Book I

Submitted by Steven. on September 5, 2011

1. The Insufficiency of Economic Materialism

The will to power as a historical factor
Science and historical concepts
The insufficiency of economic materialism
The laws of physical life and "The physics of society"
The significance of conditions of production
The expeditions of Alexander
The Crusades
Papism and heresy
Power as a hindrance and obstruction to economic evolution
The fatalism of "historic necessities" and of the "historic mission"
Economic position and social activity of the bourgeoisie
Socialism and socialists
Psychic presuppositions of all changes in history
War and economy
Monopoly and autocracy
State Capitalism

Submitted by Toms on September 5, 2011

The deeper we trace the political influences in history, the more are we convinced that the "will to power" has up to now been one of the strongest motives in the development of human social forms. The idea that all political and social events are but the result of given economic conditions and can be explained by them cannot endure careful consideration. That economic conditions and the special forms of social production have played a part in the evolution of humanity everyone knows who has been seriously trying to reach the foundations of social phenomena. This fact was well known before Marx set out to explain it in his manner. A whole line of eminent French socialists like Saint-Simon, Considerant, Louis Blanc, Proudhon and many others had pointed to it in their writings, and it is known that Marx reached socialism by the study of these very writings. Furthermore, the recognition of the influence and significance of economic conditions on the structure of social life lies in the very nature of socialism.

It is not the confirmation of this historical and philosophical concept which is most striking in the Marxist formula, but the positive form in which the concept is expressed and the kind of thinking on which Marx based it. One sees distinctly the influence of Hegel, whose disciple Marx had been. None but the "philosopher of the Absolute," the inventor of "historical necessities" and "historic missions" could have imparted to him such self-assurance of judgment. Only Hegel could have inspired in him the belief that he had reached the foundation of the "laws of social physics", according to which every social phenomenon must be regarded as a deterministic manifestation of the naturally necessary course of events. In fact, Marx's successors have compared "economic materialism" with the discoveries of Copernicus and Kepler, and no less a person than Engels himself made the assertion that, with this interpretation of history, socialism had become a science.

It is the fundamental error of this theory that it puts the causes of social phenomena on a par with the causes of mechanistic events in nature. Science concerns itself exclusively with the phenomena which are displayed in the great frame which we call Nature, which are consequently limited by space and time and amenable to the calculations of human thought. For the realm of nature is a world of inner connections and mechanical necessities where every event occurs according to the laws of cause and effect. In this world there is no accident. Any arbitrary act is unthinkable. For this reason science deals only with strict facts; any single fact which runs contrary to previous experiments and does not harmonise with the theory can overthrow the most keenly reasoned doctrine.

In the world of metaphysical thought the practical statement that the exception proves the rule may have validity, but in science never. Although the forms nature produces are of infinite variety, every one of them is subject to the same unalterable laws. Every movement in the cosmos occurs according to strict, inexorable rules, just as does the physical existence of every creature on earth. The laws of our physical existence are not subject to the whims of human will. They are an integral part of our being and our existence would be unthinkable without them. We are born, absorb nourishment, discard the waste material, move, procreate and approach dissolution without being able to change any part of the process. Necessities eventuate here which transcend our will. Man can make the forces of nature subservient to his ends, to a certain extent he can guide their operation into definite courses, but he cannot stop them. It is just as impossible to sidetrack the separate events which condition our physical existence. We can refine the external accompanying phenomena and frequently adjust them to our will, but the events themselves we cannot exclude from our lives. We are not compelled to consume our food in the shape which nature offers it to us or to lie down to rest in the first convenient place, but we cannot keep from eating or sleeping, lest our physical existence should come to a sudden end. In this world of inexorable necessities there is no room for human determination.

It was this very manifestation of an iron law in the eternal course of cosmic and physical events which gave many a keen brain the idea that the events of human social life were subject to the same iron necessity and could consequently be calculated and explained by scientific methods. Most historical theories have root in this erroneous concept, which could find a place in man's mind only because he put the laws of physical being on a par with the aims and ends of men, which can only be regarded as results of their thinking.

We do not deny that in history, also, there are inner connections which, even as in nature, can be traced to cause and effect. But in social events it is always a matter of a causality of human aims and ends, in nature always of a causality of physical necessity. The latter occur without any contribution on our part; the former are but manifestations of our will Religious ideas, ethical concepts, customs, habits, traditions, legal opinions; political organisations, institutions of property, forms of production, and so on, are not necessary implications of our physical being, but purely results of our desire for the achievement of preconceived ends. Every idea of purpose is a matter of belief which eludes scientific calculation. In the realm of physical events only the must counts. In the realm of belief there is only probability: It may be so, but it does not have to be so.

Every process which arises from our physical being and is related to it, is an event which lies outside of our volition. Every social process, however, arises from human intentions and human goal setting and occurs within the limits of our volition. Consequently, it is not subject to the concept of natural necessity.

There is no necessity for a Flathead Indian woman to press the head of her newborn child between two boards to give it the desired form. It is but a custom which finds its explanation in the beliefs of men. Whether men practice polygamy, monogamy or celibacy is a question of human purposiveness and has nothing in common with the laws of physical events and their necessities. Every legal opinion is a matter of belief, not conditioned by any physical necessity whatsoever. Whether a man is a Mohammedan, a Jew, a Christian or a worshipper of Satan has not the slightest connection with his physical existence. Man can live in any economic relationship, can adapt himself to any form of political life, without affecting in the slightest the laws to which his physical being is subject. A sudden cessation of gravitation would be unthinkable in its results. A sudden cessation of our bodily functions is tantamount to death. But the physical existence of man would not have suffered the slightest loss if he had never heard of the Code of Hammurabi, of the Pythagorean theorem or the materialistic interpretation of history.

We are here stating no prejudiced opinion, but merely an established fact. Every result of human purposiveness is of indisputable importance for man's social existence, but we should stop regarding social processes as deterministic manifestations of a necessary course of events. Such a view can only lead to the most erroneous conclusions and contribute to a fatal confusion in our understanding of historical events.

It is doubtless the task of the historian to trace the inner connection of historical events and to make clear their causes and effects, but he must not forget that these connections are of a sort quite different from those of natural physical events and must therefore have quite a different valuation. An astronomer is able to predict a solar eclipse or the appearance of a comet to a second. The existence of the planet Neptune was calculated in this manner before a human eye had seen it. But such precision is only possible when we are dealing with the course of physical events. For the calculation of human motives and end results there is no counterparts because these are not amenable to any calculations whatsoever. It is impossible to calculate or predict the destiny of tribes, races, nations, or other social units. It is even impossible to find complete explanations of their past. For history is, after all, nothing but the great arena of human aims and ends, and every theory of history, consequently, a matter of belief founded at best only on probability; it can never claim unshakeable certainty.

The assertion that the destiny of social structures is determinable according to the laws of a so called "social physics" is of no greater significance than the claim of those wise women who pretend to be able to read the destinies of man in tea cups or in the lines of the hands. True, a horoscope can be cast for peoples and nations but the prophecies of political and social astrology are of no higher value than the prognostications of those who claim to be able to read the destiny of a man in the configuration of the stars.

That a theory of history may contain ideas of importance for the explanation of historical events is undeniable. We are only opposed to the assertion that the course of history is subject to the same (or similar) laws as every physical or mechanical occurrence in nature. This false, entirely unwarranted assertion contains another danger. Once we have become used to throwing the causes of natural events and those of social changes into one tub, we are only too inclined to look for a fundamental first cause, which would in a measure embody the law of social gravitation, underlying all historical events. When once we have gone so far, it is easy to overlook all the other causes of social structures and the interactions resulting from them.

Every concept of man which concerns itself with the improvement of the social conditions under which he lives, is primarily a wish concept based only on probability. Where such are in question, science reaches its limits, for all probability is based only on assumptions which cannot be calculated, weighed or measured. While it is true that for the foundation of a world-view like, for instance, socialism, it is possible to call upon the results of scientific investigation, the concept itself does not become science, because the realisation of its aim is not dependent upon fixed, deterministic processes, as is every event in physical nature. There is no law in history which shows the course for every social activity of man. Whenever up to now the attempt has been made to prove the existence of such a law, the utter futility of the effort has at once become apparent.

Man is unconditionally subject only to the laws of his physical being. He cannot change his constitution. He cannot suspend the fundamental conditions of his physical being nor alter them according to his wish. He cannot prevent his appearance on earth any more than he can prevent the end of his earthly pilgrimage. He cannot change the orbit of the star on which his life cycle runs its course and must accept all the consequences of the earth's motion in space without being able to change it in the slightest. But the shaping of his social life is not subject to this necessary course because it is merely the result of his willing and doing. He can accept the social conditions under which he lives as foreordained by a divine will or regard them as the result of unalterable laws not subject to his volition. In the latter case, belief will weaken his will and induce him to adjust himself to given conditions. But he can also convince himself that all social forms possess only a conditioned existence and can be changed by human hand and human mind. In this case he will try to replace the social conditions under which he lives with others and by his action prepare the way for a reshaping of social life.

However fully man may recognise cosmic laws he will never be able to change them, because they are not his work. But every form of his social existence, every social institution which the past has bestowed on him as a legacy from remote ancestors, is the work of men and can be changed by human will and action or made to serve new ends. Only such an understanding is truly revolutionary and animated by the spirit of the coming ages. Whoever believes in the necessary sequence of all historical events sacrifices the future to the past. He explains the phenomena of social life, but he does not change them. In this respect all fatalism is alike, whether of a religious, political or economic nature. Whoever is caught in its snare is robbed thereby of life's most precious possession; the impulse to act according to his own needs. It is especially dangerous when fatalism appears in the gown of science, which nowadays so often replaces the cassock of the theologian; therefore we repeat: The causes which underlie the processes of social life have nothing in common with the laws of physical and mechanical natural events, for they are purely the results of human purpose, which is not explicable by scientific methods. To misinterpret this fact is a fatal self-deception from which only a confused notion of reality can result.

This applies to all theories of history based on the necessity of the course of social events. It applies especially to historical materialism, which traces every historical event to the prevailing conditions of production and tries to explain everything from that. No thinking man in this day can fail to recognise that one cannot properly evaluate an historical period without considering economic conditions. But much more one-sided is the view which maintains that all history is merely the result of economic conditions, under whose influence all other life phenomena have received form and imprint.

There are thousands of events in history which cannot be explained by purely economic reasons, or by them alone. It is quite possible to bring everything within the terms of a definite scheme, but the result is usually not worth the effort. There is scarcely an historical event to whose shaping economic causes have not contributed, but economic forces are not the only motive powers which have set everything else in motion. All social phenomena are the result of a series of various causes, in most cases so inwardly related that it is quite impossible clearly to separate one from the other. We are always dealing with the interplay of various causes which, as a rule, can be clearly recognised but cannot be calculated according to scientific methods.

There are historical events of the deepest significance for millions of men which cannot be explained by their purely economic aspects. Who would maintain, for instance, that the invasions of Alexander were caused by the conditions of production of his time? The very fact that the enormous empire Alexander cemented together with the blood of hundreds of thousands fell to ruin soon after his death proves that the military and political achievements of the Macedonian world conqueror were not historically determined by economic necessities. Just as little did they in any way advance the conditions of production of the time. When Alexander planned his wars, lust for power played a far more important part than economic necessity. The desire for world conquest had assumed actually pathological forms in the ambitious despot. His mad power obsession was a leading motive in his whole policy, the driving force of his warlike enterprises, which filled a large part of the then known world with murder and rapine. It was this power obsession which made the Caesaro-Papism of the oriental despot appear so admirable to him and gave him his belief in his demigod-hood.

The will to power which always emanates from individuals or from small minorities in society is in fact a most important driving force in history. The extent of its influence has up to now been regarded far too little, although it has frequently been the determining factor in the shaping of the whole of economic and social life.

The history of the Crusades was doubtless affected by strong economic motives. Visions of the rich lands of the Orient may have been for many a Sir Lackland or Lord Have-Naught a far stronger urge than religious convictions. But economic motives alone would never have been sufficient to set millions of men in all countries in motion if they had not been permeated by the obsession of faith so that they rushed on recklessly when the cry, "God wills it!" was sounded, although they had not the slightest notion of the enormous difficulties which attended this strange adventure. The powerful influence of religious conviction on the people of that time is proved by the so-called Children's Crusade of the year 1212. It was instituted when the failure of the former crusading armies became more and more apparent, and pious zealots proclaimed the tidings that the sacred sepulchre could only be liberated by those of tender age, through whom God would reveal a miracle to the world. It was surely no economic motive which persuaded thousands of parents to send those who were dearest to them to certain death.

But even the Papacy, which had at first only hesitatingly resolved on calling the Christian world to the first Crusade, was moved to it far more by power-political than by economic motives. In their struggle for the hegemony of the church it was very convenient for its leaders to have many a worldly ruler, who might have become obstreperous at home, kept busy a long time in the Orient where he could not disturb the church in the pursuit of its plans. True, there were others, as, for instance, the Venetians, who soon recognised what great economic advantages would accrue to them from the Crusades; they even made use of them to extend their rule over the Dalmatian Coast, the Ionic Isles and Crete. But to deduce from this that the Crusades were inevitably determined by the methods of production of the period would be sheer nonsense.

When the Church determined upon its war of extermination against the Albigenses, which cost the lives of many thousands, made waste the freest, intellectually most advanced land in Europe, destroyed its highly developed culture and industry, maimed its trade and left a decimated and bitterly impoverished population behind, it was led into its fight against heresy by no economic considerations whatsoever. What it fought for was the unification of faith, which was the foundation of its efforts at political power. Likewise, the French kingdom, which later on supported the church in this war, was animated principally by political considerations. It became in this bloody struggle the heir of the Count of Languedoc, whereby the whole southern part of the country came into its hands, naturally greatly strengthening its efforts for centralisation of power It was, therefore, principally because of the political motives of church and state that the economic development of one of the richest lands in Europe was violently interrupted, and the ancient home of a splendid culture was converted into a waste of ruins.

The great conquest by the Arabs, and especially their incursion into Spain which started the Seven Hundred Years' War, cannot be explained by any study, however thorough, of the conditions of production of that time. It would be useless to try to prove that the development of economic conditions was the guiding force of that mighty epoch. The contrary is here most plainly apparent. After the conquest of Granada, the last stronghold of the Moors, there arose in Spain a new politico-religious power under whose baneful influence the whole economic development of the country was set back hundreds of years. So effective was this incubus that the consequences are noticeable to this day over the whole Iberian Peninsula. Even the enormous streams of gold, which after the discovery of America poured into Spain from Mexico and the former Inca Empire, could not stay its economic decline; in fact, only hastened it.

The marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon with Isabella of Castile laid the foundation of a Christian monarchy in Spain whose right hand was the Grand Inquisitor. The ceaseless war against the Moorish power waged under the banner of the church had fundamentally changed the mental and spiritual attitude of the Christian population and had created the cruel religious fanaticism which kept Spain shrouded in darkness for hundreds of years. Only under such pre-conditions could that frightful clerico-political despotism evolve, which after drowning the last liberties of the Spanish cities in blood, lay on the land like a horrible incubus for three hundred years. Under the tyrannical influence of this unique power organization the last remnant of Moorish culture was buried, after the Jews and Arabs had first been expelled from the country. Whole provinces which had formerly resembled flowering gardens were changed to unproductive wastes because the irrigating systems and the roads of the Moors had been permitted to fall into ruin. Industries, which had been among the first in Europe, vanished almost completely from the land and the people reverted to long antiquated methods of production.

According to the data of Fernando Garrido there were at the beginning of the sixteenth century in Seville sixteen hundred silk weavers' looms which employed one hundred and thirty thousand workers. By the end of the seventeenth century there were only three hundred looms in action.

It is not known how many looms there were in Toledo in the sixteenth century but there were woven there four hundred and thirty-five thousand pounds of silk annually, employing 38,484 persons. By the end of the seventeenth century this industry had totally vanished. In Segovia there were at the end of the sixteenth century 6,000 looms for weaving cloth, at that time regarded as the best in Europe. By the beginning of the eighteenth century this industry had so declined that foreign workers were imported to teach the Segovians the weaving and dyeing of cloth. The causes of this decline were the expulsion of the Moors, the discovery and settling of America, and the religious fanaticism which emptied the work rooms and increased the number of the priests and monks. When only three hundred looms remained in Seville the number of monasteries there had increased to sixty-two and the clergy embraced 14,000- persons. 1

And Zancada writes concerning that period: "In the year I655 seventeen guilds disappeared from Spain; together with them the workers in iron, steel, copper, lead, sulphur, the alum industry and others." 2

Even the conquest of America by the Spaniards, which depopulated the Iberian Peninsula and lured millions of men away into the new world, cannot be explained exclusively by "the thirst for gold," however lively the greed of the individual may have been. When we read the history of the celebrated conquista, we recognise, with Prescott, that it resembles less a true accounting of actual events than one of the countless romances of knight errantry which, in Spain especially, were so loved and valued.

It was not solely economic reasons which repeatedly enticed companies of daring adventurers into the fabled El Dorado beyond the great waste of waters. Great empires like those of Mexico and the Inca state which contained millions, besides possessing a fairly high degree of culture, were conquered by a handful of desperate adventurers who did not hesitate to use any means, and were not repelled by any danger, because they did not value their own lives any too highly. This fact becomes explicable only when we take a closer view of this unique human material, hardened by danger, which through a seven hundred years' war had been gradually evolved. Only an epoch in which the idea of peace among men must have seemed like a fairy tale out of a long-vanished past and in which the centuries-long wars, waged with every cruelty, appeared as the normal condition of life, could have evolved the wild religious fanaticism characteristic of the Spaniards of that time. Thus becomes explicable that peculiar urge constantly to seek adventure. For a mistaken concept of honour, frequently lacking all real background, a man was instantly ready to risk his life. It is no accident that it was in Spain that the character of Don Quixote was evolved. Perhaps that theory goes too far which seeks to replace all sociology by the discoveries of psychology, but it is undeniable that the psychological condition of men has a strong influence in the shaping of man's social environment.

Hundreds of other examples might be cited from which it is clearly apparent that economics is not the centre of gravity of social development in general, even though it has indisputably played an important part in the formative processes in history, a fact which should not be overlooked any more than it should be excessively overestimated. There are epochs when the significance of economic circumstances in the course of social events becomes surprisingly clear, but there are others where religious or political motives obviously interfere arbitrarily with the normal course of economics and for a long time inhibit its natural development or force it into other channels. Historical events like the Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, the great revolutions in Europe, and many others, are not comprehensible at all as purely economic. We may however readily admit that in all these events economic factors played a part and helped to bring them about.

This misapprehension becomes still more serious when we try to identify the various social strata of a definite epoch as merely the typical representations of quite definite economic interests. Such a view not only narrows the general field of view of the scholar, but it makes of history as a whole a distorted picture which can but lead us on to wrong conclusions. Man is not purely the agent of specific economic interests. The bourgeoisie, for instance, has in all countries where it achieved social importance, frequently supported movements which were by no means determined by its economic interests, but often stood in open opposition to them. Its fight against the church, its endeavours for the establishment of lasting peace among the nations, its liberal and democratic views regarding the nature of government, which brought its representatives into sharpest conflict with the traditions of kingship by the grace of God, and many other causes for which it has at some time shown enthusiasm are proofs of this.

It will not do to argue that the bourgeoisie under the steadily growing influence of its economic interests quickly forgot the ideals of its youth or basely betrayed them. When we compare the storm and stress period of the socialistic movement in Europe with the practical politics of the modern labor parties, we are soon convinced that the pretended representatives of the proletariat are in no position to attack the bourgeoisie for its inner changes. None of these parties has, during the worst crisis which the capitalist world has ever passed through, made even the slightest attempt to influence economic conditions in the spirit of socialism. Yet never before were economic conditions riper for a complete transformation of capitalistic society. The whole capitalistic economic system has gotten out of control. The crisis, which formerly was only a periodic phenomenon of the capitalistic world, has for years become the normal condition of social life. Crisis in industry, crisis in agriculture, crisis in commerce, crisis in finance! All have united to prove the inadequacy of the capitalistic system. Nearly thirty million men are condemned for life to miserable beggary in the midst of a world which is being ruined by its surplus. But the spirit is lacking‹the socialistic spirit that strives for a fundamental reconstruction of social life and is not content with petty patchwork, which merely prolongs the crisis but can never heal its causes. Never before has it been so clearly proved that economic conditions alone cannot change the social structure, unless there are present in men the spiritual and intellectual prerequisites to give wings to their desires and unite their scattered forces for communal work.

But the socialist parties, and the trade union organisations, which are permeated with their ideas, have not only failed when it became a question of the economic reconstruction of society; they have even shown themselves incapable of guarding the political legacy of the bourgeois democracy; for they have everywhere yielded up long-won rights and liberties without a struggle and have in this manner aided the advance of fascism in Europe, even though against their will.

In Italy, one of the most prominent representatives of the Socialist Party became the perpetrator of the fascist coup d'etat) and a whole group of the best-known labor leaders, with D'Aragona at their head, marched with flying banners into Mussolini's camp.

In Spain, the Socialist Party was the only one which made peace with the dictator, Primo de Rivera. Likewise today, in the glorious era of the Republic, whose hands are red with the blood of murdered workers, that party proves itself the best guard of the capitalistic system and willingly offers its services for the limitation of political rights.

In England, we witness the peculiar spectacle of the best-known and ablest leaders of the Labor Party suddenly turning into the nationalistic camp, by which action they inflicted on the party, whose advocates they had been for decades, a crushing defeat. On this occasion Philip Snowden charged against his former comrades that "they had the interest of their class more in view than the good of the state," a reproach which unfortunately is not justified but which is very characteristic of "His Lordship," as he is now called.

In Germany, the social democracy as well as the trade unions have supported with all their powers the notorious attempts of the great capitalist industrialists at the "rationalisation" of industry, which has reacted so catastrophically upon labor and has given a morally stagnated bourgeoisie the opportunity to recuperate from the shocks which the lost war had given them. Even a pretentiously revolutionary labor party like the Communist Party in Germany appropriated the nationalistic slogans of reaction, by which contemptuous denial of all socialistic principles they hoped to take the wind out of the sails of threatening fascism.

To these examples many more might be added to show that the representatives of the great majority of organised socialistic labor hardly have the right to reproach the bourgeoisie with political unreliability or treason to its former ideals. The representatives of liberalism and bourgeois democracy showed at recent elections at least a desire to preserve appearances, while the pretended defenders of proletarian interests abandoned their former ideals with shameless complacency in order to do the work of their opponents.

A long line of leading political economists, uninfluenced by any socialistic considerations, have expressed their conviction that the capitalistic system has had its day and that in place of an uncontrolled profit economy a production-for-use economy based on new principles must be instituted if Europe is not to be ruined. Nevertheless, it becomes even more apparent that socialism as a movement has in no wise grown to meet the situation. Most of its representatives have never advanced beyond shallow reform, and they waste their forces in factional fights as purposeless as they are dangerous, which in their idiotic intolerance remind us of the behaviour of mentally petrified church organisations. Small wonder that hundreds of thousands of socialists fell into despair and let themselves be caught by the rat-catchers of the Third Reich.

It could be objected here that the necessities of life itself, even without the assistance of the socialists, were working toward the alteration of existing economic conditions, because a crisis with no way out becomes at last unendurable. We do not deny this, but we fear that with the present cessation in the socialistic labor movement there may occur an economic reconstruction about which the producers will have absolutely nothing to say. They will be confronted with the accomplished facts which others have created for them, so that in the future, too, they will have to be content with the part of coolies which had been planned for them all the while. Unless all signs deceive us, we are marching with giant strides toward an epoch of state capitalism, which is likely to assume for the workers the shape of a modern system of bondage in which man may be regarded as merely an instrument of production, and all personal freedom will be absolutely extinguished.

Economic conditions can, under certain circumstances, become so acute that a change in the existing social system is a vital necessity. It is only a question in which direction we shall then move. Will it be a road to freedom, or will it result merely in an improved form of slavery which, while it secures for man a meagre living, will rob him of all independence of action? This, and this only, is the question. The social constitution of the Inca Empire secured for every one of its subjects the necessary means of subsistence, but the land was subject to an unlimited despotism, which cruelly punished any opposition to its command and degraded the individual to a will-less tool of the state power.

State capitalism might be a way out of the present crisis, but most assuredly it would not be a road to social freedom. On the contrary, it would submerge men in a slough of servitude which would mock at all human dignity. In every prison, in every barrack there is a certain equality of social condition. Everyone has the same food, the same clothes, renders the same service, or performs the same task; but who would affirm that such a condition presents an end worth working for?

It makes a difference whether the members of a social organization are masters of their fate, control their own affairs and have the inalienable right to participate in the administration of their communal interests, or are but the instruments of an external will over which they possess no influence whatsoever. Every soldier has the right to share the common rations but he is not permitted to have a judgment of his own. He must blindly obey the orders of his superior, silencing, if need be, the voice of his own conscience, for he is but a part of a machine which others set in motion.

No tyranny is more unendurable than that of an all-powerful bureaucracy which interferes with all the activities of men and leaves its stamp on them. The more unlimited the power of the state over the life of the individual, the more it cripples his creative capacities and weakens the force of his personal will. State capitalism, the most dangerous antithesis of real socialism, demands the surrender of all social activities to the state. It is the triumph of the machine over the spirit, the rationalisation of all thought, action and feeling according to the fixed norms of authority, and consequently the end of all real intellectual culture. That the full scope of this threatening development has not been grasped up to now, that the idea that it is necessitated by current economic conditions has even been accepted, may well be regarded as one of the most fateful signs of the times.

The dangerous mania which sees in every social phenomenon only the inevitable result of capitalistic methods of production has implanted in men the conviction that all social events arise from definite necessity and are economically unalterable. This fatalistic notion could only result in crippling men's power of resistance, and consequently making them receptive to a compromise with given conditions, no matter how horrible and inhuman they may be.

Every one knows that economic conditions have an influence on the changes in social relations. How men will react in their thoughts and actions to this influence is of great importance, however, in determining what steps they may decide to take to initiate an obviously necessary change m the conditions of life. But it is just the thoughts and actions of men which refuse to accept the imprint of economic motives alone. Who would, for instance, maintain that the Puritanism which has decidedly influenced the spiritual development of Anglo-Saxon people up to the present day tas the necessary result of the economic capitalistic order then in its infancy, or who would try to prove that the World War was absolutely conditioned by the capitalistic system and was consequently unavoidable?

Economic interests undoubtedly played an important part in this war as they have in all others, but they alone would not have been able to cause this fatal catastrophe. Merely the sober statement of concrete economic purposes would never have set the great masses in motion. It was therefore necessary to prove to them that the quarrel for which they were to kill others, for which they were to be killed themselves, was "the good and righteous cause." Consequently, one side fought "against the Russian despotism," for the "liberation of Poland"‹and, of course, for the "interests of the fatherland," which the Allies had "conspired" to destroy. And the other side fought "for the triumph of Democracy" and the "overthrow of Prussian militarism" and "that this war should be the last war."

It might be urged that behind all the camouflage by which the people were fooled for over four years there stood, after all, the economic interests of the possessing classes. But that is not the point. The decisive factor is that without the continuous appeal to men's ethical feelings, to their sense of justice, no war would have been possible. The slogan, "God punish England!" and the cry, "Death to the Huns!" achieved in the last war far greater miracles than did the bare economic interests of the possessing classes. This is proved by the fact that before men can be driven to war they must be lashed into a certain pitch of passion and by the further fact that this passion can only be aroused by spiritual and moral motives.

Did not the very people who year after year had proclaimed to the working masses that every war in the era of capitalism springs from purely economic motives, at the outbreak of the World War abandon their historic-philosophical theory and raise the affairs of the nation above those of the class? And these were the ones who, with Marxist courage of conviction, supported the statement in The Communist Manifesto: "The history of all society up to now has been the history of class struggles."

Lenin and others have attributed the failure of most of the socialist parties at the beginning of the war to the leaders' fear of assuming responsibility, and with bitter words they have flung this lack of courage in their faces. Admitting that there is a great deal of truth in this assertion‹although we must beware in this case of generalising too freely‹ what is proved by it?

If it was indeed fear of responsibility and the lack of moral courage which induced the majority of the socialist leaders to support the national interests of their respective countries, then this is but a further proof of the correctness of our view. Courage and cowardice are not conditioned by the prevailing forms of production but have their roots in the psychic feelings of men. But if purely psychic motives could have such a compelling influence on the leaders of a movement numbering millions that they abandoned their fundamental principles even before the cock had crowed thrice, and marched with the worst foes of the socialistic labor movement against the so-called hereditary enemy, this only proves that men's actions cannot be explained by conditions of production, with which they often stand in sharpest contrast. Every epoch in history provides superabundant evidence of this.

It is, then, a patent error to explain the late war solely as the necessary result of opposing economic interests. Capitalism would still be conceivable if the so called "captains of world industry" should agree in an amicable manner concerning the possession of sources of raw materials and the spheres of market and exploitation, just as the owners of the various economic interests within a country come to terms without having to settle their differences on each occasion with the sword. There exist already quite a number of international organisations for production in which the capitalists of certain industries have gotten together to establish a definite quota for the production of their goods in each country. In this manner they have regulated the total production of their branches by mutual agreement on fundamental principles. The International Steel Trust in Europe is an example of it. By such a regulation capitalism loses nothing of its essential character; its privileges remain untouched. In fact, its mastery over the army of its wage slaves is considerably strengthened.

Considered purely economically, the War was therefore by no means inevitable. Capitalism could have survived without it. In fact, one can assume with certainty that if the directors of the capitalistic order could have anticipated the war's results it would never have happened.

It was not solely economic interests which played an important part in the late war, but motives of political power, which in the end did most to let loose the catastrophe. After the decline of Spain and Portugal, the dominant power in Europe had fallen to Holland, France and England, who opposed each other as rivals. Holland quickly lost its leading position, and after the Peace of Breda its influence on the course of European politics grew gradually less. But France also had lost after the Seven Years' War a large part of its former predominance and could never recover it, especially since its financial difficulties became constantly more acute and led to that unexampled oppression of the people from which the Revolution sprang. Napoleon later made enormous efforts to recover for France the position she had lost in Europe, but his gigantic efforts were without result. England remained the implacable enemy of Napoleon, who soon recognised that his plans for world power could never come to fruition as long as the "nation of shopkeepers," as he contemptuously called the English, was unconquered. Napoleon lost the game after England had organised all Europe against him. Since then England has maintained its leading position in Europe, indeed in the whole world.

But the British Empire is not a continuous territory as other empires were before it. Its possessions are scattered over all the five continents, and their security is dependent upon the position of power which Britain occupies in Europe. Every threat to this position is a threat to the continued possession of colonies by England. As long as on the continent the formation of the modern great states, with their gigantic armies and fleets, their bureaucracy, their capitalistic enterprises, their highly developed industries, their foreign trade agreements, their exports and their growing need of expansion could still be overlooked, Britain's position as a world power remained fairly untouched; but the stronger the capitalistic states of the continent became, the more had Britain to fear for its hegemony. Every attempt by a European power to secure new trade, or territory supplying raw materials, to further its export by trade agreements with foreign countries, and to give its plans for expansion the widest possible room, inevitably led sooner or later to a conflict somewhere with British spheres of interest and had always to look for hidden opposition by Britain.

For this reason it necessarily became the chief concern of the British foreign policy to prevent any power from obtaining predominant influence on the continent, or, when this was unavoidable, to use its whole skill to play one power against the other. Therefore, the defeat of Napoleon III by the Prussian army and Bismarck's diplomacy could only be very welcome to Britain, for France's power was thereby crippled for decades. But Germany's development of its military power, the initiation of its colonial policy and, most of all, the building of its fleet and its steadily growing plans for expansion (as its "urge to eastward" became increasingly noticeable and distasteful to the English) conjured up a danger for the British Empire that its representatives could not afford to disregard.

