1st Edition

Carl Schmitt and The Buribunks Technology, Law, Literature

Edited By Edwin Bikundo, Kieran Tranter Copyright 2022
    378 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    378 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In 1918 a young Carl Schmitt published a short satirical fiction entitled The Buribunks. He imagined a future society of beings who consistently wrote and disseminated their personal diaries. Schmitt would go on to become the infamous philosopher of the exception and for a while the ‘Crown Jurist of the Third Reich’. The Buribunks – ironically for beings that lived only for self-memorialisation – has been mostly lost to history. However, the digital realm, with its emphasis on the informatic traces generated by human doing, and the continual interest in Schmitt’s work to explain and criticise contemporary constellations of power, suggests that The Buribunks is a text whose epoch has come.

    This volume includes the first full translation into English of The Buribunks and a selection of critical essays on the text, its meanings in the digital present, its playing with and criticism of the literary form, and its place within Schmitt’s life and work. The Buribunks and the essays provide a complex, critical and provocative invitation to reimagine the relations between the human and their imprint and legacy within archives and repositories. There is a fundamental exploration of what it means to be a being intensely aware of ‘writing itself’.

    This is not just a volume for critical lawyers, literary scholars and the Schmitt literati. It is a volume that challenges a broad range of disciplines, from philosophy to critical data studies, to reflect on the digital present and its assembled and curated beings. It is a volume that provides a set of fantastically located concepts, images and histories that traverse ideas and practices, play and politics, power and possibility.

    Part I: Introducing The Buribanks

    1 The Buribunks as law, technology and literature

    Kieran Tranter and Edwin Bikundo

    2 The Buribunks: An essay on the philosophy of history

    Carl Schmitt, translated from the German by Gert Reifarth and Laura Petersen

    3 Behind the words of Die Buribunken: Translators’ comments

    Laura Petersen and Gert Reifarth

    Part II: The Buribunks as typeset

    4 The Buribunks, post-truth and a tentative cartography of informational existence

    Kieran Tranter

    5 The theological-bureaucratic science fiction of Philip K. Dick and Carl Schmitt: An economic theology of omniscience in The Buribunks

    Timothy D. Peters

    6 Inauthentic temporality and the age of hyperburibunkism

    Richard Polt

    7 Megarianism, emancipation and the (im)potentiality of political ontology: A commentary on freedom in Schmitt’s dystopia

    Michael P.A. Murphy

    8 The challenges of anti-intellectual parody

    Karen Petroski

    9 ‘Quantity turns into quality’: Breathing life into dead scholasticism

    Francine Rochford

    Part III: The Buribunks as writing

    10 On writing. Under control. The Buribunks and the autographic society of control

    Vittorio Lubrano

    11 Modernist life-writing and early cinema in Carl Schmitt’s The Buribunks

    Joseph Owen

    12 ‘Die Buribunken’ – a pastiche: A mechanised modernity failing Hegel and Kierkegaard

    Nour Benghellab

    13 Sola scriptura: Doubling of life and critique of modernity in The Buribunks

    Ernesto C. Sferrazza Papa

    14 Schmitt’s Roman links in The Buribunks: Enriching the satire

    Karen Schultz

    Part IV: The Buribanks as part of Schmitt’s wider oeuvre

    15 Mephistophelean irony in Carl Schmitt’s Political Romanticism, The Buribunks and Ex Captivitate Salus

    Desmond Manderson and Edwin Bikundo

    16 Imagined facts, actual enemies: The Buribunks and the political

    Attila Gyulai

    17 Between The Buribunks and the Christian Epimetheus

    Fabrizio Grasso and Matteo Negro, translated by Carla Biondi

    18 Schmitt’s life within the academy since 2001

    Lachlan Robb, Charles Lawson, Catherine Pickering and Edwin Bikundo


    Kieran Tranter is chair of law, technology and future in the School of Law, Queensland University of Technology. Kieran researches the legalities of technology and the technologies of legality. His current projects concern the motor vehicle in the governance of the Australian settler state, mobile connectivity and everyday life in the Global South.

    Edwin Bikundo is a senior lecturer in the Law Futures Centre, Griffith Law School, Griffith University. Edwin’s research addresses international and comparative law, legal theory, and law and the humanities. He is currently finalising a book about Giorgio Agamben, international law and JohanWolfgang von Goethe’s Faust.