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The German Confederation
Contents:
  1. German Unification | Boundless World History
  2. Intellectual Change in Germany during the 1850’s
  3. Revolutions of 1848
  4. Revolution and Reflection

The German Confederation had roughly the same boundaries as the Empire at the time of the French Revolution less what is now Belgium. The member states, drastically reduced to 39 from more than under the Holy Roman Empire, were recognized as fully sovereign. The members pledged themselves to mutual defense, and joint maintenance of the fortresses at Mainz, the city of Luxembourg, Rastatt, Ulm, and Landau. There was no head of state; the Austrian delegate presided the Assembly but was not granted extra power.

The Assembly met in Frankfurt.

German Unification | Boundless World History

The Confederation was enabled to accept and deploy ambassadors. It allowed ambassadors of the European powers to the Assembly, but rarely deployed ambassadors itself. During the revolution of , the Federal Assembly was inactive and transferred its powers to the revolutionary German Central Government of the Frankfurt National Assembly. After crushing the revolution and illegally disbanding the National Assembly, the Prussian King failed to create a German nation state by himself.

The Federal Assembly was revived in on Austrian initiative, but only fully reinstalled only in the Summer of Rivalry between Prussia and Austria grew substantially beginning in Although the forces unleashed by the French Revolution were seemingly under control after the Vienna Congress, the conflict between conservative forces and liberal nationalists was only deferred. This conflict pitted the forces of the old order against those inspired by the French Revolution and the Rights of Man. The sociological breakdown of the competition was roughly one side engaged mostly in commerce, trade, and industry, and the other side associated with landowning aristocracy or military aristocracy the Junker in Prussia, the Habsburg monarchy in Austria, and the conservative notables of the small princely states and city-states in Germany.

Meanwhile, demands for change from below had been stirring since the influence of the French Revolution. Throughout the German Confederation, Austrian influence was paramount, drawing the ire of the nationalist movements. Metternich considered nationalism, especially the nationalist youth movement, the most pressing danger: German nationalism might not only reject Austrian dominance of the Confederation, but also stimulate nationalist sentiment within the Austrian Empire itself.

In a multinational multilingual state in which Slavs and Magyars outnumbered the Germans, the prospects of Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish, Serb, or Croatian sentiment along with middle-class liberalism was certainly horrifying. Further efforts to improve the Confederation began in with the establishment of a customs union, the Zollverein. In , the Prussian regime sought to stimulate wider trade advantages and industrialism by decree—a logical continuation of the program of Stein and Hardenberg less than two decades earlier.

Historians have seen three Prussian goals: as a political tool to eliminate Austrian influence in Germany; as a way to improve the economies; and to strengthen Germany against potential French aggression while reducing the economic independence of smaller states. The customs union opened up a common market, ended tariffs between states, and standardized weights, measures, and currencies within member states excluding Austria , forming the basis of a proto-national economy. The surge of German nationalism, stimulated by the experience of Germans in the Napoleonic period, the development of a German cultural and artistic identity, and improved transportation through the region, moved Germany toward unification in the 19th century.

Break down the cultural aspects that lent themselves to a common German identity in the 19th century. The unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on January 18, , in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France. Unofficially, the de facto transition of most of the German-speaking populations into a federated organization of states had been developing in fits and starts for some time through alliances formal and informal between princely rulers.

Self-interests of the various parties hampered the process over nearly a century of autocratic experimentation beginning in the era of the Napoleonic Wars, which saw the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and subsequent rise of German nationalism. Unification exposed tensions caused by religious, linguistic, social, and cultural differences among the inhabitants of the new nation, suggesting that only represented one moment in the larger unification process. Given the mountainous terrains of much of the territory, it was inevitable that isolated peoples would develop cultural, educational, linguistic, and religious differences over such a long period.

Germany of the 19th century enjoyed transportation and communications improvements that began uniting people and culture. Despite the legal, administrative, and political disruption associated with the end of the Empire, the people of the German-speaking areas of the old Empire had a common linguistic, cultural, and legal tradition further enhanced by their shared experience in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.

European liberalism offered an intellectual basis for unification by challenging dynastic and absolutist models of social and political organization; its German manifestation emphasized the importance of tradition, education, and linguistic unity of people in a geographic region.

