Has Donald Trump been reading Carl Schmitt in secret? The thought came to mind the other day when the US president was concluding his two-day “working visit” to the United Kingdom with a series of impromptu statements before flying to Scotland to play golf. It was by using the term “foe” to describe Russia, China and even the European Union that Trump reminded me of Schmitt.
“We have many foes,” Trump asserted while implicitly casting himself as the embodiment of a total state that represents the people, the ordinary folk, the Joe down the block, as opposed to the sneering and self-serving elite.
Schmitt was born in 1888 in a German Catholic family and trained as a jurist, ending as one of the most original political thinkers of the last century. His aim was to extend the Hobbesian theory of the state as a necessary evil without which no civilized society could be developed let alone maintained. At the time Schmitt was refining his theories, first expressed in a slim book “Leviathan”, the Weimar Republic in Germany was in its death throes as the very concept of statehood was torn to pieces by radical groups on both the left and the right.