Government by Constitution: The Political Systems of Democracy

Government by Constitution: The Political Systems of Democracy

Government by Constitution: The Political Systems of Democracy

Government by Constitution: The Political Systems of Democracy

Excerpt

This book is the outcome of experience gathered while teaching courses on Parliamentary Government, Governments of Continental Europe, Canadian Government, and related subjects in the field of comparative government at Harvard. It is intended primarily for use in college courses on comparative government, on the nature of the democratic process, and on constitutional government in general. But it has been written for a wider audience as well, for my colleagues in political science, for those who will be faced with responsibilities in the creating or remaking of constitutions for national or international political systems, and for anyone who is as concerned with politics as politics is concerned with him.

All our lives are today shaped by politics, and the most crucial problems confronting mankind--problems of its survival--are political ones. Accordingly, the task of political science is weightier in our time than it has ever been before. The threat of nuclear world war, the emergence of new nation-states, and the failure of established constitutional democracies make many aspects of this task novel. And this novelty indicates that new questions should be asked, where the standard ones of the past have not yielded satisfactory answers. In Government by Constitution, I have sought to ask some new questions. In asking these, my effort has been to employ simple language and to avoid, for the sake of undergraduates and general readers alike, overdependence upon the jargon of some of the social sciences or upon any new jargon of my own. I trust that I have succeeded.

Parts of the manuscript, in various stages of preparation, have been read by Harold J. Berman, David Riesman, and other members of the Seminar on Law and Social Relations (held under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council at the Harvard Law School in 1956); by J. Roland Pennock, David Easton, and other members of the Conference on Political Theory (held under the same auspices at Swarthmore College in June, 1957); by my former tutors and present colleagues William Yandell Elliott and Louis Hartz; and by my friend Howard C. Petersen. Samuel H. Beer, Adam B. Ulam, Nicholas Wahl, and Harry Eckstein helped to sharpen my approach to the subject while we were working together on our Patterns of Government: The MajorPolitical Systems of Europe . . .

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