The aim of this chapter was to focus on the tremendous cultural and social achievements of the neo-classical concept of Bildung, which must be appreciated as a major element in the development of modern German culture. It is a concept which even influenced the distinctive ethos of German science and engineering, to be discussed in Chapter 2. At the same time, it failed to maintain its emancipatory momentum in the wake of reactionary and nationalist developments during the second part of the nineteenth century. Three aspects in particular were to become significant, thereby contributing to a peculiarly German form of political culture:
(a) The preponderance of private at the expense of public virtues. 42 The individualistic, often quasi-religious basis of the 'German' concept of education tended to play down the social aspects: the individual's responsibility towards society, the need to defend the political principles derived from the Enlightenment and an emphasis on playing a public role in the service of the community rather than of the state, in the pursuit of fairness and social justice rather than truth and beauty. As a result, the education system, as it developed, was unable to produce genuine socialization, allowed for little social transparency and neglected the establishment of democratic structures.
(b) The dominance of the arts and philosophy at the expense of natural and moral sciences. In particular, the importance placed on the classics and their implicit social exclusivity and the close links between education and culture led to the establishment of a mandarin class of civil servant, who quite simply failed to understand the new forces at work at the dawn of a modern industrial age. The interdependence between education and work was overlooked, along with the establishment of vocational and professional studies.
(c) The overemphasis on Bildung at the expense of Erziehung. This favoured an education policy which paid insufficient heed to the patriotic concept of education, advocated by Fichte and his liberal-nationalist circle. In particular it failed to support Volksbildung as the comprehensive and public education of the whole nation, confining it instead to 'elementary' education, to a purely functional vocationalism, producing loyal and obedient subjects, but not citizens.