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Legality and Legitimacy

by Carl Schmitt

Legality and Legitimacy Synopsis

Carl Schmitt ranks among the most original and controversial political thinkers of the twentieth century. His incisive criticisms of Enlightenment political thought and liberal political practice remain as shocking and significant today as when they first appeared in Weimar Germany. Unavailable in English until now, Legality and Legitimacy was composed in 1932, in the midst of the crisis that would lead to the collapse of the Weimar Republic and only a matter of months before Schmitt's collaboration with the Nazis. In this important work, Schmitt questions the political viability of liberal constitutionalism, parliamentary government, and the rule of law. Liberal governments, he argues, cannot respond effectively to challenges by radical groups like the Nazis or Communists. Only a presidential regime subject to few, if any, practical limitations can ensure domestic security in a highly pluralistic society.Legality and Legitimacy is sure to provide a compelling reference point in contemporary debates over the challenges facing constitutional democracies today. In addition to Jeffrey Seitzer's translation of the 1932 text itself, this volume contains his translation of Schmitt's 1958 commentary on the work, extensive explanatory notes, and an appendix including selected articles of the Weimar constitution. John P. McCormick's introduction places Legality and Legitimacy in its historical context, clarifies some of the intricacies of the argument, and ultimately contests Schmitt's claims regarding the inherent weakness of parliamentarism, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.

Legality and Legitimacy Press Reviews

Carl Schmitt is an unorthodox classic. One of the intellectual grave-diggers of the Weimar Republic, he wrote this brilliant book in the middle of the political crisis, opting for presidential dictatorship. Excellent in its analysis, Legality and Legitimacy is unwise regarding political consequences and without a realistic political vision for the future. This first English-language translation should stimulate European-American dialogue about the vitality of democratic institutions in view of the challenges of antidemocratic and antiliberal temptations. -Michael Stolleis, University of Frankfurt An English translation of Carl Schmitt's Legalitat und Legitimitat is long overdue. Legality and Legitimacy concludes the critique of legal positivism and the rationality of statute law he began in The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy and Political Theology and does so in the historical context of Weimar's final crisis. It was an important argument at the time and is just as significant seventy-odd years later. -Ellen Kennedy, author of Constitutional Failure: Carl Schmitt in Weimar

Book Information

ISBN: 9780822331742
Publication date: 25th February 2004
Author: Carl Schmitt
Publisher: Duke University Press
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 216 pages
Categories: Systems of law,

About Carl Schmitt

Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) was a leading German political and legal theorist. Among his many books are The Idea of Representation, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, Political Romanticism, and The Concept of the Political. Jeffrey Seitzer is the author of Comparative History and Legal Theory: Carl Schmitt in the First German Democracy. John P. McCormick is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Carl Schmitt's Critique of Liberalism and editor of Confronting Mass Democracy and Industrial Technology, published by Duke University Press. Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) was a leading German political and legal theorist. ...

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