The Motley Sponsorship of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

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, Maja Sidzinska looks at Guenther Roth’s “Durkheim and the Principles of 1789: The Issue of Gender Equality,” from Telos 82 (Winter 1989).

Guenther Roth positively establishes that the principles of 1789—liberté, egalité, fraternité—have been overridden by Émile Durkheim’s essentializing gender prescriptions in the service of social stability. He shows that mutually exclusive and unequal gender roles were central to Durkheim’s theory of organic solidarity. But Roth’s examination does more than just explain theoretical contradictions present in Durkheim’s work. His inquiry invites new investigations into Durkheim’s gender politics, the most intriguing one provoked by his comparative treatment of Durkheim’s and Marianne Weber’s perspectives on marriage and divorce. These contemporaries shared a political outlook yet diverged greatly in their ultimate directives for society.

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Carl Schmitt’s Theory of the Partisan and the Stability of the Nation-State

The following paper was presented at Telos in Europe: The L’Aquila Conference, held on September 7-9, 2012, in L’Aquila, Italy.

Since the Treaty of Westphalia, sovereignty in the West has been imagined in terms of the nation-state and its ability to provide a universal basis for political relations both within state boundaries and in relations with other similarly organized entities. On the one hand, the nation-state originates as a means of overcoming the religious civil wars, and its establishment coincides with the attempt to relegate theological disputes to a private sphere that does not threaten the structure of the state. In this way, the state as opposed to the church becomes the primary form for defining the political. On the other hand, the development and stability of the nation-state system seems to have been inextricably linked to the dynamic of colonialism. As Carl Schmitt lays out in The Nomos of the Earth, the establishment of a jus publicum europaeum that created guidelines for limiting war between European states was accompanied and indeed predicated upon a complementary establishment of the amity lines that distinguished Europe from the rest of the world as the place of such limited war as against the “freedom” of the spaces beyond the line in which restrictions on warfare did not apply. For Schmitt, the relationship between these two dynamics, the coalescence of nation-state relations in Europe on the basis of a limitation of war and the establishment of unlimited war in those areas outside of Europe without nation-state structures, has not been coincidental but in fact constitutive for both the rise of the West and the structure of international relations in the modern world.

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