Chapter 13




Aux murs de Westminster on voit paraître ensemble

Trois pouvoirs étonnés du noeud qui les rassemble,

Les députés du peuple, et les grands, et le roi,

Divisés d'intérêt, réunis, par la loi;

Tous trois membres sacrés de ce corps invincible,

Dangereux à lui-même, à ses voisins terrible.[1]



In the remaining pages of this book we intend to shade in the contours of political institutions on the canvas just completed. We propose to begin at the encompassing heights of the state, slope down to "the people," then, in the next chapter, curve our way back through political participation and parties to government and state, keeping in view the flux in which their current runs. In this excursion we must be conscious of our earlier coverage of such areas as interests or values, power or authority, norms or symbols, individual or group, sovereignty, bourgeoisie, or nationalism. The following pages are only an exercise in this consciousness, not an exhaustive "systematic" or "classical" treatment of political institutions. Their aim is to render the reader sensitive to reflecting an the elemental realities of politics within the flux he has been exposed to so far. It was in that spirit that, at the outset, we called our approach "formative."


*      *      *


To materialize its abstract sovereignty, the state relies on structures and political institutions. Even an absolute monarch claiming to be the state cannot run the country single-handedly. To be able to make good his claim, he needs a government. He may indeed embody--symbolize--the state and run the government as well, as did the tsars of Russia and some of the enlightened despots of eighteenth-century Europe. So did Henry VIII and Elizabeth Tudor of England. But as we saw, in England the business of government slowly slipped away from the monarch, and as it evolved, the distinction between the state and the government became more apparent.


In our earlier analysis of sovereignty we noticed that as we moved from conse­cration to constitutionalization, sovereignty moved from above, from God and the king, down to the people. The sovereignty of the people, we added, is itself as much of an abstraction as is divine sovereignty. It needs symbols and rituals so that the people themselves can grasp it, and it needs a deposi­tary which will ultimately personify that sovereignty. Finally, as a body politic it needs the functional substance of a government. Rousseau's general will is not an operational formula. Even a city-state which constitutes it­self as a sovereign body needs some who formulate the laws, see to it that they are implemented, and ensure that deviations are corrected and punished.


We see thus two essential factors in a body politic. One is the state, an all-encompassing political concept enfolding the other, the government, with the latter making the former a working reality by providing its functional substance. As the depositary of sovereignty, the state and its embodiment are the ultimate symbols of that sovereignty, while the government is, so to speak, only the political instrument of the sovereign state.


I. The State, Its Head and the Government


As we saw in the last chapter, in its evolution in nineteenth-century Europe, the state came to be closely identified with the nation. Nation in turn, as a concept, was built as the political manifestation of a culture. From our brief reference to the newly independent countries, however, we gathered that nation and state, one as the political manifestation of a culture and the other as the embodiment of a political culture, do not always coincide. If you ask what he is, a Kurd from Iraq is likely to designate himself as a Kurd rather than an Iraqi, although for international legal classification you may have to list his nationality as Iraqi because he carries a passport issued by the Iraqi state. In Western Europe, where the nation-states are more inte­grated, a person carrying a German or French passport outside his country will most likely identify himself as German or French. But if you ask him within his national territory, he may identify himself by a region, such as Bavaria or Brittany, as distinct from the rest of the nation.


The consciousness of distinctive identities within a state influences the nature and constitution of a state. It poses the basic question of the ulti­macy of a state as the depository of sovereignty and recalls our discussion of the conversion of power into authority. Regional, ethnic, religious or linguistic particularisms, like economic and social classes, manifest interest/value patterns which, as power constellations, combine, interact, compromise or acquiesce in shaping the pattern of authority. The state is a state--a sovereign state and a political reality--in so far as it represents and controls (or if it does not represent at least it controls) the different economic, social, legal, territorial and ethnic segments over which it claims sovereignty. The Austro-Hungarian empire before World War I encompassed (was sovereign of) Czechoslovakia. That was not the case after World War I. The British kingdom was sovereign of the American colonies up to the Revolutionary War, but not after. The Russian tsardom was sovereign of the Russian people, including the workers and peasants, up to the October Revolution. After that Russia's sovereign was the Soviet state.


The state, as the ultimate political embodiment of sovereignty, is also (in whatever way it is personified) the ultimate arbiter among the different seg­ments of which it is the political symbol and reality. When one body of a federation, or a region of a unitary state, brings a grievance to the federal or unitary sovereign body, the sovereignty of the state remains effective to the extent that it accommodates those grievances within its own framework. But when some part of the sovereign state tries to secede and calls on other sovereign states for recognition and help, to the extent that it succeeds, the sovereignty of the original state diminishes. Thus, for example, in a long struggle involving negotiation as well as open conflict, the Republic of Ireland gained independence from the United Kingdom. A century earlier the British had helped the Greeks break away from the Ottoman empire. More recently, Biafra tried to secede from Nigeria but failed, while Bangladesh succeeded in becoming independent of Pakistan.


When the economic, social and political class structures evolve within a sovereign state, if the nature of the body politic evolves to reflect the new economic and social realities, the sovereign state can secure continuity. This may--and does--imply shifts in the exercise of sovereign functions. If this is to happen without disruption of the state's sovereign structure-­without a revolution--the embodiment of state sovereignty should be so con­stituted as to play the arbitrating role above particular interests--even its own! We saw, for example, how with some ups and downs the British system came to accommodate conflicting interests and classes within a constitutional monarchy where, while the functional mechanisms of control and exercise of sovereignty gradually slipped out of the hands of the monarch and into those of a government receiving its authority largely through the electoral process, the monarch remained the symbol and supreme arbiter of the state's sover­eignty. The British monarch's arbitral role as head of state is not alto­gether symbolic, and cases may arise where the monarch's exercise of royal prerogatives as supreme arbiter is necessary. (It is true, however, that they have not arisen very often in modern England.)[2]


The more the functional machinery of government is distinguished as separate from the head of state and the more it constitutionally and actually runs the affairs of state, the more the head of state becomes a symbolic personifica­tion of the "national" sovereignty with merely ceremonial and ritual office. The office of head of state, even for purely symbolic purposes, is, however, the usual way of personifying sovereign states. It represents the affectional premises and symbolic dimensions discussed in our earlier chapters in terms of political culture. Of course, the more the society approaches modern material rationales of social organization, the less political affectional dimensions will need symbolic personification, and the more the head of state will be overshadowed by effective functional political institutions and relegated to ceremonial roles, especially where a modern head of state repre­sents no deep-rooted traditional stature. Such is the case in the more recently constituted republics. The chancellor (the prime minister) is more prominently in view in the German Federal Republic than the federal president.


The United States Constitutional Convention of 1787, newly freed of British sovereignty, was averse to a supreme authority, which it viewed as the evil exercise of governmental powers by an inadequately controlled sovereign (although in England of that time, as we saw, the Parliament was gaining control). Yet it was also weary of the chaotic confederate government of the 1780's with its insufficient executive machinery. Thus, while vesting the legislative powers in a Congress, the executive powers in a president and the judicial power in one Supreme Court and other inferior courts, the Convention did not specifically provide for the sole symbolic personification of United States sovereignty. Yet, by virtue of some of its attributes and its being the sole nationally elected office, the presidency of the United States evolved to accumulate the functions of the head of the executive branch of the government and some of the features of the head of state.[3]  In the course of American history presidential power has fluctuated, depending on the circumstances and the personality of the incumbent. The United States presidency is a vivid example of the complex parameters of power and authority we have been discussing, and of the separation of powers we shall be discussing later. The accumulation of the symbolic functions of head of state and head of the executive branch have at times permitted a president to claim certain privileges in the exercise of his executive functions by evoking his stature as head of state. The most recent and probably the most flagrant use of this executive privilege was Richard Nixon's handling of the Watergate case.


