The Problem of Political Sovereignty: Hegel and Schmitt
Keywords:Hegel, Schmitt, Rousseau, Political Sovereignty, Totalitarianism, Authoritarianism, Constitutional Monarchy
Both G.F.W. Hegel and Carl Schmitt took seriously the problem of political sovereignty entailed by liberal political theories. In Dictatorship (1919) and Political Theology (1922), Schmitt rejects liberal political theories that argue for the immediate unity of democracy and legality i.e., popular sovereignty, because he thinks they cannot secure political sovereignty. In the Philosophy of Right, Hegel denounces popular sovereignty for similar reasons. Yet given Schmitt’s negative assessment of Hegel their positions are seldom related to one another. I argue in this paper that Schmitt’s analysis of liberal political theories is similar to Hegel’s analysis of Rousseau’s liberal ideas. I contend, however, that Schmitt’s solution, which collapses the distinction between the executive and the legislative power in favor of the former, fails to secure political sovereignty. Contrary to Schmitt, Hegel conceives of the liberal predicament as a basic determination of any political state that rests on the division of the legislative and executive power. Hegel argues that the constitutional monarchy is a genuine instantiation of political sovereignty that can maintain not only the division of these powers, but also their unity. In this regard, I argue that Hegel’s conception of the division of powers provides a more convincing theory of the problem afflicting modern states than Schmitt’s and at least deserves to be taken more seriously by critics of Schmitt’s solution such as Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss, Jurgen Habermas, Andreas Kalyvas and Chantal Mouffe.
Avineri, S., 1974, Hegel's Theory of the Modern State, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Brooks, T., 2007, No Rubber Stamp: Hegel’s Constitutional Monarch, History of Political Thought, vol. XXVIII, no. 1, pp. 91-119.
Boer, K. De, 2007, Hegel Today: Towards a Tragic Conception of Intercultural Conflicts, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 3, nos. 2-3, pp. 117-131.
Boer, K. De, 2012, Democracy Out of Joint? The Financial Crisis in Light of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Hegel Bulletin, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 36-53.
Cristi, R., 2011, Schmitt on Constituent Power and the Monarchical Principle, Constellations, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 352-364.
Cristi, F. R., 1983, The Hegelsche Mitte, Political Theory, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 601-22.
Goodfield, E., 2009, The Sovereignty of the Metaphysical in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, The Review of Metaphysics, vol. 62, no. 4, pp. 849-73.
Hardimon, M. O., 1994, Hegel’s Social Philosophy: The Project of Reconciliation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Hegel, G. F. W., 1999, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, trans. H. B. Nisbet, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Ilting, K.-H., 1971, The Structure of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, in Z. A. Pelczynski (ed.), Hegel’s Political Philosophy: Problems and Perspectives, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 90-110.
Kervégan, J.-F., 1992, Hegel, Carl Schmitt: La politique entre speculation et positivite, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France.
Mouffe, C., 2000, The Democratic Paradox, London, Verso.
Mouffe, C., 1993, The Return of the Political. London, Verso.
Pelczynski, Z. A., 1971, Hegel’s Political Philosophy: Some Thoughts on Its Contemporary Relevance, in Z. A Pelczynski (ed.), Hegel’s Political Philosophy: Problems and Perspectives, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 230-241.
Ripstein, A., 1994, Universal and General Wills: Hegel and Rousseau, Political Theory, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 444-67.
Schmitt, C., 1976, The Concept of the Political, trans. G. Schwab, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press.
Schmitt, C., 1985, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. G. Schwab, Cambridge, MIT Press.
Schmitt, C., 2014, Dictatorship: From the Origin of the Modern Concept of Sovereignty to Proletarian Class Struggle, trans. M. Hoelzl and G. Ward, Cambridge, Polity Press.
Schmitt, C., 2014, Hegel and Marx, Historical Materialism, vol. 22, nos. 3-4, pp. 388-393.
Schmitt, C., 1985, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. E. Kennedy, Cambridge, MIT Press.
Tunick, M., 1991, Hegel’s Justification of Hereditary Monarchy, History of Political Thought, vol. XII, no. 3, pp. 481-96.
Vieweg, K., 2017, The State as a System of Three Syllogisms Hegel’s Notion of the State and Its Logical Foundations by Hegel’s Political Philosophy, in Thom Brooks and Sebastian Stein (eds.), On the Normative Significance of Method and System, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 124-41.
Winfield, R. D., 1991, Rethinking Politics: Carl Schmitt versus Hegel, The Owl of Minerva, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 209-225.
Yack, B., 1980, The Rationality of Hegel’s Concept of Monarchy, American Political Science Review, vol. 74, pp. 709-20.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Markos Haile Feseha
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.