Germany and Its Evolution in Modern Times

By Henri Lichtenberger; A. M. Ludovici | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SYSTEM OF CAPITALISTIC ENTERPRISE

THE great fact which dominates the economic and social history of Germany, as well as that of the whole of Europe, during the nineteenth century, is the growth of capitalism, or, to use a term more generally favoured by German political economists, the system of "enterprise" ( Unternehmung).

Former ages never felt to the same extent as the nineteenth century that greed for unlimited gain which is characteristic of the modern speculator of every category. In the pre-capitalistic era, each individual, from the lowest to the highest in the social scale, aimed only at earning enough to ensure him the means of sustenance ( Nahrung) and a mode of life in keeping with the customs of his class. This was the ideal of the country gentleman, of the Junker,1 who, as a rule, did not aim at that intensive cultivation of his property which would make it yield the absolute maximum of production, but only asked from his lands sufficient maintenance for his rank, the right of living like a lord on his estate for part of the year, of hunting in the autumn, paying a visit to the capital of the kingdom or province during the bad

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1
The landed proprietor, whose class is the dominating one in Prussia. It is from this class that all officers and higher officials are drawn.--TR.

-3-

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