Seventh Section – table of content


“Die soziale Gesinnung stammt aus dem vernünftigen Bewusstsein, und das bedeutet eine vernünftige Beurteilung der Dinge.”
(Eugen Huber: Über soziale Gesinnung, in: Politisches Jahr­buch der schwei­­ze­­rischen Eid­ge­nossenschaft, ed. Walther Burckhardt, vol. 16 (1912), Bern: K. J. Wyss, 1912)

Introduction: Historical Coherence Between the Social Question, Socialism, Sociology, Social Democracy and the Social State

The circumstances of mass production, industrialisations and the advent of urbanisation have generated the so-called social question by the mid-nineteenth century. From the very beginnings in 1848, the Swiss Federal Authorities have been an agency not only to build a common market on the whole Swiss territory, but also to establish a social welfare state, called to guarantee for labour protection, factory legislation, and social insurances later on. In parallel the early Socialist move­ment step by step developed into a modern Social-Democratic Party. This process has been accom­panied by sociology, and jurisprudence as the oldest social science.

These dynamic developments, be they parallel or in succession, all refer to a typically Swiss accentuation of social consciousness, of a sense for social community, of a veritable common sense or common faculty of judgment, to which Eugen Huber alludes, when he writes about social attitude. Since the French Revolution, this attitude has become the title of solidarity.

The Alternative of Humanist Sociology

In his collection of essays, entitled “Approach to Cultural Philosophy”, Ludwig Stein addresses the twentieth century as follows: “Das Zwanzigste Jahrhundert wird unter den Auspizien einer in vollständiger Umwälzung begriffenen Philosophie einsetzen. Für das heranwachsende Denkergeschlecht ist der Schwerpunkt des dialektischen Fürwitzes verschoben; er heisst nicht mehr Welt, sondern Mensch. Wir stehen mit einem Worte unter dem Zeichen der werdenden Sozialphilosophie” (Die menschliche Gesellschaft als philo­sophisches Problem, in: An der Wende des Jahrhunderts – Versuch einer Kultur­philoso­phie, Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr 1899, pp. 202-230). Cultural philosophy becomes a thoroughly social connotation, when facing the needs of modern society with its division of work and the resulting consequences. This understanding of sociology is not positivistic, nor scientifically founded, but indeed rather an expression of humanism. The very same intention may have led Max Weber to focus on legal sociology, despite his demand for the scientific vocation of sociology.

From Class Struggle to Participation – Socialism and Social Democracy

In Switzerland the categorical change from socialist, i.e. Marxist and communist class struggle to the integration of the working class through the Socio-Democratic Party is closely linked to one single person. The typograph Robert Grimm represented the prototype of working-class intelligence, and he travelled to France, Austria and Italy. Back in Switzer­land, he joined the socialist, respectively, socio-democratic party and worked as a trade-union secretary and editor of a left-wing journal. He debuted with a pamphlet on mass strike, and in 1912 he represented his party at the Second Congress of International Socialist Parties, where he was working for the Bureau. As such he accommodated the ideas and ideals of Karl Marx, whereas he had some ideological and personal tensions with Wladimir Iljitsch Lenin. In 1915 and 1916 he organised the Socialist Conferences of the pacifist wing of the socialist movement in Zimmerwald, respectively Kienthal, both situated in the rural areas of the Canton of Berne. In 1918 he reached the focus of the public as president of the so-called “Oltener Aktionskomitee”, and he organised the “Landesstreik”, a nationwide general walkout. Although resigning to adhere with his party to the Third Socialist Congress, Robert Grimm kept on fighting for its Programme, whose author he actually was. Meanwhile he had a very moderate and intelligent sense of the political dimension of the socialist movement. It was only in 1935, when he changed his mind and supported parliamentary democracy and collective defence of the nation-state, that enabled him to chair the caucus of members of the socio-democratic party within the Swiss Federal Parliament between 1936 and 1945. He thoroughly criticised capitalism and held a severe anti-Americanism; nevertheless, as a leader with a socialist consciousness he had a rather pragmatic practice of Marxist principles and eventually changed to a socio-democratic statesman, the first in Switzer­land in fact. He was a member of Parliament from 1911 to 1955, and in 1926 he was elected as a vice president and in 1946 as the president of the Swiss Federal Assembly. Finally, he even participated in and shared the Bernese Executive body, which would have been unthinkable on the level of the Swiss Federal State at that time.

The Social Foundations of International Law as the Prototype of Legal Order

In his contribution to the knowledge of international legal order and the international community of states, entitled “Die soziologischen Grundlagen des Völkerrechts”, the eminent jurisprudent (and eventually Judge at the Permanent Court of International Justice) Max Huber has expressed in a paradigmatic manner the philo­sophical foundations not only of international law, but rather of legal order itself (first printing in: Jahrbuch des Öffentlichen Rechts der Gegenwart, vol. 4 (1910), Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1910; 2nd ed. Berlin: Walther Rothschild, 1928). The intention to influence indi­vidual behaviour within the context of social community characterises an understanding of jurisprudence, that shows as a promotor of legal order in all its forms. The essential parts deal with legal philosophical questions concerning the sociological understanding of legal order in the domain of international law. The core argumentation consists in a kind of a theory of international law “in nuce”, and the author argues in a manner or modality that resembles argumentation in the domains of sociology, anthropology and ethnography, to a certain extent. Law and legal order appear as the main achievements of the human faculty to build social communities, and jurisprudence as the leading science, when it comes to construct and defend the binding force, the obligatory or normative character of rights and duties. The numerous writings of Huber have been influential way beyond Switzerland. They have provided the basis of predominant recognition of state sovereignty, requiring the exercise of effective control over the territory. They have also provided the foundation of legal realism in the United States after the Second World War and have contributed to the renewal of the Den Haag School of Jurisprudence.

That this view on legal order is not at all singular, demonstrates the reception by Jacob Wackernagel, documented in his writing on “the sociological perspective, in particular in international law” (in: Fest­gabe zum 70. Geburtstag von Max Gutzwiller, ed. Juristische Fakultät der Universität Freiburg im Üechtland, Basel: Helbing & Lich­tenhahn, 1959, pp. 119-133). ”Der Jurist bezweckt mit rechtssoziologischer Forschung ausschliesslich ein Verstehen des Rechts, allerdings ein Verstehen des Rechts in seinen gesellschaftlichen Beziehungen. Für den Soziologen aber dient die Betrachtung des Rechtsstoffes letztendlich einem Verstehen der allgemeinen gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhänge. Er will nicht das Recht sondern Gesetzmässigkeiten des gesellschaftlichen Daseins erkennen”. This difference in approaches of jurisprudence and sociology does not hinder fecund collaboration, when it comes to determining the fundamentals of international law and legal order in general, however.

For Further Reading

Terry Eagleton: The Illusions of Postmodernism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1996 (German translation: Die Illusionen der Postmoderne – Ein Essay, Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1997);

François Furet: Le passé d’une illusion – Essai sur l’idée communiste au XXème siècle, Paris: Robert Laffont/ Calmann-Lévy, 1995;

Robert Grimm: Geschichte der Schweiz in ihren Klassenkämpfen, Bern: Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses, 1920; idem: Geschichte der sozialistischen Ideen in der Schweiz, Zürich: Oprecht & Helbing AG, 1931;

George Lichtheim: A Short History of Socialism, New York/Washington: Praeger Publishers, 1970;

Tim Murphy: The Oldest Social Science? Configurations of Law and Modernity, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997;

Valentino Petrucci: Socialismo aristocratico – Saggio su Georges Sorel, Napoli: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1984.