Colberts Vertrauen in Verfahren : Bausteine für eine andere Modernisierungstheorie
Modernization theories do not figure prominently in the historiography on the early modern period anymore. They represent ways of thinking to which most early modernists today distance themselves from: progressivism, Eurocentrism, anachronism, teleology etc. One could even say that the term «early modernist» has become an anachronism itself as the majority of historians working in the field do not describe their period as «modern»; rather, they stress its exotic otherness and thereby leave the connection between past and present unexplained. By rejecting the alleged presentism of modernization theorists, early modernists produce an anachronism of the opposite sort: they archaise the past. This article attempts to re-evaluate the use of modernization theories in analysing early modern processes. It does so, first, by discussing Niklas Luhmann's assumptions about the modernizing role of trust in formal proceedings and, secondly, by applying the results of this discussion to Jean-Baptiste Colbert's reform politics during the early reign of Louis XIV. Colbert is a case in point because he introduced formal proceedings in different areas of government and because his contribution to the modernization of the French state has come under critical scrutiny recently.
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