XVIII the Apparent Victory of Democracy
97. The Advance of Democracy after 1919
A. Gains of Democracy and Social Democracy
The years following the war were characterized by problems of demobilization amid a post-war depression lasting
until 1922—severe economic dislocation for all nations. Politically, many new states appeared, all with
democratic constitutions and ums; women generally could vote, even In Eastern Europe— though France was
delayed. Socialist parties were strong and labor unions powerful; the welfare state was normal, with the 8-hour
day and insurance guaranteed. Only in Italy was democracy aborted, with the rise of Mussolini and his fascist
party—the first of the personal dictators of post-war Europe.
B. The New States of Central and East-Central Europe
The new states were essentially accidents, without deeply felt or widely held revolutionary sentiment. Few Germans
wanted a republic; few in Austria- Hungary had wanted a full break-up. The weak, inexperienced new governments had
to deal with reactionaries and radicals, not to mention disaffected minorities. Most nations were formed on the basis of
self- determination (14 Points), but populations were thoroughly mixed. Poland and Czechoslovakia were the most
composite of these; each posse3sed, in particular, large minorities of Germans. But except for Yugoslavia, all the new
nations were republics with the external apparatus of democracy until the 1930s (i.e. constitutions, parliaments,
elections, multiple parties). Hungary, after fighting off the attempt of Bela Ken to establish a soviet republic, brought
back monarchy in all but name under the dictatorship of Admiral Horthy.
C. Economic Problems of Eastern Europe: Land Reform
Most had a small middle class and a peasant mass only recently freed—and most were economically backward.
They set up protective tariffs and attempted to develop factories—-but the tariffs cut the circulation of goods
and protected inefficient industries. Older, established industry, especially in Vienna and Prague, were hurt.
Agrarian reform was attempted, attempting to create a small peasant class on the French model. In the Baltic
States, the old German barons lost their land; in Czechoslovakia, German landlords also lost. A less thorough
effort was made in Rumania and Yugoslavia. Finland, Bulgaria, and Greece did not need reform. Poland and
Hungary had exceptionally strong landed magnates who were able to deflect change.
D. Overall: ‘The continuance of relative poverty, the obstinacy of reactionary upper classes, the new stresses and strains
among the peasants themselves, the economic distortions produced by numerous tariff walls, and the lack of any
sustained tradition of self-government all helped to frustrate the democratic experiments launched in the 1920’s.
98. The German Republic and the Spirit of Locarno
1. The Social Democrats were in control in 1918— prudent Marxists equally hated by revolutionary Marxists
on the left (Spartacists) and reactionaries of the right (business, army, Junkers). The middle group was the
Social Democrats and the Catholic Center party; they were appalled by stories emerging from the USSR, carried
by Mensheviks and anti-Lenin Bolsheviks. The Spartacist rebellion of January 1919 (Rosa Luxembourg and
Karl Liebknecht) frightened them, and the SD government suppressed the uprising using demobilized army
officers and volunteer vigilantes from the army.
2. Soon thereafter elections were held for a constituent assembly; the SDs emerged as the largest party but
without a majority and so formed a centrist coalition. This group by July 1919 had produced a constitution
providing for a democratic republic- Weimar Repub1ic Immediately, a right-wing putsch was attempted— Kapp
Putsch. A general strike, in which the Berlin workers turned off the public utilities, ended the Putsch However, the
Weimar government was never sufficiently in control to suppress private armed bands called freeports which were
led by antidemocratic agitators Liberals, they continued to provide free speech to the most outrageous enemies of
3. The new Weimar constitution provided for universal suffrage, proportional representation (each party, no
matter how small, received representation based on its total nation vote rather than the winner-take-all western
tradition involving electoral districts), and the initiative, referendum and recall. But no revolution was worked: no
industries were nationalized, no property seized, no agrarian reform undertaken; the Junkers remained intact, as
did the old bureaucracy. The army, limited in size, “remained the old army in miniature, with all its essential
organs intact, and lacking only in mass” There had been no revolutions.
B. The German Democracy and Versailles:
1. Germans saw the Treaty of Versailles as a Diktat—a ruthless, vengeful, dictated peace. The German sense of
honor was outraged; neither reparations nor the eastern frontier was regarded as settled. France had desired
guarantees—either the cession of the Rhineland or the guarantee of the frontier by the US and Britain—but the US
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