Exclusive Revolutionaries

Liberal Politics, Social Experience, and National Identity in the Austrian Empire, 1848-1914
Pieter M. Judson
Combines historical and cultural analysis to explain the path of German liberalism.


Exclusive Revolutionaries traces the development of German liberal and later nationalist political culture in imperial Austria from the revolutions of 1848 to the outbreak of World War I. Drawing on archival research from several regions of the former Habsburg Monarchy, Pieter M. Judson provides a clear, chronological political narrative that demonstrates the continuing influence of liberal ideas and values well after the defeat of liberal political parties.

In the mid-1800s, Judson argues, German liberal activists built an effective political movement whose ideology was rooted in its members' social experience in voluntary associations. The liberals were committed to the creation of a market economy based on personal property rights, to a society based on the values of individual self-improvement and personal respectability, and to a fundamental distinction between active and passive citizenship. They were determined to achieve a harmonious community of free peoples, in which personal enlightenment would bring an end to the divisive influence of localism, ethnicity, religion, and feudal social hierarchy.

Yet after 1880, as newer, more radical mass political movements threatened their political fortunes, the liberals forged a German nationalist politics based increasingly on ethnic identity. Their emphasis on national identity became a way for former liberals to hold together an increasingly diverse coalition of German speakers who had little in common outside of their shared language. Only "Germanness" bridged the dangerous gulf between social classes. This nationalism helped the liberals to compete for power in the multinational, multicultural Austrian Empire down to 1914, but it left a legacy of nationalist extremism and tolerance of anti-Semitism that continues to influence political cultures in the former lands of the Habsburg Monarchy today.

Exclusive Revolutionaries will interest social and cultural historians of nineteenth-century Europe, and of Germany and Central Europe in particular.

Pieter M. Judson is Professor of History, Swarthmore College. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Praise / Awards

  • "In his thoroughly researched and indeed brilliantly argued book, Judson tears down many of the current misconceptions of Austrian political history, and unearths the uncomfortable fact that, in many respects, German nationalism, the 'politics in a new key,' was not the vanquisher of German liberalism as much as its proxy, its heir, and even liberalism's most important legacy to Central European modern history."
    --Staeven Beller, Washington, D.C., Central European History, Volume 33, No. 4 (2000)
  • ""The key to Judson's success is his ability to tie together such diverse foci as 'political culture,' 'social interactions,' 'apparently transhistorical ideas,' and 'power relations' effectively. As a result his book will also change the way we look at German nationalism within the Habsburg monarchy. . . ."
    --James P. Krokar, DePaul University, H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences, May 4, 1999
  • "The overall effect of this well researched and thoughtful study is to make an 'overly familiar' Austrian liberalism 'less familiar.' And, given liberalism's dominant political role among the monarchy's preeminent nationality, no one who studies the nineteenth-century Habsburg Monarchy will be able to look at that polity in quite the same way again."
    --H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Reviews Online
  • ". . . any analysis of modern Austrian history must take his interpretation into account."
    --James Shedel, Georgetown University, Journal of Modern History, March 2000
  • ". . . a well-written and thought-provoking study. . . . [It] is likely to stimulate further research not only on specific aspects of German Austrian politics and culture but also, and more importantly, on the influence of liberal values and assumptions in other national movements in the Habsburg monarchy."
    --Nationalities Papers
  • ". . . a probing, thoughtful, and insightful survey of the early Austrian liberal movement, based on a judicious assessment of the many complex variables that constituted and bolstered that tradition."
    --Slavic Review
  • Winner: American Historical Association and the Center for Austrian History Prize's Herbert Baxter Adams Prize

Look Inside

Table of Contents


Note on Place Names-xiii

1. Bürger, State, and Civil Society in Vormärz Austria-11
2. 1848: The Transformation of Public Life-29
3. The Struggle for the State, (1849-67)-69
4. Building a Liberal State-117
5. Building a Liberal Movement: The Political Clubs, (1867-73)-143
6. Whither Liberalism? Party and Movement, (1873-79)-165
7. From Liberalism to Nationalism: Inventing a German Community, (1880-85)-193
8. National Unity, Anti-Semitism, and Social Fragmentation, (1885-1914)-223
9. Conclusion: The Limits of Bourgeois Politics-267


Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 320pp.
  • tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10740-7

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  • $99.95 U.S.