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Title: Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt in Weimar : a riddle of political constitutionalism
Author: Vagdoutis, Nikolaos
ISNI:       0000 0004 7223 5298
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis approaches the Weimar constitutional debate by focusing on its most significant participants, Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt. It reveals that this debate concerned the constitutional question in the context of the contradiction between the democratic modern state and the capitalist economy. It was in that sense a debate on the 'riddle' that was identified by the young Marx concerning the problem of the political form through which modern societies are regulated, caught between the political question, namely that of political power, and by the social question, namely that of the socio-economic structures of power. In effect the term “political constitutionalism” captures this tension through which Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt approached the constitutional question. The historical context of the Weimar Republic is important in order to bring into the light the theories of Kelsen and Schmitt (and, secondarily, of other Weimar theorists who also approached the constitutional question through similar problématiques). Regarding this context, it is, firstly, demonstrated that the Weimar Constitution was a post-traditional constitution that dealt both with the political question (the introduction of parliamentary democracy) and with the “social question” through its “economic constitution”. It is, secondly, demonstrated how the relationship between political and socio-economic power affected, in turn, the constitutional order throughout Weimar by leading ultimately to its structural transformation. This thesis argues, firstly, that Schmitt’s solution to Marx’s riddle dissociated the constitution from its democratic promise in order to protect a concept of constitutionalism that would maintain the 19th century liberal political-economic divide. Hence, it ended up as a theory of “authoritarian liberalism” that legitimized the “structural transformation” of the Weimar constitutional order between 1930-32; secondly, that Kelsen’s solution, while placing emphasis on the association of the constitution with the democratic promise, underplayed the power of the capitalist mode of production to affect both the State and the constitutional order itself. As a result, and although he defended the Republic and the Weimar Constitution, he could not see that the constitution itself was traversed by the power of capital in its entanglement with the mode of production.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JC Political theory ; K Law (General)