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

357

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.

359

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

however. It may conceivably by Erasmus in all probability sincethen exertedsome influence the development and has in of modernphilosophy history.13 The legal. 4.1751-80). At all times the concept is applied to life-deciding alternatives meant to answer questionsabout what is just or unjust. par vol. result in death. d'Alembert (Paris. of 361 . theology. centuryseeU. specific meanings. of Waerterbuch Philosophie. and medical usage of "crisis"thus contains discipline-bound. III. 4. 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. On the one hand. 4 (1754). Historisches der vol.14The rarity of documentary evidence for such usage. at a specifiedtime.et."crisis"-still in the accusative"crisin"-first appearedas a par M. 471ff. 1242ff. what furthershealth or bringsdeath. 3 For the medicalconcept of crisis see Tsouyopoulos'sarticle"Krise"II. the concept of illness itself presupposes a state of health-however conceived-that is either to be restored again or which will. THE ADOPTION INTO NATIONAL LANGUAGES Given the use of Latin in the three previouslynamed disciplines (law. medicine). On the other hand. about the origins of which there may be scientific disagreements. 14 The historyof the impactof the theologicalusageof "krinon"remainsto be investihave begunwith the Greekeditionof the New Testament gated. Taken together. which. they could-in differentways-be incorporatedinto modern social and political language. It indicates that point in time in which a decision is due but has not yet been rendered. seems to indicate that the term had not yet become a central concept. quanta la partiemathbmatique M. Since then the concept of crisis assumed a double meaning that has been preservedin social and political language. Wbrterbuch. III. In French.for the transmission the conceptof crisis into the psychological anthropological and spheresincethe beginningof the nineteenth articleon "Krise" Historisches vol. depends on the judgmentalcriteriaused to diagnose that condition. theological. however. leads towards a decision. the objective condition.Koselleck + Crisis metaphorical expansion into the domain of social and political language.. Diderot.what contributesto salvation or damnation. This could take place only after its transfer into national languages. as in a legal trial. There it is used as a transitional or temporal concept (Verlaufsbegriff). 1240ff.

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

171.""reflection..JohannesHeinrich Zedler. s. edition). he cannot render or judgmenton a thing. (1742 edition). 39. . IV." 23 363 .Htibner. "Crisis". Leipzig. ed. 1712). in 1742 recorded merely the meaning that otherwise was already treated under "critique":Man has no crisin. nis Europas(Neuwied.e. "Crisisnaturae." [i. i.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..who in 1739 referredonly to illness. Sprachen werden(Nirnberg. 1732-1754. Through Englishand Frenchusage and its entry into the Germanlanguage."as e.(1739 Hiubner.1695).Grosses aller und Universal-Lexicon Wissenschaften Kiinste. critica. Zeitungs Lust und Nutz (Hamburg.64 volumesand 4 supvollstdindiges plementaryvolumes (Halle.1961). articleon "Crisis.v. the 1695 edition of Stieler. reprintedGraz. it acquireda historical dimension that continued to draw upon its original medical and theological meanings.24 Leibniz. In the process.v.Friedrich]. 6 A (1733). Part2 Briefwechsel betreffender und 1873). s. Sperander Gladow. Et I'Europe est maintenant dans un etat de changementet dans une crise. 227 ff. and ultimately economic concept."23 is now in a state of change and in a crisis ("And Europe such as has not been known since Charlemagne'sempire. Leipzig.seealsoDieterGroh. Wort-Deuteley. 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.v. oihelle n'a jamaisete' depuis l'Empire de Charlemagne. social. 24 Stieler. in Leibniz'Russland (23 und Denkschrift WladimirIwanowitschGuerrier. klarund deutlicherkliirt und . 570 s.e. 312.." "reason. 560.1704).v.1727). 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.g. This he copied from Sperander Zedler. the concept had expanded into the spheres of internaland external politics as well as economics.Caspar. 1653.") Leibniz saw in Russia's developmenta change of fundamentalworld-historicalsignificance comparable only to the formation of Charlemagne'sempire. "Crisis"."Konzepte eines Briefesan Schleiniz" Sept. "crise. 1961-1964) vol. 1) A few lexica registerthe expressiononly in its Greek usage: "judgin ment. la Mode-Sprach der Teutschen oder compendieuses Hand-lexicon whelchemdie meistenaus fremden in entlehnter Warter gewahnlicheRedensarten ."Johan Reales Staats-undZeitungslexicon(Leipzig. s.Russland dasSelbstverstiind(Petersburg.. ibid.

The same applies to the Encyclopedie mithodique of 1792. above all. the theological meanings of "crisis" 4) clearly did not make their way into either the generallexica for the und Berg-. Zedler posits: "Today one calls 'crisin' that healing act of nature. Encyclopedie methodique. art. vol. and 1767. 345 s.is driven out of the body by proper and clear emunctories.1 (1715). 171... 202ff. 'Crisis.vol. 3rd ed." 26 11th Brockhaus. s.560. "Crisis". (1727).vol.28 The juridical and. 5th ed. on the basis of the change in temperature. 9 (1853). 5 (Paris.Le GrandDictionnaire ed. ed. ed. 240. "Crisisnaturae.citedfromthe 1731 edition. "Crisis". . "Crisis. In 1733.. "Crisis. and which. und JohannCurieuses RealesNatur-. 1748.Leipzig. s. vol." 28 Heinse.Kunsts-. (11 vols. 1709). In a considerably shorter entry. "Crise. Encyklopddisches aller WAirterbuch alphabetische oder Erkldrung sind . as do Htibner.' art.1731. vol.25Even the 1866 Brockhaus refers only to the medical meaning.s. and Jablonski. oder kurzgefasstes Handworterbuch Brockhaus." by L. art. providesa scholarly treatise of on the history of the medicalconcept in orderto confront the teachings of the Ancients with their modern critics. Vol. "Krisis.v. 1 (1793). the 1820 Brockhausalso gives only the medical meaning of the term." Sperander Royal.. art.v. "Crise"(see note 12). (Frankfurt. and this goes to the heart of the issue since.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 2) Numerous lexica register only the spectrum of medical meanings..v. "Krisis.v.1792). s."26 3) Many lexica brieflypoint to the original Greekmeaning of judging. 6 (1652). 471.1 (K6nigsJablonski. die Wdrter fremdenSprachen im Deutschenangenommen aus 10th Brockhaus.133 vols: A-Z. art. ordredes matieres." 364 25Hubner.27Equal priorityto the medical usage is given by Heinse (1793) and in the various editions of Brockhaus.. Franqois-Antoine Pomey. ed. 5th Vol. 63. s. "Krisis. "Crises." Lexikon. we can explain all other symptoms." JohannTheodor 2nd Lexicon der Kiinsteund Wissenschaften. De Bordeu. 9 (1866). 227ff. 870. 1712).1748). is freed from its decline and illness"-although the alternative of death is obviously omitted.v.GottlobH. which previously had contributed to its appearance.Allgemeines De ibid. ..v. deutschesConversations Allgemeines 1809). as did Pomey (1715) and Sperander (1727)..Gewerck. dropping all referencesto differentmeaningsthat had appeared in earlier editions: "Now one applies 'crisis' to the rapid decline of high temperaturecomparedto the norm.1793-1805). berg..Handlungslexikon(Leipzig. Zeitz. 2 (1820).. . "Crisis. in the great FrenchEncyclope'die 1754. Naumburg.Conversations-Lexicon (Amsterdam.Pancoucke.J. 6 (Reprinted 1840). art." 27Zedler. while at the same time giving a central place to the medical crisis doctrine.. art." Bordeu. (1767). 83ff. 262. vol. through which the matter of the illness. 252.. as a result.begun par laterAgasse.

