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Crisis Author(s): Reinhart Koselleck and Michaela W. Richter Source: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 67, No. 2 (Apr.

, 2006), pp. 357-400 Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30141882 . Accessed: 03/10/2011 14:19
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Crisis

Reinhart Koselleck
Translationby Michaela W. Richter of StatenIsland, City Universityof New York College

I. Introduction. II. On the GreekUse of the Word. III. The Entryof the Terminto National Languages. IV. Uses in Lexica. V. From Political Concept to Philosophy of History Concept-the Eighteenth Centuryand the FrenchRevolution: 1) PoliticalUses of the Term. 2) Its Expansion into the Philosophy of History: a) WesternDevelopment in the Formationof Historical Concepts. b) Variantsin GermanPhilosophiesof History. VI. "Crisis"and "Crises"-the Nineteenth Century: 1) "Crisis"in EverydayExperience. 2) "Crisis"as Concept in Theories of History. 3) Economic Meanings of the Term. 4) Marx and Engels. VII. Overview and PresentUsage.
ReinhartKoselleck,"Krise"in Geschichtliche HistorischesLexiconzur Grundbegriffe:
politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland , eds. Otto Brunner, Werner Konze, and Reinhart Koselleck (8 volumes; Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1972-97), 3: 617-50.

C 67, 2006) Copyright byJournalof the Historyof Ideas,Volume Number2 (April

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JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006

I. INTRODUCTION For the Greeksthe term "crisis"had relativelyclearlydemarcatedmeanings in the spheresof law, medicine, and theology. The concept imposed choices between stark alternatives-right or wrong, salvation or damnation, life or death. Until the early modernperiod the medicalmeaning,which continued to be used technically, remained dominant virtually without interruption. From the seventeenthcentury on, the term, used as a metaphor,expanded into politics, economics, history, psychology. Towardsthe end of the eighteenth century,the term once again took on religious and theological connotations; but by its application to the events of the Frenchand American revolutions, the apocalyptic vision of the last judgment now acquired a secular meaning. Because of its metaphoricalflexibility,the concept gains in importance;it enters into every day language;it becomes a central catchword (Schlagwort).In our century,there is virtuallyno area of life that has not been examined and interpretedthrough this concept with its inherent demand for decisions and choices. Applied to history, "crisis,"since 1780, has become an expression of a new sense of time which both indicatedand intensifiedthe end of an epoch. Perceptionsof such epochal change can be measuredby the increased use of crisis. But the concept remains as multi-layeredand ambiguous as the emotions attached to it. Conceptualizedas chronic, "crisis"can also indicate a state of greateror lesser permanence,as in a longer or shorter transition towards something better or worse or towards something altogether different. "Crisis"can announce a recurringevent, as in economics, or become an existential term of analysis, as in psychology and theology. All these possible uses can be applied to history itself.

II. ON THE GREEK USE OF THE WORD 1. Kaitr;has its roots in the Greekverb ;xivw (krin6):to "separate"(part, divorce), to "choose," to "judge," to "decide";as a means of "measuring oneself," to "quarrel,"or to "fight." This created a relatively broad spectrum of meanings. In classical Greek, the term was central to politics. It meant not only "divorce" and "quarrel,"but also "decision" in the sense of reachinga crucialpoint that would tip the scales. It was in this sense that Thucydidesused the word when he linked the rapid conclusion of the Per358

Koselleck+ Crisis

sian Wars to four battles.' But "crisis" also meant "decision" in the sense of reaching a verdict or judgment, what today is meant by criticism (Kritik).2Thus in classical Greek the subsequent separation into two domains of meaning-that of a "subjectivecritique" and an "objective crisis"-were still covered by the same term. Both spheres were conceptually fused. Above all, it was in the sense of "judgment," "trial," "legal decision," and ultimately "court" that crisis achieved a high constitutional status, throughwhich the individualcitizen and the communitywere bound together. The "for and against"was thereforepresentin the original meaning of the word and this in a mannerthat alreadyconceptually anticipated the appropriatejudgment. Aristotle frequently used the word in this way. As legal title and legal code xpiortg (krisis)defines the ordering of the civic From this specific legal meaning, the term begins to acquire community.3 political significance.It is extended to electoral decisions, governmentresolutions, decisions of war and peace, death sentences and exile, the acceptance of official reports, and, above all, to government decisions as such. Consequently, xeiort; (krisis) is most necessary for the community, representing what is at once just and salutary.4For this reason, only one who participatedas judge could be a citizen (acXir xQerlx/Iarchbkritike). For the Greeks, therefore, "crisis" was a central concept by which justice and the political order (Herrschaftsordnung) could be harmonizedthrough apdecisions. propriatelegal 2. The juridical meaning of x~lot; (krisis) is fully taken over in the Septuaginta (ancient Greek translation of the Old and New Testament).5 But a new dimension is added to the concept. The court in this world is, in the Jewish tradition, linked to God, who is simultaneously both the ruler and judge of his people. Hence the act of judging also contains a promise of salvation. Beyond that, the concept gains central significancein the wake of apocalyptic expectations:the xport; (krisis) at the end of the world will for the first time reveal true justice. Christianslived in the expectation of the Last Judgment whose hour, time, and place = (xpigtl-/krisis judicium), remained unknown but whose inevitabilityis certain.6It will cover everyone, the pious and the unbelievers,the living and the dead.7The Last Judg2

1Thucydides History1,23.

AristotlePolitics,1289b,12. 3 Ibid.1253a,35 4 Ibid.1275b,1ff.; 1326b, 1ff. Acts 23:3.
6

Matthew 10:15; 12:36; 25:31f.

7Romans, 14:10.

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JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 ment itself. Depending on whether or not the crisis led to a full restorationof health.. Gottfried Gabriel (Basel.qualifiesfuture historicaltime." "Krisis. its outcome is already anticipatedby the certainty of that redemption which grants eternal life. however.12 With its adoption into Latin. new edition (Stuttgart. 9 volumes. has been anticipated in one's faith and hence is experienced as already present. par une Societde' gens des letters. between acute and chronic crises. 7th ed." in Kittel. Gerhard. it will be determinedwhether the patient will live or die. Theologie des Neuen Testaments.-as to St. Crisis: Untersuchungen zur johannisichen Christologie und Eschatologie (Freiburg i. While historicallythe domain of the judicialmeaning of crisis in its narrow sense proceeds only through the theological teachings of the Last Judgment (judicium)... has led-since Galen-to a temporal differentiationin the progressionof illnesses. and.1' 3. ou Dictionnaire raisonni des des sciences. Rudolf Bultmann. 5:24. more critically. '0 Friedrich Bachsel. 3 (1938). John. The Apocalypse. This is the medical theory of crisis. Article on "Krino. crisis refers both to the observablecondition and to the judgment (judicium)about the course of the illness. 1971-). this citation. in Historisches Wdrterbuch der Philosophie. Stuttgart: Schwabe." In the case of illness. The latter left open the possibility of a relapse.A further distinction.). 1997). createsa new horizon of expectations that. The tension resulting from the knowledge that because of Christ's Annunciationthe Last Judgmentis alreadyhere even though it is yet to come. vol. Joachim Ritter. 12Th1ophile de Bordeau. John even goes beyond this certainty by announcing to the faithful that they. ' See Nelly Tsouyopoulos's article "Krise" II. have alreadyachieved salvation.B. vol. des arts et des mitiers. Karlfried Grander. 1933 ff. Otto Merk (Ttibingen. theologically. 1965-1969ff. (henceforth cited as Kittel). 4: 1240. Volkmar Hentrich. new edition.8St. compare ibid.will proceed like an ongoing trial.9While the coming crisis remains a cosmic event. the concept subsequently underwent a 25:31f. which originated in the Corpus Hippocraticum and which Galen (129-99) firmlyentrenchedfor about fifteen hundredyears. This requiredproperly identifyingthe beginning of an illness in order to predict how regular its developmentwill be. Mis en ordre et publie 8 Matthew 360 . 77 ff. Even while crisis remains open as a cosmic event. 8 and 9 only in the first edition. 385 ff. 1984). 920ff." Encyclopddie. Josef Blank. the distinction was made between a perfect crisis and an imperfectcrisis. by obeying the word of God. 9:39. article on "crise. 9John 3:18f. it is already taking place within one's conscience. Theologisches Wdrterbuch zum Neuen Testament.another Greek use of the term has no less expanded the horizon of meanings for the modern concept of crisis. At such a time. so to speak. eds.

4 (1754). quanta la partiemathbmatique M. III. however. It indicates that point in time in which a decision is due but has not yet been rendered. theology.1751-80). which. Since then the concept of crisis assumed a double meaning that has been preservedin social and political language. Taken together.what contributesto salvation or damnation. seems to indicate that the term had not yet become a central concept. about the origins of which there may be scientific disagreements. This could take place only after its transfer into national languages.for the transmission the conceptof crisis into the psychological anthropological and spheresincethe beginningof the nineteenth articleon "Krise" Historisches vol. Historisches der vol. leads towards a decision. of 361 . Diderot. they could-in differentways-be incorporatedinto modern social and political language. of Waerterbuch Philosophie. and medical usage of "crisis"thus contains discipline-bound. Wbrterbuch..Koselleck + Crisis metaphorical expansion into the domain of social and political language. On the other hand. as in a legal trial. It may conceivably by Erasmus in all probability sincethen exertedsome influence the development and has in of modernphilosophy history. theological. 1240ff. centuryseeU. There it is used as a transitional or temporal concept (Verlaufsbegriff). 3 For the medicalconcept of crisis see Tsouyopoulos'sarticle"Krise"II. On the one hand. result in death. Sch6npflug. the Latinizedform of "crisis" (next to judicium) continues to be part of their respective semanticfields so that in the seventeenthcentury the term occasionally appears in titles. the concept of illness itself presupposes a state of health-however conceived-that is either to be restored again or which will. 471ff. 14 The historyof the impactof the theologicalusageof "krinon"remainsto be investihave begunwith the Greekeditionof the New Testament gated. In French. depends on the judgmentalcriteriaused to diagnose that condition. d'Alembert (Paris. 4.et. the objective condition."crisis"-still in the accusative"crisin"-first appearedas a par M. 1242ff. 4. at a specifiedtime. par vol. however.14The rarity of documentary evidence for such usage. III. what furthershealth or bringsdeath. THE ADOPTION INTO NATIONAL LANGUAGES Given the use of Latin in the three previouslynamed disciplines (law. specific meanings.13 The legal. At all times the concept is applied to life-deciding alternatives meant to answer questionsabout what is just or unjust. medicine).

10 volumes and 1 supplement (Oxford.while increasgreat affairs. Baillie.. s. Wartburg. "crisis. Leipzig." 19R.lost its exclusivelymedical meaning." ibid. 1 (1659).22 Just before that. Leibniz-still writing in French-uses the concept at Franz6siches Etymologisches Worterbuch. 1690). 1884-1928.16and in Gerin man in the sixteenth century.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 medical term in the fourteenth century. Oscar Bloch and Walter v.loaded with religiousemphasis. cited in Murray. vol. "crisis.v.) vol." which cost him his parliamentaryseat. contenant gindralement tous les mots frangois tant vieux que modernes.21 as well to France'seconomic difficultiesat the time of Louis XIV. H.v.17 Althoughthe metaphorof the body or organismhas been appliedto the communitysince antiquity. Bailliewrote: "this seems to be a new period and crise of the most This expressionbecamegenerallyestablished. = basis of the OED in 13 volumes from 1933. 1 362 .v. 1345.Steele saw in Englandthe first line of defense againstthe "barbaric" overrunningof Europeby Catholics. Etymologie. 1928 ff. vol. "crise. s." 18 Sir B.v. s. a Discourse Representing . . and Ziirich." 22 Compare Beunot. (Mannheim. vol. and perhaps began to refer more to its theological roots. 2 (1888). Murray. vol. 1178. at the time of A the civil war. 21 Furetiare.. "crisis." 17 Duden. (Bonn. Letters. A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles.271.v. In 1643. s. reprinted 1978). .20 In France as well-with Furetierein 1690-the concept entered into the political sphere after it had previouslybeen transferred into that of psyAt the end of the seventeenthcentury. Eine Darstellung des galloromanischen Sprachschatzes.this concept was applied chology. Rudyerdused this term duringthe battle between we parliamentand the absolutistcrown: "This is the Chrysisof Parliaments. A." 16 Murray.. Antoine. C. With Some Reasonable Remarks on the Danger of a Popish Succession (London. ed. 1963) . coll. the word became anglicized. Dictionnaire universel. the Just Cause of the Late Happy Revolution. for example. 1933)."'9 ingly acquiringreligiousconnotations. W.v. (The Hague.2 (1841) cited ibid. et al. 44ff.""8 little later. Rudyerd. 1 (1690). Herkunftsw6rterbuch der deutschen Sprache. 1714). 2. . vol. The Crisis or. 1178.A. Giinther Drosdowsky. James August Henry.15 English in 1543. Paul Grebe. Craigie. 6/1 (1966). 3 vols.v.pointed toward a decision between liberty and slavery.. Thus in 1627. 1180. Rotterdam. "Krise. Onions.T. s. ed.2/2 (1946). vol. s. shall know by this if Parliamentslife or die. ed. The title of the pamphlet. History.In 1714 RichardSteelepublished his Whiggish pamphlet "The Crisis. J. 20 vols.it was not until the seventeenthcenturythat the medical concept of crisis was applied to the "body politic" or to its constituent parts.. D'Argenson in 1743 used this term to describe the French internal situation as a whole. "crisis. Berlin. Wien. "Crisis" 20 Richard Steele. s.

