (Schmitt 1976: 39–45 and 1999a). Schmitt believed the pluralist Weimar “party-state” of multiple political parties representing ideological extremes and private interests was a kind of “feudalism” that was dissolving any shared “ethic of state” into an “ethic of civil war” (1999a: 207). But liberals, Schmitt complained, professed “neutrality” about parties, even anti-democratic ones such as the Nazis and communists, as long as they adhered to “legality” and respected the “equal chance” of other parties to regain a majority at the next election (2004a; 2008a). Against this liberal refusal to recognize anti-democratic parties as “enemies” that needed to be suppressed, Schmitt argued that constitutions could not be “legally” overthrown by amendment because they represented an original substantive decision by the people that conferred a “legitimacy” that could not be negated subsequently by manipulating constitutional “legality.” This was why he advocated a presidential dictatorship in Germany using the president’s emergency powers under Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to suppress the communists and Nazis. Schmitt blamed the liberals (even though conservatives were in power) for failing to stop Hitler.5 After the war, Schmitt resumed his attacks on liberals in his 1950 The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum (2003), a

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history of international law in which he accused liberals of overthrowing the classical European international order (in which war was recognized as a legal means of deciding disputes among states that treated each other as respected “enemies”) and replacing it with a moralistic world order in which war was considered a crime and previously respected “enemies” were demonized as criminals or “foes.” This had also been Schmitt’s conclusion about liberals in The Concept of the Political: War is condemned but executions, sanctions, punitive expeditions, pacifications, protection of treaties, international police, and measures to assure peace remain. The adversary is no longer called an enemy but a disturber of the peace and is thereby designated to be an outlaw of humanity. A war waged to protect or expand economic power must, with the aid of propaganda, turn into a crusade and into the last war of humanity. This is implicit in the polarity of ethics and economics … But this allegedly non-political and apparently even antipolitical system serves existing or newly emerging friend and enemy groupings and cannot escape the logic of the political. (1976: 79) In rejecting “the logic of the political,” liberals were thus (alternately or simultaneously) naive, hypocritical, or moralistic crusaders. Much of the interest in Schmitt is in his criticisms of liberalism as much as it is in his concept of the political, or in whether he was a Hobbesian, fascist, or authoritarian.

Schmitt as a Hobbesian absolutist On the interpretation of Schmitt as a realist, Hobbesian, authoritarian liberal, Lenin of the bourgeois or theoretician of “pure politics,” Schmitt’s political thought was directed against this liberal “enemy,” which naively and hypocritically tried to subjugate politics with ethics and economics. In a strict sense, however, Schmitt the jurist was not a realist like Machiavelli or Weber, but an “absolutist,” a theorist of the legitimacy of state authority like Thomas Hobbes (who Schmitt considered to be a “juristic thinker”).6 Most people consider Hobbes to be a realist because of his depiction of anarchy as a “war of all against all” and because he believed “Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words.” But Hobbes’s contemporary critic, James Harrington, criticized Leviathan for ignoring the army, which was the realist “hand” that wielded Leviathan’s “sword.”7 Like Hobbes, Schmitt the law professor was interested in legitimacy, rather than in the army or coups d’état. In his 1921 Dictatorship he interpreted Machiavelli to be a mere “technician” of power (2014: 5–9) and in his 1923 Roman Catholicism and Political Form he insisted that “No political system can survive even a generation with only naked techniques of holding power” (1996b: 17). He agreed with Jean-Jacques Rousseau that “power proves nothing in law”

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(1985: 17). In a review of Friedrich Meinecke’s Machiavellism: The Doctrine of Raison d’Etat and Its Place in Modern History, Schmitt argued that Meinecke overlooked the juristic solution of Hobbes and Samuel Pufendorf to the conflict between morality and politics. According to Schmitt, they replaced the moral question of Machiavellianism with the legal question of sovereignty, or “who decides?” (Balakrishnan 2000: 79). Schmitt did not even derive his friend-enemy concept of the political from realism, but got it from a French treatise on administrative law: For the criterion of the political furnished here (friend-enemy orientation), I draw upon the particularly interesting definition of the specifically political act de gouvernement which Dufour … (Traite de droit administrative applique, V, 128) has advanced: “Defining an act of government is the purpose to which the author addresses himself. Such an act aims at defending society or as embodied in the government against its internal or external enemies, overt or covert, present or future” (1976: 21, footnote 3) In this sense, Schmitt the law professor was a jurist, not a realist. In contrast, the young Hans Morgenthau (2012: 106–7) defined “the political” in realist terms as involving a “will to power” that could be used to maintain or expand power, or pursue prestige. Schmitt and Hobbes are confused with realists because they sought to legitimize the state, the moral values of order and security, and the specifically “statist” form of authority, sovereignty. Schmitt and Hobbes often argue that state sovereignty is the “precondition” for law and morality. According to Hobbes, “where there is no common power, there is no law: where no law, no injustice” (1968: 188, Chapter 13, paragraph 13). Schmitt appeared to believe something similar: [The state’s] justification lay not in substantive norms but in its effectiveness in creating the preconditions under which valid norms could exist at all, for it was the state which put an end to the source of all disorder and civil war, namely, the struggle on behalf of ultimate norms. This state created public order and security. Only once that was in place could the legislative state develop, with its bourgeois constitution based on the rule of law. (1997b: 268) As we noted in the previous chapter, realists sometimes consider the state to be “pre-moral” in the sense that it establishes the preconditions of order and security, which then allow for law and morals. But order and security are values, and, as Schmitt’s reference to “the struggle on behalf of ultimate norms” indicated, he saw the source of “all disorder and civil war” as due to a surplus of morality, not an absence: “Everyone agrees that whenever antagonisms appear within a state,

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every party wants the general good—therein resides after all the bellum omnium contra omnes” (1985: 9). If the problem was an amoral or pre-moral anarchy, any moral order (religious, secular, family, or tribal) and any authority (tribal, feudal, the Catholic Church) could put an end to it. But if the problem was a conflict of moral authorities, each claiming primacy (as with the feudal estates, the Catholics and the Protestants, the interest groups and ideological parties of Weimar Germany, or Weberian “subjectivists” asserting what Schmitt called the “tyranny of values” (1996c)), then the solution could only be a type of authority claiming to be the highest authority: sovereignty. These are legal and moral issues, not sociological or realist ones (d’Entreves 1967). In contrast to Weber’s realist definition of the state in terms of violence, Schmitt argued that “the state’s sovereignty … must be juristically defined correctly, not as the monopoly to coerce or rule, but as the monopoly to decide” (1985: 13). This was what Schmitt called “decisionism,” which he derived from Hobbes’s formula, “Authority, not truth, makes law” (1985: 33 and 1988: 43).8 For Hobbes and Schmitt, “authority” did not make law “from nothing” (as those who consider Schmitt to be an “existentialist” believe), but rather decided which values (order and security, not freedom or justice) to make into laws. The “meaning and value of politics” for an absolutist, then, is order and security, which are moral values that the state establishes with its sovereign authority, army, and police. The test of sovereignty was the emergency, or “state of exception.” “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” Schmitt wrote. “He decides whether there is an extreme emergency as well as what must be done to eliminate it” (1985: 5, 7 and 1988: 43). In this situation “what characterizes an exception is principally unlimited authority, which means the suspension of the entire existing order. In such a situation it is clear that the state remains, whereas law recedes” (1985: 12). Schmitt’s friend-enemy conception of the political supported his emergencycentered and decisionist theory of sovereignty because recognizing enemies and deciding what to do about them was the most “sovereign” decision. Again, this sounds “realist” in the sense that Schmitt seemed to describe sovereignty in de facto terms as whoever does, in fact, exercise this authority. Schmitt believed the American president was the sovereign in the US constitutional system because Lincoln exercised emergency powers during the Civil War (2014: 118). But Schmitt wanted to align de facto power with de jure authority or right. Schmitt believed Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution granted sovereign emergency authority to the president. The president was therefore the sovereign in the German constitutional order. Schmitt’s defenders (Schwab 1970 and Bendersky 1983) emphasize that he wanted the Weimar president to prevent Hitler from becoming chancellor by using the emergency powers to rule without parliament. In contrast to almost everyone else, Schmitt believed this “presidential dictatorship” was constitutional. In his 1950 The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum (which his realist interpreters consider to be his “magnum opus,”

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stating his true beliefs), Schmitt defended the absolutist state from the perspective of foreign policy and war. According to Schmitt’s historical narrative, the modern European state initially acquired its legitimacy because it “overcame civil war with a sovereign decision. Within this state, there were no more enemies” (2003a: 157, 141). States, in turn, developed international law (the “public law of Europe”), which regulated and legalized their relations, including aggressive war. States engaged in realist “power politics,” but they fought limited wars. Schmitt insisted that the centerpiece of this international law was legal recognition of respected “enemies,” which he claimed limited the destructiveness of war (143). The state, with its monopoly on violence, was therefore legitimated by its twin ability to eliminate civil war and to transform war itself into a “duel” between states. The “bracketing” of war depended on getting rid of the medieval natural law concept of a “just war” (which moralists and religious fanatics used to demonize enemies and justify total wars of annihilation) and replacing it with both a concept of war (including aggressive war) as a legal method of settling disputes and a concept of a respected enemy against whom one fights “bracketed” wars or duels. Schmitt used this idea as a stick with which to beat liberals because liberals were moralists who outlawed aggressive war and revived the medieval notion of a “just war.” According to Schmitt, this allowed liberals to criminalize or demonize their enemies as “foes” and to fight fanatical “total” wars against them. George Schwab (the translator of The Concept of the Political and Schmitt’s literary executor for English translations of his work) and others have used this enemy/foe distinction to argue that Schmitt was a realist or an “authoritarian bourgeois liberal.”9 In the next section, I argue that the fact that Schmitt defined the political by the intensity of conflict contradicts the enemy-foe distinction that Schwab and others want to make. I also argue that Schmitt utilized a “foe” conception of the enemy when it came to fighting communists. But Schmitt’s legal history in Nomos of the Earth is similar to various realist defenses of the classical European balance-of-power system and the “mystique” that the amoral “reason of state” led to a “rational” use of violence that limited the severity of war. Realists (Desch 2003) frequently argue that their “cold-blooded” calculations produce less violence and less destructive results than the idealistic morals, sentimental passions, or hypocrisy of moralists.10 But as I argue in the next section, Schmitt’s concept of the political does not support this “realist” interpretation.

Schmitt as a fascist On the interpretation of Schmitt as a fascist, his “realism” or “absolutism” masks a more warlike and totalitarian impulse that culminated in his joining the Nazis. The fascist combination of criminality and neoaristocratic idealism makes it difficult to characterize accurately. Some idealist critics such as Martin Wight blame realism for fascism and draw a line from Machiavelli to Hitler (Hall 2006: 148–9),

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while others, such as Schmitt’s admirer Reinhardt Kosselleck (1988: 1), believed Nazism was a form of utopianism. Schmitt admired the fascist values of “order, discipline and hierarchy” (1988: 75–6).11 But fascism also represents an extreme “vision” of politics as war, the state as either an end in itself (Mussolini) or an instrument for the race (Hitler), international relations as imperialism, and legitimacy as “the right of the strongest.”12 On the interpretation of Schmitt as a fascist, his defenses of dictatorship and emergency rule (which begin immediately at the inception of the Weimar Republic) were designed to overthrow the Weimar system, not defend it. In his 1923 The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, for example, Schmitt not only attacked parliamentarianism and dissociated liberalism from democracy. He associated democracy with dictatorship and declared that “Bolshevism and Fascism … are, like all dictatorships, certainly antiliberal but not necessarily antidemocratic” (1988: 16, also 28, 32). Schmitt’s friend-enemy conception of the political, in which war was a permanent possibility, reinforced his argument in favor of dictatorship because a “state of war” is also a “state of exception.” Once Hitler came to power, Schmitt reversed his constitutional doctrine denying that constitutions could be legally overthrown. For all the contempt Schmitt heaped on positivist “legality,” when Hitler came to power Schmitt believed he was professionally obliged to obey the new regime: As a positivist jurist a fully new situation began for me with the Enabling Act. I would like to know what Hans Kelsen would have done in my situation, since he is a convinced positivist. I know it: he always emphasized that the matter is over for a positivist, scientific jurist the moment the dice fall. (quoted in Balakrishnan 2000: 178) This, of course, is exactly what natural law theorists fear is the logical consequence of legal positivism and the separation of ethics from law. In his 1933 State, Movement, People, Schmitt now argued (2001: 4, 5) that the March 1933 elections (carried out under emergency bans on leftist parties and Nazi intimidation of voters) represented the democratic “will” of the German people for Hitler, which in turn supplied the “legitimacy” behind the “legality” of the constitutional amendment (the “Enabling Act”) that overturned the Weimar Constitution by formally transferring all power to Hitler. The Nazis deserved their triumph, according to Schmitt, because, unlike the liberals, they were able to identify the communist enemy and take measures to defeat it (3). Schmitt also now argued that “the political” was no longer part of the German state, but had been transferred to the Fuehrer, who now made the friend-enemy decisions. “Nowadays,” he wrote in explaining the Nazi regime (15), “the political cannot any longer be determined by the State, rather the State must be determined by the political.”

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Soon, however, Schmitt began altering his “absolutist” theories of the state and the political. In his 1934 On the Three Types of Juristic Thought (2004b), he repudiated his decisionist theory of law in favor of a theory of law as a “concrete order,” or “nomos.” This new theory served as the basis for Schmitt’s legal speculations about Nazi “Grossraume,” or “large spaces” (2011). Claiming that the original meaning of nomos was “appropriation,” Schmitt (1993a) argued that political appropriation (of land) precedes moral distribution and economic production in the genesis of every social order. In Land and Sea (1997a), written during World War II, Schmitt argued that conflicts between different geopolitical “concrete orders” such as land powers and sea powers generated extreme hatreds. After Schmitt joined the Nazis, contemporary readers saw his friend-enemy conception of the political as a fascist conception of politics as warfare. Schmitt’s later distinction between respected enemy and demonized foe is difficult to derive from The Concept of the Political because, as noted earlier, Schmitt made intensity of antagonism the criteria of the political (1976: 26, 29).13 Logically, “foe” hatreds were more intense and extreme, and thus should be more “political,” than enmity limited by respect for an “enemy.” In The Concept of the Political, Schmitt cited as examples of the friend-enemy relationship extreme antagonisms, such as Greek versus barbarian and Christian versus Muslim: With regard to modern times, there are many powerful outbreaks of such enmity: there is the by no means harmless ecrasez l’infame of the eighteenth century; the fanatical hatred of Napoleon felt by the German barons Stein and Kleist (“Exterminate them [the French], the Last Judgement will not ask you for your reasons”); Lenin’s annihilating sentences against bourgeois and western capitalism. All these are surpassed by Cromwell’s enmity towards papist Spain … With France one can make peace, [Cromwell believed,] not with Spain because it is a papist state, and the pope maintains peace only as long as he wishes. (1976: 28–9, see also 67, 68) These particular antagonisms went beyond “bracketed” violence toward all-out annihilation of the enemy. They defined extraordinary antagonisms. If intensity of antagonism was supposed to be the criteria of the political, then the political could not essentially apply to any potentially lethal antagonism. Despite Schmitt’s admiration for the classical European state system, the “essential” political antagonism ought to be a war between radically different ways of living. This was, in fact, how Schmitt portrayed world history in Land and Sea (1997a: 5). Land and sea powers, “ordered” and “oriented” by antithetical geopolitical “elements,” were, effectively, “total states” and they fought “total wars” against each other: The conflict is more intense, the higher the stakes. In this case, it was a matter of seizing the world. In the sixteenth century, Frenchmen and

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Spaniards massacred each other for years … Spaniards and Englishmen confronted each other in a century-long, bitter war, in which the most brutal hostility man is capable of seems to have reached its limit … The partition skirmish did look like a war of religion, which it was, too. But there was something more to it, the full dimensions of which become obvious only if here, too, we pay attention to the opposition between the elements, and to the simultaneous breach between the high-sea world, on the one hand, and the land-bound world, on the other … [These were] the deepest conflicts, the true friend-foe positions, the ultimate, elemental forces and clashes. (1997a: 39, 42–3, italics added to highlight the translator’s interpretation of the German term, which does not distinguish enemy and foe) History was Athens against Sparta, Carthage against Rome, Venice against “the Turk,” the Netherlands and England against Spain and France, Britain against Germany. These great power wars between sea and land powers were not the “bracketed” wars of the European “public law.” Although Schmitt later explicitly adopted the “limited hatred” interpretation of his enemy concept, limited enmity contradicts the criteria of intensity. This may be why, in his 1963 Theory of the Partisan, Schmitt split his concept of the political into two conceptions: one statist and enemy oriented, the other revolutionary and foe oriented.14 But this “solution” destroys the original idea of “the” concept of “the” political. The enemy-foe distinction also begs the question of how Schmitt himself dealt with religious and ideological fanatics: were they respected enemies or demonized “foes”? Schmitt wrote in a letter to Ernst Junger, “Anyone who wants to annihilate me is not my enemy, but my Satanic tormentor. The question of how I should behave towards him can no longer be politically but only theologically answered” (Balakrishnan 2000: 255). If threatened with annihilation by some group, you must respond in kind with the same “theological” intensity and fanaticism—making your enemy a “foe.” Schmitt presented British “sea-warfare” as a “total war” (including starvation blockades and attacks on neutral shipping) that required a total response in kind (1999c; 1999d) and, in Land and Sea, he sought to justify Nazi brutality by comparing it to the earlier struggle of Britain to control the seas (1997a: 59; Balakrishnan 2000: 242). In Theory of the Partisan, Schmitt approved the “vicious circle of terror and counter-terror” necessary to fighting guerrillas and “the correctness of the old saying—often cited as Napoleon’s order to General Lefevre on September 12, 1813: ‘in fighting the partisan anywhere, one must fight as a partisan’”(2004c: 18). Following this logic, Schmitt’s Telos admirer, Gary Ulmen (2001), treats al-Qaeda terrorists as foes, against whom all means are justified. Schmitt particularly viewed communists in this “theological” light. Despite all the invective he hurled at liberalism, Schmitt’s real enemy was communism, which he characterized as “atheistic-anarchist socialism,” and associated with the anarchists Mikhail Bakunin and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (as well as with the syndicalist

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Georges Sorel), rather than with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (who he considered mere “schoolmasters”).15 Unlike the indecisive liberals, the communists knew what they wanted and were fanatical and unscrupulous enough to get it. Like the liberals, communists claimed to reduce politics to ethics and economics, but they actually politicized them, in Schmitt’s friend-enemy sense, as tools of class war. Schmitt denigrated Bolshevism as “barbarism,” “the anti-religion of technicity,” and the “union of Slavism and socialism.” He admired the ability of Italian fascists to give Bolshevism a “Mongolian face.”16 Schmitt’s effort to transform Marxism-Leninism into anarchism and barbarism (it is more plausible to characterize communism as a left-wing version of authoritarianism or totalitarianism) suggests an intense enmity that goes beyond antagonism toward a “respected” enemy. Communism, rather than liberalism, was always Schmitt’s ultimate enemy (or “foe”) from the beginning to the end.17 This is the sense in which leftist writers saw Schmitt as the “Lenin of the bourgeois,” and even some of Schmitt’s realist defenders (Bolsinger 2001) believe that much of his political theory tossed “realism” aside in order to construct a fascist “counter-mythology” to fight communist fire with fire. Finally, Schmitt’s distinction between the political and the classical European absolutist state (which initially supported state sovereignty) also served to undermine it. Any group, such as a church, political party, or movement, or an individual leader, could make the friend-enemy decision and be the sovereign decision maker. In the years before 1933, Schmitt began arguing that the classical European “absolutist” state was obsolete and he welcomed the advent of the fascist “total state” (1999e, 1999b). The friend-enemy concept of the political supported the idea of the total state because the political involved not simply the “vertical” relation of sovereignty, but the “horizontal” permeation of the friend-enemy identity throughout the collectivity. Even before the Nazis came to power, Schmitt began characterizing the horizontal relation as “the total”: “The theorists of the state have long known that the political is the total” (1999b: 21–2; also 1998: 217). Schmitt’s shift from “absolutism” to “totalitarianism” is evident in his 1938 book on Hobbes (1996a), which Schwab interprets as a covertly anti-Nazi book because it idealized the classical European state (instead of the totalitarian leader, party, or movement). But in it Schmitt criticized his decisionist hero for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Chapter 37 of Leviathan because, at the height of the sovereign’s authority over the individual (represented by the sovereign’s control over religion), Hobbes returned to the individual his freedom to think. Hobbes distinguished between public, or outward, conformity to religious doctrine, and private, or inner, belief, and allowed individuals an inner freedom to believe or not (Schmitt 1996a: 55–6). Hobbes believed sovereign control over public speech and action was sufficient for peace and order. But he was wrong, Schmitt insisted. Spinoza, “a liberal Jew” (57) followed by other Jews, turned everything around. In Anglican England, Hobbes had naively

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assumed that the subjects differed little in their private thoughts because they shared the common belief that “Jesus is the Christ.” When the subjects were no longer Christians, the distinction between public conformity and private belief widened and reversed the priority: Hobbes focused on public peace and the right of sovereign power; individual freedom of thought was an implicit right open only as long as it remained private. Now it is the inverse: Individual freedom of thought is the formgiving principle, the necessities of public peace as well as the right of the sovereign power having been transformed into mere provisos. A small intellectual switch emanating from the nature of Jewish life accomplished, with the most simple logic and in the span of a few years, the decisive turn in the fate of the leviathan. (58) Whatever the “real” nature of Schmitt’s Nazism and anti-Semitism, his criticisms of Hobbes expressed Schmitt’s real views about the scope of political authority. The political is the “total” for Schmitt and it should control private beliefs. The “meaning and value of politics” is the promotion of “order, discipline and hierarchy” throughout society. Again, this goes well beyond realist or “absolutist” defenses of the necessity of political authority and well beyond “authoritarian bourgeois liberalism.”

Schmitt as an authoritarian If Schmitt was not an absolutist or a fascist, maybe he was “really” an “authoritarian.” On the interpretation of Schmitt as an authoritarian, Schmitt was (from beginning to end) the “Maistre of the twentieth century,” a “political theologian,” “Grand Inquisitor,” or someone favoring “an alliance between a nationalistic dictator and the Catholic Church.” On this interpretation, the meaning and value of politics for Schmitt was still the promotion of “order, discipline and hierarchy” throughout society. But politics, while it would involve suppression or the killing of liberals and socialists, was not war, and the ultimate basis of authority was religion, not race or the nation, or an existentialist decision ex nihilo. As a young man, Schmitt was involved in Catholic authoritarian circles, corresponded with Charles Maurras, and criticized the Church for condemning Action Française in 1926 (Chappel 2011). Although Schmitt went through a “bohemian” phase (during which he married a Serbian adventuress who ran off with his money) and was excommunicated by the Church (for marrying his second wife without receiving an annulment of his first marriage), he repudiated romantic aestheticism in his 1919 Political Romanticism (1986) because romantics refused to take sides in moral and political disputes. The only “existentialist”

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Schmitt ever cited was Kierkegaard (Schmitt 1985: 15). As noted earlier, Schmitt rejected realist power politics in his Catholic writings in favor of a view of politics as moral: “No political system can survive even a generation with only naked techniques of holding power. To the political belongs the idea, because there is no politics without authority and no authority without an ethos of belief … Politics means the promotion of a specific type of validity and authority” (1996b: 17). The political, for Schmitt, was the union of authority and legitimacy. Schmitt believed the Catholic Church was “political” because it was a “pure” case of this union. Schmitt’s theory of “concrete orders” and nomos was derived not from geopolitics or existentialism, but from the French Catholic legal theorist Maurice Hauriou, who in turn derived it from Catholic natural law (Schmitt 2004b; Bates 2006). For both Hauriou and Schmitt, the Catholic Church was the prime example of a concrete order (and papal infallibility was the perfect example of “decisionism”). Politics meant the promotion of a specific type of legitimacy and authority (“Catholic authoritarianism” or “an alliance between a nationalistic dictator and the Catholic Church”) and morals were intrinsically part of politics. The young Leo Strauss believed Schmitt’s apparent “realism,” Hobbism, or “liberalism preceded by a minus sign” in The Concept of the Political was merely a “subsidiary or preparatory action” in favor of a “spirit and faith, which, it seems, does not yet have a name” (1976: 103, 104). Meier argues that this spirit and faith was “political theology,” and he argues that in the 1933 edition of The Concept of the Political, Schmitt responded to Strauss (and others who had misinterpreted his meaning of “the political”) by altering his text. This included inserting a note distinguishing “political” from “agonal” attitudes toward war. According to Schmitt: The great metaphysical opposition of agonal and political thought arises in every more profound discussion of war. In most recent times I would cite the magnificent dispute between Ernst Junger and Paul Adams … Here Ernst Junger held the view of the agonal principle (“man is not designed for peace”), whereas Paul Adams saw the meaning of war in the establishment of dominion, order and peace. (Quoted in Meier 1995: 64 note 68) Schmitt sided with the Catholic authoritarian journalist Adams. Strauss had noticed this too: the great antithesis in Schmitt was not between war and pacifism, but between authority and anarchy. Authority imposes dominion, order, and peace, and authority is based on legitimacy. Strauss (1976: 102) also recognized this moral dimension behind Schmitt’s friend-enemy conception of the political when he noted that Schmitt only rejected liberal “humanitarian” morality in The Concept of the Political, not morality itself. As noted earlier, Schmitt believed a world without war would be a world without politics. It would be a vapid world of “entertainment”: “there would not be a meaningful antithesis whereby men

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could be required to sacrifice life” (1976: 35). Deciding to sacrifice one’s life was a moral question. In his “Commentary,” Strauss concluded: “according to Schmitt’s ultimate view the affirmation of the political rests on the affirmation of the moral” because “by the seriousness of the question of what is right, the political—the division of the human race into foes and friends—is justified” (1976: 101). The friend-enemy conception of the political thus points back to Schmitt’s Catholic conception of the political as the union of authority and validity. This moral dimension of Schmitt’s authoritarian political theory also makes more understandable Schmitt’s choice of the term “political theology,” which Meier (1998: 8, note 19) claims Schmitt took from the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin. Bakunin had used “political theology” as an insult in a polemic against the Italian nationalist Mazzini, but Schmitt transformed political theology into a positive term and the name for his own project, which was explicitly the antithesis of Bakunin’s. We discussed above how hard Schmitt tried to associate communism with Bakunin’s anarchism. In a Catholic authoritarian or “political theology” context, Bakunin’s “atheistic anarchism” (and the anarchist creed “no gods, no masters”) was Schmitt’s real enemy or foe. It was Bakunin’s atheism, anti-moralism, and “absolute naturalism” that repelled Schmitt: Bakunin was the first to give the struggle against theology the complete consistency of an absolute naturalism … Bakunin’s intellectual significance rests … on his conception of life, which on the basis of its natural rightness produces the correct forms by itself from itself. For him, therefore, there is nothing negative and evil except the theological doctrine of God and sin, which stamps man as a villain in order to provide a pretext for domination and the hunger for power. All moral valuations lead to theology and to an authority that artificially imposes an alien or extrinsic “ought” on the natural and intrinsic truth and beauty of human life. (1985: 64; see also 1988: 67) In Schmitt’s view, Bakunin wanted to turn humans back into animals by destroying all religious, moral, and political constraints. Characteristically, Bakunin extolled the despised “Lumpenproletariat,” instead of Marx’s working class, as the agent of revolution and anarchy. Just as Bakunin saw that morals depended on theology and authority, so did Schmitt. Human beings need both God and masters, theologians and rulers. Bakunin hated authority of any kind. Schmitt upheld authority for its own sake (alongside whatever “idea,” “ethos of belief,” or “validity” it enforced) because he believed that “all genuine political theories presuppose man to be evil, i.e., by no means an unproblematic but a dangerous and dynamic being” (1976: 61; see also 1996b: 7–8 and 1985: 56). This was the “political” side of Schmitt’s “political theology.” As Strauss pointed out, however (1976: 96–7), Schmitt’s “realist”

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assumption that human nature is evil was ambiguous because it could mean either an “animal-like” evil that could be tamed and disciplined (a realist or Hobbesian position), or that human nature was “depraved” and needed to be repressed (a Maistrean or authoritarian position). Schmitt, like the Catholic counterrevolutionaries Maistre and Donoso Cortes, believed the latter. Catholic orthodoxy endorsed Thomas Aquinas’s moderate, Aristotelian conception of human nature over Augustine’s emphasis on original sin, but Maistre, Donoso Cortes, and Schmitt were deliberately “Lutheran” in their return to the Augustinian position (1985: 57). In Roman Catholicism and Political Form, Schmitt defended the authority of the Catholic Church and Dostoevsky’s notorious figure of “The Grand Inquisitor” because man is essentially a “cowardly rebel who needs a master” (1996b: 32). Even Christians need authority to restrain sinful impulses and decide theological disputes. Schmitt considered Dostoevsky’s criticism of the Church and the Grand Inquisitor in favor of a “formless” Christianity to reveal Dostoevsky’s own “anarchistic (and that always means atheistic) instinct” (32–3). Interpreters Jacob Taubes and Mathias Eichorn describe Schmitt, respectively, as “an incarnation of the Dostoyevskian ‘Grand Inquisitor,’” and “less as a believing Christian than as a Grand Inquisitor” (Gross 2007: 85, 278 note 21). In conversations Schmitt would defend the Grand Inquisitor as the proper role for the Church because cowardly rebels, even Christians, need authority more than freedom (Gross 2007: 278). This was part of the significance of Hobbes for Schmitt, who he compared to the Grand Inquisitor: Hobbes gave voice to and provided a scientific reason for what the Grand Inquisitor is—to make Christ’s impact harmless in the social and political spheres, to dispel the anarchistic nature of Christianity while leaving it a certain legitimating effect, if only in the background, at any rate, not to abandon it … Hence the question: Is Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor closer to the Roman Church or to the sovereign of Thomas Hobbes? Reformation and Counter-Reformation point in the same direction. Tell me who is your enemy and I will tell you who you are. Hobbes and the Roman Church: the question of the enemy is our own. (Ulmen 1996: xv–xvi) Interpreters of Schmitt as a realist emphasize his admiration for Hobbes. But they ignore the religious side of Hobbes in Leviathan, parts 3 and 4, and the fact that Schmitt’s Political Theology has a similar structure to Leviathan.18 They also ignore the fact that Schmitt also wrote as much on the Spanish reactionary Donoso Cortes as he did on Hobbes and that Schmitt compared Donoso favorably to the real Grand Inquisitors in Spain (1996b: 31–2 and 1985: 57).19 The only reason for calling Schmitt “the Maistre of the twentieth century” is because Maistre is better known than Donoso Cortes.20 When Schmitt criticized Hobbes in 1938 for allowing people to retain their private beliefs, he was making an authoritarian,

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as well as a “totalitarian,” argument. Like Maistre (1838), Schmitt admired the Inquisition, and during the Nazi era he even offered the Inquisition as a model for the SS, calling it “perhaps the most humane institution conceivable” (Balakrishnan 2000: 203).

II Theology and politics I have argued that Schmitt was really an unorthodox Catholic authoritarian and that the basis of his political theory was his “political theology,” a term that Schmitt made his own. In a 1935 book, Schmitt’s former friend, the theologian Erik Peterson, strongly implied that Schmitt used his political theology to justify joining the Nazis and this also seems to be Meier’s motive for staging a “hidden dialogue” between Leo Strauss (“Athens,” political philosophy) and Schmitt (“Jerusalem,” political theology).21 For many readers Schmitt’s “political theology” is a “deal breaker” that disqualifies Schmitt as a serious thinker, disqualifies political theology as a viable enterprise, or is an insult to Catholics. But sympathetic interpreters such as Paul Gottfried (who downplays Schmitt’s political theology), nevertheless acknowledge the force of the religious interpretation of Schmitt: From Strauss and from a sympathetic Catholic interpreter, Konrad Weiss, down to Schmitt’s present-day Straussian critic Heinrich Meier, readers of Schmitt have commented on the providential faith in history shaping his thought. Doctrines that challenge political stability and a society ordered by religious principles will fail to withstand the test of human reality. Men as dangerous beings will wreak havoc on the illusions of the Enlightenment, starting with the unjustified belief in human perfectibility and in globally conceived humanitarian projects. (1990: 85) Those who interpret Schmitt as a realist or a fascist argue that Schmitt lost his faith in the 1920s and became some sort of amoral “existentialist” (Löwith 1995), “political romantic,” or “concrete-order” thinker (Marder 2012). They claim that his religious musings were merely metaphorical (Ulmen 1992), too personal and eccentric to be taken seriously (Gottfried 1993: 175–7), or were post-hoc attempts to cover up his Nazism (McCormick 1998). Those who concede a religious basis for Schmitt’s views usually argue (as Peterson did) that Schmitt’s political theology illicitly “instrumentalizes” theology for political purposes (Hollerich 2004: 119), or else they claim Schmitt’s religious beliefs were “Gnostic” (Hohendahl 2008) and therefore heretical, not merely unorthodox. Many thinkers, beginning with Peterson, deny that a Christian political theology is possible (because God is a trinity or because Christianity is apolitical), or they believe political theology is a bad idea (Lilla 2008).

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Today, like it or not, religion is back on the political agenda. In the US, the conservative challenge to liberalism is also a religious challenge to secularism. In the Middle East, Islamic “fundamentalism” displaced Arab nationalism and socialism as a legitimating ideology. More generally, a globalizing world confronts Samuel Huntington’s (1993; 1996) specter of a “clash” of religiously defined “civilizations.” In response, there has been a “religious turn” among academic theorists (Barbour 2009) and a revival of interest in “political theology,” including Schmitt’s conception of it (Cavanaugh and Scott 2004; De Vries and Sullivan 2006; Davis et al. 2005). Political theology today means, variously, 1) any general account of the relationship of politics and religion, 2) a political theory derived from theology, or 3) a claim that political concepts and theories were originally derived from religion and therefore all political theories are “political theologies” that still retain some “religious” quality. Schmitt’s thesis about the structural analogy between theological and political concepts has been revived by scholars (Kahn 2011) who believe that modern political ideas or creeds still retain a theological residue or metaphysical background (or live off their “cultural capital”), and by those who (having abandoned “Enlightenment rationalism”) seek in theology a source of new concepts or an appropriate language for discussing “ultimate” issues (Barbour 2009). Most Christians follow Augustine’s view of the relationship of religion and politics in The City of God (1984), which divides reality into an “ideal” City of God and a “real” or evil Earthly City. Niebuhr (1986) considered Augustine “the first great ‘realist’ in Western history” and this has been seconded by others (Deane 1963; Bluhm 1971). Augustine arrived at his realism by contrasting this earthly city to a higher ideal. Humans are guilty of original sin. The harsh institutions of this world, including the state, are both punishment for sin and a means of restraining human evil. Christians are pilgrims traveling through this world. The state can only attain a relative “peace” or order that everyone can enjoy, but not “justice” (or glory), which is attainable only in the City of God. There is thus a huge gap between “realms” and between Christian ideals and secular reality. As we will see in the next chapter, although Ricoeur is a political idealist in believing that the “logic” of politics is justice (rather than a realist logic of power or an Augustinian or Hobbesian logic of order or peace), as a Christian he contrasts the ethics of Christian love to the “violence” of secular justice. The “asymmetry” of religion and politics lies here, as it does for Weber whenever a religion espouses an ethics of brotherly love (1946c: 330). For Ricoeur, as we will see, the problem is how to introduce Christian ideals into human affairs. Schmitt shared this desire to unite revelation and history, religion and politics. But he was thinking of original sin and the realist side of Augustine. For Schmitt, Christianity meant revelation, authority, faith, and obedience, not love or a call to repentance (2009: 169). Schmitt believed Christianity was primarily a historical event, not an ethics or doctrine:

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Christianity is in its essence no morality and no doctrine. It is no penitential sermon, and no religion in the sense of comparative religious studies, but a historical event of infinite, non-appropriable, non-occupiable singularity. It is the incarnation in the Virgin Mary. The Christian Credo speaks of historical events. Pontius Pilate belongs there essentially. He is not just a pitiful creature who oddly ended up there. Christians look back on completed events and find a basic reason [Ingrund] and an archetype [Inbild]. (2009: 169–70) Viewing Christianity in historical terms (which looks like “radical historicism” because events happen only once) allows Christians to integrate religion, politics, and history instead of artificially separating them from each other, or treating history and politics as meaningless. Schmitt also believed (1951) that Christians needed a “theology of history” to compete with liberal and Marxist philosophies of history. The problem for a theology of history is to avoid always reading events as signaling the imminent end of the world and the problem for Christian political theologians is the apparent apolitical nature of the Gospels and the “orthodoxy” of Augustine’s separation of “cities.” Attempts to unite politics and religion risk breaking with orthodoxy (as we saw above for Schmitt and the Catholic counterrevolutionaries). But any “orthodox” account of the relation of religion and politics is itself an “ad-hoc” endeavor. As Weber emphasized (2004a: 87–9 or 1946b: 123–4; 1978a: 593–7), all religions are forced to make compromises with the political sphere.

Two sides of political theology In theory, religion represents the pure form of legitimacy and it is important to remember that the first “pristine” states, in ancient Sumer and Central America, were “temple-states” organized around a religious belief that humans were created to serve the gods (Crone 1986; Finer 1997). This “theocratic” form of state preceded Weber’s warrior aristocracies and some theorists have suggested that only religious legitimacy could induce people used to the relative freedom and egalitarianism of tribes to submit to the coercive and hierarchical state (Crone 1986; Clastres 1987; Habermas 2011: 17–18). If so, the earliest “vision” of “statist politics” was a religious vision in which the state represented Authority or Legitimacy, rather than Power or War. This “theological vision” of statist politics should be acknowledged as a model or “paradigm,” alongside Weber’s “warrior” vision of politics. The ancient Egyptian rulers were considered divine, the Chinese ruler was the “Son of Heaven,” and the Greek and Roman city-states were “religious cults” in which the leading citizens served as priests. The tribally organized Jews and Muslim Arabs understood their form of government to be a theocracy in which God ruled them through religious laws that regulated the details of everyday life. Even Christians had Eusebius of Caesaria’s theological justification

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of Constantine and the Roman Empire. Despite Augustine and the unique development of the “separate” western Church, the eastern Roman empire and Orthodox Christianity approximated the ideal-type historians call “Caesaropapism,” as did the Reformation state, with its politically “established” church (Weber 1978a: 1161–3). In all these examples, religion and politics are united. But there is also a political side to political theology, which stresses that every “society,” religious or otherwise, needs to be governed in some way that is always “political.” In Politics and Vision, Sheldon Wolin used “political theology” to discuss Christian, medieval, and Reformation political thought.22 Instead of the usual focus on Christian doctrine or the Christian conception of the relationship of “church and state,” Wolin examined how early Christian thinkers preserved “the political” in their efforts to govern the community of Christians through the large-scale organization of the Church. Schmitt had emphasized this political dimension of the Church in Roman Catholicism and Political Form and in his endorsement of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor (a figure Wolin also mentioned in this context (2004: 108)). Wolin faulted Martin Luther for destroying the “political” elements of the Church because this forced Luther to rely on state coercion to both reform the Church and maintain social order. Wolin admired Jean Calvin because he restored the balance between church authority, social discipline, and state authority. This is something social conservatives, including Schmitt, have always argued: without “traditional” authority in society to govern people, the state must become an expansive, coercive apparatus. In Political Theology (1985), Schmitt presented political theology as a “sociology of concepts” in which there was a structural analogy between theological concepts and political concepts and political concepts were derived from theology or metaphysics. But there Schmitt explicitly associated political theology not with sociological research, but with the Catholic counterrevolutionaries Bonald, Maistre, and Donoso Cortes, who developed a “radical spiritualist philosophy of history” that “explained political change as a result of change in outlook and traced the French Revolution to the philosophy of the Enlightenment” (42), and who attempted “to support the personal sovereignty of the monarch ideologically, with the aid of analogies from a theistic theology” (37). Their claim, of course (elaborated by Schmitt in the fourth essay “On the Counterrevolutionary Philosophy of the State [de Maistre, Bonald, Donoso Cortes]”), was that the true religion of Catholicism required monarchy as its political form and that subsequent changes in the “metaphysical image” of the world were heresies or atheistic rebellions against God that led to political disasters like the French Revolution and to atheistic-anarchist socialism. This is obviously a “substantive” thesis about political theology. Notice also that the causal arrows go from religion to politics, not (as most sociologists would assume) from politics to religion. Hans Blumenberg (1989: 96) also recognized that Schmitt’s “sociological” claim about the “secularization” of theological concepts in their transfer to the political sphere was a substantive claim challenging “the legitimacy of the modern age.”23 As

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Blumenberg understood, Schmitt’s “secularization” theory “legitimizes” the modern state, secularization, and modernity, but only as “still the Middle Ages, though of course continued ‘by other means’” (96) because the transfer of concepts confers “divine right” on the state, even if the state is formally made “secular” and sovereign over religion. In this light, Schmitt’s “realist” history of the rise and fall of the modern absolutist state in Nomos of the Earth is best read, as Schmitt later wrote, as “part of my political theology” (2008b: 117–18; Koskenniemi 2004). As Blumenberg (1989: 97–8) also recognized, from the perspective of Schmitt’s political theology, even the most “Machiavellian” actions of statesmen are thereby justified from this “higher point of view.”24 This is the initial “theological” justification for Schmitt’s endorsement of Dostoevsky’s figure of the Grand Inquisitor. Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor is usually interpreted as a forerunner of the nihilistic revolutionary, who thrusts God and tradition aside in order to build a brave new totalitarian world (Camus 1971; Beauchamp 2007). But Weber (2004a: 85–6 or 1946b: 122) saw the Grand Inquisitor as representing the disillusioned idealist, someone who realizes he must act realistically in an ethically irrational world. The Grand Inquisitor figure by itself (representing the Catholic Inquisition) is more obviously a reactionary, or defender of the status quo, rather than a revolutionary. It was this meaning that Schmitt defended and he praised Donoso Cortes as a “spiritual descendant of the Grand Inquisitors” (1985: 57).

The religious meaning of politics Schmitt found a theological justification for the unorthodoxy of the counterrevolutionary political theologians and the Inquisition when he discovered the figure of the “katechon” in either 1932 or 1942.25 Derived from a cryptic passage in St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians, the katechon was “one who holds back” evil, “lawlessness,” or the Antichrist, and was therefore a “delayer” of the Judgment Day.26 Augustine and others interpreted Paul’s katechon as a reference to the Roman Empire.27 Schmitt believed the katechon could reconcile Christian eschatology with belief in the meaningfulness of history: The vivid expectation of an imminent end seems to take away the meaning from all of history, and it causes an eschatological paralysis for which there are many historical examples. And yet there is the possibility of a bridge. For this we have astonishing examples in the history of the medieval empire. The bridge consists in the conception of a force, which defers the end and suppresses the evil one. This is the kat-echon of the mysterious passage of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. The medieval empire of the German rulers understood itself historically as the kat-echon. Luther still understood it in these terms, whereas Calvin takes a significant turn by no longer taking the empire but rather the preaching of God’s words as the kat-echon. The

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conception of restraining [haltender] and deferring [aufhaltender] forces and powers can in some form probably be demonstrated to be active for every great historian. (2009: 165) The meaning and value of politics, from this political-theological perspective, is that politics restrains evil and delays the Judgment Day. The Catholic Church replaced the Roman Empire as the katechon during the Middle Ages (Schmitt 2003: 59–62). But the Church lost this role when it failed to end the religious wars of the Reformation and so the state had to step in and take back the restrainer role, now to control both religion and politics. Gopal Balakrishnan (2000: 225), who is agnostic about Schmitt’s ultimate views, accepts the katechon idea for understanding Schmitt’s thought: “In the light of this ‘Katechon’ conception, the series of restraining figures from Schmitt’s earlier writings— ‘commissarial dictators’, ‘sovereign’, ‘Defender of the Constitution’, ‘Leviathan’—falls into a coherent pattern.” But Balakrishnan doubts that Schmitt would have seen in the Nazis a restrainer role. Instead, contemporaries agreed the Nazis were revolutionaries. In accounting for his Nazism, Schmitt described himself not as a katechon, but as a “bad unworthy and yet authentic case of a Christian Epimetheus.”28 Schmitt was referring to another political role for Christians besides restraining evil that he had discovered in The Christian Epimetheus, a 1933 book by the Catholic journalist and poet Konrad Weiss (1880–1940): Christians look back on completed events and find a basic reason [Ingrund ] and an archetype [Inbild]. Through the active contemplation of them, the dark meaning of our history continues to grow. The Marian image of history of a great German poet, the Christian Epimetheus by Konrad Weiss, emerged from it … For Konrad Weiss, the merely restraining forces are not sufficient. He claims that historical circumstances are more often to be seized rather than to be restrained. (Schmitt 2009: 170, translator’s brackets) Weiss had praised Schmitt in that book as an important “Catholic teacher of law” (Meier 1995: 82 and note 104). Schmitt returned the favor by adopting Weiss’s argument that Catholics (as in Mary’s “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” in Luke 1: 38) should seize historical circumstances rather than simply attempt to restrain evil.29 Schmitt justified the Spanish Conquest of the New World in these “Marian” terms because the Spaniards were seizing the opportunity to convert the natives to Christianity (2003a: 111). When the Nazis came to power, Schmitt “looked back on completed events” and evidently decided this was an opportunity to be seized in order to “guide” the Nazis and to finally rid the world of liberalism and communism. Notice that the

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“decision” of a “Christian Epimetheus” looks exactly like the decision of a “concrete-order” existentialist thinker or “political romantic” and both appear to be decisions “ex nihilo.”

The Grand Inquisitor As indicated above, some who accept the interpretation of Schmitt as a Grand Inquisitor interpret Schmitt “less as a believing Christian than as a Grand Inquisitor” and this ties into the interpretation of Schmitt as an existentialist. In the story in Dostoevsky’s novel, the Grand Inquisitor had a “secret,” which was that he no longer served God but the Devil.30 Schmitt’s “secret” was that he always believed in God, but agreed with the Grand Inquisitor that Christianity is too anarchistic for a world of “cowardly rebels.” Therefore Christian truth, if it means the “anarchistic” ethics of the Gospels, cannot be a guide for the earthly city and must be controlled by political authority. Love and freedom cannot be social principles. Critics of Augustine condemn Augustine’s justification of the persecution of heretical Christians in terms of Christian “love.”31 Schmitt and the Grand Inquisitor would reply that they did not make Augustine’s mistake. But most of the world condemns the Inquisition as a blotch on Catholicism and most Christians would agree with a contemporary Catholic critic of Schmitt who complained, “If the Church is as Carl Schmitt renders it, then … the Grand Inquisitor is right and Christ is wrong” (quoted in Hollerich 2004, 119). This is the “asymmetry” in Schmitt between religion and politics: politics and religion need to be united because humans are depraved, but this means replacing the New Testament with the Inquisition. Schmitt was, as it were, “politically correct” in believing that humans, including Christians, need to be ruled, including by an Inquisition. But he was not “theologically correct.” This is the asymmetry of politics and theology in Schmitt. Schmitt’s political theology, while it made sense to him, was considered too idiosyncratic for the Church or others to embrace. Admirers of Schmitt do not seem to admire his political theology. Today’s religious fundamentalists seek to accelerate, rather than delay, the Judgment Day. However, even they inevitably confront the problem that their religious doctrines are not sufficient to govern themselves and their followers. Religious organization needs political organization. In this sense, all theology, if it is to be institutionalized, must be “political theology” and partake of the Grand Inquisitor’s insights about the need for authority.

III Realism, authoritarianism, and social conservatism Distinguishing Schmitt’s authoritarianism from realism is important because Schmitt, while previously demonized as a fascist thinker, is now getting a “pass” in many scholarly circles as some sort of realist or Hobbesian. At the same time, liberal writers are now exploiting the realist Hans Morgenthau’s youthful

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relationship with Schmitt in order to argue that Morgenthau’s realism was tainted by Schmitt’s influence and that modern realism is consequently “Schmittian realism.”32 The more serious problem, however, is that the realists themselves seem to have adopted this interpretation of Schmitt. One writer matter-of-factly lists the tradition of realism as consisting of “Machiavelli, Hobbes, and, more recently Carl Schmitt and John Mearsheimer” (Dannreuther 2007: 51–2). Another innocently reports Schmitt’s influence on realism as a “fact,” even though he admits this hurts the realist cause: “The fact that modern realism has been influenced by unsavoury individuals like the German theorist Carl Schmitt, whose indisputable intellectual brilliance was tainted by his overly close association with the Third Reich, leads many to see a continuing link between realpolitik and evil in the international system” (Desch 2003: 415). With realists like this, you don’t need aspersions about “Schmittian realism” from liberals. Even Mearsheimer’s course on realism at the University of Chicago includes Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political as a realist document.33 While the realists are free to shoot themselves in the foot if they want to, I think their adoption of Schmitt as one of their own is misguided and based on a spurious link between Schmitt and realism. More plausible is Daniel Drezner’s course syllabus, “Classics in International Relations Theory” (Fall 2007), which groups Schmitt’s Concept of the Political with Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations under the heading “Carl Schmitt and the Clash of Civilizations.”34 This is not because Huntington was a “Schmittian,” but because both were conservative “culture warriors,” rather than realists. Nevertheless, it is the Hobbesian or “absolutist” elements in Schmitt, particularly his theories of enemies, war, emergencies, and justification for suppressing domestic enemies that continue to attract attention. I discuss these in the following two sections. In the third, I discuss the differences among Schmitt’s “Maistrean” authoritarianism, “Burkean” social conservatism and “Tocquevillian” communitarianism in relation to moral pluralism, authority, and community.

The enemy-foe distinction and real wars I have argued that Schmitt’s criteria of intensity entails that friend-foe distinctions should be more “political” than friend-enemy ones. If one wants to define politics as some sort of restrained or regulated form of conflict, then intensity cannot be the criteria of the political. Those, like Schwab, who helped Schmitt distinguish “enemies” from “foes,” should claim credit for themselves. Conversely, as we saw in Schmitt’s distinction between antagonistic and political forms of conflict, Mouffe’s notion of the political as antagonism is not Schmittian and she should claim it for herself (or derive it from Marxist “class struggle”). As I noted above, in Theory of the Partisan Schmitt broke his concept of the political into two concepts of the political, one statist and enemy oriented, and the other revolutionary communist and foe oriented. But that essay also introduced a third concept of the

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enemy and warfare that lay in-between Schmitt’s extremes. Schmitt admitted that in Nomos of the Earth he had overlooked the Napoleonic wars, which did not fit his model of “bracketed” war. Napoleon’s wars and the Spanish guerrilla war against the French occupation of Spain were different from both the limited wars of the eighteenth century and the total wars of the twentieth. They were directed at what Schmitt, introducing a new term, called the “real enemy.” This “real enemy” was hated more than the eighteenth-century “dueling partner,” but was not demonized as a “foe.” This “real enemy,” in turn, gave rise to “real wars,” which were more violent than “bracketed” wars: The Spanish partisan reestablished the seriousness of war, first against Napoleon and then, on the defensive side of the old European states, whose old regularity, now degraded to the level of a convention play, was no longer a match for the new, Napoleonic regularity, and its revolutionary potential. Thus, the enemy became once again a real enemy, and war became a real war. (2004c: 74) What Schmitt refused to acknowledge was that these “real wars” revealed the essential tendency of any war to escalate to total war, or what Clausewitz called “absolute war.”35 What prevented this natural escalation, according to Clausewitz, was “friction” (technical and logistical difficulties) as well as the aristocratic political norms of the eighteenth century that had been reaffirmed at the Congress of Vienna. But it was only a matter of time before the technology of warfare would transform politically restrained wars into “total wars.” Schmitt conceded that the hatred generated during World War I escalated from “enemy” to “foe” relations as the war and its destructiveness dragged on (1999d: 35; 2004d: 78). Under modern conditions, when great power wars can no longer be “bracketed,” it is therefore quite rational to reject great power war as a “legal” means for changing the international status quo, and to seek to prevent its outbreak. Furthermore, while Schmitt tendentiously tried to portray the post-World War I and, later, post-World War II world as a world of liberal and communist total wars and international civil wars of annihilation, he conceded that a form of warfare had developed alongside them that was “bracketed” because it took place under the threat of total war (1999d: 30; 2004d: 67). The threat of nuclear “total” war has meant that all the wars since 1945, especially the “Cold” War, have been “bracketed.” Schmitt’s Theory of the Partisan was intended to analyze a new form of “irregular” war that he saw emerging in the 1960s and it again attracted attention in responses to the “new wars” of the 1990s and the war on terror of the 2000s.36 Schmitt’s communists have been replaced by Islamic terrorists or by “4th generation” “global guerrillas.” But compared to the violence of great power nuclear or conventional wars, these “real” wars are “bracketed.”

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Emergencies and domestic enemies As Schmitt and Hobbes insisted, the “unlimited” authority of the state reveals itself most clearly during emergencies. Most liberals, conservatives, socialists, and others concede to Hobbes and Schmitt that state sovereignty (rather than feudalism or tribalism) is necessary for complex social order, and that emergencies reveal the ultimate justification of the state: security. “The first obligation of the state, any state,” writes the liberal socialist Michael Walzer (2004: 36), “is its Hobbesian obligation to protect the lives of its citizens.” Bernard Williams agrees: “I identify the ‘first’ political question (in the manner of Thomas Hobbes) as the securing of order, protection, safety, trust and the conditions of co-operation” (2005: 62). Crick’s valorization of politics as the conciliation of interests (mentioned in Chapter 1), explicitly presupposes what he calls “government” or “sovereignty”: “[Politics] can exist only where it has been preceded by sovereignty or where sovereignty can be quickly called into being … The state of emergency is the time of sovereignty—when all power has to go to and come from one source, if the community is to survive at all” (1964: 28).37 Such echoes of Hobbes and Schmitt are not only part of Crick’s socialism, but also of Clinton Rossiter’s conservatism (1948), Carl Friedrich’s liberalism (1957; 1968), and Mark Tushnet’s republicanism (2006), when confronting emergencies.38 British pluralists such as Paul Hirst (1989a and 1999) were more ambivalent. Hirst, like Giorgio Agamben (2005), saw Schmitt’s writings on emergencies as valuable mainly for revealing that elections, constitutions, and parliaments are simply façades for the de facto power of the state. Some of these writers hold out for a new, as yet undiscovered, form of power hinted at by Walter Benjamin to be a “pure,” “Messianic,” or “revolutionary” Gewalt, or “legitimate violence.”39 But “Messianic violence” is a romantic fantasy, which allows its believers to ignore the challenge presented by Hobbes and Schmitt (Rasch 2009). As commentators on emergency powers note (Scheppele 2008; Scheuerman 2006; Dyzenhaus 2007), theories of emergency powers divide into legalist and extra-legal theories, while in practice governments use both legal and extra-legal methods and often avoid constitutional issues by legislatively delegating power to executives. These writers all acknowledge the need for sufficient authority to resolve the emergency, but seek to somehow control this “unlimited” authority. As Agamben (2005) points out, however, they all fail to square this circle. The difference between a “realist” approach to emergencies and an “authoritarian” one would consist of realist insistence that the facts of the emergency justify the powers used and that these powers be narrowly focused on combatting the emergency (in contrast to an open-ended “state of emergency”). As Weber wrote (1994f: 232), politically “mature” peoples “have suppressed violence with violence, but then they have sought to dispel the tensions expressed in the outbreak in a purely objective way; above all, they have restored the guarantees of civil liberty immediately, and have refused to allow such events to deflect them from

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their normal way of reaching political decisions.” Unfortunately, in practice, the facts are secret or disputed and fear induces overreaction. How should governments treat domestic enemies? In newly formed republics (including the US with the Alien and Sedition Acts), political actors treat opponents as traitors. It is only after long experience that opposition and political conflict are recognized as legitimate. The “principle” of British parliamentarianism is not Schmitt’s “discussion,” but “Government and Opposition.” Yet there are cases like Weimar where anti-democratic parties seek to win power “legally” and then, as with Hitler, establish a dictatorship. Schmitt later claimed credit for the Federal Republic’s constitutional ban on anti-democratic extremist parties, but the fall of Weimar taught that lesson to everyone. This problem is still with us and is being confronted again with respect to Islamist parties (in 1990 in Algeria and Egypt in 2011). A presidential dictatorship under Hindenburg would have been better than Hitler, but a dictatorship also risked civil war, as happened in 1990s Algeria. Arguably, the Germans should have risked civil war and the Algerians risked an Islamic state. Schmitt, of course, would not have hesitated in eliminating domestic enemies.

