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perial Diet makes;' but the emperor of that unwritten Constitution which actually is in force to-day is the monarch of Germany, possessing the power personally to prescribe the course of Imperial legislation. The German Emperor has developed from a mere executive organ into the monarch of the empire, and that incidentally through the elimination of the Federal Council as the chief organ of Imperial legislation. The German Empire has developed into a monarchy. The written Constitution calls the emperor purposely not Emperor of Germany, but German Emperor,' in order to express that he is not the monarch of Germany; but the emperor of to-day is emperor of Germany, monarch of Germany. The emperor has become emperor and monarch of Germany.
The German Empire of to-day is a constitutional monarchy. Its legislative power is distributed between a monarch, the emperor, and two legislative Houses, the Federal Council and the Imperial Diet,-as in Prussia, for instance, the legislative power is distributed between the king and the two chambers of the diet. But here again let us clearly distinguish between the German Empire, as it is described in the written Constitution, and the German Empire of to-day. The empire of the written Constitution is not a constitutional monarchy, but the empire of to-day is a constitutional monarchy. The empire has developed into a constitutional monarchy. The empire of the Constitution has two legislative factors: the Federal Council and the Imperial Diet; the empire of to-day has three emperor, Federal Council, and Imperial Diet. The change means that one of the reigning German princes which are represented in the Federal Council, the king of Prussia, has become the monarch of the empire, and has thereby lifted himself above his former peers. Politically this took place already in 1866, when Prussia subdued those German states that were hostile to its supremacy. However, the Constitution did not acknowl
1 Constitution, Article 17: It belongs to the emperor * * to supervise the execution of the Imperial laws.
2 Article 11: The presidency of the union belongs to the king of Prussia, who bears the name German Emperor.
edge this fact to any great extent, but gave the sovereignty to the totality of the reigning princes. It was only after the adoption of the Constitution and in the way described above that the emperor became the superior of the other German princes, and they consequently his inferiors and subjects. I do not mean by this that the German princes have lost any of their independence as sovereigns in their respective states since the union was formed; what I mean is that, as the Federal Council sank down to a mere upper House, so sank simultaneously the position in the empire of the princes who appoint the members of the Federal Council,—until to-day we cannot any longer say that they are in their totality the sovereign of the empire, but we would better call them a privileged class of the empire, standing between the monarch and the people, an Imperial aristocracy that has the privilege of appointing and instructing the members of the upper House.
Thus we find three classes in the German Empire of today the emperor, the princes, and the people,-corresponding to the King, the Lords, and the Commoners in Great Britain. But in the written Constitution we find only two classes: the princes, represented in the Federal Council, and the people, represented in the Imperial Diet; for the emperor of the Constitution, as we have seen, is not the superior of the other German princes, but only one of their peers, delegated to be their executive organ. The change that has taken place in this respect may be described in this way: one of the princes, the mightiest of them, the king of Prussia, has subdued the others, and in doing so has had the people on his side; the princes were subdued, and a strong, national monarchy was established. That subjection of the princes and the establishment of a strong, national monarchy had already taken place in France under Louis XI, Richelieu, and Louis XIV, and in England under the Tudors. This change in France and England is commonly called the transition from feudalism to absolutism. And this very same transition has been going on and is still going on in Germany in this generation! That is what the rising of the emperor over the other German princes means in the light of
a philosophy of history. When we look at the German Empire as a federation of states, we may say that the empire is developing from a federal state into a unitary state; but when we look at Germany as a unit, we may say that it is progressing from feudalism to absolutism. Both expressions mean the same thing. The independent German sovereigns who formed the North German Federation in 1867, were but the successors of the feudal lords of the old German Empire. So what appeared to be the formation of a federation of states was but a reunion of the scattered elements of Germany, the chief difference between the old empire and the new one being that the feudal monarch of the old empire, or rather his successor the Emperor of Austria, was excluded from the new empire, and that the lords together assumed the sovereignty of the new empire. And what now seems to be a development from a federal into a unitary state, is but the subjection of the feudal lords and the establishment of a strong, national monarchy above them,-the only contrast with the same phenomenon in England and France being here that in Germany one of the lords themselves, the king of Prussia, has risen above his peers, and not the original feudal monarch as in France and England.