. This he copied from Sperander Zedler.Koselleck + Crisis a central point in order to diagnose the opportunities and dangers of the emerging Russian empire during the Nordic War: "Momenta temporum pretiosissima sunt in transitu rerum. nis Europas(Neuwied. Zeitungs Lust und Nutz (Hamburg. la Mode-Sprach der Teutschen oder compendieuses Hand-lexicon whelchemdie meistenaus fremden in entlehnter Warter gewahnlicheRedensarten .seealsoDieterGroh. Et I'Europe est maintenant dans un etat de changementet dans une crise. s.24 Leibniz.1695). Through Englishand Frenchusage and its entry into the Germanlanguage. Part2 Briefwechsel betreffender und 1873). "Crisis". the 1695 edition of Stieler.1961).e. 570 s. Sperander Gladow. "crise. i. Leipzig. s. 312.v. "Crisisnaturae.Caspar. ed.v."23 is now in a state of change and in a crisis ("And Europe such as has not been known since Charlemagne'sempire.. oihelle n'a jamaisete' depuis l'Empire de Charlemagne.1727). The concept has now entered into a dimension of the philosophy of history that was to become ever more significant in the course of the eighteenth century.1704). in Leibniz'Russland (23 und Denkschrift WladimirIwanowitschGuerrier.") Leibniz saw in Russia's developmenta change of fundamentalworld-historicalsignificance comparable only to the formation of Charlemagne'sempire. critica.v.."Johan Reales Staats-undZeitungslexicon(Leipzig. 1961-1964) vol. Leipzig. LEXICA AND DICTIONARIES: Dictionaries and lexica show that in Germany the term "crisis" is registered-with a few exceptions-only after the FrenchRevolution and even then only haphazardlyas a political. Wort-Deuteley.Grosses aller und Universal-Lexicon Wissenschaften Kiinste.64 volumesand 4 supvollstdindiges plementaryvolumes (Halle. 560."as e." 23 363 . 39. In the process. Sprachen werden(Nirnberg. s.v. ibid.JohannesHeinrich Zedler. IV.Russland dasSelbstverstiind(Petersburg. 1653. edition). "Crisis"." [i. 1732-1754.Htibner. . 1) A few lexica registerthe expressiononly in its Greek usage: "judgin ment. klarund deutlicherkliirt und . 171. he cannot render or judgmenton a thing. articleon "Crisis. reprintedGraz.(1739 Hiubner. the concept had expanded into the spheres of internaland external politics as well as economics. social.." "reason. 6 A (1733). 24 Stieler. 1712). in 1742 recorded merely the meaning that otherwise was already treated under "critique":Man has no crisin.who in 1739 referredonly to illness."Konzepte eines Briefesan Schleiniz" Sept.e.g. it acquireda historical dimension that continued to draw upon its original medical and theological meanings. and ultimately economic concept. (1742 edition).""reflection. 227 ff.Friedrich].

(Frankfurt.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 2) Numerous lexica register only the spectrum of medical meanings. 1 (1793)." Sperander Royal." by L." Bordeu. as do Htibner. "Crise"(see note 12).Conversations-Lexicon (Amsterdam.. Encyklopddisches aller WAirterbuch alphabetische oder Erkldrung sind . "Crisis. 227ff. 1748.1731. 5th Vol.Le GrandDictionnaire ed. deutschesConversations Allgemeines 1809).J. is freed from its decline and illness"-although the alternative of death is obviously omitted. Zedler posits: "Today one calls 'crisin' that healing act of nature. as did Pomey (1715) and Sperander (1727).1792). Zeitz." 26 11th Brockhaus. art.1 (1715).Kunsts-.1748). (1767). (1727). "Krisis. art. and which.v. Naumburg. 83ff. The same applies to the Encyclopedie mithodique of 1792. Encyclopedie methodique. ed.27Equal priorityto the medical usage is given by Heinse (1793) and in the various editions of Brockhaus. art. vol.Gewerck.GottlobH.begun par laterAgasse. art. . "Crises..v.is driven out of the body by proper and clear emunctories. vol. ed. 9 (1866). and this goes to the heart of the issue since. providesa scholarly treatise of on the history of the medicalconcept in orderto confront the teachings of the Ancients with their modern critics. 'Crisis. "Crisis. s. we can explain all other symptoms. In 1733."26 3) Many lexica brieflypoint to the original Greekmeaning of judging. 3rd ed.. 471. und JohannCurieuses RealesNatur-. art.1793-1805).Leipzig. Vol.' art..1 (K6nigsJablonski. 63.25Even the 1866 Brockhaus refers only to the medical meaning. as a result..Handlungslexikon(Leipzig. s. .vol. "Crise. 9 (1853). while at the same time giving a central place to the medical crisis doctrine. De Bordeu.Pancoucke. In a considerably shorter entry. 5 (Paris..v. "Crisis". "Krisis. which previously had contributed to its appearance.vol. ordredes matieres." Lexikon. "Crisis. 6 (Reprinted 1840). "Crisis". on the basis of the change in temperature. s.133 vols: A-Z. (11 vols." 28 Heinse. die Wdrter fremdenSprachen im Deutschenangenommen aus 10th Brockhaus. Franqois-Antoine Pomey. s.citedfromthe 1731 edition. art. 1712).v. in the great FrenchEncyclope'die 1754.560.. 870. vol.. 262. 240. 171.." 364 25Hubner. the 1820 Brockhausalso gives only the medical meaning of the term. the theological meanings of "crisis" 4) clearly did not make their way into either the generallexica for the und Berg-. berg.28 The juridical and. 2 (1820)." 27Zedler. 345 s. 1709)." JohannTheodor 2nd Lexicon der Kiinsteund Wissenschaften. and 1767. 6 (1652).v... oder kurzgefasstes Handworterbuch Brockhaus. 5th ed. . ed. above all. 252. dropping all referencesto differentmeaningsthat had appeared in earlier editions: "Now one applies 'crisis' to the rapid decline of high temperaturecomparedto the norm.Allgemeines De ibid. 202ff. "Krisis. vol. through which the matter of the illness.. and Jablonski.s. "Crisisnaturae.v.

1755). Samuel." "decisivepoint in time.l.-Die Sach ist aufhochste kommen.JohannChristoph.v.8.11. vol. mit erleutert(Leipzig. Although we can presuppose that many scholarswere familiarwith those meanings.Pomey's use." 30Pomey. Heinse added "germination. .1857-1870).8." 32 Alletz. "Crisis.Carland CarlWelcker. s. 15 vols.5th Part.vol."33 1808 Beyschlag:"change in the course of an illness. 2nd vol 1 (1793). Rotteck. however. to this. In 1715. s. ibid. vol." proverbial use comesfromLivy.was followed only hesitantly. vols (Stuttgart. 1 (1774). despite the fact that it is liberally used in their texts. The Latin Royal.5 vol..29 5) Evenreferencesto the metaphoricalextension of the term to politics and economics or to its broaderuse in ordinarylanguage are comparativelyrare. 1 (1755). s." Heinse. London. 63. 11 Deutsches Staatswarterbuch.""31 1770. "crise.. and neither Rotteck/Welckernor Bluntschli provide a separateentry for the term. for the first time cites the political and militarymeaning." and "alarmingsituaMuch the same is found in the tion". 1834cyklopidie der Staatswissenschaften." ("Matters have The relianceon Frenchpoints to the belated reachedtheir criticalpoint. Alletz. A. s.v. . 1 (1834). des Dictionnaire richessede la languefrangoiseet du neologisme qui s'y est introduit (Paris.1770). (Leipzig. (Altona.v.1774-1786) vol. Pons-Augustin. Bluntschli. s. who specializedin neologisms. "Crisis.while Johnson still registersthe medical meaning: "The point of time at which any affair comes to the In height. "crisis. 131.32 The 1792 Kuppermannwas the first to bring together-somewhat laconically-all the threemeaningsthat had long been currentin German:"change in the course of an illness. 93. Pomey alreadyprovides. Staatslexicon oder Ened." "alarming state of See Adelung. 1. Adelung does not registerthe term at all. 31Johnson.Versuch eines vollstdndigen grammatisch-kritischen der Wbrterbuches hochdeutschen Mundart. it appears that the primary point of departurefor the expansion of the term into the political and economic sphere was the medical usage.GrandDictionnaire ed. "crise.Encyklopddisches Wdrterbuch). Juristisches Wirterbuch zur Verbesserung des Actenstils ." 29 3 Kuppermann.s.")30 Germanizationof the term in the course of the eighteenthcentury." 365 . eds. 240. 4 supplementary 1847).in additionto "judgment" and "a change in the course of an illness.Johan Caspar and Karl Ludwig Theodor Brater.Koselleck + Crisis learned in the eighteenth century or into those for the educated in the nineteenth century. Beispielen 1792).. Leipzig."a third meaning:"L'affaire dans sa crise-res est ad triarios rediit. 2 (1857)none of thesecontainarticleson "Krise/Crisis. but does so exclusivelyin French. vol.v.A Dictionaryof the EnglishLanguage(2 vols.H.v.

Johan Christian August. 8 (1845). 1804)."34 the same year. which points to "crises"in the "life of peoples or states.the medicalmeaninghas enteredeverydaylanguage. Hildesheim. 2nded. s. 513. 461. "Crise. "Krisis". Oertel writes: "Crisis. 1970).v."38 someone's circumstances.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 In affairs. und Gewerbe.v..requiringat once a decisionand judgment. . vol. 26 vols. A. New York. however. Gemeinniitziges Wbrterbuchzur Erkldrung und Verdeutschung der im gemeinen Leben vorkommenden fremden Ausdriicke. "Crisis" zur Erkldrung und Verdeutschung der unserer 36 Campe. Ansbach . albeit with a few additional definitions."37 1845 Brockhausfor the firsttime registersthe adoption of crisis in everyday language:"In ordinarylife 'crisis'refersto that point in an event or a series of events which determinesit/their outcome(s) and which signals the direction it / they will finally take. 467. 2nded under the title of Universal Lexikon der Gegenwart und Vergangenheit oder neuestes encyklopidisches Warterbuch . . 9th ed.. Eucharius Ferdinand Christian. Heyse's dictionariesof foreign words largelyconfirmthis usage of Krisisor Krise. Pierer. s. 15th ed. 22 vols. 2nded. A. Piererpoints to "a rapid change from one condition to another. 239.v." 1"Oertel. 16 (1845). Kiinste." In the same year. article on "crise commercial."or to the "crucial The point of a politicaldisease.. On the basis of these examples we can conclude that the metaphorical extension of crisis into the Germanvernacularentered first through political ratherthan economic language. a revolution in a state or in hence criticalmoment or criticalcase. At the same time. vol. 3) state or .die Krise"-the first eviof dence for the germanization the term'sspelling-"1) the decisivepoint (as in an illness). ed. condition requiringdecision . 2nd ed. Encyklopddisches Worterbuchder Wissenschaften. Verdeutschungs-Wirterbuch (Oldenburg. s. vol. alarmingcircumstances"35. Wbrterbuch Sprache aufgedrungenen fremden Ausdracke (Fremdw6rterbuch). Sammlung ausldndischer Wirter. Frenchlexicographyalready provides a comprehensivearticle on "crise commerciale"and gives it parity with "crise (medicine)"and "crise politique. Joachim Heinrich.. 1813." "crise (medicine). "Krisis" or "Krise. 1873).2nd ed. (Paris. 39 Encyclopddie des gens du monde.. later under the title of Allgemeines verdeutschendes und erkldrendes Fremdw6rterbuch. (Braunschweig. s. "Crisis. . (2 vols.Thus Piererin 1845 points to the political but not yet economic application of the term.."39 In Germany. 2nded. Daniel Eberhard." 37 Heyse.v. 399. 7. s.1806). 2) signal for decision (Entscheidungszeichen) . Crisis. as e. (1806)." 34 366 .especiallythe 1873 edition. 1794).g... 1. at least as far as lexica are concerned. however..v. new print. Binzer (Altenburg 1822-36) . 1813 Campe the follows in the same vein.." 38 Brockhaus. article on "Krise". s..v. die im alltdglichen Leben 6fters vorkommen (Nordlingen. such an economic application was not made Beyschlag.H. vol.. 1836).1 (Hannover.36 These examples demonstratethat.. 257ff.

in Die Eine der Darstellung neuesten fiir Zeitgeschichte alle Stdnde.1854-1965). which ence to the most recent decades. despite-or perhaps because of-its manifold meanings.v.in 1891." 40 367 .. 16 Jakob und Wilhelm. articleon "Krise. 10 (1931). articleon (1898). 3 (1849). in which he writes of "productioncrises consideredwith special referThe economic use of the term.Koselleck+ Crisis until 1850 with Roscher's article in the Brockhaus'sGegenwart (The Present). Bluntschli/Brater." Brockhaus Gegenwart. 16. "Krise.ed. or political language. who had been largely trained in the humanities.721ff. vol. ibid. Piererprovides a very brief article. articleon "Haned. Evidence to this effect is also the extremely cursory referencein Grimm'sDictionary (Wbrterbuch)of 1872. 4th. 41 vol. vol. 6 (1861) 51ff. could indeed become an indicatorof and contributorto a widespreadsense of radicalchange from the second part of the eighteenthcentury on.7th vol. only the 1848 Revolution and the global economic crisis of 1857 finally prompted German lexicographers. "Krise. articleon "Handelskrisen". 946. social. but it was not until the 1931 edition that "crisis"is given a predominantly economic meaning. did not lead to separate entries in German lexica until the second half of the nineteenth century. s." Brockhaus follows suit in 1894 and 1898. delskrisen".Pierer. vol. political. vols. a very thorough one on "commercial crises. which seems satisfiedwith two citations-one of them by Goethe: "all transitions are crises" and "is a crisis not an illness?"43 These lexical findingslead to the conclusion that other than in professionalterminologies." whichregisters exclusively politithe 42 SeePierer. but only that these had not yet been clearly identifiedas integralto the concept. 15thed. This is not to say that the term could not express emotional states or moods.. 7 (1859). But precisely what appeared to be so peripheralin lexicography until that time. 467...42 Thus the term never crystallizedinto a concept sufficientlyclear to be used as a basic concept in social. Brockhaus. Articleon "Handelskrisis"."40 had long become current in the professional language of economists. Bluntschli mentions "crisis" in his analysis under the keyword "credit. encyklopddische 1848-1856). 43 Grimm. vol. and historical. 2332. cal but not yet the economicmeaning. 5 (1873). vol. 7. In 1859. to register a use that had alreadybecome common in the professionallanguageof economists as well as in everydaylife.articleon "Produktionskrise." In 1862 Wagener was the first lexicographer to give the most complete spectrum of meanings: economic." 2nded. economic.14thed. 632. the term was used essentially as a catchword. WilhelmRoscher..Deutsches Worterbuch. 743. vol.41Clearly.12 vols (Leipzig. 8 ibid. (Leipzig.

