Cosmopolitanism and the National State

Cosmopolitanism and the National State

FRIEDRICH MEINECKE
Translated by Robert B. Kimber
INTRODUCTION BY FELIX GILBERT
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 421
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1c1v
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  • Book Info
    Cosmopolitanism and the National State
    Book Description:

    With this translation, one of the classics of German historical literature becomes available in English. InWeltburgertum und Nationalstaatthe eminent historian Friedrich Meinecke attempted to trace the transition in Germany from eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism to nineteenth-century nationalism, and to clarify the genetic history of the German nation through an analysis of the relationship between Prussia and Germany. The insights and arguments that Meinecke developed in this work have influenced two generations of historians, as has his superb methodology, which integrated the two areas of ideas and politics with rare effectiveness.

    Originally published in 1970.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7210-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Felix Gilbert

    Friedrich Meinecke was the leading German historian in the first half of the twentieth century and an important figure in the development of modern historiography. This should be reason enough to publish a translation of one of his most famous books. However, sixty years have passed since the first appearance in 1907 ofWeltbürgertum und Nationalstaat (Cosmopolitanism and the National State)and republication of a historical work or a first translation after such a long span of time is rare. Such an undertaking usually needs some special justification. In addition to its significance as an authoritative investigation of a historical...

  4. Translator’s Note
    (pp. xvii-2)
  5. Prefaces to Earlier Editions
    (pp. 3-6)
  6. Book I Nation, State, and Cosmopolitanism in the Development of the German Idea of the National State
    • 1 GENERAL REMARKS ON THE NATION, THE NATIONAL STATE, AND COSMOPOLITANISM
      (pp. 9-22)

      If we intend to investigate how the idea of the national state developed in Germany, we must first try to clarify what constitutes a nation and a national state, and we must also try to define the relationship between the two.

      What distinguishes individual nations from each other within the totality of human history? There are no generally valid criteria to help us here. We can see at a glance that nations are large, powerful communities that have arisen in the course of a long historical development and that are involved in continual movement and change. For that reason the...

    • 2 THE NATION AND THE NATIONAL STATE AFTER THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR
      (pp. 23-33)

      Let us review quickly the main currents of thought on the nation and the national state in the last decades of the eighteenth century. In doing so, we can begin with the word nation itself, for the uses of this word help us perceive these currents, and they will also serve to demonstrate the mysterious power of language in the development of such ideas.

      The word nation had already been in use in Germany for several centuries. It was probably taken over directly from the Latin, from the legal language of the state and church in the fifteenth century,¹ and...

    • 3 WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT IN THE LAST DECADE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
      (pp. 34-48)

      As early as his first political writings, the “Ideen über Staatsverfassung, durch die neue französische Revolution veranlasst” (1791) and the “Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirksamkeit des Staates zu bestimmen” (1791 and 1792), Wilhelm von Humboldt touches on the subject of the nation and its relationship to the state. In the first of these two works, the reader is immediately struck by Humboldt’s far-ranging and independent outlook and by his disinterested and philosophically motivated evaluation of what the French people had undertaken at that time. They had attempted the impossible, he thought, if they wanted to create a...

    • 4 NOVALIS AND FRIEDRICH SCHLEGEL IN THE YEARS OF EARLY ROMANTICISM
      (pp. 49-63)

      The end of the last chapter was meant to evoke a quotation from Novalis. By this route, we come from Humboldt and Schiller to the Romantics to inquire how they conceived of the nation and of its relation to the life of the state during their most productive period, the final years of the eighteenth century. From Humboldt’s subtle but coherent thinking, we come now to a world of aphorism and fragment, to a puzzling profusion of suggestive and original ideas. Humboldt’s path always led clearly and directly toward the “ideal human being” that he had set up as his...

    • 5 FRIEDRICH SCHLEGEL IN THE TRANSITION TO POLITICAL ROMANTICISM
      (pp. 64-70)

      Novalis’ life, writing, and thought were like a wonderful and consummate dream, and his early death strikes us as an aesthetically necessary conclusion to this dream. It was Friedrich Schlegel’s lot, however, to outlive his period of fire and genius by nearly three decades. This is not the place to discuss the reasons for the decline of his mind. We are only interested here in the further development of his thoughts about the nation and the national state in the period when, by his conversion to the Catholic Church (1808) and his attachment to Austria, he transformed a free, individualistic...

