Lenin’s reply to Carl Schmitt on miracles

Lenin’s position on the miracle is a far cry from the ‘state of exception’ theory that now has a spirited half-life in debates in political theology. The rediscovery of Schmitt’s now infamous observations on the analogies, if not the sublimation, of the miracle in jurisprudence (the omnipotent God becomes the omnipotent lawgiver), in the sovereign’s intervention in a legal order, and thereby the valid ‘suspension’ of standard procedure of the modern, secular Enlightenment state by the Third Reich, have become grist for a range of responses. Schmitt, of course, accepts the Humean definition of miracle as a ‘transgression of the laws of nature through an exception’ (Political Theology, p. 36), but it is worth noting that Lenin foresees, as it were, the profoundly conservative nature of Schmitt’s argument. The latter opts to call upon the counter-revolutionary Roman-Catholic tradition of Bonald, de Maistre, and Donoso Cortés, theorists for whom the French Revolution, the abolition of the monarchy and thereby the exception, was to be much lamented. Exactly, points out Lenin; indeed, your theory is entirely appropriate for an autocracy like Russia, in which ‘a state of siege is always in force, supplemented, now here, now there, by provisional regulations. Are not all political affairs in Russia conducted according to provisional regulations?’ (Collected Works, vol. 5, p. 273).