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Ferdinand Tonnies: Utopian Visionary

Author(s): Christopher Adair-Toteff


Source: Sociological Theory, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 58-65
Published by: American Sociological Association
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Ferdinand Tonnies: Utopian Visionary
CHRISTOPHERADAIR-TOTEFF
American University in Bulgaria

Among thefounders of classical Germansociology, FerdinandTonniesis still relatively


neglected. Many reasons are given, but the most widespreadand the most damning is
that Tonnies is a pessimist who wished, in the face of modernity,to return to the
supposed Golden Age of rural Germany,when the community,ruled by patriarchs,
gathered on the land. This interpretationis fundamentallyflawed: although Tinnies
wanted to describe the rootless, ruthless, calculating individualsof modern society, he
wished to recall the past primarily in order to develop a blueprintfor the future, in
which the so-called feminine traits of conscience, empathy,and care would govern the
community.Rather than yearningfor the past, Tinnies was a utopianwho had a vision
of the future and tried to make it a reality.

FerdinandT6nnies (1858-1936), Georg Simmel, and Max Weberare generally considered


the founding fathersof classical Germansociology. During their lives they were generally
recognized as the leading thinkersin social theory. Scholars from aroundthe world read
their works and debated their ideas. In the 1930s, however,interestin men diminished,in
part because of the Nazi repudiationof sociology. Interestin Weberrevived after the war;
this resurgencecontinues today. During the late 1950s and the 1960s Simmel enjoyed a
renewal of interest, a movement that continues to grow. There has been no comparable
resurgenceof interestin T6nnies, however;indeed, he still suffers from relative neglect.
It is true that in GermanyT6nnies'reputationhas been growing since the late 1960s. It
is also agreed widely that he is one of the founding fathers of sociology; some scholars
even claim that he is the original founder (Ringer 1969:164). Yet his writings have not
received the attentionthey deserve. Comparedwith the work on Weberand on Simmel, the
literatureon T6nnies is sparse and uneven.
One can offer a number of possible reasons for this neglect. The available literature
containsa numberof complaintsaboutT6nnies.A common objectionis thatT6nnieswrites
in the old-fashioned, nineteenth-centuryGermanic style (Liebersohn 1988:11). Another
complaint is that his thinking is too complex to be understoodreadily (Ringer 1969:167).
Othercritics claim that T6nnieshad few good ideas; those which he had, he borrowedfrom
other, more importantwriters such as Hobbes (Bickel 1991), Kant (Samples 1989), Marx
(Cahnman1973), Nietzsche (Zander1981), or all of these (Liebersohn1988). Still another
complaintis Tonnies'alleged connectionto the Nazis. Perhapsthe most damningcriticism,
however, is that Tonnies is a pessimist about modernity.The charge is twofold: first, that
he is the historianwho sets out the historicaldevelopmentfrom the communityto society;
second, that if he could, he would recreate some idyllic North Frisian past in which the
membersof a small, tight-knitcommunitysharein their forefathers'irrationalcustoms (see
Mitzman1973:93, 100; Rode and Klug 1981: 255). In this community,the chargecontinues,
the men are strong and the women are weak: the men take part in the operation of the
community,while the women remainat home (see Liebersohn 1988:32).
If this last charge is correct,it is no wonderTonniesremainsneglected while Weberand
Simmel have been resurrected.This accusationsuggests that T6nnieshas nothingto say to

