Drawing on a large array of less-known materials, this article offers a new comparison of Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt by focusing on their opposing understandings of National Socialism as a novel political ideology. While Schmitt’s Nazi writings theorize a new kind of racial politics under Nazi rule, Arendt’s political thought develops as a systematic critique and response to the histories of antisemitism, imperialism, and totalitarianism. After joining the Nazi Party in 1933, Schmitt endorsed the expulsion of Jewish intellectuals from Germany, celebrated the burning of their writings (including those of Arendt), and supported the process of Gleichschaltung as the first steps in creating a nazified Germany. While Schmitt claimed that the Jews have no access to German substance, culture, and language, noting that “the Jew lies when he speaks German,” Arendt always emphasized that for her, Germany meant precisely “the mother tongue, the philosophy and the poetry.” Relying on thus far unacknowledged biographical and theoretical contrasts, this article aims to show that Schmitt and Arendt understand the political meanings of race and language in a radically different manner.

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