Friedrich Julius Stahl - Page 4

In this connection, Drucker points out a central theme in his thought and work, that of continuity and change: "The three do not enjoy a good press. They are suspect precisely because they tried to balance continuity and change, that is, because they were neither unabashed liberals nor unabashed reactionaries. They tried to create a stable society and a stable polity that would preserve the traditions of the past and yet make possible change, and indeed very rapid change. And they succeeded brilliantly. They created the only political theory that originated on the continent of Europe in modern times - at least until Karl Marx fifty years later. But they also created a political structure that survived for almost a hundred years, until it came crashing down with World War I." (p. 443)

Finally, Drucker, looking back on the protagonists of his planned work, sees a connection with the political system of the United States, which he has studied intensively since the early forties: "Of course, Humboldt, Radowitz, and Stahl did not realize that what they were trying to do had actually been accomplished in the United States. They did not realize that the United States Constitution first and so far practically alone among written constitutions, contains explicit provisions how to be changed. This probably explains more than anything else why, alone of all written constitutions, the American Constitution is still in force and a living document. Even less did they realize the importance of the Supreme Court as the institution which basically represents both conservation and continuity, and innovation and change and balances the two ... And I too, it should be said, had no inkling in 1930 that what the three Germans in the early years of the nineteenth century had tried to accomplish had already been done, and far more successfully, by the Founding Fathers and by Chief Justice Marshall in the infant United States." (p. 444)

But there is yet another connection, that between Drucker's essay on Friedrich Julius Stahl and Europe, indeed: to the political system of contemporary Europe. Drucker's treatise served the purpose after April 1933 of reminding the conservative elites of their own tradition and warning them of any cooperation with the "total state" of National Socialism. In one of the concluding paragraphs, Drucker remarked on the relation of conservative state theory to the state:
"The Conservative theory of the state must affirm the state because and insofar as it represents an obligation. It must also, however, prevent the state from becoming the only obligation, from becoming the 'total state' for the state is an order of this world, an institution arisen out of the dissolution of a supreme, timeless order, a kingdom with a human goal and meaning. And this meaning and goal, that is to say, power, is evil and demoralising, destructive, if it is not bound to a divine, immutable order, if it is not bound to God's plan for the world."