Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990

Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990

Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990

Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990

Synopsis

"Political, intellectual, and biographical studies have long dominated the scholarly investigation of German life. Bringing together for the first time the methodological and thematic diversity and richness of current work on the history of the German working class, this collection of original research explores the powerful impact of socialism and communism on modern German history. Concentrating on social history generally, and on labor and women's history, gender studies, the history of everyday life, and personal narratives in particular, these essays deepen our understanding of the richness and complexity of both Germany's past and German historiography of the present day." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

David E. Barclay and Eric D. Weitz

1. Socialism in Modern Germany

For some one hundred and fifty years, from the first glimmers of industrialization to the present day, socialism has constituted a central element in the historical development of Germany. From the League of the Just and the General German Workers Association in the middle decades of the nineteenth century to the Social Democratic and Communist parties in the twentieth, socialist parties in Germany have claimed to represent the finest ideals of human liberty and to offer the route to material riches for all. They have professed to represent the interests of the industrial working class and the population as a whole in a society often wrenched by intense class, religious, and regional conflicts. The ideology of socialism has served as a central theme of intellectual and political conflict, one fought out in the array of arenas – legislatures and the press, universities and the streets – that constituted the public sphere. Although their programs have never come close to fulfillment, the socialists and communist parties have decisively shaped the character of Germany’s politics and society in the modern era – both by their own actions, and by the intense hostility that they have often engendered from liberals, conservatives, Catholics, and fascists. Socialists played a major, perhaps the key, role in the democratization of German politics, contributed greatly to the expansion of the social welfare state, promoted women’s participation in politics and the economy, and gave to German society a more open and liberal tenor. They also helped engender the bureaucrati-

Notes for this chapter begin on page 28.

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