Verwaltung als Verfassung – Verwaltung und Verfassung? Zum historischen Ort des „Neoabsolutismus“ in der Geschichte Österreichs
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GOVERNMENT AS CONSTITUTION - GOVERNMENT AND CONSTITUTION? ON THE HISTORICAL ROLE OF 'NEOABSOLUTISM' IN THE HISTORY OF AUSTRIA
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The period of 'neoabsolutism' in Austria, i.e., the historical phase from 1852 till 1859/60, has been intensely studied in recent decades. The researchers agree (unlike the conclusions of the previous liberal historiography) that the period in question was not a mere return to the monarchist absolutism of pre-Revolution type, but that after the defeat of the Revolution and after the abandonment of the virtual constitution policy between 1849 and 1851, in the subsequent neoabsolutistic period of time the suspended projects of administrative, social and economic modernization continued, naturally with some modifications. Less explained is the question to what extent the monarchist-bureaucratic state administration system was ready as of 1852 to admit some elements of society's participation in administrative decisions. In my opinion, the aim of 'absolutism' was to (provisionally) close the officially 'settled', but in fact unsolved political conflicts, such as, in particular, the Hungarian and the Italian questions. In general, however, the 'Spring of Nations' was 'closed'. Actually, the requirements of agrarian and social revision by the aristocracy that had been deprived of its political rights played a role that was far from being insignificant. On the other hand, however, an opposite opinion can be arrived at and the situation can be diagnosed so that raising the 'lid' of the closure released the disintegration forces in their cumulative mixture of traditional particularism of the Crown Lands and modern nationalism. This would mean that the classic European paradigm of state genesis does not apply here and the Habsburg Monarchy should be viewed as a 'phenomenon sui generis'. In order to make more progress in this particular question it will be necessary to examine to what extent the social integration went beyond the limits of the traditional court-oriented elite (aristocracy, army, court, bureaucracy) and whether the local leading classes and 'nationalities' in the Crown Lands showed readiness not only to accept the existence of the large state, but also to positively integrate in it. Therefore, the 'neoabsolutism' viewed from the historical perspective is a multifaceted phenomenon and it is desirable to discuss the results of research achieved until now as well as the existing views once again in a sort of 'Habsburg Discourse' and try to draw some conclusions. The great importance of that phase for the further development of the Habsburg Monarchy will certainly justify such intellectual endeavor.
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