By Geoff Eley, David Blackbourn

This booklet investigates the position of bourgeoisie society and the political advancements of the 19th century within the peculiarities of German historical past. such a lot historians characteristic German exceptionalism to the failure or absence of bourgeois revolution in German heritage and the failure of the bourgeoisie to overcome the pre-industrial traditions of authoritarianism. although, this learn reveals that there has been a bourgeois revolution in Germany, although no longer the normal style. This so-called silent bourgeois revolution led to the emergence and consolidation of the capitalist approach in line with the sanctity and disposability of personal estate and on creation to fulfill person wishes via a method of alternate ruled through the marketplace. during this connection, this ebook proposes a redefinition of the idea that of bourgeois revolution to indicate a broader development of fabric, institutional, felony, and highbrow adjustments whose cumulative impact used to be the entire extra strong for coming to be obvious as usual.

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Extra resources for The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany

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Thus, for example, to assert one particular form of malign continuity between 1848 53 This is the argument of Mommsen's inaugural lecture at Diisseldorf, Geschichtswissenschaft jenseits des Historismus (Dusseldorf, 1971). In his review of our book, Mommsen expressed some concern about the possible conservative implications of a new 'neo-historicism'. The nervousness is understandable, but the misgivings are surely exaggerated, if not misplaced. In fact, Mommsen's position in Jenseits des Historismus and in subsequent years might be said to map out one of the many areas of common ground which, as several reviewers of the German edition noted, we share with West German colleagues such as Jiirgen Kocka and Hans-Ulrich Wehler.

It affects both the questions we ask and where we look for the answers. Fixed on the apparent subordination of the bourgeoisie under the Second Reich and the seeming archaism of the Imperial state, most historians address the following question: why was the German bourgeoisie not more liberal in the style of its Franco-British counterparts, and why was its commitment to parliamentary democratic institutions apparently so weak?

More generally, it might be said that we attend more to historical texture, to the 'thisness' of historical experience, than those who represent the present embattled orthodoxy do. One of us made a rather playful allusion to this position in the German edition by adapting a celebrated Ranke dictum in his title. But what we are advocating hardly adds up to historicism in the bad old German sense. The positive virtues of historicism, with its emphasis on verstehen and the unique event, and of critical history, with its stress on the application of theory, are not mutually exclusive.

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