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By Peter O'Brien

O'Brien argues convincingly that fears of a resurgent German nationalism are exaggerated. He highlights the `technocratic liberalism' of the elite which, mockingly, hinders complete rights of political participation for minorities.

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30 It was Ralf Dahrendorf, however, who most popularized this interpretation. In 1967, he published the paradigmatic portrait of Germany’s peculiar path (Sonderweg) through modernity In his endeavor to answer ‘What it is in German society that may account for Germany’s failure to give home to democracy in its liberal sense,’31 he looked to the ‘structures of German 29 Harold Laski, Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1943), pp. 99,109. Other interpretations of the Germans as pathological reactors to a specific environment which appeared before the end of the war are: Arthur Rosenberg, A History of the German Republic, trans.

After all, they never made up more than 3 per cent of the population. Furthermore, they mostly kept to themselves, typically housed in barracks at or near the workplace. Most importantly, the foreigners were considered temporary or ‘guestworkers’ who would soon return to their homelands. Surely, the Adenauer administration chose the label ‘Gastarbeiter’ to avoid the ugly term ‘Fremdarbeiter’ used in the Third Reich. But the term also conveyed the original goal of Ausländerpolitik. The administration’s ‘rotation principle’ (Rotationsprinzip) stipulated that migrants would be allowed to stay in Germany two or three years before being rotated back home and replaced by a new cohort.

Karl Jaspers, The Future of Germany (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), p. 3. 43 Kurt Sontheimer (The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, p. 30) makes this point, as does Ulrich Preuss, ‘Political Concepts of Order for Mass Society,’ in Observations on ‘The Spiritual Situation of the Age,’ ed. : MIT Press, 1985), pp. 118–119. 34 ESCAPING THE PAST the Federal Republic in Western waters. He oversaw the drafting of the Basic Law as President of the Constituent Assembly. He made sure, with the help of economics wizard Ludwig Erhard, that the Federal Republic developed a capitalist market economy with enough growth and prosperity to sustain a large middle class.

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