Book review: Spatiality, Sovereignty and Carl Schmitt: Geographies of the Nomos, written by Stephen Legg

in Historical Materialism
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Spatiality, Sovereignty and Carl Schmitt: Geographies of the Nomos is an edited volume by Stephen Legg. The book was published in the midst of accruing attention to the issues of space and order in the writings of Carl Schmitt. The objective of the book must, therefore, be understood as a critical analysis of the different ways Schmitt’s concepts can inform and have informed the study of geopolitics. This review will provide a critical summary of the main themes in the book and analyse the arguments made for and against using Schmitt. I will additionally assess the ways in which Marxist Geography can benefit from critically engaging with Schmitt. It will be argued that a critical engagement with Schmitt should start from a contextualised position and a subsequent fertile negation of his thinking.

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References

AgambenGiorgio AttellKevin State of Exception 2005 Chicago University of Chicago Press

AnaniadisGrigoris Mouffe ‘Carl Schmitt and Max Adler: The Irreconcilability of Politics and Democracy’ 1999 1999

AravamudanSrinivas ‘Carl Schmitt’s The Nomos of the Earth: Four Corollaries’ South Atlantic Quarterly 2005 104 2 227 236

AureliPierre Vittorio The Project of Autonomy: Politics and Architecture within and against Capitalism 2008 New York Princeton Architectural Press

BalakrishnanGopal The Enemy: An Intellectual Portrait of Carl Schmitt 2000 London Verso

BalakrishnanGopal ‘The Geopolitics of Separation: Response to Teschke’s “Decisions and Indecisions” ’ New Left Review 2011 II 68 57 72

BarnesTrevor J.MincaClaudio ‘Nazi Spatial Theory: The Dark Geographies of Carl Schmitt and Walter Christaller’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers 2013 103 3 669 687

BenderskyJoseph W. ‘Carl Schmitt and Nuremberg’ TELOSscope 2007 accessed 1 August 2012 blog, available at: <http://www.telospress.com/carl-schmitt-and-nuremberg/>

CanningJoseph The Political Thought of Baldus de Ubaldis 2003 [1987] Cambridge Cambridge University Press

CramptonJeremy W. ‘Maps as Social Constructions: Power, Communication and Visualization’ Progress in Human Geography 2001 25 2 235 252

DelaneyDavid The Spatial, the Legal and the Pragmatics of World-making: Nomospheric Investigations 2010 Abingdon Routledge

DerridaJacques ‘Politics of Friendship’ American Imago 1993 50 3 353 391

EldenStuart ‘Reading Schmitt Geopolitically: Nomos, Territory and Großraum’ Radical Philosophy 2010 161 18 26

EldenStuart The Birth of Territory 2013 Chicago University of Chicago Press

GalliCarlo SitzeAdam FayElisabeth Political Spaces and Global War 2010 Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press

GregoryDerek The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq 2004 Oxford Wiley-Blackwell

HabermasJürgen HabermasJürgen BuchwalterAndrew ‘Introduction’ Observations on ‘The Spiritual Situation of the Age’: Contemporary German Perspectives 1984 Cambridge, MA. The MIT Press

HabermasJürgen The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society 1991 [1962] Cambridge, MA. The MIT Press translated by Thomas Burger with the assistance of Frederick Lawrence

HarleyJ.B. ‘Silences and Secrecy: The Hidden Agenda of Cartography in Early Modern Europe’ Imago Mundi 1988 40 57 76

HeiberHelmut ‘Der Generalplan Ost’ Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte Jahrgang 1958 [1942] 6 4 281 325

HellJulia Katechon: Carl Schmitt’s Imperial Theology and the Ruins of the Future’ The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 2009 84 4 283 326

HitlerAdolf Das Geheime Zweite Buch The Secret Second Book 1928 available at: <https://ia601503.us.archive.org/28/items/HitlerAdolf-DasGeheimeZweiteBuch/HitlerAdolf-DasGeheimeZweiteBuch1928146S.Text.pdf>.

