Subject 1: A state does not allow forces inimical to it, or those that limit or divide it, to develop within its interior. It does not contemplate surrendering new powers of coercion to its own enemies and destroyers, thus burying its power under such formulae as liberalism, rule of law, etc. It can discern between friends and enemies. In this sense, as has been said, every true state is, and always has been, a total state. (Schmitt, Carl, «Strong State and Sound Economy: An Address to Business Leaders», in Carl Schmitt and Authoritarian Liberalism, Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1998, p. 217. )
Explain the arguments of both Schmitt and of Lenin against liberal democracy of the late 19th Century. During the late 19th Century, liberal democracy was established in the societies. This form of government implies to fair, free and competitive elections between distinct political parties. It is based under the principals of liberalism which the main ideas are the equality and liberty of the human beings. Also, the main concept of liberal democracy is the individualism of this self-government who defends the separation of powers into different branches of government and follows the principal of the rule of law as part of an open society.
However, this system has been objected since the late of the 19th Century by different influenced political philosophers as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) who was a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist who served as the leader of the Russian SFSR from 1917,and then as Premier of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924; and Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) who was a German jurist, philosopher, political theorist and professor of law. He was tied to the Nazis and he developed the concepts of the Friend/Enemy Distinction and the State of exception.
From opposite sides, these two authors criticized the liberal democracy exposing arguments claiming that this “certainty and stability” that this government assures, does not exist and need to be changed into new states. Trade between various countries of the world has taken place for many hundreds of years. In the 19th Century, liberal democracy defends the policy of free trade between nations which relies on the trade of the surpluses of the goods of a country for the products that this country cannot produce, or is less efficient at producing.
This form of trade permits mutual gains of goods and services because imports and exports won’t be interfered by tariffs, subsidies or quotas. A free access to markets, a trade without taxes and an absence of “trade-distorting” policies would allow everyone to produce and consume and would make disappear the advantages on the markets. On the other side, the opposition of free trade defends that free trade provokes political instability and that it is imperialism disguise. As V.
Lenin thought, free trade was a Bourgeois Imperialism where the system focuses on resolving disputes within the ruling bourgeoisie class and ignores the interests of the workers. The labour class was, for Lenin, explored and struggled to be represented. Therefore, the bourgeoisie dominates the system and the free trade could increase the prospects of revolution. Also, Carl Schmitt thought that the free trade was a sort of imperialism, a British Imperalism. With the dominant position in the world trade of the British Empire in the end of the 19th Century, C.
Schmitt saw that the free trade was just a way of national protection for the British because they could enter in every country and control their empire. Prohibiting the taxes was a strategy to develop their own market and dominate and explore every other market. Liberal democracy is also characterized by private sector of ownership and by private property and decentralized decision making, the “laissez faire”. Self-interest rather than sympathy is its most primary motivation to improve without government direction.
Having private and decentralized decision making permits the maximum freedom because the market prices determine the range of choices available which depends on the individual resources. In contrast, Lenin proposes a society marked by central planning whereby the state controls a country’s economy. There so, the factors of production and all enterprises are state owned, with market decisions being made by a central authority. Also, Lenin saw the liberal democracy as an exploitation of the surplus value of labor and thought the best way of controlling the market was a collective state.
Lenin desired that the unequal relations of power established by private property were eliminated. However, in Carl Schmitt point of view, this private property was a combination of several parties which he considered as “sects”. Each party wanted their own constitution and regulation and could never be defeated during the elections. They have their one interest and the lack of government direction makes equality impossible. Therefore, Schmitt defends that it should exist National Strategy, a national single will to overcome the party systems.
The unity of the State would preserve the national interests and the national protection. Likewise, liberal democracy supports that the state is Neutral and there is a Limited Government such as the government would not interfere in the decision-making which would allow equality and liberty for everyone. The power of government, in a limited system, to intervene in the exercise of civil liberties is restricted by law. Withal, Vladimir Lenin accuses liberal democracy of defending the interest of the bourgeois, so it is not a Neutral State but a state where exists class oppression.
He thinks the state should be replaced by a total state on behalf of the working class. In his book The State and Revolution, Lenin describes the role of the Sate in society, the necessity of proletarian revolution to establish the dictatorship of proletariat, their own government. Also, Lenin thought the bourgeois democracy had to be suppressed in other to destroy capitalism and the interests of the rich and believed in the necessity of a violent overthrow of capitalism as the first stage to established communism.
On the other side, Carl Schmitt relied that there was separation between society and the state in this Neutral State, and there was the presence of tension. His vision was that there shouldn’t exist division. Instead, there is a need of a Total State with a single will on behalf of the nation, because liberals are delaying the choice and never reach a consent to solve a problem. As he says in the Strong State and Sound Economy: an Address to Business Leaders, “A state does not allow forces inimical to it, or those that limit or divide it, to develop within its interior.
It does not contemplate surrendering new powers of coercion to its own enemies and destroyers, thus burying its power under such formulae as liberalism, rule of law, etc. It can discern between friends and enemies. In this sense, as has been said, every true state is, and always has been, a total state. ” This meaning that Carl Schmitt defends a state where the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life and where the individual is subordinated to the state.
In conclusion, the neutral, central and equal image that the liberal democracy tried to establish and defend was criticized and attacked by political philosophers from both political sides. From the left, Vladimir Lenin claim that liberal democracy was under the bourgeois governance and that the working class was exploited. The author defends that there is a need of a revolution to institute the Proletariat government instead of a Limited Government like the capitalism tries to offer.
However, there is also Carl Schmitt, from the right political side, who blames the liberal democracy of being under the British imperialism and reproaches the division between the liberal doctrine of separation of powers. The author suggests that there should be national unity instead of private property and that a Total State should be initiated. Some authors were opposed to liberal democracy, to capitalism, but others like Keynes and Schumpeter try to defend it and expose how it could survive.