Constitutional Fetishism

Ian F. Mcneely

in The Emancipation of Writing

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780520233300
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928527 | DOI:
Constitutional Fetishism

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter addresses the textual formality in the practices of popular constitutionalism. It describes the tension between written formality and “collegial deliberation,” and the pouncing opportunism of a state eager to undermine cantonal harmony. The chapter also considers the competing interpretations of what contemporaries referred to as the canton's “communal constitution” (Kommun-Verfassung), essentially its official memory: the collection of written observances, protocol excerpts, compacts and agreements, and other legal precedents establishing its procedures of collegial deliberation and its rights and obligations vis-à-vis the duke and the estates. It then draws upon the wider forms of collegiality that Heinrich Bolley had introduced to Waiblingen in an act of patriotic resistance. The chapter turns to appraise the legacy of Bolley's efforts—and the entire nexus of formality and collegiality on which they relied. Constitutional fetishism was the culmination of a long tradition of citizen action in Germany resonating far beyond Württemberg.

Keywords: constitutional fetishism; Württemberg; Heinrich Bolley; constitutionalism; written formality; collegial deliberation; Germany; communal constitution

Chapter.  12868 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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