Alain Brossat

 

After the decisive victories of Stalingrad on the Russian front, Al Alamein in the desert war, in North Africa, and Guadalcanal and Midway on the Asian front, in the Pacific war, the Allies had good reasons for banking on a defeat of the Axis and to consider a future in the colors of victory. From the second half of 1943 to the announced collapse of Nazi Germany and then of Japan, there were plenty of meetings and conferences bringing together Allied leaders nb: Cairo conference bringing together Roosevelt, Churchill and Tchang Kai chek (November 1943), Tehran conference bringing together Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill (November-December 1943), Moscow conference (preceded by three other meetings in the Soviet capital) where they met Soviet, British, American and Polish delegations (representing the two competing Polish governments, in exile) in October 1944, the Yalta conference, bringing together Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill (February 1945) and finally, after the German surrender, the Potsdam Conference bringing together Churchill and then Attlee, Truman and Stalin (July-August 1945).

During these meetings, the Allied leaders discussed the future of Germany, more vaguely the conditions that would be imposed on defeated Japan (the Soviets only declared war on Japan after the German surrender), but for the most part, the main object of their common concerns was constant : what would the post-war period look like in terms of the respective influences of the two major components of the Allied coalition, the United States and Great Britain on the one hand, the Soviet Union on the other – each of the two parties involved embodying a political system principally incompatible with the other – and nevertheless condemned during all the years of the war to active collaboration.

In practice, whether surreptitiously or explicitly, the motive that haunted these meetings, inseparable from the anticipation of victory over the Axis, was that of zones of influence ; variable geometry, differently assessed according to the temperament and convictions of the protagonists (Churchill, viscerally anti-Communist and anti-Soviet anticipated the Cold War, just like de Gaulle, secondary protagonist of these debates; Roosevelt was more confident in the future of a cordial understanding with Stalin’s USSR), sometimes cynically expressed in terms of percentages, with a pencil in hand, sometimes more vaguely when the interests of one side or the other clash too directly.

In any case, concerning both Europe and East Asia (the rest of the world was almost entirely ignored, until the San Francisco conference at which the victors laid the groundwork for the UN), a guideline appeared here, on which all parties clearly agreed : the war efforts made by both sides within the framework of the victorious coalition must, in the post-war period, be continued on the ground. The power relations that had been established between allies, and as these allies embodied mainly antagonistic political systems, must find their outlet in the form of distributions inscribed in the territories and the life of the peoples. The Allies fought against Nazi Germany as the latter availed itself of the right of conquest, revoked as barbarian. For this reason, the former must invent a codification codification of the main reason for sharing and distribution that will enable them to avoid appearing purely and simply as conquering victors – hence the success of the keyword of  “zones of influence” – Stalin did not annex Poland, Greece would not be explicitly an Anglo-American protectorate, but the key idea is there : Europe was doomed to become the body on which the balance of power between the two allied and antagonistic powers would be inscribed.

 

The rest is known, even if, in the field, it took a turn quite different from the general figures outlined by the leaders of the coalition during their various meetings. The notion of divide/sharing without conquests or annexations strictly speaking—with the exception of some border rectifications and, on the Asian front, of the annexation by the USSR of part of Sakhalin and the Kurils, without forgetting the de facto restitution of Formosa (Taiwan) to China—was the basic idea which governed the production of the geopolitical configuration of the post-war period, in Europe and, more unstably, in East Asia (the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the first act of the Cold War, shows this sufficiently) : the zones of influence were emerging quickly in Europe, with the formation of the Soviet glacis in Eastern Europe, the crushing of the popular movement resulting from the resistance animated by the Communists in Greece ; Germany was divided  into two zones destined to become two separate state entities, one placed under Western influence and the other Soviet; Japan became a US protectorate, etc.