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UTOPIANVISIONARY 59

us because he only looks longingly to the past, whereas Weber and Simmel gaze boldly
into the future.This estimationof Tonnieswould be damningif it were correct.It is totally
mistaken,however,and it is mistakenbecause it is based on a fundamentalmisunderstand-
ing of what Tinnies intendedto do. His majorwork, Gemeinschaftund Gesellschaft(1887),
is in parta "scientific"book, in which he describesthe positive featuresof the Gemeinschaft
and the negative elements of Gesellschaft. Yet he also intended it to be a revolutionary
blueprintfor the future.Tinnies was adept at seeing things in opposition, but he was also
at ease in reconciling elements that seem forever diametric. He had no difficulty in
reconcilinghis dispassionatesociological inquirywith his passionatebelief in how the true
community should be constructed.
Scholars have been blind to Tonnies'concern about forming the future.Like Weberand
Simmel, he was interestedin the past; like them, he wantedto learnfrom the past in order
to understandthe future. In this respect, Tonnies was also a "scientificman."But unlike
Simmel, who wished only to observe and theorize,and unlike Weber,who tried to separate
his political ambitionsfrom his academiccalling, Tinnies was a utopianvisionary.He did
not believe that the past should be, or even could be, resurrected.'Tonnies never expected
to recover the past; his intentionwas to help create the future.It was to be a utopia based
on equality,freedom, and ethical conduct, in which the properuse of traditionalcustoms
would reinforce the secure and comforting bonds of the Gemeinschaft.His philosophical
and sociological work convincedhim that the naturaland organicGemeinschaftof the past
was gone forever;he envisioned it as replacedby the modernand artificialGesellschaft.
Tonnies was not alone in diagnosing the spirit of the modernage. Both Simmel, in his
book on money economy, and Weber,with his notion of the "ironcage," describedit. In
this future, individuals would act according to their own rational self-interests.Tonnies,
Simmel, and Weber discussed the modern age, but only Tonnies envisioned what could
(and should) follow such an age. I will argue that Tonnies'astute diagnosis of the modern
age led him to develop a blueprintof the future,one that he tried to realize.

GEMEINSCHAFTUND GESELLSCHAFT
Tonnies wrote many works, but his reputationrests primarilyon his majorwork, Gemein-
schaft und Gesellschaft.Tonniesbegan preparatorywork for the book in 1881, but he had
not yet decided on the primaryfocus. It grew out of his work on Hobbes; he conceived of
it as a reply to some of the leading legal theorists in Germany,particularlyRudolf Ihring
and Rudolf Gneist. Tonnies intendedto examine the notion of state and society. The book
was to be a philosophicaltreatmentof historical material;he intendedto submit it to the
University of Kiel as his Habilitations-schrift(Mitzman 1973:74).
By 1881 Tonnies had decided on the title Gemeinschaftund Gesellschaft, but the first
draft does not bear much resemblanceto the work that he finally published.Around 1885
he finally identified one of the distinctionsthat underpinthe entire work-the distinction
between Wesenwilleand Kiirwille.2In the published version, Wesenwilleis connected to
the Gemeinschaftand is the will that representsthe traditionaland unchangingessence of
the community.In contrast,Kiirwille(or Willkiir)is the modem individual'swill. This term,
derived from the word kiren, means roughly "to choose" (Ringer 1969:165). The modern
individualchooses the end that he wants to reach, as well as the means necessaryto reach
it (Tonnies [1887]1991:90-91, 1955:138-39). These choices may, and often do, appear
I Liebersohn(1988:30) and even Ringer(1969:167) appearto believe thatTonnieswas a pessimist because the
old Germancommunityhad perished.
2 For
helpful discussions of the meanings of these terms, see Ringer (1969:165) and Heberle (1973:52).

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60 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY
arbitraryto the individualand the observers.Because of the emphasison the individualand
his arbitrarychoice, T6nnies associates Kirwille with Gesellschaft.
In 1887, when Tonnies finished his book, he retained the fundamentalconcepts of
Gemeinschaft/Wesenwille and Gesellschaft/Kirwille. He expanded them, however, in order
to deal with an astonishingnumberof topics, including agrarianhistory,the roles of men
and women, and the proper foundation for the state. Yet the primarypurpose of these
fundamentaldistinctions is to draw an idealized picture of the two types of interaction
between people: the type found in the Gesellschaftand the type found in the Gemeinschaft.

