Violence Is Necessary For The Function Of The Successful State Essay

Violence Is Necessary For The Function Of The Successful State Essay

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While both Carl Schmitt and Michael Foucault establish the ubiquity of violence to the Modern State in The Concept of the Political and Society Must be Defended (respectively), Schmitt focuses on violence as a mechanism of interstate relations, while Foucault concentrates on violence as a mechanism of State control and regulation over the populace. Both Schmitt and Foucault agree that violence is necessary for the function of the successful State, but differ on what forms of violence it is acceptable to implement and where violence is required.
In his The Concept of the Political, Schmitt establishes that violence is political and central to the Modern State as a basic form of interaction that prevails between States. Violence can only be functional as an interstate interaction between established enemies, and such violence is termed ‘war’. War exists as a staple of interstate interaction, which Schmitt regards as being fundamentally based on military conflict: “War is armed combat between organized political entities; civil war is armed combat within an organized unit” (Schmitt, 32). For Schmitt, violence depends on the friend/enemy distinction to function. The State, as a Sovereign, establishes other political entities as its friends and enemies to dictate the subsequent interactions that can take place between them. “The friend, enemy, and combat concepts receive their real meaning precisely because they refer to the real possibility of physical killing. War follows from enmity. War is the existential negation of the enemy” (Schmitt, 33). Political action, such as war, always presupposes the humanity of those governed by the Sovereign, and those it deems friend or enemy. “The justification of war does not resid...


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...uses on the State and relationships with its contemporaries, Foucault looks at the intricacies of the State itself. Schmitt does not take into account racism in his concept of violence within the State: power relations are undefined and there is no normative distinction within the populace. For Foucault, racism becomes the mechanism to distinguish between the internal/domestic friend and enemy within the State. Both Schmitt’s and Foucault’s concepts of violence in the Modern State have the potential for poetic imagery. Foucault’s concept of biopower and racism evokes the image of the State as a rosebush, and any act of violence under the mechanism of racism is like the pruning of dead leaves and stunted stems. Schmitt’s concept of violence as interstate relations suggests a chess board, with each piece enacting violence on its opposition until reaching victory.

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