Critiques Schmitt's comparative-historical state theory.
It is a commonplace of Schmitt scholarship that the controversial thinker sought to recapture some of the elan of the pre-Weimar state through his advocacy of effectively almost unlimited presidential government. Seitzer demonstrates how Schmitt believed comparative history itself could reinvigorate the ailing German state by subtly altering prevailing understandings of the relation of theory and practice in law and politics.
Treating Schmitt's Constitutional Theory and Guardian of the Constitution as methodologically sophisticated comparative histories, Seitzer turns Schmitt's argument against itself. He shows how Schmitt's comparative histories, when properly executed, support a decentralized solution to the Republic's difficulties directly contrary to Schmitt's in terms of its purpose and effect. Problem-oriented, comparative-historical studies of key features of the Weimar system suggest that the dispersion of political power facilitates an institutional dialogue over constitutional principle and practice that better provides for political stability and democratic experimentation. These studies also suggest that linking forms of justification with institutions establishes a productive tension among norms and institutions that is essential to maintaining the viability of constitutional democracy, both in the short- and long-term. This work will be of considerable value to Schmitt scholars and those interested in German legal and political theory as well as those concerned with broad issues in comparative law and European history and political theory.
Introduction Retrofitting Liberal Constitutionalism: Constitutional Theory as a Response to the Weimar State Crisis Exorcising the Ghost of Composite States Past: Local Self-Government and Political Stability in the Kaiserreich Guarding the Constitution: The American Model in German Constitutional Politics Rethinking the Role of Courts: Constitutional Democracy as Institutional Dialogue
Endorsements Seitzer's work stands out amidst the recent deluge of scholarship on Carl Schmitt, and it promises to occupy an important position in the intellecutual history of inter-war Germany. At the centre of this work is a sober, discriminating and historically nuanced positioning of Schmitt's constitutional reflections against the practical legal realities of the Weimer Republic. Schmitt's thought emerges from this perspective in a light which is admirably free of demonstrative and polemical gestures. This is likely to add a new dimension to the reception of Schmitt's constitutional theory in the English-speaking world.—Chris Thornhill^LLecturer, Department of German^LKing's College, London
Among the studies that deal with Carl Schmitt the `catholic,' the `theoretician of the Reich, the `decisionist,' among other characterizations, Jeffrey Seitzer presents us in his ^IComparative History and Legal Theory: Carl Schmitt in the First German Democracy^R with an entirely new perspective. Drawing on an impressive knowledge of the Schmitt literature in general and of Schmitt's ^IConstitutional Theory^R and ^IGuardian of Constitution^R in particular, Seitzer brilliantly analyzes Schmitt's use of comparative historical arguments and their normative transformations, in the end developing his own version of democratic politics as institutional dialogue.—Prof. Michael Stolleis^LJ.W. Goethe University^LExecutive Director, Max-Planck Institute for European Legal History