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Revolution and Counter-Revolution or, Germany in 1848

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Revolution and Counter-Revolution is an account of what happened in Prussia, Austria and other German states during 1848, describing the impact on both middle-class and working-class aspirations and on the idea of German unification. Events in Austria and Prussia are discussed, along with the role of the Poles and Czechs and Panslavism, which Engels was against. (Summary b Revolution and Counter-Revolution is an account of what happened in Prussia, Austria and other German states during 1848, describing the impact on both middle-class and working-class aspirations and on the idea of German unification. Events in Austria and Prussia are discussed, along with the role of the Poles and Czechs and Panslavism, which Engels was against. (Summary by Wikipedia)


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Revolution and Counter-Revolution is an account of what happened in Prussia, Austria and other German states during 1848, describing the impact on both middle-class and working-class aspirations and on the idea of German unification. Events in Austria and Prussia are discussed, along with the role of the Poles and Czechs and Panslavism, which Engels was against. (Summary b Revolution and Counter-Revolution is an account of what happened in Prussia, Austria and other German states during 1848, describing the impact on both middle-class and working-class aspirations and on the idea of German unification. Events in Austria and Prussia are discussed, along with the role of the Poles and Czechs and Panslavism, which Engels was against. (Summary by Wikipedia)

30 review for Revolution and Counter-Revolution or, Germany in 1848

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    Revolution is a strange thing in the work of Karl Marx. He believes, truly believes, that he has revolution down to a science. He is rigidly logical; if you accept his premises, then the conclusions follow. Unfortunately, his premises are unsound, and his conclusions do not follow – all of which means that the contemporary reader must peruse Marx’s Revolution and Counter-Revolution; or, Germany in 1848 with more than a few grains of salt. Revolution and Counter-Revolution is taken from a series o Revolution is a strange thing in the work of Karl Marx. He believes, truly believes, that he has revolution down to a science. He is rigidly logical; if you accept his premises, then the conclusions follow. Unfortunately, his premises are unsound, and his conclusions do not follow – all of which means that the contemporary reader must peruse Marx’s Revolution and Counter-Revolution; or, Germany in 1848 with more than a few grains of salt. Revolution and Counter-Revolution is taken from a series of newspaper articles that Marx wrote from England for the New York Tribune in 1851 and 1852; by that point in time, Marx had found both France and post-revolutionary Germany less than hospitable. Das Kapital was more than a decade in Marx’s future, but the old revolutionary had already published The Communist Manifesto (1848), and therefore it can be no surprise that Marx was persona non grata for many in authority in Paris and Berlin. The articles that make up Revolution and Counter-Revolution did not appear in book form in Marx’s lifetime; rather, they were compiled by Marx’s daughter, Eleanor Marx Aveling, and published as a book at Chicago in 1912 – just five years before Marx’s theories were to become much more prominent a subject of conversation, with the Russian Revolution of 1917. As he surveys Germany’s failed democratic revolution of 1848, Marx always puts his revolutionary theory at the forefront of his analysis. We all know the basic tenets of Marxian ideology: people are divided into classes by the economic system. Societies start out as feudal, and then progress to capitalist societies that are characterized by profound injustice. These societies will fall to socialist revolutions led by ordinary working people; and eventually, after all the world’s nations have gone socialist, a communist utopia of perfect worldwide peace, freedom, and prosperity will ensue. Looking back on the defeat of the revolutionary forces in Germany, Marx states that “If, then, we have been beaten, we have nothing else to do but to begin again from the beginning.” Reasoning thus from first principles, Marx comes to the following conclusion: “That the sudden movements of February and March, 1848, were not the work of single individuals, but spontaneous, irresistible manifestations of national wants and necessities, more or less clearly understood, but very distinctly felt by numerous classes in every country, is a fact recognized everywhere” (p. 4). No, Mr. Marx, that is not a fact recognized everywhere, but it is certainly something that you believe quite deeply: that the different classes of society are governed by laws that work just as inevitably, and just as inexorably, as the Newtonian laws of motion in physics. Marx takes pains to point out the reasons why Germany was not ready for his kind of revolution. He feels that Germany was way behind Great Britain and France at that same time because, for example, “the feudal nobility in Germany had retained a great portion of their ancient privileges” (p. 5), in contrast with British and French societies where feudalism had become vestigial as the two countries adopted capitalism. He feels that the same sort of backwardness characterized German industry: The causes of this backwardness of German manufactures were manifold, but two will suffice to account for it: the unfavorable geographical situation of the country, as a distance from the Atlantic, which had become the great highway for the world’s trade, and the continuous wars in which Germany was involved, and which were fought on her soil, from the sixteenth century to the present day. (p. 5) This is an important consideration for Marx because, in his view, the industrial working-class are key to a proletarian revolution – but cannot make the socialist revolution that will ultimately lead to communism because society must first transition from feudalism to capitalism: “The working class movement itself never is independent, never is of an exclusively proletarian character until all the different factions of the middle class, and particularly its most progressive faction, the large manufacturers, have conquered political power, and remodelled the State according to their wants” (p. 7). Historically, the German Revolution failed for a number of reasons – a diffuse revolutionary movement, widely scattered across a large region with little infrastructure for transportation or communications; uncertainty as to goals and aims (a constitutional monarchy for some, a republic for others); infighting between more moderate and more radical elements; well-established autocrats in Berlin and Vienna who were coldly determined to hold on to power by any means necessary. But Marx is only interested in those parts of the story that support his belief that the revolution failed because the more moderate and centrist revolutionaries failed to get behind their more radical allies. In Marx’s world, it’s all about vindicating Marx’s theories. Marx’s contempt for bourgeois capitalists, whom he blames in large part for the failure of the revolution, comes through in his description of the class of shopkeepers and petty traders across Germany: “Humble and crouchingly submissive under a powerful feudal or monarchical Government, it turns to the side of Liberalism when the middle class is in the ascendant; it becomes seized with violent democratic fits as soon as the middle class has secured its own supremacy, but falls back into the abject despondency of fear as soon as the class below itself, the proletarians, attempts an independent movement” (p. 7). Throughout Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Marx assigns to this class much of the blame for the failure of the German Revolution of 1848, writing grimly that “Where there are no common interests, there can be no unity of purpose, much less of action” (p. 7). The revolution brought together, for a time, relatively centrist and relatively radical revolutionary elements, as revolutions in America and France had in the prior century. But Marx has no use for that kind of revolution, as, according to his thinking, “it is the fate of all revolutions that this union of different classes, which in some degree is always the necessary condition of any revolution, cannot subsist long” (p. 21). In Marx’s view, the post-revolutionary bourgeois and proletarian classes must turn on each other, whether a particular revolution has succeeded or failed – and the proletarian class must eventually prevail. Marx describes insurrections at Vienna and Berlin, as well as the declaration of a National Assembly at Frankfurt-am-Main that, among other things, gave Germany its current national flag, a beautiful tricolour of black, red, and gold that indicates the nation’s commitment to German democracy. When it comes to the National Assembly, however, Marx’s contempt for the bourgeois background of most Assembly members is unconcealed, as he denounces the Assembly as an “Assembly of old women”: “…an Assembly composed in its majority of Liberal attorneys and doctrinaire professors, an Assembly which, while it pretended to embody the very essence of German intellect and science, was in reality nothing but a stage where old and worn-out political characters exhibited their involuntary ludicrousness and their impotence of thought, as well as action, before the eyes of all Germany.” (p. 26) Marx feels that there was a great betrayal of the Revolution at Vienna, and he dutifully chronicles the ultimate triumph of Prussia, the final crushing of the insurrection, and a “Communist Monster Trial” that took place at Cologne (Köln) in 1852. Let me just say here that, while I find communism to be a destructive and morally bankrupt ideology, I do think that “Communist Monster Trial” has to be one of the coolest judicial titles in all of history. It’s right up there with “Court of Star Chamber.” I am a German American whose great-grandfather, Albert Haspel, was sent out of Berlin at the age of 14, carrying the family silver as his means of paying for boat passage from Bremen to Baltimore on Lloyd North German Lines, because his parents knew that otherwise he would soon be drafted into the Kaiser’s armies. Therefore, I read Revolution and Counter-Revolution with particular interest. When the 1848 revolution failed, a climate of reaction set in across the German states. Many pro-democracy Germans had to begin a new life in South Australia, or in Canadian provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan, or (in the case of my ancestor Albert Haspel) in the U.S. state of Nebraska. Those Germans who stayed behind found themselves living in an increasingly authoritarian world. It is impossible to read Revolution and Counter-Revolution without thinking about Germany’s later history. We all know that, during the years between the two world wars, extremists of the left and right battled in the streets of German cities like Hamburg and Munich and Berlin. We know that some of Hitler’s supporters in those times of Germany’s brittle Weimar democracy rationalized their support for a racist dictator by saying something along the lines of, “Well, at least he’ll keep the communists in line” – the sort of thinking displayed by some of the characters in the musical play and film Cabaret. And Hitler came to power as an “anti-communist,” and started the Second World War, and set the genocidal machinery of the Holocaust in motion. And then, after all that Hitler had been permitted to unleash in the name of "anti-communism" – 60 million dead in the war, 6 million murdered in the Holocaust, Germany's name forever linked with history's most hideous example of genocide - one-fourth of Germany became a communist state anyway. One wonders what those people of post-World War II Germany who had supported Hitler for his "anti-communism" thought about the way things had turned out. Revolution and Counter-Revolution reveals the ideologically driven fallacies in Marx’s thinking. At the same time – because the man certainly believed in historical process – one sees a particularly grim and terrible historical process being set in motion. It is an historically important book, in large part because it shows how one man's seemingly tidy theories can end up doing a great deal of harm.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Anderson

