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National Identity and Political Thought in GermanyWilhelmine Depictions of the French Third Republic, 1890–1914$
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Mark Hewitson

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208587

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208587.001.0001

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The German Rechtsstaat and the French Political State

The German Rechtsstaat and the French Political State

(p.30) 2 The German Rechtsstaat and the French Political State
National Identity and Political Thought in Germany

Mark Hewitson

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the Dreyfus affair and the questions which it raised for German observers, including the fundamental relationship between law and the state. In many instances, this relationship defined the nature and extent of politics, often by excluding political parties from state affairs. The Rechtsstaat underpinned the Kulturstaat and even the well-governed Polizeistaat of the late 19th century rather than hindering them. In short, the Rechtsstaat ensured internal order by consent, which in turn permitted the state to acquire new responsibilities without public disquiet. Law, because it imposed limits on state and subject, constituted a platform for later disputes about forms of government. Historically, the rule of law appeared to precede political debate in Germany: it had to be preserved, if that debate were to have any sense.

Keywords:   Dreyfus affair, law, state, politics, Rechtsstaat, Kulturstaat, Polizeistaat, government, Germany

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