State and Sovereignty in Modern Germany

State and Sovereignty in Modern Germany

State and Sovereignty in Modern Germany

State and Sovereignty in Modern Germany

Excerpt

The half-century from 1871 to 1921 with which this study is chiefly concerned was one of unparalleled activity in Germany, and, even though that activity was primarily in other fields than the intellectual, still much was being written and thought which is worthy of greater recognition than it has yet received. There can be no doubt that the classic period of German thought around the beginning of the last century was vastly more significant than the era here dealt with, but this period has been exhaustively examined and discussed both within Germany and without. The fifty years more particularly under review here can indeed boast no names which might rank with those of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, to name only the greatest; but it is impossible to ignore the work of the thinkers who succeeded them.

These five decades marked extraordinary changes in Germany; and these changes were clearly reflected in German political thought. To speak only of the political aspects, they begin with the founding of the Empire, which meant the achievement of German unity and the vindication of the monarchical principle as against the democratic tendencies of 1848, and end with the Revolution, which rebuilt Germany on the most thoroughgoing democratic foundation and advanced a stage further the federalism which Bismarck had bought with blood and iron.

One name would perhaps sum up all that is popularly known of this period, that of Heinrich von Treitschke, acquaintance with which was due rather to the war than to the intrinsic merit of his thought. To the war likewise is due the popular knowledge of General von Bernhardi and other apostles of war. In more technical circles, Otto von Gierke has come to a large measure of recognition, but, if one may judge from the fact that only a small fragment of his work has found its way into translation, even here it is probable that . . .

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