Alletz. (Altona. "crise." and "alarmingsituaMuch the same is found in the tion".A Dictionaryof the EnglishLanguage(2 vols. vol. ibid. 4 supplementary 1847). 1755). Although we can presuppose that many scholarswere familiarwith those meanings." ("Matters have The relianceon Frenchpoints to the belated reachedtheir criticalpoint. 1. mit erleutert(Leipzig.1770). Rotteck." 365 . . to this. "crise.Encyklopddisches Wdrterbuch). 1 (1834)." 32 Alletz. Staatslexicon oder Ened." 30Pomey.Johan Caspar and Karl Ludwig Theodor Brater. London. 31Johnson." Heinse.Pomey's use.5 vol. Juristisches Wirterbuch zur Verbesserung des Actenstils .8.v." "alarming state of See Adelung. however. who specializedin neologisms. Pomey alreadyprovides.Carland CarlWelcker.v." 29 3 Kuppermann. despite the fact that it is liberally used in their texts. The Latin Royal. 131. "Crisis. it appears that the primary point of departurefor the expansion of the term into the political and economic sphere was the medical usage.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. eds. 15 vols.GrandDictionnaire ed. A. for the first time cites the political and militarymeaning.29 5) Evenreferencesto the metaphoricalextension of the term to politics and economics or to its broaderuse in ordinarylanguage are comparativelyrare. Bluntschli. 1 (1755). Leipzig. s. 2nd vol 1 (1793). vols (Stuttgart.v. vol.JohannChristoph.11..l. 2 (1857)none of thesecontainarticleson "Krise/Crisis. 1834cyklopidie der Staatswissenschaften.1774-1786) vol.s. Pons-Augustin. 63.8. .""31 1770. "Crisis. 1 (1774). s.")30 Germanizationof the term in the course of the eighteenthcentury. vol. des Dictionnaire richessede la languefrangoiseet du neologisme qui s'y est introduit (Paris.. 240. s.was followed only hesitantly." "decisivepoint in time. Adelung does not registerthe term at all. In 1715.vol. s. s. but does so exclusivelyin French."33 1808 Beyschlag:"change in the course of an illness. and neither Rotteck/Welckernor Bluntschli provide a separateentry for the term.in additionto "judgment" and "a change in the course of an illness." proverbial use comesfromLivy.v.5th Part.1857-1870). (Leipzig. "crisis.Koselleck + Crisis learned in the eighteenth century or into those for the educated in the nineteenth century.v. Heinse added "germination.Versuch eines vollstdndigen grammatisch-kritischen der Wbrterbuches hochdeutschen Mundart.H. Samuel.-Die Sach ist aufhochste kommen. 11 Deutsches Staatswarterbuch."a third meaning:"L'affaire dans sa crise-res est ad triarios rediit. Beispielen 1792).while Johnson still registersthe medical meaning: "The point of time at which any affair comes to the In height.

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

articleon "Haned. vol. "Krise. 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. Bluntschli/Brater. 467.14thed. delskrisen". articleon (1898). political. "Krise. or political language. Brockhaus.articleon "Produktionskrise. 3 (1849). who had been largely trained in the humanities. 7 (1859). Evidence to this effect is also the extremely cursory referencein Grimm'sDictionary (Wbrterbuch)of 1872. a very thorough one on "commercial crises. but only that these had not yet been clearly identifiedas integralto the concept. encyklopddische 1848-1856).1854-1965). vol. in which he writes of "productioncrises consideredwith special referThe economic use of the term.42 Thus the term never crystallizedinto a concept sufficientlyclear to be used as a basic concept in social." Brockhaus Gegenwart. which ence to the most recent decades. and historical. 6 (1861) 51ff. s.ed. to register a use that had alreadybecome common in the professionallanguageof economists as well as in everydaylife.Pierer. 2332.Deutsches Worterbuch. This is not to say that the term could not express emotional states or moods. the term was used essentially as a catchword. articleon "Krise.v. 7.."40 had long become current in the professional language of economists.. in Die Eine der Darstellung neuesten fiir Zeitgeschichte alle Stdnde. 16 Jakob und Wilhelm. social. In 1859." 40 367 . (Leipzig. 743. 4th..7th vol. 8 ibid. Articleon "Handelskrisis". 15thed. 946. despite-or perhaps because of-its manifold meanings. cal but not yet the economicmeaning. articleon "Handelskrisen". 5 (1873)." In 1862 Wagener was the first lexicographer to give the most complete spectrum of meanings: economic. but it was not until the 1931 edition that "crisis"is given a predominantly economic meaning. economic. But precisely what appeared to be so peripheralin lexicography until that time. only the 1848 Revolution and the global economic crisis of 1857 finally prompted German lexicographers.12 vols (Leipzig.721ff. vols. vol. 43 Grimm." Brockhaus follows suit in 1894 and 1898. vol. could indeed become an indicatorof and contributorto a widespreadsense of radicalchange from the second part of the eighteenthcentury on.. Piererprovides a very brief article.. vol. 632. Bluntschli mentions "crisis" in his analysis under the keyword "credit. WilhelmRoscher." whichregisters exclusively politithe 42 SeePierer. 41 vol. 16.41Clearly. vol.in 1891." 2nded. ibid.Koselleck+ Crisis until 1850 with Roscher's article in the Brockhaus'sGegenwart (The Present). did not lead to separate entries in German lexica until the second half of the nineteenth century. 10 (1931).