Intellectual Change in Germany during the 1850’s

Economically, the creation of the Prussian Zollverein customs union in and its subsequent expansion to include other states of the German Confederation reduced competition between and within states. Emerging modes of transportation facilitated business and recreational travel, leading to contact and sometimes conflict among German speakers from throughout Central Europe. In the late 18th century, the sense of a German cultural identity began to emerge. Before , the German upper classes looked to France for intellectual, cultural, and architectural leadership; French was the language of high society.

Christian Wolff — was the pioneer as a writer who expounded the Enlightenment to German readers; he legitimized German as a philosophic language. Johann Gottfried von Herder — broke new ground in philosophy and poetry as a leader of the Sturm und Drang movement of proto-Romanticism. Weimar Classicism was a cultural and literary movement based in Weimar that sought to establish a new humanism by synthesizing Romantic, Classical, and Enlightenment ideas. The movement, from until , involved Herder as well as polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — and Friedrich Schiller — , a poet and historian.

Herder argued that every folk had its own particular identity expressed in its language and culture. This legitimized the promotion of German language and culture and helped shape the development of German nationalism. Under the hegemony of the Napoleonic French Empire — , popular German nationalism thrived in the reorganized German states.

Revolutions of 1848

For the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte,. A common language may have been seen to serve as the basis of a nation, but as contemporary historians of 19th-century Germany noted, it took more than linguistic similarity to unify these several hundred polities. The experience of German-speaking Central Europe during the years of French hegemony contributed to a sense of common cause to remove the French invaders and reassert control over their own lands. The surge of German nationalism, stimulated by the experience of Germans in the Napoleonic period and initially allied with liberalism, shifted political, social, and cultural relationships within the German states during the beginning of the German Confederation.

The Wartburg Festival in celebrated Martin Luther as a proto-German nationalist, linking Lutheranism to German nationalism, and helping arouse religious sentiments for the cause of German nationhood. The festival culminated in the burning of several books and other items that symbolized reactionary attitudes.

One item was a book by August von Kotzebue, who was accused of spying for Russia in and then murdered by a theological student, Karl Ludwig Sand, who was executed for the crime. Sand belonged to a militant nationalist faction of the Burschenschaften. Metternich used the murder as a pretext to issue the Carlsbad Decrees of , which dissolved the Burschenschaften , cracked down on the liberal press, and seriously restricted academic freedom. Metternich was able to harness conservative outrage at the assassination to consolidate legislation that would further limit the press and constrain the rising liberal and nationalist movements.

Consequently, these decrees drove the Burschenschaften underground, restricted the publication of nationalist materials, expanded censorship of the press and private correspondence, and limited academic speech by prohibiting university professors from encouraging nationalist discussion. By the early 19th century, German roads had deteriorated to an appalling extent. As German states ceased to be a military crossroads, however, the roads improved; the length of hard-surfaced roads in Prussia increased from 3, kilometers 2, mi in to 16, kilometers 10, mi in As people moved around, they came into contact with others on trains, at hotels, in restaurants, and for some, at fashionable resorts such as the spa in Baden-Baden.

Water transportation also improved. As important as these improvements were, they could not compete with the impact of the railway. Its impact reached throughout the social order, affecting everyone from the highest-born to the lowest. Although some of the outlying German provinces were not serviced by rail until the s, the majority of the population, manufacturing centers, and production centers were linked to the rail network by As travel became easier, faster, and less expensive, Germans started to see unity in factors other than language.

The Brothers Grimm, who compiled a massive dictionary known as The Grimm, also assembled a compendium of folk tales and fables that highlighted the storytelling parallels between different regions. Karl Baedeker wrote guidebooks to different cities and regions of Central Europe, indicating places to stay, sites to visit, and giving a short history of castles, battlefields, famous buildings, and famous people. His guides also included distances, roads to avoid, and hiking paths to follow. The words of August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben expressed not only the linguistic unity of the German people but also their geographic unity.

She is holding a shield with the coat of arms of the German Confederation. The shields on which she stands are the arms of the seven traditional Electors of the Holy Roman Empire. Growing discontent with the political and social order imposed by the Congress of Vienna led to the outbreak in of the March Revolution in the German states.

The revolutions of in the German states, the opening phase of which was also called the March Revolution, were initially part of the Revolutions of that broke out in many European countries. They were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire.

