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DECISIONS AND INDECISIONS
Political and Intellectual Receptions of Carl Schmitt
In 1989 Jürgen Habermas opined that Carl Schmitt was unlikely to have the same ‘power of contagion in the Anglo-Saxon world’ as had Nietzsche and Heidegger.  Too deep and unbridgeable was the spiritual gulf that separated the disgraced éminence grise of the ascending Axis power—publicly, at least, a virtual taboo figure within the Federal Republic—from the more liberal climes and political sensibilities of the Anglosphere. Two decades later, such predictions may appear naive. In fact, the trend has been reversed. While the Schmitt reception in German public discourse and in academia—though growing and ever more strident—seems to remain residually tied to certain ethical inhibitions that prevent a full and unqualified embrace of Göring’s former protégé, the Anglo-American Schmitt literature, beyond some notable critical engagements, has generated a less restricted rehabilitation. It either parades an authoritarian and part-time fascist thinker as a precursor and ally of the neo-conservative revolution, re-mobilizing Schmitt’s notion of the state of emergency and his concept of the political; or it reads him as a radical—even critical—voice against a world-historical conjuncture characterized by liberal imperialism that flattens all geopolitical enmities and differences.  This dual reception has outflanked the Kantian liberal-cosmopolitan mainstream in a pincer movement.
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