Saturday, March 26, 2011

The crisis in Arab states: the political, the social, and judiciary

by M. Ulric Killion


Rebel fighters gather in Ajdabiyah, Libya, where the battle against Gaddafi forces continues. Yuri Kozyrev / Noor for TIME. Even Under Allied Air Bombardment, Gaddafi Forces Outgun Rebels, by Abigail Hauslohnner/Benghazi, TIME, Mar 23, 201.

1. Growing Crises

The ongoing crises in Arab states serve as a reminder of a recent re-reading of an earlier translation by J. Harvey Lomax of Leo Strauss’ Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political (1932). Despite the earlier publication date and a period corresponding to an interwar period (1918-1939), especially a distinctive interwar period of Germany and German legal theory or scholarship, the insights of both Strauss and Schmitt as set forth in this earlier writing continue to enjoy relevancy for the modern era.  (“Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political”. (English trans. by J. Harvey Lomax of “Anmerkungen zu Carl Schmitt”, 1932.) In Heinrich Meier, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue, trans. J. Harvey Lomax. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995. Reprinted in Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, ed. and trans. George Schwab. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996, 2007).

This includes a modern relevance that extends to the onset of a new decade that is distinctively, demonstrating a growing discontent by citizens of several Arab nations; from Egypt to Yemen, and other Arab states. The Middle East, or more particularly, many Arab states are struggling with potential political upheavals that challenge the political, old institutional arrangements, and even the culture and/or ideational meanings that vested these institutional arrangements.

A case in point is a recent article written by Dr. Darius Jahanian (The first declaration of human rights in Ancient Persia, Tehran Times, February 24, 2011). In this brief writing, and in the context of Arab culture and ideations, he is essentially describing the origin of human rights. For instance, on October 4th, 539 BC, as Dr. Jahanian (2011) explained, the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, issued the first declaration of human rights in Ancient Persia. When describing the origin of the first declaration of human rights, he further writes,

One of the significant events in ancient history is the conquest of Babylon by the Persian king, Cyrus the Great. On October 4th, 539 BC, the Persian Army entered the city of Babylon, which was then the capital of the Babylonian state (in central Iraq). This was a bloodless campaign and no prisoners were taken. Later, on November 9th, King Cyrus of Persia visited the city. Babylonian history tells us that Cyrus was greeted by the people, who spread a pathway of green twigs before him as a sign of honor and peace. Cyrus greeted all Babylonians in peace and brought peace to their city.

On this great event, Cyrus issued a declaration, inscribed on a clay barrel known as Cyrus’s inscription cylinder. It was discovered in 1879 by Hormoz Rassam in Babylon and today is kept in the British Museum. Many historians have reviewed it as the first declaration of human rights.

The Babylonian annals, as well as the first section of the Cyrus’ inscription, shed light on the religiopolitical plight that had angered the people of Babylon and why they invited Cyrus’s military campaign. Evidently, the Babylonian king, Nabonidus, eliminated the festival of the New Year and Nebo (one of the gods) was not brought into the city, and Bel (another god) was not taken in the procession of the festival. Also, the worship of Marduk, the king of the gods, was changed to an abomination and Nabonidus tormented the inhabitants with unbelievable oppression and forced labor. . . .

On this historical turning point, by order of Cyrus, all the captive nationalities held as slaves for generations in Babylon were freed and the return to their homeland was financed. Among the liberated captives were 50,000 Jews held in Babylon for three generations whose return toward the rebuilding of their temple in Palestine, a policy that was followed by Darius and his successors. Some of the liberated Jews were invited to and did settle in Persia. Because of such a generous act, Cyrus has been anointed in the Bible. He is the only gentile in the Bible, who has been titled Messiah, an is mentioned explicitly as the Lord’s shepherd and his anointed (Messiah). Other references to Cyrus are attested in Isaiah where Cyrus is called by name and given a title of honor; he is also called to rebuild the God’s city and free His people and is chosen, called and brought successful by God.

What took place after the victory in Babylon was contrary to the standard of the time. . . . (Jahanian, 2011).

Jahanian’s brief writing, at least in the context of Arab culture, presents a clear example of the culture relative or even clear example of the variety of cultural or ideational meanings that associate with institutional arrangements.

