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To What Extent Is The View Expressed In Source V A Fair Reflection On Bismarck?s Domestic Policies B Essay, Research Paper

To what extent is the view expressed in source V a fair

reflection on Bismarck?s domestic policies between 1870 and 1890 ??????????? The view in

source V clearly states that Max Faber believes that Bismarck?s 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 Bismarck?s 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

Bismarck?s power, and whether Germany was willing to submit to what was decided

for it. I will also look at how beneficial Bismarck?s 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 Bismarck?s unification of Germany.? The previous autocratic monarchical system

was typically conservative, and the German confederation had been widely

accepted by the conservative elements in society.? 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 Bismarck?s 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. Bismarck?s 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 Bismarck?s

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.? 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.? Bismarck?s 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?s statement that ?Bismarck left behind him?a 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 Bismarck?s 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 Bismarck?s

empty place?.? I think that this

statement is fundamentally flawed.? It

is clear that those who stepped into Bismarck?s 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.? The main reason for this was the

overwhelming sense of gratitude for Bismarck?s 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.??? ??????????? ?? ???

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