That British diplomacy unhesitatingly used any means to oppose the danger is no proof that its directors were by nature more treacherous or unscrupulous than are the diplomats of other countries. The idle talk about "perfidious Albion" is just as silly as the chatter about "a civilised warfare." If British diplomacy proved superior to that of the Germans, if it was cleverer in its secret intrigues, it was so only because its representatives had had much longer experience and because, fortunately for them, the majority of responsible German statesmen from Bismarck's time were but will-less lackeys of imperial power. None of them had the courage to oppose the dangerous activities of an irresponsible psychopath and his venal camarilla.

However, the foundation of this evil is to be sought not in individual persons but in power politics itself, irrespective of who practices it or what immediate aims it pursues. Power politics is only conceivable as making use of all means, however condemnable these may appear to private conscience, so long as they promise results, conform to reasons of state and further the state's ends.

Machiavelli, who had the courage to collect systematically the methods of procedure of power politics and to justify them in the name of reasons of state, has set this forth already in his "Discorsi" clearly and definitely: "If we are dealing with the welfare of the Fatherland at all, we must not permit ourselves to be influenced by right or wrong, compassion or cruelty, praise or blame. We must cavil at nothing, but we must always grasp at the means which will save the life of the country and preserve its freedom."

For the perfect power politics every crime done in the service of the state is a meritorious deed if it is successful. The state stands beyond good and evil; it is the earthly Providence whose decisions are in their profundity as inexplicable to the ordinary subject as is the fate ordained for the believer by the power of God. Just as, according to the doctrines of theologians and pundits, God in his unfathomable wisdom often uses the most cruel and frightful means to effect his plans, so also the state, according to the doctrines of political theology, is not bound by the rules of ordinary human morality when its rulers are determined to achieve definite ends by a cold-blooded gamble with the lives and fortunes of millions.

When a diplomat falls into a trap another has set for him, it ill becomes him to complain of the wiles and lack of conscientiousness of his opponent, for he himself pursues the same object, from the opposite side, and only suffers defeat because his opponent is better able to play the part of Providence. One who believes that he cannot exist without the organised force which is personified in the state must be ready also to accept all the consequences of this superstitious belief, to sacrifice to this Moloch the most precious thing he owns, his own personality.

It was principally power-political conflict, growing out of the fateful evolution of the great capitalistic states, which contributed importantly to the outbreak of the World War. Since the people, and especially the workers, of the various countries neither understood the seriousness of the situation nor could summon the moral courage to put up a determined resistance to the subterranean machinations of the diplomats, militarists and profiteers, there was no power on earth which could stay the catastrophe. For decades every great state appeared like a gigantic army camp which opposed the others, armed to the teeth, until a spark finally sprung the mine. Not because all happened as it had to happen did the world drive with open eyes toward the abyss, but because the great masses in every country had not the slightest idea what a despicable game was being played behind their backs. They had to thank their incredible carelessness and above all their blind belief in the infallible superiority of their rulers) and so-called spiritual leaders, that for over four years they could be led to slaughter like a will-less herd.

But even the small group of high finance and great industry, whose owners so unmistakably contributed to the releasing of the red flood, were not animated in their actions exclusively by the prospect of material gain. The view which sees in every capitalist only a profit machine may very well meet the demands of propaganda, but it is conceived much too narrowly and does not correspond to reality. Even in modern giant capitalism the power-political interests frequently play a larger part than the purely economic considerations, although it is difficult to separate them from each other. Its leaders have learned to know the delightful sensation of power, and adore it with the same passion as did formerly the great conquerors, whether they find themselves in the camp of the enemies of their government, like Hugo Stinnes and his followers in the time of the Germany money crisis, or interfere decisively in the foreign policy of their own country.

The morbid desire to make millions of men submissive to a definite will and to force whole empires into courses which are useful to the secret purposes of small minorities, is frequently more evident in the typical representatives of modern capitalism than are purely economic considerations or the prospect of greater material profit. The desire to heap up ever increasing profits today no longer satisfies the demands of the great capitalistic oligarchies. Every one of its members knows what enormous power the possession of great wealth places in the hands of the individual and the caste to which he belongs. This knowledge gives a tempting incentive and creates that typical consciousness of mastery whose consequences are frequently more destructive than the facts of monopoly itself. It is this mental attitude of the modern Grand Seigneur of industry and high finance which condemns all opposition and will tolerate no equality.

In the great struggles between capital and labor this brutal spirit of mastery often plays a more decided part than immediate economic interests. The small manufacturers of former times still had certain rather intimate relationships to the masses of the working population and were consequently able to have more or less understanding of their position. Modern moneyed aristocracy, however, has even less relationship with the great masses of the people than did the feudal barons of the eighteenth century with their serfs. It knows the masses solely as collective objects of exploitation for its economic and political interests. It has in general no understanding of the hard conditions of their lives. Hence the conscienceless brutality, the power urge, contemptuous of all human right, and the unfeeling indifference to the misery of others.

Because of his social position there are left no limits to the power lust of the modern capitalist. He can interfere with inconsiderate egoism in the lives of his fellowmen and play the part of Providence for others. Only when we take into consideration this passionate urge for political power over their own people as well as over foreign nations are we able really to understand the character of the typical representatives of modern capitalism. It is just this trait which makes them so dangerous to the social structure of the future.

Not without reason does modern monopolistic capitalism support the National Socialist and fascist reaction. This reaction is to help beat down any resistance of the working masses, in order to set up a realm of industrial serfdom in which productive man is to be regarded merely as an economic automaton without any influence whatsoever on the course and character of economic and social conditions. This Caesarean madness stops at no barrier. Without compunction it rides roughshod over those achievements of the past which have all too often had to be purchased with the heart's blood of the people. It is always ready to smother with brutal violence the last rights and the last liberties which might interfere with its plans for holding all social activities within the rigid forms set by its will. This is the great danger which threatens us today and which immediately confronts us. The success or failure of monopolistic capitalistic power plans will determine the structure of the social life of the near future.

  • 1Fernando Garrido, "La Espana contemporaneo." Tome 1. Barcelona, 1865. This work contains rich material, as do Garrido's other writings, especially his worl:, Historia de las Clases Trabajadores.
  • 2Praxedes Zancada, El obrero en Espana: Notas para su hisoria politcia y social. Barcelona 1902



12 years 9 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Steven. on September 5, 2011

Hi Toms, thanks very much for posting all this. However, it looks like these are chapters of one book, is that right?

If so, which book? And do we have it already on libcom?

If not, we need to create a parent library entry for the book itself, then edit these chapters to put them inside the parent, to look like this:

then, we only need tags in the parent book, not any of the child chapters. So let me know what the score is and we can help sort it out. Many thanks again!


12 years 9 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Toms on September 5, 2011


Yes, it's from Rocker's Nationalism and Culture, that isn't on Libcom.

Sorry, didn't know you had to create an actual parent library entry for the book. And so just created a makeshift book entry, that you can see here.

2. Religion and Politics

Submitted by Toms on September 6, 2011

The roots of the power idea
The origin of religious conceptions
Animism and fetishism
The sacrifice
The feeling of dependence
Effect of terrestrial power on the shape of religious consciousness
Religion and slavery
The religious foundations of all rulership
The pharaohs
The laws of Manu
The Persian divine kingdom
Alexander and Caesaropapism
Caesarism in Rome
The Inca
Genghis Khan
Power and the priesthood
Church and State
Mussolini and the Vatican
Fascism and Religion

In all epochs of that history which is known to us, two forces are apparent that are in constant warfare. Their antagonism, open or veiled, results from the intrinsic difference between the forces themselves and between the activities in which they find expression. This is clear to anyone who approaches the study of human social structures without ready-formulated hypotheses or fixed schemes of interpretation, especially to anyone who sees that human objectives and purposes are not subject to mechanical laws, as are cosmic events in general. We are speaking here of the political and economic elements in history, which could also be called the governmental and social elements. Strictly speaking, the concepts of the political and the economic are in this case conceived somewhat too narrowly; for in the last analysis, all politics has its roots in the religious concepts of men, while everything economic is of a cultural nature, and is consequently in the most intimate relationship with the valuecreating forces of social life; so that we are plainly compelled to speak of an inner opposition between religion and culture.

Political and economic, governmental and social, or, in a larger sense, religious and cultural manifestations, have many points of contact: they all spring from human nature, and consequently there are between them inner relations. We are here simply concerned to get a clearer view of the connection which exists between these manifestations. Every political form in history has its definite economic foundations which are especially marked in the later phases of social advancement. On the other hand, it is undeniable that the forms of politics are subject to the changes in the conditions of economic and general cultural life, and with them assume new aspects. But the inner character of all politics always remains the same, just as the inner character of each and every religion never changes, despite the alteration of its outward form.

Religion and culture have their roots in man's instinct of self-preservation, which endows them with life and form; but, once come to life, each follows its own course, since there are no organic ties between them, so that, like antagonistic stars, they pursue opposite directions. One who overlooks this antagonism or, for whatever reason, fails to give it the consideration it deserves, will never be able to see clearly the inner concatenation of social events.

As to where the realm of religion proper begins, opinions are divided to this day; but it is fairly agreed that the foundation of man's religious concepts is not to be found in speculative philosophy. We have come to recognise that Hegel's notion, that all religion merely demonstrates the elevation of the spirit to the Absolute, and therefore tries to find the union of the human with the divine, can only be regarded as an empty figure of speech which in no way explains the origin of religion. The "Philosopher of the Absolute," who endows every nation with a special historical mission, is equally arbitrary when he asserts that every people in history is the bearer of a typical form of religion: the Chinese of the religion of moderation, the Chaldeans of the religion of pain, the Greeks of the religion of beauty, and so on, until at last the line of religious systems ends in Christianity, "the revealed religion," whose communicants recognise in the person of Christ the union of the human with the divine.

Science has made men more critical. We realise now that all research into the origin and gradual shaping of religion must use the same methods which today serve sociology and psychology in trying to comprehend the phenomena of social and mental life in their beginnings.

The once widely held view of the English philologist, Max Muller, who thought he recognised in religion man's innate urge to explain the Infinite, and who maintained that the impress of the forces of nature released the first religious feelings in man, and that consequently one could not go wrong in regarding nature worship as the first form of religion, hardly finds adherents today. Most of the present leaders of ethnological religious research are of the opinion that animism, the belief in the ghosts and souls of the departed, is to be regarded as the first stage of religious consciousness in man.

The whole mode of life of nomadic primitive man, his relative ignorance, the mental influence of his dream pictures, his lack of understanding when confronted with death, the compulsory fasts he often had to endure all this made him a natural born clairvoyant, with whom the belief in ghosts lay, so to speak, in his blood. What he felt when confronted with the ghosts with which his imagination peopled the world, was primarily fear. This fear troubled him all the more as he was here confronted, not with an ordinary enemy, but with unseen forces which could not be met by simple means. From this arose quite spontaneously the desire to secure the good will of those powers, to escape their wiles and earn their favour by whatever means. It is the naked urge for self-preservation of primitive man which here finds expression.

From animism sprang fetishism, the idea that the ghost dwelt in some object or at a certain place, a belief which even today continues to live in the superstitious notions of civilised men, who are firmly convinced that ghosts walk and talk and that there are places which are haunted. The religious ritual of Lamaism and that of the Catholic Church are also in their essence fetishism. As to whether animism and the first crude concepts of fetishism can already be regarded as religion, opinions differ; but that here is to be sought the starting point of all religious concepts can hardly be doubted.

Religion proper begins with the alliance between "ghost" and man which finds expression in ritual. For primitive man, the "ghost" or the "soul" is no abstract idea, but a completely corporeal concept. It is, therefore, quite natural that he should try to impress the spirits by concrete proofs of his veneration and submission. Thus arose in his brain the idea of sacrifice and, as repeated experience proved to him that the life of the slain animal or enemy departed with the streaming blood, he early learned to recognise that blood is indeed "a most peculiar juice." This recognition also gave the idea of sacrifice a specific character. The bloodoffering was certainly the first form of the rite of sacrifice and was, moreover, necessitated by the primitive huntsman's life. The idea of the blood offering, which was doubtless among the oldest products of religious consciousness, persists in the great religious systems of the present. The symbolic transmutation of bread and wine in the Christian Eucharist into the "flesh and blood" of Christ is an example of this.

Sacrifice became the central point of all religious usages and festivities, which manifested themselves also in incantation, dance and song, and gradually congealed into specific rituals. It is very likely that the offering of sacrifice was at first a purely personal affair and that each could make the offering suited to his need, but this condition probably did not last long before it was replaced by a professional priesthood of the type of the medicine men, Shamans, Gangas, and so on. The development of fetishism into totemism, by which name, after an Indian word, we call the belief in a tribal deity, usually embodied in the form of an animal from which the tribe derived its origin, has especially favoured the evolution of a special magicianpriesthood. With that, religion took on a social character which it did not have before.

When we regard religion in the light of its own gradual evolution, we recognise that two phenomena constitute its essence: Religion is primarily the feeling of man's dependence on higher, unknown powers. To see ways and means to make these powers favourably inclined toward him end to protect himself from their harmful influences, man is impelled by the instinct of self-preservation. Thus arises ritual, which gives to religion its external character.

That the idea of sacrifice can be traced back to the custom, prevailing in the primitive human institutions and organisations of primeval times, of giving the tribal leaders and chiefs voluntary or compulsory presents, is an assumption which has some possibility. The assertion that primitive man without this institution would never have arrived at the idea of sacrifice seems to us too bold.

Religious concepts could only originate when the question of the why and how of things arose in the brain of man. But this presupposes considerable mental development. It is, therefore, to be assumed that a long period had to pass before this question could engage him. The concept which primeval man forms of the world around him, is primarily of a sensuous nature; just as a child recognises the objects of his environment primarily sensuously and uses them long before any question concerning their origin arises in him. Furthermore, with many savage people it remains today the custom to let the ghosts of the departed ones participate at meals, just as nearly all of the festivities of primitive tribes are connected with sacrificial rites. Therefore, it is quite possible that the idea of sacrifice could have arisen without any preceding related social custom.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that in every religious system which made its appearance in the course of millenniums there was mirrored the dependency of man upon a higher power which his own imagination had called into being and whose slave he had become. All gods had their time, but religion itself, in the core of its being, has always remained the same despite all changes in its outward form. Always it is the illusion to which the real essence of man is offered as a sacrifice; the creator becomes the slave of his own creature without ever becoming conscious of the tragedy of this. Only because there has never been any change in the inmost essence of all and every religion could the well known German religious teacher, Koenig, begin his book for instruction in the Catholic religion with these words: "Religion in general is the recognition and veneration of God and specifically of the relationship of man to God as his supreme ruler."

Thus was religion even in its poor primitive beginning most intimately intergrown with the idea of might, of supernatural superiority, of power over the faithful, in one word, of rulership. Modern philology has, accordingly, in numerous instances been able to prove that even the names of the various divinities were in their origins expressions of the concepts in which the idea of power was embodied. Not without reason do all advocates of the principle of authority trace its origin back to God. For does not the Godhead appear to them the epitome of all power and strength? In the very earliest myths the heroes, conquerors, lawgivers, tribal ancestors appear as gods or demigods; for their greatness and superiority could only have divine origin. Thus we arrive at the foundations of every system of rulership and recognise that all politics is in the last instance religion, and as such tries to hold the spirit of man in the chains of dependence.

Whether religious feeling is already in its earliest beginnings only an abstract reflection of terrestrial institutions of power, as Nordau and others maintained, is a question which is open to discussion. Those who regard the original condition of mankind as one of "war of all against all," as Hobbes and his numerous followers have done, will be readily inclined to see in the malevolent and violent character of the original deities a faithful counterpart of the despotic chieftains and warlike leaders who kept both their own tribesmen and strangers in fear and terror. It is not so long since we saw the present "savages" in a quite similar light, as cunning and cruel fellows ever set on murder and rapine, until the manifold results of modern ethnology in all parts of the world gave us proof of how fundamentally false this concept is.

That primitive man did as a rule picture his spirits and gods as violent and terrible need not necessarily be traced to earthly models. Everything unknown (incomprehensible to the simple mind) affects the spirit as uncanny and fearsome. It is only a step from the uncanny to the gruesome, to the horrible, the frightful. This must have been all the more true in those longvanished ages when man's imaginative power was uninfluenced by the millenniums of accumulated experience which could fit him for logical counterargument. But even if we are not compelled to trace every religious concept to some exercise of earthly power, it is a fact that in later epochs of human evolution the outer forms of religion were frequently determined by the power needs of individuals or small minorities in society.

Every instance of rulership of particular human groups over others was preceded by the wish to appropriate the product of labour, the tools, or the weapons of those others or to drive them from some territory which seemed more favourable for the winning of a livelihood. It is very probable that for a long time the victors contented themselves with this simple form of robbery and, when they met resistance, simply massacred their opponents. But gradually it was discovered that it was more profitable to exact tribute from the vanquished or to subject them to a new order of things by ruling over them; thereby laying the foundation for slavery. This was all the easier as mutual solidarity extended only to members of the same tribe and found its limits there. All systems of rulership were originally foreign rulerships, where the victors formed a special privileged class and subjected the vanquished to their will. As a rule it was nomadic hunter tribes which imposed their rule upon settled and agricultural people. The calling of the hunter, which constantly makes great demands on man's activity and endurance, makes him by nature more warlike and predatory. But the farmer who is tied to his acre, and whose life as a rule runs more peacefully and less dangerously, is in most cases no friend of violent dispute. He is, therefore, seldom equal to the onset of warlike tribes and submits comparatively easily if the foreign rule is not too oppressive.

Once the victor has tasted the sweets of power and learned to value the economic advantages which it gives, he is easily intoxicated by his practice of power. Every success spurs him on to new adventures, for it is in the nature of all power that its possessors constantly strive to widen the sphere of their influence and to impose their yoke on weaker peoples. Thus gradually a separate class evolved whose occupation was war and rulership over others. But no power can in the long run rely on brute force alone. Brutal force may be the immediate means for the subjugation of men, but alone it is incapable of maintaining the rule of the individual or of a special caste over whole groups of humanity. For that more is needed; the belief of man in the inevitability of such power, the belief in its divinely willed mission. Such a belief is rooted deeply in man's religious feelings and gains power with tradition, for above the traditional hovers the radiance of religious concepts and mystical obligation.

This is the reason why the victors frequently imposed their gods upon the vanquished, for they recognised very clearly that a unification of religious rites would further their own power. It usually mattered little to them if the gods of the vanquished continued to be on show so long as this was not dangerous to their leadership, and so long as the old gods were assigned a role subordinate to that of the new ones. But this could only happen when their priests favoured the rulership of the victors or themselves participated in the drive for political power, as often happened. Thus it is easy to prove the political influence on the later religious forms of the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Persians, Hindus, and many others. And just as easily can the famous monotheism of the Jews be traced to the struggle for the political unification of the arising monarchy.

All systems of rulership and dynasties of antiquity derived their origin from some godhead, and their possessors soon learned to recognise that the belief of their subjects in the divine origin of the ruler was the one unshakeable foundation of every kind of power. Fear of God was always the mental preliminary of voluntary subjection. This alone is necessary; it forms the eternal foundation of every tyranny under whatever mask it may appear. Voluntary subjection cannot be forced; only belief in the divinity of the ruler can create it. It has, therefore, been up to now the foremost aim of all politics to awaken this belief in the people and to make it a mental fixture. Religion is the prevailing principle in history; it binds the spirit of man and forces his thought into definite forms so that habitually he favours the continuation of the traditional and confronts every innovation with misgivings. It is the inner fear of falling into a bottomless abyss which chains man to the old forms of things as they are. That determined champion of the principle of absolute power, Louis de Bonald, understood the connection between religion and politics very well when he wrote the words: "God is the sovereign power over all things; the godman is the power over all mankind; the head of the state is the power over the subjects; the head of the family is the power in his own house. But as all power is made in the image of God and originates with God, therefore all power is absolute."

All power has its roots in God, all rulership is in its inmost essence divine. Moses received directly from the hand of God the tables of the law, which begin with the words: "I am the Lord, thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me," and which sealed the covenant of the Lord with his people. The famous stone on which the laws of Hammurabi are recorded, which have carried the name of the Babylonian king through the millenniums, shows us Hammurabi before the face of the sun god Chamasch. The introduction which precedes the statement of the law begins thus:

When Anu, the exalted, the king of the Anunnaki, and Bel, the lord of heaven and earth, who carries the destiny of the world in his hand, partitioned the masses of mankind to Marduk, the firstborn of Ea, the divine lord of the law, they made him great among the Igigi. In Babylon they proclaimed his exalted name, which is praised in all lands which they have destined to him for his kingdom, and which is eternal as are heaven and earth. Afterwards Anu and Bel made glad the body of mankind when they called upon me, the glorious ruler and godfearing Hammurabi, that I may establish justice upon earth, destroy the wicked and the ruthless, ward off the strong and succour the weak, reign like the sun god over the destiny of blackhaired men and illumine the land.

In Egypt, where the religious cult under the influence of a powerful priestly caste had shown its power in all social institutions, the deification of the ruler had assumed quite uncanny forms. The Pharaoh, or priest-king, was not alone the representative of God on earth, he was himself a god and received godlike honours. Already in the age of the first six dynasties the kings were regarded as sons of the sun god, Ra. Chufu (Cheops), in whose reign the great pyramids were built, called himself "the incarnate Horus." In a vaulted cave at Ibrim, King Amenhotep III was pictured as a god in a circle of other gods. This same ruler also built a temple at Soleb where religious veneration was offered to his own person. When his successor, Amenhotep IV, later on prohibited in Egypt the veneration of any other god, and raised the cult of the radiant sun god, Aton, who became alive in the person of the king, to the dignity of a state religion, it was doubtless political motives which moved him to it. The unity of faith was to be made to render postchaise service to the unity of earthly power in the hands of the Pharaohs.

In the old Hindu lawbook of Manu it is written:

God has made the Icing that he may protect creation. For this purpose he took parts from Indra, from the winds, from Jama, from the sun, from fire, from the heavens, from the moon and from the lord of creation. Therefore, since the king has been created from parts of these lords of the gods, his glory outshines the splendor of all created beings, and like the sun he blinds the eye and the heart, and no one can look into his face. He is fire and air, sun and moon. He is the god of right, the genius of riches, the ruler of the floods and the commander of the firmament.

In no other country outside of Egypt and Tibet has an organised priestcraft attained to such power as in India. This has left its impress on the whole social evolution of the enormous land, and by the cunning caste division of the whole population, pressed all events into iron forms, which have proved the more enduring because they are anchored in the traditions of faith. Quite early the Brahmans entered into a compact with the warrior caste to share with it the rulership of the people of India, wherein the priestcaste was always careful to see that the real power remained in their hands, that the king remained a tool of their desires. Priests and warriors were both of divine origin, the Brahmans sprang from the head of Brahma, the warriors from Brahma's breast. Both had the same objective and the law commanded: "The two castes must act in unison, for neither can do without the other." In this manner arose the system of CaesaroPapism, in which the union of religious and political lust for power found its fullest expression.

In ancient Persia, also, the ruler was the living incarnation of divinity. When he entered a town he was received by the Magi in white garments and with the chanting of religious songs. The road along which he was carried was strewn with myrtle branches and roses and on the side stood silver altars on which incense was burned. His power was unlimited, his will the highest law, his command irrevocable, as stated in the Zendavesta) the sacred book of the old Persians. Only on rare occasions did he show himself to the people, and when he appeared all had to grovel in the dust and hide their faces.

In Persia, also, there were castes and an organised priestly class, which, while it did not have the omnipotent power of that of India, was, nevertheless, the first caste in the land, whose representatives, as the closest council of the king, always had the opportunity to make their influence felt and definitely to affect the destiny of the realm. Concerning the parts played by the priests in the social order, we are informed by a passage in the Zendavesta which reads:

Though your good works were more numerous than the leaves of the trees, the drops of rain, the stars in heaven, or the sands of the sea, they would not profit you, if they were not pleasing to the Destur (priest). To gain the favour of this guide on the way of salvation you must faithfully give to him the tithe of all you possess, of your goods, of your land, and of your money. If you have satisfied the Destur, your soul will have escaped the tortures of hell, and you will find peace in this world and happiness in the one beyond; for the Desturs are teachers of religion, they know all things, and they grant absolution to all mankind.

Fuhi, whom the Chinese designate as the first ruler of the Celestial Kingdom, and who, according to their chronicles, is said to have lived about twentyeight centuries before our era, is venerated in Chinese mythology as a supernatural being and usually appears in their pictures as a man with a fish tail, looking like a Triton. Tradition acclaims him as the real awakener of the Chinese people, who, before his coming, lived in the wilderness in separate groups like packs of animals, and were only through him shown the way to a social order which had its foundation in the family and the veneration of ancestors. All dynasties which since that time have succeeded one another in the Middle Kingdom have traced their origin from the gods. The Emperor called himself the "Son of Heaven"; and since China never had an organised priestly class, the practice of the cult, in so far as it concerned the state religion, rested in the hands of the highest imperial official, who, however, influenced only the upper strata of the Chinese social order.

In Japan, the Mikado, the "High Gate," is regarded as a descendant of Amaterasu, the sun goddess, who in that country is worshiped as the highest divinity. She makes known her will through the person of the ruler, and in his name she governs the people. The Mikado is the living incarnation of the godhead, wherefore his palace is called "Miya," that is, shrine of the soul. Even in the time of the Shogunate, when the leaders of the military caste for hundreds of years exercised the real rulership of the land, and the Mikado played only the part of a decorative figure, the sanctity of his person remained inviolate in the eyes of the people.

Likewise, the foundation of the mighty Inca Empire, whose obscure history has presented so many problems to modern research, is ascribed by tradition to the work of the gods. The saga recounts how Manco Capac with his wife, Ocllo Huaco, appeared one day to the natives of the high plateau of Cuzco, presented himself to them as Intipchuri, the son of the sun, and induced them to acknowledge him as their king. He taught them agriculture and brought them much useful knowledge, which enabled them to become the creators of a great culture.

In Tibet there arose under the mighty influence of a powerlustful priestcaste, that strange churchstate whose inner organization has such a curious kinship with Roman Papism. Like it, it has oral confession, the rosary, smoking censers, the veneration of relics, and the tonsure of the priest. At the head of the state stands the Dalai-Lama and the Bogdo-Lama, or Pentschenrhinpotsche. The former is regarded as the incarnation of Gautama, the sacred founder of the Buddhist religion; the latter as the living personification of Tsongkapa, the great reformer of Lamaism to him, even as to the Dalai Lama, divine honours are offered, extending even to his most intimate physical products.

Genghis Khan, the mighty Mongol ruler, whose great wars and conquests once held half the world in terror, quite openly used religion as the chief instrument of his power policy; although he himself apparently belonged in the class of "enlightened despots." His own tribe regarded him as a descendant of the sun, but as in his enormous realm, which extended from the banks of the Dnieper to the Chinese Sea, there lived men of the most varied religious convictions, his clever instinct recognised that his rule over the subjected nations even as over the core people of his realm, could only be confirmed through priestly power. His Sunpapacy no longer sufficed. Nestorian Christians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, Confucianists and Jews inhabited his lands by the million. He had to be the high priest of every religious cult. With his North-Asiastic Shamanists he cultivated magic and inquired of the oracle which manifested itself in the cracks of the shoulder blades of sheep when thrown into fire. Sundays he went to Mass, celebrated communion with wine, held discussions with Christian priests. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue and showed himselfas Chahan, as Cohen. On Fridays he held a sort of Selamik and was just as good a Caliph as, later on, the Turk in Constantinople. But preferably he was a Buddhist; held religious discourses with Lamas, and even summoned the Grand Lama of Ssatya to him; for since he intended to change the centre of his realm to Buddhistic territory in Northern Asia, he conceived the grandiose plan of setting up Buddhism as the state religion. 1

And did not Alexander of Macedonia, whom history calls "The Great," act with the same calculation, apparently animated by the same motives, as, long after, Genghis Khan? After he had conquered a world and cemented it together with streams of blood, he must have felt that such a work could not be made permanent by brute force alone. He therefore tried to anchor his rule in the religious beliefs of the conquered people. So he, "the Hellene," sacrificed to the Egyptian gods in the temple at Memphis and led his army through the burning deserts of Libya to consult the oracle of ZeusAmmon in the oasis of Siva. The compliant priests greeted him as the son of the "Great God" and offered him divine honours. Thus Alexander became a god and appeared before the Persians in his second campaign against Darius as a descendant of the mighty Zeus-Ammon. Only thus can we explain the complete subjugation of the enormous empire by the Macedonians, a thing which even the Persian kings had not been able to accomplish to the same degree.

Alexander had used this means only to further his political plans, but gradually he became so intoxicated with the thought of his godlikeness that he demanded divine honours not only from the subjected nations but even from his own countrymen, to whom such a cult must have remained strange, since they knew him only as Philip's son. The slightest opposition could goad him to madness and frequently led him into abominable crimes. His insatiable desire for ever greater extension of power, strengthened by his military successes, set aside all limits to his selfesteem and blinded him to all reality. He introduced at his court the ceremony of the Persian kings which symbolised the complete subjection of all mankind to the potent will of the despot. Indeed, in him, the "Hellene," the megalomania of barbaric tyranny achieved its most genuine expression.

Alexander was the first to transplant Caesarism and the idea of the divinity of the king to Europe, for up to now it had only prospered on Asiatic soil, where the state had developed with the least hindrance and where the relationship between religion and politics had come to earliest maturity. We must not conclude from this, however, that we are here concerned with a special proclivity of a race. The prevalence which Caesarism has since attained in Europe is patent proof that we are here dealing with a special type of the instinct of religious veneration, which, under similar circumstances, may appear among men of all races and nations. It is not to be denied, however, that its outward forms are bound up with the conditions of its social environment.

It was from the Orient, too, that the Romans took over Caesarism and developed it in a manner that can hardly be observed earlier in any other country. When Julius Caesar raised himself to the dictatorship of Rome, he tried to root his power in the religious concepts of the people. He traced the origin of his family from the gods and claimed Venus as an ancestress. His every effort was directed toward making himself the unlimited ruler of the realm and into an actual god, whom no interrelationship connected with ordinary mortals. His statue was set among those Of the seven kings of Rome, and his adherents quickly spread the rumour that the Oracle had designated him to be the sole ruler of the realm, in order to conquer the Parthians who thus far had defied the Roman power. His image was placed among those of the immortal gods of the Pompa Circensis. A statue of him was erected in the Temple of Quirinus, and on its pedestal the inscription read: "To the unconquerable god." A college was established in his honour at Luperci and special priests were appointed to serve his divinity.

Caesar's murder put a sudden end to his ambitious plans, but his successors completed his work, so that presently there shone about the emperor the aura of the godhead. They erected altars to him and rendered to him religious veneration. Caligula, who had the ambition to raise himself to the highest protective divinity of the Roman state, Capitoline Jupiter, maintained the divinity of the Caesars with these words: "Just as men, who herd sheep and oxen, are not themselves sheep and oxen, but of a nature superior to these, so are those who have been set as rulers above men, not men like the others, but gods."

The Romans, who did not find it objectionable that the leaders of their army had divine honours offered to them in the Orient and Greece, at first protested against the claim that the same should be demanded of Roman citizens, but they got used to it as quickly as did the Greeks in the time of their social decline, and subsided quietly into cowardly self-debasement. Not alone did numbers of poets and artists sound the praise of "the divine Caesar" continuously throughout the land; the people and the Senate, too, outdid themselves in cringing humility and despicable servility. Virgil in his Aeneid glorified Caesar Augustus in slavish fashion, and legions of others followed his example. The Roman astrologer, Firmicus Maternus, who lived in the reign of Constantine, declared in his work De erroribus profanarum religiosum: "Caesar alone is not dependent on the stars. He is the lord of the whole world, which he guides by the fiat of the highest gods. He, himself, belongs to the circle of the gods, whom the primal godhead has designated for the carrying on and completion of all that occurs."

