Asymmetry and the Reimagining of Political Theology

If the phrase “asymmetrical warfare” is taken to connote scenarios where “one side is possessed of overwhelming power with respect to its adversary,” together with manifold embodiments “of asymmetry in media representations, ideology, religion, sub- and supra-national actors, the environment and even psychology,” then there would appear little doubt that today’s world is pervaded by such conflict. Necessarily, the unique historical conditions of the present, globalizing era—with its fragmenting as well as revanchist states, and its dizzying technological accelerations—are evoked by “new wars” that embroil a proliferation of non-state actors, along with states who believe that they should rightly monopolize (or be immune from, as the case may be) such asymmetrical modalities as nuclear arsenals, mercenary forces, drones, cyberattacks, and propaganda innovations.

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Essential Reading: Carl Schmitt’s Land and Sea

Writing at the Claremont Review of Books, Aaron Zack reviews the new English translation of Carl Schmitt’s Land and Sea, now available from Telos Press. Purchase your copy in our online store and save 20% by using the coupon code BOOKS20.

Telos Press’s new edition of Carl Schmitt’s Land und Meer: Eine weltgeschichtliche Betrachtung (Land and Sea: A World-Historical Meditation) provides an essential guide for understanding sea power. . . . Schmitt provides an intriguing analysis of the link between the sea and the modern project’s culmination in creative, free-thinking individuals moving and acting within a liberal, global order . . .

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Culture and Values in Schmitt’s Decisionism

David Pan’s “Carl Schmitt on Culture and Violence in the Political Decision” aims at challenging the widespread view that Carl Schmitt’s decisionism is motivated by violence and pure power. Pan presents his readers to “another Schmitt” that has escaped the attention of many commentators, including Müller, Žižek, McCormick, and Agamben. For Pan, Schmitt’s decision must not be separated from spiritual ideals and cultural values.

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The Perception of Space

“The human receives a particular historical consciousness from his ‘space,’ which is subjected to great historical transformations. The variegated forms of life correspond to equally differentiated spaces. Even within the same time period, the environment of individual humans for the practice of daily life is already defined differently by their different life occupations. An urbanite thinks the world otherwise than does a peasant farmer, a whale-fish hunter has another living space than an opera singer, and to a pilot the world and life appear otherwise not only in other lights but also in other quantities, depths, and horizons.”

—Carl Schmitt, Land and Sea: A World-Historical Meditation

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The View from the Land

“The human is a land-being, a land-dweller. He stands and walks and moves upon the firmly grounded earth. This is his standpoint and his soil; through it he receives his viewpoint; this defines his impressions and his way of seeing the world. He receives not only his field of vision but also the form of his gait and his movements, his shape as a living being born and moving upon the earth.”
—Carl Schmitt, Land and Sea: A World-Historical Meditation

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The Emergence of a New Nomos

“Some believe themselves to be experiencing the end of the world. In reality we are only experiencing the end of the relation between land and sea, which had held up to this point. Still, human angst [Angst] in the face of the new is often as great as the angst in the face of the void, even when the new is the overcoming of the void. Thus, the many see only senseless disorder, where, in reality, a new sense struggles for its order. Admittedly, the old nomos falls away and with it a whole system of received measures, norms, and relations. But that which is coming is not therefore only measurelessness or a nothingness hostile to nomos. Even in the embittered struggle of old and new forces, just measures emerge and sensible proportions are constructed.”

—Carl Schmitt, Land and Sea: A World-Historical Meditation

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