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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Johann Herder, Early Nineteenth-century Romanticism, and the Common Roots of Multiculturalism and Right-wing Populism

In today’s public life, marked by large-scale migration, welfare states under pressure, and a soaring right-wing scene, “multiculturalism” and “right-wing populism” remain at the center of political debate. It is assumed, moreover, that they stand in sharp opposition to one another. On the one hand, multiculturalism is widely acclaimed for being progressive, radical, and safely leftist. It is seen as a vital precondition for a modern society: tolerant, humble, and anti-racist. Anyone who opposes multiculturalism, then, will be deemed at best a conservative or reactionary—if not outright racist, xenophobe, nationalist, or fascist. On the other hand, we have right-wing populism. Due to its allegiance with racism, virulent nationalism, and fascism, right-wing populism has a dubious reputation. Multiculturalism, as it seems, is anything that right-wing populism is not.

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Security, Secrecy, and the Liberal Imaginary

Western societies increasingly imagine, plan, and even rehearse their own destruction. This cultural habit reflects a growing contradiction in democracy. On the one hand, liberal societies laud the ideals of participatory democracy, free speech, individual liberty, and governmental transparency. On the other, they grow ever more committed to the biopolitical regulation of life, the mitigation of threats to public health and safety, and the restriction of liberties as a way of securing liberty itself. How do we understand the inexorable growth of a security paradigm in liberal democracies? The answer lies partly in the cultural imaginary that shapes public contemplation of citizenship, liberty, and security. This imaginary reflects both the growing influence of biopolitics and the legacy the Cold War covert action. Paradoxically, the Cold War state’s growing commitment to covert action was itself increasingly public; as a result, public culture has became obsessed with, and enamored of, covert affairs. Despite state secrecy, most citizens believe they know the “kinds of things” their government is doing in secret—yet they cannot know in detail, and they receive most of their knowledge in the form of melodramatic fiction. The result is a growing irrationality in the democratic public sphere.

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Adrian Pabst on the Upcoming Telos Conference in L’Aquila, Italy: The Idea of Europe

At this year’s Telos Conference in New York City, Telos Associate Editor Adrian Pabst outlined the theme of the upcoming Telos in Europe Conference, which will be held on September 5–8, in L’Aquila, Italy. This conference will focus on “The Idea of Europe,” and will offer speakers and attendees an opportunity to discuss Europe’s current crisis of identity. For complete details about the conference, as well as the full call for papers, please visit the conference page on the Telos Paul Piccone Institute website, located here.

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Now Available! Telos 166 (Spring 2014): After Faith

Telos 166 (Spring 2014) is now available for purchase in our store.

According to the secularization thesis, religious faith should have long ago disappeared, overwhelmed by the forces of progress. Yet while explicit membership in denominational communities is certainly less an obligatory feature of contemporary culture than it was a generation or two ago, modes of religion still play important roles in aspects of social life. This issue of Telos explores some of the ramifications of this afterlife of faith.

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The Value of Cultural Hierarchy

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Beau Mullen looks at Martin Jay’s “Hierarchy and the Humanities: The Radical Implications of a Conservative Idea” from Telos 62 (Winter 1984).

The notion of “high culture” has been under attack in different ways by critics, academics, and the general public for generations. Moreover, as Western culture becomes increasingly commercialized, egalitarian impulses have exiled much of what was considered by many to be high culture to obscurity, appreciated mainly by a minority who are themselves regarded as cultural elitists. Popular or mass culture appears to now reign supreme, but this does not mean that cultural hierarchy has been brought to an end. Cultural hierarchy still has its defenders, and as Martin Jay suggests in his 1984 Telos article “Hierarchy and the Humanities: The Radical Implications of a Conservative Idea,” it clearly has a place in current cultural evaluations.

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