    Revolution and Counter Revolution is the famous chain of articles and letters that Marx wrote for the New York Tribune between 1851 and 1852. Although Marx had only been in England some 18 months and was living in conditions of poverty and bitter suffering, these articles are among the most lucid and readable of his writings and were described by Engels as "excellent specimens of that marvelous gift of apprehending clearly the character, the significance and the necessary consequences of great h Revolution and Counter Revolution is the famous chain of articles and letters that Marx wrote for the New York Tribune between 1851 and 1852. Although Marx had only been in England some 18 months and was living in conditions of poverty and bitter suffering, these articles are among the most lucid and readable of his writings and were described by Engels as "excellent specimens of that marvelous gift of apprehending clearly the character, the significance and the necessary consequences of great historical events at a time when these events are actually in the course of taking place, or are only just completed." They are among the finest examples we have of Marx's keen analytic abilities applied to recent historical events and, as such, have a place beside such works as "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" (source of the famous quote that historical events "occur, as it were, twice ... the first time as tragedy, the second as farce") and "The Civil War in France" (which includes his account of the Paris Commune). At the time, the series created such a sensation that, before it had been completed, Marx was appointed the Tribune's London correspondent. Forty-five years later Marx's daughter, Elaeanor Marx Aveling, published them in their present form.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Duarte

