“I Alone Can Solve”: Carl Schmitt on Sovereignty and Nationhood Under Trump

  • Feisal G. Mohamed


As a candidate Donald Trump styled himself uniquely equipped to enact the will of a thickly racialized national community. His campaign may thus be read alongside Carl Schmitt’s key concepts: the friend/enemy distinction fundamental to politics, a popular sovereignty founded in an organically united Volk. But what of Trump’s presidency? Here, too, Schmitt’s thought is helpful, particularly his work on commissarial dictatorship as a response to a state of emergency—we will read in this light the “Muslim Ban” and the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Rather than creating new executive powers, this chapter argues that Trump is exploiting existing ones. This is inevitable: Presidents will seek to exercise the powers available to them, and the US Constitutional tradition fails to provide effective tools for distinguishing between the executive’s legitimate and baseless emergency actions. Schmitt’s thought and career are marred by precisely the same failure.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feisal G. Mohamed
    • 1
  1. 1.CUNY Graduate CenterNew YorkUSA

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