Revolutionary Hamburg: Labor Politics in the Early Weimar Republic

Revolutionary Hamburg: Labor Politics in the Early Weimar Republic

Revolutionary Hamburg: Labor Politics in the Early Weimar Republic

Revolutionary Hamburg: Labor Politics in the Early Weimar Republic

Excerpt

The emergence of the working classes as a significant social and political force was one of the major events of European and American history in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Not the least important aspect of this development was the great opportunity it offered to those who wished to reform society in one way or another. For here was a force which, if properly channeled, seemed capable of destroying the established order and rebuilding a new world on the ruins.

The extent to which labor has fulfilled the expectations of the various reformers who have tried to lead it is very much open to question. But that their attempts to do so have had extremely important effects can scarcely be doubted.

The Weimar Republic marked a significant step in the political development of the working classes. For it was during this period that one of the first attempts was made to integrate a traditionally Marxist labor movement into a parliamentary democracy. The effort to strike a compromise between liberal political democracy and Marxist social democracy is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the history of the Weimar Republic. The failure of the attempt makes it no less significant for many another democratic country seeking a similar solution.

To gain an understanding of the nature of this compromise, and the reasons for its failure, is not an easy task. The issues involved are numerous and complex, and in the past they have not always . . .

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