Mitchell Dean. Handbook of Historical Sociology. Editor: Gerard Delanty & Engin F Isin. Sage Publication. 2003.
“By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, of Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they follow that path all the way to where it ends: in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.” — George W. Bush
Genealogy is an approach to historical materials that perhaps is neither history proper nor historical sociology. It uses historical materials not to reconstruct the past, or to discern the comparative or universal development of society, but methodically to call into question what is given to us, and what we take for granted. Genealogy is interesting not in itself, or in general, but in its analysis of singularities, in the manner it forges critical concepts in relation to historical materials. The approach taken here is to activate genealogy in relation to a current concern: that of the international order, the securing of habitable social space, the role of international law and the regulation of war and peace.
Genealogy thus starts from our singular experiences in the present. It addresses the forms of truth and knowledge that are the condition of these experiences. Its approach to truth can be distinguished from others. It is not a totalizing knowledge of the past premised upon broad-scale historical processes, for example of modernization, of urbanization or of globalization. It is not an attempt to capture the intention behind ideas or their movement towards their current form. Nor is it an attempt to legislate the conditions of emergence of true knowledge. It is thus not general historical sociology, the history of ideas or epistemology. It is concerned, purely and simply, with the conditions and effects of truth.
This grounding in the present, in current experiences, and in relation to current social and political struggle and strife, does not manifest an anachronistic relation to the past. Somewhat like Weber’s understanding of the value relevance of the social sciences (Weber, 1949), we might say that genealogy is ‘present-relevant’ (Dean, 1994). By making explicit its relation to the present, it seeks to limit the tendency to read the past through the present. This is done not by the impossible claim to be able to read historical documents in their own terms, but by a willingness to read such documents by means of their own terms, to seek an intelligibility which is near to them, intrinsic to the materiality and singularity of statements, and is not imported into them from afar. Genealogy tries thus to limit the constitutive presentism of all historical interpretation, by bracketing our tendency to read the past in terms of present truths or values.
Genealogy, in this sense, is written against truth rather than for it. It is written against the narratives that constitute our present, and that assure us of its necessity and naturalness. It tries to denaturalize our experiences, to place them within multiple trajectories, to lift them above the horizon of the taken for granted, to put them in context, to break them up. It forces us to examine them anew. Against stories of continuity, for example of the development of the longue durée, it denies us of the comfort of feeling at home in the foreign land which is the past, and which might even be our most recent past. Here we suggest a lineage that contests the continuity of the moralization of war. Against narratives of discontinuity, which decipher in our present a fulcrum between past and present, a moment of epoch-making change, it develops little lines of continuity which reveal the hubris and apocalyptic tendencies of such theorists. Again, here we find a trajectory that connects current humanitarian justifications of intervention and Christian theological ones of the Middle Ages. Its attitude to the present is that it regards it as ‘a time like any other, or rather, a time which is never quite like any other’ (Foucault, 1994: 126). It is not concerned with what is post or ‘pre,’ with a first or second age of modernity (Beck, 2000a), with the lateness or newness of the age, with the emergence of a new type of society (risk society, information society, and so on). It is neither a triumphalist story of the inevitable betterness of the present nor its nihilist counterpart of tragic decline into gloom and perdition. Its purposes are diagnostic (Deleuze, 1991), to sort out what is necessary and what is contingent, and thus open to change, in how we think and how we act. It is thus an attempt to renew acquaintance with the strangeness of the present against all attempts to erase it under the dialectic of reason in history or to mark it as a moment of millenarian rupture, final denouement or irreversible loss.
There are many types of genealogy and it can be written from different perspectives (Gordon, 1986: 77-80). The types range across the political spectrum. Their moods are vastly different. For Colin Gordon, it is possible to identify the ‘permanent pragmatics of survival’ in Max Weber or Joseph Schumpeter, a concern for the limits of what might be hoped for given the dynamics of a system. He also discerns a ‘semiology of catastrophe’ that addresses the past to decipher the signs of an impending catastrophe, such as found in the generation of Austrian and German émigrés of the 1930s. We can add that it might be written as a ‘problematization of what is emergent’ bearing in mind the lessons of the immediate past as in the case of the postwar writings on the international order by Carl Schmitt, which we take up here. Or, again, it might be concerned to diagnose the limits and potentialities of the present, in the sense of Michel Foucault and his colleagues. In one way or another genealogy refers us back to Nietzsche’s meditations on the monumental, antiquarian and critical uses of history and his project for a genealogical revaluation of all values.
