The Status of the Enemy is fundamental to the human condition
Prozorov in 6 /Professor of International Relations at Petrozavodsk State University, Russia/
[Sergei, “Liberal Enmity: The Figure of the Foe in the Political Ontology of Liberalism”, Millennium - Journal of International Studies]
While these modalities of enmity are historically contingent, what remains necessary is the act of distinction as such, whatever form it takes. If one must accuse Schmitt of something, it should not be essentialism but rather an idiosyncratic form of transcendentalism, which seeks to negate the absolutisation of immanence in modern political metaphysics by positing as foundational the act of exceptional decision, and which by definition may not be subsumed under the self-immanence of order.19 With respect to the question of enmity, this moment of eruption of transcendence within immanence is offered by what Schmitt terms the ‘most extreme possibility’,20 the ‘real possibility of physical killing’21 that arises in every encounter with the Other, whose singularity cannot be subsumed under the immanence of the Same. It is the very existence of radical alterity that poses an ever-present possibility of killing or being killed, which in turn calls for a decision, in each concrete sense, on whether the Other is the enemy: ‘it is sufficient for his [enemy’s] nature that he is, in a specially intense way, existentially something different and alien, so that in the extreme case conflicts with him are possible’.22 What makes Schmitt’s thought disconcertingly original is this singular move of grounding a political order in the affirmation of the ever-present possibility of violent death rather than its disavowal of the kind practised by the contractarian political philosophy – in this aspect, Schmitt is best grasped as the diametrical opposite of Hobbes.23 Thus, the enemy is neither an unproblematic empirical given nor a contingent effect of a belligerent fantasy, done away with through the global progress of cosmopolitanism. Enmity as such is a perennial feature of the human condition, being, in its transcendental function, nothing more than a vigilant receptivity to the existence of the Other.24 However, the concrete form that relations of enmity take is historically variable and dependent on the distinction at work at concrete historical moments. Ironically, yet another misreading of Schmitt, particularly evident in today’s discussion, consists precisely in attributing to him a highly intense and violent construct of enmity.
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