Kohl’s Revivalist Vision

Mary Elise Sarotte is a professor at the University of Southern California in their International Relations department. She focuses on Cold War history and especially the post-Cold War period, immediately following the destruction of the Berlin Wall. In her piece, In Victory, Magnanimity: US Foreign Policy, 1989-1991, and the Legacy of Prefabricated Multilateralism, Sarotte discusses the alternative structures that were proposed following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. She discusses four main possibilities, the second of which was proposed by Helmut Kohl, and deemed a revivalist vision. Kohl was the West German Chancellor and upon witnessing early American consent to Gorbachev’s attempted restoration of quadripartitism he created a different plan ((Sarotte, Mary. In Victory, Magnanimity: US Foreign Policy, 1989-1991, and the Legacy of Prefabricated Multilateralism. 2011.)) .

The revivalist vision was focused on recreating the ideas of German statehood, that is, recreating a confederation of German states. If it had been implemented, East and West Germany would have had independent social and political policies, however they would have been united under a single, national roof ((Sarotte, Mary. In Victory, Magnanimity: US Foreign Policy, 1989-1991, and the Legacy of Prefabricated Multilateralism. 2011.)). This architecture would have been successful in diffusing tension between East and West Germany, as they would be technically reunited under one German name, however, they would be allowed to have their own politics and remaining communist influence would have had the opportunity to be present in East German politics. It would have restored the self-governing capabilities to East Germany; however, it would not have created the strongest German state possible. By 1990, Kohl realized that his vision of a divided Germany under a united roof was not possible and switched towards advocating for American involvement in extending prefabricated institutions to Eastern countries.

Many of these possible architectures for restructuring took into account American involvement. Did American’s have the right to be so heavily involved in the restructuring of Europe or should they have been able to do it on their own? How would the outcomes have differed if Americans were not involved?

Animosity between World Leaders

Winston Churchill is one of the most famous British politicians of all time. He was born into an upper class family, and served in the British military when he was young. He rose through the ranks of British government after returning from the military and became Prime Minister of Britain following Neville Chamberlain’s resignation in 1940. As an active political member, Churchill warned against the rising powers of Nazi Germany and argued against appeasement. In his “Iron Curtain Speech” he says that “Last time I saw it all coming and I cried aloud to my own fellow countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention” ((Churchill, Winston. “Iron Curtain Speech”. 5 March 1946.)). He is strongly anti-communist and uses the comparison of communism to Nazi Germany to convey his message about the iron curtain being cast down upon Eastern Europe.

However, he uses his speech to call upon the English-speaking world to enforce the United Nations agreement and prevent the Soviet Union from expanding their sphere. Stalin critiques this in his Reply to Churchill, where he accuses Churchill of following the same lines as Hitler and creating a system of racial determination to establish who should rule the world ((Stalin, Joseph. Reply to Churchill. 1946.)). Both Churchill and Stalin compare the other to Hitler, indicating a huge amount of animosity between them even though they were on the same side of World War II. What do you think sparked this animosity so quickly after the end of the war? Would there have been a way to avoid this, or was communism just the next enemy to take on after fascism was defeated?

The Importance of Organization

Vladimir Lenin was born into a wealthy upper-middle class family in 1870. His parents were monarchists who supported the tsarist regime. When Lenin was 16, his brother was executed for joining a revolutionary group dedicated to assassinating Tsar Alexander III. Lenin was influenced by his brother’s left wing ideas and became involved in a socialist revolutionary cell at Kazan University. Lenin was one of the first to translate Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto into Russian and became interested in Marxism. The influence of Marx and Engels is apparent in Lenin’s What is to be Done?. In this piece, Lenin goes even further than Marx did by describing the type of organization necessary to succeed in a revolution. He writes that a successful revolutionary organization will have dedicated leaders and will be experienced professional revolutionaries. These people must be steadfast and dedicated to their cause and well organized to make a change in Russia ((Lenin, Vladimir. What is to be Done?. 1902)).

Lenin wrote this piece in 1902, fifteen years before he would be instrumental in the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. He was able to implement many of his organizational ideas and strengthen the revolutionary party in a way that made them able to have a successful takeover of the Russian government in 1917. Once Lenin was in power he implemented many of the ideas discussed by Marx and Engels and strengthened communism in Russia.

The revolution in Russia took place in the middle of World War I, did that contribute to the success of Lenin’s ideologies? Was he able to take advantage of the turmoil throughout Europe to strengthen his political position? Why didn’t many other countries have similar working class revolutions?

Art as an Emotive Experience

Wassily Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist. However, he initially was educated to become a teacher of law, ethnography and economics. He studied these subjects at the University of Moscow and taught for a few years before going to art school. He was one of the first people to experiment with abstract art and was influenced by the works of Monet and other impressionist painters. He studied art in both Russia and Munich, eventually developing a unique style. As Kandinsky worked through his style and further developed his art, he developed a theory of art. Some of this theory is expressed in “On the Spiritual in Art” where he discusses the difficulty in expressing emotion and feeling in art. He writes that some ‘pure’ artists are able to put spirituality in their art and communicate feelings through their art. To Kandinsky, this is the ultimate goal of art, it should be able to “intensify the observer’s sentimental mood and purify it”. He writes that the observer should recognize this as the meaning of art and devote significant time to the study of art and not browse through paintings casually, remarking on them as being ‘nice’ or ‘splendid’ ((Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, 1946)).