Genealogy is thus a crooked rather than straight method. It starts from a problematization of present truths to assemble different multiple and incomplete paths: lines of descent, lineages, trajectories of discourses, practices, events without determinative beginning or necessary end. It ‘eventalizes’ (Foucault, 1991b: 76-8): it discovers and names singular events the birth of the prison, the figure of the pauper, the emergence of international law—and decomposes them into their constitutive elements formed through multiple processes.
One, however, cannot say very much more about the character of genealogy than I have said here. The discussion I choose—with a certain untimely timeliness—is the question of how the world is governed and divided into social spaces. For it seems to me that we have been presented with a narrative here of the decline of sovereignty and the rise of heterogeneous and polycentric networks of governance, of governance without government, of a world without hegemony or sovereignty (Beck, 2000b: 36-7). The territorialization and spatialization of power that places individuals and populations within nation-states is held to have given way to multiple allegiances and identifications favoured by a self-governing and individualized cosmopolitan subject. We also assume that the justification for certain kinds of military, diplomatic and philanthropic interventions is fairly unproblematic, even if we might argue about how we apply the principles in any specific case. Aid should be humanitarian. Military and diplomatic measures should be used to ensure human rights, to prevent and to punish ‘crimes against humanity.’ This logic of humanitarianism underlines our actions to ensure this polycentric order of networks.
What follows starts from the problem of international government, from the practical form in which this problem presents itself, the theoretical questions it raises and the concepts it forces us to examine. In this process, we indicate some of the lineages that might be explored. They converge, however, on the relation between the ordering of the earth, its nomos, and a major line of genealogical investigation: that of war and peace.
Problematizations and Concepts
Genealogy starts from the interrogation of that which is given to us as truth. The problem of international government and the division of the world into differential social spaces is above all a practical question. It concerns the nature of ‘the political constitution of the present’ (Hardt and Negri, 2000), that is, the relations of power that constitute the spatial and territorial divisions of the world at a global level. Are we living in a time of the hegemony of the military, political and economic powers that constitute the United States? Or is it one of multi-polar regionalism of groupings in the Americas, Europe and Asia? Or, again, are we living at a time when speaking of a single world order no longer makes any sense? A world in which we have ‘governance without government’ (Rosenau, 2000: 183)? How do we account for the role of supranational and subnational associations, organizations and movements, whether of a political character, such as the United Nations, of a juridical character, such as the International Court of Justice, of an economic character, such as the World Trade Organization and multinational corporations, or of a philanthropic and as we would say humanitarian character, such as Amnesty International or the United Nations High Commission for Refugees? What do we make of the diagnosis of our present as one of economic globalizations and cultural cosmopolitanism (Beck, 2000a)? How are we to think about the advent of mass protests against globalization in recent years from Seattle to Genoa? How are to understand the universalism of notions of human rights that guides many of our supranational political and legal organizations and which has become the normative basis for the engagement in war and other military interventions from the Persian Gulf to Kosovo, and recently to Afghanistan and beyond in a self-styled ‘war against terrorism’? What sort of spaces are created in which individuals, populations and groups can live? Among them, will there continue to be the space of the territory defined by the sovereign national state? In what form and in what relations to other bodies? These are some of the immediate questions that constitute our present.
The question of international government and the division of the world into social space is also a theoretical one. Let us begin with the division of the world into social spaces. I take social spaces to refer to the locales and territories in which some kind of social existence can proceed. This social existence consists of what is taken to be a normal and regular form of life. Such social spaces might themselves be divided, or related to other social spaces, as our language of inclusion and exclusion suggests. A normal everyday form of life presupposes divisions among populations, and transformations and movements across categories of populations, which occur within definite geographies of inclusion and exclusion (Sibley 1995). Social spaces thus understood are forms of territorialization. While we might want to talk of the virtual spaces and communities of the Internet and other information and communication technologies, social spaces would seem to imply some reference to a specific geographical place or locale. We might be in contact with a group of colleagues through the Internet, but we still have to access the Internet from a specific geographically delimited social space.
