Polity Books

Carl Schmitt: A Biography by Reinhard Mehring

Carl Schmitt: A Biography by Reinhard Mehring

Reinhard Mehring’s Carl Schmitt: A Biography, dutifully translated by Daniel Steuer, is a difficult book for two reasons. At well over 500 pages, with complex jargon and a healthy dose of German-language legalese, it is an exceptionally dense biography by necessity; to truly appreciate Schmitt, the man and one of the leading legal minds of the Third Reich, understanding his juridic and philosophical development is a prerequisite for virtually all else. While his life’s broad personal and familial outlines are thoroughly rendered in the text, it is his ideas, his arguments, his contributions to Nazism which appropriately receive primary attention. Second, and related to the focus on Schmitt’s evolving political thought, this book is difficult for the reading experience it provides—a brilliant man’s steady descent from the traditions of realist international relations theories and debates over the role of the state toward justifying and rationalizing total state capacity for domination of civic life.

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White Magic by Lothar Müller

White Magic by Lothar Müller

As digital media increasingly impinge on the status, and even the very existence, of paper-based communications, one could easily expect a story about the history of paper to take on a somber, almost elegiac tone. But the tale that Lothar Müller spins in White Magic: The Age of Paper is one that brings paper—as both physical material and a playing field on which the human imagination can run wild—to vivid life. Incorporating a wealth of historical detail, technical information and critical analysis, Müller makes his account lively and compelling, giving paper a personality and substance that is on par with any words that may appear on it. In his book, paper is not just the silent partner of the printing press. Instead, it is an extremely versatile substance—one whose uses and forms shape human thought and behavior in many ways.

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The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse by Pascal Bruckner

The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse by Pascal Bruckner

French cultural critic, Pascal Bruckner, has made a career out of diagnosing strains of psychic weariness in Western life. In The Tyranny of Guilt, he warned that excess levels of guilt over past atrocities had hamstrung Europeans, rendering them incapable of confronting the problems of the present. In a seeming departure, Perpetual Euphoria found Bruckner questioning the shrill consumerist imperative to pursue happiness at all costs, making a case for the right to be maladjusted, even downright unhappy. Unlikely as it seems, there is a loose thread running through both of these books: Neither suffering nor happiness can form the basis for action. Both must be subordinated to freedom. With his latest book, Fanaticism of the Apocalypse, Bruckner has teased out another strain of inertia tugging at the Western conscience: ecological catastrophism.

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Protest Inc.: The Corporatization of Activism by Peter Dauvegne and Genevieve LeBaron

Protest Inc.: The Corporatization of Activism by Peter Dauvegne and Genevieve LeBaron

Protest Inc: The Corporatization of Activism offers a sober and dedicated look at the problems with activism in the modern world, delving deeply into principle and actuality alike. The writers unabashedly expose the hypocrisy and selfish interests of seemingly benign activist organizations, with the central thesis that corporations are sinking their claws into the very groups who once resisted them. These corporations, ranging from the oil and gas companies, to big pharma, to IKEA, are teaming up with seemingly innocent and altruistic causes—the Sierra Club, Alzheimer's Disease International, and WWF—and changing their agendas one step at a time to support the interests of big money.

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