HookerWilliam Carl Schmitt’s International Thought: Order and Orientation 2009 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

JamesonFredric ‘Notes on the Nomos South Atlantic Quarterly 2005 104 2 199 204

JayMartin ‘Reconciling the Irreconcilable? Rejoinder to Kennedy’ Telos 1987 71 67 80

KennedyEllen ‘Carl Schmitt and the Frankfurt School’ Telos 1987a 71 37 66

KennedyEllen ‘Carl Schmitt and the Frankfurt School: A Rejoinder’ Telos 1987b 73 101 116

LefebvreHenri Nicholson-SmithDonald The Production of Space 1991 Oxford Basil Blackwell

LefebvreHenri MooreJohnElliotGregory Critique of Everyday Life 2008 three volumes London Verso

LeggStephen Spatiality, Sovereignty and Carl Schmitt: Geographies of the Nomos 2011 Abingdon Routledge

LeggStephenVasudevanAlexander Legg ‘Introduction: Geographies of the Nomos’ 2011 2011

MaioloFrancesco Medieval Sovereignty: Marsilius of Padua and Bartolous of Saxoferrato 2009 Chicago Chicago University Press

MajerDiemut ‘Die Perversion des Völkerrechts unter dem Nationalsozialismus’ Jahrbuch des Instituts für Deutsche Geschichte 1985 Volume 14 Tel Aviv Nateev Publishing

MezzadraSadro ‘Beyond the State, Beyond the Desert’ South Atlantic Quarterly 2011 110 4 989 997

MincaClaudioRowanRory ‘The Trouble with Carl Schmitt’ Political Geography 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2013.01.004.

MincaClaudioVaughan-WilliamsNick ‘Carl Schmitt and the Concept of the Border’ Geopolitics 2012 17 4 756 772

MouffeChantal On the Political 2005 London Routledge

MouffeChantal The Challenge of Carl Schmitt 1999 London Verso

MüllerJan-Werner A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-war European Thought 2003 New Haven Yale University Press

MüllerJan-Werner ‘The Paradoxes of Post-War Italian Political Thought’ History of European Ideas 2013 39 1 79 102

OdysseosLouizaPetitoFabio OdysseosLouizaPetitoFabio ‘Introduction: The International Political Thought of Carl Schmitt’ The International Political Thought of Carl Schmitt: Terror, Liberal War and the Crisis of Global Order 2007 Abingdon Routledge

PicklesJohn A History of Spaces: Cartographic Reason, Mapping and the Geo-coded World 2004 London Routledge

RösselKarl ‘ “Volk ohne Raum” – Zur Kontinuität kolonialer Begierden in Deutschland [“Volk without Raum” – The Continuity of Colonial Desires in Germany]’ Lernen aus der Geschichte 2010 4 10 2 4

ScheuermanWilliam E. Between the Norm and the Exception: The Frankfurt School and the Rule of Law 1994 Cambridge, MA. The MIT Press

ScheuermanWilliam E. Carl Schmitt: The End of Law 1999 Lanham, MD. Rowman and Littlefield

ScheuermanWilliam E. The Rule of Law under Siege: Selected Essays of Franz L. Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer 1996 Berkeley University of California Press

SchmittCarl Hamlet oder Hekuba 1956 Düsseldorf Eugen Diederichs

SchmittCarl Der Nomos der Erde im Völkerrecht des Jus Publicum Europaeum 1974 [1950] Berlin Duncker & Humblot

SchmittCarl Land und Meer: Eine weltgeschichtliche Betrachtung 1981 [1942] Stuttgart Klett-Cotta

SchmittCarl DraghiciSimona Land and Sea 1997 [1954] Washington, DC. Plutarch Press

SchmittCarl GoodsonA.C. ‘The Theory of the Partisan: A Commentary/Remark on the Concept of the Political’ The New Centennial Review 2004 [1963] 4 3 1 78

SchmittCarl SchwabGeorge D. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty 2005 [1922] Chicago University of Chicago Press

SchmittCarl UlmenG.L. The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum 2006a [1974] New York Telos Press Publishing

SchmittCarl DraghiciSimona Hamlet or Hecuba: The Irruption of Time into Play 2006b [1956] Corvallis, OR. Plutarch Press

SchmittCarl SchwabGeorge D. Concept of the Political 2007 [1927] Chicago University of Chicago Press

SchmittCarl SchwabGeorge D.HilfsteinErna The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes: Meaning and Failure of a Political Symbol 2008 [1938] Chicago University of Chicago Press

SchmittCarl KolbRobert La question clé de la Société des Nations, in Deux textes de Carl Schmitt: La question clé de la Société des Nations; Le passage au concept de guerre discriminatoire [Two Texts by Carl Schmitt: The Core Question of the League of Nations; The Turn to a Discriminatory Concept of War] 2009 [1926] Paris Éditions A. Pedone

SchmittCarl NunanTimothy Writings on War 2011 Cambridge Polity Press

SitzeAdam ‘A Farewell to Schmitt: Notes on the Work of Carlo Galli’ The New Centennial Review 2010 10 2 27 72

SloterdijkPeter ButlerSamuel A. ‘Geometry in the Colossal: The Project of Metaphysical Globalization’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 2009 27 1 29 40

RaschWilliam South Atlantic Quarterly Special Issue: ‘World Orders: Confronting Carl Schmitt’s The Nomos of the Earth South Atlantic Quarterly 2005 Volume 104 Issue 2

StaffIlse Staatsdenken im Italien des 20. Jahrhunderts: Ein Beitrag zur Carl-Schmitt-Rezeption [State Thinking in Twentieth-Century Italy: A Contribution to Carl Schmitt’s Reception] 1991 Baden-Baden Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft

StirkPeter M.R. ‘Carl Schmitt’s Völkerrechtliche Grossraumordnung’ History of Political Thought 1999 20 2 357 374

StrongTracy B. Schmitt ‘2008 Foreword – Carl Schmitt and Thomas Hobbes: Myth and Politics’ 2008 2008

TeschkeBenno Gerhard ‘The Fetish of Geopolitics: Reply to Gopal Balakrishnan’ New Left Review 2011a II 69 81 100

TeschkeBenno Gerhard ‘Fatal Attraction: A Critique of Carl Schmitt’s International Political and Legal Theory’ International Theory 2011b 3 2 179 227

The New Centennial Review Special Issue: ‘Theory of the Partisan’ The New Centennial Review 2004 Volume 4 Issue 3

ToscanoAlberto ‘Carl Schmitt in Beijing: Partisanship, Geopolitics and the Demolition of the Eurocentric World’ Postcolonial Studies 2008 11 4 417 433

TrontiMario DusoGiuseppe ‘Marx e Schmitt: un problema storico-teorico [Marx and Schmitt: A Historical-Theoretical Problem]’ La politica oltre lo Stato: Carl Schmitt [The Political beyond the State: Carl Schmitt] 1981 Venice Arsenale cooperativa Editrice

TrontiMario ‘Karl und Carl’ La Politica al tramonto [The Political at Sunset] 1998 Turin Einaudi

UlmenG.L. Schmitt ‘Translator’s Introduction’ 2006 2006a

Vaughan-WilliamsNick Border Politics: The Limits of Sovereign Power 2009 Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press

WalkerGavin ‘Primitive Accumulation and the Formation of Difference: On Marx and Schmitt’ Rethinking Marxism 2011 23 3 384 404

WasserBruno Himmlers Raumplanung im Osten: Der Generalplan Ost in Polen 1940–1944 1993 Basel Birkhäuser Verlag

WeberSamuel ‘Taking Exception to Decision: Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt’ Diacritics 1992 22 3/4 5 18

ŽižekSlavoj Mouffe ‘Carl Schmitt in the Age of Post-Politics’ 1999 1999

1

E.g. Jameson 2005; Legg and Vasudevan 2011.

