The Social Democrats in Imperial Germany: A Study in Working-Class Isolation and National Integration

The Social Democrats in Imperial Germany: A Study in Working-Class Isolation and National Integration

The Social Democrats in Imperial Germany: A Study in Working-Class Isolation and National Integration

The Social Democrats in Imperial Germany: A Study in Working-Class Isolation and National Integration

Excerpt

A future historian will give more weight than contemporaries usually do to the impact of events upon the development of ideas. This applies with special force to modern social science. World War II and its consequences, the Cold War and the massive involvement of Americans with events all over the world, have redirected the attention of many American social scientists. Increasingly, they have become concerned with the complex changes variously designated as industrialization, democratization, and modernization. The consequent proliferation of studies shows the earmarks of earlier intellectual orientations, especially the dual emphasis on fact-finding and theorizing at a very general level, which owes much to the still earlier emphasis on social evolution. These legacies, together perhaps with an undercurrent of moralism that has characterized American approaches to other civilizations, have given an optimistic and go-getting slant to much literature on the problems of the "developing areas," and this slant is notable also in the positivism with which some social scientists have approached these same problems.

It is in this context that the present study by Professor Guenther Roth makes a genuine contribution and provides a much needed corrective. Avoiding the fallacy of "retrospective determinism" the author analyzes in detail the pattern of action and reaction that represents the cumulative opportunities and liabilities of class-relations in Imperial Germany. He shows that some of the political problems encountered today in the "developing areas" had to be met in their own way in the "developing areas of yesterday." How-

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