and the End of the Civic Project
- The making of the public
sphere and political clubs. -
Professor Jürgen Fohrmann,
Dr Erhard Schüttpelz and Stephan Dillemuth
D: Im interested
in a particular aspect of the formation of a civic public. This
is the founding of those structures and forms of communication which
could be described as condensation points of political consciousness.
They include political
clubs and associations, secret societies and lodges, political parties,
trade unions, worker and student leagues, brotherhoods, student
fraternities, gymnastics clubs, anarchist circles and many more.
Then there are also the artistic, religious and scientific connections,
which should not concern us here unless they played a vital role
in changing state structures.
Id like to describe
a curve, from the dissolution of a system revolving round a single
point, namely the absolute representative of God on earth, via the
civic democratic developments of the 18th , 19th
and 20th centuries, through to the present day. We are
now in a transitional phase on the threshold of Corporate Rokoko,
where a global court revolves around a virtual monetary unit.
Secrecy versus the
public: civic disobedience in administrative units
D: In the old absolutism,
state power devolved on one place and one person. Absolute sovereignty
of the one was then supposed to become the sovereignty of all individuals.
What were the decisive processes which enabled citizens to take
political power and decision-making processes into their own hands
and then, ideally, share them out among all?
F: We have to look
at the various centers which fed the emancipation processes of the
One was the rationality
of the town. This had always been a center of civic activities with
its town clerks, chroniclers etc.
Then there were the universities,
also laws unto themselves, from which an emancipation movement developed.
Only then came what may
actually be called, in the sense of Habermas and others, a genuine civic public: the salons, clubs and
lodges, everything that became virulent in the 18th century.
These are the three large
areas which operate with the concept of public. They represent a
unique mixture of special rights, as well as a larger accessible
D: The standing,
writing army of overburdened state servants, corn clerks, office
workers of all departments and all the crustaceans stacked together
in the crab-pot of state bureaucracy were the first to try their hand
at clandestine resistance?
F: A public does
not exist in a vacuum. Moreover, it has to do with the ordinary
necessities pertaining to the formation of the state.
The chancellery is one
of the first structures in which regulation begins to be a matter
of course. This not only means dealing with the arcane, a secret
which the ruler needs to administer. It is also regulation in the
sense of a governmental public, intent on communication.
D: So disobedience,
civic courage and unauthorized assumption of authority within the
administration were important factors?
F: Such a chancellery
was a pivot of communication and already completely functional,
i.e. independent of the ruler. These areas developed their own rationality
which little by little transcended their actual allotted function.
D: But that was
only one strand.
F: The other was
erudition, which was gradually spreading, the Res Publica
Litteraria which at its core always addressed a whole
public. For there is an imperative in erudition that says, learning
is really for everybody, and whoever is not educated is not part
of humanity. The opposite concept is barbarism. That is,
there is always an extensive public which is being addressed even
if as a rule it does not function as one
For the learned of course tried to hold on to their special rights,
not allowing any others. Thus there was always this dichotomy between
a movement towards openness and a tendency to exclude.
S: From the 18th
century onwards this can also be seen as a tactical move. The secret
alliances and lodges which were preparing an openness and a public,
had in fact to remain hidden from the state power of the king and
the nobility. All through the struggle against those possessing
power, the model of secrecy and monopolization of discourse can
be seen, right up to the self-torturing K groups which were also concerned to expose secrets
and at the same time hold on to them.
F: The civic public
which was establishing itself claimed to be universal, wishing to
embrace everything. On the other hand, it was very concerned not
to allow everything its validity. I believe these were two movements
which always belonged together. It is a kind of enlightened speech
which does not want to retreat behind its own enlightenment.
Civic and aristocratic
D: When did people
start feeling the need to determine affairs of the state together,
discard the monarch and rule themselves as a common subject? Which
organizational structures paved the way for the French Revolution?
F: Like Koselleck , I see civic society as emerging out of freemasonry.
Lessing formulated the idea, and Koselleck places it at the center
of his theories.
is only one example, a pseudonym for all kinds of universalist trends
within and around freemasonry.
