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Schmitt says the pole of Amity is critical to understanding political units. Friends are as important as enemies for Schmitt



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Schmitt says the pole of Amity is critical to understanding political units. Friends are as important as enemies for Schmitt


Zarmanian, University of Milan, ‘6 [Thalin, “Carl Schmitt and the Problem of Legal Order: From Domestic to International”, Leiden Journal of International Law, 19 (2006), pp. 41–67]
Later, 46 Schmitt lamented that interpreters of his definition of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’ had paid too much attention to the pole of enmity and not enough to the pole of amity. The definition of ‘amity’ is, in fact, a key point in understanding Schmitt’s definition of the political and of its implications for legal order. In an extreme conflict, the political necessarily entails an extreme grade of association as well. Since conflict is assumed to be possible within every field of human endeavour – morals, religion, economics – and can lead to physical struggle, saying that the sovereign is the one who decides about the distinction between friend and enemy means, first of all, that it is he who can make sure that all the other conflicts do not give rise to the critical case. Whoever is able to make a decision about the political capable of inducing individuals on one hand to give up the use of violence against each other and on the other hand to risk their life to defend it is the sovereign. By contrast, if the sovereign is incapable of preventing conflicts within the group from reaching the critical case, the group ceases to be a political unit, and either chaos ensues or new political units arise. A political unit is, therefore, a group which has already overcome the critical case within itself and has therefore already established a concrete order within itself.

This is the point where the political and the juridical converge. In order to neutralize internal political conflicts, obtaining that they give up armed conflict, the sovereign’s decision must guarantee all parties. This guarantee function is the essence of legal order as a concrete order – ‘concrete’ meaning depending on a preexistent, given, empirical context – and the measure of the risks and responsibilities that the sovereign must take in order to be legitimate. Schmitt clarified this view in a later work, U¨ ber die drei Arten des rechtswissenschaftliches Denken,47 and definitely in Der Nomos der Erde,48 in which he refined his decisionism, and put the concrete order, instead of the decision per se, at the centre of his legal thought. By taking a decision that can avoid a conflict within the group without creating another one capable of bringing its members to the critical case, the sovereign respects the asset of power and interest which is necessarily pre-existent in the political unit, but gives it a legal form. That is, the sovereign renders conflicts capable of mediation and non-violent adjudication. The particular shape of a legal order, in which the lawfulness of the sovereign’s decision lies, consists, therefore, in its respecting (or establishing) such a concrete order. A norm, a decision, or a behaviour is legitimate to the extent that it is in accordance with the pre-existing concrete social order or to the extent that it brings a pre-existent asset of power and interest to a concrete order through a creative action which is able to neutralize conflicts as they arise.



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