To talk about ‘governance’ or ‘government,’ on the other hand, is to raise the issue of the ordering of the world, its territories, its materialities and human populations in such a way for it to be composed of such spaces. Further, to talk about ‘international’ government is to discuss the political features of this ordering, which is a condition of such a division of the world into habitable social spaces and which regulates the relations between social spaces and the consequences of activities within and across the various social spaces.
The early modern notion of ‘government’ favoured by Michel Foucault captures this ordering of things and people, and their relations and movement—the ‘right disposition of things as are committed to the charge of any man, to bring them to a meet end’ (De la Perrière, 1599 : 23). But government in this sense already presupposes a space, a territory or a geography in which people and things exist as something to be governed and in which governors and governed are brought into relationship. Both government and social spaces thus already depend upon the existence of an agency, a site or a position, which ensures public order and security, decides when such a condition obtains, and ‘[successfully] claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory,’ as Max Weber put its (1948 : 77-8, original emphasis). Government, whether national or international, and the social spaces it seeks to govern, thus depends on a prior set of processes that political thinkers have conventionally called ‘sovereignty.’ As Carl Schmitt put it in 1922, ‘sovereignty (and thus the state itself) resides in… determining definitively what constitutes public order and security, in determining when they are disturbed, and so on’ (1985: 9). The absence of this site of determination is probably the major problem with the notion of governance in its managerialist, globalist and even poststructuralist versions. One primary genealogical task is a problematization of the claim that we live in a world beyond or of diminished sovereignty, state and hegemonic power in the new international order.
The usual agency of the exercise and concentration of such sovereign powers for the last several centuries has been the nation-state. There is today a widespread view that sovereignty is in decline because the nation-state is in decline. One instance of this is James Rosenau’s argument that rather than discuss ‘command’ it would be better to talk of ‘governance’ to describe the disaggregated ‘steering mechanisms’ of social and political systems today (see Rosenau, 2000: 181-2). Such a view has its theoretical correlate in the need to move away from a ‘sovereigntist’ conception of power in political analysis, a move led by Foucault (1980) a quarter of a century ago. But perhaps such intellectual moves—not to mention recent military actions after the events of 11 September 2001—are occasions to rethink both the idea of government or governance and the notion of sovereignty supposedly in theoretical and actual decline.
Without going into its details, genealogies of government and rule have shown that there have been significant extensions of new powers and techniques of power since the eighteenth century, including those of discipline, biopolitics and government. However, these have at most led to a line of modification of sovereignty rather than its supersession. Sovereignty is aggregated in new diplomatic, military and economic associations and delegated to multiple agencies, including certain kinds of officers, specialists and sovereign individuals. Given that pluralization of sovereignty is a condition of its existence (that is, there are always multiple sovereign agencies, for example, in the classical image of the European state system), then there is no reason to conclude that contemporary plurality means that sovereignty is thereby limited. We thus need to think about the relation between sovereignty and these new powers, and the transformation of sovereignty, in order to consider the problem of international government outside the story of the diminishing of this modality of power.
On this question of power, Foucault has been the obvious guide for some time. If I were to sum up his contribution to this area, it is to entertain the notion that the question of power is not helped by the easy division of social formations into economic base and political and cultural superstructure. The manner in which individuals, their bodies and populations are governed is a condition for the formation of class-divided liberal and capitalist societies (for example, Foucault, 1977a, 1979). But Foucault’s work is ultimately rooted in a kind of critical history of human sciences, concerned principally with the conditions of existence and consequences of particular forms of knowledge (Gutting, 1989). It only ever claims to be partial and perspectival. It does not move from an analysis of disciplinary and biopolitical power-knowledge relations to an account of, say, the systems of production and consumption of the global trade in biomaterials. Foucault does not seek to move us from institutional practice and knowledge to general processes, to system, and to the agency and resistance to that system. Perhaps it is time that genealogical analyses follow Foucault beyond his own limits.