Oeuvres. Frankfurt. Schlozer. Die Historie der Balance von Europa (Leipzig. 47Johan Jacob Schmauss. Reinhold Koser (Leipzig. 1880). 4. printed in Ellinor v. "Gesprdichmit Heinrich de Catt.1745. page. this diagnosis of a crisis became a formula legitimatingaction. in Unterhaltungen mit Friedrich d.6.the League of As German Princes was reacting to "a crisis in the imperial order. 1741). dans le moment de crise ou je me trouvais. 53." ("My brother has left for Dresden and left the army. Sybel (Berlin. "Vertrag zwischen den Churforsten von Sachsen. undoubtedly in the midst of the crisis in which I find myself"). 45 The same. Schmaus. Politische Correspondenz. 1864). 46 The same. letter to Heinrich Graf Podewils. Johann Gustav Droysen. vol. Puttkamer. the King seized the opportunityof "cette crisepour exdcuterses grands projets" Once ("this crisis to execute his grand projects")by marchinginto Silesia. entered into the realm of domestic constitutional life in general.45 a similar vein he defined-in a conversation In with Catt-the situation after Kolin. Fdderative Elemente im deutschen Staatsrecht seit 1648 (Gottingen. 1955). FROM POLITICAL CONCEPT TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY: THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 1. Grossen. In the "Staatsanzeigen" 1782. 960. 2. also. initially applied solely to external and military situations. ed.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 V.1758. Graduallythe term." 20. in Friedrich d. Grosse (Frederick the Great) Histoire de mon temps (1775). 48 Deutscher Forstenbund.7.46Henceforth a situation presenting decisive alternativesto different actors comes to be registeredalso in German as "crisis. 2 (Berlin. Brandenburg. Johan Jacob Schmaus wrote of "a present crisis created by a declining balance among European powers. eds. Catt. vol. ed.he unsuccessfullysought to undertake steps toward peace. As stated in the 1785 Preamble. 66."47The consequences of this process too are registeredconceptually in a document crucial to the law of the Holy Roman Empire. vol. Political Usage Frederickthe Greatprovidesearly evidencefor applyingthis term to foreign policy and militaryaffairs. just before the battle of Hohenfriedberg. 107: "Mon frere partit pour Dresden et quitta l'armee. Grosse.1785)". Berlin. 96.When the Europeanstates were alreadycommitted to but not yet ready for the Austrian War of Succession in 1740.reporting about the anarchy in of 44 Friederich d. 2." As early as Prussia's rise following the Austrian War of Succession. 368 . Memoiren und Tagebiicher von Heinrich v."48 so often since. Heinrich v.44 again he saw himself "dans une grande crise" ("in a great crisis") when. und Braunschweig-Luneburg(23. Gleichgewicht. 29.3. 1846). Max Duncker. sans doute. Johann David Erdmann Preuss.

"combined with other circumstances. 1922). Otto Heuschele(Wiesto Jan. Thus at the time of the Karlsbad Resolutions. Clausewitz described the revolutionary tendencies which."in Staatsanzeigen. . cited in the editor's"Introduction. Reinhard Goethe. "Crisis" marked external or military situations that were reachinga decisive point. Later. It is a matterof life and death. baden1957). he could apply the same term in 1819-"political crisis"-to a mere change of cabinet in Paris."PreussischeReformen 1807-1820.used the term to prevent him from carrying out summary executions.45 vols."53 berg to strivefor a strong Germanfederalconstitution:"If the .The common use of the word had neither been validated nor sufficientlyenriched to be elevated into a basic concept. statesmen do not use the crisis of the moment to secure permanentlythe welfare of their fatherland." Sdmtliche Werke.11. ed. BarbaraVogel (K6nigstein/Ts. vol..51 "Crisis" was used appropriatelyto describe concrete civil war situations that divided the loyalty of citizens. 192. On the other hand.. 162. our contemporaries and posterity will justly accuse 49AugustLudwigSchlzer. but it could also describea simple change of government.Oct.1820. describedthe internalupheavalof the city state as a "Crise"("Crisis"). 1819.. 369 . 1782). Pleading along this line.16th 53 Carl von Clausewitz. . (1792).could bring about crises."Sendschreiben HerrnProfessorEggersin Kiel (Jan. Graf v. 462. it pointed to fundamentalchanges in constitutions in which the alternatives were the survivalor demise of a political entity and its constitutional order. Wieland sees "the moment of the decisivecrisis. We know from history that some peoples [V6ilker] have experienced such parIn the same vein. It served both as a descriptivecategory and as a diagnostic criterion for political or military action. 1980). 51 Christian Friedrich to Scharnweber Hardenberg. 443.Christoph an Martin.1857). "Anarchie von Genf. 20. ed. Reinhardan den Konig von Westfalen."50He already uses the term to characterizeas civil war the intermeshingof domestic and external politics. Hans Rothfels(Mmnchen. in 1813 Baron von Stein appealed to Hardenoxysms. in Briefwechsel denJahren1807-1832. 1794-181.in a petition to the King of Westphalia. 1 50 Wieland. 20. 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. 1813.Scharnweber. footnote30.Koselleck+ Crisis Geneva.49With the introduction of the Frenchconstitution of 1791.52 The spectrum of political applications thus ranged broadly. printedin 52Karl Friedrich Goetheund Reinhard.never before was the internal and external danger greater than now. Politische Schriften und Briefe. Count Reinhard. ed. . ibid. 31 (Berlin.227. "Umtriebe" (1819/23).