 

The question I would like to focus on here is the following : how do we pass, (in the perspective of the Western powers and first and foremost the United States) from a topos, from a discursive register in which the notion of divide/sharing with an ally (a friend – Stalin “Uncle Joe”, in US propaganda throughout the war) who is also intrinsically  an  enemy (of yesterday and tomorrow – the embodiment of communist evil, of a totalitarian ideology, to such an extent that even staunch anti-Communists like Churchill or de Gaulle could not question the strategy, even if they did doubt that this division could find stability and be based on a balance) – how do we pass, then, from this system of evidence to the one that has prevailed for several decades now and which relies on so quite different axioms?

According to the latter, for the Western powers (first and foremost the United States, again) any notion of divide/sharing with a political system declared incompatible with “democracy” and embodied, henceforth, by an ascending power, China, would be a heresy and a forfeiture. The only conceivable historical horizon, for the immediate present as for the distant future, is the democratization of the world, a political globalization and normalization placed under the exclusive sign of liberal democracy.

The question within the question would be whether or to what extent this contrast is soluble in the historical conditions – Can it be reduced purely and simply to the contrast between historical situations that are in stark contrast? War, and especially a conflict like the Second World War, is, was, a merciless indicator of power struggles: the Allied landings in Normandy and Sicily and then in Provence were certainly successful, but the Soviet Army was progressing rapidly in eastern Germany when the Americans were still embroiled in the Battle of the Bulge. Of course, Stalin and Churchill put their signatures on a sheet of paper on which was scrawled:  “Yugoslavia 50/50”, but on the ground, it is the partisans of Tito and not the Chetniks who really challenged the Wehrmacht… The military balance of power on the ground dictates the fate of the powers engaged in combat, including those on the winning side: it shapes the post-war geopolitical landscape in the most constraining way possible.

This is one of the effects of modern total war, in contrast to the dynastic wars of the Ancien Régime: it is not sovereigns who are fighting about disputed territories, it is  worlds which are clashing – when the conflict ends, it is not only a few border lines that have been altered, it is the fate of the peoples that has radically changed. The balance of power established during the war, by force of arms, draws the unsurpassable horizon of the post-war period – the domination that the USSR exercised over Eastern Europe from which it had driven out the Wehrmacht (the meeting between Soviet troops and US troops took place on the Elbe, on German soil) is not open to discussion, diplomacy can only endorse the results obtained on the ground.

 

But what is immediately noticeable at the same time is this: these elements of reality, at the very moment when they outline the unsurpassable horizon of the action of statesmen and politicians, are converted into principles, rules of conduct and matrices of thought – into schemes of political rationality, into the basis of political strategies. It is here that the amphibology of the term partage, in French, reveals all its resources: the notion of dividing (of Europe and potentially of the planet) in “areas of influence” becomes an idea in sharing, that is to say the diagram (the inscription surface) in which the allies of yesterday and the adversaries of tomorrow (from the configuration of the Second World War to that of the Cold War) are both found circumscribed, despite everything that opposes them. What holds attention in this figure is the way in which partage in the sense of divide (what opposes, separates) is the object of a sharing (what we have in common, in share). It is in a sense around this amphibology that the entire unique feature of the Cold War was organized – that of being a war with multiple episodes, some of which are very violent and armed (the Korean War which inaugurated it and the Vietnam War which heralds its fading away, passing through the blockade of Berlin and a number of memorable episodes) and which, however, did not globalize, intensify or generalize in nuclear confrontation in the post-Hiroshima-Nagasaki world.

It is therefore blatant that what acts as a moderating principle of the conflicts between the two superpowers which clashed through their respective allies and subordinates, is the regulatory idea of partage – divide and sharing – or, in other words, the idea according to which the zones of influence remained, in the very configuration of the Cold War, an idea of political reason, a regulatory principle – which explains why the Western powers placed under US hegemony abstain to intervene during the major political crises that occurred in Poland and Hungary in 1956, that the rocket crisis in Cuba (1962) was resolved without armed confrontation, that the Soviets (and even the Chinese) did not intervene directly in the Vietnamese conflict, etc.

