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Community in Historical Perspective

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About the Authors
  • This is the first English translation of the first work of Otto von Gierke, arguably the greatest historian of ideas of the nineteenth century. Community in Historical Perspective includes much of the first volume of Das Deutsche Genossenschaftsrecht, originally published in 1868, and the texts translated here have become essential reading for anyone interested not only in the history of ideas and alternatives to conventional socialism and liberalism, but also, as recent experience has shown, contemporary European affairs. Von Gierke's represented an unparalleled attempt to justify a political programme of structural pluralism, and to interpret the entire course of European history from the Dark Ages onwards as a progressive interaction between 'fellowship' (or 'comradeship') and 'lordship' (or 'sovereignty'). This interaction was to generate a polity of autonomous associations within a constitutional state based upon consent and federal unity, and von Gierke here laid the basis for a distinctively Germanic programme of federalism and quasi-pluralism, with a strongly nationalist emphasis upon the unique capacity of Germans, despite long periods of absolute rule, for corporate self-management.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2011
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511872518
    • availability: Adobe Reader ebooks available from
  • Table of Contents

    Note on the translations
    Life of Otto von Gierke
    List of the major works of Otto von Gierke
    Editor's introduction
    Part I. The German Law of Fellowship: Volume I. The Legal and Moral History of the German Fellowship: Preface to volume I
    Introduction: the meaning of association, scope and plan of the work
    1. The five periods of European history
    2. Up to AD 800
    the feudal system
    3. Free union: gilds and craft gilds
    4. The medieval cities
    5. The golden age of the craft gilds
    6. Political unions, city leagues, the Hansa
    7. The Empire as union
    8. Rural communes and federations: Switzerland and North Germany
    9. The estates, representation and the territorial state
    10. The peasantry and rural fellowships
    11. Corporations and the sovereign state, 1525–1806
    12. Rural communities, 1525–1806
    13. Towns and cities from 1525 to the present
    14. Parliamentary representation and the development of the modern state
    15. The Empire, 1525–1806
    16. Fellowships under benevolent despotism, 1525–1806
    17. Free fellowships for economic purposes from 1525 to the present
    18. Economic fellowships based on property: the joint-stock company
    19. Economic fellowships based on personality: the producers' co-operative
    Part II. The German Law of Fellowship: Volume II. The History of the German Concept of Corporation: Outline of contents
    20. The concept of fellowship
    21. Corporation and institution
    Part III. The German Law of Fellowship: Volume III. The Doctrine of State and Corporation in the Ancient World and the Middle Ages, and its Reception in Germany: Introduction: the genesis of the academic theory of state and corporation

  • Editor

    Antony Black


    Mary Fischer

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