Opposed to both these tendencies of liberalism, separated from them by the breadth of the heavens, was Carl Ludwig von Haller, the dreaded “restorer of political science.” The Bernese aristocrat had seen the power of the Swiss patricians collapse amid the storms of the Revolution, and subsequently, as an exile in Austrian service, had constructed the political system which was “to re-establish monarchy upon its true foundations, to overthrow the presumptuous revolutionary science of the godless eighteenth century, and to make the Catholic church shine with renewed effulgence.”
With the proud consciousness of his claim to rank as a universal historian, he announced his doctrine, first of all in Allgemeine Staatskunde (1808), and subsequently, from 1816 onwards, in Restauration der Staatswissenschaft. It seemed to him a wonderful dispensation of Providence that from him in particular, the born republican and Protestant, should proceed the anti-revolutionary doctrine of salvation. And indeed the sledge-hammer dialectical blows of his severe reasoning fell with crushing force upon the imaginative structures of the doctrine of natural rights. It was the incontrovertible demonstrations of this blustering naturalist which first shattered the belief in the state of nature, in the social contract, and in the innate sovereignty of the people, even in those circles of the uninstructed who were unable to follow the ideas of the historical school of law. Yet all that he advanced in place of this obsolete doctrine was a crude popularisation of the principles of patrimonial law upon which had been based the authority of the Bernese aristocracy. Just as in former days the rulers of Berne had treated the conquered subject lands of Aargau and Vaud simply as the property of their glorious republic, so Haller founded the state solely upon the right of the stronger. Land belongs to a prince, a corporation, or a church; upon this property of a suzerain lord, and under his protection, settlers appear; if the people should disappear, the state would still continue to exist in the person of the prince, who can readily find new subjects. Consequently the state resembles any other association based on civil law, differing from others only because it is more powerful and independent, and because its prince is “an owner, a man equipped with absolutely independent rights”; he rules the nation through the instrumentality of his personal servants, is entitled to regard (it is even his duty to regard) himself and his house as the principal aim for which the state exists, but he must resist the dispersion of his own property and must protect his subjects with his own soldiers.
A caricature of the ancient feudal state, which even in the fourteenth century existed nowhere in such crudity as this, was now propounded as the universally valid political ideal, was announced with the same air of infallibility that had characterised the writers who constructed the model imaginary constitutions of the Revolution. The subordination of the citizen, established by constitutional law, became degraded to a state of servitude defined in terms of civil law. In a word, the restorer of political science practically abolished the state.
Nowhere did his doctrine seem more utterly devoid of foundation, nowhere did it seem to conflict more hopelessly with facts, than in Prussia, for nowhere else had the majesty of the state-idea been esteemed so highly as in Prussia, where the princes had always been the first servants of the state. It was precisely upon this that depended Haller’s fierce hatred of Frederick the Great, of that enlightened Prussian absolutism which had discovered the detestable conscription, and of the Allgemeines Landrecht [Prussian System of Common Law promulgated in 1794]. “Except on the title-page,” said Haller, “there is nothing to show that this system of laws may not be intended rather for Japan and China than for the Prussian state.” Yet it was in Prussia that Haller secured numerous and powerful adherents. The crown prince and his romanticist friends considered that in the idea of the state as private property they could rediscover the motley glories of the middle ages. Marwitz and the feudalists among the knighthood of the Mark hailed with delight this resolute thinker who reduced the monarch once more to the ranks of the landowners, who divided society once again into the three castes of teachers, warriors, and manual workers, and assigned such valuable privileges to those “who had the freedom of the land.” The absolutists found it satisfactory that in Haller’s state the prince was above all the people. The ultramontanes were delighted with the praise of theocracy, which the convert had extolled as the freest and best of all political forms. The timid found their own fears confirmed by the complaints of the Bernese fanatic who imagined that the entire world was endangered by the great conspiracy of the freemasons, the illuminati, and the revolutionaries. To all opponents of the Revolution, the victorious polemic against natural rights was welcome. Whereas amid the simpler and wider relationships of French political life, the feudal and clerical party was already the open enemy of bureaucratic absolutism, in Germany all the aspects of the counter-revolution were still indistinguishably confused.
Far less support was secured by the purely ultramontane political doctrine of the skilled sophist, Adam Mueller. The Roman Catholic system could not truly flourish in the homeland of heresy; not one of our clerical authors could go so far as the Savoyard noble Joseph de Maistre, who, glowing with all the ardour and religious fanaticism of the Latin races, demanded, now half jestingly and now again wrathfully, that the sinful world should be subjected to the pope, and who fiercely contested the “bestial” science of “the century of folly.” The able German convert lacked this emotional impulse, this crusadering enthusiasm. Adam Mueller, with clear insight, descried indeed many of the weaknesses of liberalism, especially in respect of its economic doctrines; he showed incisively how inadequate was the system of laissez-faire amid the struggles of social interest, how impossible was the complete international division of labour between independent nations, and prophesied that from the modem economic system would proceed a new plutocratic nobility more contemptible and more dangerous than the old aristocracy of birth. But in his Theologische Grundlegung der Staatswissenschaft we find no more than a repetition of Haller’s doctrines, adorned with some of the frippery of theology and natural philosophy. In a manner even more arbitrary than that of Haller, he artificially effected a “natural” classification of society, sometimes distinguishing the teachers, the warriors, and the manual workers as the respective representatives of faith, love, and hope, and sometimes classifying the population into nobles, burghers, and rulers. Mueller, like Haller, denied the distinction between constitutional law and civil law, and declared that every state must to all eternity be composed of a union of states. His ideal was a rational feudalism; he hoped to solve the contradiction between politics and law by the power of faith, elevated to the rank of law!
Thus everything which German political science had secured during the last century and a half, since Puffendorf had delivered our political thinkers from the yoke of the theologians, was once more put in question, and political doctrine was degraded anew to the level of the theocratic conceptions of the middle ages. Friedrich Schlegel hailed the church as the greatest of all guilds, after whose example all the other corporations of civil society should be reconstituted. [Franz von] Baader spoke of the teaching caste, the warrior caste, and the caste of manual workers, as the three orders of every nation, rejecting the expression “the state” as an impious modern discovery. “Corporation, not association,” was the catchword of the political romanticists, most of whom associated with this term no more than the indefinite conception of a debile state authority, limited by the power of guilds, diets of nobles, and self-governing communes, and in spiritual matters subjected to the control of the church.
— Heinrich von Treitschke’s verdict on Haller, from vol. 5 of History of Germany in the nineteenth century (1894)