he question of how to adequately represent the demos in a democracy has always been an issue. Of the many different aspects in the debate between representative and direct democratic approaches, one key point of contention is “the will of the people.” Here, an oft-overlooked question is what takes precedence: “the will” or “the people.” This article addresses the issue by examining Carl Schmitt’s reading (and one-sided slanting) of Rousseau and how it has influenced today’s debate in unacknowledged ways. In scrutinizing Schmitt’s body of work and its particular development of “the will of the people,” I demonstrate that “identitarian” democratic concepts must ultimately remain trapped in a dilemma produced by Schmitt’s reading—one that can only be resolved through representation.
Schmitt and Rousseau on a Key Question in Democratic Theory
Right-wing extremism in Germany has recently undergone considerable changes with a new right-wing party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) successfully entering several local state parliaments as well as the European Parliament, “Pegida” demonstrations representing a new type of public action in terms of social movements, and the emergence of institutions like the Library of Conservatism and magazine projects like Sezession. This article considers whether such developments could be seen as a renaissance of the “New Right”, representing a long-term success in its strategies. Since the 1970s, the strategy of the New Right has been based on promoting a culturally conservative metapolitics in the pursuit of “cultural hegemony”, meaning to influence public opinion in the Federal Republic of Germany and shift it to the right— which at first glance might seem to have succeeded in light of recent events. The developments seen in German far-right extremism, however, have been neither monocausal nor monolithic. Therefore, this article will take a closer look at various aspects of the idea that recent changes in Germany’s rightwing extremism might represent a successful implementation of this New Right strategy.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been sitting in Germany’s federal parliament since September 2017, having won 12.6 percent of the popular vote. In considering this young party’s recent development, researchers have focussed on its rhetorical strategies (i.e., populism) and its radicalization. Until now, much less attention has been paid to antisemitism within the AfD— also because the party would prefer to keep this out of public debate. By investigating its treatment of antisemitism, Nazism, and the politics of remembrance, it can be shown that the AfD has the features of a far-right party, to a much clearer extent than might be guessed from its media image, particularly inside Germany.
Machiavelli, Hobbes and the Global Order in the Twenty-first Century
In outlining a model of sovereignty, this article makes constructive reference to the ideas of Machiavelli and Hobbes concerning the fundamental structures of modern statehood, and ultimately argues for a sovereignty without morality – but not without restraints. A central element is the idea that in terms of legal theory, limitations on sovereignty should not come from some other context, but should instead be developed solely in reference to itself and its inherent contradictions: this could be the future of sovereignty.