It was Heinrich Meier who said that in the Glossarium it’s all Schmitt. It would be better to say that in the Glossarium there are many Schmitts, most unknown, some unpredictable. In this work, Carl Schmitt presents himself as a theorist of culture, of war, of the elements (water, sea, fire, earth, a lot of body), of technique, of the sociology of power, of fame and even of paternity (a daughter for a father is “the completely other”); critic of first, second and third line writers; historian of Germany, Europe and the United States. In some of these facets he performs better, but gives all an unexpected perspective that will disarm even the most alert. He also reveals himself as a doubting Catholic, a little new age, through a semi-Hegelian mantra (“everything that happens is adorable”), a fierce censor of the Catholic hierarchy and its official intellectuals, such as Maritain or Bernanos, and even heretical. He admits suicide as a remedy for persecution and recognizes how in the concentration camp, in despair, he began to shout at God: “Swindler, swindler.” It is an interesting and sometimes esoteric compendium of the main political and cultural problems of the first half of the 20th century that will entertain those who have not yet read any other work by Schmitt.
It also prolongs the reflection on the issues on which he bases his controversial recognition as one of the great political thinkers of the 20th century: many pages specify, always with a certain degree of ambiguity and incoherence, the fundamental points of his political theology, of the politics understood as an inevitable conflict between friends and enemies. The Glossarium confirms a suspicion: Schmitt is a total thinker. His political-legal theory is not the conclusion of a logical process of argumentation, but the condensation and solidification of an access to knowledge that we can consider idiosyncratic and even wild, completely allergic to any specialization. For example, he offers the most valuable definition of the reactionary attitude in the 20th century as he reflects on the technique, the exile, the annoyance that the piano lessons with which his sister instructs clumsy students cause him: “I gain my space and I lose my weather”. The reader of the Glossarium You may be tempted to hypothesize that dispersion is the condition for great political thought to emerge.
So many times judged by his biography, this text demands that we judge him in personal terms, because he not only confesses, but also tries to justify his collaboration with Nazism
So many times judged by his biography, this text demands that we judge him in personal terms, because in Glossarium He not only confesses, but tries to justify his collaboration with Nazism. After his stay in concentration camps (more than a year in Berlin and a long month in Nuremberg), Schmitt returned to Plettenberg in May 1947. Two months after arriving in his hometown, he broke the habit of writing his diary in a rare stenography learned from his father and begins to compose it in tiny but legible handwriting: these notebooks constitute the Glossarium. Immediately, a Schmitt obsessed with his grudges appears. Someone perhaps reasonable, when compared with other adherents to Nazism (with Heidegger and Jünger) to whom this closeness was much cheaper. It should not be forgotten that a pro-Nazi disciple like Theodor Maunz soon became Minister of Education in Bavaria. Delirium also appears when he laments as a victim or justifies himself as a perpetrator, two moral attitudes that, despite being contradictory, coexist harmoniously in the Glossarium: it affirms that Plato was debased much more in Syracuse, it is compared with Jonah swallowed three times by the whale and even with Jesus Christ himself. This egotism also leads him to say that the sufferings of the post-war Germans are in the timeless eyes of God identical to those suffered by the Jews of Central Europe during the German invasion. Finally, he confirms his anti-Semitism in a few forceful entries: he affirms that the assimilated Jew is the enemy. It seems as if he wanted to be wrong on purpose, as if he wanted to give the moral critics an irrefutable argument to dismiss his thinking. My perspective is different and I only admire that someone so morally obtuse can write at the same time some of the most sophisticated reflections on the State, war, the tension between dynamism and statism with which he defines the human being.
Schmitt’s contact with Spanish culture runs deep. It begins in 1929, when Eugenio d’Ors invited him to give a conference in Barcelona, for which he prepared The era of neutralizations. the same Glossarium confirms the special character of this link. The entry that opens the book mentions Ortega. His opinion on Francisco de Vitoria constitutes the first step in his convincing critique of the concept of a just war. There is also a Franco whom Schmitt would advise to found a monarchy. (This is a lie, even if his imaginary advice served as a prediction.) The translation by Fernando González Viñas, published by the El Paseo publishing house, fills a 32-year gap (the translation is made from the 2020 German edition, which is 90% the same as the 1990 edition). This delay also confirms the ambivalence of the Hispanic intelligentsia with Schmitt. He is cited a lot, but he is poorly known. This is a no-brainer that would not have surprised a celebrity theorist like Schmitt, although he most likely would have complained about it.
Translation by Fernando González Viñas
El Paseo, 2021. 615 pages. 35 euros
Sign in to continue reading
Just by having an account you can read this article, it’s free
Thanks for reading EL PAÍS
#Carl #Schmitt #Nazi #Genius #Political #Science