initially applied solely to external and military situations. printed in Ellinor v. ed. 368 . Johann Gustav Droysen. the King seized the opportunityof "cette crisepour exdcuterses grands projets" Once ("this crisis to execute his grand projects")by marchinginto Silesia. Political Usage Frederickthe Greatprovidesearly evidencefor applyingthis term to foreign policy and militaryaffairs. und Braunschweig-Luneburg(23. 47Johan Jacob Schmauss." 20. Johan Jacob Schmaus wrote of "a present crisis created by a declining balance among European powers. undoubtedly in the midst of the crisis in which I find myself"). vol. in Unterhaltungen mit Friedrich d. 48 Deutscher Forstenbund. 107: "Mon frere partit pour Dresden et quitta l'armee. 29. Schlozer.he unsuccessfullysought to undertake steps toward peace.7. "Vertrag zwischen den Churforsten von Sachsen. Memoiren und Tagebiicher von Heinrich v.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 V. 1741). eds. 66. Grosse (Frederick the Great) Histoire de mon temps (1775). Puttkamer.reporting about the anarchy in of 44 Friederich d. Frankfurt. FROM POLITICAL CONCEPT TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY: THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 1."48 so often since. Catt.45 a similar vein he defined-in a conversation In with Catt-the situation after Kolin. 45 The same. 1955). Grosse. Johann David Erdmann Preuss. 2. "Gesprdichmit Heinrich de Catt. in Friedrich d. Schmaus. Oeuvres. In the "Staatsanzeigen" 1782. letter to Heinrich Graf Podewils. 1864). As stated in the 1785 Preamble.1758. 2. Sybel (Berlin. 53. Fdderative Elemente im deutschen Staatsrecht seit 1648 (Gottingen. Berlin. Grossen. Die Historie der Balance von Europa (Leipzig. also. entered into the realm of domestic constitutional life in general.1785)". Politische Correspondenz.46Henceforth a situation presenting decisive alternativesto different actors comes to be registeredalso in German as "crisis." As early as Prussia's rise following the Austrian War of Succession. page.1745.6.3." ("My brother has left for Dresden and left the army. Graduallythe term. vol. Gleichgewicht. just before the battle of Hohenfriedberg.44 again he saw himself "dans une grande crise" ("in a great crisis") when.the League of As German Princes was reacting to "a crisis in the imperial order. 96. Brandenburg. sans doute. vol. ed. 2 (Berlin.When the Europeanstates were alreadycommitted to but not yet ready for the Austrian War of Succession in 1740. Max Duncker. this diagnosis of a crisis became a formula legitimatingaction. 1880). 4. 1846). Heinrich v. Reinhold Koser (Leipzig. dans le moment de crise ou je me trouvais. 46 The same."47The consequences of this process too are registeredconceptually in a document crucial to the law of the Holy Roman Empire. 960.

443. 20. he could apply the same term in 1819-"political crisis"-to a mere change of cabinet in Paris. printedin 52Karl Friedrich Goetheund Reinhard.1857)."53 berg to strivefor a strong Germanfederalconstitution:"If the . 462.227."Sendschreiben HerrnProfessorEggersin Kiel (Jan.Scharnweber. . Count Reinhard. footnote30. Pleading along this line. 1813. 192.Christoph an Martin.used the term to prevent him from carrying out summary executions.49With the introduction of the Frenchconstitution of 1791. Reinhard Goethe. but it could also describea simple change of government. vol. ed. 1 50 Wieland. "combined with other circumstances. describedthe internalupheavalof the city state as a "Crise"("Crisis"). . 51 Christian Friedrich to Scharnweber Hardenberg. ibid. BarbaraVogel (K6nigstein/Ts. Graf v." Sdmtliche Werke.1820. We know from history that some peoples [V6ilker] have experienced such parIn the same vein. 1819.never before was the internal and external danger greater than now. 369 . (1792).The common use of the word had neither been validated nor sufficientlyenriched to be elevated into a basic concept. Reinhardan den Konig von Westfalen. 1782). Later.52 The spectrum of political applications thus ranged broadly. in Briefwechsel denJahren1807-1832. 20. 1980).. Politische Schriften und Briefe. in 1813 Baron von Stein appealed to Hardenoxysms.51 "Crisis" was used appropriatelyto describe concrete civil war situations that divided the loyalty of citizens. cited in the editor's"Introduction. "Umtriebe" (1819/23). ed. "Anarchie von Genf. Hans Rothfels(Mmnchen. Clausewitz described the revolutionary tendencies which.16th 53 Carl von Clausewitz. Thus at the time of the Karlsbad Resolutions. . On the other hand.Oct."in Staatsanzeigen.Koselleck+ Crisis Geneva. 162. Wieland sees "the moment of the decisivecrisis."50He already uses the term to characterizeas civil war the intermeshingof domestic and external politics. "Crisis" marked external or military situations that were reachinga decisive point. the same comprehensivefashin ion-but using differentalternatives-could speak of a "crisis of the state" confronting Hardenbergin Prussia as he fought for the reforms needed to "save the state" from revolution. It served both as a descriptivecategory and as a diagnostic criterion for political or military action. 1794-181. statesmen do not use the crisis of the moment to secure permanentlythe welfare of their fatherland.. it pointed to fundamentalchanges in constitutions in which the alternatives were the survivalor demise of a political entity and its constitutional order."PreussischeReformen 1807-1820.in a petition to the King of Westphalia.. Otto Heuschele(Wiesto Jan.45 vols. 1922). baden1957). It is a matterof life and death. 31 (Berlin. ed. our contemporaries and posterity will justly accuse 49AugustLudwigSchlzer.could bring about crises.11.

Von Stein. That would mean accepting alternativesderived from personal interpretationsas indicators of historical reality. "Denkschrift aus Prag" (End of August 1813). For that reason too. This mode of classification misses the semantic quality of the concept of crisis. 1955). 54 370 . At the same time. At that moment. For this reason it is not appropriateto follow the pragmaticlinguistic habit of using the political divisions of that time as the principleof classification. The sense of experiencing a crisis becomes generalizedbut the diagnoses and prognoses vary with the user. the medical origins of the term clearly continue to be preservedin the usage of political language. leaving no doubt as to the theological origins of the new way in which the concept is constructed. But as yet the concept is not associated with any one camp. Erich Botzenhart and Gunther Ipsen (Stuttgart. namely as a philosophy of history. the formation of a concept of crisis in the philosophy of history still leads to harsh dualistic alternatives. "crisis" remains ambivalent. but also to those cutting across such opposites. Fromtheir respectiveperFrh. the metaphor of illness as well as the associational power of the "Last Judgment" and the "Apocalypse"remainpervasivein the way the term is used. however. That remainsthe case to this day. That is why the emphasis here is as much on substantive ideas about future goals as it is on the modes of interpretingthem."even though it is not yet fully captured in any of the interpretationsoffered at that moment. It is preciselythrough the multiplicity of mutually exclusive alternativesthat the various uses of the term may point to existence of a real "crisis. although the determination of the optimal time for a decision is now thought to be determined by inescapablepressuresfor action. use of the concept of crisis is meant to reduce the room for maneuver. in a post-theological mode. 2. The medical and theological origins of the term facilitatethis task.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 and condemn them for having sacrificedthe happiness of their fatherland With respect to both the moment through carelessnessand indifference. which always admits alternativespointing not just to diametricallyopposed possibilities. as well as the prescriptionfor a therapy. ed. 333. forcing the actors to choose between diametricallyopposed alternatives. It does so."54 of judgment and diagnosis. a religious connotation enters into the way the term is used. As a party-political term. Ausgabe Politischer Briefe und Denkschrift. The Extension of "Crisis" to the Philosophy of History From the second half of the eighteenth century on.

a crisis either reveals a situation that may be unique but could also-as in the process of an illness-continue to recur. is above all final. Another variant lies in the repeatedapplication of a crisis concept that representsat the same time-like the ascending line of progress-a historically unique transition phase. As it pertainsto historicaltime. the semanticsof the crisis concept contains four interpretative possibilities. Or.2) In line with the theological promise of a future Last Day. Simtliche Werke(Stuttgart "Resignation. "crisis"may be defined as a unique and final point.The concept of crisis has become the fundamentalmode of interpretinghistorical time."Schillernonetheless interpretsall of human history as a single crisis that is constantly and permanentlytaking place. . Rather.albeitwith progressive overtones. Werke.1. to makea peoplegreat. What was left undone in one minute. 6 (1943). transition period. vol. irrespectiveof the partisancamp using it. "crisis" can mean that chain of events leading to a culminating. 1) Following the medical-politicalmilitary use.Koselleck+ Crisis spectives. JustusMoser. SimtlicheWerke.Geschichte. either by God or by historians in ex post facto pronouncementsabout history. although logically exclusive." the 371 . then. The use of "crisis" as an epochal concept pointing to an exceptionally rare. it will be executed through all the actions and omissions of mankind. and Berlin. a crisis is interpretedas involving a decision which.Without actually taking over the term "Last Judgment. The final judgment will not be pronounced from without. Between these two extremes there may be a cornucopia of variantswhich. then much-will be different. Thereafter. the concept of crisis can generalizethe modern experience to such an extent that "crisis" becomes a permanentconcept of "history. 199. Sdmtliche For an earlyevidenceof "crisis"as a permanent categoryof history. (178/84). can influence the characterization of crisis both as entailinga possible structuralrecurrenceand as absolutely unique. vol.everything will be different. after which the quality of history will be changed forever. decisivepoint at which action is required. 667ff. 3) Some-" Friedrich EinePhantasie" Schiller. has expanded most dramatically since the last third of the eighteenth century. 2. if not unique. as will makeit necessary drawon all its powersand throughthe use of the to sameto increase sum of the good of the world. while unique. analogous to the Last Judgment. also Schiller." This appears for the first time with Schiller'sdictum: "Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht"("WorldHistory is the Last Judgment"). eternity will not retrieve.1904). 81. .it mustbe keptactiveand "keptin suchpermanent crisis."Patriotische see Phantasien" vol.ssthe impact of which cannot be overestimated. It then coagulates into an epochal concept in that it indicates a critical transition period after which-if not everything. In this way. (1778).

1969). 1964).4) The second new coinage uses "crisis"to indicate a historically immanent transitional phase. "crisis" became. as it were. . . Nr. half as prophecy. a new concept. in which he paraphrases ironically the report about Mohammed's birth (comparing it to Christ's): "Ii me semble. in which only those who work count. Because of this dual thrust. Rousseau here applies the familiar cyclical theory of successive changes in the forms of government.e. The use of the term was directed against both an optimistic faith in progress and an unchanged cyclical theory. 7 A preliminary attempt to de-theologize the concept of crisis is offered by Montesquieu. leading to the subsequent conclusion that the condition of crisis which opens the nineteenth century will become permanent..JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 what more removed from the earlier medical or theological semantic spheres. 39. in which the idle will be called wastrels. half as prognosis. are two new historical (or temporal) coinages. "Crisis" becomes a structuralsignatureof modernity."7 This vi56 Rousseau. 1:187. When this transition will occur and whether it leads to a worse or better condition depends on the specific diagnosis offered. Rousseau suggestively proclaims that the existing social order cannot last. qui preparent a la naissance des 372 .The future of history is being anticipated. .s6 There will be many revolutions. emerges a vision of radical transformationencompassing all of society: "Nous approchons de l'tat de crises et du sikcle des revolutions" ("We are approaching a state of crises and a century of revolutions"). "Lettres persanes.The great monarchieshave alreadypassed their heyday. one that emanatesfrom a philosophy of history and also offers a prognosis of the future. a) WesternPrecursorsin the Formationof a Historical Concept of Crisis Rousseau (1762) offers the first usage of "crisis" in the modern sense. All of these possibilities reveal attempts to develop a single concept limited to the present with which to capture a new era that may have various temporal beginningsand whose unknown future seems to give free scope to all sorts of wishes and anxieties. in which wealth and poverty are supplantedby production that benefitssociety. 4:468. Emile ou de l'aducation (1762). i. Rousseau conjures up a vision of a long-term future. It will succumb to an inevitable revolution that can be neitherpredictednor prevented. which anticipates future upheavals. contains the same temporal tension associated in earlier times with chiliastic or apocalyptic invocations of the Last Judgment. The first uses "crisis" as a permanentor conditional category pointing to a critical situation which may constantly recur or else to situations in which decisions have momentous consequences. Oeuvres complates (Paris." Oeuvres complbtes (Paris. fears and hope. qu'il y a toujours des signes dclatantes. however. Behind the overthrow of monarchs. Having reduced-in Emile-master and serf to the same human status based on the satisfaction of natural need. The critique of his own society.

