Monday, October 16, 2006
Carl Schmitt and the Military Commissions Act of 2006
"Sovereign is he who determines the exception.
Scott Horton: In a very real sense, this election will determine not merely the identity of various representatives to Congress, but the constitutional structure of the American Government going forward.
First, "Bravo!" for showing that Godwin's law need not stifle legitimate observation. There are parallels, and the demonizing of Germany such that we calmly reassure ourselves that "it can't happen here" is our greatest danger. I can happen here, it is happening here by slow steps, and it must be fought by all true patriots. Thank you for helping arm us for that fight. This election may vindicate the work of the framer's of our Constitution, or it may repudiate that work. But even if we lose this round the fight will not be over so long as folks like you help folks like us keep the faith. Peace.
A delicate balance indeed: carefully distinguishing between the authoritarian views of Schmidt and its implementation several years later.
I would suggest that by signing this law, Bush leaves an ambiguity on how detainees must be treated, thus handing a victory in the struggle of ideas. He is giving the terrorists a weapon of propaganda. According to his kind of logic, he is emboldening the terrorists.
Consider this: we can discern a new twist in fascist ideology. The German and Italian fascists based their thinking on a nationalist critique of revolutionary socialism and Marxism. Modern fascists, often followers of Schmitt, have a new view based on a critique of evolutionary socialism (Edouard Bernstein).We may call this "evolutionary fascism". As society becomes more conservative, they see the possibility of a fascist state evolving by means of having control of government and changing the legal foundations of the state from above. This is precisely what is occurring before our eyes. Scott is hoping for a reversal of this movement through election of Democrat majorities. My crystal ball does not see this happening. The Schmittians already have enough authority over the electoral process and the system of legal remedy to prevent it. Sorry to be so negative.
Here's an interesting development... There will NOT be a signing statement for the MCA. See:
October 16, 2006
PRESS BRIEFING BY TONY SNOW
BUT the "White House Office of Legal Counsel" may give us some guidance via Tony Snow on how the Decider will be deciding what is or isn't torture...
AND AG Gonzales will be conducting an on-line session tomorrow. See:
ASK THE WHITE HOUSE
There will NOT be a signing statement for the MCA
Bearing out the prediction that, when the President gets 99% of what he wanted, he can occasionally be graceful enough not to grab for the other 1%.
wardog: The Schmittians already have enough authority over the electoral process and the system of legal remedy to prevent it. Sorry to be so negative.
After 2000 and 2004 I don't think anyone can blame you.
How many Democrats running for Congress are speaking out against the MCA? I really don't know. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing that in my local open-seat House race.
"It appears likely that a more assertive, opposition-oriented Congress will try to draw back on the transfer of power to the Executive."
And there's the rub, actually. It is by no means clear that there will be a more "assertive, opposition-oriented Congress" after the November election. To the contrary, your confidence in there being a reversal of a "post Enabling Act" psychology seems to me poorly invested. Late 1920s, early 1930s Germany saw a coming-together of the general outlook of the non-National Socialist right and the democratic parties of the center, so much so that in many important respects they were virtually indistinguishable. I should like to propose that something along these same lines has happened to the Democrats and that this "coming-together" of perspectives is now the dominant theme, that we are now in a uniquely American one party state. Claims similar to this one have been made for years, of course, but without benefit of historical context. That context now seems to have emerged. It would seem to me that we're right on track at the moment, with a next stop - particularly so in the event of another 9/11 - the building of concentration camps for Muslims and opponents of the regime. Apart from the optimism, a singularly cogent analysis, no doubt.
Thank you for your discussion of Schmitt, and I'll look forward to more on this subject in the future.
As for Alberto "quaint" Gonzalez and his threats, I'm reminded of Hans Frank, who was hanged following the trial of the major Nazi war criminals. It was Frank who said, "Hitler is the law, and the law is Hitler" (Frank was a lawyer and Minister of Justice at the time).
As for our own judges, I'm reminded that, following the trial of the major war criminals, many more "minor" trials followed: the doctors' trial, the Treblinka trial, etc. There was also a judges' trial, memorialized by the movie "Judgment at Nuremberg."
On a more general level, there have been many reactions against liberalism in the West and none have succeeded. Liberalism affirms the autonomy of the individual and his/her right to political representation. Hierarchial models deny both the autonomy and this right, and explicitly place the individual in a class, subject to "decision" from within the hierarchy. And, although Schmitt was probably more in the cast of the "throne and altar" type, this kind of thinking is common in the US today, and views the federal government as the embodiment of the nation, the apex and enforcer of the hierarchy, and the executor of some divine order to which they have exclusive access.
And, because this political order has divine origins, it is suitable (indeed, inevitable) for the entire world. My citation at this point is Bush's Second Inaugural, a speech everyone should read.
Fine article by Greg Grandin on Dem's failure since Reagan to defend the nation fromthe extreme right.
You make some particularly poignant remarks, the Hans Frank/Gonzalez equivalency for example. Right on the button!
Respecting the follow-on trials, particularly the judges trial which you correctly see as memorialized in Judgement At Nuremberg, I'm often impressed with the final scene of the movie in which Tracy, the American justice, confronts Lancaster, the former Nazi judge, who tells him that had he known in advance the extent to which the anti-semitism would go he would have resigned from the bench earlier than he had in the late 1930s. Tracy pulls the rug out from under him by saying that to have participated in any of the unjust judgments of the regime was to have participated in them all. Assuming the propriety of that principle in those circumstances, how might we view "Catholic" justices Roberts and Alito at their nomination hearings offering assurances that they would be willing to lay aside that which one might expect to be most precious to them - their faith - in the interests of serving the state and its law. I'd say there's not a dime's worth of difference.
That's it Scott. We are the new Nazi's.
My comment is this: Why should somebody take the well written prose of a person who can't tell the difference between George Bush and Hitler seriously??
For the life of me I can't think of a reason.
Says the "Dog"
Other than the fact that Bush lacks a mustache, I can't see much if any difference. What are the differences that you perceive?
Gentlemen: there are lots of differences between Bush and Hitler or Mussolini. What is important are the fundamental similarities: all are authoritarian national supremacists who want to dominate large chunks of the world-- each is a variety of fascist.
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