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Weimar ThoughtA Contested Legacy$
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Peter E. Gordon and John P. McCormick

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691135106

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691135106.001.0001

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Legal Theory and the Weimar Crisis of Law and Social Change

Legal Theory and the Weimar Crisis of Law and Social Change

(p.55) 3 Legal Theory and the Weimar Crisis of Law and Social Change
Weimar Thought

John P. McCormick

Princeton University Press

Public lawyers in the Weimar Republic conceptualized the law as a novel means of performing the following pressing tasks that confronted state and society in the twentieth century: the regulation of an industrial economy, the amelioration of economic inequality, and the negotiation of cultural disagreement. During the Kaiserreich, monarchically legitimated elites unilaterally executed comparable tasks. However, in the Weimar Republic, previously excluded social groups—for instance, those represented by the Catholic, Social Democratic, Communist and National Socialist parties—now vied with traditionally represented social forces in electoral and parliamentary fora to formulate and direct regulatory, redistributive, and socially integrative policy. This chapter focuses on the fraught but not necessarily hopeless relationship of law and the welfare state or Sozialstaat. It traces the way liberal and social democratic lawyers like Richard Thoma and Hermann Heller attempted to constitutionally legitimize novel efforts at political regulation, economic redistribution and social integration while avoiding the intellectual either/or's insisted upon by the dominant legal theorists of the epoch, Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt.

Keywords:   jurisprudence, law, welfare state, legal theory, Sozialstatt, Hans Kelsen, Carl Schmitt, Richard Thoma, Hermann Heller

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