Risk or Security: Carl Schmitt’s Ethos of the Event

Kellan Anfinson’s “Risk or Security: Carl Schmitt’s Ethos of the Event” appears in Telos 181 (Winter 2017). Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

This article audits Schmitt’s theory of politics through the concept of the event, particularly the risk it entails. I use Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of a “machine” to build on Michael Marder’s reading of the event in Schmitt, which envisions politics as unstable and open to transformation. Attending to flashpoints where Schmitt limits the potential of these transformations reveals two ways of orienting oneself toward political events: security or risk. Schmitt pushes decisions in the direction of security. But according to Schmitt’s argument that definitions of the political are also political, Schmitt’s attempt to limit the shape that political transformations take is polemical rather than analytical. Reading his theoretical analysis against such polemical interjections reveals the possibility of political partisanship as civil disobedience in which one gives up security and accepts the risk of placing oneself outside the legal order.

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Theses on Critical Theory and Contemporary Naturalism

For a New Naturalism, edited by Arran Gare and Wayne Hudson, is now available from Telos Press in our online store. Order your copy today and save 20% on the list price by using the coupon code BOOKS20 during the checkout process.

Contemporary political and social theory needs to be rethought with reference to posthistorical conditions and developments in the natural sciences. More emphasis needs to be placed on a wider naturalism that goes beyond modern objectivating naturalism: a naturalism that opens up to both differential naturalisms and to differential humanities. In place of critique without concrete alternatives and American identity politics, a version of enlightenment is needed that stands for the rational reform of human affairs in all areas. This enlightenment is not the mainstream European Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. It is not hostile to indigenous and premodern social traditions, but seeks to learn from them. Nor is it confined to Western social thought or to a political thought based on the citizens of cities. This enlightenment engages with the sciences and with global historical dynamics.

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Beyond Just War: Jan Patočka’s Solidarity of the Shaken

Steven Torrente’s “Beyond Just War: Jan Patočka’s Solidarity of the Shaken” appears in Telos 181 (Winter 2017). Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

The just war tradition has for a long time provided the categories and logic used to debate the tensions inherent in armed conflict. If war and killing are seen as both inevitable and undesirable, some system of limitation must be developed. Just war concepts such as right authority, just cause, and others offer a framework of off-ramps on the road to nihilistic violence. However, critics contend that just war theory fails to negotiate a real compromise between naïve pacifism and unrestrained war. They argue that the just war tradition not only reduces to the unrestrained pole, but in fact it can legitimate and exacerbate war. If so, just war thinking suffers from a logical contradiction—it facilitates that which it seeks to limit.

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Deleuze, Affect Theory, and the Future of Realism

Hyeryung Hwang’s “Deleuze, Affect Theory, and the Future of Realism” appears in Telos 181 (Winter 2017). Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

In this essay, I critically address the current prominence of affect theory and its close affiliation with the aesthetic absolute of high modernism. In doing so, I demonstrate how affect theory, which has been significantly influenced by Gilles Deleuze, relays a restrictive recognition of the functions of consciousness, representation, and agency as rigid codification, despotic power, and authoritative unity. Certain issues arise when affect theory registers itself as a promising and effective political theory, and I address these issues by investigating Deleuze’s discussion of affect in his various texts on aesthetics and politics.

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Sovereignty and Grand Strategy: Some Observations on the Rise of China and Decline of the Americans

Aaron Zack’s “Sovereignty and Grand Strategy: Some Observations on the Rise of China and Decline of the Americans” appears in Telos 181 (Winter 2017). Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

The rise and decline of great powers are not solely material in nature but also moral, political, and cultural. Many modern theorists emphasize the material factors in rise and decline, but older political thinkers focused on moral-political explanations. Carl Schmitt defines the essence of the political as the distinction between friend and enemy. A rising sovereign will effectively distinguish between friends and enemies and act in the interest of a political community. A decaying sovereign will gradually lose its capacity to both make a rational distinction between friends and enemies and act in the interest of the (fading) political community. True grand strategy therefore depends upon a robust sovereign—a decayed sovereign faces difficulty in implementing an effective or optimal grand strategy.

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Deliberation in Context: Reexamining the Confrontation between the Discourse Ethics and Neo-Aristotelianism

Ryan Holston’s “Deliberation in Context: Reexamining the Confrontation between the Discourse Ethics and Neo-Aristotelianism” appears in Telos 181 (Winter 2017). Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

Deliberative democrats continue to emphasize universal justification as the key criterion for establishing political legitimacy within pluralistic democracies. However, this essay argues that their refusal to acknowledge the limits to mutual appeal posed by the scale of the ethical life (Sittlichkeit) is utopian. Moreover, the cost of such utopianism is the failure to acknowledge the vital role of a sensus communis for meaningful deliberation. Drawing on the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer, this essay aims to combat the abstraction that has characterized much of the recent debate over deliberation.

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