An Old Question Raised Again: Is War Merely the Continuation of Politics?

March 17, 2023
Academic Conference Center
Institute of Philosophy
Jilská 1, Praha 1

This talk is part of a longer study, as part of “The Perpetual Peace Project ~ 2022,” concerning what could be called the deconstruction of the Westphalian peace as one of the most important factors in understanding the return of the question of “the Balance of Europe” in response to the war in Ukraine today. In his 1962 “Theory of the Partisan,” Carl Schmitt invoked this history in describing the legal code of international law that was established to make possible a limited or ‘bracketed war” on the European continent, thereby protecting the boundaries between the temporal states of war and peace, and providing the juridical and diplomatic terms to distinguish between a “just or legal war” between existing nation-states and an indefinite or unlimited civil or partisan warfare, especially in the context of the various imperial, neo-colonial, and nationalist revolutions in Asia and Latin-America. It is at this point that Schmitt turns to the analysis of the reform-minded Prussian military officer, Clausewitz, who, in On War (1808), first addressed the problems to this “classical” theory of warfare that was caused by the new existence of partisan strategies and tactics of warfare, and it is precisely from this context that we find a new interpretation of the proposition that “war is a mere continuation of politics by another means.”