The divine honours which were offered to the Byzantine emperors are even today embraced in the meaning of the word "Byzantine." In Byzantium the religious honours paid to the emperor culminated in the KowTow, an old Oriental custom which required the ordinary mortal to prostrate himself and to touch the earth with his forehead.

The Roman Empire fell in ruins. The megalomania of its rulers, which in the course of the centuries had led to the extinction of all human dignity in millions of their subjects, the horrible exploitation of all subject peoples, and the increasing corruption in the whole empire, had rotted men morally, killed their social consciousness and robbed them of all power of resistance. Thus in the long run they could not withstand the attack of the socalled "barbarians" who assailed the powerful realm from all sides. But the "Spirit of Rome," as Schlegel called it, lived on, just as the spirit of CaesaroPapism lived on after the decline of the great Eastern Empire and gradually infected the untamed young forces of the Germanic tribes whose military leaders had taken over the fateful legacy of the Caesars; and Rome lived on in the Church, which developed Caesarism in the shape of Papism to the highest perfection of power, and with persistent energy pursued the aim of converting the whole of mankind into one gigantic herd and forcing it under the sceptre of the high priest of Rome.

Animated also by the spirit of Rome were all those later efforts for political unification embodied in the German Kaiser concept: in the mighty empires of the Hapsburgs, Charles V and Philip II; in the Bourbons, the Stuarts, and the dynasties of the Czars. While the person of the ruler is no longer worshiped directly as a god, he is king "by the grace of God" and receives the silent veneration of his subjects, to whom he appears as a being of a superior order. The god concept changes in the course of time, just as the state concept has seen many changes. But the innermost character of all religion remains evermore untouched, just as the kernel of all politics has never undergone a change. It is the principle of power which the possessors of earthly and celestial authority made effective against men, and it is always the religious feeling of dependence which forces the masses to obedience. The head of the state is no longer worshiped as a god in public temples, but he says with Louis XIV, "I am the state!" But the state is the earthly providence which watches over man and directs his steps that he may not depart from the way of the law. The wielder of the force of the state is, therefore, only the high priest of a power which finds its expression in politics just as reverence for God finds it in religion.

Although the priest is the mediator between man and this higher power on which the subject feels himself dependent and which, therefore, becomes fate to him, Volney's contention that religion is the invention of the priest shoots wide of the mark; for there were religious concepts long before there was a priestly caste. It can also be safely assumed that the priest himself was originally convinced of the correctness of his understanding. But gradually there dawned on him the idea of what unlimited power the blind belief and gloomy fear of his fellowmen had put into his hands, and what benefit could accrue to him from this. Thus awoke in the priest the consciousness of power, and with this the lust for power, which grew constantly greater as the priesthood became more and more definitely a separate caste in society. Out of the lust for power there developed the "will to power," and with that there evolved in the priesthood a peculiar need. Impelled by this, they tried to direct the religious feelings of believers into definite courses and so to shape the impulses of their faith as to make them serve the priestly quest for power.

All power was at the outset priestly power and in its inmost essence has remained so till this day. Ancient history knows many instances where the role of the priest fused with that of the ruler and lawgiver in one person. Even the derivation of countless lordly titles from names in which the priestly function of their former bearers is clearly revealed, points with certainty to the common origin of religious and temporal power. Alexander Ular hit the nail on the head when he said in his brilliant essay, "Politics," that the Papacy never engaged in temporal politics, but that every temporal ruler has always tried to play papal politics. This is also the reason why every system of government, without distinction of form, has a certain basic theocratic character.

Every church is constantly striving to extend the limits of its power, and to plant the feeling of dependence deeper in the hearts of men. But every temporal power is animated by the same desire, so in both cases the efforts take the same direction. Just as in religion God is everything and man nothing, so in politics the state is everything, the subject nothing. The two maxims of celestial and earthly authority, "I am the Lord thy God!" and "Be ye subject unto authority!" spring from the same source and are united as are the Siamese twins.

The more man learned to venerate in God the epitome of all perfection, the deeper he sankhe, the real creator of Godinto a miserable earthworm, into a living incarnation of all earthly nullity and weakness. The theologian and scribe never tired of assuring him that he was "a sinner conceived in sin," who could only be saved from eternal damnation by a revelation of God's commandments and strict obedience to them. And when the former subject and present citizen endowed the state with all the qualities of perfection, he degraded himself to an impotent and childish puppet on whom the legal pundits and statetheologians never ceased to impress the shameful conviction that in the core of his being he was afflicted with the evil impulses of the born transgressor, who could only be guided on the path of officially defined virtue by the law of the state. The doctrine of original sin is fundamental not only in all the great religious systems, but in every theory of the state. The complete degradation of man, the fateful belief in the worthlessness and sinfulness of his own nature, has ever been the firmest foundation of all spiritual and temporal authority. The divine "Thou shalt!" and the governmental "Thou must!" complement each other perfectly: commandment and law are merely different expressions of the same idea.

This is the reason why no temporal power up to now has been able to dispense with religion, which is in itself the fundamental assumption of power. Where the rulers of the state opposed for political reasons a certain form of religious system, it was always easy to introduce some other systems of belief more favourable to their purposes. Even the so-called "enlightened rulers," who themselves were infidels, were no exception to this rule. When Frederick II of Prussia declared that in his kingdom "everyone could be saved according to his own fashion," he assumed, of course, that such salvation would in no wise conflict with his own powers. The much lauded toleration of the great Frederick would have looked quite different if his subjects, or even a part of them, had conceived the idea that their salvation might be won by lowering the royal dignity, or by disregarding his laws, as the Dukhobors tried to do in Russia.

Napoleon I, who as a young artillery officer had called theology a "cesspool of every superstition and confusion" and had maintained that "the people should be given a handbook of geometry instead of a catechism" radically changed his point of view after he had made himself Emperor of the French. Not only that; according to his own confession, he for a long time flirted with the idea of achieving world rulership with the aid of the pope; he even raised the question whether a state could maintain itself without religion. And he himself gave the answer: "Society cannot exist without inequality of property and the inequality not without religion. A man who is dying of hunger, next to one who has too much, could not possibly reconcile himself to it if it were not for a power which says to him: 'It is the will of God that here on Earth there must be rich and poor, but yonder, in eternity, it will be different.'

The shameless frankness of this utterance comes all the more convincingly from a man who himself believed in nothing, but who was clever enough to recognise that no power can in the long run maintain itself if it is not capable of taking root in the religious consciousness of mankind.

The close connection between religion and politics is, however, not confined to the fetishist period of the state, when public power still found its highest expression in the person of the absolute monarch. It would be a bitter illusion to assume that in the modern law of the constitutional state this relationship had been fundamentally altered. Just as in later religious systems the god idea became more abstract and impersonal, so has the concept of the state lost most of its concrete character as personified in the single ruler. But even in those countries where the separation of church and state had been publicly accomplished, the interrelation between the temporal power and religion as such has in no way been changed. However, the present possessors of power have frequently tried to concentrate the religious impulses of their citizens exclusively on the state, in order that they might not have to share their power with the church.

It is a fact that the great pioneers of the modern constitutional state have emphasised the necessity of religion for the prosperity of the governmental power just as energetically as did formerly the advocates of princely absolutism. Thus, Rousseau, who in his work, The Social Contract, inflicted such incurable wounds on absolute monarchy, declared quite frankly:

In order that an evolving people should learn to value the sacred fundamentals of statecraft, and obey the elementary principles of state law, it is necessary that the effect should become cause. The social spirit which would be the result of the constitution would have to play the leading part in the creation of the constitution, and men, even before the establishment of the laws, would have to be that which they would become through these laws. But since the lawgiver can neither compel nor convince, he must needs take refuge in a higher authority which, without external pressure, is able to persuade men and enthuse them without having to convince them. This is the reason why the founding fathers of the nation have at all times felt compelled to take refuge in heaven and to honour the gods for reasons of politics. Thus would men, who are subject to both the laws of the state and those of nature, voluntarily be obedient to the power which has formed both man and the state, and understandingly carry the burden which the fortune of the state imposes on them. It is this higher understanding, transcending the mental vision of ordinary men, whose dictum the legislator puts into the mouth of the godhead, thus carrying along by respect for a higher power those who are not submissive to human wisdom. 2

Robespierre followed the advice of the master to the letter and sent the Hebertists and the socalled "Enrages" to the scaffold because their antireligious propaganda, which was really antichurch, lowered the regard for the state and undermined its moral foundation. The poor Hebertists! They were just as firm believers as the "Incorruptible" and his Jacobin church congregation, but their venerationurge moved along different lines, and they would acknowledge no higher power than the state, which to them was the holiest of holies. They were good patriots, and when they spoke of the "Nation," they were enflamed by the same religious ardour as the pious Catholic when he speaks of his God. But they were not the legislators of the country, and consequently they lacked that famous "higher understanding" which, according to Rousseau, transcends the mental grasp of ordinary men and whose decision the legislator is careful to have confirmed from the mouth of the godhead.

Robespierre, of course, possessed this "higher understanding." He felt himself to be the lawgiver of "the Republic, one and indivisible"; consequently he called atheism "an aristocratic affair," and its adherents, hirelings of William Pitt. Just so today, in order to excite the horror of the faithful, do the partisans of Bolshevism denounce as "counter-revolutionary" every idea which does not suit them. In times of excitement such a designation is deadly dangerous and tantamount to "Strike him dead; he has blasphemed against God!" This the Hebertists, too, had to learn, as so many before and after them. They were believers, but not orthodox believers; consequently the guillotine had to convince them as formerly the stake did the heretics.

In his great speech before the convention in defence of the belief in a higher being Robespierre hardly developed an original thought. He referred to Rousseau's Social Contract, on which he commented in his usual longwinded manner. He felt the necessity of a state religion for Republican France, and the cult of the Supreme Being was to serve him by putting the wisdom of his policy in the mouth of the new godhead, and endowing it with the halo of the divine will.

The Convention resolved to publish that speech all over France, to translate it into all languages, thus giving the abominable doctrine of atheism a deadly blow, and to announce to the world the true confession of faith of the French people. The Jacobin Club in Paris made haste to announce its veneration of the Supreme Being in a special memorial declaration. Its content, like that of Robespierre's speech, was rooted completely in Rousseau's ideas. It referred with special gusto to a passage in the Fourth Book of the Social Contract which said:

There exists consequently a purely civic confession of faith and the settling of its Articles is exclusively a matter for the head of the state. It is here a question not so much of religious doctrine as of universal views without whose guidance one can be neither a good citizen nor a faithful subject. Without being able to compel anyone to believe in them, the state can banish anyone who does not believe, not as a godless one, but as one who has violated the Social Contract and is incapable of loving the law and justice with his whole heart, incapable in case of necessity of sacrificing his life to his duty. If anyone, after the public acceptance of these civic articles of faith, announces himself as an infidel, he deserves the death penalty, for he has committed the greatest of all crimes. He has knowingly perjured himself in the face of the law.

The young French Republic was a hardly established power, still without tradition, which had, besides, arisen from the overthrow of an old system of rulership whose deeply rooted institutions were still alive in large sections of the people. It was, therefore, incumbent on her more than on any other state to establish her young power in the religious consciousness of the people. It is true that the wielders of the young power had endowed the state with divine qualities and had raised the cult of the "Nation" to a new religion which had filled France with wild enthusiasm. But that had happened in the intoxication of the great Revolution, whose fierce tempests were to have shattered the old world. This ecstasy could not last forever, and the time was to be anticipated when increasing sobriety would make a place for critical consideration. For this new religion lacked somethingtradition, one of the most important elements in the structure of religious consciousness. It was, therefore, only an act for reasons of state, when Robespierre drove the "Goddess of Reason" from the temple and replaced her by the cult of the "Supreme Being," thus procuring for "the Republic, one and indivisible," the necessary saintly halo.

Recent history, too, shows typical examples of this sort. We need only think of Mussolini's compact with the Catholic Church. Robespierre had never denied the existence of God, neither had Rousseau. Mussolini, however, was a pronounced atheist and a grim opponent of all religious belief; and fascism, true to the anticlerical traditions of the Italian bourgeoisie, appeared at first as a decided opponent of the church. But as a clever statetheologian, Mussolini soon recognised that his power could only have permanence if he succeeded in rooting it in the feeling of dependence of his subjects, and in giving it an outward religious character. With this motive he shaped the extreme nationalism into a new religion, which in its egotistical exclusiveness, and in its violent separation from all other human groups, recognised no higher ideal than the fascist state and its prophet, II Duce.

Like Robespierre, Mussolini felt that his doctrine lacked tradition, and that his young power was not impressive. This made him cautious. The national tradition in Italy was not favourable to the church. It had not yet been forgotten that the Papacy had once been one of the most dangerous opponents of national unification, which had only been successful after an open conflict with the Vatican. But the men of the Risorgimento, the creators of Italy's national unity, were no antireligious zealots. Their politics were anticlerical because the attitude of the Vatican had forced them to it. They were no atheists. Even that grim hater of the clergy, Garibaldi, who in the introduction to his memoirs has written the words: "The priest is the personification of the lie; but the liar is a robber, and the robber a murderer, and I could prove other damnable attributes of the priesthood"even Garibaldi was not only, as shown by his nationalist endeavours, a deeply religious man, but his whole concept of life was rooted in a belief in God. And so the seventh of his Twelve Articles which in I867 were submitted to the Congress of the "League for Peace and Freedom" in Geneva, runs as follows: "The Congress adopts the religion of God, and each of its members obligates itself to aid in spreading it over all the earth."

And Mazzini, the leader of Young Italy, and next to Garibaldi the foremost figure in the struggle for national unity, was in the depths of his soul permeated with the deepest religious belief. His whole philosophy was a curious mixture of religious ethics and national-political aspirations which, in spite of their democratic exterior, were of a thoroughly autocratic nature. His slogan, "God and the People," was strikingly characteristic of his aim, for the nation was to him a religious concept which he strove to confine within the frame of a political church.

Mussolini, however, and with him the numerous leaders of Italian fascism, did not find themselves in this enviable position. They had been grim antagonists, not only of the church, but of religion as such. Such a record constitutes a heavy loadespecially in a country whose capital has been for hundreds of years the centre of a mighty church, with thousands of agencies at its disposal which, on orders from above, were always ready to keep actively alive in the people the memory of the notorious past of the head of the fascist state. It was therefore advisable to come to an understanding with this power. That was not easy, because between the Vatican and the Italian state stood the twentieth of September, 1870, when the troops of Victor Emmanuel marched into Rome and put an end to the temporal power of the Papal States. But Mussolini was ready for any sacrifice. To purchase peace with the Vatican, he recreated, though in diminutive form, the Papal States. He recompensed the Pope financially for the injustice which had once been done to one of his predecessors, he recognised Catholicism as the state religion, and delivered to the priesthood a considerable part of the public educational institutions.

It was surely no religious or moral reason which moved Mussolini to this step, but sober considerations of political power. He needed moral support for his imperialistic plans and could but be especially concerned to remove the suspicion with which the other countries regarded him. Consequently, he sought contact with the power which had up to now weathered all the storms of time and whose mighty worldencircling organization could under certain circumstances prove very dangerous to him. Whether he had the best of the bargain is a question which does not concern us here. But the fact that it had to be exactly the "almighty Duce", who opened again the gates of the Vatican and put an end to the "imprisonment of the Popes," is one of the grotesques of history and will keep the name of Mussolini alive longer than anything else which is associated with it. Even fascism had finally to recognise that on castor oil, assassination and pogroms however necessary such things may seem for the fascist state in its inner politicsno permanent power can be founded. Consequently, Mussolini forgot for the time being the "fascist miracle," from which the Italian people was said to have been reborn, in order that "Rome might for the third time become the heart of the world." He sought contact with the power which has its secret strength in the millennial tradition, and which, as a result, was so hard to undermine.

In Germany, where the leaders of victorious fascism had neither the adaptability nor the clever insight of Mussolini and, in stupid ignorance of the real facts, believed that the whole life of a people could be changed at the whim of their anaemic theories, they had to pay dearly for their mistake. However, Hitler and his intellectual advisers did recognise that the socalled "totalitarian state" must have root in the traditions of the masses in order to attain permanence; but what they called tradition was partly the product of their sickly imagination, and partly concepts which had been dead in the minds of the people for many centuries. Even gods grow old and must die and be replaced by others more suitable to the religious needs of the times. The oneeyed Wotan and the lovely Freia with the golden apples of life are but shadow patterns of longpast ages which no "myth of the twentieth century" can awaken to new life. Consequently, the illusion of a new "German Christianity on a Germanic basis" was infinitely absurd and shamefully stupid.

It was by no means the violent and reactionary character of Hitler's policy that caused hundreds of Catholic and Protestant clergy to oppose the Gleichschaltung of the church. It was the certain recognition that this brainless enterprise was irrevocably doomed to suffer a setback, and they were clever enough not to assume responsibility for an adjustment which must prove disastrous to the church. It did not profit the rulers of the Third Reich to drag the obstreperous priests into concentration camps and in the bloody June days shoot down in gangster fashion some of the most prominent representatives of German Catholicism. They could not allay the storm and finally had to yield. Hitler, who had been able to beat down the whole German labour movement, numbering millions, without any opposition worth mentioning, had here bitten upon a nut he could not crack. It was the first defeat which his internal policy suffered, and its consequences cannot yet be estimated, for dictatorships are harder hit by such setbacks than any other form of government.

The leaders of the Russian Revolution found themselves confronted with a church so completely identified, in fact unified, with czarism that compromise with it was impossible; they were compelled to replace it with something else. This they did by making the collectivist state the one omniscient and omnipotent godand Lenin his prophet. He died at a quite convenient time and was promptly canonised. His picture is replacing the icon, and millions make pilgrimages to his mausoleum instead of to the shrine of some saint.

Although purely iconoclastic, such work is valuable, for it clears the ground of superstitious rubbish, making it ready for the fine structure which will be demanded when the latent spirituality of man who, as has been truly said, is in his inmost nature incurably religious, asserts itself.

The entire religious policy of the present Soviet Government is in fact only a repetition of the great Hebertist movement of the French Revolution. The activities of the League of Russian Atheists, favoured by the government, are directed solely against the old forms of the church faith but by no means against faith itself. In reality the Russian governmental atheism is a religious movement, with this difference that the authoritarian and religious principles of revealed religion have been transferred to the political field. The famous antireligious education of the Russian youth, which has aroused the united protest of all church organisations, is in reality a strictly religious education which makes the state the centre of all religious activities. It sacrifices the natural religion of men to the abstract dogma of definite political fundamentals established by the state. To disturb these fundamentals is as much taboo in modern Russia as were the efforts of heresy against the authority of the old church. Political heresy finds no warmer welcome from the representative of the Russian State dictatorship than did religious heresy from the papal church. Like every other religion, the political religion of the Bolshevist state has the effect of confirming man's dependence on a higher power, and perpetuating his mental slavery.

  • 1Alexander Ular, Die Politik. Frankfurt a/M. 1906, S. 44.
  • 2Jean Jacques Rousseau, Le contrat social. Book 11, ch. 7.


3. The Middle Ages: Church and State

The fundamental principle of power
Christianity and the state
Augustine's city of god
The holy church
The struggle for world dominion
Gregory VII, innocent III
The effect of power on its possessors
Rome and the germans
Germanic caesarism
The struggle for rome
The foreign dominion
The submersion of old social institutions
Aristocracy and royalty
Feudalism and serfdom
The frankish empire
Charlemagne and the papacy
Struggle between emperor and pope

Submitted by Toms on September 5, 2011

Every power is animated by the wish to be the only power, because in the nature of its being it deems itself absolute and consequently opposes any bar which reminds it of the limits of its influence. Power is active consciousness of authority. Like God, it cannot endure any other God beside it. This is the reason why a struggle for hegemony immediately breaks out as soon as different power groups appear together or have to keep inside of territories adjacent to one another. Once a state has attained the strength which permits it to make decisive use of its power it will not rest satisfied until it has achieved dominance over all neighbouring states and has subjected them to its will. While not yet strong enough for this it is willing to compromise, but as soon as it feels itself powerful it will not hesitate to use any means to extend its rule, for the will to power follows its own laws, which it may mask but can never deny.

The desire to bring everything under one rule, to unite mechanically and to subject to its will every social activity, is fundamental in every power. It does not matter whether we are dealing with the person of the absolute monarch of former times, the national unity of a constitutionally elected representative government, or the centralistic aims of a party which has made the conquest of power its slogan. The fundamental principle of basing every social activity upon a definite norm which is not subject to change is the indispensable preliminary assumption of every will to power. Hence the urge for outward symbols presenting the illusion of a palpable unity in the expression of power in whose mystical greatness the silent reverence of the faithful subject can take root. This was clearly recognised by de Maistre when he said: "Without the Pope, no sovereignty; without sovereignty, no unity; without unity, no authority; without authority, no faith."

Yes, without authority, no faith, no feeling in man of dependence on a higher power; in short, no religion. And faith grows in proportion to the extent of its sphere of influence, to the scope of its authority. The possessors of power are always animated by the desire to extend their influence and, if they are not in a position to do so, to give their faithful subjects at least the illusion of the boundlessness of this influence, and thus to strengthen their faith. The fantastic titles of oriental despots serve as examples.

Where the opportunity offers, the possessors of power are not content with vainglorious titles; they seek rather by every device of diplomatic cunning and brute force to extend their sphere of power at the cost of other power groups. Even in the smallest power units there slumbers like a hidden spark the will to world dominion; even though it can awaken to a devouring flame only under specially favourable circumstances, it always remains alive, if only as a secret wish concept. There is deep meaning in the description which Rabelais gives us in his "Gargantua" of the petty king, Picrochole, whom the mild, yielding disposition of his neighbour, Grandgousier, made so cocky, that, deluded by the crazy advice of his counsellors, he already imagined himself a new Alexander. While the possessor of power sees a territory not yet subject to his will, he will never rest content, for the will to power is an insatiable desire which grows and gains strength with every success. The story of the mourning Alexander, who burst into tears because there were no longer any worlds for him to conquer, has a symbolic meaning. It shows us most clearly the real essence of all struggles for power.

The dream of the erection of a world empire is not solely a phenomenon of ancient history. It is the logical result of all power activity and not confined to any definite period. Since Caesarism penetrated into Europe the vision of world dominion has never disappeared from the political horizon, although it has undergone many changes through the appearance of new social conditions. All the great attempts to achieve universal dominion, like the gradual evolution of the Papacy, the formation of the empire of Charlemagne, the two aims which furnished the basis of the contest between the imperial and papal powers, the creation of the great European dynasties and the contest which later nationalist states waged for the hegemony in the world, have always taken place according to the Roman model. And everywhere the unification of political and social power factors occurred according to the same scheme, characteristic of the manner of genesis of all power.

Christianity had begun as a revolutionary mass movement, and with its doctrine of the equality of men before the sight of God it had undermined the foundation of the Roman state. Hence, the cruel persecution of its followers. It was the opposition to the state which resulted from Christian doctrines that the state strove to suppress. Even after Constantine had elevated Christianity to a state religion, its original aims persisted for a long time among the Chiliasts and Manichaeans, though these were unable to exert a determining influence on the further development of Christianity.

Even as early as the third century Christianity had fully adapted itself to existing conditions. The spirit of theology had been victorious over the vital aspirations of the masses. The movement had come into closer touch with the state which it had once denounced as the "realm of Satan," and under its influence had acquired an ambition for political power. Thus, from the Christian congregation there evolved a church which faithfully guarded the power ideas of the Caesars when the Roman Empire fell to ruin in the storms of the great migration of peoples.

The seat of the Bishop of Rome in the very heart of the world empire gave him from the very beginning a position of dominant power over all other Christian congregations. For Rome remained, even after the decline of the empire, the heart of the world, its centre, in which the legacy of ten to fifteen cultures remained alive and held the world under its spell. From here, too, reins were put upon the young, still unused powers of the northern barbarians under whose impetuous assaults the empire of the Caesars had broken down. The teachings of Christianity, even though already degenerated, tamed their savage mood, put fetters on their will and revealed to their leaders new methods, which opened unexpected vistas to their ambitions. With clever calculation the developing Papacy harnessed the still unused energies of the "barbarian" and made them serve its ends. With their help it laid the foundation of a new world power, which was for many centuries to give to the lives of the peoples of Europe a definite direction.

When Augustine was getting ready to set forth his ideas in his City of God, Christianity had already undergone a complete inner transformation. From an anti-state movement it had become a state-affirming religion which had absorbed a number of alien elements. But the young church was still decked out in many colours; it lacked the systematic drive toward a great political unity which consciously and with full conviction steers toward the clearly defined goal of a new world dominion. Augustine gave it this goal. He felt the frightful disintegration of his time, saw how thousands of forces strove toward a thousand different goals, how in crazy chaos they whirled about each other and, scarcely born, were scattered by the winds or died fruitless, because they lacked aim and direction. After manifold struggles he came to the conclusion that men lacked a unified power which should put an end to discord and collect the scattered forces for the service of a higher purpose.

Augustine's City of God has nothing in common with the original teachings of Christianity. Precisely for this reason his work could become the theoretical foundation of an allembracing Catholic world concept which made the redemption of humanity dependent upon the aims of a church. Augustine knew that the overlordship of the church had to be deeply rooted in the faith of men if it was to have permanence. He strove to give this faith a basis which could not be shaken by any acuteness of intellect. Hence, he became the real founder of that theological theory of history which attributes every event among the peoples of the earth to the will of God, on which man can have no influence.

During the first century Christianity had declared war against the fundamental ideas of the Roman state and all its institutions, and had consequently brought upon itself all the persecutions of that state. But Augustine maintained that it was not bound to oppose the evils of the world, since "all earthly things are transitory," and "true peace has its abode only in heaven." Consequently, "The true believer must not condemn war but must look upon it as a necessary evil, as a punishment which God has imposed upon men. For war is, like pestilence and famine and all other evils, only a visitation of God for the chastisement of men for their betterment, and to prepare them for salvation."

But to make the divine government comprehensible to men there is needed a visible power, through which God may manifest his holy will and guide sinners on the right road. No temporal power is fitted for this task, for the kingdom of the world is the kingdom of Satan, which must be overcome in order that men may achieve redemption. Only to the una sancta ecclesia, "the One Holy Church" is this task reserved and assigned by God himself. The church is the only true representative of the Divine Will on earth, the guiding hand of Providence, which alone does what is right, because illumined by the divine spirit.

According to Augustine all human events take place in six great epochs, the last of which began with the birth of Christ. Consequently, men must recognise that the end of the world is immediately at hand Hence, the establishment of God's kingdom on earth is most imperatively demanded in order to save souls from damnation and prepare men for the heavenly Jerusalem. But since the church is the sole proclaimer of God's will, her character must needs be intolerant, for man himself cannot know what is good and what is evil. She cannot make the slightest concession to the mind's logic, for all knowledge is vanity and the wisdom of man cannot prevail before God. Thus, faith is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. One must believe for the sake of belief and must not permit oneself to be diverted from the right path by the illusions of reason, for the saying attributed to Tertullian, "Credo quia absurdum est ("I believe it because it is absurd"), is correct, and it alone can free man from the talons of Satan.

Augustine's views concerning the world dominated Christianity for centuries. Through the whole of the Middle Ages only Aristotle enjoyed a comparable authority. Augustine bestowed on men the belief in an inevitable fate and welded this belief to the struggle for political unification of the church, which felt itself called upon to restore the lost world dominion of Roman Caesarism and to make it subservient to a far higher purpose.

The bishops of Rome now had a goal which gave their ambition wide scope. But before this goal could be attained and the church converted into a powerful tool for a political purpose, the leaders of the other Christian congregations had to be made amenable to this purpose. Until this could be accomplished the world dominion of the Papacy remained a dream. The church had first to be internally united before she could think to impose her will on the holders of temporal power.

This was no easy task, for the Christian congregations remained for a long time merely loose groups which elected their own priests and leaders and could at any time depose them if they did not prove fit for their office. Furthermore, every congregation had the same right as all the others. It managed its own affairs and was undisputed master in its own house. Questions which transcended the authority of the local groups were adjusted by district synods or church conventions freely elected by the congregations. In matters of faith, however, only the ecumenical council, the general church convention, could make decisions.

The original church organization was therefore fairly democratic, and in this form was much too loose to serve the Papacy as a foundation for its political purposes. The bishops of the larger congregations did, however, gradually achieve greater dignity because of their wider circles of influence. Thus the convention of Nicea granted them a certain monitorship over the smaller congregations by making them metropolitans and archbishops. But the rights of the Metropolitan of Rome extended no further than that of any of his brothers. He had no opportunity to mix in their affairs, and his dignity was sometimes overshadowed by the influence of the Metropolitan of Constantinople.

The tasks of the bishops of Rome were therefore beset with great difficulties, to which not all of them were equal; and centuries had to pass before they could establish their influence over the majority of the clergy. This was all the more difficult as the bishops of the various countries were frequently wholly dependent on the holders of temporal power for their authority and right of maintenance. However, the bishops of Rome pursued their aim with clever calculation and persistent effort; nor were they at all fastidious in their choice of means as long as these promised results.

How unconcernedly the occupants of the Roman chair steered toward their goal is proved by the clever use they knew how to make of the notorious "Isidorian Decretals" which the wellknown historian, Ranke, has described as "a quite conscious, very wellconceived, but patent forgery"; a judgment which is hardly disputed anywhere today. However, before the possibility of the forgery of these documents was admitted they had already achieved their purpose. On their authority the pope was confirmed as the viceroy of God on earth, to whom Peter had intrusted the keys of heaven. The whole of the clergy was subjected to his will. He was conceded the right to call general councils whose conclusions he could accept or reject according to his own judgment. Most important of all, these forged "Isidorian Decretals" declared that in all disputes between the temporal states and the clergy the decision was to lie in the last instance with the pope. Thereby the cleric was to be withdrawn entirely from the jurisdiction of the temporal power, so that he might be bound more firmly to the papal chair. Attempts of this kind had already been made. Thus, the Roman bishop, Symachus (498-514), had declared that the bishop of Rome was not responsible to any judge but God; and twenty years before the appearance of the "Isidorian Decretals" the Council of Paris (829) declared that the king was subject to the church and the power of the priest stood above every worldly power. These forged decretals could, therefore, only have the purpose of giving to the claims of the church the stamp of legality.

With Gregory VII (1073-85) begins the real hegemony of the Papacy, the era of the "church triumphant." He was the first who quite publicly and without any limitations asserted the prerogative of the church over every worldly power, and even before his ascent of the papal throne he had worked with iron persistency toward this goal. Above all, he introduced fundamental changes into the church itself to make it a more serviceable tool for his purposes. His implacable severity brought it about that priestly celibacy, which had often been proposed but never carried out, was now imposed effectively. In this manner he created for himself an international army which was not bound by any intimate worldly ties and whose least member felt himself a representative of the papal will. His well-known saying that "the church could never free itself from the servitude to temporal power until the priest was freed from woman" clearly indicates the goal he sought by this reform.

Gregory was a cunning and most astute politician, fully convinced of the Justice of his claims. In his letters to Bishop Hermann of Metz he develops his concept with complete clarity, supporting it principally by the City of God of Augustine. Starting with the assumption that the church as instituted by God himself, he concludes that in every one of his decisions the will of God is revealed and that the pope, as God's viceroy n earth, is the proclaimer of this divine will. Consequently any disobedience of him is disobedience to God. Every temporal power is but the weak work of men, as is at once apparent from the fact that the state has abolished equality among men and that its origin can be traced only to brutal force and injustice. Any king who does not unconditionally submit himself to the commands of the church is a slave of the devil and an enemy of Christianity. It is the church's task to unite humanity in a great community ruled only by God's laws, revealed to them by the mouth of the pope.