The other theoretical problem I want to dwell on is the question implicitly raised above of ‘world order.’ Is ‘international government’ a term which is the equivalent of ‘world order?’ Or is something different—a replacement or displacement of the problem of the governance of the planet; its division into national entities; their interaction with one another, with the diverse agencies addressed above, with the people, animals, plant and mechanical life of the earth, the seas and the air? The question I would like to raise is not ‘what is the current world order?’ There are several possible answers to this and I claim no special expertise in international relations and jurisprudence which would be a condition of answering it. My question is: how is it possible not to have a world order? Even if we were to agree there was no single intentional agent directing a global political-economic-military system, we might want to reflect upon the consequences of the view that the planet has simply become benignly or malignly anarchic, as the decentred governance thesis seems to suggest. A possible genealogy here would be of the very concept of America. Its working hypothesis would be that the world must have an order, at least since 1492 and the Age of Discovery of the New World. From that date, it might be argued, it has become impossible to have a social order in one part of the globe disconnected from what is happening in every other space. America—its Discovery, its Revolution, the Monroe Doctrine, the Atlantic Charter—put paid to that. Such a genealogy would need to take into account Locke’s audacious claim that ‘in the beginning all the World was America’ (1988 : 301).
Carl Schmitt was a man of dubious character and is still, perhaps, a controversial reference. His association with National Socialism and his opportunist or self-preserving anti-Semitic statements in the 1930s are enough to make him a breathtakingly problematic authority. Perhaps it is better to think with him than to acknowledge him. Here, we do otherwise. This is not because of his reputation as ‘the Hobbes of the twentieth century’ (Schwab, 1985: xiv). Rather he is the one modern thinker who helps us consider the question of world order and government.
A key to understanding Schmitt’s contribution to international government is his concept of ‘nomos,’ which could, but maybe should not, be translated as law or order. Thus one of his postwar works is entitled Der Nomos der Erde (1950). It could be translated as the ‘Law of the Earth’ or even ‘World Order,’ but given that so much rests on the word nomos, it is perhaps best to leave it in the Greek, to retain its status as a concept. Another term might be ‘governance,’ or, as Foucault would have it, ‘government.’ Reading Schmitt from a post-Foucauldian theoretical perspective presents us with strange similarities and overlaps. Both are concerned with the fundamental manifestations of power, with the how of power, as we know Foucault (1982) put it. But Schmitt, perhaps more than Foucault, focuses on the where of power. ‘Prior to every legal, economic and social order, prior to every legal, economic or social theory, there is this simple question: Where and how was it appropriated? Where and how was it divided? Where and how was it produced?’ (Schmitt, 1993 : 56, original emphasis).
Nomos thus means three things: to take or appropriate; to divide and to distribute; and to pasture, to run a household, to use, to produce. To take, to distribute, to produce. Foucault’s notion of government seems only to encompass something like the middle term here. On the one hand, it is opposed to sovereignty as its contrastive term. The story of the art of government is the story of its gradual detachment from the figure of sovereignty as told in Foucault’s governmentality lecture (1991a; see also Dean, 1999: 102-12). On the other hand, we glimpse a sense of the third part of nomos in the transition from a familial or householding conception of economy to the one found in liberal political economy. But, for the latter, the economy is a kind of external limit to the art of government. So while Foucault’s account of the art of government requires both sovereignty and its appropriation and discusses the ways in which agents might be governed (but not ‘too much’ in the liberal case [Foucault, 1997: 74]) so that they have the capacity to enter into production, at least at some levels it severs government/governance from law and sovereignty, on the one hand, and production and economy, on the other.
International government cannot be separated from the histories of conquest and appropriation. For Schmitt, there is no social and political order that is not somehow based on land. The history of social spaces is the history of land appropriations.
The history of peoples with their migrations, colonizations, and conquests is the history of land appropriation. Either this is an appropriation of free land, with no claim to ownership, or the conquest of alien land which has been appropriated under the legal title of foreign-political warfare or by domestic political means such as the proscription, deprivation and forfeiture of newly divided land. (1993 : 56)
The discovery and appropriation of the Americas is certainly an epoch-making event at the dawn of modernity. Today, appropriation and conquest includes the seas, the skies, the airwaves, the totality of the means of industrial production, communication and information systems, and space itself.
That which is appropriated can be mapped, divided and subdivided, weighed up, measured and distributed. We might say that this is the ‘social’ question. If the social and political existence of human collectives remains rooted on the land, then the parcellization and distribution of land is a condition of that existence. This is what Hobbes understood by nomos: that act of the sovereign power that introduces and then distributes property. And this they well knew of old, who called that Nomos (that is to say, Distribution,) which we call Law; and defined Justice, by distributing to every man his own(Hobbes, 1996 : 171, Ch. 24, original emphasis). The social question is a distributional question, and thus a question of justice. It presupposes a community that has formed itself into a sovereign entity that has appropriated land and other resources to itself and now seeks to resolve the question of justice within that community. To those who might have been excluded from appropriation, this question of justice does not apply.
