Constitutional Revolution: The Link between Constitutionalism and Progress

Overview

In the postcommunist countries of East and Central Europe, there has been a surprising revival of the concept of constitutionalism. Communism was dismantled by revolutions that were very different from our traditional expectation, initiated not by general strikes or by any kind of mass violence. Instead, it was the creative invention of institutions and rule that enabled the masses to make a "soft" break with the ancien regime. Core elements of constitutionalism—the rule of law, separation of powers, and ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (3) from $84.82   
  • Used (3) from $84.82   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$84.82
Seller since 2006

Feedback rating:

(61345)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Good
Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers. Your purchase benefits world literacy!

Ships from: Mishawaka, IN

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$199.81
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:

(337)

Condition: Good
Possible retired library copy, some have markings or writing. May or may not include accessories such as CD or access codes.

Ships from: Chatham, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$199.92
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:

(337)

Condition: Very Good
Very good.

Ships from: Chatham, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

In the postcommunist countries of East and Central Europe, there has been a surprising revival of the concept of constitutionalism. Communism was dismantled by revolutions that were very different from our traditional expectation, initiated not by general strikes or by any kind of mass violence. Instead, it was the creative invention of institutions and rule that enabled the masses to make a "soft" break with the ancien regime. Core elements of constitutionalism—the rule of law, separation of powers, and individual human rights—were among the primary goals of the emerging new political elites. In fact, these revolutions were, from their inception, constitutional revolutions.