TONNIES'CRITIQUEOF MODERNITY:DIE GESELLSCHAFT


Tonnies took obvious pride in conducting serious researchand producingscholarly work.
In this respecthe shareswith Weberthe emphasison "objectivity"in historicaland scientific
work. The results of this science of society are found in Gemeinschaftund Gesellschaft.
The book, however, is not merely a sociological treatise. It is more than a descriptionof
social interaction;it also offers value judgmentson the types of social interaction.Tonnies
essentially praises what is found in the Gemeinschaftand condemns what is found in the
Gesellschaft.The praiseandthe condemnationare not based on an arbitrarystandard;rather,
Tonniesbases his valuejudgmentson a fundamentalWeltanschauung, thatof a futureworld
community whose membersare bound by traditionalpracticesand ethical norms.
For Tonnies, the modern world is the Gesellschaft. The Gesellschaft originatedin the
trading practices of the medieval merchants,who took calculated risks to secure profit.
These men lived rationallybut arbitrarily.By this Tonnies does not mean to suggest that
they acted in some random fashion; rather, they chose to act on the basis of certain
individualmeans of calculation.These traderswere developingthe traitsof the Gesellschaft
but were still part-timemembers of communities.In this sense they were not yet cut off
totally from the naturalstate of the community.
In the modem age, Tonnies argues, the community has disappearedand people are
essentially cut off from each other; everyone is isolated ([1887]1991:34, 1955:74). The
structurethat organizes the Gesellschaftis ideal; it is artificialand mechanical.Because it
exists merely by convention, there is continuous tension ([1887]1991:216, 1955:271).
Everyone wants something from everyone, but no one wants to do anythingfor anybody.
Instead the basis of interactionis solely economic. Thus Tonnies concentrateson theories
of exchange, money, and credit ([1887]1991:91, 21, 23).
Also, because the artificialfoundationof Gesellschaftis commerce,Tonniesquotes Adam
Smith's comment that everyone is a merchant([1887]1991:44, 1955:87). In keeping with
his socialistic leanings, he decries the impact of capitalism on society: because it fosters
competition, it cuts us off from each other, from the community,and even from nature
(Ringer 1969:167-68; 1991:45, [1897]1990:18-19, Tonnies [1887]1955:88-89). Because
of the ruthless competition in the Gesellschaft, Tonnies believes that this state of commerce
resembles Hobbes' state of war.
Tonnies also believes that the notion of Kirwille resemblesthe arbitrarywill of Hobbes'
Sovereign;the differenceis thatbecause modernman lacks the Sovereign'spower,he cannot
choose arbitrarilybut must be calculatingin making his decisions. Kiirwilleencompasses
intentions, purposes, and means (Tonnies [1887]1991:93, 1955:142). Thus deliberationis
a major component of the Kiirwille,3and the supreme goal of deliberationis happiness.
This may not seem remarkable;Aristotle also holds that "happiness"is the properend for
man. T6nnies,however,maintainsthat this goal is foreign because it is the individual'ssole
3 This may be why Loomis translatesKiinville as "rationalwill" (see T6nnies 1955).

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UTOPIANVISIONARY 61
concern ([1887]1991:95, 1955:144). Here Tonnies'difference from Aristotle is clear be-
cause he holds that happiness can come either from contemplationor through political
action. Again he follows Hobbes, who believes that people strive after power and want
other people to envy them. Thus self-interestand vanity are the primemovers in the search
for individualhappiness (Tonnies [1887]1991:97, 1955:145-46).
Tonnies'dislike of the emphasis on the individual'spreoccupationwith self is the main
reason why, after an youthful infatuationwith Nietzsche, he rejected him.4 To Tonnies,
Nietzsche representsmuch that is wrong with the modern age: the rejection of tradition,
the relativizationof values, the rejectionof any ethical considerationstowardone's fellow
man, and the emphasis on the individual's"will to power."Also, because Tonnies saw that
Nietzsche's followers made almost a cult of their mindless devotion to Nietzsche and to
pseudo-Nietzscheanbeliefs, he was vociferous in his denunciation.In the 1890s Tonnies
devoted considerableenergy to turningpeople away from what he viewed as Nietzsche's
destructiveinfluence, which was leading people to glorify the worst aspects of modernity.
He urgedthem to pay attentioninsteadto his vision of how the futurewas supposedto be.5