In terms of the pending crises, however, presenting a distinguishable feature of the crises, the fact of Arab culture alone appears not to delimit the geographical and ideological boundaries of potential crises. Thus, it is actually the problem of a crisis that may potentially transcend the geographical and ideological boundaries of an Arab world.

The obvious result, as a potential challenge to Western presumed social goods such as democracy and liberalism, are growing crises that might engender corresponding crises in what characterizes the larger community of what Alfred Sauvy characterizes as a “Third World”, or even his reconceptualization of  Abbé Sieyès’s third estate (tiers monde), which is from Sieyès classic What is the Third Estate (Qu’est-ce que le tiers-état?, 1789). More importantly,  in a modern context, this larger community or modern third estate characterizes the economically, underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America.

In the 1950s, Sauvy, though a disputed issue, is generally credited with earlier coining the phrase “Third World”. When describing the origin of the term “Third World” and the controversy surrounding Sauvy as its originator, Leslie Wolf-Phillips wrote:

The first matter to be settled by the discussion was the origin of the term ‘Third World’. I had suggested that it appeared to have originated with Alfred Sauvy in 1952, but Worsley brushed this aside: ‘In the second edition of my The Third World (1967), I pointed out (p 302) that Claude Bourdet had used the term at least as early as April 1949 (citing John T Marcus’ Neutralism and Nationalism in France. New York: Bookman Associates, 1958, p 33). Hence, Mr Wolf-Phillips’ statement that Alfred Sauvy ‘coined’ the term in 1952 is incorrect. Who actually first coined and used it might be discoverable in Paris.’ Muni did not contest the attribution to Sauvy, but Joseph Love firmly supports it: ‘Alfred Sauvy, the French demographer and economic historian, did coin the term “Third World”. Contrary to the assertions in Peter Worsley’s article . .. John Marcus ... does not say that Claude Bourdet originated the phrase, nor does Worsley himself even say this in the second edition of his The Third World. . . Love gives the source of the term as in an article ‘Trois Mondes, une planete’ in L’Observateur (Paris) 14 August 1952, and draws attention to the book published by Sauvy’s colleagues at the Institut National des Etudes Demographiques in 1956-Le Tiers Monde: Sous-developpement et developpement—which is dedicated to Sauvy and which credits Sauvy with introducing the term ‘Third World’ (p 369). My own investigations since the 1979-80 Third World Quarterly series of articles support the original attribution to Sauvy and the exact dating by Love. (Leslie Wolf-Phillips, Why ‘Third World’?: Origin, Definition and Usage, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Oct., 1987), pp. 1311-1327).

Despite this controversy, most generally recognize Sauvy as coining the phrase, the “Third Word”. He did so when alluding to the people of the “Third Estate” or, as generally known during the French Revolution, the commoners. In his article ‘Trois Mondes, une planete’ in L’Observateur (Paris, 1952), Sauvy concluded by exclaiming, “ enfin, ce Tiers Monde ignoré, exploité, méprisé comme le Tiers Etat, veut lui aussi, être quelque chose” [“...because at the end this ignored, exploited, scorned Third World like the Third Estate, wants to become something too”].

During the French Revolution, these commoners notably rebelled against both the priests of the First Estate and the nobles of the Second Estate. When so alluding to these commoners (or the Third Estate), Sauvy was essentially calling on the newly independent, impoverished former colonies of the world to stand up and assert their own distinctive identities.

According to Sauvy, as previously mentioned, “Like the third estate, the Third World is nothing, and wants to be something.” (Ho Kwon Ping, The silent revolution in my backyard, The Straits Times, p. A26, January 19, 2011). For many, at the 1995-Bandung Conference, Sauvy’s analogy of the third estates and former colonies, thus, his conceptualization of a Third World, would later serve as a rallying cry that results in the creation of an Afro-Asian alliance of the non-aligned (i.e., Non-Aligned Movement, NAM) (Joelien Pretorius, Non-alignment in the current world order: the impact of the rise of China, Strategic Review for Southern Africa (May 2008)).

The Non-Alignment Movement or the NAM, as Joelien Pretorius (2008) explained, seeks to challenge Western ideals and materialism. Pretorius (2008) described this “spirit of Bandung” or “non-alignment” as follows.

