The classical fear of the state is the fear of tyranny. The limitation of state authority, founded on the concept of individual liberty and the division of governmental powers, marks the victory of society over the state. In its anarchical, libertarian (liberal), but also its Marxian (social revolution) forms, this victory becomes total. Non-Marxian critics of liberalism have always alluded to this commonality when they claimed that both liberalism and Marxism fight their battle on literalisms economic and, thus, social turf. The struggle against social dominion therefore focuses on the restitution of the strong state, one powerful enough to mediate" class war or, more forcefully, suppress it by way of reform. Carl Schmitt can be placed in this non-Marxian, anti-liberal tradition. This paper will explore some of the ways Schmitt manipulates versions of the state-society distinction, especially in his constitutional theory, as well as relate his early twentieth-century thought to a nineteenth-century precursor and contemporary of Marx, Lorenz von Stein. Upon final reflection, we may wonder whether the current fixation on the ills of governmentality and bio-politics uncomfortably resembles the traditional liberal critique of government and bureaucracy.
Presented in conjunction with the Humanities Research Center's Rice Seminar, "After Biopolitics."