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

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

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

60 Diderot. he meant the Paris of 1778). 6 (p. p. 8 (p. Diderot used the medicalmetaphorto describea similarly apocalyptic situation in the Rome of Claudius and Nero (by which. that the birthof an extraordinary is ("It his alwayspreceded remarkable by signsannouncing coming. wherehe talksaboutthe time of crisis("tempsde crise")duringthe time when societyis also ibid. after the dissolution of the Paris parlement. 458). Friendshipsdissolve.the people believe everythingthat promises an end.58 Though applied primarilyto his own situation. Lucifer thrownto the bottomof the sea.et que la Puishommesextraordinaires. in Though still separated. Oeuvrescompletes(Paris. Essai sur les rkgne de Claude et de Ndro (1778). both may lead to regeneration. 4..1966).. ibid.visions and prophecies that anticipatethe coming catastrophesproliferate. Diderot uses the term in the same way. vol. Once divine majesty has been threatened. In 1771. 3 (Paris. sance celestene produisitqu'aveceffort. Sevenyears later.59 sis that involves more than just a political constitution. Popularunrest precedesgreat revolutions.Rousseauuses both concepts. eds. Les tr6nesdes rois furentrenverses. wherehe speaksof a crisis("crise") will lead that beingformed..'" seemsto me .Koselleck+ Crisis sion of post-revolutionarysociety suggests the nullification of all human history to date. the courseof whichtherewill be a decisionbetweensalvationor doom. terror makes real what was feared").") -8See Rousseau. Lucifer man fut jets au fond de la mer. 168ff.ibid. of course. Rousseau. 2. in effect.60 Depending on the circumstances. 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")..It is as thoughnatureitself has fallen into a sort of crisis and even the power of heavenrequiresunusualeffort to realizeits will. 1875). encompassingthe entire society. Kingsweredethroned. 20 (Paris.. 1877). turns an eschatological concept into a philosophy of history. 385) when he exrevolutions civilwarsin statesto the crisisof an illnessexperienced and presslycompares by individual human beings.Contratsocial 2. enemies are reconciled. To escape their misery. " Denis Diderot to the Princess Daschkoff.the term could serve either as indicacommesi la naturesouffraitune especede crise.the attack on earthly sovereigns can no longer be averted. 1771. This adds a meaning to the concept which goes beyond previoususes of the term in political language (known to Rousseau). 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. 28."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. Jean Assezat and Maurice Tourneaux. vol. 3:390. he wrote that the previously hidden fire of liberty is now breakingout openly. 10 (1762). The alternative is total. to dictatorship. April 3.. 373 . Oeuvres completes.

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

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

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

"Auch eine Philosophie der Geschichte zur Bildung der Menschheit" (1774). it can be overcomethrough properprognosis and planning.1869.. 1966). 3.. 1956). Once crisis has been identifiedas an inevitable and necessaryphase of history. cumulative 68Claude-Henri Saint-Simon. Only such a science can provide the means by which to resolve the crisis. vol. "crisis" A central cognitive category-according to the positivist belief-it now provides the possibility of envisioning.Although "crisis" has become an epochal concept for comprehendingthe "entire period. to hasten this process.Koselleck+ Crisis All body politic is the total change in the social system"). qui peut seule terminerla grande crise moderne. 589. E.Conditions and changes in them are played off against a linear theory of progress. 3 (Paris . consiste. ed." it still retainsits eschatologicalsignificance. VariantPhilosophies of History in German In German-speaking Europe. institutions and developments. Iring Fetscher (Hamburg. en effect . 106. b.68 indicatorspoint to a classless society but.But now humans are left to termiWhile still reflectingits theological roots. ed.This requiresa sociological theory capable of explaining everythingin humanity'spast"). "Vom Ursprung der Geschichtsphilosophie. It is in line with this farreaching change of perspective. Siimtliche Werke (Berlin. 377 . 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." Archiv fifr Rechts-und Sozialphilosophie 41 (1955): 487. 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?). 1877-1913). Cours de philosophie positive. "Du systeme industriel" (1824)."69 nonethelesshas emergedas a truly autonomous concept of history.. bilingual edition. 5 (1891). or whether everything will become worse. reprinted Paris. vol. whose theory of history as accelerated. Discourse sur l'esprit positif (1844). 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. see also Nicolaus Sombart. In 1774. he confronts the oft-debated alternativeas to whether the human race will improve itself morally and become happier. Oeuvres. In Comte's words: "La reorganizationtotale. 70Johann Gottfried Herder."70 In 1786. 69 Auguste Comte. Iselin. and hence planning for the foreseeable future. 2. nate "la Grande Crise finale. He seeks to analyze this either-or alternativeby referringto historical forces and tendencies. it was probably Herder who first applied our term to the philosophy of history. Dentu. 124f. a "science of crisis" is needed to explain society and the laws of its history. vol.

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

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

see also his application to the English seventeenth century in "Uber Fox und dessen Nachlass" (1810). and in our own [the eighteenth]century. more political and historical sense. he speaks of the precedingperiod. in the period of the Reformation and discovery of America. 7.""8 Similarly. 252. 78Schlegel. 7" 380 . ibid.""'The concepts of the "LastJudgment" Schleiermacher. Simtliche Werke.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)."'" becauseto him "Christianity" will be "the intermediarybetween altogether the old and the new world" on the path toward "eternalpeace.1 (Paderborn.in 1807 ErnstMoritz Arndt. 81 Ernst Moritz Arndt. ABT. vol. 227. Friedrich. 77Friedrich von Schlegel. vol. continued to make use of German biblical language: "Two centuries ago. this horrible period would have been likened to the Last Judgment! And are we not experiencingthose last days of judgment ourselves? . Werke. Thus.""77 wheneverhe is speaking as But a Catholic theologian of history.who never tired of depictingthe "spiritof the time" in apocalypticterms. August Leffson und Wilhelm Steffens. 6 (Berlin. 9 (Paderborn. vol. Stuttgart. 116. Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verichtern" (1799). 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. ibid. 14 (1960). 437. ibid. 47. as the "worst and most dangeroustime" which will be followed by the period of the "LastJudgment. Geist der Zeit (1807).. 2nded.. "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. 3 (1968).partial version of the Last Judgment. Friedrich. Vol. he argues. 9 Schlegel. Gesammelte Werke 1. vol. 1979). no date)."'' Friedrich Schlegel already uses the concept of crisis as a historical category for explaining evolutionary transformationsin the past.1 (1843). Philosophie der Geschichte (1828). vol. Friedrich. vol. "Die Christenheit oder Europa" (1799)."78 the same vein. 534. ibid. Signatur des Zeitalters (1820/23). eds.. Gesammelte Werke. Leipzig. "Ober das Studium der griechischen Poesie" (1810/11).. 76Novalis. he uses "crisis" in a narrower. 524. 356. vol."7" the same At time.. he interpretedthe fall of the Jewish In nation as a "smaller. Schleiermacher understands the "mighty crisis" only in a secular sense: "as crossing the Novalis rejectsthe term boundarybetween two differentstates of affairs.7.. Wien. "Ober die Religion. 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. Vorlesungen iiber Universalgeschichte (1805/06).." This was becausethe Revolution now came no longer from above or below but "from the middle. 1971). 80 Schlegel.

