Troeltsch’s “Social Problem”: Revolutionary Movements in Imperial Germany
Ernst Troeltsch was writing The Social Teaching during a high water mark of European colonialism. In Imperial Germany, the ideal woman was a gracious creature, busily tending hearth and home as a haven for her work-wearied husband. The growth of an industrial proletariat and the rise of Social Democracy was by no means the only "social problem" of the day. Women had organized into a number of politically active associations, the Berlin Jews were making their presence increasingly felt, and Roman Catholics had organized their own political party. Imperial German leaders responded with a politics of social reaction, African colonialism, and militarism. Social Democracy exercized such political power in part by reaching beyond its primary social base among industrial workers and embracing the causes of other oppressed groups. Social Democrats spoke and wrote on behalf of the women's movement, of the Catholic working class, of Jews, and even of indigenous peoples in the colonies.