Decisionism and Politics: Weber as Constitutional Theorist

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The N ational Assembly held in the Frankfurt Paulskirche in 1848, which opened w ith high hopes for the unification o f Germ any on parliam entary constitutional principles, was left to die a year later, in the telling phrase o f D onoso Cortes, ‘like a street w om an in the gu tter’ (quoted in Valentin, 1940, p. 263). In the period o f reaction that followed, during w hich the Paulskirche convention came to be described as the ‘parliam ent o f pro­ fessors’, one o f its m em bers, Georg G ottfried Gervinus, was accused, in a trial for high treason, o f attem pting to prove the historical inevitability o f the supersession o f monarchical forms by republican forms. This was Gervinus’s second experience as a professorial m artyr. In 1837 he had been one o f the professors at the U niversity o f G ottingen, the ‘Gottingen Seven’, w ho protested the revocation o f the H anoverian constitution. For this he had been banished and given three days to leave the kingdom . The lesson he, and m any other liberal thinkers, learned from these experiences was that the Germ an middle classes were incapable o f perform ing the historical role assigned to them; they lacked the political will to establish a republican order.

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Decisionism and Politics: Weber as Constitutional Theorist, in S. Whimster & S. Lash (Eds.), Decisionism and Politics: Weber as Constitutional Theorist, Routledge, p. 334-354