The Making of a German Constitution: A Slow Revolution

The Making of a German Constitution: A Slow Revolution

The Making of a German Constitution: A Slow Revolution

The Making of a German Constitution: A Slow Revolution


The Making of a German Constitution is one of the first books to explore the important place of the theory and practice of private law (civil law) in the transformation of Modern Germany's fin-de-siècle constitutional arrangements. Reading sources from early nineteenth-century private law scholarship, the book offers a thought-provoking and novel understanding of German political development. The author argues that the German idea of sovereignty grew out of a dual conception of law not only as the product of socio-political transformation, but also as a means to it.

In the short term, a modern social and political system in Germany was attained through non-violent means and the domestic authority of the Kaiser was severely limited by law. However, the exclusive bourgeois socio-political arrangements that were installed in this era led to considerable discontent in German society, particularly with regard to gender and class tensions. The "slow Bürgerliche Revolution" thus contributed to the traumatic ruptures that mark German history in the first third of the twentieth century.


Most of the lessons I have learned about the merits of peace and nonviolence I learned from my father, Joe B. Crosby. Although scholars often associate the experience of war with continuing violence back home, his life is a testament to how the experience of war often produces the opposite effect. In 1962, my father could not vote in Alabama or participate in the governance of the nation, but he could be drafted and he was. From a big farm family and with fifteen brothers and sisters, he had to go. He still laughs when he tells that the first time he got on a plane, he had to parachute out. As amusing as this is, he also had to graduate early and miss the graduation celebration with his friends and classmates. Instead, he went off to do his duty for a nation that, at that time, rigorously obstructed all avenues to his liberty and pursuit of happiness and then had the gall to place his life in harm's way. We have pictures of him walking through rice fields in Vietnam, with a machine gun strapped across his chest. There came a time also when he had to choose between going back to a war zone himself and having his younger brothers pull this duty. He chose to go back, underscoring the fact that sometimes the reason men go to war has little to do with the state's ideological justification of it.

What he does not talk about is the experience of Vietnam itself. The other members of my immediate family, however, know its impact well. Everything, as my father will always say, has a right to live and every life has value. I was taught this lesson as a youngster, one day, when I went to stomp on a spider. He stopped me and explained this lesson as he gently protected the spider in his hands and placed it outside.

Paradoxically, getting drafted turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The U.S. Army offered advancement to any citizen on the basis of merit, regardless of 'race'. After getting out for bit, my father re-enlisted. He retired from the U.S. Army after twenty-four years and was awarded the Legion of Merit. His service offered him and his family opportunities around the world. Indeed, my first of many tours to Germany was taken at three months, and I grew up between Germany, Japan and the United States. After retirement, he returned to Alabama, started a business and prospered in a state where, although old problems persist, there has been a remarkable transformation. As he takes in the news of violent conflicts from around the world these days, he will often remark on the senselessness of young men and women dying and wonders why people just don't find ways to get along. This is not the academic wisdom of a think tank scholar or foreign policy maker, but rather that of a man who, as a young man, watched other young men die next to him. He has taught me that there are times when . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.