What is a Constitutional or Modern State?June 28, 2021
The fact that the absolute state theorists did not limit the power of the state brings with it some negative consequences.
First of all, it can be argued that all these theorists failed to analyze the relationship between the concepts of “authority” and “power”. There are some differences between authority and power based on the ways in which sovereignty is gained. While power shows the power to govern; “Recognition and acceptance of the right to rule by the ruled” is “authority” (Türköne 2003, p. 38). In other words, it is social consent that legitimizes authority and determines the line between power and tyranny.
When an evaluation is made by considering the distinctions between authority and power, it can be argued that the theorists who advocate absolute sovereignty also eliminate the differences between political power and tyranny. These theorists also build political power, which they base on voluntary obedience out of physical force or fear, on an inequality. In this case, the differences between seizing power by force and choosing a political power as a result of popular elections gradually disappear, and in fact, politics comes to an end. Although the meaning of politics or the factors that motivate doing politics throughout the history of philosophy have been defined in different ways by different thinkers, the concepts of “equality” and “freedom”, which form the common denominator of these definitions, become increasingly invisible in the works of absolute state advocates, and the definition of politics has other connotations trying to find.
Moreover, relationality, which is seen as the specific method of politics in the contemporary world, is not found in the works of absolute sovereignty theorists. For the advocates of absolute sovereignty, politics is not a situation that requires reciprocity, as in the famous Politics of Aristotle, the great thinker of the Ancient Greek world, but that an individual governs his subjects. In cases where the power is not limited, the expression “abuse of power” becomes meaningless and everything the sovereign does is accepted as right.
Preventing the “abuse of power” is possible only by limiting the power and area of activity. The current form of this limitation is the concept of “constitutional state”. The major difference between the absolute state and the constitutional state is that both views lead to some differences in its structure through the tasks they assign to the state. The absolute state, as has just been stated, is an end in itself, independent of the individuals who compose it. However, the constitutional state can maintain its legitimacy to the extent that it serves its citizens and protects the individual freedoms of its citizens. Regardless of the form of government, the constitutional state refers to the limitation of the power that the state power exercises over individuals and society as a whole. The source of this constitutionality, which marks the limit of state power, is that sovereignty is no longer the monarch’s person or the supreme power of the state, but the people themselves. In this respect, the principle of sovereignty has changed in the constitutional state. As a matter of fact, Jean Jacques Rousseau stated in his famous work, The Social Contract, that “the strong are never strong enough to remain the master forever unless they make their power a right and obedience a duty” (Rousseau, 2004: 18); He draws attention to the fact that the existence of political power can only be sustained based on the consent of the governed.
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). The French political philosopher, Rousseau, was born in Geneva at a time when Calvin’s Puritan morals were most heavily influenced. The Puritan view of morality influences his thinking in two ways. On the one hand, Rousseau developed ideas in favor of primitiveness and equality, just as Puritanism suggested, on the other hand, he defended freedom against the strict and oppressive attitude of Puritanism. Rousseau, who has authored many books such as Political Economy, Discourse on the Source and Foundations of Inequality Among People, The New Sun, Confessions, Dreams of the Lonely Wanderer, is his masterpiece, the Social Contract, which has earned Rousseau’s place in political philosophy. Defending classical republican views in the Social Contract, Rousseau guided the pioneers of the French Revolution that broke out ten years after his death with these views. In addition, Rousseau is the first pedagogy writer with his work Emile-A Child Grows, which he wrote on the education of an imaginary child.
In contrast to the structure of the absolute state, which focuses on the executive power of power, the constitutional state is a state that adopts as a principle the limitation of power of any kind, whether in the name of the monarchical rule of one person, the aristocratic or elitist rule of the minority, or the democratic rule of the majority. In this respect, the principle of constitutionality is part of the tradition of republican thinking that has existed since Ancient Greece.
However, there were liberal legal and political theorists who positioned the concept of constitution against absolute sovereignty and introduced the principle of constitutionality into modern political science. John Locke, who is regarded as the father of liberalism in particular,