How to remain Human in the Wrong Space? A comment on a dialog by Carl Schmitt

How to remain Human in the Wrong Space? A comment on a dialog by Carl Schmitt application/pdf icon

Accepted for publication in Critical Inquiry


In his important new book, Abondance et Liberté, Pierre Charbonnier takes up Karl Polanyi’s argument that it is only because of contingent historical reasons that attachments to the land have been appropriated by conservatives on the Right of the political spectrum. In principle, the resistance of society to the religion of the market, as Polanyi says, should have started by saving the land from the deadly grasp of economics, just as much as labor and money, the two other “factors of production”. Such an attempt to extract land, soil and earth from the grasp of rightist ideologies takes an even greater importance today with the emergence of what Chakrabarty calls the “planetary” and that I call Gaia. Every country now is torn apart between the “world they live in” and the “world they live from”, to use Charbonnier’s term. Hence the interest of having a second look at those thinkers from the Right who have given to the land and to land grabs the pride of place in their cosmology.
None of those thinkers is better known than Carl Schmitt. It might be worthwhile to retrieve from Schmitt the tiny bit of wisdom about space that he had turned into such a powerful poison while he was alive. It would be imprudent to ignore his views today, when there are people everywhere who are concocting explicitly similar schemes to occupy the space of others in order to survive against others. Which people, which others, which soil, which space? Those are questions that can no longer be ignored now that a whole civilization is looking for ways to land somewhere without crashing