Making Enemies by Rodney Barker (auth.)

By Rodney Barker (auth.)

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Such a world, from the vantage point of any one Schmittian polity, would be divided between ‘us’ on the one hand, and everyone else on the other, since friends are to be found only amongst members of one’s own polity. Schmitt, however, writes of alliances and associations of states, which is, in his terms, an association not of politics but of economic or material interest. So paradoxically it is precisely in the only area, international relations, where Schmitt’s account can have any meaning, that its deductive limitations become most apparent.

His use of the word ‘political’ to identify his description can be confusing, since he employs the term in a way different from normal usage, and in a manner which excludes or rules out of court many of the actions and relations to which the normal usage applies. 19 Others have made a similar point. 20 Chantal Mouffe comments that ‘the main limitation of Schmitt’s friend–enemy distinction is that while he asserts the conflictual nature of the political, he does not permit a differential treatment of this conflictuality.

29 But once the terms are filled out, the statement becomes simply a repetition of its own terms, with no empirical or historical usefulness. So the argument might be translated as follows: ‘The word political is used to describe a governed community with a perceived enemy. In a world without war, there would be no governed communities with perceived enemies. ’ That is to say no more than that in a world without perceived enemies, there would be no perceived enemies. 30 This is oddly reminiscent of the Leninist argument that, since the state is an instrument for the regulation of class conflict in the interests of the dominant class, were a state to abolish capitalism and hence class, it could no longer be a state.

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