To What Extent Was Germany an Entrenched Authoritarian State in the Years 1900-14?

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 826
  • Published : January 23, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
Despite elements of democracy, with the Kaiser at the Head of the Constitution and holding such significant powers, Wilhelminian Germany was clearly structured to maintain authority and keep the power concentrated at the top. The issue is whether or not in practice the state was totally authoritarian and how far Germany was stuck in authoritarianism, or in other words; how much potential for advancement towards democracy there was. It also needs to be established what is meant by an 'authoritarian state' as the Kaiser's power can be seen in the reflection of other powers; the Kaiser was the head of the army & appointed the Chancellor, therefore the authoritarianism & power of these two can be seen to reflect the authoritarianism & power of the Kaiser. Even areas where the strength of influence from Prussian elite is dominant can be seen as indicating an authoritarian state as the elite thrive in authoritarianism & bureaucrats flourish under strong monarchy. True democracy must involve 'the people', rather than just the bureaucrats, having a strong influence & active part in how the country is run, as only then is everyone's interests given a fair chance to be considered. EXAMPLES However, the ‘Structuralist’ theory, heavily influenced by Marxism, argues the traditional Prussian elite were not supporting the Kaiser’s power, but seeking to fill the power vacuum left by his weak personality and the limited constitutional power of the Reichstag. This can be seen as being actively done when, instead of making an enemy of the new industrial elite, they form an alliance with them. It could be argued that this alliance actually encouraged authoritarianism as it suppressed the forces of democracy, but with the Prussian elite directing society rather than the Kaiser authoritarianism can be said to have decreased whether or not democracy decreased with it. Further evidence of the influence of the traditional elite is the success of the hugely influential Navy League with...
tracking img