The American presidential system is, however, a reverse of such cases as the monarchies discussed in the last chapter, where the head of the state as the embodiment of state sovereignty controls the government and arbitrates the political affairs of the realm. The president of the United States is functionally the head of the executive branch of government and as such is responsible to the other two branches in a three-way separation of powers and checks and balances. His attributes as head of state have been rather circumstantial, developing because of his unique position to play arbiter in certain national problems, and to meet the requirements of international intercourse with other sovereign states which are personified by heads of state. In the overlap of state personification and governmental control we can thus discern two trends: One starts with an absolute monarchy, with the functions of government eventually moving away from the monarch, leaving him finally with the traditional and symbolic title of head of state. The second is that of the functional governmental arrangements like those of the United States, where the symbolic personification of the head of state was to be confined to the bare minimum but gradually gained stature. Between the two we find a wide spectrum of possible combinations in the representation and exercise of sovereignty.


Many countries today have constitutionally adopted the presidential system of government.[4]  However, in different total environments, their political experiences have not been similar to that of the United States. In many cases the accumulation of the attributes of head of state and chief executive in one person has resulted in regimes where checks and balances among the branches have not functioned to the letter. This, of course, reverts us to all the complexities of the social flux we have examined in our previous chapters. But in the present context, it leads to the more basic political theories underlying political culture.


Monism or "Confusion" of Powers


Hobbes' argument for a Leviathan, an individual or an assembly as the sole source of law and order, was that social organization essentially sought order, which could be unequivocal and therefore most efficacious if it came from one supreme body. This, in many instances, is the basis for the popular acquiescence in the exercise of governmental authority. It corresponds to the attitude of those who, as we discussed, rather than seeking power, submit to it for security and livelihood. The supreme order thus instituted is expected to promulgate laws, maintain order and prevent social disruptions caused by conflicts of particular interests. It also involves the belief that authority invested without restrictions can bring out the best in the ruler, as absolute power can render him magnanimous.


However, we noticed that power can spiral in the sensation of domination for the sake of domination and that want is an expandable human characteristic; and even if the supreme authority has access to all sources of its satisfaction, it can generate new wants. We also saw that philosopher and king seldom cohabit simultaneously the same body. Despite all these handicaps, monism, i.e., organization of the political culture on the basis of one source of authority, has an application and at times a justification--especially where the monist authority structure is instituted not simply to establish order, any order, but to create a given kind of order; i.e., it has a value premise. Indeed, from our discussion of legitimization of power into authority, we may conclude that an authority would not be authority--but rather power--if it were not bound by some value pattern justifying the order it establishes. Thus a theocracy, an absolute monarchy based on divine right or tradition, or a one-party rule based on a particular ideology, is a monist constitutional form. Such rules have, in essence, the potentials for dictatorships in that they can dictate a given social order.


A dictatorship in the monist sense can be envisaged as an interim even in pluralist forms of government. Many constitutions provide, in one form or another, for the possibility of interim "dictatorships" under exceptional circumstances. In ancient Rome, dictatorship was constitutionally provided for limited periods to meet emergencies such as invasions or social disorder. The danger is that, at times, the dictator might wish to prolong and perpetuate his power. But there was also the case of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, whom the Romans called from his farm in 458 B.C. to become dictator and lead the Roman army against the Aequi. He did so successfully, and after defeating the invaders returned to his farm. In modern terms there are cases of national emergency when a government, usually the executive branch or head of state, is given exceptional powers (as are granted to the French president in Article 16 of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic), or when martial law is proclaimed and constitutional processes are suspended. Monism, in its pure form, is likely to be temporally and spatially confined. The handicap in the pure and general application of monism arises from the human and social factors so far reviewed, notably in our discussion of social semantics. Absolute power corrupts more often than it purifies itself or renders its holder wise, humble and impartial. And it contains the germs of resistance as we saw in Chapter Ten: Not all people at all times opt to have their security and livelihood provided and remain apathetic to exercise of power by others.


A monist political culture, by implication, cannot afford diversified approaches to the theory and practice of government as can arise, as we have seen, from diverse interests and classes. The monist regime needs isolation from factors which can produce diversity, and/or it should keep a strong and constant indoctrinating social pressure.[5]   These characteristics can qualify as monist such unlike regimes as the Tibetan Lamaist theocracy which survived until recently, the theocracy of the Pope at the Vatican, the Islamic absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and the socialist republics dictatorially striving for communism.[6]  Monism in the sense of oneness does not, of course, necessarily imply the rule of one person alone, but rather the oneness (unity) of the source and exercise of sovereignty, state and government. In that sense the Rousseauan general will can also qualify as a monist theory because it admits of no exceptions.


*      *      *


Monism in theory and practice implies the concentration and "confusion"[7] of the sources of sociological needs of the group members. In Chapter Two we talked about these sociological needs which are part of man's drives, qualifying him as a political animal. As we pointed out, the individual may feel, consciously or unconsciously, or be habituated to feel, that social life provides some liberty of action which he could not have in the hypothetical state of nature, and that the joining of efforts in a society expands the individual's possibilities. We also noted that for this to happen efficaciously, at least a modicum of order and justice is needed, defining and confining people's liberty of action. These needs, politically speaking, correspond to the branches of government identified as the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary:


--The legislative, by making the laws, provides the pattern within which liberty of action can develop and also delineates where an individual's

liberty of action should stop in order not to trespass on that of the others.


-- The executive, by-establishing order, sees that the laws are respected and



-- The judiciary redresses and punishes deviations from the laws and promotes justice.


In a monist--or monolithic--regime, these powers are confused into one authority. Not that the authority itself is confused about the nature of the different functions. It may indeed have distinct departments to deal with each. Even an absolute monarch may know when he is promulgating a law, executing it or judging by it. The confusion arises when those subject to the authority want to distinguish the branches but cannot. Such a need may arise when the members of the society, aware that some of their sociological needs are hampered or unfulfilled, want to appeal to or identify the responsible authority to ask for amends; or claim a say in the government's operation. They may, for example, find the laws partial to certain interests, classes or regions; the execution of the laws arbitrary; or the legal system biased. If the authority structure were totally monolithic, there would, of course, be no recourse to the judiciary over abuse in execution of the laws. Those under the authority are subject to a hierarchical process providing no alternative channels of recourse. When a member of society is slighted by a tax collector, for example, he does not go as a matter of course for redress to a court as a separate, autonomous branch of government.[8]  If he has courage and is not intimidated by government machinery altogether, he may appeal to the official's superior, where he will be at the mercy of the bureaucracy.


Pure monism, except in a closely knit group with manageable direct control, is hard to practice. Even in a political culture like the Soviet Union, where all three branches of government, although organized separately, are actuated by the socialist legality of the Communist Party, cases may arise where one branch censures another. However, when a monist process functions strictly, censure between its different branches is not usually based on the merits of the case under review, but has a view to correct deviations from the original all-encompassing order by any branch. It is more likely that the agencies of a monist order would uphold each other--and ultimately the doctrine, dogma or ideology which is the source of their actualization--rather than weaken their cohesion by raising criticism or doubt toward any of them. Here again, of course, we are talking about a hypothetically pure system. If pure monism were possible, it might even have been admissible. But it should be conceived in the light of human and social realities. This leads us to the other possible form of political organization--pluralism.


II. Pluralism


Pluralism as a concept of poltiical organization draws inspiration from two rather contradictory assumptions. On the one hand, it is based on the dubiousness of impartiality and magnanimity in a monist authority. It therefore assumes that human beings, individually or collectively, should not trust, or be entrusted with, absolute power. As John Adams put it:


A single assembly is liable to all the vices, follies and frailties of an individual; subject to fits of humor, starts of passion, flights of enthusiasm, partialities, or prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments. And all these errors ought to be corrected and defects supplied by some controlling power.[9]


Pluralism therefore propounds checks and balances within the authority structure. On the other hand, pluralism claims more dignity and individuality for the members of society than do the regimented monist structures, implying that a wider popular participation in the political and social processes can better reflect the people's overall reasonable judgment as to what is good for them and result in a happier and more stable political culture.