Gregory fought with all the intolerance of his forceful character for a realisation of these aims, and although he finally fell a victim to his own policy, he nevertheless succeeded in establishing the hegemony of the church and in making it for centuries the most powerful factor in European history. His immediate successors, however, possessed neither the monkish earnestness nor the boundless energy characteristic of Gregory and therefor suffered many a setback in their contests with temporal power. But with Innocent III (1198-1216) the papal sceptre fell to a man who had not only Gregory's clearness of aim and unbendable will but far excelled him in natural ability.

Innocent III achieved for the church her highest aim and raised her power to a degree it had never before attained. He ruled his cardinals with the despotic will of an autocrat not responsible to anyone and treated the possessors of temporal power with an arrogance no one of his predecessors had dared to assume. To the Patriarch of Constantinople he wrote these proud words: "God did not only lay the dominion of the church in Peter's hands, he also appointed him to be the ruler of the whole world." To the envoy of the French king, Philippe Augustus, he said: "To princes is given power only over earth, but the priest rules also over heaven. The prince has power only over the bodies of his subjects, the priest has power also over the souls of men. Therefore the priesthood is as high above every temporal power as is the soul above the body in which it dwells."

Innocent forced the whole temporal power of Europe under his will. He not only interfered in all dynastic affairs, he even arranged the marriages of the temporal rulers and compelled them to obtain a divorce in case the union did not suit him. Over Sicily, Naples and Sardinia he ruled as actual monarch; Castile, Leon, Navarre, Portugal, and Aragon were tributary to him. His will was obeyed in Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Poland, Bohemia, and in the Scandinavian countries. He interfered in the contest between Philip of Swabia and Otto IV for the German imperial crown and gave it to Otto, only to take it away from him again later and confer it on Frederick II. In his quarrel with the English king, John Lackland, he proclaimed an interdict over his realm, and not only forced the king to complete submission but even compelled him to accept his own country as a fief from the pope and to pay a tribute for this clemency.

Innocent thought of himself as pope and Caesar in one person and saw in the temporal rulers only vassals of his power, tributary to him. In this sense he wrote to the King of England: "God has founded kingship and priesthood on the church so that the priesthood is thus kingly and kingship priestly; as is apparent from the Epistles of Peter and the laws of Moses. Therefore did the King of Kings set one above all, whom he appointed his Viceroy on earth."

By the establishment of oral confession and the organization of mendicant monks, Innocent created for himself a power of tremendous scope. Furthermore, he made free use of his strongest weapon, the ban of the church, which with unyielding resolution he imposed upon whole countries in order to make the temporal rulers submissive to him. In a land hit by the ban all churches remained closed. No bells called the faithful to prayer. There were neither baptisms nor weddings, no confessions were received, no dying were given extreme unction and no dead buried in sanctified ground. One can imagine the terrible effects of such a status on the spirit of men at a time when faith was regarded as supreme.

Just as Innocent tolerated no equal power, he likewise permitted no doctrine which departed in the least from the usage of the church, even though entirely imbued with the spirit of true Christianity. The terrible crusade against heresy in the south of France, which changed one of the most flourishing lands in Europe into a desert, bears bloody witness to this. The dominant ambitious spirit of this fearful man balked at no means to guard the unlimited authority of the church. However, he also was but the slave of a fixed idea which kept his spirit prisoner and estranged it from all human consideration. His power obsession made him lonely and miserable. It became his personal evil genius, as it does with most of those who pursue the same end. Thus he spoke once concerning himself: "I have no leisure to pursue other worldly things; I can scarcely find time to breathe. Truly, so completely must I live for others that I have become a stranger to myself."

It is the secret curse of every power that it becomes fatal, not only to its victims but to its possessors. The bare thought that one must live for the achievement of an end which is opposed to all sound human feeling and is incomprehensible in itself, gradually makes the possessor of power himself into a dead machine, after he has forced all coming under the dominance of his power to a mechanical obedience to his will. There is something puppetlike in the nature of every power, arising from its own illusions, which coerces everything coming into contact with it into fixed form. And all these forms continue to live in tradition even after the last spark of life has died in them, and lie like an incubus on the spirit which submits to their influence.

This, to their sorrow, the Germanic and after them the Slavic tribes the people who had remained longest immune to the pernicious influence of Roman Caesarism had to learn. Even after the Romans had subjugated the German lands from the Rhine to the Elbe their influence was confined almost entirely to the western territory. The inhospitality of the country, covered with enormous forests and swamps, never gave them an opportunity to confirm their dominion. When by a confederation of German tribes the Roman army was almost completely annihilated in the Teutoburger Forest and most of the strongholds of the foreign invaders were destroyed, Roman rule over Germany was as good as broken. Even the three campaigns Germanicus waged against the rebellious tribes could not change the situation.

But there had arisen for the Germans, through Roman influence, a much more dangerous enemy in their own camp, to which their leaders especially soon surrendered. The German tribes whose habitat for a long time extended from the Danube to the Baltic and from the Rhine to the Elbe enjoyed a rather farreaching independence. Most of the tribes were already permanently settled when they came in contact with the Romans; only the eastern part of the country was still semi-nomadic. From Roman records and later sources it is apparent that the social organization of the Germans was still very primitive. The various tribes were formed by families connected with each other by blood relationships; as a rule a hundred of these lived in scattered settlements on the same piece of land, hence the designation "hundred." Ten to twenty such hundreds formed a tribe, whose territory was designated as a county (Gau). By the union of related tribes arose a people. The hundreds divided the land among themselves, and in such a manner that periodic repartitions were necessary. From this it is apparent that for a long time private ownership of land did not exist among them, and that private property was limited to weapons and homemade tools and other objects of daily use. The tilling of the soil was done mainly by women and slaves. A part of the men frequently went on warand-booty raids while the other part took its turn at staying home and maintained justice and right dealing.

All important questions were considered at general assemblies, or Folk-Things, and there decided. At these assemblies all freemen fit to bear arms participated. As a rule they occurred at the time of the new moon and were for a long time the supreme institution of the German people. At the Thing all differences were adjusted. The director of public administration was elected, as well as the commander during war. At these elections the personal character and the experience of the individual were at first the determining factors. Later on, however, especially when the relations with the Romans became more frequent and more intimate, the socalled "foremost ones" or Fursten ("princes") were elected almost exclusively from the ranks of prominent families, which, by reason of real or imagined services to the community, had been the recipients of larger shares of booty, tribute and presents, and thus achieved a state of wealth which permitted them to keep a retinue of tried warriors and thus, quite naturally, to achieve certain prerogatives.

The oftener the Germans came in contact with the Romans the more amenable they became to foreign influence, which could not very well be otherwise, since Roman culture and technique was in all respects superior to the German. Even before the conquest of Germany by the Romans certain tribes had begun to move, had been assigned by the Roman rulers certain districts, and had in return obligated themselves to serve in the Roman army. In fact, German soldiers had already played an important part in the conquest of Gaul by the Romans. Julius Caesar enlisted many German soldiers in his armies and was himself always surrounded by a mounted bodyguard of four hundred Teuton warriors.

Many descendants of Germans who had been in Roman service later returned to their homes and used the booty they had won and the experience they had gained from the Romans to press their own countrymen into their service. Thus one of them, Marbod, succeeded in time in extending his dominion over quite a number of German tribes and subjecting all the land between the Oder and Elbe from Bohemia to the Baltic to his influence. And even Herman, "The Liberator," succumbed to the influence of the Roman will to power, which after his return he tried to impose upon his own people. Not in vain had Herman and Marbod lived in Rome and learned there what enormous attraction power has for the ambitions of man.

Herman's ambitions for political power, which became constantly more apparent after the destruction of the Roman host had led to the liberation of Germany from Roman rule, appear in a somewhat peculiar light. It soon became clear not only that the noble Cheruscan had learned in Rome the art of superior warfare, but also that the statecraft of the Roman Caesars had given his ambitions a mighty impulse which soon developed into a dangerous will to power. Absorbed by his plans he endeavoured by every means to make the federation of the Cheruski, Chatti, Marsi, Brukteri and others permanent after they had achieved the destruction of the Roman legions in the Teutoburger Forest. After the final retreat of the Romans he soon engaged in a bloody war with Marbod, the issue of which was solely the rulership in Germany. When Herman's aim to raise himself from the elected leadership of the Cheruski to kingship over this and other tribes became still more clearly apparent, he was treacherously murdered by his own relatives.

But the Germans were by no means united in their struggle against the Romans. There were among them noble families who were quite definitely Roman partisans. Quite a number of them had received Roman honours and distinctions, accepted Roman citizenship, and even after the so-called "Hermannsschlacht" ("Herman's battle") still firmly adhered to Rome. Herman's own brother, Flavus, was among these and so was his fatherinlaw, Segest, who had delivered his own daughter, Herman's wife, Thusnelda, to the Romans. From this side the Roman viceroy, Varus, had been warned of the conspiracy hatched against him, but his confidence in Herman, who because of his reliability had been made a Roman knight, was so unbounded that he spurned all warnings and blindly went into the trap which Herman had set for him. Without this cunning hypocritical breach of faith on Herman's part the celebrated "Battle of Liberation" in the Teutoburger Forest would never have happened. Even a historian so favourable to Germany as Felix Dahn described this event as "one of the most treacherous breaches of the law of nations."

The Germanic tribes who participated in this conspiracy to free themselves from the hated Roman rulership can hardly be reproached for their action. But on Herman personally this despicable breach of faith rests with double weight, for the destruction of the Roman army was to be only a means for the furthering of his political plans, which were to culminate in imposing a new yoke on the liberated peoples.

It is in the nature of all ambitions to political power that those animated by them hesitate at no means which promise successeven though such success must be purchased by treason, lies, mean cunning, and hypocritical intrigue. The maxim that the end justifies the means has always been the first article of faith of all power politics. No Jesuits were needed to invent it. Every powerlustful conqueror, every politician, subscribes to it, Semite and German, Roman and Mongol, for the baseness of method is as closely related to power as decay is to death.

When, later on, the Huns penetrated into Europe, compelling a new migration of the peoples theyencountered, ever denser hordes of Germanic tribes moved toward the south and southwest of the continent, always coming into contact with the Romans and enlisting en masse in the Roman legions. The Roman armies were thoroughly permeated by Germans, so it was inevitable that finally one of them, the German chieftain, Odoacer, in the year 476 pushed the last Rosnan emperor from his throne and had himself proclaimed emperor by his soldiers. But he also was, after years of bloody struggle, overcome by Theodoric, the king of the Ostrogoths, who murdered him with his own hands at the feast which was, with all solemnity, to celebrate a treaty of peace.

All state organisations which were in that period created by the power of the swordthe kingdoms of the Vandals, the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, the Lombards, the Hunswere imbued with the idea of Caesarism, and their creators felt themselves to be heirs of Rome. But in the struggle for Rome and Roman possessions the old institutions and tribal habits of the Germans fell into disuse as of no importance in the new conditions. True, some isolated tribes carried their old customs into the Roman world, but they decayed and perished there; for they had left behind the social soil in which alone they could flourish.

This transition took place all the faster, since already a considerable time before the great migrations some rather fundamental changes had occurred in the social life of the Germanic tribes. Thus, Tacitus speaks of a new way of partitioning the land according to the prominence of the various families, a practice of which Caesar makes no mention. And likewise the administration of public affairs presents a different picture. The influence of the socalled "nobles" and army leaders had everywhere increased. All questions of social importance were first discussed at separate sessions of the nobles and then submitted to the FolkThings, with which, however, the last decision lay. But the followers whom these nobles collected, who frequently lived with them and ate at their tables, must naturally have given them a greater influence at the popular assemblies. How this worked out is clearly apparent from the following words of Tacitus: "He earns lifelong disgrace and shame who in battle does not follow his lord to the death. To defend him, to protect him, even to credit him with his own heroic deeds, is the warrior's supreme duty. The prince fights for victory; the vassals fight for their lord."

The constant contact with the Roman world naturally could but react on the social forms of the Germanic peoples. Especially among the "nobles" it awakened a lust for power which gradually led to readjustments of the conditions of social life. When, later on, the great migration occurred, a considerable part of the German population was already permeated by Roman ideas and institutions. The new state organisations resulting from the great migrations of the tribes and peoples necessarily hastened the internal decay of the old institutions.

All over Europe arose new dominions within which the victors formed a privileged class which imposed their will on the working population and led a parasitic life at their expense. The victorious intruders partitioned large sections of the conquered territory among themselves and made the inhabitants pay tribute, and in this it was inevitable that the chieftains should favour their own followers. Since the relatively small number of the conquerors did not permit them to live together in large families according to custom, but compelled them to spread themselves over the land to maintain their power, the old ties of consanguinity, based on the close association of the families, were loosened more and more. The old customs gradually went out of use to make way for new forms of social life.

The popular assembly, the most important institution of the Germanic tribes, where all public affairs were discussed and decided, gradually lost its old character, a change necessitated by the extent of the occupied territory Meanwhile the chiefs and army leaders claimed ever greater prerogatives which logically grew to royal powers. The kings, moreover, intoxicated by Roman influence, were not slow to abolish the last remnants of democratic institutions, which, of course, could only prove a hindrance to the enlargement of their own power.

The aristocracy, likewise, whose first beginnings are early discernible among the Germans, had by the rich booty in lands which fell to them in the newly conquered territory acquired a quite new social importance. Together with the nobles of the subjected peoples, whom the foreign rulers, for weighty reasons, took into their service (their cultural superiority was useful to them), these members of the new aristocracy were at first only vassals of the king, to whom they had to render service in war. For this they were rewarded by rich fiefs at the cost of the conquered.

But the feudal system, which at first bound the nobility to the royal power, already contained the germs which must in time endanger it. The economic power which the feudal system gradually put into the hands of the nobles aroused in them new desires and ambitions, forcing their possessors into a unique position which was not favourable to the centralisation of kingly power. It was contrary to the ambition of the nobles to be merely members of the king's retinue. The part of the Grand Seigneur who ruled unhindered on his own possessions without having to obey mandates of a higher power, suited them much better and, most important, it opened for them wider fields for the extension of their own power. For in them also the will to power was active, urging them to throw their economic strength into the balance to check the increasing power of the kings.

As a matter of fact the feudal lords, who in time grew into lesser or greater princes, succeeded for a long time in keeping the king compliant to their will. Thus arose in Europe a new order of parasites who no longer had any close relationship with the people, the foreign intruders being not even connected with the subject peoples by ties of blood. From war and conquest arose a new system of human slavery which for centuries left its imprint on the agrarian sections of the country. By the insatiable greed of the noble landlords the peasants were plunged ever deeper into misery and were robbed of the last liberties they had retained from former times. They were hardly regarded any longer as human beings.

But the dominion over foreign people worked destructively not only on the subject part of the population; it undermined the internal relationship among the conquerors themselves and destroyed their old traditions. The force which had at first only been exerted against the subjugated peoples was gradually extended to the poorer sections of their own tribes until these, too, sank into the quagmire of serfdom. Thus the will to power smothered with implacable consistency the will to freedom and independence which was once so deeply rooted among the German tribes. By the spread of Christianity and the closer connection between the conquerors and the church this baneful development was still further extended; the new religion smothered the last rebellious sparks in men and habituated them to come to terms with the imposed conditions. Just as the will to power under the Roman Caesars had robbed a whole world of its humanity and had plunged it into the hell of slavery, so it later destroyed the free social institutions of the barbarians and thrust them into the misery of serfdom.

Among the newly founded realms which arose in various parts of Europe, that of the Franks achieved the greatest importance. After the Merovingian Clovis, King of the Salic Franks, in the year 486 had inflicted on the Roman viceroy, Sygarius, a decisive defeat, he seized the whole of Gaul without encountering any opposition worth mentioning. As with all others obsessed by the desire for power, Clovis' appetite grew by what it fed on. Not only did he endeavour to secure his internal power, he also embraced every opportunity to extend his frontiers. Ten years after his victory over the Romans he defeated the army of the Allemanni at Zulpich and united their lands with his realm. At that time he also accepted Christianity, not from any inner conviction but simply from political consideration.

In this manner arose in Europe a temporal power of a new kind. The church, which not without reason believed the Frankish ruler could prove serviceable against her many enemies, was soon ready to ally itself with Clovis, all the more as her position was weakened by the defection of the Arians and, even in Rome itself, was threatened by dangerous opponents. Clovis, one of the cruelest and most faithless fellows who ever sat upon a throne, soon realised that such an alliance could not help but further the plan he was ambitiously pursuing with all the guile of his treacherous character. So he had himself baptised at Rheims and was designated by the local bishop as "the most Christian of kings"which however, did not prevent him from pursuing his ends by most unChristian means. The church, moreover, countenanced his bloody crimes, for it could not object to them if it wished to make Clovis useful to its power.

Later however, when the successors of Clovis led in reality but a shadow existence and the rulership of the state was almost completely in the hands of the socalled "Mayors of the Palace" whose tenure became hereditary under Pepin of Herestal, the pope conspired with Pepin's grandson, Pepin the Short, and advised him to make himself king. Pepin then put the last of the Merovingian kings into a cloister and thus became the founder of a new dynasty of the Frankish kingdom. Under his son, Charlemagne, the alliance between the pope and the Frankish royal house reached its highest effectiveness and secured to the Frankish rule the hegemony of Europe. Thereupon the idea of a universal European monarchy, the achievement of which had been the main object of Charlemagne's life, again assumed definite shape. The church, moreover, which pursued a similar end, could only welcome such an ally. Each had need of the other to complete its plans for political power.

The church needed the sword of the temporal ruler to guard it against its enemies; hence it became the church's highest aim to direct the sword according to its will and by the help of the sword to extend its dominion Charlemagne, moreover could not dispense with the church, since it gave his rule the needed inner religious cohesion; being the only power which had preserved the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Roman world In the church was embodied the whole culture of the age. It had in its ranks scholars, philosophers, historians and politicians, and its monasteries were for a long time the only spots where art and industry could flourish and where human wisdom could find an abiding place. Hence the church was a most valuable ally for Charlemagne, creating for him the spiritual atmosphere necessary for the maintenance of his enormous realm. For this reason he tried to bind the clergy to him by economic meanscompelling the subjugated people to pay tithes to the church and thus securing to its agents an abundant income. An ally like the pope was all the more welcome to Charlemagne since the prerogative of power still remained firmly in his hands, and the pope was wise enough to play for a time the part of a vassal to the Frankish ruler.

When the pope was hard beset by the Lombard king, Desiderius, Charlemagne hastened to his aid with an army and put an end to the dominion of the Lombards in Northern Italy. For this the Church displayed her gratitude when on Christmas day of the year 800 in St. Peter's Cathedral Leo III placed the imperial crown on the head of the kneeling Charlemagne and proclaimed him "Roman Emperor of the Frankish Nation." This act was meant to demonstrate to humanity that from now on the Christian world of the Occident was to be under the direction of a temporal and a spiritual ruler, designated by God to guard the physical and spiritual welfare of the Christian people. Thus pope and Emperor, with separate roles, became symbols of a new concept of world power, which in its practical effects was to prevent peace in Europe for centuries.

While it is readily understandable that the same will, fed by Roman traditions, had to bring the church and monarchy together, it was likewise inevitable that an honourable separation of the parts played by each could not endure. It lies in the nature of every willtopower that it will tolerate an equally privileged power only so long as it can use it for its purposes, or does not yet feel itself strong enough to engage in a fight for dominance. While church and empire had to establish their power together, and were consequently largely dependent on each other, their union would remain intact, at least outwardly. But it was inevitable that as soon as one or the other of these powers was strong enough to stand on its own feet the struggle for predominance would break out between them and be carried implacably to the end. That the church finally proved victor in this fight was only to be expected in view of the circumstances. Its spiritual superiority, resting on an older and, above all, a much higher culture, to which the barbarians had to be painfully habituated, assured it a mighty advantage. Furthermore, the church was the only power which could unite Christian Europe to resist the onslaught of the Mongolian and oriental hordes. The empire was not equal to this task, for it was bound by a mass of separate political interests and consequently could not give Europe the needed protection by its own power.

While Charlemagne lived, the Papacy, with prudent calculation, was content to play the second part, being almost entirely dependent on the protection of the Frankish ruler. His successor, however, Louis the Pious, a limited and superstitious man, became merely a tool in the hands of the priests. Possessing neither the mental ability nor the reckless activity of his predecessor, he could not maintain the empire which Charlemagne had cemented together with streams of blood and with unscrupulous force. So it soon fell apart, making room for a new partition of Europe.

The Papacy was triumphant over the whole array of temporal power and remained for hundreds of years the dominant institution of the Christian world. But when this world finally became disjointed and everywhere in Europe the national state came more and more into the foreground, then vanished also the dream of a universal world dominion under the sceptre of the pope, such as Thomas Aquinas had visioned. Although the church opposed the new development of things with all her power, she could not in the long run prevent the transformation of Europe, and had to be content to make the best possible adjustment with the political ambitions of the arising nationalist states.


4. Power Versus Culture

Submitted by Toms on September 6, 2011

The creation of castes as a governmental necessity
Plato's teaching concerning the division of the state into classes
External limitations of class divisions as an assumption for political power
Aristotle's theory of the state and the idea of "inferiors"
spiritual barrenness of power
Power and culture as opposites
State and community
Power as a privilege of a minority
Power and law. Natural law and "positive law" the dual role of law
Freedom and authority
Law as barometer of culture
The struggle for rights in history

Every power presupposes some form of human slavery, for the division of society into higher and lower classes is one of the first conditions of its existence. The separation of men into castes, orders and classes occurring in every power structure corresponds to an inner necessity for the separation of the possessors of privilege from the people. Legend and tradition provide the means of nourishing and deepening in the concepts of men the belief in the inevitability of the separation. A young rising power can end the dominion of old privileged classes, but it can only do so by immediately creating a new privileged class fitted for the execution of its plans. Thus, the founders of the socalled "dictatorship of the Proletariat in Russia had to call into being the aristocracy of the Commissars, which is as distinguishable from the great masses of the working population as are the privileged classes of the population of any other country.

Plato already wished, in the interest of the state, to attune the moral feeling of the individual to an officially established concept of virtue. Deducing all morality from politics, and thus becoming the first to set forth the intellectual assumptions of the socalled "reasons of state," he already saw clearly that class division was an implicit necessity for the maintenance of the state. For this reason he made membership in one of the three orders on which his envisioned state was to be founded a matter of fate, on which the individual had no influence. However, to imbue men with faith in their "natural destiny," the statesman employs a "salutary fraud" when he tells them: "The creative god mixed gold in stuff from which he made those among you who are intended for rulership; you are therefore of most precious worth. Into your helpers he put silver and into peasants and other labourers, iron and bronze." To the question, how the citizens could be brought to believe this deception he answered: "I think it impossible to convince these themselves, but it is not impossible to make the story seem probable to their sons and descendants during the coming generations." 1

Here we find man's destiny determined by a mixture of abilities and characteristics received from God, which determines whether he shall be master or servant during his life. To plant deeper in the imagination of men this belief in an inevitable fate and to give it the mystic sanctity of a religious conviction has up to now been the chief aim of every power policy.

Just as the state is always trying within its borders to abolish equality of social position among its subjects and to perpetuate this separation by differences of caste and class, so externally, too, it must take care to keep itself distinct from all other governmental organisations and to instil into its citizens the belief in their national superiority over all other peoples. Plato, the only one among the Greek thinkers in whom the idea of national unity of all Hellenic peoples is at all clearly apparent, felt himself exclusively a Greek and looked down with unconcealed contempt upon the "barbarians." The idea that these could be considered equal to the Hellenes, or could even approximate them, seemed to him as presumptuous as it was incomprehensible. This is the reason why in his ideal state all heavy and degrading work was to be done by foreigners and slaves. He saw in this a benefit not only for the Hellenic master caste but also for the slaves themselves. According to his concept, since they were destined anyhow to perform the lowly services of the slave, it should appear to them a kindly decree of fate that they were to be allowed to serve Greeks.

Aristotle grasped the concept of man's "natural destiny" even more clearly. For him, too, there existed peoples and classes designated by nature to perform the low tasks. To these belonged primarily all non-Greeks and barbarians. It is true, he made a distinction between "slaves according to nature" and "slaves according to law." Among the former he placed those who because of their lack of selfreliance are destined by nature to obey others. Among the latter were those who had lost their freedom by being taken prisoners of war. In both instances, the slave is but "a living machine" and, as such, "a part of his master." According to the principles stated by Aristotle in his Politics, slavery is beneficial both to the ruler and the ruled; nature having endowed the one with higher faculties and the other with only the rude strength of the beast, from which fact the roles of master and slave arise quite of themselves.

According to Aristotle man is "a state-forming being," by his whole nature destined to be a citizen under a government. On this ground he condemned suicide, for he denied to the individual the right to withdraw himself from the state. Although Aristotle judged Plato's ideal state rather unfavourably, especially the community of possessions advocated in it, as "running contrary to the laws of nature," the state itself, for all that, was for him the centre around which all earthly existence revolved. Like Plato, he believed that the management of the business of the state should always be in the hands of a small minority of selected men destined by nature itself for this calling. Hence, he was logically compelled to justify the prerogative of the elect by the alleged inferiority of the great masses of the people and to trace this condition to the iron rule of the course of nature. In this concept, in the last analysis, every "moral justification" of tyranny has its roots. Once we have agreed to separate our own countrymen into a mentally inferior mass and a minority designed by nature itself for create activity, the belief in the existence of "inferior" and "select" nationalities or races follows quite selfevidentlyespecially when the select derive a benefit from the slave labour of the inferior and are relieved by them of care for their own existence.

But the belief in the alleged creative capacity of power rests on a cruel self-deception. Power, as such, is wholly incapable of creating anything, being totally dependent on the creative activity of its subjects, if it is to exist at all. Nothing is more erroneous than the customary view of the state as the real creator of cultural progress. The opposite is true. The state was from the very beginning the hindering force which opposed the development of every higher cultural form with outspoken misgiving. States create no culture; indeed, they are often destroyed by higher forms of culture. Power and culture are, in the deepest sense, irreconcilable opposites, the strength of one always going hand in hand with the weakness of the other. A powerful state machine is the greatest obstacle to every cultural development. Where states are dying or where their power is still limited to a minimum, there culture flourishes best.

This idea will appear daring to most of us because a clearer vision of the real causes of cultural events has been completely obscured by a mendacious education. To conserve the interests of the state our brains have been crowded with a mass of false notions and silly assumptions, so that we are mostly incapable of approaching historical matters without prejudice. We smile at the simplicity of the Chinese chroniclers who record of the legendary ruler, Fuhi, that he endowed his subjects with the arts of the chase, of fishery and of stockraising, that he invented the first musical instruments and taught them the use of letters. But we repeat quite thoughtlessly what has been drummed into us concerning the culture of the Pharaohs, the creative activity of the Babylonian kings, the alleged cultural achievements of Alexander of Macedonia or of Frederick the Great. We do not even suspect that it is all foul witchcraft, lying humbug without a glimmer of truth in it, which has been repeated so often that for most of us it has become a clear certainty.

Culture is not created by command. It creates itself, arising spontaneously from the necessities of men and their social cooperative activity. No ruler could ever command men to fashion the first tools, first use fire, invent the telescope and the steam engine, or compose the Iliad. Cultural values do not arise by direction of higher authorities. They cannot be compelled by dictates nor called into life by the resolution of legislative assemblies.

Neither in Egypt nor in Babylon, nor in any other land was culture created by the heads of systems of political power. They merely appropriated an already existing and developed culture and made it subservient to their special political purposes. But thereby they put the ax to the root of all future cultural progress, for in the same degree as political power became confirmed, and subjected all social life to its influence, occurred the inner atrophy of the old forms of culture, until within their former field of action no fresh growth could start.

Political power always strives for uniformity. In its stupid desire to order and control all social events according to a definite principle, it is always eager to reduce all human activity to a single pattern. Thereby it comes into irreconcilable opposition with the creative forces of all higher culture, which is ever on the lookout for new forms and new organisations and consequently as definitely dependent on variety and universality in human undertakings as is political power on fixed forms and patterns. Between the struggles for political and economic power of the privileged minorities in society and the cultural activities of the people there always exists an inner conflict. They are efforts in opposite directions which will never voluntarily unite and can only be given a deceptive appearance of harmony by external compulsion and spiritual oppression. The Chinese sage, Laotse, had in mind this opposition when he said:

Experience teaches that none can guide the community;
The community is collaboration of forces;
as such, thought shows,
it cannot be led by the strength of one man.
To order it is to set it in disorder;
To fix it is to unsettle it.
For the conduct of the individual changes:
Here goes forward, there draws back;
Here shows warmth, there reveals cold;
Here exerts strength, there displays weakness;
Here stirs passion, there brings peace.
And so:
The perfected one shuns desire for power,
shuns the lure of power,
shuns the glamour of power. 2
Nietzsche also had a profound conception of this truth, although his inner disharmony and his constant oscillation between outlived authoritarian concepts and truly libertarian ideas all his life prevented him from drawing the natural deductions from it. Nevertheless, what he has written about the decline of culture in Germany is of the most impressive significance and finds its confirmation in the decline of culture of every sort.

No one can finally spend more than he has. That holds good for individuals; it holds good for peoples. If one spends oneself for power, for high politics, for husbandry, for commerce, Parliamentarism, military interests -- if one gives away that amount of reason, earnestness, will, selfmastery, which constitutes one's real self, for the one thing, he will not have it for the other. Culture and the state -- let no one be deceived about thisare antagonists: The 'Culture State' is merely a modern idea. The one lives on the other, the one prospers at the expense of the other. All great periods of culture are periods of political decline. Whatever is great in a cultural sense is nonpolitical, is even antipolitical. 3

If the state does not succeed in guiding the cultural forces within its sphere of power into courses favourable to its ends, and thus exhibit the growth of higher forms, these very higher forms will sooner or later destroy the political frame which they rightly regard as a hindrance. But if the political machine is strong enough to force the cultural life for any considerable period into definite forms, then it will gradually seek out other channels, not being bound by any political limitations. Every higher form of culture, if it is not too greatly hindered in its natural development by political obstructions, strives constantly to renew Its creative urge to construct. Every successful work arouses the need for greater perfection and deeper spirituality. Culture is always creative, always seeks new forms of activity. It is like the trees of the tropical jungle whose branches when they touch the earth always take new root.

Power is never creative. It uses the creative force of a given culture to clothe its nakedness and to increase its dignity. Power is always a negative element in history. It decorates itself in false feathers to give Its importance the appearance of creative force. Here also the words in Nietzsche's Zarathustra hit the bull's eye:

Wherever a people still exists, it does not understand the state but hates it like the evil eye and a sin against laws and customs. This sign I give you: Every people speaks its own language of good and evil, which its neighbour does not understand. It invented its own language for laws and customs. But the state lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever it says, it lies. And whatever it has, it has stolen. Everything about it is false. It bites with false teeth, rabidly. Even its guts are false.