Schmitt’s provocation is that most liberals and socialists have focused on distribution and production at the expense of appropriation (1993 : 58-63). Technicist and progressivist socialists, such as Charles Fourier, and liberal political economists focus on the capacity of modern society to increase production to solve the distributional question. Moral socialists, such as Proudhon, and some social liberals focus on the distribution of the social product. Marx, above all, stands out from this as grounding socialism in a dialectical philosophy of history which accepts the progressive augmentation of production under liberalism but which emphasizes the question of appropriation in his notion of ‘the expropriation of the expropriators.’ One feels that Schmitt agrees with much of what Marx has to say about the processes of the ‘primitive accumulation’ of capital, which includes the enclosures of commons, privateering and piracy, plunder, land grabs, dispossession of indigenous peoples and peasants, slavery, and so on (Marx, 1974 : 686-93). However, Schmitt feels, in making appropriation the solution to the social question, Marx adopts a similar position to those such as Joseph Chamberlain who, at the end of the nineteenth century, argued that a programme of colonial expansion would solve domestic social questions. ‘If the essence of imperialism lies in the precedence of the appropriation over distribution and production, then a doctrine such as the expropriation of the expropriators is obviously the strongest imperialism because it is the most modern’ (Schmitt, 1997 : 63).
While nomos is a concept, it appears differently to human beings at different points in their history. Here Foucault’s lecture on governmentality (1991a) can be understood as offering us an account of the manner in which nomos has been understood since early modern times in Europe. The art of government he traces focuses on the arts of distribution and production and is contrasted with an approach to government, most clearly exemplified by Machiavelli, which is concerned with the acquisition and holding on to the state—that is, its appropriation. The early modern arts of government—mercantilism, cameralist police science, reason of state—are fundamentally concerned with distributions. All of these forms of thought are concerned with the proper distribution of people and things, with their order and movement, within the territorial boundaries of the state. They refer back to the notion of economy as oikos, as the management of the household. Mercantilism can thus be read as a doctrine of distribution among the industrious households and the circulation of goods between them and between different states, themselves conceived as royal or national households (Dean, 1991: 28-34; Furniss, 1957). One is tempted to place even Adam Smith in this category and regard the market as a distributional mechanism that is superior to the action of the sovereign (Tribe, 1978: 100-45). Liberalism, with its reliance on classical political economy, presents itself as a rupture in these forms. Classical political economy—Malthus, then Ricardo—places the processes of production, driven by a population at permanent peril from natural scarcity, at the root of economic or market activity and thus inaugurates the modern economic and political episteme. However, none of the governmentalities analysed by Foucault concerns itself with appropriation.
Foucault is concerned with transformations in how humans become conscious of nomos, of how they order, divide, distribute, measure, map, weigh up, calculate, and so on. However, with Schmitt, none of this can occur without a prior or at least simultaneous process of appropriation which forms the primary dimension of nomos. Every act of governing, every ordering on the face of the planet has as it condition an act of appropriation and hence a power that reserves to itself the right to distribute the fruits of that appropriation. Perhaps we could read Foucault as tracing a forgetting of this appropriation within European consciousness in the form of the detachment of government/governance/ governmentality from sovereignty.
War and Peace
Yet if there is no governance without appropriation, conquest, the taking of land and the drawing of territorial boundaries, then war is a part of governance and particularly an instrument of international government. Foucault seems to suggest this when he places the development of the art of government in the classical period between two acts of European public law, the Treaty of Westphalia of 1649 and the Congress of Vienna of 1815, and when he mentions that governmentality was partially born out of the ‘diplomatic-military technique’ that led to the former (1991a: 104). At least amongst his published lectures, however, there is very little commentary on this matter.
By contrast, Schmitt follows the trajectory of the nomos of the earth in such a way that the changing rules of war, the development of European international law, the emergence and formation of sovereign statehood, and the processes of discovery and colonization of the New World are all a part of a single picture.
