|Their ethic is mutually exclusive with our alt
Louiza Odysseus (PhD International Relations) March 2003 “ Against Ethics? Iconographies of Enmity and Acts of Obligation in Carl Schmitt’s Theory of the Partisan” http://www.louizaodysseos.org.uk/resources/Odysseos+ISA+2008+Against+Ethics.pdf
In The Concept of the Political Schmitt had already indicted the increased usage of the terminology of ‘humanity’ by both theorists and institutional actors such as the League of Nations (1996a). His initial critique allows us to illuminate four distinct criticisms against contemporary world politics’ ethical recourse to the discourse of humanity (cf. Odysseos 2007b). The first objection arises from the location of this discourse in the liberal universe of values. By using the discourse of humanity, the project of a universal ethics reverberates with the nineteenth century ‘ringing proclamations of disinterested liberal principle’ (Gowan 2003: 53) through which ‘liberalism quite successfully conceals its politics, which is the politics of getting rid of politics’ (Dyzenhaus 1998: 14). For Schmitt, the focus of liberal modernity on moral questions aims to ignore or surpass questions of conflict altogether: it is therefore ‘the battle against the political - as Schmitt defines the political’, in terms of the permanency of social antagonism in politics (Sax 2002: 501). The second criticism argues that ‘humanity is not a political concept, and no political entity corresponds to it. The eighteenth century humanitarian concept of humanity was a polemical denial of the then existing aristocratic feudal system and the privileges accompanying it’ (Schmitt 1996a: 55). Outside of this historical location, where does it find concrete expression but in the politics of a politically neutral ‘international community’ which acts, we are assured, in the interest of humanity? (cf. Blair 1999). The ‘international community is coextensive with humanity…[it] possesses the inherent right to impose its will…and to punish its violation, not because of a treaty, or a pact or a covenant, but because of an international need’, a need which it can only determine as the ‘secularized “church” of “common humanity”’ (Rasch 2003: 137, citing James Brown Scott).2 A third objection, still, has to do with the imposition of particular kind of monism: despite the lip-service to plurality, taken from the market (Kalyvas 1999), ‘liberal pluralism is in fact not in the least pluralist but reveals itself to be an overriding monism, the monism of humanity’ (Rasch 2003: 136). Similarly, current universalist perspectives, while praising ‘customary’ or cultural differences, think of them ‘but as ethical or aesthetic material for a unified polychromatic culture – a new singularity born of a blending and merging of multiple local constituents’ (Brennan 2003: 41). One oft-discussed disciplining effect is that, politically, the ethics of a universal humanity shows little tolerance for what is regarded as ‘intolerant’ politics, which is any politics that moves in opposition to its ideals, rendering political opposition to it illegitimate (Rasch 2003: 136). This is compounded by the fact that liberal ethical discourses are also defined by a claim to their own exception and superiority. They naturalise the historical origins of liberal societies, which are no longer regarded as ‘contingently established and historically conditioned forms of organization’; rather, they ‘become the universal standard against which other societies are judged. Those found wanting are banished, as outlaws, from the civilized world. Ironically, one of the signs of their outlaw status is their insistence on autonomy, on sovereignty’ (ibid.: 141; cf. Donnelly 1998).
Share with your friends: