Carl Schmitt and “Democratic Cannibalism”

Pubblicata una interessante intervista su Carl Schimtt a Benjamin A Schupmann, Assistant Professor in Social Sciences alla Duke Kunshan University. L’intervista, intitolata “Carl schmitt and democratic cannibalism”, è pubblicata sulla 3 AM Magazine.

Di seguito si riporta la sintesi, mentre qui è possibile leggere il testo integrale

Schmitt may even be a more controversial thinker than Heidegger. Not only was he, like Heidegger, a member of the Nazi Party and openly anti-Semitic, Schmitt was also a well-known public lawyer. He used that recognition to play an active role in legitimizing the early years of the Nazi regime, employing his thought in the pursuit of despicable political ends. For example, he wrote a public legal defense of Hitler’s 1934 assassination of his political rivals in the “Night of Long Knives.” He also incorporated overt anti-Semitism into his academic writings, which undoubtedly helped to normalize it.

Having ruled out democracy as a core constitutional principle, Schmitt argued that there were only two possibilities already written into the Weimar constitution: the individual civil liberties of classical liberalism or socialist entitlements to state services.’

By arguing that the basic decision of the Weimar Constitution was for liberal basic rights rather than democracy, Schmitt believed he had discovered a way to prevent extremists from gaining power and committing legal revolution, a way consistent with the existing Weimar Constitution.

Overall, Schmitt believed that democratic institutions, originally intended to liberate the people from the arbitrariness of a tyrannical monarch, now enabled the arbitrariness of a tyrannical majority as parties used them to dominate one another and to promote their idiosyncratic worldviews. This reached its extreme as the Communist and Nazi parties hoped to use liberal democratic institutions to legally found totalitarian states.

‘The main lesson I take from Schmitt’s analysis is that, although constitutions cannot legitimately commit suicide, they can lack defenses against formal legal revolution. Constitutions can, however, be designed to prevent such revolution by placing its core commitments – importantly including basic civil rights – beyond the reach of democratic legal change. ‘

Trump does illustrate some other problems Schmitt predicted and his thought can help us better understand them – as well as what would be necessary to overcome them. An example: there has been a lot of discussion recently about the range and limits of the presidential pardon. Does it include the president himself? Can it be used to obstruct justice?