Power always acts destructively, for its possessors are ever striving to lace all phenomena of social life into a corset of their laws to give them a definite shape. Its mental expression is dead dogma; its physical manifestation of life, brute force. This lack of intelligence in its endeavours leaves its imprint likewise on the persons of its representatives, gradually making them mentally inferior and brutal, even though they were originally excellently endowed. Nothing dulls the mind and the soul of man as does the eternal monotony of routine, and power is essentially routine. Since Hobbes gave to the world his work about the citizen, De Cive the ideas expressed there have never quite lost vogue. They have in the course of three centuries in one form or another constantly occupied the minds of men, and today dominate their thoughts more than ever. But although Hobbes, the materialist, did not base his ideas on the dogmas of the church, this did not prevent him from appropriating as his own the fateful dictum: "Man is fundamentally wicked." All his philosophical contemplations are based on this assumption. For him, man was just a born beast guided by selfish instincts, without any consideration for his fellows. The state alone put an end to this condition of "war of all against all" and became a terrestrial Providence whose ordering and punishing hand prevented man from sinking hopelessly into the slough of bestiality. Thus, according to Hobbes, the state became the real creator of culture, forcing man with iron compulsion to rise to a higher level of being, no matter how repugnant this might be to his inner nature. Since then this fable of the cultural creative role of the state has been endlessly repeated, and allegedly confirmed by new facts.

And yet this untenable concept contradicts all historical experience. It is exactly by the state that the remnants of bestiality, man's heritage from ancient ancestors, have been carefully guarded through the centuries and cleverly cultivated. The World War with its abominable methods of mass murder, the conditions in Mussolini's Italy, in Hitler's Third Reich, should convince even the blindest what this socalled "culture state" really is.

All higher understanding, every new phase of intellectual development, every epochmaking thought, giving men new vistas for their cultural activities, has been able to prevail only through constant struggle with the authority of church and state after their supporters had for whole epochs made enormous sacrifices in property, liberty and life for their convictions. When such renewals of spiritual life were finally recognised by church and state, it was always because they had in time become; irresistible and those in authority could not help themselves. But even this recognition, gained only after violent resistance, led in most cases to a planned dogmatising of the new ideas, which under the spiritkilling guardianship of power gradually became as utterly benumbed as all previous attempts at the construction of a new intellectual outlook.

The very fact that every system of rulership is founded on the will of a privileged minority which has subjugated the common people by cunning or brute force, while each particular phase of culture expresses merely the anonymous force of the community, is indicative of the inner antagonism between them. Power always reverts to individuals or small groups of individuals; culture has its roots in the community. Power is always the sterile element in society, denied all creative force. Culture embodies procreative will, creative urge, formative impulse, all yearning for expression. Power is comparable to hunger, the satisfaction of which keeps the individual alive up to a certain age limit. Culture, in the highest; sense, is like the procreative urge, which keeps the species alive. The individual dies, but never society. States perish, cultures only change their scene of action and forms of expression.

The state welcomes only those forms of cultural activity which help it to maintain its power. It persecutes with implacable hatred any activity which oversteps the limits set by it and calls its existence into question. It is, therefore, as senseless as it is mendacious to speak of a "state culture"; for it is precisely the state which lives in constant warfare with all higher forms of intellectual culture and always tries to avoid the creative will of culture.

But although power and culture are opposite poles in history, they nevertheless have a common field of activity in the social collaboration of men, and must necessarily find a modus vivendi. The more completely man's cultural activity comes under the control of power, the more clearly we recognise the fixation of its forms, the crippling of its creative imaginative vigour and the gradual atrophy of its productive will. On the other hand, the more vigorously social culture breaks through the limitations set by political power, the less is it hindered in its natural development by religious and political pressure. In this event it grows into an immediate danger to the permanence of power in general.

The cultural forces of society involuntarily rebel against the coercion of institutions of political power on whose sharp corners they bark their shins. Consciously or unconsciously they try to break the rigid forms which obstruct their natural development, constantly erecting new bars before it. The possessors of power, however, must always be on the watch, lest the intellectual culture of the times stray into forbidden paths, and so perhaps disturb or even totally inhibit their political activities. From this continued struggle of two antagonistic aims, the one always representing the caste interests of the privileged minority, the other the interests of the community, a certain legal relationship gradually arises, on the basis of which the limits of influence between state and society, politics and economicsin short, between power and culture are periodically readjusted and confirmed by constitutions.

What we mean today by "law" and "constitution" is merely the intellectual precipitate of this endless struggle, and inclines in its practical effects more to one side or the other according as power or culture achieves a temporary preponderance in the life of the community. Since a state without society, politics without economics, power without culture, could not exist for a moment and, on the other hand, culture has thus far not been able to eliminate the power principle from the communal social life of men, law becomes the buffer between the two, weakens the shock and guards society against a continuous state of catastrophe.

In law it is primarily necessary to distinguish two forms: "natural law" and socalled "positive law." A natural law exists where society has not yet been politically organisedbefore the state with its caste and class system has made its appearance. In this instance, law is the result of mutual agreements between men confronting one another as free and equal, motivated by the same interests and enjoying equal dignity as human beings. Positive law first develops within the political framework of the state and concerns men who are separated from one another by reason of different economic interests and who, on the basis of social inequality, belong to various castes and classes.

Positive law becomes effective on the one hand by giving the state (which everywhere in history has its roots in brute force, conquest and enslavement of the conquered) a legal character; on the other hand, by trying to achieve an adjustment between the rights, duties and privileges of the various classes of society. However, this adjustment has permanence only as long as the mass of the conquered submits to the existing condition of the law or does not feel itself strong enough to fight against it. It changes when the demand of the people for a reformation of the laws becomes so urgent and irresistible that the ruling powerobeying necessity and not an inner impulsehas to take account of this desire if they do not wish to run the risk of being completely overthrown by a violent revolution. When this happens, the new government formulates new laws which will be the more liberal the more vigorously the revolutionary will lives and finds expression among the people.

In the despotic realms of ancient Asia, where all power was embodied in the person of the ruler, whose decisions were uninfluenced by the protest of the community, power was law in the fullest meaning of the word. Since the ruler was revered as the immediate descendant of the godhead, his will prevailed as the highest law of the land, brooking no other pretensions. So, for instance, the famous code of Hammurabi was based wholly on "divine law" revealed to men by sacred command, and in consequence of its origin not subject to human judgment.

However, the legal concepts expressed in the codes of an autocrat are not merely the will of a despot. They are always bound up with ancient morals and traditional customs which have in the course of centuries become habitual in men and are the result of their communal social life. The Code of Hammurabi is no exception to this rule, for all the practical precepts of Babylonian law, springing from the needs of social life, already had validity among the people long before Hammurabi put an end to the rule of the Elamites, and by the conquest of Larsa and Jamutbal laid the foundation of a unified monarchy.

Right here appears the dual character of the law, which cannot be denied even under the most favourable circumstances. On the one hand, law gives ancient custom, which has taken root from antiquity among the people as the so-called "common law," a definite content. On the other hand, it provides for the prerogatives of privileged castes a lawful aspect, which conceals their unholy origin. Only by a careful scrutiny of this patent mystification can we understand the profound belief of men in the sacredness of law: it flatters their sense of justice and at the same time establishes their dependence on a higher power.

This inner discrepancy becomes most clearly apparent when the phase of absolute despotism has been overcome and the community participates more or less in the making of the law. All the great contests in the body politic have been contests about law, for men have always tried to confirm their newly gained rights and liberties by the laws of the state; which naturally led to new difficulties and disappointments. This is the reason why thus far every struggle for right has changed to a struggle for power, why the revolutionary of yesterday has become the reactionary of today; for it is not the form of power but power itself which is the root of the evil. Every power, of whatever kind, has the impulse to reduce the rights of the community to a minimum to make secure its own existence. Society, on the other hand, strives for a constant extension of its rights and liberties which it seeks to achieve by the limitation of the functions of the state. This is especially apparent in revolutionary periods when men are filled with the longing for new forms of social culture.

The contest between state and society, power and culture, is thus Comparable to the motion of a pendulum which proceeds always from one of its two polesauthorityslowly struggling toward the opposite polefreedom. And just as there was once a time when might and right were one, so we are now apparently moving toward a time when every form of rulership shall vanish, law yield place to justice, liberties to freedom.

Every reconstruction of the law by the incorporation of new rights and liberties or the extension of those already existing emanates from the people, never from the state. The liberties we enjoy today, in a more or less limited degree, the people owe neither to the good will nor the special favour of government. On the contrary, the possessors of public power have left no means untried either to prevent the establishment of new rights or to render them ineffective. Great mass movements, indeed actual revolutions, were necessary to win from the possessors of power every little concession; they would never have yielded one of them voluntarily.

It is, therefore, a complete misconception of historical facts that leads a highflown radicalism to declare that political rights and liberties as laid down in the constitutions of the various states are without significance because they have been formulated and confirmed by government. It is not because the possessors of power viewed these rights sympathetically that they established them, but because they were compelled by outward pressure. The spiritual culture of the time somewhere burst the bounds of the political frame, and the ruling powers had to submit to forces which for the time being they could not neglect.

Political rights and liberties were never won in legislative bodies, but compelled from them by external pressure. Moreover, even legal guarantee by no means gives security that such rights will be permanent. Governments are ever ready to curtail existing rights or to abolish them entirely if they believe the country will not resist. It is true that attempts at curtailment have sometimes resulted disastrously for possessors of power who did not rightly estimate the strength of their opponents and did not know how to choose the proper time for action. Charles I had to pay for his attempt with his life; others, with the loss of their power. But this did not prevent constant new attempts from being made in this direction. Even in those countries where certain rights like freedom of the press, of assembly, of organization, and so on, have for centuries been established among the people, the governments seize every favourable opportunity to curtail these rights, or by judicial hairsplitting to give them a narrower interpretation. America and England furnish us in this respect with many examples that constitute food for reflection. Of the famous Weimar constitution of the Germans, put out of commission on almost any rainy day, it is hardly worth while to speak.

Rights and liberties do not persist because written down legally on a scrap of paper. They become permanent only when they have become a vital necessity for the people; have, so to speak, entered their very flesh and blood. They will be given regard only as long as this necessity survives among the people. When this is no longer true, no parliamentary opposition avails, and no appeal, however passionate, to respect the constitution. The recent history of Europe provides striking examples.

  • 1Plato, The Republic. Third Book.
  • 2Lao tse, The Course and the Right Way. Translated from the German of Alexander Ular. Published by the Inselbucherei, Leipzig.
  • 3Friedrich Nietzsche, GotzenDammgrung ("The Twilight of the Idols").


5. The Rise of the National State

The revolt of the communities
The age of federalism
Personal freedom and social union
The community of christendom
The decline of medieval culture
The dissolution of communal institutions
The great discoveries
Decline of the papal power
The janus head of the renaissance
The revolt of the individual
The "master man" people becomes mob
The national state
Machiavelli's Principe
National unity as a tool of temporal power
The high priests of the new state.

Submitted by Toms on September 5, 2011

Every political power tries to subject all groups in social life to its supervision and, where it seems advisable, totally to suppress them; for it is one of its most vital assumptions that all human relations should be regulated by the agencies of governmental power. This is the reason why every important phase in the cultural reconstruction of social life has been able to prevail only when its inner social connections were strong enough to prevent the encroachments of political power or temporarily to eliminate them.

After the downfall of the Roman Empire there arose almost everywhere in Europe barbaric states which filled the countries with murder and rapine and wrecked all the foundations of culture. That European humanity at that time was no; totally submerged in the slough of utter barbarism, was owing to that powerful revolutionary movement which spread with astonishing uniformity over all parts of the continent and is known to history as "the revolt of the communities." Everywhere men rebelled against the tyranny of the nobles, the bishops, and governmental authority and fought with armed hands for the local independence of their communities and a readjustment of the conditions of their social life.

In this manner the victorious communities won their "charters" and created their city constitutions in which the new legal status found expres-sion. But even where the communities were not strong enough to achieve full independence they forced the ruling power to far-reaching conces-sions. Thus evolved from the tenth to the fifteenth century that great epoch of the free cities and of federalism whereby European culture was preserved from total submersion and the political influence of the arising royalty was for a long time confined to the non-urban country. The medieval commune was one of those constructive social systems where life in its countless forms flowed from the social periphery toward a common centre and, always changing, entered into the most manifold connections, opening for man ever new outlooks for his social being. At such times the individual feels himself an independent member of society; which makes his work fruitful, gives wings to his spirit and prevents his mental stagnation. And this communal spirit, always at work in a thousand places, which by the very fullness of its manifestations in every field of human activity shapes itself into a unified culture, has its own roots in the community and finds expression in every aspect of communal life.

In such a social environment man feels free in his decisions, although intergrown in countless ways with the community. It is this very freedom of associations which gives force and character to his personality and moral content to his will. He carries the "law of the association" in his own breast, and hence any external compulsion appears to him senseless and incomprehensible. He feels, however, the full responsibility arising from his social relations with his fellowmen, and he makes it the basis of his personal conduct.

In that great period of federalism when social life was not yet fixed by abstract theory and everyone did what the necessity of the circumstances demanded of him, all countries were covered by a close net of fraternal associations, trade guilds, church parishes, county associations, city con-federations, and countless other alliances arising from free agreement. As dictated by the necessities of the time they were changed or completely reconstructed, or even disappeared, to give place to wholly new leagues without having to await the initiative of a central power which guides and directs everything from above. The medieval community was in all fields of its rich social and vital activities arranged chiefly according to social, not governmental, considerations. This is the reason why the men of today, who from the cradle to the grave are continually subjected to the "ordering hand" of the state, find this epoch frequently quite incom-prehensible. In fact, the federalistic arrangement of society of that epoch is distinguished from the later types of organization and the centralising tendencies arising with the development of the modern state, not only by the form of its purely technical organization, but principally by the mental attitudes of men, which found expression in social union.

The old city was not only an independent political organism, it also constituted a separate economic unit, whose administration was subject to its guilds Such an organization had necessarily to be founded on a Continual adjustment of economic interests. This was in fact one of the most important characteristics of the old city culture. This was the more natural because sharp class distinctions were for a long time absent in the old cities, and all citizens were therefore equally interested in the stability of the community. Labor, as such, offered no opportunity for the accumulation of riches so long as the major part of its products were used by the inhabitants of the city and its nearest environs. The old city knew social misery as little as deep inner antagonisms. So long as this condition prevailed the inhabitants were easily capable of arranging their affairs themselves, because no sharp social contrasts existed to disturb the inherent union of the citizens. Hence federalism, founded on the independence and the equality of rights of all its members, was the accepted form of social organization in the medieval communities, with which the state, insofar as it existed at all, had to come to terms. The church, likewise, for a long time, did not dare to disturb these forms, since its leaders recognised clearly that this rich life with its unlimited variety of social activities was deeply rooted in the general culture of the period.

Precisely because the men of that period were so deeply rooted in their fraternal associations and local institutions they lacked the modern concept of the "nation" and "national consciousness" destined to play such a mischievous role in the coming centuries. The man of the federalistic period doubtless possessed a strong sentiment for the homeland, because he was much more closely connected with the homeland than are the men of today. However, no matter how intimately he felt himself related with the social life of his village or city, there never existed between him and the citizens of another community those rigid, insurmountable barriers which arose with the appearance of the national states in Europe. Medieval man felt himself to be bound up with a single, uniform culture, a member of a great community extending over all countries in whose bosom all people found their place. It was the community of Christendom which included all the scattered units of the Christian world and spiritually unified them.

Church and empire likewise had root in this universal idea, even though animated by different motives. For pope and emperor Christianity was the necessary ideological basis for the realisation of a new world dominion. For medieval man it was the symbol of a great spiritual community, wherein were embodied the moral interests of the time. The Christian idea also was only an abstract concept, like that of the fatherland and of the nation-with this distinction, however, that while the Christian idea united them, the idea of the nation separated and organised them into antagonistic camps. The deeper the concept of Christianity took root in men, the easier they overcame all barriers between themselves and others, and the stronger lived in them the consciousness that all belonged to one great community and strove toward a common goal. But the more the "national consciousness" found entrance among them, the more disruptive became the differences between them and the more ruthlessly was everything which they had had in common pushed into the background to make room for other considerations.

A number of different causes contributed to the decline of the medieval city culture. The incursions of the Mongols and Turks into the East European countries and the Seven Hundred Years' War of the little Christian states at the north of the Iberian peninsula against the Arabs greatly favoured the development of strong states in the East and the West of the continent. Principally, however, profound changes had taken place within the cities themselves whereby the federalist communities were undermined and a way made for a reorganisation of the conditions of life. The old city was a commune which for a long time could hardly be designated as a state. Its most important task consisted in establishing a fair adjustment of social and economic interests within its borders. Even where more extensive unions were formed, as for instance in the countless leagues of various cities to guard their common security, the principle of fair adjustment and free association played a deciding role; and as every community within the federation enjoyed the same rights as all the others, for a long time no real political power could be maintained.

This condition, however, was thoroughly changed by the gradual increase of the power of commercial capital, due primarily to foreign trade. The creation of a money economy and the development of definite monopolies secured commercial capital an ever growing influence both within and without the city, leading necessarily to far-reaching changes. By this the inner unity of the commune was loosened, giving place to a growing caste system and leading necessarily to a progressive inequality of social interests. The privileged minorities pressed ever more definitely towards a centralisation of the political forces of the community and gradually replaced the principles of mutual adjustment and free association by the principle of power.

Every exploitation of public economy by small minorities leads inevitably to political oppression, just as, on the other hand, every sort of political predominance must lead to the creation of new economic monopolies and hence to increased exploitation of the weakest sections of society. The two phenomena always go hand in hand. The will to power is always the will to exploitation of the weakest; and every form of exploitation finds its visible expression in a political structure which is compelled to serve as its tool. Where the will to power makes its appearance, there the administration of public affairs changes into a rulership of man over man; the community assumes the form of the state.

The transformation of the old city in fact took place along this line. Mercantilism in the perishing city republics led logically to a demand for larger economic units; and by this the desire for stronger political forms was greatly strengthened. For the protection of its enterprises commercial capital needed a strong political power with the necessary military forces, which would recognise its interests and protect them against the competition of others. Thus the city gradually became a small state, paving the way for the coming national state. The histories of Venice, Genoa and many other free cities, all show us the separate phases of this evolution and its inevitable accompanying phenomena, a development which was later unexpectedly favoured by the discovery of the passage to India and of America. By this the social foundations of the medieval community, already weakened by internal and external struggles, were shaken in their inmost core; and what little remained in them fit for future development was later totally destroyed by victorious absolutism. The further these inner disintegrations progressed the more the old communes lost their original significance, until at last only a waste of dead forms remained, felt by men as an oppressive burden. Thus, later, the Renaissance became a rebellion of men against the social ties of the past, a protest of individualism against the forceful encroachment of the social environment.

With the age of the Renaissance a new epoch commenced in Europe, causing a far-reaching revolution in all traditional views and institutions. The Renaissance was the beginning of that great period of revolutions in Europe which is not yet concluded today. In spite of all social convulsions we have not yet succeeded in finding an inner adjustment of the manifold desires and needs of the individual and the social ties of the community whereby they shall complement each other and grow together. This is the first requisite of every great social culture. Evolutionary possibilities are first set free by such a condition of social life, and can then be brought to full development. The medieval city culture had its roots in this condition before it was infected with the germs of disintegration.

A long line of incidents had contributed to bring about a profound revolution in men's thought. The dogmas of the church, undermined by the shattering criticism of the nominalists, had lost much of their former influence. Likewise, the mysticism of the Middle Ages, already classed as heresy because it proclaimed an immediate relation between God and man, had lost its effectiveness and yielded place to more earthly considerations. The great voyages of discovery of the Spaniards and the Portuguese had greatly widened the outlook of European man and had turned his thoughts to earth again. For the first time since the submersion of the ancient world the scientific spirit revived again, but under the unlimited dominance of the church it found a home only among the Arabs and Jews in Spain. Here it burst the oppressive fetters of a soulless scholasticism and became tolerant of independent thought. As man then turned toward Nature and her laws it was inevitable that his faith in a Divine providence should become shaken, for periods of natural scientific knowledge have never been propitious for religious faith in the miraculous.

Furthermore, it became ever clearer that the dream of the Respublica Christiana, the union of all Christendom under the pope's shepherd's crook, was at an end. In the struggle against the arising nationalist states the church had been forced into the rear. Furthermore, even in its own camp, the forces of disintegration were becoming constantly stronger, leading in the northern countries to open secession. When in addition to all this we consider the great economic and political changes in the body of the old society we can understand the causes of that great spiritual revolution, the effects of which are perceptible even today.

The Renaissance has been called the starting point for modern man, who at that time first became aware of his personality. It cannot be denied that this assertion is partly based on truth. In fact modern man has by no means exhausted his heritage from the Renaissance. His thought and his feeling in many ways bear the imprint of that period, though he lacks a large part of the characteristics of the man of the Renaissance. It is no accident that Nietzsche, and with him the protagonists of an exaggerated individualism, who unfortunately do not possess Nietzsche's intellect, are so much inclined to revert to that period of "liberated passions" and "the roaming blond beast" in order to give their ideas a historical background. Jacob Burckhardt cites in his work, The Culture of the Renaissance in Italy, a wonderful passage from the speech of Pico della Mirandola about the dignity of man, which is also applicable to the twofold character of the Renaissance. The Creator is speaking to Adam:

"In the middle of the world have I placed thee that thou mayst the more easily look about thee and see all that is therein contained. I created thee as a being neither celestial nor terrestrial, neither mortal nor immortal, only that thou mayst be thine own free creator and master. Thou canst degenerate into the beast or reshape thyself into a godlike being. The beasts bring with them from the mother's womb all they were meant to have; the highest spirits among them are from the beginning, or soon after, what they will remain through all eternity. Thou alone hast the power of development, of growth according to free will. Thou hast the germ of an all-embracing life in thee."

The epoch of the Renaissance wears, in fact, a Janus head, behind whose double brow concepts clash, differences arise. From the one side it declared war against the dead social structure of a vanished period and freed man from the net of social ties which had lost their fitness for him and were felt only as restraints. From the other side it laid the foundation of the present power policies of the so-called "national interests" and developed the ties of the modern state. These have been the more destructive because they have not sprung from free association for the protection of common interests, but have been imposed upon men from above to protect and extend the privileges of small minorities in society.

The Renaissance made an end of the scholasticism of the Middle Ages and freed human thought from the fetters of theological concepts, but at the same time it planted the germs of a new political scholasticism and gave the impulse to our modern state-theology whose dogmatism yields in no way to that of the church and equally with it destroys and enslaves the spirit of man. Along with the old institutions of the community it also destroyed their ethical value without seeming able to provide an effective substitute. Thus the Renaissance developed simply into a revolt of man against society, and sacrificed the soul of the community for an abstract concept of freedom which was itself based on a misconception. The freedom it strove for was but a fateful illusion, for it lacked those social principles by which alone it could survive.

True freedom exists only where it is fostered by the spirit of personal responsibility. Responsibility towards one's fellowmen is an ethical feeling arising from human associations and having justice for each and all as its basis. Only where this principle is present is society a real community, developing in each of its members that precious urge toward solidarity which is the ethical basis of every healthy human grouping. Only when the feeling of solidarity is joined to the inner urge for social justice does freedom become a tie uniting all; only under this condition does the freedom of fellowmen become, not a limitation, but a confirmation and guarantee of individual freedom.

Where this prerequisite is missing, personal freedom leads to unlimited despotism and the oppression of the weak by the strong- whose alleged strength is in most cases founded less on mental superiority than on brutal ruthlessness and open contempt for all social feeling. The revolution of the Renaissance did in fact lead to such a situation. As its chosen leaders shook off all the ethical restraints of the past and contemned every consideration of the welfare of the community as personal weakness, they developed that extreme ego-cult which feels bound by no commandment of social morality and values personal success above any truly human feeling. Thus, from so-called "human freedom" nothing could emerge but the freedom of the Master Man, who welcomed any promising means for gaining power. Contemptuous of all feeling for justice, he was prepared to make his road even over corpses.

The concept of the historical significance of the Great Man, which today is again assuming ominous proportions, was developed by Machiavelli with iron logic. His treatise on the prince is the intellectual precipitate of a time when, on the political horizon, gleamed the gruesome words of the Assassins; "Nothing is true; everything is permitted!" The most abominable crime, the most contemptible act, becomes a great deed, becomes a political necessity, as soon as the Master Man puts in appearance. Ethical considerations have validity only for the private use of weaklings; for in politics there is no moral viewpoint, but solely questions of power, for whose solution any means is justifiable which promises success. Machiavelli reduced the amorality of state power to a system and tried to justify it with such cynical frankness that it was frequently assumed, and is still sometimes assumed today, that his Principe is only a burning satire on the despots of that time, overlooking the fact that this document was written merely for the private use of one of the Medici, and was not at all intended for the public; for which reason it was not published until after its author's death.

Machiavelli did not just draw his ideas from his inner consciousness. He merely reduced to a system the common practices of the age of Louis XI, Ferdinand the Catholic, Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia, Francesco Sforza and others. These rulers were as handy with poison and dagger as with rosary and sceptre and did not permit themselves to be influenced in the least by moral considerations in the pursuit of their plans for political power. II Principe is a true portrait of every one of them. Says Machiavelli:

A prince need not possess all the above-mentioned virtues, but he should have the reputation of possessing them. I even venture to say that it is very harmful to possess them and constantly to observe them; but to appear pious, true, human, God-fearing, Christian, is useful. It is only necessary at once so to shape one's character as to be able when it is necessary to be also the opposite of these. It must, therefore, be understood that a prince, especially a new prince, cannot be expected to observe what is regarded as good by other men, for to maintain his position he must often offend against truth, faith, humanity, mercy, and religion. Therefore he must possess a conscience capable of turning according to the winds of changing fortune and, as we have said, not neglect the good when it is feasible but also do the bad when it is necessary. A prince must therefore be very careful never to utter a word not full of the above-mentioned five virtues. All that one hears of him must exude compassion, truth, humanity, mercy, and piety; and nothing is more necessary than to guard the appearance of these virtues, for men judge in general more by the eye than by the feeling, for all can see, but only few can feel. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few feel what you really are; and these do not dare to oppose the opinion of the mass guarded by the majesty of the State. Of men's acts, especially those of the princes who have no judge over them, we ever regard but the result. Let the prince, therefore, see to it that he maintains his dignity. The means will ever be regarded as honourable and brave by everyone. For the common herd ever regard but the appearance and the result of a matter; and the world is full of the common herd. 1

What Machiavelli stated here in frank words (bluntly because only meant for the ear of a definite ruler) was only the unadorned profession of faith of the representatives of each and every power policy. It is, therefore, idle to talk of "Machiavellism." What the Florentine statesman set forth so crisply and clearly and so unequivocally has always been practiced and will always be practiced as long as privileged minorities in society have the necessary power to subdue the great majority and to rob them of the fruits of their labour. Or is one to believe that our present secret diplomacy uses other principles? As long as the will to power plays a part in the communal life of men, so long will those means be justified which are best for the winning and the maintenance of power. While the outer form of power policy, now as always, must needs adjust itself to the times and circumstances, the ends it pursues always remain the same and hallow any means serviceable to its purposes; for power is inherently amoral and transgresses against every principle of human justice, which feels that all privilege of individuals or special castes are a disturbance of social equilibrium, and consequently immoral. It would then be senseless to assume that the methods of power are better than the ends they serve.

What Machiavelli reduced to a system was naked, unashamed reasons of state. It was quite clear that brutal power policy was unguided by ethical principles. Therefore he demanded, with the shameless frankness characteristic of him (the trait really does not quite conform to the principles of his own "Machiavellism"), that men who cannot do without the superfluous luxury of private conscience had better leave politics alone. That Machiavelli so completely exposed the inner workings of power politics, that he even despised to gloss over the most inconvenient details with empty phrases and hypocritical words, is his chief merit.

Leonardo da Vinci engraved on the pedestal of his equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza the words: Ecce Deus! ("What a God!"). In these words are revealed the fundamental changes everywhere apparent after the disappearance of the medieval social organization. The glamour of the godhead had faded; in its place the Master Man was endowed with new honours, a reversion to the Caesar cult of the Romans. The "hero" became the executor of human destiny, the creator of all things on earth. No one has furthered this hero cult more than Machiavelli. No one has burned more incense to the "strong individual" than he. All devotees of heroism and hero worship have merely drunk from his cup.

The belief in the surpassing genius of the Master Man is always most noticeable in times of inner dissolution, when the social ties that have bound men become loosened and the interests of the community yield place to the special interests of privileged minorities. The difference of social ambitions and objectives, which always leads to sharper contrasts within the community and to its disintegration into opposing castes and classes, continually undermines the foundations of communal feeling. But where the social instinct is continually disturbed and weakened by alteration of the external conditions of life, there the individual gradually loses his equilibrium and the people becomes the mob. The mob is nothing but the uprooted people driven hither and thither on the stream of events. It must first be collected again into a new community that new forces may arise in it and its social activities be again directed toward a common goal.

Where the people become the mob, the time is favourable for the growth of the "Great Man," of the "recognised Master Man." Only in such periods of social disintegration is it possible for the "hero" to impose his will upon the others and to force the mob under the yoke of his individual desires. The true community permits no rulership to arise because it unites men by the inner bonds of common interests and mutual respect,: needing no external compulsion. Rulership and external compulsion always appear where the internal ties of the community fall into decay and communal feeling dies. When the social bond threatens to be broken the rulership of compulsion enters to hold together by force what was once united into a community by free agreement and personal responsibility.

The Renaissance was a time of such dissolution. The people changed to the mob, and from the mob was formed the nation, which was to serve as stepping stone to the new state. This origin is very instructive, for it shows that the whole power apparatus of the national state and the abstract idea of the nation have grown on one tree. It is not by chance that Machiavelli, the theoretician of modern power politics, was also the warmest defender of national unity, which played from then on the same part for the new state as the unity of Christianity had played for the church.

It was not the people who brought about this new condition, for no inner necessity drove them to this division, nor could they derive any benefit from it. The national state is the definite result of the will to temporal power, which in pursuit of its purposes had found a powerful Support in commercial capital, which needed its help. The princes imposed their will on the people and resorted to all sorts of tricks to keep them compliant, so that later it appeared as if the division of Christendom into nations had originated with the people themselves, whereas actually they were but the unconscious tools of the special interests of the princes.

The internal disintegration of papal power, and especially the great church schism in the northern countries, gave the temporal rulers the opportunity to turn long-held plans into reality and to give their power a new foundation independent of Rome. But this disrupted the great worldwide unity whereby European humanity had been spiritually and mentally united and wherein the great culture of the federalist period had had its firmest root. It is solely because Protestantism has been regarded, especially in the northern countries, as a great spiritual advance over Catholicism that the fateful result of the Reformation has been almost totally overlooked. 2 And as the political and social reconstruction of Europe had taken the same course also in Catholic lands, and as the national state had there especially achieved its highest perfection in the form of the absolute monarchy, the enormous consequences of this event, resulting in the separation of Europe into nations, were all the more easily overlooked.

It was in furtherance of the political aims of the national state that its princely founders set up differences in principles between their own and foreign peoples and strove to deepen and confirm them, for their whole existence depended upon these artificially created differences. Therefore they attached importance to the development of different languages in the different countries, and they had a love for definite traditions, which they enveloped in a veil of mysticism and tried to keep alive among the people; for the inability to forget is one of the first requisites of "national consciousness." And since among the people only the "holy" took root, it behooved them to give to national institutions the appearance of holiness and in particular to surround the person of the ruler with the glamour of divinity.

In this matter also Machiavelli served as a pioneer, for he understood that a new era had arrived and he could indicate its trend. He was the first decided supporter of the national state against the political ambitions of the church. Because the church stood as the strongest barrier in the way of the national unity of Italy, and therefore of "freeing the land from the Barbarians," he fought it most determinedly and promoted the separation of church and state. At the same time he tried to raise the state on the pedestal of divinity, although he was no Christian and had definitely broken with all belief in the supernatural. But he felt deeply the implicit Connection between religion and politics and knew that temporal power could only prosper when it stood close to the source of all authority, so that it might shine with the light of divinity. For reasons of state, then, Machiavelli wished to preserve religion among the people, not as a power Outside the state, but as an instrumentum regni, as a tool of government by statecraft. Therefore he wrote with cold-blooded realism in the eleventh chapter of the second book of his Discourses:

In reality no one has ever introduced new laws among the people without referring therein to God. The doctrines would otherwise not have been accepted, for a wise man can recognise as good much of whose excellence he cannot convince other men. Therefore do governments take their refuge in divine authority.

