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The political theory of war with Carl von Clausewitz and Carl Schmitt from the vantage point of Russia (part 2)

Vasily Belozerov


A researcher enthusiastic about perceiving the military-political processes in the today’s world ought to read the works not only of Carl von Clausewitz, but also those of Carl Schmitt, but a superficial perusal of their ideas seems to be inadequate. The intellectual heritage of Clausewitz is rather multifaceted and difficult to comprehend it completely. One should also factor in that this heritage represents a dynamic and upcoming phenomenon: The ideas of Clausewitz were developed in the 19th century, have lived on and have continued to influence the theory and practice of politics for nearly two centuries, and apparently they are still effective, despite the ever-occurring scepticism about the end of Clausewitz’s era. Thus it is necessary to digest the political heritage of Clausewitz in the categories of space and time, of the past, the present and the future. Only afterwards it is allowable to determine the integrative political ontology of Clausewitz.

Its essential parts are

- the views of Clausewitz on society, politics and war, which altered in the course of his life;

- the political credo of Clausewitz himself, which motivated him to achieve certain practical accomplishment and to create a series of works, such as his subsumable military plans;

- his perception of war as a political phenomenon;

- his fate and the different perceptions of his political ideas taking place in space and time.

The development of the relations of the political credo of this thinker with his political theory of war is to be attributed to Carl Schmitt, who took stock of the intellectual heritage of Clausewitz. Studying the political concepts of war by Clausewitz and Schmitt focusses on establishing the relatively independent field of science such as the politology of war, the necessity of which has been acknowledged. Its importance is dictated not only by the circumstances of its theoretical nature connected with the development and lasting difference of political science. In an applied sense, the necessity of the politology of war is caused by the interests of the reasons for the approaches for applying and limiting war. This problem can be solved especially with the help of this statement, in the political practice of limited and fostered war encouraged by Clausewitz und Schmitt. Otherwise it would be extruded by total and absolute war of extermination, and its characteristics have already emerged in the modern world.