Wednesday 8 December 2021

Carl Schmitt’s Constitutional Dictatorship as the Foundation of (Post-)Fascism (COMFAS Online Convention, 3 December 2021)

I had the privilege to participate at “Historical Fascism as a Global System: Alliances,Interactions, and Entanglements” Online Convention, Central European University PU, Vienna, 3-5 December 2021.

I had the following presentation:

Carl Schmitt’s Constitutional Dictatorship as the Foundation of (Post-)Fascism

In this paper it has been argued that Carl Schmitt’s concept of “constitutional dictatorship” can be seen as the main ideological foundation of historical Fascism and contemporary Post-Fascist tendencies. This paper is about how Fascism has been theorized regardless of time and place.

The theory of state of exception’s first and isolated appearance was Carl Schmitt’s book of Dictatorship (2014) published in 1921. There was a rise of a debate on state of exception between 1934 and 1948, because of the collapse of European democracies and discourse on state of exception unfolded within the framework of constitutional dictatorship. The debate was maintained by Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution granted emergency powers the president of the Reich. In the Schmittian sense, the state of exception and constitutional dictatorship are inseparable. In 1926 Schmitt summarized his definition on dictatorship: “Dictatorship is the exercise of state power freed from any legal restrictions, for the purpose of resolving an abnormal situation – in particular, a situation of war and rebellion. Schmitt distinguishes the two types of dictatorship in conjunction with regulation on the state of emergency, on the one hand a constitutionally mandated form (commissary dictatorship), and on the other hand “a dictatorship in which the whole existing legal order is rendered obsolete and a completely new order is intended (sovereign dictatorship). (cited by Hoelzl & Ward, 2014, p. xxiv). If commissary dictatorship is about the continuous extension of state of exceptions, sovereign dictatorship prevails now as the constitutional system grabbed and institutionalized by a sovereign dictator. Schmitt argues in his Political Theology that “sovereign is he who decides on the exception” (2005: 5), in this sense ultimate sovereignty means a constitutionalized dictatorship.

I am arguing here that the contemporary Post-Fascist populist regimes and leaders are convinced that there is a core need to reformulate and acquire political sovereignty by them.

We witnessed that the 20th century was about “legal civil war” and his seminal example is the Nazi State (Agamben, 2005). After Hitler took power, he proclaimed in 28 February 1933 the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State by which the parts of the Weimar Constitution concerning personal liberties were suspended. Given the fact that the decree was never repealed, the Third Reich could be seen a continuously extended state of exception that lasted for twelve years. I am arguing in this paper that the political system that Schmitt desired as sovereign dictatorship is not the Third Reich itself, but contemporary Post-Fascist populist regimes which are about to constitutionalize the state od exception as extraordinary measure.

The panel also included: Eötvös Loránd, Hungary): Ziegler Dezső Tamás: The Post-Fascism of Fidesz: A Cross-Historical and Cross-National Analysis