Preuss places these constitutional revolutions in a broader conceptual and historical context and analyzes the largely neglected connections between the concept of constitutionalism and the idea of progress. He sees serious new challenges to present-day constitutionalism and opens the debate as to whether the modern constitutional state will be able to cope. The result is a fresh and exciting new look at modern constitutionalism, its strengths and weaknesses.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Kenneth Holland
Ulrich K. Preuss is Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at the University of Bremen in Germany. He served as an advisor to the commission that prepared the draft of the constitution for a re-united Germany and is a member of the state of Bremen's constitutional court. The Eastern Europeans and other peoples currently writing new constitutions can no longer assume that popular sovereignty, parliamentary government and the rule of law will produce progress. Preuss's thesis is that the link between constitutionalism and progress--one of the distinctive characteristics of the American and French Revolutions--has been broken by the disillusionment with science and rationality characteristic of the 20th century. To be successful, constitutional institutions must understand that science and technology fundamentally present to the community moral questions on which arguments can be presented on either side. The role of the constitution, then, is to provide a framework in which these issues can be negotiated by all the affected interests in society. The methodology is theoretical, historical and comparative. He makes his main points by comparing what the framers of the American and French revolutions said they were doing with what the opponents of Marxism-Leninism in the Central and Eastern European countries said they were trying to accomplish after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The author demonstrates a through and profound knowledge of both the American founding and the French Revolution. He was personally involved with the transition to democracy and capitalism in the former German Democratic Republic. The book is well organized, and the translation is lucid. The work is extremely thought-provoking and somewhat disturbing for those who assume that the transformation of the European communist states into Western-style parliamentary democracies will proceed smoothly. The author, however, does not simply issue dire warnings but makes positive suggestions of what can be done to bolster freedom and competent government in the emerging democracies. The book serves well all who take a serious interest in the democratization of the Second World. The ambiguity which accompanies moral controversies characteristic of the contemporary period is in sharp contrast to the moral certainty which informed the U. S. Declaration of Independence and French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. This moral certitude imparted to the British colonists in North America and the French sansculottes an indignation and rage that fueled the overthrow of the ancien regimes in the two countries. The framers of the American constitution assumed that by shielding private property against the envy of debtors progress would be guaranteed. The dominant moral conviction in Paris, however, was that popular sovereignty would produce a redistribution of wealth from the nobility to the masses. While the Americans focused on the rate of economic growth associated with constitutionalism, the French imagined a society in which the existing stock of wealth was divided equitably among the citizenry. In sharp contrast to the moral outrage--and the violence that naturally accompanies such emotions--which marked 18th-century constitution building, the opponents of the Marxist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 sought merely to reform their existing constitutions. The chief strategy was to achieve security for human rights, democracy and private property by forcing the government to take the nation's existing constitution seriously and to observe exactly the rule of law. Their goal was to achieve peaceful TRANSITION to democracy and free markets, not REVOLUTION. The constitutional reformers in Warsaw, Budapest and Moscow were reacting against the form in which moral and scientific certainty had taken in Marxist-Leninist ideology. Marx's scientific socialism was based on the assumption that, by the operation of inexorable historical laws, communism would supplant capitalism, and by so doing reason would replace contradiction and injustice would yield to justice. The failure of communism was not the only sign in 1989 that science could lead society backward. Also important were the atomic bombs dropped on Japan by the United States in 1945, nuclear accidents in Pennsylvania and the Ukraine, widespread environmental degradation and the threats posed by genetic engineering. The task of reforming or writing a constitution in the last decade of the 20th century is thus much more problematic than it was 200 years earlier. The elusiveness of progress meant lowered expectations and an emphasis on procedures for managing conflict in a climate of uncertainty. In the absence of correct answers, the way in which decisions are made becomes more important than the decisions themselves. This analysis raises the specter of Friedrich Nietzsche, who proclaimed in 1900 the death of God, i.e., the impossibility of objectivity and the disappearance of absolute truth. The influence of Nietzsche and his epigoni--Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault--on European art, religion and politics in the 20th century explains why the victory of the West in the Cold War was a muted one. In the back of the mind of Margaret Thatcher and George Bush was the suspicion that the collapse of communism had more to do with the growing influence of nihilism and existentialism among young Europeans than history's vindication of Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS or John Locke's SECOND TREATISE OF GOVERNMENT. The greatest danger, then, faced by lovers of constitutionalism in Central and Eastern Europe, admonishes Preuss, is that the newly liberated peoples of the region will become "postmodern and cynical" (p. 126). Constitution makers in emerging democracies face a challenge undreamed of in 1787 or 1789. They are sailing uncharted seas toward an uncertain future. Eastern European statesmen must demystify the idea of progress without denying it altogether, he says. In the light of the changes in thought that have occurred since the 18th century, Preuss calls for a new understanding of constitutionalism and proposes a solution he terms "reflexivity." Citizens can become aware of the uncertainty that imbues many moral, scientific and technological questions, and this self-consciousness can suggest mechanisms for their resolution. A modern constitution will create "conditions under which different pragmatic, scientific, and moral perspectives can coexist with one another" (p. 123). The goal will always be a resolution or compromise following a discussion of the morally relevant questions in which all affected segments of society participate. A question that Preuss does not answer, although he is a member of a state constitutional court, is what is the role of the judiciary in assuring progress when the very notion of progress has become problematic. Preuss's definition of the problem faced by constitutional reformers in Eastern Europe, however, resembles the work of American constitutional scholar Ronald Dworkin. Dworkin argues that justices sitting on courts exercising the power of judicial review, such as the U. S. Supreme Court and German Constitutional Court, are essentially engaged in a work of creativity. This is so because the constitutional issues presented to such tribunals are essentially moral dilemmas for which there is no correct answer. In their constitutional interpretations, the justices are writing new chapters to a 200-year-old chain novel, each chapter of which should flow naturally from the previous chapter but advance the plot in a way unforeseeable by previous justices. The book is organized in this way. The first two chapters describe the dawn of modern constitutionalism in the 18th century, when the stimulus for the struggle for constitutions in the United States and France was certain knowledge of unlimited progress if only feudalism could be overthrown. In Chapter 3 Preuss shows how socialist regimes rejected the assumption of the French revolutionaries that if the people were sovereign progress would inevitably occur. Marxists identified the people, as the universal class, with progress but regarded majority rule as an impediment to the fulfillment of historical destiny. Progress could only be assured by placing power in the hands of the representatives of the people, the vanguard of the proletariat. The people in socialist regimes naturally came to regard their communist rulers as usurpers rather than as liberators. In the next chapter he proves that the political changes that occurred behind the Iron Curtain in 1989 were real revolutions, not merely reforms, because sovereignty passed from the communist party to the people. Chapter 5 argues that the Eastern European revolutions were unique and that it is a mistake simply to treat them as the victory of Western liberalism and capitalism. The decisive difference was the uncertainty that characterized all moral claims. In the final chapter, Preuss describes the threat of repression and tyranny facing new democracies whose constitutions must manage moral uncertainty. If there is no objective right, then it is easy to make the claim that might makes right. Existentialism provides the solution. Preuss draws from Heidegger's teaching that the authentic person is one who creates his or her own unique value system and then lives in accordance with that creation. Through reflective constitutionalism, Preuss exhorts, governments can bind themselves in advance by limiting their powers and individuals can bind themselves by restricting their freedom. Only in this way can freedom and progress regain their moral dimension.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780391038547
  • Publisher: BRILL
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Pages: 136

Table of Contents

Introduction: Constitution-Making and the Foundation of a New Polity 1
1 The Constitution as the "Object of All Longing" 25
2 Social Progress or Political Freedom? 41
3 The Struggle for Sovereignty: The People and Progress 59
4 Constitutional and Social Revolutions 81
5 The European Revolutions of 1989 91
6 Toward a New Understanding of Constitutions 109
Index 129
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)