By William E. Scheuerman

Winner, 1996 Elaine and David Spitz booklet Prize for the simplest ebook onliberal and democratic conception, convention for the research of PoliticalThought. Winner, 1994 First ebook Prize, Foundations of PoliticalThought prepared part, American Political technology Association.Between the Norm and the Exception contributes old perception to the continued debate over the way forward for the rule of thumb of legislation in welfare-state capitalist democracies. The middle factor is whether society can provide its voters welfare-state promises and nonetheless shield the liberal imaginative and prescient of a norm-based criminal approach. Franz Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer, in an age ruled by way of Hitler and Stalin, sought to set up a legitimate theoretical foundation for the "rule of law" perfect. As an consequence in their subtle knowing of the liberal political culture, their writings recommend a theoretical neglected chance, an alternate serious thought that would usefully be utilized in realizing (and possibly countering) the modern development towards the deformalization of legislations.

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Extra info for Between the Norm and the Exception: The Frankfurt School and the Rule of Law

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To a great extent because of its Schmittian features, the young Kirchheimer's fiery polemics too often amount to a mere foil for attacking a more formidable foe than either reformist socialism or liberalism—namely, the most minimal normative achievements of modernity itself.  It seems to me that Weber is right to doubt that these possibilities are acceptable to us today. But the real question is whether this situation has to leave contemporary politics in the Schmittian, normative limbo of radical decisionism, where the mere intensity of an abstract decision or choice becomes the central standard by which we can allegedly determine the correctness (or, more precisely, authenticity) of political action.

As I will try to show in this chapter, this failure to break more radically with Schmitt had fatal consequences for Neumann's attempt during Weimar's final years to develop a defensible critical vision of the rule of law.  Correspondingly, Neumann and Heller examine the question of how institutions traditionally associated with the rule of law could be reconceptualized and then given a new social and political base sturdier than what its traditional (bourgeois) carrier decreasingly seemed capable or willing to provide.

Where could authority be adequately centralized so as to take on the exigencies of the emergency?  Socialists should instead prepare themselves to wage a revolutionary struggle with the aim of establishing a homogeneous socialism alone capable of guaranteeing a stable and genuinely political regime.  To a great extent because of its Schmittian features, the young Kirchheimer's fiery polemics too often amount to a mere foil for attacking a more formidable foe than either reformist socialism or liberalism—namely, the most minimal normative achievements of modernity itself.

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