Wednesday, September 22, 2004

[Excerpts] Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy

Excerpts from Carl Schmitt's The crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, first published in 1923.

What numerous parliaments in various European and non-European states have produced in the way of a political elite of hundreds of successive ministers justifies no great optimism. But worse and destroying almost every hope, in a few states, parliamenatism has already produced a situation in which all public business has become an object of spoils and compromise for the parties and their followers, and politics, far from being the concern of an elite, has become the despised business of a rather duboius class of persons.
p. 4

To discussion belong shared convictions as premises, the willingness to be persuaded, independence of party ties, freedom from selfish intrests.
p. 5

The belief in parliamentarism, in government by discussion, belongs to the intellectual world of liberalism. It does not belong to democracy. Both, liberalism and democracy, have to be distinguished from one another so that the patchwork picture that makes up modern mass democracy can be recognized.
p. 9

A democracy demonstrates its political power by knowing how to refuse or keep at bay something foreign and unequal that threatens its homogeneity.
p. 9

The state theory of the Contrat social also proves that democracy is correctly defined as the identity of governed and governing.
p. 14

A democracy can be militarist or pacifist, absolutist or liberal, centralized or decentralized, progressive or reactionary, and agian differant at differant times without ceasing to be a democracy. [...] What remains then of democracy? For its definition, one has a string of identities. It belongs to the essence of democracy that every and all decisions which are taken are only valid for those who themselves decide. That the outvoted minority must be ignored in this only causes theoretical and superficial difficulties.
p. 25

The will of the people is of course always identical to the will of the people, wether a decision comes from the yes or no of millions of voting papers, or from a single individual who has the will of the people even without the ballot, or from the people acclaiming in some way. Everything depends on how the will of the people is formed.
p. 27

If for practical and technical reasons the representatives of the people can decide instead od the people themselves, then certainly a single trusted representative could also decide in the name of the same people.
p. 34

A threefold division of powers, a substantial distinction between the legislative and the executive, the rejections of the idea that the plenitude of state power should be allowed to gather at any one point – all of this is in fact the antithesis of a democratic concept of identity.
p. 36

The usual definition of sovereignty today rests on Bodin’s recognition that it will always be necessary to make exeptions to the general rule in concrete circumstances, and that the sovereign is whoever decides what constitutes an exception.
p. 43

The last remnants of solidatity and a feeling of belonging together willl be destroyed in the pluralism of an unforeseeable number of myths.
p. 76

Monday, September 20, 2004

[Excerpts] Schmitt, The Concept of the Political

Exerpts from Carl Schmitt's The Concept of the Political.

The concept of the state presupposes the concept of the political.

According to modern linguistic usage, the stat is the political status of an organized people in an enclosed territorial unit. This is nothing more than a general paraphrase, not a definition of the state. Since we are concerned here with the nature of the political, such a definition is un warranted. It may be left open what the state is in its essence – a machine or an organism, a person or an institution, a society or community, an enterprise or a beehive, or perhaps even a basic procedural order. These definitions and images anticipate too much meaning, interpretation, illustration, and construction, and therefore cannot constitute any appropriate point of departure for a simple and elemenarary statment.

In its literal sense and its historical appearance the state is a specific entity of a people. Vis-á-vis the many conceivable kinds of entities, it is in the decisice case the ultimate authority.
p 19-20

The political must [...] rest on its own ultimate distinctions, to which all action with a specifically political meaning can be traced. Let us assume that in the realm of morality the final distinctions are between good and evil, in aesthetics beautiful and ugly, in economics profitable and unprofitable. [...]

The specifice political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy. This provides a definition in the sense of a criterion and not as an exhaustive definition or one indicative of substantial content.
p 26

The political enemy need not be morally evil or aestetically ugly; he need not appear as an economic competitor, and it may even be advantageous to engage with him in business transactions. But he is, nevertheless, the other, the stranger; and it is sufficient for his nature that he ism in a specially intense way, existentially something different and alien, so that in the extreme case conflicts with him are possible. These can neither be decided by a previously determined general norm nor by the judgement of a disintrested and therefore neutral third party.

Only the actual participants can correctly recognize, understand, and judge the concrete situation abd settle the extreme case of conflict. [...] Emotionally the enemy is treated as being evil and ugly, because every distinction, most of all the political, as the strongest and most intensiv of the distinictions and categorizations, draws upon other distinctions for support. This does not alter the autonomy of such distinctions.
p 27

The enemy is not merely any competitor or just any partner of a conflict in general. He is also not the private adversary whom one hates. An enemy exists only when, at least potentially, one fighting collectivity of people confronts a similar collectivity.
p 28

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.
p 35

A war need be neither something religious nor something morally good nor something lucrative. War today is in all likelihood none of these. This obvious point is mostly confused by the fact that religious, moral and other antithesis can intensify to political ones and can bring about the decisive friend-or-enemy constellation. If, in fact, this occurs, then the relevant antithesis is no longer purely religious, moral, or economic, but political. The sole remaining question then is always whether such a friend-and-enemy grouping is really at hand, regardless of which human motives are sufficiently strong to have brought it about.
p 36

