Carl J. Friedrich was a political scientist and educator who lived from 1901–1984. He was a professor at Harvard University from 1926 until 1971. He was heavily involved in politics, advising the West German Republic regarding its relations with the United States, and also advised other countries, such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, about setting up constitutions.
Friedrich was born in Germany. His mother was a Prussian countess, and his father was a professor of medicine. He studied philosophy, history and economics at the universities of Marburg, Frankfurt and Vienna. He received his doctorate in history and economics in 1925 from the University of Heidelberg.
In 1922, Friedrich first visited the United States as part of a team lecturing about the problems of post-World War I European youth. In 1926, he immigrated to take a a position as a lecturer in the Government Department at Harvard. In 1927, he became an associate professor of government. In 1936, he was promoted to full professor.
In 1938, Friedrich's Harvard career progressed beyond the Government Department when he joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Public Administration. He helped found the School of Overseas Administration at Harvard during World War II. The institution's express purpose was to train officers to work abroad in military government. From 1943 to 1946, Friedrich directed the School of Overseas Studies. In 1955, he became Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, in which capacity he remained until his retirement in 1971. At retirement, he became a professor emeritus at Harvard.
Friedrich held several other positions during his tenure at Harvard. He visited his alma mater, the University of Heidelberg, from 1956 to 1966, working as a professor of political science and founding the Institut fur Politische Wissenschaft. In 1966, the University of Heidelberg made him a professor emeritus. In 1962, he served as president of the American Political Science Association, and from 1967 to 1970, he was president of the International Political Science Association.
His interest in public opinion led him to act as vice president of the Radio Council of Greater Boston. He also served on the executive committee of the Council for Democracy during World War II. The council's aim was to persuade Americans that fighting totalitarianism was a worthy cause. Friedrich's achievements included honorary degrees from six universities. The president of the Federal Republic of Germany granted him the Knight Commander's Cross of the German Order of Merit.
Beyond his teaching and public service commitments, Friedrich wrote extensively. He authored the following :
• The Public Interest
• Constitutional Government and Democracy
• A Hegel Symposium (with Hook, Rehder, Ueuller and Motekat)
• The New Image of the Common Man
• The New Belief in the Common Man
• American Experiences in Military Government in World War Two
• "Japan's Prospect"-- Chapter 12 in "International and Imperialist Problems: Democratic and Socialist Issues Involved in the International Settlement of the Japanese Empire"
He also was a book reviewer for The Humanist in the 1950s.
The New Image of the Common Man and The New Belief in the Common Man provide insight into the philosophy driving Friedrich's work. According to Friedrich, collective judgment is superior to independent judgment, in that the mass audience has a sound view of prevalent issues, and the group is unlikely to be swayed by propaganda.
He further expressed his value for common man, saying that democratic constitutionalism recognizes the common man as the final authority on constitutional matters. Common man should be the final source of governmental authority and the source for legislative rules and regulations.
Civil freedoms, he continued, are valuable for the society as a whole. When a majority rules, it is likely to fight for freedoms. Friedrich does not endorse a blind following of leaders. A democratic world has to contain disagreement. Peace can only be brought through repeated efforts at accommodating two sides of an argument.
The concept of agreement is unique to a belief in an elite and incongruent with belief in common man. Dissent is a necessary part of constitutional democracies. Otherwise, a totalitarian can rule, crushing those who disagree with the leader's beliefs.
Friedrich had a strong belief in workmanship. He believed that common man's sense of workmanship would motivate him to choose government leaders who could best perform the tasks at hand. Just as a shoe-wearer can determine who is best at cobbling, a citizen of a democratic state can determine who is best at administering and leading.
A pivotal point of Friedrich's humanistic ideas is ethics as the central task of education. If people are educated to have character, which means loyalty to believed standards, they can become effective participants in communal life.