A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought

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Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) was one of the twentieth century's most brilliant and disturbing critics of liberalism. He was also one of the most important intellectuals to offer his services to the Nazis, for which he was dubbed the 'crown jurist of the Third Reich'. Despite this fateful alliance Schmitt has exercised a profound influence on post-war European political and legal thought - on both the Right and the Left, from Franco's legal advisors to Italian Marxists. In this illuminating book, Jan-Werner Muller traces for the first time the permutations of Schmitt's ideas after the Second World War and relates them to broader political developments. Offering a concise account of Schmitt's life and career along with discussions of his key concepts, Muller explains why interest in the political theorist continues. He analyses Schmitt's post-1945 writings on international order, partisanship, and terror. He explores in detail the responses of liberal thinkers to Schmitt's challenging legacy and the highly ingenious (and often problematic) defences of liberalism they devised. Muller offers a range of insights into the liberalization of political thinking in post-authoritarian societies and the persistent vulnerabilities and blind spots of certain strands of Western liberalism. Finally, he also assesses the current uses of Schmitt's thought in debates on globalization and the quest for a liberal world order. Jan-Werner Muller is a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is the author of 'Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity' also published by Yale University Press.