Letters and Reflections
A philosopher, rabbi, religious historian, and Gnostic, Jacob Taubes was for many years a correspondent and interlocutor of Carl Schmitt (1888–1985), a German jurist, philosopher, political theorist, law professor—and self-professed Nazi. Despite their unlikely association, Taubes and Schmitt shared an abiding interest in the fundamental problems of political theology, believing the great challenges of modern political theory were ancient in pedigree and, in many cases, anticipated the works of Judeo-Christian eschatologists.
In this collection of Taubes's writings on Schmitt, the two intellectuals work through ideas of the apocalypse and other central concepts of political theology. Taubes acknowledges Schmitt's reservations about the weakness of liberal democracy yet distances himself from his prescription to rectify it, arguing the apocalyptic worldview requires less of a rigid hierarchical social ordering than a community committed to the importance of decision making. In these writings, a sharper and more nuanced portrait of Schmitt's thought emerges, as well as a more complicated understanding of Taubes, who has shaped the work of Giorgio Agamben, Peter Sloterdijk, and other major twentieth-century theorists.
"Carl Schmitt is among the most important political thinkers of the century. His work has proven influential on the right and, more recently, on the left. His interchange with Jacob Taubes in this volume, another interesting thinker, is remarkably clear and provides a window into their relationship and a framework for broader discussion." — Stephen Eric Bronner, Rutgers University, author of Reclaiming the Enlightenment: Toward a Politics of Radical Engagement
Introduction: "A Very Rare Thing", by Michael Grimshaw
Carl Schmitt: Apocalyptic Prophet of the Counter-revolution
Letter to Armin Mohler
Appendix: Four Passages from Letters of Carl Schmitt to Armin Mohler
Letter to Carl Schmitt
Extract from a Dispute About Carl Schmitt
1948–1978: Thirty Years of Refusal
Editorial Note, by Peter Gente
Read an excerpt from the chapter, "Carl Schmitt: Apocalyptic Prophet of the Counterrevolution" (to view in full screen, click on icon in bottom right-hand corner)