Governing Hegemonic Spaces in Carl Schmitt: Colonialism, Anti-Imperialism and the Großraum Theory

Abstract: With both China and Russia currently claiming a hegemonic position within a regionally defined and allegedly state-border transcending space, Carl Schmitt’s theory of international law has gained new prominence in feuilletons and academic writings. Observers have diagnosed a “Schmitt fever” in Chinese literature on international relations and international law. The article argues that Schmitt’s advocacy of hegemonically dominated and state-border transcending spaces (Großräume) is not a principled contradiction to his then ground-breaking critique of US imperialism in the first half of the 20th century. The sharp criticism of US imperialism and Schmitt’s apologetic or permissive attitude towards hegemonic and colonial rule over foreign peoples are not contradictory, they belong together. Both these tension-filled tenets of his international legal theory are based on his rather coherent conception of international law, represented by Schmitt’s highly idealized reconstruction of the old ius publicum europaeum.

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