Lo sguardo di Giano: Saggi su Carl Schmitt (Italian Edition)

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Preparing the necessary virtue. Thinking under the conjuncture. Waiting in active waiting. It is not there, or rather, it is there but under the form of a void that must be filled. And it will only be filled if an encounter were to happen that cannot be anticipated, only desired. A political act is always an absolute beginning because its event is aleatory. Althusser and his friends are therefore preparing themselves to take on the role of the New Prince, which they understand can only happen from within the Party.

The Party is seen as a necessary part of the conjuncture, as a necessary part of political virtue, but also as a necessary part of historical Fortune. In the name of a political objective, which is no longer, for Althusser and his friends, the constitution of a lasting national State, but rather the constitution of the state of communism. But the absolute solitude of the Prince can hardly be translated to the solitude of the Party. Althusser has of course denied that Machiavelli must be understood as a democratic republican, and even more so that he has any secret or esoteric intentions.

Everything is out in the open if one cares to understand The Prince in the context of the Discourses. What is at stake is the creation of a new political space, a lasting national Italian space, without tyranny, with laws that can protect the people. Against whom? Not just against foreign agents, but particularly against the grossi, the dominant class. The dominant class is characterized by its desire to command, by its desire to oppress. And, finally, is the question of spatial ontology, as put by Schmitt, an eminently geographical question?

Space If Schmitts declared faith in the foundational act of land signification and appropriation dwelling? Space and place exist, in fact, in a tense relationship in Schmitts imagined political geographies. Space for Schmitt is, at once, a fundamental measure of the world and something out there; the potential realm of the political, grounded by a specific, historically determined spatial ordering: the constitutive process of a land-appropriation is found at the beginning of the history of every settled people, every commonwealth, every empire.

This is true as well for the beginning of every historical epoch. It constitutes the original spatial order ing , the source of all further concrete order and all further law. These categories, for Schmitt, are eminently of a spatialpolitical kind: all [. This original act is the nomos [. This is the sense in which the nomos of the Earth is spoken of here.

According to Carlo Galli , Schmitt, with this move, attempts to convert nature into politics via the spatialisation of a fundamentally ontological act. Within this perspective, the nomos is the fundamental geographical act that translates into land appropriation, but also into land partition, denomination, delimitation, measurement. Space is here intended, at the same time, as a sort of original measure, as a theory, as a way of theorising real or presumed terrestrial connections, as a set of ideas and practices, as a process of ordering but also as a thing, out there, waiting to be ordered.

This supposed spatial ontology is thus immediately performative. Act and meaning, location and order, come together and become the same thing. According to Schmitt, no norm is applicable to chaos. To obtain juridical- political order, a normal situation must first be created. And yet any such order is senseless without territorial grounding, and without the spatio- political meaning conferred by such grounding.

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The occupation and denomination of land can thus be seen as a spatial ontological gesture from which all rights emanate, and within which space and right, order and its localisation, come together. Schmitts theory of exception is therefore premised upon the recognition of the necessity of a fundamental spatial measure of the Earth of a spatial theory starting from which both order and the suspension of order gain meaning Schmitt 46; see also Minca This is an eminently geographical preoccupation, needless to say: the search for a spatial measure of the Earth, a measure which, at a certain point in time, came to be termed geographical space see Farinelli So too is the attempt at the definition of some sort of territorial order.


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In this sense, Cavalletti is correct in saying that Schmitts spatial thinking reflects in many ways the ontologies of the Ratzelian project and, to some extent, of all modern geography. A certain geographical tradition is, indeed, closely entangled with Schmitts theorisation of the nomos, as these two citations 86 highlight: No sooner had the form [Gestalt] of the Earth emerged as a real globe [Globus]not just sensed as myth, but apprehensible as fact and measur - able as spacethen there arose a wholly new and hitherto unimaginable problem: the spatial ordering of the entire Earth [Erdenballes] in terms of international law.