Authoritarianism, social conservatism, and communitarianism I have presented Schmitt in relation to three models of non-democratic politics: absolutist, fascist, and authoritarian. Here I want to add two more “idealtypes” (and avoid giving the impression that US social conservatives are “Schmittians”) by distinguishing Schmitt’s “Maistrean” authoritarianism from “Burkean” social conservatism and “Tocquevillian” communitarianism. This typology may serve the purpose of making some forms of authority more acceptable, especially if compared to their alternatives. I also want to address briefly the problem of authority in society today, its relation to community and morality, and the related US “culture war” between conservatives and liberals. In this culture war, conservatives complain about the decline or disappearance of authority (Nisbet 1975; Molnar 1995) and liberals accuse conservatives of being “authoritarians” (Altemeyer 1996; Hetherington and Weiler 2009). Some “paleo” conservatives (McCarthy 2006) distinguish an older anti-state and anti-war conservatism from the newer “big government” and pro-war “authoritarianism” of the neoconservatives and the religious right. But most conservatives take Edmund Burke as their ideal conservative and distinguish Burkean conservatism from Maistre’s (and Schmitt’s) authoritarianism (Viereck 2005). The two authors who are often upheld as having written the best books on conservatism Russell Kirk (1953) and Roger Scruton (1980) explicitly identify with the Burkean tradition of conservatism. The culture war seems to have revealed two things: that “all politics is moral” and that there seem to be at least two moralities, liberal and conservative (Lakoff 2002). Psychologists and cognitive scientists have stepped into this battle with attempts to explain both the importance of morality in human nature and society,

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and why morality is plural. Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues have argued that, as in Hume, morality is real, but that it is intuitive, and that reason is the “slave of the passions” in the sense that reason provides post-hoc justifications for intuitive moral judgments (Haidt and Joseph 2004; Haidt 2012; Graham et al. 2013). In turn, these social psychologists explain particular kinds of intuitive moral judgments in terms of evolutionary theory as selections of values and practices that have helped individuals and communities survive over thousands of years. Haidt and his colleagues claim that there are four to six distinct moral “foundations” that humans use to evaluate people and actions: care, fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty. Their theory was originally developed to compare morality across cultures and it initially found that western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic cultures prioritized individualistic moral values such as care and fairness, whereas other cultures prioritized more conservative values such as loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Haidt and his colleagues applied this theory to US liberals and conservatives and found that liberals almost exclusively use care and fairness to evaluate actions. Conservatives use all of the foundations, but they particularly value loyalty, authority, and sanctity. In presenting this “moral pluralism,” Haidt (2012: 316) and his colleagues (Graham et al. 2013) explicitly cite Berlin’s theory of value pluralism as an influence. What struck me in reading about the authority foundation was its resemblance to Roger Scruton’s social conservatism (1980), which prioritizes authority and allegiance as the cement that allows for social order. For both Haidt and Scruton, authority is not just an efficient solution to collective action problems, but instead involves attributing moral legitimacy to the existing hierarchical social order and its inequalities of power, privilege, and wealth. For Haidt, deference, respect, and obedience to de facto power and inequality is a better survival strategy for individuals than rebellion or resentment.40 For Scruton, social order is a fragile and imperfect achievement that requires morally justifying the status quo despite its inevitable flaws. By doing so, individuals and classes contribute to the stability of society. They can also expect in return that those with power and privilege will feel secure enough to use their power responsibly and occasionally for the interests of others. For conservatives, the paradigmatic authority relation is the hierarchical relationship between parents and children, which is then extended to elders, clergy, teachers, employers, and eventually to the government. Liberals are reluctant to recognize authority as a moral value (particularly in Haidt’s and Scruton’s sense of attributing moral legitimacy to existing relations of power and hierarchy) because they identify authority with oppression and with the justification of patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia, nationalism, ethnocentrism, etc. Nevertheless, some liberals and democrats have been concerned with the erosion of authority in social relations. Of these, two groups in political theory are the “communitarians” and the “Berkeley School” theorists Wolin and John Schaar. Wolin’s formula for the political in Politics and Vision was “not freedom

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versus authority, or Man against the State, but authority and community” (1960a: 351 or 2004: 314). The only political theorist Wolin liked in Politics and Vision was Jean Calvin because he had balanced state authority, church authority, and social discipline. In Escape from Authority (1961), Schaar criticized psychologist and social theorist Erich Fromm for failing to appreciate the positive value of authority as part of “a clear and accurate conception of the political” (296). Communitarians, as the name indicates, are interested in restoring communities, but they see communities as the essential means of restoring moral values through the use of community authority, which they see as the alternative to state intervention.41 By now, political theorists are tired of the “liberal-communitarian debate,” but they have mostly ignored a parallel “conservative-communitarian” debate. In this debate, according to social conservatives like Scruton (Scruton and Etzioni 1997) and Bruce Frohnen (1999), communitarians are really liberals or social democrats in disguise. The communitarian purpose of restoring community is really to develop a collectivist will to support state intervention in society or to support the liberal transformation of families and churches. When communitarians like Amitai Etzioni replied that they supported many conservative values, Scruton argued that Etzioni was either a conservative or he was still a liberal who merely wanted to replace state coercion with community persuasion (and when that fails, bring in the state). Scruton believed Etzioni’s idea of community was naïve and that all real communities are authoritarian, hierarchical, prejudiced, and religion based: Society is not composed of the abstract rational choosers of liberal theory but of concrete human beings, who come into a world already charged with demands and obligations, who are shaped by circumstance and tradition, and who have no conception of what they want or how they should live prior to the process of maturation that shapes them to live in a particular way. Individuals become responsible members of society through accepting the authority of other people, of offices, laws, and gods. The social condition that results from this process is one of rooted inequality—there is no way that people who are unequal in their natural endowments can become equal in their material or social advantages, not even if a terroristic machine is constructed to compel them. Through civil society—which is the network of “small platoons,” of family ties, local institutions, and economic activity— people may come to recognize that they are not diminished by their inequality, since human life can flourish in many ways and achieve the love and recognition that are its due. But if they are fully to accept their fate, people require something else—a common culture, usually with a religious basis, that will instill the habit of obedience to things outside the self. It is not for the state to take charge of this culture, since it is incompetent to do so. But it must allow the law to express and endorse the common culture. Although the law may grant freedoms—like the freedom of speech—that are

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essential for rational government, it must always be prepared to qualify those freedoms when social order is jeopardized by their exercise. (Scruton and Etzioni 1997) As this passage indicates, Scruton believes Etzioni’s communitarianism might revitalize Burke’s “little platoons” (Burke 1968: 135) and partially reconcile individuals to inequality. But what really creates a community is a common culture based on religion. Burke also believed this (1968: 186, 187). Similarly, Frohnen argues (1999: 13): “To restore viable communities, Americans must reorder their public and private lives on the recognition that religious faith is the central, most important, and most basic calling of life. Faith is not only the basis, but also more fundamentally the proper goal of community itself.” The job of government is to protect or enforce the values of this religious-based community, including its right to discriminate against people and activities it does not like. For Scruton and Frohnen, genuine communities are closed, not open. Freedom in the elemental sense consists of the right to leave the community and join another more to one’s liking. Religion is the moral value of sanctity that Haidt and his colleagues see as one of the six moral foundations. It is fairly easy to see that religion or sanctity supplements the moral value of authority in the sense of legitimizing hierarchies. But religious beliefs do so because they are the truth and their purpose is to redirect human impulses away from “earthly” concerns, including politics. Sanctity is the highest moral value, the one that integrates and ranks the other values.42 Social conservatives, and authoritarians like Schmitt, therefore reject Berlin’s and Haidt’s moral “pluralism,” as well as communitarianism. With respect to Weber’s “sphere pluralism,” the religious sphere is supreme. But, against social conservatives, Schmitt would deny that the state should merely execute the will of the religious community. Sinful humans, even Christians, must be controlled by a state.

Notes 1 On Schmitt’s life, see Balakrishnan (2000), Mueller (2003), and Bendersky (1983). 2 Helmut Schelsky was a conservative sociologist and fellow ex-Nazi. Preuss mentions that many German leftists called Schmitt the “Lenin of the bourgeois.” 3 See also Balakrishnan (2000: 265), who admires Schmitt’s vigor compared to what Balakrishnan considers today’s “effete, incorporated and culturalist Left.” Mueller (2003) documents the fascination many European leftists had for Schmitt in the 1960s. 4 Holmes (1993: 275) views Schmitt as a “Maistrean.” On Schmitt as a Grand Inquisitor, see Gross (2007: 85, 278 note 21). 5 Beginning with the 1930 elections, the Nazis won a plurality of the seats in parliament and therefore were “morally” entitled to form a cabinet government. In retrospect, the “presidential dictatorship” of 1930–33, using Article 48 and continuous elections, seems to have been a delaying action in order to negotiate a compromise with Hitler. Members of the cabinet who wanted to crack down were pushed out (partly because it was believed that the army had been infiltrated by the Nazis) and bans on the Stormtroopers were lifted. President Hindenburg was partly senile and never took a

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8 9






leadership role. When Schmitt (1998) gave a lecture advocating a “strong state” to businessmen in late 1932, a majority wanted Hitler appointed Chancellor. Historically, absolutism “is a monarchy of estates in which the assemblies have been ‘put to sleep’ by the prince’s will and never meet again, so that power is henceforth exercised without their concurrence” (Lousse 1964: 45). See also Sommerville (1991) and Goldie (2011). On Hobbes as a juristic thinker, see Schmitt (1985: 34), d’Entreves (1967), and Bobbio (1993). Bobbio was an admirer and critic of Schmitt. According to Harrington (1993: 13), “as he said of the law that without this sword it is but paper, so he might have thought of this sword that without a hand it is but cold iron.” In turn, theorizing the army meant theorizing “the balance of property without which the public sword is but a name or mere spitfrog.” Hobbes’s dictum came from Chapter 26, “Of Civil Laws,” of the Latin version of Leviathan. See George Schwab, “Introduction” to Schmitt (1976: 9–11, also his notes on pp. 26, 33, 36). See also Schwab (1970: 53–4 and 1987). Schmitt acknowledged his debt to Schwab in his 1963 book, Theory of the Partisan and in a 1963 edition of The Concept of the Political (Ulmen 1987). Gottfried (1990: 136 note 31) thinks this exaggerates Schwab’s influence and that Schwab merely clarified an idea that was implicit in Schmitt’s writings. Schmitt’s idealized history of international law should be compared to that of his younger contemporary, Wilhelm Grewe (2000). Grewe explicitly drew from Schmitt but his account was more “realist” because he conceived international law as decisively shaped by the leading great powers of the day (Spain, then France, England, and now the US). Schmitt’s liberal critic Richard Thoma noticed this (1988: 82). Balakrishnan (2000: 122) claims that Schmitt’s understanding of Italian fascism was selective (trains run on time, etc.). Mann (2004) uses Balakrishnan’s interpretation of Schmitt for his ideal-type of those conservatives who saw fascism as a source of stability. This characterization is drawn from Mussolini’s 1932 article (1968) and Hitler’s Mein Kampf (1998). For both, life is an eternal struggle in which the strong dominate the weak and this applies to politics, where fascist parties have paramilitary units (Squadristi, Stormtroopers) to physically attack their political opponents. Both Mussolini and Hitler extoll individual self-sacrifice to the greater good of the state or race, so that the many should willingly bend to the will of the strongest. According to Mussolini, “Fascism sees in the imperialistic spirit—i.e. in the tendency of nations to expand—a manifestation of their vitality.” Hitler invoked the “right of the strongest” when he wrote of “the rigid law of necessity and the right to victory of the best and stronger in this world” (1998, Chapter 9, “Nation and Race”). See also Neocleous (1997). For other characterizations of fascism, see Eatwell (1996), Gentile (1990), Sternhell (1986), Payne (1980), Mann (2004), and Griffin (1991). Ironically, Schmitt stole this notion of intensity from Morgenthau, who in his 1929 dissertation on the concept of the political in international legal disputes argued that what made a dispute political instead of legal was the intensity of the dispute. Morgenthau criticized Schmitt’s 1927 article (Schmitt 1947) on the concept of the political for ignoring intensity. When Schmitt revised and expanded his article in 1932, he defined the political in terms of intensity without acknowledging Morgenthau. For Morgenthau’s critique, see 2012, and for his accusation of plagiarism, see 1978a. “The classical concept of the political as fixed in the eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury was founded on the state of European international law. This concept understood the war of classical international law as a pure state-war contained by international law. Since the twentieth century, however, this mode of state-war with its containments was set aside and replaced by the revolutionary partisan-war [Parteien-Krieg]” (Schmitt 2004d: 34).

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15 See Schmitt (1985: 56, 57) for “atheistic anarchists,” and p. 63 for “atheist-anarchist socialism.” On Bakunin, Marx, and Engels, see (1996b: 36–9 and 1985: 63–6), and for Proudhon and Sorel (1988: 65–76). 16 On communist barbarism, see (1996b: 36–9). For technicity and Slavism, see (1993b: 130–1). On the Mongolian face, see (1988: 75). 17 For Bolshevism, rather than liberalism, as the ultimate threat, see Roman Catholicism (1996b: 36–9) and Political Theology (1985: 64–66). The communist foe was foregrounded during the Cold War in Schmitt’s 1963 Theory of the Partisan (2004c, 2004d) and his 1978 “The Legal World Revolution” (1987a). 18 The first two chapters of Political Theology (on the state of exception and decisionism) correspond to Hobbes’s state of nature in Leviathan Part 1 and his theory of sovereignty in Part 2. In Part 3, however, Hobbes reinterpreted the Bible as giving kings control over religion. In Schmitt’s third essay, “Political Theology,” Schmitt develops a “sociology” of concepts in which theological concepts (with their implicit “divine right”) were transferred to the political sphere. In Part 4, Hobbes polemicized against Catholicism, the enemy of “Christian liberty.” In Schmitt’s fourth essay, on the nineteenth-century Catholic counterrevolutionaries Maistre, Bonald, and Donoso Cortes, the enemy was “atheistic anarchistic socialism,” the enemy of Catholicism. 19 Schmitt’s essays on Donoso Cortes are (2002a, 2002b, 2002c). The first two were reprinted in the Nazi-era Positionen und Begriffe (1940) and all were collected and published in 1950 in Donoso Cortes in gesamteuropaischer Interpretation: Vier Aufsatze (Cologne: Greven Verlag, 1950). Donoso Cortes appears in Schmitt (1951, 1988: 69, 70, 92, 108, 113; 1996b: 7, 15; 1993b: 130; 2008b: 148 note 12 and note 2; and 1985). 20 Donoso Cortes’s most known work in English is his 1851 Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism and Socialism (2010). For his speeches on dictatorship see the excerpts in Menczer (1962). 21 Peterson argued in Der Monotheismus als Politisches Problem that a Christian “political theology” was impossible because the Christian God is not monotheist but a trinity and a trinity is not analogous to a political monarchy. Schmitt’s last book, Political Theology II (2008b) was a belated reply. The appendix reprints the excerpt from Peterson’s book where he makes his accusation against Schmitt. 22 Wolin (1960a or 2004, Chapters 4, 5, 6). The first section of Chapter 5, on Luther, was entitled “Political Theology” and Wolin referred to Luther’s “attack on political theology” (2004: 129). Wolin cited Ernst Kantorowicz (2004: 625 n. 56, 629 n. 103, 638 n. 49) and Erik Peterson (620 n. 61, 625n. 71), but not Schmitt. 23 Blumenberg’s book (1st edition 1966) was a defense of modernity against Karl Löwith’s argument (1949) that modern ideas of history and progress had originated in Christian ideas. The implication was that modernity was either a Christian heresy or depended on Christianity for legitimation. Schmitt saw Löwith as vindicating his own claims about political theology and secularization and he reviewed Löwith’s book favorably (2009). Blumenburg attempted to refute Schmitt’s ideas in the first edition of his book and Schmitt replied in Schmitt (2008b). 24 As the historian of political thought Charles McIlwain used to tell his students, “the end product of divine right sovereignty was reason of state” (Church 1972, preface; Keohane 1980: 169). 25 Schmitt’s use of the katechon seems to first appear in his 1942 Land and Sea, where he refers to the Byzantine Empire as a katechon holding back Islam and to a German emperor as delaying the Thirty Years’ War. In one of his diaries he wrote that he discovered the katechon in 1932, but this might be a misprint or mistake for 1942. See Meier (1998: 161). 26 2 Thessalonians 2, 6–7: “And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work;

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27 28

29 30 31 32

33 34 35 36

37 38

39 40

but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” Augustine, City of God, Book 20, Chapter 19. Schmitt (2003: 60) referred to Tertullian and other writers, including medieval ones, as believing in the katechon. Schmitt’s reference to himself as a Christian Epimetheus was from his Ex Captivitate Salus: Erfahrungen der Zeit 1945–47 (Cologne: Greven, 1950), p. 12. It is quoted in Hollerich (2004: 109) and Meier (1998: 132). In Greek mythology, Epimetheus (hindsight) was the brother of Prometheus (foresight). The quote is Mary’s response to the news that she would bear the Christ. On the “Marian” image of history as doing the will of the Lord, see Meier (1998: 19). Dostoevsky hated Catholicism and believed socialism was the secularization of Catholicism (Beauchamp 2007). Wolin (2004: 108) preferred the Grand Inquisitor’s overt realism to what he considered Augustine’s perverse synthesis of love and persecution. Morgenthau wrote his 1929 dissertation on Schmitt’s concept of the political in relation to the judicial resolution of international disputes. His 1933 revision of this dissertation has been translated as Morgenthau (2012). Koskenniemi blames Schmitt and Morgenthau for undermining the belief in international law and goes so far as to brand Morgenthau’s realist theory as “Schmittian realism” (2001 and 2004: 504). Scheuerman insisted “the substantive overlap between the two authors is extensive” and saw some of Morgenthau’s “blind spots” as a realist thinker as attributable to the influence of Schmitt (1999, Chapter 9; 2007). Scheuerman (2009; 2011) subsequently revised his verdict and now treats Morgenthau and realism sympathetically. For Morgenthau’s negative opinion after meeting Schmitt (“the most evil man alive”), see Morgenthau (1978a: 68 and 1984). See Mearsheimer’s website (http://mearsheimer.uchicago.edu/pdf/S0006.pdf). See Drezner’s website (www.danieldrezner.com/teaching/DHPH204.doc). “We might doubt whether our notion of [war’s] absolute character or nature was founded in reality, if we had not seen real warfare make its appearance in this absolute completeness just in our own times” (Clausewitz 1968: 369, Book 5, Chapter 2). In general, the literature on guerrilla wars and terrorism is divided between those who see these as fundamentally new ways of waging war, as well as evidence for the decline of the nation-state system (Lind et al. 1989; van Creveld 1991; Kaldor 1999; Laqueur 1999), and those that see terrorism and guerrilla wars as recurring means on a spectrum of violence (Polk 2007; Laqueur 1976; Echevarra 2005; Spencer 2006). On the co-existence historically of irregular fighters and states, see Thomson (1996) and Bobbitt (2008). Crick invoked Hobbes and Machiavelli in this context, but his language of emergencies is suggestive of Schmitt. I have transposed the order of the two sentences in the quote. Rossiter and Friedrich had read Schmitt, as well as witnessed the fall of Weimar. Tushnet believes Schmitt’s idea of suspending the constitution during emergencies is preferable to Supreme Court decisions like Korematsu, which “constitutionalize” immoral actions by the government. Walker (1995: 34). For Benjamin (whose formulations were explicitly developed against Schmitt’s), see “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1968a: 259) and “Critique of Violence” (1978). See Haidt (2012, Chapter 7), where he derives this strategy from studies of chimpanzees, who live in hierarchical groups dominated by a bullying Alpha male. In Chapter 8, pp. 170–3, he explains the equality of human tribal societies as due to the invention of primitive weapons, which temporarily (10,000+ years?) equalized the power relations among the weak and the strong. He uses this tribal egalitarian experience of liberty as the explanation for his liberty/oppression foundation. But he sees human

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societies as “naturally” hierarchical due to the natural inequality of talents, strength, luck, etc. 41 The original communitarians are usually identified as MacIntyre (1981), Sandel (1982), Walzer (1983), and Taylor (1985). Their critiques of liberal “atomism” provided the “ontological” foundations for communitarianism, but all denied being “communitarians.” It was sociologists such as Bellah et al. (1985) and Etzioni (1993) who accepted the label. Etzioni founded the communitarian journal, Responsive Community, and a small movement, which received some attention from the White House during the Clinton administration. 42 Scruton’s aesthetic “skeptical Anglicanism” (he does not believe specific Christian doctrines, such as life after death) is compatible with belief in “sanctity” as a moral value (so authority is still subordinate to sanctity). But it differentiates him from “real” Christians who see certain beliefs as the essence of sanctity.

4 IDEALISM Ricoeur

Must we not say … that we ought not want to unify ethics, that its domain must remain broken between a morality of conviction which is a morality of the absolutely desirable, and a morality of responsibility which is the morality of the relatively possible and also of the limited use of violence? Paul Ricoeur (1978: 192)

What can be called the “idealist” tradition of western political theory is also the “mainstream” of political theory, from Plato to Rawls. It includes the various ideologies of liberalism, conservatism, socialism, anarchism, etc. Insofar as absolutism, fascism, and authoritarianism involve ideals, they should also be included. Obviously, I cannot give an account of this “tradition” in this chapter. It would amount to the “history of western political philosophy, ancient, medieval, and modern.” But most of the modern idealist tradition presupposes the state as the political unit within which idealist politics takes place. In presupposing the state, most forms of idealism focus on the ideals (liberty, equality, justice) that the state can establish and enforce. These ideals, in turn, justify the state, with its monopoly on legitimate violence. In this chapter, instead, I focus on the state itself as the ideal political unit, or what is sometimes called the “idea” of the state (Steinberger 2004). But I am also interested in examining how political ideals relate to political reality and the relationship between ethics and politics. For these reasons, and because he used our term “the political,” I examine the political theory of Paul Ricoeur. Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005) is better known as a philosopher and a Christian thinker than as a political theorist.1 In philosophy, Ricoeur is known for his phenomenological “philosophical anthropology” of human nature, his hermeneutics, and his “detours” through psychoanalysis, metaphor, narrative, history,

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theories of action, etc. (which include further detours through the writings of classical and contemporary philosophers, novelists, historians, and literary theorists). Ricoeur’s writings are characterized by what he called his “obsession” with reconciling opposing positions and ideas (1998: 61). The variety of topics and authors Ricoeur engaged makes it difficult to summarize Ricoeur’s overall “project” (and Ricoeur’s claim in a late interview (1998: 80–2) that he was merely solving specific problems left over from his previous books does not help). Ricoeur began by attempting to construct a phenomenological philosophical anthropology, centered on the will, which would establish the permanent features of human nature and action. He then discovered that “the cogito can be recovered only by the detour of a decipherment of the documents of its life,” and decided to pursue this “long route which begins by analyses of language” (1974c: 17, 10). On this interpretation, Ricoeur’s hermeneutical “detours” through language, psychoanalysis, history, literary theory, politics, etc. were intended to test or confirm the insights of his philosophical anthropology. The view of human beings in Ricoeur’s anthropology is optimistic (or idealistic) because humans are free and capable of being good and reasonable. But humans are also conditioned by their surroundings and they are “fallible” and capable of evil. This creates a “paradoxical” relationship between ideals and reality that, as we shall see below, is central to Ricoeur’s view of politics. But it applies more generally to all human institutions and actions, which Ricoeur described as essentially “fragile.” This fragility is magnified whenever theory or ideals are applied to practice in human judgments and actions. Nevertheless, ideals were part of reality for Ricoeur and could even create it (as in his “narrative” conceptions of the self and history). This confirmed human freedom and creativity. In turn, reality contained ideals in Hegel’s sense that “the real is rational.” Ricoeur took seriously the “masters of suspicion” such as Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, including their critiques of Christianity. But this was only a negative “antithesis” that was resolved positively at a higher level of synthesis: No “genealogy of morals,” no “psychoanalysis of culture” can serve as the foundation of an economics, a politics or a culture. The affective genesis is one thing, the origin of their meaning is another. The fact that one and the same energy underlies human desire and extends itself continually until it becomes unrecognizable under the masks of civility and morality does not mean at all that economic, political and cultural objects, taken as such, do not have a different history, one more like a Hegelian Phenomenology of Mind than a Darwinian genesis. Two histories intersect in the cultural object, the ascending genesis of libido, of the Wille zur Macht, and the descending genesis of freedom objectifying itself in works. To comprehend the humanity of man would be to comprehend this articulation between the two movements of “sublimation” of impulse in a culture and “alienation” of spirit in a nature. (1974d: 42–3)

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Ricoeur used to joke that he was a “post-Hegelian Kantian” (1998: 83). The “Hegelian” part of Ricoeur’s position included the detours through the “documents” of human expressions and institutions, the attempt to reconcile opposing positions, and the belief that the real is somehow rational. But at the end of the day, Ricoeur was a “Kantian” in the sense that he believed human knowledge was limited (and incapable of attaining knowledge of ultimate reality, including the rationality of the real) and he conceded that many of his reconciliations were liable to fall back into stubborn antitheses. As indicated above by his rejection of Nietzsche, Freud, and Darwin, Ricoeur never considered himself a “postHegelian Nietzschean” or a “post-Hegelian Freudian.” He was, as a commentator put it (Simms 2003: 2), a philosopher of “faith” rather than one of suspicion and this included faith in metaphysics and in God. Ricoeur was critical of the Enlightenment and its “disenchantment” of the world. His solution was to reopen access to the premodern philosophical and religious past: But a return to the pure ideals of the Enlightenment no longer appears sufficient by itself. To free this heritage of its perversions requires relativizing even it; that is, it requires setting this heritage back on the trajectory of a longer history, rooted, on the one hand, in the Hebrew Torah and the teaching of the early Christian church and, on the other, in the Greek ethic of virtue and the political philosophy that goes with it. In other words, we have to learn how to remember all the beginnings and rebeginnings, all the traditions that are sedimented over this base. By reactualizing the heritages older than those of the Enlightenment—which are perhaps less exhausted than it is—modern identity may be able to find appropriate correctives for those perverse effects that, today, disfigure the undeniable gains of our modern age. (1987: 43) It is Ricoeur’s “post-Enlightenment” defense of a “classical, western” philosophical and religious view of humans (while incorporating the critiques of this classical and western view and keeping it open to further reconciliations), that makes his philosophy attractive to many (and, for the same reasons, uninteresting to others). I am less familiar with Ricoeur’s contributions to biblical studies, but he accepted Nietzsche and Freud’s critique of “actually existing” Christianity and saw “the religious significance of atheism” (1974f) in its being able to liberate religious thought to pursue higher aims, free from ressentiment. As we will see, Ricoeur’s perspective as a Christian turns out to be as important as his philosophical anthropology for discussing the state and the relationship between political ideals and reality. Ricoeur was a Christian socialist and pacifist and was concerned about how to relate his “ethics of conviction” to the reality of politics. During the 1930s, Ricoeur’s pacifist ideals caused him to oppose French rearmament

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against Hitler, a stance he later regretted and which made him appreciative of Weber’s realism and ethics of responsibility (Ricoeur 1998: 16). My concern in this chapter is with Ricoeur’s early conception of politics and political theory, rather than with his later concern with law and “the just” (2000; 2007). As he described it (2000: ix), “war is the insistent theme of political philosophy and peace that of the philosophy of law.” This chapter examines Ricoeur’s political philosophy in “The Political Paradox” (1964c), which describes the paradoxical relationships between ideals and reality.2 As we will see, these paradoxical relationships confirm aspects of Weber’s realism, while retaining the idealism of Ricoeur’s socialism. But in the second part of the chapter I show that when looked at from Ricoeur’s perspective as a Christian pacifist, political ideals, even justice, retain their violence and must be rejected from the higher perspective of Christian love. This is the asymmetry of ethics and politics in Ricoeur. In the third part, I examine the paradoxical and asymmetrical relations among political ideals, power, and non-political ideals in the “real world.”

I The ideal of the political and the reality of politics Ricoeur is best known in political theory for a 1957 essay, “The Political Paradox” (1964c), written in response to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Soviet invasion.3 In that essay, Ricoeur provided a “Rousseauist” and “Hegelian” alternative to Schmitt’s “Hobbesian” and “Maistrean” concept of the political and the state. Ricoeur had been introduced to Schmitt’s concept of the political in 1952 by Julien Freund, a conservative Resistance fighter who admired Schmitt (Taguieff 2002: 41). Ricoeur did not share Freund’s admiration and believed Schmitt was a fascist. Instead of distinguishing the political from the state (as Schmitt did) and defining the political in terms of the friend-enemy distinction, or something else, Ricoeur defined “the political” (le politique) as the state, where the state was understood as an ideal and in its widest sense as the “organization of freedom.”4

The ideal and idea of the state As in Weber and Schmitt, Ricoeur established the “autonomy of the political” by separating it from ethics and economics (1964c: 248, 249; 1991a). In the context of “The Political Paradox,” ethics meant an apolitical Christian pacifist ethics and economics meant Marxism. For Aristotle and the Greeks, according to Ricoeur, human beings were “political animals” who are incomplete without the state. The state represents the “good life” that is attained by living together. To this ideal of a good life together, Ricoeur added the “equality before the law, and the ideal equality of each before all” established by Rousseau’s social contract. This ideal legal equality, according to Ricoeur, “is the truth of the political” (1964c: 252). Ricoeur considered the rule of law as essential to the moral education of individuals and for this reason considered citizenship as a stage in moral development:

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In the two cases [of Aristotle and Rousseau], with the Telos of the State and the generating pact of the general will, it is a matter of manifesting the coincidence of an individual and passional will with the objective and political will, in short of making man’s humanity pass through legality and civil restraint. (1964c: 253) The meaning and value of politics for Ricoeur is justice and moral education: “politics is the education of the human race in order and justice” (1974a: 215). The laws of the state force individuals to become citizens, people who can put the public interest above their selfish interests. In a later formulation (1991a: 331, 330), Ricoeur characterized the rationality of the state as entailing “the task of education (through the school, the university, the culture, the media, etc.)” and this was part of the moral “passage from the individual to the citizen.” As we will see in a moment, Ricoeur’s “political paradox” is the paradoxical relationship between ideals (the state, justice) and reality (government, power). But each side the paradox, ideal and real, is also paradoxical. The paradox of the ideal side of the political paradox is that Rousseau’s “social contract” never actually takes place. It is a retrospective judgment (1964c: 251–2). This means that “the political bond has the reality of ideality” (1964c: 252). Conversely, this ideal reality is implicit in real states: “as soon as there is a state, a body politic, the organization of an historical community, there exists the reality of this ideality” of legal equality (252). Another way Ricoeur sought to explain the paradoxical relationships between ideals and reality was to turn to Hegel: When Hegel looks upon the state as reason realized in man, he is not thinking about a particular state, nor any state whatever, but rather about the reality which comes into being through empirical states and to which nations obtain access when they pass the threshold of organization as a modern state, along with differentiated organs, a constitution, an administration, etc., and reach the level of historical responsibility within the framework of international relationships. From this standpoint, the state appears as what is desired by individuals so as to realize their freedom: viz., a rational, universal organization of freedom. (1964c: 254) Ricoeur was borrowing Eric Weil’s (1998) interpretation of Hegel as a theorist of the liberal state.5 Peter Steinberger (2004) has updated Hegel, Hobbes, and Rousseau by arguing that the “idea” of the state can be derived from the metaphysics of modern analytic philosophy.6 This metaphysics locates reality in language and society with “the state” expressing the totality of available social knowledge and values. Steinberger illustrates the “idea” of the state using the social contract theories of Hobbes and Rousseau, which arrive directly at the state

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in Hobbes’s individual sovereign (or assembly of men), and the assembled sovereign-citizens in Rousseau. The main implication of the “idea” of the state is that Rousseau was right in believing that individuals totally alienate all their rights to the state. Steinberger characterizes the state as “omnicompetent in scope, absolute in authority, and organic in function” (146). As he argues, ideals like civil liberties and civil rights are not “natural rights” that exist outside of the state, but “polices” of the state. Most people do not like this “idea” and Steinberger has, unfortunately, been ignored. I believe the easiest way to understand the “idea” of the state is Locke’s theory, where individuals give up their right to judge and punish to a collective body, which Locke called a “political or civil society,” “common-wealth,” “people,” “independent community,” or “civitas” (Locke 1980, Chapter 7, paragraphs 87–9). This is the state, which then entrusts its powers to a government (whether monarchy, oligarchy, or democracy). Locke confused things by sometimes calling this “political or civil society” a “society,” but this “society” is the state and it is “omnicompetent in scope, absolute in authority, and organic in function.” Benjamin Constant (1988b) rejected the doctrine of the unlimited sovereignty of the people (which he blamed for the disasters of the French Revolution), but in doing so, he invoked public opinion as the counterforce to sovereignty. This “public opinion,” however, is the same “sovereignty” Constant was trying to limit. Similarly, when the people in Locke’s “society” rebel against a tyrannical ruler, it is the state that is reining in an abusive government. A similar point can be made against Tom Paine’s (2004b) contrast of society and government in Common Sense. His example of farmers conducting collective business under a tree is an example of the state, not a non-political society. There is no place “outside” the state because the state is society and, today, the world is divided among states. This reality is acknowledged by Michael Walzer (1983), for whom membership in a state is the most urgent need, prior to justice, and by Hannah Arendt (1958a), who saw that refugees always claimed the rights of citizens rather than human or natural rights because rights were real only in a state. As I noted in the Weber chapter, the importance of “the idea of the state” can be seen most clearly in our conception of justice, which is usually distinguished from the “primitive justice” of “revenge.” This justice, however, is statist. The state intervenes as an impartial third party between the disputants. We take this statist conception of justice for granted as what justice is.

The paradoxes of politics Like Schmitt, Ricoeur distinguished between the political and politics. The political was the ideal or “form” of the state. Politics involved the real use of the power of the state. “From the political to politics, we move from advents to events, from sovereignty to the sovereign, from the state to the government, from historical reason to power” (1964c: 255). The relationship between form and force, ideals

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and reality, the political and politics is what Ricoeur called “the political paradox”: “Specific rationality, specific evil—such is the double and paradoxical originality of the political” (248). Behind the rationality of the state, its “form,” was its irrational and evil side, its “force.” “The state is at once more rational and more passional than the individual” (261). In his essay “Adventures of the State and the Task of Christians” (1974a: 203), where the political paradox was interpreted from the Christian perspective, Ricoeur characterized the paradox this way: “the State is this dual-natured reality, simultaneously instituted and fallen.” If the political is the ideal lawful consensual community, politics consists of the concrete acts and institutions (e.g. government) that attempt to found, represent, enact, or sustain the ideal: The political is rational organization, politics involves decisions: probable analysis of situations, probable projection as to the future. The political necessarily involves politics. The political takes on meaning after the fact, in reflection, in “retrospection.” Politics is pursued step by step, in “prospection,” in projects, that is to say both in an uncertain deciphering of contemporary events, and in the steadfastness of resolutions. (1964c: 254) Politics—“the voluntary moment of decision”—involved power. In this context, Ricoeur also cited Machiavelli as a theorist of the techniques of politics. “The Prince evinces the implacable logic of political action: the logic of means, the pure and simple techniques of acquiring and preserving power. The technique is wholly dominated by the essential political relationship between the friend and enemy” (257). Ricoeur’s conception of politics, as the moment of decision and as the friend/enemy relationship, seems intended as a reversal of Schmitt’s concept of the political. But as I have argued in the previous chapter, Schmitt, along with Hobbes (precisely because they are not realists), would object to having the “decision” placed on the “force” side of the state. For them, the decision is an act of sovereignty, which is the “form” of the state, part of the state ideal. Nevertheless, what Ricoeur meant by “politics” was realism. Following Weber’s definition of politics, Ricoeur wrote: “Politics is the sum total of activities which have for their object the exercise of power, therefore the conquest and preservation of power. Step by step, politics will encompass every activity whose goal or effect will be to influence the division of power” (1964c: 255). The problem of specific political evil lay in the perversion of the political in politics whenever the ideal was instituted in the real power of government and its police. The governors, who were supposed to implement the ideal, often become intoxicated by their power. “Power unveils the true nature of sin, which is not pleasure but the pride of domination, the evil of possession and holding sway” (256). “Political ‘evil’ is, in the literal sense, the madness of grandeur” (261). A

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corollary to this evil of pride and grandeur was: the greater the “rationality” of the political, the greater the danger of power. “This paradox must be retained: that the greatest evil adheres to the greatest rationality” (249). Ricoeur’s example was the communist state which aimed at utopia but ended up as totalitarianism. Power and violence involve not only the abuse of the ideal, but also the violent political acts necessary to create or save the reality of this ideal of a political community: Machiavelli raised the true problem of political violence, not that of ineffectual violence, of arbitrary and frenetic violence, but that of calculated and limited violence designed to establish a stable state … All nations, all powers and all regimes are born in this way. Their violent birth then becomes resorbed in the new legitimacy which they foster and consolidate. But this new legitimacy always retains a note of contingency, something strictly historical which its violent birth never ceases to confer upon it. (257–8) In this second side of the political paradox, instead of the causal arrows going from ideal to real, they go from real to ideal. Instead of “the political” founding “politics,” now politics founds the political. Legitimacy, from this second side of the political paradox, is a retrospective judgment of the result of politics and violence (which, hopefully, are the ideals of order and justice imposed by the state). Ricoeur believed violence was inevitable in the founding or survival of a state (1974a) and, in that sense, could be justified up to a point by the “retrospective” judgment of the political if the order that results upholds some common good (even if it is only the common good of peace). This conception of how legitimacy operates retrospectively is also similar to William E. Connolly (1991, 1995) and Bonnie Honig’s (2007) “paradox of politics,” Judith Butler’s theory of “performativity,” Laclau’s theory of hegemony, and Slavoj Zizek’s Lacanian theory of selfhood (Butler et al. 1999).7 In each of these cases, contingent or arbitrary elements are retroactively converted into substantial or “universal” entities that then serve as the “cause” or “explanation” or “legitimacy” of what follows.8 Ricoeur later added two other versions of his political paradox. In the second version, the state apparatus was represented as the “vertical” dimension of authority and domination in contrast to a “horizontal” dimension of consensus and the will to live together, which Ricoeur borrowed from Arendt (Ricoeur 1992: 194–7). The political paradox was then the relationship between domination and consensus (or between Weberian and Arendtian power). The purpose of the state was to help the consensual community “make history,” but, because the state was a hierarchical order of domination, it prevents the community from acting in a truly consensual manner: “This gap between domination and power is marked, within the structure of the state itself, by the dialectic I once summed up under the name political paradox, in which form and force continue to confront

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one another within the same agency” (1992: 257). Here is where the problem of “alienation” occurs. The political sphere will never be able to give human beings a true sense of unity or community. There will always be a split between the human being as abstract citizen and as concrete individual. Ricoeur claimed that it was Marx who understood this best in his critique of Hegel (1964c: 258–9). Marx’s only mistake, according to Ricoeur, was to believe that the contradictions of politics were superstructural and could be overcome by communism (260). The fact that alienation in politics is inevitable means that people will seek out other callings and pursuits, ones that for them are “higher” than citizenship. This involves the third form of political paradox, which Ricoeur developed in response to “pluralist” conceptions of justice such as Walzer’s. These other “spheres” or ways of life will compete with citizenship and politics. The political sphere will be “encompassed” by the other spheres. But if the political includes sovereignty, then there will always be a sense in which citizenship and the sovereign political will “encompass” all the other spheres: Even when we are not involved in politics, the state continues to encompass all the spheres of belonging with respect to which we pay allegiance. With regard to the state we do not have an allegiance comparable to the one we have for a university or a football team; the tie of citizenship is always presupposed by all the others. It is at one and the same time encompassing and encompassed, and I think that this is the new form … that the political paradox has taken. (1998: 103) Thus the third form of Ricoeur’s political paradox is that the political is both “encompassing and encompassed.” Unfortunately, there is a form of alienation specific to this pluralist variation of the political paradox. The plurality of values and ways of life in the historical community will make it difficult to form a consensus about the purpose and scope of the state: “the ethical basis of a political community is limited to values about which there is a consensus and leaves outside of any examination the justifications, motivations, and deep sources of values that are the object of consensus” (1991a: 335). Thus, “social peace is possible only if each individual brackets the profound motivations that justify these common values” (336). The problem is that “the latter are then like cut flowers in a vase” (336). The bracketing of deep sources of values makes the values of the political realm more abstract. And this has another unfortunate result: to compensate for their abstractness there will be “a tendency to ideologize” the abstracted public values, to build them up with propaganda, with the result that public values are degraded “into lifeless stereotypes” (336). This in turn makes political allegiance harder to sustain. Ricoeur refused to call these conclusions pessimistic or defeatist. Instead “such a reflection” on the paradoxes of politics “leads rather to a political vigilance”

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(1964c: 261). This vigilance concerned the total paradox of the political: on one side, appreciation of the “grandeur” of the political, the attempt to organize freedom and equality; on the other side, awareness of the evils of power and the impossibility of reconciling the real and the ideal, consensus and domination, citizenship and “higher” ways of life. Ricoeur was willing to endorse the expanded power and scope of the socialist state provided it incorporated liberal and democratic safeguards, such as an independent judiciary, competitive elections, and an independent media and university system. “[T]o advance along the path of the socialist State,” he wrote, “we must also continue the task of liberal politics, which has always consisted of two things: to divide power among powers, to control executive power by popular representation” (1978: 213; see also 1964c: 261–70). This practical solution, which he called “political liberalism,” embraced both “positive” and “negative” freedom: “the central problem of politics is freedom: whether the state founds freedom by means of its rationality, or whether freedom limits the passions of power through its resistance” (1964c: 270). In this sense, the meaning and value of politics for Ricoeur is “freedom and justice.”

Ethics and Ricoeur’s political paradox I think Ricoeur’s conception of the “political paradox” is a fruitful way to interpret not only the “idea of the state,” but also the relationship between ethics and politics and is another way to understand realism. Instead of interpreting ethics and politics as two distinct realms or spheres, Ricoeur’s distinction between the political and politics suggests there is a single realm divided by the difference between ideals and reality. In this interpretation, “the political” and “the ethical” are the same thing, ideals. The problem, the “political paradox,” involves applying or defending these ideals in practice, in politics. It is in this sense of a paradoxical relationship between ideals and reality that Ricoeur sometimes invoked Weber’s distinction between the ethics of conviction and the ethics of responsibility: Addressing young pacifists just after World War I, [Weber] admitted to them that politics necessarily splits ethics into two parts: on the one hand, there is a morality of conviction, which could be defined by the excellence of what is preferable; and, on the other hand, a morality of responsibility, defined by what can be realized within a given historical context and, Weber added, by moderation in the use of violence. It is because the morality of conviction and the morality of responsibility cannot completely merge that ethics and politics constitute two separate spheres, even if they do intersect. (1991a: 336–7) In this context of a discussion of politics, Ricoeur assimilated Weber’s two ethics to his political paradox. The ethic of conviction in this context referred to

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“what is preferable” in politics (political ideals such as justice) while the ethic of responsibility referred to realities of politics (“what can be realized within a given historical context”). Ricoeur claimed that Weber originally wrote “ethic of power” before deciding to use “ethic of responsibility” and Ricoeur gave as equivalents of the ethic of responsibility: “the ethic of force, of methodological violence, of calculated culpability” (1974g: 287). But although the political actor will usually exercise an ethics of responsibility, there are limits to that ethic. In an essay from the 1950s, Ricoeur explained the relationship between the two ethics by paraphrasing Weber’s account of the heroic politician in “Politics as a Vocation,” who, while exercising the ethics of responsibility in politics, eventually must limit it with an ethics of conviction in a “Lutheran” moment: Weber never says that one should throw the ethic of conviction overboard: it is because it is unexpungable that there is a problem; also there is always some point, for souls who are not completely dead, a moment which can be neither foreseen nor prescribed, where the ethics of conviction stops the man who is acting according to the rule of responsibility and whispers to him, like Socrates’ daimon who always says no, “Thus far, but no further.” It is nowhere said that this contradiction is insoluble. It is, rather, a test in every sense of the word. And this test renders choice unavoidable. (Dauenhauer 1998: 78) The function of the ethics of conviction in politics is to set limits on the “calculated culpability” of the ethics of responsibility. But Ricoeur’s interpretation in this quote adds an ambiguity that was not contained in the previous quote. The ethics of conviction is not only necessary to set limits on the ethics of responsibility. “It is because [the ethics of conviction] is unexpungable that there is a problem.” Does this mean only that political ideals are inexpungable from real politics or does it mean that there is something problematic about political ideals themselves? The second possibility arises from the fact that, as we saw in Chapter 2, Weber’s distinction was originally based on the different value spheres of religion and politics. Weber’s model of the ethics of conviction was the Sermon on the Mount, with its pacifist ethics of turning the other cheek, etc., and this clashed with the ethics of responsibility, which demands resisting evil with force. Ricoeur was also a Christian pacifist and politics and the political look quite different from a Christian perspective.

II Religion, ethics, and politics If, as I have argued, Ricoeur’s political paradox is the “best” way to interpret political ideals and ethics in relation to realism, a new set of ethical problems arose when Ricoeur looked at politics from the perspective of a Christian. In one

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sense, the Christian teaching on the state affirms Ricoeur’s political paradox, but places it in a new light. From the perspective of the religious sphere, the ambiguities and paradoxes of political life seem obvious, part of the fragility or sinfulness of human existence in this world. According to Ricoeur, in “Adventures of the State and the Task of Christians” (1974a), “the writers of the New Testament have bequeathed us not one but two readings of political reality: one, that of St. Paul, which offers a difficult justification, the other that of St. John, which offers an obstinate mistrust. For one the State has the face of the magistrate; for the other, it is the face of the beast” (201). This “double reading” of the state corresponded to the political paradox: rationality and power, or as noted earlier, “instituted and fallen.” Ricoeur believed it required of Christians a “double political duty”: “we ought simultaneously to improve the political institution in the direction of greater rationality and to exercise vigilance against the abuse of power inherent in State power” (210). This double duty was also the conclusion of “The Political Paradox.” In “Adventures of the State and the Task of Christians,” Christians should reason similarly to the citizens depicted in Ricoeur’s essays on the political paradox.

The duality, rather than paradox, of ethics and politics But from a Christian point of view there is another dimension to the problem that does not accord with the political paradox, and it was described in Ricoeur’s essay “The State and Violence” (1964d). In this essay Ricoeur argued that, from a Christian perspective, even an ideal state, one that did not abuse its power, will use violence. The ideal of justice contains the notion of violence in punishment. “The State punishes; in the last analysis it is the State which has the monopoly over physical restraint” (1964d: 234). The violence of justice may well be a limited violence, but from the Christian viewpoint it “interjects a discordant note into the pedagogy of love, of testimony, of the martyr” (237). St. Paul’s was a “difficult justification” of the state because he saw that there were “two pedagogies of humankind, that of love and that of justice, that of non-resistance and that of punishment, that of reciprocity and that of authority and submission, that of affection and that of fear. He glimpses their convergence but he does not see their unity” (238). This is usually what is meant by the “conflict between ethics and politics.” In Weberian terms, it is the clash of the religious and political spheres, in which an “other-worldly” ethics of brotherly love collides with a “worldly” political ethics that believes evil must be punished with force. According to Ricoeur (1974a), there were two historical sources of this distinction between ethics and politics: the Greek distinction between philosophy and politics, and the Christian distinction between the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount and the ethics of the world. As noted earlier, Ricoeur presented Aristotle and the Greeks as viewing ethics and politics as the same path to the “good life” of the polis. “But the same

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philosophers who look upon the Polis as the summit of moral life have refused to amalgamate the ‘contemplative’ ideal of the sage with the ‘practical’ ideal of the Head of State, with the political man, the administrator of an establishment or municipality. Their morality thus breaks in two” (1974a: 235). Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle introduced a conflict between ethics and politics in the conflict between contemplation and action. This clash between philosophical and political values was never solved, according to Ricoeur, but was instead superseded by the Christian conception of the problem. In the ethical realm, Christianity abolished the Greek distinction between contemplation and action “by propounding the ‘practical’ ideal of love of neighbor and by unifying all morality under the sign of ‘practice’” (235). But this meant that: Christianity rediscovered by different means and even aggravated the contradiction which the Greeks, political creatures par excellence, had not been able to transcend. For Christianity introduced an exigency which, by radicalizing the moral problem, transformed the political problem into an enigma. This radical exigency, as we know, is the interpretation of love of neighbor by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Such as it is given, this teaching propounds an entirely sacrificial form of love: “Do not offer resistance to injury … pray for those who persecute you, etc.” Such a command ushers in a more radical rupture than the opposition between contemplation and action. It is “practice” itself which is divided against itself. For as such, politics cannot be pictured within the frame of this ethic of non-resistance and sacrifice. (236) When compared to an ethic of love, the ethic of justice (or “the political” in Ricoeur’s secular terminology) appears to lack something important. “Perhaps the mystery of the State is indeed to limit evil without curing it,” he wrote, “to conserve humankind without saving it” (1964d: 238–9). But this means, in contrast to Ricoeur’s “Hegelian” view of the state as moral educator, “the State is no longer the substance of rational history; its coercive pedagogy preserves mankind but it does not save it” (240). This “realist” perspective on the state was in Augustine’s The City of God. It meant that although Christians must discover “the legitimate place of politics in life,” the place of politics will be: elevated but not supreme. It is in an elevated place, because politics is the education of the human race in order and justice; but it is not in the supreme place, because this violent pedagogy educates man for outer liberty, but it does not save him, it does not radically liberate him from himself, it does not render him “happy” in the sense of the Beatitudes. (1974a: 215)

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Furthermore, from the perspective of love, the political realm confronted Christian pacifists with a dilemma that Ricoeur called an “ethics of distress.” In times of emergency, when citizens are called to defend the state, the adherent of Christian love must either join in the defense of the state (and thus be forced to commit murder in war) or else, as a conscientious objector, “betray” the state and his fellow citizens by refusing to defend it: “[T]he State confronts man with a difficult choice, the choice between two ‘ethics of distress’: the one assumes murder in order to assure the survival of the State, in order to preserve the magistrate; the other affirms treason in order to bear witness. This limiting situation, by which ethics splits into two ethics of distress, is undoubtedly not a constant situation, nor even a lasting or frequent one. But like all extreme things, it throws light on the average, normal situations. It attests that until the last day, love and coercion will walk along side by side as the two pedagogies, sometimes converging, sometimes diverging, of mankind. The end of this duality would be the total ‘reconciliation’ of man with man. But this would also be the end of the State, because this would be the end of history” (1964d: 246). In this essay by Ricoeur there is no paradoxical resolution of the conflict between political ethics and religious ethics. Instead, there is an obstinate “duality.” Political authority and justice are worlds apart from the Christian ethic of love. In this sense, if one of the sober insights of Ricoeur’s “political paradox” was the inevitability of “alienation” between the citizen and the state, the duality of the Christian perspective renders this a “double alienation” (from both political realism and political idealism). This duality, rather than a paradox, is what is usually understood as the distinction between “ethics and politics.” This is the asymmetry of (Christian) ethics and politics. Contemporary pacifism and what political realists call “idealism” or “utopianism” are the secular equivalents of this Christian ethic. So, I would argue, are post-Nietzschean and Levinasian forms of ethics.9 For example, Connolly (1993) distinguishes between an “ethic of cultivation” and a “politics of engagement”: An ethic of cultivation requires attention to the nuances of life; it applies tactics patiently and experimentally to the self; it affirms ambiguity and uncertainty in the categories through which ethical judgment is made. But a politics of engagement and insurgency often generalizes conflicts so that one set of concerns becomes overwhelmed by others; it opens up the probability of more definite, totalistic definitions of one side by its opponents; it sometimes foments rapid transformations exceeding the temporal and spatial rhythms of ethical cultivation. (158) In Weberian terms, Christian, post-Nietzschean and Levinasian ethics are derived from some other value sphere (religion, intellect, aesthetics) and then inevitably clash with both the idealism and realism of the political sphere.

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The politics and ethics of ethics If we combine Ricoeur’s political paradox and the duality of Christian (or postNietzschean) and political ethics, then the relationship between “ethics and politics” is really a two-dimensional relationship in which political ideals such as justice relate (paradoxically) to political reality and in which political ideals such as justice are subject to critique from the “higher” perspectives of religion, philosophy, or aesthetics. If so, we should expect both a “politics of ethics,” in which different ethical ideals are contested (from realist and idealist perspectives, but also the liberal and conservative fight over “humanitarian” and “authoritarian” ethics), and an “ethics of ethics,” in which certain ethical ideals are criticized from a more generous ethical perspective. In this context, the realist critique of idealism involves criticizing both political ideals (such as justice) and non-political ideals (such as Christian or Levinasian love or post-Nietzschean generosity) from a realist perspective in which “moral principles can never be fully realized, but must at best be approximated through the ever temporary balancing of interests and the ever precarious settlement of conflict,” or in which one must aim at “the realization of the lesser evil rather than of the absolute good” (Morgenthau 1978b: 3–4). Conversely, “idealists” can be either political idealists who try to achieve justice (rather than a realist approximation) or religious or philosophical idealists who criticize political ideals such as justice (as well as a realist “lesser evil”) from a higher perspective of love or generosity. A “political” idealist would have to defend the ideal of justice against both the realist “approximation” but also against a Christian or Levinasian ethics of “love” or post-Nietzschean generosity. An advocate of love or generosity would have to argue against both the realist lesser evil and the political ideal of justice, with its implicit violence. This “politics of ethics,” however, can also be extended to the religious and intellectual spheres where non-political ideals originate. Innumerable critics of “actually existing” Christianity have pointed to the cruel paradoxes in the relationship between love and persecution, charity and war, Augustine’s doctrine of original sin, the culture of guilt, etc. Nietzsche criticized Christianity as a “slave‑morality,” and if that wasn’t bad enough, saw in Christianity a fundamental resentment and hatred of life itself. Levinasian writers Campbell and Dillon (1993) have argued that there is a “paradox” in the Christian ethic of love itself. They characterize this ethic as follows: Augustine’s ethic was a command ethic … Derived as it was from the love of God, Augustine’s love was a radically conditional and ultimately policing love. A love of one’s children, but with a vital qualifier. A love of one’s wife, love, sister or brother, but with the same vital qualification. This was love in Jesus Christ and for Christ’s sake. And love for Christ’s sake was love of God’s law; whose ethic was command. The operation of this determining qualifier thereby translated love into law and obedience. (166)10

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Similarly, Connolly sees in Augustine what he calls the “second problem of evil”: “the evil that flows from the attempt to establish security of identity for any individual or group by defining the other that exposes sore spots in one’s identity as evil or irrational” (1991: 8). But this second problem derives from what Connolly calls the “paradox of ethics”: “Without a set of standards of identity and responsibility there is no possibility of ethical discrimination, but the application of any such set of historical constructions also does violence to those to whom it is applied” (12; see also 1993). These are similar to Ricoeur’s paradoxes and he was sensitive to these criticisms of Christianity. The ghost of Nietzsche seems to haunt all of his writings.11 Although, as we saw at the beginning of this chapter, Ricoeur rejected Nietzsche because he saw him as an atheist and a materialist, he seemed to regard Nietzsche’s critiques of Christianity and philosophy as a crucial challenge: “Unfortunately the history of culture has produced something else, ‘Christianity,’ where the Gospel has functioned as a law or more exactly, has functioned on the institutionalized level of imperatives. Nietzsche saw this and criticized it in what he called ‘Christendom’” (1978: 190–1) Ricoeur tried to accommodate these criticisms, which also apply to morality in general, by distinguishing between “ethics” and “morality.” Ricoeur rejected the “Kantian temptation” to base ethics on universal imperatives. Ethics, according to Ricoeur, was prior to morality and law. Ethics begins with the self and its freedom and derives the ethical injunction to respect the freedom of others from recognizing the other as like ourselves. Ethics was the affirmation of the “good life with and for others in just institutions” (1978: 177; see also 1992).12 Morality, on the other hand, concerned rules and duties that apply to everyone. Morality was the necessary “sieve” through which ethics must pass in order to ensure that burdens and obligations were evenly distributed and reciprocated. But morality represented “the dark side of ethics” (1978: 184). Here, Ricoeur wrote, “I [as moral agent] begin to consider what is not preferable as something deviant” (184). Morality created a conflict between desire and duty: Value is experienced as a norm by the being who is split or divided between something preferable which is already objectified and a desire which closes over his subjectivity. Then the “you should” begins to triumph over me as something alien to me, something other than me … The severity of morality and the bleakness of moralism begins. (184) Ricoeur compared this with Nietzsche’s second essay in On the Genealogy of Morals where human beings make themselves into “promise-making” animals at the cost of a perpetual “guilty conscience.” But, while morality was harsh, like politics and citizenship it was necessary in order to become a better human being. From here, Ricoeur went on to affirm the necessity of Kantian imperatives and

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the obligations of law and justice. But Ricoeur was sensitive to the fact that something was lost or repressed in the process of passing ethics through the “sieve” of morality and law, and that this lost element ought to be acknowledged somehow. Ricoeur’s distinction between ethics and morality thus exhibited the paradoxical relation between ideals and reality that characterized his political paradox. But if ethics itself involved a paradoxical relation between ideals and reality, there was another set of relations within Ricoeur’s ethics that exhibited the “duality” discussed earlier when contrasting the ethics of love to the ethics of justice. At the end of his essay on “The Problem of the Foundation of Moral Philosophy” (1978), which described the paradoxical relation between ethics and morality noted above, Ricoeur suddenly added a new dimension by bringing in the ethics of the Gospels. Ricoeur saw the original spirit of Christianity as a resource for preventing ethics, morality, and law—all of these—from atrophying: “We need therefore to rediscover that the first function of the gospel is to lead us back to the origin of the whole ethical process, prior to the moment when it objectifies itself and crystalizes itself into law” (1978: 191). Ricoeur interpreted Christianity as “reanimating” ethics with yet another ethics, an ethics of “extravagance” derived from the Gospels. Examples of this extravagant ethic were: a shepherd who abandons ninety-nine sheep to save one; the father who in welcoming his son acts in an aberrant fashion (wronging his first-born son in the process); the host who throws out the guest without a wedding garment; the wages of the workers hired at the eleventh hour … The first shall be last, etc. … Turn the other cheek, share your coat, go the extra mile—all, in effect, extravagant forms of behavior. (191) This extravagant ethic was socially disruptive (in Schmitt’s terms, the ethics of the Gospels is anarchistic). It could never become a widespread ethical practice or become institutionalized in morality and laws. What then was its purpose? Ricoeur gave the following interpretation: But then what does one do with an extravagant ethic? I wonder if we do not have here a form of discourse that calls for limit expressions; that is, that practices a kind of use and abuse of structures, whether they be the structures of the parable, the proverb, or the eschatological saying, in order to bring them to a breaking point. By thereby rendering us attentive to certain limit experiences of our lives, to crisis situations that call for a decision, these limit expressions open up a problematic space not so much for the will as for the imagination. Do we not too often think that a decision is demanded of us when perhaps what is first required is to let a field of previously unconsidered

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possibilities appear to us? Would not the function of this type of discourse be, after having totally disoriented us, to make us take up again the path of a concrete ethic, but an ethic that is more mobile, more attentive to breaking points? And does not it first appeal to the imagination—a word that has not appeared until now—to explore the new and the possible in the order of the ethical space? (1978: 192) The purpose of an “extravagant ethics” was to disrupt the settled habits and congealed “injustices” of morality and justice, to imagine new possibilities. This is an “ethics of ethics.” I see a similarity between Ricoeur’s extravagant ethics and post-Nietzschean and Levinasian ethics in the challenge all pose to conventional moral codes.13 Thus Campbell and Dillon (1993: 171) follow Levinas in distinguishing “morality” as the “rules relating to social behavior” from the “higher” ethical perspective of “our ethical responsibility toward the Other.” Connolly (1995: 127) “interrogates the sufficiency of a morality reduced to a general code” in the name of an “uncodifiable ethos that exceeds their reach.”14 Rejecting those hostile interpretations that see Foucaultian and Nietzschean critiques of morality as “relativist,” Connolly extols their use of “genealogy” because “it invokes a second-order ethicality to counter the moral pressures that would suppress the paradox of ethicality” (1991: 12). The “ethics of ethics” in Ricoeur’s notion of an “extravagant ethic” that criticizes existing morals and in the post-Nietzschean or Levinasian ethics of generosity or responsibility to the Other reveal that one of the functions of ethics is to extend the existing moral life by opening up new ethical possibilities. In this context of an extravagant ethic, Ricoeur again applied Weber’s distinction between the ethics of conviction and the ethics of responsibility. But now Weber’s distinction was applied to ethics itself : Must we not say … that we ought not want to unify ethics, that its domain must remain broken between a morality of conviction which is a morality of the absolutely desirable, and a morality of responsibility which is the morality of the relatively possible and also of the limited use of violence? (1978: 192) Here Weber’s distinction, which is the source of continual tension (including, as we saw, an abysmal “ethics of distress”) is something to be treasured. The morality of conviction is an ethics that challenges the ethics of the morality of responsibility. It is an ethics of ethics. Here the point is that these conflicts demonstrate the asymmetry of ethics and politics, as well as, it seems, an asymmetry between forms of ethics. I will discuss some of the practical implications of this “politics” and “ethics” of ethics in the third section.