The revolutions, which stressed pan-Germanism, demonstrated popular discontent with the traditional, largely autocratic political structure of the 39 independent states of the Confederation that inherited the German territory of the former Holy Roman Empire. They demonstrated the popular desire for the Zollverein movement. The middle-class elements were committed to liberal principles while the working class sought radical improvements to their working and living conditions.

As the middle class and working class components of the Revolution split, the conservative aristocracy defeated it. Liberals were forced into exile to escape political persecution, where they became known as Forty-Eighters. Many immigrated to the United States, settling from Wisconsin to Texas. The groundwork of the uprising in Germany was laid long beforehand.

The Hambacher Fest of , for instance, reflected growing unrest in the face of heavy taxation and political censorship. Activism for liberal reform spread through many of the German states, each of which had distinct revolutions. They were also inspired by street demonstrations of workers and artisans in Paris, France, from February , , which resulted in the abdication by King Louis Philippe of France and his exile in Britain.

In France the revolution of became known as the February Revolution. The revolutions spread across Europe; they erupted in Austria and Germany, beginning with the large demonstrations on March 13, , in Vienna. This resulted in the resignation of Prince von Metternich as chief minister to Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria, and his exile in Britain. Because of the date of the Vienna demonstrations, the revolutions in Germany are usually called the March Revolution.

Fearing the fate of Louis-Philippe of France, some monarchs in Germany accepted some of the demands of the revolutionaries, at least temporarily. In the south and west, large popular assemblies and mass demonstrations took place. They demanded freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, written constitutions, arming of the people, and a parliament. In , Austria was the predominant German state. It was considered the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, which had been dissolved by Napoleon in , and was not resurrected by the Congress of Vienna in German Austrian chancellor Metternich had dominated Austrian politics from until On March 13, , university students mounted a large street demonstration in Vienna, and it was covered by the press across the German-speaking states.

Following the important but relatively minor demonstrations against Lola Montez in Bavaria on February 9, , the first major revolt of in German lands occurred in Vienna on March 13, The student demonstrators demanded a constitution and a constituent assembly elected by universal male suffrage. Emperor Ferdinand and his chief adviser Metternich directed troops to crush the demonstration. When demonstrators moved to the streets near the palace, the troops fired on the students, killing several. The new working class of Vienna joined the student demonstrations, developing an armed insurrection.

The former chancellor went into exile in London. On March 13, the army charged people returning from a meeting in the Tiergarten; they left one person dead and many injured. On March 18, a large demonstration occurred; when two shots were fired, the people feared that some of the 20, soldiers would be used against them.

They erected barricades, fighting started, and a battle took place until troops were ordered 13 hours later to retreat, leaving hundreds dead. Afterwards, Frederick William attempted to reassure the public that he would proceed with reorganizing his government. The king also approved arming the citizens. Starting on May 18, , the Frankfurt Assembly worked to find ways to unite the various German states and write a constitution. The Assembly was unable to pass resolutions and dissolved into endless debate. After long and controversial discussions, the assembly produced the so-called Frankfurt Constitution, which proclaimed a German Empire based on the principles of parliamentary democracy.

The parliament also proposed a constitutional monarchy headed by a hereditary emperor Kaiser. King Frederick William IV of Prussia unilaterally imposed a monarchist constitution to undercut the democratic forces. This constitution took effect on December 5, On December 5, , the revolutionary Assembly was dissolved and replaced with the bicameral legislature allowed under the monarchist Constitution.

Otto von Bismarck was elected to the first congress elected under the new monarchical constitution. By late , the Prussian aristocrats including Otto von Bismarck and generals had regained power in Berlin. They were not defeated permanently during the incidents of March, but had only retreated temporarily. General von Wrangel led the troops who recaptured Berlin for the old powers, and King Frederick William IV of Prussia immediately rejoined the old forces. In November, the king dissolved the new Prussian parliament and put forth a constitution of his own based upon the work of the assembly, yet maintaining the ultimate authority of the king.

The achievements of the revolutionaries of March were reversed in all of the German states and by , the Basic Rights from the Frankfurt Assembly had also been abolished nearly everywhere. In the end, the revolution fizzled because of the divisions between the various factions in Frankfurt, the calculating caution of the liberals, the failure of the left to marshal popular support and the overwhelming superiority of the monarchist forces.