The new global image [globale Raumbild] required a new global spatial order. This was the situation resulting from the circumnavigation of the Earth and the great discoveries of the 15 th and 16 th centuries. Stuart Elden, however, is overtly critical of the relationship that Schmitt seems to establish between his ideas of space and his concept of territory, between spatial theory and the concrete that is, place-based nature of their production and implementation.

According to Elden, in establishing a primitive relation between Ortung and Ordnung Schmitt adopts an understanding of territory that is far too static, and seemingly ahistorical. For Schmitt, he argues, territory [.

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Elden goes a long way in showing how Schmitts use of territory is often confused and sometimes conflated with other terms and concepts, like that of land, soil and even space And this is particularly true when the very concept of Groraum is evoked by the German theorist Schmitt , ; see also Elden ; Ruschi I do not have the space here to expand on this.

However, it is important to note that this preoccupation for the nature of Schmitts supposed spatial ontology is also at the core of Rowans own criticism of the way in which mainstream literature has received his conceptualisations of space. Rowan in this book argues that the Schmittian nomos has the structure of a founding rupture and contains a tension between ontological indeterminacy and contingent attempts to establish order, a moment of constituent power and a moment of constituted power.

In his view, Schmitt proposes two sides to the concept of nomos. In the first interpretation, it is the original spatial order, the source of all further concrete order and all further law Schmitt 48 ; in the second, nomos indicates the foundational acts of land appropriation that establish such a relationship between order and space and make order possible Rowan, in this book.

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Nomos is therefore a concept that has clearly distinguishable elements: foundational acts and institutional structures, as well as moments of constituent and constituted power. For Schmitt, therefore, any nomos of the Earth owes its foundations and its norms to the exceptional act of land appropriation. In The Nomos of the Earth acts of land appropriation simultaneously introduce a rupture into the existing state of affairs and lay the foundation for a new spatial order Rowan, in this book.

As Rowan rightly points out, there is nothing inherent to space that allows it to act as a ground for order: rather, space and order are simultaneously produced through subjective political acts, that is, through acts of grounding that fuse space and order in a new relation. The understanding of space as a stable, objective and extra-political ground for order implicit within some recent geopolitical readings of Schmitt is therefore a poor rendition of the much more complex relationship that Schmitt traces between space and constituent power in the foundational act of land appropriation Rowan, in this book.

This is an important point. However, since the nomos of the land is not universal, Galli wonders how we can conceive the possibility of overlapping, differentiated, co-existing, spatial ontologies together with the question of global order ing so central to Schmitts geo-political preoccupations see also Mouffe ; b; Petito Mitchell Dean has noted that in a recent extension of this notion of nomos, Giorgio Agamben has added nativity, with its etymological affinity with nation, as a third term in the modern nomos of the nation-state: For Agamben, it is along the axis of birth, citizenship and life that the nation-state is today being thrown into crisis.

In so doing argues Dean Agamben ignores the overall fundamental framework in which the terrestrial character of nomos is located by producing an account that focuses on the spatial manifestations of the disqualification of citizenship rights as a condition of a failing territorial national sovereignty. Agamben thus links the exception concludes Dean with the territoriality of the taking of land, of land appropriation: While this is a striking critical gesture, its cost is to so enclose the nomos in the camp as to render the struggles over the rest of the planet and international law scarcely intelligible I only partially agree with these considerations.

However, what matters for the argument of this essay is that the link between Schmitts and Agambens conceptualisations of the sovereign exception can be conceived as a form of original spatialisation that is, also, a form of spatial ontology. In his analysis of the constitution of the sovereign exception, Agamben is indeed heavily albeit critically reliant on Schmitt and insists on the spatialisation of the exception as the fundamental condition of the sovereign subject. It is a genuine space of exception that the sovereign act of land appropriation and delimitation produces, via a strategy of inclusive exclusion Agamben If this link is a valid path to the question of spatial ontology in Schmitt, then two issues deserve further investigation: first, the Schmittian call for an existentialist and essentialist recovering of the Land and the Sea as fundamental elements of human and political life; and, second, the question of the void that the crisis of the nation- state reveals at the core of the political, stripped as it is of a supposed ontological link to the nomos of the Earth.

