The most powerful explanation for German expansionism...focuses on the domestic political consequences of Germany's late industrialization.... It was characterized by the comparatively abrupt development of large-scale heavy industry, centrally financed by bank capital and organized into cartels.... Its social concomitants were the divergence of agricultural and commercial interests, the organizational concentration of economic power, the immobility of investments and consequently of interests, and the emergence of mass political movements without the prior completion of a bourgeois-liberal political transformation.
This pattern had decisive consequences for the power and interests of the key actors.... Junker landowners... had an overwhelming incentive to use [their] political power to inflate the price of grain...through protective tariffs.... The military used its high degree of operational autonomy...to pursue...apolitical, offensive strategies for decisive victory.... Cartelized heavy industry used its market power, high-level political access, and political subsidies to mass groups to promote industrial protectionism and the building of a fleet while blocking a liberal political alliance between labor and export industry.
These group interests promoted policies that led to Germany's diplomatic encirclement: Junkers got grain tariffs that antagonized Russia; the navy and heavy industry got a fleet that antagonized Britain; and the army got an offensive war plan that ensured that virtually all of Europe would be ranged among Germany's enemies. Thus three key elite groups had the motive and the opportunity to advance policies that embroiled Germany simultaneously with all of Europe's major powers.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Quote of the day
From Jack Snyder, Myths of Empire (1991), pp.97-99 (footnotes omitted):