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

1 comment:

Poupée Hédoniste said...


I am interested in this book. If you have it in some kind of electronic format, could you send it at ?