The Revolution of failed in its attempt to unify the German-speaking states because the Frankfurt Assembly reflected the many different interests of the German ruling classes. Its members were unable to form coalitions and push for specific goals. The first conflict arose over the goals of the assembly. The moderate liberals wanted to draft a constitution to present to the monarchs, whereas the smaller group of radical members wanted the assembly to declare itself as a law-giving parliament.

They were unable to overcome this fundamental division, and did not take any definitive action toward unification or the introduction of democratic rules. The assembly declined into debate. While the French revolution drew on an existing nation state, the democratic and liberal forces in Germany of were confronted with the need to build a nation state and a constitutional at the same time, which overtaxed them. In the s, Otto von Bismarck, then Minister President of Prussia, provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France, aligning the smaller German states behind Prussia in its defeat of France.

In he unified Germany into a nation-state, forming the German Empire. Otto von Bismarck was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the s until In the s he engineered a series of wars that unified the German states, significantly and deliberately excluding Austria, into a powerful German Empire under Prussian leadership.

In , King Wilhelm I appointed Bismarck as Minister President of Prussia, a position he would hold until except for a short break in He provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France, aligning the smaller German states behind Prussia in its defeat of France. In he formed the German Empire with himself as Chancellor while retaining control of Prussia.

He disliked colonialism but reluctantly built an overseas empire when it was demanded by both elite and mass opinion. A master of complex politics at home, Bismarck created the first welfare state in the modern world, with the goal of gaining working-class support that might otherwise have gone to his Socialist enemies. He lost that battle as the Catholics responded by forming a powerful Centre party and using universal male suffrage to gain a bloc of seats.

Bismarck then reversed himself, ended the Kulturkampf , broke with the Liberals, imposed protective tariffs, and formed a political alliance with the Centre Party to fight the Socialists. Bismarck—a Junker himself—was strong-willed, outspoken, and sometimes judged overbearing, but he could also be polite, charming, and witty. Occasionally he displayed a violent temper, and he kept his power by melodramatically threatening resignation time and again, which cowed Wilhelm I. He possessed not only a long-term national and international vision but also the short-term ability to juggle complex developments.

Thus, for Bakunin, violence is not merely an extreme alternative in case non-violent for example, legal vehicles of transformation fail. Instead, it is an inherent factor of revolution. In his comments on revolution, provoked by the experience of the Iranian Revolution, Michel Foucault agrees with this assessment insofar as he considers manifestations of violence an important motor of transformative politics compare Foucault, []. This fighting position, for Foucault, is to be seen as an inevitable element of radical change.

Despite his constative judgment that violent conflict essentially enables revolutionary dynamics, he does not present an elaborate justification of revolutionary violence. Contrary to Bakunin and Foucault, Kant understands violence as neither a necessary nor a justifiable element of revolution. Not only do his remarks reveal a pronounced reservation resulting from empirical observations of the cruelties committed in the course of the revolution in France cf.

Kant, []. What is more, his rejection of the idea that violence could be considered a legitimate means of progress is a matter of principle.

His position becomes particularly manifest in his reflections on the trial against Louis XVI as presented in the Doctrine of Right compare Kant, []. From the standpoint of his practical philosophy, there can be no doubt that the execution of the previous monarch is not acceptable. For Kant, this form of legally regulated and sanctioned regicide differs from historically well-known simple regicide, that is, the killing of a king on impulse or motivated by political power strategies: For in the trial, the established political principle of the inviolable nature of sovereign power is undermined and ultimately replaced by the principle of violence.

Since the prosecution, in trying and finally executing the former king of France, does not appeal to a singular, exceptional situation but, instead, lends general juridical character to it, violent revolutionary insurrection against the sovereign is turned into a principle or Grundsatz of politics. More importantly, it passes off the violent protest against sovereign governments as generally permissible and problematically normalizes it.

Condorcet is one of the thinkers who neither understands violence as an integral part of revolution and gives carte blanche to its use nor completely rules out that it can serve as a justifiable means in processes of radical transformation. The binary logic of the Jacobins according to which any monarch has to either rule or die and their corresponding attempt to apply the laws of war in the trial against the king are thus curbed.

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Revolution and Reflection

The position suggested by Condorcet allows for an at least tentative maintenance of the rule of law and of the validity of principles of justice. Like any other laws and measures, revolutionary laws and measures as developed in the course of the trial are subject to the rules of justice compare Condorcet, According to Condorcet, the exceptional, unprecedented situation of the revolutionary trial has to be modeled on the ideal of due process of law if it is to remain distinguishable from mere revolutionary terror.