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III Idealism in politics I divide this third section into three topics: 1) how realists, political idealists, and non-political idealists apply their ideals to politics, 2) how these various groups might relate to each other, either generally in society, or as part of a common social movement aiming at some ideal or interest, 3) how, generalizing from 1 and 2, ideas and ideals affect the course of history. These are all important topics that have not been studied sufficiently (and which are difficult to study). My remarks below are one attempt at a description.

Applying realism, political idealism, and religious idealism to politics Political realists who read part II of this chapter may be annoyed that a “politics and ethics of ethics” aimed at raising standards or extending ethics seems to undermine hard-won political ideals like justice, not to mention whatever attempts realists make to “approximate” ideals in political compromises or the balancing of interests. From a realist point of view, idealists always “make the perfect enemy of the good” and diminish the ethical significance of whatever incremental “progress” or “approximation” of an ideal has been achieved. In extreme cases, idealist criticisms might “demoralize” citizens and politicians, and prevent them from acting forcefully to forestall even worse consequences. This seems to have happened during the 1930s, when realism was replaced by Wilsonian idealism, everyone was exhausted by war, and politicians felt guilty about the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles. Consequently, Britain and France refused to rearm or intervene against Nazi Germany until it was too late. The other realist criticism of idealism is a criticism of what is called “moralism” (Coady 2008 and Taylor 2012). Schmitt, as noted, believed liberal humanitarian morals were either naive or hypocritical or else liberals were crusading fanatics (or all at the same time). Weber believed that naive moralists easily became murderous crusaders once their pacific illusions were dispelled: In the world of realities, as a rule … we encounter the ever-renewed experience that the adherent of an ethic of ultimate ends suddenly turns into a chiliastic prophet. Those, for example, who have just preached “love against violence” now call for the use of force for the last violent deed, which would then lead to a state of affairs in which all violence is annihilated. (Weber 1946b: 122) These are examples of a realist “politics of ethics” fighting against idealist ethics. The reply of the political or religious idealist is that realism requires idealism in order not to fall into cynicism. Whereas the realist Morgenthau believed a

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balance of interests or some political compromise could serve as an “approximation” of justice, the realist theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1935) believed that a Christian ethic of love would be necessary to move from realist approximations to any “real” justice. Similarly, in “The Tasks of a Political Educator” (1974g), Ricoeur wrote that this was an important task for Christians, although their “ethic of conviction” would have to operate indirectly on the Weberian “ethic of responsibility”: The ethic of conviction can only operate indirectly by the constant pressure which it exerts on the ethic of responsibility … If we take this ethic in its highest degree—as it is expressed in the Sermon on the Mount—it is readily apparent that the problem is not that of realizing this ethic immediately but that of expressing it indirectly by the group of pressures which it can bring to bear on the ethic of responsibility. (1974g: 288) Ricoeur gave as an example campaigns against capital punishment. The biblical commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” may not be able to prevent war or police violence, but it can be used to advocate the abolition of capital punishment. According to Ricoeur, the legitimate violence of the state in punishing criminals must be limited by an “ethics of means,” “respect for the person in his life and in his dignity” (288). This precluded capital punishment. Ricoeur believed Utopia was another example of the use of an ethic of conviction to pressure the ethics of responsibility. “I will give as an example of this pressure of the ethic of conviction on the ethic of responsibility—that of utopia. I believe, in fact, that there is a historic function of utopia in the social order. Only utopia can give to economic, social, and political action a human intention” (289). In his Lectures on Ideology and Utopia (1986), Ricoeur argued that utopias were meditations on power, because, in seeking a perfect society without coercion, utopias brought into question existing power arrangements and their justification. He also considered a world state as a “utopia” that was not only desirable as a solution war in a nuclear age, but necessary for human survival. “In an age of nuclear threats the very existence of particular free States is subordinate to the physical survival of the human species. An astonishing reversal of priorities is imposed upon political thought: the world-State has become the means of survival of the States as nonviolent educators” (1991a: 333–4). These uses of an “ethics of conviction” suggest that significant political change often comes by introducing values (the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount) and visions (utopia) that come from outside the political sphere. Niebuhr provides an example of how both religious and political ideals, or morals, can be reconciled with realism in the use of non-violent coercion. In his 1932 Moral Man and Immoral Society (1960), Niebuhr argued that people in groups such as classes or nations behaved selfishly and that individualistic moralities were

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inadequate to counteract class oppression or national aggrandizement. Instead, moralists who were serious or realistic about change had to adopt coercive means, as advocated by realists. But Niebuhr was not content to replace moralism with realism. Instead, realism and idealism had to be combined in some sort of ethic of limited or minimal violence: An adequate political morality must do justice to the insights of both moralists and political realists. It will recognize that human society will probably never escape social conflict, even though it extends the areas of social co-operation. It will try to save society from being involved in endless cycles of futile conflict, not by an effort to abolish coercion in the life of collective man, but by reducing it to a minimum, by counseling the use of such types of coercion as are most compatible with the moral and rational factors in human society and by discriminating between the purposes and ends for which coercion is used. (1960: 234–5) This is Ricoeur’s ethic of limited violence. Niebuhr admitted that this ethic will “place a greater emphasis upon the ends and purposes for which coercion is used than upon the elimination of coercion and conflict. It will justify coercion if it is obviously in the service of a rationally acceptable social end, and condemn its use when it is in the service of momentary passions” (234). However, Niebuhr believed that moralists could do better than simply use the ends to justify the means. They could modify the coercive means. Niebuhr’s example of the ethical use of limited violence was Gandhi’s non-violent method of coercion. According to Niebuhr, Gandhi and his followers initially tried to set ethical examples and persuade their oppressors. But this did not work and so, according to Niebuhr, Gandhi explicitly adopted boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience as non-violent but coercive methods of forcing his opponents to yield. Gandhi recognized that boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience were coercive actions that harmed others, even if they were non-violent, but he decided to use them anyway as a middle way between absolute pacifism and violence. According to Niebuhr, Gandhi’s “political realism qualified religious idealism, in a way which naturally bewildered his friends who carried less or no political responsibility” (244). Niebuhr saw non-violent coercion as a realistic but moral political strategy: Non-violent coercion and resistance, in short, is a type of coercion which offers the largest opportunities for a harmonious relationship with the moral and rational factors in social life. It does not destroy the process of a moral and rational adjustment of interest to interest completely during the course of resistance. Resistance to self-assertion easily makes self-assertion more stubborn, and conflict arouses dormant passions which completely obscure the real issues of a conflict. Non-violence reduces these dangers to a minimum.

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It preserves moral, rational and co-operative attitudes within an area of conflict and thus augments the moral forces without destroying them. (251) Although non-violent coercion was a moral political strategy in Ricoeur’s sense of a political ideal of limited violence, Niebuhr believed that religion provided a crucial element of humility and a “spiritual discipline against resentment” (248) for the resisters that could not be duplicated by a secular morality: There is no problem of political life to which religious imagination can make a larger contribution than this problem of developing non-violent resistance. The discovery of elements of common human frailty in the foe and, concomitantly, the appreciation of all human life as possessing transcendent worth, creates attitudes which transcend social conflicts and thus mitigate its cruelties. It binds human beings together by reminding them of the common roots and similar character of both their vices and their virtues. These attitudes of repentance which recognize that the evil in the foe is also in the self, and these impulses of love which claim kinship with all men in spite of social conflict, are the peculiar gifts of religion to the human spirit. Secular imagination is not capable of producing them; for they require a sublime madness which disregards immediate appearances and emphasizes profound and ultimate unities. It is no accident of history that the spirit of non-violence has been introduced into contemporary politics by a religious leader of the orient. (254–5) Niebuhr’s scheme combined realism (the need to coerce opponents) with secular morality (the choice of non-violent methods of coercion). But he then added the “extravagant” religious ethics (Christian love, or Hindu satyagraha), which disciplines the resisters spiritually so that they can withstand state violence and transform their resentment against their oppressors. In this sense, an extravagant religious ethics has a practical contribution to be made to non-violent resistance.

Human rights and a world community It is fairly obvious that practical social movements will develop realist and idealist (and perhaps political idealist and religious idealist) “wings.” If so, the issue is how they should relate to each other, whether as opposing or complementary forces. Given my claim in the Weber chapter that realists like Morgenthau and Niebuhr believed a world state was necessary in order to prevent great power wars and that a world state is also a goal of idealists such as Ricoeur, I want to consider how “idealist” movements for human rights and for building a world community might relate to a realist quest for a world state.

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The global human rights movement faces two sets of obstacles: the existing state system, where states are legally sovereign and claim the right to administer domestic policies (including repressive ones) without outside interference, and the claim that human rights are a “western” idea that is either inapplicable to nonwestern cultures or else a mask for western imperialism. During the 1990s human rights and humanitarianism became entangled with each other and both became entangled with states and state interests.15 Activists came to see that humanitarian aid was ineffective if human rights were not protected and they began arguing that state sovereignty entailed a “responsibility to protect” the citizens of states. If states were unable to protect, or refused to protect, their citizens, then other states had the responsibility to intervene to protect human rights. For their part, states responded in a “realist” way, either not wanting to become “entangled” in relief or “nation building,” or pursuing great power interests (e.g. vetoing Security Council resolutions to thwart other great powers). But activists and politicians pressed for intervention and the US and European states did sometimes (if belatedly) intervene. Thus, alongside “realist” inaction or obstruction, humanitarianism, human rights, and state intervention became blurred in the 1990s and 2000s. Human rights and humanitarian aid groups found themselves supporting, and being supported by, states (Barnett 2005). This meant that now humanitarian aid groups could be considered “allied” with intervening states and many became the targets of terrorists or guerrillas resisting intervention. Critics of “human rights imperialism” also claimed that human rights ideology and humanitarianism perpetuated stereotypes about “passive” foreigners who were “victims” needing to be “saved” by benevolent westerners. The US-led War on Terror further muddied the distinctions between state interests and humanitarian and human rights concerns both because the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were partly justified in these terms (women’s rights, Saddam Hussein’s oppression of his people) and because the US itself regularly violated human rights (Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, collateral damage). The call for intervention during the 2010s in the conflicts of “Arab Spring” in Libya and Syria suggest the continuing strength of humanitarian arguments, but now also the belief that they often do as much harm as good. Critics (Moyn 2010; Rieff 2002) of this intermingling of human rights and humanitarianism with state interests want human rights and humanitarian groups to return to their original “idealist” separation from states and state funding. Humanitarian intervention and the redefinition of sovereignty as the responsibility to protect has been regularly opposed by China and Russia, and arguably by most non-western nations. They understand that these doctrines can be used against them by the US and its allies. In the 1990s’ debates over “Asian values,” politicians in China and Singapore also defended “cultural relativism” by arguing that human rights were western notions that did not apply to non-western cultures. Singapore’s ambassador to the UN argued that “Asian values” privileged “family over the individual, harmony over conflict, discipline and deference to authority over self-assertion, and welfare over freedom” (Bell et al. 2000). Given our discussion

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of “moral pluralism” in the Weber and Schmitt chapters, one can argue that “Asian values,” like liberal and conservative values, are not “relativist,” but privilege the “universal” values of loyalty, authority, and sanctity over “universal” values of empathy, fairness, and liberty. At the same time, the imperialism charge means that this is not really, or not only, a moral and metaphysical debate but a political one. In respect to both cultural relativism or moral pluralism on the one hand, and imperialism on the other, the most promising strategy is one that looks more closely at “cultures” and discovers that they are less stable and homogeneous than they appear to be. If the “Six moral foundations” discussed in the Schmitt chapter are correct, alongside “Asian values” of loyalty, authority, and sanctity, one is likely to find “Asian values” of empathy, fairness, and liberty, particularly today in our globalizing world. These instabilities and contingencies of culture and already existing conflicts provide the basis for debates and negotiations about “universal” human rights. Specific studies such as Baxi (2009), Randall Williams (2010), and Meister (2011) also reveal the political power and class conflict dimensions to these moral conflicts, as well as the specific ways human rights are being used by domestic human rights activists, by domestic and foreign governments and by international organizations and humanitarian groups. For the general debates about universalism in the context of cultural diversity (which are relevant for attempts to build a “world community” as a precondition of any world state), Ricoeur proposed the notion of a “regulative universal”: [T]he distinction between a constitutive universal and a regulative universal offers a resource because it allows us to seek a point of intersection between founding on the basis of mutual recognition and the absence of an ultimate ground of this mutual play of recognition; starting from the absence of the ultimate character of a purely historical constitutive principle, the necessity arises of a universal that is solely regulative. (1998: 67) A regulative universal is similar to Kant’s transcendental argument about the conditions of possibility for any phenomena. As examples of regulative universals, Ricoeur gave Kant’s theory of law (which is derived from the fact of “unsocial sociability” of humans), Kant’s right of universal hospitality (which is derived from the fact that we share a finite planet), and the need of the state for legitimacy (which is derived from the fact that the state has the monopoly on violence).

Ideals versus reality in history The question that naturally arises at this point is whether or not there is any evidence that either ideals or a mixture of ideals and realism are actual influences on the course of history. This seems to be the position that Martin Wight adopted in an essay on “western values” in international relations:

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[I]t assumes that moral standards can be upheld without the heavens falling. And it assumes that the fabric of social and political life will be maintained, without accepting the doctrine that to preserve it any measures are permissible. For it assumes that the upholding of moral standards will in itself tend to strengthen the fabric of political life. These assumptions seem to lie within the province of philosophy of history, or belief in Providence. (Wight 1966b: 130–1) Wight believed “there is no international theory except the kind of rumination about human destiny to which we give the unsatisfactory name of philosophy of history” (1966c: 33). As examples of philosophy of history, he included Kant’s notion of progress, Grotius’s laws of war, and Joseph de Maistre’s “political theology.” Maistre’s vision of the earth as an immense altar on which humans are sacrificed until the end of the world, Wight suggested, might be how human affairs would look to an “extra-galactic examiner.”16 It has been suggested (Hall 2006) that Wight, a pacifist Christian, agreed with Maistre. Schmitt probably agreed too. For many conservatives, history is determined by ideas and ideals, but is usually seen in terms of decline. For these theorists, some point in the past represents the achievement of the true faith or enlightenment: the pre-Socratics (Heidegger), the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle (Strauss), Christianity (Voegelin), or the synthesis of Aristotle and Christianity by Thomas Aquinas (the Catholic Church, MacIntyre). In response, liberals usually stress progress, and instead of ideas, “material” factors, particularly technology, as the causal factors in history (Landes 1969; Friedmann 1999). Technology frees individuals from “necessity” and, as Schmitt said, “neutralizes” conflicts, which can allow for moral progress, including more generous and individualistic ideals. Probably the most direct attempt to see history in terms of the interaction of idealism and realism was neoconservative Samuel Huntington’s American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony (1983). Huntington argued that Americans were idealists and this motivated them to act politically. However, idealism inevitably had to give way to the realities of persisting hierarchies of wealth and power. Nevertheless, the ideals were positive things that made America a better place. But realism always wins. In contrast, it was the hard-boiled realist Weber who, while an adherent of Bismarck’s view of politics as the “art of the possible,” and who believed that politics was mostly the “slow boring of hard boards,” noted that frequently “the possible” required aspiration toward the “impossible” in order to succeed: “It is absolutely true, and our entire historical experience confirms it, that what is possible could never have been achieved unless people had tried again and again to achieve the impossible in this world” (1946c: 93 or 2004a: 93). Weber felt strongly enough about this that he repeated it in his methodological essay on “Value Freedom” (2012b: 318 or 1949a: 23–4). He believed that important events in history were made by extraordinary

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individuals—all those religious prophets, metaphysicians, and Protestant ascetics who, by following their idealist “ethics of conviction,” introduced “meaning” into human life. Something like this view of history seems to be behind Alain Badiou’s notion of the “event.” As a Christian, Ricoeur understood the significance of the “event.” But the Hegelian in him was intrigued by Hegel’s idea of a “struggle for recognition” as the “motor” of history that Alexandre Kojeve (1969) had popularized in the 1950s and which Kojeve claimed would inevitably result in the “universal homogeneous state” as the only institution that would “recognize” everyone. Fukuyama (1989, 1992) revived it for the post-Cold War world. The struggle for recognition as the motor of history was utilized by Alexander Wendt (2003) for his “teleological” argument in favor of the “inevitability” of a world state. Recognition was also revived to interpret multiculturalism and identity politics (Taylor 1992; Honneth 1995). Ricoeur believed recognition was a better alternative than demands for “identity”: The term “recognition” seems to me much more important than that of “identity” which is the focus most of the time of the debate on multiculturalism. In the notion of identity there is only the idea of sameness; whereas recognition is a concept that directly integrates otherness and allows a dialectic of the same and the other. The demand of identity always involves something violent with respect to others. On the contrary, the search for recognition implies reciprocity. (1998: 60) In his last published lectures before his death, The Course of Recognition (2005, 3rd lecture), Ricoeur tried to develop a non-conflictual account of the process of mutual recognition. It was meant to supplement the violent Hegelian account as a non-violent alternative. But, in the end, Ricoeur remained a Christian. In an essay on Christianity and the meaning of history (1964a), Ricoeur argued that history looks progressive from the point of view of technology, the accumulation of knowledge, and other material factors. Looked at morally and politically, history was ambiguous. From the Christian perspective, there was a third possibility, which was hope for moral and political progress. This could never be guaranteed and so remained an article of faith. Whether the reality is progress, “teleology,” the “cunning of reason,” Providence, or fortunate results of attempts to achieve the impossible, we could probably use whatever help we can get if the human race is going to survive.

Notes 1 Important studies of Ricoeur’s political theory are Dauenhauer (1998), Klemm and Schweiker (1993), Kaplan (2003), and Johnson and Stiver (2013).

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2 I have also found myself struck by the “detachability” of Ricoeur’s political theory from his “philosophical anthropology” (a trait also noticed by Dauenhauer 1998), which seems to derive from Ricoeur’s adoption (from Eric Weil 1998) of Hegel’s theory of the state for his conception of politics. 3 Ricoeur’s “The Political Paradox” has also been reprinted in Connolly (1984b), in Jung (1972), and in abbreviated form as “Power and State” (1958) and in Howe (1986). 4 “The state appears as what is desired by individuals so as to realize their freedom: viz., a rational, universal organization of freedom” and “the state founds freedom by means of its rationality” (1964c: 254, 270). The translator rendered Ricoeur’s le politique as “polity.” In the following quotes I have taken the liberty of substituting “the political” for polity. 5 Weil’s 1950 book was cited in Ricoeur (1964c: 254). Elsewhere (1992: 255) Ricoeur wrote, “Might I add that I am interpreting the Hegelian theory of the state, following Eric Weil, as a theory of the liberal state, to the extent that its centerpiece is the idea of a constitution? In this sense, Hegel’s political project has not been superseded by history and, for the most part, has not yet been realized.” 6 Steinberger calls this metaphysics the “Kantian convergence” common to all modern philosophy after Kant’s “Copernican revolution,” but he cites in particular Strawson (1992) and Laurence and Macdonald (1998). 7 Connolly and Honig’s “paradox of politics” is Rousseau’s paradox of foundation, where “the effect must become the cause” (in Social Contract, Book 2, Chapter 7, on the lawgiver), but Connolly seems to have come to Rousseau’s paradox through Ricoeur’s “The Political Paradox.” See Best and Connolly (1982: 233 note 26), Connolly (1981: 209 note 21, which refers to both Ricoeur and Rousseau), Connolly (1984b, which includes Ricoeur’s essay as an explicit foil to Kateb, Habermas, Foucault, and himself), and Connolly (1995, especially 138–9 on Ricoeur’s political paradox). 8 I classify these theories as variations on the second side of Ricoeur’s political paradox (the “rational” turns out to be real, all too real) because it is not clear that these theorists endorse the first side (the real state is rational). 9 The adoption of Emmanual Levinas’s ethics (1969) by deconstructionist and poststructuralist writers was a response to the criticism that these theories lacked an ethics (Critchley 1992). Depending on how it is interpreted, Levinas’s ethics of the Other derives from either the religious or intellectual sphere. It is striking that most poststructuralist writers (and Levinas himself) do not see its resemblance to the “love” versus “justice” themes of Christian writers. They seem to believe that shifting from a western, metaphysical “ontology of Being” to a Levinasian “ethics of the Other” somehow dispenses with these problems. But then they reinvent all the problems discussed here when it comes to applying this “an-archical” ethics to justice and politics in a state. See Simmons (1999). Critchley, however, has subsequently concluded (2004) that an “an-archical” Levinasian ethics entails anarchist politics. 10 Whether or not their formulation of Augustine is accurate, it is close to Schmitt’s authoritarian interpretation of Christianity. For Schmitt, ethics was derived from authority, the will of God. End of discussion. 11 For example, Ricoeur’s magnum opus, Oneself as Another (1992) begins with Nietzsche’s criticism of the Cartesian ego and ends with Nietzsche’s critique of the “bad conscience.” 12 “If I do not understand what it means for me to be free, I could not will it for others” (1978: 178). Ricoeur was siding with Husserl against Levinas; see Oneself as Another, which is a kind of answer to Otherwise than Being (for example 335–40, 355). The distinction between ethics and morality and the sequence moving from ethics to

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13 14



morality to law is in both Ricoeur 1978 and 1992. The phrase “Kantian temptation” is from 1978: 177. Derrida (2005b: 138) calls Levinas’s ethics an “ethics of ethics.” The distinction between a Nietzschean ethic of generosity and a Levinasian ethic of obligation is drawn by Connolly (1995: 202 note 13 and 234 note 38), who sees them as complementary. For an example of the potential hostility between the two positions see Caputo (1997), where Caputo celebrates what he interprets as Derrida’s shift from (bad) Nietzsche to (good) Levinas. Humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders provide aid during emergencies, whether natural disasters or wars. Human rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International monitor the treatment of individuals by governments. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is a UN humanitarian organization under the authority of the Security Council. Wight (1966b: 33–4). Wight cites the 7th dialogue in Maistre’s St. Petersburg Dialogues.


The Polis

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It is human worldliness that will save men from the pitfalls of human nature. Hannah Arendt (1965: 174)

Hannah Arendt (1903–75) developed a concept of the political derived from the ancient Greek polis and Roman res publica, which she saw as an alternative to the statist conception of the political of Weber, Schmitt, and Ricoeur. This poliscentered conception of the political is the subject of this chapter and Chapter 6, on Wolin. It revives the ancient Greek notion of politics as “the good life” and understands freedom as participation in government. Arendt’s political theory is the most sustained attempt to assert the dignity of the political realm against its innumerable detractors. Against the philosophers’ solitude and preoccupation with contemplation, death, and eternity, she asserted human plurality and the human capacity for action, birth, and immortality. Against Augustine’s denigration of the world and the Christian quest for personal salvation, she upheld the dignity of the secular realm and preoccupation with this world and its future. Against the romantic quest for self‑realization and subjective “experience,” she argued for the involuntary disclosure of the self in action and the “objectivity” provided by the “perspective of the world.” Against feminists, she replied “vive la difference.” Against the state tradition endorsed by Weber, Schmitt, and Ricoeur, with its sovereign violence and delegation of citizenship to representatives, she pitted the republican or civic humanist tradition, with its federal principle and direct participation. Against liberals and socialists, she affirmed the “public happiness” of the “citoyen” in contrast to both the civil liberties and private interests of the “bourgeois” and the social egalitarianism and welfare needs of the “proletarian.” Against conservatives, she claimed that “the Tradition” has long been irrelevant and that authority can only be restored by

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revolution. Against the revolutionaries, she limited the purpose of revolution to constitution making, rather than social transformation. Arendt’s innumerable “distinctions” and her unique mixture of radicalism and conservatism inspire and frustrate many readers. Her uniqueness means that, although she has many admirers, she has no true disciples (there are no “Arendtians”).1 Virtually all readers reject her sharp distinction between public and private with its corollary distinction between the political and “the social.” Nevertheless it is her delineation of an alternative typology of what can be called “modes” of “existence” (thought/action; self/world; eternity/immortality; resentment/gratitude) and modes of “sociality” ( political, public, social, private, intimate, or personal) that excites interest. This chapter examines the relationship between the political, the state, and Arendt’s other distinctions between public, private, social, and personal ( part I), the asymmetry between the political and philosophy ( part II), and attempts, both historical and contemporary, to realize the ideal of politics as the “good life” (part III).

I The political against the state and society Arendt’s concept of the political was based on a contrast between a polis or res publica, in which the citizens act together in managing their own affairs, and a state, which was based on the monopoly of violence and on the idea “that the essence of politics is rulership and that the dominant political passion is the passion to rule or to govern” (1965: 280). From this premise of domination, according to Arendt, theorists of the state tradition in western political thought believed it was superfluous to distinguish between power, authority, force, and violence because they believed these words were simply synonyms for domination (1972b: 142). Arendt’s initial conception of politics, however, derived from the French Radical tradition.

Citoyen and bourgeois Arendt’s first major work of political theory was her 1951 The Origins of Totalitarianism (1958b), which was an account of the rise and fall of the nation-state and its degeneration into imperialism and then totalitarianism (the latter of which, influenced by Montesquieu, she considered a novel “form of government”).2 Arendt viewed politics in this book from the political perspective of French Jacobinism and Radicalism and the book was organized around the struggle between the civic-minded “citoyen” and the private-minded “bourgeois.”3 Unfortunately, the bourgeois prevailed, and this “type” proceeded both to unleash the global politics of imperialist expansion (with its racism and “boomerang” effects of bringing imperial techniques of rule back to the homeland) and to degenerate into the “philistine,” the docile private family man who would do “anything” for his family and who was the most consistent source of recruitment

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for Himmler’s SS. Unlike most theorists of totalitarianism, who blamed it (variously) on democracy, radical ideologies, the state, Machiavelli, Weberian positivism, or the loss of religion, Arendt saw totalitarianism as the “crystallization” of elements from the “subterranean” stream of European culture: anti-Semitism, racism, resentment of differences and of what cannot be changed, imperialism, fascination with crime, and the nihilism produced by World War I and the collapse of the class system after the war. But instead of calling for a halt to, or limitations on, politics (as did most theorists of totalitarianism), Arendt called for a renewal of the original ideal of the citizen and participation in politics. Arendt’s “Jacobin-Radical” conception of politics and citizenship produced one of her most original ideas. This was the need for a fundamental human “right to have rights”—a right to citizenship under a moderate (constitutional) government— as opposed to the idea of natural “human rights” (1958b: 296–7). Citizenship, not humanity, was the fundamental identity needed to survive in a world of states, as was proved by the plight of refugees and “stateless” persons (which Arendt had experienced after she fled Nazi Germany). Without the protection of a moderate government, mere human beings (despite appeals to their natural human rights) were reduced to the status of “surplus” creatures, despised and considered expendable. In this sense of conditions for sheer human survival, The Origins of Totalitarianism presented politics as the most important realm or sphere of activity. A similar idea can be found in Walzer’s Spheres of Justice (1983), where “statelessness” is an “infinite danger” and “membership” in a political community is the precondition of any justice.

The good life of politics In The Human Condition (1958a), Arendt replaced Radicalism with a conception of “the political” inspired by the ancient Greeks, a people who had believed that politics was the best way of life. As she later wrote, in “What is Freedom?” (1968f ): To use the word “political” in the sense of the Greek polis is neither arbitrary nor far-fetched. Not only etymologically and not only for the learned does the very word, which in all European languages still derives from the historically unique organization of the Greek city-state, echo the experiences of the community which first discovered the essence and the realm of the political. It is indeed difficult and even misleading to talk about politics and its innermost principles without drawing to some extent upon the experiences of Greek and Roman antiquity, and this for no other reason than that men have never, either before or after, thought so highly of political activity and bestowed so much dignity upon its realm. (154)

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For Arendt, the meaning and value of politics was freedom, where freedom was understood as virtuosity (excellence in performance), action in concert, and the ability to initiate something new and memorable (154). Virtuosity derived from the human “desire to excel another” or distinguish oneself, a passion that Arendt believed was different from ambition or the desire for power.4 Arendt defined “the political” as the public realm of freedom, understood in these senses of freedom: If, then, we understand the political in the sense of the polis, its end or raison d’être would be to establish and keep in existence a space where freedom as virtuosity can appear. This is the realm where freedom is a worldly reality, tangible in words which can be heard, in deeds which can be seen, and in events which are talked about, remembered, and turned into stories before they are finally incorporated into the great storybook of human history. Whatever occurs in this space of appearances is political by definition, even when it is not a direct product of action. What remains outside it, such as the great feats of barbarian empires, may be impressive and noteworthy, but it is not political, strictly speaking. (1968f: 154–5) The purpose of the political “space” was to make freedom tangible. To be free meant to be able to act in concert with others by participating in politics. As Arendt wrote in On Revolution (1965: 221), “For political freedom, generally speaking, means the right ‘to be a participator in government,’ or it means nothing.” Participation in politics generated “public happiness,” the enjoyment of “the discussions, the deliberations, and the making of decisions” (115). Thomas Jefferson went so far as to imagine the afterlife as a Congress, in which political actors took their seats alongside the statesmen of other times and places, to debate issues and receive their peers’ and the world’s acclaim. About Jefferson’s political image of heaven as a perpetual Congress, Arendt commented: Here, behind the irony, we have the candid admission that life in Congress, the joys of discourse, of legislation, of transacting business, of persuading and being persuaded, were to Jefferson no less conclusively a foretaste of an eternal bliss to come than the delights of contemplation had been for medieval piety. For even “the seal of approbation” is not at all the common reward for virtue in a future state; it is the applause, the demonstration of acclaim, “the esteem of the world” of which Jefferson in another context says that there had been a time when it “was of higher value in my eye than everything in it.” (128) According to Arendt, action (which included deliberation, legislation, and persuasion) was an end in itself and it was precisely the mistake of the western

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tradition of political philosophy to substitute making for action in its conception of politics. This inevitably turned politics into an instrument of something higher: The substitution of making for acting and the concomitant degradation of politics into a means to obtain an allegedly “higher” end—in antiquity the protection of the good men from the rule of the bad in general, and the safety of the philosopher in particular, in the Middle Ages the salvation of souls, in the modern age the productivity and progress of society—is as old as the tradition of political philosophy. (1958a: 229) Alongside her reorientation of politics to direct participation by citizens, Arendt attempted to redefine the political so that it excluded both violence and the friend/enemy distinction.5 Politics was about persuasion. Political power was not “power over” (domination), but the ability to act in concert: “Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together. When we say of somebody that he is ‘in power’ we actually refer to his being empowered by a certain number of people to act in their name” (1972b: 143). Power excluded violence, according to Arendt. Arendt conceded that, in reality, power and violence were often intertwined, but she believed that power and violence were opposites, that the use of violence destroyed power and that it was the loss of power (the ability to act in concert) that tempted people, whether tyrants, governments, or protest groups, to resort to violence (153). She believed the rhetoric of violence that prevailed at the end of the 1960s reflected the decline of spaces for the exercise of power. This lack of space for power, characteristic of the modern bureaucratic state and the corporate economy (which together instituted what Arendt called the bureaucratic “rule of nobody”) was in fact the condition that triggered the rebellions of the 1960s. What people sought, in Arendt’s view, was power and, implicitly, an alternative conception of the political to the statist conception. Finally, against the eternal natural cycle of birth and decay, and the relentless sway of “necessity” or “determinism” over most human activities, Arendt believed action in concert involved the freedom to begin something new and the power to carry it out. The actions that freedom began had the character of being beyond the control of the participants. The action of founding a republic, for example, would continue long after the founders had died. No one could foresee the end result. In her writings after The Human Condition, particularly On Revolution (1965) and the essays collected in Between Past and Future (1968a–f), Arendt incorporated the Roman experience of foundation into her Greek conception of the political in order to ensure the permanence of free political institutions. For the Romans, “once something has been founded it remains binding for all future generations”

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(1968e: 120). Thus, whereas the Greeks considered foundation and legislation to be prepolitical, the Romans saw foundation as “the central political action, the one great deed that established the public-political realm and made politics possible” (139). As her frequent use of the term “public-political” indicates, Arendt attempted to combine the experiences of the Greek polis and Roman res publica (1958a: 12, 28; 1968e: 101, 104, 137, 139). The act of foundation created authority, which gave stability to the world. According to Arendt, authority is compatible with freedom because authority is conferred on those who are willing to take responsibility for the world (1968c). The modern revolutions, on her view, were attempts to reestablish this stabilizing mechanism of authority. It was this concern for worldly duration that, according to Arendt, motivated political thinkers like Harrington, Montesquieu, and modern revolutionaries: And this spirit of the modern age, interestingly and significantly enough, was preoccupied, from the beginning, with the stability and durability of a purely secular, worldly realm … it is as though men wished to establish a world which could be trusted to last forever, precisely because they knew how novel everything was that their age attempted to do. Hence, the republican form of government recommended itself to the pre-revolutionary political thinkers not because of its egalitarian character … but because of its promise of great durability. (1965: 226–7, 232–4) The problem for Arendt was that all these political experiences had been forgotten since the time of ancient Greece and Rome because political thinking had been captured by the philosophers, who were hostile to politics, and who sought to redirect political impulses into the statist conception of politics as ruling. Periodically (as happened during the American and French Revolutions), political actors rediscovered authentic politics and the happiness that was involved in acting in concert with others to initiate something new. But even during these periods, these fresh political experiences were quickly assimilated to the older political vocabularies and concepts and thus forgotten or distorted.6 It was thus extremely difficult both to understand genuine political experiences and to revive and preserve them. Accordingly, modern revolutions such as the American one were successful in creating the moderate constitutional government Arendt had upheld in The Origins of Totalitarianism as the essential conditions for human survival and the enjoyment of civil liberties. But they had been unable to preserve the essentially political experiences of participation in government and action and the public happiness therein. Arendt imagined as a remedy a “new type of republican government” that she called “council government,” which was a system of small face-to-face councils that would be self-selecting and that would federate into higher regional and

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national units (1965: 271, 1958a: 215–17, 1972c: 231–3). These councils, soviets, popular societies, workers’ associations, etc. had formed spontaneously in the wake of every revolution and represented those relatively few people who desired to participate as citizens in the “public happiness”: [T]hose who organized themselves were those who cared and those who took the initiative; they were the political elite of the people brought into the open by the revolution. From these elementary republics, the councilmen then chose their deputies for the next higher council, and these deputies, again, were selected by their peers … Their title rested on nothing but the confidence of their equals … No doubt this form of government, if fully developed, would have assumed again the shape of a pyramid, which, of course, is the shape of an authoritarian government. But while, in all authoritarian government we know of, authority is filtered down from above, in this case authority would have been generated neither at the top nor at the bottom, but on each of the pyramid’s layers; and this obviously could constitute the solution to one of the most serious problems of all modern politics, which is not how to reconcile freedom and authority, but how to reconcile equality and authority. (1965: 282–3) Arendt’s council government was “aristocratic” in the sense that it was not based on universal suffrage and consisted only of “the political elite of the people” who were interested enough in politics to participate.7 For the rest, they were free to enjoy the traditional sense of freedom as freedom from politics (1965: 284). Arendt never made clear how these councils, which preserved participation in government, would relate if their federated “authority” failed to induce compliance by the other councils, or how council government itself might relate to the moderate constitutional governments that were the main achievements of modern revolutions. Furthermore, when confronted by critics with the fact that most of the “action” of Greek politics consisted of deliberations about war against other Greek city-states, Arendt admitted (1979) she had no alternative account of what people should do in concert. Instead, she had faith that, once established, people would find a good use for the councils.

Public, private, and social Behind Arendt’s elevation of politics to the highest activity, or the “good life,” was a larger vision of a plurality of different activities that humans were capable of, or needed to perform (such as labor and work, as well as action), and her conviction that every human activity has a proper “location” (1958a: 73). The activity of politics might be highest, but its scope was limited to things that humans can actually change:

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[T]his whole sphere, its greatness notwithstanding, is limited … [I]t does not encompass the whole of man’s and the world’s existence. It is limited by those things which men cannot change at will. And it is only by respecting its own border that this realm, where we are free to act and to change, can remain intact, preserving its integrity and keeping its promises. (1968c: 263–4) Most things cannot be changed, or cannot be changed without destroying other important things. The political realm was best seen as an island of freedom in a sea of necessity, or an oasis in the desert: Freedom, wherever it existed as a tangible reality, has always been spatially limited … Freedom in a positive sense is possible only among equals, and equality itself is by no means a universally valid principle but, again, applicable only with limitations and even within spatial limits. If we equate these spaces of freedom … with the political realm itself, we shall be inclined to think of them as islands in a sea or as oases in a desert. (1965: 279) Besides the political realm, Arendt distinguished, in her The Human Condition (1958a), a public realm, the world, a private sphere, an intimate sphere, and a hybrid of public and private that she called “the social.” As noted above, sometimes “political” and “public” were the same for Arendt. But the public realm was broader and included “the world” insofar as it was a common world shared by everyone (1958a: 52–3). The “world,” in Arendt’s terminology, was not the earth or nature. It was the “human artifice,” the material artifacts of civilization (such as cities, cultural objects like art and literature, public institutions such as states, museums, schools, and churches), and the human “affairs” (works, words, and deeds) “which go on among those who inhabit the man-made world together” (52). The chief characteristics of the world were tangibility and durability, in contrast to the natural cycle of birth and decay. Tangibility referred to the reality of appearances: “For us, appearance—something that is being seen and heard by others as well as by ourselves—constitutes reality” (50). Sometimes she seemed to equate “politics in the deepest sense of the word” with worldliness, so that Gotthold Lessing, who never ventured into the political realm but who wrote about friendship and the world, was designated a political thinker (1983b: 30).8 The public realm was the space of appearances that illuminated human actions, subjecting them to the “bright light” of publicity (1958a: 50–1). According to Arendt, it was the public realm that was the place where reality was most “objective” because it was guaranteed by people’s multiple or plural perspectives on the same objects (57–8). In her essay on school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas (her first attempt to apply her categories to modern society), she included public schools, public transportation, and businesses like restaurants and hotels

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in her definition of the public (1959: 52, reprinted in 2000). Culture was also an important component of the public realm, which shared with the political the characteristics of freedom and worldliness.9 Alongside this conception of the public was Arendt’s conception of the private realm. Arendt’s distinction between the public and private realms was based on the distinction between the realm of freedom and the realm of necessity (1958a: 73). The activity of labor and the condition of life were driven by necessity. Action, the activity of beginning something new with others, and plurality, the multiplicity and uniqueness of human beings that allows for action and speech, belonged to the realm of freedom. Work and worldliness were the transition points between freedom and necessity: the violence of fabrication wrested freedom from necessity by creating a “world” of durable objects that could survive the natural cycle of birth and decay. The other antitheses represented by public and private were permanence and utility, and honor and shame. According to Arendt, the private realm was initially defined as “privative,” the quality of being deprived of the privilege of public life and the presence of others (1958a: 58). More generally, it was defined by what is hidden, all those activities that should not be exposed in public (73). But private property gave individuals a place in the world, a material means to support their participation in public life, and a refuge from the harsh exposure of publicity. “A life spent entirely in public” would be “shallow,” she wrote (71). The Romans understood this better than the politically preoccupied Greeks: The full development of the life of hearth and family into an inner and private space we owe to the extraordinary political sense of the Roman people who, unlike the Greeks, never sacrificed the private to the public, but on the contrary understood that these two realms could exist only in the form of coexistence. (59) Like Aristotle, Arendt distinguished private property from wealth. Property gave individuals independence and served as a limit on the public realm. The pursuit of wealth, however, drew individuals away from public life. Eventually, a society of individuals in pursuit of wealth diverted public institutions toward helping individuals increase and protect their wealth. Arendt viewed capitalism as a process of continuous expropriation that also expropriated private property and transformed modern societies into societies of laborers without property, or a society of “jobholders” (1958a: 46, 51, 116, 219, 319, 322). Arendt also distinguished the private realm from intimacy. Arendt understood “intimacy” as a modern response to the oppressiveness of society (1958a: 38–9, 69). But (as with her term “public-political”) Arendt often referred to “the private and intimate” as a pair (47, 50, 70, 210). In her essay on school desegregation, for example, she distinguished between a “social sphere” and “the political

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and personal sphere” (1959: 51). Here “the personal sphere” was the same as the private sphere. But intimacy was concerned with “the passions of the heart, the thoughts of the mind, the delights of the senses” (1958a: 50). Its attraction was that intimacy “will always greatly intensify and enrich the whole scale of subjective emotions and private feelings” (50). Its defect, as Arendt showed in her biography of the German Jewish romantic, Rahel Varnhagen (1974), was that intimacy lacks the reality provided by the world. However, there are “dark times” when the public realm was corrupted by what Arendt called “the establishment” or “the system” and by “the highly efficient talk and double-talk of nearly all official representatives”: If it is the function of the public realm to throw light on the affairs of men by providing a space of appearances in which they can show in deed and word, for better and worse, who they are and what they can do, then darkness has come when this light is extinguished by “credibility gaps” and “invisible government,” by speech that does not disclose what is but sweeps it under the carpet, by exhortations, moral and otherwise, that, under the pretext of upholding old truths, degrade all truth to meaningless triviality. (1983c: viii) During these dark times, which included times of government persecution, it was reasonable for individuals to withdraw into private life. But as Arendt argued in her Lessing essay, this withdrawal did not have to exclude worldliness: Flight from the world in dark times of impotence can always be justified as long as reality is not ignored, but is constantly acknowledged as the thing that must be escaped. When people choose this alternative, private life too can retain a by no means insignificant reality, even though it remains impotent. Only it is essential for them to realize that the realness of this reality consists not in its deeply personal note, any more than it springs from privacy as such, but inheres in the world from which they have escaped. They must remember that they are constantly on the run, and that the world’s reality is actually expressed by their escape. Thus, too, the true force of escapism springs from persecution, and the personal strength of the fugitive increases as the persecution and danger increases. (1983b: 22) “Dark times” characterized most of the twentieth century because the public realm had been conquered by something Arendt called society or “the social.” “Society is the form in which the fact of mutual dependence for the sake of life and nothing else assumes public significance and where the activities connected with sheer survival are permitted to appear in public” (1958a: 46). The social was

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a “hybrid realm where private interests assume public significance” (35): “We know that the contradiction between private and public, typical of the initial stages of the modern age, has been a temporary phenomenon which introduced the utter extinction of the very difference between the private and public realms, the submersion of both in the sphere of the social” (69). It was now “the social rather than the political that constitutes the public realm” (43). The social consisted of “housekeeping activities” (primarily economic activity, but also the managerial and welfare activities surrounding it, as well as the pervasive pressures for conformity, for transforming action into “behavior”). Housekeeping had expanded from its base in the private household into the public realm. “Through society,” Arendt declared, “it is the life process itself which in one form or another has been channeled into the public realm” (45). The insatiable “life process” threatened to devour the “world”—those public objects and practices that had endured the ravages of time (particularly culture), creating a “home” for human beings—as well as eliminating authentic politics and obliterating the very distinction between public and private. Under these conditions the statist conception of the political as ruling or government was altered: “Government, which since the beginning of the modern age had been identified with the total domain of the political, was now considered to be the appointed protector not so much of freedom as of the life process, the interests of society and its individuals” (1968f: 150; see also 1965: 134). This “social” preoccupation with “welfare” and private interests meant that “government has degenerated into mere administration” (1965: 240). Administration meant the bureaucratic “rule of nobody.” Furthermore, according to Arendt, the “rise of the social” was an expression of “alienation” from the world. Arendt conceived “world-alienation” as estrangement from the human artifice and a withdrawal into the “other-world” of philosophy or religion, or else into oneself or into a small circle of friends and family. Descartes’s introspective philosophy was an early example of this worldalienation, according to Arendt, as were Weber’s Protestants, whose “innerworldly asceticism” established the economic underpinnings of capitalist society (1958a: 254). Their “strictly mundane activity” unleashed powerful “life” processes, “an unnatural growth, so to speak, of the natural,” into the artifice of the world (47). These unnatural natural processes aim at transforming everything into sameness. The conformism of society derived from this emancipated life process, which had as its ultimate basis the biological “one-ness of mankind” (1958a: 42 and 38ff.; Arendt used “sameness” at 213, 214). There was also another side of Arendt’s conception of the social that demonstrated this “unnatural natural” drive to conformity. Arendt credited Rousseau with discovering the modern individual in the process of his own rebellion against the conformism of salon society (1958a: 39).10 The members of “high society,” “le monde,” or any clique are expected to conform to unstated and constantly changing group norms:

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Society expects from each of its members a certain kind of behavior, imposing innumerable and various rules, all of which tend to “normalize” its members, to make them behave, to exclude spontaneous action or outstanding achievement. With Rousseau, we find these demands in the salons of high society, whose conventions always equate the individual with his rank within the social framework. What matters is this equation with social status, and it is immaterial whether the framework happens to be actual rank in the half-feudal society of the eighteenth century, title in the class society of the nineteenth, or mere function in the mass society of today. (1958a: 40–1) According to Arendt, hatred of the hypocrisy, exclusiveness, discrimination, and conformity of society was behind the desire for revolution. The revolutionaries were attracted to the workers, as well as other outcasts, such as Jews and homosexuals, because “they discovered in those who were not admitted to society certain traits of humanity which had become extinct in society” (1968b: 200).11 Arendt’s ideas about the conformism of society determined her attitude toward equality and contributed to her rejection of a politics aimed at “social” justice.12 Equality could be attained in society in her view only through assimilation, that is, through conformity. Beyond the injuries to the self that assimilation through conformity requires, however, Arendt believed there lay something worse, a terrifying paradox at the heart of equality/conformity: “the more equal people have become in every respect, and the more equality permeates the whole texture of society, the more will differences be resented, the more conspicuous will those become who are visibly and by nature unlike the others” (1959: 48; see also 1958b: 54–5). Equality as assimilation was thus an impossible goal. Because there will be so many similarities between people once conditions are equalized, the differences that remain will be exaggerated, interpreted as “abnormal,” and “mistaken for an innate quality,” part of the biological make-up of the different individual (1958b: 54). Individuals will be discriminated against on the basis of skin color or alleged racial characteristics, as were blacks and Jews. Rather than trying to transform “the social” into something more benign, Arendt seems to have developed her distinctions between public and private, and between social and intimate (or personal) spheres, as ways to “check and balance” the defects of each sphere. The individual who is frustrated or oppressed in one sphere can escape or fulfill herself in other spheres. Given Arendt’s gloomy view of the social sphere, the best that could happen was for individuals to defend themselves through activity in either political life or private life. Frontal assaults on “society,” such as socialism, feminism, or what we would today call “identity politics,” were futile and/or counterproductive in her view. But whenever they returned from public or private life to society or work life, citizens or private

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individuals would enter the world of social discrimination and identity conflicts. The best they could do there, on the Arendtian view, would be to live their lives as best they could, not as abstract individuals but as conscious pariahs. Despite her appeal to politics and its public happiness, the Arendtian view of life is a pessimistic one: life is dominated by economic exploitation and social conformity and political and public life are usually dominated by “dark times,” in which corruption prevails and the “light of publicity” obscures more than it reveals. What redeems life are the intimate pleasures of friendship and family and those moments (such as the 1960s) when large numbers of citizens participate in politics and rediscover “public happiness.” As she concluded in On Revolution, what redeems life’s burdens is “the polis, the space of men’s free deeds and living words, which could endow life with splendor” (1965: 285).

II Philosophy and the political If Arendt’s politics and her various spatial “realms” were attempts to provide alternatives to the conformism and oppression of social life, behind these “social” concerns was an “existential” predicament. At the end of the first edition of the Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt presented the issue facing human beings as a choice between “resentment and gratitude as basic possible modern attitudes” (1951: 438). The lesson of totalitarianism was that its frightening combination of consistency and arbitrariness, and its production and murder of “superfluous” peoples, was ultimately due to a fundamental resentment against nature and existence that totalitarianism shared with modern European culture: Modern man has come to resent everything given, even his own existence—to resent the very fact that he is not the creator of the universe and himself. In this fundamental resentment, he refuses to see rhyme or reason in the given world. In his resentment of all laws merely given to him, he proclaims openly that everything is permitted and believes secretly that everything is possible. And since he knows that he is a law-creating being, and that his task, according to all standards of past history, is “superhuman,” he resents even his nihilistic convictions, as though they were forced upon him by some cruel joke of the devil. (1951: 438) Arendt’s writings can be interpreted as a working out of a political alternative to resentment. But this meant contesting modern European culture, and particularly philosophy, with its preoccupation with the “self” and its denigration of the “world.”

Against philosophy and the self Both The Human Condition and Arendt’s unfinished Life of the Mind (1978b) were based on the distinction between the “contemplative life” of philosophy and the

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“active life” of politics, work, and labor (1958a: 12–17).13 This distinction derived not from the nature of things, but from a specific historical quarrel in ancient Greece: “the trial of Socrates and the conflict between the philosopher and the polis” (1958a: 12). The philosophers distrusted action because it was unpredictable, irreversible, and anonymous (220, 185, 222). The philosophers won the quarrel and their interpretation of reality (the superiority of thought over action, theory over practice, philosophy over politics) became decisive for western civilization and political philosophy.14 Thus, according to Arendt in “What Is Authority?” (1968e), the preoccupation of political theorists with metaphysics (which we have discussed in the chapters on Weber, Schmitt, and Ricoeur as part of the statist tradition of politics) was really a means for philosophers to rule political life through authority, by transforming the philosophical “ideas” from objects of beauty and contemplation into moral and metaphysical standards (backed up by the threat of punishment in the afterlife) for regulating human conduct. Arendt’s essay explicitly contested Heidegger’s “Plato’s Doctrine of Truth” (1962b) (which she claimed overlooked the political context of the Cave Parable in Plato’s Republic in which Plato altered his conception of truth for political purposes) and it implicitly demonstrated that Strauss’s natural law (1953) was an “exoteric” method for philosophers to rule. For both Heidegger and Strauss, the destiny of the west was tied to philosophy. For Arendt it was tied to politics. Arendt believed that the “crisis of the present world is primarily political, and that the famous ‘decline of the West’ consists primarily in the decline of the Roman trinity of religion, tradition, and authority, with the concomitant undermining of the specifically Roman foundations of the political realm” (1968e: 140). As we noted earlier, Arendt believed that modern revolutions were attempts to reestablish the stabilizing mechanism of Roman authority. Behind the quarrel between the philosophical and political ways of life were two different sets of existential concerns. According to Arendt, the original concern of philosophy was with “eternity,” “the true center of strictly metaphysical thought” (1958a: 20). For Plato and Aristotle, the eternal was “the physical kosmos, which swings in itself in changeless eternity without any interference or assistance from outside” (15). In order to contemplate eternity, the philosopher isolated himself from others and from his own senses. In effect, he was contemplating his own thoughts, the thoughts of his “self.”15 In contrast, the concern of Greek politics was with “immortality,” the desire of mortals “to produce things—works and deeds and words—which would deserve to be and, at least to a degree, are at home in everlastingness, so that through them mortals could find their place in a cosmos where everything is immortal except themselves” (19). In order to achieve immortality, the work or deed or word must be seen or heard and remembered by others— and preserved by subsequent generations. This was the “existential” purpose of the polis and of history, which was originally the record of political deeds (1968a). If the concern of politics was with immortality against the philosopher’s contemplation of eternity, politics also arrayed human “plurality” (the fact that

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human beings exist in the plural with a plurality of different perspectives on a common world) against the isolation of contemplation and its singular point of view. Although Arendt exempted philosophy from blame for the disasters of the twentieth century, she suspected that the philosophers’ bias toward “the One” (the first principle) had some sort of indirect contribution.16 In a letter to Karl Jaspers, she wrote: I suspect that philosophy is not altogether innocent in this fine how-do-youdo. Not, of course, in the sense that Hitler had anything to do with Plato. (One compelling reason why I took such trouble to isolate the elements of totalitarian governments was to show that the Western tradition from Plato up to and including Nietzsche is above any such suspicion.) Instead, perhaps in the sense that Western philosophy has never had a clear concept of what constitutes the political, and couldn’t have one, because, by necessity, it spoke of man the individual and dealt with the fact of plurality tangentially.17 This inability of philosophers to understand human plurality, according to Arendt (1994a: 443), marred even Jaspers’s own communications conception of philosophy because he modeled it on an intimate two-person dialogue between “I and Thou.” If so, the question then was: what does philosophy and the world look like from the perspective of human plurality?

The perspective of the world In the first place, the realm of “opinion” regained its status in relation to the philosophical claim to “knowledge.” Arendt defined opinion as “representative” thinking, “considering a given issue from different viewpoints, by making present to my mind the standpoints of those who are absent” (1968d: 241; see also 1965: 230–1 and 1968b: 220). According to Arendt’s definition of opinion, the process of sifting conflicting views “finally ascends from these particularities to some impartial generality” (1968d: 242). But this impartiality was fundamentally different from the truths of philosophy because, even when I am alone, “I remain in this world of universal interdependence” (242). In the second place, the world, “this world of universal interdependence” regained its status. In The Life of the Mind, which examined the “contemplative life” from the point of view of the “active life,” Arendt generalized the notion of appearance-as-reality and seemed to identify the world with the world of appearances: The world men are born into contains many things, natural and artificial, living and dead, transient and sempiternal, all of which have in common that they appear and hence are meant to be seen, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled, to be perceived by sentient creatures endowed with the appropriate

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sense organs. Nothing could appear, the word “appearance” would make no sense, if recipients of appearances did not exist—living creatures able to acknowledge, recognize, and react to—in flight or desire, approval or disapproval, blame or praise—what is not merely there but appears to them and is meant for their perception … Seen from the perspective of the world, every creature born into it arrives well equipped to deal with a world in which Being and Appearance coincide. (1978b: 19, 20) Being and Appearance coincided because “Nothing and nobody exists in this world whose very being does not presuppose a spectator” (20). The presupposition of a spectator meant that “nothing that is, insofar as it appears, exists in the singular.” There is always more than one. “Plurality is the law of the earth” (19). The “perspective of the world” was the reality of appearances that is guaranteed by a plurality of spectators: “Only where things can be seen by many in a variety of aspects without changing their identity, so that those who are gathered around them know they see sameness in utter diversity, can worldly reality truly and reliably appear” (1958a: 57). The philosophers’ distinction between appearance and being was the first of many “metaphysical fallacies,” according to her, including the identification of thought and being, and the “subjectivizing” of thought and being in Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am.” Along with Arendt’s downgrading of philosophy was her downgrading of “the self.” In part, this seemed to stem from rejecting her own early personal preoccupation with intimacy and romanticism. This was a concern debated in her Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewish Woman (1974), which was a portrait of a woman who was rejected by salon society because she was not wealthy or beautiful and because she was a Jew. At first Rahel responded by withdrawing, Rousseau-like, into romantic introspection (she read Rousseau’s Confessions and signed letters “J.-J. Rahel”). Alone, Rahel could create a world of her own in which she appeared to herself as a pure individual, rather than as a Jew. Eventually, however, realizing that escape was not an option, Rahel learned to cherish not only her Jewish identity but the world. Arendt quoted the following “Arendtian” passage from Rahel’s papers: “The greatest miracle is always this, that after our death the objects of the world continue to exist as they did during our lives; and that life, to that extent, was not pure fantasy” (1974: 226). Only the world guaranteed reality and it was only in relationship to the world that individual identity and “authenticity” were possible. Arendt’s distinctive diagnosis of modernity as the triumph of world alienation, and the participation of philosophy and romanticism in this process, cuts across the usual lines of division in contemporary political theory. From an Arendtian perspective, most of these theories (whether Straussian, post-structuralist, communitarian, etc.) are all “self”‑centered and “world-alienated.” The differences between the two perspectives can be seen at the end of On Revolution where

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Arendt contrasted the twentieth-century poet Rene Char’s experience of politics in the French Resistance with the Greek experience of politics. Char believed he had “‘found himself’” in this experience, and “that he no longer suspected himself of ‘insincerity’” (1965: 285). Char was articulating the modern preoccupation with the self. The Greeks, on the other hand, already knew who they were and they viewed politics as redemption for the burdens of life because it offered them a chance at immortality. This was the Arendtian ideal of worldliness. To see what difference this makes, one need only rephrase Machiavelli’s famous “I love my country more than my soul” in Arendtian terms. According to Arendt, “Machiavelli’s ‘I love my native city more than my soul’ is only a variation of: ‘I love the world and its future more than my life or my self’” (1982: 50): The question, as Machiavelli saw it, was not whether one loved God more than the world, but whether one was capable of loving the world more than one’s own self. And this decision indeed has always been the crucial decision for all who devoted their lives to politics. Most of Machiavelli’s arguments against religion are directed against those who love themselves, namely their own salvation, more than the world; they are not directed against those who really love God more than they love either the world or themselves. (1965: 290 note 20) This subordination of the self to the world is evident in Arendt’s conception of courage, which is the virtue necessary to enter into politics. Courage is not self‑centered: Courage is a big word and I do not mean the daring of adventure which gladly risks life for the sake of being as thoroughly and intensely alive as one can be only in the face of danger. Temerity is no less concerned with life than is cowardice. Courage … does not gratify our individual sense of vitality but is demanded of us by the very nature of the public realm. For this world of ours, because it existed before us and is meant to outlast our lives in it, simply cannot afford to give primary concern to individual lives and the interests connected with them … It requires courage even to leave the protective security of our four walls and enter the public realm, not because of particular dangers which may lie in wait for us, but because we have arrived in a realm where the concern for life has lost its validity. Courage liberates men from their worry about life for the freedom of the world. Courage is indispensable because in politics not life but the world is at stake. (1968f: 156; see also 1958a: 36) When interpreted from the “perspective of the world,” Arendt’s references to virtuosity and performance were not concerned with the actors, political or theatrical, but with the performance itself: “it is not the free creative process

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which finally appears and matters for the world, but the work of art itself, the end product of the process” (1968f: 154). It may be the case that only “aesthetically,” “agonal,” or “selfishly” motivated people like the ancient Greeks perform the greatest deeds (Arendt said envy was their “national vice” (1990: 82)), but if so, their own character is irrelevant from the perspective of the world. What matters is the perspective of the spectators who judge how the deeds of the actors contribute to the world. This world-centered perspective was crucial to Arendt’s conceptions of judgment and ethics. “For judgments of taste, the world is the primary thing, not man, neither man’s life nor his self” (1968b: 222). It is important to notice that Arendt always reinterpreted Kant’s moral and aesthetic ideas from a political perspective, that Arendt believed judgments of taste were not aesthetic, and that taste sets limits on beauty. Similarly, her conception of ethics (a term derived from the Greek ethos, character) and morals (derived from the Latin moralis, customs) was political and world-centered: Both words mean originally no more than customs or manners and then, in an elevated sense, the customs and manners that are most appropriate for the citizen. From the Nicomachean Ethics to Cicero, ethics or morals were part of politics, that part that dealt not with the institution but with the citizen, and all the virtues in Greece or in Rome are definitely political virtues. The question is never whether an individual is good but whether his conduct is good for the world he lives in. In the center of interest is the world and not the self. (1987: 46) Morality, in Arendt’s view, was therefore not a matter of personal conscience, but a relationship to the world. Arendt repeatedly downgraded personal conscience (as in Socrates, Thoreau, and conventional interpretations of civil disobedience (1972a)) as a source for political morality in favor of a world‑centered “Machiavellian” or Weberian response: The political answer to the Socratic proposition [that it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong] would be: What is important in the world is that there be no wrong; suffering wrong and doing wrong are equally bad. Never mind who suffers it; your duty is to prevent it. Or, to invoke for brevity’s sake another famous saying, this time of Machiavelli who precisely for this reason wanted to teach Princes “how not to be good”: writing about Florentine patriots who had dared to defy the Pope, he praised them because they had shown “how much higher they placed their city than their souls.” Where religious language speaks of the soul, secular language speaks of the self. (1987: 47–8)

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Here is Arendt’s equivalent of Weber’s “worldly” ethics of responsibility for resisting evil and her elusive “moral position” (which is not “aesthetic”). Arendt believed in ordinary morality—that is, the usual distinctions of right and wrong. As she noted in a 1965 lecture, “Some Questions of Moral Philosophy” (1994c), her generation had been raised to believe in morality “as a matter of course,” which meant taking it for granted and not “moralizing.” But her assumptions about morality had been challenged by at least three experiences: a post-World War I cynicism that claimed “that cheating is fun, that virtue is boring and moral people are tiresome” (750); the Nazi experience in Germany, where ordinary Germans simply exchanged their old moral habits for new Nazi habits (and then, after the defeat of Nazism, switched back) and where intellectuals, who believed in historical “inevitability,” supported the Nazis not because they agreed with them but because they did not want to be “left behind” by History; and the confusion Americans seem to have about morals, which is their belief that you cannot judge others unless your life has been totally blameless or you have “been there” yourself (and that anyone who does judge is arrogant, a hypocrite, or evil).18 As noted above, Arendt believed the root meaning of “ethics” and “morals” was custom or habit and these were the precarious foundations of most people’s morality. The traditions of western philosophy and religion were also inadequate in her view. The ancient philosophers understood virtue as those intellectual and moral abilities that made for the “good life.” Hence “the problem of making moral propositions obligatory has plagued moral philosophy since its beginning with Socrates” (1994c: 761).19 The moral emphasis on obligation was a product of Christianity and Judaism, where good was what God commanded and morality was obedience to God (753–6). Morality-as-obligation collapsed in the twentieth century with collapse in the belief in God (and belief in hell). Both philosophy and religion, she believed, were also naive about human evil. The philosophers believed evil was a mistake about knowledge or true self-interest. Christianity and Judaism never understood “radical” evil (761–3).20 For Arendt, neither philosophy nor religion could provide “foundations” for morals. Arendt’s antidote to morality-as-habits was “thinking” (the Socratic dialogue of me with myself), which disrupted habitual patterns, introduced the moral predicament of having to “live with yourself,” and awakened the capacity for judgment (1978b: 1990). Against philosophy and religion, Arendt seems to have believed that Greek citizen-morality (described above, modified by Socrates’s dialogue with oneself and Kant’s categorical imperative, reinterpreted politically as self-legislation) was the correct conception of morals and that the exposure of individuals in the public realm could act as a moral constraint. She saw promises and contracts, taking place in the bright “light” of the public realm, as the means for preventing immoral actions. The eighteenth-century American faith in the “perfectibility of man,” according to Arendt, was not a faith in human nature:

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American faith was not at all based on a semi-religious trust in human nature but, on the contrary, on the possibility of checking human nature in its singularity by virtue of common bonds and mutual promises. The hope for man in his singularity lay in the fact that not man but men inhabit the earth and form a world between them. It is human worldliness that will save men from the pitfalls of human nature. (1965: 174) It was this “moral” view of worldliness as saving humans from the vices of human nature that undergirded Arendt’s conception of politics and the public realm and their connection to morality. Ethics so understood, a metaphysics of worldliness and politics thus exist in a relationship of harmony, rather than tension (or asymmetry) in Arendt. The main reason for this is that Arendtian politics is an island of freedom that excludes rule and violence. With this worldly metaphysical background, the specific problem for Arendtian political theory is how to theorize action without distorting it by using concepts derived from philosophy and other non-political experiences. This problem is part of the “asymmetry” of politics and philosophy in the polis-centered tradition. Arendt’s worldly concepts help, but seem to be more a preparation for a truly action-oriented political theory. Lurking in the background, however, is our original problem: resentment.

