Advertisement

The Paradoxical Modernity of Civil Society: The Weimar Republic, Democracy, and Social Homogeneity

  • Peter C. WeberEmail author
Original Paper
  • 952 Downloads

Abstract

Civil society theory has rarely been applied to the demise of the Weimar Republic. Emphasizing either the absence of intermediary organizations or the negative nature of Germany’s associational life, current civil society research does not integrate historical analysis with civil society theory. This essay roots civil society in modernity and individualism, thus, linking its fading during the 1920s to the inability of civil society theory to provide solutions to the complex problems of Weimar society. Paradoxically, individualism and modernity, the precondition for a liberal civil society, also paved the path to the homogenizing ideologies of the twentieth century.

Keywords

Civil Society Weimar Republic Social Homogeneity Democracy 

Résumé

La théorie de la société civile a rarement été appliquée à la chute de la République de Weimar. En soulignant soit l’absence d’organisations intermédiaires soit la nature négative de la vie associative allemande, la recherche actuelle portant sur la société civile n’intègre pas l’analyse historique à la théorie de la société civile. Cet essai enracine la société civile dans la modernité et l’individualisme, reliant ainsi l’affaiblissement de cette République pendant les années 1920 à l’incapacité de la théorie de la société civile à proposer des solutions aux problèmes complexes de la société de Weimar. Paradoxalement, l’individualisme et la modernité, conditions préalables à une société civile libérale, ont également ouvert la voie aux idéologies homogénéisantes du vingtième siècle.

Zusammenfassung

Die Theorie der Bürgergesellschaft wird selten auf den Untergang der Weimarer Republik angewandt. Gegenwärtige Forschungen zur Bürgergesellschaft integrieren keine historische Analyse in die Theorie der Bürgergesellschaft, sondern es wird entweder das Fehlen vermittelnder Organisationen oder der negative Charakter von Deutschlands Vereinsleben betont. Der vorliegende Beitrag sieht die Wurzeln der Bürgergesellschaft in der Modernität und dem Individualismus und begründet so ihren Verfall während der zwanziger Jahre des 20. Jahrhunderts mit der Unfähigkeit der Theorie der Bürgergesellschaft, Lösungen für die komplexen Probleme der Weimarer Gesellschaft anzubieten. Paradoxerweise ebneten Individualismus und Modernität, die Voraussetzungen für eine freie Bürgergesellschaft, auch den Weg für die homogenisierenden Ideologien des 20. Jahrhunderts.

Resumen

La teoría de la sociedad civil se ha aplicado en raras ocasiones a la desaparición de la República de Weimar. Haciendo hincapié en la ausencia de organizaciones intermediarias o en la naturaleza negativa de la vida asociativa de Alemania, la investigación sobre la sociedad civil actual no integra el análisis histórico a la teoría de la sociedad civil. El presente ensayo sitúa las raíces de la sociedad civil en la modernidad y el individualismo, vinculando de este modo su debilitamiento durante los años 1920 a la incapacidad de la teoría de la sociedad civil para proporcionar soluciones a los complejos problemas de la sociedad de Weimar. Paradógicamente, el individualismo y la modernidad, la condición previa para una sociedad civil liberal, también allanaron el camino a las ideologías homogeneizantes del siglo XX.

Chinese

公民社会理论很少被应用于魏玛共和国的衰败。强调缺少中间组织或德国协会生活的负面本质,当前公民社会研究未将历史分析与公民社会理论集成。本文剖析了公民社会的现代性和个人主义,从而将二十世纪20年代的衰退与公民社会理论的弱点联系起来,为复杂的魏玛社会问题提供解决方法。自相矛盾的是,作为自由公民社会的前提条件,个人主义和现代性还为均质化二十世纪的意识形态铺平了道路。

Japanese

市民社会論は、ワイマール共和国の崩壊にほとんど適用されていない。仲介組織の不在またはドイツの協同生活の否定的な性質を強調することで、現在の市民社会研究は市民社会論における歴史的分析を統合していない。本論文における現代性と個人主義は、1920年代の衰退と市民社会論の無力が結びつき、ワイマール社会の複雑な問題に解決策を提示する。逆説的に、個人主義と現代性においては、自由な市民社会のための前提条件として20 世紀の均質化のイデオロギーへの方向性を開いている。.

Arabic

نادرا˝ ما تم تطبيق نظرية المجتمع المدني إلى زوال جمهورية فايمار. مؤكدا˝ إما عدم وجود منظمات وسطية أو طبيعة السلبية للحياة في ألمانيا الترابطية، بحوث المجتمع المدني الحالي لا تدمج التحليل التاريخي مع نظرية المجتمع المدني. هذا المقال يرسخ المجتمع المدني في الحداثة والنزعة الفردية، بالتالي ربط تضاؤله خلال 1920 إلى عدم قدرة نظرية المجتمع المدني على توفير حلول للمشاكل المعقدة لمجتمع فايمار. للمفارقة، الفردية والحداثة، شرط مسبق لمجتمع مدني ليبرالي، مهد أيضا˝ المسار إلى مجانسةالأيديولوجيات من القرن العشرين.

