Life German jurist Calvinist political philosopher 1563: born in a modest family of North Rhine Westphalia 1577: sent to a Gymnasium Philippinum in Marburg (under the patronage of a local count) 1581-6: University studies (law and philosophy) in Cologne and Basel (plus study excursion in Geneva)
1586: joined the law faculty at the Protestant-Calvinist Herborn Academy of Nassau County 1592-96: Calvinist Academy in Burgsteinfurt-Westphalia 1596: married - he had at least six children 1599: president of the Nassau College in Siegen 1602: began his political career in Herborn by serving as a member of the Nassau (Germany) county council 1602-the next several years: involved in various colleges, serving as president and lecturing on law and philosophy 1603: elected to be a municipal trustee of the city of Emden (Frisia) 1604: became a city Syndic (Mayor) of Emden (until his death - 1638)
Historical Background 1581: beginning of the Dutch Revolt against Spain (the nature of the conflict was also religious – Calvinist states rebelling against their Catholic overlords) 1609: Dutch independence
Emden Late XVI - early XVII centuries: Emden (in East Frisia - today Germany) was a prosperous seaport situated close to the Netherlands (easy access to England) and at the crossroads of political and religious activity in the region its population was mainly Calvinist and was regarded as the ‘Geneva of the North’ or the ‘alma mater’ of the Dutch Reformed Church Emden's theological and political prominence made the Althusian political theory very popular
Politica Politica Methodice Digesta, Atque Exemplis Sacris et Profanis Illustrata (1603), revised editions 1610 and 1614 considered the most fully developed scheme of Calvinist political theory (and also a justification of the Dutch Revolt) In the Politica Althusius cited about 200 books The first edition of Politica was received with wide acclaim in Emden and in the Netherlands first example of federalism
Before Althusius Dissolution of feudal structure which – for long time – assured social cohesion and organicity Starting from the second part of the XV century in politics there was a strenghthening of the power of the prince 3 main authors/schools in this sense in the XVI century (Machiavelli, Bodin and the Reason of State) + Hobbes in the XVII century
Althusius could be collacated on the opposite side: among those who questioned the limits of the reason of state and highlighted the rights of the subjects Dualism of powers And which of the two powers should be considered superior? The question was: what is the real source of sovereignty?
Preface 1614: “I recognize the prince as the administrator, overseer, and governor of these rights of sovereignty. But the owner and usufructuary of sovereignty is non other than the total people associated in one symbiotic body from many smaller association” (13) The Politica is all dedicated to prove this statement/idea Therefore Althusius’ name was linked to popular sovereignty and right of resistance
Aspects of the Politica The reason of the immediate success (and maybe following oblivion) can be found in the fact that the Politica was the systematic exposition of all the theories based on popular sovereignty and which agreed on people’s right to chose their sovereigns and remove them from office, when they betray the conditions of the pact The point of reference of the Politica is still Aristotelian doctrine (like many of the writings of that period)
The importance and theoretical relevance of the Politica are not merely in its monarchomach aspect: Althusius work is compact and one can find in it the birth of modern conception of the doctrine of the natural law: social contract, popular sovereignty, representative principle (Otto von Gierke) On the contrary – for Carl J. Friedrich – the key aspect of Althusius’s work is still Calvinism: the Politica is not merely a thoery of the state, but the first example of a “descriptive political sociology”
Religion From the point of view of the theory of the state, the theocratic ideal of Calvin did not have any influence on Althusius Church and State are separated with a clear supremacy of the civil magistrate on religious organisms
The doctrine of the contract The fundamental pact is the religious pact among god, the people and the supreme magistrate The religious element is still there, even though this does not mean a theological foundation of politics: Althusius’ politics is rational as can be seen from the references to Aristotle
The ‘actors’ of the pact remain also after its stipulation: the people will control those who will govern and have the right to resist and remove him from office
The principles of the Politica Home est animal politicum (i.e., consociatio is his way of understanding politics) men are described as symbiotic, term which indicates the first dimension of politics In other words: communio and communicatio (communion and cooperation) The core of politics is acting together, koinopraxia
Social and political The associative bond described by Althusius is not merely social. Social dimension is linked to the imperium (without it the associative life is not possible) (The opposition of social and state/politics started only in XVIII/XIX centuries) Living in community and living under a government are two aspects of the same natural law
