Carl Schmitt is one of the most widely read and influential German thinkers of the twentieth century. His fundamental works on friend and enemy, legality and legitimacy, dictatorship, political theology and the concept of the political are read today with great interest by everyone from conservative Catholic theologians to radical political thinkers on the left. In his private life, however, Schmitt was haunted by the demons of his wild anti-Semitism, his self-destructive and compulsive sexuality and his deep-seated resentment against the complacency of bourgeois life. As a young man from a modest background, full of social envy, he succeeded in making his way to the top of the academic discipline of law in Germany through his exceptional intellectual prowess. And yet he never felt at home in the academic establishment and among those of high social standing. In his works, Schmitt unmasked the liberal Rechtsstaat as a constitutional facade and reflected on the legitimacy of dictatorship. When the Nazis seized power Schmitt was susceptible to their ideology.
He broke with his Jewish friends, joined the Nazi Party in May 1933 and lent a helping hand to Hitler, thereby becoming deeply entangled with the regime. Schmitt was irrevocably compromised by his role as the crown jurist of the Third Reich. But by 1936 he had already lost his influential position. After the war, he led a secluded life in his home town in the Sauerland and became a key background figure in the intellectual scene of postwar Germany. Reinhard Mehring s outstanding biography is the most comprehensive work available on the life and work of Carl Schmitt. Based on thorough research and using new sources that were previously unavailable, Mehring portrays Schmitt as a Shakespearean figure at the centre of the German catastrophe.
Reinhard Mehring is Professor of Political Science at Heidelberg University of Education
Abbreviations Translator s Preface A White Raven: The Strange Life of the German State Theorist Carl Schmitt Part One That false and arrogant idea I am Schmitt s Rise in the Wilhelminian Era 1. An Obscure Young Man from a Modest Background 2. The Law of Practice 3. Apotheosis of the Poet, Rant against Literary Figures: the Untimely Poet and the Received Wisdom of the Educated 4. On the Eve of the Great War: State, Church and Individual as Points of Reference 5. Dusseldorf: Living in a State of Exception 6. World War and Defeatism: Carl Schmitt in Munich 7. Strasbourg, the State of Siege and a Decision in Favour of Catholicism 8. Political Romanticists 1815/1919 Part 2 Beyond Bourgeois Existence Schmitt s Life and Work during the Weimar Republic 1. A Permanent Position? The Handelshochschule in Munich 2. A Faithful Gypsy in Greifswald 3. Arrival in Bonn? Schmitt s Turn towards the Catholic Church 4. Schmitt as a Teacher in Bonn 5. From Status Quo to Democratic Myth 6. The Yield of the Bonn Years: 7. From Ice Floe to Ice Floe : Signals in the Berlin Maelstrom 8. Reconstructing the Strong State 9. Within the Journalistic Circles of Weimar s Last Days 10. Carl Schmitt as an Actor During the Rule by Presidential Decree Part Three In The Belly of the Leviathan: Schmitt s Involvement in National Socialism 1. After 30 January 1933 2. Schmitt s Resistible Rise to the Position of Crown Jurist 3. The Year of Construction ? Beginning and End of the Juridico-Institutional Provision of Meaning 4. Anti-Semitic Provision of Meaning 5. A New Turn with Hobbes? Meaning and Failure of Schmitt s Commitment to National Socialism 6. The Right to Power? Grossraum Order and Empire Formation 7. The Captain held Hostage? Carl Schmitt s Farewell to the Reich 8. Last Writings under National Socialism Part Four One man remains Schmitt s Slow Retreat after 1945 1. Detention and Asylum 2. From Benito Cereno to Hamlet: The Comeback of the Intellectual? 3. Private Seminars in Plettenberg: Schmitt s Renewed Influence on Pupils in the Federal Republic 4. The Partisan in Conversation 5. Past Eighty: A Look Back to Old Questions Appendix Afterword Chronology Bibliography Endnotes Acknowledgments