Constitutions and Constitutional Trends since World War II: An Examination of Significant Aspects of Postwar Public Law with Particular Reference to the New Constitutions of Western Europe

By Arnold J. Zurcher | Go to book overview

7
Functional Autonomy after World War II

By Ferdinand A. Hermens UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME

I N the preceding discussion of local autonomy in France and Italy we were moving on proved ground. What is being attempted in those two countries has been Anglo-Saxon praxis for a good many generations. Functional autonomy, on the other hand, takes us into a field almost entirely eschewed by the two oldest and largest democratic countries. Experiments in this direction have been attempted in the newer democracies, such as Weimar Germany and Czechoslovakia, and in France, where democracy never attained the strength and stability characteristic of it in the Anglo-Saxon countries. That a variety of dictatorships have claimed the successful establishment of functional autonomy only adds to the bewildering aspects of the issue.

A discussion of functional autonomy necessitates, more than that of any other topic in political science, clarity on fundamentals. In this case as in others it is, of course, essential that conclusions be based on the analysis of the concrete material pertaining to the issue;1 but in a discussion of social and economic councils a mere listing of isolated facts risks, on account of the terminology involved, suggesting conclusions based more on ideological background than actual accomplishment. Let us bear in mind, then, that the customary formulation of the demands for functional autonomy in

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1
The pertinent data are summarized and problems analyzed by Arnold J. Zurcher, The Experiment with Democracy in Central Europe ( New York, 1933), pp. 252 ff.; Herman Finer, The Theory and Practice of Modern Government ( rev. ed.; New York, 1949), pp. 543 ff.; Carl J. Friedrich, Constitutional Government and Democracy ( rev. ed.; Boston, 1950), pp. 460 ff. The latter book contains, on pp. 649-52, a critical bibliography.

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