Chapter

Locating the Left Liberals

Alastair P. Thompson

in Left Liberals, the State, and Popular Politics in Wilhelmine Germany

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780198205432
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676635 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205432.003.0002
Locating the Left Liberals

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Who were the left liberals? No political grouping in Imperial Germany, anti-Semitic splinter groups apart, had a comparable history of splits and short-lived mergers. These disruptions were partially bridged by continuity of personnel and tradition. The label ‘left liberal’ was itself a product of diversity. It included North German groups who generally called themselves Freisinnige. However, most South German left liberals, reflecting a greater openness and attachment to radical political reform, referred to themselves as Democrats. Left liberal, as used here and by contemporaries, was an umbrella term to cover the political terrain between the National Liberals and the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD). There remains the need for a more detailed and accurate assessment of left liberal sociology. Two features emerge from an analysis of left liberal social composition. The first is the clear correlation between party and social hierarchy. The second is the wide, but correspondingly shallow spread of left liberal support. Left liberalism was also a party of minorities.

Keywords: Imperial Germany; left liberals; National Liberals; SPD; sociology; social composition; minorities; social hierarchy; left liberalism

Chapter.  11160 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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