citedinHorst der Studien 'Verwirklichung zur der Stuke. But the German biblical version came closer to carryingthe sense of those religious impulses Arndt wished to turn in a democraticdirection.or the hopes it had raised. 1963).It could express long-term changes as well as occasional outbursts. Hefte fair Geschichte. Kunst. Westphalia."8'The extensive correspondenceof Perthes. wart.83 der Gegenwart (ConversationalLexicon of the Present Time) spoke of the while in 1837 Bruno Bauer spoke "literarycrisis" of "Young Germany. "CRISIS" AND CRISES: THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (GERMANY) "God. which provides a privilegedview of contemporarypublic opinion. re82Arnold Mallinckbrodt to Ludvig v.325. 1.1181. seemed especially appropriate.82 but not the effects of having experienced its prolonged apparentlyended. Already in 1820 Schlegelspoke of a "greatcrisis of Germanphilosophy" demandingaction The 1839 Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon by the younger generation. For this aftermath. Schlegel. 44 83 des 517. VI.Koselleck+ Crisis and "crisis" are both being historicized. the concept of "crisis. "Crisis" in Everyday Experience If we take the frequencyof its use as indicatingthe actuality of a crisis.p."84 of a "universaltheological crisis. Wincke. und V85lkerkunde (1966): 268. 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. 2 (1839). Philosophie Tat: bei und Sozialisten Philosophie' denJunghegelianern denwahren (Stuttgart. 5 Bruno Bauer. then the modernperiod since the turn of the nineteenthcenturycan be called the age of crisis. upheavals. 84 in Article "Junges on Deutschland" Conversations-LexikonGegender Brockhaus." precisely because of its various meanings. review of Strauss' "Leben Jesu" in Jahrbuch fiir wissentschaftliche Kritik. apocalyptic expectations as well as skeptical fears. 131 381 .. vol.the transitionto a new order. 1 (1837). Signatur Zeitalters. The "global crisis" encompassedall spheres.The exagThe era of the Revolution had gerated choice of words is symptomatic.

315 90 Ibid. 176. even though it is only a premonition.a liberal representative in the United Landtag (the combined provincial diets of Prussia) wrote: "We have lived through a great crisis. will come to a fortuitous end. .. 241. 2 der (Bonn. 382 . It was a logical consequence of the Revolution that.Beckerath. or else to come into conflict with our own convictions. who belonged to the radical camp. however.1942). ed.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 lies especially on the political-historical variant of the crisis concept."92In May 1848 Kapp. .."87 Shortly thereafterPerthesreports the view that Liberalism"is the only remedy against this sickness from which Europe is suffering. 6. which might intensify and even culminate in open ongoing In warfare. In 1819. 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. JosephHansen. from 1847 on. 3 (1872). after the CarlsbadDecrees."88The end of the July Revolution leads Perthes to predict a crisis for the German states so serious that "he recoils before it..26.. 88Ibid. will begin only "when the crisis.455. 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. 288. The choice now is either to deny the King obedience . vol. is "especiallychallenged by the time of crisis. und Friedrich Perthes' dlichenMitteilungen. "As long as there is history."91Here the crisis concept covers equally well the uniqueness of both the perceived structuraltransformation and that of each acute moment of decision. the situational use of the term crisis proliferated.he adds a little bit later.""9 1843. printedin RheinischeBriefeund Aktenzur Geschichte politischenBewegung1830-1850. 2 (Gotha. Perthes himself writes: "We are on the eve of great and mighty events:political developmentsare pushing towards a European crisis." Transformationsin material and spiritualconditions are reaching a culmination point.. ed."True recovery.""89 Prussia.vol."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.1872).343 91Ibid.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. brought on by the hasty administrationof medicine. 6th 87 Ibid. 92 Hermanvon Beckerath to his family. 1847.vol.

383 ."93And Moltke."98To Frantz. aufdie Gegenwart (1850).Der Cdisarismus die Notwendingkeit bis dargetandurchgeschichtliche Beispielevon den Zeitender Casaren Sdbelherrschaft. 79. the source of which can be clearly recognized. und 11. 47. 97Ibid. 93 96 54 Ibid.1848. 8.99 Once "crisis" had become a commonly employed expression.3. Until that crisis ensues. des Briefe 1843-1884. letterto his brotherLudwig." the sources of Friedrich 5 in Kappto his father. That is the solution.. 76 " Alreadyin 1850 Romieuused a similarlypolysemicconceptof "crise"to demanda His was "thatthe nineteenth will of dictatorship. translation the 2nd of French edition(Weimar.Koselleck + Crisis have to presentourselves. rapidly led to an inflationary use of the term "Chancellor crisis.1850. He depicts the thirty-fiveyears prior to the coup "as a neverending cycle of ministerialcrisis upon ministerialcrisis. used the term "crisis" again and again to diagnose internal and external turning points in the course of the (1848) Revolution. all these governments had lost their legitimacy.21.1848." AugusteRomieu.. I must live. 55.. Constantin Frantz uses a concept of crisis that encompassed all previous temporal dimensions. the origins of this permanentcrisis lay in the discrepancybetween a changing social structure and forms of government(Herrschaftsformen). reprintof the 1933 edition (Darmstadt. ed. its use became an indicator of both the intensityof a crisis and the perceptionof it as such. also letter to his brother Adolf.94 To explain the coup d'&tatof Napoleon III historically. 59. The only possible way out of this dilemmawas a dictatorship-provided that it could succeed in representingitself as the product of the popular will. 7."96 Moreover the coup itself was the inevitable consequence of an acute "criAs sis. 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. 34. The frequent changes of chancellors after Bismarck'sfall. to cite someone loyal to the state. 129.Louis Napoleon (1852). 94Helmut von Moltke to his mother.1891). 4 (Berlin. 122. 1969). he describesthe 1848 Revolution insteadin "physiological"terms as "havingbeen merely a crisis of an illness in the nation's life. printed his Vomradikalen Frhbsozialismus des Vormirzzum liberalenParteipolitiker Bismarckreiches. 142. Frantz."97 for the questionablefigureof the new Napoleon. or else none exists. Hans-Ulrich Wehler(Frankfurt a. 16 98Ibid. 1848 ."95 Avoiding supernaturalor demonizingversions of the concept. kwiirdigkeiten. 95 Constantin 1960).M.. German 1851).17. July.3. Unable to adapt to the new structure of society. premise century not see the foundation oder der anythingpermanent. in Gesammelte Schriften Denvol.