Gratitude, resentment, and the asymmetry of politics and philosophy At the end of the first edition of The Origins of Totalitarianism, where Arendt declared that gratitude and resentment were the fundamental human choices, Arendt mentioned a political form of gratitude, expressed by the novelist William Faulkner: Generally speaking, such gratitude expects nothing except—in the words of Faulkner—one’s “own one anonymous chance to perform something passionate and brave and austere not just in but into man’s enduring chronicle … in gratitude for the gift of [one’s] time in it.” In the sphere of politics, gratitude emphasizes that we are not alone in the world. We can reconcile ourselves to the variety of mankind, to the differences between human beings—which are frightening precisely because of the essential equality of rights of all men and our consequent responsibility for all deeds and misdeeds committed by people different from ourselves—only through insight into the tremendous bliss that man was created with the power of procreation, that not a single man but Men inhabit the earth. (1951: 438–9)21 One is grateful for being able to participate, however marginally, in “man’s enduring chronicle.” “Existential” resentment against the “given” thus appears to be overcome

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by participating in politics. Arendt’s “metaphysics of worldliness” seems to demolish the old, world-alienated metaphysics and set us right with the world. Unfortunately, that is not the case. For Arendt, both “worldly” civilization and politics were hostile and resentful toward those things that cannot be changed: The more highly developed a civilization, the more accomplished the world it has produced, the more at home men feel within the human artifice—the more they will resent everything they have not produced, everything that is merely and mysteriously given them … Since the Greeks, we have known that highly developed political life breeds a deep-rooted suspicion of [the] private sphere, a deep resentment against the disturbing miracle contained in the fact that each of us is made as he is—single, unique, unchangeable. (1958b: 300–1) The antidote to this kind of resentment was a private gratitude, “a fundamental gratitude for the few elementary things that indeed are invariably given to us, such as life itself, the existence of man and the world” (1951: 438). This theme of private gratitude also appeared in Rahel Varnhagen, in Arendt’s reply to Gershom Scholem regarding her book on Eichmann, and in her essay on Berthold Brecht. Rahel felt grateful at the end of her life to have been born a Jew. This was also the gratitude Arendt professed in her letter to Scholem: “There is such a thing as a basic gratitude for everything that is as it is; for what has been given and was not, could not be, made; for things that are physei and not nomo” (1964: 53–4). In her letter to Scholem, Arendt called this attitude “pre-political.” In The Origins of Totalitarianism (1958b: 301), she wrote that this attitude only flourishes in “the sphere of private life.” Philosophy also involved gratitude, the “speechless wonder of gratitude from which the questions of philosophy spring” (1994a: 445). Arendt found this philosophical gratitude expressed in Heidegger’s association of thinking and thanking (1978b: 185). But for most people the basis of this private gratitude seems to be religious. Arendt, who believed in God, found her gratitude in Augustine’s “Love means that I want you to be.”22 These philosophical and religious statements about gratitude are different in tone from the gratitude toward life Arendt found expressed in Brecht’s poem “Against Temptation”: Do not let them tempt you! There is no recurrence of life. Day stands in the doors; the night wind blows through them: there will be no morrow. How can fear still touch you? You die together with all the animals, and there will be nothing thereafter.

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Commenting on this poem, Arendt wrote “nowhere else in modern literature, it seems to me, is there such a clear understanding that what Nietzsche called ‘the death of God’ does not necessarily lead into despair but, on the contrary, since it eliminates the fear of Hell, can end in sheer jubilation, in a new ‘yes’ to life” (1983a: 333). She continued: Brecht must have grasped this aspect of the matter so readily because he grew up in Catholic surroundings; he obviously thought that anything would be preferable to sitting on earth hoping for Paradise and fearing Hell. What rebelled in him against religion was neither doubt nor desire; it was pride. In his enthusiastic denial of religion and his praise of Baal, the god of the earth, there is an almost explosive gratitude. Nothing, he says, is greater than life, and nothing more has been given us—and such gratitude one will hardly encounter either in the fashionable trend toward nihilism or in the reaction against it. (1983a: 233–4) We should love the fabricated world, plurality, and political action and love what has been “given” to us (by God or Being or nothing) and cannot be changed. But we don’t. Resentment and gratitude flow in two directions: from world alienation to politics and worldliness, and from politics and worldliness to “otherworldly” religion or existential philosophy (Heideggerian or Nietzschean). This is the asymmetry of politics and philosophy or religion in Arendt. It undergirds her idea that each “sphere” of life is limited. Not everything should be worldly or political. Nor should everything be private or otherworldly. But blurring boundaries (as with “the social”) or failing to distinguish are also wrong.

III Republicanism, citizenship, and public life Arendt’s political theory and other theories inspired by the ancient Greek polis or Roman res publica are “utopian” in the sense that they present an alternative concept of politics that is in conflict with contemporary conceptions and practices of politics (which are statist or, as we will see, society-centered), and in the sense that, although they derive this alternative politics from historical institutions (the polis and res publica did exist), these institutions no longer exist (and depended on conditions that no longer exist or ought not to exist). This has meant that theorists who are attracted to these theories are under an intellectual pressure to find evidence for traces of these civic ideals in history or in contemporary social movements, or to try them out in practice (especially if “Arendtian politics” needs to be experienced in action instead of merely theorized). In this third section of the chapter, I discuss Arendt’s influence on and contribution to 1) the republican or civic humanist tradition of political thought and, more generally, the ideal of citizenship, 2) attempts to revive citizenship as a practice or way of life, and 3) the

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appeal of “public life” (Arendtian or otherwise) for those seeking new modes of social interaction and experience in the contemporary world.

Republicanism In an essay on “Republicanism” (2007) for A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, historian of political thought Knud Haakonssen managed to cover this topic without once mentioning Arendt. In contrast, “normative” political theorist Richard Dagger (2004), writing the equivalent article on republicanism and communitarianism for the Handbook of Political Theory, credited Arendt (and Wolin) alongside the historians, for the revival of republicanism. These contrasting accounts reflect a contemporary divide in political theory between historians of political thought, who see themselves as doing “real” history, and political theorists like Arendt, who try to use (the historians would say “distort”) history for “normative” purposes. Nevertheless, in The Machiavellian Moment (1975), which is usually credited with popularizing the tradition of republicanism, or “civic humanism,” historian J.G.A. Pocock implied that the whole book had been influenced by Arendt: “In terms borrowed from or suggested by the language of Hannah Arendt, this book has told part of the story of the revival in the early modern West of the ancient ideal of homo politicus (the zoon politikon of Aristotle), who affirms his being and his virtue by the medium of political action” (550; Dagger also quotes this passage). The Machiavellian Moment described the emergence in Renaissance Florence of a mode of secular historical awareness derived from trying to understand how to maintain or stabilize an idealized republic in the face of an irrational “fortune” (and, later, corruption and commerce). Pocock reconstructed the republican ideal from Aristotle’s Politics, in which man is defined as a “political animal” who realizes his true human nature in citizenship, participating in ruling and being ruled. The setting for citizenship and political activity is the polis or city-state, an entity which is large enough to be “self-sufficient” but not so large as to prevent the participation of all the citizens in ruling and being ruled. Pocock reconstructed Aristotle’s “politea” or “polity,” which blended elements of aristocracy and democracy, as the ideal form of a republic because it maximized the types of citizens (rich/few, poor/many) who can participate and because it does so according to their talents and abilities. Polybius (1979) gave this ideal of a “mixed constitution” a practical twist by arguing that blending democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy prevented the “cycle of governments” (the degeneration of monarchy into a tyranny, then aristocracy, oligarchy, democracy, anarchy, followed by the return of monarchy and a repeat of the cycle) and that the Roman republic succeeded because it had a mixed constitution in its consuls, Senate, and people. The “internal logic” of this republican or civic humanist tradition is a “logic” derived from trying to adhere to this ideal of participation (because men are political

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animals and politics is the best way of life) and from the variety of ways of designing the “mixture” (and for which purposes: participation, representing each social order, harnessing diverse talents and expertise, or “checks and balances”). As Pocock argued, civic humanism led to a “socialization of virtue” because the republic required that every citizen uphold the public interest. The “external” logic of republicanism depended on whether a republic emulated the foreign policy of the republic of Venice, which preserved its independence for centuries by “isolating” itself from other nations, or emulated Rome (recommended by Machiavelli), which conquered all its neighbors and then the Mediterranean world. But in acquiring their empire, the Romans lost their republic, which became a military dictatorship, and so most republican writers preferred the “isolationist” alternative as the best means of preserving the republican ideal. The “republican” notion that empire destroys domestic political institutions (another “logic”) is shared by liberal realists such as Walt (2006), libertarian realists such as Layne (2006), and conservative realists such as Tucker and Hendrickson (1992), as well as by Arendt with her “boomerang” theory of imperialism. Pocock is sometimes considered a civic humanist, but he was always a liberal, and he ended his book with the suggestion that the Arendtian ideal of citizenship, or homo politicus, was too strenuous and austere an ideal—and that modern people reasonably prefer a freedom from politics and its demands (1975: 551–2). But Pocock also believed that western thinkers were always haunted by the Greek political ideal of citizenship, both in the sense that capitalist society seems to privatize too much of life and in the sense that merely legal citizens are mostly powerless to affect the conditions that regulate their lives. In an important survey of the history of western ideas about citizenship, Pocock (1995 or 1998) contrasted the Greek or Aristotelian “political” conception of citizenship (as a relation in which citizens rule and are ruled) with the Roman “legal” conception of citizenship as possessing rights to property, lawsuits, and legal protections. This overlooks Weber’s “realist” account of citizenship in his General Economic History (2003: Chapter 28) and in the section on the city in Economy and Society (1978a: 1212–372). For Weber, ancient and medieval citizenship was acquired by usurpation of rights and privileges, first from tribal and feudal relations, then by the urban “plebians” against the “patricians.” Weber’s revolutionary conception of citizenship and politics (“non-legitimate domination”) is similar to Marxist political theorist Ellen Wood’s (1995, 1996) depiction of Athenian citizenship, in which peasant-soldiers used their political privileges to defend their economic interests. This view of citizenship and politics is instrumental: a means of acquiring privileges and security against aristocrats. Returning to the Roman legal conception of citizenship: it later became the “bourgeois” conception in medieval cities and then (combined with a revival of the Greek notion of rights to some political participation) the modern conception of citizenship. Pocock warned that various “social” conceptions of citizenship threaten to obliterate the distinction between public and private and therefore the

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western ideal of citizenship. The Greek ideal, however, is considered impractical and has been replaced by the more limited political right to elect representatives and to lobby them. Most of the current debates over citizenship (multicultural and transnational citizenship, etc.) involve creative interpretations and variations of the legal conception of citizenship (Beiner 1995; Schaefer 1998). But the political ideal of citizenship continues to haunt modern “bourgeois” citizenship. The first, and most common, argument for the political ideal is a practical form that, as I noted above in respect to Arendt’s “right to have rights” (a “right to citizenship”), makes citizenship an essential condition for survival or for avoiding domination by others. The experience of fascism and totalitarianism revived in a frightening way the notion that man was a “political animal.” For Arendt and Wolin, it seems to have been a warning that if the “citoyen” was stifled by the “bourgeois,” the result would be the perverse expression of the political impulse in totalitarianism.23 Quentin Skinner (1997) and Philip Pettit (1997) have revived a Roman political ideal of republicanism that reconceives liberty as “non-domination,” an ideal that does not require as much political devotion as the civic humanist ideal, but is more politically robust than liberalism because it requires that institutions and citizens actively aim at preventing domination, including domination in the private sphere. As we have seen, Ricoeur saw citizens as beings who must exercise a moral capacity in upholding the public good over private interests and, in Ricoeur (as well as Walzer), the citizen is part of the “sovereign” and has ultimate responsibility for prioritizing (“encompassing”) the various pluralist spheres of life. The second form of the contemporary civic ideal takes its cue from Tocqueville’s warning about the growth of “individualism” in democratic societies: “Individualism” is a word recently coined to express a new idea. Our fathers knew only about egoism. Egoism is a passionate and exaggerated love of self which leads a man to think of all things in terms of himself and to prefer himself to all. Individualism is a calm and considered feeling which disposes each citizen to isolate himself from the mass of his fellows and withdraw into the circle of family and friends; with this little society formed to his taste, he gladly leaves the greater society to look after itself. (Tocqueville 1969: 506, vol. 2, part 2, Chapter 2) Tocqueville believed that democracies had a remedy in associations, which induced Americans to leave their isolation and interact with others. Participation taught them the social and organizational skills needed for also getting involved in politics. This problem is addressed by communitarians, such as Bellah et al. in Habits of the Heart (1985) and Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone (2000), who fear that Americans are becoming more isolated and unconcerned with larger communities, and by the advocates of civil society (Edwards 2011; Hodgkinson and Foley 2003; Eberly 2000; Cohen and Arato 1992). Here, I want to examine two other

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ambitious intellectual movements and thinkers, the “civic renewal” movement represented by political theorist Harry Boyte, and the elevation of urban public life by sociologist Richard Sennett, both of whom were influenced by Arendt’s ideas.

Civic renewal and citizenship Arendt’s ideas about politics appeared in time for the political upheavals of the 1960s. Her ideas appeared to dovetail with the New Left’s ideal of “participatory democracy” (Breines 1982), according to which “freedom is an endless meeting” (Miller 1987: 215). But some activists complained that the anti-leader ideal of participation meant that decisions ended up being made by “cliques” (as in Weber’s leaderless democracy). Arendt rejected the New Left concern for personal authenticity and communal forms of togetherness in favor of an “impersonal” ideal of politics and concern for maintaining distinctions between public and private. Some saw her ideas as a welcome contrast to too much “community” and “authenticity.” Arendt’s influence expanded when many in the New Left turned in the 1970s and early 1980s to the community-organizing strategy of Saul Alinsky (1946 and 1971) and the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) network. Political theorist Harry Boyte, a supporter of community organizing and of a larger movement for national “civic renewal,” called Arendt “the favorite political theorist” of the IAF (1989: 199 note 3). The IAF organizers liked her endorsement of power as a good thing and her sharp distinction between public and private because it allowed citizens to better resist the tactic of politicians to co-opt citizen groups by converting political relations into personal ones. Arendt’s sharp public-private distinction also underscored the importance of retaining a personal life distinct from political activism if one wants to organize over the long term and not “burn out.” Alinsky championed a non-ideological model of community organizing that taught ordinary working-class people how to fight city hall and, later, corporations and public utilities.24 They were trained in a “realist” confrontational mode of politics, in which “enemies” were identified and direct “actions” organized against them. IAF organizers were trained to induce ordinary people to become leaders and to take charge of their organizations. The 1970s “New Populism” advocated by Boyte took organizing beyond the neighborhood to the city and US states, and sought to build alliances with unions and other groups (Boyte 1981a; 1981b; 1984; Boyte et al. 1986; and Boyte and Riessman 1986). Later, the IAF shifted to organizing in relation to existing religious organizations or groups of interfaith religious organizations. As these developments occurred, the IAF shifted from Alinsky’s model of confrontational politics to a more cooperative model (Chambers 1978; Chambers and Cowan 2003). Rather than always fighting city hall, they are often involved in neighborhood redevelopment.

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Boyte has sought to theorize these efforts and extend them to a larger notion of democracy as a society or “way of life” (rather than a form of government) in which ordinary citizens become “co-creators” of their society alongside government officials and “experts” in what Boyte calls “public work” (Boyte and Kari 1996; Boyte 2003; 2004; 2008; 2011). Boyte went through a New Left phase and a phase in which he hoped that community organizing would coalesce into a leftwing populist movement. He now sees community organizing (in its newer, cooperative model) as the kernel of a larger movement of non-ideological “civic renewal” (Sirianni and Friedland 2001; 2005; Sirianni 2009) that is effectively an end in itself. He claims Arendt and Crick as inspirations for this form of politics: Building real, sustained power for ordinary people involves a molecular organizing process that requires people learning the disciplines and developing the culture of a philosophically oriented politics, not an ideological politics. Such politics draws from Greek understandings as interpreted by theorists such as Bernard Crick and Hannah Arendt, explicitly against the grain of dominant North Atlantic definitions of partisan and ideological politics. Bernard Crick’s classic 1962 work, In Defense of Politics, warned emerging nations against ideas current in the West, seeking to rescue the concept of politics in an older, Aristotelian sense from what he called its “enemies” such as ideological zealotry, mass democracy, and technocratic thought. Crick’s book, along with Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition, are key texts in citizen groups. Politics here is seen as what Crick calls “a civilizing activity,” the way that people of diverse interests and views in heterogeneous societies negotiate across lines of difference to solve problems and live together without violence. (Boyte 2005: 15) In this context, Boyte contrasts his notions of “public work,” “civic populism,” “reinventing citizenship,” or “redefining politics” to liberalism and communitarianism. The goal of organizing is not to extract concessions or services from political or other authorities (as in liberal or realist theories of politics), but to build “civic capacity” in order to elevate citizens to a status that is co-equal with politicians, civil servants, and other professionals (not only in government, but all major institutions such as universities and health-care systems). Citizens learn to organize themselves, develop their own leaders, and take responsibility for their actions. With these skills they can participate in both the planning and implementation of governmental and other programs. In turn, according to this civic vision, government officials and other professionals need to be trained to work with community organizations in the role of “coaches” helping citizens further their shared goals, rather than as “experts” advising “clients” what to do. In this vision of a fully “mobilized” democracy, citizenship becomes a “way of life” of real “selfgovernment” and democracy becomes a type of participatory and self-governing society, rather than simply a form of government.

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Obviously, one can complain about the dangers of “co-optation” in this vision and it is interesting that Boyte often criticizes communitarians and “service learning” programs of civic education for being naive about power relations, while power relations drop out of his notion of public work. As far as I can tell, he is silent about ACORN, which explicitly organized poor people of color, in contrast to the IAF and other community-organizing groups that organize more affluent faith-based working-class communities.25 He also ignores the social movement-organizing alternative to the IAF model, inspired by the Center for Third World Organizing (Delgado 1994 and Sen 2003), which stress race and gender, as well as “progressive” ideological education. There is also the problem of how this sort of locally based non-partisan and non-ideological citizenship relates to larger political entities and movements, particularly political parties and ideological politics (Paget 1990). But imagine how different society would be if citizens were organized and mobilized. Whatever one’s ideological politics (liberal, socialist, conservative, republican, communitarian), a society of self-organized citizens would be an important precondition for implementing ideals “democratically” (rather than imposing them through a state). I suspect Arendt would approve.

Public life Much of what we call “public life” is political in the sense of being concerned with the activities of local and national governments (and responses to them), but as we saw above, it includes cities, culture, education, and other “artifices” of civilization.26 Arendt’s setting for politics and public life, however, was the “polis,” or small city-state. What does public life look like from the perspective of the giant modern metropolis? One of the earliest responses to Arendt was Habermas’s 1962 The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1991), which provided an alternative conceptualization of the public realm derived from eighteenth-century European examples. Habermas combined the Frankfurt School’s concern to provide an alternative form of reason to combat Weber’s “instrumental reason” with Arendt and Jaspers’s notion that reason must be interpersonal and communicative (rather than solitary and deductive) and with John Dewey’s defense of the public (2012) against Walter Lippmann’s disparagement of the “phantom public” (2011). Habermas’s conception of the public sphere was also broader than Arendt’s and included social and personal concerns. It was more realistic in the sense that the role of citizens was not to directly participate in government, but to “supervise” politicians and bureaucrats through the mechanism of public opinion, as expressed in newspapers, magazines, and conversations among citizens in coffeehouses and other public spaces. Richard Sennett (1977) has responded to Arendt and Habermas in a different manner, which is less political and focuses on the public culture of the metropolis.

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Sennett shares with Arendt and Habermas the notion that a vigorous public life can act as a countervailing force to both the bureaucratic and discriminatory hierarchies of government, work and social life, and the isolation of Tocquevillian individualism (which has since morphed into “narcissism”). Public life is interaction among strangers. But Sennett rejects the ideal of impersonality upheld by Arendt and Habermas, which they believe is necessary for sifting diverse opinions and for discovering the public interest. In contrast, Sennett upholds a “theatrical” ideal of public life in which the public realm is seen as a “theater of the world” where strangers interact with each other as actors playing public roles that uphold a set of public rituals and norms of civility, allow individuals to express themselves theatrically, and that hide and protect their “true” selves from therapeutic forms of domination. In The Fall of Public Man (1977), Sennett argued that eighteenthcentury metropolitan life in London and Paris expressed this theatrical view of public life. This ideal, however, was attacked by the counterideal of Rousseauian intimacy, authenticity, and small-scale communal life and by the economic forces of capitalism (which remade cities along “rational” lines that destroyed neighborhoods and divided cities into separate areas for work, housing, consumption, etc.). The impersonality diagnosed by the urban theorist Georg Simmel and upheld by Arendt and Habermas led to a separation of self from environment and eventually to a “neutral city” (Sennett 1990) that no longer stimulates individuals, who now are indifferent to the activities they see and experience in public. Unable to enjoy themselves in public, citizens seek refuge from city life in bucolic suburbs, Tocquevillian individualism, or personal narcissism (which Sennett considered the worldly ascetic “Protestant ethic” of contemporary life). Sennett’s project has been to uphold public life and learn how cities can be redesigned to encourage public interactions. Oddly, given his original concern for a more theatrical mode of human expression, Sennett has written mostly on how architecture and city planning affect social interactions. Most buildings and urban “spaces” encourage a passive “spectator,” rather than an active or participatory relationship, and they discourage social interactions. But it is not clear that better designs can compensate for a social ethos that is narcissistic or that sees the “good life” in intimacy and withdrawal into a small circle of friends and family. It would be more straightforward to encourage people to become self-conscious actors (we are all unconscious actors anyway) and to develop public rituals and norms of civility. “Sincerity” and “authenticity” would suffer, but, by making these self-conscious ideals, we paradoxically get neither. If, as self-conscious actors, we were encouraged to act out public roles, we might eventually get citizens, both those who enjoy city life and those who are concerned with the public interest. As Arendt argued, our “true” self is disclosed to “others” by our actions and speech. Meanwhile, there seems to be a hunger for new forms of sociality that might counteract the isolating effects of modern life. Anyone who reads Pocock’s description of Aristotle’s polity will see it as also an example of a “pluralist” ideal.

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The difference between the republican mixed constitution and modern pluralism (whether British, American, or social movement pluralism) is that modern pluralists believe participation and “checks and balances” should be pervasive throughout society (modern pluralism is society-centered). In addition to communitarianism, republicanism, Arendt, Boyte, Habermas, and Sennett, there are also visions of public life that uphold the “salons” that Arendt and Rousseau hated (Landes 1988; Gordon 1994; Benhabib 1995), notions of queer public life or “public sex” (Warner 2002) and those that celebrate “street” life (Aries 1962; 1989). In turn, feminists have been critical of the public/private distinction and its implications for women, but they too divide into those who “essentialize” the dichotomy between public and private and those who deconstruct it.27 From a political perspective, the question is how these different forms of sociality affect politics. The “spatial” motif can be depoliticizing if people believe they can “escape” problems by moving to another “sphere.” But if activities in other spheres help build “civic capacity” for politics, or if distinguishing spheres allows for political actions that are more “cooperative,” and therefore more satisfying to participants, then this may be all to the good. It is important to remember, however, that distinctions between public and private are always “socially constructed.” But this involves us in the “society-centered” conceptions of the political in Chapter 7.

Notes 1 There is, of course, a vast secondary literature on Arendt. See Canovan (1992), Hinchman and Hinchman (1994), Gottsegen (1994), Young-Bruehl (1982), Pitkin (1994), Honig (1992), Passerin d’Entreves (1992; 1994), Habermas (1994), Bernstein (1986), and others noted in this chapter. 2 For Arendt, the classic nation-state was nineteenth-century France (“the republic, one and indivisible”), which was nearly torn apart over the Dreyfus Affair, an example of the corrosiveness of anti-Semitism in European politics. For imperialism, Arendt used mostly British examples (but did not explain why the “boomerang” effects of imperialism redounded on continental Europe, but not Britain). On Montesquieu as an influence during this time, see Arendt, “Understanding and Politics” (1953), reprinted in Arendt (1994b). 3 Georges Clemenceau, leader of the Radical Party during the French Third Republic, who took up the cause of Dreyfus, was the only figure Arendt portrayed positively in the whole book. The Radicals saw themselves as the heirs of the Jacobins and as defenders of a secular republic. When the sociologist David Riesman wrote to Arendt asking if Clemenceau wasn’t a bourgeois, Arendt wrote “No, a radical” in the margins of his letter. See Young-Bruehl (1982: 256). 4 Arendt cited John Adams, Discourses on Davila, for this distinction (Arendt 1965: 116). See also her discussion of excellence, which is best judged in public, and its link to Greek arête and Roman virtus, in Arendt (1958a: 48–9). 5 Arendt mentioned Schmitt in her Origins of Totalitarianism (1958b: 339; also 168, 251, 262, 266) as the author of “ingenious” arguments and as an example of the intellectuals who wanted to serve Nazism, but who were quickly discarded by the regime after they had served their purpose of legitimizing it. Many commentators see her criticisms of the Abbe Sieyes’ conception of sovereignty and the nation in On Revolution as a veiled refutation of Schmitt.

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6 This is the theme throughout On Revolution (1965: 116, 126, and the last chapter, “The Revolutionary Tradition and Its Lost Treasure”). 7 As she pointed out, representative government is also government by an elite, in this case, by professional politicians. 8 Compare her remarks at the beginning of The Human Condition on the decision to leave the earth in order to explore outer space as a “political question of first order” (1958a: 3). 9 See Arendt, “The Crisis in Culture” (1968b: 223). The “humanist” or “cultivated person” did not share the political prejudices of the statesman or citizen against the fabricating mentality of the artist. As humanists, we are free to choose our “company among men, among things, among thoughts, in the present as well as in the past” without being coerced by notions of truth (226). However, this freedom is due to our participation in the world. 10 In “The Crisis of Culture” (1968b: 199), she refers to “that fateful alienation from the world which since Rousseau is mistaken for self-alienation.” 11 Conversely, society’s indifference and blindness toward the pariahs was as harmful as its oppression of them. Insofar as Arendt ever sympathized with the poor, it was not with their poverty but with their obscurity, the fact that society refused to recognize them. Quoting John Adams on the true despair of the impoverished, she agreed that “to be wholly overlooked and to know it, are intolerable” (1965: 64). 12 Arendt’s infamous essay against school desegregation, “Reflections on Little Rock” (1959), was based on this assumption (rather than the goal of equal education). Her assumption was based on the ambiguous experience and ultimate failure of Jewish attempts to assimilate to a fatally anti-Semitic European society. 13 Arendt’s The Life of the Mind looked at the mind’s faculties of thinking, willing, and judging from the perspective of the world and the active life, not philosophy. Ideas for the unwritten Volume 3, on judgment, are in Arendt (1982). 14 The modern reversal of these hierarchies merely reveals the common, philosophically inspired “assumption that the same central human preoccupation must prevail in all activities of men, since without one comprehensive principle no order could be established. This assumption is not a matter of course” (1958a: 17). 15 Solitude led to the various “metaphysical fallacies” (including the “two-world” theory) that Arendt examined in The Life of the Mind (1978b). 16 “If Being replaced the Olympian gods, then philosophy replaced religion. Philosophizing became the only possible ‘way’ of piety, and this new god’s newest characteristic was that he was One. That this One was indeed a god and thus decisively different from what we understand by ‘being’ becomes obvious when we see that Aristotle called his ‘First Philosophy’ a ‘Theology,’ by which he did not mean a theory about the gods but what much later—in the eighteenth century—was called ontologia or ‘Ontology’” (Arendt 1978b: 135). 17 Letter from Arendt to Karl Jaspers, March 4, 1951, in Kohler and Saner (1992: 166). 18 Moral cynicism was part of the “subterranean” stream of European culture that contributed to totalitarianism in The Origins of Totalitarianism. The American example was the Mark van Doren case in the 1950s, when a popular Columbia University professor who had won a quiz show confessed that he had been given the answers because the show promoters wanted him to win. Van Doren’s students defended him by saying no one could judge anyone else unless he had been in the same position and they condemned as immoral anyone (such as Hans Morgenthau) who suggested that van Doren had betrayed his duties as a teacher and ought to resign (Arendt 1994c: 749–50). 19 This also applies to Kant, whose Categorical Imperative confuses reason and obligation, according to Arendt. 20 Arendt’s view of evil changed from the “radical” evil of The Origins of Totalitarianism (the production and murder of superfluous peoples) to the “banality of evil”

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21 22



25 26 27

(Eichmann’s inability to think about what he was doing) that she discovered during the Eichmann trial. But neither the philosophical nor religious traditions examine either genocide or thoughtlessness. I have been unable to locate the Faulkner quote. According to her friend, Alfred Kazin (1978: 306), Arendt believed in God: “The excitement of being with Hannah was mysterious, for it reached to foundations of thought that she accepted with a kind of awe. ‘I have never, since a child,’ she once said to me, ‘doubted that God exists.’ She devoted herself to Augustine because of a single sentence: ‘Love means that I want you to be.’” Augustine seems to have fascinated Arendt because he both affirmed the world and negated it. Augustine was both a Roman (according to Arendt, “the only philosopher the Romans ever had”) and a Christian. His thought therefore revealed the Roman love for the world even though his Christianity compelled him to renounce it. Augustine characterized the world as a “desert” and the life of the Christian as a pilgrimage through it on a journey to another world. The question Arendt posed to Augustine was “Why should we make a desert out of this world?” (1996: 19, this sentence was added 20 years after the original dissertation was written). Love as meaning “I want you to be” implied for Arendt both gratitude toward being and gratitude for the “neighbor.” Her dissertation was built around the puzzle of the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” which pointed both toward the world (of neighbors) and away from it (toward God). For studies of Arendt and Augustine, see Boyle (1987), Scott and Stark (1996), and Beiner (1996). These were the conclusions of both The Origins of Totalitarianism and Politics and Vision. In some of her lecture courses, Arendt postulated a “typical” political actor of the twentieth century, someone who would have been the Unknown Soldier in World War I and a member of a fascist or communist totalitarian party in the interwar years. Political theorists such as Romand Coles (2006) have worked with, and written about, Alinsky’s groups. For a right-wing conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama, the American left and community organizing (which mentions Boyte as one of the conspirators), see Kurtz (2010). Conservative websites feature copies of Alinky’s books, from which they seek to know their enemy and to learn tactical lessons in their fight against socialism. On ACORN, see Delgado (1986) and Fisher (2009). Conservatives targeted ACORN and were able to destroy it in 2010. For the revival of former ACORN groups under new names, see Freedlander (2014). For a survey of different conceptions of public and private, see Weintraub and Kumar (1997). For the dichotomy, see Pateman (1987), Rosaldo (1974), and Elshtain (1981). Elshtain upheld the dichotomy. See also Cohen (1996) and Boling (1996). For efforts to go “beyond” the dichotomy, see Reverby and Helly (1992). For a survey of feminist responses to Arendt, see Dietz (1995).


Not freedom versus authority, or Man against the State, but authority and community. Sheldon Wolin (1960a: 351 or 2004: 314)

Sheldon S. Wolin (1922–2015) was a founder, along with John Schaar and Norman Jacobson, of the so-called “Berkeley School” of American political theory, which produced a distinctive and influential style of political theorizing that has been carried on by their students.1 The teachings of the Berkeley School were centered on the problem of “the political” and the claims of citizenship. Wolin’s project was to rethink political theory, its history, and practically everything else (including each new development in philosophy and culture) from the perspective of “the political.” Like Arendt, Wolin also wrote essays and reviews aimed at a non-academic public, and he edited the short-lived political journal democracy.2 Although obviously influenced by Arendt, Wolin presents a democratic alternative to Arendt’s republican conception of the political.3 Like most critics of Arendt, he rejected her distinction between “the social” and “the political.” “The impulse of democracy has been to override the distinction,” he noted. “For historically, democracy has been the means by which the many have sought access to political power in the hope that it could be used to redress their economic and social lot” (1994a: 289). In this conception, the political and the social are united. Wolin didn’t always believe this. In the first part of this chapter, I trace Wolin’s conception of the relationship of the political and the social in Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (1960a and 2004) and how this later changed into an opposition between democracy and the state. I then discuss, in part II, the shift in Wolin’s views of theory that accompanied his shift to democracy. Although he always shared with Arendt a sense of antagonism

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between philosophy and the political, once Wolin converted to democracy, this antagonism toward philosophy turned into a critique of political theory as inherently anti-democratic. I argue that Wolin went too far in this critique and that this accounts for the narrow and defensive scope of his writings on democracy. Because these writings name the current problem (“inverted totalitarianism” and “Superpower”) without providing any alternative (beyond a vague “fugitive” democracy), in the third part of this chapter, I discuss populism as an alternative political ideal, including its economic and cultural dimensions.

I The social and the political Wolin’s innovation in Politics and Vision (1960a and 2004) was to present the history of western political theory in terms of the opposition between “the political” and other forms of association.4 I summarize this in some detail because Wolin criticized most political theories, even the theories of Machiavelli and Hobbes, as not truly political and it is revealing to see why. From the beginning, according to Wolin, the political has been threatened by colonization by other domains. Plato wanted to subordinate the political to philosophy and in Chapter 1 we quoted Wolin complaining about how specifically political concerns tend to be replaced by metaphysical questions. This was also true for the Hellenistic philosophers who replaced the political with “a vapid moralism” (94 [85]). But the main threat to the political came from a non-political conception of society. This non-political conception of “the social” begins with Augustine: “The superiority of the ‘social’ category over the ‘political’ was a fundamental proposition in Augustine’s thought. The one connoted harmonious fellowship, the other conflict and domination” (130 [117]). The alleged superiority of the social over the political was also central to classical liberalism and to nineteenth and twentieth-century communitarianism and pluralism. Politics and Vision was, in Wolin’s words, a “search for the political” (368 [329]). As I noted in Chapter 1, the book is filled with phrases like “distinctively political,” “truly political,” “genuine political problems,” etc. (23, 51, 433 [41, 48, 388]). There is the hint that a genuinely political theory would follow laws of its own, have its own “political metaphysic,” “political matter,” and “political logic” (15–16, 211, 52, 65 [16, 189, 48, 60]). Both Machiavelli and Hobbes, on first appearance, seemed to have developed these “truly political” political theories.

Power without community According to Wolin, Machiavelli’s originality lay in his “reassertion of the radical autonomy of the political order” (139 [126]). Machiavelli developed an “autonomous political theory” that attempted to “exclude from political theory whatever did not appear to be strictly political” (197 [179]). Machiavelli even produced what Wolin called a “political metaphysic” based on history instead of

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philosophy that was sensitive to the idea that politics takes place in a world of “flux,” in which principles of political action have to be oriented toward mastering or adapting to constant change (211, 210 [189, 190]). Politics was about mastery in the face of fortune. In Wolin’s view, however, Machiavelli’s “pure” political theory had two major costs. The first was that the conception of politics as mastery meant that “the moral qualities needed by Machiavelli’s political actor” would be “fundamentally public or exterior” (217 [194]). The political actor played a “role,” both in public and in behind-the-scenes confrontations with other politicians. Machiavelli’s statecraft “assumed a purely political morality in those who were to practice its dictates because politics itself held only a necessary and not an ultimate value” (217 [195]). Hence the Platonic unity of “statecraft” with “soulcraft” was broken (237 [213]). Wolin saw this “exteriorization of virtue” as the “symbol of man’s alienation from his political world,” but he qualified that by noting that “it was, ironically, the end product of centuries of Stoic and Christian criticism now couched in the language of realism” (217 [195]). The philosophers and theologians had already alienated the soul from politics. The second cost of a pure political theory, according to Wolin, was to detach the political from community. If politics was about innovation and conflict, there still needed to be an element of commonality to hold the political community together: It was this sense of common life that was most glaringly absent in Machiavelli’s political theory. Machiavelli’s political actors take decisions, conflict rages between group and group, there is thrust and riposte between princes, but no reflection of an ordered set of relationships among men of the same social grouping, no sense of shared loyalties, no feel for the continuity of a collectivity extending over time. For all of his insight into conflict Machiavelli never managed to explain how civic virtu alone could develop a sufficient consciousness of commonality to support the disorder and destructiveness inherent in factional politics. (240 [215]) This Renaissance theme, which Wolin called “the crisis in community,” was also relevant to Reformation Europe, when the religious wars undermined the religious basis of community. “On what basis could the practice of government be conducted once society was no longer a community?” Wolin asked (241 [215–16]). The challenge of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in Wolin’s interpretation, revolved around the question, “if a community was not the product of nature, could it be constructed through art?” (241 [216]). Hobbes’s Leviathan state was the greatest attempt to construct such an artificial community. In Wolin’s interpretation, Hobbes also developed a “pure” political theory:

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Whatever his shortcomings, he shows us what we have lost in the way of a sense of the political. For Hobbes, the political in a society comprised three elements: the authority whose unique office it was to superintend the whole and to exert directive control over other forms of activity; the obligations which rested on those who accepted membership; and the system of common rules governing publicly significant behavior. (288 [259]) Hobbes’s “shortcomings,” however, outweighed the advantages of his pure theory of the political. The same faults of Machiavelli’s pure political theory could be found in Hobbes. The separation of statecraft from soulcraft was evident in Hobbes’s “political” attitude toward religion: “In religion, as in other aspects of his politics, Hobbes’s guiding assumption was that a political order required no more than an outward set of ‘civil manners’: it did not exact a conformity of souls” (274 [245]). This had also been Schmitt’s complaint in his 1938 book on Hobbes. Similarly, the egoistic and individualist assumptions of Hobbes’s theory meant that there could never really be any community. Leviathan’s subjects feared each other and were related to each other only through their greater fear of the sovereign: When viewed in the perspective of political thought, the startling aspect in Hobbes’s theory of sovereignty was its belief that from a society of disconnected singulars effective political power could be generated … [T]he Hobbesian sovereign stood outside society, an Archimedes without any real leverage except that supplied by fear. His power lacked the sustaining support of society, because society itself was but a loose collection of discrete individuals … The contrived nature of society excluded any natural dependency among the members. (275 [246, 247]) Thus, in Wolin’s interpretation, the two greatest attempts to construct pure theories of the political ended up detaching the political from the personal and the political from society. The political became an abstract and alien power, detached from the community.

Authority and community In this context, according to Wolin, politics came to be identified with coercion and, in response to the coerciveness of politics, later political theorists turned to the notion of a non-political “society” as an alternative for their theorizing. As noted, Wolin believed this had been a feature of early Christian thought. This contrast between “the social” and “the political” was revived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During that time, the political was displaced by the concept of society:

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The basic concept which was pitted against the political was “society.” It was a fundamental notion common to such contrasting ideologies as liberalism and conservatism, socialism and reaction, anarchism and managerialism. Today it serves as the focus of the social sciences, especially in sociology and anthropology, and this perhaps justifies designating social science as the legatee of an earlier controversy in which “society” displaced the political. (290 [260]) Wolin traced two major developments of the concept of society. The first was the classical liberal conception of society as a non-coercive, self-regulating market and sphere of public opinion. The second was a sociological conception of society as composed of various communities, groups, and organizations. This second conception of society was the one shared by conservatives, socialists, syndicalists, organization theorists, and sociologists. It arose in reaction to the liberal conception. The liberal conception of society was opposed to the coerciveness of the state. On the one hand, “society” meant the free market economy. On the other hand, society included public opinion. In contrast to Habermas’s valorization of the public sphere (1991), Wolin characterized public opinion as a force that liberals expected to produce social conformity. The origins of a conformist public opinion were in Locke’s “law of opinion or reputation.” It reappeared as Adam Smith’s “impartial spectator” and reached its climax in Bentham. Bentham’s Panopticon was the symbol of social conformity for Wolin. Wolin linked the valorization of the impersonal coercion of social conformity in society with the liberal distrust of authority. The correct statement of the problem, according to Wolin, was not to oppose freedom to authority, as the liberals did, but to somehow combine authority with community: [Liberals] conceived the issue as one of reconciling freedom and authority, and they solved it by destroying authority in the name of liberty and replacing it by society, but only at the cost of exposing freedom to society’s controls. To the nineteenth and twentieth centuries fell the task of stating the problem more correctly: not freedom versus authority, or Man against the State, but authority and community. (351 [314]) The political, then, is the union of authority and community. Reestablishing this union was the task undertaken by the nineteenth and twentieth-century theorists and it produced the second conception of society, one that stressed community. Because of the original antipathy to the political, however, the effort to combine community and authority was defective. Instead, the combination pulled these theories of society in different directions. A communitarian direction stressed fraternity and intimacy:

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the political and social thought of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries largely centered on the attempt to restate the value of community, that is, of the need for human beings to dwell in more intimate relationships with each other, to enjoy more affective ties, to experience some closer solidarity than the nature of urbanized and industrial society seemed willing to grant. In terms of theorizing, this quest led to the elaboration of what Proudhon called the “metaphysique du groupe.” (363–4 [325]) The other direction was authoritarian, best expressed by counterrevolutionaries like Joseph de Maistre. But alongside these conservative writers were others who stressed organization, with its abstract rationality, hierarchy, and power: At the same time, the thought of the period followed another direction, one which presented a serious threat to the communitarian development. In the words of an older historian, the nineteenth century was “a period saturated with organization.” Just as Aristotle’s dictum that man is a political animal had reflected the ethos of a highly political age, so Saint-Simon accurately reported on the guiding belief of the organizational age: The superiority of men over other animals “results directly from a superiority of organization.” (364 [325]) The socialists, conservatives, and sociologists who sought to displace the liberals, however, avoided the explicit authoritarianism of the counterrevolutionaries by combining community and organization: “In community and organization modern man has fashioned substitute love-objects for the political. The quest for community has sought refuge from the notion of man as a political animal; the adoration of organization has been partially inspired by the hope of finding a new form of civility” (368 [329]). Community and organization “diffused” the political over a broader array of activities while at the same time confining the political and “sublimating” it into a pluralism of organizations. Society was conceived to be divided into groups and organizations, each with its own institutional “politics” and “government.” Thus the political was not rejected, but incorporated. Organizational coercion was sublimated into bureaucratic management and industrial psychology. “The political has reemerged,” Wolin wrote, “but disguised in the trappings of organizational life” (418 [374]). This was Wolin’s “political” interpretation of the “death” of political theory in the 1950s. Against the conventional interpretation, Wolin argued that political theory had not died. It had migrated to sociology and organization theory. The task, he believed, “is not to revive political theory but to rescue it” from these other fields (1960b: 163).5 The purpose of this “political” interpretation was that it meant that political theorists did not have to worry about philosophical or religious issues like Weberian disenchantment and the

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relativism of values. Instead, political theorists had to win politics back from the sociologists. The sublimation of the political into organizations and corporations (what some writers called “pluralism,” “interest group liberalism,” or “the Corporate State”) obscured not only the coercion exercised within groups and among groups in society, but also those general elements common to members of society as a whole. Thus “fraternity” was confined to the group, the group was an organization held together by power and the manipulation of fraternal impulses, and modern society was an aggregate of giant organizations. The result of pluralism was “a picture of society as a series of tight little islands, each evolving towards political self‑sufficiency, each striving to absorb the individual members, each without any natural affiliations with a more comprehensive unity … Thus the contemporary vision of the social universe is one where political society, in its general sense, has disappeared” (431, 432 [387]). Wolin complained that pluralism and management devalued general political institutions like the state: To reject the state meant denying the central referent of the political, abandoning a whole range of notions and the practices to which they pointed— citizenship, obligation, general authority—without pausing to consider that the strategy of withdrawal might further enhance state power. Moreover, to exchange society or groups for the state might turn out to be a doubtful bargain if society should, like the state, prove unable to resist the tide of bureaucratization. Both of these possibilities have been realized. (417 [374]) Wolin concluded Politics and Vision by calling for the revival of the political as the general or common concern against the pluralist conception of society. “Throughout the long development of the Western tradition of political thought, there has been a recurrent tendency to identify what is political with what is general to a society,” he wrote. “These tendencies, in turn, have been registered in the claims of political theory itself to be a body of knowledge and wisdom concerned with society’s attempt to articulate what is common or general to its life” (429–30 [385]). Thus, Wolin emerged as some sort of statist at the end of Politics and Vision. As the most general institution, the state best represented the political, the union of authority and community, particularly when contrasted to a pluralist society.

The political as democracy The student rebellions of the 1960s took place in the society-centered context decried in Politics and Vision. In their essays on the Berkeley student rebellion, Wolin and Schaar described the society against which the students were rebelling as the “technological society.” The characteristic problem of technological society was one of moral corruption rather than oppression:

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Today, any lucid discussion of revolution in advanced societies must begin with the fact of technological society, not with ideas fashioned to analyze traditional societies … [T]oday’s revolutionist is in the absurd position of protesting against a society in constant movement and capable of promising everything, from the abolition of poverty to the abolition of death—either as a penalty or as a disease. (Wolin and Schaar 1970: 100–1) It was in this context that the New Left’s conception of “participatory democracy” was conceived. Incredibly, democracy played no role in Politics and Vision. Wolin briefly mentioned a tradition called “democratic radicalism,” which (following George Sabine and Jacob Talmon) he identified with abstract idealism and totalitarianism (293 [263]). He set it aside in order to pursue the theme of the liberal corruption of the political. In response to the political events of the 1960s, however, Wolin recast his conception of the political so that it became identical to democracy. In “Hannah Arendt: Democracy and the Political” (1994a), Wolin stated his conception of democracy and the difference between his views and Arendt’s. “Historically,” he declared, “the idea of the political and the idea of democracy have shared so many common meanings as to seem almost synonymous” (301). According to Wolin, Marx saw this when he wrote (in his critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right) that “all forms of state have democracy for their truth, and for that reason are false to the extent that they are not democracy.”6 Democracy was the true union of “authority and community.” If the political was concerned with what is common or general to a society, the logic of the political implied that democracy would turn out to be the only form of government that was truly committed to common life, rather than to the privileges of a few: It might be added that most political theorists, from antiquity to the present, have accepted the premise of this point and resisted the conclusion. They have accepted the principle that the political defines a distinct kind of association that aims at the good of all, depends on the contributions, sacrifices, and loyalties of all, but they have then bent their ingenuity to devising structures that would allow the few (whether kings, aristocrats, representatives, or bureaucratic officials) to use collective power for the good of all while exacting from the population at large the various contributions needed for that task. (1994a: 302) In his refiguration of the political as democracy, Wolin rejected Arendt’s “emphasis on authority, ambition, glory, and superiority”: It is not accidental that she excluded the sentiments of fellow-feeling— compassion, pity, love—from the political realm, or, more important, that she was silent about “friendship” (so central to her ancient Greeks) and

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“fellowship” (so basic to Hebraic and Christian conceptions of community). These democratic sentiments and virtues do not accord with the agonistic conception of action she extolled. Democratic action is, perforce, collective; its mode is cooperation; and its presupposition is not a small audience of heroes but shared experience. (290) In contrast to the elitism of Arendt and the tradition of western political thought, democracy includes everybody. Wolin’s conception of democracy was populist: “Populism is the culture of democracy” (1986a: 285).7 Wolin never liked socialism.8 Wolin’s journal democracy featured articles by academics associated with populism such as the historian Lawrence Goodwyn (1981), Christopher Lasch (1981) (who was moving from the New Left to cultural conservatism to populism), and Harry Boyte (1981b). Although a perusal of democracy reveals that at least half of the contributors were New Leftists or democratic socialists, the dominant voice was populist and the journal was criticized for precisely this bias (Shulman 1983). However, in Wolin’s mind the movements of the 1960s were linked to populism. “The sixties were the first great attempt, mostly spontaneous and improvised, at a democratic revival of American political life since the Populist revolts of the last quarter of the nineteenth century” (1997: 143–4). Wolin now defined the political as “a mode of experience rather than a comprehensive institution such as the state” (1994b: 302). The political is a culture: Common life resides in the cooperation and reciprocity that human beings develop in order to survive, meet their needs, and begin to explore their capacities and the remarkable world into which they have been cast. The political emerges as the shared concerns of human beings to take care of themselves and the part of their world that they claim as their lot. The political emerges, in this literal sense, as a “culture,” that is, a cultivating, a tending, a taking care of beings and things. The common life and the political culture emerge to the accompaniment of power. Shared concerns do not eliminate the need for power; they depend on it. This was partly glimpsed in a remark by the late Roland Barthes: “One must naturally understand political in its deeper meaning, as describing the whole of human relations in their real social structure, in their power of making the world.” (303) Wolin sometimes called this mode of experience “politicalness”: By politicalness I mean our capacity for developing into beings who know and value what it means to participate and be responsible for the care and improvement of our common and collective life. To be political is not identical with being a part of government or being associated with a political

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party. These are structured roles, and typically they are highly bureaucratized. For these reasons, they are opposed to the authentically political. (1989c: 139) The democrats used public power to redirect social inequalities: The “natural” state of society contains important distinctions of wealth, birth, and education that are typically extended into political power. Thus social power is translated into political power which is then used to increase social power. Democracy is the attempt of the many to reverse the natural cycle of power, to translate social weakness into political power in order to alleviate the consequences of what is not so much their condition as their lot-tery [sic]. (1994b: 289) From statements like these, I conclude that the meaning and value of politics, and the meaning and value of democracy, for Wolin, was popular power, the ability of ordinary citizens to work together to “translate social weakness into political power in order to alleviate the consequences of what is not so much their condition as their lot.” This political value of popular power (a version of authority and community, or “majoritarianism”) must then be weighed against other political values. Wolin’s contention is that most liberals (and socialists) do not appreciate the importance of popular power (the great equalizer in a hierarchical world) and do not give popular power its due as an important value. Instead, the critics see popular democracy as the “tyranny of the majority.”

Democracy against the state In this later conception of the political-as-democracy, the political and “the social” are combined. Consequently, a new polarity emerged in Wolin’s political thought. Instead of an opposition between a pluralist society and “general” political institutions like the state (Wolin’s position in the first edition of Politics and Vision), a localist social and political democracy was now opposed to a centralized bureaucratic state and a hierarchical capitalist economy. In this conception, the earlier distinction in Politics and Vision between the social and the political was replaced with two different conceptions of the political that combine social, economic, and political elements: democracy versus the state. In contrast to the view of the political-as-the-state in Politics and Vision, the state was now the enemy: “For those who care about creating a democratic political life, a strong state must be rejected because the idea of a democratic state is a contradiction in terms” (1989c: 149). The state was the negation of democracy, in Wolin’s view, because: By its very nature the state must proceed mainly by bureaucratic means; it must concentrate power at the center; it must promote elitism or

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government by the few; it must elevate the esoteric knowledge of experts over the experience of ordinary citizens; and it must prefer order and stability to experiment and spontaneity. (149) Reacting to the Reagan-era cutbacks of the welfare state combined with deregulation and the military build-up, Wolin argued that the state’s power was paradoxically increasing under the guise of “deregulation” and privatization. Instead, what he saw happening was an “inversion” of the relationship between public and private: It involves the transformation of the private domain, of that system of private relations and associations which the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries called “civil society.” In most theoretical formulations, civil society comprised the family, various social relationships (e.g. friends and neighbors), churches, schools, professions and crafts, and economic organizations. These were perceived as private bodies and relationships, and they were thought to be importantly different from political institutions: they were freer, more spontaneous, less coercive, and more voluntaristic. (1989b: 27) While these formulations about “civil society” were the staple of conservative and classical liberal ideology (and today, of Habermasian, communitarian, and radical democratic ideologies), they no longer correspond to reality, according to Wolin. Instead, because private institutions are free from public rights and regulations, they are used to strengthen bureaucratic power (1989b: 27–8). Wolin’s characterization of these developments shifted uneasily from describing them as “economic” to describing them as forms of “state” power. Wolin sometimes insisted on “the primacy of economic relationships” (1989b: 147; 1989d: 155; 2008: 58). But he also thought of economics as a form of political power, a way of enhancing and refining state power (as in the public/private inversion). The grand theme of Wolin’s The Presence of the Past was the development of the “Hamiltonian” state from the Constitution to Reagan. Alexander Hamilton, an architect of the Constitution, “never faltered in his conviction that the economy was an instrument of state power” (1989b: 20). Wolin’s rhetoric on power tends to reconfigure all power as forms of state power (in this “reductionist” respect doing what he accused Foucault of doing).9 Like Weber, Wolin claimed that “welfare” was the modern form of “reason of state” (1989d: 163). But, in contrast to Weber, Wolin believed the growth of the bureaucracy, rather than building Weber’s iron cage, involved the introduction of arbitrariness into decision making: Contrary to Weber’s myth, in which growing bureaucratization meant the spread of rationality, order, rule-bound decisions, and predictability, bureaucracy

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introduces arbitrariness into the constitution of its classifications and then disguises that initial move with an overlay of procedural rules. Bureaucracy signifies, not as Weber thought, the antithesis of Staatsrason, but its ritualization. (1989d: 178) In contrast to those who see the state as superseded by transnational corporations and international organizations, Wolin saw the international political economy as the triumph of statist rivalry, in which the state was a fusion of the political and the economic. Wolin called this fusion, variously, the “political economy” (1989f: 41–2, 147), the “Economic polity” (1989f: 154–5, 173; 2001: 571), the “megastate” (1989f: 183, 195) and, more recently, “Superpower” and “inverted totalitarianism” (2004: xvi–xix, 591–5; 2008). After the journal democracy, with its populist bias, folded, Wolin tended to emphasize the growth of “Superpower” over theorizing the democratic alternative. Wolin never developed a theory of populism. Instead, his theory of modernity was a political history of the defeat of “Tocquevillian” democracy by “post-modern” Superpower (1989a).10 We now live in a “post-democratic” age in which democracy is a veneer covering billion-dollar elections and partisan struggles for state power that distracts us from understanding the underlying danger of “inverted totalitarianism.” To the extent that genuine democracy survives, it is “fugitive democracy” (1996a), alive among a few activists and in socially conservative backwaters untouched by postmodern Superpower.11

II Theory and the political As Wolin’s conception of the political changed over the years, so did his conception of the type of theory appropriate to the political. Wolin and his Berkeley colleagues initially tried to reconcile political theory and political science in a vision of a political science centered on the “substantive” value of politics and the political. Then, at the end of the 1960s, Wolin famously declared political theory to be a “vocation” that engaged “real” politics through a grandiose “epic” theory. But when he moved from a liberal “statism” to democracy, Wolin repudiated epic theory (though not the need to engage political reality) and developed a populist “democratic reason” as an alternative. As we noted in the Arendt chapter, in the polis-tradition “asymmetry” is between politics and philosophy (or theory). In addition to the conflicting values and concerns of philosophers or theorists and political or democratic actors, how does one theorize action and popular power without distorting them by using the wrong theory? Wolin never solved this problem. Meanwhile, from the beginning Wolin had been developing a theory of the fusion of modern knowledge and power in modern bureaucratic organization that culminated in Wolin’s later ideal-types of “the Economic Polity,” “Superpower,” and “inverted totalitarianism.” I discuss these changes in Wolin’s view of the relationship of theory and politics in turn.

