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Left Liberals, the State, and Popular Politics in Wilhelmine Germany$
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Alastair Thompson

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205432

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205432.001.0001

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Hard-Working Honoratioren: The Mechanics of Left Liberal Party Politics

Hard-Working Honoratioren: The Mechanics of Left Liberal Party Politics

Chapter:
(p.57) 2 Hard-Working Honoratioren: The Mechanics of Left Liberal Party Politics
Source:
Left Liberals, the State, and Popular Politics in Wilhelmine Germany
Author(s):

Alastair P. Thompson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205432.003.0003

The importance of organization, or more precisely the lack of it, to German liberalism has long been recognized. The general opinion is that the left liberals were not quite so ineffective as the National Liberals, but still suffered by not having the sort of powerful mass organizations which were at the disposal of the labour movement, political Catholicism, or Agrarian Conservatism. However, organization and agitation were far from being the poor relations of Wilhelmine politics. Even critics did not deny the importance of ‘machine politics’. Despite having the smallest and least funded formal organization, the left liberals proved capable of mounting forceful election campaigns, which even opponents recognized as being amongst the most powerful in Germany. Clearly, there was still a place for Honoratioren in the mass politics of Wilhelmine Germany. A shift of focus from formal to informal organization is required for an analysis of the most important left liberal response to the growing demands for money, men, and effort placed on political parties in Wilhelmine Germany. Here the role of newspapers was central.

Keywords:   Wilhelmine Germany, left liberals, left liberalism, organization, machine politics, election campaigns, Honoratioren, newspapers, political parties

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