Second State of Nature

by Caleb Roberts

[Carl Schmitt’s] own positive doctrine became a neo-Hobbesian theory of politics.  Its critical twist was to project the state of nature depicted in Leviathan, the war of all against all in which individual agents are pitted against each other, onto the plane of modern collective conflicts: thereby transforming civil society itself into a second state of nature.  For Schmitt, the act of sovereign power then becomes not so much the institution of mutual peace as the decision fixing the nature and frontier of any community, by dividing friend from foe — the opposition that defines the nature of the political as such. (4-5)

Perry Anderson | Spectrum: from right to left in the world of ideas

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