Reconfiguring the political landscape

Paul Gottfried, Elizabethtown College


In 1927 Carl Schmitt published The Concept of the Political, wherein he set out to explain political life. According to Schmitt, political groups are essentially life-and-death associations. In the European case, the Schmittians’ argument for regionalism is that regions are already cohesive and can therefore provide a cultural base for a reconstructed political order. Contrary to the view of a long popular political philosophy textbook, neither John Locke nor Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that citizenship in a well-ordered society should be open to everyone. There will be cooptation unless populism is joined to a program of political reconstruction-a reconstruction committed to the restoration of effective self-government. Economic and cultural wars may rage, but how they turn out hinges on political questions that are definitely not of secondary importance. New frames of reference are necessary to comprehend the political landscape in this age of postmodernity and post-liberalism.