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Prusso-German state-formation and the international system: between geopolitical competition and social conflict

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 17:41 authored by Benno TeschkeBenno Teschke
This paper seeks to reconstruct the trajectory and dynamics of Prusso-German state-formation in the force-field of geopolitical competition and the rise of capitalism in 19th Century Europe, developed as a critical intervention in International Relations (IR) Theory and Historical Sociology. The assumption is that the ?primacy of foreign policy? and the ?military origins of German state-formation? theses have to be re-interpreted by situating the German case in a wider geopolitical environment in which capitalist England and revolutionary France exerted modernisation pressures within a multilaterally managed pentarchical states-system (?Concert of Europe?). This forced German state-elites to maintain the international position of Prussia-Germany by introducing capitalism and processes of state-rationalisation in a chronologically sequenced and geographically uneven process through a series of ?revolutions from above? in order to consolidate a tax-basis that would finance military competitiveness. The paper concludes by drawing out the implications of the Prusso-German case for IR Theory, Historical Sociology and the debate on the origins, development, and expansion of the modern system of states.


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  • Published


International Organization/Review of International Studies




Cambridge University Press

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  • International Relations Publications

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