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1 THE ORIGINS OF INDUSTRIALISM "WEALTH and speed are the things the world admires and for which all men strive," wrote Goethe on June 6, 1825, to the musician Karl Zeiter. "Railways, express mails, steamboats , and all possible means of communication are what the educated world seeks.... Actually this is the century of clever minds, of practical men who grasp things easily, who are endowed with a certain facility, and who feel their own superiority to the multitude, but who lack talent for the most exalted tasks. Let us as far as possible retain the ideals in which we were raised. We and perhaps a few others will be the last representatives of an era which will not soon return.m The great poet was in his seventy-sixth year. From Weimar 's Olympian heights he was contemplating the Germany of the early nineteenth century, so different from the Germany he had known in his youth. Then it had been a country of picturesque castles and metaphysical philosophers. The Holy Roman Empire of the Ottos and the Hohenstaufens had still been in existence, though reduced to a venerable relic and the favorite battleground of the Great Powers. The enlightened despotism of the age had still maintained the corporate foundations of civic life, for its ideal had been the society of equilibrium of the Middle Ages, but refined, rationalized , perfected. Political relationships between benevolent princes and obedient subjects, traditional economic institutions like the trade guild and the entailed estate, social distinctions between nobleman and commoner-all were designed to support a condition of stability. One could still enjoy in those days the pleasant provincialism of a people removed from the main currents of European life. The eighteenth-century world, however, had gone down before the French Revolution. The sovereign people had de- [ 3 ] PART ONE: RESTORATION feated the sovereign kings; an aristocracy of talent had supplanted an aristocracy of birth. In Germany the Holy Roman Empire was replaced first by the Confederation of the Rhine and then by the German Confederation. The imperial baronies , counties, abbeys, and cities were absorbed by the kingdoms , grand duchies, and duchies. Servitudes were abolished, class distinctions were eliminated, written constitutions appeared , the subject of the king became the citizen of the state, and the economy of stability was superseded by an economy of competition. In the course of twenty-five years a way of life which had endured for centuries came to an end. The peace settlement arranged in Vienna in I 8I 5 sought to re-establish the equipoise which Europe had known before I789, but its success was superficial. The restored dynasties, unable to control the new social forces of the nineteenth century , maintained themselves in power only through the constant exercise of repression. Yet what they were trying to impose from above by legislation the silent forces of economic development were undermining from below. The gulf between the system of government and the condition of society grew wider and deeper, until a violent revolutionary upheaval brought a realignment of political forces on the Continent . The conflict between an old aovernmental order and the new social forces created by the Industrial Revolution dominated the German scene between I8I5 and I848. The great reform movement accompanying the national uprising against French oppression had come to an end by I 8I 9ยท The promise of constitutional government implicit in Article XIII of the Act of Confederation was honored only by the southern states and by some of the secondary governments of the north. The economic liberation of the Prussian peasantry begun by Stein and Hardenberg was restricted after I 8I 5 at the behest of the landed aristocracy. And the Diet of the Confederation meeting in Frankfurt am Main remained essentially an as- [ 4 ] THE ORIGINS OF INDUSTRIALISM sembly of diplomats representing sovereign countries rather than a federal parliament speaking for a united people. At the very moment of the triumph of conservatism, however , the factory system began to destroy the social basis of its policies. The nineteenth century witnessed the remarkable revival of German economic might which paralleled and facilitated the growth of German political power. The industrialization of Central Europe originated in the period of the Restoration; and, while Germany did not assume a position of economic leadership in Europe until after I 87I, the foundations of its hegemony were laid in the years preceding the revolution. Weaving and mining were the fields where a significant mechanization of production first occurred. In the...


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