F: ...the making
of literary culture, the organization of reading circles by readers
themselves, republican clubs, debating clubs, all sorts of things.
All that dates from the middle of the 18th century.
There were of course precursors,
but the great take-off took place parallel with the development
of the Reader. In other words, to the extent to which society was
placing far more stress on self-education and on the opportunity
for everybody to communicate, so types of organization were forming
where communication could take place. Methodically speaking, this
presupposes the ability to acquire information oneself, and handle
it. It also presupposes the possibility of exchanging such information
in a circle where one is not immediately put down, but where there
is a form of real exchange. In this way subjects are set free to
become what might be described as subjects capable of communication
in a universalist society.
And since one cannot communicate
hierarchically when everybody is a Reader, there are relatively
swift political consequences from this practice. It is here that
I see preliminary elements that helped to prepare for the French
Revolution. As an after-effect of that revolution, say, within the
framework of Jacobin clubs, there are very determined endeavors
to use this politically.
D: To what extent
did civic communication oppose that of the court? In both cases
there were tea-parties and tête-à-têtes.
at court is quite different in nature, we can see that from the
novel Dangerous Liaisons. Here there is a very forced field of observation:
everyone is trying to work to their own advantage through mutual
and careful observation of others. Success in conversation and the
chance to participate in it in a particular place of course structures
the hierarchy at court. This finds expression in communication and
is based among other things on skill in communicating: the aim is
to achieve distinction.
On the other hand the
court allows no form of specialization. At court one must be in
a position to prove ones sophistication by being able to discourse
effortlessly on all manner of topics. There is an easy change of
subjects, nothing is fixed.
versus ethics: the patchwork of specialists in cahoots
D: It was probably
inevitable that the arts and sciences should specialize at court,
as it was only there that they were given their own space for purposes
of artistry and entertainment. The courts ignorance of these
specializations was of course derided by those involved, which naturally
aroused the curiosity of the bourgeoisie.
F: I would put
that differently, taking Goethes Tasso as
my example. In the old model, the monarch not only represents all
positions in society but also tries to turn everything which constitutes
this society to his own advantage. Now with Tasso and his antagonist
Antonio, two system references oppose each other which can no longer
be connected to the world at court. The first, Tasso, tries as an
artist to judge the world solely according to aesthetic principles:
Is this beautiful or is it not beautiful? that
is the decisive question. The other, Antonio, is a politician and
says: Is this useful or not useful for achieving my political
Both stances are completely
anti-aristocratic. One is already a modern politics, and the other
is a modern aesthetic approach to the world. To use Luhmanns words: both indicate a society which is functionally differentiated
in that it is subdivided into quite discrete functional areas which
no longer mirror each other in any way. The idea of the court, on
the other hand, was that all functional areas could again be represented
in that one point, the pinnacle, the monarch.
S: Seen from the
courts point of view these two characters are figures of disloyalty.
Artists no longer need to be loyal to any particular persons or
values, nor, in that sense, do politicians, because they have to
utilize everything strategically. That is, the citizen would see
the court as completely artificial, false and dissimulated, and
the court would see all these civic figures as simply disloyal and
of course brutish, philistine etc.
F: Since the 19th
century we have been able to observe closely how the respective
forms of coherence in these different systems develop. The Art system
develops, and the Politics system develops. But they are not split
off from each other, for social semantics will only
tolerate such drifting apart up to a certain point. It develops
an instrument, its own discourse perhaps, which attempts to, in
the end, bring everything back together. And that, as I see it for
the 19th century, is ethics.
Ethics has always been used as an argument against differentiation.
Schiller started off the idea that
art should again be seen as useful because it is there for the education
of human beings. Politics should of course also be orientated towards
the best, Summum Bonum.
The whole of literary theory, in Young Hegelianism etc., is pledged in this way to moralize
art. Any politician who does not join in with this is seen as weak
and characterless etc., and art which does not adhere to it is too
sensuous and obscene and only full of self-interest. These were
the two charges leveled at the political movement Junges Deutschland.