Land and Sea In Land and Sea, Schmitt is explicit about the terrestrial foundation of any form of civilisation and even of human life: Man is a terrestrial being, a being that treads the land. Man stands and walks on solid land. It is the land that provides his location and determines his point of view, his impressions and his way of living in the world. From the land where he is born and across which he travels, he inherits his horizons, his appearance, and his way of moving.

Are we sons of the land or of the sea?

Carl Schmitt (Sebastián Abad)

A first problem here is that he does not always make a clear distinction between Earth and land, or even between Earth and world, as other philosophers of his day had done. For Schmitt, it seems that before the first fundamental spatial act on the part of Man there was only pure nature no physis ante nomos. According to Agamben, however, world and Earth though opposed in an essential conflict are never separable, as argued by Heidegger: the Earth is the spontaneous emerging toward nothing of that which con - stantly closes itself and thus saves itself.

World and Earth are essentially different from one another and yet are never separated. The world ground itself on the Earth, and Earth juts through world. He was the last to believe at least up to a certain point, and not without doubts and contradictions that the anthropological machine, which each time decides upon and recomposes the conflict between man and animal [.

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Agamben 74 Schmitt, however, while showing a strong proclivity for grand and millenarian considerations, never really problematised the distinction between these two terms, using them in distinct but at the same time often confused ways. In fact, if Land and Sea is where Schmitt rediscovers, through the adoption of a rather popular populist? According to Franco Volpi , in Schmitt, the elementary and the arcane coincide in a realm of obscure power and all his spatial thinking seems to be driven by this dual dimension.

Arguably, there was a third monster, beyond Leviathan and Behemoth, that troubled Schmitt, and that he explicitly mentions in his private correspondence with Ernst Junger: the monster bird Ziz, the king of all winged beings. Ziz is the sovereign of the new global space that has started a new planetary revolution in the kingdom of the air. Furthermore, if history was moving towards the formation of greater spaces exceeding the territory of the State, one key question for Schmitt was which political and juridical order would be able to secure peace in the new situation.

Troubled as he was by the collapse of the ius publicum europeum, Schmitt seemed to be terrified by the opening up of an empty space in the midst of global politics, a kind of emptiness that he perceived as an ontological void. And it is at this point that he turned his attention to the power of the elements as expressed in Land and Sea , since in his millennial vision of history they represented an original and fundamental source of power and legitimacy; again, a spatial ontology of sorts.

All his following speculations on the spatial concepts of Groraum, Reich and, finally, Nomos are, in a sense, tributaries of this ontological turn to the fundamental elements of life Volpi The initial statement about the fundamental act of appropriation and apportion of the land in Nomos of the Earth should also be read in this light.

I will return to this mystical element in Schmitts work in the closing remarks, after a brief reflection on how this geography of the origin, this original spatialisation, was translated into spatial theory and biopolitics. The original spatialisation I would like to come back, once again, to Schmitts opening sentence: there are no political ideas without a spatial referent, just as there are no spaces or spatial principles without corresponding political ideas.

In reflecting on this sentence, Cavalletti suggests that if every spatial concept is a political concept then the conception of an original temporality should also be understood as a specific concrete situation of power.

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Any political perspective capable of moving beyond this political-spatial relation, insists Cavalletti, will thus be accessible only via a history of space conceived, at the same time, as a history of power. On the contrary, Schmitts main concern was that of being able to think of the political in the light of the deep breach that the modern nation-state had opened at its very core, a core that he saw as dangerously empty and that he desperately attempted to imbue with a distinct Christian ontology.

According to Cavalletti, again, if every spatial concept is necessarily political and vice versa, the concept of population as it was developed from the eighteenth century onwards is also a spatiopolitical concept and can be conceived as a sort of positive intensity capable of drawing a peculiar amity line Cavalletti This is an important consideration for my investigation of the question of spatial ontology.