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A political science centered on the political Wolin rejected the Platonic conception of political philosophy (which is the one practiced by most political theorists) because it tended to focus on metaphysical and moral questions rather than specifically political ones. He also denied that political theory had died in the 1950s and needed to be revived. Political theory was intact but needed to be “rescued” from economics, sociology, and other social sciences. Wolin and his Berkeley colleagues initially wanted to reconcile political theory and political science by having both focus on the political (Hauptmann 2004: 39). I quoted Wolin on this in Chapter 1 and quote him again because this “substantive” approach is distinct: “It might be suggested … that both the proponents of social science and the ethically-minded political philosopher advocate an approach which misses the same point. The issue is not solely methodological, nor even primarily ethical in character, but substantive; that is, it concerns the status of politics and the political” (1960a, 288 or 2004, 258). Wolin’s complaint had been previously voiced by his Berkeley colleague Norman Jacobson: Whatever unity political theory may have it receives from its recognition of politics as a special kind of activity and a commitment to the study of politics as a special kind of undertaking. I can seldom escape the feeling that at the core of many of the tortured arguments for “scientific” political theory or for “ethical” political theory which grace the pages of the professional journals these days there lurks a hostility towards politics as an activity worthy of study in its own right. (1958: 17) Finally, the substance of the political as something neither natural nor metaphysical was stated by Schaar in his book criticizing psychologist Eric Fromm, who he believed had reduced the political to psychology (or nature): Fromm lacks a clear and accurate conception of the political … Political life occupies a middle terrain between the sheer givens of nature and society on the one side, and the transcendental ends towards which men aspire on the other … The task of restraining citizens from regressing to nature is beautifully symbolized by the city’s wall, which it is the special duty of authority to maintain … The theorist always runs the risk of transgressing the boundaries of the political and either reducing politics to nature and society, or else denaturing politics entirely and substituting for political thought pure and uncontaminated metaphysics. But to make either error is to destroy politics. (1961: 296–7)

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For all three theorists, politics could not be reduced to psychology or social processes on the one hand, nor to ethics or metaphysics on the other. The political was a “middle terrain” with a distinct meaning and value of its own. The type of “method” that was appropriate to a political science centered on the political was “old-fashioned” political science, which did not make the rigid separation of political theory and science that was being made by both the behavioralists and “normative” political theorists. In a famous polemic against Leo Strauss and his followers, who had published a book of essays critical of behavioralist political science (Storing 1962), Schaar and Wolin (1963) surprisingly defended the behavioralists from Straussian critiques. In criticizing the Straussians, Wolin and Schaar criticized their “exaggerated moralism” and their “blunted sensitivity to what is political”: The emptiness of [the Straussians’] essay results from the very charge which the writers level against their opponents, namely, a blunted sensitivity to what is political … [T]he lack of political relevance stems from an exaggerated moralism which converts all political issues into moral issues and analyzes political phenomena by means of moral categories. It is puzzling that self-proclaimed followers of Aristotle need to be reminded that there are many aspects of political practices and arrangements which can be profitably investigated without always arguing out first principles, and that, if this is the case, then it is legitimate to ask what sorts of methods and concepts are useful for this purpose. (Schaar and Wolin 1963: 136) If Wolin and Schaar rejected the “moralism” of Strauss, they did not identify themselves with the behavioralists, but with “‘old-fashioned political scientists’ who work away at understanding ‘political things’ without much concern for methodological niceties” (Schaar and Wolin 1963: 150).12 Wolin and his colleagues claimed they had been trained to be “generalists” in politics rather than specialists in political theory (Hauptmann 2004: 56 note 15). Wolin and Schaar hinted that political theorists who rescued the political from sociology, organization theory, and “moralism” could collaborate with old-fashioned political scientists in a non-behavioralist and non-moralist political science centered on “political things,” or the political. This raises intriguing possibilities concerning “what might have been.” In any event, by the end of the 1960s, Wolin and his Berkeley colleagues had given up any hope of reconciliation with political science and even tried to create a separate political science department at Berkeley (Hauptmann 2004).

Epic political theory and its repudiation The divorce of political theory and political science was signaled by Wolin’s manifesto, “Political Theory as a Vocation” (1969b). Wolin’s conception of

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political theory as a “vocation” and the accompanying conception of political theory as “epic” theory has inspired many academic political theorists ever since. Wolin endorsed a grand style of political theorizing in a contrast he drew between the ivory tower methodological trivialities of academic political scientists (who he called “methodists”) and the heroic “epic theorists” of political theory, who actively responded to the political events and crises of their times. Epic theory was distinguished from other forms of theory by two features. The first is the magnitude of epic theory: By an act of thought, the theorist seeks to reassemble the whole political world. He aims to grasp present structures and interrelationships, and to re-present them in a new way. Like the extraordinary scientific theory, such efforts involve a new way of looking at the familiar world, a new way with its own cognitive and normative standards. (1969b: 1078) Here Wolin drew an analogy between political theory and Thomas Kuhn’s (1962) notion of scientific revolutions. But Wolin argued that whereas the scientist’s “paradigm” was a theory purporting to describe reality, in the social sciences the paradigm is the existing society and political system.13 This meant that political reality, not internal problems of theory, was the stimulus for political theory and it led to the second feature of epic theory: “All of the major theories of the past were informed by ‘public concerns,’ a quality which was not incidental to the activity, but fundamental to the very notion of being engaged in political theory” (1969b: 1078–9). Note the italics. “The political” now connotes political reality, as well as the essence of politics, and political theory involves not just theories of politics, but political engagement.14 The context for this political conception of theory was the turmoil of the 1960s and the obliviousness of behavioralism: “Amidst this chaos official political science exudes a complacency that almost beggars description” (1081). Wolin compared this political turmoil to Kuhn’s “anomalies,” which disturb scientific paradigms, and he argued that political crises induced theoretical crises, which could only be resolved through a new theoretical paradigm. As he later summarized his view of epic theory: Political society stands to the theorist as nature to the scientist; such societies possess belief-systems that embody the values and claims of the society. Theories are constructed as critiques of those belief-systems (which I call “operative paradigms”). Critique, I suggest, is an essential part of a theoretical structure and I cite Book One of More’s Utopia as an example. The other or complementary side of a theoretical structure is its “counter-paradigm,” in which the theorist develops his solution to the evils or ills associated with the operative paradigm. (1986c: 63)15

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I agree that political theory needs to be engaged with problems in the political world. This needs to be repeated again and again. Nevertheless, Wolin’s conception of epic theory seems to have two flaws. First, the emphasis on social criticism (book 1 of Utopia) is clearly at the expense of theorizing the “counterparadigm” (book 2 of Utopia), and this was borne out in the unwillingness or inability of Wolin to develop a systematic theory of democracy as an alternative to the political order he criticized. Developing viable political alternatives is not easy and this problem has been endemic to political theory since Plato. But, although the motive and ultimate purpose of theorizing alternatives should be political, the problem of rendering them coherent and viable is theoretical and is “internal” to political theory. In his encyclopedia article, “Political Theory: Trends and Goals” (1968), Wolin had written that “political theory exhibits a twofold complexity”: “[T]heoretical perspectives change in response to a changing political world and theoretical perspectives can be different even when viewing the same world, as is demonstrated by contrasting the views of Paine and Burke regarding the French Revolution” (323). In “Political Theory as a Vocation” this twofold complexity was reduced to one dimension. Wolin again mentioned Burke and Paine, as well as Marx and Tocqueville on their responses to the 1848 revolutions (1969b: 1080), but his emphasis was on their shared concern for political problems, rather than theoretical and interpretive differences. But political engagement is clearly insufficient as the main criterion for a political theory. One needs to engage rival interpretations on the theoretical level concerning their fundamental values rather than simply their grasp or reflection of political reality (a point I discuss below in regard to Wolin’s 1996 polemic against Rawls). Second, Wolin’s conception of epic theory inevitably results in an elitist form of theory. This elitism continues to haunt the field of political theory and part of the reason is “Political Theory as a Vocation.”16 The issue here is not that “grand theory” is inherently elitist. The work of Rawls, Habermas, and their followers suggests that grand theories can be developed collectively, and this is also what the Berkeley School represented. It is arguable that political theories thrive better within academic “schools” (if not social movements) because this allows a division of labor among theorists working on a shared project, rather than encouraging individual displays of virtuosity. If so, the break-up of the Berkeley School was unfortunate.17 In any event, those who are inspired by epic theory overlook the fact that Wolin almost immediately began criticizing it for its elitism and its fear of democratic politics. In Hobbes and the Epic Tradition of Political Theory (1970), Wolin depicted epic theorists like Plato and Hobbes as political actors competing with statesmen, not by entering the political arena, but by engaging in a “politics of theory” in which they dispatched rival theorists and modes of inquiry and boldly imposed their own interpretations on their fellows. In the 1980s, when “Theory” was popular in academic circles and conflict among rival theories was

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considered a “politics of theory,” Wolin joined in with a “postmodern” version of epic theory that he attributed to Nietzsche, Weber, and “postmodern” writers (1984). According to this “political conception of theory and theorizing,” theory was political in the sense that thinkers first engaged in an “ontological politics,” in which they personally wrestled with “ultimate questions” (65). Having settled accounts in their own minds, they then engaged in a more prosaic “politics of theory” in which they dispatched rival theories and imposed their own “post-Nietzschean” or “postmodern” conception of theory as “an expression and instrument of the philosopher’s will-to-power” (1995: 5). Intoxicated by their own brilliance and audacity, however, postmodern epic theorists were inevitably drawn into complicity with the powers-that-be. Postmodern epic theory was simply the latest example of “the intellectualization of the political and the relocation of politics from the assembly to the academy” (Wolin 1996c: 84), which goes back to Plato and Aristotle.

The asymmetry of theory and politics An implication of Wolin’s criticism of epic theory was that (the personal flaws of the epic theorist aside) there was an intrinsic alliance between political philosophy and state power against democracy. This was because of the type of knowledge sought by theory. In his essay on Weber and the politics of theory (1984), Wolin explained the purpose of the “ontological politics” that took place in the mind of the theorist, before he tried to impose his theories on others: Ontological politics is preoccupied with gaining access to the highest kind of truth, which is about the nature of ultimate being. The political theorist seeks that truth because he believes that it is the truth about power, the power that holds together the entire structure of things and beings, and holds them together in a perfectly right or just way. The reason why ultimate reality was ultimate was that it contained the solution to the fundamental political riddle, how to combine vast power with perfect right. Holding to this conception of reality, political theorists over many centuries sought to find the way of ordering the life of the collectivity into a right relationship with reality, connecting collective being with ultimate being and thereby assuring that the power and rightness of the one would translate into the safety and well-being of the other. (1984: 65, italics added) Arguably, most political theorists (particularly those in the statist tradition) hold “this conception of reality” and seek “ultimate reality” in order to legitimize great power. Wolin’s “political” sensibility tells him that great power (even if it could be aligned with “ultimate reality”) should not be the goal of either citizens or political theorists. Power must be grounded in the opinions of the community (“authority and community”) not the knowledge of the theorist. From a political

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perspective, the requirements of community and democratic or “popular power” place limits on the amount of power a community should seek. Beyond those limits, popular power always overshoots (as in Athenian imperialism, Wolin 1996c: 74, 77) or, more commonly, is “hijacked” by the state for elitist ends. The “asymmetry” between politics and metaphysics or theory lies here, in Wolin’s “political” refusal to align knowledge with power. They are separate, even opposed. The other side of asymmetry, however, is that we need some kind of “theory” to go with our politics. Wolin applied his “political” criticism of theory to the apparently oppositional “Critical Theory” of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer: “The issue was not whether critical theory had a utopian vision of its own but whether totality was a proper theoretical project or simply the perpetuation of the mimetic of ruling that theorists had reproduced since antiquity, which suddenly had become ominous because totality was political fact rather than fantasy” (1993b: 178). The political theorist, from Wolin’s democratic perspective, is always a would-be philosopherking and political theory is always a mimetic of ruling over others. The relationship between philosophy and the state is thus one of complicity, the relationship between philosophy and democracy antagonistic. “It is democratic reason, not philosophical reason, that is in opposition” (188) to the bureaucratic state and the technological society.

Democratic reason and prophecy Wolin developed an alternative way of thinking that he called “democratic reason” by using Socrates against Plato. Why did Socrates refuse to go into exile? Why did he prefer death to exile from his polis? “If reason is the quest for what is universally true, isn’t that pursuit indifferent to context and hence essentially apolitical?” Wolin asked. “Or is political theorizing different from philosophizing precisely because it needs a local politics, a homeland?” (1993b: 185). Socrates’s example suggested a connection between theory and (echoing a line quoted earlier from Politics and Vision) “political context.” Socrates’s theoretical activity as “gadfly” depended on this context: Theory is dependent on a preexisting political context, and it is unnatural for it not to be. The unnatural is the abstract. It is unnatural because it entices thought into a realm where it is beholden to nothing else except its own rules. Context is the conceptual trace of civic membership; it is theorizing as citizenship. It means not just objectively taking account of things or practices that have diverse origins and competing rationales but subjectively responding to them. Context works to soften, to tone down, even to exact an element of humility from the self, which recognizes that it is a multiplicity of debts to others, including those it could never have known. The recognition of context is political reason honoring its debts. (188)

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Related to Wolin’s critique of abstract theory was the idea that the type of knowledge appropriate for common life was also a common knowledge available to ordinary citizens: As is usually the case, the best critic of Plato is Plato. In the Protagoras [324c–d] the sophist Protagoras defends the proposition that the skills needed to run a city are part of a human capability for sharing in justice and a moral sense. These can be acquired, Protagoras claimed, through “deliberate choice, and by practice and teaching.” It, too, is a techne that can be taught and learned. And when it is, Protagoras insisted, then “your fellow citizens are right to accept the advice of smiths and cobblers on political matters.” Without it, he declares, there is no sharing and hence no political association. (187–8, brackets inserted) The “democratic reason,” or what Wolin also called “political reason,” of ordinary citizens was based on a “particular place and draws its sustenance from circumscribed relationships: family, friends, church, neighborhood, workplace, community, town, city. These relationships are the sources from which political beings draw power—symbolic, material and psychological—and that enable them to act together” (1992: 251). Theory, with its abstract universalisms, destroyed this “political context” of democratic life. This meant that Wolin never developed a populist political theory as a full-fledged alternative to liberalism, conservatism, and socialism. Instead, the fragments of Wolin’s democratic reason converged on an image of democracy as a “fugitive” experience that has existed only momentarily in history. Wolin allowed the political theorist sympathetic to democracy a role as “prophet” or “critical conscience” speaking on behalf of the people against state power (1990: 6). The prophetic role was also the only role left after Weberian science and disenchantment had dissolved the normative and interpretative foundations of political theory. “Prophecy, we might say, is closet-theory in the age of science” (1984: 84). As a prophet in Weber’s “godless and prophetless time,” the democratic political theorist does not theorize and defend democracy as an alternative political system against rival ideologies. Instead, the prophet criticizes, warns, and predicts. Increasingly, Wolin presented himself as a prophet of a “post-democratic,” “postpolitical” age. This was the theme of Tocqueville between Two Worlds (2001), the expanded edition of Politics and Vision (2004) and of Democracy Incorporated (2008). What Wolin warned about was the advent of a modern form of power that he variously called “the Economic Polity,” “megastate,” “Superpower,” and “inverted totalitarianism.” Wolin’s concern with modern forms of power, which fuse knowledge and power, went back to the beginning. The first edition of Politics and Vision had ended with a description of contemporary society as a society of large organizations, each with its own “politics” and “government.” Modern political science mirrored this

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reality by theorizing a pluralist society in which the state was simply one coercive organization among many. In the polemic Wolin and Schaar delivered against Strauss and his followers, a key issue was Straussian obliviousness to the significance of the “organizational revolution” in American society. In this respect, Wolin and Schaar argued, the Straussians shared something with their behavioralist opponents: Had [Straussian Herbert Storing] confronted [administrative behavior theorist Herbert] Simon on a substantive rather than a scholastic level, he might have appraised Simon’s thought as symptomatic of a profound crisis. What is truly troubling is not that political theory may be dying—elsewhere Professor Strauss has compared contemporary theory to a “putrefying corpse”—but that the nature of the traditional political order itself may be passing away. If this is a possibility, then Simon’s inadequacies are due not to his extremism but to his caution. If this is plausible, one might conjecture that pre-scientific common sense and scientific modes of thought are both inadequate. The world in which we dwell may be equally impenetrable by Simon-pure science and by the Straussian version of common sense. (Schaar and Wolin 1963: 137, italics and brackets added) In this passage the word “substantive” referred to the ability to grasp the significance of what was going on in the real world (the passing away of the traditional political order). This differed from Wolin’s use of “substantive” in the quote from Politics and Vision (288 [258]) to mean an ability to appreciate “the status of politics and the political” against the reduction of politics to (behavioralist) psychology and sociology or (Straussian) moralism. Instead, as with his reworking of Kuhn, substantive political reality was the paradigm, not the theory attempting to interpret reality. Modern social science also accepts this reality of bureaucratic and statist organization. Instead of using “old-fashioned” ideas like democracy to criticize the existing political system, social science redefines democracy in order to better fit the existing reality. After Wolin repudiated epic theory and endorsed democratic reason, he took up the Weberian role of prophet to warn citizens about the political reality that was emerging after the 1960s. As I noted above, Wolin described this emerging power structure as “the Economic Polity,” the “Megastate,” “Superpower,” and “inverted totalitarianism.” These are Weberian ideal-types, interpretations of reality that are designed to highlight forms of power that most people are unaware of or deny. Democracy Incorporated is essentially the elaboration of “inverted totalitarianism” as an ideal-type that Wolin (in order to avoid misunderstanding of this obviously tendentious concept) constantly distinguished from the idealtype of “classical totalitarianism” (fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism). But ideal-types are not theories of the modern state and capitalism. They do not attempt to explain how this system works (something that would require the methods of “old-fashioned” political science).

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Post-political theory I think Wolin’s reduction of theory to democratic reason, prophecy, and formulating ideal-types of “the Economic Polity” or “inverted totalitarianism” was a mistake that diminishes his original insights about a “substantive” theory as centered on “the status of politics and the political,” the notion in “Political Theory as a Vocation” that political theorists ought to theorize alternatives to the reality they criticize, and the claim in “Political Theory: Trends and Goals” that interpretations of reality differ because fundamental values differ. The limitations of Wolin’s approach to political theory can be seen in his polemical review of Rawls’s Political Liberalism (Wolin 1996b). Wolin began his polemic by writing that he was provoked to confront Rawls by a reviewer’s claim that Rawls had put “the ‘political’ back into ‘political philosophy.’” Rather than criticizing Rawls’s conception of the political (as “practical” as distinct from “metaphysical,” and as the “basic structure of society” where compulsion is considered necessary), or opposing a democratic conception of justice to a liberal one, Wolin devoted the first half of his review to complaining about Rawls’s use of the contract device (Rawls the philosopher was telling citizens what to think), the presence of inequality in society, the restrictions on discourse imposed by “public reason,” and Rawls’s use of the “overlapping consensus” as a solution to a problem that Wolin professed not to understand. The second half of the review was devoted to contrasting the ivory tower quality of Rawls’s theory to the real political context of inequality, injustice, racism, corporate power, bureaucracy, class, etc. Rawls the “political” theorist, in Wolin’s estimation, was fiddling while Rome burns. Like the “methodists” in the 1960s, Rawls continued to refine his theory of justice while the conditions for justice eroded under an anti-democratic onslaught: Philosophy does not become “political” simply because it treats political topics in a philosophical way; it becomes political when it gives evidence of grasping what is happening to the political world. Specifically, it would mean that the starting point for even a minimalist democrat should be the recognition that, considered broadly as a political project, democracy is out of synch with or opposed by virtually every dominant tendency in the American economy, cultural life, and politics. (1996b: 117–18) The problem is that Wolin’s conception of democracy was not only “out of synch” with contemporary America, it was out of synch with the entire western tradition of politics and political thought. Moreover, no political theorist (not Rousseau, Jefferson, or Paine) was democratic enough for Wolin. Only Colonel Rainborough, at Putney, seems to have earned Wolin’s praise (1993a: 486; 1996b: 99). Hence the history of western political thought is the history of

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anti‑democratic thought. If the starting point for a specifically “political” theorizing is the crisis of democracy, this crisis has been ongoing since the decline of Periclean Athens. Wolin was unable to confront Rawls’s “ivory tower” liberalism on a “substantive” level because he never developed a democratic or populist theory of justice, which could compete with Rawls’s theory. A debate between liberals and democrats (like the debate between Burke and Paine or Marx and Tocqueville) does not have to hinge on the correct interpretation of contemporary political trends. The substantive difference between them lies elsewhere: in their different conceptions and evaluations of freedom, equality, justice, power, “the people,” and political participation—in other words, in their different conceptions of the political. But if one does not have a theoretical alternative that includes things like an alternative theory of justice, this discussion can never take place. In his review, Wolin (118) yet again mentioned Thomas More’s Utopia as a model of a political theory that both criticizes the political world (book 1) and presents a systematic alternative (book 2). If Rawls’s academic liberalism was Utopia without Book 1, Wolin’s “post-political” theory was Utopia without Book 2. In the expanded edition of Politics and Vision, Wolin wrote that “a democratic theory of justice would have to formulate a democratized political economy that could serve as an alternative to the corporate political economy” (2004: 527). There, he criticized John Dewey because Dewey “failed to suggest the broad policies that would bring about a reformed economic structure or to sketch what it might look like” (509). Wolin also complained that “the disinclination of new millennial intellectuals to conceive of an alternative economic order that could support genuinely political forms of life represents either a failure of the theoretical imagination or the exhaustion of a tradition—or both” (578). It is unclear why Wolin exempted himself from these criticisms. The expanded edition ended by elucidating more details of fugitive democracy and restated the case for localism (as did the last chapter of Democracy Incorporated).18 However, what is striking about Politics and Vision is how little was written about democracy (the 1960s merit only two pages (522–3)) and one wonders whether this “represents either a failure of the theoretical imagination or the exhaustion of a tradition—or both.” I think Wolin made a wrong turn with both “Political Theory as a Vocation” and its democratic repudiation by reducing the notion of “substance” to engagement with “reality.” My book, of course, is my attempt to study different conceptions of the political and their rival values, as well as to try to relate these conceptions of the meaning and value of politics to the “real” world. I also believe political theorists should become more serious about trying to develop viable alternatives to the social order they criticize. As Wolin suggested, a “democratic theory of justice” is a vision of an alternative economic order, not an abstract set of principles. In the final section of this chapter I outline a populist political theory and its conceptions of the economy and culture.

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III Populism, economics, and culture Today, “populism” is used in various ways to describe almost anything considered “popular,” or else it is identified with conservatism (as in “right-wing populism”).19 I am concerned here only with the “ideal-type” of nineteenth-century US populism as described by the historian Lawrence Goodwyn (1976 and 1978). Goodwyn dismissed the “mainstream” debate among historians about US populism (Hicks, Hofstadter, Pollack) because he claimed they had studied the “shadow movement” that hijacked the populist cause. According to Goodwyn, William Jennings Bryan was not a populist, populists were not interested in the “silver” issue, and the fusion of the Populist Party with the Democrats in 1896 was a disaster that destroyed populism as a movement. In this section, I analyze the political values and organizing strategy of this populist movement, its economic philosophy, and its cultural politics. As will be seen, populism as an ideology expands the sphere of politics to include economic and cultural factors. Rawlsian readers are reminded that populism addresses some of the concerns of a “property-owning democracy.”

Populism Although Pocock (1975) had argued that civic humanist ideas continued to influence American political thought after 1789, it seems it was only Christopher Lasch (1991: 180) who recognized that nineteenth-century US populism was an authentic descendant of civic humanism. In its Renaissance phase, the citizenideal of civic humanism was considered in exclusively political terms, in terms of participation in government by different classes and social groups. James Harrington (1993) added an economic dimension to civic humanism when he argued that the “balance of property” in a society determined the balance of power among classes and elites. In order to be an independent participator in government, a citizen had to own his own “means of production,” which in agrarian societies was land. Harrington’s citizen was thus a property owner, property meant land, and Harrington’s land-owning citizen was a member of the English lower aristocracy (“gentry”), active in local government and represented in the House of Commons. When these ideas migrated to the American colonies, the citizen ideal shifted from Harrington’s gentry to an independent citizen-farmer (or, in the cities, a “citizen-artisan”). Whereas the Machiavellian ideal was political, the late eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century ideal put equal emphasis on political and economic activity. The citizen was both a citizen and a producer (a farmer, small proprietor, or skilled worker). As Pocock argued, the civic humanist criticisms of early capitalism focused not on trade or labor relations but on the new financial organizations, such as the Bank of England, and the development of new forms of speculative and commercial property that both threatened the old landed form of property and

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created a new class of bankers, financiers, and speculators (“the moneyed interest” or “the money power”). On the one hand, this new class actively colluded with government, which granted bankers monopolies, issued limited liability charters for “fractional-reserve” banking, redeemed depreciated war bonds at par, and provided favorable economic policies, bailouts, and other privileges in return for loans to finance wars and other government projects. In this respect, capitalism does not separate “the political and the economic.” Politics and economics actively and visibly intertwine. On the other hand, small farmers, artisans, and small businessmen who borrow money soon became debtors to the banks, and they also had to pay the taxes to finance the public debt owed to the banks and speculators. This early capitalist “political economy” had been transplanted to the American colonies and conflict over it was, according to Goodwyn (1981), behind the farmer-debtor rebellions that culminated in Shays rebellion and the reaction of the upper classes that resulted in the US Constitution.20 The conflict continued in the fight between Hamiltonian Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans, in Andrew Jackson’s “war” against the Bank of the United States, in the Greenback Party’s opposition to “gold bugs,” and, finally, in the Populist revolt. After 1896, the banks and financiers won this originally political debate over money and banking (which these earlier movements believed was crucial for determining who controlled the economy), and these issues disappeared from the political agenda (surfacing only whenever the government has to bail out the banks). In the meantime, despite or because of the Federal Reserve, the idea that in a democracy “the people,” instead of bankers, should control money and banking has been lost and knowledge of what the earlier debates had been about is obscured. Consequently, today there is a lot of confused thinking and many “crackpot” or anti-Semitic theories about this issue (and this discredits critics of the financial status quo and prevents thinking about alternatives). I will discuss some of these economic theories and alternative financial systems in the next section. Here, the point is that a populist ideal-type of citizenship and politics extends to the economic sphere, and includes popular control of (as well as citizen knowledge about) money and banking. The populist citizen is both an amateur “political scientist” and an amateur “political economist.” The parameters of “the political” have expanded. Goodwyn’s account of nineteenth-century US populism was distinctive because, before becoming a historian, he had been an editor of the muckraking journal Texas Observer and had covered the civil rights movement, from which he learned that sustainable movements do not arise spontaneously but have to be organized. He also learned that large-scale mass movements have to be organized democratically if they want their future society to be democratic—and that they can, with difficulty, be so organized. He viewed populism as the most successful large-scale democratic social movement in history, whose success was partly due to a consciously thought-out democratic organization and strategy. Goodwyn

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analyzed both the strengths of this strategy and the problems the populists faced and failed to solve. What the reader gets from Democratic Promise is a “model” for a democratic movement, which consists of three crucial elements: 1.



A vision of an economic alternative to corporate capitalism (for populists, the “Greenback” ideology) and specific proposals for institutions and programs that could directly help members (farmer cooperatives and the “sub-treasury” plan) and for which they could agitate.21 Member-based organizations (the National Farmers Alliance and the People’s Party) that consisted of local member chapters and a group of traveling “lecturers” who understood the economic concepts and could educate members about the economic proposals. The lecturers also recruited new members and organized new chapters of the organization. Alongside the National Farmers Alliance and the People’s Party there also developed a network of newspapers and publishers that informed and educated members about organizational, economic, and political matters and spread the populist word to people outside the movement. Development of a “movement culture” that encouraged “democratic” ways of thinking and acting. Initially, the recruiting problem was how to overcome learned habits of apathy and deference to established authorities. As people learned to respect themselves and gain confidence in their abilities, they also learned (from their lecturers, newspapers, and pamphlets) that they could understand economic problems and why all the propaganda of the establishment media was wrong. They also learned from direct experience of the hostility and intransigence of their opponents (the bankers and grain merchants refused to do business with the cooperatives and the two political parties wanted their votes but did not support populist programs). Finally, they developed their own rituals and celebrations of their cause (July 4 mass gatherings that resembled religious revival meetings and which showed populists to themselves, as “the people” in action).

The specific content of the envisioned alternative, organizational structures, and movement culture will be different in different movements, but these three elements (ideology and alternative policies, member-based educative organizations, movement culture) seem necessary for any large-scale democratic movement. The populist example also suggests that movements frequently must go through two phases, one nominally “not” political, the second overtly political. For the populists, the first phase was an “economic” phase, when the farmers formed cooperatives and tried to negotiate prices and loans with the grain merchants, railroads, and bankers. When this failed, they realized they needed a government program (the sub-treasury plan) and a political party to fight for it (the People’s Party). This second, “political” phase presented new opportunities to spread the populist message to the nation as a whole and recruit new

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adherents. But it also presented pitfalls that typically beset any movement that tries to move from “protest to politics” (the civil rights movement) or from economic to political resistance (the labor movement). Thus, after attempting and failing to get the Democratic and Republican parties interested in their program, the populists concluded that they needed to form a third party and organized the People’s Party. This shift in strategy from organizing cooperatives to organizing a political party was crucial for expanding the movement. But, at the same time, the entry of new members who had not undergone the cooperative or populist educational experience developed into a split between older members, who wanted time to educate the rest of American society, and the new members, who wanted to win elections. As the party began winning elections and expanded into new regions, these newer members grew strong enough to dominate party conventions and they pushed the People’s Party into fusion with the Democrats (Bryan and the Silverites) in the disastrous 1896 election. Both fusion and electoral defeat demoralized the rank and file, the underlying organization collapsed, and the populist movement quickly dwindled. Goodwyn’s analysis underscores the brilliance of populist organization, but also its inherent fragility (and it is not clear that remaining as an independent third party would have worked either). As Goodwyn has remarked, large-scale democratic movements are inherently difficult to sustain. His other major example (1991) of a large-scale democratic movement, Poland’s Solidarity union, took 12 years to build. It was spectacularly successful as an opposition organization. But even then, it was repressed by the military and, after the fall of communism, Solidarity disintegrated into rival political parties and factions. The failure of US Populism and Polish Solidarity may be cause for pessimism, but their partial successes should be of interest to democratic political theorists and may be instructive for those who are suspicious or disdainful of the need for organizations.

Populist economics The economic ideas of populism seem to have derived from the earlier “Greenback” ideology, which held that “hard money” and “fractional reserve banking” were the root causes of economic inequality and the conflict between labor and capital. The Greenbackers advocated paper money (a “fiat” currency) and government banks as the solution to tight money, high interest rates, periodic speculative “panics,” and “Wall Street-Washington” corruption. Populism was also a “producerist” ideology that believed that if interest rates on credit could be lowered and prices stabilized, an economy of independent farmers and small businesses (a small-scale capitalism) could flourish. Field hands and urban laborers would also benefit because prices would no longer reflect high interest rates and would thus be lower than under the previous system. If they saved their money (and borrowed from government banks at low interest), they too could buy a farm or set up a small business (Kellogg 1875).

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These ideas are controversial and the usual response is to see them, in any event, as anachronistic. But the point here is that, whatever motives or illusions were behind the farmers and their “property-owning democracy,” they believed that there were political implications to the type of economy compatible with democracy. In Wolin’s terms, they were evaluating the economy from a political perspective rather than an economic one. There is a long tradition of this, going back to republican Rome and the “agrarian laws” of the Gracchi and their followers.22 Harrington, too, wanted an agrarian law to limit the size of estates. Tom Paine (2004a), seeing that most people in Europe would never own land, proposed a land tax to finance “trust funds” for everyone else, which could be used to start small businesses. In the nineteenth-century US, with its many farmers and easy access to land, the problem of maintaining “farmer-citizens” was financial. The Populists believed their economy had been taken over by a corrupt alliance of politicians and bankers. This issue is not anachronistic. Many political and economic analysts see the current economic crisis and depression as due to an unhealthy dominance of the financial sector over the rest of the economy and to the unwillingness of highly indebted governments to stimulate their economies sufficiently to recover from the recession.23 Instead, after bailing out the banks, governments have prescribed “austerity” for themselves and the rest of society. Today’s equivalent of the Greenback ideology of fiat money and easy credit for small proprietors seems to be the “Modern Monetary Theory” (Wray 1998), which is a description of the workings of modern fiat currency systems (which, since the US took the world off the gold standard in 1971, includes all developed capitalist economies).24 The claim of Modern Monetary Theory is that fiat systems work quite differently from gold standard systems (and paper currency systems like Bretton Woods that are pegged to gold) and hence most economists and most treasury and federal reserve officials do not understand the current monetary system. If they understood how fiat systems worked, they would see that governments can “print money” during recessions to spend on public projects (such as infrastructure improvements and other forms of economic stimulus) without having to borrow or tax. The only economic constraints on government spending are inflation (which occurs after the economy has recovered) and hyperinflation (when people no longer trust paper money).25 The remaining constraints are political: what type of policies (liberal, conservative, or populist) governments should pursue. Modern Monetary Theory resembles Keynesianism in sharing the assumption that modern capitalist economies are dominated by large enterprises and millions of waged or salaried workers, not populist small proprietors. The economic job of the government is “macroeconomic,” to guide the growth of the economy, keep unemployment low, and avoid inflation. But if the implications of Modern Monetary Theory are accepted, the flexibility of government spending (no longer constrained by deficits) also allows for more narrowly targeted policies and institutions that might help small proprietors as well as the poor and chronically

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unemployed.26 Some Modern Monetary theorists advocate public banks (modeled on North Dakota’s state-owned bank, a holdover from the Populist era) that could redirect public employee pensions and state treasury accounts from their current function of subsidizing private banks to making investments in the local economy, including low interest loans to small proprietors. These and other policies (adapted to modern conditions) could replicate some of the ideas of the populists for reviving a “producer” (instead of financial or consumer) society. Alongside small businesses, a populist-oriented government might promote worker cooperatives or worker-owned enterprises (Kelso and Adler 1958; Whyte and Whyte 1988), particularly for large enterprises, as a way of empowering workers and duplicating on a larger scale a sense of ownership or proprietorship (as well as emphasizing the value of cooperation). One of the main problems of worker-cooperatives is access to credit, which a public bank could provide. But also relevant are those proposals for Rawls’s “property owning democracy” (Meade 1993; Ackerman and Alstott 1999; Alperovitz 2004; O’Neill and Williamson 2010).

Populist culture The usual populist strategy is to unite “the people” around opposition to “the elites” or special interests by focusing on economic issues. But what happens after the economic elites are routed? Won’t the people turn to cultural issues? One of the persistent criticisms of populism is that, in its claim to represent “the people” or the majority, it neglects the rights or interests of the minority. “The people,” it seems, are cultural conservatives and many harbor prejudices against minorities, which the attainment of “popular power” will allow them to enforce. Many are also religious and, as we saw in the discussion of social conservative views of community in the Schmitt chapter, many want their communities to be based on religion and its public expression. In an introduction to an issue of democracy devoted to the relationship between democracy and religion, Wolin characterized the relationship this way: What has religion got to do with democracy? The long answer would be: everything. Ideas of the equal worth of individuals, of the demand for a just community, and of concern and affection for the well-being of others are a small part of the Western religions’ contribution to democracy. The short answer would be: the idea that no person is owned by any human institution. (1982: 5) This short answer raises the question of the “asymmetry” of politics in relation to religion, a theme raised in the chapters on Schmitt, Ricoeur, and Arendt. But Wolin here was not discussing the truth of religion (a topic coming from

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“outside” politics), but its political significance. As part of the “long answer,” Wolin noted the historical connection between democracy and religion: Modern democratic ideas and impulses first emerged during the English revolution of the seventeenth century and as a result displayed numerous marks of the religious ferment of that extraordinary period. Ideas of equality, rights, participation, elections, freedom of expression, and consent as the basis of association were widely discussed and all of them were primarily religious in origin. (6) Against the “militantly antireligious” philosopher Richard Rorty, Wolin used the “short answer” to defend religion as the philosophy of the common man (1990). Religion provides a bulwark for ordinary individuals, preventing them from being “owned by any human institution”: What disenchantment means, politically, is the erosion of a powerful support that ordinary people find in religion. To be without it is to be vulnerable to the image culture and its daily diet of novelty. The religions which have done most to shape the American moral consciousness have been populist and culturally conservative; and, as commentators beginning with Tocqueville have frequently noted, this folk religion, with its odd, often picturesque and bizarre ways combined with strait-laced and tight-lipped sense of rectitude, has played an important role in preserving a democratic sense of the self-worth of the ordinary individual. (1990: 30) The political problem with religion as a model for community is not so much “disenchantment” as it is the clash between those who are “populist and culturally conservative” and those who are “radical” and culturally “modern.” Wolin addressed this clash: “Despite the valuable and often heroic part that many religious groups played in the civil rights movement and antiwar activities of the sixties, a formidable distance divides radicals from believers. They may cooperate on causes but not about causal theory” (1982: 5). Yet both groups were part of Wolin’s populist vision of democracy. Wolin mentioned “the various movements represented by civil rights workers, students, women’s groups, churches, and gay rights advocates have done much to equalize freedoms in the society. Each of these movements was importantly a protest against the antidemocratic practices being enforced by political and legal authorities” (1989a: 78). At the same time, however, in addition to the division between radicals and religious activists on the “left,” the democratic opposition to statism is also represented by conservative groups: “Religious fundamentalism, ‘moralism,’ and racial, religious, and ethnic prejudices belong to the same historical culture as traditions of local

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self‑government, decentralized politics, participatory democracy, and sentiments of egalitarianism” (1989a: 79). Democracy in America, then, is represented by populist protest movements, both radical and conservative, secular and religious, against state power. But despite a common enemy, these democrats are fundamentally opposed to each other at the level of community and culture. These splits are further complicated by “multiculturalism,” which Wolin hated. When Wolin contrasted democracy to the state, “difference” was democratic and a way of obstructing the homogeneity of bureaucratic power (1989e: 191). But without this statist foil, “difference” meant that the democratic community divided along class lines (between an elite and ordinary people) and/or into mutually hostile identity or interest groups. Wolin consistently attacked pluralism both for its elitism and for its tendency to “balkanize” politics and make mutually antagonistic groups dependent on state arbitration (1960a: 429–34 or 2004: 384–9; 1981a). He treated multiculturalism the same way. “Notions of difference that emphasize ethnic, racial, religious, or gender singularity are radical extensions rather than rejections of pluralism” (1993a: 465). Multiculturalism represented “eccentricities and the rage of separatism” (1989d: 178). Wolin developed a tortuous set of distinctions between “diversity” and “difference,” “inclusion” and “incorporation,” “recognition” and “re-cognition”—the first of which seem to be bad. But the meanings continually shift: democracy meant “incorporation”; but Rousseau’s version of incorporation was bad; “political modernity” was a reaction to Rousseau’s homogeneity; but political modernity’s pluralism was antidemocratic; women, blacks, and Indians have been excluded and oppressed; but their efforts to be recognized as equals were disparaged as “postmodern” and “the rage of separatism”; their militant demands made them dependent on the state, etc., etc. (1993a). “Democracy” hovers over these essays, representing commonality, equality, the appreciation of diversity, and difference. Democracy, Wolin insisted, requires affirming some sort of similarity: Similarity is a moment when differences have been bracketed and their exploitive impulse suspended, when a commonality is forged. Commonality is, it needs to be emphasized, fugitive and impermanent. It is difference that is stable. How long differences can remain bracketed depends on how skillfully the politics of similarities is conducted and that depends on the most important aspect of similarity. Similarity in this context is not an empirical description but a normative aspiration. It expresses a will to share actively in a common experience rather than in a common life, much less in a monochromatic life of the kind represented in More’s Utopia, where all citizens wear similar clothes, live in identical houses, and undergo the same education. The experience of commonality has found expression in a rich vocabulary: the “common good,” “sharing,” “participation,” “equality,” “universal rights.” (1993a: 472)

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But somehow this “rich vocabulary” (presumably formulated by “democratic reason”) never comes down to earth. Instead, Wolin seemed to find the basis for democratic commonality, not in any vision of a future democracy together, but in past oppression: The sameness is a common condition of oppression, of injustice, which is to say that sameness is created not by democracy when it is installed as a construction, as a politeia, but by a predemocratic experience. It is nondemocratic rulers, the men who justify their rule by appealing to differences—heredity, divinity, merit, knowledge—who reduce populations to a common condition. Misery creates the basis for an opposing conception of the political based on community. (1993a: 476) Lasch saw an alternative basis to the misery that creates community in what he called a lower middle-class ethos of “limits” that was (as among social conservatives) ultimately grounded in religion—which starts from despair: “The deepest variety of religious faith … always, in every age, arises out of a background of despair” (1995b: 243). What attracted Lasch to religion was that it accounted for the paradox “that the secret of happiness lies in renouncing the right to be happy” (246). The world was not made for our benefit. Its purpose is a mystery. But despite appearances to the contrary, the world is good. This is not an easy view for moderns, or anyone, to accept. Faith is therefore the result of inner struggle. Citing William James, Lasch wrote: Religious faith asserts the goodness of being in the face of suffering and evil. Black despair and alienation—which have their origin not in perceptions exclusively modern but in the bitterness always felt toward a God who allows evil and suffering to flourish—often becomes the prelude to conversion. An awareness of “radical evil” underlies the spiritual intoxication that finally comes with “yielding” and “self-surrender.” The experience of the twice-born, according to James, is more painful but emotionally deeper than that of the “healthy-minded” because it is informed by the “iron of melancholy.” Having no awareness of evil, the once-born type of religious experience cannot stand up to adversity. It offers sustenance only so long as it does not encounter “poisonous humiliations” … When that happens, we need a more rugged form of faith, one that recognizes that “life and its negation are beaten up inextricably together” and that “all natural happiness thus seems infected with a contradiction.” If nothing else, the shadow of death hangs over our pleasures and triumphs. “Back of everything is the great spectre of universal death, the all-encompassing blackness.” (1995b: 244)

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It is unclear whether or not Lasch believed in God. In any event, where did Wolin stand in relation to cultural conservatism and cultural modernism? It is difficult to tell. He steadfastly stuck to his “political” interpretations of “everything.”27 Wolin’s former colleague, Schaar, deplored the loss of authority in modernity and was sympathetic to the Puritans. Other members of the “Berkeley School,” such as McWilliams (1973), seemed to support cultural conservatism. On the other hand, after his democratic conversion, Wolin disparaged Calvin’s “well-ordered and regulated church” (1996b: 114). What might be called the “Princeton annex” to the Berkeley School (Wolin’s students during the 1980s) was much more modernist or postmodernist. Because there is no direct evidence that Wolin was a cultural conservative or believed in God, there is no point in attributing these beliefs to him. In this respect, Wolin was being consistent in sticking to his “political” perspective on culture and religion. The dilemma, however, remains. In particular, it will be accentuated if the democrats ever move from local resistance to something more ambitious, as Wolin insisted they must eventually: The localism that is the strength of grassroots organizations is also their limitation. There are major problems in our society that are general in nature and necessitate modes of vision and action that are comprehensive rather than parochial. And there are historical legacies of wrong and unfairness that will never be confronted and may even be exacerbated by exclusive concern with backyard politics. (1992: 252) Here is where the much-maligned “communitarians” might help. As we saw in the Schmitt chapter, social conservatives believe communitarians are liberals or socialists in disguise. Liberals believe communitarians are conservatives. Communitarians want to restore morality and enforce it with authority, but this authority is derived from the community. In this sense, their ideal is the same as Wolin’s “authority and community.” But their ultimate objective is moral. As we saw, communitarians, unlike social conservatives, do not insist on founding morality and community on religion and their model of the values of the community is the “liberal” US Constitution. Lasch initially embraced communitarianism (1986) before he embraced populism. In a late essay (1995a), however, he contrasted them in terms of the difference between a communitarian “ethic of compassion,” which he believed meant “pity” for working-class people and the poor (as well as absolving them of any responsibility at all for their situation), and an “ethic of respect,” which those groups (as well as most groups, for that matter) prefer to pity (and which requires assuming some responsibility for one’s situation). But, once this distinction is understood, most people will opt for an ethic of respect, not pity. The question then is how an ethic of respect can negotiate the differences between cultural conservatives and radical democrats (a problem also

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relevant to creating a “world community”). From a Wolinite perspective this is a political problem of reconciling differences in the name of a larger collective interest.

Notes 1 For an account of the Berkeley School, which also included Wilson Carey McWilliams, Hanna Pitkin, and J. Peter Euben, see Young (1996: 294–306). A brief biography of Wolin by Joshua Miller can be found in Utter and Lockhart (1993). 2 Wolin wrote essays with John Schaar on the Berkeley student rebellion for the New York Review of Books that were later published as Wolin and Schaar (1970). He also edited a book of documents on the Berkeley rebellion with Seymour Martin Lipset (Lipset and Wolin 1965). Between 1974 and 1980, Wolin wrote essays and reviews for the New York Review of Books. Wolin edited democracy: A Journal of Political Renewal and Radical Change from 1981–3. 3 Arendt taught at Berkeley in 1955, but Wolin claimed not to have read Arendt’s The Human Condition (1958a) before finishing his 1960a Politics and Vision. See Hauptmann (2004: 45). 4 Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought was published in 1960. Wolin published an expanded edition in 2004. Because the pagination is different in the two editions, I have placed the page numbers of the expanded edition in brackets. 5 This was the argument of the last chapter of Politics and Vision, but it is spelled out in Wolin’s review (1960b) of Judith Shklar’s After Utopia (1957). For the contrasting “death” of political theory thesis, Wolin cited Laslett (1956: vii) and Strauss (1957). 6 Wolin (301) quoted Karl Marx, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law,” in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1975: 31). 7 Interestingly, the paragraphs on populism do not appear in the versions of this essay published in Political Theory (May 1986) and in Wolin (1989c). Although Wolin never actually calls himself a populist, he associates his democratic ideas with populism in Wolin (1987, 82; 1989a, 79; 1990, 30; 1994b; 1996c, 73 and 1997, 144). 8 Socialists, in Wolin’s view, cannot “decide whether socialism is, so to speak, a subcategory of democracy or democracy a subcategory of socialism” (1989d: 152). See also Wolin (1983, 1985, and the chapter on Marx in 2004). 9 Wolin (1988) accused Foucault of resolving all state power into micropolitics. 10 This is also the theme of Tocqueville between Two Worlds (2001) which ends with a chapter on “Postdemocracy” and it is also the conclusion to the 2004 expanded edition of Politics and Vision. 11 On fugitive democracy, see also the last section of the last chapter of the expanded edition of Politics and Vision (2004) and the last two chapters of Democracy Incorporated (2008). 12 They were quoting Strauss (1975a: 101), who had divided the field of political science into behavioralists, political philosophers, and “old-fashioned political scientists.” 13 More exactly, “it is the ideological paradigm reflective of the same political community which the normal scientists are investigating” (1969b: 1064). This idea was first developed in Wolin (1969a). 14 “Theory and commentary … are not only about politics; they are politics expressed through the act of interpretation” (Wolin 1980: 190). 15 This essay was Wolin’s response to Gunnell’s (1979) criticisms. Although Wolin disputed some of Gunnell’s methodological points, Wolin’s main response was that theory must be guided by political, not theoretical or methodological, concerns. From his political perspective, Wolin accused Gunnell of reviving “method” in order to destroy or neutralize the critical thrust of Wolin’s engaged political theory.

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16 It is difficult not to see Jacobson’s (1978) comparison of the political theorist to Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” as a repudiation of the elitism of epic theory. 17 Wolin and Schaar left Berkeley in 1971 and “reconvened” the Berkeley School with former student J. Peter Euben at the University of California, Santa Cruz. But in 1973, Wolin left Santa Cruz for Princeton. 18 The Tocqueville book mentioned the Levellers, Tocqueville’s view of American democracy, and the popular uprisings in 1848 before they were incorporated into an economistic socialism, but the main themes were Tocqueville’s varying conceptions of theory and the rise of postmodern despotism. Democracy Incorporated, Chapter 12, “Demotic Moments,” had a more sympathetic survey of democratic movements throughout history than Wolin had previously given. 19 For a survey of the uses of populist language in the US, see Kazin (1995). For a cross-national survey of movements calling themselves populist, see Canovan (1981). 20 This was also the thesis of historian Charles Beard, which has been supported by dissident historians Merrill Jensen and Jackson Turner Main. But it is not always clear that these historians, or those who cover the Jefferson, Jackson, and Greenback periods, understand the economic significance of these apparently political struggles, or their continuity. 21 An early statement of the fiat currency (paper money) theories behind the Greenback movement was Kellogg (1875 [1845]). 22 Weber (1978a: 1349 and 2003: 328–9) argued that the aim of the Gracchi land reform was not social justice, but to preserve the self-equipped farmer-soldier composition of the Roman legions, rather than continue the trend toward mercenary armies led by a charismatic general (which was what destroyed the republic). 23 Of the various books on the 2008 economic crisis, Johnson and Kwak (2010) emphasize the political implications of Wall Street dominance of the political and economic system. Even if big banks are more efficient economically, politically they are a danger to any democracy. 24 Other economists associated with Modern Monetary Theory are Stephanie Kelton and Warren Mosler. 25 These claims, of course, remain controversial. But the first is a conventional Keynesian argument that when the economy reaches full employment or full capacity, the government should raise taxes or cut spending to prevent inflation. 26 Modern Monetary Theory provides the affordability argument to support full employment. The importance of eradicating inner-city unemployment as the solution to poverty, as well as the need for a public works program to do it, is emphasized in Wilson (1996). Public works, important during the Depression, are regularly dismissed as “unaffordable.” 27 Hence, in Chapter 7 of Democracy Incorporated, Wolin condemned the religious fundamentalists who have allied with the Republican Party and Superpower, but he defended the religious Great Awakenings of the nineteenth century, which were part of democratic culture. Wolin also rejected “civic religions,” partly because they are false and partly because they impose uniformity on the demos.



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I have slowly come to the conclusion that society is essentially political and that one type of society is distinguished from another by the way it shapes relationships between humans, in classes or groups, which in turn depends on the mode of generation and representation of power. Claude Lefort (Caille 1995: 58) What has been exploded is the idea and the reality itself of a unique space of constitution of the political. What we are witnessing is a politicization far more radical than any we have known in the past, because it tends to dissolve the distinction between the public and the private, not in terms of the encroachment on the private by a unified public space, but in terms of a proliferation of radically new and different political spaces. Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1985 or 2001: 181)

This chapter examines the “society-centered” and “ideological” conception of the political in the work of Claude Lefort (1924–2010), Ernesto Laclau (1935– 2014), and Chantal Mouffe (1943–). I privilege Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe because they use the concept of the political, this concept (“the mode of institution of society”) is both ideological and cultural, and this conception of the political makes politics the “motor” of history in contrast to Marxist “economic determinism” (or class struggle) and a “Heideggerian” philosophical “history of Being.” They also situate their political theories in relation to democracy, which they argue is the modern western form of the political. Most of the political theories deriving from the cultural concerns of the “new social movements” focus only on criticism, align themselves with established ideologies, or call their desired alternative “democracy.” Many who do the latter cite Lefort or Laclau and Mouffe’s conception of democracy because it includes an “anti-metaphysical”

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dimension that resonates with contemporary pluralism, “anti-essentialism,” and “anti-totalitarian” concerns.1 As former Marxists, Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe situate their theories against “economic determinism,” “class reductionism,” and revolution, and provide a reformist alternative that Laclau and Mouffe call “radical democracy.” This chapter examines their respective theories of the political and their practical implications (parts I and II), and how they understand the relationship between philosophy, ontology, and politics (part III). I criticize them (and, by implication, most political theories) for neglecting to theorize alternatives to capitalism and for ignoring questions of strategy. Part IV gives my ideas on these topics. In the rest of this introduction, I explain what I mean by “society-centered” and “ideological” conceptions of politics. Kenneth Minogue has argued that “society,” the “economy,” and “culture” were only “discovered” after the modern state consolidated its power and provided the stable conditions for the development of these other “spheres” (1995: 45–9). Up to this point, politics had been considered the “queen” of what are now called the “social” sciences. From then on, economics, sociology, and anthropology (and the related notion of culture) begin to assert their “autonomy” from politics and to even claim “primacy.” At the same time, the events of the French Revolution led, according to the liberal historian Francois Furet (1981), to the invention of both modern western “democratic culture” (24) and ideological politics (52).2 By the invention of democratic culture, Furet meant the invention of “a world of autonomous individuals, entrusted with reconstructing the City on the basis of their free wills” (1990: 272). Ideologies are important for democratic culture because they provide answers to how autonomous individuals should “reconstruct” their “city.” Ideological politics derived from the Enlightenment belief that societies could be radically transformed in accordance with “nature” and “reason,” something that was attempted during the French Revolution. The interaction of democratic culture with revolutionary ideology generated the “Age of Ideology” (Watkins 1964) and the great ideologies of liberalism, conservatism, and socialism. These are systematic doctrines that contain explanations of how society, the economy, and culture “really work” (Burkean custom, Hayekian spontaneous order, Marxist class struggle, liberal technological determinism and countervailing powers, etc.), how they “ought” to work (traditions, free-market capitalism, communism, a liberal “Great Society”), and proposals for how to transform them from “is” to “ought” (reform, revolution, counterrevolution, a new religious or cultural “Reformation”). Ideologies are “society-centered” because they politicize the “discovered” spheres of society, the economy, and culture and aim at action to conserve or transform them. Ideologies are a “means” of modern politics, alongside power and authority. Ideologies also accomplish the three tasks that political theorist John Dunn believed were necessary to any understanding of politics, and which he found wanting in contemporary “western political theory”:

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To understand politics, we still need to know what it is reasonable for us to want and care about, how the human world now is and what it is as it is, and how we could act to achieve what we want and secure what we care about. This is what political theory attempts to show us. How well equipped is it for that task? (1978: vii) Addressing these three tasks was also what David Easton, in “The Decline of Modern Political Theory” (1951: 48), demanded of “creative” political theory: “[Creative political theory] requires a conjunction of three elements: a statement of the actual situation, a statement of goals, both long-run and proximate, and a statement of the means to achieve these goals. Clearly, these three elements describe exactly the constituent elements of traditional creative theory.” Part of my argument in this chapter is about the need for “creative” political theorists to take up all three tasks of describing and explaining how the world works, how it ought to work (the usual meaning of “normative political theory,” which should also include practical alternatives), and how to get from “here” to “there.” Dunn and Easton’s formulations suggest that these tasks do not need to be related systematically in a “grand theory” or ideology and can be related practically. But addressing all three is necessary if you want to “understand politics” or be “creative.” If ideologies politicize society, the economy, and culture, they usually do so by claiming that the values of one of these spheres (economics for classical liberalism, libertarianism, and socialism, culture for social conservatism and the “new social movements”) do and should dominate politics and the other spheres. This gives rise to our paradox about the loss of the identity or specificity of “the political.” “The mode of institution of society,” for example, seems to be a cultural phenomenon as much as a political one. Defining the political seems to be a problem endemic to ideological and society-centered conceptions of politics. Ideologies (by “definition”) also closely link politics with theory which seeks to direct politics by diagnosing political problems, prescribing remedies and formulating strategies for change. The more ambitious the ideology, the more “theory” tries to control political action or “practice.” In practice, this means control of politics by intellectuals. Lenin seems to have been the most effective intellectual in politics and Bolshevik success legitimated domination of revolutionary politics by “vanguard” parties that possessed the “correct” political strategy. Conservatives since Burke have complained about the negative effects of “intellectuals in politics.” On the left, this takes the form of dividing into activists and theorists, with activists being anti-theory and anti-intellectual and theorists denouncing “mindless activism.” It also involves romanticizing the working class and democracy: the workers or “the people” must emancipate themselves. Theorists of politics, such as the conservative Minogue (1995) and the socialist Crick (1964 or 2000), complain that ideology destroys genuine politics.

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At the same time, of course, ideologies politicize theory because they aim at practical action and use theory to advance political objectives. “Truth” is shaped for political purposes. One of the reasons for the “decline of political theory” was the belief by political scientists that political theories were “mere” ideologies advancing some group’s political agenda. Gabriel Almond (1990) believed academic political theorists were either “neo-Marxists” or Straussian conservatives, and that their goals were to take over political science and redirect it toward ideological ends. Ideological political theories thus politicize theory at the same time that they make politics “theoretical.” There is “asymmetry” both between the need for some theory to guide politics and the distorting effects of “theory” and the need to counteract ideologies with non-ideologicl values. Ideology has two other meanings (Freeden 2004), which in part represent “responses” to complaints about “ideological” politics. Ideology also means beliefs that legitimize interests or the status quo, or that distort reality. The Marxist reply to accusations that Marxism is an “ideology,” rather than a “science,” is the reply that all other beliefs, including “science,” are also ideological, particularly ones that support the status quo. The third meaning of ideology today is as a synonym for “world views” or what Marxist theorist Louis Althusser (1971) considered everyday subjectivity.3 Ideology as world view or everyday experience can include Furet’s “democratic culture,” the world view of a society or historical period, or everyday “common sense.” We are all “ideologists,” as Freeden says (2004). Lefort (1986c), Laclau (1996; 2006), and Mouffe adopt the world view and subjectivist meaning of ideology for their conception of the political as “the mode of institution of society” and reserve the term ideology itself for attempts to legitimize the status quo. Insofar as Laclau and Mouffe conceive radical democracy as an alternative to liberalism and socialism, radical democracy is an ideology in the first sense of a political doctrine. Laclau and Mouffe explicitly use Lefort’s definition of the political and his antimetaphysical conception of democracy as the background to their theories. I therefore start with Lefort.