wherehe talksaboutthe time of crisis("tempsde crise")duringthe time when societyis also ibid. Diderot uses the term in the same way. " Denis Diderot to the Princess Daschkoff. ibid. Rousseau. 1875). Friendshipsdissolve. of course. he wrote that the previously hidden fire of liberty is now breakingout openly. Lucifer man fut jets au fond de la mer.. eds. 4. Sevenyears later.the attack on earthly sovereigns can no longer be averted.Rousseauuses both concepts.. vol... 28. 373 . enemies are reconciled. in Though still separated.58 Though applied primarilyto his own situation.ibid. vol. sance celestene produisitqu'aveceffort..60 Depending on the circumstances.the people believe everythingthat promises an end. Popularunrest precedesgreat revolutions. To escape their misery. 385) when he exrevolutions civilwarsin statesto the crisisof an illnessexperienced and presslycompares by individual human beings. 3 (Paris. 2. The alternative is total.. 20 (Paris.") -8See Rousseau. 8 (p.1966).It is as thoughnatureitself has fallen into a sort of crisis and even the power of heavenrequiresunusualeffort to realizeits will.et que la Puishommesextraordinaires. 1771. Oeuvrescompletes(Paris. p. Oeuvres completes. terror makes real what was feared"). the courseof whichtherewill be a decisionbetweensalvationor doom. Kingsweredethroned. Les tr6nesdes rois furentrenverses. This is the present situation and who can say where it will lead us? "Nous touchons a une crise qui aboutiraa" l'-sclavage ou a la liberte" ("We are reaching a crisis that will culminate in either Diderot is providing an inescapabledualistic prognoslavery or liberty"). Jean Assezat and Maurice Tourneaux.the term could serve either as indicacommesi la naturesouffraitune especede crise. Diderot used the medicalmetaphorto describea similarly apocalyptic situation in the Rome of Claudius and Nero (by which. 3:390. in effect.Contratsocial 2. 1877). Once divine majesty has been threatened. 6 (p. 60 Diderot. that the birthof an extraordinary is ("It his alwayspreceded remarkable by signsannouncing coming. Lucifer thrownto the bottomof the sea. after the dissolution of the Paris parlement. wherehe speaksof a crisis("crise") will lead that beingformed. 168ff. turns an eschatological concept into a philosophy of history. Essai sur les rkgne de Claude et de Ndro (1778). he meant the Paris of 1778). both may lead to regeneration. 458).'" seemsto me .visions and prophecies that anticipatethe coming catastrophesproliferate. This adds a meaning to the concept which goes beyond previoususes of the term in political language (known to Rousseau). April 3.59 sis that involves more than just a political constitution. to dictatorship. la terreurrealize ce qu'elle craint" ("This is the effect of an illness like that which precedesthe crisis of a sickness:A secret fermentationbegins in the state. 10 (1762)."C'est l'effet d'un malaise semblable a celui qui precede la crise dans la maladie: il s'e'lve un movement de fermentationsecrete au dedans de la cite.Koselleck+ Crisis sion of post-revolutionarysociety suggests the nullification of all human history to date. In 1771. encompassingthe entire society.

the final Day of Judgment that would entail the end of all tyranny and the ultimate victory over hell: "the greatest revolution the world ever knew. ibid. had become common in English journalism. The Writings. Hence. .. Junius. by that time. To Paine. The Crisis. gloriously and happily Here we find a semantic expansion of the concept of criaccomplished. 1902. Nr." January 21. 1. As used by them. the War of Independencewas no mere political or military event-rather it was the completion of a universalworld historical process. 1 (New York. Thomas Paine aptly named his journal. the concept incorporates(in differentdegrees)all the various functions the term had come to perform:as historicalassessmentand judgment. see Thomas Paine. John Wade. It is precisely the exciting possibility of combining so many functions that definesthe term as concept: it takes hold of old experiences and transformsthem metaphorically in ways that create altogether new expectations. 170. reprinted New York."62As one of Rousseau's disciples.." in Junius. 1 (December 23. For this reason. even though neitherDiderot nor Rousseau offered an explicit theory of crisis. posterity will not believe the history of present times. naturaldemocracyor corruptdespotismwould prevail. 62 Paine. 1969). In these two instances. "Introduction. vol. The Crisis. 1776). in 1769. 111. 370. 168f. With the AmericanWar of Independence. he saw in the victory of the new world and the defeat of the old. ed. 47.. "These are the times that try men's souls. the Lord Chancellor wrote of "a crisis more alarming than this country had ever known before. 63 Paine. It now comes to signify an epochal threshold which at the same time anticipates a final reckoning of universal significance. 13 (April 19." Cited in Herbert Butterfield. Lord North and the People 1779-1780 (London. On the increase in the pamphlets containing the word "crisis" since 1775/76. George III. the final realizationof Rousseau'svision of the future. "Including letters by the same writer . as medical diagnosis. "crisis"becomes a structuralsignatureof modernity. 1850). and as theological entreaty. 1 (London. 1949). Writings. vol. vol. The very ambiguity of crisis turns the word into a basic concept. ed.our concept of crisis assumes an additional dimension. it were possible for us to escape a crisis so full of terror and despair. 1769. 1783).61 His commentaries in that journal seek to give historical meaning to the American developments between 1776 and 1783 by depicting them as a fundamental and inescapable moral challenge that will decide finally whether virtue or vice. Nr. from the 1770s on."63 61 At the time when democratic ideas were beginning to percolate. a term which." In 1779. 374 . The Crisis.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 tor or cause of a situation demandingdecision. Moncure Daniel Conway. by the immediate interposition of Providence. when the entry of France into the War of Independence threatened an invasion.crisis can be conceptualized as both structurallyrecurringand utterly unique. concluded a letter with a passage that demonstrates the shift from a theological to a historical dimension: "If.

In doing so. Thoughts on French Affairs (1781). . 1950).Koselleck+ Crisis sis. Burkehimself used the same term to describeanalyticallythe phenomena which Paine had conjuredup. and there remained no choice but to act with determinedvigor.doctrines. it can be overcome only by the historically legitimated acceptance of an absolute moral responsibility for action." "When it becomes necessary to do a thing. or not to act at all. 287. Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). will explode all tradiBurke's diagnosis of that crisis tional social ties and political principles. hitherto unknown. the boundaries between domestic and foreign politics are being eaten away as the internal order of all Europeanstates is corroded by the emergenceof new definitionsof friendsand foes. 64 375 .J. That crisis was then arrived.66 Paine. the whole heart and soul should go into the measure or not attempt it. in a quasi religious manner. ed. which thus realizes its unique character. Burke explained the uniqueness of this crisis: it lay in the introduction of new political principles. on which depends success-and salvation. crisis is the result of a historical movement. 8. 283. 5 Edmund Burke. could be overcome only "by a complete and universalRevolution. Grieve (London. by incorporatingthe theological idea of the Last Judgment. "crisis"by no means lost its historical function of depicting an altogether unique situation: "It appears to me as if I were in a great crisis. type of constitution:"This declarationof a new species of governments. reprinted 1969). and dogma."64On the one hand. analogous to a change in the meaning of "revolution. had been elevated into a concept marking a new epoch in the philosophy of history. Burkeconveys the image of a European civil war. having festered for centuries. In short."For Paine. . 66 Edmund Burke. the FrenchRevolution is the most astonishing that had hitherto happened in the world.Once again. Out of this has been created a new. not of the affairs of Francealone. crisis is no longer a phase preliminary to revolution but continues to unfold through the AmericanRevolution. perhaps more than Europe.on new principles(such it professes itself to be). ibid. vol. 2 (1906. which. A. ibid. this was possible only becausethe political concept of crisis. It is in this latter sense that in 1791 Paine defends the FrenchRevolution against Burke'svehement criticism:It had resulted from a corruption which. The Rights of Man (1791). on the other. theories."It is comparableonly to the Reformation. This development did not preclude subsequent uses of "crisis"that were more specificallybound to a given time and situation. In terms of the history of concepts.. . but of all Europe. is a real crisis in the politics of Europe."65Somewhat later. All circumstancestaken together.

The Revolutionwas only one part of a global historical crisis. and politics. 1 (Paris. universallyvalid historical alternatives. 248. Everyone is equally in the dark. This was to be his task. continue to exert pressurefor a fundamentaltransformationof society. rather. Chateaubriandsimilarlyuses the term as a key concept essential to all political parties: "Nul cependant dans ce moment de crise ne peut se dire: quel sera ce demain" ("In this 'Je ferai telle chose demain'. ] 1843).67 For Saint-Simonand his disciplesas well. They thereby transform crisis into a concept dethat could be used by both sides against signed for combat (Kampfbegriff) each other.At the same time. 376 ." Elastic in time.[Essaisur les revolutions. All thereforemust seek to discoverthe origins of this crisis. he is forced to share their conception in order to grasp the novelty of the actual "crisis. Oeuvres complites. "La crise dans laquelle le corps politique se trouve engage depuis trente ans. or.the contents of their diagnoses as well as their expectations are diametricallyopposed. science. He compared all earlierrevolutions with the ongoing FrenchRevolution. crisis as a revolutionaryconcept of redemptionbecomes an analytical category for understandingconcrete historical situations-though it too aims to inspire political action. vol. one's own situation in it and the path to the future.that of Paine is closer to its theological origins. While Burke's use of crisis reflects its medical antecedents."In Burke'sperspective. dating back centuries. a pour cause fondamentalele changement total du systime social" ("Whathas caused the thirty-yearlong crisis in the 67 Frangois Ren6 Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1797). s'il n'a pri3vue moment of crisis no one can say 'I will do something tomorrow' without having foreseen what tomorrow will bring"). "Crisis" is now frequently used interchangeablywith "revolution. For him. morality. crisis now encompasses as well religion. Translator's note.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 utilizes historical analogies to deny the claim of uniqueness made by the revolution's defenders. Although the diagnostic and prognostic functions of the term are the same for Paine and Burke.The antecedentsof the FrenchRevolution. both make use of the new semantic quality of "crisis" to suggest. to set out new. it becomes the supreme concept of modernity. Though largely driven by societal forces. "crisis"serves a centralfunction in the philosophy of history. Nonetheless. "crisis"is the point at which the present situation intersectswith universal historicalconditions that must first be understood before a prognosis could be offered.

. 3 (Paris . it is up to us to discover and assess all the inner forces of history ratherthan continue paying homage to a naive idea of progress. 3. 106. Only such a science can provide the means by which to resolve the crisis. 70Johann Gottfried Herder. 377 .Although "crisis" has become an epochal concept for comprehendingthe "entire period. b. He seeks to analyze this either-or alternativeby referringto historical forces and tendencies. he confronts the oft-debated alternativeas to whether the human race will improve itself morally and become happier.1869. whose theory of history as accelerated. ed. a constituer une theioriesociologique propre a expliquer convenablement l'ensemble du passe humain" ("The great modern crisis can be resolved only by a total reorganization. Iselin. bilingual edition." it still retainsits eschatologicalsignificance.. VariantPhilosophies of History in German In German-speaking Europe."69 nonethelesshas emergedas a truly autonomous concept of history."70 In 1786.But now humans are left to termiWhile still reflectingits theological roots. 124f. It is in line with this farreaching change of perspective. "crisis" A central cognitive category-according to the positivist belief-it now provides the possibility of envisioning. Dentu. and hence planning for the foreseeable future. "Vom Ursprung der Geschichtsphilosophie. Discourse sur l'esprit positif (1844)." Archiv fifr Rechts-und Sozialphilosophie 41 (1955): 487. 69 Auguste Comte.. Iring Fetscher (Hamburg. In 1774. institutions and developments. that Herder employs the decisive concept of crisis: "since for a variety of reasons we are living in the midst of such a strange crisis of the human spirit (indeed why not also of the human heart?). "Du systeme industriel" (1824). Once crisis has been identifiedas an inevitable and necessaryphase of history. reprinted Paris. it can be overcomethrough properprognosis and planning. see also Nicolaus Sombart. E. nate "la Grande Crise finale. it was probably Herder who first applied our term to the philosophy of history. vol. 1966).Koselleck+ Crisis All body politic is the total change in the social system"). a "science of crisis" is needed to explain society and the laws of its history. vol.Conditions and changes in them are played off against a linear theory of progress. Siimtliche Werke (Berlin. 2. Oeuvres. or whether everything will become worse. Cours de philosophie positive. ed.68 indicatorspoint to a classless society but. 5 (1891). qui peut seule terminerla grande crise moderne. en effect . In Comte's words: "La reorganizationtotale. 1877-1913). 1956). "Auch eine Philosophie der Geschichte zur Bildung der Menschheit" (1774). consiste.This requiresa sociological theory capable of explaining everythingin humanity'spast"). cumulative 68Claude-Henri Saint-Simon. to hasten this process. vol. 589.

Thus in 1793.Philosophische uber der Mutmassungen die Geschichte Menschheit (1764/ 70). Johann Gottfried Herder.it offers us rathercomfortingand hopeful visions of the future. 72 378 . 5th vol. ed. The medical metaphor pales. though distant.in his diagnosis of two days of the (Frenchrevolutionary) crisis.72 Herder uses "crisis" as a central concept of history. "Briefe zur Beforderung der Humanitit" in Anhang: zurlickbehaltene und abgeschnittene Briefe (1792/97). the 9thThermidor(1794) and the 18thFructidor(1797).But before becoming an iterativeconcept of progressivehistory duringthe revolutionary period. Thus Iselin depicts the division of Poland. the concept of crisis is shorn of its meaning as presentinginescapablealternatives. on the eve of the War of the Second Coalition.In the nineteenthcenturythis scaled-downmeaning of "crisis"becomes dominantin theories of economic liberalism. as a republican.71" Drawn into the current of such hope in progress.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 progress Herder had attacked. "some ideas about the newest crisis in the state system of Europe." 71 IsaacIselin.." published in 1798 in his "Rothes Blatt" (Red Journal).the populist fermentationin England as "moral thunderstormsthat will finally clear the air and create joy and tranquility . who. the AmericanWar of Independence.. as a danger. They [these events] seem to justify the supposition that Europe is in the midst of a crisis far more serious and dangerous than any since it began to be civilized. In the "Fragmentof our newly discovered political pathology. This is replacedby a more optimistic meaning. Herderspeaks of an "epochal crisis" that imposed the choice between the alternativesof revolution or evolution. 1877-1913) vol. Offering alternatives which could no longer be simply reducedto death or rebirth. he formulated in his Riibezahl (Gnome of the Sudeten Mountains). 380.But then he broadenedthe horizon in orderto deriveuniversal global alternativesfrom the crisis. inserted a discussion of crisis into the fifth edition of his history of humanity. While we fearful observers should view this crisis.. Also "Entwicklung. 2: 206. 2 (Basel1786). 331. Much the same process can be traced in the writings of the young G6rres. Sdmtliche Werke (Berlin. that of a transition towards a betterfuture. Gbrres.." vol. while the historical concept of crisis increasingly stands on its own. Shortly thereafter. drew a medical-political parallel between the four stages of smallpox and the revolutionary fever. was in the opposite camp. 18 (1883).epochal challenge. its meaningin Germanwas that of a singular.the concept now necessitated thinking about long-term transformations. At first he used the short-termmedical concept of crisis to describeisolated situations of political upheaval.

