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The Political

Recent Impact

Schmitt had a pronounced if sometimes unacknowledged impact on a number of important German social and political thinkers coming of age in the Weimar period, in particular on leading members of the Frankfurt School such as Walter Benjamin and Otto Kirchheimer. The often uneasy interest of radical left-wing thinkers is largely what enabled Schmitt to exercise a lasting influence on the contours and vocabulary of modern political thought. It is certainly not the case, however, that Schmitt's influence has been limited to thinkers on the left. Among the last century's most important thinkers for conservatives was Leo Strauss, another young student of political philosophy who came to maturity in the Weimar Republic. Strauss's critique of modern liberalism might be said to take its cue from an acknowledgment of Schmitt's achievement in reviving the political.

In more recent decades, both contemporary feminist political theory and select currents of democratic theory have been invigorated by a confrontation with the thought of Schmitt. Feminist champions of an "agonistic politics" have drawn inspiration from Schmitt's treatment of the state, which arises in the first instance as a bulwark against enemies. Schmitt's formulation of the political, moreover, implicitly rejects the liberal subordination of politics to material and economic relations, lending support to feminist assertions of the primacy of politics. Other theorists of contemporary democracy have found in Schmitt's work a powerful critique of liberal democracy that can, however, usefully orient its defenders to the limitations and vulnerabilities of liberal-democratic theory and practice.



Schmitt, Carl. The Concept of the Political (with Leo Strauss's Notes on Schmitt's Essay). Translation, introduction, and notes by George Schwab; with Leo Strauss's notes on Schmitt's essay; translated by J. Harvey Lomax; forward by Tracy B. Strong. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

——. Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy. Translated by Ellen Kennedy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985.

——. Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. Translated by George Schwab. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985.


Kelly, Duncan. The State of the Political: Conceptions of Politics and the State in the Thought of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and Franz Neumann. Oxford and New York: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2003.

McCormick, John P. Carl Schmitt's Critique of Liberalism: Against Politics as Technology. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Mouffe, Chantal, ed. The Challenge of Carl Schmitt. London: Verso Books, 1999.

——. The Return of the Political. London and New York: Verso Books, 1993.

Dwight D. Allman

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Planck mass to PositThe Political - Origins, Current Usage, Recent Impact, Bibliography