 

Throughout the Cold War, including in its moments of greatest tension, the notion of partage (in the sense of what separates, divides) between what is apologetically designated as the “free world” and what is the opposite of it remains an idea of political reason. The West must, in one way or another, coexist with the great political, ideological, civilizational Other, designated by the master signifier “communism” (“Soviet totalitarianism” in its pejorative name). At the time of the ending Cold War and the rise of the motif of Peaceful Coexistence, driven in particular by Khrushchev, this notion even found a resurgence of strength, visibility and hold over the minds of those in power as well as those governed. During the Cold War, even the most committed of politicians and intellectuals in the crusade against communism were not animated by the phantasmagoria of a complete democratization of the planet; their dream was the contain and roll back of the reds, of communism, in all its forms and states, which is quite different – the proof being that they were ready to arouse and support bloody tyrannies, military dictatorships, touted as ramparts against the red peril – from Suharto to Pinochet and so many others. In this era, even the most frenzied crusaders of Western democracy remained sensitive to the motive of political otherness, difference: in order to suppress world communism, Western democracies could not do without the intermediary of “useful” dictatorships and tyrannies.

 

The establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China in 1979 clearly showed that soon after the interminable and disastrous Vietnam War intended to block the expansion of communism in Southeast Asia (this is what the narrators of the “free world” say), the spirit of the camp retained this turn inherited from the Second World War – the perpetual struggle against the other camp, the opposing camp, paradoxically implies its recognition and, what is more, the recognition of its full political otherness: it is indeed with Communist China, the China resulting from the Chinese Revolution, the China of Mao that the ultra-reactionary Nixon has chosen to contract, by inaugurating this new era  in which China became a full member of the international community. Great Britain and France had long shown the way (1950 and 1964 respectively).

This well-known sequence placed under the sign of Realpolitik, from the Western point of view, shows how much, in this historical configuration, remained foreign to the strategists and ideologists of Western democracies the very notion of an infinite democratization of the world: they had to acknowledge that difference and division did exist, they are components of the global political arena, communism as the irreducible great Other of Western democracy (or Western way democracy, as in Japan), or, in the theological-political terms cultivated by the great providentialist narrative of American democracy, a tenacious figure of political evil, as well as all those other figures of evil, relative and necessary, that are the tyrannies and military regimes armed and supported by the Western powers, beginning with the United States.

 

In other words, in this world of the Cold War and its immediate aftermath, we were in a configuration where mechanisms and processes of recognition remained active, over and over again – infinitely contrasted, tense, exposed – but never denied or disabled in the face of crises and political challenges. The mode of relations between camps and in particular between the two superpowers grappling at the time of the (supposed) equilibrium of nuclear forces (known as the balance of terror) is not at all Schmittian – it is a model according to which the interactions between the two opposing forces and poles also suppose forms of complementarity, some sort of conflictual complementarity which is reminiscent of the type of relationship that has been established between the capitalist bourgeoisie (the state and the employers) and the workers’ movement, in Western Europe, from the end of the XIXth century to the years 1970-80 [1] .

This is the reason why, in this plastic configuration, we can see how figures of extreme violence (the Vietnam War) coexisted with or alternated with figures of detente (peaceful coexistence, the souvenir photos on which Khrushchev and Kennedy display their good understanding). We have here a matrix (political, discursive …) which is not at all Schmittian insofar as it challenges the figure of the enemy doomed to pure and simple destruction, elimination, extermination – this for multiple reasons, this interminable post-war period being, among others and simultaneously, the world after Auschwitz and after Hiroshima – a world, therefore, in which the figure of the pure and simple extermination of the enemy continued to arouse a staggering effect. In this contrasting world where the agon is placed under the sign of the most constant of ambiguities, the enemy is fought relentlessly, but “we” also talk with him, “we” deal with him, “we” make compromises and, when tensions reach a dangerous paroxysm, the people in charge activate security mechanisms whose effectiveness has never been denied (see on that the rocket crisis in Cuba – a kind of paradigm)[2] .