When I say that Germany is progressing at present from feudalism to absolutism, I do not mean by this that the German Empire is becoming an absolute monarchy after the fashion of Russia; for I have myself declared above that the empire of to-day is a constitutional monarchy with two Houses, whose powers are defined. I use the term absolutism in contrast with feudalism on the one hand and democracy on the other. Feudalism, absolutism, and democracy are the three stages through which the states of Western Europe have gone since the Middle Ages. England and France have already reached the third stage, that of democracy; Germany is only entering upon the second one, that of absolutism. The application of the three terms presupposes the existence of three classes in the state, of the three classes already mentioned above: a king or emperor, lords, and commoners. And it presupposes besides a struggle between these three classes for supremacy; but such a strug
gle is the most natural thing wherever there are different classes. Now one speaks of feudalism when the lords are supreme and superior to the king or emperor as well as to the people; one speaks of absolutism when the king or emperor is superior to the lords and the people; and of a democracy when the people are supreme. It is in this sense that Germany is entering its period of absolutism.
I said above that Germany is progressing from feudalism to absolutism. But is it really a progress? I suppose that to many Americans the word absolutism means something absolutely bad; for it implies the dreaded one-man power. It is true that the personal influence of the German Emperor goes very far to-day even in internal politics in spite of the existence of the Federal Council and the Imperial Diet. But I do not claim that absolutism is something absolutely good. I only maintain that it is a progress beyond feudalism; for it means the establishment of a national state with a national policy in the place of the hurly-burly of feudalism. We must not forget that absolutism is the second and middle stage of the three stages; feudalism, absolutism, and democracy. Absolutism is neither absolutely good, nor absolutely bad. It is relatively good and implies a progress, when we compare it with the lower stage of feudalism; but it is relatively bad and implies a backward condition when we compare it with the higher and later stage of a democracy, for instance, when we compare the absolutism of Germany with the democracy of Great Britain. We ought to keep in mind that in this changing world of ours no human institution is either absolutely good or absolutely bad; but that the same thing is, as a rule, good and bad at the same time. When we compare an existing institution with institutions of the past, we must call it good, because it has proved fit to survive those former institutions; but when we compare the same institution with an ideal institution which we wish to see realized in the future, then we must call that very same institution bad, seeing all its shortcomings. So the German absolutism of to-day is a good thing when compared with the German feudalism of yesterday, but a bad thing when compared with an ideal democracy.
As to the question how soon the German Empire will presumably enter upon the third and highest stage, that of democracy, I have nothing to say here, since this is not a book of prophecies. For the present, although there is a strong democratic undercurrent, yet the ascendancy of the emperor is still increasing, if I am not mistaken. The older generation still sees in him the king of Prussia in the first place, but the younger generation the emperor and monarch of Germany. And of those Germans who are not Prussians, the older people think more of the king or prince of their native states, than of the emperor at Berlin, while the rising generation will put the emperor over their native prince in their thoughts. Nay, even the reigning princes themselves, I am convinced, are getting a different view of their position: the older ones will not forget the time before 1866, when they were the equals of the king of Prussia who now is their emperor, while the younger ones whose memory does not go so far back as 1866, will more and more consider themselves as the great vassals of the emperor, as an Imperial aristocracy. And the mere title Emperor, which is a monarchical one, has been doing, and still is doing, a great deal in this change of the Constitution, in the Emperor's acquiring the ascendancy over the princes.
The change that has taken place in the Constitution of Germany makes necessary a new interpretation of the meaning of the two resolutions of the Federal Council, one entirely different from that given above. There we started with the idea which lies at the bottom of the written Constitution that the Federal Council is the representative of the sovereign of the empire and consequently, according to the German view on constitutional law, the true legislator who makes the laws with the consent of the Imperial Diet. Looked upon from this standpoint, the first resolution of the Federal Council on a bill meant the approval of the sovereign to submit that bill to the Imperial Diet, and the second resolution meant the sanction of that bill by the sovereign ; and the second resolution only was legally binding, was the one spoken of in and required by Article 5 of the Constitution. But now, since the Federal Council has dropped down