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The Space of Crisis

Images and Ideas of Europe in the Age of Crisis: 1914–1945


Edited By Vittorio Dini and Matthew D'Auria

Focusing on European cultural and intellectual history in first half of the twentieth century, The Space of Crisis investigates how notions of crisis and changing perceptions of space influenced the way Europeans imagined themselves, their past and their future.
The book is an attempt to reassess some of the main assumptions of historians and political theorists about the way intellectuals, artists, legal theorists and historians interpreted Europe’s crisis during the 1920s and 1930s. By so doing, it investigates the intellectual foundations of the ensuing federalist and Europeanist movements, highlighting the importance of the writings of those years in understanding today’s Europe and its current predicaments.


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PART III THE CRISIS OF LEGAL ORDER 181 The Kelsen / Schmitt Debate Heller’s Solution and the Future of Europe Francesca FERRARO The crisis that swept Europe between the latter part of the nineteenth century and the end of the Weimar Republic, is impeccably grasped by three writings of the time: The Great Transformation by Carl Polanyi, The Nomos of the Earth by Carl Schmitt and Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks.1 A first element that strikes the reader is a common interpre- tation of the crisis as the faltering of the link between self-regulating markets and modern constitutionalism. It is the crisis of the relationship between economics and politics, of an expanding global market facing ever smaller national spaces. It is the crisis of all forms of political representation stemming from the access of masses to political rights and, in a way, to history itself. It is a crisis, more broadly, of the old balance of powers and of Europe’s representation of the global space. The rise of fascism in Italy and Germany and the tragedy of the Second World War were the outcome. In the background, the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, radically changing the political and geopolitical world and, according to Ernst Nolte, paving the path to National-Socialism.2 Though focussing on an author often forgotten, Hermann Heller, “the most brilliant mind of Weimar” – as Schmitt once called him3 – this chapter will begin by looking at these writings for their capacity of highlighting the salient elements of the intellectual background of Heller’s...

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