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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, "The Constitution of Germany," unpublished manuscript (1800-1802)

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From this self-centered activity, which alone was called freedom, spheres of power [over] others formed according to accident and force of character, without regard to any general interest and little restricted by what one calls political authority [Staatsgewalt]; such authority hardly existed as a check to the individual.

The parts of general political authority were attached to a manifold of mutually exclusive properties, real estates which were distributed without rhyme or reason and were independent of the state. This manifold property formed no system of rights, but a collection without principle. [ . . . ]

Political power and privilege are not governmental offices which are calculated in relation to the organization of the whole, the contributions and duties of the individual are not determined in relation to the needs of the whole, but each member of the political hierarchy, each princely house, each estate, each town, each guild, etc., everyone who has right or duties in relation to the state, has himself acquired them. The state has in view of this reduction of its power nothing else to do but to confirm that its power has been torn away. If thus the state loses all authority and yet the possessions of the parts depend upon its power, these possessions necessarily must become very unstable, since they have no other support, which is equal to zero.

The principles of German public law can therefore not be deduced from the concept of the state or from that of a specific constitution, like that of a monarchy. German constitutional law is not a science according to principles, but a collection of the most diverse public rights acquired like private ones. Legislative, judicial, ecclesiastical, military powers are intermingled, divided and conjoined in the most irregular way and in the most varied amounts, just as if they were private property.

By resolutions of the diets, peace treaties, electoral agreements, family contracts, judicial decisions, etc., the political property of each member of the German body politic is most carefully determined. The most insignificant detail, such as titles, order of precedence in walking and sitting, color of furniture have consumed years of work. [ . . . ] The German Reich is like the Reich of nature in its productions, unfathomable in big things, inexhaustible in small matters. It is this side of the situation which fills the insiders acquainted with these infinite details of right and privilege with that awe in face of the venerableness of the German body politic and with that admiration for such a system of the most elaborate justice.

This sort of justice maintains every part as separate from the state, and hence the necessary demands of the state upon its members are in complete conflict. A state demands a general center, a monarch and representatives [Stände] in which the several powers, such as foreign relations, war, finances, are united. Such a center must also possess the necessary power for directing [such matters], to enforce its decisions and to maintain the several parts in subjection. [ . . . ] The German political structure on the other hand is nothing but the sum of the rights and privileges which the several parts have taken from the whole. [ . . . ]

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