Prussian Conservatism was not an ideology comparable to those which have breathed into every crevice of twentieth century totalitarian states. It was not really an ideology at all, if that term is understood to mean a system of thought enforced by the state so as to give every human act a political meaning. The Prussian conservatives, conditioned by an aristocratic disdain for a political rationale, were unable to agree on a uniform principle of political conduct. Shades of meaning, based largely on the balance struck between religion and political realism, persisted in coloring the conservative temperament. Yet by the fourth decade of the nineteenth century, Prussian conservatism had become a coherent body of thought distinct from liberalism, democracy, or socialism. Its historical importance became assured, when, at Bismarck's hands, Prussian conservatism entered wholeheartedly into the making of what the liberal historian, Erich Eyck, has called “German constitutionalism,” that is a system of politics respectful of authority, but equally disdainful of democracy and absolutism, in which the practical conduct of government may be guided by moral principles in an irrational world.