Thus, revolutionary violence as it manifests itself in the eventual execution of the former king is not categorically rejected. However, it can only be considered as justified if it is legally channeled and, as a result, compatible with certain demands of justice. Insisting on the significance of revolutionary justice however imperfect in its practical realization in the exercise of legally qualified violent acts, Condorcet avoids the common opposition of either violence or law as the decisive tools of transformation.

On the one hand, this treatment of the representatives of the old system, in not suspending the law, sets an example for the new order and for the way in which it interprets law and justice. It thus contributes to the transformation of revolutionary violence into legitimate authority. Intermediate positions between the extremes of approval and rejection of violence as an instrument of revolution are also developed by Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, and, more recently, by Slavoj Zizek.

At any rate, revolutionary movements, for Benjamin, represent a form of justice that incommensurably exceeds the existing legal order. Marcuse , in contrast, proposes a quasi-utilitarian justification of revolutionary violence. The suggested calculus amounts to a cost-benefit analysis of the probable number of victims on the one hand and the probable gains in human progress on the other in terms of, for example, tolerance or human rights.

For Marcuse, the historical events in England, America, and France prove the dialectical character of revolutionary violence, that is, the fact that violent conflict can contribute decisively to substantial economic and social, political and moral improvements. However, he insists that such violence is justifiable only if its use a is directly and recognizably tied to specific moral goals and b ceases at the earliest possible stage of the revolutionary process.

His reflections concentrate on the revolutionary capacities of passive forms of violence, which he presents as particularly justifiable. Debates within and around contemporary movements with fundamentally transformative social and political agendas attest to the continued significance of violence, of its permissibility and justifiability, as the central normative problem in the context of revolution. Supporters of the Occupy movement deny the legitimacy of physical violence and, in particular, of physical violence directed against persons, as a means of revolutionary change.

The adherence to this kind of inactive, discursive violence was expressed performatively during the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul. In Egypt, supporters of the Arab Spring movement took recourse to certain strands within the Islamic legal tradition when considering the question of violence. It was not only in terms of human rights and democratic governance but also in terms of the Islamic law of rebellion and of war that the question of violence was discussed.

Although the positions of the main legal schools of thought differ considerably in their assessment of the question, there is a pronounced tendency to attempt to avoid or, at least, limit violence in internal conflicts and to consider it justifiable only if all other means of bringing about change have been exhausted compare El Fadl, ; Al Dawoody, The question of freedom pertains to the primary objective of revolutionary transformation. Here, the spectrum established by theorists of revolution spans between the poles of freedom as liberation from oppression that is, negative revolutionary freedom and of freedom as the foundation and realization of a new political order that is, positive revolutionary freedom.

Post-colonial theorist Frantz Fanon , in his reflections on revolutionary change, primarily concentrates on the aspect of liberation. A comparable focus on revolutionary freedom as freedom from oppression characterizes the thinking of critical theorist Herbert Marcuse. For him, breaking free from the existing order is the essential element of a revolution.

Instead, processes of profound, sustainable transformation have to meet certain conditions if they are to be labeled as political. Similarly, Thomas Jefferson , himself a central intellectual and political figure of the American Revolution, insists on the importance of positive aspects of revolutionary freedom. Karl Marx endeavors to relativize the opposition between either negative or positive freedom as definitive of revolutionary freedom.

For him, revolution has to be conceived as a temporal process spanning over different stages. Marx argues that under the guise of this strictly individualist and merely formal kind of freedom, it is exclusively capital, not humans that can be considered as free. In his understanding, the indeterminacy or openness of this concept as regards content guarantees that the spontaneity constitutive of freedom is not prefigured and, thereby, inhibited or even suppressed: For Marx, it is evident that the precise results of authentically free human action and interaction cannot be predicted.

Thus, the significance of his vision of a future free society, in which the difference between oppressors and oppressed is overcome, is underlined in his deliberate refusal to further specify its shape. The question of the revolutionary subject pertains to the primary agent of radical transformation.

From this it follows that the revolutions in the United States and France or the slave uprising in Haiti on which Hegel comments have to be interpreted as indicative of the current stage of development of the idea of freedom. In both cases, human will and action is autonomous. Yet, according to Rousseau and Jefferson, revolutionary subjectivity is strongly affected and limited by what historical situations grant or deny respectively.

