The English Constitution

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CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013 M03 9 - 150 páginas
The English Constitution is a book by Walter Bagehot. First serialized in The Fortnightly Review and later published in book form in 1867, it explores the constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically the functioning of Parliament and the British monarchy and the contrasts between British and American government. The book became a standard work which was translated into several languages. While Bagehot's references to parliament have become dated, his observations on the monarchy are seen as central to the understanding of the principles of constitutional monarchy. He defined the rights and role of a monarch vis-a-vis a government as threefold: The right to be consulted; The right to encourage; The right to warn. He also divided the constitution into two components: the Dignified (that part which is symbolic) and the Efficient (the way things actually work and get done). Walter Bagehot also praised that what we now refer to as a "parliamentary system" (which he termed "cabinet government"). At the same time, he mocked the American system for numerous flaws and absurdities he perceived, and its comparative lack of flexibility and accountability. In his words, "a parliamentary system educates the public, while a presidential system corrupts it." He praised Parliament as a place of "real" debate, considering debates in the United States Congress to be "prologues without a play." Bagehot said the difference in the substance of debate was due to debate in Parliament having the potential to turn out a government, while "debates" in the Congress have no such potential import. Bagehot also criticized the fixed nature of a presidential term and the presidential election process itself. "Under a presidential constitution the preliminary caucuses that choose the president need not care as to the ultimate fitness of the man they choose. They are solely concerned with his attractiveness as a candidate." He declared that the only reason America succeeded as a free country was that the American people had a "genius for politics."

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Walter Bagehot "Badgett"; 3 February 1826 - 24 March 1877) was a British businessman, essayist, Social Darwinist and journalist who wrote extensively about literature, government, and economic affairs. Bagehot was called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn, but preferred to join his father in 1852 in his family's shipping and banking business. He wrote for various periodicals, and in 1855 founded the National Review with his friend Richard Holt Hutton.[3][4] Later becoming editor-in-chief of The Economist, which had been founded by his father-in-law, James Wilson, in 1860, Bagehot expanded The Economist's reporting on the United States and on politics and is considered to have increased its influence among policymakers over the seventeen years he served as editor. In 1867, he wrote The English Constitution, a book that explored the nature of the constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically the functioning of Parliament and the British monarchy and the contrasts between British and American government. The book appeared at the same time that Parliament enacted the Reform Act of 1867, requiring Bagehot to write an extended introduction to the second edition, which appeared in 1872. The book became an instant classic, has been translated into many languages, and is still available in scholarly editions from Oxford University Press (in its "World's Classics" series) and Cambridge University Press. Bagehot also wrote Physics and Politics (1872), in which he coined the still-current expression "the cake of custom" to describe the tension between social institutions and innovations. In this book, he also expressed the fundamental ideas of the struggle school and described the historical evolution of social groups into nations. Bagehot argued that "these nations evolved principally by succeeding in conflicts with other groups." For many political scientists, sociologists, and military strategists, this strain of social Darwinism justified overseas expansion by nations (imperialism) during the 1890s. In his contributions to sociological theory within historical studies, Bagehot may be compared to his contemporary, Henry James Sumner Maine.

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