To What Extent Is The View Expressed In Source V A Fair Reflection On Bismarcks Domestic Policies B To what extent is the view expressed in source V a fair reflection on Bismarcks domestic policies between 1870 and 1890 The view in source V clearly states that Max Faber believes that Bismarcks legacy was a Germany that was utterly backward in its political education, and without a political will. Germany was a nation that was accustomed to a great statesman taking responsibility for all political policies without question, a nation willing to submit under the label of constitutional monarchy to anything decided for it. Max Faber also states (Germany was) a nation accustomed to submit without criticising the political qualifications of those who now occupied Bismarcks empty place. It is clear from the evidence that, by the end of his time in power in 1890, had almost complete power in the Reichstag, which would submit almost unquestioningly to the will of Bismarck. Undoubtedly, this situation may not have been entirely beneficial for Germany, but it also had some benefits.
During the course of this essay, I will attempt to examine the extent of Bismarcks power, and whether Germany was willing to submit to what was decided for it. I will also look at how beneficial Bismarcks influence was in Germany. Bismarck was a conservative Junker and his conservative beliefs did not alter during the course of his time in power. However, by manipulation of loyalties in the Reichstag, Bismarck was able to pass the legislation required. Initially, Bismarck was presented with a problem, his natural allies, the conservatives, were not strong enough to hold a majority in the Reichstag nor did they entirely sympathise with Bismarcks unification of Germany. The previous autocratic monarchic a system was typically conservative, and the German confederation had been widely accepted by the conservative elements in society.
... a weak country with very little economic or political power. His vision was of Germany being one strong, powerful, and unified country ... of German history. Bismarck greatly changed Germany, unified his country, and strengthened it. Bismarck wanted to see Germany united, under Prussian ... His next step was to gain territory through war. Bismarck started wars against Austria and France to gain German ...
Bismarck had destroyed the German confederation and set up a nationalistic unified Germany, and therefore isolated some of his conservative support. Bismarck allied himself with the National Liberals, who respected Bismarck for his pivotal role in the realisation of one of their chief objectives, the unification to Germany. Bismarck used the majority held by the National Liberals to pass his legislation through the Reichstag, and it was this party that gave him the control he needed to maintain progress. Bismarck made a key realisation early on during his time in office that allowed him to manipulate the politically conscious elements of society.
Bismarck realised that Liberalism and Nationalism could be separated and used one against the other. In this way Bismarck manipulated the National Liberals. He used the Nationalist tendencies within the party to win their favour by unifying Germany, and consequently gaining their support whilst repressing their Liberal ideas. By splitting these two key ideologies, Bismarck also cleverly split the opposition.
This was key to Bismarcks eventual almost supreme power. Despite the opposition in the Reichstag, Bismarck reduced and divided the revolutionary elements within society and this aided his chances of pushing his policies through the Reichstag. Bismarck also introduced social legislation. His welfare program was a great pioneering effort, and also extremely forward-looking as it pre-dated other developed countries such as Britain by nearly a quarter of a century. His welfare reforms were not the result of a concern for the poorer elements of society, but more intent on suppressing the revolutionary elements. He did not really succeed in appeasing the revolutionary elements of society, nor did he change their political ideas, but he did succeed in preventing them from gathering support.
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Bismarcks idea of State socialism was that if he made the people content with the state, the way in which the country was governed, they would not revolt and overthrow the conservative government that gave the country prosperity and gave its people concessions. As Bismarck himself said: Whoever has a pension fro his old age, he is much more content and easier to handle than the person who has no prospects. Bismarck also built on the economic prosperity of Prussia. He kept the standards of living in Prussia exceptionally high, and the economic prosperity and standard of living contented the potentially explosive elements of middle-class Germany.
In this way Bismarck removed the threat of the revolution predicted by Karl Marx. Despite Bismarcks effective management of Germany, he did not totally control elements of society, and some certainly remained very politically conscious. Although Bismarck tried extremely hard to remove opposition, his attempts were generally blundering failures. Bismarck clashed with the Catholic Church in a series of events referred to as the Kulturkampf. Bismarck thought that by repressing the Catholics, he would remove a potentially dangerous body capable of international conspiracy. This deep suspicion of the Catholic Church stemmed partially from his own protestant beliefs and partially from his realisation of the potential of the Catholic Church to become a real power within Germany.
However, Bismarck underestimated the loyalty and religious consciousness of those who worshipped in the Catholic Church. Instead of crumpling under the new anti-catholic legislation, the church thrived on persecution and the political wing, known as the centre party, became strengthened even further. This example shows two key facts, first, that their were elements of the German society willing to resist Bismarck and his policies, and second, that Germany had not lost its political consciousness shown by the increase in the number of seats obtained by the centre party. Bismarck made a similar mistake in his dealings with the socialists. Bismarck was able to pass his anti-socialist legislation in the after-math of the assassination attempt on Kaiser William. This legislation was particularly aimed at the Social Democratic party, another element of his opposition in the Reichstag.
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The persecution of the socialists commenced, but instead of having the desired effect of reducing socialist influence in Germany, the party simply became a more effective, well-organised underground party, operating from outside Germany. Bismarcks policy had not only failed to reduce socialist influence in Germany, but it had also retarded the integration of a large proportion of the working classes into the new system of government. To return to the initial quote form source V, I believe that Max Faber is mistaken in his evaluation of the German system of government in two key statements. Firstly, Max Faber statement that Bismarck left behind him nation without any political education.
Germany was certainly politically conscious and indeed many people had had some form of political education. The Reichstag, though it was neither a liberal constitutional body nor even an effective form of elected government, it was a body elected by the people. This gave people the reassurance that at least they had a say in which laws were passed. However, whilst times are good and prosperous there is a human tendency to ignore the political and enjoy the present. This was the case in Germany, whilst under the excellent leadership of Bismarck the people were generally content due to Bismarcks expertise in manipulating the Reichstag to pass much needed legislation. It is clear though, through the examples of the Kulturkampf and the battle with the socialists, that as soon as Bismarck underestimated an opposition party and made a mistake in his repression, the people voiced their displeasure at the poles.
This shows, therefore, that the German people had not lost their political consciousness but had simply let it lapse a little, whilst they felt that Bismarck was achieving that which could only benefit Germany. Secondly, Faber says that the German people would not criticise the political qualifications of those who now occupied Bismarcks empty place. I think that this statement is fundamentally flawed. It is clear that those who stepped into Bismarcks shoes were not equally successful in containing the political consciousness of the German people. This was shown by the immediate need for liberal reform. The fact remains that Bismarck was, on the whole, extremely successful in taming the political consciousness of the nation.
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The main reason for this was the overwhelming sense of gratitude for Bismarcks influence in gaining German prosperity within a united Germany. Bismarck was therefore far more likely to be excused by the German people as a whole for any mistakes than any other Chancellor would have done. Consequently, I believe that Bismarck was successful in building a state around him that was dependent upon him. Bismarck led the country in such an inspired and effective way that he was able to make mistakes and be forgiven for them at frequent intervals. The Reichstag disliked the Iron Chancellor, but the Reichstag would rarely oppose him.
Bismarck did not remove political consciousness within Germany; he simply repressed it by contenting the German people with the current regime. However, it was Bismarck that was essential to the new unified Germany and without his guidance the system was ineffectual.