Published in Vienna in 1936, The Authoritarian State by Eric Voegelin has remained virtually unknown to the public until now. Sales of the German edition were halted following the Nazi invasion of Austria in 1938, and the entire printing was later destroyed by wartime bombing. In this volume, Voegelin offers a critical examination of the most prominent European theories of state and constitutional law of the period while providing a political and historical analysis of the Austrian situation. He discusses the dismissal of Parliament in 1933, the civil war, the murder of Federal Chancellor Dollfuss, the adoption of the "Authoritarian Constitution" of 1934, and the predicament of being sandwiched between Hitler and Mussolini.
A radical critique of Hans Kelsen's pure theory of law lies at the heart of this work, marking Voegelin's definitive departure from Neo-Kantian epistemology. For the first time, Voegelin elaborates on the important distinction between theoretical concepts and political symbols as a basis for explaining the nontheoretical and speculative character of ideologies, both left and right. He shows that total and authoritarian are symbols of ideological self-interpretation that have no theoretical value, a distinction basic to his later work in The New Science of Politics.
Available for the first time in English, The Authoritarian State is a valuable addition to the Voegelin canon and to the field of intellectual history in general.