379 .Koselleck + Crisis He confessed that he did not know when a "tranquil future" will return: "For six years. like a medical examples. Raumer. Gentz goes on to ask: "What is the likely result? What are our expectations for the future?" He confesses to himself that "the crisis which introducedthe nineteenthcenturyis unpredictable. ibid. 73 Gorres." "Crisis"was thus broadened into an epochal concept in Germanas well."But whether there will be peace or war.the revolution 100. The peace-loving Enlightenment had entered into a fateful pact with the Revolution. most awesome crisis which the social order of Europe has experienced in several centuries. (1798).by the sameauthor. thereby raising enormously the potential for "the cruelest and most divisive war ever visited could end the revoluupon a society."Riibezahl" in cal conversion 1799."a people too may have to undergoa paroxysmof insanityif the diseaseis reallyto reach und the ultimatecrisispoint. forty million are "neutral. 1928). contends.Thus it takes up the variant first advanced by Paine and Iselin.73 Two years later. vol."Rhotes Blatt" (1798). only astute countermeasures tionary wars.."Only its negative sides are clearly discernible.ibid. In 1819. onceit occurs."and another fifty-sevenmillion follow "the opposite monarchical principle." Forty-two million Europeansare committed to the Republican system.74 The extent to which "crisis"had become an epochal concept of history GesammelteSchriftenvol. "Ober den ewigen Frieden" (1800). 492-494..1 (Cologne. whom he translated into German."If at all. 13 (1929). As shownby all previous will.To prevent occurrence. 318ff."See his Teutschland die Revolution. 169. 1953).it is betterto offer of a freeconstitution estates-a positionthat led to his expulsionfromthe Rhineland. while Rousseau became his intellectual antagonist: "We believe we are nearingthe end of the greatest. but without any prognosis of the ultimate outcome. Just in as naturethrewthe sick personinto a delirium orderto husbandall healingforces. G6rresused the conceptof crisisto warn about revolution. long afterhis politi164ff.His revised use of the term clearly demonstratesthe influence of his spiritual mentor Burke. 74Friedrich v. its he all crisis. Gentz used the concept of crisis in the opposite direction to convey a long-termstructuraltransformationthe end of which could not yet be determined. In this way. the concept of crisis has acquiredthe function not only of describing but also of evoking a transition that is at once historicallyunique and progressive.runthrough its stages. Gentz. while monarchies will see themselves threatened by the transition to a Republic.Friedensaufrufe Friedenspline der Renaissance(Freiburg.For them there is no turning back. Monarchism and Republicanismhave been locked in a life and death struggle unique in the annals of world history. those favoring Republicanismcan look towards the future with confidence. und MiinEwigerFriede. printed in Kurt v. seit chen.

JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 in German after 1800 can be seen by the failure to apply it in a Christian or religious sense to a critical turning point (Zeitwende).partial version of the Last Judgment. Friedrich. in the period of the Reformation and discovery of America. "Ober das Studium der griechischen Poesie" (1810/11). "Die Christenheit oder Europa" (1799). 2nded. vol. 6 (Berlin. he uses "crisis" in a narrower. no date). Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verichtern" (1799). Friedrich. eds.. 81 Ernst Moritz Arndt.. "the national character of the European state system has already experienced three great evolutions in the course of three decisive crises-in the time of the crusades. ibid. 227."7" the same At time. 78Schlegel. 76Novalis.7. ibid. ibid. vol. Wien."'' Friedrich Schlegel already uses the concept of crisis as a historical category for explaining evolutionary transformationsin the past. Hence he saw the beginningof the 1820s as the dawn of "a new epoch that threatens everyone with a new and terrible crisis and general upheaval. There is only one salvation and that is to walk together through the death of fire in order to regain life for oneself and others.""8 Similarly. Stuttgart.who never tired of depictingthe "spiritof the time" in apocalypticterms. 9 (Paderborn. 80 Schlegel. 9 Schlegel."'" becauseto him "Christianity" will be "the intermediarybetween altogether the old and the new world" on the path toward "eternalpeace. 252.1 (1843). vol.. Signatur des Zeitalters (1820/23). 7" 380 . Thus. he argues.in 1807 ErnstMoritz Arndt. 116.1 (Paderborn. August Leffson und Wilhelm Steffens."78 the same vein. Gesammelte Werke 1. 534. Leipzig. 437. ABT. 3 (1968)." This was becausethe Revolution now came no longer from above or below but "from the middle. vol. 77Friedrich von Schlegel. Gesammelte Werke.. he speaks of the precedingperiod. Vorlesungen iiber Universalgeschichte (1805/06). 1971). 356. vol.. ibid. "Ober die Religion. this horrible period would have been likened to the Last Judgment! And are we not experiencingthose last days of judgment ourselves? . Schleiermacher understands the "mighty crisis" only in a secular sense: "as crossing the Novalis rejectsthe term boundarybetween two differentstates of affairs.""77 wheneverhe is speaking as But a Catholic theologian of history. Friedrich. continued to make use of German biblical language: "Two centuries ago. Philosophie der Geschichte (1828). 524. 7. he interpretedthe fall of the Jewish In nation as a "smaller.. 47. 1979). vol. and in our own [the eighteenth]century. Werke. Simtliche Werke. more political and historical sense. vol. as the "worst and most dangeroustime" which will be followed by the period of the "LastJudgment. Geist der Zeit (1807).. see also his application to the English seventeenth century in "Uber Fox und dessen Nachlass" (1810). Vol. 14 (1960).""'The concepts of the "LastJudgment" Schleiermacher.

82 but not the effects of having experienced its prolonged apparentlyended. seemed especially appropriate. Signatur Zeitalters.the transitionto a new order. The "global crisis" encompassedall spheres. upheavals. Wincke." precisely because of its various meanings. 44 83 des 517.325. 1 (1837). the concept of "crisis.p.citedinHorst der Studien 'Verwirklichung zur der Stuke. und V85lkerkunde (1966): 268. 131 381 . 5 Bruno Bauer. For this aftermath. Westphalia.Koselleck+ Crisis and "crisis" are both being historicized. "Crisis" in Everyday Experience If we take the frequencyof its use as indicatingthe actuality of a crisis. VI."84 of a "universaltheological crisis. then the modernperiod since the turn of the nineteenthcenturycan be called the age of crisis. apocalyptic expectations as well as skeptical fears. "CRISIS" AND CRISES: THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (GERMANY) "God.or the hopes it had raised. 1963).1181. Hefte fair Geschichte. vol. re82Arnold Mallinckbrodt to Ludvig v. review of Strauss' "Leben Jesu" in Jahrbuch fiir wissentschaftliche Kritik.83 der Gegenwart (ConversationalLexicon of the Present Time) spoke of the while in 1837 Bruno Bauer spoke "literarycrisis" of "Young Germany. But the German biblical version came closer to carryingthe sense of those religious impulses Arndt wished to turn in a democraticdirection."8'The extensive correspondenceof Perthes. which provides a privilegedview of contemporarypublic opinion. 1. when will this world crisis pass and the spirit of justice and order become common once again!" So ends a petition written in 1814 to the of governor (Oberprdsident) a Prussianprovince by a journalist. Kunst. wart. Schlegel. Already in 1820 Schlegelspoke of a "greatcrisis of Germanphilosophy" demandingaction The 1839 Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon by the younger generation. 84 in Article "Junges on Deutschland" Conversations-LexikonGegender Brockhaus.. 2 (1839).It could express long-term changes as well as occasional outbursts. Philosophie Tat: bei und Sozialisten Philosophie' denJunghegelianern denwahren (Stuttgart.The exagThe era of the Revolution had gerated choice of words is symptomatic.

who belonged to the radical camp. 6th 87 Ibid. 92 Hermanvon Beckerath to his family. 1847.vol. ed. 88Ibid. . 3 (1872). It was a logical consequence of the Revolution that. 288. 176. brought on by the hasty administrationof medicine. .1942).vol. it was expected that "all of the German states will have to go through an internal crisis" that should lead to a In change in ministers. or else to come into conflict with our own convictions. 2 (Gotha. will begin only "when the crisis. will come to a fortuitous end. printedin RheinischeBriefeund Aktenzur Geschichte politischenBewegung1830-1850.."the peace of the last quarter of the century will be seen "as one of the most significantand decisive epochs. Today there is no longer time to do what might have been done ten years earlier.259 9 Ibid.86 1822 he predicts "There will be more than one crisis before a sense of security will be finally restored which allows both individualsand states to enjoy their possessions.26.Beckerath. 2 der (Bonn. ed. 241."92In May 1848 Kapp. 6.""89 Prussia. after the CarlsbadDecrees.315 90 Ibid. 382 .he adds a little bit later.455.""9 1843. even though it is only a premonition."87 Shortly thereafterPerthesreports the view that Liberalism"is the only remedy against this sickness from which Europe is suffering. The choice now is either to deny the King obedience . is "especiallychallenged by the time of crisis. JosephHansen. the situational use of the term crisis proliferated.. und Friedrich Perthes' dlichenMitteilungen. vol.. In 1819. however.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 lies especially on the political-historical variant of the crisis concept. "As long as there is history." Transformationsin material and spiritualconditions are reaching a culmination point. from 1847 on. which might intensify and even culminate in open ongoing In warfare."True recovery."88The end of the July Revolution leads Perthes to predict a crisis for the German states so serious that "he recoils before it.1872).a liberal representative in the United Landtag (the combined provincial diets of Prussia) wrote: "We have lived through a great crisis.343 91Ibid.. Perthes himself writes: "We are on the eve of great and mighty events:political developmentsare pushing towards a European crisis.."91Here the crisis concept covers equally well the uniqueness of both the perceived structuraltransformation and that of each acute moment of decision. writes that the coming republicwill have to give up on the present genera"It tion of parliamentarians: demands new kinds of people and as such we 86Clemens Lebennachdessenschriftlichen miinTheodorPerthes.

Constantin Frantz uses a concept of crisis that encompassed all previous temporal dimensions..3. The only possible way out of this dilemmawas a dictatorship-provided that it could succeed in representingitself as the product of the popular will. 4 (Berlin. That is the solution. 97Ibid. 142."98To Frantz. 1848 . 122. 7.Koselleck + Crisis have to presentourselves.1891). also letter to his brother Adolf. all these governments had lost their legitimacy. printed his Vomradikalen Frhbsozialismus des Vormirzzum liberalenParteipolitiker Bismarckreiches. 129. und 11. Until that crisis ensues."96 Moreover the coup itself was the inevitable consequence of an acute "criAs sis.Der Cdisarismus die Notwendingkeit bis dargetandurchgeschichtliche Beispielevon den Zeitender Casaren Sdbelherrschaft. its use became an indicator of both the intensityof a crisis and the perceptionof it as such. 95 Constantin 1960)."93And Moltke.21. 93 96 54 Ibid.1848." the sources of Friedrich 5 in Kappto his father. reprintof the 1933 edition (Darmstadt. or else none exists. letterto his brotherLudwig."97 for the questionablefigureof the new Napoleon. 47. I must live. 55.17. Unable to adapt to the new structure of society. translation the 2nd of French edition(Weimar. 383 .3. des Briefe 1843-1884.Louis Napoleon (1852). in Gesammelte Schriften Denvol. premise century not see the foundation oder der anythingpermanent. Hans-Ulrich Wehler(Frankfurt a. German 1851).1850. 79. Frantz."95 Avoiding supernaturalor demonizingversions of the concept. the source of which can be clearly recognized. 34. 59. to cite someone loyal to the state.99 Once "crisis" had become a commonly employed expression. rapidly led to an inflationary use of the term "Chancellor crisis. 94Helmut von Moltke to his mother. 76 " Alreadyin 1850 Romieuused a similarlypolysemicconceptof "crise"to demanda His was "thatthe nineteenth will of dictatorship.1848.. He depicts the thirty-fiveyears prior to the coup "as a neverending cycle of ministerialcrisis upon ministerialcrisis.M. Frantzpredicted: "France will remain in a state of crisis until there is no longer a divorce between what turns truth into reality and what reveals the falsity of lies. ed. 1969)." AugusteRomieu. the origins of this permanentcrisis lay in the discrepancybetween a changing social structure and forms of government(Herrschaftsformen).. kwiirdigkeiten. 8. aufdie Gegenwart (1850). used the term "crisis" again and again to diagnose internal and external turning points in the course of the (1848) Revolution. The frequent changes of chancellors after Bismarck'sfall.. 16 98Ibid. he describesthe 1848 Revolution insteadin "physiological"terms as "havingbeen merely a crisis of an illness in the nation's life. July.94 To explain the coup d'&tatof Napoleon III historically.

