Authority Not Majority

WordBridge Publishing
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Virtually unknown apart from specialist scholars, Friedrich Julius Stahl was a leading German philosopher, professor of constitutional law, and statesman in 19th century Germany. His Christian political philosophy both impacted practical politics in a time of upheaval in Germany (around and after 1848), and influenced anti-revolutionary thinkers of subsequent generations. His work is a monument to a Germany that was overwhelmed and subsumed by the Bismarck revolution, which substituted Realpolitik for Christian tradition. His biography in English is long overdue.
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Publisher
WordBridge Publishing
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Published on
Dec 31, 2007
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Pages
148
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ISBN
9789076660042
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Law / Constitutional
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Constitutional Failure is a major contribution to studies of the German political philosopher Carl Schmitt (1888–1985), the Weimar Republic, and the relationship of constitutionalism, political economy, and democracy. An internationally renowned scholar of Weimar legal theory, Ellen Kennedy brought Schmitt’s neglected work to the attention of English-speaking readers with her highly regarded translations of his work and studies of its place in twentieth-century political theory. In this eagerly awaited book, she tracks Schmitt’s contribution to the canon of Western political philosophy during its most difficult and dangerous moment—the time of Weimar Germany and the Third Reich—demonstrating the centrality of his thought to understandings of the modern constitutional state and its precarious economic and social foundations.

Kennedy reveals how Schmitt’s argument for a strong but neutral state supported the maximization of market freedom at the cost of the political constitution. She argues that the major fault lines of Weimar liberalism—emergency powers, the courts as “defenders of the constitution,” mass mobilization of anti-liberal politics, ethnic-identity politics, a culture of resentment and contested legitimacy—are not exceptions within the liberal-democratic orders of the West, but central to them. Contending that Schmitt’s thought remains vital today because liberal norms are inadequate to the political challenges facing constitutional systems as diverse as those of Eastern Europe and the United States, Kennedy develops a compelling, rigorous argument that unsettles many assumptions about liberalism, democracy, and dictatorship.

 At the dawn of the modern age a debate took place which would determine the further course of Western and thus world civilization. This debate did not take place in any assembly or debating chamber. It took place in the hearts and minds of the trend-setting intelligentsia of the day.

Two figures engaged in this debate, acting as signposts at the crossroads which materialized in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when a decision loomed and a path had not yet irrevocably been embarked upon. They functioned at the time and place destined to be the stage upon which this decision would become apparent: in and around the Dutch Republic in its struggle for freedom from the Spanish monarchy. They shared the same inheritance, constraints, and influences; the one fashioned it in a way that proved a resounding success which would be received as orthodoxy, the framework of right-thinking people for centuries to come; the other in a way that, although offering a coherent and constructive alternative, languished in obscurity, only in our day receiving renewed interest from the scattered flock of academics and churchmen (and women) who either make the knowledge of such things their business, or share a wistfulness for and inkling of this world we have lost.

The one is Hugo Grotius, world renowned, the so-called “Father of International Law.” Although the appropriateness of such an appellation has been drawn into well-deserved doubt in our time, what should not be in doubt is the paradigmatic role his work played in the course of our civilization. Grotius fashioned the synthesis of the socio-political-legal-constitutional materials, the harvest of centuries of scholarship, into the familiar modern shape, which this book will explore in extenso. It is his path that was chosen, his seed which has now reached harvest time.

The other is Johannes Althusius, forgotten by the Enlightenment but restored to honor in the 19th century by the German “revivalist” of associationalism Otto von Gierke. Althusius drew on the same source materials as Grotius to fashion his own synthesis of political, legal, and constitutional thought, a synthesis which then fell into abeyance as its competitor synthesis triumphed, but which in our day has enjoyed a renaissance that promises a theoretical renewal of our understanding of constitutionalism and the rule of law.

These two men encapsulate the conflict of Western civilization. The path of the one was taken, the path of the other eschewed, the path of rationalist individualism instead of the path of communitarian associationalism, the path of Grotius instead of the path of Althusius. It is their achievements which are elucidated in this book.

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