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In the wake of the NATO and Helsinki summits, many liberals have been tempted to condemn U.S. President Donald Trump's behavior in personal terms.There is a deeper – and even more troubling – explanation of Trump's behavior: It arises from his ideas, especially his implicit philosophical commitments concerning world order.Of course, Trump is no philosopher.If there is one thinker whom Trump seems to channel most – and who can help make sense of his behavior, especially his widely condemned moral equivocation toward Russia – it is the German legal philosopher Carl Schmitt.On the domestic front, because the liberal conception of "the people" is nonexclusive, it is also indistinct.Unlike a "real enemy," with which a rival can achieve a modus vivendi, an absolute enemy must in time be either destroyed or transformed – for example, through the "nation building" that Trump vociferously rejects.In place of normativity and universalism, Schmitt offers a theory of political identity based on a principle that Trump doubtless appreciates deeply from his prepolitical career: land. Most obviously, Schmitt's critique of liberalism is evident in the passion of Trump and his supporters for building a wall on America's southern border.
Trumpism and the philosophy of history
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