I didn’t do anything wrong in the first place

David Runciman

  • Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
    Simon & Schuster, 448 pp, £20.00, September, ISBN 978 1 4711 8129 0

Some political theorists dislike the term ‘office politics’, on the grounds that the familiarity of the first word diminishes the significance of the second. Sure, they say, all workplaces contain their share of plots and vendettas, backstabbers and arse-lickers, people on the way up and all the ones they’ve trampled to get there. But actual politics is about more than that: the power it brings extends well beyond the immediate working environment. The German legal theorist Carl Schmitt, who wanted to prevent the concept of the ‘political’ from becoming shorthand for any and all human conflict, no matter how petty, argued that the true mark of a political contest is that the stakes are existential.

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