At the centre of this picture is the system of international public law which arises in Europe from the early seventeenth century and reaches its apogee in the nineteenth century, which he calls the jus publicum Europaeum. Such a system was founded on a renunciation of the traditional theme of the just war, the bellum ex justa causa. (Kervégan, 1999: 59-61). For Schmitt, this system enters into decline after the Great War and the Versailles Treaty with its subsequent ‘criminalization of the enemy’—in this case Germany.
According to Schmitt, European public law emerged as a transformation of medieval notions of just war, derived from St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and embodied in the twelfth-century Gratian Decree, and of notions of the respublica Christiana under the Pope’s authority (Schmitt, 1996 : 47-50; Kervégan, 1999: 59). Even as late as the discovery of the New World, this Christian international law required Christian princes and peoples to fulfil the Pope’s missionary mandate as their duty. Thus secular rulers were subject to a higher spiritual authority which required them to ensure the safety of ‘free missions.’ The Dominican theologian Vitoria (1991 ) would thus offer a justification of the legal title gained by conquest of America as fulfilling this missionary mandate, while rejecting its basis in discovery, occupation or the inferiority of the barbarians. As Schmitt puts it:
If barbarians opposed the right of free passage and free missions, of liberum commercium and free propaganda, then they would violate the existing rights of the Spanish according to the ius gentium; if the peaceful entreaties of the Spanish were of no avail, then they had grounds for a just war. (1996 : 51, original emphasis)
In any case the relationship between Spain, or rather the Crown of Castile and Leon, and the Vatican is such that it is unthinkable in a system of secular sovereign states, each with its own territory, and where religion is an internal matter.
The freedom of missions, as well as of passage, and of commerce, provided a basis for regarding the conquest as a ‘just war’ of the respublica Christiana. It is interesting to note that one of the subsidiary grounds for the Spanish dominion over the Americas provided by Vitoria was
on account of the personal tyranny of the barbarians’ masters towards their subjects, or because of their tyrannical and oppressive laws against the innocent, such as human sacrifice practised on innocent men or the killing of condemned criminals for cannibalism. I assert that in lawful defence of the innocent from unjust death, even without the Pope’s authority, the Spaniards may prohibit the barbarians from practising any nefarious custom or rite. (1991 : 287-8, original emphasis)
This, part of a sixteenth-century lecture, suggests a rationale not dissimilar to what we would call ‘humanitarian intervention.’
Over the next several centuries, this notion of just war would be substantially altered with the development of a Law of Nations. In the first systematic work on this discipline, De jure belli ac pacis of 1625, Grotius maintains the idea of a ‘just war,’ but identifies it with ‘solemn public law’ or war ‘declared formally’ by one state on another (Kervégan, 1999: 59-60; Schmitt, 1996 : 76-8). By the eighteenth century Vattel argues that each state is ultimately the judge of the justice of its own causes and thus effectively displaces the material justification of war with the idea of formal regularity. According to his Le droit des gens of 1758, both sides in war can be thought of as equally legitimate if they conduct war formally. To put it briefly, there is a shift in European thought beginning in the sixteenth century from the notion of a just war to that of a ‘just enemy’ which parallels the decline of notions of a unified Christian empire under a unified authority of the Pope (Ulmen, 1996).
It is to the formation of the jus publicum Europaeum that we must look for a explanation of the changes of outlook. Post-medieval international law displaces the idea of a just war grounded in ecclesiastical law and replaces it with the notion of a just enemy defined by inter-state law (Ulmen, 1996: 103). The intention here is to limit war by bracketing moral evaluations of those who make war. It is, according to Schmitt (1996 : 68), a law between European states or sovereigns which eliminates notions of the holy empire or of the Pope’s sovereignty as a spiritual power. It is thus a ‘de theologized’ law that effects a definitive separation of theological and juridical arguments. Linked to this is ‘a non-discriminatory concept of the enemy’ as a formal equal to be treated according to rules of war rather than as a perpetual foe (hostis perpetui), as medieval Christianity had treated Jews and Saracens.
Schmitt thus views statehood not as universal but as an effect of the development of these political and legal arrangements (1996 : 69-70). These arrangements, which led to ‘a secularization of European life as a whole,’ had three facets: the centralization of the earlier forms of parcellized and divided authority under a single administration, judiciary and ruler; the neutralization of confessional conflict and the putting an end to European civil war; and, on the basis of this internal political unity, the ability of the state with a fixed territory to enter into foreign relations with other such states.
