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The Democrats: Gustav von Struve: Motion in the German Pre-Parliament (March 31, 1848)

In his motion in the German pre-parliament from March 31, 1848, the radical democrat and revolutionary Gustav von Struve (1805-1870) describes the essential nature and goals of democratic politics, the latter of which included the reduction of tax burdens, the achievement of national unity, the separation of church and state, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the fight against the predominance of the nobility, and the support of a republican state. The German pre-parliament prepared the ground for the Frankfurt National Assembly (also known as the German National Assembly or the Frankfurt Parliament), which opened in May of 1848.

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We the undersigned place this motion before the German Parliament at Frankfurt a.M.: that it immediately approve the following overview of the rights of the German people and see to their implementation.

A long period of the most profound degradation weighs heavily on Germany. It may be characterized by the words: subjugation, stultification, and bleeding dry of the people. Under the influence of this system of tyranny, which, when broken in its power, still lives on in essence, Germany has more than once been brought to the brink of ruin. It has lost many of its most lovely provinces, and others are already severely threatened. The distress of the people has become unbearable. In Upper Silesia it has intensified to the point of famine.

Therefore all the ties that had bound the German people to the previous so-called order of things have dissolved, and it is the job of the assembly of German men which has come together on March 31 of this year in Frankfurt a. M. to create new ties with which the entire German people will be bound together into a free and great whole.

Security of property and person, prosperity, education, and freedom for all irrespective of birth, station, and creed is the goal toward which the German people aim. The means by which to attain these are:

1. Termination of the standing army of soldiers and its merger with the citizens' militia for the purpose of building a true popular defense encompassing all men capable of bearing arms.

2. Termination of the standing army of state officials and replacement of the same by an inexpensive government made up of freely elected men of the people.

3. Abolition of the standing armies of taxes that live off the marrow of the people, especially all those taxes that inhibit Germany’s domestic commerce, internal tariffs, and ship duties that oppress agriculture, tithes, seigneurial dues and rents etc., which encumber trade, trade taxes, excises etc., and their replacement:
a) with a progressive income and property tax, by which the portion necessary for a livelihood remains free of all taxes;
b) with a tariff raised at the borders of Germany for the protection of its trade, its industry, and its agriculture;

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