Every religious, moral, ethical, or other antithesis transforms into a political one if it is sufficiently strong to group human beings effectively according to friend or enemy. [...] A religious community which wages wars agains members of other religious communities ir engages in other wars is already more than a religious community; it is a political entity. [...] Also a class in the Marxian sense ceases to be something purley economic and becomes a political factor when it reaches this decisive point, for example, when Marxists approach the class struggle seriously and treat the class adversary as a real enemy and fights him either in the form of a war of state against state or in a civil war within a state.
p 37

If a part of the population declares that it no longer recognizes enemies, then, depending on the circumstance, it joins their side and aids them. Such a declaration does not abolish the reality of the friend-and-enemy distinction.
p 51

Political thought and political instinct prove themselves theoretically and practically in the ability to distinguish friend and enemy. The high points of politics are simultaneously the moments in which the enemy is, in concrete clarity, recognized as the enemy.
p 67

Friday, September 17, 2004

[Excerpt] von Salomon, Die Geächteten

Excerpt from Ernst von Salomon's Die Geächteten (Güthersloh: Bertalsmann, 1929).

They were the Landsknechte – but were where the land which they served? They had recognized the greatest swindle of this peace, they did not want to take part in it. They did not want to participate in the wholesome order, which was praised to them in a slimy way. They had remained under arms according to an infallible instinct. [...] The sensed the word, yes, they even spoke it out loud and were ashamed of its washed-out sound; they turned it over, tested it in secret fear, and left it out of the interplay of manifold conversations, and yet it stood over them. The word stood wrapped in deep gloom, weather-beaten, beckoning, full of secrets, beaming magical powers, felt and yet not recognized, loved and not yet bidden to them. And the word was Germany.

Where was Germany? In Weimar? In Berlin? Once it had been on the front line, but the front fell apart. Then it was supposed to be at home, but home deceived. It was sung in song and speech, but the note was false. The spoke of fatherland and motherland, but even the niggers had that. Where was Germany? Was it in the people? But they cried for bread and voted for the fat-bellied ones. Was it in the state? But the state sought its form garrulously and found it in reunciation.

Germany burned darkly in daring brains. Germany was there where it was being fought for, it showed itself where armored hands reached out for its very existence, it beamed dazzingly where those possessed of its spirit dared the final sacrifice for the sake of Germany. Germany was on the border. The articles of the treaty of Versailles told us where Germany was.

p 48-49

[Excerpt] Jünger, The Storm of Steel

Excerpt from Ernst Jünger's The Storm of Steel. Below are the three last pages.
Now I looked back: four years of development in the midst of a generation predestined to death, spent in caves, smoke-filled trenches, and shell-illuminated wastes; years enlived only by the pleasures of a mercenary, and nights of guard after guard in and endless perspective; in short, av monotonous calendar full of harschips and privation, divided by the red-letter days of battle. And alsmost without any thought of mine, the idea of the Fatherland had been destiled from all these afflictions in a clearer and brighter essance. That was the final winnings in a game on which so often all had been staked: the nation was no longer for me an empty though veiled in symbols; and how could it have been otherwise when I had seen so many die for its sake, and been schooled myself to stake my life for its credit every minute, day and night, without a thought? And so, strange as it may sound, I learned from this very four years’ schooling in force and in all the fantastic extravagance of material warfare that life has no depth of meaning exept when pledged for an ideal, and that thereare ideals in comparison with which the life of an individual and even of a people has no weight. And though the aim for which I fought as an individual, as an atom in the whole body of the army, was not to be achieved, though material force cast us, apparently to the earth, yet we learned once and for all to stand for a cause and if necessary ro fall as befitted men.
Hardened as scarcely another generation ever was in fire and flame, we could go into life as though from the anvil; into friendship, love, politics, professions, into all that destiny had in store. It is not every generation that is so favoured.
And if it be objected that we belong to a time of crude force our answer is: We stood our feet in mud and blood, yet our faces were turned to things of exalted worth. And not one of that countless number who fell in our attacks fell for nothing. Each one fulfilled his own reslove. For to every one may be applied the saying from St. John that Dostovievski put in front of his greatest novel:
‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.’ [John 12:24, Spöknippet]
To-day we cannot understand the martyrs who threw themselves into the arena in a transport that lifted them even before their deaths betond humanity, beyond every phase of pain and fear. Their faith no longer exercises a compelling force. When once it is no longer possible to understand how a man gives his life for his country – and the time will come – then all is over with that faith also, and the idea of the Fatherland is dead; and then, perhaps, we shell be envied, as we envy the saints their inward abd irresistible strength. For all these great and solemn ideas bloom from a feeling that dwells in the blood and canot be forced. In the cold light of reason everything alike is a matter if expedience and sinks to the paltry and mean. It was our luck to live in the invvisible rays of a feeling that filled the heart, and of this inestimable treasure we can never be deprived.
I had the good fortune to be taken out at Hanover and sent to the Clementine infirmary. One of my companions there was a young flying-man of Richthofen’s squadron, named Wenzel, who had shot down twelve of the enemy. The last of them had first shot him through the shoulder.
On the 22nd of september 1918 I had the following telegram:
‘His majesty the Kaiser has bestoved on you the order Pour le Mérite. I congratulate you in the name of the whole division.
‘General von Busse.’
As soon as I was fit enough I celebrated this event with Wenzel, my brother, and a few friends. As a doubt had been expressed whether we should soon be passed out fit for active service, Wenzel and I felt ourselves compelled to jump again and again over a lagre armchair. We came out of it, however, very badly. Wenzel broke his arm again, and I was kept in bed next morning with a temperature of 104.
In spite of this it was not long before we were in exellent form for another winter campaign. This was deferred for a while; and soon we had to take part in other battles than we ever dreamed.
Now these too are over, and already we see once mmore in the dim light of the future the tumult of fresh ones. We – by this I mean the youth of this land who are capable of entusiasm for an ideal – will not shrink from them. We stand in the memory of the dead who are holy to us, and we belive ourselves entrusted with the true and spirutual welfare of our people. We stand for what will be and what has been. Though force without and barbarity within conglomerate in sombre clouds, yet so long as the blad of a sword will strike a spark in the night may it be said: Germany lives and Germany shall never go under!