Kandinsky’s influence on art was widespread, becoming one of the inspirations behind the field of Abstract Expressionism. He influenced many later artists, such as Jackson Pollack, with his theories on the expressive qualities of art, and how it should impact the viewer through all of the senses.

Early Kandinsky, The Blue Rider

Early Kandinsky, The Blue Rider, 1903.

Later Kandinsky, Composition 6, 1913.

Later Kandinsky, Composition 6, 1913.

Kandinsky introduced a new way of looking at art, how did this impact the middle class? Did this make the general populace more appreciative of art? Or did the introduction of abstract art distance the general public from art?

Defining Etiquette

In the nineteenth century as capitalism was established in many developing countries around the world, the middle class grew significantly. People began to have more money and high society and socializing became something that was not just for the aristocracy. Thorstein Veblen discussed this phenomenon in his Theory of the Leisure Class where he wrote that this upper class consumes just for show and as a performance to solidify their social standing. He also briefly mentioned that women were responsible for consuming and demonstrating on their own behalf, but also to show the wealth and stature of their husbands. ((Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899)) While Veblen wrote in 1899, he was clearly observing a phenomenon that was put in place partially by works such as The Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton. This work outlined what the rules and duties of a woman were in this time, especially with regards to their relationship with their husband and the best and most proper way to run their household.

Isabella Beeton was an English woman, married to a magazine editor and publisher. She began writing by publishing weekly magazine articles for her husband’s publication on cookery and French fiction. She then began writing longer pieces for his “Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine” about the correct etiquette for Victorian society. These pieces were eventually published into a single Book of Household Management, which described how to conduct oneself in a variety of situations from hiring servants to throwing a dinner party. ((Isabella Beeton, The Book of Household Management, 1861)) The book became extremely popular and the name ‘Mrs. Beeton’ became synonymous with a domestic authority. One reason that this book was likely so popular was that many women were entering into the upper middle class society for the first time. The middle class was growing, and many women likely looked for a codified authority on what proper etiquette was so that they would not make any social blunders or embarrass their husbands in social settings. Victorian society was also one with a lot of rules and standards of what was considered acceptable and not, so having this book with the rules written down likely assisted many women in making sure they fully understood what the proper action was in each situation.

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management is still being published today, and while it is now largely used as a study on Victorian etiquette, are there other similar publications today? Do magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens or the Oprah Magazine perform similar functions as The Book of Household Management? Is social etiquette as clearly defined today as it was in nineteenth century England?

Morel’s Morals

Edward Morel was born in France in 1873, although he attended school in Britain and eventually became a naturalized British citizen in 1896. Throughout his life he held various jobs and was known as a British journalist, author, pacifist and politician. In 1899, Rudyard Kipling wrote “The White Man’s Burden” which celebrated colonialism and discussed the duty of the white man to civilize ‘savage’ populations. ((Rudyard Kipling, The White Man’s Burden, 1899)) Morel wrote The Black Man’s Burden in direct response to this work by Kipling. In The Black Man’s Burden, he discussed how colonialism decimated African populations through famine, forced labor and disease as well as by destroying social ties and breaking their spirits. ((Edward Morel, The Black Man’s Burden, 1903)) In this time period, there were few advocates for African rights but Morel developed an uncommon sympathy and respect for African cultures earlier in his life when working for a British shipping company. When looking at this company’s trade between Belgium and the Congo, Morel saw that no commercial goods were brought to the Congo, but valuable natural resources were brought back. Morel explored this relationship more, realizing that the resources were brought back at the expense of the native African people. He resigned his job at the shipping company and began to campaign against Congo misrule. He published his own magazine and started the Congo Reform Association to advocate for change in colonial practices in the Congo.

African colonies in 1914.

African colonies in 1914.

Morel was an unusual case for his time in Britain as many were supportive of imperialism and its ability to provide economic benefits to the controlling country. He spoke out against imperialism and brought many other prominent figures into the Congo Reform Association, eventually succeeding in changing the colonial rule there. Do you think that support from British citizens was necessary for change in colonial practices or would the suppressed peoples eventually have resisted and demanded this change for themselves? Did Morel go far enough in demanding better conditions for laborers or should he have advocated for no longer having colonies?

