Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy: on "the prerogative of a leader"?
I'm still trudging through Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy's tome, Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man, and I've just read a passage that could have come from Carl Schmitt's thoughts in his writings on "political theology" concerning the primary characteristic of "the leader":
"Sovereign is he who decides on the exception." (Schmitt, Political Theology)Rosenstock-Huessy also presents the necessity for a 'commanding' leader during times when a population faces an existential threat:
In such times the prerogative of a leader is indispensable. Without his iron grip on the country all standards would become debatable, doubtful and dissolved. The dilution of faith caused by the emergency forces upon the leader the responsibility of uttering the cry of alarm and commanding, brutally and harshly.I'm not especially well-read in Schmitt's views on the supposed extralegal political authority necessary for the state to act decisively in legally murky situations. I suppose that there's a genuine issue here in that states are confronted by unexpected circumstances in which decisions must be made despite the state having no clear legal authority to act. Reasoning clearly on this, however, has been tainted ever since Germany's experience of National Socialism (Nazism), for Schmitt's thinking was used by the German state to legitimize Hitler's acts -- and fully with Schmitt's approval, too.
We can even say that he who commands efficiently in such times is or makes himself the leader, even though legal procedure may not take account of him. Timely prerogative creates and restores actual government, legalizes conquest and force. To be sure, the legitimation of brute force is never to be found in its external success. Tyranny remains tyranny, and iniquity is never bleached into the genuine white of sacred authority. Nay, the test of domination is not "success" in an abstract sense, that of a man's being called Emperor or President or leader by intimidated slaves. It is the success in this emergency, and in this particular emergency only. In one special and definite emergency the new government will rise or the old government will be regenerated. Its test, then, is this particular emergency. If it succeeds in its fight against this enemy, this dilution of faith and standards, this famine, people will feel gratified and support or tolerate it in spite of all its other faults. (page 384)
Rosenstock-Huessy, being ethnically Jewish, was no fan of Hitler. I don't know what he thought of Schmitt, but I doubt that he was drawing directly upon Schmitt's writings. Rather, the seeming parallels may stem from a more general movement of thought about sources of political authority. One need only recall Max Weber's analysis of the "charismatic authority" vested in an extraordinary leader to see that various thinkers of the early 20th century were struggling with the issues of legality, legitimacy, and leadership in connection with circumstances of emergency.
I have no special insight on this issue and merely post this out of a curiosity that might bear fruit under the care of others with more knowledge than I.