My name is Marc Mulholland. I am a Fellow (lecturer and tutor) in the History Faculty of Oxford University. My College is St Catherine's. I come from Ireland.

This is a blog relating to my book published in 2012 by Oxford University Press, Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear: From Absolutism to Neo-Conservativism.
Now on sale here and here. If you want 20 per cent off the price, I can arrange that! Send me a message or leave a comment, and I'll tell you how.

The thesis my book is examining was rather pithily summarised by Leon Trotsky in 1939: "Wherever the proletariat appeared as an independent force, the bourgeoisie shifted to the camp of the counter-revolution. The bolder the struggle of the masses, the quicker the reactionary transformation of liberalism." [Context is here]

However, my book isn't a defence of Trotskyism, or indeed any particular ideology. It's a study of an idea that took shape in Left, Right, and Centre variations.

This blog has tid-bits not included in the book, and other thoughts that occur.

You can see book details at the
OUP website.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Revolutionary Germans in the Kaiserreich

It's often considered a bit of a mystery why the respectable German Social Democratic Party cleaved to a revolutionary Marxist programme before the First World war. One reason, of course, is that revolution was a relatively recent experience in Germany: the 1848 Revolutions lived in memory, and the Prussian constitutional crisis of the early 1860s had more of a pre-revolutionary feel than is usually admitted. If bourgeois liberals had only recently been revolutionary, socialists could hardly in honour be merely loyal subjects of a semi-authoritarian crown.

Perhaps more important still was the fact that the monarchical state - which was largely autonomous of direct popular control - was explictly anti-revolutionary, and would treat Social Democrats organizing workers as a revolutionary threat in potentia, no matter what rhetoric the socialists might employ. Typically, Kaiser Wilhelm II was blunt in making the point. Here's a report of a 1901 address by the Kaiser to soldiers of the conscript army just outside his royal residence:

Like a firm bulwark, your new barracks stand in the neighborhood of the palace, which it is primarily your duty to be ever ready to defend. The Emperor Alexander Regiment is called upon in a sense to stand ready as body-guard by night and by day and, if necessary, to risk its life and its blood for the King and his house; (the Emperor here called to mind the faithful bearing of the Alexander Regiment at the time of the revolts against the King in 1848) But if the city should ever again presume to rise up against its master then will the regiment repress with the bayonet the impertinence of the people toward their King.
[Christian Frederick Gauss (ed), The German Emperor, As Shown in His Public Utterances (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915), p. 172.]

For a worker, subversion was impertinence: no wonder so many embraced it.

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