These two dimensions of pluralism--checks and balances and popular participation--are distinct and may or may not coexist, in which case pluralism may or may not be achieved. For example, the Holy Roman Empire of the middle ages clearly provided checks and balances in the body of the temporal and spiritual authorities. But it was more dualism than pluralism in terms of popular participation. As for pluralism, the Rousseauan body politic based on the general will can be distorted and would deteriorate, without checks and balances, into a monism like the assembly depicted by Adams and the tyranny of the majority. To be pluralistic, then, a political culture should combine checks and balances with popular participation. In Western political cultures since the eighteenth century, pluralism has mainly taken the form of checks and balances among the separate executive, legislative and judicial powers, combined with the parliamentary electoral system serving as the chan­nel for popular participation and providing an additional check on the government.[10]  This combination, however, is neither the exclusive. nor the inclusive way of bringing about a pluralistic political culture. Further, an effective pluralism requires certain qualifications and favorable social conditions--or total environment.


Separation of Powers


Pluralism depends on such basic questions as how and why the powers are separated, who separates them, and what they are composed of; and it also depends on who votes, how he votes, and what he votes for. The combination of answers to these questions offers a wide spectrum of possible and imagin­able political cultures and forms of government. Here, however, we are con­cerned with the criteria that make different combinations possible.


We have already provided schemes for some of these combinations--for example, the legislative/executive/judiciary pattern of separation of powers. But we have also mentioned the medieval temporal and spiritual separation, suggest­ing that powers need not be separated along legislative, executive and judiciary lines. It is assumed that separation provides checks and balances because the separated bodies have different yet overlapping areas of compe­tence. Thus, for example, the business of legislative deliberation is distinct from its interpretation for adjudication in a court, which in turn is distinct from law enforcement by the executive. Yet the legislative makes laws which affect the executive and the judiciary; the executive in enforcing the law by implication interprets it; and the judicial branch in its adjudica­tions gives the law a particular orientation, which is poured into the body of jurisprudence and becomes part of the social flux, in the long run influencing both the legislative and the executive.


The degree of harmony among the branches depends on how jealously they guard their prerogatives or how readily they concede to overlappings. This leads us to question the source and composition of the branches; i.e., who chooses and separates them and of whom are they composed? Would the fact that the branches of government are separate and subject to direct and indirect popular electoral sanction necessarily imply that they will cling to their prerogatives and feel independent of each other, or, for that matter, even effectively check and balance each other? If, for example, the electoral process is controlled by a given class, by reason of material resources or traditional rights, so that a class or a few classes (an oligarchy) with like interests and outlooks control the different branches of government, would the separation of powers not become only a nominal fiction? Indeed it might, and that suggests that a polity is not only a set of institutions but the realities of a political culture.


Yet our earlier studies of such topics as group dynamics, radius of identifi­cation, and power could lead us to another observation: that people put in particular positions with distinct prerogatives, even if issuing from the same monolithic authority, develop angles of vision which may compete; with one another on the basis of interests generated by their position. Thus, even the judges and officials in a monolithic regime could compete and check and balance each other. Their competition, however, may or may not favor the bulk of the population under their jurisdiction and control. Where the monolithic structure is potent, the competition and checks and balances of different segments of government will, as pointed out, help keep the regime in better control of its organs, as was the case in Nazi Germany. When the monist system falters, as it did in the French absolute monarchy under Louis XV and XVI in the eighteenth century, the different segments of government may compete for power and narrower self-interests, handicapping the regime both by adulterating it and by reducing its capacity to provide social order (its positive aspect as far as the population is concerned). Pluralism strives to harness this checking and balancing potential of separate powers to serve the public interest by grafting it to the sovereignty of the people through the electoral process.


But if it is true that separate branches of government check and balance each other because of the inherent distinctiveness and overlapping of their prerogatives, is it necessary that all spring directly from the popular exercise of sovereignty? Would it not suffice if only some of them were directly invested by people's choice and others separated from each other by some constitutional processes?


Fusion and Indirect Separation of Powers


Some constitutional arrangements avoid direct popular elections and investiture of certain branches of government on the assumption that they will check and balance each other as long as they are separated at some stage of their organization. A recent confirmation of this assumption was the unanimous vote of the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Nixon (1974), denying Nixon's claim of executive privilege in withholding evidentiary tapes from the special prosecutor in the Watergate case. Three of the judges were Nixon appointees, one of whom disqualified himself from the vote while the other two voted with the rest of the judges against Nixon.


In Britain the only national body directly elected by popular vote is the Parliament, of which the executive is the issue, while the judiciary is headed by the Lord Chancellor, who is a member of the Cabinet and presides over the House of Lords. Yet, while all the judges and magistrates (except those of Lancaster and Scotland) are appointed by and on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, once appointed they enjoy the security of tenure "during good behaviour subject to a power of removal by His Majesty on an address presented to His Majesty by both Houses of Parliament”[11] --a power which has never been used. The executive and the judiciary are thus not direct issues of popular deliberation. While the executive is fused with and remains responsible to the legislative, the independence of the judicial from other branches is guaranteed by what amounts to tenure for life of the judges. More important than the inviolability of the judges is the autonomy, independence and tight organization of the British legal profession from which the judges are selected.[12]  In the United States, while the legislative body as well as the executive head are elected by popular suffrage,[13] the judges of the Supreme Court are appointed for life (holding their offices during good behavior) by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.


In France under the Fifth Republic, with a mixture of presidential and parliamentary cabinet constitution, the president and the National Assembly are elected by popular vote, while the judiciary is organized by the executive, with the president as the guarantor of judicial independence. The president presides over the Supreme Council of Judicature (le Conseil supérieur de la Magistrature), whose nine members he designates. The Council makes proposals for nominating the judges on the Court of Cassation (Cour de Cessation)--the highest appeal court in the country. As for checks and balances, however, the French judiciary is part of the civil service. When the French citizen is in litigation with the executive branch, he addresses himself to an administrative court (tribunal administratif) composed of civil servants. These tribunals, more often than not, render judgments against the government agency which is party to the case and in favor of the citizen.[14]  Thus, by instituting a "legal" sector within the executive as the arbiter between the other executive sectors and the citizens, the purpose of checking the executive seems to have been achieved.


Such tribunals do not seem to correspond to the Anglo-Saxon political cultures. When an American or British citizen is aggrieved by the executive or its officials, beyond the claim he can make directly to the executive agency concerned, he brings his case, like any other, to the courts of the judicial branch and sues the executive branch and its officials.[15]  These are cases of checks and balances created without direct popular deliberation, but through the combination and fusion of the branches:by having some institute the others (the executive by the legislative in the United Kingdom, the judiciary by the executive and the legislative in the United Kingdom and the United States) and yet providing them with their own areas of competence, autonomy and responsibility.


We should underline here the distinction between indirect separation of powers and fusion of powers. The former, although bypassing direct elective processes, nevertheless establishes, through the cooperation and interaction of other existing (and often directly elected) branches, another additional branch which then becomes, broadly speaking, autonomous. The U.S. Supreme Court (with the seldom used impeachment prerogatives of the creating branches) and the judiciary in the United Kingdom are examples. Fusion, as in the classical British executive/legislative model, implies that one branch emerges from the other and, broadly speaking, remains responsible to it.


Our examples of arrangements for instituting the judiciary imply certain assumptions going far beyond simple constitutional structures and reflecting the basic philosophical realities of given political cultures. The security of tenure and inviolability of the judiciary implies that once the judicial body is independent of social and political pressures and temptations, it can provide the impartiality an arbiter should possess. But that independence should be truly inviolable to be effective. For example, if the legality of the constitution were not respected, the executive or the legislature, reflecting its own interests (or those of other social pressure groups) might, if it were displeased with the judgment of a court or a jury, exert pressure over that body, making the immunity of the legal body an empty letter. Such pressures are indeed exerted at times, and to the extent that they are effectively exerted, equity within a polity remains to be desired. Granting immunity and irrevocability to judges also assumes their integrity and good personal character, which takes us back to all the premises of values and moral and ethical norms and their reflection in legal norms that we discussed earlier. The more there are occasions for the executive and/or the legislative (depending on the country's constitutional structure) to question the judges' good behavior, impeach them and remove them from office, the weaker and the more doubtful the autonomy and integrity of justice may become.


The fact that the efficacy of constitutional provisions for checks and balances among the different branches of government depends on the realities of political culture and of culture in general, is more obvious in areas where the executive is controlled by the legislative and the judiciary. The executive branch, by definition, has the means of execution. To keep the use of its means within the bounds of a pluralistic, constitutional legality requires the observance of certain social and political standards on the part of the executive, vigilance and intentness on the part of the legislative and the judiciary, and political awareness on the part of "the people."