The constitution of the kingdom In the Politica Althusius overview all the associative structures, from the family to the consociatio universalis (i.e., the republic or kingdom). See chapter II They can be private or mixed/public, but the term private does not mean that they are not political, but only the fact that the sphere of the union is more limited Auxilium et consilium (Middle ages concept), i.e., mutual relation of different subjects/actors
People’s sovereignty Consociatio universalis: different ‘actors’ unite in one body and under one authority in order to have order and autarchy of the entire kingdom Making of a potestas imperandi universalis (universal power of domination) under which all the minor potestas are ruled And this ‘political body’ born with a pact
Althusius give the sovereignty (jus majestatis) to the people and not to the king The people is not an unique and homogeneous subject, but a political entity based on mutual consent of the different members associated
Consociatio Controversy about this term: Association ? Many scholars consider the word consociation more appropriate because Althusius was referring to social groups that you cannot remove yourself from rather than associations by choice
The administration of the kingdom The people has the sovereignty, but its administration is the task of the supreme magistrate, who is only a nudus administrator Between the supreme magistrate and the people there is a permanent relation, since the people does not dissolve after the contract The people is not an ideal entity, but a complex subject constitutes by many different parts (the Ephors is the most important one)
Doctrine of the double representation The king (S. M.) represents the people, but his political goodwill is not the political goodwill of the people The people is represented by the ephors. When the ephors act is the people who is acting They are at the peak of a series of collegial entities Long chain of delegations and controls
Form of government Mix form of government which includes the three different entities: supreme magistrates, intermediary magistrates and the people
Tyranny and right to resistence Not the single subjects, but the ephors have to decide Civil pact depends on the pact stipulated with god: Hobbes denounced the latter as an invention and a dangerous source of destabilization of the power and disorders
Chap. I: The General Elements of Politics 1. Politics is the art of associating (consociandi) men for the purpose of establishing, cultivating, and conserving social life among them. Whence it is called “symbiotics.” 2. The subject matter of politics is therefore association (consociatio), in which the symbiotes pledge themselves each to the other, by explicit or tacit agreement, to mutual communication of whatever is useful and necessary for the harmonious exercise of social life.
6. The symbiotes are co-workers who, by the bond of an associating and uniting agreement, communicate among themselves whatever is appropriate for a comfortable life of soul and body. In other words, they are participants or partners in a common life.
7. This mutual communication, or common enterprise, involves (1) things, (2) services, and (3) common rights (jura) by which the numerous and various needs of each and every symbiote are supplied, the self- sufficiency and mutuality of life and human society are achieved, and social life is established and conserved.
11. Common law (lex communis), which is unchanging, indicates that in every association and type of symbiosis some persons are rulers (heads, overseers, prefects) or superiors, others are subjects or inferiors. 13. As Augustine says, to rule, to govern, to preside is nothing other than to serve and care for the utility of others, as parents rule their children, and a man his wife.
14. Government by superiors considers both the soul and the body of inferiors. […] The first responsibility pertains to education, the second to sustentation and protection. 15. Education centers on the instruction of inferiors in the true knowledge and worship of God 17. Protection is the legitimate defense against injuries and violence.
18. The inferior, or subject, is one who carries on the business of the social life according to the will of his chief, or prefect, and arranges his life and actions submissively, provided his chief does not rule impiously or unjustly. 24. man by nature is a gregarious animal 28. From what has been said, we further conclude that the efficient cause of political association is consent and agreement among the communicating citizens.
30. The final cause is also the conservation of a human society that aims at a life in which you can worship God quietly and without error. The material of politics is the aggregate of precepts for communicating those things, services, and right that we bring together, each fairly and properly according to his ability, for symbiosis and the common advantage of the social life.
34. the continuous governing and obedience in social life mentioned earlier are also agreeable to nature. For Petrus Gregorius “Anything else would be considered no less monstrous than a body without a head”
35. this world has so great and so admirable a diversity [ … ] that unless it be held together by some order of subordination, and regulated by fixed laws of subjection and order, it would be destroyed in a short time by its own confusion. […] The conservation and duration of all things consist in this concord of order and subjection.
