Illegitimate Unions? German and European Unifications Viewed in Comparative Perspective

  • Laurence McFalls
Part of the New Perspectives in German Studies book series (NPG)


In a well-known article published forty years ago, ‘How Success Spoiled the Risorgimento,’ Raymond Grew suggested that the short-term gain of rapid unification from above of Italy in 1859–60 brought on the long-term pain of a legitimacy crisis that plagued not only Italy’s liberal constitutional monarchy until its collapse in 1922 but the Italian state down to the present. Built upon elite accommodation, the maintenance of existing local administrative structures and personnel, the technical extension of the Piedmontese constitution, formalistic legalism, and above all the loss of popular enthusiasm for politics, Italian unification successfully avoided international conflict and satisfied the liberal economic interests of the northern bourgeoisie and of commercial ‘pig farmers’, but it frustrated the nationalist and politically liberal ideals of Mazzini and Garibaldi and left the new regime with little popular support.1


European Parlia Ment Liberal Ideal Legitimacy Crisis European Unification European Union Politics 
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  1. 1.
    Raymond Grew, ‘How Success Spoiled the Risorgimento,’ Journal of Modern Histonj, vol. 34, no. 3 (September 1962), pp. 239–53.Google Scholar
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    I base this schematic characterisation of Bismarckian and Wilhelminian politics on, among others, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, The German Empire (Oxford 1985); David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley, The Peculiarities of German Histonj (Oxford 1984); John Gillis, ‘Germany’ in Grew (ed.), op. cit.; and Max Weber, ‘Parlament und Regierung im neugeordneten Deutschland. Zur politischen Kritik des Beamtentums und Parteiwesens’, in Max Weber, Gesaimnelte Politische Schnften (Tubingen 1988), pp. 306–443, translated as ‘Parliament and Government in Germany under a New Political Order’, in Max Weber, Political Writings, ed. P. Lassman and R. Speirs (Cambridge 1994), pp. 130–271.Google Scholar
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    See Lucian Pye and Sidney Verba, Political Culture and Political Development (Princeton, NJ 1965), and Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture (Princeton, NJ 1%3). For a more elaborate epistemological critique of mainstream political culture theory, see Laurence McFalls, ‘Political Culture and Political Change in Eastern Germany,’ German Politics and Socieh,/, vol. 20, no. 2 (Summer 2002), pp. 75–92.Google Scholar
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    I am indebted for this discussion of Weber s modes of legitimation to the insights of Augustin Simard, ‘Legalite et legitimite chez Weber,’ unpublished manuscript (2002).Google Scholar
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    In addition to chapter 3 of Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, see Weber’s 1919 lecture ‘Politik als Beruf in Weber, Gesainmelte Politische Schnften (Tubingen 1988) pp. 505–60; for an English translation (as ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics ), see Max Weber, Political Writings, ed. P. Lassman and R. Speirs (Cambridge 1994), pp. 309–69.Google Scholar
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    See VSclav Havel, ‘The Power of the Powerless’ in Vaclav Havel, Open Letters (New York 1991).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Laurence McFalls

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