Candidate Number: Module Name and Code: Labour Movements in Germany Date Due: Word Count: 2133 words Labour movements in Germany Why German Social Democratic Party (SPD) was before 1914 the Epitome of the Centralized, Ideological Coherent Socialist Party. Between the year, 1870 and 1914 socialism gained an unprecedented prominence in both Germany and Britain…
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The economic fluctuations witnessed during the 1870’s stirred debate on the feasibility of free market system. The economic depression had a weighty consequence on the philosophy of English Trade Unions, which led to adoption of an Anti-Capitalist stance. By then, Englishmen from all classes had grown to admire and respect established political institutions. They also had confidence on the existing liberal and conservative parties, which they thought were competent enough to bring about essential reforms on capitalism as well as other political and social problems (Lipset 1983, p.12). Thus, working class support of conventional political institutions and hope in further reform, demonstrates contrast between Britain and Germany. The latter emphasized pre-eminence of the political while in Britain trade unions organization was the principal focus (Linden 1988, p.307). The reformist policies undertaken in Britain in late 19th century, and early 20th century significantly contributed in assimilation of the workers into the National community, thus reducing resentment to existing political institutions. Whereas SPD was considered as a revolutionary threat, Labour party was not. Apart from economic woes, there were other factors that agitated for recruitment to socialist causes such as industrial expansion, which spurred growth and favoured intense concentration of capital and labour. Similarly, there was immense growth in numbers of urban workers coupled with mass literacy. Whereas economic factor was the overriding theme that heralded socialism in Britain, political factor can be considered to have been the prime motivation in Germany. Workers movement in Germany emerged in the 1840’s although they were limited to the artisans. However, with time, they coalesced to form workers association, which promoted socialist aims of redistribution of wealth and elimination of private property. However, divisions arose concerning how social change could be achieved in society. The contesting parties were torn in between revolution and alliance with the state (Linden 1988, p.307). Prior to 1914; the political parties of Germany did not show willingness or constitutional ability to take power. Much of the parties influence was anchored in pressuring the government through obstruction of legislations and interrogating of government’s on its executive actions. The foremost motivation of the political parties was sectional advantages. Social Democratic Party (SPD) represented socially defensive organizations. At initiation, SPD was split between non-Marxist and Marxist. Later on, the division was between Orthodox and Revisionist Marxist and eventually it adopted a modest, democratic, progressive approach to socialism. Its representation mainly featured politically conscious workers who were repressed by the state. The party, which was inaugurated in 1875, adopted revolutionary programme, dedicated to eradication of class rule (Nettl 1965, p.65). The party also affirmed its dedication of working within the existing system for short term reforms such as state sponsored education system, universal suffrage in all German states and social legislations that safeguarded the working conditions and health of workers. SPD from the onset considered itself an outcast in the political life in Imperial Germany and emphasized a
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