S: And under the
protection of these arguments the old hierarchies, which have now
become quite different ones, are then partly shunted back into place,
for example that hierarchy between men and women.
F: And the divide
opens between, on the one hand, an art system that since Early Romanticism
has been repeatedly revolutionizing itself and which has no interest
in being thus straitjacketed into a universal mode, and on the other,
a pretension to ethics and morality which transports a totally philistine
understanding of art.
Elitism. Enlightened speech etc.
D: Within a civic
public, the intellectual and artistic elite is always conceived
as an enemy when it is attempting to bring about change in politics
and art. For the artists and intellectuals, however, this will to
change is a life concept, used to define their own sovereignty.
In fact this almost always means acting in opposition to the decisions
of the majority.
F: The validity
of opinions is now no longer dependent upon birth. This is the crucial
difference in the claim to universality which was developed in the
18th century and which is closely related to the agenda
of erudition and the academy. Whereas before one could state: Everything
I say has to do with the fact that I was born an aristocrat, that
is what makes it valid, now the civic project was: Behind
all differences of class there is the universal concept of man.
Suddenly one could speak in the name of mankind.
S: This claim to
humanity in the most universal sense was, unlike humanitas,
totally opposed to the hierarchies of the time and of course to
the existence of hierarchies in general.
F: Yes that
was one trend.
S: As a political
party or as the avant-garde, one must immediately monopolize speech
in a pretension to speak for others. We have here again the dialectic
of secrecy and openness. But the concern was of course foremost
anti-hierarchical, Leninist partially, too.
S: In my opinion
there was a certain German Leninism in the 18th century,
the peripheral as opposed to the otherwise central nations. The
claim to universality in regard to mankind promised that this anti-hierarchical
aspect here, or in Russia or America, might work.
F: That of course
could not assert itself with this enlightened gesture although it
was repeatedly attempted. In the lodges, for example, lots were
drawn anew each time to determine the seating arrangement. Not even
there should a fixed order become established. The idea behind this
is a society of equals, isonomy.
also has to do with the ability to set a colon. An enlightener is
someone situated in front of, or on the left side of the colon,
then comes the colon, and then the statement. The addressee is all the way
over on the other side. An essential constituent of enlightened
speech is that I only exist on the left-hand side of the statement,
of the colon, where I can say
cannot be reversed.
In its first phase, enlightenment
is dogmatic, one can clearly see this in the 18th century.
The enlightener who speaks does not want the addressees themselves
to become enlighteners, who in turn enlighten others. This type
of dialectic is indeed thematized in the second phase, but that
is actually no longer enlightenment. It leads to other forms. The
structures of sociability in Early Romanticism attempt to perform
exactly this interplay, that is, no longer allowing a fixed position
or a fundamental asymmetry.
S: Be on both sides
of the colon, and if possible at the same time!
F: Yes, thats
the basic idea behind it and it leads to an ironic method.
But the elitist aspect
can only be seen at all when the enlightened speech position can
itself be observed, when it can be clearly discerned that it is
always the same one telling us from the left-hand side of the colon
what the world is like. The accusation of being elitist is made
the very moment the relationship of communication can be perceived
as being cemented.
S: This often results
in the claim that it can only be a select number of persons who
are capable of setting the colon in such a way, namely the geniuses.
Philipp Moritz introduces this in quite an interesting way. In his opinion
it is not about advancing the whole of society. It would, moreover,
suffice if nature showed in only a few individual human beings what
it was capable of, with the simultaneous awareness of perceiving
the whole as a shipwreck and using this as an opportunity to acquire
the right of salvage. That is of course an absolutely radical
statement for the 18th century. First of all dismissing
the teleologically-oriented process of everything improving from
day by day, and secondly saying that we are no longer interested
in this kind of teleology, because it is totally sufficient when
special individuals...now this almost sounds like George or Gundolf...
S: ...yes, its
an artists justification...
F: ...when special
individuals try to demonstrate in nature and as an expression of
nature what nature in its perfection is actually capable of, while
at the same time acting so anarchic...whatever anarchic means...anyhow,
trying to collect whatever serves their purposes...., or as Moritz
calls it, acquiring the right of salvage.