    • 6 FICHTE AND THE IDEA OF THE GERMAN NATIONAL STATE IN THE YEARS 1806-1813
      (pp. 71-94)

      The case of Friedrich Schlegel shows that very limited and particularistic interests—the interests of the feudal state—attached themselves to the universal and national ideas that rose up against the system of Napoleon. But for a better understanding of the developments that led to the political philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm IV and of his associates, we must return once again to the great main currents of the new national thought in Germany, currents that are free of particularistic interests but that still exhibit a mixture of universal and national ideas. Of the many routes that lead from the cosmopolitan...

    • 7 ADAM MÜLLER IN THE YEARS 1808-1813
      (pp. 95-117)

      Once Fichte had gained an insight into the essence of the power state, he put this knowledge aside again, because the ethical impulse in his thinking was too strong to tolerate the permanent autonomy of any other power. The ethical will that led him into the world of the state and the nation also formed the barrier that hid the total character of these forces from him. Thus, it fell to a mind of much lesser strength but of greater receptivity to achieve a deeper understanding of the national state than Fichte had. This was Adam Müller, who, a year...

    • 8 STEIN, GNEISENAU, AND WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT IN THE YEARS 1812-1815
      (pp. 118-147)

      It will have become clear from our discussion so far that the ideas we have treated derive from two main sources. The unusual blending of both national and universal, political and nonpolitical elements in these ideas can be understood in terms of two major factors: first, the developments within intellectual life itself and second, the influences and impulses arising from the world situation. Filled with a new need to find ideas reflected in reality and to shape reality in the image of ideas, the German mind seized on the idea of the nation and fused it with the highly universalistic...

    • 9 TRANSITION TO THE RESTORATION PERIOD: A GLANCE AT PUBLIC OPINION
      (pp. 148-159)

      Two Main ideas carried over from earlier universalistic culture into the newly awakening national ideas and merged with them. One is the view that the German nation, as the purest intellectual and cultural nation, is the representative nation of all mankind. The second is the postulate of a pan-European union of states. The advocates of the classicalHumanitätsidealcultivated the first idea. During the years of early Romanticism, Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel, and Fichte entertained both ideas, but Fichte placed a much greater emphasis on the first. Adam Müller and the later Friedrich Schlegel did just the opposite, shifting the emphasis...

    • 10 HALLER AND THE CIRCLE OF FRIEDRICH WILHELM IV
      (pp. 160-196)

      Of the two main currents of thought regarding the nation and the national state, the liberal and the Romantic-conservative ones, we shall follow only the latter¹ from here on, and we shall try to determine the path that led from the ideas of Novalis, Schlegel, Adam Müller, and Savigny and from Stein’s German policy to the policy of Friedrich Wilhelm IV and his circle. But now we encounter a system of thought that seems built directly across our path, the system of Karl Ludwig von Haller. In the years of peace after 1815 he exercised a powerful influence on men...

    • 11 HEGEL
      (pp. 197-202)

      The liberation of political thinking from nonpolitical, universalistic ideas was no more the work of individuals than its preceding subjection to these ideas had been. In both cases there were general transformations of thought and feeling in Germany, transformations so varied that the most extensive historical account cannot exhaust their richness and substance. The problem we are dealing with is only one part of the general and infinitely complex problem of the development of the modern mind and particularly of the transition from conjectural to empirical thinking, from ideal and speculative to realistic thinking. The reasons for these transformations derive...

    • 12 RANKE AND BISMARCK
      (pp. 203-230)

      The “nation” belongs to the basic concepts that Ranke’s overall view of history employs, concepts that are so remarkably fruitful because he never demands too much of them, never misuses them for an overly simple classification of historical material, and because he knows that they have no absolutely clear limits of application. When he uses them, he always hints at their origins, which keep blending continually into the infinite. Only a talent as unusual as his, only a mode of thinking simultaneously empirical, philosophical, and artistic could dispense with sharp, clear limits and firm categories without becoming blurred and unclear....

  7. Book II The Prussian National State and the German National State
    • 1 BEGINNINGS OF THE PRUSSO-GERMAN PROBLEM: FROM MOSER TO FRIEDRICH VON GAGERN
      (pp. 233-249)

      The question dealt with in Book I leads directly to a second major problem in the genetic history of the German national state, one that we have touched on before but that we must now treat in more detail.

