Enmity Between Species: Schmitt and Inter-species Politics

Michael O’Brien

Carl Schmitt’s conception of politics is grounded in enmity, i.e. the recognition of another’s desired ends as incompatible with one’s own most valued ends. Conflicts which are political in Schmitt’s sense are existentially threatening and contain the concrete possibility of war, to defend a « form of life ».

I will discuss thinking inter-species relations « politically », i.e. ordered by enmity between groups of humans and of animals for example, whaling peoples and whale pods. Assuming that animals lack the cognitive capacity for imagining political narratives, and so cannot perform a political subjectivity, I will propose that thinking our treatment of animals in a framework of enmity may nonetheless be useful in shaping our reflections on moral duties to non-human ends.

Sample ref:

Norris, Andrew. « Carl Schmitt on Friends, Enemies and the Political ». Telos, 1998 (112): 68-88.