The lecture will argue that the classical contrast between the strategic and normative foundations of liberal democratic constitutions is empirically weak and that historical experience with constitutionalism is better captured by the contrast between rules and roles that serve current strategic interests of powerful social forces and the fossilized remains of past strategies that no longer serve any organized interest but, for a variety of reasons, cannot easily be changed. An underlying premise of the lecture is that 4,000 years of organized political life left significant traces on the organization of liberal-democratic regimes, also because many of the strategic problems faced by pre-liberal and predemocratic regimes are fully shared by liberal and democratic regimes. Examples are the need to sustain continuity of government when the ruler suddenly dies, to defend the territory against rival powers, to tax and conscript efficiently, to be informed of brewing problems, and so forth.
Stephen Holmes ist Professor für Rechtswissenschaft an der New York University und leitet das dortige Center on Law and Security. Im Sommersemester 2014 hält er sich als Visiting Fellow am CAS auf.