Austin Harrington. German Cosmopolitan Social Thought and the Idea of the West. Voices from Weimar

Christopher Adair-Toteff


Voices from Weimar is the slightly misleading subtitle that Austin Harrington gives to his German Cosmopolitan Social Thought and the Idea of the West. While Harrington uses the voices of various people to speak about what was happening in Weimar, he tends to use them as if they were referring to a pleasant dream about it and not to the nightmare that Weimar mostly was. This is not to say that Harrington is wrong—many of the thinkers he discusses did try to make Germany more liberal and democratic during those years of the Weimar crises, but ultimately they failed. Harrington’s intention to provide an ideal alternative was also bound to fail—because that often happens when dreams are confronted by reality. However, Harrington should be applauded for mounting a vigorous defense on behalf of the Weimar intellectuals and he should be praised for telling a complex and critical story.

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