" Yet as every lay person knows. 3.such distinctions have been superseded by a single term with many meanings.This praxis. But it was this very indiscriminate use of the term that prompted Maximilian Harder to diagnose an institutionalcrisis behind it: "Rumors of a hidden camarillaincreasinglyfeed expectations of a political crisis. 14/2 (1933). 238.cited in Jurgen Schafer..Die Zeit und die Zeitschrift (1842). Zukunft. Kurt Rottgers. 2. a sign that something new has alreadyreplacedit. 165ff."100 The return to the medical metaphor made it possible to differentiate the ongoing crisis-described in medical terms as Lysis-from those crises created by specificcircumstances. At odds with reality. to break through and to discardthe shell of the past. . historically understood as "crisis.. that critique is pushing for a decision. The sickness in the life of our state is felt by everyone.Friedrichsruhe vol. 102 ArnoldRuge. We can be happy if a prolonged crisis (Lysis) will finally liberateus from this creepingmalaise... the attempt . Such usage labels every disturbancein the balanceof the body politic as a crisis.. Ausgabe. . 1963). .and actionoriented philosophy seeks to achieve that freedom. nothing more than . 999: "Inviewof the domesticcrisesthat seemto be brewing.. the Young Hegelians (Junghegelianer). . the medical concept of crisis means "a rapid decision.At the same time. . which.26. in 1973). and most fear that one day it will come to a bad end.In our century.1975).OF OF 2006 JOURNAL THEHISTORY IDEAS+ APRIL which were sought in either the personal qualities or the policies of a given officeholder. The Concept of "Crisis" in [German] Theories of History "Crisis" plays only a peripheralrole in the GermanIdealist philosophy of history in which the spirit (Geist) that drivesrealitynaturallytriumphsover any acute crisis. Because of these emotional overtones. und Kanzlermythen der Zeit des "Neuen Curses"(Paderborn. But the concept of crisis assumeda central place among its heirs. Kanzlerbild Harden." is already preAs programmedand prepared. In this sense we cannot speak of a political crisis.Kamarilla.." (Bismarck) not step down voluntarily. the absence of which is the object of its critique. Philosophie der Tat (Stuttgart. attempts continued to use "crisis" more unambiguouslywithin a context determinedby theories of history.See also Letterof Bismarck Kaiser to FranzJoseph. 46.however. he did 10' See Horst Stuke. crisis loses its theoreticalrigor. this also includesa semanticanalysisof the use of the term.p10 formulatedby Ruge: "Our time has now become especially critical . citedin Rrttgers. 384 . 1890. passim.."102Becauseit is able to see the 100Maximilian Die W. New York. Kritik und Praxis(Berlin.KritikundPraxis. and the crisis is ...

Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Angelegenheit (1842). In the words of Mevissen. ."Europeanhistory reveals "two great epochs": The first. as in similar epochs in the past. Philosophie der Tat. 129ff. 385 . the sole reason for the crisis is the incongruencebetween the culture [Bildung] of the century and its actual customs. Hansen. presages a historical crisis. Powerful and terrible movements are coming to the fore. 2: Abhandlungen."'03 Judging history correctly will determine whether the problems of state. Mevissen actually sought to abrogate the privilegesof propertyand. Denkschriften. through the creation of a "General Assistanceand EducationalAssociation" to integrate-unsuccessfully-the "excluded majority"of workers into society. History will take care of the crisis and its outcome. Our present epoch is nothing but the last stage of that battle. Gustavv. Reden printedin J. Today.. the period of the Germanic kingdoms." In line with his theory. Hence no one has the right to offer a magic formula for the future. The sole alternativesare whether the crisis will be resolved through revolutionary upheavals or whether the human spirit has become strong enough to transform voluntarily and from within those conditions revealed by the power of knowledge. 104 Gustav von Mevissen.was marked "by the coexistence of free propertyand unfree labor". ThroughoutEurope there is a sense that the present condition cannot last much longer. the second.. in 1850. church. "Seenfrom the perspectiveof society's development. The concept of crisis thus remains within a philosophy of history calling for the execution of tendencies revealed through critique. "Ober den allgemeinen Hilfs-und Bildungsverein" (1845). "The recognition of the presence of an organic affliction." For this reason. he was the last to attempt a system-immanentinterpretationof history derived from the premisesof GermanIdealism. the sources of which are not yet or insufficiently understood. no one dares to predict where they will lead.Koselleck+ Crisis direction of history. und Briefe (Berlin. 1906). this critique is propelling the crisis. "witnessed an ever-changing battle between free labor and free property. In Bruno Bauer's words: "History . von Stein withdraws to a third position and ad103 Bruno Bauer. Mevissenvol. cited in Stuke. 174. antiquity. thereby linking freedom and equality. . forms of existence and conditions.104 That same diagnosis was offered by Lorenz von Stein when. an entrepreneurclose to the Young Hegelians and protector of Marx.. will elevate to power the freedom which theory has given us and thereby create the world in a new form . and society demandinga decision can be solved in practice.

4 (Basel.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 vances a challengingprognosiswith two starkalternatives. At the same time. Rather. ed. Stuttgart. In the competitive economy everythinghas become fungible. or the discovery of America-that leads mankindfrom one world epoch to another.'07Internationallaw is being revolutionizedand in the currentconstellation of power. 323ff. 330 "oJacob Burckhardt. "we are in the midst of one of those monumental crises-like the Crusades. will compete against each other. Gesammelte Werke."106 This crisis affects all spheres. This component is considerablyweakened in Droysen in 1854 when.. see also ibid.110 Rather than 10o Lorenz von Stein. Stein prognosticatesonly two alternatives:a just social order or collapse. 1933). Thus his theory of the three epochs contains a decidedly eschatologicalcomponent. and another Europeanpower as yet unknown. At issue is not simply war or constitutional questions during which the combatants involved test their strength against each other. vol.science is pursuingmaterialist principles against which a religion threatened by "nihilism" is no match.o09 Even more removed from any eschatological explanation is Jacob Burckhardt's1870 synopsis of the world historical crisis. "Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen. 341.. 1970). Unlike von Stein.von Stein'sconcept of crisis As is drawn from an all-encompassingview of history which sees the revolutions of the nineteenth century as steps in the transition toward industrial society. 332 109Ibid. in which Russia."'08A new "system of global powers" is appearing on the horizon. which announces "the sovereigntyof industrialsociety. "Zur Charakteristika der europiischen Krise." is merely one "act of that mighty crisis.Eitherit is possible to convince capital and labor to sacrifice their special interests and to institutionalize instead a relationship of mutual dependency so that the state is no longer simply the handmaidenof propertyinterests-or else "Europe descends again into barbarism and is lost. Droysen does not predict any alternativesfor the future. 386 . Geschichte der sozialen Bewegung in Frankreich von 1789 bis auf unsere Tage (1850). Rather. 106 Johann Gustav Droysen. 1959). only Russia has a position "that will last beyond the moment (of the present crisis). though he providesa spectrumof various unforeseeableeventualities. 208ff. later also China." in Politische Schriften. the Reformation. the future outcome of the crisis is left open. Berlin.. 328. during the Crimean War. Felix Gilbert (Munich." The 1848 Revolution. Power is becoming an end in itself. 107 Ibid. Uber geschichtliches Studium" (1870). he places the "characteristicsof this European crisis" within a world historical context. North America.. the British Empire."'05 with Saint-Simon. lo0 Ibid. newly printed edition (Darmstadt.

Inspired by Thucydides and relying heavily on medical metaphors. Begegnungen mit der Geschichte (G6ttingen.Koselleck+ Crisis offering a diachronic overview demonstratingthe singularity of the nineteenth century.real crises are rare.""3To Burckhardt. but reality creates so many moments of unexpected surprise as to make any typology of crisis relative."they are to be regardedas 'developmental knots. Neither the first Roman centurynor the PeloponnesianWarproducedgreat. 129. and. Yet these relatively traditional. 117 Ibid. his goal is to provide a historically and anthropologicallygroundedpathology of the processes of crises. 129ff. Similarly. 122..""5Certainlyonly the age of mass migration of various peoples in early Christian Europe was a true and great crisis. "Die historischen Krisen im Geschichtsdenken Jacob Burckhardts" (1950) in Theodor Schieder. 112 Burckhardt.to a mixing of races. analyzesrevolutionsin terms of regularphases at the end of which there will be either restoration or despotism. 113 114 Ibid. unlike any other familiarto us. 138."There are "failed crises" as well as "artificially created illusory crises. above all.Burckhardt providesa typology of past world crises in order to emphasize commonalities and similarities. 116Ibid.. Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen. the Athenian democracy lived in a constant crisis with the persistentthreat of terrorism. 139. fundamental crises."Indeed. not even the English Revolution was a real crisis because it did not lead to a fundamentalchange in social relations. 147. " Ibid."4 Crisis may be a permanentpossibility in history.'" Crises are more complex and multi-layered. 122. It led to fundamentaltransformations. psychologically enhanced elements are clothed in a theory of crisis that does not view the unfolding of crises as mere diachronic events in a linearrevolutionaryprocess. 120. Rather. On the other hand. most crises are terminatedbefore they reach their final endpoint. remainsunique of its kind. 122.As demonstratedby the multiplicity of historical examples. to the emergenceof a historicallypowerful ChristianChurch. Religious. 1962). spiritual. the course of which was moderated. This was true also of the Seven Weeks War of 1866 (between Prussiaand Austria). 387 . a crisis into which Austria was pushed. economic.the GermanReformation was an incomplete crisis cut off by the PeasantWars. "When two crises cross each other"-national or religious-"the strongerconsumes the weaker. 146. So too was the French Revolution.""'6 11'Theodor Schieder.112 Influenced by the cyclical theory of constitutional change (Verfassungshe kreislauflehre)."' Although he recognizes "war as internationalcrisis" he draws most of his examples from the accelerateddynamics of revolutionaryprocesses. "and this crisis.even if they emerge erraticallyand suddenly. and political forces become intertwined.

. the main decision must come from the nature of humanity itself""'117 transformingonce (thus and for all the metaphor of the Last Judgmentinto an anthropologicaland historical category). Burckhardtremainedcautious in his judgment of the final outcome: "Of course.with the deepest clash of conscience. or Christianguises have been unmasked. This is less because of any overt similaritythan because of its uniqueness.hallowed. But the "principalcrisis" will come only with the convergence of technology. 388 . wars. rather. but also salvation and cleansing. can we discernthe sum total of its true (i. this concept of crisis promises misery and crime. and social revolutions..what the contemporaryobserverregardsas desirableor undesirThus able). Nietzsche's answer.-Revaluation of all Values:that is my formula for an act of the highest examination by mankind. "Crisis"becamea transpersonal mode of interpretationat the highest level. relativelytrue) consequences (its so-called good and evil results or. only after a lapse of time proportionalto the scale of the crisis itself. metaphysical. into which the forces of democracy and material ambitions. and intellectual utopias all merged.e. shaped by the many facets of an unchanginghuman nature which. reduced the European crisis to his own person: "One day my name will be connected with the recollection of something enormous-with a crisis such as never before existed on earth. 150.. "politics will then be taken up with 117 Ibid. The wars of the nineteenth century were only a part of this larger crisis. Burckhardt'ssemantic fields were especially varied in order to redescribe the multi-layeredand complex character of structural transformations and their explosive aggregateimpact. had in effect. I am not human. I am dynamite. drawn-outcrisis can be comparedto that of nineteenthcentury Europe. demanded." Once centuries of lies in moral. Cutting across short. true to itself. whose readinessto prophesywas the exact opposite of Burckhardt's. which has become flesh and genius in me..""118 the most significantanalyst of crisis remainedconsiderably more cautious than all of his predecessors. 118 Ibid.with a decision solely invoked against all that had until then been believed. in the case of a truly great crisis.132f.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 Only this long.. lust for power.and longterm processes. "At that point. But my truth is frightful:for until now lies have been called the truth. Despite his amazing prognoses of future catastrophes. by fusing together all the diagnostic and prognostic strands of his philosophy.asked himself: "Why am I a destiny?" ("Warumich ein Schicksal bin"). In 1888 Nietzsche. forever seeks change.

121 Perthes. 2 (1956). vol. 285. vol. or to failed harvests. This translation is taken from Nietzsche. vol.Koselleck + Crisis spiritual warfare. as in 1825..121 This style remainedcommon. 1961). But from 1857 on. such problemswere not specificallyconceptualizedas "crisis"-in the sense of an illness or imbalance-until the nineteenthcentury.the historyof commerceand monetary 119 Nietzsche. While "crisis" as an economic term was already common in eighteenth-centuryEnglish.as well as those resulting from a wave of bankruptcies. 90-91. 2004)." "calamities. In the following year the expressionis commonly used to describeits consequencesin Germany. Ecce homo. it seems to have entered into the German language only in the nineteenth century. The use of the concept of crisis reflectsthis development. Niebuhr at once put the crisis into a historical perspective:"Forthe past 150 years."Correspondentswriting from England in 1825 warn of an "impendingcrisis" that may already have befallen that country. all the power structuresof the old order will be blown sky high" and there will be "wars like never before on earth. "The crisis" which has befallen the commercialclass in Frankfurt. Instead."is terrible. Ecce Homo and the AntiChrist. linking it to the "stock market mob.""'19 3. for an especiallylong time. Part 1."and. (1888). "blockages. In Germany these were initially due to the costs of the wars against the French. 3. 120 References in Jurgen Kuzcynski. Die Geschichte der Lage der Arbeiter unter dem Kapitalismus. Werke. He saw in England a "monetary crisis"-which. Thomas Wayne (New York. Perthes' Leben (see footnote 86). economic crises were increasinglyviewed as global occurrencescaused by the capitalist system itself. to agrarian surpluses. 43ff."'20 The domestication of the expression can be seen in Perthes's correspondence. Although the language of German mercantilistsmade prominent use of such metaphors as circulatory problems or imbalancesin the body politic with respect to demand and supply. as in 1847."--he condemned in moral and social as well as in economic terms. 40ff. Extensions of the Concept of Crisis into Economics Surely our concept would never have become a central concept had it not acquiredan additional interpretivecontent that reflectedan experience increasingly common in daily life: economic crises. Man wird was man ist." "convulsions. Studien zur Geschichte der zyklischen Uberproduktionskrisen in Deutschland 1825-1866 (Berlin. increasingly severe economic emergencies continued to be redescribedalmost exclusively in such medical terms as "relapse. trans. 11. 389 . 1152f.