    Amazing and insanely underrated book on the 1848 German revolution by good old Herr Engels, though back in the day it was thought that Marx wrote it. I went into this book, which is just a few pages over 100 pages, I might add, only having a basic outline of the German revolution of 1848 - I have come out from it knowing every class movement of the period, where they all stood, and why. Engels brings out an absolute masterclass of sociological class analysis, as he spits nonstop facts about the n Amazing and insanely underrated book on the 1848 German revolution by good old Herr Engels, though back in the day it was thought that Marx wrote it. I went into this book, which is just a few pages over 100 pages, I might add, only having a basic outline of the German revolution of 1848 - I have come out from it knowing every class movement of the period, where they all stood, and why. Engels brings out an absolute masterclass of sociological class analysis, as he spits nonstop facts about the nature of each class and why they are like that, as it isn't due to coincidence but a logical consequence of their place in the production process. Engels shows that the revolution actually had all the chances to win in the world, but was ruined by the middle class, small shop-owner leadership, which always ruins every movement it leads, as well as, perhaps more importantly, giving us universal, timeless lessons on insurrectuib that were drawn from experience in the German and Austrian insurrections. Those are, summed up be Lenin: (1) Never play with insurrection, but when beginning it realise firmly that you must go all the way. (2) Concentrate a great superiority of forces at the decisive point and at the decisive moment, otherwise the enemy, who has the advantage of better preparation and organisation, will destroy the insurgents. (3) Once the insurrection has begun, you must act with the greatest determination, and by all means, without fail, take the of offensive. "The defensive is the death of every armed rising." (4) You must try to take the enemy by surprise and seize the moment when his forces are scattered. (5) You must strive for daily successes, however small (one might say hourly, if it is the case of one town), and at all costs retain "moral superiority". For a successful insurrection, all 5 of these must be applied, for their own time and place, of course. Overall, just a fantastic book, light, easy to read, entertaining and easily the most enlightening book on its topic around. Extreme recommendation from me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pausonious

    Great contemporary historical account of the 1848 German bourgeois revolution. Marx's butthurt is immense against middle class incompetency and cowardice and he really reams the shite out of the class generally and their leaders specifically. His criticism of the Hungarians for their hesitance to aid the Viennese in revolt was a bit unfair I thought. Why would they who later fought on their own terms and won victories under those conditions jeopardize that potential to help the revolt in the cap Great contemporary historical account of the 1848 German bourgeois revolution. Marx's butthurt is immense against middle class incompetency and cowardice and he really reams the shite out of the class generally and their leaders specifically. His criticism of the Hungarians for their hesitance to aid the Viennese in revolt was a bit unfair I thought. Why would they who later fought on their own terms and won victories under those conditions jeopardize that potential to help the revolt in the capital that got subdued in a couple of days because of insufficient means and incompetency?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kaan

    çok mikro bir zaman dönemini anlatıyor, elbette önemli ama o dönem hakkında daha fazla bilgi lazım önce.

  6. 5 out of 5

    R Reddebrek

    A first hand account of the upheaval in the German states during 1848-49. Its an interesting and document whose article structure helps keep the information manageable. Unfortunately its also Engels at his worst. The man was a German nationalist and pretty outspoken about it at times. Sadly Germany in 1848 makes this pretty explicit, he digresses from the narrative of the revolution at times to advocate a centralised German nation "One and indivisible" and urging for the expansion of its borders A first hand account of the upheaval in the German states during 1848-49. Its an interesting and document whose article structure helps keep the information manageable. Unfortunately its also Engels at his worst. The man was a German nationalist and pretty outspoken about it at times. Sadly Germany in 1848 makes this pretty explicit, he digresses from the narrative of the revolution at times to advocate a centralised German nation "One and indivisible" and urging for the expansion of its borders and the Germanisation of its none German minorities. It gets worse towards the end of the book, multiple chapters are dedicated entirely to this line of thought to the point where he predicts in gloating terms the eradication of the Czechs and Balkan Slavic peoples and culture and that Bohemia can only exist as a German province. The treatment of Slavs in this book is honestly quite racist, it scapegoats them a lot. To exacerbate the issue, Engels isn't just revealing personal bigotry, he's tying his extreme contempt for Slavic peoples to his entire framework and belief in stages of development.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Sebesta