      The first part of our study showed how the idea of autonomous state personalities made itself felt in Germany in the flood of new ideas and demands that rose up from the depths of national life after the end of the eighteenth century and that sought admittance into the state, particularly into the Prussian state. The Prussian state could not wholly...

    • 2 THE PRUSSO-GERMAN PROBLEM FROM MARCH TO SEPTEMBER 1848
      (pp. 250-270)

      The German Revolution of 1848 is, as we know, a complex of different and differently constituted revolutions that partly achieved their goals but also left behind problems that have remained unsolved to this day. We shall concern ourselves here with the one problem that has indeed been solved, or at least seems to have been: the problem of Prussia’s position in a national federal state under Prussian and Hohenzollern leadership.

      One of the most important and fruitful effects of the March Revolution was that the barrier that had previously existed between the Prussian state and the rest of Germany was...

    • 3 HEINRICH VON GAGERN’S ATTEMPT TO WIN PRUSSIA
      (pp. 271-288)

      Rümelin, the Württemberg delegate in Frankfurt, wrote to theSchwäbische Merkuron October 1:¹ “The rapid and definitive establishment of a German constitution and administration is the only way to rescue Germany from the anarchy and confusion of her present condition. Of the many different plans and schemes to accomplish this, there is one that has only been discussed in private circles up till now but that may have some future. It is the old principle that Prussia should merge with Germany in a new or at least more definite and concrete form. Its basic features are as follows: All...

    • 4 THE PROMULGATION OF THE PRUSSIAN CONSTITUTION OF DECEMBER 5, 1848
      (pp. 289-324)

      The campaign of the Frankfurt delegates in Berlin had failed. On December 5, Prussia received its constitutional government and its separate parliament. There is no doubt that this drove a wedge between Berlin and Frankfurt, between Prussia and Germany. The Prussian government had done just the opposite of what Droysen, Stockmar, Rümelin, and Max and Heinrich von Gagern had thought necessary to incorporate Prussia into the German federal state. This casts an entirely new light on the act of December 5. The significance of this act for the German problem is much greater than we have previously thought it to...

    • 5 THE PERIOD FROM THE PROMULGATION OF THE CONSTITUTION TO THE ELECTION OF THE KAISER
      (pp. 325-335)

      We leave Berlin and Prussia now to return to Frankfurt, the focal point of the efforts that concern us in this study.

      As we have often seen before, a certain ambiguity is integral to the very being of these efforts; and their advocates, after the defeat they had suffered on December 5, were in the fortunate position of being able to register a gain along with their loss. The Prussian state’s every true expression of power also strengthened the Frankfurt Erbkaiserpartei. In an extensive memorial to his government on December 14,¹ Camphausen could note with satisfaction that Prussia’s prestige in...

    • 6 FROM HEINRICH VON GAGERN TO BISMARCK
      (pp. 336-363)

      We pointed out at the beginning of our study that the idea of “Prussia at the head of Germany but without a general diet” was both a political and a nonpolitical conception, a national and a nonnational one. It misunderstood and violated the autonomy of the state personality and the right to existence of the political nationality that had sprung up on the soil of the individual state. In doing this it showed that the nonpolitical mind of the eighteenth century still had a profound influence on it. But it did these things for the sake of a new political...

    • 7 FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRUSSO-GERMAN PROBLEM
      (pp. 364-374)

      Have we completely solved the problem our study set for us? We have examined both the ideas and the presuppositions of 1848 and 1866, and the last five decades have proved the historical viability of Bismarck’s solution. But without wanting to minimize the political value of that solution, we must also add that the state of affairs it created is still far from ideal. Treitschke’s fear of excessive parliamentary activity has been confirmed. This is without doubt one of the reasons why the level and the prestige of parliamentary government has sunk in Germany. Is it not likely that Bismarck...

  8. Epilogue to the Third Edition (Spring 1915)
    (pp. 375-378)

    Even in the first edition of this book in 1908, the concluding remarks led from historical study to political interpretation. Only a few sentences have been added to the text of the first edition on the basis of the experience of recent years. I am printing the concluding pages again in the identical form they received shortly before the outbreak of the World War in order to give historical permanence to what I thought then in contrast to the views the momentous course of world events now suggests to us. However, between an old and a new epoch, new observations...

  9. The Prusso-German Problem in 1921
    (pp. 379-388)
  10. A Note on Terminology
    (pp. 389-390)
  11. Glossary
    (pp. 391-392)
  12. Index
    (pp. 393-403)