Germany's Balanced Development: The Real Wealth of a Nation

By Kaevan Gazdar | Go to book overview

Colbertism has dominated economic thought since the eighteenth century and justified the state's preeminence.34

Equally, Great Britain suffers from the after-effects of past grandeur, of having possessed an empire on which the sun never set and of having been a land of hope and glory. It accordingly neglected its former industrial and mercantile talents and has failed to invest in social integration and infrastructure.

The United States is also a victim of its own illusions, of being God's own country, a country of Manifest Destiny, of having the American dream and an American way of life. For too long, Americans have perceived their economic primacy as a sign of excellence, rather than recognizing that the country profited from its natural resources, an influx of talented immigrants--and from the comparative weakness of its major competitors. These myths of goodness or greatness have made the Anglo-Saxon countries and France self-centered and self-satisfied, incapable of grasping their own vulnerability.

By contrast, Germany has no illusions to fall back on. It lacks the false comfort of supposed grandeur or self-righteousness. The Third Reich, frightful as it was, laid the foundation for a self-critical openness that characterizes contemporary Germany.

As we have seen, modern Germans have two souls in their breast: Protestant compulsiveness and a Catholic search for consensus by compromise. Compulsiveness is a powerful impetus, while consensus is an invaluable control mechanism. As the economist Joseph Schumpeter once pointed out, the speed of a car ultimately depends on the quality of its brakes, not the power of its motor.

The key to balanced development is to harness both energies: the compulsive perfectionism that guarantees the quality of "made in Germany" and the consensual aptitude that has led to a uniquely harmonious business environment. The psychological roots and implications of compulsiveness and consensus will be examined in the next chapter.


NOTES
1.
Norbert Elias, Über den Prozess der Zivilisation, Book 1 ( Bern: Francke, 1969), pp. 4-5.
2.
Helmuth Plessner, Die verspätete Nation ( Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1969), p. 73.
3.
Max Weber, Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus ( München: Siebenstern, 1993), p. 68.
4.
Alfred Müller-Azmack, Religion und Wirtschaft ( Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1968), pp. 122ff; see also E. J. Feuchtwanger, Preußen--Mythos und Realität ( Frankfurt: Atheaion, 1972), pp. 16-19.
5.
Hans Hattenauer, Geschichte des deutschen Beamtentums ( Cologne: Heymanns, 1993), pp. 166-170.
6.
Michael Novak, The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism ( New York: Free Press, 1993), pp. xvi-xvii, 62-67.
7.
Oswald von Nell-Breuning, Wirtchaft und Gesellschaft heute, Book III ( Freiburg: Herder, 1960), pp. 24-39, 99-102.

-164-

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Germany's Balanced Development: The Real Wealth of a Nation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter 1- The Mittelstand: Microcosm Of The Germany Economy 23
  • Notes 44
  • Chapter 2- Order and the Business Mentality 47
  • Notes 73
  • Chapter 3- Commitment and the Business Environment 77
  • Notes 104
  • Chapter 4- The Socioeconomic Foundations of Wealth 107
  • Notes 136
  • Chapter 5- The Cultural Roots of Order And Commitment 141
  • Notes 164
  • Chapter 6- The Psychological Roots Of Order and Commitment 167
  • Notes 184
  • Chapter 7- Past Miracles, Present Continuity, Future Consensus 187
  • Notes 218
  • Selected Bibliography 223
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 230
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