    The German uprisings of 1848 had a direct effect on the American Civil War, especially in Texas*, and I've always been curious about Marx, so I read this. Pretty good! The guy has a fair eye for reducing political complexity to the simplest possible terms, and he does a great job of sounding like he knows what he's talking about. My knowledge of the internal machinations of the Congress of Vienna in 1848 is measured in single digits on the Kelvin scale, so what do I know. But I enjoyed the heck o The German uprisings of 1848 had a direct effect on the American Civil War, especially in Texas*, and I've always been curious about Marx, so I read this. Pretty good! The guy has a fair eye for reducing political complexity to the simplest possible terms, and he does a great job of sounding like he knows what he's talking about. My knowledge of the internal machinations of the Congress of Vienna in 1848 is measured in single digits on the Kelvin scale, so what do I know. But I enjoyed the heck out of this book. *Because it's why there are so many Germans in Texas.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Hatley

    This is another remarkable book by a remarkable man; fascinating reading for history fans and especially interesting for a deeper understanding of the 1848 revolution in Germany.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    One of several gems from this work: "Now, insurrection is an art quite as much as war or any other, and subject to certain rules of proceeding, which, when neglected, will produce the ruin of the party neglecting them. Those rules, logical deductions from the nature of the parties and the circumstances one has to deal with in such a case, are so plain and simple that the short experience of 1848 had made the Germans pretty well acquainted with them. Firstly, never play with insurrection unless yo One of several gems from this work: "Now, insurrection is an art quite as much as war or any other, and subject to certain rules of proceeding, which, when neglected, will produce the ruin of the party neglecting them. Those rules, logical deductions from the nature of the parties and the circumstances one has to deal with in such a case, are so plain and simple that the short experience of 1848 had made the Germans pretty well acquainted with them. Firstly, never play with insurrection unless you are fully prepared to face the consequences of your play. Insurrection is a calculus with very indefinite magnitudes, the value of which may change every day; the forces opposed to you have all the advantage of organization, discipline, and habitual authority: unless you bring strong odds against them you are defeated and ruined. Secondly, the insurrectionary career once entered upon, act with the greatest determination, and on the offensive. The defensive is the death of every armed rising; it is lost before it measures itself with its enemies. Surprise your antagonists while their forces are scattering, prepare new successes, however small, but daily; keep up the moral ascendancy which the first successful rising has given to you; rally those vacillating elements to your side which always follow the strongest impulse, and which always look out for the safer side; force your enemies to a retreat before they can collect their strength against you; in the words of Danton, the greatest master of revolutionary policy yet known, de l'audace, de l'audace, encore de l'audace!"

  10. 4 out of 5

    Azriel Rose

    If the title leads you to believe this book is about revolution IN GENERAL, be warned that it is an analytical examination of the revolutionary period in Germany during a specific time, detailing the doings of all the political parties that were involved, and how those doings affected the historical course of events. As usual, Marx demonstrates his points in this analysis with a mastery of dialectical thought. This is more of a historical work than a theoretical one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Istenes

    3.5 stars. 5 stars for glorious and continuous dunks on the Frankfurt Assembly. -1.5 stars for racist dunks on Slavs.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Adams

    A great work of historical materialism on the 1848 Revolutions, although the text is here misattributed to Marx when it is widely recognized to have been written by Engels and edited by Marx.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Fox

    What a writer!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bsunda12

    this is a good book from a phenomenal person, karl max criticize everyone (how society and government make their country not even better), but i read use indonesian language and the translator is really bad, make me think twice before understand the meaning and you need to know about germany revolution before read this (unlucky, i dont even know what's happening in germany).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    A series of essays/reflections on Germany and other German states during 1848, focusing on the impact of revolution on varied classes and ethnicities at the time...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martin Willoughby

    Inetersting piece of history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nuno Neves

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tasha-Lee

  19. 4 out of 5

    Guilherme Schievelbein

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Noselli

  21. 4 out of 5

    Harmony Pafford

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sam Pennypacker

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amiri Barksdale

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abir Majumder

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sankara

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cinta Buku

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ben

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