The Constitution of the United States reflects, for example, the concern of the founding fathers to keep the more potent of the executive means --the armed forces -- under legislative control. While the president of the United States is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, it is the Congress that raises and supports the army, maintains a navy, and calls forth "the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions" (italics mine). History attests, however, that constitutional provisions are not enough. There are pulls and pushes even within countries with long constitutional traditions viz. human and social realities.


We can give examples close at hand, such as Nixon's order for bombing Cambodia behind the back of Congress in 1970, or the altogether undeclared war in Vietnam, in violation of constitutional provisions. While voices were raised against that war, Congress did not strongly react to reaffirm its constitutional prerogatives. The impeachment debates in the House Judiciary Committee in July 1974 also reflected the mood of the legislative not to press the issue of the unconstitutional and undeclared bombing of neutral Cambodia. To understand this abdication of its powers by the legislative and its "collusion" with the executive, we have to evoke the background on which we are sketching, reminding ourselves of such factors as the affectional/functional spectrum of relations, radius of identification and understanding, interest/value constellation, drive for security and the intricacies of power complexes. At the level of international relations, in the combination of their values and interests, their affections and concerns for security, men -- and their representatives -- behave primitively: Cambodians were far away; national pride was at stake; conflict between the Congress and the President could be viewed as weakness by unfriendly nations; American lives had to be saved.


However, it would be missing the issue totally if we believed that controls on the executive's use of the armed forces are directed primarily at checking their deployment beyond the frontiers. That becomes a concern only as a result of its internal consequences. While the executive is left in charge of the actual use of the armed forces to defend the country and the national interests, control is exercised by the legislative mainly to secure that executive, in using of the armed forces, does not impose excessive burdens on the country in terms of finances or enlistment, and that the executive does not abuse them to usurp control of the country. The balance can become precarious in political cultures which have not developed strong civilian structures. The main issues are the control and distribution of the sources of power, of which the most palpable are force and means: the military and the finance.The control of the purse may not discourage a military corps, engrossed by its own apparent disciplined efficiency or foreign victories, from aspiring for control of the polity. History from ancient China and Rome to modern times is dotted with examples. At times, a military corps may attempt political control when defeated abroad in order to displace its frustrations and put the blame, rightly or wrongly, on the internal political structures: Nasser's coup d'état in Egypt was an example.


More plastic as examples of political cultural realities influencing the relationship of the branches of government are the many countries in the Third World which have adopted Western style pluralist constitutions, either constitutional monarchies or republics, where, in most cases, political realities are far from corresponding to the letter of their constitutions. Many of them -- all of them to different degrees -- are undergoing transition, and in most the executive branch--either the traditional absolute monarch or the particularly potent agent of the executive branch, the armed forces--in one form or another controls the government.


Political control in these cases can, of course, take different shapes within which we may identify the traditional and the coercive factors on which the controlling body relies for the means -- the finances -- to perpetuate itself. As we saw, Louis XIV could impose his rule on France because he was traditionally entitled to taxes which the kings of France had collected for centuries directly from the people over the head of the feudal princes – and which financed his long-instituted standing army. We also saw that in England where the Parliament gained control of the national budget, the king could raise no money without Parliament's consent and had difficulty in raising an army (facts which contributed to the demise of Charles I and James II).


In the contemporary Third World a regime can control a country without parliamentary procedures when most of the population traditionally recognizes the right of the central authority to collect taxes and revenues. While the pattern may have been given nominal modern parliamentary forms (i.e., the authority's laws and taxes may be formally ratified by some kind of legislative body), in reality it functions because "the people" are in the habit of submitting to the laws and not participating in the political process. To this traditional dimension is often added the modern techniques for coercive control. A regime which can organize itself efficaciously for military control can, to a large extent, impose its rule. Modern weaponry--the tank, armored car, airplane, electronic communications and other logistics available to an organized army and not to rebellious groups (unless they are helped by another power)--give a considerable edge to those in control. But such coercive control alone has not always proven enough.[16]  It should be combined with some traditional bases, a modicum of popular support, or total apathy.


*      *      *


While, in the light of these considerations, the case can easily be made for the need to maintain checks and balances on the executive, the question may arise as to why, beyond the handicap of impotence which it can encounter in relation to the executive, and the fact that it will be influenced by the body of. jurisprudence developed by the judiciary, the legislative should be subject to any further checks and balances. After all, the legislature, in a pluralistic system, is assumed to represent the popular view. The question really revolves around the assumption we have just made, namely, how does the legislative represent the people, what is the popular view and, above all, what is the legal philosophy of the political culture on these points? These questions raise further inquiries concerning the population of a polity, its homogeneity or heterogeneity, the criteria such as class and regional or ethnic identifications used to establish its composition and which, broadly speaking, lead us to a polity's constitution.


III. Constitution


To constitute means to put together. Thus, what is made of different parts which hold together, interact and become identifiable as an entity must have a constitution. We may speak of the constitution of a human body, a plant or a car. It is more or less in this sense that Aristotle examined the constitution of different states. Apolitical entity, a polity; is constituted.


Beyond this broader meaning, a country may, in political terms, have a constitution--a written document--which defines it as a state and lays down the rules for its government. This written constitution, as we pointed out, may or may not correspond to the constitution of a polity in the broader sense-that of political culture and political institutions. A country, throughout its history--within which its constitution in the broader sense is shaped-may have different written constitutions every time a major political evolution or revolution takes place. Thus, for example, we talk about the French Fifth Republic. In fact, France has had more than five constitutions--one for each time the republic has been abolished and re-established (and some in between), with the current constitution taking effect when France passed from one republic to another in 1958.[17]


Britain has been called a constitutional monarchy without a written constitution. The truth is, however, that the United Kingdom has gone through a constitutional evolution wherein we can distinguish such written landmarks as the Magna Carta of 1215, the Petition of Right of 1628[18], the Declaration of Rights of 1689, the reform bills of the nineteenth century and the acts of the twentieth, to which we referred earlier. Thus, in Great Britain the written documents constituting the records of the country's constitution--in the written sense--closely reflect and evolve with the constitution--in the organic sense--of the British body politic. We saw in Chapter Twelve how in Britain, as the power distribution among different social classes changed over the centuries, with bigger and smaller social conflicts and compromises, new laws reflected those changes. While these laws have been constitutional in that they have directly modified the constitution of the British body politic, they have not been made by a procedure different from the usual lawmaking process. Thus, British constitution-making (both its initiation and its revision) coincides with the legislative process.[19]


The British case, however, is unique. The common modern procedure since the American and French revolutions had been to establish written constitutions as the ground rules of government. Basically, constitutions are instruments by which the abstractions of sovereignty, wherever it lies, are converted into concrete structures as governmental bodies and branches, and their rules of conduct are established. In the British body politic, the assumption is that sovereignty lies in the bosom of Parliament. This, however, is not generally the case in other countries where the prevailing political philosophy may, for example, attribute sovereignty more directly to the people. In such cases, it is this sovereign popular body which originates the constitution, by virtue of which it delegates the exercise of its sovereignty to the government and whatever branches are constituted for it. The legislative will make laws, but its laws should not contradict the constitution. If the constitution could be modified simply through the regular legislative procedure, the holder of sovereign right--the monarch, the people or the federal states (if a federation)--would in effect be abdicating to the legislative body.


We should therefore distinguish between legislation and constitutional revision and amendment. Provisions for judicial review ensure that laws promulgated and enforced by the different branches of government, particularly laws made by the legislature, remain within the constitutional framework. In the United States the Supreme Court has been vested with the power of judicial review.[20]  Other countries, such as France, Germany or Italy, have created special constitutional courts, composed of high judges and legal experts and elected by different combinations of the three branches of government, to safeguard the constitutional legitimacy of the laws.[21]  Thus, the legislative function of the government, like other functions, is subject to the checks and balances arising from the separation of powers.