 

Failing to be Schmittian, the model (the figure) which prevails here would be rather Machiavellian: the division, by converting itself into rivalry, competition and emulation, is the dynamic factor which ensures the rise in power of the two rival forces, this like the incessant struggle between patricians and plebeians in Rome, but also the young Roman city to neighboring and rival cities[3] . In this regard, it should be noted that the competition which, from the end of World War II to the collapse of the USSR and the dismantling of the Soviet bloc, pitted the “Western” camp against the Eastern bloc was based on an optical illusion: throughout the Cold War and beyond, the arms race appeared as the manifest form of this dangerous competition. But in the end, it turned out that it is cultural and economic factors that are decisive, that the environment in which the fall of the Soviet “Empire” occurred was not a war arising from a lost arms race but rather the dereliction of a model of economic development, of the way of life and of the cultural forms which are linked to it.

 

It has been said over and over again during this sort of volatilization of the Soviet world which occurred in the early 1990s that it was, above all, the manifestation of the superiority of forms of life, of the organization of production and of Western consumption, of the ethos and political forms that envelop or accompany all this, the society of individuals, liberal democratic civilization, public freedoms and all these beautiful things. It is not the weapons which have settled the “debate” between the two worlds, the two competing political civilizations; it is life, so to speak. Athens has, in the duration and in the test of reality, proven to be more sustainable than Sparta, this despite all the faults and traits of barbarism, decivilizing impulses that run through it. Of course, there have been substantial interactions between the military and the economic domain, the USSR has exhausted itself in challenging the United States in the arms race (and the race to the Moon) and the latter, under Reagan in particular, knowingly rushed its downfall by maintaining this costly competition.

 

What therefore takes us away from the Machiavellian model here is the fact that the dynamics of the struggle (agon) between the two opposing forces did not lead to a process by which a power would have been formed and extended, common to both protagonists, say, the Western patricians and the Eastern plebeians. On the contrary, what occurred was the collapse of one part (the Eastern plebeians) in favor of the other… But we could quite easily “recover” and reinterpret the Roman story (model) here: after all, over the course of the formation of Roman power, the difference in nature which, at the origin, opposes the two human species (for Vico, originally, the Roman plebeians are defined and treated by the patricians as semi-animals, beast-men, bestioni), has become more indistinct, especially since the plebeians could no longer be reduced to debt bondage and were able to access land property, but also since the institution of tribunes of the plebs got lost in the twists and turns of the formation of composite oligarchies which monopolized economic and political power in the advanced days of the Republic and then of the Empire.

In the same sense, the “oriental” (post-Soviet) plebeians, were not at all, after the fall of the Soviet bloc, treated as vanquished, having to choose between death or servitude in exchange for the saved life, but rather as “guests” in the world of the winners – distinguished ones for the tiny minority of those among them who quickly fell back on their feet, of second class for the vast majority of the others… The European Union opened without delays its doors to Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Poland, the former Czechoslovakia and the Baltic countries, and inherited with all that the mafias, corrupt and incompetent post-communist elites, Orban-style facho-demos, and all the rubbish of the fall of the Soviet world. In other words, and to still follow the Machiavellian thread, Western Rome found in its long confrontation with the competing superpower (set up as an opposing Empire) the opportunity to fortify itself, to strengthen its own imperial constitution and, after the fall of the Soviet Carthage, to establish a hegemony without equivalent or precedent in modern history – a domination of the world which is reminiscent, in more than one respect, of that exercised by the Roman Republic and then the Empire over the Mediterranean Basin and beyond.