TONNIES'ALTERNATIVEVISION OF THE FUTURE:DIE GEMEINSCHAFT


For T6nnies the Gemeinschaftis connected intimatelyto the land and the communitythat
farms it ([1887]1991:21, 1955:59). Whereas the Gesellschaft is artificialand mechanical,
the Gemeinschaftis real and organic ([1887]1991:3, 1955:37). If the theme of the Gesell-
schaft is individuality,the theme of the Gemeinschaftis commonality:sharedenjoyments,
sharedpossessions, sharedfriends, and common enemies ([1887]1991:20, 1955:57-58).
Unlike the arbitraryconnections of the Gesellschaft,which can be brokenat will at any
time, the many strong connections of the Gemeinschaftare deeply rooted and cannot be
cut easily. The first bond is to the land. Those who work the land receive not only the
rewards of their labor, but also a sense of enjoyment from their work ([1887]1991:10,
1955:45-46). This intensifies the reciprocalrelationshipbetween work and pleasure.
The second connection is to the house that is on the land, in which are focused the
connections of the family at home. The hearthand the table strengthenthe relationships
among those who are underthatroof. This is trueespecially for the membersof the family,
but it also applies to servantsor visitors. There are three relationshipsTonnies maintains:
husbandand wife, fatherand mother,and masterand servant([1887]1991:22-23, 1955:60-
61). This last relationshipis the "newest"and consequentlythe most tenuous, and it holds
Tonnies' attention the least. He is concerned more with the family, and to this end he
discusses the relationshipbetween parentsand children.Childrenare naive and harmless;
they live in the presentand need to be protected([1887]1991:129, 1955:179).WhatTonnies
says about children may or may not be controversial,but what he says about women has
drawncriticism.
The charge that Tonnies is sexist and opposed to feminism is based on such passages as
"women and childrenbelong together"(Tonnies [1887]1991:129, 1955:179), on the state-
ment that men are "active"and "womenare passive"([1887]1991:128, 1955:178), and on
his delineation of the differences between men's and women's temperaments,characters,
and ways of thinking. He claims that women are motivatedby conscience and sentiment,
whereas men are driven by calculationand effort ([1887]1991:128, 1955:178).
These notions appear to provide ample ammunitionfor criticism. On closer scrutiny,
4 See Tonnies (1897, 1922). Tonnies'relationto Nietzsche is intriguingand complex
(see Zander 1981).
5 In the first 25 years after publication,only 750 copies of Gemeinschaftund Gesellschaftwere sold
(Schroeter
1993:60). It began to attracta following, however,even if for the wrong reasons, and went througheight editions
in Tonnies'lifetime.

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62 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY
however, they do not supportthe charge of sexism. First, T6nnies makes clear that these
descriptions are not firm and fixed; they are representationsof differenttypes of people,
which can, and do, change over a person's lifetime. Second, these representationsdo not
always apply to all people. Thirdand most important,carefulreadingreveals that T6nnies'
sympathieslie with the feminine delineation.Although he stresses the qualities of organic
life, he does not always uphold that which is "natural."For example, animals are more
"natural"than humans,but Tonnies is concernedwith the latter.Thus, when he claims that
men are more like animalsbecause they are stronger,he is not saying that men are "better."
More important,given his intensive dislike of the artificialityof society, we must conclude
that he is condemningmen when he insists that they are "artificial."Again, consideringhis
praise for the organic naturalnessof the community,we must understandthat he is giving
women the highest praise when he says that "the woman is the naturalhuman being"
([188711991:128, 1955:178).6
If anything,Tonniesprovidesa type of philosophicalanthropologydesigned to show that
humanityhas evolved from that which is natural,with its emphasis on the membersof the
community;they use theirpowers of sensitivity and the voice of conscience to enhancethe
permanentpleasures of community life. He shows that man has evolved to the type of
individualwho uses cold, calculatingreasonand who abandonsall ethical concernsin order
to achieve personal,yet temporary,pleasures.7It is also clear that Tonniesdoes not believe
this is the ultimate stage. If faced with such a bleak inevitability,he would have been the
pessimist that many people believe he is. But if T6nnies had been such a pessimist, he
would have been paralyzed. He was not an extreme pessimist, however; although his
optimism varied,he continuedto work with single-mindeddeterminationfor the betterment
of life. For Tonnies that meant developing a new Gemeinschaftwhich would embody the
best of the old, yet would be right for the future. Above all, it meant ethical concern for
all membersof the community.Because men are the calculatingones, the ones who cheat
and lie, they are the ones most in need of reform.Women,on the otherhand,are "naturally"
concernedwith truthand honesty; thus it is necessaryfor men to become "morefeminine"
in order to create the new, ethical community.8Far from being sexist and an antifeminist,
Tonnies believed that those traitswhich he saw in women were the properones; if the new
community was to be formed, all of its members, not only the women, would have to
possess them.
Tonnies returnedto the theme of women and ethical concerns in the small volume Die
Sitte (1909). Sitte is difficult to translate;it means "custom"or "morality."There is nothing
arbitraryabout Sitten; instead T6nnies holds that they are representativeof the Volk.He
objects to the attemptto conceptualizethe Volkand advises us instead to "feel"what it is
(1909:14, 1961:39). Although he spends considerabletime on various "customs,"such as
those concerning marriage,drinking, and dress, it is clear that throughoutthe book his
primaryconcern is the continued"welfare"of the people. Tonniesremindsus that "welfare"
is connected to "will." Thus the Sitten of the Volkexpress the "essentialwill" (1909:16,
1961:41-42). Women play the active role in maintainingSitten in the community;indeed,
6 Despite his claim that women live in the present, Tonnies credits them not only with the arts but also with
memory,that which is designed to maintaincontinuitythroughthe generationsof the community.He says, "All
the Muses are women, and memoryis their mother"([1887] 1991:136, 1955:187). Loomis omits the emphasis on
"memory,"just as he does on "weakersex." I am inclined to read T6nnies'use of "weaker"in one of two ways:
either it refers to the difference in physical strength,which Tonniesdoes not believe is a bad thing in itself, or it
is used ironically,which appearsto be the case here.
7 It is clear that T6nnies has little use for capitalismbecause the capitalist,in the pursuitof more money, will
use any tricks and lies possible in order to increase profit. Indeed, Tonnies contends that lies are essential tools
of capitalism([1887] 1991:138, 1955:187).
8 T6nnieswas ratherimpressedwith JohannJakobBachofen'sdiscussion of women in his book Das Mutterrecht
(1861, 1897).

