Mark S. Weiner over at the Niskanen Center:
To understand the philosophical significance of climate change denial for Trumpism, it’s helpful to turn to the work of a thinker whose writings, it’s been suggested (and here), underwrite the movement’s “intellectual source code”: the German constitutional theorist Carl Schmitt (1888-1985).
For readers acquainted with Schmitt, the outlines of the emerging political philosophy of Trumpism seem eerily familiar. Over the course of his campaign and presidency, Trump has consistently expressed in action principles that Schmitt developed at the level of theory.
On Schmitt’s view, liberal states are weak and vulnerable, subject to corrosion from within—through capture by private interest groups—and conquest from abroad. In the American case, as Trump would have it, the United States has been “crippled” and reduced to “carnage” by self-interested financial and cultural elites, radical Islamic terrorists, cunning foreign trade negotiators, and illegal immigrants from Mexico.
The source of this vulnerability, Schmitt argues, is modern liberalism’s thin conception of political community and the state. Because liberals misunderstand the very nature of political life, they create conditions under which their nations implode.
According to Schmitt, a political community arises when its members coalesce around some aspect of their common existence. On this basis, they distinguish between their “friends” and “enemies,” the latter of whom they are ultimately prepared to fight and kill to defend their way of life.
A political community, that is, is created through an animating sense of common identity and existential threat—indeed, that’s how “the political” as a fundamental sphere of human value comes into being, and how it provides the cultural foundation of sovereignty and the state for a community of equals.