For Cavalletti, in this new concept of population, which will be entirely adopted by Schmitt, each and every relation between population and the environment became possible only with a primary spatialisation of the human species This primary spatialisation, in fact, produces an understanding of the human that is immediately political, since based on a calculative concept, that of population, which defines an endless series of caesurae in the body politic by identifying the right, just, or necessary shape of the population In other words, as soon as it appears as a scientific concept, the human species is already divided into a part that is necessary and a part that is not necessary in order to produce and reproduce the spatialised population of a State Ratzels biogeographies and, in particular, his idea of lebensraum, were particularly important in translating this concept of population at the very beginning of the twentieth century into a robust geographical theory that would influence directly or indirectly the work of many political theorists and spatial demographers in the following decades Ratzel Cavalletti is adamant about this influence: from this moment on any relation between population and territory loses its traditional geographical meaning, to become a sort of geo-biopolitics: space becomes vital and life becomes spatial, in an intensive way [.

Schmitts concern for the political in a brave new world deprived of a political theology is thus addressed towards the conceptualisation of the friendfoe relationship as a form of primary spatialisation, with the consequence, according to Cavalletti, of translating demography into an essential spatialised politics, that is, into biopolitics The unity of the German people, as envisaged by Schmitt, was then conceived as a spatial organism capable of expanding or shrinking while keeping the same demographic intensity.

A key objective of this project was the perfect coincidence between people and population in a unified, endlessly perfectable, biopolitical space see Giaccaria and Minca, forthcoming. The essential relationship between friend and foe is thus a spatio- ontological one, since it is based on a supposed primary spatialisation that defined, once and forever, the true body politic in fieri and the very human essence, the definitive de-animalisation of the German Volk see Giaccaria and Minca, forthcoming. The political, as the result of the co-implication of life and space, is thus where the ontological nature of this spatialisation emerges in all its evidence.

It is not by chance that Schmitt defined also the friend and not only the foe in biopolitical terms, through a direct implication of life and death: in case of need, the political entity must demand the sacrifice of life Schmitt []: 71; on this issue see also Axtmann ; Botwinick ; Rasch ; Slomp For Schmitt, the primary spatialisation at the origin of the friendfoe relationship is thus a natural human condition; it is what precedes any form of civilised and political life; it is a fundamental act of the humanisation of the human or of certain humans.

This explains why Schmitt was convinced that any political theory was also a sort of anthropology. He identified, in fact, two fundamental anthropological-political visions, from which all other political theories should derive: one that believed that humans were naturally good, and the other that considered them essentially bad and prone to violence Cavalletti Affirming such a radical distinction was nothing but an attempt to establish a philosophical and political anthropology capable of qualifying the friendfoe relationship as an essential constitution of Man: a definitely Hobbesian understanding of human political?

Agambens reflection on the nature of anthropogenesis is of some use at this point: Anthropogenesis is what results from the caesura and articulation between human and animal. Amanda Minervini Translation. First published in Italian in and appearing here in English for the first time, Janus's Gaze is the culmination of Carlo Galli's ongoing critique of the work of Carl Schmitt. Galli argues that Schmitt's main accomplishment, as well as the thread that unifies his oeuvre, is his construction of a genealogy of the modern that explains how modernity's compulsory drive to First published in Italian in and appearing here in English for the first time, Janus's Gaze is the culmination of Carlo Galli's ongoing critique of the work of Carl Schmitt.

Galli argues that Schmitt's main accomplishment, as well as the thread that unifies his oeuvre, is his construction of a genealogy of the modern that explains how modernity's compulsory drive to achieve order is both necessary and impossible. Galli addresses five key problems in Schmitt's thought: his relation to the state, the significance of his concept of political theology, his readings of Machiavelli and Spinoza, his relation to Leo Strauss, and his relevance for contemporary political theory.

Adam Sitze provides an illuminating introduction to Schmitt and Galli's reading of him. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Other Editions 4. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Janus's Gaze , please sign up.

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