The high priests of monarchistic politics continued to work in this direction. They created a new political religious feeling which gradually took shape as "national consciousness" and, fertilised by man's inner urge for a formula, bore, later, the same strange fruit as did formerly the belief in God's eternal providence.

  • 1Niccolo Machiavelli, Il Principe.
  • 2Novalis had clearly grasped the deeper meaning of this tremendous political change when he wrote:
    "Unfortunately the princes had interfered in this schism, and many used it for the confirmation and extension of their temporal power and income. They were glad to be relieved of that high influence, and took the new consistoria under their fatherly protection. They were most eagerly concerned to prevent the complete union of the Protestant churches, and thus religion was most irreligiously enclosed within state boundaries; whereby the ground was laid for the gradual undermining of religious cosmopolitan interests. Thus religion lost its great political peace-making influence, its peculiar role as the unifying individualising principle of Christianity." (Novalis, Christianity or Europe. Fragment written in 1799.)


6. The Reformation and the New State

The reformation and the social folk movements of the middle ages
The church and the princes in the north
Luther's attitude toward the State
Protestantism as a phase of princely Absolutism
Nationalism as inner enslavement, the peasant revolt
Wycliffe and the reformation in England
The hussite movement
Calixtines and Taborites
War as a source of Despotism
Chelcicky, a reformer of Church and State
Protes-tantism in Sweden
The disestablishment of the Church
The doctrine of predestination
The reign of terror in Geneva
Protestantism and Science

Submitted by Toms on September 5, 2011

IN the Reformation of the northern countries, readily distinguishable by its religious concepts from the Renaissance of the Latin people, where the concepts were dominantly pagan, two different tendencies must be carefully distinguished; the mass revolution of the peasants and of the lower sections of society in the cities, and the so-called Protestantism, which in Bohemia as well as in England and in Germany and the Scandi-navian countries worked toward a separation of the church and state and strove to concentrate all power in the hands of the state. The memory of the popular revolution, drowned in blood by the rising Protestantism and its princely and priestly representatives, was later (as usual) defamed and belittled by the victors. And as in the writing of current history the success or failure of a cause are the determining factors, it was inevitable that in later times the Reformation should be regarded as nothing more than the movement of Protestantism.

The revolutionary urge of the masses was directed not only against the Roman Papacy, but was meant to abolish social inequalities and the prerogatives of the rich and powerful. The leaders of the popular move-ment felt that these were a mockery of the pure Christian teaching of the equality of men. Even after the church had achieved its power the spirit of the early Christian congregations, with their communal mode of life and the feeling of brotherhood animating them, had never been quite forgotten among the people. The origin of monasticism was to be traced to this cause; likewise, the spirit of millennialism, the belief in a thousand year reign of peace, freedom and common possessions. This found an echo also in the speeches of Joachim of Floris and Almarich of Bena.

These traditions remained alive among the Bogomili in Bulgaria and Servia, and among the Cathari of the Latin countries. They kindled the courage of their faith among the Waldenses and the heretical sects of Languedoc and among the Humiliati and the Apostolic Brethren in Northern Italy, with their inner light. We find them among the Beguines and Beghardes in Flanders, among the Anabaptists of Holland and of Switzerland and the Lollards in England. They lived in the revolutionary popular movements in Bohemia and in the confederacies of the German peasants, who united in the Bundschuh and the Poor Conrad to break the yoke of serfdom. It was the spirit of these traditions which descended upon the Enthusiasts of Zwickau and gave to the revolutionary action of Thomas Munzer so powerful an impulse.

Against some of these movements the church with the help of the temporal powers organised regular crusades, as against the Bogomili and Albigenses, whereby whole countries were for decades filled with murder and rapine and thousands were slaughtered. But these bloody persecutions only contributed to the spread of those movements. Thousands of fugitives roamed through other lands and carried their doctrines to new groups. That between most of the heretical sects of the Middle Ages international relations existed has been fully proved by historical research. Such rela-tionships can be shown between the Bogomili and certain sects in Russia and Northern Italy, between the Waldenses and similar sects in Germany and Bohemia, between the Baptists in Holland, England, Germany and Switzerland.

All the peasant revolts in Northern Italy, Flanders, France, England, Germany, Bohemia, from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, were inspired by these movements, and give us today a fairly clear picture of the feeling and thinking of large sections of the people of that period. While we cannot speak of a unified movement, we notice a whole series of movements which preceded the great Reformation, and produced it. The well-known derisive song of the English Lollards,

When Adam delved and Eva span
Who was then the gentleman?

could well have served most of these movements as a leitmotif. The real popular movement of the Reformation period sought no alliance with princes and nobles, for with sure instinct its leaders recognised them as implacable enemies of the people, who would march not with them but against them. And since most of the great reformers, like Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, and others had first taken root among the movements of the people, the rising Protestantism was originally very closely connected with these. This situation changed very rapidly, however, as the social antithesis between the two objectives became ever more sharply accentuated and it was shown that large sections of the people would not be content with merely "away from Rome."

Separation from the Roman church could only be desirable to the princes of the northern countries as long as this separation involved no further consequences, and left their political and economic prerogatives untouched. The break with Rome not only increased their own authority, it also prevented the regular export of great sums of money from the land, for which they had such need at home. Furthermore, it gave them the opportunity to seize the church estates and to put the rich returns into their own treasury. It was these considerations which induced the princes and nobles of the northern countries to lead the Reformation. The petty quarrels of theologians hardly interested them, but the separation from Rome showed them definite advantages in prospect which were not to be despised. Hence it was profitable to follow the "voice of conscience" and to patronise the new prophets. Moreover the theological spokesmen of the Reformation did not make too great religious demands upon the Protestant princes. Instead, they endeavoured earnestly to show the rulers the temporal advantages of the matter. Thus Huss spoke to them in the language they best understood: "O ye faithful kings, princes, lords, and knights, awake from the lethargic dreams with which the priests have put a spell on you. Exterminate in your dominions the Simonist heresy-do not permit them in your lands to extort money to your disadvantage." 1

The spiritual leaders of Protestantism turned from the very beginning to the temporal rulers of their lands, whose assistance seemed to them absolutely necessary to secure victory for their cause. But as they also had to be careful not to break with the enraged people, they strove, although vainly, to reconcile the popular movement with the selfish aims of the princes and nobles. This attempt was doomed to failure, as the social cleft had become too wide to be bridged by a few petty concessions. The more compliant the Reformers showed themselves to the masters, the further they became removed from the revolutionary movement of the people and definitely arrayed against them. This was especially the case with Luther, who possessed the least social feeling of all of them, and whose spiritual vision was so narrow that he actually imagined the great movement could be brought to a close by the foundation of a new church.

Like Huss, Luther quoted Paul to prove that princes are not subject to the guardianship of the church but are called of God to rule over priest and bishop. In his appeal, "To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation", he tried to prove that according to the doctrines of Holy Writ, there was in reality no priestly caste but only a priestly function which anyone could serve who possessed the necessary ability and the confidence of his congregation. From this it followed that the church had no right to exercise temporal power; that belonged to the state. According to Luther's concept all power should be vested in the state, which was appointed by God himself to guard the public order. In effect, in this concept the whole political significance of Protestantism exhausted itself.

Protestantism had freed the conscience of man from the guardianship of the church only to barter it to the state. In this the "Protestant mission" of Martin Luther, who called himself God's servant, but was in reality only the servant of the state and its minion, completely exhausted itself. It was this innate servility which enabled him to betray the German people to the princes, and together with them to lay the foundation stones of a new church which in private agreement sold itself body and soul to the state and proclaimed the will of the princes and nobles as God's commandment. Luther accomplished the unholy union of religion with the interests of the state. He locked the living spirit into the prison of the word and thus became the herald of that dead-letter learning which interprets Christ's revelations to suit the state; which makes of men humble galley slaves, led to the portal of Paradise to compensate them by the life eternal for the slavery of this world.

Medieval man had not yet known the state in the real sense of the word. The concept of a central power which forces every vital activity into definite forms and guides men from the cradle to the grave upon the leading strings of a higher authority was strange to him. His ideas of right were based on custom transmitted to him by tradition. His religious feeling recognised the incompleteness of all human systems and made him inclined to follow his own counsel, and to help himself and to shape his relations with his fellowmen in conformity with the ancient customs of mutual agreement. When the rising state began to undermine these rights and raised its cause to the cause of God, he fought against the injustice which was being done to him. This is the real meaning of the great popular movements of the age of the Reformation, which endeavoured to give to the "freedom of the Evangelical Christian man"-as Luther called it-a social significance.

Only after the popular movement had been drowned in seas of blood, while Luther, "the beloved man of God," blessed the butchers of the insurgent German peasants, did victorious Protestantism raise its head and gave the state and its legal control of affairs a religious sanction, bloodily purchased with the gruesome slaughter of a hundred and thirty thousand men; Thus was accomplished the "reconciliation between religion and law," as Hegel later chose to call it. The new theology was taught by the lawyers. The dead-letter learning of the law killed conscience or invented a cheap substitute. The throne was transformed into an altar on which man was sacrificed to the new idols. "Positive law" became divine revelation; the state, the representative of God on earth.

In the other countries, too, Protestantism pursued the same ends everywhere; it betrayed the people and made of the Reformation an affair of the princes and the privileged sections of society. The movement started by Wycliffe in England, which spread to other countries, especially to Bohemia, was primarily of political character. Wycliffe fought the pope because the pope had embraced the cause of France, England's mortal enemy, and had demanded of the English government that the kingdom should continue to regard itself as a vassal of the Holy See and pay tribute to it, as John Lackland had done to Innocent III. But those times were passed. When Philip III of France braved the ban of Boniface VIII and compelled his successor to take up his residence at Avignon, the unlimited rulership of the Papacy received a blow from which it never recovered. Consequently, the English parliament could calmly dare to answer the pope's demands with the declaration that no king was ever empowered to surrender the country's independence to the pope.

Wycliffe at first merely defended the complete independence of the temporal power from the church and only advanced to a criticism of churchly dogmas after he had become convinced that the question would never be settled without a bold break with papism. But when the great peasant rebellion in England broke out and the revolting hordes of Wat Tyler and John Ball brought the king and the government into greatest danger, Wycliffe's opponents embraced the opportunity to raise their public accusation against him. Wycliffe declared that he did not sanction the action of the rebellious peasants; but he did it with a gentleness of understanding for the sufferings of the poor which compared most favourably with the Berserker rage wherewith Luther in his notorious screed "against the robbing and murdering peasants" encouraged the German princes to butcher them mercilessly.

When, later on, Henry VIII completed the breach with the papal church and confiscated its estates, he made himself the head of the new state church, which was completely under the dominance of the temporal power. When the same Henry had launched a virulent epistle against Luther, only, soon after, to defend the "national interest" against the Papacy, he did but prove that in England also-temporal advantages possessed a greater interest for the tenant of the crown than "the pure word of God" of the new doctrine.

In Bohemia, where the general situation was already very tense, it became accentuated by the national antagonisms between the Czechs and the Germans, in consequence whereof the Reformation assumed there an exceptionally violent expression. The real Hussite movement became prominent in Bohemia only after the death of Huss and Jerome of Prague at the stake. The preachings of Huss had been, on the whole, only the tracts of Wycliffe, which the Czech reformers translated for their country men into their own language. Huss, like Wycliffe, urged the complete liberation of the temporal power from the petty guardianship of the church. The church was to concern itself only with the salvation of men's souls and to stand aloof from every temporal governmental office. Of the "two whales," as Peter Chelcicky had called church and state, Huss would concede only to the state the power over temporal things. The church must be poor, must renounce all earthly treasure, and the priests must be amenable to temporal government even as any other subjects. Furthermore, the priestly office was to be open also to laymen, provided they possessed the necessary moral qualities. He condemned the moral degeneracy which had become prevalent among the priesthood, turning with especial severity against the traffic in indulgences, at that time most shamelessly practiced by the church, especially in Bohemia. Besides the purely political demands, which alone interest us here and which, being understood, appear especially favourable to the nobility, Huss made a number of theological demands directed against the oral confession, the mendicant monks, the doctrine of purgatory and other items. But what principally secured him the support of the Czech population was his teaching that the paying of tithes was no duty and his specially nationalistic position against the Germans, regarded by the Czechs as despoilers of their country.

The Calixtines and Utraquists, 2 to which sects chiefly the nobility and the richer citizens of Prague belonged, had been easily satisfied with the realisation of these demands and refused all social reforms, being principally concerned with the acquisition of the rich church estates and, for the rest, with peace and order in the country. But the real popular movement, comprising mainly the peasants and the poorer city population, pushed further and demanded especially the liberation of the peasants from the yoke of serfdom which so heavily oppressed the rural districts. Already Charles V had been compelled to stay the nobles from putting out the eyes and cutting off the hands and feet of their serfs for the slightest transgression. The movement of the so-called Taborites 3 embraced especially all democratic elements of the people up to the communists and chiliasts and was inspired with an ardent courage for battle.

It was inevitable that between these two movements of the Hussite agitation violent contentions were sooner or later bound to arise; they were delayed only by the general political condition of the times. When the German Emperor Sigismund, after the sudden death of his brother Wenceslaus, became the wearer of the Bohemian crown, the whole land was seized by a mighty commotion. For by the emperor's dastardly breach of faith Huss had been compelled to mount the pyre, after which Sigismund was regarded in all Bohemia as the sworn enemy of all reform movements. Soon after his ascent of the throne, in March, 1420, Pope Martin V in a special bull called all Christendom to a crusade against the Bohemian heresy, and an army of 150,000 men recruited from all parts of Europe moved against the Hussites. Now revolt arose all over the land to a devouring flame. Calixtines and Taborites, threatened by the same immediate danger, let their inner differences rest for the time being and united quickly for common defence. Under the leadership of the aged Zizka, an experienced warrior, the first crusading army was bloodily and decisively beaten. But that did not end the struggle; pope and emperor continued their attacks against the Bohemian heresies; and thus developed one of the bloodiest of wars, waged on both sides with frightful cruelty. After the Hussites had expelled the enemy from their own country they invaded the neighbouring states, wasted cities and villages, and by their irresistible bravery became the terror of their foes.

This brutal warfare lasted for twelve years, until the Hussites put the last army of the crusaders to fight in the battle of Taus. The result of the peace negotiations, concluded at the Council of Basle, was the "compact of Prague," which gave the Hussites far-reaching concessions in matters of faith and, above all, announced the renunciation by the church of its estates which the Czech nobility had appropriated.

This concluded the war against the external enemies, but only to make place for civil war. During the short breathing spells permitted the Hussites in the war against pope and emperor the differences between Calixtines and Taborites had flamed up anew, repeatedly leading to bloody conflicts. As a consequence, the Calixtines had repeatedly started negotiations with the pope and the emperor. And so it was inevitable that after the conclusion of peace, in which outcome they were chiefly instrumental, they should be supported against the Taborites by their former enemies to the best of their ability. In May, 1434, there occurred between the two parties the murderous battle of Lipan, in which thirteen thousand Taborites were killed and their army almost completely annihilated.

With this the popular movement was definitely defeated, and there began hard times for the poor populace of city and village. But thus early it became apparent that the revolutionary popular movement, which by its own or others' fault had come to be involved in a protracted war, was forced by circumstances to abandon its original aims, because military demands exhaust all social forces and thereby nullify all creative activity for the development of new forms of social organization. War not only affects human nature calamitously in general by constant appeal to its most brutal and cruel motives, but the military discipline which it demands at last stifles every libertarian movement among the people and then systematically breeds the degrading brutality of blind obedience, which has always been the father of all reaction.

This the Taborites, too, had to learn. Their opponents, the professors of Prague University, accused them of striving for a condition where "there would be no king nor ruler nor subjects anywhere on earth, all control and guidance would cease, none could compel another to anything, and all would dwell in equality like brothers and sisters." It was soon apparent that the war drove them constantly farther away from this goal, not only because their military leaders suppressed with bloody force all the libertarian tendencies within the movement, but because the nationalist spirit which animated them and which in the course of this terrible war increased to white heat, necessarily estranged them more and more from all truly humanitarian considerations, without which no truly revolutionary movement can ever succeed. Once men have become used to the thought that all problems of social life have to be settled by force, they logically arrive at despotism, even though they give it another name and hide its true character behind some misleading title. And thus it happened in Tabor. The yoke of restriction bore more and more heavily on the citizens and crushed the spirit that had once animated them. Peter Chelcicky, a forerunner of Tolstoi and one of the few innerly free men of that epoch, who opposed both church and state, described, in the following weighty words, the terrible condition into which protracted war had plunged the country:

. . . and then someone fills vile dens with thieves and commits violence, robbery, and murder and at the same time is a servant of God and does not carry the sword in vain. And truly he does not carry it in vain, but rather to do all sorts of injustice, violence, robbery, oppression of the labouring poor. And thereby have these various lords torn the people asunder and incited them against one another. Everyone drives his people like a herd to battle against others. Thus by these many masters the whole peasantry has been made familiar with murder, for they go about armed, always ready for battle. Thereby all brotherly love is infiltrated with bloodlust and such tension created as easily leads to contest, and murder results. 4

In Sweden, where the young dynasty founded by Gustavus Vasa imposed Protestantism on the people for purely political motives, the Reformation assumed quite a peculiar character. It was by no means holy zeal for the new divine doctrines that caused Gustavus I to break with Rome, but simply very sober political motives united with highly important economic considerations. Several grave mistakes of the papal power greatly favoured the success of his plans.

Soon after the commencement of his reign the king had addressed a most respectful letter to the pope requesting him to appoint new Swedish bishops who would be "concerned to guard the rights of the Church without encroaching upon those of the Crown." More especially Gustavus wished the pope to confirm as Archbishop of Upsala the newly nominated Primus Johannis Magni, whose predecessor, Gustavus Trolle, had been condemned by the Rigsdag as a traitor because he had invited the Danish king, Christian II, into the land to overthrow the regent, Sten Sture. Gustavus had promised the pope to "prove himself a faithful son of the Church" and he assumed that the Vatican would respond to his wishes But the pope, badly advised by his counsellors, believed that Gustavus' reign would not last long, and with unyielding insistence demanded the reinstatement of Gustavus Trolle. With that the die was cast. Gustavus could not have yielded to this demand even if he had intended to avoid an open breach with Rome. Although the great majority of the Swedish people were good Catholics and wanted nothing to do with Luther, a renewal of the Danish dominion appeared even less endurable to the free Swedish peasants. The bloody tyranny of the fatuous despot, Christian II had given them plenty of cause for fear. Hence the king could risk the breach with papism which, secretly, he doubtless desired. But although Sweden separated from the Holy See, and the king thereafter favoured the preaching of Protestantism, the church service remained the same.

What Gustavus principally desired was under some pretext to confiscate the estates of the church, which in Sweden were very rich. After some cautious attempts in this direction, which aroused the opposition of his own bishops, he finally dropped the mask of impartiality and, in order to carry through his political plans, announced himself as an open enemy of the church. In 1526, he suppressed all the Catholic publishing houses in the country and seized two-thirds of the church's income to liquidate the debts of the state. Later, when a serious contention arose between the king and the spiritual dignitaries concerning the further confiscation of church properties, Gustavus Vasa gradually abolished all the prerogatives of the churches and made them subservient to the state.

The king could not, however, take such steps relying solely on his own power, for the peasants were definitely opposed to the so-called "church reforms" and were especially outraged by the theft of church property. How little the people cared for Lutheranism is apparent from the fact that the peasantry frequently threatened to march on Stockholm and destroy that "spiritual Sodom," as they called the capital because of its Protestant tendencies. Their opposition compelled the king and his successors to rely more and more on the nobility; and the nobles granted their assistance to the Crown only for a price. Not only were a great part of the church estates yielded to the nobility to purchase their favour, but the peasants were pressed by royalty ever deeper into servitude to the nobility to retain their good humour.

Naturally, the antagonistic attitude of the peasant population repeatedly brought the young dynasty into a very dangerous position. The Swedish peasants, who had never known serfdom during medieval times, possessed a strong influence in their country. It was they who had elected Gustavus Vasa king to foil the secret machinations of the Danish party. Now, when the king tried to impose upon the country a new faith, and further burdened the peasants with heavy taxes, there arose frequent and serious disagreement between the Crown and the people. From 1526 to 1543 Gustavus had to fight not fewer than six uprisings of the peasants. While these were not at last, it is true, completely successful, they did force the king to curb somewhat his ever growing lust for absolute power.

Gustavus Vasa knew very well that for weal or woe his-dynasty was inextricably entwined with Protestantism. By his confiscation of church estates and the public execution at Stockholm of two Catholic bishops he had burned all his bridges behind him and was obliged to pursue the path he had taken. Hence, in his will, he most urgently adjured his successors to remain true to the new faith, for only thus could the dynasty continue to prosper.

Thus Protestantism was in Sweden from the very beginning a purely dynastic affair, systematically imposed on the people. That Gustavus Vasa was converted to Protestantism from inner conviction is Just as much a fairy tale as the assertion that his later successor, Gustavus Adolphus, only with a heavy heart and against his will, invaded Germany to aid his hard-pressed fellow religionists. For such a purpose neither "the snow king," as his enemies called him, nor his clever chancellor, Oxenstierna, would have spent a penny. What they were after was unlimited dominion over the Baltic, and for such a purpose any pious lie was acceptable.

Wherever Protestantism attained to any influence it revealed itself as a faithful servant of the rising absolutism and granted the state all the rights it had denied to the Roman Church. That Calvinism fought absolutism in England, France and Holland is not significant, for, with this exception: it was less free than any other phase of Protestantism. That it opposed absolutism in those countries is explained by the special social conditions prevailing in them. At its source it was unendurably despotic, and determined the individual fate of men far more completely than the Roman Church had ever tried to do. No other religion has had such a deep and permanent influence on men's personal lives. Was not the "inner conversion" one of the most important doctrines of Calvin? And he continued to convert till nothing was left of humanity.

Calvin was one of the most terrible personalities in history, a Protestant Torquemada, a narrow-hearted zealot, who tried to prepare men for God's kingdom by the rack and wheel. Crafty and cunning, destitute of all deeper feeling, like a genuine inquisitor he sat in judgment upon the visible weaknesses of his fellowmen and instituted a regular reign of terror in Geneva. No pope ever wielded completer power. The church ordinances regulated the lives of the citizens from the cradle to the grave, reminding them at every step that they were burdened by the curse of original sin, which in the murky light of Calvin's doctrine of predestination assumed an especially sombre character. All joy of life was forbidden. The whole land was like a penitent's cell in which there was room only for inner consciousness of guilt and humiliation. Even at weddings music and dancing were forbidden. In the theatres only pieces with religious content were offered. An unendurable censorship took care that no profane writings, especially no novels, were printed. An army of spies infested the land and respected the rights of neither home nor family. Even the walls had ears, for all the faithful were urged to become informers and felt obliged to betray their fellows. In this respect too, political and religious "orthodoxy" always reach the same result.

Calvin's criminal code was a unique monstrosity. The least doubt of the dogmas of the new church, if heard by the watchdogs of the law, was punished by death. Frequently the mere suspicion was enough to bring down the death sentence, especially if the accused for some reason or other was unpopular with his neighbours. A whole series of transgressions which had been formerly punished with short imprisonment, under the rulership of Calvinism led to the executioner. The gallows, the wheel and the stake were busily at use in the "Protestant Rome," as Geneva was frequently called. The chronicles of that time record gruesome abominations, among the most horrible being the execution of a child for striking its mother, and the case of the Geneva executioner, Jean Granjat, who was compelled first to cut off his mother's right hand and then to burn her publicly because, allegedly, she had brought the plague into the land. Best known is the execution of the Spanish physician, Miguel Servetus, who in 1553 was slowly roasted to death over a small fire because he had doubted Calvin's doctrines of the Trinity and predestination. The cowardly and treacherous manner in which Calvin contrived the destruction of the unfortunate scholar throws a gruesome light on the character of that terrible man, whose cruel fanaticism is so uncanny because so frightfully calm and removed from all human feeling. 5

But as human nature could not, for all that, be exterminated by pious pretence, secret desires continued to glow, and created externally that miserable care for appearances and that revolting hypocrisy characteristic of Protestantism in general and of Calvin's Puritanism in particular. Furthermore, historical research has discovered that under the rule of Calvinism moral degeneration and political corruption flourished to a degree never known before.

Since Calvin is frequently given credit for maintaining democratic principles in political administration, it should be remembered that Geneva was no great monarchic state, but a small republic, and that the Reformer was for this reason compelled to accept the democratic tradition. Furthermore, it must not be overlooked that in so fanatical a time, when men had lost all inner balance and were utterly without any reasonable consideration, it was precisely formal democracy which could best serve Calvin to confirm his power, since he could announce it as the will of the people. In reality, the democratic appeals in Calvin's policy were but a deceitful camouflage, which could not disguise the theocratic character of his government.

Protestantism did, therefore, by no means unfold the banner of spiritual independence or "the religion of freedom of conscience," as is so often asserted. It was in matters of faith just as intolerant as was Catholicism, and as inclined to the brutal persecution of dissenters. It but assisted the transfer of the principle of authority from the religious to the political field and thereby wakened Caesaro-Papism to new forms and a new life. It was in many respects more narrow-minded and mentally more limited than the heads of the old church, whose rich experience, knowledge of human nature and high intellectual culture were so totally lacking in Protestant leaders. If its rage for persecution found fewer victims than did the consistent intolerance of the papal church it was simply because its activity was confined to a narrower field and cannot be compared with the other.

Toward the rising science, Protestantism was as innately antagonistic as the Catholic church. It frequently manifested its antagonism even more strongly, as the dead-letter beliefs of its representatives barred every freer outlook. The translation of the Bible into the various national languages led to a quite unique result. To the great founders of the Protestant doctrine the Bible was not a book or a collection of books conceived as written by men, but the very revealed word of God. For this reason "Holy Writ" was for them infallible. They interpreted all events according to the text of the Bible and condemned all knowledge not in harmony with the words of Scripture. Thus, to the adherents of the new church the letter became everything and the spirit nothing. They locked reason within the chains of a dead-letter fetishism and were, for this reason if no other, incapable of scientific thought. Not for nothing had Luther called reason "the whore of the devil." His judgment concerning Copernicus is a masterpiece of Protestant thinking. He called the great scholar a fool and refuted the new cosmic concept by simply stating that it is written in the Bible that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.

Furthermore, this religious dead-letter faith was the immediate predecessor of the later political belief in miracles, which swears by the letter of the law and is just as disastrous in its results as the blind belief in "God's written Word."

It was the mental bondage, characteristic of all Protestantism, which induced the humanists-who had at first welcomed the Reformation in northern lands most gladly-later to turn away, when it became clear to them how much of theological persecution and how little of spiritual freedom had intrenched itself behind this movement. It was neither irresolution nor over-anxiety which influenced their attitude. It was Protestantism's lack of intellectual culture and obtuseness of feeling which estranged the leaders of humanism. More than this, it was Protestantism's nationalistic limitations, destroying the spiritual and cultural ties which up to then had united the peoples of Europe. But principally, two different modes of thought existed here which could have no genuine point of contact. When Erasmus of Rotterdam publicly asked to have named to him "the men who under Lutherism had made marked progress in science," his question remained for most of his Protestant opponents eternally unintelligible. They sought, not in science, but only in the word of the Bible, to find the unique way to all knowledge. Erasmus's question shows most clearly the width of the gulf which had opened between the two movements.

  • 1Carl Vogl, Peter Chelcicky: A Prophet at the Turn of the Time.
  • 2"Calixtines," from the Latin calix, cup; "Utraquists," from the Latin, sub utraque specie ("in both forms"), because they received the Eucharist in two forms, receiving from the priest not only bread but also wine, wherefore the cup became the sign of the Hussites. This custom, however, did not originate with Huss, but with Jacob von Mies, also called Jacobellus.
  • 3''Taborites", because they had given to a town which stood on a hill in the neighbourhood of Prague, the biblical name of Tabor. Tabor remained, until the Suppression of the Taborites, the spiritual centre of the movement, and its inhabitants practiced a sort of communal possession which might be called a war communism.
  • 4Peter Chelcicky. The Net of Faith. translated into German from the old Czechic by Dr. Carl Vogl. Dachau, Munich, 1925, p. 145.
  • 5The Genevan historian, J. B. Galiffe, in his two writings, Some Pages of Exact History, and New Pages collected a mass of material from the old chronicles and file records which gives a positively shocking picture of the conditions prevailing in Geneva at that time.


7. Absolutism - An Obstacle to Economic Development

The fable of the nationalist state as a furtherer of cultural development- the decline of industry and decay of economy
The period of wars and reversion to barbarism
Commercial Capital and Absolutism
Manufacture and Mercantilism
The State as creator of economic monopolies
Regimentation of economics by monarchies
Colbert and the economic dictatorship in France
The English monarchy and traffic in monopolies
The East India Company and the Hudson Bay Company
The French Revolution as a pioneer of new economic organization
The national state in Spain and the decay of economy and culture

Submitted by Toms on September 5, 2011

The "mesta" and the exploitation of spanish peasants
Philip II and the introduction of the "alcavala." Wallenstein and Gustavus Adolphus
The thirty years' war and the decay of culture in Germany
The founding of manufactures as a speculation by the State

It has often been asserted that the development of the social structure in Europe in the direction of the national state has been along the line of progress. It is, significantly, the protagonists of "historical materialism" who have most emphatically defended this concept. They try to prove that the historic events of the time were caused by economic necessity, demanding a broadening of the technical conditions of production. In reality, this fable arises from no serious consideration of historical facts, but rather from a vain desire to see the social development of Europe in the light of an advancing evolution. In that important reconstruction of European society associated with the growth of nationalism, the struggle of small minorities for political power has frequently played a much more important part than alleged "economic necessity." Quite apart from the fact that there is not the least reason to suppose that the evolution of technical methods of production could not have gone on just as well without the creation of the national state, it cannot be denied that the foundation of the national absolutist states of Europe was associated with a long series of devastating wars by which the economic and cultural development of many lands was for a long time, yes, even for centuries, completely inhibited.

In Spain the rise of the nationalist state led to a catastrophic decay of once flourishing industries and to a complete disintegration of the whole economic life, which has not been restored to this day. In France the Huguenot wars, waged by the monarchy to fortify the unified state, most seriously injured French industries. Thousands of the best artisans left the country and transplanted their industries to other states. The cities were depopulated and most important lines of industry began to decline. In Germany where the machinations of the princes and nobles did not permit a unified national state to arise as in Spain, France, and England, and where, consequently, a whole set of small national states developed, the Thirty Years' War devastated the whole land; decimated the population, and inhibited every cultural and economic development for the next two hundred years.

But these were not the only obstacles to economic evolution presented by the rising national state. Wherever it arose it tried to inhibit the natural course of economic progress by prohibition of imports and exports, supervision of industry, and bureaucratic ordinances. The guild masters were given orders regarding their methods of production, and whole armies of officials were created to supervise the industries. Thereby all improvements in production were limited, and only by the great revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was industry freed from these burdensome shackles. The rise of the nationalist states not only ; did not further economic evolution in any way whatever, but the endless wars of that epoch and the senseless interference of despotism in the life of industry created that condition of cultural barbarism in which many of the best achievements of industrial technique were wholly or partly lost and had to be rediscovered later on. 1

To this must be added the fact that the kings were always suspicious of the citizens and the artisans of the towns, who were the real representatives of industry. They united with them only when they had to break the resistance of the nobles, who were not favourably inclined to the monarchists' efforts at unification. This will appear especially clear in French history. Later, when absolutism had victoriously overcome all opposition to national unification, by its furthering of mercantilism and economic monopoly it gave the whole social evolution a direction which could only lead to capitalism; and degraded men became galley slaves of industry instead of economic leaders.

