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Hans Kelsen on People - Dictionary of Arguments

Brocker I 131
People/Kelsen: Kelsen does not speak of the will of "a" people, he also vehemently rejects substantialist interpretations. From his point of view unity can only exist as unity of the legal order, as "unity of the state legal order regulating the behaviour of norm-subjected people" (1). Instead of the ideologically abused "ideal concept of the people" Kelsen emphasizes the "real concept" and distinguishes four layers (2) with regard to the latter:
1. all those subject to domination (including those present in a territory, thus also the "foreigners")
2. the circle of politically entitled persons
3. the number of those who actually exercise their political rights
4. the "few" who, in contrast to the "non-judgmental crowd", intervene in politics through "independent will decisions" (3)
The political parties are the expression of the actual political activity of the people. >Political parties/Kelsen.
The people only become a "political potency" through their integration into parties.(4)
Brocker I 132
No decision-making procedure comes as close to consensus as majority voting. This observation is based on the assumption that the will of the people does not exist and simply has to be recognised, but that political unity has to be organised again and again.(5)
Brocker I 140
People/Rousseau/Kelsen: Rousseau's assumptions about the homogeneity of the population from a social and economic point of view no longer apply to modern society, in its place Kelsen speaks of the balance of forces as a characteristic of the contemporary situation in the interwar period.(6)


1. Hans Kelsen, »Vom Wesen und Wert der Demokratie«, in: Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik 47, 1920/1921, 50-85 (Separatdruck: Tübingen 1920). Erweiterte Fassung: Hans Kelsen, Vom Wesen und Wert der Demokratie, Tübingen 1929 (seitenidentischer Nachdruck:Aalen 1981), S. 15
2. Ebenda S. 18f
3. Ebenda S. 19
4. Ebenda S. 23
5. Ebenda S. 62
6. Ebenda S. 97


Marcus Llanque, „Hans Kelsen, Vom Wesen und Wert der Demokratie“, in: Manfred Brocker (Hg.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Kelsen, Hans
Brocker I
Manfred Brocker
Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert Frankfurt/M. 2018


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-10-23
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