From the streets to
the university and the long way back again. The university as a
D: Lets return
again to the anarchist appropriation of governmental
power: Why did the civic clubs become so radical in the process
of detaching themselves from the court, where did the flame come
from that ultimately ignited the French Revolution and the overthrow?
F: In Germany this
took place in a very reserved manner...extremely reserved, except
for the occurrences in Mainz. I see the actual revolutionary element not in the political
formations but in an altered concept of sociability. A society adjusting
to communication combined with the notion of Romantic sociability
which makes communication a precondition for individuation. This
can only perhaps be formulated in such a complicated way.
In other words, I can
only develop myself when communicating with interested and competent
people. I must therefore create an institution enabling this. This
institution is first of all the social circle, then the university.
I must also create a new space at the university in which communication
can take place, and that is the seminar, which did not exist in
such a form beforehand.
The university was invented,
according to a theory of Wehler, as a revolutionary instrument of a (bureaucratic)
intelligentsia to effect a forceful thrust of modernization in this
society. Taking a look at the foundation files of the Berlin University,
for example, one understands that the idea of a comprehensive form
of communication, including the reciprocal exchange of the roles
of student and teacher, was indeed grasped as a model for revolutionizing
society. I would place the concept of revolution more in these microstructures
than in political demonstrations of will.
S: Which would
explain, in regard to Germany, the fact that at the same time a
lot of people such as Hegel, Fichte and others who took sides with the French Revolution then
turned to this Prussian model. In regard to France, one of course
must speak about the middle of the 18th century and its
structures of sociability, as well as the transmissions between
aristocracy and bourgeoisie which triggered the French Revolution
in the first place. The revolution was not carried out by peasants
from the provinces but by the higher tiers of society themselves.
This was made possible by an altered, more comprehensive communication
structure which then made this claim for the whole of society and
simply did away with the remains of absolutism. Looking at England,
one must again speak differently, as a revolution was never experienced
there. But there was a quite similar transmission between aristocracy
and bourgeoisie, and due to the resulting altered structure of sociability
in the 18th century a degree of freedom was achieved
which did not exist in such a form in Germany.
D: Changing structures
of sociability everywhere. Germany is lagging behind, and as the
possibility of a radical political revolution appears to be non-existent,
hopes are placed on a free, supposedly revolutionary university
and a new nationalism
D: Was that the
point at which most of the tiny revolutionary student circles, such
as the society for human rights around Büchner and Weidig, drifted off into totally different directions and later advocated
opposing positions? I have in mind the Burschenschaft
model with its increasing nationalism, whilst Büchner himself sought
for possibilities to thematize political conflicts in his art.
F: When talking
about the student-fraternity model one must keep in mind that there
are quite different, usually doubly-coded forms. Democratic and
anti-feudal on the one hand, hopelessly nationalistic and reactionary
on the other. When it comes to establishing hierarchies, the national
movement is of course up front.
movement itself is a formation stemming from the old Landsmannschaften
which were regarded as Nationes: students coming from
the same region joined together and helped each other out.
Their political impetus
is originally to be seen in the context of the Wars of Liberation.
That led to moments of abstruse one-sidedness, like in the case
of the persistent revolutionary Harro Harring who ended his life standing on the market
place in Husum and stabbing a knife in his heart, still wearing
black armor, dressed up as a member of a student fraternity...
S: And beforehand
he fought for the revolutions in Denmark, Poland, Greece and at
all fronts concerned with national liberation.
F: Then we have
the revolutionary clubs that already play an important role in the
early socialist movement. This is the actual hour of birth of the
socialist movement from which Marx and others then emerged.
And parallel to this theres
the formation of a civic culture of clubs. This was extremely important
for stabilizing this awful 19th century because it organized
the entire society...via grotesque artifacts, songbooks, club fanaticism
it cant be pictured horrible enough.