NAM’s priorities may have changed as global discourses, such as those characterising the Cold War era, evolved, but its purpose has largely stayed the same. This purpose is traced back to the Bandung Conference, which seeded the spirit of non-alignment among African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries and, subsequently, other ‘Third World’ countries more generally that grappled with fitting into world affairs whilst maintaining autonomy. The concept ‘Third World’ is important to form an understanding of what is meant by the ‘spirit of Bandung’ or non-alignment, which informed the Belgrade Conference in 1961 where NAM was formed. The concept ‘Third World’ has both a materialistic and an ideational/cultural meaning. In materialistic terms, Marc argues that “if the affluent industrial countries of the modern world are grouped into those of the ‘West’ and those of the ‘East’, ... then the poor countries constitute a ‘Third World’ whose small command over resources distinguishes them from both”. (8)

The ideational/cultural meaning of the term “stressed the importance of the formation of a Third World consciousness, formed by common ideas, and an awareness of a common history, in relation to the West. Thus, in some accounts the Third World has existed because it provided an identity that was important to those both inside and outside its borders” (9) (Pretorius, 2008).

For Pretorius (2008), the Non-Alignment Movement also continues to enjoy a modern relevancy. “NAM’s priorities may have changed as global discourses, such as those characterising the Cold War era, evolved, but its purpose has largely stayed the same. This purpose is traced back to the Bandung Conference, which seeded the spirit of non-alignment among African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries and, subsequently, other  ‘Third World’ countries more generally that grappled with fitting into world affairs whilst maintaining autonomy” (Pretorius, 2008).

Consequently, as Pretorius (2008)  still recently maintains, the “NAM’s pursuit of self-determination and independent national development still justifies the movement’s existence despite the end of the Cold War, although its agenda has been adapted according to evolving interpretations of the post-Cold War order”. Such as the new challenges that associate with what many perceive as US hegemony, the processes of globalisation, and even the rise of modern China.

In a post-Cold War era, the citizens of the world are now facing old problems with new names, but under new conditions. This is the problem of growing crises, as earlier mentioned, that may potentially transcend the geographical and ideological boundaries of an Arab world; from Egypt to Yemen, and other Arab and non-Arab states.

For example, notwithstanding a continuing challenge to Western presumed social goods, in China there is a call by “jasmine organizers” for rallies every Sunday, HRIC | 中国人权 - Jasmine Organizers Call for Rallies Every Sunday / 茉莉花组织者呼吁周日再集会, February 22, 2011). There is also the potential, though remote possibility, for similar protests in North Korea (Can the Jasmine Revolution spread to N. Korea?, The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition), February 25, 2011).

2. The Political

Leo Strauss (1932) goes to the heart of Carl Schmitt’s project when he writes:

The treatise by Schmitt serves the question of the “order of the human things” (95), that is, the question of the state. In view of the fact that in the present age the state has become more questionable than it has been for centuries or more (23 f.), understanding the state requires a radical foundation, “a simple and elementary presentation” of what the basis of the state is, which means the basis of the political; for “the concept of the state presupposes the concept of the political” (Der Begrff des Politischen. Mit einer Rede iiber das Zeitalter der Neutralisierungen und Entpolitisierungen neu herawgegeben von Carl Schmitt (Munich and Leipzig, 1932).

When summarizing the thoughts of Schmitt, as Strauss (1932) explained, “the political precedes the state”. Schmitt after considering the state in a historical context, especially in the context of Western culture and civilization, eventually reinterprets or redefines the classical meaning of the state.

Schmitt, however, distinguishably appears to maintain, as closely as practicable, an allegiance to the classical theory of the state or keeping faith with its basic tenets, while also challenging other relatively, modern interpretations of the classical theory. For instance, one could reasonably conclude that Schmitt’s theoretizations challenge the notion or meaning of the state as manifests in the writing of the French jurist and public law (le droit public) specialist Léon Duguit.

In his classic Law in the Modern State (1919) (Léon Duguit, Les Transformations du Droit Public (University of Michigan Library; Paris, 1913)), Duguit characterized the problem of the French Revolution as being attributable to the abstraction of the nation or state as a person that possesses a subjective right in the power to command, which is the classical concept (or theory) of sovereignty. He perceived this abstraction as problematic, however. This is because the classical concept or theory had rendered the personality subordinate to both the organized state and its public law (i.e., the Staatsrecht of the Germans).

