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Maistre, Donoso Cortes, and the Legacy of Catholic Authoritarianism

Maistre, Donoso Cortes, and the Legacy of Catholic Authoritarianism Maistre, Donoso Cortés, and the Legacy of Catholic Authoritarianism Alberto Spektorowski According to the late Isaiah Berlin, the origins of fascism can be found in Joseph de Maistre's political thought.1 This well-known thesis was anticipated by Carl Schmitt, a conservative Catholic intellectual who served as one of the most prominent jurists of the Third Reich. He rescued the intellectual contributions of from obscurity by identifying them as the forerunners of his own non-normative theories of dictatorship. I suggest that by advancing such a claim Carl Schmitt paved the way toward a theoretical understanding of the notion of political authoritarianism characterized by what he defined as "non-normative decisionism." By interpreting Maistre and Cortés in this way, Schmitt was preparing his own political shift away from Catholic conservatism towards political authoritarianism, fascism, and National Socialism. At the same time, by removing the legitimacy of political decisionism embedded in traditionalist political thought, he eliminated the possibility of that middle road between fascism and liberalism known as traditionalist authoritarianism. The purpose of this study is to represent the Maistre-Donoso Cortés theoretical synthesis, in contrast to the thought of Carl Schmitt, as the cornerstone of a type of traditionalist political authoritarianism which paradoxically http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the History of Ideas University of Pennsylvania Press

Maistre, Donoso Cortes, and the Legacy of Catholic Authoritarianism

Journal of the History of Ideas , Volume 63 (2) – Apr 1, 2002

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 The Journal of the History of Ideas, Inc.
ISSN
1086-3222
Publisher site
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Abstract

Maistre, Donoso Cortés, and the Legacy of Catholic Authoritarianism Alberto Spektorowski According to the late Isaiah Berlin, the origins of fascism can be found in Joseph de Maistre's political thought.1 This well-known thesis was anticipated by Carl Schmitt, a conservative Catholic intellectual who served as one of the most prominent jurists of the Third Reich. He rescued the intellectual contributions of from obscurity by identifying them as the forerunners of his own non-normative theories of dictatorship. I suggest that by advancing such a claim Carl Schmitt paved the way toward a theoretical understanding of the notion of political authoritarianism characterized by what he defined as "non-normative decisionism." By interpreting Maistre and Cortés in this way, Schmitt was preparing his own political shift away from Catholic conservatism towards political authoritarianism, fascism, and National Socialism. At the same time, by removing the legitimacy of political decisionism embedded in traditionalist political thought, he eliminated the possibility of that middle road between fascism and liberalism known as traditionalist authoritarianism. The purpose of this study is to represent the Maistre-Donoso Cortés theoretical synthesis, in contrast to the thought of Carl Schmitt, as the cornerstone of a type of traditionalist political authoritarianism which paradoxically

Journal

Journal of the History of IdeasUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Apr 1, 2002

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