The establishment of a European system of states and international public law has implications for the nomos of the rest of the earth and gave rise to what Schmitt calls ‘global linear thinking’ (1996 : 33). The establishment of this European legal order had among its conditions the discovery of the New World and the beginning of the European land appropriations of the Americas. Schmitt demonstrates how the cartography of the Earth had specific political conditions. This is most notable in the secretly concluded ‘amity lines’ between European states such as England and France which ran along certain lines of the Earth, for example, the Equator or Tropic of Cancer (Schmitt, 1996 : 35-42). The most important was the meridian in the mid-Atlantic that marked the spaces at which European inter-state law was active and the spaces for which it became inactive. A condition for these land appropriations and the later colonial empires was the idea of ‘free spaces’ in which the rules of engagement of European states ceased to exist.
The general concept was then necessarily that everything which occurred ‘beyond the line’ remained outside the legal, moral and political values recognized on this side of the line. This was a tremendous exoneration of the internal European problematic. The significance of the famous and notorious expression ‘beyond the line’ in terms of international law lies precisely in this ‘exoneration’ (Schmitt, 1996 : 37).
It is to the Versailles Treaty and the formation of the League of Nations that Schmitt looks to find the beginning of the end of the jus publicum Europaeum. Rather than the just enemy, there is the criminalization of the enemy in the form of a state or its agents who commit crimes against peace and crimes against humanity (Ulmen, 1996). War undergoes a new moralization with such notions and ideas of ‘humanitarian intervention.’
The difference in the modern case and that of Vitoria cited previously is that it is now a question not of finding causes from which it is possible to fight just wars, but of the criminalization of aggression itself. In a legal opinion written for the lawyer of an arrested German industrialist in 1945, Schmitt distinguishes ‘crimes against peace’ and ‘crimes against humanity.’ The former makes aggressive war between sovereign states into a crime (after the Geneva Protocol of 1924 and Kellog-Briand Pact of 1928). The latter are scelus infandum, the abominable or intolerable high crimes and atrocities committed by a regime or its agents before or during war. ‘The brutality and bestiality of these monstrous crimes exceed the normal human power of comprehension. The order of a superior authority cannot justify or excuse such monstrous crimes’ (quoted in Ulmen, 1996: 108). By criminalizing acts of war, war ceases to be a public contest between recognized political entities. Instead of a legally governed undertaking with specific rules of engagement, it becomes international civil war. The just enemy becomes the perfidus hostis, sponsors and perpetrators of international terrorism, the Evil Empire, rogue states and criminal regimes—or, from another point of view, the Great Satan.
In the current era, is a rational, de theologized, government of war possible? Given the emergence of new collectivities and the transformation of the sovereignty of national states, how are we to regulate the political relationships (the friend/enemy relations) among the new Grossraume, that is, the term for regions or large spaces developed by Schmitt in the 1930s and which he used later to discuss the Cold War?
The problem with turning war into a criminal act, and annexing international law to the penal code, is that it offers no limitation on war against the enemy so defined. Schmitt claims that war becomes a kind of international civil war, a kind of combat that is no longer able to be regulated by any legal framework. I find this view extremely interesting and it suggests some similarities between the present and early modern Europe.
My suggestion, however, would be somewhat different. On the one hand, then, we have a situation which has the character of international civil war. We are witnessing a kind of globalization of war in which there is a proliferation of small wars affecting large parts of the Earth’s surface. In one notable example, a coalition of states, under the hegemony of the United States, conducts war by proxy, with local agents, against a state, in the name of an international war against terrorist networks. We are also witnessing protests and riots and the use of instruments of the security state to protect a regime of international government—from Seattle to Genoa. On the other hand, various powers and agencies, the USA, the UN, NATO and the OSCE, in their various relations, undertake, under the standing mandate of humanitarian intervention, to ‘police’ in something similar to the old sense. This military ‘police’ parallels the standing mandate provided to the WTO, the World Bank, and so on, and the economic and political elites of national states, to regulate economic and civil life in the name of the imperatives of economic globalization. Given that both the economic interventions and the military ones are justified by discourses of globalization/universalism and in the name of governing through, or protecting, certain kinds of rights and freedoms, I shall call this new dispositif ‘global liberal police.’
