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Excerpt from the Staats-Lexikon: "Constitution" (1845-1848)
page 6 of 6


But if one looks beyond the official pronouncements and well-serving praises and – beyond the reach of censor’s scissors – takes in the spoken statements of thinking people, the judgments and views of all classes, even the simplest citizens and country folk, and especially the spirit of the public – unmistakable to the attentive observer, even if it only reigns in silence – then one is overcome by the conviction that it is impossible for the foundations of absolutism to endure, at least in Western Europe, and that, if limited or passionate statesmen think to introduce it anyway, then it can only be a matter of time before revolution is the unavoidable consequence. Only human wickedness stands on the side of absolutism; the constitutional system has human understanding and virtue on its side. Hopefully, the latter will be stronger than the former and the regimes themselves, after they have taken stock of the situation, will prefer to befriend the peoples’ understanding and virtue rather than entrust themselves to human wickedness (that is, of the boot-lickers). Apart from reasons which pertain to their relation with their own people, the regimes have a strong interest in this, the strongest interest, for reasons pertaining to foreign relations. If absolutism were to gain undisputed dominance over Europe, then violence would take the place of law, including international law, which means that the independence of smaller or weaker states vis-à-vis the larger ones would be threatened. Then it would make no difference at all to a subject (for there would be no more citizens) which sovereign he would have to obey and render taxes and services to. In any event, the moral power which is the only thing capable of correcting the imbalance between smaller and bigger states would be killed, and then every small state would be annexed the minute a stronger neighbor so fancied, or divided up among several stronger neighbors. Against this double danger, namely against the danger of revolution and republicanism (for all states) and (for small states) the danger of losing one’s independence to a foreign power, there is no other means of protection than the acceptance of the constitutional system.

[ . . . ]

C. v. Rotteck



Source: Carl von Rotteck and Carl Welcker, eds., Das Staats-Lexikon: Encyklopädie der sämmtlichen Staatswissenschaften für alle Stände [The National-Lexicon: Encyclopedia of the Political Sciences for People of all Stations], 2nd ed., rev. and enl. Altona: Verlag von Johann Friedrich Hammerich, 1845-48, vol. 3, pp. 522-25, 542-43.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer and Jonathan Skolnik

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