a1 Department of History, New York University E-mail: email@example.com
This essay examines the French reception of the Carl Schmitt's thought, specifically its Hegelian strand. Beginning with the early readings of Schmitt's thought by Alexandre Kojève and Georges Bataille during the mid-1930s, it attends to the partial adoption of Schmitt's friend/enemy distinction and his theories of sovereignty and neutralization in Kojève and Bataille's Hegelian writings, as well as to their critical responses. The essay then turns to examine the reading of Kojève by the Jesuit Hegelian résistant Gaston Fessard during the war, a reading specifically intended to delegitimate Vichy as a “slave-prince,” resistance to whom would be legitimate. The final section returns to Bataille and his 1948 book The Accursed Share in order to propose that his Maussian understanding of the Marshall Plan suggested an overcoming of the friend/enemy distinction, a suggestion that was later made explicit in a 1957 talk by Kojève at Düsseldorf before Schmitt and a group of his supporters. At stake throughout are both the thoroughly critical reception of Schmitt, the particular political inflection of Hegel carried out by and in Kojève's reading, and certain methodological links between conceptual history and the reception history.
(Online publication September 27 2011)
* This essay is based on research carried out at the archives of Alexandre Kojève and Georges Bataille at the Département des manuscrits occidentaux of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and the Fonds Fessard at the Archives Jésuites in Vanves. My thanks to Nina Kousnetzoff and Robert Bonfils (SJ), for their help and permissions.