. and the crisis is . that critique is pushing for a decision. Kurt Rottgers.. 1890. 999: "Inviewof the domesticcrisesthat seemto be brewing. Zukunft.cited in Jurgen Schafer.. 2.. citedin Rrttgers.At the same time. 102 ArnoldRuge." Yet as every lay person knows. . Kanzlerbild Harden.however.and actionoriented philosophy seeks to achieve that freedom.26. We can be happy if a prolonged crisis (Lysis) will finally liberateus from this creepingmalaise.such distinctions have been superseded by a single term with many meanings. New York. 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. 46. The sickness in the life of our state is felt by everyone. 14/2 (1933). Philosophie der Tat (Stuttgart. 3. the Young Hegelians (Junghegelianer). the attempt .See also Letterof Bismarck Kaiser to FranzJoseph. historically understood as "crisis. .. this also includesa semanticanalysisof the use of the term.Kamarilla.In our century.. 165ff." (Bismarck) not step down voluntarily. and most fear that one day it will come to a bad end. . .KritikundPraxis. Ausgabe. he did 10' See Horst Stuke. the medical concept of crisis means "a rapid decision. .Die Zeit und die Zeitschrift (1842). Kritik und Praxis(Berlin.. crisis loses its theoreticalrigor. und Kanzlermythen der Zeit des "Neuen Curses"(Paderborn. which." is already preAs programmedand prepared. passim... 1963). At odds with reality.This praxis. the absence of which is the object of its critique. 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. 238.1975)."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. to break through and to discardthe shell of the past.OF OF 2006 JOURNAL THEHISTORY IDEAS+ APRIL which were sought in either the personal qualities or the policies of a given officeholder. In this sense we cannot speak of a political crisis. 384 ."102Becauseit is able to see the 100Maximilian Die W.p10 formulatedby Ruge: "Our time has now become especially critical . in 1973). a sign that something new has alreadyreplacedit. But the concept of crisis assumeda central place among its heirs. nothing more than .Friedrichsruhe vol.. Such usage labels every disturbancein the balanceof the body politic as a crisis. attempts continued to use "crisis" more unambiguouslywithin a context determinedby theories of history. Because of these emotional overtones.

In Bruno Bauer's words: "History . 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. von Stein withdraws to a third position and ad103 Bruno Bauer."Europeanhistory reveals "two great epochs": The first. the period of the Germanic kingdoms. presages a historical crisis. Our present epoch is nothing but the last stage of that battle."'03 Judging history correctly will determine whether the problems of state. .Koselleck+ Crisis direction of history. "Ober den allgemeinen Hilfs-und Bildungsverein" (1845). "Seenfrom the perspectiveof society's development. Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Angelegenheit (1842). cited in Stuke. in 1850.104 That same diagnosis was offered by Lorenz von Stein when. antiquity.. and society demandinga decision can be solved in practice. no one dares to predict where they will lead. Philosophie der Tat. 2: Abhandlungen. ." For this reason. 129ff. Mevissen actually sought to abrogate the privilegesof propertyand. "witnessed an ever-changing battle between free labor and free property. the sole reason for the crisis is the incongruencebetween the culture [Bildung] of the century and its actual customs. Reden printedin J. ThroughoutEurope there is a sense that the present condition cannot last much longer. und Briefe (Berlin. the sources of which are not yet or insufficiently understood. The concept of crisis thus remains within a philosophy of history calling for the execution of tendencies revealed through critique. Hansen. as in similar epochs in the past. forms of existence and conditions." In line with his theory. he was the last to attempt a system-immanentinterpretationof history derived from the premisesof GermanIdealism. 1906). History will take care of the crisis and its outcome. through the creation of a "General Assistanceand EducationalAssociation" to integrate-unsuccessfully-the "excluded majority"of workers into society. will elevate to power the freedom which theory has given us and thereby create the world in a new form . the second. this critique is propelling the crisis.. 104 Gustav von Mevissen. Today.was marked "by the coexistence of free propertyand unfree labor". an entrepreneurclose to the Young Hegelians and protector of Marx. 174. Denkschriften. "The recognition of the presence of an organic affliction. Mevissenvol. thereby linking freedom and equality. 385 . church. Powerful and terrible movements are coming to the fore. Gustavv. Hence no one has the right to offer a magic formula for the future.. In the words of Mevissen.

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

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

lust for power.with the deepest clash of conscience. had in effect. Nietzsche's answer... In 1888 Nietzsche. drawn-outcrisis can be comparedto that of nineteenthcentury Europe. into which the forces of democracy and material ambitions. "At that point. "politics will then be taken up with 117 Ibid. but also salvation and cleansing. shaped by the many facets of an unchanginghuman nature which. can we discernthe sum total of its true (i. demanded.132f. 388 .. rather. forever seeks change. metaphysical. wars. only after a lapse of time proportionalto the scale of the crisis itself. I am dynamite.and longterm processes. "Crisis"becamea transpersonal mode of interpretationat the highest level. But my truth is frightful:for until now lies have been called the truth. This is less because of any overt similaritythan because of its uniqueness. whose readinessto prophesywas the exact opposite of Burckhardt's. or Christianguises have been unmasked. Despite his amazing prognoses of future catastrophes. I am not human. this concept of crisis promises misery and crime. by fusing together all the diagnostic and prognostic strands of his philosophy.what the contemporaryobserverregardsas desirableor undesirThus able). and intellectual utopias all merged. 118 Ibid. The wars of the nineteenth century were only a part of this larger crisis.-Revaluation of all Values:that is my formula for an act of the highest examination by mankind.. in the case of a truly great crisis. Cutting across short.. Burckhardtremainedcautious in his judgment of the final outcome: "Of course.""118 the most significantanalyst of crisis remainedconsiderably more cautious than all of his predecessors.hallowed.e. which has become flesh and genius in me. 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). true to itself. Burckhardt'ssemantic fields were especially varied in order to redescribe the multi-layeredand complex character of structural transformations and their explosive aggregateimpact. 150.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 Only this long.asked himself: "Why am I a destiny?" ("Warumich ein Schicksal bin"). relativelytrue) consequences (its so-called good and evil results or.with a decision solely invoked against all that had until then been believed. and social revolutions. 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." Once centuries of lies in moral. But the "principalcrisis" will come only with the convergence of technology.