S: The aristocracy
and monarchy were not interested in forming a nation-state
that is the axiom. In the forming phase of nation-states in all
of these countries at the end of the 18th and the beginning
of the 19th century the egalitarian aspect was per se
F: In an attempt
to describe nineteenth-century society, one finds on the one hand
a still totally segmented society, but on the other hand the claim
is made that, despite this segmentation, this society constitutes
one nation. Both run parallel and seem to get along for a relatively
long period of time.
It is basically the old
anthropological argumentation. When Arndt proclaims that the nation
is the community of inflamed hearts, it is quite simple: no matter
if aristocrat or bourgeois, the main thing is that one has the same
inflamed heart. This then ties a whole nation together. The broad
range of organizational forms in the 19th century which
constitutes the interior structure should then ultimately be brought
together to form one great nation.
D: We did, however,
forget one thing which came before this: the allegedly so apolitical
The communication model
S: That may very
well be the decisive chapter.
has to do with precisely this model of sociability, but it is not
only the concept of sociability that is to then support the university.
The strict Early-Romantic project consists in a communication model
outlined by Friedrich Schlegel, in Conversation on Poetry for example: love needs love
as approval. That is why we emerge from the depths of our inner-self
to find ourselves again in the inner-self of another human. He states:
there is the operation of reciprocal communication and beyond reciprocal
communication lies death.
That is a totally emphatic
concept which presupposes the possibility of symmetrical communication
in which asymmetrical communication situations can be translated
into symmetrical ones. Or, to put it differently, that the communication
situation itself can be kept symmetrical even if asymmetries exist.
This is then elaborated
by Schleiermacher in his theory of social behavior as the perfect theory for
the Romantic social circle - with the huge claim that this is what
constitutes the world.
It is therefore a unique
coincidence that a certain epistemology, understood as reciprocal
learning, should simultaneously be an organizing principle of society,
or at least of a smaller circle. As a concept this cannot be thought
of radically enough. Unfortunately, it only lasted for a short period
of time and then drifted off into other forms, like Catholicism,
nation etc., which all contain concepts of communication as well,
but no such symmetrical ones.
S: Why couldnt
this be maintained?
F: Schlegel tried
to describe this in his Lucinde. But... I have to start again because it is really complicated
to describe: The presupposition is that communication does not always
only thematize communication itself, i.e. that communication, in
its urge to say this is the right model, does not only
say the same thing again and again and thus become tautological.
And the mistake, if I may say so, the mistake Schlegel made in Lucinde
and other texts is to force Romantic communication into a tautology.
In other words, one must possess procedures that put into practice
and not only describe in a self-referential way Romantic
S: This is also
the reason why Schlegel and Novalis in the first years used up an incredible
amount of topics.
F: Yes, they used
all these topics and in the end they always came upon the same idea.
Another reason why this
might not have worked is that the project was still oriented towards
the philosophy of identity. One could, however, use the notion of
difference as a guiding concept and envision a project that does
not presuppose the fact that, in the end, identity will be the result,
and that everything will lead to the One, but that conceives the
opposite and aims at preventing or delaying this result.
D: This could perhaps
also be described by saying that the concept of idealism imploded
because it remained too immanent. There were then attempts to develop
various other structures out of the ruins of these forms of communication,
structures that increasingly referred to the outside world. But
these were then more or less bureaucratic constructions such as
social clubs and associations, early forms of political parties
that organized themselves around specific contents and sought to
gain political influence, or that on the other hand affirmed existing
F: However, many
of these clubs also imploded because starting at a certain point
all they did was celebrate their existence as a club. This can be
compared to the concept of love that only celebrates itself as a
concept of love. The problem is: if people share a common interest
in each other, then there must be a sufficient difference so that
something can be learnt from one another. On the other hand, there
must be enough in common to secure the basis for communication.
The model of Romantic communication later imploded because the relationship
of tension could no longer be sustained.
> Jürgen Fohrmann, German professor of German (Bonn
after 1990), professional Germanist of German Studies (Bielefeld
in the 1980s)
> Erhard Schüttpelz, born in 1961, amateur musician
and amateur scholar, Cologne and other places, present whereabouts
> Jürgen Habermas, born 1929, second-generation
member of the Frankfurt School. He devoted his life's work to
defending and reclaiming the project of enlightenment critique,
or what he calls the 'philosophical discourse of modernity'.