 

It is precisely the volatilization of the opposing principle and, with it, of the agonistic configuration organized around the complementary conflictuality of the two competing blocks, that the disappearance of the Machiavellian paradigm resulting from the Second World War begins. With the hindsight now available to us, it is obvious that the constitutive feature (constituting, if not explicitly instituting) of the new world order which emerged with the fall of the Soviet empire was not at all the advent of the age of global democracy but a form of Restoration and permanent counter-revolution whose specificity, in theoretical terms, is to be based on the substitution of the Machiavellian-Vichian paradigm for a Schmittian-type paradigm[4]. A Schmittian paradigm that appears so adequate to the dominant features of the current period that it has come to exert a powerful influence over political science researchers (or what is akin to it in the local context) in mainland China[5]

 

What ensures the passage of the Machiavellian paradigm to a more compelling Schmittian motif is the massive delegitimization of the figures associated with division, divide and sharing, camps, zones of influence, competition, peaceful or not, between regimes or incompatible systems, legitimate interactions, diplomacy, etc. What ensures the placement of the present era – defined as topicality (actualité, in French), in its political, historical, moral, cultural texture, etc. – under the sign of the Schmittian “lesson”, is the advent of the One-only as an exclusive figure of political civilization – the One-only of democracy, as it is announced with trumpets over the last two decades of the last century, with these exemplary heralds that were Reagan and Thatcher. The One-only of democracy is an exemplary Schmittian figure, because it ipso facto entails the criminalization of the enemy; for it is based on the refusal to recognise any status or legitimacy of the enemy as a variable and contrasting figure of adversity. It challenges its power, its legitimacy and its inscription in a given space, a territory, in their very principle. The advent of the One-only (and the fact that it is, here, that of democracy only adds a touch of macabre irony, quite involuntary, to the thing) has for inevitable correlation the essentialization of the enemy who becomes a hypostasis of infamy and a new embodiment of absolute Evil[6] .

We go from the complex but dynamic figure of the incompossible – and with which it is nevertheless necessary to compose – to this other, static, simplified and compact, of the rogue enemy, enemy of humanity and of which only the disappearance (the annihilation of its power) can ensure the salvation of the human community – an inherently totalitarian figure, of course, to use a misguided vocabulary. The disappearance of the enemy is defined there as the imperative condition for the salvation of the true human community, the one guaranteed by the world democratic police.

 

The ongoing radicalization of what must be called democratic Schmittism, understood as this diagnostic and prognostic sign under which the present (the epoch) is placed, can be detected by multiple clues: in domestic politics, in the democracies of the Global North, the criminalization of any opposing force lying on the outer edge of administered politics and controlled power apparatuses (state policy, to put it simply) is taking a crash course: the intensity of police violence and the media to which the Yellow Vests movement in  France has been relentlessly exposed is convincing proof, as does the treatment inflicted on all movements in which racialized and post-colonial people are involved. As many areas of conflictual negotiation with legitimate opponents (parties and unions in particular) were numerous in the field of the class struggle as it was structured in these spaces from the end of the 19th century, as much in the present configuration, any opponent resistant to its institutionalization under the conditions of police and market democracy is doomed to be treated as an outlaw, a pirate, a delinquent, and, as long as it finds its place in the appropriate chains of equivalence (immigration, Islam, terrorism, etc.), as an enemy of humanity.

 

In the field of international politics, nothing more blatantly exposes the Schmittian future of globalized Western democracy than the evolution of discourse on China: the statements, the reasoning (by antiphrasis) which, just yesterday, applied to these supposed rogue states that are North Korea or Iran now tend to become the norm when it comes to China[7]. The sophism, both crude and irrefutable, which tends to take here the force of law is this: the rise in power of China today is inseparable from the form of the political regime which is its engine. However, this system is, in principle and in practice, not only incompatible with democracy, but it constitutes a mortal threat for it. Ergo, to ensure the salvation of planetary democracy (the only acceptable form of civilization of politics and manners), we must put out of harm’s way this force of evil – we must democratize China and, to do this, overthrow the Communist tyranny in place. The only way to do this is through a military confrontation. To democratize China, we must wage war on China…[8]

