Federalism and Freedom: A Critique

  • Franz L. Neumann


It will be necessary to define, as briefly as possible, the meaning of the term “federalism” before we can answer the two fundamental questions:
  1. 1.

    Is there a value which inheres in federalism as such?

  2. 2.

    Are there goals that can be attained only through federalism?



Federal State Unitary State Civil Liberty Party System Direct Democracy 
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  1. 1.
    See K.C. Wheare, Federal Government, New York, Oxford University Press, 1947, p. 15.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Based upon C. Bougie, La sociologie de Proudhon, Paris, A. Colin, 1911;Google Scholar
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  11. 14.
    See Eldridge Foster Dowell, A History of Criminal Syndicalism Legislation in the United States, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1939.Google Scholar
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  17. 34.
    A.V. Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, Ninth Edition, ed. by E.C.S. Wade, London, Macmillan, 1950. “Our survey from a legal point of view of the characteristics common to all federal government forcibly suggests conclusions of more than merely legal interest, as to the comparative merits of federal government, and the system of Parliamentary sovereignty. “Federal government means weak government.” ...no more curious instance can be found of the inconsistent currents of popular opinion which may at the same time pervade a nation or a generation than the coincidence in England of a vague admiration for federalism alongside with a far more decided feeling against the doctrines of so-called laissez faire. A system meant to maintain the status quo in politics is incompatible with schemes for wide social innovation. “Federalism tends to produce conservatism. “... The difficulty of altering the constitution produces conservative sentiment, and national conservatism doubles the difficulty of altering the constitution ... To this one must add that a federal constitution always lays down general principles which, from being placed in the constitution, gradually come to command a superstitious reverence, and thus are in fact, though not in theory, protected from change or criticism ... “Federalism, lastly, means legalism—the predominance of the judiciary in the constitution—the prevalence of a spirit of legality among the people. “... Federalism substitutes litigation for legislation, and none but a law-fearing people will be inclined to regard the decision of a suit as equivalent to the enactment of a law” (pp. 171–179).Google Scholar
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  21. 37.
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  22. 38.
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© Dimitrios Karmis and Wayne Norman 2005

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  • Franz L. Neumann

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