Carl Schmitt + more stuff
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Carl Schmitt was a German jurist, legal theorist and political theorist. The common narrative around him is that he came up with the legal principles that justified most of Nazi Germany’s greatest excesses. His work has also been used to justify the Xi-era legal system in China with legal thinking leaning heavily on the work that Carl Schmitt did. But there is more to the Schmitt story than that.
Conservative state theory
While the current Communist Party of China thinkers see Schmitt as a like mind, the German legal system and Schmitt’s legal system would have appealed to China from the founding of modern China with the monarchy being deposed, through warlord era though to the leadership of the Kuomintang. Germany had consolidated into a modern nation and built an empire in a relatively short space of time thanks to its legal system and a conservative state theory.
Cautionary tale of the Weimar Republic
Post World War One, the Weimar Republic put checks and balances on the government through the courts, which was seen as a negative given the relative performance of the country. Into this political change came Carl Schmitt. Ryan Mitchell does a good job at bringing Carl Schmitt’s story to life and talk through his relevance to China through the years.
Moving forward to Xi-era China, the Weimar Republic that Carl Schmitt lived in looks like a living nightmare in the the same way that German Empire looked like an exemplar. Secondly, socialism didn’t provide an appropriate legal system for Communist China, so they adapted the German system that the Kuomintang had used previously with Chinese socialist characteristics that Hitler would have approved of.
Carl Schmitt comes across as a more complex figure than he has been recently portrayed.
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