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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, "The Constitution of Germany," unpublished manuscript (1800-1802)

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[Hegel then proceeds to point out that in terms of utility, the local autonomy is supposed to create a financial disadvantage for the central authorities, robbing them of revenue, and to interfere with uniformity, while on the other side it creates satisfaction and an aliveness in the community. He combats the first two arguments by remarking that the central authorities do forego expenses as well as revenues, and the second by commenting that regimentation kills not only initiative, but also morale. He then concludes:]

The difference is enormous between a situation where the political authority so arranges things that everything it can count on is in its hands, but where it cannot count on anything else, and the situation where it can count also upon the free loyalty, the self-confidence and the initiative of the people: an all-powerful, unconquerable spirit which that bureaucratic hierarchy would chase away, because it only stays alive where the highest political authority leaves as much as possible to the self-help of the citizens. By contrast in a modern state, such as the French Republic, where everything is regulated from above, where nothing that has a general aspect is left to the administration and execution of that part of the people who are interested, a dull, stupid life will result from the pedantic approach to ruling; but how, only the future can tell. But what kind of life and what barrenness prevails in another state so regimented, namely the Prussian, strikes anyone who enters the first village, or who observes its complete lack of scientific or artistic genius, or who does not judge its strength by the ephemeral energy which a singular genius has been able to force upon it for a while.

We therefore consider that people happy to which the state leaves much freedom in the subordinated, general activities, and that political authority infinitely strong which will be supported by the free and untrammeled spirit of its people.

It is clear that as a result of the ten years of struggle [resulting from the French Revolution] and the misery of a large part of Europe this much has been learned about basic concepts, that people have become resistant to blind cries of freedom. In this bloody game, the cloud of freedom has dissolved. [ . . . ] The noise about freedom will no longer have effect, anarchy has been distinguished from freedom, and the deep conviction has become settled that a firm government is essential to freedom, equally deeply however, that the people must participate in legislation and in the most important affairs of state. The people have a guarantee for the fact that the government will act according to law, and that it will participate in the most important matters touching the general interest—this guarantee is the organization of a body which represents it. [ . . . ]

Without such a representative body no freedom is any longer imaginable; all the vagueness and the emptiness of the shouting about freedom has been replaced by this provision. [ . . . ] It is a principle of public opinion, a part of common sense. Most German states have such a representation. [ . . . ]

This German freedom seeks protection for its interests from a state which rests upon this system [ . . . ] no war of Prussia can any longer be considered a German war for freedom by public opinion. The true, the persistent and now sharply defined interest in freedom can no longer find protection there.

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