No exaggeration or caricature in this summary of the now well-established position of the Schmittian democracy vis-à-vis China – this is what one can read every day in the Taiwanese press which, for obvious reasons, is at the forefront of this new discursive production. Here is an example among a hundred: “The transformation of Germany and Japan from offenders (that is malefactors, delinquents – the enemy as a criminal, the main motive of the Schmittian complaint against Anglo-Saxon imperialism, A.B.) as notable protagonists of the free world after WWII is legendary, although they were occupied by the Allies after their defeat. In the absence of military occupation or of unconditional surrender, how could the free world force China to comply with civilized codes [my emphasis, A. B.]?”[9]

 

We can clearly see here what characterizes in the very first place this type of statement: the disappearance of any possible space of interlocution with the enemy frozen in his position of an offender, hyperbolic enemy insofar as he is not only an adverse force opposing our camp but, much more generally to peace and civilization. The imaginary chain of equivalence based on the rapprochement between “dictator” Xi Jinping’s China, Nazi Germany and militarist and expansionist Japan completes the picture. It is no longer a question at all, by standing in front of the adversary, of giving the best of oneself and of showing the superiority of political civilization and of the forms of life that one embodies and promotes; what is at stake, in a context of absolute urgency, is to eradicate a mortal peril, an evil force bent on our downfall and that of all civilized humanity.

The horizon of this figure is, of course, in one form or another, all-out war , confrontation to the death under the conditions of contemporary military technology – what the North Korean leaders, for historical reasons, have always perceived with great acuity and what makes them too Schmittians in their own way – what the leaders of the United States have consistently pursued is the pure and simple disappearance of the unbearable heterotopia that they embody, not envisioning any form of long-term coexistence – the reason the Kim dynasty tirelessly practices perfecting the weapon of terror deterrence they have equipped themselves with – the nuclear strike force[10].

 

To tell the truth, the replacement of the Machiavellian paradigm by the Schmittian paradigm became effective at the very time of the collapse of the Soviet system: instead of Eastern Europe becoming – as a consequence of the sudden and unexpected release of the tensions arising from the dismantling of the Soviet military system in Eastern Europe – a neutral and exemplarily disarmed zone, it was immediately the scene of an aggressive reconquest, of a triumphal march by NATO which, therefore,  (taking advantage of the chaos in which the tattered Russia was plunged in the dark and ethylic hours of Yeltsin) to install at once its rockets on the very steps of Russia, in the Baltic countries and in Poland.

Like their North Korean comrades, the Chinese leaders have learned all the lessons from the political ineptitude of Gorbachev, “returning” East Germany and the rest to an armed and revengeful West without counterpart and rushing in this way a Global Restoration accompanied by an impetuous ideological rearmament of the West – this at the same time when all the exportable “models” shaped by the West (productivism, consumerism, liberal democracy, frantic individualism…) were watering on all sides.

It is high time to say what the real name of what has been relentlessly celebrated since the early 1990s as the divine democratic surprise resulting from the demise of the Soviet Empire, in truth is: a tremendous backlash of Western hegemonism placed under US command. It will undoubtedly have been necessary to wait for the fixing of the Chinese stake to take place so that this definitive “the king is naked” can be clearly stated. It was in fact only when the contours of the configuration organized around the new elected enemy, Communist China, “sure of itself and domineering”, became clearly distinct, that the Schmittian line of the democracy understood as a global hegemonic device that cannot find full effectiveness, precisely, without promoting the imago of the absolute enemy, hyperbolic, “universalized” enemy of mankind as the big Other of democratic civilization.