In his early
work, such as Knowledge and Human Interests (1968), he adopted
a Kantian and Marxist-inflected approach, seeking to reconstruct
the genealogy of the modern natural and human sciences by inquiring
back into their social, historical, and epistemological conditions
In his later
(post-1970) work he adopts a different perspective, a theory of
'communicative action' derived largely from speech-act philosophy.
for this turn toward language is his conviction that the project
of modernity had run into criticism through its over-reliance
on a subject-centered epistemological paradigm. His aim is to
reformulate that project in a theory committed to values of truth,
critique, and rational consensus, pinning its faith to the regulative
precept of an 'ideal speech-situation'.
In the 1980s
he intervened in the so-called Historikerstreit - the debate about
right-wing revisionist accounts (Nolte et al.) of National Socialism
being a reaction to Bolshevism, equating both in the notion of
totalitarianism and thus relativizing the Holocaust.
In his later
years, Habermas ranked as a state philosopher for the Social Democratic/Green
Party coalition government, e.g. advocating the NATO bombing of
Yugoslavia in 1999. Three weeks later, however, he changed his
mind in regard to the bombardment, because it wasnt expedient.
He might have
remembered that an indestructible moment of communicative
rationality is anchored in the social form of human life.
> From: Life of Quintus Fixlein by Jean
Paul, 1763-1825. His eccentric and discursive novels, full of
humour, sentiment and irony, were among the most widely read books
in the early 19th Century. In Life of Quintus
Fixlein he opposes both poetic nihilists such
as Goethe and Schiller and poetic materialists: The
true poet maintains the middle course between these two extremes,
clothing Nature in ideal infinity. His theoretical
works are wayward and discursive like novels. The qualities of
variability and discontinuity later became reasons for his decline.
The sentiment, the humour, the irony and the verbal arabesques,
which at first delighted, seemed too deeply steeped in self-indulgence.
Nevertheless, many of his works have by their deep humanity escaped
the oblivion into which the others have fallen. Like the various
Siebenkäs revivals have proved more recently, the
combination of contrasting facets, which defy classification into
any distinct literary school or political cause, de serves our
greater appreciation .
> Small communist parties in Germany mostly founded
in the early 1970s.
> Reinhart Koselleck, German historian, University
of Bielefeld 1970s-90s. Widely known and acclaimed for his research
in historical semantics, i.e. a history of historical
keywords (e.g. people, nation, revolution
etc.), also known for his temporalization of temporalization.
Modernity in Kosellecks vision of history began
around 1750, in the so-called Sattelzeit (saddle
time, the period flanking the French Revolution by 50 years),
letting temporalization mount the horse. Koselleck,
the keyword reader, (each of the books in his library from his
time as a student onwards contained a keyword index), once surprised
his critics with a social history of Prussia; he spent some of
his boring academic meetings drawing cartoons of colleagues (a
catalogue was published). His epitaph reads:
Let me quote again the last keyword of history
The research I could not finish in
> GOETHE (1749-1832), German national hero and writer.
See Cultural Trademarks
> Torquato Tasso , 1890, written by
Goethe, the cultural trademark.
> Niklas Luhmann, PhD in 1966, German sociologist
at the University of Bielefeld, still haunting the place with
his research project: theory of society, period: 30 years,
costs: none. Luhmann started as an administrator and developed
the only social theory and cybernetic epistemology that came to
terms both with the good old Federal Republic of Germany (understood
functionally) as well as with the not-so-happy future past and
globalization (read in a dysfunctional way). Terminology slightly
shifting all the time, stable frame of mind, sitting in the sun
for hours reading and writing his famous index cards. In the early
1970s most leftist thinkers dismissed him as a system-supporting
technocrat, but in the 80s and 90s nearly all of his
former opponents acknowledged at least some of the advantages
of Luhmanns approach (even some leftist activists of 1999:
fight the system, and let Luhmann tell you what the system
is). Incidentally, in the 1990s most leftist 60s thinkers
(Bourdieu, Habermas, Castoriadis etc.) had become system (i.e.
