Answering the Challenge

Men today plan explorations in the stratosphere and trips to the Moon. The Earth itself, our planet, will be transformed into a space-ship [barco-espacio] bursting into the cosmos.

And yet, this interpolation merely rehearses an old response, a desperate insistence on the continuity of an earlier historical response to the "Challenge" of the open sea(s). Men today imagine the present "Challenge" as merely an inflated version of the discovery of the Americas. We have already said that such a response is entirely comprehensible, from a psychological point of view. Back then, Earth’s new continents and oceans of the Earth were just emerging on the horizon. But I do not see some new cosmos opening up in the same way; nor do I hear a cosmic call or "Challenge."

The apparent continuation of the old Response under a more modern guise leads us to regard history in ahistorical and anachronistic terms. It is completely natural for the conqueror of a past era to fail to accommodate history's later call. After all, how can the conqueror understand that even his victory was to be a victory made only once?

The one who succeeds in corralling unfettered technology in order to dominate and insert it into a concrete order, is the one who offers a true response to the present call, not the one who attempts to land on the Moon or Mars with the resources given to him by that unfettered technology.

Taming unfettered technology would be, for example, the work of a new Hercules. It is from this direction that I await the new call, the "Challenge" of our present.

[Carl Schmitt]
‘The Planetary Tension Between Orient and Occident and the Opposition Between Land and Sea’, Chap. V

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