Community in Historical Perspective

A translation of selections from Das deutsche Genossenschaftsrecht (The German Law of Fellowship)

Community in Historical Perspective

This is the first English translation of the first work of Otto von Gierke, arguably the greatest historian of ideas of the nineteenth century. Community in Historical Perspective includes much of the first volume of Das Deutsche Genossenschaftsrecht, originally published in 1868, and the texts translated here have become essential reading for anyone interested not only in the history of ideas and alternatives to conventional socialism and liberalism, but also, as recent experience has shown, contemporary European affairs. Von Gierke's represented an unparalleled attempt to justify a political programme of structural pluralism, and to interpret the entire course of European history from the Dark Ages onwards as a progressive interaction between 'fellowship' (or 'comradeship') and 'lordship' (or 'sovereignty'). This interaction was to generate a polity of autonomous associations within a constitutional state based upon consent and federal unity, and von Gierke here laid the basis for a distinctively Germanic programme of federalism and quasi-pluralism, with a strongly nationalist emphasis upon the unique capacity of Germans, despite long periods of absolute rule, for corporate self-management.

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