3

Schmitt 2004, 2005, 2006a, 2007, 2011.

5

Müller 2003, among others.

6

Mouffe 2005, p. 4.

7

Scheuerman 1999, p. 1.

8

Hooker 2009, p. 3.

10

Odysseos and Petito 2007, p. 2.

11

Balakrishnan 2000, 2011.

15

Schmitt 1981, p. 3.

19

Schmitt 2007.

20

Minca and Vaughan-Williams 2012, p. 756; original emphasis.

23

For example Schmitt 2005.

30

Aravamudan 2005, p. 227. Gross (as cited in Strong 2008, p. XIV) argues that for Schmitt ‘the “Jew” lies under one pole of the binary oppositions that Schmitt works with: The Jew is “enemy,” the anti-Christ.’ Strong (ibid.) continues and writes: ‘Lacking spatial and territorial definition they undermine all notions of “nomos”.’

32

See also Majer 1985; Teschke 2011a, p. 93.

34

Schmitt in Hell 2009, p. 294.

36

Schmitt 2006a, p. 80; original emphasis.

38

See, for instance, Bendersky 2007.

41

Schmitt 1981, 1997.

43

Schmitt 2006a, p. 345.

44

Schmitt 1974, p. 347; emphasis in original.

45

Schmitt 2006a, p. 335.

46

Teschke 2011a, p. 94, similarly separates Marx’s accumulation from Schmitt’s land appropriation by reminding us that ‘the former depicts a qualitative transformation of social property relations, antithetical to a quantitative, territorial notion of land grabs’.

47

Schmitt quoted in Stirk 1999, p. 297.

52

Hell 2009.

55

Schmitt 2006a, p. 47. The translated version of The Nomos of the Earth uses ‘land’, ‘space’, ‘territory’ and other such spatial connotations (in a sometimes confusing manner) interchangeably.

56

Müller 2003.

61

Sitze 2010, p. 32.

62

Müller 2003, pp. 178, 179. Tronti’s polemical attempt to synthesise Schmitt with Marx is, for example, discussed in Tronti 1998 and in his paper ‘Marx e Schmitt: un problema storico-teorico’ (Tronti 1981). Muller writes that ‘the Schmittian elements became part of a thoroughgoing “Marxist critique of Marxism”, which sought to take leave of economic and historical categories which had been central to post-war Italian left-wing thought, instead putting a practical theory of power squarely at the centre of revolutionary theorising’ (Muller 2013, p. 94). Schmitt was, according to Aureli’s similar reading, considered to be ‘essential in order to politicise Marx radically, beyond both the analysis of political economy and of the political consequences of political economy – namely the critique of ideology – in order to arrive at an autonomous critique of power.’ (Aureli 2008, p. 40.)

63

Müller 2003, p. 179. Mezzadra 2011, p. 991, reminds us ‘that the work of Giorgio Agamben since Homo Sacer is a late outcome of the Schmitt renaissance’ that Tronti had earlier initiated. This ‘post-renaissance’ of Schmittian thinking continues to function as an important reference point for other contemporary Italian thinkers such as Roberto Esposito and Paulo Virno, among others. Schmitt’s state-of-exception theory has similarly been adopted by political geographers (see e.g. Gregory 2004).

64

Walker 2011.

66

Teschke 2011a; Balakrishnan 2011.

67

Teschke 2011a, p. 93. Teschke shows (contra Balakrishnan) that ‘the ontological, epistemological and theoretical premises of Marxism are diametrically opposed to Schmitt’s’, that International Relations theorists should seriously consider the political implications of adopting Schmitt’s strongly politicised geographical imaginations and that we need to ‘rethink the history of geopolitics in genuinely Marxian terms’ (Teschke 2011a, p. 86).

68

Minca and Rowan 2013, p. 2.

70

For example, Lefebvre 1991 and 2008.

71

Delaney 2010.

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