Duguit also subscribed to a contagion effect of what he deems the dogma of the French Revolution, the principle of national sovereignty, or simply, the myth of national sovereignty. The dogma of the French Revolution had overturned the foundations of old monarchical Europe and inspired every political constitution of constitution-writing nations throughout the modern world.

Harold J. Laski, in his introduction to Law in the Modern State, described Duguit’s work, as especially concerning his challenge or opposition to the classic theory of the state or sovereignty, as a magistral protest. In opposition to Duguit’s thesis, however, there has always been the classical theory of the state, which generally holds that there must be some unchallengeable source of public authority or power, lest citizens will be without an effective guarantee of public order.

Nonetheless, Duguit, in his sociology of law approach, and even seemingly, though surprisingly, political rather then juristic argument, especially the problematic potential denial of the existence of rights, still urged that a useful theory of the state can only built upon the lone fact of social interdependence. From the relationships of this social interdependence, he further hypothesized a system of duties for each actor, person or individual relative to his/her respective function or functions.

In this particular respect, notwithstanding similarities to Schmitt’s decisionism, Strauss also reminds us of the critical importance of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1946) to Schmitt’s theoretizations. This is because, in this context, Schmitt’s conceptualization of the political, though for many veiled amidst theorizations concerning his decisionism or decisionistic theory, is actually addressing the critical problem of social order.

Alternatively stated, Strauss, though unintentionally, is reminding us of the classical problem of society stemming from the Hobbesian problem of order (i.e., how to create a stable social order) (Hobbes, 1946). In this respect, Strauss also reveals the critical importance of Hobbes’s Leviathan, and its attendant issues of both the political and power, to Schmitt’s theoretizations (i.e., his decisionism or decisionistic theory).

There is also the issue of political turmoil, especially in the form of force or violence, as a means of democracy promotion. The contagion effect of what occurred in the Middle East begs the question of whether we are witnessing democracy in action, or simply, “mob rule” or “mobocracy “(See cf., M. Ulric Killion, Democracy on Trial: From Kyrgyzstan and “Mobocracy”, to China and “Proletariat Democracy”, April 17, 2010).

Generally speaking, it is difficult to justify “mob rule” as a tool (or means) to promote democracy. Mob rule is problematic for obvious reasons. This is because the concept of “the mob” is contra distinguishable to the ideal of democracy. In modern times, “mob rule” represents the decline rather than fostering of democracy.

The concept of “the mob”, as Jerzy Chlopecki (The Decline of the Democracy. The Mob and its leaders, Thought, Aug. 24, 2009) explained, “was introduced into the social science by Hannah Arendt. It was exactly the mob that constituted the social basis for fascism.”

Arendt’s definition or understanding of concept of “the mob” clearly challenges the idea of a modern “mob” (i.e., “the mob”) being capable of actually promoting democracy. . . .

“The mob needs an enemy to hate somebody. The mob rejects also an acknowledged and legitimate authority clearing the ground for a demagogue to appear.”

For these reasons and other reasons set forth in his short writing, Chlopecki, after first characterizing “mob rule” as “mobocracy”, contends, “The mobocracy does not derive from democracy itself, but from its decline” (Killion, 2010).

Additionally, there are, admittedly, contra distinguishable positions to this notion of “mob rule” or “mobocracy” constituting the decline rather than fostering of democracy.

In terms of the history of Western democracy or liberal democracy, there are, actually, many instances of political turmoil, in the form of force or violence, serving as a means of democracy promotion. This is because, as Larry Catá Backer, succinctly observed,

Yet the mob has played a role in democratic politics in any number of ages.  From the politics of the late Roman Republic and the deployment of the mob controlled by Publius Clodius Pulcher to mass democracy and its colored revolutions. In its rightist forms it might even be said to color the current political activities of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement in the United States (See Larry Catá Backer, Form and Function in Constitutionalism--Diverse Perspectives on the Kyrgyzstan Experience. Law at the End of the Day, June 6, 2010; discussing the Decree of the Provisional Government of the Kyrgyz Republic on the Referendum (Nation wide vote) on adoption of the New Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic and Draft Constitution.).

Moreover, notwithstanding issue of whether political turmoil, in the form of force or violence, represents democracy in action, in the aftermath of political turmoil there are seemingly universal dilemmas confronting new rulers, which are critical in shaping new regimes. This is because they will ultimately influence the forms and shapes of new institutional arrangements – the political, the social, and judiciary.