France thatyear).124 Not until 1849 did Roscher. 740..In the firsthalf of the century." especiallygovernmental preventive with financial weretakenprimarily from assistance." Afterdiscussing theoriesof western the he opted-though with historical reservations-for economists. 727f. laws andtaxes. ibid. andgreedwerecited. thoughhis examples the Anglo-Saxon American and economies. future the looksdim.125 After1825.citedin ibid. although was shapedby the extentto which the crisiswas actuallyexperiusage enced-as is evidenced the reportsfromchambers commerce. part 1." and of whichhas ledto an "excessive of production goodsforwhichthereareno customers. 132ff. been an integralpart of world Before1721 (referring the speculative to crisesin Englandand history. 123 references see Kuczynski.monetary Theseandothersbesideswerevariregulations.generaltradecriseswereunknown. Among others. 47 for 1825." Althoughhis theoryis not especiallyrigorous.newinventions the installation machines.alongwithoverextensions credit.weak of speculation and of custom purchasing power. 390 . ibid. 43ff. For 124 125 Roscher. article on "Production crises" (see footnote 40). 11. 66 for 1836. it was used by Sismondi attributes crisisto "thestagnathe against andthetwo Millses. terms the crisis" "financial or crisis" wereespecially such "trade prominent." He distinguishes between"production crises"of specificindustries from in all sectorsof the market crises" a "general economy. He descriptions as term "production crisis"because"it betterdesuggested a preferable scribesthe natureof the disease.declarethe of "financial commercial or crises"to be inappropriate."122 termschanged on of Composite depending wherethe symptoms crisis were felt firstor most clearly. descriptions strongmoralovertones predominated. In23 of by sofar as the sourcesof the crisis were discussedin such reportsor in with Thus newspapers. ibid. to Otherwisehe terdependence offersa relatively conventional of and "pathology the disease" "anappromeasurescombined priate therapy. 287 Ibid. in ouslyevaluated termsof theirroleandimpact.. a highlyinfluential in essay.42. vol. 91 for 1848. European the thesis of overproduction. German observers tended agreethatthe economic to crises 122 Barthold GeorgNiebuhr..JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 has affairs.Roscher Say tion of consumption" "the over-anticipation demand. for 1856..like the historyof epidemics. now as they during becomemoreandmorefrequent.Roschernonetheless linksup with otherwesterntheoriesabouta growingglobaleconomicinattributed an ever greaterproductivity. "'general glut.'as the English say.

"126 The belief in the recurrenceof crises became no less entrenched. periodicallyrecurringpressures"(without using our term)127. does Harkort in 1844: "those crises of market surpluses . cited in Kuczynski. 47. 160ff. 1 vol. As noted by Henrik Steffens: "There is perhaps no crisis in modern times more devastatingthan that caused by the ever increasingintroduction of railways.. speaks of "comas mon. . Eine Chrestomathie (Berlin. technology."VomBiedermeier Machinenzeitalter. vol.1960)." Archivfir Kulturzum geschichte. ..'"129 Needless to say. Part1. economic crises were increasinglyattributedto technical innovations. Kuczynski.. it was inevitable that the adverse effects of this crisis would be felt by our commerce and factories. 9: Bargerliche halbfeudale Part und Literatur aus denJahren1840 bis 1847 zur LagederArbeiter. 1837). vol. 129Karl Quentin.42. citedin ibid.and France. 100. and the capitalist market economy. as well as the distress caused by industry."EinWortzur Zeit der Arbeiterkoalitionen" (1840). 185. in 1854. 103. 130 Henrik Steffens. footnote."128 well: "there exists no means by which to prevent a commercial crisis. cited in ManfredRiedel.the head of the PrussianMerchantMarine. to coin the generalformula:these are crises "the changing substance of which may take changing forms."130 Fromthe 1840s on.Part1. 94. 9. Bemerkungen die Hindernisse Civilisation Emancipation der unteren Die der 1844). Lage derArbeiter. the economically-basedconcept of crisis permeates the growing literature of social criticisms-coming from all political and social camps-that had begun to flood the market. 127 Christian des Rother.. 7. 185.This undoubtedly prompted Roscher. see also ibid.Thus in 1837 the Cologne Chamberof Commerce reported:"Becausein the last two decades our province had entered into significant direct and indirect relations with North America. 69. Rother. "Was ich erlebte. 127. LagederArbeiter. but 'revolu126 der Keiln"(1837). England. 132. which consistently The sense of inevitability is spreading as recur within short periods. Kuczynski. Aus der Erinnerung niedergeschrieben" (1844). derArbeiter unterdemKapitalismus.'31"Crisis" was well suited to conceptualize both the emergenciesresulting from contemporary constitutional or class specific upheavals. 391 . These could be treated as symptoms of a serious disease or as a disturbanceof the economy's equilibrium.43 (1961). 128Friedrich tiber der und Harkort.Koselleck+ Crisis of the first half of the century-and beyond-had been imported from the U. Such crises are called 'reforms' if they are resolved peacefully under the auspices of the established legal system. 127f. 9."Memorandum Leitersdes k6niglichenSeehandlungsinstituts" (April3.. "Jahresbericht Handelskammer Lage der Arbeiter.A. 110. Geschichte Lage Klasse(Ebersfeld. vol 11.S. 90.see also J. 131 See Kuczynski. In 1837. Part1.

" Consul Adae from the USA to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (March 3. 1960)." Certainly. 36. Part 1. Die Geschichte der Lage der Arbeiter unter dem Kapitalismus. in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika und in Frankreich (Berlin 1968). the economic concept of crisis now achievedfar greatertheoreticalrigor. Roscher. 1: Die Grundlage der National6konomie (Stuttgart. establishedthe dominance of economics. As noted by Michaelis. 1854).A. it was perceived as a "world criWhat made it altogether new was its conceptualizationin internasis.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 tions' if they produce changes violating the law. System der Volkswirtschaft . The causes of crisis also varied from place to place. 36. 1789 bis zur Gegenwart (Berlin. published in 1895. Die Wirtschaftskrisen. vol. "crisis"had been elevated into a historical "super concept" (Oberbegriff)with which to analyze the challengesof the century.136 Compared with its use as a political or historical term. 240f. 1970). vol. 1895. 1858). " Max Wirth. Ttibingen. Kuczynski. in the economic sphere as well.S.. This was a relativelynaive compilation of empirical observations and emphasized the exceptional importance of the credit system.This was due to knowledge gained from experience. while others were affected differently. 31: Die Geschichte der Lage der Arbeiter in England. . see also J. 136 Eugen 392 . Part 1. Geschichte der Handelskrisen (Frankfurt."134 The next year appeared the first History of Trade Crises (Geschichte der Handeslkrisen). That perceptionmade it possible to insert economic crises into specificphiW. to Berlin:"Attempts to identify the origins of this crisis have resulted in finding them everywhere and nowhere. caused in part by the gold rush and the subsequentfrenzy of speculation set off by it. Geschichte der nationaldkonomischen Krisentheorien (Stuttgart. vol."v33 tional terms extended to commercialand political interactionsas well as to the conditions of capitalist production." To understand their common character and historical significancewould require a "historyof the world economy. "Die Handelskrise von 1857" (1858/59). 1 (Berlin.13Eugen von Bergmann'sHistory of Political Economy Crisis Theories (Geschichte der nationalakonomischen Krisentheorien). 1856). Economic crises-despite the misery and despairthey caused and intensified-were transitional(not permanent). reprinted in Glashuitten/Tsand Tokyo.. Part 2. von Bergmann. vol. vol. Lage der Arbeiter. Volkswirtschaftliche Schriften. The economic crisis after 1856. 132 111.. cited in Kuczynski.by Max Wirth. 1873). 10: Die Geschichte der Lage der Arbeiter in Deutschland. 30. Earlier crises hit only individual nations. see also Kuczynski. Die Geschichte der Lage der Arbeiter unter dem Kapitalismus. As a consular official reported from the U. "the crisis of 1857 differsfrom all of its predecessorsin that it was far more universal. ."132 Thus. 11. 134 Otto Michaelis. was pitched at a much higher level of reflection.

Bergmanm. Sozialismusund kapitalistische (1892).Koselleck+ Crisis losophies of history. In this way. 4.) vol. in 1898. 2 (1898)."'39 both Marx and Engels use crisis-with some exceptions-primarily as an economic term. Marx-Engels Werke (MEW). every economic crisis became a step on the ladder of progress. also influencedpublic perceptions. the chances increasethat the capitalist system is about to succumb to its own 137 Julius Wolf. ed Institut fur Marxismus-Leninismus beim ZK der SED. however. 1955 ff. vols. (Berlin-Ost."'38 the weight given to such social-Darwinian interpretationsof crises. Umrisse zu einer Kritik der Nationaldkonomie (1844).articleon "Krisen" Wbrterbuch Volkswirtschaft.As expressed by JuliusWolf: "Economiccrises fulfill a mission. Engels traced the steadily worsening cyclical crises to "such an oversupply of productive capacity" that "people are starvingfrom that very surplus. one could almost say about crises what Voltaire said about God. It describes the time span when economic cycles begin to turn. that one would have to invent them if they did not already exist . 138WilhelmLexis. 1 (1956). Even socialist interpretersshared this view. . They are not merelyrecurringpatternsfrom which businesseswith superior leadership and resources can escape. For liberaloptimists."This was evident in Marx and Engels. Becauseof their invigoratingeconomic effects. whose use of the concept of crisis alternatedbetween revolutionaryhope and economic analysis. horrifiedby the extreme misery that economic crisesproducedin daily life." He added the expectation that this condition "will finallylead to a social revolution never From that point on. Marx and Engels In his "Outlinesof a Critiqueof Political Economy" of 1844. 122. and 2 suppl. Rather they push productive conditions onto a differentplane."' Lexis. cited by Gesellschaftsordnung 232f. Wirtschaftskrisen. 393 . the long-termcourses of which have neverpreviouslybeen intelligible. sharedthe view that the surplusof goods caused "almost everywhere and continuously a harsh struggle for survival" but he could not consider However great the concomitant "chronicprocess of selection as a crisis. 139 Engels. their horizon of future expectations was more "eschatological. in der vol.. imaginedin the textbook knowledge of economists. 42 vols. Once these regularities are seen as historically determined. But. they were seen as transitionalphases on the path to progress. economic crisis theories. both liberal and socialist. 516..

(1964). 1881. vol. Marx's economic theory developed a life of its own. In this sense. und Marxismus politisches Wien.. How does the bourgeoisie overcome these crises? On the one hand. 7 (1960)."143 To the extent. 440. 4 (1959).. Defizitin derSPD 1890-1914 (Frankfurt...JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL2006 problems and has entered the critical phase that will lead to its end by revolution. of course. Translation adapted York. ed. 142 Marx/Engels.vol. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that in all earlierepochs would have seemed an absurdity-an epidemic of overproduction. 478.it is ourturnandoursalone"or "theory thecollapse"-see RudolfWalther. 211f. 1981). Marx-Engels The 467. It went beyond all other economic theories in that-on the basis of its theory of economic factors as dominant-it simultaneouslyoffered both a theory of history and a social theory. ihresDenkens "Wirtschaftskrise Revolutionbei Marx und Engels. But how then does it do this? By paving the way for ever more extensive and devastating crises and by diminishingthe means whereby crises are prevented..But this requiressimultaneouspolitical action by the proletariat.vol. by enforced destruction of mass productive forces. MEW. that recurringeconomic crisesdid not produce a revolution. vol 29 (1963). It is within this over-all economic framework. Yet But the one is as certain as the other. Tucker." Zeitschrift.Marx and Engelscould finallypredictthe foreseeable demise of capitalism. November 15. 175. though on political ratherthan economic grounds. 11. MEW.140 Incorporatedinto their social and political analysis. "Revue.. for further 141 Engels examples-"after of the deluge.. is the expectation of a final economic collapse.30. 394 . 143 Engels to Marx.. a "global crash" as well as the certainty of revolution-or whatever other circumlocution Marx and Engels chose "A instead:141 new revolution is possible only in the wake of a new crisis. ibid. propertyrelationsthat are the condition for the existence of the bourgeoisie and its domination . the history of industryand commerce is but a history of the revolt of modern productive forces pitted against modern conditions of production. by the conquest of new markets and by a more thorough exploitation of old ones. 35 (1967) ."142 for Marx and Engels "crisis" retainedan essentiallypositive connotation. see also Peter Stadler.1978). 113ff. ibid.."On the basis of this economic interpretation.Zur Entwicklung und 199 Historische in den 50erJahren. As Engels exults in 1857: "The crisis will make me feel as good as a swim in the ocean. on the other. Reader(2nd New fromRobertC.Mai bis October"(1850). This is illustratedin the CommunistManifesto:"For decades.that "death-bearing"class which the bourgeoisie itself had created. to Bebel. Marx and Engels integratethe economic concept of crisis into their political and historical analysis. 1857. 140 Marx and Engels.Manifestder Kommunistischen Partei(1848).3.

