March 20, 2010
'O my friends, there is no friend' (Aristotle)/'O my enemies, there is no enemy' (Nietzsche)
KERRO MINULLE, KUKA ON VIHOLLISESI, NIIN KERRON SINULLE, KUKA OLET.
Carl Schmitt's Real Enemy: The Citizen of the Non-exclusive Democratic Community?
“If the political is to exist, one must know who everyone is, who is a friend and who is an enemy, and this knowing is not in the mode of theoretical knowledge but in one of a practical identification.” Nevertheless, the enemy, who actually is identified, is not Carl Schmitt's real enemy. On the contrary, the identified enemy is his friend to the extent that it constitutes by exclusion what is most important to Schmitt: the existence of the political, and thereby, the Volk. Schmitt's real enemy is, as I try to demonstrate in this article, anyone who is not identified, the anonymous “natural existence of groups of individuals who just happen to live together” (Schmitt). In Schmitt's Nazi-period this anonymous individual got a concrete—although still non-identified—content: an assimilated Jew. And although Schmitt thought that he was a Christian thinker, in the end of this article I argue that the very first assimilated Jew was indeed St Paul, and that his doctrine of the “life in Christ” can be taken as a point of departure for thinking politics beyond enemies and exclusion.
Politics of Friendship: Jacques Derrida
Loving Enemies, Loving Friends
Jacques Derrida's Politics of Friendship is a work that applies his use of differance to the concept of friendship. At base, Derrida sees that there is a play of difference associated with the concept of friendship. His book is the tracing out of the differences through a genealogical survey of thinkers from Plato and Aristotle to Nietzsche and Levinas. The genealogy reveals a vertiginous collapse among the concepts friend/enemy, friendship/enmity, and self/other. Derrida does not have to problematize the concept of friendship because it is already problematized by its very own history.
In its essence, friendship is marked by difference. In this case, Derrida uses the adverb "perhaps" to underscore its undecidibility, its indeterminacy, its chancefulness. Who is the friend? Who is the enemy? How are these to be named and counted? Who am I? Friend? Enemy? Both? These and similar questions Derrida poses against the backdrop of two central aporias.
The first is a quotation attributed to Aristotle by Diogenes Laertius and picked up again by Michel de Montaigne: "O my friends, there is no friend." Derrida calls this statement a "performative contradiction," as it would be difficult to address friends and tell them that there are none (27). But in speaking to friends, one is addressing them. One is calling out to them through a logical contradiction that signifies "the very movement and time of friendship" (249).
Perhaps there will be friends. Yet, there are none. Nevertheless, friends are certainly addressed. Friendship in this sense depends upon the act of loving unconditionally. Love, for Derrida, needs no real object. The object of love may not be able to acknowledge that love or even return it; for it may be the case that the friend who receives love is really the enemy. Or it may be the case that the object of love may be dead. "I feel myself -- and in advance, before any contact -- borne to love the dead other. I feel myself this (borne to) love; it is thus that I feel myself (loving)" (12). The loving constitutive of friendship is the differential ground and possibility that constitutes subject and object. "One can love being loved, but loving will, always be more, better and something other then being loved" (11).
The second aporia is one in which the movement of chance (the perhaps) again effects a sort of madness. In Human All Too Human, Nietzsche reverses Aristotle's reputed address as, "O my enemies, there is no enemy." The contradiction is again obvious enough, but who is the enemy? What is the truth of the friend/enemy distinction? Derrida answers that "the truth of friendship is a madness of truth, a truth that has nothing to do with the wisdom which, throughout the history of philosophy qua the history of reason, will have set the tone of this truth - by attempting to have us believe that amorous passion was madness, no doubt, but that friendship was the way of wisdom and of knowledge, no less than of political justice" (52).
The political justice that arises out of friendship/enmity is respect and responsibility. Respect is generated out of the relation of friend to friend and enemy to enemy. This respect entails a responsiveness, a naming, that is fraught with danger (chance); for I may mistakenly name the friend who is the enemy and vice versa. "The enemy is then my best friend. He hates me in the name of friendship, of an unconscious or sublime friendship. Friendship, a 'superior' friendship, returns with the enemy.... The two concepts (friend/enemy) consequently intersect and ceaselessly change places. They intertwine, as though they loved each other all along a spiraled hyperbole" (72).
The identification of the enemy "takes on systematic form in the work of Carl Schmitt" (83). Derrida surveys his book The Concept of the Political to show that the very ground and possibility for the political as such arises out of the identification of the enemy. Neutrality marks depolitization and would be the death knell of "political difference" (85). Derrida shows how Schmitt's commitment to Naziism and National Socialism was the political means whereby Schmitt was able to identify the absolute enemy. Because of Schmitt's reading of Plato's Republic, the enemy may arise from within an already ordered state. But the conflict that would result would be revolution, not war. What counts for Schmitt is the naming of the enemy who is from without, totally other. Decision and politics begin from the moment of recognizing the enemy, and in which there is a real possibility of killing the enemy.
Having learned from Emmanuel Levinas that ethics is first philosophy, Derrida seeks to show that politics does not begin with the identification of the enemy -- as with Schmitt -- but with the identification of the friend. In a language that envelopes such concepts as the familiar (oikeiot's) and fraternal love, Derrida understands friendship as both a proximate and intimate relation, as well as a relation of distance.