 

On the scale of a country like Taiwan, the effects and benefits, for the reigning elites, of the government “runing on” the absolute enemy, that is to say of the focusing of public attention on the “Chinese threat”, the “Chinese aggression”, the supposed imminence of the” Chinese invasion” are quite obvious: the fabrication of anti-Chinese hysteria is a formidable device for neutralizing class struggle in one of the countries in the world where working hours are the longest and where the incomes of the vast majority of employees are kept at their lowest[11], where migrant workers face shocking discrimination[12], where working conditions in certain sectors (fishing, construction, domestic work, etc.) are often close to slavery, where the religion of growth and the omnipotence of large-scale industry perpetuate the most brutal sacking of the environment, etc.

In such a configuration, “democracy” takes shape and consistency not by implementing any positivities (the political debate between the party in power and the opposition is reduced, most often to the exchange of invective and low punches) but blowing on the embers of anti-Chinese rhetoric. Deprived of this perpetual manna, the “vibrant” Taiwanese democracy would deflate in the instant like a balloon, reduced to the sad spectacle of a brawl between ragpickers fighting over the shreds of an economic miracle grafted on the most cynical and predatory of models of development.

 

But it is not only that; it is also a question of the violence that this Schmittian turning point in contemporary democracy promises and heralds: it is not difficult to imagine what could be, in this country where public opinion is heated by anti-Chinese propaganda and warmongering conditions, the effects of the slightest “incident” (on land, in the air or at sea) bringing the protagonists of this regional conflict into direct confrontation: the continued stigmatization of Beijing’s supposed Fifth Column on the island (including the main opposition party) and other “infiltrators”, “Chinese agents”, “collaborators” of the enemy in this country would find (even if Taiwan would not be directly involved in the clash), its immediate extension in a violent repression hitting indiscriminately all who are likely to appear as an agent of the enemy, accompanied, inevitably, by abuses perpetrated by more or less improvised gangs of vigilantes and rabid pro-independence activists in a climate of civil war prepared for a long time.

The loop would then come full circle where those who have established their legitimacy on the denunciation of the crimes committed under the era of Chiang, at the time of martial law (1949-1987) and more particularly during the White terror which followed the events of February 1947, and who are now firmly established at the helm of the State to prove, in terms of the criminalization of the designated internal enemy, the worthy heirs of the Generalissimo… all this, naturally, in the name of defense and the promotion of both local and global democracy – but, in all cases, booted and helmeted…

 

 

[1]” Not at all Schmittian ” means two things here : on the one hand, a configuration in which reflection and political action cannot find their exclusive basis in the distinction between friend and enemy and, on the other, a topos in which the figure of the enemy is not reducible to that of a pure and simple criminal. ” Not at all Schmittian”, therefore, means here a little more complicated (and plastic) than what we usually remember from Carl Schmitt’s political philosophy.

 

[2]On this point, see Andrew Cockburn’s article ” Defensive, not Aggressive ” and whose author, returning to the rocket crisis in Cuba, believes that there was never, during this episode, any real danger of war, Kennedy and Khrushchev being equally determined to avoid it and masters of the game in domestic politics. London Review of Books , September 2021.

 

[3]It is in Livy’s Discourse on the First Decade that Machiavelli affirms that the divisions and ” tumults ” which, throughout Roman history, brought patricians and plebeians into conflict, far from being factors of weakening, are associated with the passion for freedom and are the foundation of Roman power – an idea later taken up by Montesquieu. Division and struggle, antagonism are presented here as a dynamic factor rather than as a vector of weakening or destruction.

 

[4]Vico considers, developing a reasoning similar to that of Machiavelli, that ” The rivalries which, in the cities, oppose the orders between them with a view to obtaining equal rights, are, for the republics the most powerful means of development “( La science nouvelle , translated from Italian by Ariel Doubine, Nagel, 1953, p. 89).

 

[5]See on this point : Ryan Mitchell : ” Schmitt in Beijing “, Critical Legal Thinking , 10/18/2021.

