Scott Corey on Carl Schmitt's Influence on Neoconservatives
Scott Corey -- one of my old friends from Berkeley, where he earned his political science doctorate in revolution and political violence -- has published an online op/ed piece titled "Release the Entire Torture Report!" In this op/ed, he looks at the torture used by Americans on suspected terrorists and asks (among other questions), "why did the torture regime arise and take hold?"
The why is easily found in neo-conservative doctrine and praxis. Once a respectable strand of conservative theory, the neocons departed into subversion by combining the thinking of Carl Schmitt with the practices of ex-Trotskyites who joined them during the 1980's. Their core belief is that legal/rational government is inadequate for a world of catastrophic dangers that may appear in forms and at times that are uncertain (hence the drivel about fearing "the unknown unknown" and the need to somehow overcome the tautology that "we don't know what we don't know").I have to admit that I'd always found Rumsfeld's systemization of our knowledge and our ignorance (known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns, and unknown unknowns) rather intriguing, intellectually, as well as a humorous way of stating our epistemological state. But what really interested me in Scott's article is the assertion above that neoconservatives turned to the legal views of Carl Schmitt (the legal theorist used by Germany's National Socialists), so I was disappointed that more wasn't said on this point.
Scott, however, is a careful scholar, so I accept that there must be some research supporting this assertion, and I suppose I'll just have to ask him. He did -- in one of his email circulars -- mention that he is "not the first to note the neocon link to Schmitt," and he also speaks of a run-in with a neoconservative professor who was instructing an inner group of students in the political thought of Schmitt.
Perhaps he'll comment . . .