nation-state, social welfare, social democracy) supporters themselves,
and Luhmanns approach by then seemed more subversive because
less sentimental - Luhmann himself still being as system-supporting
and open to change as in 1969. In retrospect, of course, any of
these positions and shifts seems as absurd as any other, because
like all classical sociology (Durkheim, Weber, Parsons etc.) the
theory seems most of all - another mirage - to project a utopian
image of the values and pursuits of its time and society. The
epitaph on Luhmanns tombstone quotes Brecht (of all people):
A Theory of Society (1969-1999)
Proposals is what he made.
> Friedrich Schiller, 1759-1805, German writer
& philosopher. See National Trademarks
> Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher,1770-1831,
distinguishes between the subjective, objective and absolute spirit.
The objective spirit, as opposed to the limited subjective spirit,
represents the ethics of communities, from the small unit of the
family to that of the state, and establishes the laws containing
the highest forms of ethics. Above and beyond this, the absolute
spirit permeates the three spheres of art, religion and philosophy.
While the subjective and objective spheres of the spirit generate
the forces of history, the absolute spirit induces, through its
conciliatory and harmonic properties, a sense of purity and perfection.
In this Hegel sees the goal of aesthetics in art.
> Junges Deutschland was an aesthetic
and political movement in Germany (ca 1830-1849) after the Romantic
period which used art, writing and journalism against the oppression
and censorship of the Metternich era, turning away from Idealism
and Romanticism towards political reform, religious tolerance
and emancipation from accepted sexual morality. The bolder spirits
emphasized that action, not theory was required. Supporters included
Heine, Börne, Wienbarg, Mundt, Gutzkow, Freilingrath, Laube.
> ENLIGHTENER : statement to addressee!
> Karl Philipp Moritz, 1756-1793, little known,
and still secretly important writer, (see Anton Reiser), poet
and editor of a periodical on knowledge of the soul by experience
(Magazin zur Erfahrungsseelenkunde).
> Stefan George, 1868-1933, endowed with ample
means, he determined to devote himself to poetry and to cultivate
beauty for its own sake. Influenced by Mallarmé he saw beauty
in the sensual, especially aural presentation of a highly selective
vocabulary in disciplined deliberate organization. Consciously
writing for an elite he saw himself as an educator and leader
in the renewal of a debased culture. He selected a circle of friends,
or rather disciples, who shared his views and seconded his efforts
to renew German civilization by creating disciplined poetic beauty.
Later, the tone of his poetry passes to the prophetic, apocalyptic
and monumental and evokes the vision of a new Germany, which was
to be realization of Hellas (ancient Greece).
> Friedrich Gundolf, 1880-1931, was a disciple
of George. Editor of monumental monographs on Goethe and George,
for some years after the 1914/18 war he enjoyed an almost pontifical
> During the French Revolution, Mainz was for
a short time (1792-93) the center of a separatist movement under
> Hans-Ulrich Wehler, German historian, University
of Bielefeld (again), worked - among other things - on the social
history of the 19th century bourgeoisie and working-class
and on Wilhelminian imperialism.
> Johann Gottlieb Fichte, 1762-1814, studied in
Jena and became an enthusiastic student of Kants philosophy.
He devised a system on his own, based on Kants thinking.
He rejected Kants thing-in-itself, and saw existence
solely in terms of the self. For him only the EGO exists in-itself.
The world around it, comprehensively classified as the Non-Ego,
is a creation of the EGO. Fichte preached moral virtues, especially
patriotic ones. He seems to have been prepared to transfer the
EGO to the German nation, which would represent the supreme incarnation
of the moral deal. By 1805 a tendency towards mysticism had manifested
itself in his thinking.
> Burschenschaften: A term originally (1790) applied
to the student body at a university. From 1814 it was applied
to a student movement which grew out of the Wars of Liberation
(Napoleonic Wars). The Burschenschaft was from the outset hostile
to the reactionary policy pursued by many German heads of state
and desired the political unity of Germany. The Burschenschaft
was banned in 1819 and denounced as Demagogic Movement.