I Lefort: the political against Marxism and philosophy Claude Lefort was best known in France for his theories of totalitarianism and democracy (which are linked because each is the negation of the other) and at the time of his death could be characterized as a (US-style) liberal or social democrat.4 Lefort was a student of the phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who introduced him to Trotskyism, and, later, of the sociologist Raymond Aron, who pulled him in a liberal direction. Lefort quickly became critical of Marxism, particularly its “actually existing” Stalinist and Trotskyist forms (Lefort 1986a). He abandoned Trotskyism in 1948 to found the independent socialist group, “Socialism or Barbarism,” with Cornelius Castoriadis and others. Lefort’s personal

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aversion to revolution and bureaucracy caused him to leave Socialism or Barbarism in 1958, although he maintained contact with Castoriadis and the others, and they briefly reunited to write a book supporting the May 1968 rebellion. Meanwhile, Lefort was moving (along with others in what was later called “the return of the political” (Jennings 1997; Rosanvallon 2001)) from Marxism to “republican” politics. He wrote a dissertation on Machiavelli, which was supervised by Aron and finally published in 1972 (Lefort 2012). Lefort’s Machiavelli was neither a “realist” nor a “civic humanist,” but rather a phenomenologist of politics. Lefort found in Machiavelli the ideas that societies were constituted by division (aristocrats versus the people), that division energized society (as Machiavelli claims in The Discourses, Book 1, Chapter 3), and the idea that the prince had to manage his appearance in the eyes of his peers and the people (which reinforced Lefort’s belief that power operates primarily through its representation). During this time, Lefort also discovered Arendt’s writings on both totalitarianism and “the political,” and he began publishing his own theories about them, including a 1975 book on Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. But he rejected Arendt’s particular interpretations of totalitarianism and the political and he particularly rejected her disparagement of modern democracy (Lefort 1988b). Here, he found Tocqueville, Francois Furet, and Leo Strauss useful to his “revival of political philosophy.”5 But he remained a follower of Merleau-Ponty in a quest for a “phenomenology” of the political.

Culture and ideology Lefort defined the political as “the mode of institution of society” (1988a: 11) or “mode of institution of the social” (218), or as the “form” of society (2, 11, 17). Lefort emphasized the phenomenological-psychoanalytic “principles” or “symbolic” relations that generate social relationships. These relations preceded strictly economic relations and thus authorized treating the “mode of institution” of society as analytically prior to the mode of production (1986b). These relations were cultural or “symbolic” (concerned with meaning), rather than instrumental or utilitarian.6 They can also be characterized as “ideological” in the sense of ideology as a world view. The mode of institution of society involves “a specific mode of distinguishing between the real and the imaginary, the true and the false, the just and the unjust, the permissible and the forbidden, the normal and the pathological” (1988g: 11–12). It is these “cultural” distinctions that “institute” a society. The specific mode of distinguishing is the “political” form of a society. Why call a “mode of distinguishing” political?7 Lefort was not always clear on this, usually implying that religion and the above modes of distinguishing are inherently political because they are part of the “mode of institution of society.” But elsewhere, Lefort suggested these relationships were political because they involved power. According to Lefort: “I have slowly come to the conclusion that society is essentially political and that one type of society is distinguished from

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another by the way it shapes relationships between humans, in classes or groups, which in turn depends on the mode of generation and representation of power” (quoted in Caille 1995: 58). Power for Lefort was always exercised through the representation of power, particularly authority, which is based on legitimacy, and representations are “symbolic” or “cultural.” He also returned to the ancient Greek belief that forms of government determine the character of society. Borrowing a term from Leo Strauss, Lefort characterized the principles that generate society as its “regime” (1988e: 2 and 1991: 243–4). For Strauss, a regime was a “way of life” derived from orientation to a principle that was authoritative. Lefort utilized Tocqueville’s notion that aristocracy and democracy were types of society and not just forms of government. “Like the classic thinkers,” Lefort wrote, Tocqueville “was convinced that the manner in which authority was conceived and practiced in a certain society determined the main features of its constitution” (1991: 251). The best example of Lefort’s political conception of culture is revolution and specifically the French Revolution: The revolutionary phenomena is in fact the most convincing proof that an analysis of the political implies not only an analysis of ideology, but also an analysis of the experience of the world, and of modes of thought and belief which are conventionally assigned to the realm of culture. Until such time as a fracture appears in society, it is tempting to study the structure of power, class structure, the workings of institutions, and social actors’ modes of behaviour as though they were meaningful in themselves, and to overlook the imaginary and symbolic foundations of their “reality.” It is because representations are, so to speak, so enkysted in social practice that they are so easily overlooked; that we identify them only when they appear at a certain remove from that practice in discourses which are explicitly religious, philosophical, literary or aesthetic and that we fail to grasp their political significance. The French Revolution is, however, the moment when all discourse acquires an import within the generality of the social, when its political dimension becomes explicit, and it therefore enables the historian to recognize the political dimension in areas where it was invisible under the Ancien Regime. (1988d: 93, emphasis added)8 As noted earlier, the liberal historian Furet had claimed that revolutionary ideology was “the foundation of modern politics” (1981: 52) and that “France was the country that, through the Revolution, invented democratic culture” (24). Lefort uses these ideas to make the claim that the French Revolution opened up the “theme of social and historical invention, of the invention of a new world of human action and human communication, of the invention of the idea that history and society are the space within which the ultimate meaning of human values is inscribed” (1988d: 104–5).

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Cultural conceptions of the political such as those of Furet and Lefort distinguish between culture and ideology. Culture is constitutive of society and there is no use insisting on an “independent reality” apart from it. There are “material” economies and events often happen “behind the backs” of actors, but unless these are perceived by experience (poverty, unemployment) or by some theory (such as Marxism) they will be ignored or misunderstood. Ideology is either an overly systematic or utopian political doctrine that is imposed on society by fanatics like Robespierre (Furet’s view), or it is, as in Marx, a justificatory discourse that tries to explain away apparent contradictions in the culture or to legitimize the ideas or status of particular groups. In an essay on ideology (1986c), Lefort distinguished bourgeois, totalitarian, and “invisible” ideologies. Bourgeois ideology was the usual conservative and liberal defense of “capitalism and freedom,” totalitarian ideology was comprehensive and coercive, and “invisible ideology” was the ideology of modern capitalist societies, in which comprehensive or systematic ideology was discarded in favor of partial or fragmented discourses that reduced thought to an acceptance of the “reality” of the fragmentation of everyday life. One criticism of Lefort is that it is often difficult to distinguish these fragmented discourses of “invisible ideology” from the “pluralism” and “uncertainty” of the “democratic culture” he wanted to defend.

Democracy Both Furet and Lefort interpreted the French Revolution and modernity from Tocqueville’s political perspective. Tocqueville (1969) had interpreted modernity in terms of a “democratic revolution” that had replaced the old aristocratic society with a democratic one. Following Tocqueville, Lefort argued that the chief characteristic of modernity is that it is democratic: [W]e cannot understand the characteristics of our way of thinking and living without taking into consideration what Tocqueville called the democratic revolution. Neither technology itself, nor economic change in itself suffice to account for our experience of the world, because their effects are widely determined by their inscription into one singular political form of society. (1991: 247) For Lefort, then, democracy was the fundamental institution within which technology (Heidegger) and capitalism (Marx) are embedded. Unlike Tocqueville, however, who thought of “equality of condition” as the hallmark of democracy, Lefort was interested in the democratic revolution as “a political event with a metaphysical significance” (1988h: 178, italics in original). That metaphysical significance was “the collapse of an unconditional authority which, in one or another social context, someone could claim to embody” (178). The distinguishing feature of Lefort’s conception of democracy is that democracy is a form of society

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in which the religious (with its “unconditional authority”) and the political (in the narrower sense of “conditional” authority) have separated. Society and political power are no longer related to a cosmic background. Deprived of its grounding in religion, the representation of power is transformed. Power loses its unconditional authority or legitimacy and, consequently, the notion of society, of social relations, is also transformed: In my view, the important point is that democracy is instituted and sustained by the dissolution of the markers of certainty. It inaugurates a history in which people experience a fundamental indeterminacy as to the basis of power, law and knowledge, and as to the basis of relations between self and other, at every level of social life (at every level where division, and especially the division between those who held power and those who were subject to them, could once be articulated as a result of a belief in the nature of things or in a supernatural principle). It is this which leads me to take the view that, without the actors being aware of it, a process of questioning is implicit in social practice, that no one has the answer to the questions that arise, and that the work of ideology, which is always dedicated to the task of restoring certainty, cannot put an end to this practice. (1988g: 19) The secularization of power and loss of authority in modern democracies does not dispense with the need for legitimacy. While no law, for example, can claim to represent Justice itself, it does not follow that justice is reduced to positive law: The distinguishing feature of democracy is that, whilst it inaugurates a history which abolishes the place of the referent from which the law once derived its transcendence, it does not thereby make law immanent within the order of the world, nor, by the same criterion does it confuse the rule of law with the rule of power. It makes the law something which, whilst it is always irreducible to human artifice, gives meaning to human actions only on condition that human beings desire it, that they apprehend it as the reason for their coexistence and as the condition of possibility of their judging and being judged … In other words, modern democracy invites us to replace the notion of a regime governed by laws, of a legitimate power, by the notion of a regime founded upon the legitimacy of a debate as to what is legitimate and what is illegitimate—a debate which is necessarily without any guarantor and without any end. (1988c: 39) Readers might expect that popular sovereignty would give democracy an identity, especially as the means to determine if human beings actually “desire” particular laws. Schmitt had argued that the “logic” of democracy was the

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identity of rulers and ruled (1985: 26–8) and Furet claimed that democracy was constituted out of a “pyramid of equivalences” (1981: 48, 60; 1989: 554) between the people and their rulers (resulting, of course, in “popular” dictatorship). Tocqueville had warned about the tyranny of the majority. But Lefort argued that, while democratic discourse is constantly referring to “the people” (or the nation) for its legitimacy, the identity of the people remains “latent,” “indefinable” (1988f: 30, 232). The inability to identify the people, rather than producing a “logic of identity” or “pyramid of equivalences,” produces instead “the paradox of democracy”: Nothing … makes the paradox of democracy more palpable than the institution of universal suffrage. It is at the very moment when popular sovereignty is assumed to manifest itself, when the people is assumed to actualize itself by expressing its will, that social interdependence breaks down and that the citizen is abstracted from all the networks in which his social life develops and becomes a mere statistic. Number replaces substance. It is also significant that in the nineteenth century this institution was for a long time resisted not only by conservatives and bourgeois liberals, but also by socialists—and this resistance cannot simply be imputed to the defence of class interests. It was provoked by the idea of a society which had now to accept that which cannot be represented. (1988g: 19) A particular vote may be said to represent a popular “mandate,” a particular group may claim to represent a great cause, like justice, a particular politician may claim to represent the forces of history. But all these claims are contested. “The locus of power is an empty place, it cannot be occupied—it is such that no individual and no group can be consubstantial with it—and it cannot be represented. Only the mechanisms of the exercise of power are visible, or only the men, the mere mortals, who would hold political authority” (17). The “paradox” of modern democracy is, then, a twofold movement: democracy “reveals a movement which tends to actualize the image of the people, the state and the nation, [but] … that movement is necessarily thwarted by the reference to power as an empty place and by the experience of social division” (1988f: 232). This paradox of democracy means, however, that conflict becomes institutionalized in a way it never had been before. Conflict becomes constitutive of society in democracy. “Or, to put it another way, the legitimation of purely political conflict contains within it the principle of a legitimation of social conflict in all its forms” (1988g: 18). Lefort again departed from Tocqueville, who had feared that democracy would produce a conformist, non-political society that would be vulnerable to a new kind of “tutelary” despotism. Lefort replied that Tocqueville failed to perceive that the inability of any group or institution to represent society or the people meant that power will always be questioned and

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challenged. The “conformist” societies of post-World War II Europe and America became the rebellious societies of the 1960s.

Totalitarianism and philosophy Lefort’s conception of modern democracy was generated out of a contrast to totalitarianism. Both regimes separate the political from the religious and thus initiate a crisis of authority by suppressing the cultural dimension occupied by the sacred. But whereas in democracy this separation and crisis legitimizes political and social conflict and generates the democratic debate over what is legitimate and what is illegitimate, totalitarianism involves the attempt to reimpose unity. Totalitarianism differs from the absolutism of the Old Regime because it denies the religious dimension: the imposition of unity is understood as a secular task. Both communism and fascism “attempt, in one way or another, to give power a substantial reality, to bring the principles of Law and Knowledge within its orbit, to deny social division in all its forms, and to give society a body once more” (1988f: 233). Influenced by Etienne LaBoetie’s essay on “Voluntary Servitude,” Lefort believed that many people, especially philosophers and left-wing militants, were seduced by this totalitarian attempt at unity: [We] have to ask ourselves about the reasons for the attractions of unity. We have to ask how much its attractions owe to its opposite, namely the repugnance inspired by division and conflict. We have to ask how the philosophical idea of the One colludes with the image of a united society. We have to ask why unity must be conceived beneath the sign of the spiritual, and why division must be projected on to the material plane of interest. (1988f: 229)9 I will return to this contrast of democracy to totalitarianism and the philosophers’ attraction to unity and servitude in part II. The meaning and value of politics for Lefort was the energy that political and social conflict over legitimacy provides to a society. This was what Tocqueville had seen in democracy: “Democracy does not give people the most skillful government, but it produces what the ablest governments are frequently unable to create: namely it spreads throughout the social body a restless activity, a superabundant force, and an energy that is inseparable from it, and that may, however unfavorable the circumstances, produce wonders” (quoted by Lefort 2000c: 40 from Tocqueville 1969: 244, in vol. 1, part 2, Chapter 6, the section entitled “Activity which pervades the body politic in the United States; influence which it exercises on society”). This was also Machiavelli’s positive interpretation of the conflict between Senate and people in Rome. Lefort saw himself as a defender of this energy that democracy promotes. But he was more of an observer than a participant: “My primary concern is to promote recognition of a public space,

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which is always in gestation and whose existence blurs the conventional boundaries between the political and the non-political” (1988g: 35). It was up to the citizens, workers, or the new social movements to energize society. Shortly before he died, however, Lefort was dismayed at how passive and conservative western societies had become, even in the face a new Great Depression: “The fact of the matter is that there is reason to fear the recent disappearance of great social conflicts,” he complained. “The polarization of society was important for preserving its vitality” (Rosanvallon 2010). Democratic uncertainty, it seems, may induce passive acceptance as much as induce energizing conflict.

II Laclau and Mouffe: the political against essentialism The late Ernesto Laclau started out as a socialist in Argentina, but was impressed with the popularity of Juan Peron and about the possibilities of “populism” for radical politics. He was heavily influenced by Althusser and the project of rethinking the basic concepts of Marxism (Laclau 1978; 1990b). Chantal Mouffe attended Althusser’s seminar, but seems more influenced by Gramsci (Mouffe 1977a). Their Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985 and 2001), however, was a critique of Marxism, which they interpreted as economic determinism and “class reductionism,” and a claim that important Marxist thinkers, including Gramsci, had tried (unsuccessfully) to move beyond these “reductionist” positions by formulating a new political “logic” of hegemony.10 The book also utilized concepts from Continental philosophy (especially Lacanian psychoanalysis) and what was starting to be called “postmodernism.” But in the final chapter, on their proposed alternative of radical democracy, Laclau and Mouffe used ideas from Furet, Arendt, and Lefort: The key moment in the beginnings of the democratic revolution can be found in the French Revolution since, as Francois Furet has indicated, its affirmation of the absolute power of its people introduced something truly new at the level of the social imaginary. It is there, according to Furet, that the true discontinuity is located: in the establishment of a new legitimacy, in the invention of democratic culture. “The French Revolution is not a transition, it is an origin, and the phantom of an origin. What is unique about it is what constitutes its historical interest, and, what is more, it is this ‘unique’ element that has become universal: the first experience of democracy.” If, as Hannah Arendt has said, “it was the French and not the American Revolution that set the world on fire,” it is because it was the first to found itself on no other legitimacy than the people. It thus initiated what Claude Lefort has shown to be a new mode of institution of the social. (1985 and 2001: 155)

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Although their conception of the political was more conflict-oriented than Lefort’s, Laclau and Mouffe adopted Lefort’s definition: “The problem of the political,” they wrote, “is the problem of the institution of the social, that is, of the definition and articulation of social relations in a field criss-crossed with antagonisms” (153).11 Whereas Lefort was interested in describing the overall cultural “form” of society (its principles of generation), Laclau and Mouffe used this as a background for their political theory.

The democratic revolution Laclau and Mouffe also utilized Tocqueville’s notion of a “democratic revolution” for a theory of how social relations become politicized. They argued that relations of subordination are prevalent in most societies, but that these do not necessarily appear as relations of oppression. It is only when relations of hierarchy or subordination are challenged by a discourse from outside of those relations that those relations can become interpreted as relations of oppression: Our thesis is that it is only from the moment when the democratic discourse becomes available to articulate the different forms of resistance to subordination that the conditions will exist to make possible the struggle against different types of inequality … “Serf,” “slave,” and so on do not designate in themselves antagonistic positions; it is only in the terms of a different discursive formation, such as “the rights inherent to every human being,” that the differential positivity of these categories can be subverted and the subordination constructed as oppression. This means that there is no relation of oppression without the presence of a discursive “exterior” from which the discourse of subordination can be interrupted. (1985 and 2001: 154) Their model was explicitly Tocqueville, who observed that “it is impossible to believe that equality will not finally penetrate as much into the political world as into other domains. It is not possible to conceive of men as eternally unequal among themselves on one point, and equal on others; at a certain moment, they will come to be equal on all points” (Laclau and Mouffe 1985 and 2001: 156; Tocqueville 1969: 56). It is precisely the “democratic revolution” that provides the discursive “outside” (Laclau and Mouffe borrow this notion of discursive outside from Derrida) necessary for politicizing relations of subordination. The democratic revolution establishes a “social logic” of egalitarianism that expands from the political realm into economic and social spheres. “The radical instability and threat to social identities posed by capitalist expansion necessarily leads to new forms of collective imaginary which reconstruct those threatened identities in a fundamentally new way. Our thesis is that egalitarian discourses and discourse on rights play a fundamental role in the reconstruction of collective identities”

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(1990: 128–9). As this passage indicates, Laclau and Mouffe agreed with Lefort in emphasizing a politics of rights. But they emphasize the egalitarian logic of democracy more than he did (and in his On Populist Reason, Laclau (2005b: 166) complained that Lefort was only theorizing liberal democracies, not populist ones). They traced the influence of the spread of the democratic revolution from the political sphere to the economic and social spheres, from the French Revolution to the new social movements of the present: At the beginning of this process in the French Revolution, the public space of citizenship was the exclusive domain of equality, while in the private sphere no questioning took place of existing social inequalities. However, as Tocqueville clearly understood, once human beings accept the legitimacy of the principle of equality in one sphere they will attempt to extend it to every other sphere of life. Thus, once the dislocations generated by capitalist expansion became more general, more and more sectors constructed the legitimacy of their claims around the principles of equality and liberty. The development of workers’ and anti-capitalist struggles during the nineteenth century was a crucial moment in this process, but it was not the only or the last one: the struggles of the so-called “new social movements” of the last few decades are a further phase in the deepening of the democratic revolution. (1990: 128–9)

Hegemony If Lefort and Tocqueville provided the background for Laclau and Mouffe, in the foreground was a conception of politics that includes the struggle over social relationships and their meaning, which, borrowing from Gramsci, they call hegemony. Laclau and Mouffe utilize Gramsci’s conception of hegemony as “intellectual and moral leadership” over people, but they radicalize it and turn it against orthodox Marxism so that hegemonic “discursive” practices become the mode of institution of society. They identify “the political” with these contingent practices and assert the “primacy of the political over the social,” the “political nature of the social,” and the political as the “ontology of the social” (Laclau 1990d: 33, 212, 96, 35). In Laclau’s terms, the social is “the sedimented forms of ‘objectivity’” or “sedimented practices” resulting from the contingent outcomes of previous political struggles (1990b: 35). Although the “logic of democracy” politicizes relationships of subordination and is now “deepening” them, it is not sufficient for constructing a new social order. There must be a positive “hegemonic project” that constructs new identities and provides directions for action (Laclau and Mouffe 1985 and 2001: 188–9). Laclau and Mouffe see “democratic” and “hegemonic” logics as co-existing uneasily. Politics, in their view, is the attempt to transform social relations. According to Laclau and Mouffe, politics can be located anywhere:

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When we speak here of the “political” character of these struggles, we do not do so in the restricted sense of demands which are situated at the level of parties and of the State. What we are referring to is a type of action whose objective is the transformation of a social relation which constructs a subject in a relationship of subordination … [P]olitics [is] a practice of creation, reproduction and transformation of social relations. (1985 and 2001: 153) The meaning and value of politics for Laclau and Mouffe is the power and freedom to transform social relations. Until now, people have been straightjacketed not only by conservative traditions but by Marxist and modernist “essentialism.” According to Laclau (1990c: 216), “it is precisely this decline in the great myths of emancipation, universality and rationality which is leading to freer societies: where human beings see themselves as builders and agents of change of their own world, and thus come to realize that they are not tied by the objective necessity of history to any institutions or ways of life—either in the present or in the future.”

Radical democracy Laclau and Mouffe proposed that the left organize itself around the project of creating a “radical and plural democracy,” instead of socialism. Instead of introducing a “new” hegemony or ideology, such as Marxism, into liberal democratic culture, radical democracy should radicalize the existing liberal and democratic values of freedom and equality. A radical and plural democracy could also incorporate the new social movements that the left is ambivalent about organizing because of its preoccupation with the “working class.” Socialism would be reconceived as a consequence of the democratic revolution and socialists would be considered equal members of a radical democratic project rather than as the leaders of it. “Socialism is one of the components of a project for radical democracy, not vice versa” (1985 and 2001: 178, also 156, 192). The strategy for building a radical democracy would be a Gramscian “war of position” instead of either Marxist revolution or social democratic electoral politics. But what this might involve remains vague. Mouffe (1993b, 2000b, 2005; 2013; Martin 2014) subsequently adopted Schmitt’s friend-enemy conception of the political in order to emphasize that politics is (in contrast to liberal competition or debate) inherently antagonistic: it is about passion, conflict, and violence. But the purpose of democratic politics is to transform Schmittian “antagonism” into a militant, but limited, “agonism,” in which political opponents view each other not as “enemies” to be killed, but as “adversaries” who share some of the values they are fighting over.12 Meanwhile, Laclau (2005b) argued that populism is necessary for any democratic hegemony that claims to represent a vast majority and a polarization between “us” and “them.”

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The promise of radical democracy was that it could balance equality with liberty and community with individuality. The May 1968 uprising was the crucial event that recasts social and political relations for Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe. It was as much a demand for new forms of freedom and individuality as it was a demand for equality and community. Rather than lapsing into apathy and conformity, they saw contemporary western democracies as undergoing an intensification of conflict and politicization. “The result of the process of dispersion and fragmentation whose first phases [Eduard] Bernstein described,” wrote Laclau and Mouffe, “was not increasingly conformist and integrated societies: it was the great mobilizations of 1968” (1990: 128; 1990a: 177–8; 1990e: 214). Even though 1968 is receding into the past, contemporary struggles continue to be interpreted through its prism. “Far from experiencing a process of depoliticization and uniformatization,” Laclau reiterated in a 1988 interview (1990c: 214), “what we are seeing now is a much deeper politicization of social relations than ever before.” The collapse of rationalism provides a unique opportunity for “imagination” and “political creativity.” Instead of despair: We are living, on the contrary, one of the most exhilarating moments of the twentieth century: a moment in which new generations, without the prejudices of the past, without theories presenting themselves as “absolute truth” of history, are constructing new emancipatory discourses, more human, diversified and democratic. The eschatological and epistemological ambitions are more modest, but the liberating aspirations are wider and deeper. (1990c: 214) At the time, their proposal received a lot of attention, including proposals to replace “socialism” with “radical democracy” or simply, “radicalism.”13 But, from the beginning, their Marxist critics accused Laclau and Mouffe of being “true socialists” (Wood 1986) or “revisionists” (“the poor man’s Bernsteinism,” according to Kouvelakis 2008: 36) and this verdict seems to have been borne out.14 The term “radical democracy” itself is ambiguous (and even Habermas claimed it). Mouffe has clouded the issue by arguing that radical democracy is compatible with liberalism. “It’s not opposing radical democracy to liberalism, because in fact, radical democracy we could also have called ‘radical liberal democracy.’ In fact, the idea of radical and plural democracy does not imply to take into question the constitutional principal of liberal democracy, but radicalizing them by applying them, really, and to more and more areas” (Mouffe and Laclau 1998). In the intervening decades, Laclau and Mouffe never advanced any radical “strategy” other than their “theoretical strategy” of “anti-essentialism.” For Laclau, this meant refining his theory of hegemony (1990d, 1996, 2005b, and 2014b; Howarth 2014). In a reply to critics, he identified his project as “social ontology” (2004b: 321). For Mouffe, it has meant refining her “Schmittian”

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conception of “agonistic pluralism” and criticizing the technocratic or consensual bias of contemporary liberal politics and political theory.15 In the meantime, as Laclau and Mouffe noted in the last chapter of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, politics was moving to the right. In a 2006 interview Mouffe argued that the current task was not to expand democracy but to defend it: I am really pessimistic if we compare our present-day situation to what we thought at the beginning of the eighties. Today, the main task is no longer to radicalize democracy, but to protect the democratic institutions—which we have taken for granted—from being dismantled and demolished. I think we are in a much more defensive phase. At the time of HSS, we were thinking that we needed to go further … I have been living in Britain since 1972 and I have really witnessed the transformation. When I came to this country, the basic common sense was social-democratic, there is absolutely no doubt about that. And of course we were critical about that common sense because we thought it was not radical enough. Now, we are in fact trying to protect what we were criticizing. (Carpentier and Cammaerts 2006) In their preface to the 2001 edition of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, Laclau and Mouffe congratulated themselves on opposing “Third Way” politics and fighting “essentialism.” But then they conceded these gestures do nothing because they do not really have an alternative: The Left should start [!] elaborating a credible alternative to the neo-liberal order, instead of simply trying to manage it in a more humane way … [W]ithout a vision about what could be a different way of organizing social relations, one which restores the centrality of politics over the tyranny of market forces, [left] movements will remain of a defensive nature. (2001: xvi–xvii, xix; brackets and emphasis added) In a 2000 interview, Mouffe said: “One of the reasons why I think there is no hope today for future possibility is precisely because people feel there is no alternative to the capitalist system … And the Left is in great part responsible for that because they seem to have capitulated to this dominance of capitalism and they are not thinking of another alternative” (Mouffe et al. 2001: 43). Somehow Laclau and Mouffe do not see their own writings as symptomatic of what they see as wrong with “the Left.” Instead of studying, articulating, and debating alternatives and strategies (Dunn’s second and third tasks of political theory), the Left, including Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe (but also “Western Marxism”) retreated into “ontology.”

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III Ontology and politics Political theory in recent years has taken an “ontological turn” (Flynn 1992; Marchart 2007; Strathausen 2009), but so has anthropology (Carrithers et al. 2010), economics (Fullbrook 2009), and even political science (Mayhew 2000; Hay 2011). For many, the impetus is dissatisfaction with epistemology, methodology, and “positivist” approaches to the social sciences. Ontology is the study of being, what is, or what is present, and traditionally was identical to metaphysics. Heidegger’s distinction (1962a, 1972) between ontology (the Being of beings) and the ontic (being or beings), his quest for the Being of all beings rather than with the being of the “regional sciences” (mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, politics, economics, etc.), and his identification of metaphysics with concern for being (rather than Being) has confused things. It is often not clear how a theorist is using the terms “ontology” or “metaphysics.” What is implied in the distinction between ontology and metaphysics is a rejection of the “old metaphysics” that provided a “ground” for politics, morals, humans, nature, etc. in the true being or reality of God, Nature, or Reason (or, for nineteenth-century secularists, Society or History). At the same time, ontology is considered an alternative to the contemporary “metaphysics” of “technology” (Heidegger 1977), or Weberian “rationalization,” which reveals “beings” (people and things) as “standing reserve” or “resources” to be used (a view of reality that undergirds both liberal capitalist and totalitarian societies). In this technological-metaphysical context, the “being” of politics today is ideological, technocratic, or strategic (“reason of state”) and “everything is political” in the sense of a pervasive “soft totalitarianism” that suppresses or co-opts dissent (Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy 1997). The quest for an alternative ontology is thus also a quest for an alternative conception of politics or “the political.” For leftists (including Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe), the alternative originally was Marxism. Marxism, insofar as it is a comprehensive science of history and humanity, as well as a comprehensive science of capitalism, the state, and modern society, already makes “ontological” claims (about materialism, dialectic, labor, modes of production, classes), which, because of the stakes involved (revolution, the unity of theory and practice, the viability of socialism), need to be “theoretically correct.” It is also important to emphasize that “ontology” in Marxism is not only relevant to describing “what is” but is important for strategy. “Economic determinism” makes it theoretically possible to understand where history is going, when crises are most likely to occur, and when (or if) to mobilize to order to “push” events in the desired direction. In practice, economic determinism encouraged a passive waiting that was broken by Leninist “voluntarism.” “MarxismLeninism” amalgamated these different tendencies into a rigid “orthodoxy” that encompassed both reality and strategy. For political theorists on the left, then, the impetus has been either to try to rescue Marxism from the “ontological” assumptions of Second International

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Marxism, Soviet Marxism-Leninism, or Trotskyist or Maoist sectarianism (Lukacs 1971; Bhaskar 1991), or to find a radical alternative to Marxism itself. These writers also share the objective of combatting the technological conceptions of reality that underlie the modern state and capitalist order. Agamben (1998: 31) articulates this assumption, which is also the assumption of Antonio Negri: The strength of Negri’s book lies instead in the final perspective it opens insofar as it shows how constituting power, when conceived in all its radicality, ceases to be a strictly political concept and necessarily presents itself as a category of ontology … The problem is therefore moved from political philosophy to first philosophy (or, if one likes, politics is returned to its ontological position). Only an entirely new conjunction of possibility and reality, contingency and necessity, and the other pathe- tou ontos, will make it possible to cut the knot that binds sovereignty to constituting power … Until a new and coherent ontology of potentiality (beyond the steps that have been made in this direction by Spinoza, Schelling, Nietzsche, and Heidegger) has replaced the ontology founded on the primacy of actuality and its relation to potentiality, a political theory freed from the aporias of sovereignty remains unthinkable.16 Hence political theory must either give way to a prior examination of ontology, or “first philosophy,” or political theory must make ontological claims (White 2000; Connolly 2009; Strathausen 2006; Marchart 2007). Today, the old ontological alternatives of “nature” and “nurture” turn out to support both conservative and radical politics: genetic engineering and other technologies can radically alter “nature” and conservatives since Burke have argued that the “contingency” and “constructed” character of society is precisely an argument for maintaining the status quo (especially if the alternative is totalitarianism). The totalitarian theme also relates to a fear that the discovery of “truth” or “right” will lead to their imposition on individuals, groups, or cultures that are considered “deviant.” Hence both philosophical and political concerns have induced philosophers and political theorists to try to develop “ontologies” that are somehow not “metaphysical” or “totalitarian” (and to accuse each other of failing to “overcome” metaphysics or essentialism (Butler et al. 1999)). It has also induced them to believe that ontological speculations are also political strategies for change. Laclau and Mouffe’s theoretical strategy of “anti-essentialism” is their “socialist strategy.” For some, especially Heidegger (1972) and perhaps Agamben, the purpose of ontological thinking, however, is only to prepare the way for a future philosophy, culture, ethics, or politics. For all these reasons, some leftist critics (Adorno 1973; Bosteels 2009; BuckMorss 2013; McNay 2014) believe the concern with ontology distracts from both politics and social theory (theories of modern society, capitalism, and the state). Most social scientists and analytic philosophers identify “metaphysics” with physics

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or else argue that the variety of conflicting ontological theories returns us to epistemology. Meanwhile, “traditional” political theorists condemn all these efforts as “relativism,” “historicism,” or “secular religion.” For “traditionalists” (conservative and leftist), the need is to return either to God, Nature, or Reason, or to Society or History. Where do Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe stand on these issues?

Lefort’s ontology Lefort’s “ontology” seems to derive from Merleau-Ponty’s claim that “Being requires of us creation for us to experience it” (Lefort 2000b: 243, 249). Lefort also believed human beings have a “primal ability to discriminate between true and false, just and unjust, good and evil” (1988e: 5–6). Their “mode of distinguishing” these things, however, varies, depending on what “form of society” or “symbolic order” they live in, and society is given its form or identity by “the political,” or the mode of instituting and representing power and authority. In a political version of Heidegger’s (1972) “epochs” of being, Lefort saw history as a series of cultural “symbolic mutations” whereby older modes of distinguishing true and false, etc. were replaced by new ones and by new representations of power and authority.17 Lefort’s example was the medieval “political theology” of the “king’s two bodies,” analyzed by Ernst Kantorowicz (1957), which was a myth that legitimated political power by relating the king to a divine order and that allowed people to conceive of society as a coherent whole, as a “body politic” (distinct from the households of feudalism) with the king as its “head.” The French Revolution, by literally cutting off the head of the king and replacing monarchy with a republic, both severed the relationship of “society” to a divine order and “disincorporated” society. It thereby (unintentionally) created a new “mode of institution of the social,” or mutation of the symbolic order: democracy. As we saw earlier, on the one hand, dissolving the relationship to God and theology dissolved the markers of certainty and authority and initiated the peculiarly “democratic” debate over what is legitimate and illegitimate. On the other hand, the sovereign people was never able to materialize, either to replace lost authority or to signify social unity. Instead of unity, continuous political and social conflict, throughout society, is characteristic of democracy. Lefort directed his metaphysical idea of democracy as a society of perpetual conflict without certainty against conservative critics of modernity like Schmitt, Strauss, Heidegger, and Arendt. But Lefort’s argument was especially directed at the “left-Heideggerians” Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy (1997), who had in 1980 established a Center for Philosophical Research on the Political.18 Lefort’s “The Question of Democracy” was delivered to their seminar in 1982. According to Lefort, left and right critics of democracy share a negative interpretation of modernity as the triumph of capitalism, technology, and relativism. But if

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democracy is the distinguishing feature of modernity, then “from the political point of view, the questioning of modernity means the questioning of democracy” (1988b: 55). Schmitt, Heidegger, Strauss, and Arendt disliked democracy. Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe argued that western democracies contained a “soft totalitarianism” that was similar to communist totalitarianism. Derrida, Nancy, and Lacoue-Labarthe had also practically identified “the philosophical” with “the political.”19 Lefort’s “ontology” separated philosophy and the political and, as noted above, Lefort saw philosophers as especially attracted to the totalitarian “One.” But it seems that Lefort’s real difference with the left Heideggerians was political, rather than ontological.20 Both formulated “paradoxical” ontologies, which were intended to respect differences and avoid “totalitarianism.” The difference between Lefort and the deconstructionists was that for Lefort symbolic mutations, such as the “king’s two bodies,” were the products of lawyers, theologians, and writers like Dante and Shakespeare, whereas Derrida, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Nancy believed it was philosophers who articulated the “being” of their respective eras. But in both cases, humans interpret what they conceive to be reality and this reality or truth changes from era to era. The political difference was that Lefort was a reformer who was content with democratic politics as it was (which meant accepting capitalism).21 The left Heideggerians were looking for something better in their search for a “communist” conception of “the political.” Accordingly, they were more critical of bourgeois democracy and willing to call it “soft totalitarianism” (an idea that is actually similar to Lefort’s “invisible ideology”). But for Lefort the distinction between democracy and totalitarianism was fundamental and so calling democracy “soft totalitarianism” (and distinguishing soft and hard totalitarianism from a true communism or a “democracy to come”) was an affront. But this dispute seems more political (different evaluations of the status quo and alternative possibilities) than ontological. Conservative critics see Lefort’s “metaphysical” interpretation of democracy as the society-without-certainty as relativist. The French Straussian Pierre Manent has argued that democracy and liberalism, by developing in opposition to Christianity, had the unintended result of depriving all opinions of authority, thereby creating a relativist society.22 At the same time, Manent argued, relativism leads to statism: the power of the state grows constantly as Lefort’s democrats make their perpetual demands on it.23 In reply, Lefort denied both the “natural right” perspective of Strauss and relativism or historicism. Lefort denied that human rights were derived from nature and denied that they merely reflect a particular historical context or can be reduced to positive law. Although the American and French revolutionaries appealed to nature as the basis for their declarations of rights, Lefort saw their act of declaration itself as the important point. The act of declaring rights was “an extraordinary event”:

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a declaration which was in fact a self-declaration, that is, a declaration by which human beings, speaking through their representatives, revealed themselves to be both the subject and the object of the utterance in which they named the human elements in one another, “spoke to” one another, appeared before one another, and therefore erected themselves into their own judges, their own witnesses. (1988c: 38) What the revolutionaries were actually declaring, beyond the specific rights that were declared, was the general “right to have rights” (37, 40), a phrase Lefort borrowed from Arendt. The right to have rights means “the universality of the principle which reduces right to the questioning of right” (38). The right to have rights is a challenge to the “definition of power as having rights … and, at the same time, to the representation of an ordered world in which human beings are ‘naturally’ ranked” (38). The right to question right (authority), according to Lefort, is a “universal”: This last formula cannot be annexed by historicism; it implies that the institution of the rights of man is much more than an event … it is more than something which appears within time and which is destined to disappear in time. A principle arises, and henceforth we cannot understand the individual, society or history unless we go back to it. (38) Like other writers, including Ricoeur, Lefort distinguished between “events,” which were “merely” historical and hence “relative,” and “advents” (as in the religious advent of Christ, but also the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen), which introduced something “universal” into history. This was Lefort’s version of the “relative universal” arguments of Foucault, Butler, and others, which claim to be “beyond” both relativism and absolutism.24 In these conceptions, truth is not eternal, but emerges in history. Once it emerges, however, it is “universal.” But the fact that the universal emerges in history means that it emerges as a particular interpretation of the universal, and this particular interpretation can be contested politically. According to Butler (1996: 47, 48): If standards of universality are historically articulated, then it would seem that exposing the parochial and exclusionary character of a given historical articulation of universality is part of the project of extending and rendering substantive the notion of universality itself … To claim that the universal has not yet been articulated is to insist that the “not yet” is proper to an understanding of the universal itself: that which remains “unrealized” by the universal constitutes it essentially.

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This is what generates Lefort’s democratic debate. It is not clear if Lefort, Foucault, or Butler believe the “universal” in particular universals is “universal” beyond its historical “epoch” (which to critics like Manent indicates “historicism”).25 At the end of his essay on ideology, Lefort concluded rather cryptically that the more successful invisible ideology was in identifying itself with “reality,” the more something resists that opens up another dimension of reality: “It creates the conditions for a contestation which (in the East as well as the West) is aimed beyond the expressions of power and exploitation, at the reference points of socialization in the modern world, and which brings to light the question of the Other, the question of Being” (1986c: 236). In his essay rejecting the “philosopher’s” secret passion for “the One,” Lefort argued that the modern democratic separation of the religious and the political was a break that cannot be repaired, but he concluded on a somber note by characterizing this separation as “the tragedy of the modern condition” (1988f: 255). This suggests that at the “existential” level democratic human beings may not be entirely happy with their freedom and democratic uncertainty. Perhaps in some future epoch, Lefort seems to suggest, the religious and political will be rejoined in an “eternal” universal truth or revelation of Being itself. Here is where the “asymmetry” of the political and philosophy or religion emerges.

Laclau and Mouffe’s ontology The “ontology” of Laclau and Mouffe was “contingency” but they equated contingency with “the political” because contingent elements are always in “antagonistic” relations to each other. Mouffe (2005, Chapter 2) is explicit about matching the distinction between the political and politics to Heidegger’s distinction between the ontological and the ontic. The political is the ontology of the social. Laclau also saw linguistics as the fundamental ontology and rhetoric as the contingent expression of language.26 The ancient Greeks, of course, identified rhetoric with politics, as the art of political persuasion. But this leaves a distinction between contingency and language, on the one hand, and antagonism and rhetoric, on the other hand. Antagonism and rhetoric are plausibly characterized as “political,” but are contingency and language inherently political?27 Nevertheless, for Laclau and Mouffe, the political is the “mode of institution of the social” because “the social” is an originally contingent formation that was previously constructed from antagonistic political and rhetorical (or discursive) acts. At some point in this process, one set of political and rhetorical practices becomes hegemonic. These contingent hegemonies of politics become “sedimented” and then are experienced by people as “natural,” traditional, or legitimate. But the “institution” of the social always involves a “contingent” political struggle among competing attempts at hegemony. This means, against classical Marxism, that “society” in the sense of a transparent totality that could be fully understood, or fully “realized” under socialism, is an impossibility (Laclau 1990b).

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Laclau (1990c) used Lacanian psychoanalytic concepts to describe this “logic” of not being able to fully realize or attain desires or ideals. This psychoanalytic condition is the “ontological condition” of human beings. Life is a struggle, as in Weber. But, unlike in Weber, it is political because of faith that “contingent” human institutions can be changed. This “identity” of politics, ontology, and psychoanalytic concepts means that the “meaning and value of politics” for Laclau and Mouffe as the exercise of freedom in transforming social relationships is also an expression of the “ontology” of human being (and therefore needs no further “justification”). As in psychoanalysis, we learn that our freedom consists both in being able to change things, but in being unable to “realize” ourselves in, or fully attain, those changes (Mouffe 2000b: 137–40). We will always suffer a “constitutive lack.” For Zizek (1990: 259–60), this psychoanalytic insight is supposed to manifest itself in an “enthusiastic resignation” that animates both life and politics. Laclau also claimed this for his position: “For historical actors engaged in actual struggles, there is no cynical resignation whatsoever: their actual aims are all that constitute the horizon within which they live and fight. To say that ultimate fullness is unachievable is by no means to advocate any attitude of fatalism or resignation; it is to say to people: what you are fighting for is everything there is; your actual struggle is not limited by any preceding necessity” (Butler et al. 1999: 196). There is no “Being” or “Other” that mysteriously emerges, as in Lefort, and no sense of “tragedy.” Tocqueville’s “democratic revolution” brings this “political ontology of the social” into more or less explicit modern awareness. According to Laclau (2001: 10), “democracy is the only truly political society.” The democratic revolution also establishes the ideals of liberty and equality, and this historical background allows Laclau and Mouffe to treat these in terms of Rorty’s pragmatist “antifoundationalism,” which they adopt. These ideals that we already believe because we grew up in democratic societies (or during a democratic “epoch” of being) do not have to be justified by any “metaphysical” arguments. Meanwhile, all ideals and ideas are hegemonic constructs that are part of the struggle for power and hegemony. As with Lefort, attempts to eliminate conflict or attain a pure transparency result in totalitarianism. Society, even under the hegemony of socialism or radical democracy, will always be characterized by struggles (and so, as in Mouffe, the ethical goal is to transform lethal “antagonisms” into democratic “agonism”). Like Lefort, Laclau denied both essentialism and relativism. But his position was ultimately “agnostic”: What is important is to break with the false alternative “ahistorical transcendentalism/radical historicism”. This is a false alternative, because its two terms entail each other, and finally assert exactly the same. If I assert radical historicism, it will require some kind of metadiscourse specifying epochal differences which will necessarily have to be transhistorical. If I assert hard

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transcendentalism, I will have to accept the contingency of an empirical variation which can be grasped only in historicist terms. Only if I fully accept the contingency and historicity of my system of categories, but renounce any attempt to grasp the meaning of its historical variation conceptually, can I start finding a way out of that blind alley. Obviously this solution does not suppress the duality transcendentalism/historicism, but at least it introduces a certain souplesse, and multiplies the language games that it is possible to play within it. There is a name for a knowledge which operates under these conditions: it is finitude. (Butler et al. 1999: 201) Under “finitude,” the ideals of liberty and equality are “universals,” but they are “relative” or “contingent” universals whose specific content varies historically. Realizing this involves acknowledging a “normative” dimension to theorizing. After years of hectoring by Simon Critchley, Laclau (2014a) acknowledged an ethics in the “relative universal” idea, which was an ethics of not being dogmatic or certain. Like most Marxists, Laclau was unconcerned about ethics itself or in having a moral theory to buttress or justify his other theories. In this sense, Laclau remained a “post-Marxist.” Marxist critics like Geoff Boucher (2008) (who quotes the historicist part of the passage above) see Laclau as a relativist and his theory foundering on the contradictions of relativism (as well as because Laclau allegedly “reduces” reality to ideology). The alternatives are to concede there is a universal (God, History, Being, human nature, Lacanian psychoanalysis, Boucher’s Althusserian Marxism, etc.) or to invent some theory that explains why universals and particulars presuppose each other and what this means. Laclau was working on the latter, but, even if he had succeeded, it would tell us little about capitalism and the state, democratic control of the economy or how to get from here to there. I see Laclau as foundering because he never left the realm of ontology, whether or not his theory was “ontologically correct.”

What would Gramsci say? Laclau had a right to specialize in ontology, even if this disappointed those who expected more from radical democracy than the critique of “essentialism.” But he also called himself a “Gramscian,” which implied something more. Gramsci ventured into ontology with his suggestion that Marxism be characterized as an “absolute historicism” and “absolute humanism” (1971: 466). But this was part of an effort to make Marxism into a comprehensive world view that, by answering all philosophical questions, would allow Marxism to debate and replace other world views like liberalism. It was not “foundational,” with the rest of the system standing or falling on the truth of absolute historicism. The main thrust of Gramsci’s theorizing concerned reconceptualizing the relationships between base

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and superstructure, “civil society” and the state, the strategy of an ideological and political “war of position” in an advanced capitalist society, and the type of political party appropriate for this strategy. Instead of focusing on ontology or agonism, “Gramscian” political theorists should spend more time working on theories of capitalism and the state (whether socialist, liberal, conservative, or whatever) and on strategies of change. They should also, given Laclau and Mouffe’s own complaints about the lack of left alternatives, theorize alternatives to the current order.

IV Ideology, strategy, and organization Having criticized Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe (and many others implicitly) for failing to propose alternatives and strategies for change, I feel obliged to offer some suggestions, which I have categorized in terms of ideology, strategy, and organization. To avoid misunderstandings, let me stipulate that I believe social movements are complex and require the participation and different activities of different people. People should not all be doing the same thing. There is always a “division of labor” and no person or group can do everything. Those who believe in what they are doing (such as “ontology”) should continue to do what they do (they will anyway). Those who are dissatisfied or are looking for other options are invited to consider these ideas.

Ideology One of the disturbing tendencies of the last 30 or 40 years is that the ideological “center” of US politics keeps moving to the right as right-wing movements stake out ever more extreme positions. Lacking a viable socialist alternative, the “left” (which ought to mean anti-capitalist groups, but in practice seems to include everyone to the left of Bill Clinton) has tended to try to defend the remnants of the liberal or social democratic welfare state. This “popular front” strategy has meant that socialist ideas are always repressed in the hope that later, after the revival of a “progressive majority” (Davidson 2009) or the labor movement (Moody 2000), a political culture receptive to socialist ideas will arise. Whatever the long-run merits of this strategy, it has not worked so far and it is time to consider an alternative, which is to try to pull the ideological center of US politics back to a true center by staking out socialist positions on the left. This seems to me to be the method in the madness of Zizek in his staking out an extreme “Stalinist” communism. If Zizek and other exponents of the “Communist Hypothesis” (Badiou 2010; Douzinas and Zizek 2010; Zizek 2013) succeed in attracting a significant number of adherents, they would pull the ideological spectrum leftward. This would create ideological space for more “respectable” ideologies such as “democratic socialism,” “radical democracy,” progressivism, or a revived labor movement. Although many readers believe socialism cannot or

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should not be revived, perhaps they will appreciate the need for a genuine anticapitalist left that will make their own favored ideologies and projects look more “respectable” and “viable” by comparison. In any event, some of the ideas below, suitably modified, might prove useful to their own projects. The original appeal of Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe to me was the prospect of a non-dogmatic left ideology represented by what Laclau and Mouffe called radical democracy. When their book was published, there was a debate in left circles about whether or not to abandon the controversial word “socialism” for the newer, more open term “radical democracy.” In certain respects this is still a choice, but now it is clearer (to me anyway) that it is more important to rehabilitate the concept of socialism than to dissolve it into radical democracy. In Laclau and Mouffe’s original formulation, socialism was supposed to constitute the economic content of radical democracy. The critique of capitalism and proposals for an economic alternative are still the main contributions of socialism to radical thought. They need to be rearticulated and propagated. Socialism needs to compete with radical democracy for hegemony over the “left.” For purposes of making socialism appeal to a larger section of the population, socialism should be defined broadly and in the plural (socialisms) to include the original “utopian” versions of socialism, the “revisionist” social democratic variant (especially the old “Swedish model”), various ethical and Christian variations, as well as Marxism. Marx and Engels, it will be recalled, were converted to socialism by the “utopian socialists.” A “large tent” socialism presents the danger that socialism will be misunderstood or watered down, but it presents the advantage of making the term and idea more acceptable to an often hostile public and it underscores the non-dogmatic possibility of socialism. This, it should be stressed, is a job for people who consider themselves socialists, and it suggests that the initial strategy for a socialist left is the old “united front” strategy of cooperation among socialists, if only for the limited purpose of rehabilitating and propagating the idea of socialism. The crucial debate among socialists will be describing the socialist alternative to capitalism and how to present it to the general public. Socialists today reject Sovietstyle authoritarian central planning. The remaining alternatives are some sort of “democratic planning” or “market socialism.” The democratic planning alternative usually has two forms, a centralized form (in which “democratic congresses” at the top decide social priorities and lower-level congresses work out the details) and decentralized forms (in which local communities communicate their needs to each other directly and work out details “from below”).28 The market socialist alternative (Nove 1983; Andreani 2008; and Schweikart 1993 and 2002) envisions the conversion of corporations into worker cooperatives, or else a mixture of governmentowned and worker-owned enterprises, which compete in markets. The market socialists believe their alternative is more “feasible” than planning and that markets are more efficient than other modes of allocation. The democratic planners believe market socialism will reproduce all the evils of capitalism.

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Neither side of the debate addresses the issue of shorter working hours and its importance for freeing people from “wage slavery” and giving them freedom in the elemental sense of free time. Yet, until the New Deal period, the demand for shorter hours was a constant demand of the labor movement (chronicled throughout Capital, vol. 1), which saw shorter hours as both giving people free time (the “weekend”) and as a remedy for unemployment.29 Today, those who have jobs are overworked and many jobs don’t produce anything useful. At the same time, millions are unemployed. We need to trade overwork and unemployment for shorter hours (with job sharing) and more free time. I propose combining these elements in a series of “non-reformist” or “revolutionary” reforms, to be enacted in stages:30 1. 2. 3.

Reductions of work hours. Conversion of corporations to worker cooperatives. Shift from market socialism to democratic planning.

The purpose of reducing work hours is to give people more free time (which they can use to organize) and to reduce unemployment, but subsequent reductions would aim at reducing “superfluous” labor and the ultimate goal is to reduce “socially necessary” labor time.31 Employers would resist (which would be the focus of “class struggle”) and would reorganize production to be more efficient (threatening new unemployment but setting the stage for new struggles to further reduce work hours). The conversion to a worker cooperative economy would involve more class struggle, but here “labor” is not just the “working class” but all employees, including the middle-class supervisors (who might like the idea of “owning” their own jobs). Depending on the circumstances, then, this could be done under capitalism or would require the transition to socialism. Worker ownership would be a form of market socialism. It would teach employees how to work cooperatively and run their own enterprises. Market socialism would involve efforts to “socialize” markets (which are neither transparent nor spontaneous) and to calculate the true social and environmental costs of production.32 If the advocates of planning are right, market socialism would exhibit the flaws of markets (anarchy of production, commodification, externalities, growing inequality, self-exploitation, acting like capitalists, etc.). Some of this could be resolved with government regulations or voluntary cooperation among cooperatives. But worker-owners eventually could take the next step to democratic planning. People would now know how to run their own cooperatives and markets would be socialized. The feasibility of planning “from below” would be greater. Today, socialism must be an “eco-socialism” that shows how capitalism is destroying the environment, how eco-socialism would be better than “natural capitalism” at solving environmental problems, and demonstrate how “no growth” or “slow growth” (or even “degrowth”) under socialism (via less work

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and more free time) makes for a better quality of life.33 Socialists need to borrow the idea that a “green economy” must be “restorative” of the environment, rather than simply “sustainable” (Hawken 1993).34 This means redesigning the industrial system to prevent the production of toxic elements in the first place, rather than trying to figure out what to do with them afterwards. Production must be designed to go “from cradle to cradle” (McDonough and Braungart 2002), not from cradle to grave. At the same time, as Van Jones has argued (2008), building this “green economy” must address the concerns of the environmental justice movement. A “green-collar” economy must involve hiring innercity kids, armed with caulking guns, to insulate old buildings, as well as hiring and training working people to manufacture and install windmills, solar panels, etc. One of the lost opportunities of the Great Recession and current Long Depression was the failure to build this green-collar economy. These “reforms” would require government legislation and enforcement, but the goals of more free time, worker ownership, and planning “from below” aim to create an economy and “civil society” distinguishable from the state and in a position to control or balance it. Other reforms would involve dismantling the national security, surveillance, and prison systems of the state. Socialist politics would involve multiparty competition (probably between market socialists and democratic planners). There could be other types of parties (feminist, green). Citizens would use some of their free time, status as owners, and planning responsibilities to be what Boyte (Boyte and Kari 1996) calls “co-creators” of their society alongside government officials and “experts.” These socialist alternatives would then have to be put up against both “actually existing” capitalism and the “free-market” utopianism of libertarians. A surprising number of people seem to believe that a true free-market economy (uncorrupted by government, “big business,” or “crony capitalism”) would benefit them. Here, Marx’s Capital and Polanyi’s Great Transformation should be read as making all the free market assumptions of the Austrian School and the libertarians, and then showing what actually happens under a truly free market. Here, too, is room for all those socialist critiques of “actually existing” capitalism. But whereas most of these critiques end with a final chapter or sentence calling for socialism as an alternative to capitalism, some people need to make that final chapter or sentence their first chapter or sentence and to envision, debate, and fill in the details of the socialist alternative. Otherwise, conservatives and liberals will do it for them. The idea that writing about a proposed socialist economy is “imposing” some “totalitarian blueprint” and that it is “more democratic” to wait until “after the revolution” to decide what socialism should be is ridiculous. History shows the exact opposite lesson. Finally, socialist ideology should concede that while its strength is its critique of capitalism and its proposals for an eco-socialist economic alternative, these by themselves do not address the legitimate concerns of the new social movements. Instead of subsuming racial, gender, and sexual oppression under capitalist

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oppression, socialists should acknowledge the multiple sources as well as forms of oppression—and therefore many of the theories of these movements. In turn, members of these movements need to participate in the debates about the socialist economy.

Strategy I suggested that the initial strategy should be a “united front” among socialists to rehabilitate the concept of socialism as a viable alternative to capitalism (and to make the term “left” mean “anti-capitalism”). Given the perennial objections to creating or joining a party or overall organization, and given that this is primarily an ideological strategy, this “united front” can be “virtual” in the sense that each socialist group or theorist can pursue it without directly collaborating with the “sectarians” or “revisionists” who they dislike (or without waiting for some perfect organization to be invented). It is only later, as socialist ideas are debated, clarified, and accepted, that people will want to organize to pursue particular socialist visions or strategies. Nevertheless, it is important to think beyond this initial ideological strategy or step. Traditionally, the socialist debate has been about reform versus revolution (although Rosa Luxemburg (2004: 129) argued that before Bernstein these were considered compatible because revolution was the end and reforms were the means). It is useful to trace out a strategy for revolution and see what problems it poses. I borrow from George Lakey (2004), who developed a five-stage “strategy for a living revolution,” which he believes is relevant both for revolutions that go all the way to a transformed society and to movements that stop short of that. Lakey’s five stages are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

cultural preparation; organization building; confrontation; mass political and economic non-cooperation; parallel institutions.

These stages overlap, earlier stages continue during later stages, and the tactics and institutions of the later stages need to be developed or started during the earlier stages. But Lakey also means that tactics that might be appropriate to one stage may not be appropriate to another and that tactics that seem to fail now may work later at a different stage. According to Lakey, in the 1) cultural preparation stage, people develop their critique of the system (and of their own participation in it), their vision of an alternative, and their overall strategy for achieving that vision. In the next stage, 2) organization building, they begin organizing with others. This includes beginning to develop the alternative institutions that will be important in stage 5.

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Protests and demonstrations are part of this organization stage because these help build organizations (as well require organization). But at this stage the demonstrations are about resistance, or saying “no.” The 3) confrontation stage aims to bring the movement to the attention of the larger public, to present the public with an alternative to the established system, and to polarize public opinion by staging confrontations between “us” and “them.” Lakey stresses the importance of non-violence as key to the overall strategy, the importance of sticking to nonviolent tactics during the confrontation stage and the need to prepare for police violence and attempts at repression.35 It is possible at this confrontation stage that the movement will win some vital demands, as the US civil rights movement did with federal intervention and legislation. The tipping point toward revolution comes with 4) mass political and economic non-cooperation in order to bring down the order. This was where the 1968 movements failed. It was the stage reached in the overthrow of Milosevic in Serbia and by the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt. But these movements, as well as most other social movements, lack the next stage, 5) parallel institutions, which are needed in order to fill the vacuum created by the collapse of the previous order. Obviously, more could be written (and is addressed by Lakey in his article) about each step and how to apply the model in practice. It seems that stages 1 and 2 go together and (especially if stage 2 includes actions and demonstrations that are not yet “confrontations”) can go on for a long time (in a Gramscian “war of position”) before the movement is ready for massive confrontation in stage 3. At stage 3, members of the movement will have to decide if they want only reform (which might be granted as a result of confrontation; in my example, this would be shorter working hours and subsequent reductions) or if they want revolution, which would take the form of mass non-cooperation (stage 4), which aims at bringing down the regime, and taking power (stage 5, parallel institutions). The movement could split at this point, with “reformers” stopping with reform at stage 3, and revolutionaries continuing to stages 4 and 5. At each stage, of course, mistakes, splits, and the strength of the opposing “system” can always prevail. Lakey does not address electoral politics, but presumably his stages of mobilization could be accompanied by parallel electoral efforts. Socialists need to be debating these aspects of strategy.

Organization Given the prevailing aversion to parties and structured organizations, the initial political forms of the movement would start where they are now, in various and dispersed groups that occasionally get together in national forums (Left Forum, US Social Forum). Individuals who do not already belong to a group (or are dissatisfied with the ones they are in) can form “socialist clubs” with like-minded individuals. These socialist clubs should debate the various tasks that are necessary for a successful movement and decide (given their limited time and resources)

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which one or ones they want to pursue. The usual options are: 1) education, propaganda, and recruitment; 2) activism in unions, demonstrations, or resistance groups (such as anti-austerity struggles, anti-foreclosure groups); and 3) alternative institutions (worker-owned cooperatives, left-wing media, soup kitchens, legal services for the poor). A bolder strategy would be to emulate the Trotskyists of the 1930s (Dobbs 1972) and organize community-based unions in unorganized sectors. Education, propaganda, and recruitment are part of Lakey’s stage 1 (cultural preparation) and involve both self-education and spreading the word to the public at large, as well as discovering fellow socialists. Clubs could network with each other, pool resources or create larger organizations.36 They should also develop “models” for educating their members to be socialists and training them to be writers, speakers, and activists. Activism is part of all stages because “actions speak louder than words” and people always judge you by your actions (or inaction). It can even involve running candidates for political office if local conditions are favorable. But it is important to remember that actions must aim at socialist education and spreading the ideology of socialism. Otherwise action will be interpreted in conventional sensationalist (or liberal and conservative) ways by the media and public. Alternative institutions are needed in stage 5 (parallel institutions) but they need to be started well before. But again, alternative institutions and services must be accompanied by socialist education. The goal is ideological: changing hearts and minds about socialism. Lakey emphasizes the importance of organization for sustaining movements (with their inevitable setbacks and periods of demobilization) over the long term. But insisting on forming a party at the beginning will alienate many people and whatever policies people and groups will initially agree on will be “lowest common denominator” proposals that will alienate those wanting more vigorous action. It would be better to debate goals and strategies and see what agreement can be reached on strategy (what exactly a “war of position” entails; “non-political” versus “political” versus “both/and” strategies; reform versus revolution). The choice of strategy is likely to determine the form of organization. In the meantime, there might be agreement on the need to form a continuing “Socialist Forum” (or whatever name is best) for reporting on the movement, exchanging tactical and strategic ideas, interpreting current events, contesting liberal and conservative interpretations, debating issues, etc. This is already done in a dispersed fashion and a chief function of a more centralized Socialist Forum would be to publicize all these efforts and link them together. This would require raising funds to hire editors and journalists to staff the forum. One of the functions of the forum (or a few fora) would be to debate the form and tasks of a centralized organization. If a consensus began to emerge, it would then be time to form a party (and shift from stage 1 to stage 2). This party could be conceived along Gramscian lines as prefigurative of the “state” (or, for anti-statists, the “association”) that socialists want to establish.37 Initially, it should be a “cadre” organization aiming to support or lead

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“spontaneous” mass mobilizations. As in Gramsci and the socialist clubs mentioned above, it should add educative and community-service functions (as resources permit). Its relationship to “parallel institutions” would depend on whether or not these already existed or needed to be established. The expansion of educative, media, community-service, and parallel institutions beyond “demonstration projects,” as well as an influx of new members from mobilizations, would require either transforming the cadre party into a “mass” party or some sort of “federation.” For Gramsci, a mass party was governed by a party elite, with an intermediate strata of “traditional” and “organic” intellectuals (which included party “militants”) that mediated elite–mass relations. But he had earlier extolled autonomous workers’ councils to which the party lent support and which the party aspired to lead. If Arendt is right, mass mobilizations always self-organize into councils. In any event these issues can be debated and do not have to be confronted until later. In the meantime, I hope to have given readers ideas about what ideology, strategy, and organization might look like and to induce political theorists to take seriously the need to think about political and economic alternatives and about strategies for getting from here to there.

Notes 1 For example, see Edkins (1999), which has chapters on Foucault and Derrida, but for “the political” uses Lefort’s conception (p. 2) and concludes by appealing to Laclau and Mouffe. See also Butler in Butler et al. (1999). 2 In France, Furet’s liberal, “ideological” interpretation of the French Revolution replaced the Marxist “social” interpretation of the French Revolution as a “bourgeois” revolution. Tocqueville’s “political” interpretation was that the French Revolution completed the “absolutist” project of a centralized state. 3 Althusser considered everyday subjectivity to be an “ideological state apparatus” and distinguished ideology from Marxist science. But as Laclau pointed out (1996; 2006), once Marxism as a science is rejected, “everything” is ideological in the subjectivist and world view sense. 4 For details on Lefort’s life, see Howard (1974–5, 2013, and 1975–6). For studies and assessments of Lefort, see Flynn (1992, 1998, and 2005), the chapter on Lefort in Marchart (2007); Chapter 5 in Breckman (2013); Plot (2013); and the special issue of Constellations (2012). 5 The quote about wanting to revive political philosophy is from Lefort (1988g: 9). Arendt, Furet, Strauss, and Tocqueville were discussed throughout the essays in Democracy and Political Theory (1988a). 6 Against the positivist social scientific conception of reality, Lefort argued that “the fact something like politics should have been circumscribed within social life at a given time has in itself a political meaning” which derives from “the form of society within which the division of reality into various sectors appears and is legitimated” (Lefort 1988g: 11). By ignoring the “generative principles” or “overall schema governing both the temporal and the spatial configuration of society, we lapse into a positivist fiction; we inevitably adopt the notion of a pre-social society, and posit as elements aspects that can only be grasped on the basis of an experience that is already social” (Lefort 1988f: 218). For an anthropological argument about the priority of cultural meaning over economic utility or Durkheimian social functionalism, see Sahlins (1976).

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7 This objection was made, for example, by Lefort’s former comrade Castoriadis (1991a: 157–8). Castoriadis thought “the political” was a feeble and misleading replacement for his own “imaginary institution of society.” 8 This was a review of Furet’s Interpreting the French Revolution. Lefort and Furet were friends and Moyn (2008) argues that Furet derived important ideas for his interpretation from Lefort. Lefort’s last book (2007) was a reply to Furet’s book on communism (1999). 9 One of Lefort’s (2007) arguments against Furet (1999), who believed people were drawn to communism out of wishful thinking, was that many western communists knew full well that the Soviet Union was totalitarian. It was what they wanted for themselves and their own countries. 10 The pagination is the same in the 2001 edition, so I will henceforth refer to 1985. For sympathetic studies and assessments of Laclau and Mouffe, together and separately, see Smith (1998), Sim (2000), Critchley and Marchart (2004), the chapter on Laclau in Marchart (2007), and chapters 6 and 7 in Breckman (2013). 11 Mouffe (1993a: 11) adopts Lefort’s definition of modernity. “I, for one, think that modernity must be defined at the political level, for it is there that social relations take shape and are symbolically ordered,” she writes. “In this respect the fundamental characteristic of modernity is undoubtedly the advent of the democratic revolution.” Laclau is more cautious about identifying modernity with democracy, but he acknowledges that the “indeterminate” character of democracy is related to debates about poststructuralism. Laclau (1988) identified modernity with the Enlightenment (and does not mention Lefort’s democracy). What is involved in the shift from modern to postmodern is not a rejection of modern or Enlightenment values, but a change in their ontological status from “absolute” to “relational.” 12 As I noted in the Schmitt chapter, Schmitt distinguished his friend-enemy conception of the political from agonistic alternatives such as Mouffe’s. She should claim these ideas as her own. 13 For example, the discussion in Socialist Review, published as Trend (1996), and Aronowitz (1996). Socialist Review, which had previously been titled Socialist Revolution, was renamed Radical Society. 14 Breckman (2013: 218) characterizes Laclau ruefully as “a poststructuralist Eduard Bernstein.” 15 Mouffe (2000b, Chapter 4 and 2005: 131 note 9) also distinguishes the militancy of her agonistic pluralism from the post-Nietzschean ethical pluralism of William E. Connolly and Bonnie Honig. Most readers fail to see a difference and they are all usually lumped together as “agonistic” democrats (Benhabib 1996). 16 Part of this passage is cited in Strathausen 2006. Agamben refers to Antonio Negri, Il potere costituente: Saggio sulle alternative del moderno (Milan: SugarCo, 1992). 17 This becomes clear in Lefort’s criticism (2000a) of anthropologist Pierre Clastres’s (1987) speculations about the origin of the state. Clastres initially argued that tribes can never develop into states because of tribal resistance to the will to power of chiefs and warriors. But, since the state did eventually develop, Clastres developed a speculation about how this could have happened given the fact of tribal resistance. Lefort objected that this meant Clastre really had been a “functionalist” all along who believed the state is “natural” and that it was the tribe that was the aberration. For Lefort, any transition from tribe to state required instead a “symbolic mutation” of culture that changes the tribal members’ mode of distinguishing in such a way that they begin to think in “statist” terms. This is similar to Crone’s hypothesis (1986) that the first state, in Sumeria, derived from a non-tribal religious belief system. These accounts of historical change due to changes in culture or religion differ significantly from accounts based on economic or demographic change. They are “irrational,” although they underscore human creativity.

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18 Derrida also attended and his “modest and belated contribution” to this project was Derrida (1997; see 137 note 25). For critical accounts of this center and their difficulties discussing “the political,” see Critchley (1993) and Fraser (1984). Critchley criticizes them for uncritically adopting a Heideggerian conception of the political and Fraser accuses them of wanting to avoid any real politics. Presumably, in response to these types of criticisms, Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy closed the center in 1984. 19 The inspiration for Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe was Derrida’s preliminary comments to his 1968 essay, “The Ends of Man” (Derrida 1982: 114): “Every philosophical colloquium necessarily has a political meaning. And not only due to that which has always linked the essence of the philosophical to the essence of the political.” Although they deny a strict identity between philosophy and politics, they interpret this in Heidegger’s terms: the end of philosophy in technology is also the end of the political in the “everything is political” of totalitarianism. 20 For a different interpretation, which accuses Nancy of “philosophism” and an inability to see that ontology is contingent and therefore political, see Marchart (2007). Nancy identifies the political with community, which he sees as something prior to power. This restates the communist assumption that politics will disappear under communism. 21 Nowhere does Lefort exhibit an awareness, like that of Marxist Ellen Wood (1995), that Athenian democracy allowed peasant-citizens to defend their economic interests and freedom against aristocratic landowners, while modern liberal democracy has separated citizenship from economic concerns, and that, consequently, these are two different and conflicting conceptions of democracy. 22 “Does the ‘indeterminacy’ credited to our political regimes mean that we are seeing explicitly instituted the disjunction between power, knowledge, and right that is essential to freedom? Or does it rather bring to light the paradox of a state which, having wished to close itself off from Christianity’s power, from the power of one particular opinion, is endlessly obliged to deprive any opinion of power?” Manent (1994: xviii) 23 According to Lefort (1988c: 30), Manent “believes that I failed to recognize the constant benefits that accrue to the state from the extension of social and economic rights which reinforce its statutory powers.” 24 Foucault (1988a: 94) suggested that the meaning of the Enlightenment was its raising “the question of the historicity of thinking about the universal.” The “historicity of thinking about the universal” can be interpreted in at least two ways. It can be interpreted as historicism (or relativism): whatever is conventionally considered “the universal” is a historical product of a particular culture. But it can also be interpreted as the historicity of thinking about the universal: the universal may still be universal; it is the thinking about it that is historical and that is the product of particular cultures. I think this second interpretation is the correct one. But it, in turn, is susceptible to at least two interpretations. The notion that there is a universal despite particular historical versions of it can stimulate renewed attempts to discover the universal or “get it right” by making it more inclusive, etc. But it can also suggest a change in the conception of the universal itself, as Butler (1996) indicates. 25 Heidegger’s (1972: 9) history of being was intended to help reveal the Being that “held back” from each epochal “giving” of being, but unless Being is finally revealed, the sequence of epochs appears historicist. Strauss (1961: 154) insisted that Heidegger did not want to understand Being but rather wanted to keep it mysterious. But it is equally plausible that Heidegger hoped that Being would one day be understood. 26 This is the ontological meaning of “discourse.” It is spelled out in Laclau (2004a). 27 It is important to see that “contingency” by itself cannot be “political.” As Weber argued, the universe and life are ultimately “contingent” but this does not make them political. It is human actions and social structures, those which are controllable, that are political. However, this identification of the political with the contingent is what Marchart (2007) sees as the strength of Laclau’s theory.

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28 Mandel (1986) describes a centralized alternative. For the decentralized alternatives, see the “participatory economy” (“parecon”) idea of Albert and Hahnel (1991) and Albert (2003). 29 See Hunnicutt (1984). The AFL-CIO pushed for a 30-hour work week in the 1930s. It was defeated by the New Deal compromise of the 40-hour week combined with government promises to achieve “full employment.” The original labor goal of shorter hours has been forgotten. 30 For those demanding a militant program now, try: Cancel all debts and foreclosures! Nationalize the banks! Build the green-collar economy! A 20-hour work week! A $15 an hour minimum wage! Worker ownership of corporations! 31 See Eaves (2014). For liberal proposals, see Keynes (1963), the New Economics Foundation (2010), and Baker (2009). 32 On the need for “socialized” markets to equalize the power of households in relation to producers and retailers, see Elson (1998 and 2000). Hahnel and Albert’s “participatory planning” depends on calculating the social and environmental costs of production and using these “prices” to inform the participants about the goods that they will plan to produce and exchange. This index could be compiled during the market socialist stage. 33 Most eco-socialism today is concerned with proving that Marx and Engels had an ecological consciousness, criticizing capitalism for destroying the environment, and with promoting the environmental justice movement (a crucial concern ignored by liberal environmentalists). It now needs to focus on the specific eco-socialist alternative. At the current stage of the literature, this means borrowing ideas from liberal neoclassical economist Herman Daly (Daly and Cobb 1994) and businessman Paul Hawken (1993), on the economics of the “steady-state” or “restorative” economy, and from the environmental technology of Paul Hawken et al. (1999). 34 Hawken’s mechanism for enforcing this is “green taxes” on fossil fuels, pollution, waste, and resource use. These taxes would start out small to give firms time to adopt environmentally restorative technologies and would escalate dramatically until fossil fuels, pollution, etc. became unaffordable. Hawken also proposes public utilities for certain restorative purposes, such as salmon restoration in the Pacific Northwest. 35 Lakey’s example in the article, Serbia’s Otpur, by remaining non-violent, was able to turn police violence against the Milosevic regime. My discussion of non-violence in the Ricoeur chapter is also relevant here. 36 On the class dimensions of organizing, see Linda Stout (1996). Stout recommends that working-class people create their own organizations, separate from middle-class ones. Lakey recommends creating black, Latino, women’s, working-class and gay “caucuses” within large organizations. 37 See “Religion, State and Party,” in Gramsci (1971: 267). In “The Elements of Politics,” Gramsci begins with the fact that there are rulers and ruled, leaders and led, but one aim of politics can be “to create the conditions in which this condition is no longer necessary” (144) and this will influence organizational form.


Politics is not religion, ethics, law, science, history, or economics; it neither solves everything, nor is it present everywhere; and it is not any one political doctrine, such as conservatism, liberalism, socialism, communism or nationalism, though it can contain elements of most of these things. Politics is politics, to be valued as itself, not because it is “like” or “really is” something else more respectable or peculiar. Bernard Crick (1964: 15–16 or 2000: 2) [S]ome matters really are political and others not … [I]f the distinction is systematically neglected it is possible to trivialize politics even beyond the dreams of media advisers and political consultants. Sheldon Wolin (1989f: 47)

In this chapter, I review the political visions of my authors and the political traditions I associate with them, explain how these visions conceive the autonomy of politics, and make some generalizations about politics and the political (part I). In part II, I sketch what a politics-centered theory would look like, including the conceptions of theory that are appropriate for understanding the autonomy of politics, and explain the asymmetrical relation of politics to ethics, philosophy, and religion. In part III, I address readers who are not theorists and remind them of some of the practical implications of the theories of the political described in this book.

I The political imagination By “the political imagination,” I mean the political visions of my authors and the traditions they represent, as well as the “logics” of politics in their theories.1 The

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visions of Weber, Schmitt, and Ricoeur center on the state, as do realist, nationalist, absolutist, fascist, authoritarian, conservatve, and idealist visions.

Weber’s vision and realist, nationalist, and cosmopolitan realist visions Weber defined politics as the struggle for power, within and among states, which is also the realist definition (Morgenthau 1978b). The meaning and value of politics for Weber was the use of power as a means to resist evil and to advance interests or ideals. Politics requires an “ethic of responsibility” to decide when and if the interest or ideals pursued justify using power and violence. This is also being responsible for whatever evil consequences result from using power. The “autonomy” of politics emerged when the struggle for power changes from a means to an end. For both Weber and the realists, politics exhibits a “logic” derived from the rational use of power or the rational use of the legitimate violence of the state (in war, law enforcement, and punishment). The “logic,” both in domestic and international politics, is toward either monopoly (a state, cabinet government, empire) or a balance of power (oligopoly). I described three “visions” that go along with this realist and statist conception of politics.

Realism Realism in its “pure” sense of “raison d’êtat” (reason of state) tries to replace ethics with rational calculations of power and advantage, which are pursued in the name of the state. As Weber noted, realism in its pure form develops the mystique that “politics is destiny.” Napoleon believed that great power politics was the “macro” cause of historical events (or, if Foucault’s interpretation was correct, the macro cause has been the French Revolution and its global influence). Weber believed politics had an “existential” status in providing secular individuals with a “meaningful death” on the battlefield among comrades. This was the older, pre-World War I mystique of realism. The advent of “total” conventional war and nuclear war has forced realists to repudiate great power war as a “rational” means of resolving disputes. In discussing realism in part III of the Weber chapter, I argued that classical realists like Morgenthau and even Kissinger understood that they cannot rely on rational calculations of power and must control politics with morals.

Nationalism For Weber and nationalists, the nation is a higher value than the state and politics and constitutes both the ideal to be advanced and the collective interest that justifies using political power. When it came to Germany, Weber acted upon an “ethics of conviction.” A nationalist vision upholds national culture above politics and resonates with the modern western valorization of cultural achievements over

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political ones. Nationalist visions of politics usually take the forms of cultural “missions” that try to impose national values on other people, resistance to the power and cultural missions of other nations, or attempts to “set an example” to other nations by living up to national ideals. Nationalism is resilient because, in a world of disenchantment and conflict among values, it is one way to unite peoples and promulgate public values. As Anthony Smith (1996) has suggested, it also is the modern form in which the old “existential” ideal of “immortality” can be expressed. But nationalism is often aggressive and exclusive and a cause of war.

Cosmopolitan realism Despite his nationalism, Weber was also a “man of culture” who believed that politicians and nations had a “responsibility before history” to advance “culture in the future.” This responsibility is an “ethics of responsibility.” As a nationalist, he believed that asserting national interests (or resisting the cultural missions of other nations) was acting responsibly and advancing culture. But from either a more cosmopolitan perspective, or the perspective of future historians, national and political actions are evaluated from a larger perspective of “the world” or “civilization.” This perspective was reached after World War II and decolonization, which created a world of non-western nation-states as well as the danger of a third world war that could destroy “civilization.” I have presented the realist Hans Morgenthau as concluding from the “Hobbesian logic of anarchy” that only a world state can prevent a future great power war. This would mean altering our conceptions of politics, from nation-states to a world state, and subordinating national interests and loyalties to some global interest and supranational loyalty. This is terrain already occupied by “idealists” of various sorts. My argument is that “normative realism,” or at least the realist “vision” of Morgenthau, is compatible with seeking a world state.

Schmitt’s vision and absolutist, fascist, authoritarian, and social conservative visions Schmitt defined the political in terms of the friend-enemy distinction, but I have argued that this was less a full definition of politics (Schmitt called it a “criterion”) than an inducement to get people to take seriously Schmitt’s real belief that the political was the union of political authority and legitimacy and that politics was the struggle to promote authority (legitimate power). For Schmitt the central concept of politics is authority, which is necessary because human nature is evil and depraved and needs to be constantly repressed. The meaning and value of politics for Schmitt, then, was authority and the “order, discipline and hierarchy” that it imposes on rebellious humans. The autonomy of politics emerges in Schmitt when authority is pursued for its own sake and it is expressed in Schmitt’s Hobbesian absolutism, Mussolinian fascism, and Maistrean authoritarianism.

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Hobbesian absolutism Absolutism is an ideal-type describing the aspirations of early modern princes to subdue the feudal estates and establish themselves as the highest authority (sovereign). Both Hobbes and Schmitt in his “decisionist” guise defended sovereignty and the state as the rational solution to anarchy and collective action problems. Absolutism differs from realism in that absolutists seek to legitimize the state’s de facto monopoly on legitimate violence in order to distinguish sovereignty from tyranny. Absolutist statism results in a “policed existence” for individuals, in which the state protects them from criminals and enemies and from domination by pluralist groups (Schmitt 1987a: 49). Most of us implicitly take our “policed existence” for granted. Schmitt saw it as his job to remind us of the virtues of state authority.

Mussolinian fascism In political theory, fascism usually represents an extreme foil (particularly as “totalitarianism”) by which to contrast most other political visions. Fascism views politics and diplomacy as war carried out by other means and legitimacy as the right of the strongest. It is ambivalent about the state, with Mussolini making the state the highest entity and Hitler subordinating the state to the race. Scholars of fascism emphasize its hypernationalism, paramilitarism, and belief in some sort of cleansing violence. The “logic” of fascism is war.

Maistrean authoritarianism I have argued that Schmitt was a “Maistrean” authoritarian, for whom the legitimacy of authority was provided by the true religion of Catholicism. Like the nineteenth-century counterrevolutionaries Maistre and Donoso Cortes, Schmitt saw the ultimate conflict of modernity as the battle between Catholicism and “atheistic-anarchistic socialism.” Schmitt shared with Donoso Cortes the belief that monarchic legitimacy could no longer be restored and so modern government should be an alliance between a nationalist dictator and the Catholic Church. This historical possibility may have ended with Vatican II and the turn of post-Franco Spain to constitutional democracy, but it remains a model for military dictators seeking legitimacy from traditional institutions and authorities, including religion.

Social conservatism Social conservatives take Burke, rather than Maistre, as their ideal conservative. Like Burke, they legitimize existing institutions, which are hard-won achievements ratified by time. These institutions (families, churches, schools, governments)

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derive their authority from tradition, behind which stands God (or the value of sanctity). Communities should be organized around religion and government should enforce religion and the traditions of the community. Social conservatives believe that if authority is respected in daily life, state coercion can be kept to a minimum. In this vision, politics is not autonomous and serves the higher purpose of serving and protecting the religious community.

Ricoeur’s idealist vision In idealist visions of politics, the purpose of politics is to achieve justice. For many idealists, the means of state coercion can be legitimized if they serve the end of justice. For idealists such as Ricoeur, Rousseau, and Hegel, the state is not simply a coercive means to enforce justice, but part of justice itself, and hence an end. Ricoeur defined the political as the ideal of the state and the ideal of the state as justice or the rule of law. As I have suggested, our ideas about justice presuppose the state as an impartial and binding arbiter of disputes. This contrasts with an earlier, “tribal” conception of justice as revenge (Locke’s “strange doctrine,” which persists in international relations). Despite its violence and irrationality, the state (if properly understood as an “idea”) exhibits a “logic” of justice in which more impartial and fairer conceptions of justice come to prevail over retributive conceptions, and in which the state itself develops from violence into “the rule of law” (the Continental Rechtsstaat). As in Rousseau, if the state is understood as the collective knowledge and general will of “society” (the “idea” of the state), the state is also the “source” of justice (rather than God or natural law). The “logic” of justice and the state, on this idealist vision, is ultimately to establish global justice via a world state. This would allow national states to continue their moral role as “non-violent educators.”

Ricoeur’s secular vision of politics If the state is understood in this idealist and autonomous sense, the political problems involve distinguishing the state (the political) from government (politics) and the relationship between ideals (justice) and reality (power and injustice). The relationship between ideals and reality is paradoxical in three senses: 1) ideals create reality, 2) ideals tend to be abused or misapplied in reality (Ricoeur’s “political paradox”), and 3) ideals can retroactively legitimize power and injustice (all governments are founded on violence and conquest). The relationship of ethics and politics in Ricoeur’s secular vision of politics involves contrasting ideals to reality and it was in these terms that Ricoeur invoked Weber’s distinction between the ethics of conviction (ideals) and the ethics of responsibility (reality). I see this as a more fruitful way to understand the relationship of ethics and politics, one that also preserves the “autonomy” of politics.

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Ricoeur’s Christian vision of politics The true conflict between “ethics and politics” emerges when ethical ideals such as Christian love, which come from “outside” the political sphere, are applied to politics. The violence of justice cannot be justified by love and pacifism. From this perspective, the paradoxes between ideals and reality outlined earlier are replaced by a stubborn “duality” and ethics (love) and politics (justice and power) cannot be reconciled.

Pluralist visions I argued that the existence of several rival ethical positions (realist, justice-centered, Christian, Levinasian, and post-Nietzschean) creates a situation in which there is a “politics of ethics” in which ethical evaluations clash, particularly in crisis situations. Alongside these ethical-political struggles there is also an “ethics of ethics,” in which moralists try to overcome their self-righteousness and severity with more generous types of ethics. This “ethics of ethics” probably derives ultimately from understanding life as “tragic” or as exhibiting what Weber called “the ethical irrationality of the world.”

Political visions derived from the polis In Part 2 of this book, we examined the political visions of Arendt and Wolin, which derived from the ancient Greek polis and Roman res publica (or the citystate). For Aristotle and the Greeks, the polis was a “natural” institution that completed human nature by giving citizens the material benefits of life in a city and allowed them to participate in ruling and being ruled. The “good life” was the combination of “freedom and civilization.” As I noted in Chapter 1, Plato and Aristotle were critical of this political ideal and Aristotle reinterpreted the good life as the combination of virtue and civilization. Arendt and Wolin returned to the original Greek political ideal. In contrast to the state tradition, the polis tradition excludes violence and hence there is no need for theories of legitimacy or concern about the conflict between ethics and politics.

Arendt’s vision and republican visions Arendt envisioned politics as an island of freedom in a sea of necessity. Most of life is centered on biological concerns and the necessity for survival. Humans have been able to partially rise above this biological determinism by fabricating a “world” of houses, cities, cultural objects, and public institutions. Politics exists within this fabricated world as the activity of freedom, understood as action in concert with others to use their power to initiate something new and memorable into the world. “The political” is the “space” within which this freedom can exist

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and where individuals can display their “virtuosity,” as well as disclose their “true” selves (as revealed by their words and deeds). The meaning and value of politics for Arendt was freedom, understood as participation in politics or government. Politics is “autonomous” in the sense that action in concert is an end in itself (rather than a means to protect philosophy or religion, or enhance welfare). It is also autonomous in the sense that action in concert has indeterminate consequences and ramifications. Hence action is evaluated in terms of “greatness,” rather than ordinary moral categories, and often requires forgiveness (because actions can never be undone). Arendt avoided the moral ambiguities of her vision by severely limiting the scope of politics and seeing it mainly as “existential” compensation for the frustrations and injustices of social life.

Civic humanist visions Like absolutism, “civic humanism” (or republicanism) is another historian’s idealtype reconstructed from Aristotle’s claim that man was a political animal who realized his true nature in a polis or city-state. The “logic” of civic humanism is a logic of trying to adhere to this civic ideal in the face of “fortune” or reality. This political ideal of citizenship was undermined by the advent of commerce and capitalism, which gave rise to “bourgeois” ideals of legal citizenship and freedom in private life. But the civic ideal continues to haunt modern westerners. In foreign policy, civic humanism involved a choice between isolation (the model of the republic of Venice) and empire (the model of Rome). A theme common to both civic humanists and “republicans” in general is the negative effect of empire on domestic institutions, which give way (as in Rome) to military dictatorship.

Skinner and Pettit’s republican vision As I noted, Pocock believed the civic humanist ideal was too strenuous for most people and, in any event, was undermined by liberalism and capitalism. Skinner and Pettit extracted an alternative civic model from Roman political thought, which according to them was centered on freedom as “non-domination.” They believe this is a more robust notion of freedom than the “negative liberty” defended by liberalism. It requires participation in politics, not to realize the civic humanist ideal of humans as political animals, but for the practical purpose of preventing domination.

Weber and Wood’s plebian vision of citizenship The two western models of citizenship are the Greek model of political participation and the Roman model of legal citizenship, which protected rights and property. The latter became the “bourgeois,” “liberal,” or “modern” model of citizenship. I suggested that Weber and Ellen Meikins Wood had a third,

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revolutionary, conception of citizenship based on usurpation, in which peasantsoldiers demanded and seized the same privileges of citizenship enjoyed by the aristocracy. In this civic vision, citizenship is important for protecting plebian economic interests and there is no separation of “the economic and the political.” As Wood has argued (1995), capitalism and modern citizenship presuppose this separation and the confinement of political power to its own sphere, leaving the economy to control by private interests. This revolutionary model of citizenship is implicit in socialist and radical democratic visions.

Communitarian visions I mentioned communitarianism when I discussed social conservatism in the Schmitt chapter and I suggested in that context that communitarians shared with conservatives an interest in using community authority, instead of state coercion, to enforce moral behavior. Communitarians have also been drawn to civic humanism and the ideal of participation in politics. However, they take their cue from modern negative trends toward privatism or what Tocqueville called “individualism,” the tendency for people to withdraw into a private circle of family and friends and to be indifferent to events and people outside their circle. Like Tocqueville, communitarians see involvement in private voluntary associations, as well as in politics, as remedies for counteracting privatism and restoring community and political life. But, as I complained in Chapter 1, communitarians often confuse community and the political. Communitarians are closer to social conservatives when they focus on the non-political community, but they believe the community must ultimately be regulated by the state in order to preserve individual liberties and protect the rights of minorities. Insofar as these liberal values are part of the communitarian vision of community, communitarianism may be helpful, as I suggested in the Wolin chapter, for reconciling populist community conflicts between “modernists” or liberals and “traditionalists” or conservatives. A key is to base communitarianism on an “ethic of respect” for others, rather than on an ethic of compassion or pity.

Boyte’s civic vision I used Harry Boyte to expound a vision of citizenship for its own sake and democracy as “a way of life,” one that eschews ideology, emphasizes the cooperative use of power, and emphasizes “co-governance” between citizens and government officials. Boyte and his colleagues have moved from theory to practice in trying to organize people to be effective citizens. Their vision is of a fully “mobilized” society in which everyone is willing and able to act as a citizen. They believe that if this could happen, our conceptions of politics would be transformed, from realist or statist politics to something like Arendtian politics.

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Sennett’s public vision Arendt’s emphasis on worldliness and the public realm resonated beyond the strictly political realm to raise the value of public life itself, the life shared by urban residents when they encounter each other on the sidewalk, at public events and festivals, or (more virtually) through what Habermas called the “public sphere” of communication about common affairs. Sennett has sought to articulate a vision of public life as a “theater of the world” in which citizens, who are mostly strangers, relate to each other through public rituals and codes of civility. This public life in itself is not political, but it can support politics, particularly in the Tocquevillian sense of teaching people how to associate, but also in the sense of causing people to value public institutions and amenities (parks, sidewalks, etc.) and to value a shared common life.

Wolin’s vision and democratic and populist visions Wolin’s conception of the political was the union of authority and community. Wolin therefore rejected both the Platonic or philosophical conception of the political as the “union of authority and knowledge” and a “moralist” conception of the political as the “union of authority and ethics.” Wolin also rejected the “pure” political visions of Machiavelli and Hobbes, in which power and authority were severed from the community. Initially, Wolin believed the state was the prime example of the union of authority and community and the antidote to pluralism and the sublimation of organizational coercion into “management.” When Wolin became a democrat, only democracy effectively represented the union of authority and community, and I have argued that, for Wolin, the meaning and value of politics was popular power.

Democratic visions The hallmark of Wolin’s democratic vision was to uphold “popular power” as a value that should usually outweigh other values such as liberty, ethics, or knowledge. Otherwise, elites will take power away from ordinary people in the name of these other values. In place of the abstractions of knowledge or philosophy, Wolin substituted a Socratic “democratic reason” that was attentive to locality and community values. This vision of “fugitive democracy” inspires many of Wolin’s admirers and seems to fit our experience of democracy, which is a fugitive experience in a statist political world.

Populist visions I sketched a populist vision of politics derived from Goodwyn’s “ideal-type” of populism in Democratic Promise (1976), which is also a vision of what Rawls called

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a “property-owning democracy.” Like the civic humanist Harrington, populists emphasize the importance to political life of citizen control over the means of production and over finance. Under modern conditions, when small businesses have given way to large ones, populist ideals may be preserved in large worker cooperatives and in government ownership of banks and mass transportation. As with Rawls’s “property-owning democracy,” the purpose of preserving citizen control of the means of production is to make citizens less dependent on the state and redistribution.

Society-centered and ideological visions Part 3 of this book was concerned with society-centered and ideological visions of politics. Once the modern state is established, other “spheres” such as “society,” the economy, and culture start to appear and develop, apparently according to their own “laws.” At the same time, the legacy of the French Revolution was (according to historians such as Furet) the “invention” of both “democratic culture” and ideological politics. Ideologies describe how the world works, how it ought to work, and usually prescribe a strategy for moving from “is” to “ought.” Ideologies are needed by political groups contesting for the “mandate” of “the people” and ideologies often emphasize the values of society, the economy, or culture, which are perceived to be more fundamental than politics and the state. The great ideologies, each with their own “visions,” are liberalism, conservatism, and socialism, with which most readers are already familiar. Today, alongside these ideologies are various “new social movements” (civil rights, feminism, gay and lesbian liberation, environmentalism) in which “cultural” concerns are prominent and become politicized (Jasper 2005). They have also invented a new form of politics in which the aim is to directly transform the culture rather than win political power. Many scholars see (or saw: these movements are aging and the newest ones are conservative) the new social movements as the successors to working-class and socialist movements. But the new social movements are divided by their particular concerns and much of the theorizing inspired by them is criticism of existing injustices rather than a vision for unity. When theorists do think of a unifying theme, they often find it in “democracy.” Lefort and Laclau and Mouffe have attracted attention because they are theorists of democracy.

Lefort’s vision and democracy Lefort’s conception of the political as the “mode of institution of society” blends politics and culture and it is meant to replace the Marxist mode of production as the “base” of any society, as well as contest various philosophical or cultural theories (such as those of Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe (1997)). Lefort believed that the mode of institution of society involved distinguishing human society

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from a “cosmic” background (a distinction that historically has been religious) and it also gave society a “body” with a ruler as its “head.” These aspects of the political are “cultural,” as is Lefort’s claim that modes of institution involve distinctions between true and false, etc. But Lefort, like Tocqueville (who saw democracy and aristocracy as forms of society, not just governments), also described these cultural features as involving representations of power and authority. This is the explicitly political side of the mode of institution. Revolutions, in which the normal cultural practices and practices of authority are upended, also reveal the political dimension of culture. In theory, Lefort’s political conception of culture should be able to incorporate “modes of production” and class struggles (and their influences on “superstructures”) both in the sense that they could be aspects of a theory about societies and in the sense that they would appear as crucial events and influences in societies. In practice, however, capitalism drops out of Lefort’s vision of the political (as it also does in Weber and liberal theory). Lefort’s focus was on politics (democracy) and culture (the emergence of a form of society in which the cosmic background and the idea of a body with a head disappear).

Democracy For Lefort, the emergence of modern democracy was “a political event with metaphysical significance.” Lefort reinterpreted declarations like the Rights of Man and Citizen not as invocations of natural law, but as acts of self-legislation or autonomy. Against Marx, he reinterpreted specific human rights not as bourgeois or individual rights, but as social rights to communication and association. Democracy exhibits a paradoxical “logic” of attempts to mobilize “the people,” who are the rulers. But every attempt founders on the ambiguity of expressing the will of “the people” and what emerges is a perpetual debate over who the people are, what the people want, and what they consider legitimate and illegitimate (including debates over what issues are legitimately “political”). This democratic condition of “uncertainty” is contrasted to totalitarianism, which is a secular effort to restore certainty. Lefort also believed this cultural atmosphere of uncertainty (which is caused by democracy, which destroys the earlier traditions and which cannot replace them) is the environment in which modern philosophies, like those of Heidegger, Strauss, and deconstruction, develop. He accused philosophers of secretly being tempted by totalitarianism in their yearning for certainty, or “the One.” Politics is thus “autonomous” from philosophy (it is actually philosophy’s precondition).

Laclau and Mouffe’s vision and radical democracy Laclau and Mouffe use Lefort’s conception of the political as the mode of institution of society and Tocqueville’s idea of a democratic revolution in culture as

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the background to their political theory, which centers on hegemony. Hegemony is “intellectual and moral leadership,” as in Gramsci, but also a broader political process of constructing equivalences among diverse discourses in order to form larger ideologies (like radical democracy) that can be used to challenge the status quo and transform societies. But hegemony also takes place at the “ontological” level. What we conceive to be reality is really the “sediments” of historical, cultural, and political hegemonic struggles that were “contingent” in the sense that they could have been decided otherwise, but once decided (and “piled on” by subsequent struggles and decisions) become “objective” reality. In this sense, “everything” is political. This point is significant because it means not only that everything can be contested (Lefort’s debate over legitimacy and illegitimacy), but also that no “truth” can become “totalitarian.” This is the anti-Stalinist or anti-doctrinaire political point of their “anti-essentialism.”

Radical democracy Laclau and Mouffe also use Lefort’s conception of democracy as the society of perpetual conflict without certainty. Lefort was content to theorize democracy as a public space of freedom, in which social conflict took place, and he was “liberal” in being neutral about what particular conflicts and movements developed. Laclau and Mouffe wanted to push democracy in a leftist direction that they called “radical democracy.” Instead of trying to develop and impose a “new” ideology from “outside” the liberal and democratic tradition, however, Laclau and Mouffe argued for radicalizing the existing liberal and democratic principles of equality and liberty. This radicalization would be reformist, rather than revolutionary, although it was intended to inspire radical, rather than “piecemeal,” reform. By accepting the existing liberal democratic framework, Laclau and Mouffe could also see the various “new social movements” as contributing to the radicalizing of equality and liberty, and as key components of a radical democratic and pluralist movement. Socialism would be relegated to contributing to the economic vision of radical democracy. The fact that no group would have any “apriori,” or “essentialist,” claim on being the “vanguard” of the movement would preserve freedom and pluralism. As in Lefort, capitalism and socialism drop out of this vision. I also complained that Laclau and Mouffe never developed radical democracy beyond this general outline. Instead, Laclau took up social ontology and Mouffe began using Schmitt to theorize an “agonistic” pluralism.

Relations of these visions to politics Generalizing from these visions and conceptions of politics and the political, a more comprehensive definition of politics would be:

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Politics is the struggle for, or cooperative use of, power, authority or ideology in order to advance interests or ideals in the name of some collective interest or ideal. In this definition, “struggle” and “cooperation” combine, respectively, the statist and polis-centered attitudes toward politics. “Power,” “authority,” and “ideology” name the means of politics. The ends of politics are to advance interests or ideals, but what makes these ends or goals “political” is the appeal to a larger “collective interest or ideal.” This collective interest is usually the state, nation, or polis (or the public interest, national interest, or common good), but the societycentered conception of politics allows for claims by particular groups (aristocrats, bourgeois, workers, women, environmentalists) to present their interests as the collective interest. This appeal to a collective interest seems necessary for designating an action or claim as “political.” Power and authority are used throughout social life, but in themselves are not necessarily political. For example, in a relationship between two people, one “personality” is usually “stronger” than another or has more “authority” (as do parents) than another. The other person obeys or resists. But these “individual” interactions are not in themselves political. It is when power and authority are used or resisted in the name of some larger collective interest or collective ideal that they become political. A man dominating a woman in a relationship may not be acting politically unless he claims a general authority derived from the larger collective of his gender (“I should dominate because I am a man”). Similarly, a woman rebelling against a patriarchal relation would be acting politically if she rebelled in the name of women or human equality. Albert Camus (1971) famously declared, “I rebel—therefore we exist.” “Rebellion,” as distinct from insubordination, is political because “my” action is made not only for myself but for “us,” a larger collectivity. Not every “we” identity is political and the problem is to determine at what point the use of power, authority, or hegemony becomes political. We often refer to things such as “office politics” to refer to power relationships in an office (and actions designed to please the boss), but as long as these power relationships are understood as restricted to particular personalities or the particular workplace, we do not consider them really political (if “office politics” is seen as part of capitalism or some other system of domination, then it might be considered political). Usually the larger the collective interest or ideal that is named, the more an action is political. A strike by workers at a company is not political if the workers act only for their own interests. It becomes political when they link their struggle to a larger collective interest or ideal such as the interests of the working class or the ideal of socialism. Much of politics involves the ideological or hegemonic struggle to get others to perceive various claims as representing a collective interest or ideal.

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The definition also states that interests or ideals are advanced in the “name of” the larger collective interest. This means political actors can advance their own interests or ideals under the name of that collective interest or ideal. This is what most critics see happening in politics: it is “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principle. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” Politics may not be an “essentially contested” concept and “everything” is not political, but the ambiguity of particular interests claiming to represent some collective interest means that political claims are usually contestable and much of “cultural” politics revolves around contesting these claims.

The political Combining the idea that power is the specific means of politics with the idea that the specific end or goal of politics is some collective interest or ideal, a comprehensive definition of the political would be: the union of power and community or the union of power and collective interest. This conception of the political is derived from Wolin’s conception, “the union of authority and community.” But this definition is broader because “power” is broader than “authority” (legitimate power) and many exercises of power are informal and some are illegitimate. The term “community” names the larger collective interest that makes the use of power political. But perhaps the term “community” has the wrong connotations and some other term, such as “collective interest,” should be used. I have argued, against Nancy (1991), that “community” by itself is not political, or not “the political,” and this raises questions about what a community is, and about whether a “nation” or “humanity” is the largest collectivity, etc. As Nancy and theorists of community all seem to agree, “community” exists mostly as some sort of “longing” for a set of cooperative social relations that is never achieved but which is desired (and which is often believed to have existed in the past). This underscores for me that the achievement of community is a “construction” of some sort, beginning with an appeal to it and resulting from acts of power, authority, and hegemony. Generalizing about the meaning and value of politics, the above definitions all emphasize power (or authority or ideology), which can be used for various purposes (and can become an end in itself), but some of my authors want to combine power with freedom. Arendt defined freedom as participation in government (which means the collaborative use of power). Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe see power as the means to exercise freedom and they define democracy and hegemony so that they combine power and freedom. This suggests that the meaning and value of politics is the power to advance interests and ideals of individual and collective freedom. What is power for? As with the ancient Greeks, the ideal of “the political imagination” is “freedom and civilization.”

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The autonomy of politics and the political These definitions of politics and the political are designed to establish the “autonomy” of the political sphere from other spheres. Interests and ideals usually come from “outside” politics, but engaging in politics involves using the specifically political means of power, authority, and ideology in the name of some collective interest. It is the union of power and community or power and collective interest that establishes the autonomy of the political sphere. From the political perspective of Wolin, all interests and ideals coming from “outside” the community are suspect, but most can be reinterpreted from the political perspective. A similar type of argument is being made in the “idea of the state” argument of Steinberger. Wolin did not discuss ethics, but he presupposed it was whatever ethics had been established by, or was operative in, the community. Most communities consist of individuals and groups holding conflicting values (as well as conflicting interests). There will always be dissidents resisting the majority opinions. Critics can therefore usually find an ethical position within the community from which to criticize it. They do not need to resort to a perspective “outside” the community. In certain respects, criticisms from somewhere totally “outside” a community would not even be intelligible to most members of the community. The political sphere is also only one of several “spheres” within a society and therefore conflicting religious and philosophically derived ethics will be part of the community’s ethical beliefs. It will still be the case that religious leaders and philosophers have to persuade the community to adopt their ethics as representing the collective interest if they are going to impose these ethics in the name of the collective interest. Before going further, my argument for the autonomy of politics and the political is a first step to arguing that the relationship between the political sphere and other spheres is one of “asymmetry,” or “lack of evenness or balance.” It is because most of us enter politics to advance interests and ideals from “outside” the political sphere, and because most of us are suspicious of political arguments that conclude that we should be “forced to be free,” that we want to maintain an ethical position from “outside” the community. Wolin admired religion because it taught people that they were not “owned” by any human institution. As we have seen, most of the theoretical conflicts between ethics and politics derive from religious and philosophical ethical positions that come from outside politics. But, because the political is autonomous, these relations “lack evenness or balance.” I discuss the asymmetry of politics and metaphysics or ethics in part II of this chapter.

The essence of politics and the political The concept of the political attempts to distil the “essence” of politics in a simple formula, in this case “the union of power and collective interest.” I have resisted the “reduction” of this “essence” to something more “fundamental” such as

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Laclau’s “ontology” of “contingency.” But much of the “ontological turn” in political theory is concerned with interpreting “the political” as the “moment” in which conflicting conceptions of reality are debated, fought over, and “decided.” “Politics” emerges as the victory of one particular conception of reality and therefore the subsequent restriction of political conflict to conflicts within that conception of reality. Today, this would mean a “technological” conception of reality as something to be manipulated (Heidegger’s “standing reserve”). Politics (especially ideological politics and technocratic “policy”) and the state would be manifestations of this technological “metaphysics.” Effective political opposition, on this view, therefore requires a cultural struggle against this technological conception of reality. In this ontological approach to the political, the political is “the ontological” (the Being of beings) that makes politics and everything else (which are “ontic”) possible. At this point political theory, as in Agamben, turns into philosophy in the sense of ontology, which is “first philosophy.” Marchart (2007), in his version of this argument, criticizes the “reduction” of the political to philosophy as “philosophism,” the illicit assumption that everything is philosophical. Marchart, borrowing from Laclau, makes the political itself the ontological. But he argues that the deeper reality of the ontological can only be perceived through ontic categories, and he argues that his choice of politics as the ontic path to ontology is a “political” choice. I have argued that this whole approach to politics and ontology is not a direct insight into reality, but instead presupposes the society-centered revolutionary tradition described in Chapter 7. In this tradition, everything is potentially political, including ontology. But, as I argued in the case of Weber in Chapter 2, fundamental cultural transformations are usually the work of “non-political” actors such as religious prophets and philosophers (and, more concretely, the organizational work and popularizing efforts of their followers: St. Paul was the “Lenin” of Christianity). Political actors (such as Constantine) can enforce these cultural transformations, but they usually do not “make” them. Obviously, one can include ontological and cultural concerns in a social movement politics that consciously tries to promote a new or different conception of reality as part of its ideology. But, as I demonstrated in relation to Lefort, Being and Otherness seem to have a life of their own, and make their “presence” known, especially whenever ideology claims to have successfully encompassed reality. This, I argue below, is where the asymmetry between ontology and politics emerges in Lefort. Those who still seek the ultimate “being” of the political and politics must first work their way through the various statist, polis-centered, society-centered conceptions of the political described in this book.

II Theories of the political and political theory A major purpose of this book is to encourage the development of a “politicscentered” political theory. I discuss what this would look like and the remaining “asymmetry” of politics in relation to “metaphysics” and ethics.

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Politics-centered political theory I have agreed with Dunn and Easton that political theory as a whole needs to return to its original concern to describe and explain how things work, how they ought to work, and how to get from is to ought. In order for a truly “politicscentered” political theory to materialize, there would have to be a reconciliation between political theory and political science. As Morgenthau complained (1971b), the divorce between political theory and political science is untenable. This new political science would probably have to be understood as practical in the sense that its purpose is to improve political practices and to respond to political problems. But, as the dust-up in 2000 known as the “Perestroika debate” (Monroe 2005) suggests, any reconciliation is unlikely (both sides “learned nothing and forgot nothing” from the 1960s debates). Given that there will be no reconciliation between political theory and political science, a politics-centered political theory should follow the early Berkeley School and center political theory on the autonomy of the political, understood, as I have defined it, as the “union of power and community.” Within this autonomous political sphere, theorizing would focus on the central concepts of power (as in the Weber chapter), authority (as in the Schmitt chapter), and ideology in the sense of doctrines, world views and legitimizing discourses. A politics-centered political theory would also want to examine other traditions, particularly the polis-centered traditions of Arendt and Wolin, which exclude the problem of statist violence and so allow for more cooperative conceptions of power and authority. Arendt’s conception presents politics as “the good life” and she redefines political concepts such as liberty, equality, authority, power, etc. in ways that reconcile their contradictions. She also suggests that there are many political experiences that have been misunderstood or overlooked by the western tradition of political thought and that these can be somehow rediscovered and incorporated into a genuinely politicscentered political theory. The problem, of course, is how to relate the polis conception of politics to the current statist conception of politics. To some extent the polis model has migrated to contemporary “civil society” and to various social movements, where “civic” and “worldly” ideas compete with anarchist, socialist, feminist, green, and other ideas. Here it contributes to a “counterculture” of resistance to statist politics. Wolin defended a conception of political theory in which “everything” (modernity, religion, morals, economics, culture) was evaluated from a political or citizen point of view. Wolin’s own work, in which he refused to engage metaphysical and moral concerns (because they are not strictly political), is a model of this sort of “autonomous” political theory. As I suggested above when discussing Ricoeur and the idea of the state, ethical and other ideals would be interpreted in political terms of how they related to power and the collective interest. The political perspectives of Wolin and Ricoeur may be of use to analytic realists who are concerned to distinguish politics and morals.

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In the society-centered and ideological conception of the political, ideology (in the three senses of political doctrines guiding political action, beliefs that distort reality or legitimize the status quo, and world views) is part of the means of politics, alongside power and authority. I had thought of using Laclau and Mouffe’s “hegemony” rather than ideology to refer to this means of politics, because asserting “intellectual and moral leadership” is more action-oriented than “ideology.” For Laclau and Mouffe, politics is the struggle for hegemony over cultural meanings. The accumulation of victories and other consequences of these struggles form what most of us consider the “objective” world. At certain points of history these “sediments” amount to a new “mode of institution of society” (or the struggles, as during revolutions, cause rapid changes in that they amount to “sudden” “mutation” in the symbolic order, as in Lefort). It is not clear how useful these ideas are for a politics-centered political theory. As I argue in Chapter 7, for Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe these moves serve to assert the autonomy or primacy of politics over Marxist and bourgeois economics and over Heideggerian philosophy or “postmodern” theories of culture. But, the political expands to incorporate “cultural” issues, and begins to lose its “identity.” This is why I argued that a politics-centered political theory would also have to concern itself with alternatives and strategies as well as with theories of capitalism, the state, and modern society.

The asymmetry of politics in relation to metaphysics and ethics Wolin, I have suggested, is a model for an “autonomous” political theory that relentlessly excludes ethics, metaphysics, and other “non-political” concerns. This raises the question of how these topics do relate to politics and to political theory. I have argued that this relationship is one of “asymmetry” or “lack of balance or evenness” between politics (which is autonomous) and other concerns. Most of us enter politics in order to advance some interest or ideal that is not strictly political. But we use the means of power, authority, or ideology to advance it and we do so in the name of a collective interest. Most of us also want the political sphere to be regulated by some higher interest or ideal. We fear that the political community could use its power for immoral purposes. Theorists such as Rousseau and Wolin implicitly believe that, if properly formulated, neither “the general will” nor the union of authority and community (popular power) could result in evil (even if they could “err”). It is the same with “the idea of the state” in Ricoeur, Hegel, and Steinberger (even when it is understood that the “state” is “society”) and with “the mode of institution of the social” in Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe. But most of us are unconvinced and fear that we will be “forced to be free.” If a politics-centered political theory is working “within” the political sphere, it cannot, on its own, declare a particular exercise of the general will or popular power (or a state/society or a mode of institution of the social) to be immoral. This is why many people believe we must go beyond the political sphere to notions of ultimate reality (metaphysics, religion) or ethics. I now turn

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to these issues. I call the relationship between politics and metaphysics, religion or ethics asymmetrical because there remains an unresolved tension between politics and these spheres. This tension is intensified if we believe the political is autonomous. Berlin’s formula of political theory as “but ethics applied to society” does not work because ethics first has to adapt to power and collective interest. It is only when an ethics of collective interest fails (as in international relations or an evil community) that political theorists must resort to “outside” ethics. In the statist tradition of Weber, Schmitt, and Ricoeur, the “autonomy” of politics, and the “asymmetry” of politics and metaphysics, arose initially from the conflict of “ethics” and politics. But this ethics comes from “somewhere,” which for Schmitt and Ricoeur was Christianity. In Weber, the prime examples of “ethics” were the other-worldly pacifist ethics of the Sermon on the Mount and the worldly ethics of resisting evil.

Asymmetry in Weber Asymmetry in Weber is between the ethics of non-resistence to evil of the Sermon on the Mount and a worldly ethics that commands resistance to evil and between the ethics of conviction and the ethics of responsibility. Pacifism and an ethics of conviction derive from religion, but are often what most people mean by ethics. Weber’s nationalism (Weber’s ethics of conviction) restrains politics in the sense that “national honor” or “German morality” might reject certain political means and certain political consequences. In these cases, the relationship between politics and national honor or morality would be “asymmetrical.” But nationalism is closely associated with politics because the nation is usually the collective interest in the name of which people are using political power. Weber saw German honor as at stake in World War I. The perspective I attributed to Weber as a “man of culture” recognizes a variation of Weber’s “ethics of responsibility” in evaluating politics from the “cosmopolitan” perspective of “history” and “civilization.” In an age of total conventional war or nuclear war, war is no longer a rational instrument of policy, nor a means to a meaningful death, and must be rejected by an ethics of responsibility (alongside more idealist rejections derived from an ethics of conviction). Weber also believed that sometimes “the art of the possible” could only be attained by seeking the impossible, which would require actions motivated by an ethics of conviction. He believed that significant social change was the result of the actions of extraordinary individuals and their followers.

Asymmetry in Schmitt The problem of asymmetry in Schmitt arises from the conflict of Christianity and politics, but this is obscured because Schmitt sought to unify religion and politics in order to give a Christian meaning to the interval between Resurrection and Judgment Day (history) and to life in the “earthly city.” The conflict between

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Christian ethics and politics in the earthly city is not a problem for Schmitt because humans are evil and need authority (which is always legitimate). Schmitt also implicitly distinguished between “humanitarian” ethics (which is bad) and “authoritarian” ethics (which is good). The political is the union of authority and legitimacy, which is derived from theology. This is Schmitt’s authoritarian “political theology.” Authority is needed in religious communities to police believers and decide theological disputes, and theology is needed in social life in order to support authority. But Schmitt believed in authority for its own sake and at some point authority for its own sake intruded into his interpretation of Christianity. It was symbolized by his defense of Dostoevsky’s figure of the Grand Inquisitor and his support for the real Inquisition. Like the Grand Inquisitor, he rejected much of Christian doctrine, including the ethics of love, because these were “anarchistic” (and led to socialism). Christianity ends up as a doctrine of authority and obedience, symbolized by the Inquisition. Asymmetry between Christianity and politics thus manifests itself despite Schmitt’s attempt to unify them in an ambitious “political theology.”

Asymmetry in Ricoeur The conflicts between ethics and politics are resolved within the autonomous political sphere by Ricoeur via his “idea” of the state and his paradoxes of ideals and reality. “Duality,” however, emerges at the religious level because the violence of secular justice contradicts the Christian ethics of love. Christian pacifism also means the dilemma of committing murder in war to defend the state, or betraying the state out of conscientious objection to violence. These contradictions cannot be resolved. For Christians such as Ricoeur, the relation of politics to Christianity is asymmetrical. I suggest that this is also true for Levinasians and post-Nietzscheans, whose “metaphysics” include “higher” ethics such as love or generosity. This is the asymmetry between religion or metaphysics and politics. One of its consequences, I argue, is a “politics of ethics” in which various ethical positions conflict with each other, and an “ethics of ethics,” in which various ethical positions are criticized from the perspective of a “higher” or more generous ethics.

Asymmetry in Arendt In polis-centered conceptions of the political, the conflict is not between ethics and politics because politics is not about domination and violence. Asymmetry is between philosophy and politics. This has two dimensions: the values of philosophy clash with the values of politics and the forms of theory appropriate for thinking (philosophy) and acting (politics) are different. Arendt believed philosophers were hostile to politics and tried to replace it with values derived from nonpolitical experiences, such as ruling a household, confusing action with fabrication, or the concern for uniformity of opinion. Politics was distorted by philosophy

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into the statist tradition of rule. Arendt also believed that traditional political philosophy failed to grasp conceptually the experiences of political action. The alternative to philosophy could not be action itself, because without concepts experiences are forgotten. But if they are the wrong concepts, experiences are distorted. Arendt tried to construct an alternative metaphysics of “worldliness” that could replace philosophical metaphysics. Politics would get its bearings from worldly conceptions of human plurality, citizen morality, the subordination of the self to the world, etc. and politics would have its special location, an island of freedom in a sea of necessity and oppression. It is not clear that she was able to conceptualize political experiences successfully. Few political theorists have sought to emulate this task. It would seem to require engaging in political action and later theorizing what one has experienced. Obviously, this can be criticized as utopian. For Arendt, what I am calling asymmetry between the values of politics and philosophy also emerges because the political sphere harbors a resentment toward “the given” (all that cannot be changed). This political resentment can only be counteracted by a “non-worldly” and “private” religious or philosophical wonder or Nietzschean “gratitude” for life as it has been given to us. If so, there is an asymmetry between the old “world-alienated” metaphysics or religion, and worldly politics.

Asymmetry in Wolin Like Arendt, Wolin also excluded ethics as a political problem because in authentic politics (the union of authority and community), ethics or religion is the ethics or religion of the community, which in turn legitimizes authority. The political was thus autonomous and Wolin was persistent in excluding metaphysics, ethics, knowledge, and other non-political matters from his discussion of the political. As with Arendt, asymmetry arises between politics and theory, with both the values of the theorist and the form of theory clashing with the values of politics and the type of thought appropriate for democracy. Just as Arendt had a difficult time grasping political experiences, so did Wolin. It turned out to be easier to criticize statist politics than to theorize democracy. I criticized him for not using theory to formulate populist alternatives. Asymmetry also arose in our discussion of populist community, when Wolin recognized religion as an important force that taught people that they were not “owned” by any human institutions, including, presumably, the political and popular power. But for the most part he managed to exclude these “outside” concerns from his theory of the political.

Asymmetry in Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe The ideological mode of politics presented the “dual” paradox of a politicized theory and a theorized politics, a politics that often advanced economic, cultural, or philosophical agendas, including, as with the “ontological turn” in political

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theory, a “politics of Being.” Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe participate in this “ontological politics” when they define the political as the mode of institution of the social that makes the political “ontological,” appears to make politics primary over everything else and gives a political dimension to “everything.” But their purpose is to oppose the “totalitarianism” of Marxism and other “essentialist” philosophies that, because they think they are true, are ruthlessly imposed. The asymmetry between ontology and politics emerges in Lefort when he claims that when ideology tries to encompass all of reality, “Being” and “Otherness” seem to emerge on their own and when he characterizes modern democratic uncertainty as a “tragedy.” If, as in Merleau-Ponty, being requires human creativity in order to be experienced, being is still distinct from human creation. But he did not develop this “non-political” dimension. Lefort’s hints are not in Laclau and Mouffe. They are closer to Wolin in focusing strictly on the political. The asymmetry of ontology and politics seems to lie in Laclau’s worries about “relativism” and in his efforts to theorize a metaphysical position that is neither “universal” nor “relativist.”