3. The Rulers

Then there is the relevancy of Carl Schmitt’s theoretizations to the political turmoil occurring in Arab states; from Egypt to Yemen, and other Arab states, and potentially, non-Arab states (i.e., the call for rallies by jasmine organizers in China, and possibly North Korea). Hubert Rottleuthner demonstrated Schmitt’s continuing relevancy in modern times when addressing an elemental problem confronting new rulers in the aftermath of political upheavals (Hubert Rottleuthner, Legal Positivism and National Socialism: A Contribution to a Theory of Legal Development, Vol. 12, German Law Journal,  No. 1 (2011), pg. 100-114).

In the aftermath of political upheavals, this is the problem, actually, confronting the political, the social, and the judiciary. In this context, and borrowing from David Kennedy’s conceptualization of the social, or arguably perhaps even his Weberian association with the social, the social perhaps more so pertains to legal thought or theory, rather than an exclusive sociological meaning (Duncan Kennedy, The Disenchantment of Logically Formal Legal Rationality, or Max Weber’s Sociology in the Genealogy of the Contemporary Mode of Western Legal Thought, 55 Hastings L.J. 1031 (2004). It seems a truism that the political always stands steadfastly, more autonomous than the both the social and the judiciary.

In regards to the social as a mode of legal thought, as Duncan Kennedy (2004) explained,

The inventors of the “social” include Jhering, Ehrlich, Gierke, Gény, Saleilles, Duguit, Lambert, Josserand, Gounot, Gurvitch, Pound, and Cardozo.2 They had in common with the Marxists that they interpreted the actual regime of the will theory as an epiphenomenon in relation to a “base,” in the case of the Marxists, the capitalist economy, and in the case of the social, “society” conceived as an organism. . . .

Because the will theory was individualist, it ignored interdependence and endorsed particular legal rules that permitted anti-social behavior of many kinds. The crises of the modern factory (industrial accidents) and the urban slum (pauperization), and later the crisis of the financial markets, all derived from the failure of coherently individualist law to respond to the coherently social needs of modern conditions of interdependence. From this “is” analysis, they derived the “ought” of a reform program, one that was astonishingly successful and globalized even more effectively than classical legal thought, through many of the same mechanisms, but also because the social became the ideology of many third-world nationalist elites (Kennedy, 2004).

More importantly, in the face of growing crises in Arab states, it is the practical problem, as succinctly stated by Rottleuthner (2011), of what should be done with the old administrative apparatus, including the social and judicial apparatus, following the upheaval of the political.

Hubert Rottleuthner (2011) succinctly stated the predicament of new rulers as follows:

A fundamental problem for new rulers following political upheavals consists in deciding what should be done with the old administrative apparatus, including the judiciary. Apparently, the promulgation of new norms is not sufficient to convert the old judiciary to the new, politically desired path. Legality may be “the mode of functioning of the governmental machinery” (C. Schmitt) – but only in normal times. New rulers face the dilemma of either taking over the old personnel with their traditional attitudes and loyalties, in order to maintain social order, or to fire the unreliable personnel (which is still somewhat mild), without immediately having a substitute available, which can give rise to more or less significant disturbances of function.

Some might, admittedly, find it objectionable to find an appropriate analogy in the Weimar Republic, especially when considering the plight of new rulers in Arab states. After all, during this earlier period some, such as the German Communist Party, even denounced the Weimar republic as bourgeois and capitalistic. Then there was the threat to the very existence of the Weimar Party by what would become a Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler. Finally, the eventual consolidation of Hitler’s power corresponded with the suspension of the Weimar Constitution and his ascendancy to the both the presidency and a dictatorship, the purging of internal rivals to the Nazi Party, and a modern totalitarian society that came complete with the persecution of both Jews and Christians (Totalitarianism  1920-1939).

Despite such objections, Rottleuthner’s earlier observations still serve as a reminder of the ongoing crises in Arab states.  For example, following a military coup in Egypt, there has been a great deal of anticipation concerning what form or model of government, including judiciary, will prevail.

From a Western perspective, there is not a shortage of pundits prescribing to a theory of the success of democracy or liberal democracy. This is a viewpoint arguably reflecting an ideological longing to buttress earlier theses espousing the surrender of illiberal nations, and their attendant ideologies (i.e., ideational/cultural meanings), to more liberal-oriented ideologies and cultural meanings.

