The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 600 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07.

The members of the executive and the officials of the State form the main part of the middle class which represents the educated intelligence and the consciousness of right of the mass of a people.  This middle class is prevented by the institutions of sovereignty from above and the rights of corporation from below, from assuming the exclusive position of an aristocracy and making education and intelligence the means for caprice and despotism.  Thus the administration of justice, whose object is the proper interest of all individuals, had at one time been perverted into an instrument of gain and despotism, owing to the fact that the knowledge of the law was hidden under a learned and foreign language, and the knowledge of legal procedure under an involved formalism.

In the middle class, to which the State officials belong, resides the consciousness of the State and the most conspicuous cultivation:  the middle class constitutes therefore the ground pillar of the State in regard to uprightness and intelligence.  The State in which there is no middle class stands as yet on no high level.


The legislature is concerned with the interpretation of the laws and with the internal affairs of the State, in so far as they have a universal content.  This function is itself a part of the constitution and thus presupposes it.  Being presupposed, the constitution lies, to that degree, outside the direct province of the legislature, but in the forward development of the laws and the progressive character of the universal affairs of government, the constitution receives its development also.

The constitution must alone be the firm ground on which the legislature stands; hence it must not be created for purposes of legislation.  But the constitution not only is, its essence is also to become—­that is, it progresses with the advance of civilization.  This progress is an alteration which is imperceptible, but has not the form of an alteration.  Thus, for example, the emperor was formerly judge, and went about the empire administering justice.  Through the merely apparent advance of civilization it has become practically necessary that the emperor should gradually yield his judicial function to others, and thus came about the transition of the judicial function from the person of the prince to a body of judges; thus the progress of any condition is an apparently calm and imperceptible one.  In this way and after a lapse of time a constitution attains a character quite different from what it had before.

In the legislative power as a whole are operative both the monarchical element and the executive.  To the former belongs the final decision; the latter as advisory element possesses concrete knowledge, perspective over the whole in all its ramifications, and acquaintance with the objective principles and wants of the power of the State.  Finally, in the legislature the different classes or estates are also active.  These classes or estates represent in the legislature the element of subjective formal freedom, the public consciousness, the empirical totality of the views and thought of the many.

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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