Introduction / Part I: Political Theology / Introduction to Part One / 1. Concrete Reason / 2. Modernity and Its Discontents / 3. Sovereignty / Part II: State versus Society / Introduction to Part Two / 4. Theorizing State and Society / 5. Liberalism / 6. Democracy / 7. Ethical State, Total State / Conclusion / Works Cited / Index
William Rasch is Professor of Germanic Studies at Indiana University. He has published extensively on the German intellectual tradition - philosophy, social theory, political theory - concentrating on the work of Niklas Luhmann, Carl Schmitt, and aspects of German Idealism. He is the author of Sovereignty and its Discontents: On the Primacy of Conflict and the Structure of the Political (2004) and Niklas Luhmann's Modernity: The Paradoxes of Differentiation (2000), as well as editor of several volumes.
If the "respectful agonistic" politics celebrated by William Connolly, Chantal Mouffe and others seems increasingly a fading dream, where is one to look? William Rasch has written a bold and challenging book, engaging Carl Schmitt on the level of the foundation of his thought rather than the edifice erected upon it. For Rasch, Schmitt makes four important critical stances. First is a reliance on concrete reason, unassisted by any transcendental support. Secondly, the basic quality of human beings is neither good nor evil but is a problem - hence it is political. Rights, therefore, are not pre-political: the question is as to their author. And lastly, discussion cannot be the road to consensus. This book makes a very strong case for the importance of Carl Schmitt in our times. -- Tracy B. Strong, Professor of Political Thought and Philosophy, University of Southampton