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

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

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

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

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

"143 To the extent.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL2006 problems and has entered the critical phase that will lead to its end by revolution. (1964). though on political ratherthan economic grounds. "Revue. is the expectation of a final economic collapse. 4 (1959).. for further 141 Engels examples-"after of the deluge. by enforced destruction of mass productive forces. 211f.it is ourturnandoursalone"or "theory thecollapse"-see RudolfWalther. 7 (1960).Manifestder Kommunistischen Partei(1848). ibid. Marx's economic theory developed a life of its own. 394 ..Marx and Engelscould finallypredictthe foreseeable demise of capitalism. 1981). vol 29 (1963). Marx and Engels integratethe economic concept of crisis into their political and historical analysis..vol. 440. MEW. 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."142 for Marx and Engels "crisis" retainedan essentiallypositive connotation. ed.But this requiressimultaneouspolitical action by the proletariat. In these crises there breaks out an epidemic that in all earlierepochs would have seemed an absurdity-an epidemic of overproduction.Mai bis October"(1850). November 15. that recurringeconomic crisesdid not produce a revolution.. Defizitin derSPD 1890-1914 (Frankfurt. und Marxismus politisches Wien. to Bebel. 11. Tucker. Yet But the one is as certain as the other.vol. of course.30. 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. ibid. on the other. How does the bourgeoisie overcome these crises? On the one hand.. In this sense. 140 Marx and Engels. Translation adapted York.. 175..that "death-bearing"class which the bourgeoisie itself had created." Zeitschrift. the history of industryand commerce is but a history of the revolt of modern productive forces pitted against modern conditions of production. vol. 478.1978). It is within this over-all economic framework. 35 (1967) . 113ff.. ihresDenkens "Wirtschaftskrise Revolutionbei Marx und Engels.3. Reader(2nd New fromRobertC. Marx-Engels The 467. by the conquest of new markets and by a more thorough exploitation of old ones.. propertyrelationsthat are the condition for the existence of the bourgeoisie and its domination . As Engels exults in 1857: "The crisis will make me feel as good as a swim in the ocean. 142 Marx/Engels. MEW. 1857. 1881.140 Incorporatedinto their social and political analysis. This is illustratedin the CommunistManifesto:"For decades."On the basis of this economic interpretation. 143 Engels to Marx. see also Peter Stadler. 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.Zur Entwicklung und 199 Historische in den 50erJahren.

1 (1867). Das Kapital. leading to ever recurring cyclical crises. 25 (1952). competition. 146 Marx "Theorien ber den Mehrwert.Koselleck+ Crisis that Marx's theory of crisis. 127f. Yet that inner unity is manifested in external disunity.vol.. 26/2 (1967). Marx continues to make ever new attemptsat stating "the generalposin sibilities of crisis"145 order to explain real ones. vol. Marx points out the internal contradictions of capitalism which. "Those autonomous processes confronting each other. credit. If the external tendencies towards autonomy proceed of against the internalinterdependence these processes. and those elements leading to the dissolution of the old mode of production. a credit shortage. Rather. 513. vol. 145 Marx Theorien iber 144 Trent 1'47 Marx.Vol. 512. 128. 25 (1952).Neither the branchesof production nor the circulation of goods and money are in tune with one another. form an inner unity. 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." vol."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. 3 (1894). will ultimately create those conditions making the collapse of the system inevitable. the forcible outbreak of this contradiction. is-long before any actual shortage-only the occasion of an economic crisis: "It [credit]hastens . 149 Marx. MEW. 2." vol."'49 Under-consumptiontoo is such a partial aspect. however."146 causes of specific crises are all seen as symptoms of a The capitalist crisis. 510. vol. crises. and credit. such unity will forcthe form of a crisis. MEW.KritikderPolitischen Okonomie. 457. "Theorien iiber den Mehrwert. MEW. modern overproduction "Marx'sTheoryof the Crisis.the system of circulationis alreadydiachronicallydistorted. as. 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. 2 (1861/63). Kritik der Politischen Okonomie. Every financial crisis is viewed as part of a circulatoryprocess of goods-finance-goods.."148 For that reason.vol.144 Capital (Das Kapital).e. though incomplete. den Mehrwert. 148 Marx. i. for example. 2.The liberal theory of equilibriumbetween supply and demand will never be achieved. Schroyer. Since it was already part of everyday existence in pre-capitalisttime. see also his Das Kapital. 395 ."Telos14 (1972): 106. vol. assumed central imporIn tance. 1. Kapital.

the systematicfoundation of his own explanations According and processes sketched above was Ricardo'spreviously discovered"law of tendentially falling rates of profit. and the destructionof capital" will be inevitable.Kapital. "throughmethods that reduce the number of employed workers in relation to increased production."154 The capitalist mode of production will thus always run against its own barriers. It is-to put it briefly-always the result of a production process involving capital and labor. crisis and stagnation."'55 Crises thereforenot only contain immanent forces which they can be overcome. and distribution createsdisparitiesbetween supply and demandin capital.. to quote Engels. is Instead of producing for social needs. Overproductionis determinedby the accumulationof capital. 1. 155 Ibid. therebyparawill decline. "mankind's leap from the realm of necessity will 151 des vol.249. investments. also a product of the dependencyof the proletarianclass on capitalists. utilization. initially are in the form of surplus value created by workers but then taken from them.roughly ten-year cycle of "average activity. 266.. prosperity. although acquired in the market.."151 Rises in productive capacity thus increasethe reserve army of unemployedworkerswho can no longer afford to buy goods.vol. to the needs of human beings developed as membersof society. -0o Marx.vol.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. crises. 221ff. 154 Ibid. or partially and interruptthe fall. . Every crisis is thus at once a "crisis of work" and a "crisis of capital."'15s3 give rise to a repetitive."15o Their interrelationship depicted in many forms. and modernization in the sphere of production. The temporal and geographicdissolution of production. 476. lyzing marketsso that finally the profits of entrepreneurs to Marx.vol. disturbancesand blockages within the capitalist productiveprocesses."Theorien Mehrwerts.152 this tendencyneed not immediatelylead to a total collapse.. slow down.JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS + APRIL 2006 plays a comparativelylargerrole. Marx But also analyzes counter-tendenciesthat may "stem. 516. It is that barrieracross which. 476." Once the level of exploitation sinks "below a certainpoint . capitalism seeks only to maximize profits which. hence. but are also manifestationsof tendenthrough cies pointing to the structurallimits of capitalism. 396 . and by economic concentrationat the expense of smallerfirms. 1. 153 Ibid. and credit markets. labor." 2.. over-production. 3.662 152 Ibid.. sociologically speaking. Marx.