These are the theories, philosophies, and even ideologies, earlier emanating from academics and scholars such as Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, and John Mearsheimer. “After the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, and John Mearsheimer each presented a bold vision of what the driving forces of world politics would be. The world in 2010 hardly seems on a more promising track — a reminder that simple visions, however powerful, do not hold up as reliable predictors of particular developments” (Richard K. Betts, Conflict or Cooperation? Three Visions Revisited, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2010). 

Is it reasonable to suggest that Schmitt’s conceptualization of “the political” is synonymous or even near- synonymous with the “driving force of world politics”?

Richard Betts (2010) writes:

“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slave of some defunct economist,” John Maynard Keynes once wrote. Politicians and pundits view the world through instincts and assumptions rooted in some philosopher’s Big Idea. Some ideas are old and taken for granted throughout society. For most Americans, it is the ideas of the liberal tradition, from John Locke to Woodrow Wilson, that shape their thinking about foreign policy. The sacred concepts of freedom, individualism, and cooperation are so ingrained in U.S. political culture that most people assume them to be the natural order of things, universal values that people everywhere would embrace if given the chance.

In times of change, people wonder more consciously about how the world works. . . . (Betts, 2010).

Rottleuthner (2011), though admittedly unknowingly and only by analogy, presented a practical and pragmatic solution to the previously mentioned predicament of new rulers. There is an obvious drawback to his suggestion, however, especially considering its efficacy.

This is because Rottleleuthner’s opinion concerning the predicament of new rulers, though unknowingly and only by analogy, proffers a solution to a predicament that suffers from the inherent, limitations of cultural and ideational meanings; in particular, Western culture and ideologies. This is a consequence of liberalism or liberal democracy historically, though a problematic consequence, actually prescribing Western liberalism or Western liberal democracy.

When addressing the problem of new rulers, Rottleleuther was specifically focusing on the plight of rulers for the new Weimar Republic (i.e., Weimarer Republik, 1918-1933). In resolving the predicament of new rulers, Rottleleuther observed that the new rulers, at least in the new Weimar Republic, elected to pursue the first alternative. In other words, they decided to simply take control of the entire staff of the imperial judiciary (i.e., Rottleleuthner’s first alternative --“taking over the old personnel with their traditional attitudes and loyalties”).

By doing so, and in terms of a larger picture or even a more macro perspective, various personnel and officials actually demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with the new Weimar Republic. Additionally, in this real reality of the polity, the social, and judiciary, it was cooperation prompted by the need to provide basic necessities for the people (i.e., prevent starvation); prevent civil war or strife; and prevent a victory for the Bolsheviks and occupation by others.  In other words, the real reality rather than ideology was prompting cooperation. This is because, as alternatively explained by Rottleleuther (2011), “No democratic‐republican convictions were behind it.” Moreover, according to Rottleleuther,

In this connection, the history of the Weimar Republic can be reconstructed as one of permanent and unresolved tensions between the legislative and judicial powers. In view of Radbruch’s thesis what is most interesting here is the attitudes of the legal staff. For the empirical analysis of such attitudes, legal sociology has developed a varied set of instruments in recent decades (questionnaires, interviews, content analysis, etc.), especially within the framework of research on the administration of justice, many of which are not readily available in an historical inquiry” (Rottleuthner, 2011). 

4. Liberal Democracy

Then there is the related relevancy, or perhaps even conditionality, of liberalism in enabling rulers to resolve a crisis (i.e., the predicament of new rulers) by practical and pragmatic solutions. Notwithstanding the eventual advent of a modern totalitarian society in Germany, which came complete with the persecution of both Jews and Christians (Totalitarianism 1920-1939). The predicament of new rulers transitioning to the new Weimar Republic and then to government by a Nazi Party led by Hitler present exemplary instances of liberalism enabling the resolution of crisis.