 

[6]Some examples of headlines borrowed from articles in Cold War organ Taipei Times : ” Understanding the nature of the wolf ” (China, of course) ; ” China is enemy of the free world ” ; ” Carl Schmitt and Taiwan’s future “, ” Facing the nation’s enemy within ” (abolition of the distinction between the enemy outside and inside), “Global response to CCP aggression”, “World War II unfinished business”, “Time for US carriers in the Strait”, etc.

 

[7]” Separating Nazis from Germany is difficult ; likewise, it is problematic to detach the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) from Chinese ” ; ” Bringing CCP officials to justice for their Coronavirus crimes is the best way to put them on notice that they also face justice for their possible crimes against the people of Taiwan ” ” Xi [Jinping] has read Carl Schmitt – it is time for others to do the same “- the kind of insanity arises every day in the aforementioned daily paper …

 

[8]For the leaders and, probably, the man /woman in the street in China, the very notion of a supposedly civilizing intervention by the Western powers in the affairs of their country obviously has an unfortunate appearance of déjà vu:  For them would be above all a resumption, a repetition of the predatory actions carried out throughout the 19th century by these powers taking advantage of the decline of the Chinese Empire …

 

[9]James JY Hsu : ” Democratizing China key to peace “, Taipei Times , 6/11/2021. The author, a retired professor of physics, is part of the innumerable cohort of “pathfinders” of the rhetoric of the outrageous criminalization of the enemy, that flagship of  the new captive thinking (Czeslaw Milosz)

 

[10]The North Korean example shows convincingly that in reality the Machiavellian paradigm still covers, in a variable way, the Schmittian paradigm : the atrocities perpetrated by the United States against the population of the territories controlled by the communist regime, during the Korean War (urbicides, bombing of dikes and dams, destruction of hundreds of villages …) were enough to definitively convince the North Korean power (in dynastic form) of the inexpiable nature of the fight to the death that opposes it to this conquering Western barbarian, a conflict whose very form excludes any development towards a lasting peaceful coexistence, based on mutual trust. In this case, the Machiavellian paradigm never came to relieve or overcome (Aufheben)  the Schmittian paradigm and the stinging failure of the sandman diplomacy imagined by Trump has sufficiently shown it. North Korean leaders are not megalomaniacal, delirious tyrants but realists who rightly believe that the United States (along with its Western allies and East Asian clients) has never pursued and will never pursue another aim as their elimination, their political and, probably, physical disappearance.

The turn adopted by US and Western international policy at the beginning of this century, sanctioned by the overthrow of the Iraqi and Libyan regimes, in particular, and the extermination of their respective leaders, continued by the vain attempt to reserve the same fate for Bashar al-Assad and his regime could only strengthen them in this conviction : now, the leaders of the hegemonic and neo-imperial Western bloc no longer discuss or seek sharing of influence with the ” systemic ” enemy , they treat it as a homo sacer , rejected by the human community, and whose elimination without trial is, unlike a crime, a work of public salvation. The commando operation in which Bin Laden and his entourage were eliminated in Pakistan tends to become a general model for the strategists and thinkers of the Schmittian democracy of the present. The ” special operations ” conducted by the Israeli services, against Iran in particular, also show the way in this area : the less contemporary democracy appears as an institutional as well as a civilizational model capable of being exported peacefully, the more it presents itself as a citadel besieged by the barbarians, and the more it places its defense and its strategic actions under the sign of absolute urgency in the face of vital threats – a displacement capable of justifying the radicalization of the enemy’s uses as well as ” anything goes” to prevent it from harming.

 

[11]Minimum salary: 24,000 Taiwan dollars, or 745 euros.

 

[12]Their minimum wage, set by law, is lower than that of nationals … When the government has set up a system of vouchers intended to stimulate the consumption of people with modest incomes, at the time of the pandemic – the subordinates from the South – East Asian were excluded, a discrimination even Taipei Times found hard to swallow…

 

 

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