Carl Schmitt

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Prof. Dr. jur. Carl Schmitt

Carl Schmitt (11 July 1888 – 7 April 1985) was a German jurist and political theorist, part of the Conservative Revolutionary movement, known for his critique of liberalism and other "idealist" ideologies.


Carl Schmitt with Ernst Jünger (left) in 1941 on the lake of Rambouillet; Schmitt was also close friends with General Erich Marcks.

Schmitt graduated with a doctorate in law in 1915. Initially, he was influenced Roman Catholic political thinking, but became less so from around the mid-1920s. In a series of books, he criticized liberalism and the Weimar Republic.

Leftist Wikipedia gives the impression that Schmitt was of great importance when the NSDAP seized power and in supporting persecutions. However, in 1936, the SS accused Schmitt of being an opportunist, a Hegelian state thinker, and a Catholic, and called his anti-Semitism a mere pretense, citing earlier statements in which he criticized the National Socialists' racial theories. Despite his alleged great importance for the NSDAP, he was apparently not sentenced for any serious crime during the extensive postwar trials of those associated with the NSDAP. Paul Gottfried has written that

"Schmitt is properly criticized for having joined the Nazi Party in May 1933. But he clearly did so for opportunistic reasons. Attempts to draw a straight line between his association with the Party and his writings of the twenties and early thirties, when he was closely associated with the Catholic Center Party, a predecessor of the Christian Democrats, ignore certain inconvenient facts. In 1931 and 1932, Schmitt urged Weimar president Paul von Hindenburg to suppress the Nazi Party and to jail its leaders. He sharply opposed those in the Center Party who thought the Nazis could be tamed if they were forced to form a coalition government. While an authoritarian of the Right, who later had kind words about the caretaker regime of Franco, he never quite made himself into a plausible Nazi. From 1935 on, the SS kept Schmitt under continuing surveillance."[1]

In 1945, American forces seized Schmitt, and he spent more than a year in an internment camp. He remained unrepentant and was barred him from academic jobs. Despite being isolated from the mainstream of the scholarly and political community, he continued his studies, especially of international law, from the 1950s on, and frequently received visitors.


Schmitt has been described as a "realist", sometimes compared with Machiavelli, stating various less politically correct views such as the inevitability of friend-enemy distinctions in human societies and the legitimacy of (realist) wars, but arguing that this causes effects such increased respect for opponents and fewer wars and mass killings than idealist ideologies, which in practice view their opponents as absolute evils that must be utterly extinguished.

One criticism of liberalism and parliamentarianism is that this is argued to cause the human tendency towards friend-enemy distinction to be applied inwards into a community, dividing and weakening it, rather than outwards, which is ultimately seen as less harmful.

Schmitt also described the legitimacy of the executive as depending on the ability to respond to internal or external enemies and preserve the society and internal order, especially during emergencies, including by authoritarian methods and by using force.

External links


  1. A Forgotten Thinker On Nation-States vs. Empire