This is because, as Strauss (1932) observed, in an unliberal world Hobbes accomplished the founding of liberalism, while Schmitt in a liberal world undertook its critique. The theoretizations of Schmitt are, of course, distinguishable from those of Hobbes. For instance, there are their distinguishable approaches to the state of nature. “For Hobbes, it is the state of war of individuals; for Schmitt, it is the state of war of groups (especially of nations). For Hobbes, in the state of nature everyone is the enemy of everyone else; for Schmitt, all political behavior is oriented toward friend and enemy” (Strauss, 1932). Lying at the core of their theoretical distinctions is the polemical intention of Hobbes’s definition of the state of nature. Additionally, “Hobbes’s foundation for the natural-right claim to the securing of life pure and simple sets the path to the whole system of human rights in the sense of liberalism. . . .” (Strauss, 1932).

Conversely, Schmitt’s response to the state of nature, Hobbes’s polemical intentions, and Hobbes’s founding of liberalism is the presentation of an unpolemical meaning. In other words, “The position of the political results in the unpolemical description of the political. As such, the position opposes Hobbes’s polemical description of the state of nature” (Strauss, 1932). Strauss wrote:

Schmitt gives the following answer to this question: The political is a basic characteristic of human life; politics in this sense is destiny; therefore man cannot escape politics (36 f., 66f., 76 ff.). The inescapability of the political is displayed in the contradiction in which man necessarily becomes entangled if he attempts to eliminate the political. This effort has a prospect of success if and only if it becomes political; that is, if it is “strong enough to group men into friends and enemies,” if it thus “would be able to drive the pacifists into war against the nonpacifists, into a ‘war against war.’” The war against war will then be undertaken as “the definitively final war of humanity.” Such a war, however, is “necessarily especially intensive and inhuman” because in it the enemy is fought as “an inhuman monster . . . that must be not only fended off but definitively annihilated” (37). But humanity cannot be expected to be especially humane and, therefore, unpolitical after having just put behind it an especially inhumane war.

Nonetheless, and despite Schmitt’s famous, though problematic, friend and enemy categorizations, at the end of the day, Schmitt’s affirmation of the political actually affirms liberalism. This is because, as Strauss (1932) explained, Schmitt’s affirmation of the political eventually proves to be a liberalism, though with an opposite polarity. More importantly, as such, Schmitt’s statement that “the astonishingly consistent . . . systematics of liberal thought” has “still not been replaced in Europe today by any other system” (70) proves to be true (Strauss, 1932).

5. The Conclusion

In the face of political turmoil, all of this arguably presents universal conclusions about the choices of new rulers. There are also the earlier mentioned nuances, which serve to distinguish cultures and ideologies or ideations. As earlier stated, the growing crises, especially in Arab states, present a challenge to Western presumed social goods such as democracy and liberalism. Additionally, these are growing crises occurring in what, more accurately, characterizes the larger community of a Third World or Sauvy’s third estate. This is a larger community of states that characterize the economically, underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America.

This also demonstrates the delimiting force of shared commonalities of Western cultures and societies, such as the inherent limitations of cultural and ideational meanings, including Western liberalism and liberal democracy. Strauss’s earlier observation also begs the question of whether it is still true that liberalism, including its variant forms, has “still not been replaced in Europe today by any other system.” Given the theoretizations of modern academics and scholars (i.e., Fukuyama, Huntington, and Mearsheimer), including urgings for adoption of more liberal, more democratic polities in Arab and non-Arab states, it seems reasonable to suggest that liberalism or a variant form has not been replaced.

Moreover, in Western cultures and societies, these shared commonalities (liberalism and liberal democracy) fostered the peaceful resolution of crises confronting new rulers (i.e., Rottleleuthner’s first alternative --“taking over the old personnel with their traditional attitudes and loyalties”).  Conversely, in the context of non-Western cultures and societies, there historically does not exist a link with the basic tenets of Western liberalism. Thus, the invocation of Western liberalism or liberal democracy into non-Western socio-political scenarios should hardly be conducive to promoting the peaceful resolution of crises confronting new rulers.

In other words, in anticipation of new rulers in Arab states peacefully, electing Western liberalism or liberal democracy in transition, it is difficult to conceive of a peaceful election such as a Rottleleuther-first-alternative. An observation, though sadly, that derives from the earlier mentioned, delimiting force of shared commonalities of Western cultures and societies, such as the inherent limitations of cultural and ideational meanings, including liberalism and liberal democracy. All of this will ultimately affect what form or shape the political, the social, and judiciary will take in the aftermath of political turmoil.

Copyright © Protected – All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2011.

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