References

  1. American Historical Review (AHR) Editors. (2011). AHR roundtable: Historians and the question of “modernity.” American Historical Review, 116(3), 631–751.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, M. L. (2000). Practicing democracy. Elections and political culture in imperial Germany. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anheier, H. K. (2007). Reflections on the concept and measurement of global civil society. Voluntas, 18(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arendt, H. (1973 [1951]). The origins of totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  5. Berman, S. (1997a). Civil society and the collapse of the Weimar Republic. World Politics, 49(3), 401–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berman, S. (1997b). Civil society and political institutionalism. The American Behavioral Scientist, 40(5), 562–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bonn, M. J. (1924). The crisis of German democracy. The Forum, 72(3), 306–314.Google Scholar
  8. Bösch, F. (2005). Militante Geselligkeit. Formierungsformen der bürgerlichen Vereinswelt zwischen Revolution und Nationalsozialismus. Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 21, 158–166.Google Scholar
  9. Broman, T. H. (2002). Introduction: Some preliminary considerations on science and civil society. Osiris, 17, 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Canning, K. (Ed.). (2010). Special issue: Culture of politics—politics of culture: New perspectives on the Weimar Republic. Central European History, 43(4), 567.Google Scholar
  11. Chambers, S., & Kopstein, J. (2001). Bad civil society. Political Theory, 29(6), 837–865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Colas, D. (1997). Civil society and fanaticism. Conjoined histories. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Coser, L. (1956). The functions of social conflict. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dahrendorf, R. (1979 [1967]). Society and democracy in Germany. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  15. Dickinson, E. R. (2004). Biopolitics, fascism, democracy: some reflections on our discourse about “modernity”. Central European History, 37(1), 1–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Durkheim, E. (1997 [1893]). The division of labor in society. With an introduction by Lewis Coser. New York: The Free University.Google Scholar
  17. Edwards, M. (2004). Civil Society. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  18. Edwards, B., & Foley, M. W. (1998). Civil society and social capital beyond Putnam. The American Behavioral Scientist, 42(1), 124–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eley, G. (1991). Reshaping the German right. Radical nationalism and political change after Bismarck. With a new introduction. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  20. Eley, G., & David Blackbourn, D. (1984). The peculiarities of German history: Bourgeois society and politics in nineteenth-century Germany. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Etzioni, A. (2001). Review: Is bowling together sociologically lite? Contemporary Sociology, 30(3), 223–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Falter, J. W. (1992). The social bases of political cleavages in the Weimar Republic, 1919–1933. In L. E. Jones & J. Retalleck (Eds.), Elections, mass politics, and social change in modern Germany: New perspectives (pp. 371–397). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ferguson, N. (1997). The German interwar economy: political choices versus economic determinism. In M. Fulbrook (Ed.), German history since 1800 (pp. 258–278). New York: Arnold.Google Scholar
  24. Föllmer, M. (2005). The problem of national solidarity in interwar Germany. German History, 23(2), 202–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fritzsche, P. (1996). Did Weimar fail? Journal of Modern History, 68(3), 629–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fritzsche, P. (2008). The NSDAP 1919–1934: From fringe politics to the seizure of power. In J. Caplan (Ed.), Nazi Germany (pp. 48–72). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Fukuyama, F. (2000). Social capital and civil society. IMF Working Papers, WP/00/74.Google Scholar
  28. Gall, L. (1975). Liberalismus und “Bürgerliche Gesellschaft”. Zu Charakter und Entwicklung der liberalen Bewegung in Deutschland. Historische Zeitschrift, 220(2), 324–356.Google Scholar
  29. Gay, P. (1961). Weimar culture. The outsider as insider. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  30. Gellner, E. (1983). Nations and Nationalism. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Gellner, E. (1996). Conditions of Liberty. Civil Society and its Rivals. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  32. Gerwarth, R. (2006). The past in Weimar History. Contemporary European History, 15(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gerwarth, R. (2008). The central European counter-revolution: Paramilitary violence in Germany, Austria and Hungary after the great war. Past and Present, 200(1), 175–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hall, J. A. (1998). The nature of civil society. Society, 35(4), 32–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hall, J. A., & Trentmann, F. (Eds.). (2005). Civil society. A reader in history, theory and global politics. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  36. Haltern, U. (1993). Die Gesellschaft der Bürger. Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 19(1), 100–134.Google Scholar