The new global liberal police, like Turquet’s police (Foucault, 2000: 318), is but one branch of government, but it also covers everything—‘justice, finance, the army,’ as Turguet says—including the movements of people, goods, weapons, biomaterials, finance and capital, the economic and social policies of national governments, the preservation and restoration of peace, the problems of world poverty, and the punishment and executive confinement of international aggressors.
International government cannot thus be divorced from international politics and international politics from international law. If the primary object of international law is the regulation and limitation of war between states, as Schmitt suggests, then this law has become an arm of a global liberal police. This police is different from the international law that regulated the rational, calculable conflicts of the nineteenth-century system of European states. It is precisely because
the consciousness of the enormous turning point and dynamic character of the present, precisely because of the consciousness of the incalculability of war, a new type of political realism has arisen which assumes this consciousness and does not fear to meet the opponent face to face because it knows that it has the right weapons. (Schmitt, quoted in Ulmen, 1996: 103)
This is the consciousness that can turn to its enemies and say thou shalt not engage in military aggression. It is a consciousness which talks of the emergence of a cosmopolitan democracy, of a world in which sovereignty is dispersed and diminished, in which polycentric governance has displaced government at the same time that it visits carnage upon regimes, networks and their luckless neighbours in defence of such principles.
Schmitt’s account of war and peace is genealogical in at least three senses. It disrupts accounts of the smooth trajectory of international law by identifying an event, the formation of the jus publicum Europaeum from the sixteenth to early twentieth centuries, which regulates the relations between sovereign states including the conduct of war. It ‘eventalizes.’ While there were certainly wars of colonization and expansion during this time which were bloody and brutal, this event marks a moment of the civilizing of war by displacing the just cause with the just enemy, by putting an end to theological war and decriminalizing aggression. At its best, war would be conducted according to formal rules, recognized by states, and limited in its impact upon non-combatant populations. The international regulation of the external relations of states in military and diplomatic matters is as much a part of the civilizing process as the domestic pacification of the internal territory of states, to add to Elias (1982 ).
By identifying an event, such a genealogy is able to locate an unnoticed rupture or break with the defeat of Germany in the Great War. This break is a condition of possibility of the re-moralization of war in the twentieth, and now the twenty-first, century, and thus marks a kind of decivilizing of war. War is no longer conducted formally between states but by states against a new criminal enemy whose identity remains nebulous, sometimes identified with regimes (the Taliban, for example) and at others with shadowy organizations (the al-Qaeda network). It is the paradox of the discourse of the decline of sovereign states and the emergence of polycentric networks of governance that it will find its enemy in such polycentric terrorist networks and use the forces of sovereign states to vanquish it. Schmitt’s genealogy thus locates a rupture within modern international law and reinstates the tacit continuities of the present with medieval conceptions of the just war.
The third sense in which this account acts as a genealogy is to return us to the present. The events of 11 September 2001 and their aftermath reveal that the nomos of the earth, the world order, is less one in which sovereign violence has become displaced by networks of governance and more one in which violence underlies the making of international law and the preservation of the order of governance. The terrorist acts of that date were acts of what Benjamin called ‘divine violence’ (1978: 297-300), that violence which is truly law-destroying in that it is not alloyed with law and seeks to purify the guilty of law. ‘Divine violence,’ he claims (Benjamin, 1978: 300), ‘which is the sign and seal but never the means of sacred execution, may be called sovereign violence.’ These acts were sovereign acts of violence that aimed to reveal the violence at the heart of our systems of international law, a law-making and law-preserving violence which the US and its allies duly acknowledged against the writings of its theorists—by its ‘war on terrorism.’
But the grandiose media spectacles created by these acts have obscured a much smaller but no less significant event of our present or of what now rather constitutes our recent past. The implantation of this global liberal police had already been shown to have rested on sovereign power and the exercise of violence. This event occurred almost two months before 11 September.
On 20 July 2001 Carlo Guilliani, aged twenty-three, was shot dead in Genoa by a conscript member of the Carabinieri, three years his junior, and then run over by a reversing police Land Rover. He was among the ‘anti-globalization’ protesters at the G8 summit, and had attacked the Land Rover with a fire extinguisher. Nevertheless, if consciousness of the nomos of the Earth order takes the form of the spurious and empty discourse of globalization, then that date showed that this nomos cannot be detached from its defence by lethal force.
It was on this date, I think, that the value given the question of the international order would require a genealogy of war and peace.