Politics and the Political: Genealogy of a Conceptual Difference

Oliver Marchart

in Post-Foundational Political Thought

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780748624973
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672066 | DOI:
Politics and the Political: Genealogy of a Conceptual Difference

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In 1956, troops of the Warsaw pact states invaded Hungary and cracked down on the Hungarian revolution. This event had heavily dislocating effects on Western political thought. As a reaction, Paul Ricoeur published one of his best-known essays, ‘The Political Paradox’, in which he seeks to come to terms philosophically with the exigency of the Hungarian events. Counter to state-Marxism, his aim is to think what he perceives as the double originality of politics: a specifically political rationality and a specifically political evil. In order to work his way towards this double specificity he has to disentangle the rationality of politics from the sphere of economic rationality, to which it was reduced by Marxism. It seems that the way ‘the political’ is understood differs between the followers of Hannah Arendt and the followers of Carl Schmitt. While the ‘Arendtians’ see in the political a space of freedom and public deliberation, the Schmittians see in it a space of power, conflict and antagonism. Both the Arendtian and the Schmittian trajectory share what can be called the neutralisation or sublimation thesis.

Keywords: politics; political; Paul Ricoeur; Marxism; The Political Paradox; Hannah Arendt; Carl Schmitt; economic rationality; neutralisation; sublimation thesis

Chapter.  10312 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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