In the already existing states, originally founded on ownership of soil, the rising world commerce and the growing influence of commercial capital effected a profound change, for they broke the feudal bars and initiated the gradual transition from feudalism to industrial capitalism. The absolutist national state was dependent upon the help of the new economic forces, and vice versa. By the importation of gold from America the development of money economy in Europe was enormously enhanced. Money became, from now on, not only an ever larger factor in industry itself, but it developed into a political instrument of the first order. The boundless profligacy of the courts in the epoch of absolute monarchy, its armies and fleets, and lastly its mighty official apparatus, devoured enormous sums which must be ever newly procured. Furthermore, the endless wars of that period cost a mint of money. These sums could not be raised by the half-starved serf population of the country in spite of all the arts of exploitation of the financial magicians of the courts. Hence, other sources had to be sought. The wars themselves were largely the result of this political-economic evolution and of the struggle of the absolutist states for the hegemony of Europe. Thereby the original character of the old feudal states was thoroughly changed. On the one hand,, money made it possible for the king completely to subjugate the nobles, thus establishing firmly the unity of the state; on the other hand, the royal power gave the merchants the protection necessary to escape the confiscations of the robber barons. From this community of interests evolved the real foundation of the so-called nationalist state and the concept of the nation in general.

But this selfsame monarchy, which for weighty reasons sought to further the aims of commercial capital and was, on the other hand, itself aided in its development by capital, grew at last into a crippling obstacle to any further reconstruction of European industry; and by unbridled favouritism it converted entire industrial lines into monopolies and so deprived the people at large of their benefits. Especially disastrous was the senseless regimentation imposed upon industry whereby the development of technical skill was forcibly inhibited and every advance in the field of industrial activity was artificially checked.

The further commerce spread, the more interest its leaders naturally had to have in the development of industry. The absolutist state, whose coffers the expansion of commerce filled by bringing into the country plenty of money, at first furthered the plans of commercial capital. Its armies and fleets, which had reached considerable proportions, contributed to the expansion of industrial production because they demanded a number of things for whose large-scale production the shops of the small tradesman were no longer adapted. Thus gradually arose the so-called manufactures, 2 the forerunners of the later large industries, which were developed, however, only after the great scientific discoveries of a later period had smoothed the way by their application of new techniques to industry.

Manufactures developed as early as the middle of the sixteenth century after certain separate branches of production-especially ship-building, mining and ironworks-had opened the way for wider industrial activity. In general, the system of manufactures followed the line of rationalising the increased productive forces achieved by the division of labour and the improvement of tools, a matter of great importance for the growing commerce.

In France, Prussia, Poland, Austria and other countries, the state had for financial reasons, side by side with private manufacture, itself started large enterprises for the exploitation of important industries. The financiers of the monarchies, indeed the kings themselves, gave the greatest attention to these enterprises and sought to advance them in every way for the enrichment of the state treasury. By prohibition of imports and by high tariffs on foreign goods they tried to protect native industry and keep money in the country. To do this the state sometimes used the most curious means. Thus, in England, an ordinance of Charles I commanded that the dead must be buried in woollen clothes in order to aid the cloth industry. A similar purpose was aimed at by the Austrian "mourning ordinance" of 1716 which, very businesslike, proclaimed that long mourning was prohibited to the citizens, since thereby the demand for coloured clothing would be injuriously affected.

To make manufacture as profitable as possible every state sought to attract good workers from other countries, with the result that the emigration of artisans was soon prohibited by strict law; in fact, transgressors were even threatened with the death penalty, as in Venice. Furthermore, to the possessors of political power all methods were justifiable to make labour as cheap and as profitable as possible to the manufacturers. Thus Colbert, the famous minister of Louis XIV, gave special prizes to parents who sent their children into the factories. In Prussia, an ordinance of Frederick the Great commanded that the children in the Potsdam orphanages should be employed in the royal silk factories. As a result the mortality among the orphans increased fivefold. Similar ordinances existed also in Austria and Poland. 3

Nevertheless, no matter how the absolutist state strove, in its own interest, to meet the demands of commerce, it still put on industry countless fetters which became gradually more and more oppressive. The organization of industry cannot be pressed into definite forms by bureaucratic dictates without detrimental consequences. This has again been seen recently in Russia. The absolutist state which tried to bring all activities of its subjects under its unlimited guardianship became in time an unbearable burden, an incubus upon the people which paralysed all economic and social life. The old guild, once the pioneer of handicraft and industry, had been robbed by the arising despotism of its former rights and of its independence. What remained of it was incorporated into the all-powerful state machine and had to serve it in raising taxes. Thus the guild gradually became an element of reaction, bitterly opposed to any change in industry.

Colbert, who is usually exalted as the cleverest statesman of the despotic age, while he sacrificed France's agriculture to trade and industry, yet never really understood the nature of industry. It was for him only the cow which absolutism could milk. Under his regime definite ordinances were instituted for every trade with the alleged purpose of keeping French industry on the height it had attained. Colbert actually imagined that any further perfection of industrial processes was impossible. Only thus can his so-called industrial policy be understood.

By these artificial means the inventive spirit was strangled and every creative impulse smothered at its birth. Work in its every phase became unintelligent imitation of the same old forms, whose constant repetition crippled all inner incentive. Until the outbreak of the great revolution work was done in France by exactly the same methods that had been in vogue at the end of the seventeenth century. During a period of a hundred years not the slightest changes were made. Thus it happened that English industry came gradually to excel the French, even in the production of those goods in which France had formerly held an undisputed leadership. Of the countless ordinances, with their mass of the most senseless details concerning the clothing, dwellings, social activities, and so on, of the members of each calling, we are not going to speak. True, when the intolerable condition had become all too evident, an attempt was made from time to time to obtain some relief by new ordinances, but such decrees were as a rule soon superseded by others. Furthermore, the courts' continual need of money enticed the governments into all kinds of roguish tricks to fill again their empty coffers. Thus a whole series of ordinances was proclaimed purely so that the guilds would get them rescinded again, for an appropriate payment-which always happened. On the same principle many monopolies were granted to individuals or corporations, seriously affecting the development of industry.

The French Revolution swept away the whole mass of oppressive royal ordinances and freed industry from the fetters that had been Imposed on it. It was certainly no nationalistic reason which led to the creation of the modern constitutional state. Social conditions had gradually become so horrible that they could no longer be endured if France was not to be wholly ruined. It was the recognition of this fact which set the French bourgeoisie in motion and forced it into revolutionary paths.

In England also, industry was for a long time supervised by decrees of state and royal ordinances, although there the rage for regimentation never assumed such peculiar forms as in France and in most of the countries of the continent. The decrees of Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII burdened industry severely and greatly hindered its natural development; nor were these rulers the only ones who put brakes on industry. Kings and parliaments constantly issued new ordinances by which the economic situation was made increasingly difficult. Even the revolutions of I642 and I688 were not able completely to abolish these stacks of senseless rules and bureaucratic regulations, and considerable time had yet to pass before a new spirit became prevalent. For all that, England never had such a governmental supervision of its complete economic life as Colbert achieved in France. On the other hand, countless monopolies greatly hindered the development of industry. To put new money into its coffers the court sold whole branches of industry to natives and foreigners and continued to allot monopolies among its favourites. This had already begun during the Tudor dynasty, and the Stuarts and their successors continued in the same path. The government of Queen Elizabeth was especially profligate in the granting of monopolies, about which Parliament frequently complained.

Whole industries were given over to exploitation by individuals or small companies, and no one else dared to engage in them. Under this system there was no competition, nor any development of forms of production or methods of work. The Crown was concerned purely about the payment. About the inevitable consequences of such an economic policy it cared very little. This went so far that during the reign of Charles I a monopoly for the manufacture of soap was sold to a company of London soap-boilers, and a special royal ordinance forbade any household to make soap for its own consumption. Likewise, the exploitation of the tin deposits and the coal mines in the north of England was for a long time the monopoly of a few persons. The same is true of the glass industry and several other trades of that epoch. The result was that for a long time industry could not develop as a determining factor in national economy being for a large part in the hands of privileged exploiters who had no interest in its further development. The state was not only the protector p but also the creator of monopoly, whereby it received considerable financial advantages, but also burdened industry continually with new fetters.

The worst development of the monopoly system in England occurred after the commencement of its colonial empire. Immense territories then came into the possession of small minorities, who in return for ridiculous payments were given monopolies from which they derived enormous riches in the course of a few years. Thus, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the well-known East India Company was born, originally consisting of only five hundred shareholders to whom the government granted t sole rights of trading in the East Indies and all lands east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of the Strait of Magellan. Every attempt to break this monopoly was severely punished, and citizens who took the risk of trading in such waters on their own account were subject to seizure. That these were not mere paper ordinances the history of those times eloquently testifies. 4

Charles II gave Virginia to his brother's father-in-law for exploitation. Under the same king the famous Hudson Bay Company was formed, and endowed by the government with incredible powers. By a; special royal ordinance this company was given the exclusive and perpetual monopoly of trade and industry in all coastal waters, natural channels, bays, streams and lake territories of Canada in all latitudes up to Hudson Strait. Furthermore, this company was given possession of all lands adjoining these waters so far "as it is not in the possession of one of our subjects or those of some other Christian prince or state." 5

Even under James II, the successor of Charles II, the barter in overseas monopolies went merrily on. The king sold whole colonies to individuals or companies. The possessors of these monopolies suppressed the free settlers in the most abominable manner without interference from the Crown so long as it received 20 percent of the profits for its favours. In the same manner, special privileges were granted for ocean transportation, for the exploitation of colonial lands, for the mining of precious metals and much else. Thus it came to pass that for a long time industry could not keep pace with the mighty foreign development commencing for England after the civil war of 1642. Even in I688 the value of imported products was -7,120,000. while exports amounted to only -4-310,000-a relationship characteristic of the conditions prevailing at the time. Not until 1689 did the new parliament that resulted from the revolution of the preceding year put a curb on the royal power and take decisive steps to end once and for all the monopoly peddling of the court and the arbitrary restriction of industry and trade. From that time dates the mighty development of English social and economic life, so greatly furthered by a whole line of epoch-making inventions, such as cast-steel, the mechanical loom, the steam engine, and so on. But all this was possible only after the last remnant of absolutism had finally been buried and the fetters it had put on industry had been broken. Just as later in France, so also in England, this development of affairs overshadowed the revolution.

However, such a development was possible only where the rule of the absolute state had not completely crippled the vital forces of the people nor by a senseless policy destroyed every prospect for the further development of industry, as, for instance, had been done in Spain. In a previous chapter it has been shown how ruthless despotism, by the cruel expulsion of the Moors and Jews, had robbed Spain of its best artisans and agriculturalists. By the brutal suppression of communal freedom the economic decline of the country was still more enhanced. Blinded by the golden flood streaming into the land from Peru and Mexico, the monarchs gave no value whatever to the development, or even the maintenance, of industry. True, Charles I had attempted to further Spanish wool and silk industries by prohibition of imports and regulation of production, but his successors had no understanding of such matters. The position which Spain had attained as a world power also gave it first place in world commerce, but it played the part of a middleman who only provided the necessary commercial connections between the industrial countries and the users of their products. Even its own colonies were not permitted to establish trade enterprises without the intervention of the mother country.

Added to this was the fatal agrarian policy of the absolutist state which had freed the nobility and the clergy of all land taxes, so that the whole burden of the impost had to be borne by the small farmers. The great landed proprietors united into the so-called "Mesta," an association which made a profession of robbing the peasants and compelled incredible concessions from the government. Under the rule of the Arabs there had existed in Andalusia a class of small farmers, and the land was one of the most productive territories in Europe. But now it had actually come to pass that five noble owners held all the land of the whole province, cultivated primitively by the work of landless serfs, and to a large extent used as pasture for sheep. In this manner the cultivation of grains continually declined, and in spite of the importation of precious metals the rural population sank into the deepest poverty.

The continual wars swallowed immense sums, and when, after the revolt of the Netherlands and the destruction of the Armada in 1588 by the English and the Dutch, Spain's sea power was broken and its monopoly of world commerce went over to the victors, the country was so frightfully exhausted that no revival was possible. Its industry was almost completely destroyed, its land laid waste. The great majority of its inhabitants were living in pitiful misery, completely under the dominance of the church, whose representatives in the year 1700 made up nearly one thirtieth of the population, consuming the people's substance. Between 1500 and 1700 the land lost nearly one-half of its previous population. When Philip II assumed his father's heritage, Spain was regarded as the richest land in Europe, although it already contained the germs of its decline. At the end of the long reign of this cruel and fanatical despot it retained merely the shadow of its former greatness. And when Philip, to cover the enormous deficit of the state budget, instituted the notorious alcavala, a state tax which compelled every inhabitant to deliver 10 percent of any profits to the government, the realm was wholly given over to destruction. All attempts of later rulers to curb the evil were vain, although here and there they could record a few temporary successes. The consequences of this catastrophic decline are even today everywhere observable in Spain.

In Germany, the creation of a great national state with unified administration, coinage and regulation of finances was inhibited for manifold reasons. The dynasty of the Hapsburgs had with premeditation worked toward the creation of such a state, but it had never been able to subjugate the nobility and the small princes of the land as the monarchy had succeeded in doing in France after a long struggle. In fact, in Germany the princes managed to confirm their territorial powers ever more strongly and to foil successfully all plans for the erection of any centralised power. Nor had they compunctions about betraying emperor and realm at every favourable opportunity to unite themselves with the most dangerous enemies in other countries, when this was useful to their special interests. National limitations were wholly foreign to them, and the internal discord in German industry was very favourable to their ambitions.

Doubtless the Hapsburgs were concerned about safeguarding their special dynastic aims, but most of them lacked greatness and political vision. As a result, they frequently sacrificed their plans for unification to small temporary successes without being clearly aware of what they were doing. This was most clearly apparent when Wallenstein, after four years of war, in the treaty of Lubeck obligated the Danes not to interfere in German affairs. Then was offered the most favourable opportunity, also the last one, for a successful attempt at the erection of a centralised power with the emperor at its head. In fact, the victorious Wallenstein had visions of a goal similar to that which Richelieu at that time strove to obtain for France and gloriously achieved.

But Ferdinand II, influenced by short-sighted counsellors, knew of nothing better than to follow the treaty of peace, which had virtually given all North Germany into his hands, with the Edict of Restitution of 1629, which commanded the return of all church and monastic property confiscated since the treaty of Passau. Such an ordinance naturally had an explosive effect. It aroused the whole Protestant population of the country against the emperor and his counsellors -- most of all, the Protestant princes, who never dreamed of returning their acquired church property. And this happened just at the time when the conquest-hungry king of Sweden Gustavus Adolphus, had already made all preparations for his incursion into Pomerania.

The Protestant princes were thus concerned about very earthly matters for whose ideological embellishment Luther's doctrines proved very suitable. After the bloody suppression of the German peasants in the year 1525 the Reformation could no longer be dangerous to them. But even the "religious conviction" of the powerful opponents of Protestantism was no more genuine. For them, too, it was in the first place a question of power and economic interest-for all the rest they cared very little. It caused Richelieu, who was then guiding the interests of the French monarchy, no qualms of conscience to encourage Gustavus Adolphus to fight against the emperor, the Catholic Church and the Catholic League although he was himself a cardinal, a prince of the Catholic Church. He was simply concerned to prevent the creation of a German national state thus freeing the French monarchy from an inconvenient neighbour. Quite as little had Gustavus Adolphus the interests of the German Protestants at heart. He had his own dynastic interests and the interests of the Swedish state in view and cared only for these. For the Sultan, as well as for the then-reigning Pope Urban VIII, the Swedish king's Protestantism was no reason for their withdrawal of expressed good will, as long as he was combating the House of Hapsburg, the thorn in the flesh of both of them for political reasons.

After the Thirty Years' War, from whose devastating consequences Germany had hardly recovered after two centuries, every prospect for the foundation of a German unified state completely vanished. For all that, the course of political development there was similar to that in most of the other European states. The separate territorial states, more especially the larger ones, like Austria, Brandenburg-Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, strove to imitate the monarchies of the West in their inner structure and to make their economic-political plans effective within their own borders. Of course their rulers could not think of playing the same part as their great neighbours in the west-the economic lag of the German countries and the terrible wounds the long war had inflicted on the whole land did not permit it. So they were frequently compelled to put themselves under the protection of existing great states.

As the disastrous war had robbed Germany of almost two-thirds of its population and laid waste enormous sections of the land, the separate states had to be principally concerned about population; for with the increase of the inhabitants the power of the state grows. So taxes were imposed upon unmarried women, and even polygamy was flirted with, in order to put the country on its feet again. Most of all, they strove to build up agriculture, whereby the home policy of most of the German states received an impulse toward feudalism, which in the absolute states to the west had been more and more forced into the background by increasing mercantilism.

At the same time the larger German states pursued the policy of transforming their lands into self-contained economic territories. To this end the commercial prerogatives of the cities were abrogated, and every trade was subjected to a special ordinance. Thus, above all, they strove for the development of trade and manufactures by commercial treaties, prohibition of imports and exports, protective tariffs, premiums for exports, and so on, to put fresh money into the state treasuries. Thus, William I of Prussia, in his political testament, strongly urged his successor to concern himself about the success of manufactures, assuring him that he would thereby increase his revenues and put his country into a flourishing condition.

But while, on the one hand, the speculations of the smaller rulers for the increase of their revenues helped to further the few manufactures of their countries to a certain degree, on the other hand, the whole flood of senseless ordinances made certain that industry could not really develop, but must for hundreds of years remain fettered by these old legal forms. It is, therefore, a complete misconception of historical fact to maintain that production was furthered by the rising of the nationalist states of Europe and especially that their existence provided the conditions necessary for the development of industry. The very contrary is true. The absolutist national state artificially inhibited and hindered for centuries the development of economic institutions in every country. Its barbarous wars, which wasted many parts of Europe and furthered rapine, caused the best achievements of industrial technique to be forgotten, often to be replaced by antiquated, laborious methods. Senseless ordinances killed the spirit of economy, destroyed all free incentive and all creative activity, without which a development of industry and economic reforms is quite unthinkable.

The present time affords the best possible illustration of such action. Right now, when a crisis of unheard-of extent has smitten the whole capitalist world and is pushing all nations equally toward the abyss, the structure of the nationalist state proves an insurmountable obstacle to relieving this frightful condition or even temporarily suppressing its evils. National selfishness has thus far blocked every earnest attempt at reciprocal understanding and has constantly striven to make capital out of its neighbours' needs. Even the most pronounced advocates of the capitalist order recognise more and more the fatality of this condition. But "national considerations" tie their hands and condemn to sterility in advance every proposal and every attempt at solution from whatever source they may come.

  • 1Kropotkin has set forth in very convincing form how by the collapse of the medieval city culture and the forcible suppression of all federalist cooperative arrangements the industrial evolution of Europe received a blow which crippled her best technical forces and put them out of service. How great this set-back was can be measured by the fact that James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, was for twenty years unable to make use of his invention because he could find in all England no mechanic able to bore a true cylinder for him, though he could have found many such in any of the larger medieval cities. (Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid-a Factor in Evolution.)
  • 2The word "manufacture" is derived from manu facere, "to make things by hand."
  • 3Rich material concerning this epoch is contained in the great work of M. Kowalewski;, The Economic Development of Europe till the Beginning of the Capitalist Era. Berlin, 1901-1914.
  • 4Very complete information concerning the history of this company, which was to play so important a part in English foreign commerce, is contained in the books of Beckle Wilson, Ledger and Sword, (London, 1903), and W. W. Hunter, History of British India (London, 1899).Commendable books about the development of English industry, monopolies and ordinances of the ancient regime, are T. E. Rogers, Six Centuries of Work and Wages, The Economic Interpretation of History and A History of Agriculture and Prices in England. Much instructive material is contained in Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, and the first volume of Marx's Capital.
  • 5Rich material concerning the history of the Hudson Bay Company is contained in the excellent work, History of Canadian Wealth, by Gustavus Myers (Chicago, 1914).


8. The Doctrine of the Social Contract

The humanists and the doctrine of the social contract, man as the measure of things
The origin of the doctrine of natural rights
The natural rights of the cynics and stoics till Zeno
Natural right and Absolutism, the time of the social Utopias
Thomas More and Francois Rabelais
The monarchomachi languet's vindiciae contra tyrannos
The Dutch Protective League
Jesuitism and temporal power
Francisco Suarez and the "divine right of kings." Juan de Mariana and the doctrine of Tyrannicide
La Boetie concerning voluntary serfdom

Submitted by Toms on September 5, 2011

George Buchanan and the doctrine of "the people's will."
Thomas Hobbes' theory of the state
The Leviathan. Independents and Presbyterians, John Milton and Puritanism
The doctrine of John Locke concerning people and government
Influence of the doctrine of natural rights on the development of international law

The Renaissance, with its strong pagan tendency, reawakened men's interest in earthly affairs and again turned their minds to questions which had scarcely been discussed since the decline of the ancient civilisation. The great historical significance of the rising humanism lay in the fact that its leaders broke away from the spiritual bondage and the dead formalistic rubbish of scholasticism. They again made man and his social environment the centre of their speculation, instead of losing themselves in the maze of sterile theological concepts, as the leaders of victorious Protestantism had done in the northern lands. Humanism was no popular movement but an intellectual trend, which affected almost all European countries and furnished the basis of a new concept of life. That later, even this stream sanded up and became a matter of dry as dust closetlearning, as it gradually lost its relation to real life, does not negate its original purpose.

Interest in the natural phenomena of life again directed men's attention to the social groupings of people, and thus the old ideas of natural rights were revivified. While the ever encroaching absolutism strove to confirm its power by the doctrine of the divine right of kings, the whole-hearted and halfhearted opponents of absolute state power appealed to "the natural rights of men," a protection also guaranteed by the socalled "social contract." Thus, quite naturally, they again approached the question which had already occupied the ancient thinkers and which now received new significance by the rediscovery of the ancient civilisation. They sought to make clear the position of the individual in society and to discover the origin and significance of the state. However inadequate these attempts may appear today, they nevertheless drew greater attention to the subject, and an attempt was made to understand the relationship of the citizen to the state and to the existing rulership of the people.

As most of the thinkers influenced by humanistic ideals saw in the individual "the measure of all things," they recognised society not as a definite organism obeying its own laws, but as an enduring union of individual men who for one reason or another had associated themselves. From this arose the idea that the social life of men was founded on a definite contractual relationship, supported by ancient and inalienable rights which had validity even before the evolution of organised state power, and served as a natural basis for all communal relationships of men. This idea was the real core of the doctrine of natural rights which again began to flourish at that time.

Under the pressure of the ever encroaching social inequalities within the Greek city-republics there had arisen in the fifth century before our era the doctrine of "the state of nature," sprung from the belief in a traditional "Golden Age" when man was still free and unhindered in the pursuit of happiness before he gradually came under the yoke of political institutions and the concepts of positive law arising therefrom. From this concept there developed quite logically the doctrine of "natural rights" which was later on to play so important a part in the mental history of European peoples.

It was especially the members of the Sophist school who in their criticism of social evils used to refer to a past natural state where man as yet knew not the consequences of social oppression. Thus Hippias of Elis declares that "the law has become man's tyrant, continually urging him to unnatural deeds." On the basis of this doctrine Alkidamas, Lykophron and others advocated the abolition of all social prerogatives, condemning especially the institution of slavery, as not founded upon the nature of man, but as arising from enactments of men who made a virtue of injustice. It was one of the greatest services of the much maligned Sophist school that its members surmounted all national frontiers and consciously allied themselves with the great racial community of mankind. They felt the insufficiency and the spiritual limitations of the patriotic ideal and recognised with Aristippus that "every place is equally far from Hades."

Later, the Cynics, on the basis of the same "natural life" concept, reached similar results. From the little that has been preserved of their doctrines it is clearly apparent that they viewed the institutions of the state very critically and regarded them as being in direct conflict with the natural order of things. The tendency toward world citizenship was especially marked among the Cynics. Since their ideas were opposed to all artificial distinctions between the various classes, castes and social strata, any boast of national superiority could but appear senseless and foolish to them. Antisthenes derided the national pride of the Hellenes and declared the state as well as nationality to be things of no importance. Diogenes of Sinope, the "sage of Corinth" who, lantern in hand, looked in broad daylight for an honest man, likewise had no regard for "the heroic weakness of patriotism" (as Lessing has called it), since he saw in man himself the source of all aspiration.

The loftiest conception of natural law was formulated by the school of the Stoics, whose founder, Zeno of Kittion, rejected all external compulsion and taught men to obey only the voice of the "inner law" which was revealed in nature itself. This led him to a complete rejection of the state and all political institutions, and he took his stand upon complete freedom and equality for everything that bears the human form. The time in which Zeno lived was very favourable to his cosmopolitan thought and feeling, which knew no distinction between Greeks and barbarians. The old Greek society was in full dissolution, the arising Hellenism, which especially furthered the plans for political unification of Alexander of Macedonia, had greatly changed the relationship of the nations and had opened completely new vistas.

Man's social instinct, having its root in communal life and finding in the sense of justice of the individual its completest ethical expression, Zeno combined, by sociological synthesis, with man's need for personal freedom and his sense of responsibility for his own actions. Thus he stood at the opposite pole from Plato, who could conceive a successful communal life of men only on the basis of a moral and intellectual restraint imposed by external compulsion, and who in his views was rooted as deeply in the narrow limits of purely nationalistic concepts as was Zeno in his concept of pure humanity. Zeno was at the spiritual zenith of the tendency which saw in man "the measure of all things," just as William Godwin, two thousand years later, marked the high tide of another mental tendency which strove to "limit the activity of the state to a minimum."

The doctrine of natural rights, rescued from oblivion by the rising humanism, played a decisive part in the great battles against absolutism and gave the struggles against princely power their theoretical foundation. The leaders in these struggles proceeded from the following assumptions: since man possessed from antiquity native and inalienable rights, he could not be deprived of them by the institution of organised government, nor could the individual resign these rights. On the contrary, these rights had to be established by covenant, in agreement with the representatives of the state's power, and openly acknowledged. From this mutual agreement resulted quite selfevidently the relationship between state and people, between ruler and citizen.

This concept, which although it could make no claim to historical foundation, 1 and rested only on assumption, nevertheless dealt the belief in the divine mission of the rulerwhich found its highest expression in the "divine right of kings" of victorious absolutisma powerful blow, which in the course of events proved decisive. If the position of the head of the state was based on a covenant, it followed that the ruler owed responsibility to the people, and that the alleged inviolability of royal power was a fairy tale which had been quietly permitted to pass as truth. But in this event the relation between ruler and people did not rest on the command of a central power with which the people had, for good or ill, to be content. The power of the ruler was confronted by the inalienable rights of the individual, which imposed certain limitations on the arbitrary decisions of the head of the state, such that an equalisation of the forces in society was made possible.

The destructive consequences resulting from every misuse of power had been recognised; hence the attempt had been made to bridle it by tying it to the natural rights of the people. This idea was doubtless correct, although the means whereby a solution of the inner discord was attempted always proved insufficient, as subsequently became still more clear. Between might and right yawns an abyss which cannot possibly be bridged. While they dwell in the same house this unnatural relationship must always lead to inner friction by which men's peaceful communal life is continually threatened. Every possessor of the state's power must feel the limitation of his power as an uncomfortable fetter on his egotistic ambition; and wherever the opportunity offers, he will attempt to restrict the people's rights, or completely to abolish them if he feels strong enough to do so. History during the last four centuries of struggle for and against the limitation of the state's supreme power speaks an eloquent language, and recent historical events in most of the European countries show with frightful clearness that the struggle is a long way from having reached its end. The uninterrupted attempts to keep the state's power within certain limits have always led logically to the conclusion that the solution of this question is not sought in the limitation of the principle of political power, but in its overthrow. This exhausts the last and highest results of the doctrine of natural rights. This also explains why natural rights have always been the thorn in the flesh of representatives of the unlimited power idea, even whenlike Napoleon Ithey owe their rise to this doctrine. Not without reason this revolutionborn politician of the highest rank remarked:

The men of "natural right" are guilty of all. Who else has declared the principle of revolution to be a duty? Who else has flattered the people by endowing it with a sovereignty of which it is not capable? Who else has destroyed respect for the law by making it dependent on an assembly that lacks all understanding of administration and law, instead of adhering to the nature of things?

Prominent representatives of humanism attempted to formulate their ideas of natural rights in fictitious communal systems, and in these descriptions, fantastic as they were, there was mirrored the spirit of the time and the concepts which animated it. One of the most important Humanists was the English statesman, Thomas More, a zealous defender of natural right, whom Henry VIII later beheaded. Animated by Plato's Politeia and, more especially, by Amerigo Vespucci's description of newly discovered lands and peoples, More, in his Utopia, describes an ideal state whose inhabitants enjoy a community of goods and by wise and simple legislation contrive a harmonious balance between governmental control and the native rights of the citizens. This book became the starting point for a whole literature of social utopias, among which Bacon's New Atlantis and the City of the Sun of the Italian patriot, Campanella, were especially significant.

A great advance was made by the French Humanist, Francois Rabelais, who in his novel, Gargantua, describes a small community, the famous Abbey of Theleme, of wholly free men who had abolished all compulsion and regulated their lives simply by the principle, "Do what thou wilt."

. . . because free men, well born, well educated, associating with decent company, have a natural instinct that impels them to virtuous conduct and restrains them from vice which instinct they call honour. Such people when oppressed and enslaved by base subjection and constraint forget the noble inclination to virtue that they have felt while free and seek merely to throw off and break the yoke of servitude; for we always try to do what has been forbidden and long for what has been denied.

The idea of natural rights was strongly echoed in the Calvinistic and Catholic literature of that period, although here the political motives of position became clearly apparent. First, the French Calvinist, Hubert Languet, in his disquisition, "Vindiciae contra Tyrannos", the political creed of the Huguenots, develops the thought that after the pope lost dominion over the world, power was not simply transferred to the temporal rulers, but reverted into the hands of the people. According to Languet the relationship between prince and people rests on a reciprocal agreement which obligates the ruler to regard and protect certain inalienable rights of the citizens, among which freedom of belief is the most important; for it is the people who make the king, not the king who makes the people. This covenant between the king and the people need not necessarily be confirmed by an oath nor formulated in a special document; it finds its sanction in the very existence of the people and the ruler and has validity as long as both exist. For this reason the ruler is responsible to the people for his actions and, if he tries to abridge the freedom of conscience of the citizens, he may be judged by the noble representatives of the people, excommunicated and killed by anyone without fear of punishment.

Inspired by the same idea the Netherland provinces of Brabant, Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Guelderland, and Utrecht convened in 1581 in The Hague and formed an offensive and defensive league. They declared all relationships existing up to that time between them and Philip II of Spain null and void, as the king had broken the covenant, trodden the ancient rights of the inhabitants under foot, and behaved like a tyrant who ruled over the citizens as over slaves. In this sense the famous Act of Abjuration declares:

Everyone knows that a prince has been designated by God to protect his subjects as a shepherd does his flock. But when a prince no longer fulfils his duty as protector, but oppresses his subjects, destroys their old liberties, and treats them as slaves, he is no longer a prince, but is to be regarded as a tyrant. As such, the estates of the land can according to right and reason dethrone him and elect another in his place.

The monarchomachi of Calvinism were not alone in maintaining this standpoint, so dangerous to temporal power. The counter-Reformation organised by the rising Jesuits reached similar conclusions, although from different premises.

