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Politische Religion, Civic Religion oder ein neuer Glaube - Walther Rathenaus Vision einer anderen Moderne

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter


Publication date2009
Host publicationWalther Rathenau: Der Phänotyp der Moderne
EditorsWalter Delabar, Dieter Heimboeckel
Place of publicationBielefeld
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9783895287169
Original languageEnglish


This chapter uses Walther Rathenau to discuss the limitations of the popular, but controversial concepts 'political religion' and 'civic religion'. Rathenau promoted a vaguely religious dimension to politics, but his vision cannot be described with either of these terms. He was neither an unreserved supporter of parliamentary democracy, pluralism and a capitalist market economy nor did he tend towards totalitarianism. He was opposed to the Right, but his concept of a communal economy (Gemeinwirtschaft) strongly influenced the idea of a community of the people (Volksgemeinschaft) so central for Nazism. Rathenau is part of a wider tradition that sought to give the German nation a new communal faith. He was not a Nazi, but the desire he expressed came to play a crucial role in the fatal attraction of National Socialism. The concept of a single communal faith can show the connection between this long tradition and the rise of Nazism.