Taking “The Dark Side” Seriously: Constitutionalism and the Question of Constitutional Progress

It is an obvious point that the global history of constitutionalism cannot plausibly be told as a simple progress narrative. The French and American Revolutions did not trigger an ineluctable steady march of progress. And the end of the Cold War did not bring about the realization of a world made up of liberal constitutional democracies integrated by a global rule of law. Yet it is worthwhile to pause and think more closely about the different ways in which progress narratives might be misguided and in which ways they might not be. Continue reading

Sovereignty and the Mount Scopus Enclave in Jerusalem

Despite various attempts to turn Jerusalem into an international city accessible to believers of the three monotheistic religions, as envisioned in UN Resolution 181 II, the 1948 War left it a divided city under Jordanian and Israeli control. However, amidst the Jordanian territory, in the northern part of the city, there remained an area that acquired an exceptional status: the Mount Scopus enclave. Continue reading

A Matter of Security? Conscientious Objection and State Recognition

Recognition of the right to refuse military service seems at first glance to be inherently paradoxical. Yet over the course of recent decades, with the broadening of democratic discourse, democracies have begun to recognize even opposition to military service on grounds of conscience—whether religious or otherwise. Continue reading

Traits of Authoritarianism in Global Governance

The concept of global governance is commonly associated with the redeeming virtue of a pluralization of political authority beyond the nation state which has gained prominence in the second half of the 20th century. International law is cheered for imposing limits on the otherwise unfettered state voluntarism for which the ‘Westphalian’ state system has been notorious. Continue reading

“It Is True That Some Divisions Are Harmful to Republics and Some Are Helpful”: On Factions, Parties, and the History of a Controversial Distinction

Partisanship, it is often said, involves efforts to harness political power not for the benefit of one social group among several but for that of the polity as a whole, as this benefit is identified through a particular (but not partial) interpretation of the public good. In this sense partisan practices differ from the activity of factions, although for a very long time the two were assimilated to each other. Continue reading

Civil Liberty in Crisis? Evidence from a Comparative Empirical Study

Is there a fundamental trade-off between collective security and individual liberty? This question is by no means a new one for democratic societies. Long before the Islamist terror threat scenarios of the 2000s, Western democracies had been menaced by domestic terrorism, violent separatism, and organized crime and their reaction was always the same: security laws were tightened, new tools for keeping citizens under surveillance were created, the rights of suspects, accused persons, and convicts were restricted. Continue reading