  37. Hegel, G. W. F. (1988 [1830]) The moral life, or social ethics. In J. Goldstein & J. W. Boyer (Eds.), Nineteenth Century Europe. Liberalism and its critics (pp. 129–153). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  38. Heller, H. (1928). Politische Demokratie und soziale Homogenität. In A. Wolfers (Ed.), Probleme der Demokratie, Politische Wissenschaft (pp. 35–47). Berlin: Verlag Walter Rotschild.Google Scholar
  39. Heuss, T. (1926). Staat und Volk. Betrachtungen über Wirtschaft, Politik und Kultur. Berlin: Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft.Google Scholar
  40. Hoffmann, S. L. (2006). Civil Society. New York: Pelgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  41. Hong, Y. S. (2005). Neither singular nor alternative: narratives of modernity and welfare in Germany, 1870–1945. Social History, 30(2), 133–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. James, H. (2009). The Weimar economy. In A. McElligott (Ed.), Weimar Germany (pp. 102–126). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Jones, L. E. (1988). German liberalism and the dissolution of the Weimar party system, 1918–1933. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  44. Kershaw, I. (2000). Hitler: 1889–1936, Hubris. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  45. Kirchheimer, O. (1969 [1930]). Weimar—and what then? In F. Burn & K. Shell (Eds.), Politics, law, and social change. Essays of Otto Kirchheimer (pp. 33–74). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Kocka, J. (1988). German history before Hitler: The debate about the German Sonderweg. Journal of Contemporary History, 23(1), 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kocka, J. (1995). The middle classes in Europe. The Journal of Modern History, 67(4), 783–806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kocka, J. (2010). Civil society and dictatorship in modern German history. Lebanon: University Press of New England.Google Scholar
  49. Kornhauser, W. (1959). The politics of mass society. Glencoe: Free Press.Google Scholar
  50. Kumar, K. (1993). Civil society: An inquiry into the usefulness of an historical term. The British Journal of Sociology, 44(3), 375–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lepsius, M. R. (1973 [1966]). Parteiensystem und Sozialstruktur: zum Problem der Demokratisierung der Deutschen Gesellschaft. In G. A. Ritter (Ed.), Deutsche Parteien vor 1918 (pp. 56–80). Köln: Kiepenheuer and Witsch.Google Scholar
  52. Lepsius, M. R. (2004 [1985]). The Nation and Nationalism in Germany. Social Research, 71(3), 481–500.Google Scholar
  53. Locke, J. (1980 [1690]). The second treatise of government. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.Google Scholar
  54. Marshall, D. L. (2010). Intellectual history of the Weimar Republic: Recent research. Intellectual History Review, 20(4), 503–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Marx, K. (1972 [1843]). On the jewish question. In R. C. Tucker (Ed.), The Marx-Engels reader (pp. 26–52). New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.Google Scholar
  56. Marx, K. (1972 [1844]). Contribution to the critique of Hegel’s philosophy of right: Introduction. In R. C. Tucker (Ed.), The Marx-Engels reader (pp. 52–65). New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.Google Scholar
  57. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1972 [1845–46]). The German ideology: Part I. In R. C. Tucker (Ed.), The Marx-Engels reader (pp. 146–200). New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.Google Scholar
  58. Walter, F., & Matthiesen, H. (1997). Milieus in der modernen Gesellschaftsgeschichte: Ergebnisse und Perspektiven der Forschung. In D. Schmiechen-Ackermann (Ed.), Anpassung, Verweigerung, Widerstand. Soziale Milieus, politische Kultur und der Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus in Deutschland im regionalen Vergleich (pp. 46–75). Berlin: Schriften der Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand.Google Scholar
  59. McElligott, A. (Ed.) (2009). Weimar Germany. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Meinecke, F. (1919). Verfassung und Verwaltung der deutschen Republik. Die neue Rundschau, 30, 1–16.Google Scholar
  61. Meinecke, F. (1925). Republik, Bürgertum und Jugend. Vortrag gehalten im Demokratischen Studentenbund zu Berlin am 16 Januar 1925. Frankfurt am Mein: Frankfurter Societäts-Druckerei.Google Scholar
  62. Mergel, T. (2005). Führer, Volksgemeinschaft und Maschine. Politische Erwartungsstrukturen in der Weimarer Republik und dem Nationalsozialismus 1918-1936. Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 21, 91–127.Google Scholar
  63. Möller, R. G. (1984). The Kaiserreich recast? continuity and change in modern German historiography. Journal of Social History, 17(4), 655–683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Nipperdey, T. (1972). Vorein als soziale Struktur in Deutschland im späten 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhundert. In A. Boockmann (Ed.), Geschichtswissenschaft und Vereinswesen im 19. Jahrhundert: Beiträge zur Geschichte historischer Vorschung in Deutschland (pp. 1–44). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.Google Scholar
  65. Paoli, L. (2001). Crime Italian style. Daedalus, 130(3), 157–185.Google Scholar