Ideals of Liberty

The Marquis de Condorcet and John Stuart Mill were philosophers concerned with the idea of liberty and governments. Condorcet was a Frenchman writing during the time of the French revolution, undoubtedly inspired by the values of the revolution and the Enlightenment, putting reason above all else and valuing the progression of nations towards equality. He advocated for liberties that resembled the U.S. Bill of Rights, that is freedom of speech and press, abolition of torture, a simpler civil code and ensuring the security of innocent people. ((Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, 1795. http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/sketch.html)) Mill focused his writing on the struggle between liberty and authority and how this progression had changed government forms over time, as well as his views on individual liberties. He thought that human’s needed to have liberty of individual thought, liberty of one’s tastes and pursuits and the liberty to unite with others for a purpose that does not harm other people. ((John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1869. http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/JSMILL-LIB.asp))

Condorcet and Mill have similar views on what liberties individuals are entitled to, mainly focusing on freedom of individual thought and opinion, as well as the fact that they were both known to be advocates for women’s rights, which was unique for men of their time. In 1795, when Condorcet was writing, women and many men did not have access to many of the liberties he discussed and this had not changed substantially in 1869 when Mill was writing in England. Mill was addressing the lack of these issues over seventy years later, implying that most individuals still did not have access to them.

There is still a lot of talk today about inequalities between men and women, with the obvious example being that women make 79 cents for every dollar made by a man. Women have made great strides in equality since Condorcet and Mill were writing but there is still a ways to go. Condorcet says at the beginning of his writing that the “perfectibility of man in indefinite”, do you think we will ever achieve full equality between men and women? ((Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, 1795. http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/sketch.html)) Or between all members of society?

A Consequence of Capitalism

Comte de Saint-Simon disparaged laissez-faire industry in “The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry”, saying that capitalists are not concerned with the well being of society and are solely individuals looking to profit. This leads to men emphasizing their cunning and shrewdness and leading them to be “lost to humanity”. ((Comte de Saint-Simon, The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry)) Marx took an equally negative stance on capitalism in “Estranged Labor” although he chose to focus on the worker and not the capitalist. Marx argued that every step of the production process estranges the worker from the product they are creating, as the more the worker produces, the less he is able to possess. The worker is also estranged from the process of production, as Marx writes, “labor produces for the rich wonderful things – but for the worker it produces privation”. ((Karl Marx, Estranged Labor 1844. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm)) Workers are estranged through the process of production as they are not affirmed by their work and they do not enjoy it. Marx wrote that as men are alienated from their work their labor becomes forced labor, therefore workers only feel completely free when performing animal functions, such as eating, drinking and procreating.

Marx and Saint-Simon highlight similar issues with how capitalism impacts interpersonal relationships. Saint-Simon points out that men are inherently competitive and that this leads them to enter a potentially lucrative industry, creating a few successful men and many who are completely ruined. In a similar vein, Marx discusses the estrangement between men as those who produce are under the dominion of those who own the means of production. This creates a dichotomy between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in terms of who wields the most influence in society and has the most opportunity.

Marx and Saint-Simon were both writing near the nineteenth century when the Industrial Revolution was impacting many different areas. Many of the problems they identified with capitalism are still present in society today, is there any way to correct for these issues or reduce their impact? Is today’s society reducing the divisions between workers and owners or are the divisions growing?

The Beginnings of German Nationalism

The Romantic period following the Enlightenment and the French Revolution was characterized by a push back against the rational reasoning championed by many Enlightenment thinkers. Johann Gottlieb Fichte tried to inspire his fellow Germans with his “Addresses to the German Nation” in 1806. He wrote “those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of invisible bonds by nature herself” ((Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Thirteenth Address, Addresses to the German Nation, ed. George A. Kelly (New York: Harper Torch Books, 1968), pp. 190­91,193­94,197­98.)) which highlights his argument that the bonds of language and culture are stronger than political boundaries or forced occupation. This is a similar argument that Paul Halsall makes in his introduction to Johann Gottfried von Herder’s “Materials for the Philosophy of Mankind” where he states that most nations are developed around a single language and that new peoples are incorporated in by being forced to speak that central language as well ((Johann Gottfried von Herder, Materials for the Philosophy of Mankind, 1784.)).

Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher who lived from 1762 until 1814, meaning that he lived through much of the Enlightenment thought and ideals being put into place in the American Revolution and the French Revolution. He wrote his “Addresses to the German Nation” in 1806 when the French, under Napoleon, occupied Germany. This event likely inspired him to write these nationalistic pieces and to go on to be considered one of the fathers of German nationalism. He criticized Napoleon’s use of religious conflict to divide the German nation-states and his use of German soldiers in his army. Fichte wrote in an inflammatory manner, intended to educate the German people about the tactics that the French were using to divide the nation-states and to inspire a sense of belonging to something larger than their individual village.

Fichte was able to use historical context and the feelings of people living in an occupied territory to make an emotional argument for nationalism and for uniting as a larger German people. Both Fichte and von Herder highlighted the importance of language to creating a cohesive nation-state, which was important as this is one of first times when a nation-state becomes a realistic concept, and is no longer separated into solely a political state or an ethnic or cultural nation.

In conclusion, did Napoleon’s conquest of these areas accelerate the unification of Germany? In other words, is being occupied the most effective method to get people to come together by uniting against a common enemy?