Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt in Weimar: a riddle of political constitutionalism

Vagdoutis, Nikolaos (2018) Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt in Weimar: a riddle of political constitutionalism. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3310483


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.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Weimar Republic, constitutional theory, Carl Schmitt, Hans Kelsen.
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
K Law > K Law (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Supervisor's Name: Christodoulidis, Professor Emilios and Lindahl, Professor Hans
Date of Award: 2018
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-9076
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 May 2018 12:12
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 15:19
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/9076

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