Time and Power: Visions of History in German Politics, from the Thirty Years' War to the Third Reich
Time and Power presents new perspectives on how the exercise of power is shaped by different notions of time. Christopher Clark draws on four key figures from German history—Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg-Prussia, Frederick the Great, Otto von Bismarck, and Adolf Hitler—to look at history through a temporal lens and ask how historical actors and their regimes embody unique conceptions of time.
Inspired by the insights of Reinhart Koselleck and François Hartog, two pioneers of the “temporal turn” in historiography, Clark shows how Friedrich Wilhelm rejected the notion of continuity with the past, believing instead that a sovereign must liberate the state from the entanglements of tradition to choose freely among different possible futures. He demonstrates how Frederick the Great abandoned this paradigm for a neoclassical vision of history in which sovereign and state transcend time altogether, and how Bismarck believed that the statesman’s duty was to preserve the timeless permanence of the state amid the torrent of historical change. Clark describes how Hitler did not seek to revolutionize history like Stalin and Mussolini, but instead sought to evade history altogether, emphasizing timeless racial archetypes and a prophetically foretold future.
Clark, Christopher M. Time and Power : Visions of History in German Politics, from the Thirty Years' War to the Third Reich. Princeton University Press, 2019