chapter  9
20 Pages

“Young Germany”: Prehistory of Bourgeois Consciousness

The July Revolution of 1830 smashed the Bourbon reign, which had been restored after Napoleon, and led to the institutionalization of the bourgeois king. With this event, the French bourgeoisie gained ultimate political hegemony. While the upheaval had its effects on the German bourgeoisie as well, the efforts made by that class to topple its own crowned tyrants remained unsuccessful. A series of political riots in the years 1832, 1833, and 1937 only led to an increase in reactionary administrative measures. But the German bourgeoisie actually showed relatively little interest in politics during the fairly stable period between 1815 and 1848, and this disinterest prevailed until the founding of the Reich. While a process of gradual democratiziation occurred in the former states of the Rheinbund, in Northern Germany the political and economic demands of the bourgeoisie were by and large met by the Customs Union (Zollverein) of 1834, and with the constitutional concessions that were instituted between 1847 and 1849. These demands were met to such an extent, in fact, that between 1849 and 1859 even industrialists and bankers, who were increasingly gaining economic power, practiced political abstinence.