p . 316-319

Monday, September 13, 2004

Swedish Military Tattoo

Until now there has been all metapolitics and no march music, or militaria, but since Swedish Military Tattoo was held the past week there will now, at last, be some march music.

Swedish Military Tattoo is held every other year with music corps from Sweden as well as abroad. Swedish military is more or less notorious for their lack of skill when it comes to marching, so it was intresting to see how they compared to the foreign corps. The answer is, fairly well. Obviously, music corps has more march training than ordinary troops as there usually are more important things to be done with the time in the military than doing marching drills. More important however is the general posture. The posture of a country's youth says a lot of the spiritual condition of the people as a whole.

The Finnish drill team made a good impression, and showed good posture. This illustrates well fateful loss of the eastern part of the realm 1809. To this day, Finland is, after all, still the most Prussian of the Nordic countries, quite naturally due to it's geopolitical position. Prussia is anti-west, this does not mean that it is eastern, Prussia is the synthesis of the west thesis and the east anti-thesis. "To all appearance the eastern and western influences has amongst the Prussians achieved such a balance that a system of command and obedience, of lustful obliging can function harmonious." (Ernst Jünger)

The case of Finland may be analogous. If we look back in time we find that some intellectual circles around the Lappo-movement asserted that the racial superiority of the Finns was due to the mixing of Germanic and Slavic. This indeed resembles Ernst Niekisch's description of the Prussian disposition: "Germanic subjectivism mitigated by Slavic-collectivistic atmosphere".

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Codreanu and myths

Corneliu Zelea Codreanu's For my legionaries is a modern classic of an importance to many present day nationalists that hardly can be overestimated. Although the never ending ranting about Jews and fervent nationalism are tiresome, he who can look beyond this will find a rich source of inspiration.

The Legion of the Archangel Michael was not only a political group but a religious and militant order. The most important lesson taught by For my legionaries is the importance and power of myths, the legionary movement overcame near insurmountable obstacles because of their unshakable belief in God and nation.
"The Legion prefers to stand united even if it choose the wrong way. If the Legion ends up in hell, it shall still be united. After successfully conquering hell, we return victorious. It doesn't matter if we win, lose or sacrifice our lives. The most important thing is that we do it together as a entity of iron."
Myths create movement, the truth of a myth is not without importance altogether but it is not the determining factor in the mobilization of the masses. The successful myth strikes at the heart of the masses, makes it beat harder and faster. Of course the myth that yesterday made people move mountains may today be incapable of creating any reaction at all. Marx may be wrong on every account, that doesn't change the fact that masses fueled by Marxism acted differently than they would have without Marxism. The same holds true for the Iron Guard, even if God really is since long dead and the nation only a mere construction, the faith in the eternal truth and value of the two gave the legionaries the irresistible strength that comes only from the feeling of struggling for something higher and greater.

For millennium religious myths have dominated, the last centuries have seen the rise, and perhaps also fall, of the myths of nationalism and class struggle. None of these three great myths are dead but their power has diminished. We live, perhaps for the first time since the creation of spoken language, without any great myths. The closest thing we ever came to a liberal myth, the slow but constant progression, beneficial to all, is more dead then the others. Some may object that "human rights" would constitute a modern liberal myth but since it's function is to legitimize rather than mobilize that is not the case.

Myths are in a sense neutral, what is essentially the same myth can be used for mobilization in entirely different directions. Leftists often accuse Christianity for functioning as a means to preserve the status quo. That this does not have to be the case has been shown by, among others, the Legion of the Archangel Michael but also by South American liberation theologists. The same is true for, as an example, nationalism. Although it too more often than not has been a conservatory force it is not always so. Thus one should look upon myths dialectical; what was intended to perserve or legitimize may in fact mobilize in another direction.