Local Burschenschaften continued to meet clandestinely in many
places, and the trend of the movement became more radical. An
attempted uprising led to a wave of arrests all over Germany.
Tough students continued to be politically active in the 1840s,
the Burschenschaft as such was quiescent, even though many of
the politicians in the Frankfurt Parliament of 1848 were former
members of a Burschenschaft. In the second half of the 19th
century, it developed into a union of social clubs of nationalistic
and latterly anti-Semitic character.
> Georg Büchner, 1813-37, writer and poet. During
his studies he became keenly interested in the ideas and activities
of movements against authoritarian government and political oppression,
which he pursued with vigor. He founded the Gesellschaft
für Menschenrechte in March 1834, which was modeled on the
Société des Droits del Homme et du Citoyen of
1830, and expressed his radical socialist ideas in the political
pamphlet Der Hessische Landbote. His aim at this stage
was a Hessian peasants revolt, because he was convinced
that only the use of force would effect social justice and remedy
the stressing conditions of the lower classes. The mainspring
of his courageous but dangerous political activities was his deep
sympathy with social misery. In an age of economic crises and
reluctant constitutional and fiscal reforms, the peasants had
reason to be particularly aggrieved at their lot.
> Friedrich Ludwig Weidig, 1791-1837, schoolmaster
and pastor, leader of the illegal Liberal Party in Hesse. He was
the author of the clandestine pamphlet Leuchter und Beleuchter
für Hessen. Early in 1834 Büchner joined his circle of conspirators.
Both wrote and distributed the political pamphlet Der Hessische
Landbote (which failed to stimulate active resistance).
In the course of his subversive activities his contacts to many
revolutionary movements were noticed by the police and led to
Weidigs arrest in 1834. Betrayed by one of his own ranks,
Weidig was kept in prison without trial. He allegedly committed
suicide in his cell in 1837. His poems were published posthumously
> Harro Harring, 1798-1870, a prolific writer,
chiefly of political poetry, and a stormy petrel of 19th
century demagogy, he traveled restlessly through Europe. Dramatist
in Vienna, commissioner in a Russian guard stationed in Warsaw,
repeatedly expelled as an agitator from various German states,
from Switzerland, from Norway, and from Denmark. His points of
rest were the USA and London, where he was a member of the European
Democratic Central Committee.
> Ernst Moritz Arndt, 1769-1860. His single-minded
fanaticism and his energetic, direct prose style made him particularly
apt for his role as an anti-French propagandist, praising military
virtues, hatred of the French enemy, and death for the Fatherland.
The undoubtedly sincere combination of religion and ruthless bellicosity
made his writings the most effective patriotic poems of the War
of Liberation (Napoleonic Wars).
> Friedrich von Schlegel, 1772-1829, leading spirit
of the new Romantic School. His creative works are eccentric and
negligible, but his critical writings are brilliant, provocative
and fertile. In 1808 he became a Roman Catholic and took service
with the Austrian Government, spending much of his life in administration.
> Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, 1768-1834,
ranks as the most important Protestant theologian of the Romantic
movement. His sermons were esteemed for their sincerity and religious
fervor as well as, at the time of national depression, for their
> Published in 1799, Lucinde reflects
on his love for Dorothea Veit, with whom he spent two years in
Paris; he married her in 1804
> NOVALIS, 1772-1801, was both by temperament and
creative gifts the truest poet of the first Romantic School. In
1794 he met 12-year-old Sophie von Kühn, with whom he deeply fell
in love. They were betrothed four months later, and in the same
year Sophie developed pulmonary tuberculosis. During her illness,
Novalis was working as an administrative assistant in the salt-mine
offices of Weißenfels and in the stress of these months, which
was augmented by the illness and the death of his brother, he
underwent profound religious experience. The death of Sophie in
March 1797 led to a crisis, a reckoning with death, which finds
expression in the Hymnen an die Nacht.