Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990


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George Herbert Walker Bush/Axel Springer Fellow - Class of Spring 2007

New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, Barclay: Between Reform and Revolution.

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As the party of opposition throughout most of its history, the German Social Democratic party Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands, SPD has been the subject of an amazing amount of scholarly work. As the "model party" in the Second International and as the anti-monarchical and anti-capitalist party of the Second Reich which nevertheless threw its support behind the Kaiser's war; as the overnight inheritors of state power in , and as the socialist party which utilized right-wing army veterans and big business input to crush its leftist opposition and put the brake on reforms in the Weimar Republic while democratizing German politics; as the ineffective opposition which engaged in petty quarrels while Hitler amassed a movement; and, as the post-World War II reformist predecessor to the Blairite "Third Way," the SPD remains fascinating for its mass of evident contradictions and its place in German history.

The phrase "model party" comes from J. For another view of this phrase, see Georges Haupt's "'Fuehrungspartei? Many of these scholars are represented in this collection of essays, edited by Eric D.

Foreword to the English Edition

Weitz and David E. Both of these historians utilize the approaches of Alltagsgeschichte, gender studies, and women's history, and they follow Werner Conze and Ossip K. The essays in this collection cover a significant span of time, stretching from Warren Breckman's essay on German radicalism in the period of , to Peter Loesche's essay on the current state of the SPD.

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Breckman's essay "Diagnosing the 'German Misery': Radicalism and the Problem of National Character, to " is an interesting examination of how the issues of nationalism and identity became part of the discourse of radicalism and socialism, becoming a staple of socialist writers' ruminations and debates on "cosmopolitanism" and "philistinism. Three essays examine the Lassallean labor movement.


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Hermann Beck's "Working Class Politics at the Crossroads of Conservatism, Liberalism, and Socialism" explains the distance between socialism and liberalism in terms of the social and political issues fostered by industrialization, when liberals, socialists, and conservatives competed for working-class allegiance.

The early separation of liberals and democrats from socialists was due to these issues, and not because of any "traditional weakness" of German liberalism p. Toni Offerman's "Lassallean Labor Movement in Germany: Organization, Social Structure, and Associational Life in the s" examines the Lassallean parties and concludes that they were grounded in Verein tradition and truly represented the everyday German worker's interests.

Ralf Roth's "Buerger and Workers: Liberalism and the Labor Movement in Germany, " investigates the fundamental break that German socialism made with civic law and political custom; at the same time, he stresses the importance of socialist-liberal cooperation, which he shows through his case study of Frankfurt am Main. By , this political culture was having a great effect on party policy, and resulted in the SPD's growing sensitivity to women's issues and eagerness to organize women.

Sperber takes a close look at electoral politics in Imperial Germany, finding that the SPD garnered votes from a wide social demographic. Unlike many historians, who have identified the Nazis as the first "people's party," Sperber gives that credit to German Social Democracy.

Between reform and revolution : German socialism and communism from 1840 to 1990

Her case study of the SPD local in Goettingen gives a clear example of a party membership that lacked a clear grasp of Marxian theory and were mostly submissive to party discipline, but which had a defined set of reformist goals that were inspired from daily life experience and made part of party policy. In his "A Social Republic? Crew concludes that the SPD implemented social reform with the goal of easing the effects of capitalism and paving the way for socialism. However, these reforms also intruded into the lives of workers and garnered protest from the whole political spectrum.

Social reform was a divisive issue, with the Communist Party appealing to a segment of discontented workers who were disillusioned by the new order. Once the Communist Party was forced out of the workplace, the streets and the unemployment offices became the centers of its organizing efforts. The communist leaders of the GDR remained imprisoned in policies forged in the Weimar Republic and became tragically removed from the desires and interests of their own populace. Eric D. Weitz is Associate Professor of History at St. Olaf College. Barclay forthcoming.

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Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990 Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990
Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990 Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990
Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990 Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990
Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990 Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990
Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990 Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990
Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990 Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990
Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990 Between Reform and Revolution: German Socialism and Communism from 1840 to 1990

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