513. Marx continues to make ever new attemptsat stating "the generalposin sibilities of crisis"145 order to explain real ones. will ultimately create those conditions making the collapse of the system inevitable. for example. 512. If the external tendencies towards autonomy proceed of against the internalinterdependence these processes. Yet that inner unity is manifested in external disunity. "Those autonomous processes confronting each other. crises."'49 Under-consumptiontoo is such a partial aspect. vol.vol." vol.KritikderPolitischen Okonomie. den Mehrwert.Koselleck+ Crisis that Marx's theory of crisis.Neither the branchesof production nor the circulation of goods and money are in tune with one another. MEW. 127f. 1 (1867). assumed central imporIn tance.the system of circulationis alreadydiachronicallydistorted. 25 (1952). 145 Marx Theorien iber 144 Trent 1'47 Marx."148 For that reason. 1. Kritik der Politischen Okonomie. form an inner unity. MEW. and credit. 457. 26/2 (1967). Since it was already part of everyday existence in pre-capitalisttime. Das Kapital.The liberal theory of equilibriumbetween supply and demand will never be achieved. see also his Das Kapital.e. leading to ever recurring cyclical crises. is-long before any actual shortage-only the occasion of an economic crisis: "It [credit]hastens . 395 ."147 "Crisis"is thus "nothing but ibly assert itself-in the forcible assertion of the inner unity of phases of the productive processes that externally have become autonomous from one another."Telos14 (1972): 106. competition." vol. 2.. however. 146 Marx "Theorien ber den Mehrwert.vol. 149 Marx. Schroyer. Rather. Every financial crisis is viewed as part of a circulatoryprocess of goods-finance-goods. a credit shortage. Marx points out the internal contradictions of capitalism which. 148 Marx. 2 (1861/63). Kapital.. modern overproduction "Marx'sTheoryof the Crisis. the forcible outbreak of this contradiction. vol. 25 (1952). i. as.Vol. credit. though incomplete. His theory of crisis thus contains both system-immanentand systemexploding elements-a duality that accounts for the increasinglydivergent reception of Marxist practice (Praxis) and his theory of history as dominated by economic factors. 128. such unity will forcthe form of a crisis. 3 (1894). 2. and those elements leading to the dissolution of the old mode of production. vol."146 causes of specific crises are all seen as symptoms of a The capitalist crisis. MEW.144 Capital (Das Kapital). vol. 510. which helps to expand the materialdevelopmentin productive powers and to open world markets. "The real crisis can only be deduced from the real movement of capitalist production. "Theorien iiber den Mehrwert.

the systematicfoundation of his own explanations According and processes sketched above was Ricardo'spreviously discovered"law of tendentially falling rates of profit.because "the extension or contradictionof productionwill always be decided by the expected margin of profit and not by the relationship of production to social needs. 3. 476. crises. -0o Marx. also a product of the dependencyof the proletarianclass on capitalists.662 152 Ibid. 221ff. Marx But also analyzes counter-tendenciesthat may "stem. and the destructionof capital" will be inevitable." 2. sociologically speaking.152 this tendencyneed not immediatelylead to a total collapse. to quote Engels."151 Rises in productive capacity thus increasethe reserve army of unemployedworkerswho can no longer afford to buy goods. "throughmethods that reduce the number of employed workers in relation to increased production. is Instead of producing for social needs. slow down. prosperity. 266. and by economic concentrationat the expense of smallerfirms. labor."Theorien Mehrwerts.. initially are in the form of surplus value created by workers but then taken from them. 516.249. 1. to the needs of human beings developed as membersof society. crisis and stagnation. Every crisis is thus at once a "crisis of work" and a "crisis of capital. 1."154 The capitalist mode of production will thus always run against its own barriers. Marx. . 396 . It is-to put it briefly-always the result of a production process involving capital and labor. 154 Ibid.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 plays a comparativelylargerrole. utilization. capitalism seeks only to maximize profits which. lyzing marketsso that finally the profits of entrepreneurs to Marx. The temporal and geographicdissolution of production. investments." Once the level of exploitation sinks "below a certainpoint . "mankind's leap from the realm of necessity will 151 des vol.roughly ten-year cycle of "average activity. although acquired in the market.. disturbancesand blockages within the capitalist productiveprocesses."'15s3 give rise to a repetitive."'55 Crises thereforenot only contain immanent forces which they can be overcome. and credit markets. therebyparawill decline. but are also manifestationsof tendenthrough cies pointing to the structurallimits of capitalism. or partially and interruptthe fall..Kapital. Overproductionis determinedby the accumulationof capital.. It is that barrieracross which. 155 Ibid.vol.. hence. and modernization in the sphere of production. over-production.."15o Their interrelationship depicted in many forms.vol.vol. 153 Ibid. 476. and distribution createsdisparitiesbetween supply and demandin capital.

1961)."156 mulated so as to allow two interpretationsof crisis. plus subtile. Schumpeter. used rigorously in only a few scholarly or scientific contexts. tingen. 15.Koselleck+ Crisis Marx's theory of crisis was carefullyforlead to the realm of freedom. Klaus Dockhorn. Varietd. Schumpeterdenies its utility even for political economy. drawing a parallel to the first century before Christ and to " 156 Engels. par sa nature. ische Analysedes kapitalistischen Prozesses(1939). meme. Paul published three essays on "the intellectual Valkury crisis":"La crise militaireest peut-etrefinie.1939). 5: Analysisof the Capitalist "We shall not give any technicalmeaningto the termcrisisbut only to prosperity and depression. sa phase. the Great Depression."'59("The militarycrisis is perhaps over. cette crise laisse difficilement saisir son veritablepoint. et qui.BusinessCycles: Theoretical. Thus it becomes difficultto understandthe real meaning of the intellectualcrisis and to diagnose the phases of its development. and World War II. In 1918. but few correspondinggains in either clarity or precision. "Crisis" remains a catchword. the economic crisis is all too evident. have proliferated. vol."'157 Since World War I. there has been an enormous quantitative expansion in the variety of meanings attached to the concept of crisis. 159 PaulValiry.'Anti-Dtihring' MEWvol. ed. "Herrn Eugen Duhrings Umwilzung der Wissenschaft. These continue to influence economic interpretations of the modern world as well as those derived from philosophies of history.g. 1 (New York. Seealso the English and Statistical Process.vol. but only to the concepts of prosperityand depression.Urspriinge modernen (Munich. LATER USES OF CRISIS: AN OVERVIEW AND ASSESSMENT OF ITS PRESENT STATUS From the nineteenth century on. (1918).1924)." des Krisenbewusstseins Muthesius. Ehrenfried 1963). 1 (Paris. La crise iconomique est visible dans tout sa force. Eine historischeund statistKonjunkturzyklen. VII. mais la crise intellectuelle.vol 1 (G6tA Historical edition. he gives "no technical meaning to the term crisis. in his analysis of business cycles. cultural and critiques'58 global interpretationswith "crisis"in their titles.") Ortega y Gasset."Lacrisede l'8sprit" 397 . ~-7 Joseph A. By its very nature it can produce highly misleading impressions. 11. which is why. These are due to the dissimulation which so often plays a part in intellectuallife. prend les apparences les plus trompeuses (puisqu'elle se passe dans le royaume meme de la dissimulation). 18 See e. 20 (1962). But the intellectualcrisis is more subtle. London. theoretische. 264 (1878).

ed. permanent condition of the world. As early as 1837 this was how RichardRothe conceptualizedit: "The whole of Christian history is one great continuous crisis of mankind.162 Such efforts-whatever their analytical quality-do not reach much beyond the frameof philosophiesof history alreadyestablishedin the previous (nineteenth) century. Im Schatten von Morgen. sought to interpretthe crisis of the twentieth century as characterizedby alienation. Leipzig. an origin that lacks all objectivity. 18. Another variant of twentieth-centuryuse is evident in "negative theology.160 Huizinga . It views "crisis" as an immanent. the non-being of the world. 1967). 163 Richard Rothe. Phenomenologyis meant to bridge the chasm between a science addicted to observable reality and the internal life of human beings. 398 . God is "the origin of the crisis of every objectivity." Ever since Descartes's separation of object from subject. 161 Johan Huizinga. vol. 1936). The so-called history of salvation [Heilsgeschichte]is only the continuous crisis of all history. He characterizedthe "crisisof Europeansciences"as a manifestationof an ever more present "crisis of Europeancivilization. German translation by Werner Kaegi. the judge. 10. 3rdedition (Bern. He was convinced that "the crisis in which we live. 1962). must be a phase in a progressiveand irreversible process. predicted a more open future. cynicism. 162Edmund Husserl.. however serious. not a history within '60Jos' Ortega y Gasset. Eine Diagnose des kulturellen Leidens unserer Zeit (1935). semi-education.and a relapseinto barbarism. German translation by Fritz Schalk (Stuttgart. Freiburg." which remains committed to incorporatingthe last judgment into world history. on the other hand. 1943). Berlin. "Crisis" continues to demonstrate the ongoing novelty of our epoch. shifting commitments.'63Karl Barth removes all teleological overtones from "crisis" in order to interpretit existentially. That is what makes the contemporaryconsciousness of crisis so new and so different from any previous experience.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 the Renaissance. false heroism.With the revolt of the masses modern man has reached his end point. Die Anfiiange der christlichen Kirche und ihre Verfassung (1837). Das Wesen geschichtlicher Krisen.. Die Krise der europiiischen Wissenschaften und die transzendentale Phanomenologie (1935/36).."'61Husserl expanded the theme of crisis into a broadly conceived philosophy of history. 2 (Munich."Yet he still saw that crisis as integral to progress. Geschichte der kirchlichen Historiographie. 221. Walter Riemel. first published in 1942 under the title La esquema de las crisis y otros essayos. the Greek telos of following the dictates of reason has increasinglydisappearedfrom sight. still perceivedas a transitionalstage. cited in Peter Meinhold. 2ndedition (The Hague.

201ff. and the sociology of culture.La crisede la conscience 1680-1715 (Paris. 57.'68 ethnology. "Crisis" is often used interchangeablywith "unrest.1954). BerndJaspertand RudolfMohr (Marfor burg. On the basis of currentheadlines. Eschatologyis now incorporated into history. Art. "Kriseund Evolution. 1979). '"Krise'-Komposita-verbale Leitfossilien unserer Tage. harsh and non-negotiable alternatives." and to describe vaguely disturbingmoods or situations.Der Rdmerbrief of (1918). it is the media which have inflatedthe use of the term. crisis of self-confidence) or as definingword (crisis expert.Koselleck+ Crisis or parallel to human history. all such coinages then require clarification. 164 (Munich.Festschrift Winfried Zeller.W.1976). Every one of such uses is ambivalent.1973).'66 tries to operationalizethe term and distinguish it from "conflict. may itself be viewed as the symptom of a historical crisis that cannot as yet be fully gauged. 90 (1980)." as 167MartinJanicke. This makes it all the more imporKarlBarth. Mutters70 prache. Zollikoned.170 only can "crisis" be Not with other terms.T. it is easy to do so. Such a tendency towards imprecision and vagueness."'67 From medicine the concept has spread to psychology and anthropology. in or Political science history. 9threprinting the 5thedition(1926)." (seefootnote13)." Zeitschrift zur Pflege und Erforschung der deutschen Sprache. In all the human and social sciences. Zurich." "revolution. europdenne 166 Christian Meier.Erlerand R. 131ff. 463ff. crisis bungler).Bromily (GrandRapids.eds.has been transformedto fit the uncertaintiesof whatevermight be favored at a given moment.32. III 169 MatthiasLaubscher.Res publicamissa(Wiesbaden.. a list of 200 different contexts was compiled in which the term crisis appears as adjective (crisis-torn). The which once had the power to pose unavoidable."164 The concept of crisis has here lost its meaning as a final or transitionalstage-instead it has become a structural category for describingChristianhistory itself.Beitriige politikwissenschaftlichen Krizur senforschung(Opladen. R. 189. of course. For the Catholicusage see Harald Wagner. since it makes it possible to keep open what it may mean in the future.""'17 concept of crisis." Traditio-KrisisRenovatio. While it can be used to conjoined clarify.'16 Above all." "conflict. Gottesvorstellung Gesellschaftsentwicklung und Begriff ed. "Krise."this lack of clarity is often welcome. Herrschaft Krise. Marquard."Kriseals ProblemKatholischer in Institutionalitit. Renate Bebermeyer. Translation adaptedfromA KarlBarthReader. to characterizeepochs'65 structures. 171 Ibid. 1242ff.. 399 . und ed. crisis appearsas a key concept. 166PaulHazard. wherethe firstcentury beforeChristis interpreted a "crisiswithoutend. 1986). transl G.1935). 168 Sch6npflug. as subject (mini-crisis. however. 189ff.Einekulturwissenschaftliche Theoriezum in 'Krisenkult'" PeterEicher. Indeed. 1966).

: 1973)."in GerhardKittel. Nelly Tsouyopoulos. Munich: 1959. 1240ff. reprinted Frankfurt a. ed. Philip P. ed. entry on "Crisis in History.)]. 920ff [9 volumes. 1: 589ff.M.. 1973).). anthropologie. "La notion de crise.." Centred'e6tudes Communication 25 disciplinaires. Wiener (New York.. ReinhartKoselleck." Historisches Wdrterbuchder Philosophie. Gerhard Masur. 4 (1976). (1976). article on "Krino. new edition 1965-1969ff." Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Selected Study of Pivotal Ideas. 8 and 9 only in the first edition (Stuttgart. 3 (1938). Kritik und Krise. vol. Sociologie." zum Neuen Tes"Krisis.1933ff. LITERATURE and transAndre B&-jin EdgarMorin. Stuttgart:1971 ff. vol.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 tant for scholars to weigh the concept carefully before adopting it in their own terminology. Friedrich Biichsel and Volkmar Hentrich. entry on "Krise. 400 . selmiologie. ed. Theologisches Wdrterbuch tament. vol. Eine Studie zur Pathogeneseder biirgerlichenWelt (Freiburg. Joachim Ritter (Basel.