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The Concept of the Political

The Concept of the Political (German: Der Begriff des Politischen) is a 1932 book by the German philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt, in which the author examines the fundamental nature of the "political" and its place in the modern world.

The Concept of the Political
The Concept of the Political (German edition).jpg
Cover of the German edition
AuthorCarl Schmitt
TranslatorGeorge Schwab
SubjectPolitical philosophy
PublisherRutgers University Press
Publication date
Media typePrint
ISBN0-226-73886-8 (1996 University of Chicago Press edition)
LC ClassJA 74 .S313

The book was an elaboration of a journal article of the same title ("The Concept of the Political"), published in 1927.[1]



For Schmitt, the political is reducible to the existential distinction between friend and enemy. [2] Schmitt attacks the "liberal-neutralist" and "utopian" notions that politics can be removed of all warlike, agonistic energy, arguing conflict existed as embedded in existence itself, likewise constituting an ineradicable trait of anthropological human nature. Schmitt attempts to substantiate his ideas by referencing the declared anthropological pessimism of "realistic" Catholic (and Christian) theology. The anti-perfectibilist pessimism of Traditional Catholic theology Schmitt considers esoterically relevant to the inner ontological being of politics and political activity in the contemporary world, modern people subconsciously secularizing theological intellectual ideas and concerns. Schmitt criticizes political "radicals" as basically ignorant, deluded, pseudo-messianic in mentality, and oblivious to the stark, hard knowledge of unveiled human nature, its esse, encoded in ancient theology, wherein Original Sin held central, axial place, intertwining his own ideas of meta-politics with a reformulated "metaphysics of evil".[3]

Publication historyEdit

The Concept of the Political was first published in 1932 by Duncker & Humblot (Munich). It was an elaboration of a journal article of the same title, published in 1927.[1] The 1932 version has significant, and controversial, revisions. However, it is likely that these revisions were made in response to the reaction of Leo Strauss.[3]


  1. ^ a b Carl Schmitt (1927), "The Concept of the Political", Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, 58(1), pp. 1–33. Cf. George Schwab, 'Introduction', in Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, University of Chicago Press, 2007, p. 5 n. 8.
  2. ^ Edward Fairhead, 'Carl Schmitt’s politics in the age of drone strikes: examining the Schmittian texture of Obama’s enemy' (2017), Journal for Cultural Research, available at:
  3. ^ a b Meier, Heinrich. Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue. University of Chicago Press, 2006.

External linksEdit