  66. Peukert, D. (1992). The Weimar Republic: The crisis of classical modernity. New York: Hill & Wang.Google Scholar
  67. Portes, A. (2000). The two meanings of social capital. Sociological Forum, 15(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Portes, A., & Landoldt, P. (1996). The downside of social capital. The American Prospect, 26, 18–21.Google Scholar
  69. Publius [Madison, J.]. (1787). The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection, Continued (Federalist No. 10).Google Scholar
  70. Putnam, R. D. (1993). Making democracy work. Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Reichardt, S. (2005). Gewalt, Körper, Politik. Paradoxien in der deutschen Kulturgeschichte der Zwischenkriegszeit. Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 21, 205–239.Google Scholar
  73. Reiter, B. (2009). Civil society and democracy: Weimar reconsidered. Journal of Civil Society, 5(1), 21–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Riley, D. (2010). The civic foundations of fascism: Italy, Spain and Romania, 1870–1945. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Satyanath, S., Voigtländer, N. & Voth, H. (2013). Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany, 1919–1933. NBER Working Papers, 19201.Google Scholar
  76. Schmitt, C. (1988 [1923]). The crisis of parliamentary democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  77. Schmitt, C. (2007 [1927]). The concept of the political. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  78. Schneider, J. C., & Schneider, P. T. (2003). The Mafia and al-Qaeda: Violent and Secretive Organizations in comparative and historical perspective. American Anthropologist, 104(3), 776–782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Shils, E. (1997). Civility and civil society: Good manners between persons and concern for the common good in public affairs. In S. Grosby (Ed.), The virtue of civility. Selected essays on liberalism, tradition, and civil society (pp. 63–103). Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar
  80. Smith, A. (1976 [1759]). The theory of moral sentiments. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar
  81. Smith, A. (2003 [1776]). An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nation. New York: Bantam Classics.Google Scholar
  82. Sperber, J. (1997). Bürgertum, Bürgerlichkeit, Bürgerliche Gesellschaft: Studies of the German (Upper) Middle Class and Its Sociocultural World. The Journal of Modern History, 69(2), 271–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Sperber, J. (Ed.). (2004). Germany, 1800–1870. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  84. Taylor, C. (1990). Modes of civil society. Public Culture, 3(1), 95–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Terrier, J., & Wagner, P. (2006a). Civil society and the Problématique of political modernity. In P. Wagner (Ed.), The languages of civil society (pp. 9–27). New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  86. Terrier, J., & Wagner, P. (2006b). Declining deliberation: civil society, community, organized modernity. In P. Wagner (Ed.), The languages of civil society (pp. 83–99). New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  87. Terrier, J., & Wagner, P. (2006c). The return of civil society and the reopening of the political Problématique. In P. Wagner (Ed.), The languages of civil society (pp. 223–234). New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  88. Tocqueville, A. (2006 [1835–40]). Democracy in America. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.Google Scholar
  89. Tönnies, F. (2001 [1887]). Community and civil Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  90. Trentmann, F. (2003). Introduction: Paradoxes of civil society. In F. Trentmann (Ed.), Paradoxes of civil society. New perspectives on modern German and British history (pp. 3–46). New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  91. Weber, M. (1946 [1918]). Politics as a vocation. In H. H. Gerth and C. W. Mills (Eds.), From Max Weber: Essays in sociology (pp. 77–128). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  92. Weber, M. (1978 [1917]). Parliament and Government in a Reconstructed Germany. In G. Roth & C. Wittich (Eds.), Economy and society. An outline of interpretative sociology (pp.1381–1469). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  93. Weber, M. (1994 [1919]). The President of the Reich. In P. Lassman and R. Speirs (Eds.), Political writings (pp. 304–308). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  94. Wehler, H. U. (1985 [1973]). The German Empire, 18711918. New York: Berg.Google Scholar
  95. Weisbrod, B. (2001). Violence and sacrifice: Imaging the nation in Weimar Germany. In H. Mommsen (Ed.), The third Reich between vision and reality. New perspectives on German History 1918–1945 (pp. 5–22). New York: Berg.Google Scholar
  96. Ziemann, B. (2003). Germany after the First World War: A violent society? results and implications of recent research on Weimar Germany. Journal of Modern European History, 1(1), 80–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Ziemann, B. (2010). Review article. Weimar was Weimar: Politics, culture and the emplotment of the German Republic. German History, 28(4), 542–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lilly Family School of PhilanthropyIndiana UniversityIndianapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations