The Intellectual Legacy of Carl Schmitt 1

                                                by Keith Preston

Part One: p. 1

Early Life and Intellectual Development

The Turmoil of Weimar and the State of the Exception

Part Two: p. 6

The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy and The Concept of the Political

Part Three: p. 11

The Destruction of the Weimar Republic and the Rise of the Nazis

Part Four: p. 15

The Nazi Era, The Postwar Period, and Schmitt’s Contemporary Relevance

Part One: Early Life and Intellectual Development

Among the many fascinating figures that emerged from the intellectual culture of the Weimar Republic that existed in Germany between the two world wars, perhaps none are quite as significant or unique as Carl Schmitt. An eminent jurist and law professor during the Weimar era, Schmitt was arguably the greatest political theorist of the twentieth century. He is also among the most widely misinterpreted or misunderstood. The misconceptions regarding Schmitt are essentially traceable to two issues. The first of these is obvious enough: Schmitt’s collaboration with the Nazi regime during the early years of the Third Reich. However, the other reason why Schmitt’s ideas are so frequently misrepresented or even reviled in contemporary liberal intellectual circles may ultimately be the most important. Schmitt’s works in political and legal theory provide what is by far the most penetrating critique of the ideological and moral presumptions of modern liberal democracy and its institutional workings.

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