Chap. II: The Family 1. Thus far we have discussed the general elements of politics. We turn now to types of association or of symbiotic life. Every association is either simple and private, or mixed and public.
Chap. IX: Political Sovereignty 1. In this association many cities and provinces obligate themselves to hold, organize, use, and defend, through their common energies and expenditures, the right of the realm 3. Whence this mixed society, constituted partly from private, natural, necessary, and voluntary societies, partly from public societies, is called a universal association. It is a polity (politia) in the fullest sense, an imperium, realm, commonwealth, and people united in one body by the agreement of many symbiotic associations and particular bodies, and brought together under one right.
4. ownership of a realm belongs to the people, and administration of it to the king. 5. The members of a realm, or of this universal symbiotic association, are not, I say, individual men, families, or collegia, as in a private or a particular public association. Instead, members are many cities, provinces, and regions agreeing among themselves on a single body constituted by mutual union and communication.
18. This right of the realm, or right of sovereignty, does not belong to individual members, but to all members joined together and to the entire associated body of the realm.
(Against Bodin 1) 19. imperium and obedience cannot be mingled 20. Bodin disagrees with our judgment by which supreme power is attributed to the realm or universal association. He says that the right of sovereignty, which we have called the right of the realm, is a supreme and perpetual power limited neither by law (lex) nor by time. I recognize neither of these two attributes of the right of sovereignty, in the sense Bodin intends them, as genuine. For this right of sovereignty is not the supreme power; neither is it perpetual or above law.
(Against Bodin 2) 21. Should he who is said to have supreme power subordinate his imperium and high office to civil law as well? Bodin says no, and many others agree with him. In the judgment of these men there is supreme power above civil law and not limited by it. This is a judgment I would not hold. To liberate power from civil law is to release it to a certain degree from the bonds of natural and divine law.
(Against Bodin 3) 23. the king does not have a supreme and perpetual power above the law, and consequently neither are the rights of sovereignty his own property, although he may have the administration and exercise of them by concession from the associated body. And only so far are the rights of sovereignty ceded and handed over to another that they never become his own property. [as argued by Bodin]
25. We must now define this supreme power. We attribute it by right of sovereignty to the associated political body, which claims it for itself alone. In our judgment, it is derived from the purpose and scope of the universal association, namely, from the utility and necessity of human social life.
27. Universal power is called pre-eminent, primary, and supreme not because it is above law or absolute, but in respect to particular and special subordinate power that depends upon it (universal administrators, and to special heads of provinces as their deputies, delegates, administrators, procurators, and ministers).
Chap. XVIII: The Ephors and Their Duties 4. custodians, presiding officers, defenders of the commonwealth 8. By nature and circumstance the people is prior to, more important than, and superior to its governors, just as every constituting body is prior and superior to what is constituted by it. 14. In relation to their ownership and delegation of supreme right the united subjects and members of a realm are masters of these ministers and rectors; indeed, these administrators, guardians, and rectors are servants and ministers to these very members of the realm.
18. The rector and administrator of this civil society and commonwealth cannot justly and without tyranny be constituted by any other than the commonwealth itself. 47. Administrators of this universal association are of two kinds: the ephors and the supreme magistrate.
48. Ephors are the representatives of the commonwealth or universal association to whom, by the consent of the people associated in a political body, the supreme responsibility has been entrusted for employing its power and right in constituting [MM: elect him] the supreme magistrate and in assisting him with aid and counsel in the activities of the associated body. They also employ its power and right in restraining and impeding his freedom in undertakings that are wicked and ruinous to the commonwealth, in containing him within the limits of his office, and finally in fully providing and caring for the commonwealth that it not suffer anything detrimental by the supreme magistrate’s private attachments, hatreds, deeds, negligence, or inactivity.
The duties of the ephors 63. are contained under five headings: - constitute the general and supreme magistrate. -contain him within the limits and bounds of his office -the administration of the commonwealth in time of interregnum, or of an incapacitated administration of the supreme magistrate -remove a tyrannical supreme magistrate -defend the supreme magistrate and his rights