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Exiles and Half-exiles: Wilhelm Röpke, Alexander Rüstow and Walter Eucken

  • Daniel Johnson
Part of the Trade Policy Research Centre book series (TPRC)

Abstract

While acknowledging the possible ‘cognitive advantage’ of all outsiders, Leszek Kolakowski, a philosophy don at the University of Oxford, recently pointed out that most modern intellectuals in exile have chosen their fate (which may induce guilt) often in preference to the ‘half-exile’, innere Emigration. The latter is the condition of man under the ‘unsovereign State’, the ambition of which ‘is to rob its subjects of their historical memory’.2 Both Wilhelm Röpke and Alexander Rüstow chose to become refugees in 1933; both felt this as an existential necessity—in Röpke’s case permanently—and both wrote works in exile on a higher intellectual plane than had been possible hitherto. The freedom and polemical sharpness common to their otherwise very different styles stand in contrast to the oblique, elusively ‘value-free’, visibly painstaking terminology a Walter Eucken, the half-exile in Freiburg, would tend to favour under the Third Reich. Without these complementary experiences, the Germans might indeed have been robbed of their historical memory and denied the creative reformulation of principles mistakenly thought by them to be obsolete: a process of prevention and cure in which Wilhelm Röpke, Alexander Rüstow and Walter Eucken played the roles, in Ralph Emerson’s sense, of representative men.3

Keywords

Social Market Economy Prime Cost Historical Memory Weimar Republic Historical Sensibility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Leszek Kolakowski, Times Literary Supplement, 11 October 1985.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American writer, coined the term ‘representative men’ to denote individuals who could encapsulate an epoch or a type of human being.Google Scholar
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    Leonhard Nelson, ‘Was ist Liberal?’ Speech given on 23 November 1908, at the inauguration of the ‘Akademische Freiburg’, of which Alexander Rüstow was a founder member.Google Scholar
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    Wilhelm Röpke, Gegen die Brandung (Zürich: Eugen Rentsch, 1959) p. 46.Google Scholar
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    Contribution to the discussion at the conference of the Verein für Sozialpolitik. The discussion is reported in Schriften des Vereins für Sozialpolitik, Berlin, Vol. 170, 1924, pp. 71 et seq; Vol. 172, 1926, pp. 244–5.Google Scholar
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    Eucken, Die Grundlagen der Nationalökonomie, op. cit., pp. 2, 8 and 12. The treatment of economic processes in time preoccupied Eucken throughout the war years during which he published two important papers on the subject. The discussion that had continued in the work of John Hicks at Oxford and others ever since Friedrich von Hayek’s introduction of the notion of intertemporal equilibrium in 1928, was neglected by Eucken although he was, in general, remarkably well informed about the work of von Hayek, John Hicks and other economists in England. See Hayek’s article in Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Vol. 28, 1928, which is translated in his Money, Capital and Fluctuations (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984). I am indebted to a paper by Stephan Böhm on this.Google Scholar
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    Eucken, Die Grundlagen der Nationalökonomie, op. cit., pp. 16 and 266 et seq. Though he denies any intentional pessimism, Eucken quotes such pessimists as Jakob Burckhardt and Arthur Schopenhauer often. For example, on p. 14: ‘Thus the intellect is daily bewitched and bribed by the juggling of desire.’Google Scholar
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    According to Hans Willgerodt, Rüstow would say ‘Der Brave freuet sich der Tat, nur die Lumpen sind bescheiden!’ (the brave man enjoys the deed, only the knaves are modest) exhorting liberals to defend their achievements.Google Scholar
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    Alexander Rüstow wrote his three volume universal history and cultural critique Ortsbestimmung der Gegenwart while Röpke wrote Die Lehre von der Wirtschaft in 1937 and his wartime ‘trilogy’ or ‘tetralogy’ if we include The German Question, written just after the war.Google Scholar
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  • Daniel Johnson

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