The distinction between ordinary laws and constitutional revision and amendment implies a valuational hierarchy by which the latter is subjected to broader and more elaborate procedures and rituals. The valuational elevation of the constitution and the elaborate rituals reflect the points we made earlier about values, symbols and rituals, and contribute to the gravity and solemnity of state structures and the continuity of state institutions. The distinction leads us, however, to a more basic consideration of the locus of sovereignty as well as the possibilities of its "distribution" and representation. For example, the British political culture has evolved to make Parliament the custodian of state sovereignty (not its symbol, which, as we said, remains the monarch). When Parliament makes a law, that law coincides with the country's constitution. In this light, with each election the voters abdicate exercise of their sovereignty, as far as constitutional jurisdiction is concerned, to the simple majority in Parliament.[22]


The French and Italian constitutions provide that constitutional revisions be submitted to popular referendum and/or a particular majority of the legislature. In these provisions we may detect a greater inspiration from the general will and contractual philosophies--not in the sense of a Rousseauan assembly of the people or the Hobbesian original contract, but that sovereignty inalienably lies with the people who have voted a constitution by which they delegate their sovereignty to their representatives, who in turn are to exercise the functions of government within the framework of that constitution. If the people's representatives were to modify the constitution, they should either appeal to the general will by referendum or, in bringing an amendment to the constitution, have a majority large enough to reflect clearly that the changes are being made as if they were the will of the people.[23]


The above examples are unitary states, countries where the exercise of full sovereignty is vested in a central government. However, not all the sovereignty may be vested in a central government directly by the people. A constitution may provide intermediary stages in the passage, delegation and exercise of sovereignty and authority. For example, the United States is a federation of states. As parties to the United States constitution, states are entitled to ratify amendments proposed by two-thirds of both houses of the federal Congress (or by convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of state legislatures--a possibility which has not yet arisen).


The amendment is ratified in each state by the state legislature (or by conventions, if Congress proposes--as it has only once). The amendment becomes valid as part of the constitution to all intents and purposes when ratified by three-fourths of the states. This combines regional and popular distribution of sovereignty. And here again, as with unitary states, the constitution by which the polity functions is given more valuational weight than ordinary legislation.


In both unitary or federal cases, however, while a greater plurality of representation and popular approval is called for to change a polity's basic laws, it is also understood that a minority may disagree with the change. The people's sovereignty, an abstraction concretized by a majority vote, is in fact the sovereignty of the majority. This limitation to popular sovereignty is less evident in a unitary state than in a state within a federation which has to submit to the will of the majority of other states. As Article V of the U. S. constitution provides, states may become subject to constitutional amendments which they may not have ratified (when such amendments are ratified by three-fourths of the states). Beyond their legal and constitutional implications, such provisions revert us to some questions of pluralism raised earlier, notably the effects of social homogeneity and heterogeneity on the governmental structures and vice versa, and the question of popular participation.


"Distribution" of Sovereignty


Within the polity, whether in the legislative process or constitutional amendment, part of those who share the sovereignty or are supposed to share it are proven "wrong" in being the minority when the majority adopts a particular law or amendment. This poses the problem of how, despite contradictory currents, a polity can secure cohesion. In terms of constitutional pluralism, we find two working hypotheses: 1) The components of a polity share political institutions where cooperation and compromise are possible and desirable, while in other areas of their particular interests and distinct characteristics they safeguard their autonomy. 2) The prevailing political culture satisfies the minority that the political outcomes result from an equitable procedure which will--or may--in other cases rally a different winning majority for its views and causes. The combination of these two hypotheses can produce an array of political formulas ranging from the association of independent sovereign states in international organizations and confederations to the criteria for popular participation in a unitary state.


The extreme of political nonassociation of different countries is, of course, the full-fledged sovereign statehood which emerged in our earlier discussion and which, in the context of modern world, even at the extreme of independence, should be qualified (be it .for entanglement in the international economic network or participation in international organizations claiming some aspects of their members' sovereignty). Beyond this, sovereign states may enter into formal associations with each other, perhaps accepting certain limitations on their own sovereign rights toward partial political association and cooperation in certain areas. These arrangements may be identified as a confederation, a limited association of otherwise sovereign bodies, which may eventually evolve into a more cohesive polity. Examples of confederations are the Swiss Everlasting Alliance of 1291, first a defensive alliance, then a confederation between 1813 and 1848, and finally a federal government; the United States Confederation between 1777 and 1789, which turned into a federation; and the German Confederation between 1815 and 1866, which was proclaimed the German Empire under the hegemony of Prussia. At present, the European Common Market may be qualified as a moderate confederation in that the states party to it have voluntarily accepted limitations on the exercise of their national sovereignty in the areas of the Common Market's competence.[24]


What concerns us more particularly here is the stage at which a polity reaches a certain degree of political cohesion to be considered, at least in some broad areas such as international representation and overall fiscal and military policies, as one sovereign political unit. Somewhere along the line we can identify such a polity as a federation, a political entity which, while recognized as sovereign, is composed of several political units, each retaining some of the characteristics of a sovereign state (identifiable population and territory and some areas of particular jurisdiction over them as distinct from those of the federal central government).[25]  That at a certain stage of their evolution entities with sovereign characteristics can form a federation implies pressures and pulls we discussed in the abstraction of group fermentations and dynamics. Entities (countries, provinces, former colonies) may find common characteristics (which at the minimum may only be regional cohabitation) to bind them in a federation to avert the danger of powerful neighbor(s) or to make them internationally competitive. The Swiss federation may never have existed if the autonomy of the original three cantons was not threatened by Habsburgs. The German federation may have grown into conflicting states had it not been for the impact of industrial revolution and the threat of powerful neighbors such as France and Austro-Hungary. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is composed of states which had long feuded but joined in their struggle during World War II and were led by Tito into their present federation whose future some deem uncertain after Tito.


In political terms, intermingling factors to consider are: to what extent the federal arrangements have evolved from "below" or from "above," and whether they have been made primarily for political reasons or are due to particular "national" identities of the different components. The United States, for example, became a federation for political expediency. The original thirteen states of eighteenth-century America, compared to the heterogeneity of such federations as the Soviet Union, India, Nigeria, or even Switzerland, did not have territorially identifiable diversities (except for the conflicting interests of North and South which eventually grew to the disastrous proportions of the Civil War.) As former British colonies, these states shared common interests and a collective identity. Their federal concept of government grew out of their experience with local and state government at the time of their union. This pattern continued as the United States expanded over the continent. A look at the shape of the states, with their many straight boundaries drawn along meridians and parallels instead of traditionally settled frontiers, gives an idea of this process. This occurred through a complex of factors peculiar to the kind of people who found themselves where they did, when they did. In North America, an important factor was the idea of self-government--not necessarily because of distinct ethnic or other characteristics, but because autonomy in local and regional government was believed desirable.[26]  This tendency reflected the experience of the early settlers and their political and religious backgrounds.


American federalism grew from below, that is, its components--the thirteen colonies--came to realize that they should stand together to gain their independence and maintain it. In contrast, Canadian federalism was shaped more from above by the British North America Act of 1867. A possible legal criterion indicating the emphasis of power from below or above is whether the federal constitution leaves the areas of sovereignty not covered by it to the components of the federation as does the U. S. Constitution, or to the central government as does the Canadian. The two federal systems have, of course, evolved, with the United States tending toward more centralization of sovereign prerogatives in the federal government, and Canada having to accommodate greater provincial autonomy due to ethnic uniqueness of some components, notably the French speaking Quebec.


While constitutions may call their systems federal, it is harder to qualify a polity as a federation in practice. Canada, Germany, Pakistan, the Soviet Union and the United States are all federal states, but their practices are different. Many countries have adopted the federal form of government to secure the autonomy of their ethnic, linguistic, social, cultural, religious or tribal components, with varied degrees of success. The nature and effectiveness of a federation hinges on the interaction of the dynamics of human radii of identification (patrimonial, ethnic, cultural), and power (social, economic, political) in different total environments.[27]  This interaction, depending on the magnitude of its factors, can lead us from a federal system of government to a unitary system where the political--and in different degrees, the social and economic--powers of the central government overshadow the patrimonial, ethnic and cultural identity of its components in the exercise of sovereignty.


Take, for example, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. To rally the oppressed ethnic groups which might have sought independence after the collapse of the Tsarist Empire, the Soviets, who could not as yet control the vast empire politically or militarily, promised autonomy. In November 1917, the Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet government which had just seized power, in a proclamation signed by Lenin and Stalin, confirmed "the right of the nations in Russia to free self-determination, including the right of secession and formation of an independent state." Stalin, however, qualified this right in his report to the party the same year, saying, "We [the party] are at liberty to agitate for or against secession, according to the interests of the Proletariat, of the Proletarian revolution." In other words, it was one-way traffic. Self-determination to the Soviet leaders meant the determination to secede from the feudal, capitalist and imperialist states, not from the proletarian state.[28]


The Soviet Union was given a federal constitution with the advent of Soviet power. The component Union Republics, autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics and autonomous regions of the Soviet Union have, indeed, each particular national characteristics. The predominantly Orthodox Ukraine with its own language, the predominantly Moslem, Persian-speaking Tajikistan, the predominantly Catholic Lithuanians or Lutheran Estonians have all had distinct cultures, social traditions and institutions. The Soviet constitution provides for the independent state authority of the Union Republics whose sovereignty is limited only in those spheres reserved by the constitution for the federal government. It even confers the right to the Union Republics to establish relations with foreign states and have their own military formations.[29]  It also provides for the secession of the Union Republics from the federation.[30]


Reviewing these provisions, one may be led to believe that the Soviet Union is a loose federation approaching a confederation. In reality, however, as far as political, economic, social, and legal controls are concerned, the Soviet Union is a monolithic polity with different levels of the Communist Party hierarchy in control throughout the whole country. Indeed, this reality transpires from the different provisions of the constitution. We have already mentioned the hierarchical process of democratic centralism spelled out in the 1977 constitution. This, combined with the fact that according to Article 6 of that constitution, "the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is the leading and guiding force of the Soviet society, the nucleus of its political system and state and public organization," leaves little doubt on where the power lies. The Communist Party controls the government of the whole union through such mechanisms as the nomenklatura, a process by which all positions which carry any responsibility in any facet of Soviet life, from government and industry to education and 'youth organizations, are listed by the party and appointments to them require party clearance.[31]


While the 1936 constitution of the USSR defined it as a federal state (Article 13), the new constitution indicates that "the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a unitary, federal and multinational state, formed on the basis of the principle of socialist federalism...The USSR embodies the state unity of the Soviet people and unites all nations and nationalities towards the joint construction of communism." (Article 70) [emphases mine]. "Socialist federalism," of course, reminds us of Stalin's qualification of independence and the Brezhnev Doctrine.


The ornamentation of a polity by a federal constitution does not necessarily imply then that the heterogeneous units within that polity will be able to enjoy their political autonomy and take advantage of the federal provisions, because the federal structure may be centrally and overwhelmingly controlled. The control does not need to be that of a dominant political party, as it is in the Soviet Union.. Some young federations are at present ruled by military dictatorships. While such instances indicate that the political-economic, social--pressures and pulls of central government can practically turn a federal system into a unitary form of government, we have to keep the dynamics of human radii of identification in mind. They correspond to man's need for manageable environmental identity. Even in the United States, with its short history, "provincial" identification has developed among the Northern and Southern states, with further distinction of those of the Southern Atlantic coast, or California; New England, the industrial states of the North or the Upper Midwest and the Great Plains. These regional identifications overlap the political frontiers of states and are often reflected in local and state structures.[32]  They are not often as acute and delimitable in their provincialism and particularism as those of the ethnic, religious, tribal and cultural groups in traditional patterns--partly because of their coincidence with the modern age of mobility, which to some degree broadens the radius of identification and reduces particularism and local entrenchment.


While the modern factors may no longer permit new territorially identifiable particularisms to develop as strongly as they did in traditional settings, the fact remains that some measure of identity with manageable radii of human, social and ecological environment is part of human reality. In political terms, it is reflected in the degree of central, regional and local distribution of authority and the exercise of sovereignty whether in federal or unitary constitution. The distribution of authority to different local (townships, villages, cities), regional (provincial or state) and central ("national") levels reflects the need, at some level of social organization, for different groups to take charge of their own affairs. Indeed, the degree of decentralization in some unitary constitutions may be greater than in some federal systems. For example, the constitution of Japan, a unitary state, provides for election of local authorities by direct popular vote and establishment of local deliberative assemblies--much more than some federal system allow. It is true that these provisions may have been marked by American inspiration and influence, but they also reflect Japanese history--with shogunate feudal autonomies extending into the nineteenth century.


Historical factors as part of the total environment may, of course, also favor the development of unitary states which claim sovereignty and popular acquiescence for the central government from which authority is distributed and through delegated power returns to the people, or to their local organization at the lower levels. France, for example, has evolved since its revolution toward such a constitution. The French Republic was divided into eighty-three (now ninety-five in Europe and four overseas ) départments, and their 280 arrondissements (rather undersized political units in terms of "provincial" division). The départments were created by Napoleon for administrative convenience of the central government and as an attempt to liquidate the provinces existing under the Ancien Régime and which, by their narrow provincialism, tended to hamper the policies of the government towards national consciousness and cohesion. The départements were made small to permit access to them, as direct representations of the central government for all citizens within their jurisdiction, from any point of the département to the seat of its préfecture in one day's journey (including return trip).[33]  The départements are administered by préfets and the arrondissements by a sous-préfets appointed directly by the central government. Although the préfet is assisted by a locally elected council (conseil général) of the département, he is responsible for the administration of the civil service in the département, which encompasses broad governmental control, including even education. Only at the level of the communes, 37,708 in number at this writing, has local autonomy been exercised. A unitary state of this kind can become top heavy and hence handicapped in its development. President Giscard d'Estaing defined the problem when he wrote: "Centuries of centralization weigh on us. To them are due the hypertrophy of Paris and the debility of certain provinces, as well as the profusion of regulations and the inadequate development of responsibilities."[34]  When the unitary system becomes top heavy, it gets bogged down by bureaucracy and discourages initiatives by its parts. In past decades France has embarked on regional decentralization. But in doing so the central government has had to keep in mind the reasons for which France was "departementalized" in the first place, notably regional parochialisms not always in line with national interests.


Distribution of Authority According to Angles of Vision


Discrepancies in local, regional and central "national" outlooks imply different ranges of the radii of interests, understanding and identification at different levels of authority. We noted earlier that the shorter radii of identification within the local and provincial units provide for the members of the society graspable bases to fulfill their material and affectional se­curity. This security, however, in the ever-broader context of human societies and total environment, can become vulnerable if it narrows and closes in on itself. Our earlier discussions of groups, individuals and power implied that those who rise in the social hierarchy may gain a longer range of obser­vation by which they can detect, beyond the short range of immediate interests, possibilities for expansion and provisions for interaction with the total environment, social and otherwise, which could secure their (personal and collective) perpetuation and well-being. Local, regional and central levels of government are part of the political reflection of these social phenomena. Their interrelated and interdependent interests are symbiotic yet do not always coincide.


Local interests, because of shortsightedness, may handicap the vision or understanding of the long-range implications of a national policy and encour­age immediate gains or savings, making the polity as a whole vulnerable. The political apparatus at the central level may, in its wide range of vision or vested interests, lose sight of the base and follow extravagant, idealist or conservative policies. The small, locally oriented group may become conserva­tive, while those at the higher social positions may see opportunities for change and expansion; or inversely, the higher strata may read (or misread) a remote foreign or internal phenomenon as dangerous to the social structure and become conservative, while the narrower local visions and interests may not, in the security of their immediate environment, perceive the remote danger (or not perceive it as the higher strata do), thus becoming more open to change. We can multiply cases of optic divergences among the different levels that hold and exercise authority. This introduces a new set of politi­cal dimensions, the hierarchy of radii of identification, foresight, under­standing and interests, to the other sets already mentioned -- the separation of the branches of government into executive, legislative and judiciary; and the local, regional and central distribution of authority.


The narrower or broader radii of political and social identification, under­standing and interests may, of course, coincide, though not necessarily, with the narrower or broader territorial interests. Beyond the territorial, the hierarchy of narrowness or broadness of political and social vision cuts across professional and class distinctions. In the traditional societies where the major source of social livelihood and power was land, the develop­ment of a wider angle of vision coincided with the extent of territorial identification and interests. The lord with a bigger domain to worry about, to protect, and the produces whereof to exchange, had to look farther than the tip of his nose. But even there, the old man who had gone through ups and downs of life and had seen and heard of many things also developed a wider vision, as did the soldier who had endured many campaigns and seen many lands. Of course, the clergy could also develop a cosmopolitan view through the ex­panse of the church and its hierarchy.


The distinction and combination of the radii of interest, identification and understanding are built into the complexity of political cultures and are more manifest in the structure of certain political institutions, such as legislative bicameralism, than others. For example, already in the govern­ment of ancient Rome (around seventh century B.C.), a body of the elders (patre) was constituted into a senate, which shared power with the popular assembly of the clans, comitia curiata, and controlled the power of the elective kings. The society was distinguished into two classes, the patricians and the plebians, of which the former, having set themselves up by their power (probably wealth and land ownership) as superior, could become members of the senate.


The assemblies called by the kings of England and France in the middle ages, the British Parliament and the French Estates-General, evolved into two houses where the nobility and the commoners sat separately. They came to be known as the upper and lower houses. The upper house was generally both more conservative (because it represented the vested interests) and more aloof (because it was composed of the aristocracy, which claimed a share with the king in ruling the country, and the clergy, which dealt with God's affairs on earth). Members of the upper house were, as in England, "Lords Spiritual and Temporal." The lower house was potentially more erratic, because it could be more shortsighted on matters touching local particularisms and finances, yet more radical on issues relating to the broad social structures which held the upper classes in power and held the polity--as it was--together. The two houses thus evolved to check and balance each other. The upper house could, to some extent, secure the continuity of the polity by moderating and restraining the more parochial and radical views of the lower house, while the lower house could voice the views and will of the larger bourgeoisie and check on the encroachments of the upper classes.


As we saw, in both England and France, when in modern times the radius of vision of the aristocracy and upper classes was obscured and reduced by their outmoded interests, the new social vigor and economic expansion of the emerging bourgeoisie helped to broaden its range of vision commensurate with its interests, making the lower house the center of power. Yet the upper house serving as a stabilizing anchor could not altogether be dispensed with, because, whether inhabited by aristocrats or high bourgeoisie, it was by definition destined to provide the broader vision. The attempt of the masses in the French Revolution to abolish the upper house (1789) was short-lived, and soon a Council of Elders was established to share legislative powers with the lower house (1795). An upper house in one form or another has been part of the French political institutions ever since, as in Britain. Many other countries have imitated these two in structuring their constitutions.


With the development of modern institutions, both the concept of bicameralism and the nature of the hierarchy of radii of vision have evolved. The American constitution provided for two houses in Congress. According to the "Connecticut Compromise" (proposed by Dr. Johnson of Connecticut at the 1787 convention), in the upper house--the Senate--the states of the union would be equally represented and would be considered equal political entities, while the lower house, the House of Representatives, would reflect the population of the whole union on the basis of local districts of individuals. The American system has inspired the political constitutions of countries which have adopted federal forms of government and whose territories and population are composed of heterogeneous ethnic, linguistic or religious groups in unequal numbers and territorial sizes.


Bicameralism thus was developed not only to provide different ranges of vision checking and balancing each other, but also to amend the inequalities that could arise from representation on the basis of numbers alone, handicapping particular interests within a polity. The provision of an upper house with equal representation of unequal political entities aims at securing particular minorities a role in the conduct of the central government and avoiding con­trol of the political institutions by one of the ethnic, linguistic or reli­gious components of the country which may constitute an overwhelming majority of the population. The efficiency of the process will depend, of course, on the degree of real prerogative given to the upper house to control the executive and the amount of autonomy enjoyed by the component states. Above all, it is not so much what is written in the constitution that matters, but the realities of the political culture.


When, as in the United States, the upper house has equal authority in legisla­tive matters and broad control of the executive, and its members are elected by direct popular suffrage, that house can also play the traditional role of the weightier body with a broader radius of identification, interests and understanding. That a senator should run in the whole state implies certain prerequisites which, more often than not, require a personality with a wide vision of political problems than that of a representative to the lower house, who theoretically represents local interests. For example, running for the Senate requires adequate funds -- a fact which puts the candidate in the bracket of the propertied (those who control the means in the country) or at least makes him someone who by his reputation commands the respect of that class. The exclusivity and prestige of the Senate further entice its members to rise to the occasion and try to give their best. Finally, the length of their mandate contributes to their detachment from their immediate popular base and permits them to broaden their vision in dealing with national and international issues -- all this, however, without losing sight of the underlying human and social factors to which they are conditioned.


While the American federal application of bicameralism has come to provide some factors for a broader radius of identification, understanding and inter­ests of the higher social strata, the upper houses in England and France, cited as examples of broad vision because of their traditional association with the old aristocratic and land-based upper class, have lost many of their prerogatives in government since the development of modern bourgeois culture. With the Parliament Act of 1911 as amended in 1949, the British House of Commons can now altogether bypass the House of Lords in its legislative delib­erations, provided the act under consideration is passed twice by the House of Commons in two separate sessions one year apart. According to the 1958 French constitution, if each of the two houses fails after two considerations to reach agreement on a draft bill, and if a mixed commission of the two houses called by the Prime Minister does not agree, the government, after yet another consideration by the two houses, can ask the lower house, the National Assem­bly, to deliberate definitively on the bill.


The decline of the role of the upper house in the Western European "unitary" political cultures has to do not only with its association with the landed gentry and aristocracy – for indeed the higher bourgeoisie has long since penetrated the upper houses in Europe. Rather, one of the main causes of this decline has been the identification of the lower house with "the people" and the idea of the people as the holders of sovereignty. The implication of popular sovereignty, as we saw, was the fiction that the people can govern themselves, and that in the long run their wisdom will lead them to choose what is good for them. We thus return to the concept of the people's sover­eignty, but with the addition of the political dimensions we have been dis­cussing in this chapter. The house directly elected by popular suffrage is better entitled to deliberate on behalf of the people. It is in essence the fiction of democracy, which denies the tutelage of a class over the public.[35]


One particular characteristic of this coming of age of the common man and his representatives in the British and French constitutional model is the recognition of the temporal dimension as the prudent alternative to upper-class tutelage. The British and French constitutional provisions we reviewed implied a process of "thinking things over" by the lower house before bypassing the contrary views of the upper house. These provisions must have been aimed at avoiding hasty deliberations by the popular assemblies, and also at distinguishing between the egotistical motivations or well-meant considerations behind the negative attitude of the upper classes represented in the upper house. Historically speaking, in their early attempts at government, the popular representative bodies in England, France and other countries of the continent compromised with the upper house (after submitting for a long time). Supposedly, the upper house provided the necessary wide radius of vision and foresight by its broader understanding of the problems of the state (since it was composed of those who were generally old hands at it). But also, by its share of control, the upper house safeguarded its members' as yet wider interests. As the bourgeoisie grew dominant and eventually coincided more and more with "the people," and the lower house representing the people's interests gained more control of the government, the concurrent views of the upper house with those of the lower were considered additional security that the laws were going in the right direction, not disturbing the social cohesion. Where the two houses diverged, the bypassing of the upper house by the lower was made subject to some procedural and temporal factors so that "time could tell" whether the divergence was due to a wisdom which the wider vision of the upper house had shown over the lower, or to a conflict of interests, in which case the interests of  "the people" as represented by the deliberations of the popular assembly were to prevail.


These rationalizations should, of course, be qualified and conditioned by the human and social factors previously reviewed, from the angles of both individual and group behavior in the total environment. The upper house may not always behave conservatively (in the sense of cautiously), but in its higher position and prestige it may challenge possible encroachments by the other branches of government, notably the executive. Such was the case during de Gaulle's presidency in France during the 1960's, when the Senate on several occasions dared question the legality of his actions. The lower house may, because of the relatively smaller radius of foresight of its components, who may displace their parochial affections and group reflexes to an authoritarian or charsmatic political leader, show bigoted conservatism. Also, the controls of the two houses on each other may, instead of constituting constructive checks and balances, become duels of prestige between them, causing undue delays and expenses. With the principle of popular sovereignty established as the modern basis of state authority, many countries have done away with the bicameral system altogether.[36]


By giving bicameralism as an example of political institutions which reflect the hierarchy of the radii of interests, understanding and identification (foresight), then discussing their development into modern times and the erosion of the authority, prerogative and even existence of the upper houses, we have reopened the question of how the necessary hierarchy of radii of foresight, identification, interests and understanding are reflected in governmental structures. After our recent reminder of the modern concepts of the people's sovereignty, however, our question needs reformulation. If we admit the idea of democracy and the fiction that the wisdom of the people eventually prevails, we may have to assume that the hierarchy of foresight should be contained within the sovereignty of the people and democracy, and not surpass them. In other words, the governing body should not, as a body outside the people, share sovereignty with them and rule from above, but be an integral part of them, reflecting and representing them.


If so, how are those responsible for running the central apparatus of government to identify with the common man and yet gain their broader radii of identification, understanding and interests needed for the higher strata of government? Well, in the pure ideological fiction of democracy they do not need a radius any broader than that of the people. Because the people's alleged reasonableness and understanding should be broad enough to encompass, in the long run, the social and human problems of the polity as a whole. This assumes that as men, through representation and delegation, rise from within the social hierarchy to the top in the different strata and branches of government, and from there observe a wider horizon, they communicate back to the lower strata – the base, the people – their vision; and on the understanding of that vision the people reinvigorate the mandates at the top for action in their behalf, and those on the top exercise their functions according to popular mandate.


Our discussion has shown, however, that such an approach is not altogether realistic. The view from the top is not the same as the view from the bottom, and the assumption that it can be understood and absorbed without having been experienced will take us right back to the Platonic allegory of the cave. This does not mean that the view from the top is necessarily "correct" (which is a relative qualification anyway). At times it may see wide over the horizon but be divorced from the realities of the base on which it stands. The fact that views are not the same at different heights, whether mountains or social strata, implies the possibility of different attitudes towards the exercise of authority by those who hold it and those who submit.  The extent to which those submitting have a say in choosing the authority, can control its policies and actions and can ascend to that position themselves, will decide the degree a polity may approach democracy and, inversely, may be subdued by an autocrat. In the next chapter we shall review some implications of these alternatives by working our way up from popular participation to the business of government.

[1]“On the walls of Westminster there appear together

Three powers bewildered by the knot that unites them,

The deputies of the people, the nobles, the king,

Divided by interest, united by law;

All three sacred members of this invincible body,

Dangerous of itself, terrifying to its neighbors.”

[2] It is, for example, the prerogative of the British monarch to nominate the prime minister. Under the British parliamentary system the choice is, of course, limited to the leader of the majority in Parliament. But situations may arise in which there is no clear-cut majority, or a coalition government should be constituted, as was the case in 1931 when MacDonald formed a National government; or, the majority party may not have appointed a leader, as was the case of the Conservative governments in 1923 and 1957.  See Graeme C. Moodie, The Government of Great Britain, 3rd ed., (New York: Crowell, 1971), p. 92.

[3] For an analysis of some aspects of the subject see Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power: The Politics of Leadership (New York: Wiley, 1960); and Edward Corwin, The President: Office and Powers, History and Analysis of Practice and Opinion, 3rd ed. (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1948).

[4] Some of these countries are Algeria, Chad, Cyprus, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia, as well as many Latin American countries.

[5] See Stein Rokkan and Erik Allardt, eds., Mass Polities: Studies in Political Sociology (New York: Free Press, 1970).

[6] For a study of Stalinist monism in the Soviet Union see T. H. Rigby, "Stalinism and the Mono-Organizational Society," in Robert C. Tucker, ed., Stalinism; Essays in Historical Interpretation (New York: Norton, 1977).

[7] Confusion in the sense of "con" (together) plus "fusion" (poured): poured together.

[8] For the juxtopposition of gubernaculum and jurisdicto see Charles H. McIlwain, Constitutionalism: Ancient and Modern (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 1958).

[9] John Adams, "Thoughts on Government Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies" (1776) in Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Life and Works of John Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, 1851), IV, p. 195.

[10] For a review of literature on pluralism see David E. Apter, Introduction to Political Analysis (Cambridge, Mass.: Winthrop, 1977).

[11] Judicature (Consolidation) Act of 1925.

[12] See notably R. M. Jackson, The Machinery of Justice in England, 5th ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1967).

[13] The popular vote for the president is, in addition, subject to the vote of an electoral college.

[14] Henry J. Abraham, The Judicial Process, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1968), p. 269.

[15] Ibid., pp. 264-267.

[16] For further discussion on the role of the military in developing countries see William F. Gutteridge, Military Institutions and Power in the New States (London: Pall Mall, 1964); Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and the State (New York: Vintage, 1964); Ernest W. Lefever, Spear and Specter (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1970); and Edward Feit, The Armed Bureaucrats (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973).

[17] See notably Amos J. Peaslee's documentation of this point in his Constitutions of Nations, rev. 3rd ed. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968), III, 1009-1010.

[18] In the Petition of Right the Parliament prohibited all taxation without its consent, imprisonment of individuals without specific charges, billeting of soldiers in private houses and commissioning of military officers for the execution of martial law in time of peace.

[19] See A. V. Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, 10th ed. (London: Macmillan, 1959), notably Part I.

[20] See Charles Beard, The Supreme Court and the Constitution (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962; first published in 1912).

[21] See, for example, Part Two, Title VI, Sec. I, Arts. 134-137 of the Italian Constitution of December, 1947; the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, May, 1949, IX, Arts. 92-94; and the French Constitution of October, 1958, Title VII, Arts. 56-63.

[22] On the role of the Parliament in the United Kingdom see notably Dicey, Law of the Constitution; and A. F. Pollard, The Parliament, 2nd ed. (London: Longmans, Green, 1926).

[23] The French constitution requires a three-fifths majority of the Parliament assembled in Congress (Art. 89, para. 3), while the Italian constitution requires two votings separated by a three-months interval with an absolute majority of the members of each of the two houses on the second voting. The Italian constitution, however, adds that the constitutional amendment should be submitted to popular referendum if, three months after its publication, a demand has been made to that effect by one-fifth of the members of either of the two houses, by 500,000 electors, or by five Regional Councils (Part Two, Title VI, Sec. II, Art. 138).

[24] For a broader application of the term "confederation," see Ivo D. Duchacek, Comparative Federalism: The Territorial Dimension of Politics (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970), pp. 160 ff.

[25] See, for example, Kenneth C. Wheare, Federal Government, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1964).

[26] See, for example, Richard H. Leach, American Federalism (New York: Norton, 1970).

[27] For a recent review of literature on federalism see William H. Riker, "Federalism," in Greenstein and Polsby, eds. Governmental Institutions and Processes, Vol. 5 of Handbook of Political Science.

[28] Duchacek, Comparative Federalism, pp. 138 ff.

[29] The provision was first made as a 1944 constitutional amendment to the 1936 constitution -- now incorporated in article 80 of the 1977 constitution -- to permit Byelorussia and Ukraine claim the status of sovereign states, making them eligible for United Nations membership.

[30] Such a likelihood is remote, however, considering that the "Brezhnev Doctrine" did not even tolerate internal liberal changes in the sovereign country of Czechoslovakia and justified its occupation in 1968 in the fear that the liberal changes might tempt Czechoslovakia to withdraw from the Eastern European socialist community.

[31] Bohdan Harasymiw, "Nomenklatura: The Soviet Communist Party's Leadership Recruitment System," in Canadian Journal of Political Science 2:505-512 (1969).

[32] See notably William S. Livingston, "A Note on the Nature of Federalism," Political Science Quarterly, 67:81-95 (1952).

[33] See, for example, Hervé Detton, L'Administration Régionale et Locale en France (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1953).

[34] Valérie Giscard d'Estaing, Démocratie Fançaise (Paris: Fayard, 1976), p. 97.

[35] See, for example, Donald W. Hanson, From Kingdom to Commonwealth: The Development of Political Consciousness in English Political Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1970).

[36] Some notable examples are such diverse political cultures as Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, Honduras, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Poland and Spain.