02 May 2019

Schmitt, Redlich and Buber

'The Mysterious Meeting between Carl Schmitt and Josef Redlich' by Or Bassok comments
In 1934, Carl Schmitt, then the crown jurist of the Third Reich, writes in an essay titled National Socialist Legal Thought about “[a] conversation with a world-famous, world travelled, experienced scholar of more than seventy years of age from the United States [which] belongs to the major experiences and encounters I have had as a jurist in the service of National Socialism.” Schmitt never revealed the identity of the scholar whom he met. Based on Schmitt’s diaries, I reveal that the scholar whom Schmitt met was Josef Redlich. Born to a Jewish family in 1869, Redlich was the Fairchild Professor of Comparative Public Law at Harvard Law School at the time he met Schmitt in 1931. According to Schmitt’s 1934 essay, the conversation focused on insights relating to the indeterminacy of legal norms as well as on a nihilist understanding of the era. Yet Schmitt drew conclusions from the encounter which hardly correspond to Redlich’s views. My essay first puts the ideas that Schmitt adopted from his encounter with the “American scholar” in the context of the era. Second, I examine Schmitt’s diaries as well as other relevant materials in order to prove that Redlich is the scholar whom Schmitt met. In the process, I exclude Roscoe Pound, the Dean of Harvard Law School at that time, who was the previous “prime suspect” for this encounter with Schmitt. Even after my discovery of the identity of the scholar to whom Schmitt refers in his essay, the story of Schmitt and Redlich’s encounter remains mysterious: the ideas of a scholar of Jewish decent, who believed in an Austrian multi-national, federal state, inspired and played a profound role in the formulation of a blatantly antisemitic essay promoting National Socialist legal thought by the crown jurist of the Nazi regime. After examining the contradictions between Redlich and Schmitt’s positions, I offer an explanation for why Schmitt viewed this encounter as so influential on his road to National Socialism.
'Theopolitics Contra Political Theology: Martin Buber’s Biblical Critique of Carl Schmitt' by Charles H T Lesch in (2019) 113(1) American Political Science Review 195-208 comments
This article recovers Martin Buber’s important but neglected critique of Carl Schmitt’s political theology. Because Buber is known primarily as an ethicist and scholar of Judaism, his attack on Schmitt has been largely overlooked. Yet as I reveal through a close reading of his Biblical commentaries, a concern about the dangers of political theology threads through decades of his work. Divine sovereignty, Buber argues, is absolute and inimitable; no human ruler can claim the legitimate power reserved to God. Buber’s response is to uncover what he sees as Judaism’s earliest political theory: a “theopolitics,” where human beings, mutually subject to divine kingship, practice non-domination. But Buber, I show, did not seek to directly revive this religious vision. Instead, he sought to incorporate the spirit of theopolitics, as embodied by Israel’s prophets, into modern society. The result is a new and significant perspective on liberal democracy and political theology. 
'Leo Strauss, Carl Schmitt and the search for the 'Order of Things'' by Alberto Ghibellini in (2019) 40(1) History of Political Thought 138 comments
Leo Strauss's 'Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political' are extremely important to understanding both authors. Schmitt, referring to this review essay, once described Strauss as the interpreter who 'had ex-rayed [him] as nobody else had done'. Strauss underlined its importance by calling it the 'first expression' of a 'change of orientation' that radically affected his approach, leading him towards the rediscovery of the classics. This article investigates the key points of Strauss's critique, explaining why he could surprisingly see Schmitt's position as a 'liberalism with opposite polarity' and what precisely the cornerstone of his 'change of orientation' is.