Further questions arise once theorists have identified man as the subject to actively make revolution. Another debate in this context concerns the driving motivational forces behind revolutionary subjectivity. Here, some theorists emphasize material, that is, social or economic factors, while others understand immaterial, that is, intellectual or spiritual factors, to be decisive. Finally, the positions diverge with respect to the attitudes that are considered particularly conducive to effective individual or collective revolutionary action.


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In her view, this mental commitment to non-anger is more decisive for revolutionary justice and for post-revolutionary reconciliation between former opponents than the practical commitment to non-violence. The question of the revolutionary object pertains to the primary target of revolutionary change. Two predominant strands can be distinguished: While some theorists hold that revolutions should primarily aim at converting the attitudes, convictions, belief systems and world-views of individuals, others argue that the material, institutional frameworks within which humans act and interact constitute the main object or site of revolutionary change.

Once more, a variety of positions can be found in between these extremes. Such positions hold both dimensions not only to be necessary conditions of radical change but also to mutually affect each other. Fanon is one of the thinkers who argue that revolution cannot be limited to a remaking of the external world, that is, to the establishment of a different political, economic, social, and cultural order. Therefore, conquering freedom in its totality is tantamount to establishing an order that abolishes every political or religious institution that exercises authority.

Such a society organizes itself according to the principles of decentralization, social diversity, and horizontal interconnectedness, which allow for harmony and happiness on both the subjective and inter-subjective level compare Kropotkin, []. This line of thought, which emphasizes the primacy of institutional transformation, is also represented by Kant. Insisting on the comprehensive character of revolution, Rousseau, when thinking about its adequate object or target, attempts to avoid comparable predeterminations. He argues that both the modus operandi of individual humans that is, their ways of thinking, feeling, and acting and of political institutions that is, their ways of being structured and of acting upon citizens has to be tackled for thorough transformation to occur.

This question pertains to a the temporality or, more narrowly, the duration and b the expansion of revolutionary transformation. Theorists dissent considerably as to whether such transformation has to be conceived as momentary, procedural, or permanent; they also disagree whether revolutions are to be understood as local, national, international, or global instances of profound, lasting politico-social change. For him, revolution thus constitutes a momentary event that makes a switch from a state of historical normalcy to a state of historical exception possible.

As opposed to Benjamin, thinkers like Hegel or Antonio Gramsci understand revolution as a process that spans in time before it leads to substantial, intelligible change, that is, to new political, legal, and economic, cultural, linguistic, and aesthetic principles being implemented and effectively taking root.

Similarly, Marx and Engels put emphasis on the aspect of duration. According to his view, revolution cannot hope for a final stage of satisfaction and completion compare Balibar, Other thinkers discuss revolution primarily in terms of its spatial extension. Within such spheres, alternatives to dominant forms of coexistence and interaction, of politics and economy can be practiced whereby the existing order is unmasked as contingent.

It is primarily in terms of these central questions that they have attempted to conceptually grasp revolution. Despite their pronounced heterogeneity and their attempts to periodically redefine revolution, it is with respect to these key questions that the theories presented here share family resemblances to one another. Defining whether political change can be considered revolutionary constitutes the conceptual issue at the core of these theories. In particular, they aim at circumscribing revolution in regard to related, yet distinct concepts such as revolt, rebellion, and reform whereby the questions of the new, of liberty, and of the legitimacy of violence serve as the most relevant criteria for demarcation.

The first two criteria play a central role in the distinction between revolution on the one hand, revolt and rebellion on the other. As a consequence of the underlying main goal of casting off an unjust, oppressive regime, both revolt and rebellion are based on limited notions of novelty and liberty. Thus, in comparison to revolutionary change, the specific kind of change they aspire to is more marginal in its scope.

For the differentiation of revolution and reform, the criteria of novelty and violence are central. Accordingly, when Kropotkin links revolution and revolt or when Kant explicitly associates revolution with reform, the relatedness between these concepts and not to mention the phenomena is reflected. In light of these resemblances, attempts at a precise conceptual critique of revolution, which distinguishes it sharply from revolt, rebellion, or reform remain heuristic in character.

