Liberal democracy and its adversaries: Antiliberal thought from Weimar to the present day
This aim of LibMod’s “Liberal Democracy and Its Adversaries” project is to examine the “long lines” of antiliberal thought and discuss its relevance for the debate of today. The project’s website, www.gegneranalyse.de, hosts a collection of essays and analyses on the intellectual forebears of the New Right. Carl Schmitt, Ernst Jünger, Oswald Spengler, Sophie Rogge-Börner and Martin Heidegger are some of those who had a formative influence on anti-liberal thinking.
Liberal democracy is under pressure all over the world. Those who wish to avert the “anti-liberal counter-revolution” (Timothy Garton Ash), must examine its causes and ideological models.
History does not repeat itself, yet today’s debate is reminiscent of the intellectual and political struggles over the Weimar Republic. Hitler would not have been able to take power had it not been for the scepticism and, in some cases, hostility with which large segments of Germany’s society – and particularly its elites – viewed liberal democracy.
The views expressed in the 1920s by Carl Schmitt, a prominent constitutional and legal theorist, can serve as an example. Schmitt found fault with the essence of liberal democracy, which he characterised as negotiation. As Schmitt saw it, parliamentarianism, the separation of powers, universal rights were inventions of liberalism, whereas democracy, presupposes national homogeneity. He wrote that those who were “alien in kind/breed” (Artfremde) had thought processes that were structurally different and that such persons should be excluded from the political decision-making process.
All around the world, we are seeing the age of “illiberal democracy” proclaimed once again, restrictions on the freedom of the press and challenges to the independence of the judiciary. Open society is under threat — from within, by nationalist and xenophobic anti-liberal movements, and from without, by authoritarian regimes.
The project is funded under the federal programme “Live Democracy!” by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and by the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb).