The Doctrine of State and the Principles of State Law

This book is a translation of Book IV of The Doctrine of Law and State, entitled “The Doctrine of State and the Principles of State Law.” It is a tour de force: a gauntlet thrown down before the ignorant modernist who cannot conceive of the state as anything other than the creature of the will of man, the construct of autonomous citizens. The state for Stahl is above all a God-given reality, something which precedes the will of man, whether ruler or subject c.q. citizen, the existence of which is bound up with the existence of peoples and nations, and which is the expression of their essence. This is the true popular character of law and state (cf. Principles of Law, §§. 2, 25) as opposed to what Stahl labels the revolutionary character of popular sovereignty as the ephemeral will of the people.

Stahl argues for the concept of the state as an ethical kingdom, a kingdom of personality in which ruler and subject are united in subjection to a transcendent standard of justice and a transcendent concept of authority. Participatory government grows out of a constitution in which authority and institutions are first firmly established. Liberty is then the result of the prior acceptance of authority, which in turn is exercised not as an end in itself but as an office for the common good. Ultimately, a settled constitutional order can only be achieved when this notion of authority as a species of “divine right” is reconciled with the idea of humanity, wherein the absolute value of each individual is recognized and wherein his participation is integrated.

Stahl’s treatment of the historical growth of constitutionalism in the West, of the role of monarchy and the estates in that growth, is unparalleled. His insightful description and critique of constitutional theory and practice is of fundamental importance to understanding Western constitutionalism in its historic framework.

Book details

978-90-76660-09-7 hardbound, 978-90-76660-10-3 paper
Book Type:  6 x 9 in. 
Page Count:  506 includes bibliography and indices
List price: $29.99 hardback, $20.99 paperback



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