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date: 24 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reconstructs the intellectual-historical background to Carl Schmitt’s well-known analysis of the problem of dictatorship and the powers of the Reichspräsident under the Weimar Constitution. The analysis focuses both on Schmitt’s wartime propaganda work, concerning a distinction between the state of siege and dictatorship, as well as on his more general analysis of modern German liberalism. It demonstrates why Schmitt attempted to produce a critical history of the history of modern political thought with the concept of dictatorship at its heart and how he came to distinguish between commissarial and sovereign forms of dictatorship to attack liberalism and liberal democracy. The chapter also focuses on the conceptual reworking of the relationship between legitimacy and dictatorship that Schmitt produced by interweaving the political thought of the Abbé Sieyès and the French Revolution into his basic rejection of contemporary liberal and socialist forms of politics.

Keywords: Schmitt, dictatorship, siege, Sieyès, French Revolution, wartime, Weimar Constitution, liberalism, democracy

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