The State of the Political: Conceptions of Politics and the State in the Thought of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and Franz Neumann
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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OUP/British Academy (2003)
The State of the Political offers a broad-ranging re-interpretation of the understanding of politics and the state in the writings of three major German thinkers, Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and Franz Neumann. It rejects the typical separation of these writers on the basis of their allegedly incompatible ideological positions, and suggests instead that once properly located in their historical context, the tendentious character of these interpretative boundaries becomes clear. The book interprets the conceptions of politics and the state in the writings of these three thinkers by means of an investigation of their adaptation and modification of particular German traditions of thinking about the state, or Staatsrechtslehre. Indeed, when the theoretical considerations of this state-legal theory are combined with their contemporary political criticism, a richer and more deeply textured account of the issues that engaged the attention of Weber, Schmitt and Neumann is possible. Thus, the broad range of subjects discussed in this book include parliamentarism and democracy in Germany, academic freedom and political economy, political representation, cultural criticism and patriotism, and the relationship between rationality, law, sovereignty and the constitution. The State of the Political is based on extensive consideration of primary and secondary materials, and is held together by a general focus on the importance to these authors of distilling an adequate account of the state and the political - largely because this could bolster their subsequent criticisms of contemporary politics. The study attempts to restore a sense of proportion to discussion of their writings, focusing on the extensive ideas that they shared rather than insisting on their necessary ideological separation. It is a detailed re-appraisal of a crucial moment in modern intellectual history, and highlights the profound importance of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt and Franz Neumann for the history of European ideas.
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