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The Mobilization of the Countryside: Program of the Agrarian League [Bund der Landwirte] (1912 version)

The Agrarian League's political program is characterized by a combination of narrow interests and lofty rhetoric concerning the general welfare. The League promoted protectionist agricultural policies, which remained a vital point of contention between liberals (who generally opposed protectionism) and conservative landowners (who generally supported it) throughout the Wilhelmine period.

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The Agrarian League strives for the preservation and strengthening of our current political system on a Christian-monarchical foundation. It takes the principled stance that the interests of all national, productive labor [should] be given just and equal consideration. It fights against the exploitative system of international big capital, as well as against biased, unfair favoritism toward big capital in general.

In accordance with experiences drawn from the economic life of all peoples, the League fundamentally believes that a normal development of the national economy – one that is beneficial to both producers and consumers – cannot tolerate large and sudden fluctuations in the price of the chief agricultural commodities that are necessary to feed the people; that, instead, only a slow but steady rise in price over longer periods of time offers material expression of the progressive culture of a nation. The League simultaneously regards the shaping of the conditions of the national economy in this way as a precondition for the healthy development of the trades, industry, and commerce.

Accordingly, the most immediate goals of the Agrarian League are:

1. It aims at legal rules that, in the equal interest of producers and consumers, are suitable for bringing about a permanent, moderate commodity price formation in line with production costs.

With respect to trade policy, the Agrarian League therefore expects that the deputies elected with its support will: a) reject any further trade agreement that contains a relaxation of agrarian customs tariffs vis-à-vis the tariff agreements that have now been concluded or [contains] other relief and encouragement for the importation of agricultural products, b) support the introduction of an effective duty on milk and cream in the German General and Treaty Customs Tariff [General- und Vertragszolltarif].

The Agrarian League also demands:

2. Prevention of any weakening of the existing stock market laws and the further systematic expansion of extensive reform legislation in the area of the commodity and stock exchange. An expedient arrangement of credit for agriculture, trade, and the self-employed middle class? [Mittelstand].*

* A note on the translation: although Mittelstand can be translated approximately as “middle class,” the term also has certain ideological connotations – namely positive ones – and is thus more than a strictly economic designation.

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