Klaus Weinhauer
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Revolution lost and found
Collective actions, fears and violently contested space-time regimes in Hamburg and Seattle (c. 1916–20)
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This chapter studies collective actions and social movements, social fears, perceptions of the state, and of its monopoly of physical force (c. 1916–20). First, in Hamburg, an urban social movement tried to establish a space-time regime organised around public democracy, rooted in working-class neighbourhoods and on the shop floor. Publicly employed acts of physical violence served to communicate elements of the newly established space-time regime to the local public. Second, the middle classes in Hamburg and in Seattle were shaken by a plethora of fears ignited by the Russian Revolution of 1917. In Germany, however, revolution and regime change made it much easier to name those deemed responsible for ending the Kaiserreich (social democrats, Spartacists). In the USA, a complex imaginary of nearly omnipresent fears focused on innumerable vaguely defined threats shaped the impression that a revolution could be triggered by any event which was defined as not ‘normal’ – as un-American. This socially deep-rooted fear-driven dramatisation, however, had a pacifying consequence: the Seattle General Strike clearly showed that even in the USA there is no inbuilt tendency for strikes in urban settings to always escalate into violent confrontations. While in Seattle massive fears of an uncontrollable revolution led all parties involved in the General Strike to act very cautiously, in Hamburg the activists of the urban social movement through their collective actions, third, challenged the legitimacy of the newly established uniformed security forces. Re-establishing an accepted monopoly of physical force was a key problem for the early Weimar Republic.

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The spatiality and temporality of urban violence

Histories, rhythms and ruptures

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