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  • Print publication year: 1978
  • Online publication date: January 2011

13 - Economic Policy and the National Interest in Imperial Germany



It has always been the case that, when a class has achieved economic power, it begins to think of its expectations of political leadership. It is dangerous and, in the long run, contrary to the national interest for an economically declining class to retain political dominance. But it is even more dangerous when economic strength and so the hope of political power come the way of classes which are not yet sufficiently mature in political terms for the leadership of the state. Both these menaces threaten Germany at the present time and are in reality the key to the present dangers of our situation. Furthermore, the shifts in the social structure of the East, with which the phenomena discussed in the first part of this lecture are connected, belong in this wider context.

Right up to the present day, the dynasty in Prussia has been politically dependent on the Prussian Junker Estate. It is only in cooperation with it (though admittedly also in opposition to it) that it has been able to build the Prussian state. I am well aware that, to South German ears, the word ‘Junker’ has a joyless ring. Perhaps it will be felt that I am speaking in too. ‘Prussian’ a fashion if I say a word in their favour. I do not know. Even today in Prussia that Estate has many opportunities for achieving power and influence, or for reaching the ear of the monarch, which are not open to every citizen.

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Max Weber: Selections in Translation
  • Online ISBN: 9780511810831
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