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UTOPIANVISIONARY 63

custom designates it (1909:46, 59, 1961:82, 98). "Customs"occupy a large role in Sitten,
but women also are concernedwith ethics and responsibility.
From his early work Gemeinschaftund Gesellschaft to Die Sitte and perhapsbeyond,
T6nniestried to describe social reality,but in doing so he also showed what should be kept
and what should be rejected.Unwilling to simply describe,he wished to prescribeas well.
For this reason,much of these two works sounds "nonscientific"and insteadseems didactic.
Tonnies evidently believed that one should practicewhat he preaches;he attemptedseveral
times to make his prescriptionfor the ideal communityinto a reality.

FROM VISION TO REALITY


Tonnieswas not contentto criticize the Gesellschaftfor what he took to be its fundamental
shortcomings, nor would he rest after setting forth the vital perfections inherent in the
Gemeinschaft.He intendedto turn his utopian vision into concrete reality.Tonnies made
several preliminaryattemptsto organizea community:the first was his attemptto build an
alternativeacademic community,and the second was his effort to stress the values of the
Gemeinschaftthroughhis lectures and his writings in Ethische Kultur.
Tonnies first attemptedto found a "communityof scholars."In a letter to Friedrich
Paulsendated March 1881, he sketchedout his "newestgreatproject."In five years or less,
he believed, the university would be unsuitablefor philosophy students, and they would
leave.9 He thoughta suitable alternativeshould be built, and he hoped Paulsen would join
the project. The project was nothing less than a community of scholars, similar to the
Lyceum,the Academy,or the Stoa (T6nniesand Paulsen 1961:120). The whole undertaking
was to be based on trust,community(Gemeinschaft),and friendship.For T6nnies,philoso-
phy was bound up with ethical concerns.These includedthe concernsof the community-
trust, friendship,mutual support,and above all, concern for the welfare of all members.
His community would recognize differences in professional rank, but there would be no
differencesin economic rank:for T6nnies,the communitystood at the heartof the socialist
community(see Scaff 1989:208).
Paulsen'sresponse was initially warm, but later it cooled. T6nnies, meanwhile,was still
convincedof its necessity. In a letterdatingfrom 1882, he firstpaintedthe contrastbetween
the fresh air of the beautiful countryside,with its fantastic sunrises and sunsets, and the
stifling environmentof the city (T6nniesand Paulsen 1961:157 ff.). Then he turnedto the
subject of the universities. Writing not ironically but earnestly, he questioned how the
universities (which, after all, are state universities with state concerns) could provide
lectures on ethics. T6nnies'position was that philosophy belongs not in forum Romanum
but in the "shadygrove of the Academy."
Tonnies could not persuade Paulsen to give up his life in Berlin, with all of his
commitmentsto the university.Faced with no prospectof success, he began to lose interest
in his project. Mitzman (1973:90-91) claims that as Tonnies' interest in forming the
community of scholars weakens, one can see a growing attachmentto his native "father-
land." Mitzman is correct in noting such an inverse relationship,just as he is correct in
insisting that "fatherland"
refers not to Germanybut to Schleswig-Holstein.He is incorrect,
however, in thinking that T6nnies' attachmentto his native soil should be taken as an
abandonmentof interestin his utopianvision. Undoubtedlythe lack of success in founding
the community of scholars caused T6nnies considerableunhappiness,but the failure was
not powerful enough to make him cease all efforts at creatingthe future.
In the 1890s, concern for Nietzsche's growing reputationpromptedTonnies to write
9 Tonnies does not state why he believes this will occur; perhapshe thinks that many students will become
disillusioned with the state universities.