Klaus Dockhorn. par sa nature. 5: Analysisof the Capitalist "We shall not give any technicalmeaningto the termcrisisbut only to prosperity and depression. But the intellectualcrisis is more subtle.Urspriinge modernen (Munich. used rigorously in only a few scholarly or scientific contexts. theoretische. there has been an enormous quantitative expansion in the variety of meanings attached to the concept of crisis. 264 (1878)."156 mulated so as to allow two interpretationsof crisis. 20 (1962). vol. 1 (Paris. the Great Depression. and World War II. These are due to the dissimulation which so often plays a part in intellectuallife.1939). Thus it becomes difficultto understandthe real meaning of the intellectualcrisis and to diagnose the phases of its development.BusinessCycles: Theoretical. 1 (New York. but only to the concepts of prosperityand depression. 18 See e. meme. ed. cette crise laisse difficilement saisir son veritablepoint. Ehrenfried 1963). London. 11.vol. 15.1961). in his analysis of business cycles. By its very nature it can produce highly misleading impressions.g.") Ortega y Gasset."'59("The militarycrisis is perhaps over. the economic crisis is all too evident. (1918)."'157 Since World War I. ~-7 Joseph A. "Crisis" remains a catchword. Eine historischeund statistKonjunkturzyklen. In 1918. LATER USES OF CRISIS: AN OVERVIEW AND ASSESSMENT OF ITS PRESENT STATUS From the nineteenth century on. sa phase." des Krisenbewusstseins Muthesius.1924).Koselleck+ Crisis Marx's theory of crisis was carefullyforlead to the realm of freedom. VII. These continue to influence economic interpretations of the modern world as well as those derived from philosophies of history. ische Analysedes kapitalistischen Prozesses(1939). Seealso the English and Statistical Process. Paul published three essays on "the intellectual Valkury crisis":"La crise militaireest peut-etrefinie. plus subtile.vol 1 (G6tA Historical edition. Varietd. et qui. drawing a parallel to the first century before Christ and to " 156 Engels."Lacrisede l'8sprit" 397 . have proliferated. he gives "no technical meaning to the term crisis. cultural and critiques'58 global interpretationswith "crisis"in their titles. but few correspondinggains in either clarity or precision. 159 PaulValiry. mais la crise intellectuelle. prend les apparences les plus trompeuses (puisqu'elle se passe dans le royaume meme de la dissimulation). La crise iconomique est visible dans tout sa force. which is why. Schumpeterdenies its utility even for political economy. Schumpeter.'Anti-Dtihring' MEWvol. tingen. "Herrn Eugen Duhrings Umwilzung der Wissenschaft.

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

1979). Translation adaptedfromA KarlBarthReader. europdenne 166 Christian Meier."'67 From medicine the concept has spread to psychology and anthropology. 131ff. 1986). 164 (Munich."this lack of clarity is often welcome. 463ff.'66 tries to operationalizethe term and distinguish it from "conflict. Such a tendency towards imprecision and vagueness. of course.1976). 1242ff. may itself be viewed as the symptom of a historical crisis that cannot as yet be fully gauged. since it makes it possible to keep open what it may mean in the future."Kriseals ProblemKatholischer in Institutionalitit. Marquard. 168 Sch6npflug. In all the human and social sciences. a list of 200 different contexts was compiled in which the term crisis appears as adjective (crisis-torn)." Zeitschrift zur Pflege und Erforschung der deutschen Sprache. On the basis of currentheadlines.170 only can "crisis" be Not with other terms.1935). Renate Bebermeyer.Koselleck+ Crisis or parallel to human history. The which once had the power to pose unavoidable.Beitriige politikwissenschaftlichen Krizur senforschung(Opladen. 201ff.'16 Above all. to characterizeepochs'65 structures. 399 ..W. however..La crisede la conscience 1680-1715 (Paris. Art. III 169 MatthiasLaubscher. Mutters70 prache. 90 (1980). und ed." and to describe vaguely disturbingmoods or situations. all such coinages then require clarification.Erlerand R."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. transl G.eds.has been transformedto fit the uncertaintiesof whatevermight be favored at a given moment.T. Eschatologyis now incorporated into history.""'17 concept of crisis. it is easy to do so. harsh and non-negotiable alternatives. crisis of self-confidence) or as definingword (crisis expert. 189.Res publicamissa(Wiesbaden. R. While it can be used to conjoined clarify. 166PaulHazard. Zollikoned. it is the media which have inflatedthe use of the term. '"Krise'-Komposita-verbale Leitfossilien unserer Tage." (seefootnote13)." "revolution. Gottesvorstellung Gesellschaftsentwicklung und Begriff ed. "Crisis" is often used interchangeablywith "unrest. "Krise. crisis appearsas a key concept." Traditio-KrisisRenovatio. 57.32. BerndJaspertand RudolfMohr (Marfor burg.1973).Festschrift Winfried Zeller. Indeed.Der Rdmerbrief of (1918)." "conflict. 9threprinting the 5thedition(1926).Einekulturwissenschaftliche Theoriezum in 'Krisenkult'" PeterEicher.'68 ethnology. For the Catholicusage see Harald Wagner. 1966). 189ff. Zurich. "Kriseund Evolution. and the sociology of culture. as subject (mini-crisis. 171 Ibid. This makes it all the more imporKarlBarth. crisis bungler). in or Political science history. Every one of such uses is ambivalent. wherethe firstcentury beforeChristis interpreted a "crisiswithoutend." as 167MartinJanicke. Herrschaft Krise.Bromily (GrandRapids.1954).

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

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