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IN MEMORIAM: OTTO KIRCHHEIMER, 1905-1965 Author(s): Erich Hula Reviewed work(s): Source: Social Research, Vol. 33, No.

1 (SPRING 1966), pp. 4-7 Published by: The New School Stable URL: . Accessed: 20/07/2012 19:10
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the same time concernsof his compassionatenature. among whom he spent the last years of his life. But his loss is no less deeply felt and mourned by us than by his colleagues of Columbia University. Otto Kirchheimer. The years outlastedthe period of his official duringwhichhe lived in our midsthad a particularsignificance also for Otto Kirchheimer himself. 1905-1965 who died suddenlyon November22. in 1961 on Political Justice(publishedin thiscountry the treatise in 1965). It was during this period that the fruitsof decades of scholarlystudy and work fully rank of the proripened in his mind and put him in the first fessionof political science in this countryas well as in is impressed wideningscope by and the growingmastery of his interests displayed in his writover almost fortyyears. The ties of friendship which connected him with the New School and the impact he made on our student body associationwith us. ings." which exerted a ing of Opposition in Parliamentary decisive influenceon subsequent discussions. . In 1957 he publishedin Social Researchhis essayon "The WanRegimes. whose outstanding and in a German translation qualities were immediately recognizedby both studentsand practitionersof judicial procedures. completedduring politics.which he work or in tried so hard not to reveal either in his scientific his personalconduct. and role of politicalpartiesin current on the character European these his And he years magnumopus. and evaluate Kirchheimer's In trying to survey manycontributhe tionsto politicalscience. was a memberof the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research for only fiveyears (1955-1960). One also discoversa continuity.IN MEMORIAM: OTTO KIRCHHEIMER. and realizeshow much theywere at of basic scholarly and abroad. 1965.

. as theyemergedfromWorld War II.IN MEMORIAM 5 In the prefaceto Politik und Verfassung.althoughthe political constellation now a matterof history. and particularly in one of his last essays.For Kirchheimer raised fundamental issuesof democratic politics. which dominatedhis work in the latter he moved on in the 'fifties to a series of studies in the 'forties.he asks in the posthumously publishedarticle. But he never became a captive of Marxist and least of all of a strictly deterministic instruments. He showed finally system government by party . The scope of his investigations broadened not only geographically but in other ways as well."Confining Conditionsand Revolutionary Are political inBreakthroughs. represented by parties of formertimes.which forms the first chapterof the collection. He tried himself as a craftsman his hand at such an analysisfor the first time in his pamphlet "Weimar . of newly emerging pattern political parties throughoutcontinental thetrendawayfrom Europe. .foremost among them the question of the relationship between political action and the socioeconomicstructures of society. und was dann?" (1930)." and a to of cartels. He reverted to thisproblemtime and again. interpretation of Marxist thought.still makes interesting reading which it examines is what extentcan new revolutionary societal conditions? regimesovercomeand transform pre-existing In groping foran answerto thesequestions. He described oppositionon of the and class denominational grounds principle. From the analysisof the new constitutional framework of the European countries. to "catch-all inter-class parties. Kirchheimer's writings duringthe Americanperiod of his life no longerfocused on Germany alone but coveredthe entirerange of westernand central European government and politics. The essay. Kirchheimer characterized of politicalanalysis. Kirchheimer throughout his life leaned heavily on Marxist methods for analyzing political problems. a collectionof some of his essayswhich appeared in Germanyin 1964.or if not." stitutionsmainly epiphenomena.

many periods of history and various political far West German parties.marknor were neithernecessary ing them both as fools whose efforts . have already advanced along the same road. years of justice in the complexityof human affairs. economic. the question of guilt suspended until the judgment of history is delivered. social. including the presentdemocratic and totalitarian for and exthe regimes.he dealt in his treatiseon Political Justicewith one of the most enduringand universalproblems of politics: the employmentof the courts of justice for the of political purposes. in his later ratessuch belief. purpose of illustrating ploring the chief typesof political trials. While Kirchheimer in the greaterpart of his writings applied his erudition of transitory and acumen to the analysis phenomena of twentieth-century politics.culturaland technological." thus indicatingthat he had of eradicating frompoliticsthe no illusionsabout the possibility abuse of the judicial processfor attainingpolitical goals.and futurevictimsof political justice. thataccount for it the bolstering or the creattainment of on He drew ating power positions. present. the severalparticipants Kirchheimer dedicated the treatise"to the past.6 SOCIAL RESEARCH in post-war how thisprocesswas consummated first Austria. and the role of in these trials. and pictures the defendant and the with judge in a political trial as involved in a tragic conflict.the reasons for institutingthem. After having denigrated political justice he states its benefitsin the last chapter of his book. "And maynot Clio refusea clear-cut answer. the ways in which they operate. behind in the transformation No less remarkablethan the descriptionof this process is the judicious weighing of the many factors. convinced.too. It ratherreveals that Kirchheimer was of the was as ineradicable weakness Pascal. If he ever held the Marxistbelief in the finaltriumphof justice in a nor corrobo"Political Justice"neitherexpresses classlesssociety. and the extentto which France and Italy are lagging of the democraticparty system.

be kind to them." The suggestion prayerfor both parties to the political trial has not failed to and readersof Political Justice. his magnanimity. of Kirchheimer Erich Hula . we beg. dies ilia. But it is no perplex reviewers to one of the most prominenttraits doubt a lastingtestimonial as a human being. that stirring sequence in the mass for of the dead: "God.IN MEMORIAM 7 salutaryfor whomeverthey were appointed to serve?" In the final words of the book Kirchheimer suggestswe should pray and in concludeswithverses for"both potentialbrethren error/' fromDies irae.