George Schwab, in his Introduction to Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political (University of Chicago Press, 2007, p. 13, bolding added, footnotes omitted), writes:
In his endeavor to strengthen the Weimar state, Schmitt challenged a basic liberal assumption then widely held either for philosophical or tactical reasons, namely, that every political party, no matter how antirepublican, must be permitted freely to compete for parliamentary representation and for governmental power. This meant that the sole requirement of such parties in their quest for power was that they proceed legally. Because the most influential commentators and jurists of the Weimar constitution argued that it was an open document insofar as any and all constitutional revisions are permissible if these are brought about legally, a totalitarian movement which succeeds in legally capturing the legislature can then proceed legally to forge a constitution and state that would reflect its militant political ideology.
Schwab goes on to report that Schmitt in 1932, the year before Hitler's accession to power, "argued that only those parties not intent on subverting the state be granted the right to compete for parliamentary and governmental power."
That makes excellent sense and ought to be applied to our present situation. We ought not tolerate subversive political parties. Or perhaps I should say that we ought not tolerate subversive parties whose threat to the principles of the American Founding and our system of government are credible and dangerous. Time was when that was true of the Communist Party USA. But those days are gone. Tactically, it might be a mistake to ban subversive parties that are too weak to pose a threat since the banning might draw members to them. Perhaps we could call this tactic "repressive tolerance" to hijack some terminology from Herbert Marcuse. To tolerate them is more repressive of them than to ban them.
Suppose a Sharia party in the U. S. were to form and become a credible threat. Should it be banned? Of course. No party that rejects the very principles upon which our country is founded ought to be tolerated even if it could legally get some of its members elected. Would you hire an arsonist as a cook?
What about the Democrat Party?
The contemporary Democrat Party lurches ever leftward. This is spectacularly clear from recent events in California. The once Golden State is now in open defiance of federal immigration law, not to mention its open defiance of federal drug laws. Since January 1st it has been a 'sanctuary state.' "Under the new state law, nowhere in California may police ask about an individual’s immigration status, nor may local authorities cooperate with federal officials on immigration enforcement." (here)
Suppose the Democrat party continues to defy the Constitution and undermine the rule of law. Suppose it provides sanctuary not only for illegal aliens but for Sharia-supporting Muslims. (Muslim Brotherhood Congressman Keith Ellison is a friend of Antifa, and Deputy Chair of the DNC.) Then a case grows for outlawing the Dems.
Whatever you say about the Dems, every American patriot ought to hold that the basic liberal assumption, according to which every political party is tolerable, is itself intolerable.
As I have said many times, toleration has limits.
UPDATE (1/6). A Canadian reader responds:
The people we call "liberals" nowadays don't actually hold this assumption, it seems to me. I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would outlaw any kind of serious right-wing political party if they could, and certainly they'd try to prevent such a party from participating in the electoral process on equal footing with liberal or leftist parties. When Richard Spencer got punched by some leftist scumbag the "liberal" media published articles musing about whether "punching Nazis" is okay. Even Marco Rubio publicly stated that violence against alt-right activists is "justified" by the content of their political beliefs. Do you not agree that if there were an alt-right political party -- especially if it seemed to have any chance of gaining power -- there'd be a phalanx of "liberals" demanding that the party be outlawed, that its members be arrested or, at the very least, prevented from speaking or participating in the electoral process?
BV: We have a terminological problem. I am using 'liberal' in the old way, the way George Schwab uses it above. I am not using it the way I usually use it, typically with sneer quotes, as synonymous with 'progressive' or 'leftist.' Do contemporary 'liberals' hold the assumption? One answer is yes, until they get enough power to outlaw their opponents' parties.
Hitler was legally elected in '33. After that he outlawed opposition parties. If Schmitt's proposal had been adopted, and the National Socialists had been outlawed, Hitler might have been stopped.
In Europe the "liberals" have found ways to ban or dissolve right-wing parties at times, and at other times they use the state to persecute any leaders or high-profile members (e.g., for "hate speech"). Their behavior is just not what you would expect of people who believe they should tolerate _any_ kind of political party or movement; they clearly don't even believe that any old kind of political _speech_ should be tolerated.
BV: Again, terminology. I don't think we have a substantive disagreement.
So I think you misdescribe the situation. The "liberals" believe that any leftist or anti-white or anti-western political party (or movement, or speech) must be tolerated. Not that any political party must be tolerated. They would happily tolerate a Sharia Party or a Communist Party or a Black Nationalist Party. Hell, they'd probably vote for one or all of them if they could. They would not tolerate a Christian Fundamentalist Party or a Fascist Party or a Normal White People's Party. (Or anyway, they don't believe that these latter kinds of things should be tolerated.)
BV: Once again, a terminological difference. I agree with you since you are talking about contemporary not classical 'liberals.'
My other concern is this: You think there is a danger of some kind of "subversive" party taking power, a party that rejects the basic principles of your society or country. And therefore, you want intolerance with respect to that kind of party, in order to protect your society. But that party has already taken power! Or rather, the two parties that exist in your country are both subversive--both flatly opposed to the most basic principles of America and the most basic interests of the American people.
BV: Now we have something to disagree about. I hope you are not saying that the Dems are in power. That is plainly false since 8 November 2016. If you are saying that both of the major parties are subversive of traditionally American principles and values, then that has to be argued out. Surely they are not equally subversive.
For one thing, the Manhattan sybarite has struck a blow for religious liberty. (An evangelical Trump supporter might say that the Lord works in mysterious ways.) Now religious liberty is one of the American values I am talking about. The Orange Man has also gotten rid of the ObamaCare individual mandate, an egregious violation of individual liberty. Trump's opposition to the individual mandate is right in line with classical American values. He got conservative Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court. He has appointed conservative federal judges. And so on.
I would like you to support and nuance your claim that both of the major parties are subversive -- "both flatly opposed to the most basic principles of America and the most basic interests of the American people."
So in this situation, banning "subversive" parties would really just mean banning any party that aimed to truly represent the American people or uphold the real principles of America. I mean, doesn't it seem fairly obvious that your politicians and courts are in the hands of people who already reject the most basic rules and values of the real historic American nation? California will openly violate federal laws in order to flood the country with illegal aliens; politicians and courts will do nothing. Just one example. In this situation you are the subversive--so I'm worried that the policy you're proposing would only be used against people like you.
BV: Well, no. You are ignoring the the recent "Flight 93" events. We stormed the cockpit and subdued the hijackers -- for the moment.
The logical structure of the problem before us is perhaps that of a dilemma. Either (A) we adopt the classically liberal assumption that every political party is tolerable, or (~A) we don't. If (A), then we have to countenance the possibility that a party legally come to power that outlaws all opposition parties. This possibility became actual after '33 in Germany. If (~A), then we members of the Coalition of the Sane expose ourselves to the possibility that our party gets banned, and we get sent to the leftist concentration camp.
I'll have to think more about this .
In any case, welcome to Political Aporetics 101.
Disclaimer: I am not a political philosopher; I only play one in the blogosphere. I write these things to clarify my own thoughts with the help of powerful intellects such as my Canadian sparring partner. I am a metaphysician and philosopher of religion by trade. That is where most of my professional publications are.
ComBox now open.