Determining if and under what conditions revolutionary action and, especially, revolutionary violence are morally justified constitutes the normative issue at the core of theories of revolution. Although revolution represents the most radical expression of dissent and protest, the determination of its legitimacy reveals points of contact with debates on less extreme forms of a politics of resistance and transformation such as, for example, civil disobedience compare Rawls, Despite the differences as to, inter alia, the scope of the envisaged transformation, their legitimacy essentially depends on the underlying cause and motivation.

Revolutionary action and, with it, at least temporary political disorder, can only be considered legitimate if it aims at overcoming continued violations of the basic rights of specific groups or entire nations by the regime in power that are both severe and systematic. While conflict between ruling powers and revolutionary movements typically takes place within the context of a state, broader issues independent of the policies of a specific state can also be invoked as a justified cause to engage in radically transformative politics.

The Occupy movement and its appeal to the inequalities brought about by the current global economic system is a case in point. Furthermore, the il legitimacy of revolutionary politics is determined by the heavily disputed question of the permissibility of revolutionary violence. In relation to this question, the focus is not on the just cause, the right reason and intention of such a politics, but on the conduct in the course of its realization.

The dispute pertains to different dimensions: It concerns the general issue whether violence can be considered a politically and, more importantly, morally justifiable means of revolution, in other words, whether, based on strategic or principled considerations, its use can be justified at all. In addition, it concerns more specific issues such as its justifiable form for example, violence against property , scope for example, violence limited to early stages of the revolutionary process , and status for example, violence as a last resort once all peaceful alternatives have failed.

Here, the discussion on revolution resembles theoretical debates on just war Arendt, []; Walzer, []. Besides the perspectives of cause in analogy to the terminology of just war theory: ius ad revolutionem and conduct ius in revolutione , there is a third critical perspective, in terms of which the legitimacy of revolutionary action and violence is determined. This perspective focuses on the ius post revolutionem , that is, on the final stage of a revolution, and assesses its capacity to terminate the state of exception in order to transition into a new and stable political order.

Thereby, the stability of such a reconstitution is largely predicated on reconciliation with and inclusion of former adversaries. It is mainly thanks to the criteria of cause, conduct, and reconstitution that revolutionary violence becomes distinguishable from the violence used by criminals and, especially, terrorists. A further relevant issue with regard to just revolution theory pertains to the self-authorization of revolutionary movements, which raises the questions whom such movements speak for and whose interests they represent.

To conclude, this article provides a sample of the rich theoretical discourse surrounding the contested concept of revolution. While the positions developed within the three dominant schools of thought democratic, communist, and anarchist are strongly shaped by broader commitments to the underlying political philosophies and often indebted to other debates for example, on war , this discourse has distinctive features due to the specificity of its object of investigation and the controversial exchange of views between the different traditions.

Given both its width and unsettledness, there are significant conceptual and normative issues for philosophers to address. Florian Grosser Email: florian. Gallen Switzerland. Political Revolution Revolutions are commonly understood as instances of fundamental socio-political transformation. History of the Concept In preparation for presentation of the different philosophical approaches to revolution in the following article, this section is concerned with providing a concise outline of the history of the concept. Three Traditions of Thought Before turning to a detailed examination of important conceptual and normative issues concerning revolution, this section aims at giving an overview of three dominant lines of thought on revolution.

The Communist Tradition A primarily communist line of revolutionary theory begins with the works of Rousseau. Concepts of Revolution The following section discusses central questions addressed in the works of theorists from these main strands: The questions of novelty, violence, freedom, the revolutionary subject, the revolutionary object or target, and the extension of revolution. The Question of Novelty The question of novelty pertains to the degree of revolutionary transformation and to the mode in which such transformation is achieved.

The Question of Violence The question of violence pertains to legitimate means of revolutionary transformation. The Question of Freedom The question of freedom pertains to the primary objective of revolutionary transformation. The Question of the Revolutionary Subject The question of the revolutionary subject pertains to the primary agent of radical transformation.

The Question of the Revolutionary Object The question of the revolutionary object pertains to the primary target of revolutionary change. The Question of the Extension of Revolution This question pertains to a the temporality or, more narrowly, the duration and b the expansion of revolutionary transformation.

References and Further Reading Arendt, H. Badiou, A. Ingram, Durham: Duke University Press. Bakunin, M. Shatz, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Benjamin, W. Schweppenhauser, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, — Berman, H. Butler, J. Camus, A. Bower, New York: Vintage Books. Condorcet, J. Dawoody, M. DeFronzo, J.