Ethics and politics One of the insights of the US culture war is that “all politics is moral” (Lakoff 2002). People evaluate politics from a moral perspective and they want to advance moral ideals through the means of politics. They are shocked or disappointed to discover that the use of the specific political means of power, authority, and ideology tend to become ends in themselves. But, if politics is “autonomous,” the relationship between “outside” ethics and politics will be asymmetrical. Politics is the struggle for power to advance ideals in the name of a community or collective interest, rather than in the name of ethics. From the political perspective of the union of power and community, morality is a Weberian “ethics of responsibility” that involves “doing what is right for the community.” As in the current US situation, the community is usually divided into conflicting moralities (in the US case, liberal and conservative moralities). From the non-political perspectives of religion, philosophy, and morality, the problem is to determine which morality is right or true and then advance it through politics. This is what citizens who enter politics are usually doing (in Weberian terms, they are acting according to an ethics of conviction). In contrast, the strictly political problem is how to reconcile these moral conflicts in the name of the collective interest (“doing what is right for the community”). There may be cases where doing what is right for the community involves deciding which morality is true and imposing it on everyone. But, from the political perspective the political criteria is to do what is right for the community rather than to do what is right for Ethics, God, or Reason. This political perspective is easier to see when we understand politicians as “agents” acting on behalf of “principals,” the “people,” or community. But citizens who initially enter politics to advance their True or Right ideals also have a political obligation to consider how the victory of

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their ideals will affect the collective interest of the community. If the price is too high (such as civil war), then, for political reasons (of preserving the community), they should want to moderate their goals or accept compromises. The “hard case” for the US was slavery and the Civil War. Arendt and Morgenthau liked to cite Lincoln’s “political” concern to preserve the Union, even if it meant the immorality of preserving slavery. But preserving the Union meant preventing secession and preventing secession meant civil war. Was this in the collective interest? In the Civil War case, this involved disputing whose collective interest was relevant (white Americans, African Americans, northern Americans, southern Americans, future Americans). At some point the price being paid to preserve the Union (civil war) had to result in a collective interest in abolishing slavery (the moral cause of the war), rather than restoration of the status quo ante. This would have been a Weberian “Lutheran moment,” in which the ethics of responsibility (preserve the union) gave way to an ethics of conviction (abolition). But emancipation was also argued in military terms, as a means to disrupt the South and aid the war effort, so how political actors such as Lincoln really thought are not clear. He said events controlled him. In the case of debates about a world state, there will be a clash between the collective interest of humanity and the collective interests of national peoples. There is also always a “short-run” collective interest that can be “pandered” to. But political wisdom involves understanding the long-run collective interest and political courage involves asserting this long-run interest in the face of temptations to give in to short-run interests. There will also be disputes about what is in the long-run collective interest. As I noted in the Ricoeur chapter, many moral arguments, particularly crosscultural moral arguments, have a political dimension alongside the strictly moral question of which moral argument is true or right. Many disputants are unwilling to concede moral truths to the other side because they fear these concessions will be used against them whenever the other side acquires the power to impose its views. Many of the arguments in favor of “relativism” are attempts to preserve political (as distinct from moral) autonomy from other groups. It is important to see that political claims about morality are not arguments in favor of relativism, but rather arguments about the relationship of morality to collective interests. Alongside all these elements is the political problem of power and the tendency for those with power to legitimize their uses of power in the name of a collective interest (or in the name of Ethics, God, or Reason). Politics (but not only politics) involves the corruption side of the “agent-principal” problem that I described in the Weber chapter. Here my point is that there is a distinction between “strictly” moral arguments (which concern the truth or rightness of moral claims) and “strictly” political arguments about morality (which concern the effect of moral claims on the collective interest). Both are concerned with morality, but their concerns are different. I believe that the scope of the political perspective on morality constitutes a

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wide field for a “politics-centered” political theory or for a “normative political theory.” But it also means that those normative theorists who are concerned with the truth of particular values can continue to do their work. The relationship between ethics (in the strict sense) and politics (in the strict sense) is asymmetrical because most political actors (including politicians like Lincoln) bring their “outside” morals into politics and must judge politics “ultimately” from this “outside” perspective. But, from the perspective of a politics-centered political theory, once they enter politics and begin using power to advance their ideals in the name of a collective interest, they take on the moral obligation to preserve or advance the collective interest, rather than their own interest.

III Theories of the political and politics One purpose of this book is to defend politics from its detractors by explaining its meaning and value as theorized by Weber, Schmitt, Ricoeur, Arendt, Wolin, Lefort, Laclau, and Mouffe and by describing the political visions of realism, absolutism, idealism, civic humanism, populism, and radical democracy. As Hibbing and Theiss-Morse (2002) argue, many people simply do not like politics because they dislike any conflict. Others see political problems as technical and so believe they should not be a source of conflict. They would prefer that these problems be resolved by elites. They do not want to participate in making political decisions. They perceive political conflict as evidence that elites are acting selfishly or are in thrall to special interests. They are only motivated to participate in politics in order to try to stop or punish elites and special interests. Hibbing and Theiss-Morse therefore conclude that it is a mistake to try to force people into participating in politics. A better strategy, they suggest, is to teach people that politics is about conflict and why conflict is due to genuine differences rather than simply selfishness or corruption. Crick’s In Defence of Politics was a defense of politics as a relatively rare activity in human history, in which people resolve conflicts by making compromises with each other, rather than resorting to civil war or tyranny. The frustrations of electoral campaigning and legislating are part of a political process of conciliating the diverse interests that make up the political community. I have tried to broaden the concept of politics by presenting statist “visions” of politics (realism, absolutism, idealism), polis-centered visions (civic humanism, populism), and society-centered vision (radical democracy). Not all of these will be attractive, but some may be more attractive by comparison to others. I do not expect, however, to persuade all or many of Hibbing and Theiss-Morse’s anti-political Americans. I hope to encourage those who are already attracted to politics and those who are still ambivalent. Insofar as political theorists really exhibit the apolitical or anti-political attitudes critics such as Crick and Wolin attribute to them, I also hope to encourage them to take up, or take seriously, a more “politics-centered” political theory. A third set of readers might be those who are interested in politics and political theory, but believe most discussions of these topics are “abstract” and not “practical.”

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I have tried, in the third sections of my chapters to address some of the more practical implications of theories of the political. I examined particular political problems such as international relations, the balance of power, and the need for a world state (Chapter 2); the problems of war, emergencies, and the US culture war (Chapter 3); the problems of applying ideals to reality (Chapter 4); efforts to revitalize citizenship and public life (Chapter 5); populist conceptions of the economy and culture (Chapter 6); and an example of ideology, strategy, and organization (Chapter 7). I also agree with practically minded readers (as well as with John Dunn and David Easton) that the purpose of political theory should be to describe how the world works politically, how it ought to work, and how to get from is to ought. This is obviously a huge task and, in an age of Weberian specialization, goes against trends toward further specialization within political theory. I suggested in the Wolin chapter that forming “schools,” in which theorists engage in a common project but divide up tasks according to specialized talent and inclination, would be more productive than (increasingly rare) individual displaces of “epic” virtuosity. We also need to remain aware of Gunnell’s criticisms, that political theory, insofar as it is an academic enterprise, is “doubly alienated” (first from politics itself, as is academic political science, and second from political science) and that this alienation is practical and cannot be overcome by “theoretical” means. In certain respects, a “politics-centered” political theory (as I suggested in the third part of the Arendt chapter) motivates theorists toward practical politics. But once they cross that threshold, they become political actors more than theorists and should see themselves as such. Once they do, however, they will encounter the frustrations and compromises of “real” politics. Politics is the slow boring of hard boards. Elites are selfish and in thrall to special interests. Using power to advance interests and ideals often turns into the quest for more power. Pursuing democratic ideals in the face of corporate and state power is a daunting task. It may help to have recourse to some of the visions of politics described in this book (although comparing these “idealtypes” to an often sordid reality may further disappoint). We have to continually remind ourselves that politics is “human nature writ large.” It reveals some of what is worst, but also some of what is best, about human life.

Note 1 The term is inspired by Trilling (1950). The phrase “the political imagination” is being used more frequently nowadays, but it also appears in Tinder (1964), Litt (1966), Green and Walzer (1969), and Horton and Baumeister (1996).


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Authors who are only cited in the text are in the bibliography. absolutism 12, 14, 18, 55, 56, 59–62, 66, 85, 89, 196, 224, 225, 245 ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) 146, 150 Adams, John 148, 149 Adorno, Theodor 5, 34, 43, 52, 168, 204 Agamben, Giorgio 55, 80, 204, 219, 237 agent-principal problem 44, 244 Alinsky, Saul 144, 150 Almond, Gabriel 190 Althusser, Louis 190, 197, 210, 218 analytic philosophy, analytic political philosophy 7, 18, 19, 23, 24, 36, 37–9, 52, 93, 204 analytic realism 23, 37, 37–40, 41, 43–4, 45, 46–7, 238 anarchism 65–6, 69, 89, 115, 155; see also syndicalism anarchy 40, 43, 45, 47, 48, 49, 52, 53, 59, 61, 68, 69, 141, 223, 224; logic of 48 Aquinas, Thomas 70, 113 Arendt, Hannah 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 18, 18, 28, 38, 45, 94, 96, 119–150, 151, 158–9, 178, 183, 191, 197, 205, 207, 218, 227–8; council government in 124–5; dark times in 128; excludes most politics 12; gratitude in 131, 138–40; Jacobin-Radical view of politics of 120–1; equality in 130; freedom as meaning and value of politics for 122; influence on

New Left, community organizing and civic renewal 144, 145; influence on public life 146–7; influence on republicanism 141; intimacy in 127–8; morals in 136–8; philosophy vs. politics in 131–3, 137; the political as public realm of freedom for 122; power vs. violence in 123; private realm in 127; public realm in 126–7; resentment in 131, 138, 139; Roman experience of foundation and authority in 123–4; on Schmitt 148; the self in 134–5; society or the social in 128–30; uniqueness of 119–20; worldliness in 127, 133–4, 135–6 aristocracy, aristocratic 8, 15–6, 26, 27, 44, 47, 62, 73, 79, 125, 141, 142, 150, 173, 191, 192, 193, 220, 229, 232, 234 Aristotle 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 20, 92, 93, 100, 101, 113, 127, 132, 141, 147, 149, 156, 164, 167, 227, 228 Aron, Raymond 190, 191 asymmetry 17, 18, 33, 72, 77, 92, 162, 168, 239–43; between Christian love and political justice (Ricoeur) 72, 92, 102, 106; between pacifist ideals or ethics of conviction and worldly ideals or ethics of responsibility (Weber) 33, 72; between philosophy and politics (polis tradition) 162, 168; between philosophy or ideology and politics (society

290 Index

tradition) 190; between theory and politics (Arendt) 124, 138, 241–2 (Wolin) 162, 167–8, 242; defined, as lack of balance or evenness 17; as need for philosophical wonder or religious gratitude to counteract political resentment (Arendt) 140; religion needed to give ordinary people a sense of self-worth (Wolin) 178–9; revealed by Schmitt’s reinterpretation of Christianity as authority, obedience and the Inquisition 72, 77 Augustine 70, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77, 87, 101, 103–4, 115, 119, 139, 150, 152; and Arendt 139, 150 authoritarianism, authoritarian 1, 2, 6, 12, 14, 18, 23, 41, 54, 55, 56, 67–71, 80, 81–4, 103, 115, 125, 156, 225, 241, 212, 241 authority 2, 6, 18, 25, 43, 45, 46, 54, 56, 59, 60, 61, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 77, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 94, 95, 96, 100, 102, 111–2, 115, 119, 120, 124, 125, 132, 151, 154, 155, 157, 158, 163, 182, 188, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 205, 206, 207, 224, 225, 226, 229, 230, 232, 234, 235, 236, 238, 239, 241, 242, 243; Arendt’s conception of 119, 120, 124, 125, 132; communitarians and 83, 229; Lefort and 192, 193–4, 195, 205, 207, 224, 232; as legitimate power 25, 194, 224, 235; as legitimizing status quo 82; loss of 193–4, 196, 206, 297; as moral value 82, 84, 88; political as union of community and 155, 158, 160, 167, 182, 242; religion and 68, 84; as solution to collective action problems 82, 225; Schaar on 83, 163, 182; Schmitt on the political as 68–9, 224; Schmitt and 68, 69–70, 241; Scruton on 82; Weber’s definition of 25; Wolin on 82–3, 151, 154, 155, 157, 160, 167, 230, 235, 242 autonomy of politics 7, 11, 17, 23, 29, 30, 34, 39, 92, 152, 222, 226, 236, 238, 239, 240; action for its own sake (Arendt) 122–3; authority and community for their own sake (Wolin) 160; authority for its own sake (Schmitt) 69–70; emerges when means of politics become ends (Weber) 28–9, 34, 223; Machiavelli and 7, 152–3; power for its own sake 28–9; see also reason of state Ayer, A. J. 37

Badiou, Alain 13, 114, 211 Bakunin, Mikhail 65, 69, 86 balance of power 29, 30, 42, 47, 48, 53, 62, 173, 223, 246 Barber, Benjamin 3 Barry, Brian 38 Barthes, Roland 159 behavioralism, political science 42, 52, 164, 165, 170, 193 being, Being 20, 37, 115, 134, 140, 141, 149, 150, 167, 181, 187, 203, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 220, 237, 243; see also metaphysics, ontology Bellah, Robert 88, 143 Bellamy, Richard 3 Benjamin, Walter 80, 87; Messianic violence in 80 Bentham, Jeremy 52, 155 Berkeley School of political theory 4, 82, 151, 162, 163, 164, 166, 182, 183, 184, 238 Berkeley student rebellion 157, 183 Berlin, Isaiah 8, 36, 38, 82 Bernstein, Eduard 201, 215, 219 Bierce, Ambrose 2 Bismarck, Otto von 42, 113 Blumenberg, Hans 74–5, 86 Bobbitt, Philip 49, 53, 87 Bonald, Louis de 55, 74, 86 Boucher, Geoff 210 Boyte, Harry 144–46, 148, 150, 159, 214, 229 Bryan, William Jennings 173, 176 Brecht, Berthold 139–40 Bull, Hedley 45, 47, 49 bureaucracy, bureaucratic 26, 27, 33, 40, 44, 49, 51, 52, 123, 129, 146, 147, 156, 157, 158, 160, 161–2, 168, 170, 171, 180, 191; as ruling class 26 Burke, Edmund 31, 81, 84, 166, 172, 188, 189, 204, 225 Butler, Judith 19, 96, 207, 208, 218, 220 Caesaropapism 74 Cambridge School of history of political thought 38, 141 Campbell, David 9, 103 capitalism 37, 64, 127, 147, 170, 173–4, 175, 176, 188, 193, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 221, 228, 229, 232, 233, 234, 239 Camus, Albert 75, 234 Castoriadis, Cornelius 4, 190, 191, 219 Catholic Church 55, 61, 67, 68, 70, 74, 76, 77, 113, 225; as political (Schmitt) 68

Index 291

Char, Rene 135 charisma 25, 26, 46, 47, 184 Christianity 16, 70, 71, 72–3, 74, 76, 77, 86, 90, 91, 99–102, 103, 104, 105, 113, 114, 115, 137, 150, 206, 220, 237, 240, 241 citizen, citizenship 2, 5–6, 9–10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 26, 35, 38, 39, 46, 73, 80, 92–3, 94, 97, 98, 100, 102, 104, 107, 111, 119, 120–5, 130, 131, 136, 137, 140–4, 144–6, 147, 157, 160–1, 163, 167, 168–9, 170, 171, 173, 180, 195, 197, 199, 207, 214, 220, 227, 228–33, 238, 242, 243, 246; Arendt on 119–25, 131; contrasted to bourgeois 10, 119, 120–1; Boyte on 145–6; Greek ideal of 142–3; legal conception of 142; nationalist and warrior conception of (Weber) 35–6; relation between man and, as central political problem (Hennis) 9, 11; as moral education (Ricoeur) 92–3; necessary for survival (Arendt, Walzer) 94–5, 121; political conception of 142–3; populist conception of 173–4; revolutionary conception of (Weber, Wood) 142, 229; Roman conception of 142; right to (Arendt) 121; and sovereignty 97, 143; Weber on 35, 36, 142, 229; Wood on 142, 220, 229 civic humanism 6, 9, 10, 14, 141–4, 173–4, 228, 229, 245; economic side of 173–4, 177; logic of 141–2; populism as continuation of 173; see also republicanism civil society 5, 49, 50, 55, 83, 94, 143, 161, 211, 214, 238 Clastres, Pierre 53, 73, 219 Clausewitz, Karl von 79, 87 Clemenceau, Georges 148 Cohen, G.A. 52 Cold War, the 2, 48, 53, 79, 86, 114 Cole, G.D.H. 5, 48 Coles, Romand 150 Collins, Randall 46, 51 communism, communist 20, 51, 58, 62, 63, 65, 66, 69, 76, 78, 79, 86, 96, 97, 150, 176, 188, 196, 206, 211, 219, 220, 222 communitarianism 9, 56, 78, 81, 82, 83, 84, 88, 134, 141, 143, 145, 146, 148, 152, 155, 156, 161, 182, 229; and conservatism 83–4; and populism 182–3 community 2, 6, 9, 12, 18, 20, 23, 35, 48, 50, 74, 80, 83, 84, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 110, 112, 121, 144, 151, 152, 153, 155,

156, 157, 159, 167, 168, 169, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 201, 220, 226, 229, 230, 235, 236, 239, 240, 242, 243, 244, 245; Scruton on 83–4; Nancy on 9, 20, 220, 235; see also communitarianism Confucius, Confucianism 16, 40 Connolly, William E. 45, 46, 53, 96, 102, 104, 106, 115, 116, 204, 219 conservatism, conservative 3, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 23, 31, 40, 46, 48, 49, 54, 55, 56, 58, 72, 78, 80, 81–4, 85, 89, 92, 103, 112, 113, 119, 120, 142, 146, 150, 155, 156, 159, 161, 162, 169, 173, 178, 182, 188, 189, 190, 193, 195, 197, 200, 204, 205, 206, 211, 214, 217, 222, 229, 231, 243; Burkean 56, 81, 188, 189, 204; neo- 40, 45, 51, 53, 81; paleo- 81; social 17, 40, 48, 56, 74, 78, 81–4, 162, 178–9, 181–2, 189, 225–6, 229 Constant, Benjamin 94 Constantine 74, 237 Conway, Daniel 8 cosmopolitanism, cosmopolitan 17, 24, 33, 49, 50, 224, 240 Crick, Bernard 1–3, 8, 11, 80, 87, 145, 189, 222, 245 Critchley, Simon 115, 210, 219, 220 Croce, Benedetto 7 Crone, Patricia 20, 46, 83, 219 culture 6, 11, 24, 27, 32, 33, 37, 40, 47, 49, 50, 52, 82, 83–4, 90, 93, 103, 104, 111–12, 121, 127, 129, 131, 145, 146, 149, 151, 159, 175, 178–83, 184, 188, 189, 190, 191–3, 197, 200, 204, 211, 219, 220, 223, 224, 231–2, 238, 239; politics involves responsibility for future 32–3; and nationalism 31–2; and the political (Wolin) 159–60 culture wars 14, 56, 81–4, 243 Dagger, Richard 141 Dallmayr, Fred 9, 20 Daly, Herman 221 D’Entreves, Alexander Passerin 7, 11, 85 democracy 2, 4, 5, 6, 12, 14, 18, 19, 26, 34, 46, 51, 52, 55, 56, 63, 121, 141, 143, 145, 151, 157–60, 162, 167, 170, 171, 172, 174, 177, 178, 180, 184, 187, 189, 192, 193–6, 205, 206, 209, 220, 225, 229, 231, 232; fugitive (Wolin) 12, 152, 162, 169, 172, 183, 230; leaderless 26–7; Lefort’s conception of 193–6, 231–2; paradox of (Lefort) 195;

292 Index

participatory 144, 145, 158, 189; the political as (Wolin) 157–60, 230; populism and 159, 230–1; radical (Laclau and Mouffe) 14, 17, 19, 55, 188, 190, 197, 200–2, 209, 210, 211, 212, 232–3, 245; as rule by leaders (Weber) 26–7; as rule by politicians (Schumpeter) 2; Tocqueville on 143, 193, 196, 198; as way of life (Boyte) 145–6 ; see also revolution: democratic democracy: a Journal of Political Renewal and Radical Change 151, 159, 162, 178, 183 Derrida, Jacques 9, 20, 116, 198, 206, 218, 220 Descartes, Rene 129, 134 Dewey, John 12, 146, 172 Dillon, Mick 9, 103, 106 Donoso Cortes, Juan 55, 58, 70, 74, 75, 86, 225 Dostoevsky, Fyodor 18, 55, 70, 74, 75, 77, 87, 184, 241 Drezner, Daniel 78 Dreyfus Affair 148 Dunn, John 188–9, 202, 238, 246 Easton, David 189, 238, 246 economics, economic 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 20, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35–6, 38, 39, 44, 46, 49, 50, 52, 57, 58, 64, 66, 83, 90, 92, 108, 123, 127, 129, 131, 142, 147, 151, 160, 161–2, 163, 171, 172, 173–8, 184, 187, 188, 189, 191, 197, 198, 199, 203, 212–15, 218, 220, 221; analytic philosophy and 38; Arendt on 123, 127, 129, 131; Laclau and Mouffe on 197–8, 212; Lefort on 191, 193; populist 173–8, 184; Ricoeur on 92, 108; Schmitt on 57–8, 64, 66; socialist 212–15, 221, 222, 229, 231; Weber on 24, 30, 31, 34, 35–6; Wolin on 161–2, 238 economy 11, 14 , 53, 155, 160, 162, 171, 172, 178, 184, 188, 189, 193, 210, 213, 214, 231 Eichmann, Adolf 150 emergencies 2, 14, 18, 56, 58, 61, 63, 80–1, 87, 102, 116 empire 14, 15, 24, 42, 45, 46, 74, 75, 76, 86, 122, 142, 228; as “logic” of reason of state 29, 30, 223 Engels, Friedrich 66, 86, 183, 212, 221 English School, the 47–8, 49, 50 Enlightenment, the 5, 71, 72, 74, 91, 188, 219, 220; Foucault on 220; Laclau on 219; Ricoeur on 91; Schmitt on 71, 74

environmentalism 13, 213–14, 231, 234 equality 6, 15, 38, 39, 52, 53, 87, 89, 92–3, 98, 125, 126, 130, 138, 172, 179, 180, 193, 198–9, 200, 201, 209, 210, 233, 234, 238; as a power relationship 15, 53, 87 ethics 3, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14–7, 23, 26, 27–9, 31, 35, 36, 37, 38–9, 41–4, 51, 57–9, 63, 66, 72, 77, 89, 92, 98–9, 100–6, 107–10, 114, 115, 116, 136–8, 164, 204, 210, 223, 226–7, 230, 236, 240, 241, 243–5; agent-principal problem in 44; of conviction 20, 24, 27–8, 31, 33, 40, 51, 92, 98, 99, 240; corruption in 44; distinguished from morals (Ricoeur) 104–5, 115; ends justify means in 28; ethics of 104–6, 116, 227; of lesser evil 44; and politics 15–6, 26–8, 35, 39, 41–4, 57–8, 98–9, 243–5; politics of 103–4, 107–8, 227; of responsibility 20, 24, 27–8, 31, 33, 40, 51, 92, 98, 99, 137, 223, 240; see also morals Etzioni, Amitai 83, 84, 88 Euben, J. Peter 183, 184 Eusebius of Caesaria 73 existential, existentialist 24, 34, 36, 55, 61, 67, 68, 71, 77, 131, 132, 138, 140, 208, 223, 224, 228; defined as secular equivalent of religious and spiritual concerns 24 fascism, fascist 6, 7, 12, 16, 18, 23, 46, 54, 55, 56, 62–67, 71, 77, 81, 85, 92, 143, 150, 170, 196, 225; politics as war in 63 Faulkner, William 138 feminism 13, 119, 130, 148, 150, 214, 231, 238 feudalism 5, 14, 19, 45, 46, 58, 61, 80, 142, 205, 275 Figges, John 5, 58 Foucault, Michel 4–5, 9, 29, 45, 51, 53, 106, 115, 161, 183, 207, 208, 218, 220, 224, 225 Franco, Francisco 54, 55 Frankfurt School 146; see also Adorno, Habermas Freeden, Michael 3, 20, 31, 190 freedom 6, 14, 16, 61, 66–7, 70, 73, 77, 82, 83–4, 90, 92, 93, 98, 104, 111, 115, 119, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 129, 135, 138, 142, 144, 149, 151, 155, 172, 179, 193, 200, 201, 208, 209, 213, 220, 227, 228, 233, 235, 242; as central problem of politics (Ricoeur) 98; from

Index 293

politics 125, 142; as participation in government (Arendt) 6, 119, 122, 235; as private 15, 125; as purpose of politics (Arendt) 122, 123; as rational organization (Ricoeur) 92, 93, 98, 115; as right to leave a community 84; see also liberty French Revolution 7, 13, 19, 25, 29, 74, 94, 124, 166, 188, 192, 193, 197, 199, 205, 206, 207, 218, 223; as bourgeois revolution (Marx) 218; as completing absolutist state (Tocqueville) 218; as inventing democratic culture and ideological politics (Furet) 188, 218, 231 Freud, Sigmund 90, 91 Freund, Julian 92 Friedrich, Carl 80, 87 Frohnen, Bruce 83–4 Fromm, Eric 83, 163 Fukuyama, Francis 51, 53, 114 Furet, Francois 188, 190, 191, 192, 193, 195, 197, 218, 219, 231 Gandhi, Mohandas K. 109 Garlan, Yves 15 Germino, Dante 8 Geuss, Raymond 3, 23, 24, 37, 38, 39, 41, 43, 52 Gladstone, William 26 globalization 23, 45, 46, 47, 72, 112 glory 14, 24, 36, 72, 158 God 16, 37, 56, 69, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77, 86, 91, 103, 115, 135, 137, 139, 140, 150, 181, 182, 203, 205, 210, 226, 243, 244 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 29, 32, 51 good life 11, 14–6, 18, 20, 92, 100, 104, 119, 120, 137, 147, 227, 238; as aim of politics in Aristotle 14, 100, 142; as freedom and civilization 14–5; as life of virtue and justice 16; as participation in politics 14, 121–3, 142, 238; as power, wealth and glory 14; as private 15 Goodwyn, Lawrence 159, 173, 174–6, 230 Gottfried, Paul 55, 71, 85 Gramsci, Antonio 197, 199, 200, 210–11, 216, 217–8, 221, 233 Grand Inquisitor (Dostoevsky) 18, 55, 67, 70, 74, 75, 77, 84, 87, 184, 241; Hobbes as 70; Jacobson on political theorist as 184; Schmitt as 55, 67, 70, 77; Wolin on 74, 87 Gray, John 3, 46 great powers 18, 24, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 44, 45, 47, 48, 50, 53, 65, 79, 85, 110, 111, 223, 224

Greeks, ancient 2, 6, 14–6, 17, 20, 36, 45, 52, 64, 73, 87, 91, 92, 100, 101, 119, 121, 123, 124, 125, 127, 132, 135, 136, 137, 139, 140, 142, 143, 145, 148, 158, 192, 208, 227, 228, 235 Gunnell, John 19, 183, 246 Haakonssen, Knud 141 Habermas, Jurgen 20, 34, 43, 46, 50, 73, 115, 146, 147, 148, 155, 161, 166, 201, 230 Haidt, Jonathan 56, 82, 84, 87–8 Hamilton, Alexander 161, 174 Harrington, James 59, 85, 124, 173, 177, 231 Hart, H.L.A. 38 Hauriou, Maurice 68 Hawken, Paul 214, 221 Hayek, Friedrich 27, 51, 188 Hegel, G. W. F. 6, 13, 39, 40, 52, 90, 91, 92, 93, 97, 101, 114, 115, 158, 183, 236, 239 hegemony 6, 19, 96, 197, 199–200, 201, 208, 209, 212, 233, 234, 235, 239 Heidegger, Martin 9, 113, 132, 139, 140, 187, 193, 203, 204, 205, 206, 208, 220, 232, 237, 239 Heller, Agnes 4 Hennis, Wilhelm 9, 11, 51 Herodotus 37, 52 Himmler, Heinrich 121 historicism, historicist 37, 73, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209–10, 220; see also relativism history (as site and record of human actions) 6, 8, 17, 30, 32–3, 37, 38, 42, 44, 47, 48, 52, 64–5, 72,73, 75, 76, 86, 87, 89, 90, 96, 101, 102, 107, 110, 112–4, 115, 122, 131, 132, 140, 141, 152, 169, 174, 184, 187, 192, 194, 195, 200, 201, 203, 205, 207, 214, 222, 224, 239, 240, 245; political purpose of 132 History (metaphysical conception of) 37, 48, 51, 71, 137, 192, 195, 203, 205, 210 Hitler, Adolf 42, 51, 55, 58, 61, 62, 63, 81, 84, 85, 92, 133, 225 Hobbes, Thomas 6, 12, 23, 38, 43, 45, 48, 52, 54, 59–61, 66–7, 70, 78, 80, 85, 86, 87, 92, 93, 94, 95, 152, 153–4, 166, 224, 225, 230 Honig, Bonnie 3, 19, 96, 115, 148, 219 Horkheimer, Max 34, 168 Horton, John 3, 39, 46

294 Index

human nature 6, 8, 11, 20, 38, 41–5, 70, 81, 89–90, 119, 137–8, 141, 210, 224, 227, 246; Aristotle and Aquinas on 70; Arendt and 137–8; as dangerous 41, 70; as depraved 41, 70, 224; as evil 70, 224; as social 10, 11; see also political animal human rights 17, 110–2, 116, 121, 206, 232 humanitarianism, humanitarian 57, 68, 71, 103, 107, 111, 112, 116, 241 Hume, David 47, 82 Huntington, Samuel 48, 53, 72, 78, 113 ideal theory 3, 23, 24, 38–9 ideal-types 24, 27, 38–9, 81, 162, 170, 171, 173 idealism, political 4, 8, 15, 16, 18, 23, 24, 33, 41, 45, 47, 48, 49, 53, 62, 72, 75, 89–116, 158, 223, 224, 226, 240 ideology 2, 3, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 25, 45, 46, 51, 55, 57, 72, 111, 161, 173, 175, 176, 187– 90, 191–3, 194, 200, 203, 206, 208, 210, 211–15, 217, 218, 229, 231–3, 234, 236, 237, 238, 239, 242; as political doctrine 188; as legitimizing or distorting discourse 190; as world view 190 Ignatieff, Michael 10 imperialism, imperialist 15, 24, 30, 44–5, 51, 55, 63, 85, 111, 112, 120, 121, 142, 148, 168; defined as moral right of nations to rule other peoples 24, 44–5, 51 individualism (Tocqueville’s conception) 18, 143, 147, 229 Industrial Areas Foundation 144 Inquisition, the 71, 75, 77, 241 international relations 40, 41, 45, 47–50, 52–3, 63, 78, 93, 112–3, 226, 240 Iraq War 40, 52, 111 Jackson, Andrew 26, 174, 184 Jacobins (French revolutionaries) 13, 120–1, 148 Jacobson, Norman 151, 163, 184 James, William 181 Jaspers, Karl 50, 133, 146, 149 Jefferson, Thomas 122, 171, 174, 184 Jones, Van 214 Junger, Ernst 65, 68 justice 2, 6, 14, 15, 16, 18, 27, 29, 38–9, 43, 44, 45, 46, 50, 52, 53, 56, 61, 72, 89, 92, 93, 94. 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 115, 121, 130, 169, 171, 172, 184, 194, 195, 214, 221, 226, 227, 241; concept of

presupposes the state 45, 94, 226; environmental 214, 221; as first virtue of institutions (Rawls) 43; as “logic” of politics and the state (Ricoeur) 72, 93, 226; violence of 100–1, 227, 241 Kant, Immanuel 26, 32, 38, 43, 50, 51, 52, 91, 104, 112, 113, 115, 136, 137, 149 Kantorowicz, Ernst 86, 205 katechon 55, 75–6, 86–7 Kelsen, Hans 63 Kepel, Gilles 56 Kirk, Russell 81 Kissinger, Henry 42, 47, 50, 223 Kojeve, Alexandre 114 Kosselleck, Reinhardt 55, 63 Kuhn, Thomas 165, 170 LaBoetie, Etienne 196 Laclau, Ernesto 1, 6, 7, 13, 17, 19, 40, 96, 187–8, 190, 197–202, 203, 208–211, 212, 218, 219, 220, 232–3, 237, 239, 243; background on 197; concept of the political in 198; democratic revolution in 198–9; hegemony in 199–200; meaning and value of politics for 200; ontology in 208–10; populism in 197, 200; radical democracy in 200–1; see also Mouffe, Chantal Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe 9, 11, 20, 203, 205, 206, 220, 231 Lakey, George 215–17, 221 Larmore, Charles 3 Lasch, Christopher 159, 173, 181–2 Laski, Harold 3, 5, 58 Laslett, Peter 37, 183 Lefort, Claude 1, 6, 7, 13, 17, 19, 40, 187–8, 190–7, 198, 199, 203, 205–8, 209, 231–2, 233, 237, 239; background 190–1; concept of the political of 191–3; democracy in 193–6; meaning and value of politics for 196; ontology in 205–8; totalitarianism and philosophy in 196, 205–6 legality 25, 46, 47, 58, 63, 93 legitimacy 7, 25, 32, 39, 42, 43–4, 45–7, 49, 51, 53, 58, 59, 62, 63, 68, 73, 82, 96, 112, 192, 194, 195, 197, 199, 224, 225, 227, 233; and authority 25, 68, 241; Collins on 4th concept of 46; and form of government 46; and governing ideologies 46; as moral right 25, 51; natural law as rational form of 25; religion as pure form

Index 295

of 73; origin of 51; as retroactive 96; Schmitt on 58, 59–60, 62, 63, 68; and the state 45–7, 49, 59, 62; tradition, charisma and legality as 25; violence and 25–6, 96; Weber on 25, 46, 50 Lenin, V.I. 54, 56, 64, 66, 189, 203, 237 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim 126, 128 Levinas, Emmanuel; Levinasian 18, 102, 103, 106, 115, 116, 227, 241 liberalism, liberal 3, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 24, 26, 27, 31, 38, 40, 43, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57–9, 62, 63, 65, 66, 67, 68, 72, 73, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81–3, 85, 86, 88, 89, 93, 98, 103, 107, 112, 113, 115, 119, 142, 143, 145, 146, 152, 155, 156, 157, 158, 160, 161, 162, 169, 171–2, 177, 182, 188, 189, 190, 192, 193, 195, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 206, 210, 211, 214, 217, 218, 220, 221, 222, 228, 229, 231, 232, 233, 243; classical 12, 27, 51, 152, 155, 161, 189; Rawls and 38, 171–2; Schmitt’s critique of 57–9, 62, 63, 66, 68 liberty 38–9, 56, 80, 82, 86, 87, 89, 101, 112, 143, 155, 199, 201, 209, 210, 228, 230, 233, 238; as moral value 82, 87, 112; as non-domination 143, 228; see also freedom Lincoln, Abraham 61, 244, 245 Lippmann, Walter 146 Locke, John 38, 43, 45, 94, 155, 226 Louis XIV 42 Lowi, Theodore 27, 51 Luther, Martin 74, 75, 86 Lutheran 31, 70, 99, 224 Luxemberg, Rosa 215 Machiavelli, Niccolo 7, 9, 12, 23, 28, 59, 62, 78, 87, 95, 106, 121, 135, 136, 142, 152–3, 173, 191, 196, 230 MacIntyre, Alasdair 34, 38, 88, 113 Maistre, Joseph de 6, 18, 55, 67, 70, 71, 74, 81, 84, 86, 92, 113, 116, 156, 225 Manent, Pierre 3, 14, 206, 208, 220 Mann, Michael 32, 45, 85 Marchart, Oliver 19, 20, 40, 203, 204, 218, 219, 220, 237 Marx, Karl 5, 12, 13, 51, 66, 69, 86, 90, 97, 158, 166, 172, 183, 187, 193, 212, 214, 221 Marxism, Marxist 6, 24, 52, 66, 73, 78, 92, 142, 187, 188, 190, 191, 193, 197, 199,

200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 208, 210, 212, 218, 220, 231, 239, 243 May 1968 7, 191, 201, 216 McIlwain, Charles 86 McWilliams, Wilson Carey 182 Mearsheimer, John 40, 48, 50, 52, 53, 78, 87 Meier, Heinrich 54, 55, 69, 71, 86, 87 mercantilism, mercantilist 24, 53, 58 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice 190, 191, 205, 243 metaphysics 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 20, 37, 38, 39, 41, 52, 72, 74, 91, 93, 112, 115, 132, 134, 138, 139, 149, 152, 163–4, 168, 171, 193, 203, 204, 205, 209, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240–3; and analytic philosophy 93; Heidegger on 203, 237; as ground or foundation for ethics and politics 203; as what is, being or ultimate reality 16, 20, 203, 240; as means for philosophers to rule (Arendt) 132; old or traditional 203; see also being, ontology Michels, Robert 51 Minogue, Kenneth 11, 188, 189 Mitrany, David 50 Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) 177–8 modernity 33–34, 51, 75, 86, 134, 162, 180, 182, 193, 205, 219, 225; as the democratic revolution (Tocqueville, Lefort, Laclau and Mouffe) 193, 206, 219; as the Enlightenment (Laclau) 219; as rationalization and disenchantment (Weber) 33–4; Wolin on 162; as world-alienation (Arendt) 129, 134 modus vivendi 39, 43, 44, 46 Mommsen, Wolfgang 4, 27, 30, 32, 50, 51 Montesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat 120, 124, 148 moral foundations theory 82, 84, 87–8 moralism 3, 23, 24, 104, 107, 109, 152, 164, 170, 179 morality 8, 16, 23, 25, 41–3, 47, 48, 52, 56, 58, 60, 68, 73, 81–82, 89, 90, 98, 101, 103, 104–6, 109–10, 115, 136–8, 153, 182, 240, 242, 243–5; “all politics is moral” 16, 25, 26, 81; Arendt’s view of 136–8; conservative and liberal 81–2, 103,112, 243; humanitarian and authoritarian 68, 71, 103, 107, 241; Kantian 43, 104; legitimacy and 25; natural law and 25; as obligation 137; as plural 82; restrains power 42–3, 47; Ricoeur’s distinction between ethics and

296 Index

104–6, 115; see also ethics, moral foundations theory, Weber: ethics of conviction, ethics of responsibility More, Thomas 165, 172, 180 Morgenthau, Hans 19, 23, 36, 40, 41, 42–3, 44, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52, 53, 60, 77–8, 85, 87, 103, 107, 110, 149, 223, 224, 238, 244; relation to Schmitt 80, 85, 87; on world state 49–50, 53. Morris, William 2 Mouffe, Chantal 1, 6, 7, 13, 17, 19, 55, 78, 187–8, 190, 197–202, 203–5, 208–9, 212, 218, 219, 232–3, 235, 239, 243, 245; agonism in 200, 202; background of 197; concept of the political of 198; democratic revolution in 198–9; ontology in 208–9; pessimism of 202; Schmitt’s influence on 200; see also Laclau, Ernesto movements, civil rights 174, 176, 179, 216, 231; labor 176; new social 187, 189, 197, 199, 200, 214, 231, 233 Mueller, Jan-Werner 54, 55, 84 multiculturalism 114, 133, 180 Mussolini, Benito 6, 54, 63, 85, 224, 225 Nancy, Jean-Luc 9, 19, 20, 40, 203, 205, 206, 220, 231, 235 Napoleon 13, 29, 42, 51, 64, 65, 79, 223 narcissism 147 nation 31, 148 nation-state, see state, nationnationalism 19, 27, 31–2, 33, 35, 36, 51, 62, 82, 222, 223–4, 240; Weber’s 31, 35, 50, 240; rejection of by most political theorists 51 natural law 25, 34, 52, 62, 63, 68, 132, 226, 232 Nazism, Nazis, Nazi 12, 54, 55, 58, 62–3, 64, 65, 66, 67, 71, 76, 84, 86, 107, 121, 137, 148, 170 Negri, Antonio 204, 219 neorealism 47, 48 New Left 144, 145, 158, 159 new medievalism 46, 49 Newey, Glenn 3 Niebuhr, Reinhold 43, 108–10 Nietzsche, Friedrich 8, 12, 51, 90, 91, 103, 104, 106, 115, 116, 133, 140, 167, 204, 242 nonviolence 108–10, 216 North, Richard 3

Oakeshott, Michael 3, 38 Obama, Barack 150 ontic 9, 20 (definition), 203, 208, 237 ontological politics (Wolin) 167 ontology 9, 20 (definition), 47, 49, 115, 149, 188, 199, 201, 202, 203–5, 220, 237; Laclau and Mouffe’s 208–11, 243; Lefort’s 205–8; see also being, metaphysics opinion 2, 15, 133, 147, 167, 206, 220, 236, 241; public 94, 146, 155, 216 order 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 56, 59, 60, 61, 63, 64, 68, 72, 80, 82, 93, 96; as a moral value 43, 60, 61, 80, 84, 93, 96 pacifism, pacifist 26, 27, 28, 30, 33, 36, 40, 43, 45, 68, 91, 92, 98, 99, 102, 107, 109, 240, 241 Paine, Tom 94, 166, 171, 172, 177 parliament 26–27, 58, 61, 80; as cabinetcentered (Weber) 26; Crick’s defense of politics of 245; discussion as principle of (Schmitt) 58; Government and Opposition as principle of 81 Paul, St. 75, 100 Perestroika debate in US political science 238 Peterson, Erik 71, 86 Pettit, Philip 143, 228 philosophers 1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 37, 38, 39, 40, 89, 90, 91, 101, 119, 123, 124, 131–3, 134, 137, 150, 152, 153, 162, 163, 167, 168, 171, 179, 196, 204, 206, 208, 237 philosophy, philosophical 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14–7, 18, 19, 20, 33–4, 36, 37, 38, 39, 50, 52, 53, 73, 74, 89, 91, 93, 100, 101, 103, 104, 115, 120, 129, 131–4, 137, 138, 139, 140, 145, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 156, 162, 163, 167, 168, 171, 179, 187, 188, 190, 192, 196, 197, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 210, 220, 222, 228, 230, 231, 232, 236, 237, 239, 241–2, 243; see also analytic philosophy, metaphysics philosophy of history 73, 74, 87, 113–4 Philp, Mark 3 Pinochet, Auguste 54 Plato 8, 14, 15–6, 37, 89, 101, 113, 132, 133, 152, 153, 166, 167, 168, 169, 227 pluralism, pluralist 4, 5, 12, 19, 27, 34, 49, 97, 143, 147–8, 152, 156, 157, 160, 170,

Index 297

180, 188, 193, 202, 219, 225, 227, 230, 233; American political science interest groups 27, 148, 157; British 5, 58, 80, 148; English School 50; and feudalism 5, 19, 58; modern 147–8; social movement 148; sphere (Weber) 36, 84; value (Berlin) 17, 36, 82, 84, 112; Wolin on 156–7, 230 Pocock, J.G.A. 9, 19, 141, 142, 147, 173, 228 Polanyi, Karl 214 polis, ancient Greek 6, 7, 13, 14–6, 17, 18, 20, 45, 100–1, 119, 120, 121, 122, 124, 131, 132, 138, 140, 141, 146, 162, 168, 227–8, 234, 238, 241, 245 politics: author’s definition 2, 234–5; as authority (Schmitt) 54, 68; as conciliation of interests (Crick) 2; as destiny (Napoleon) 29; dislike of 2; corruption in 44; elites in 26; as government 7; as ideological 7, 187–90; legitimate violence in 25; as power and resources 7; as public affairs 7; as struggle for power 5, 24, 25, 95; Weber’s definition 25; as transforming social relationships (Laclau and Mouffe) 6, 200 politics, meaning and value of: 1; as authority to impose discipline (Schmitt) 6, 68–71; as moral education (Ricoeur) 6, 92–3; as energizing society (Lefort) 196; as freedom 6, 98 (Ricoeur), 122 (Arendt); as popular power (Wolin) 6, 160; as power to resist evil and advance interests (Weber) 5–6, 28; as power to transform social relations (Laclau and Mouffe) 6, 200 political, the: concept of 3–7; as authority and community (Wolin) 6, 155; as authority and legitimacy (Schmitt) 68; defects of 12–4; as democracy (Wolin) 6, 157–60; as friend-enemy relation (Schmitt) 56–7; as ideal of the state (Ricoeur) 6, 92–3; as mode of institution of society (Lefort, Laclau and Mouffe) 6, 191, 198; polis or republic-centered conceptions 1, 6, 7, 14; and political theory 7–11; as power and community 2, 235; as public realm of freedom (Arendt) 6, 122; other possible conceptions 14; society-centered conceptions 1,14; state-centered conceptions 1, 6, 14; as struggle for

power within and among states (Weber) 5, 25 political animal (Aristotle) 10, 11, 15, 45, 92, 141–2, 143, 156, 228 political imagination, the 19, 222, 235, 246 political theology 69, 71–7, 205; definition of 72; Wolin on 74; see also Schmitt, Carl political theory, western 1, 7–11, 12 16–7, 52, 71, 89, 91, 92, 123, 152, 153, 167, 168, 204; Aristotle’s conception as philosophy of human affairs 8; comparative 20; death of 37, 156, 183; international relations and 47–50; and political philosophy 19–20; politicscentered 1, 238–9 politicians 2, 26; as counter to bureaucracy 26; qualities necessary for 27 Polybius 141 Popper, Karl 12 populism 6, 152, 173–83, 230–1; cultural problems of 178–83; economics of 176–8; Goodwyn’s ideal-type of 173; organizational features of 175–6; positivism 37–8, 121, 218; legal 63 power 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28–30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 41–4, 45, 49, 53, 59, 60, 69, 72, 73, 80, 82, 85, 87, 92, 93, 94–9, 108, 112, 113, 120, 122, 123, 142, 144, 145, 146, 151, 152, 154, 156, 157, 159–60, 161, 167–8, 169–70, 172, 173, 183, 187, 188, 191–2, 194, 196, 200, 206, 209, 216, 219, 220, 221, 223, 226, 227, 229, 230, 231, 232, 234, 235, 238, 239, 243–5, 246; definition of (Weber) 25; executive 26–7; and legitimacy 25, 59, 73, 194; and morals 42–4, 94–9, 223, 243–5; politics as struggle for 5, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28–30, 223, 234; the political as union of community and 235; popular 6, 159–60, 230; pursued for its own sake 17, 28–30; see also balance of power, reason of state private 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 15, 32, 56, 58, 66–7, 84, 119, 120, 126, 127–8, 129, 130, 139, 140, 143, 144, 148, 150, 161, 187, 199, 228, 229, 242 property-owning democracy 173, 177, 178, 231 Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph 65, 86, 156 psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic 89, 90, 191, 197, 209, 210; Lacanian 197, 209, 210

298 Index

public 2, 6, 7, 14, 18, 20, 32, 44, 56, 60, 62, 66–7, 84, 85, 93, 97, 119, 120, 122, 124, 125, 126–7, 128, 129, 131, 142, 144, 146–8, 150, 151, 153, 154, 160, 161, 165, 174, 177, 178, 187, 196–7, 199, 212, 216, 217, 224, 227, 233, 234; happiness 119, 122, 124, 125, 131; interest 44, 93, 142, 147; life 18, 146–8, 230; opinion 94, 155, 216; realm (Arendt) 122, 124, 126–7, 128, 129, 131, 135, 137, 148, 227, 230; sphere (Habermas) 146, 155, 230; work (Boyte) 145–6 Putnam, Robert 143 Radical (French republican tradition) 120–1, 148 radical democracy, see democracy, radical rational choice theory 52 Rainborough, Thomas 171 Ranciere, Jacques 13 Rawls, John 5, 12, 23, 38–9, 43, 46, 50, 52, 89, 166, 171–2, 178, 230 Reagan, Ronald 161 realism, realist 6, 7, 14, 23, 40–50, 77–8, 95, 145, 223; allied with state and great powers 45; bipolarity vs. multipolarity in 47, 48, 53; classical 41, 50; defensive 52, 53; distinguished from conservatism 40; empirical and normative 40–41; human nature in 41; ideology gives way to national interests for 47, 52, 53; international relations and 47–50; lesser evil in 43, 44, 103; misguided adoption of Schmitt by 78; morals in 41–45; neoclassical 50; neo- 47–8, 50; offensive 50, 52, 53; opposed to most US wars 40, 52; rationalism of 41–2; rational use of violence in 62; security precedes justice in 43; rejection of great power war and imperialism by 24, 44–5; see also Realpolitik, reason of state, balance of power Realpolitik 29, 42, 43, 55, 78 reason of state 17, 24 28–9, 30, 31, 33, 36, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 62, 86, 161, 203, 223; empire as logic of 29, 30, 33; in Weber 28–30; Napoleon’s mystique of 29–30; see also balance of power Reformation, the 70, 74, 76, 153 Reinhardt, Mark 3 relative universals 207, 210

relativism, relativist 36–7, 50, 52 (definition), 106, 111–2, 205–8, 209–10, 220, 243, 244; see also historicism religion 10, 16–7, 20, 34–5, 37, 52, 56, 66, 67–77, 83–4, 86, 99–106, 110, 121, 129, 132, 135, 137, 140, 149, 154, 178–9, 181, 182, 184, 191, 194, 208, 219, 225, 228, 236, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243; as model for legitimate authority 73 republicanism, republican 1, 6, 9, 13, 17, 18, 80, 119, 124, 141–4, 146, 148, 151, 177, 191, 228; Skinner and Pettit’s 143; see also civic humanism resentment 82, 103, 110, 120, 121, 131, 138–40, 242 revolution, revolutionary 7, 14, 19, 29, 51, 65, 69. 75, 76, 78, 79, 80, 85, 86, 120, 124, 125, 130, 132, 142, 149, 158, 166, 179, 188, 191, 192, 200, 203, 205, 207, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 223, 232, 233, 237, 239; of 1848 166; American 25, 124; counterrevolution 55, 70, 74, 86, 156, 188, 225; democratic 193, 197, 198–9, 209, 219, 232; English 179; Hungarian 92; reform vs. 213, 215, 216, 217; see also French Revolution Richlieu, Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal and Duke of 42 Ricoeur, Paul 6, 13, 18, 72, 89–116, 119, 132, 143, 178, 207, 226–7; Arendt’s influence on 96; background 89–92; concept of the political in 92–93; distinction between political and politics in 94, 95; ethics and politics in 98–9, 100–2; ethics of ethics in 105–6; idea of the state in 92–4; meaning of politics for 93, 98; political paradox in 93, 94–8; paradox of ideals and reality in 90, 93; politics of ethics in 103–5, 107; recognition in 114; on Schmitt 92, 95; on Weber 98–9 Riesman, David 148 rights 94, 138, 142, 161, 178, 179, 198–9, 206; as policies (Steinberger) 94; to citizenship 94, 121, 143; to question authority (Lefort) 207; right to have (Arendt) 121, 143 (Lefort) 207; see also human rights Robespierre, Maximilian 13, 193 Romans, Rome, ancient 6, 7, 65, 73, 74, 75, 76, 119, 121, 123, 124, 127, 132, 136, 140, 141, 142, 143, 148, 150, 171, 177, 184, 196, 227, 228

Index 299

Rorty, Richard 179, 209 Rossiter, Clinton 80 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 6, 9, 11, 45, 59, 92, 93, 129, 130, 134, 147, 171, 239 Salazar, Antonio 2 Sandel, Michael 9, 88 Sartori, Giovanni 4 Scaff, Lawrence 20 Schaar, John 82–3, 151, 170, 182 Scheuerman, William 53 Schmitt, Carl 3–4, 6, 7, 13, 18, 54–88, 92, 94, 95, 105, 113, 115, 119, 132, 148, 154, 178, 219, 224, 225, 233; advocates presidential dictatorship 58, 61; antiSemitism of 54, 66–7; asymmetry of religion and politics in 77, 241; as an authoritarian 67–71, 77–8, 81; bracketed wars in 62, 65; as Christian Epimetheus 76–77; controversy surrounding 54; three interpretations of 54–55; communism as ultimate enemy in 62, 66; concept of the political in 3–4, 54, 56–9; critique of liberalism by 57–9; decisionism of 61; enemy-foe distinction in 62, 64–7, 78–9; emergencies in 61, 80–1; as a fascist 54, 62–67; Grand Inquisitor in 70–1; as Hobbesian absolutist 59–62; nomos theory of 64, 68; not a realist 59–61, 77–8; the political as friend-enemy distinction in 6, 56–7; the political as union of authority and legitimacy in 68; political theology of 69, 71–7; real enemies and real wars in 79; religious meaning of politics for 75–7; the state and the political in 57, 62, 63, 66–7; two sides of political theology in 69, 73–5; war and the political in 56–7, 59, 62, 68–9 Scholem, Gershom 139 Schumpeter, Joseph 2 Schurmann, Reiner 9 Schwab, George 62, 85 Schwartz, Joseph 3 Scruton, Roger 81, 82, 83–4, 88 Sennett, Richard 146–7, 230 Shklar, Judith 38, 183 Sieyes, the Abbe de 148 Simmel, Georg 147 Simon, Herbert 170 skepticism, Socratic 37 Skinner, Quentin 143, 228 Smith, Adam 155

social, the 7, 9, 11, 18, 120, 126, 128–30, 140, 151, 152, 154, 160, 191, 192, 197, 198, 199, 205, 208, 209; see also society socialism 10, 13, 89, 98, 183, 212–15; eco- 213–14 society 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 19, 27, 45, 74, 82, 93, 94, 123, 128–30, 149, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 160, 187, 188, 191–3, 205, 208, 218, 219; -centered conception of politics 1, 7, 13, 14,17, 18, 45, 140, 148, 187–90, 231–3, 234, 237, 239, 245; international 47–8, 49; Marxist view of 208; presupposes state 45, 188, 231; salon or high 32, 129–30; Scruton on 82–4; technological 157–8; see also civil society, community Socrates 8, 16, 37, 52, 99, 132, 136, 137, 168 Solidarity (Poland) 176 Solzhenitsyn, Alexander 191 Sorel, Georges 66, 86 sovereignty, sovereign 60–1, 80 state, the 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 17, 18, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 35, 40, 41, 44, 45–7, 120, 151, 157, 160–2, 168,170, 180, 183, 188, 195, 200, 203, 204, 206, 210, 211, 214, 217, 218, 220, 223–7, 230, 231, 234, 239; Bobbitt on evolving forms of 53; idea of 40, 93–4, 236, 238; legitimacy and 44, 45–7; monopoly on decisions by (Schmitt) 61; monopoly on legitimate violence by (Weber) 23, 25, 28; nation- 14, 24, 33, 35, 48, 49, 50, 52, 87, 120, 148, 224; and realism 23, 40–1, 45; total 64, 66–7; Weber’s history of 26; welfare 46; world 48, 49–50, 224; see also reason of state, sovereignty Steinberger, Peter 93, 115, 236, 239 Storing, Herbert 170 Strauss, Leo 7, 14, 20, 34, 36, 37, 38, 52, 68, 71, 132, 164, 183, 191, 192, 205, 206, 220, 232; Socratic skepticism of 37 Strong, Tracy 17, 20, 34 stronger, right of 15, 17, 63, 85 Sullivan, William 9 syndicalism 5, 51, 58, 65, 155 Taylor, Charles 9, 38, 88 terrorism 26, 49, 66, 79, 87, 111 theocracy 73–4 Thoreau, Henry David 136 Thucydides 2, 14, 15, 17, 23, 44

300 Index

Tocqueville, Alexis de 9, 143, 166, 172, 191, 192, 192, 196 Tolstoy, Leo 35 totalitarianism, totalitarian 62, 66–7, 120–1, 131, 143, 158, 170, 191, 193, 196, 209; inverted 152, 170 tribes 14, 20, 45, 46, 53, 73, 219 values 25, 31, 33, 36, 37, 39, 42, 43, 45, 60, 61, 63, 82, 84, 93, 96, 101, 104, 166, 171, 189, 200, 216, 224, 230, 231, 236, 241; Asian 111–12; conflicts of 33, 34, 36; facts and 25, 33, 38; as subjective 34, 36, 61; value collision (Weber) 36–7; value pluralism (Berlin) 36, 82 value spheres 34, 36, 51–2, 102; develop as means become ends 28–9, 34 van Doren, Mark 149 Varnhagen, Rahel 128, 134, 139 violence 25, 96; legitimate 25–6 virtue 15–6 Voegelin, Eric 7, 20, 34, 113 Vollrath, Ernst 7 Waldron, Jeremy 3 Waltz, Kenneth 41, 47, 48, 52 Walzer, Michael 3, 80, 88, 94, 97, 121, 143, 246 war 15, 24, 29, 30, 34–6; absolute (Clausewitz) 79, 87 ; bracketed or limited (Schmitt) 79; civil 49, 57, 58, 60, 62, 79, 81, 244; great power 18, 24, 30, 33, 36, 44, 48, 50, 53, 65, 79, 110; guerrilla 79, 87; international civil 79; irrationality of in nuclear age 36, 44; new 79; nuclear 36, 44, 79; provides meaningful death (Weber) 35–6; as rational means to resolve disputes among states 36, 44; real 79; total 36, 44, 79; see also terrorism Weber, Max 3, 4, 5, 9, 13, 17–8, 23–53, 59, 92, 96, 98–9, 106, 113, 119, 129, 132, 136, 142, 144, 161, 167, 209, 220, 223, 228–9; autonomy of politics in 28–9, 34; bureaucracy in 26–7, 34; challenges to political theory of 33–4; citizenship in 35, 142; conceptions of politics and the state in 5–6, 24–27; conflict constant for 30, 34; cosmopolitanism of 32–3; on democracy 26–7; economic views of 24; elites dominate politics in 26; ethics and

reason of state in 27–30; ethics of conviction in 27–8, 40, 51, 98–9; ethics of responsibility in 24, 27–8, 51, 98; ethnocentrism of 37; existential significance of politics for 34–6; ideal-types in 24, 27, 38–9; legitimate violence as the ethical problem of politics in 28; “Lutheran moment” of 31, 99, 224; meaning of politics for 6, 28; nationalism of 31–32; politicians must dominate in 26–7; positivism of 34, 37; rationalization and disenchantment in 33; relativism and 36–7, 52; responsibility to choose values in 36, 37; responsibility to history and future culture in 32–3; ultimate values subjective for 34, 36; value spheres in 34, 36, 51–2; war provides meaningful death for 34–5; warrior conception of politics in 24, 35, 73; worldly ethics of resisting evil of 27–8 Weil, Eric 93, 115 Weimar Republic 19, 46, 55, 58, 61, 63, 81, 87 Weiss, Konrad 71, 76 Wendt, Alexander 50, 114 Wight, Martin 47, 62, 112–13, 116 Wilhelm II 42 Williams, Bernard 3, 23, 24, 37, 38, 39, 43, 52 Wolin, Sheldon 6, 7, 8, 10–1, 18–9, 20, 45, 151–184, 222, 230, 236; asymmetry of theory and politics in 162, 167–8 ; authority in 82–3, 155, 157; and Berkeley School 151; the political as union of authority and community in 155, 157; compared to Arendt 151, 158–9; criticisms of Machiavelli and Hobbes 152–4; democratic reason of 168–9; democracy as the political in 157–60; democracy vs. the state in 160–2; epic theory in 164–7; fugitive democracy in 162; on Plato 8, 152; meaning of politics as popular power in 160; and Rawls 171–2; the social in 152, 154–5; search for the political in 12, 152 Wood, Ellen Meikens 142, 220, 228–9 world state 48, 49–50; not popular 49; world community as precondition for 50, 53 Zizek, Slavoj 96, 209, 211