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64 SOCIOLOGICALTHEORY
"NietzscheNarren"(1893) and to publish it in Ethische Kultur.In this work he inveighed
against Nietzsche's burgeoningpopularity,protestedthat Nietzsche's followers misunder-
stood and misused Nietzsche, and complained that Nietzsche's glorificationof the strong
type led to the enslavement of the weak. T6nnies, as always, was concerned with the
equality that is connected with the socialism of the community. Nietzsche, however,
despised equality and the community;Tonniesinsisted that Nietzsche, with his rejectionof
morality,was justifiably known as the philosopherof capitalism(Tonnies [1897]1990:101,
103).
Tonnies returnedto his attack on Nietzsche in 1897 with Der Nietzsche-Kultus.He
objected to Nietzsche's championingthe new aristocracy(Tonnies [1897]1990:23), which
wanted only to enjoy a type of libertinism ([1897]1990:43). He also feared Nietzsche's
extremismbecause it was of the despotic type that allowed for no compromise.To Tonnies,
Nietzsche representedthe opposite of almost all that he valued:morality,equality,commu-
nity, the English, and woman's character.Whereas Nietzsche extolled the pleasures of
solitude, Tonnies praised the virtues of the community.
Tonnieshad given up on his "philosophyhome"but continuedhis searchfor a community
of like-mindedscholars.He thoughtthat the GermanSociety for EthicalCulture(Deutsche
Gesellschaft fur ethische Kultur)was composed of people who sharedhis ethical concerns,
which certainlyincludedhis socialist tendencies(see Liebersohn1988:37-38 and 210, note
100). Tonnies, however, was to be seriously disappointedbecause the other members did
not supporthis calls for improvementin workers'conditions.
In his later years, Tonnies tried to see his work in perspective.He knew that when he
placed the individualistictype of life in opposition to the "socialistic"type, he would be
misunderstood(Tonnies 1922:31). It was clear that he favoredthe latter,but at no time did
he claim that capitalism had caused the decline of the community; rather, it was the
symptom and the sign of decline (1922:33). He maintainedthat he was only an advocate
for social reform, and that his interest was always in working to change the economic
conditions so that people could lead healthy physical and rewarding spiritual lives
(1922:32).

CONCLUSION
Weberand Simmel viewed the futurewith trepidation.Weberthoughtthat modem man had
made his own "ironcage" and was now trappedin it; Simmel projectedhis own sense of
tragedy onto others and was convinced that alienation would continue. Like Weber and
Simmel, Tonniessubmitteda critiqueof modernitythatmade him pessimistic. Unlike them,
however, he looked to the future with some hope. He could see that the age of the
Gesellschaft was only temporary.10He could see the possibility of a brighter future, in
which the best featuresof the Gemeinschaftwould be realized. Tonniesattemptedto bring
this future into being by helping the workingmanachieve a better life and by attempting
to establish a communityof scholars.
Even though Tonnies failed to establish a utopiancommunityon earth,he nevertheless
provided us with a book rich in ideas to consider seriously.Its fascinationhas cast a spell
over some of the most critically minded scholars: Max Weber ([1921]1976:1) referredto
10 Thus Ringer is wrong when he writes, "He did not feel that the decline of modernculturecould actuallybe
reversed" (1969:168). Also, Liebersohn is incorrect when he insists that the fatalism of Gemeinschaft und
Gesellschaft is extreme (1988:39). Liebersohnwrites that in Tonnies'mind, the progressof society was as fixed
as the stars, as if Tonnies viewed society in the same way as Hegel viewed history. He also claims that Tonnies
was irrationalin not following his own advice about reform,and that his utopianefforts were "silly"(Liebersohn
1988:36, 38).

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UTOPIANVISIONARY 65

Gemeinschaftund Gesellschaft as das schone Werk.We should follow Weber'slead and


look carefully at T6nnies'writings, particularlyGemeinschaftund Gesellschaft.This is not
only a sociological treatise of the first rank, but also a gifted scholar'scontributionto the
efforts to make utopia a reality.In this sense it is a sociology of the future.

REFERENCES
Bickel, Cornelius. 1991. Ferdinand Tonnies: Soziologie als skeptische Aufkldrungzwischen Historismus und
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J. Cahnman.Leiden: Brill.
Heberle, Rudolph. 1973. "The Sociological System of FerdinandT6nnies."Pp. in FerdinandTonnies:A New
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