According to the doctrines of the church, monarchy was a God-instituted state form, but the temporal ruler was given his power only to protect the cause of the faith, which found its expression in the doctrines of the church. Hence, Providence had set the pope as ruler over the kings, just as these had been set as rulers over the people. And just as the people owed the prince unqualified obedience, so the commands of the pope were the highest law for the rulers. But now the spreading Protestantism had destroyed the old picture, and veritable heretics sat on princely thrones as representatives of the highest powers of state. Under these circumstances the relationship of the Catholic Church to the temporal power also had to change and take on other forms. Its attempt to adapt its practices to the new social relationships in Europe and to collect its scattered forces into a strong organization ready for action and capable of meeting all demands, had thoroughly revolutionary results. The church's representatives now had no compunctions about flirting temporarily with democratic ideas if their secret aims were thereby furthered.

It was principally the Jesuits who broke ground in this territory. Thus the Spanish Jesuit philosopher, Francisco Suarez, opposed the doctrine of the divine right of kings on fundamental principles and, quite in the sense of the "natural rights" traced the relationship between prince and people to a covenant which imposed on both parties rights and duties. According to Suarez, power cannot naturally remain in the hands of a single individual, but must be partitioned among all, since all men were equal by nature. If the ruler did not conform to the covenant, or even opposed the inalienable rights of the people, the subjects were given the right of rebellion to guard their rights and to prevent tyranny.

It is understandable that James I of England had the principal work of this Spanish Jesuit, written at the instigation of the pope, burned by the hangman, and that he bitterly reproached his colleague on the Spanish throne, Philip II, for having given a home in his land to "such an outspoken enemy of the majesty of kings."

Even further than Suarez went his brother in the "Society of Jesus," Juan de Mariana, who in the sixth chapter of his voluminous work, Historia de rebus Hispaniae, not only justified assassination of the covenantbreaking kings as morally right, but even suggested the weapon with which such murder was to be committed. He had in view here, however, only the secret or open adherents of Protestantism, since he, like his predecessor Suarez, was of the opinion that the prince was, in matters of faith at least, subject to the pope. Thus, for him, the king's heresy was tyranny against the people and relieved the subject of all obligation to the head of the state who, as a heretic, had forfeited his rights. That such ideas had not merely a theoretical significance was proved by the murder of Henry III, and his successor Henry IV, of France, both removed by fanatical adherents of papism. Thus, from both Calvinistic and Catholic sources, the limitation of royal power was advocated, although this was by no means done from a libertarian urge, but from wellunderstood political interests. At a]l events, the advocacy of natural rights from this source could but draw many more adherents to the idea of the abrogation of power; which at the time of the great struggles in France, the Netherlands and England, was of peculiar importance.

The clearly felt necessity for putting certain limits to the power of the state and the recognition of the right of rebellion against the ruler who abused his power and became a tyrant were then, widespread ideas which only lost currency with the final victory of absolutism, but were never quite forgotten. Under the influence of these and similar trends of thought isolated thinkers of that period were led to pursue these things more deeply and to lay bare the roots of all tyranny. The most notable among them was the youthful Etienne de la Boetie, whose sparkling screed, Concerning Voluntary Servitude, was published after his early death by his friend Montaigne. Whether Montaigne did, in fact, make certain alterations in the work, as is often asserted, can probably never be proved. The fact that La Boetie's works played such an important part in the fight against absolutism in France was later almost forgotten, but that in the time of the great revolution it proved its effectiveness anew is the best proof of its intellectual importance.

La Boetie recognised with irresistible clarity that tyranny supports itself less by brutal power than by the deeprooted feeling of dependency of men, who first endow a hollow puppet with their own inherent forces and then, dazzled by this imaginary power, blindly submit themselves to it. This spirit of "voluntary servitude" is the strongest and most impregnable bulwark of all tyranny, and must be overcome; for tyranny would collapse as helpless as a heap of ashes if men would but recognise what lies hidden behind it, and deny obedience to the idol which they have themselves created. Says La Boetie:

What a shame and disgrace it is when countless men obey a tyrant willingly, even slavishly! A tyrant who leaves them no rights over property, parents, wife or child, not even over their own lives what kind of a man is such a tyrant? He is no Hercules, no Samson! Often he is a pygmy, often the most effeminate coward among the whole peoplenot his own strength makes him powerful, him who is often the slave of the vilest whores. What miserable creatures are his subjects! If two, three or four do not revolt against one there is an understandable lack of courage. But when hundreds and thousands do not throw off the shackles of an individual, what remains there of individual will and human dignity? . . . To free oneself it is not necessary to use force against a tyrant. He falls as soon as the country is tired of him. The people who are being degraded and enslaved need but deny him any right. To be free only calls for the earnest will to shake off the yoke. . . . Be firmly resolved no longer to be slaves and you are free! Deny the tyrant your help and, like a colossus whose pedestal is pulled away, he will collapse and break to pieces.

But those individual thinkers who, like La Boetie, dared to touch the most hidden roots of power were few. In general, the road to libertarian concepts of life ran through the various phases of the concept of natural rights, whose supporters always endeavoured to oppose the unlimited power of the head of the state with "the native and inalienable rights of the people," hoping thus to attain to a social balance favourable to the undisturbed development of the conditions of social life. These efforts led later to the well-known demands of liberalism which, no longer satisfied with the limitation of personal power, strove to limit the power of the state to a minimum, on the correct assumption that the continuous guardianship of the state was just as detrimental to the fruitful development of all creative forces in society as the guardianship of the church had been in previous centuries. This idea was by no means the result of idle speculation, it was rather the tacit assumption underlying every cultural development in history; just as the belief in the foreordained dependence of man on a superterrestrial Providence was always the conscious or unconscious assumption underlying all temporal power.

A prominent pioneer on the long road leading to the limitation of princely power and the formulation of rights of the people was the Scottish humanist, George Buchanan, one of the first to attribute to the question a fundamental importance, independent of the help or harm which the extension or limitation of princely power could do to one creed or another. Buchanan maintained the basic democratic notion that all power comes from the people and is founded in the people. Regarded from this viewpoint the head of the state was under all circumstances subject to the will of the people, and his whole significance exhausted itself in being the first servant of the people. If the head of the state breaks this covenant tacitly agreed upon, he outlaws himself and can be judged and condemned by anyone.

Buchanan gave the relationship between might and right a new and deeper significance. Had he been content merely to assert freedom of conscience in religious matters against the unlimited princely power, the representatives of absolutism might have been willing to accept this limitation. But he dared to declare that all power emanated from the people and that princes were but executors of the people's will; and so doing he turned against himself the irreconcilable enmity of all supporters of hereditary royalty. Thus it was legitimist influences which induced Parliament on two different occasions1584 and I664to suppress Buchanan's work, De Jure apud Scotos. Obeying the same influence, Oxford University burnt the work a hundred years after its publication.

But for absolutism also there arose on English soil a powerful defender In the person of Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes was surely one of the most unique figures in the realm of social philosophic thought, an extremely fruitful and original mind; next to Bacon, perhaps the most versatile mind England ever produced. His name lives in history as the decided champion of philosophical materialism and as an outspoken defender of absolute princely power. Hobbes was, in fact, a stern opponent of all religion in the current sense; for although he principally opposes Catholicism, one feels that he is antagonistic to all revealed religion. There is less justification for the assertion that Hobbes was an unqualified advocate of royal absolutism. The very fact that he traces the state's existence to a contractual relation proves that he was no legitimist. Hobbes was an unqualified exponent of the power principle, but had less in view princely absolutism than the absolute power of the state. In general he gave monarchy the preference, but his later attitude toward Cromwell clearly shows that he was chiefly concerned with the inviolability of the power of the state and less with that of its leaders.

The concept that man was by nature a social creature Hobbes opposed most decidedly. According to his conviction there existed in primitive man no trace of social feeling but solely the brutal instinct of the predatory animal, far from any consideration of the welfare of others. Even the distinction between good and evil, he held, was wholly unknown to man in the natural state. This idea was first brought to man by the state, which thus became the founder of all culture. In his original nature man was not amenable to any social feeling whatsoever, but only to fear, the sole power which could influence his reason. It was from fear that the foundation of the state arose, putting an end to the "war of all against all" and binding the human beast with the chain of the law. But although Hobbes traces the origin of the state to contract, he maintains that the first rulers were given the unlimited power to rule over all others. Once agreed upon, the covenant remains binding for all time to come. To rebel against it is the worst of all crimes, for every attempt in this direction brings into question the permanence of all culture, even of society itself.

The materialist Hobbes, who has been maligned in history as a "radical atheist," was in reality a strictly religious man, but his religion had a purely political character; the God whom he served was the unlimited power of the State. Just as in all religion man becomes ever smaller in proportion as the godhead grows beyond him, until at last God is all, and man nothing, so with Hobbes, viewing the state power as limitless, he degrades man's original nature to the lowest stage of bestiality. The result is the same: the state is all, the citizens nothing. Indeed, as F. A. Lange has very correctly remarked: "The name Leviathan" (the title Hobbes gave to his principal work) "is only too appropriate for this monster, the state, which guided by no higher consideration, like a terrestrial god orders law and justice, rights and property, according to its pleasureeven arbitrarily defines the concepts of good and evil and in return guarantees protection of life and property to those who fall on their knees and sacrifice to it." 2

According to Hobbes, law and right are concepts which make their appearance only with the formation of political society, meaning the state. Hence the state can never transgress against law, because all law originates with itself. The customary law, which is often referred to as natural right, or the unwritten law, may utterly condemn theft, murder and violence as crimes; but as soon as the state commands men to do these acts, they cease to be crimes. Against the state's law even "divine right" has no power, for only the state is qualified to decide concerning right and wrong. The state is the public conscience, and against it no private conscience nor private conviction can prevail. The will of the state is the highest, is the only, law.

Since Hobbes sees in the state only "Leviathan," the beast of whom the Book of Job says, "upon earth there is not his like," he logically rejects all striving of the church for world dominion and denies to the priests in general, and to the pope in particular, any right to temporal power. For religion also is justified for him only as long as it is recognised and taught by the state. Thus, he says, in an especially significant passage in Leviathan: "The fear of unseen powers, whether it be imaginary or whether delivered by tradition, is religion when it is affirmed by the state, and superstition when it is not affirmed by the state."

According to Hobbes the state has not only the right to prescribe for its subjects what they may believe, it also decides whether a belief is religious or only to be regarded as superstitious. The materialist Hobbes, who had no inclination whatever for religion in general, found it quite in order that the government for reasons of state should decide in favour of a certain creed and impose it upon its subjects as the only true religion. It affects one rather curiously, therefore, when Fritz Mauthner opines that Hobbes "goes far beyond the disbelief of the first deists when he demands the submission of the citizens to the state religion, for what he demands is again only obedience to the state, even in religious matters, not to God." 3

The whole distinction lies here only in the form of the faith. Hobbes endows the state with all the sacred qualities of a godhead, to which man is subject for weal or woe. He gives the devotional need of the faithful another object of veneration, condemns heresy in the political field with the same iron and logical intolerance with which the church used to fight every opposition to its mandates. Belief in the state, to the "atheist" Hobbes, was after all just a religion: man's belief in his dependence on a higher power which decides his personal fate and against which no revolt is possible, since it transcends all human aims and ends.

Hobbes lived at the time when the rise of the nationalist state ended the struggle of the church for world power as well as the efforts to bring Europe under the domination of a central universal monarchy. Realising that the course of history cannot be retraced, and that things already belonging to the shadow realm of the past cannot be artificially revivified, he attached himself to this new reality. But since, like all defenders of authority, he started from the inherent bestiality of man and, in spite of his atheism, could not free himself from the misanthropic doctrine of original sin, he had logically to arrive at the same results as his predecessors in the camp of ecclesiastical theology. It profited him little that he had personally freed himself from the fetters of religious faith in miracles; for he enmeshed himself all the more tightly in the net of a political faith in miracleswhich in all its consequences was just as hostile to freedom and enslaved the mind of man just as much. This, by the way, is a proof that atheism, in the current sense, need by no means be associated with libertarian ideas. It has a libertarian influence only when it recognises the inner connections between religion and politics in their utmost profundity, and finds for the possessors of temporal power no greater justification than for the authority of God. The "pagan" Machiavelli and the "atheist" Hobbes are the classical witnesses for this.

All advocates of the power idea, even though, like Machiavelli and Hobbes, they cared nothing for traditional religion, were compelled to assign to the state the part of a terrestrial Providence, surrounded with the same mystical halo that shines about every godhead, and to endow it with all those superhuman qualities without which no power can maintain itself, whether it be of celestial or terrestrial nature. For no power persists by virtue of special characteristics inherent in it; its greatness rests always on borrowed qualities which the faith of man has ascribed to it. Like God, so every temporal power is but "a blank tablet" which gives back only what man has written on it.

The doctrine of the social contract, especially Buchanan's idea that all power emanates from the people, later aroused the Independents in England to a new rebellion, not only against Catholicism, but also against the state religion founded by the Calvinistic Presbyterians, and demanded the complete autonomy of the congregations in all matters of faith. Since the administration of the state church was now acting only as an obedient tool of the princely power, the religious and the political opposition of the ever spreading Puritanism flowed from one and the same source. The wellknown English historian, Macaulay, remarks quite correctly regarding the Puritans that they added hatred of the state to their hatred of the church, so that the two emotions mingled and mutually embittered each other.

Animated by this spirit, the poet of Paradise Lost, John Milton, was the first to step forward in defence of freedom of the press, in order to safeguard the religious and political freedom of conscience of the citizens. In his tract, Defensio pro populo Anglicano, he defended also the unqualified right of the nation to bring a treacherous and faithless tyrant to judgment and to condemn him to death. Like men starving for spiritual food, the best minds of Europe greedily absorbed this book, especially after it had been publicly burned by the hangman at the command of the King of France.

These ideas were most openly advocated among the Levelers, the adherents of John Lilburnes, and found their boldest expression in the scheme of "the people's covenant," presented to the masses by this most radical wing of the revolutionary movement of that time. Almost all of the socialphilosophical thinkers of that period, from Gerard Winstanley to P. C. Plockboy and John Bellers, from R. Hooker and A. Sidney to John Locke, were convinced defenders of the doctrine of the social contract.

While on the continent absolutism almost everywhere won unlimited dominion, in England it achieved under the Stuarts only a temporary success, and was soon unhorsed again by the second revolution of 1688. By the Declaration of Rights, in which all of the principles set forth in Magna Charta, were reaffirmed in extended form, the covenantal relationship between crown and people was reestablished. Owing to this course of historical development, especially in England, the idea of the social contract and the concept of natural rights never lost currency, and had, consequently, a deeper influence on the intellectual attitude of the people than in any other country.

The Continent had become used to surrendering realms and peoples to the unlimited power of princes. The words of Louis XIV, "I am the State," acquired a symbolic significance for the whole epoch of absolutism. In England, however, where the Crown's striving for power was always confronted by the resolute opposition of the citizenswhich could be only temporarily silenced, and never for longthere developed quite a different understanding of social issues. Acquired rights were zealously guarded, and despotism was effectively checked by the requirement of parliamentary approval. John Pym, the brilliant leader of the opposition in the House of Commons against the absolutist claims of the crown, gave eloquent expression to this sentiment when he launched these words against the royalist minority:

That false principle which inspires the princes and makes them believe that the countries over which they rule are their personal property as if the kingdom existed for the sake of the king and not the king for the sake of the kingdomis at the root of all the misery of their subjects, the cause of all the attacks on their rights and liberties. According to the recognised laws of this country not even the crown jewels are the property of the king; they are merely entrusted to him for his adornment and use. And merely entrusted to him are also the cities and fortresses, the treasurerooms and storehouses, the public offices, in order to safeguard the security, the welfare and the profit of the people and the kingdom. He can, therefore, exercise his power only after invoking the advice of both houses of Parliament.

In these words resounds the echo of all English history; they reveal the eternal struggle between might and right which will end only with the conquest of the power principle. For the principle of representative government had then quite a different meaning than now. That which today only helps to block the way for new forms of social life was then an earnest effort to set definite limits to power, a hopeful beginning toward the complete elimination of all schemes for political power from the life of society.

Furthermore, the doctrine of contractual relationship as the basis of all the political institutions in society had very early in England far-reaching consequences. Thus, the theologian, Richard Hooker, in his work, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, published in 1593, maintained that it is unworthy of a man to submit blindly, like a beast, to the compulsion of any kind of authority without consulting his own reason. Hooker bases the doctrine of the social contract on the fact that no man is really able to rule over a large number of his fellowmen unless these have given their consent. According to Hooker's idea such consent could only be obtained by mutual agreement; hence, the contract. In his dissertation concerning the nature of government Hooker declares quite frankly that "in the nature of things it is by no means impossible that men could live in social relations without public government." This work later served John Locke as a foundation for his two celebrated treatises on Civil Government, from which the germinating liberalism drew its main nourishment.

Locke likewise based his socialphilosophical theories on natural rights. In contradistinction to Hobbes, he believed, however, that the freedom of the natural man was by no means a state of rude caprice wherein the right of the individual was limited only by the brute force at his disposal. He maintained, rather, that common and binding relationships existed between primitive men, emanating from their social disposition and from considerations of reason. Locke was also of the opinion that in the natural state there existed already a certain form of property. It was true that God had given men all nature for disposal, so that the earth itself belonged to nobody; the harvest, however, which the individual had created by his own labour, did. For this reason there gradually developed certain obligations between men, especially after the separate family groups collected in larger unions. In this manner Locke thought to explain the origin of the state, which in his view existed only as an insurance company on which rested the obligation of guarding the personal security and the property of the citizens.

But if the state has no other task than this, it follows logically that the highest power rests not with the head of the state, but with the people, and finds expression in the elective legislative assemblies. Hence, the holder of the state's power stands not above but, like every other member of society, under the law, and is responsible to the people for his action. If he misuses the power entrusted to him, he can be recalled by the legislative assembly like any other official who acts contrary to his duty.

These arguments of Locke's are directed against Hobbes and, most of all, against Sir Robert Filmer, the author of Patriarcha, one of the most uncompromising defenders of absolute princely power. According to Filmer a king was subject to no human control, nor was he bound in his decisions by the precedents set by his predecessors. The king is chosen by God himself to act as lawgiver for his people, and he only stands above the law. All laws under whose protection men have lived up to now have been delivered to them by God's elect; for it is contrary to reason to assume that a common man can make laws for himself. The idea that a people has the right to judge its king and deprive him of the crown seemed positively criminal to Filmer; for in this case the representatives of the people are accuser and judge in one person, which mocks at every principle of justice. Hence, according to his idea, any limitation of the hereditary power is an evil, and must inevitably lead to the dissolution of all social ties.

Locke, who maintained that the king was only the executive organ of the popular will, logically denied him the right to make laws. What he strove for was a triple partition of public power, as the only protection against such misuse of power as must always endanger the public weal if all the agencies of power were united in one person. Hence the lawmaking power should be entrusted exclusively to the representatives of the people. The executive power, whose agents could at any time be recalled by the legislative assembly and replaced by others, was in all things subject to it and responsible to it. There remained only the federative power which, according to Locke, had the task of representing the nation abroad, of making treaties and deciding concerning war and peace. This branch of public power also was to be responsible to the representatives of the people and concerned solely with putting their decisions into execution.

For Locke the legislative assembly was the specific instrument for safeguarding the rights of the people against the government; hence he assigned to it such a dominant role. If an irresponsible administration violate its trust, it constitutes a breach of the existing legal relationship and then the people are free to oppose the revolution from above by the revolution from below, in order to protect their inalienable rights.

But though Locke strove to find in advance a solution for all possible or reasonably probable cases, there are deficiencies in his political program which cannot be removed by the separation of the power functions, because they are inherent in power itself, and are further enhanced by the economic inequalities in society. These inequalities constitute the weakness of liberalism itself and of all later constitutional schemes by which in various countries the attempt has been made to limit power and protect the rights of the citizens. This was already recognised by the French Girondist, Louvet, who in the midst of the high tide of enthusiasm for the new constitution spoke these weighty words: "Political equality and the constitution have no more dangerous enemy than the increasing inequality of property."

The stronger this inequality became in the course of time, the more unbridgeable became the social contrasts under victorious capitalism, undermining every communal interest, the faster faded the original significance of the measures which once played so important a part in society and in the struggle against the ambition for political power.

For all that, the idea of natural rights had for centuries the strongest influence of all those social cults in Europe which aimed to set limits to hereditary power and to widen the individual's sphere of independence. This influence persisted even after a line of eminent thinkers in England and France, like Lord Shaftesbury, Bernhard de Mandeville, William Temple, Montesquieu, John Bolingbroke, Voltaire, Buffon, David Hume, Mably, Henry Linguet, A. Ferguson, Adam Smith, and many others, inspired by biological and related science, had abandoned the concept of an original social contract and were seeking other explanations for the social and communal life. In doing so, some of them already recognised the state as the political instrument of privileged minorities in society for the rulership of the great masses.

Likewise, the great founders of international law, like Hugo Grote, Samuel Pufendorf, Christian Thomasius (to mention only the best-known among them) whose great merit it is that in a time when the national separation of the peoples was becoming ever wider they made the first attempts to go beyond the limits of the state and to collect what is common to all men into a foundation for a common law these also set out from the idea of natural rights. Grote regarded man as a social being and recognised in the social impulse the basis of all social ties. Social communal life developed definite habits, and these formed the first foundations of natural rights. In his work, Concerning the Law of War and Peace, published in 1625, he traces the formation of the state to a tacit covenant for the protection of rights and for the benefit of all. Since the state arose by the will of all individuals, the right that appertains to each one of its members can never be abrogated by the state. This natural and inalienable right cannot be changed even by God himself. This legal relationship is likewise the basis of all relations with other peoples and cannot be violated without punishment.

Pufendorf, like Thomasius and Grote, has his roots in the English social philosophers and boldly declares that natural rights exist not only for Christians, but also for Jews and Turks, a point of view very extraordinary in those times. Thomasius traces back all rights to the desire of the individual to live as happily and as long as possible. Since man can s find his greatest happiness only in community with others, he should ever strive to make the welfare of all the guiding principle of his actions. For Thomasius this principle exhausts the whole content of natural rights.

All schemes having their roots in natural rights are based on the desire to free man from bondage to social institutions of compulsion in order that he may attain to consciousness of his humanity and no longer bow before any authority which would deprive him of the right to his own thoughts and actions. It is true that most of these schemes still contained a mass of authoritarian elements, and that these frequently grew again into new forms of rulership when they had partly or wholly obtained their ends. But this does not alter the fact that the great popular movements animated by these ideas smoothed the way for the overthrow of power and prepared the field in which the seeds of freedom will some day germinate vigorously.

Thousands of experiences had to be gathered and must still be gathered to make men ready for the thought that it is not the form of power, but power itself, which is the source of all evil, and that it must be abolished to open to man new outlooks for the future. Every slightest achievement along this tedious path was a step forward in the direction of the loosing of all those bonds of political power which have always crippled the free operation of the creative forces of cultural life and hindered their natural development. Only when man shall have overcome the belief in his dependence on a higher power will the chains fall away that up to now have bowed the people beneath the yoke of spiritual and social slavery. Guardianship and authority are the death of all intellectual effort, and for just that reason the greatest hindrance to any close social union, which can arise only from free discussion of matters and can prosper only in a community not hindered in its natural course by external compulsion, belief in a supernatural dogma or economic oppression.

  • 1The advocates of the idea of natural rights supported them by a long line of historical facts. we recall, for instance, the old coronation formula of the Aragonese: "we, of whom every one of us is as much as thou, and who all of us combined are more than thou, make thee a king. If thou wilt respect our laws and rights, we will obey thee; if not, then not."
  • 2F. A. Lange, Geschichte des Materialismus und Kritik seiner Bedeutung in der Gegenwart. 1:242 (10 Aufl.).
  • 3Fritz Mauthner, Der Atheismud und seiner Geschichte im Abendlande. 11:535. Stuttgart und Leipzig, 1921.


9. Liberal Ideas in Europe and America

Jeremy Bentham and Utilitarianism
Priestley and Richard Price
Thomas Paine concerning state and society
William Godwin's political justice
Libertarian tendencies in America
From Jefferson to Thoreau
Liberal ideas in German literature
Lessing on State and Church
Herder's philosophy of history
Schiller's esthetic of culture
Lichtenberg and Seume
The personality of Goethe
Wieland's Goldner Spiegel
Jean Paul
Holderlin's hyperion
Wilhelm Von Humboldt's ideen uber die grenzen der wirksamkeit des staates
Political radicalism in France
Diderot's conception of freedom
Montesquieu's spirit of the laws

Submitted by Toms on September 5, 2011

It had become the custom to refer to liberalism as "political individualism," with the consequence that an entirely false concept was set up and the door thrown wide open for all sorts of misunderstandings. Still, the tendency arose from a thoroughly social idea: the principle of utility, which Jeremy Benthamone of the most distinguished representatives of this schoolreduced to the formula, "the greatest possible amount of happiness for the greatest possible number of the members of society." Thus the principle of utility became for him the natural criterion of right and wrong. Says Bentham:

The interest of the community is one of the most general expressions that can occur in the phraseology of morals: no wonder that the meaning of it is often lost. When it has a meaning, it is this. The community is a fictitious body, composed of the individual persons who are considered as constituting, as it were, its members. The interest of the community then is, what?the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it. It is vain to talk of the interest of the community without understanding what is the interest of the individual. A thing is said to promote the interest, or to be for the interest, of the individual, when it tends to add to the sum total of his pleasures: or, what comes to the same thing, to diminish the sum total of his pains.... A measure of government (which is but a particular kind of action, performed by a particular person or persons) may be said to be conformable to, or dictated by, the principle of utility, when in like manner the tendency which it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any which it has to diminish it. 1

Certainly these words give expression to the sentiment of social justice which in its immediate assumption proceeds, it is true, from the individual, but which nevertheless is to be taken as the result of a clearly marked feeling of solidarity and can in no wise be covered by the common designation "individualism," which may mean anything or nothing.

Although a large number of the celebrated supporters of political radicalism in England, in contrast to Bentham, proceeded from the principle of natural rights, they agreed with him in their final goal. The dissenting preacher, Joseph Priestley, who declared the unlimited perfectibility of man to be a law of God, would concede that government is right only to the extent that its instruments are engaged in furthering this law of the divine will. To assign to government any other purpose is a deadly sin against the right of the people, for the profit and happiness of the individual members of the community is the only standard by which to judge any transaction having to do with the state Influenced by this line of thought, Priestley defended the right of a people at any time to recall its government as one of the most elementary presuppositions of the state contract and from this arrived logically at the right of revolution which resides in every people when the government abandons the path which is indicated for it by these imperishable principles.

Richard Price, in contrast with Priestley, did not rest his ideas of right and wrong on grounds of pure utility; neither was he in very close agreement with him about the concepts attaching to philosophic materialism, and he believed in the freedom of the human will. He did, however, agree with the views of his friend about the relations of man to government in general, he even went somewhat further, valuing rather more highly the idea of personal freedom.

In every free state every man is his own legislator. All taxes are free gifts for public services. All laws are particular provisions or regulations established by COMMON CONSENT for gaining protection and safety. And all Magistrates are Trustees or Deputies for carrying these regulations into execution.

Liberty, therefore, is too imperfectly defined, when it is said to be "a Government by Laws, and not by Men." If the laws are made by one man, or a junta of men in a state, and not by COMMON CONSENT, a government by them does not differ from Slavery." 2

The pronouncement concerning laws is of especial importance if one recalls what a cult was made of the law in France at the time of the great Revolution. Of course Price recognised that a social status in which the laws arose from the free consent of all was possible only within the frame of a small community, but just for this reason the modern great state appeared to him one of the greatest dangers for the future of Europe.

In advance of all the representatives of political radicalism of that epoch was Thomas Paine, the enthusiastic pioneer fighter for the independence of the English colonies in North America, the man who understood how to give the clearest expression to those aspirations. Deserving of especial note is the manner in which he brought before the eyes of his contemporaries the difference between state and society. He writes:

Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the latter is a punisher.

Society is in every state a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government which we should expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence. 3

Like Priestley, Paine believed in a constant upward advance of human culture and deduced from this that the higher a culture stands, the less is the need for government, because men must in this case look after their own affairs and also those of the government."

In his writings against Edmund Burke, who had himself once belonged among the most enthusiastic representatives of political radicalism but later became the most virulent advocate of modern state reaction, Paine developed again in splendid words his idea of the nature of government and especially emphasised most incisively that the men of today have no right to prescribe the path for the men of tomorrow. Covenants that have passed into history can never impose on new generations the duty of accepting as legal and binding on themselves limitations set by their forebears. Paine warned his contemporaries against delusive faith in the wisdom of a government in which he saw merely a "national administrative body upon which is imposed the duty of making effective the basic principles prescribed by society." 4 But Paine was also an opponent of that formal democracy which sees in the will of the majority the last word of wisdom, and whose supporters strive to prescribe every activity by established law. Thus he gave warning in his firebreathing series of essays, "The Crisis" (I776-I783), of a tyranny of the majority, a power often more oppressive than the despotism of one individual over all. It was as if he had foreseen intuitively what dangers must arise if men allowed themselves to erect into a fundamental principle of law, a method whose claim to validity is based on the fact that five is more than four.

The ideas of political radicalism were at that time widely disseminated in England and America and left their unmistakable imprint on the intellectual development of both countries. We encounter them again in John Stuart Mill, Thomas Buckle, E. H. Lecky and Herbert Spencer, to mention only four of the bestknown names. They found their way into poetical works and inspired men like Byron, Southey, Coleridge, Lamb, Wordsworth, and above all, Shelley, one of the greatest poets of all time, to reach at last their intellectual zenith in Godwin's Social Justice a work which powerfully stirred men's minds for a time, but fell later into forgetfulness because his bold conclusions went too far for most. 5

Godwin clearly recognised that the explanation of the evil was not to be found in the external form of the state, but was grounded in its very essence. For this reason he did not want to see the power of the state reduced to "a minimum"; he wanted to banish from the life of society every institution of force. Thus, the bold thinker arrived at the idea of a stateless society, where man is no longer subjected to the mental and physical compulsion of an earthly Providence, but finds room for the undisturbed development of his natural capacities, and himself manages all his relations with his fellowmen by the method of free agreement to meet existing needs.

But Godwin recognised also that a social development in this direction was not possible without a fundamental revolution in existing economic arrangements; for tyranny and exploitation grow on the same tree and are inseparably bound together. The freedom of the individual is secure only when it rests on the economic and social wellbeing of all; a fact for which the advocates of purely political radicalism have never had sufficient regard, wherefore they have always been compelled later to make new concessions to the state. The personality of the individual stands the higher, the more deeply it is rooted in the community, from which arise the richest sources of its moral strength. Only in freedom does there arise in man the consciousness of responsibility for his acts and regard for the rights of others; only in freedom can there unfold in its full strength that most precious social instinct: man's sympathy for the joys and sorrows of his fellow men and the resultant impulse toward mutual aid in which are rooted all social ethics, all ideas of social justice. Thus Godwin's work became at the same time the epilogue of that great intellectual movement which had inscribed on its banner the greatest possible limitation of the power of the state, and the starting point for the development of the ideas of libertarian socialism.

In America the modes of thought of political radicalism for a long time dominated the best minds, and with them public opinion. Even today they are not completely quenched there, although the all-crushing and levelling domination of capitalism and its monopoly economy have so far undermined the old traditions that they can now serve only as watchwords for business undertakings of a totally different sort. But this was not always so. Even so fundamentally conservative a character as George Washington, to whom Paine dedicated the first part of his Rights of Man (which did not prevent his later attacking the first President of the United States violently when he thought he saw him turning in a direction that led far from the paths of freedom) even Washington could declare: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence -- it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master, never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

Thomas Jefferson, who was of the opinion that revolt against a government which had sinned against the freedom of the people was not merely the right but the duty of a good citizen, and that a little rebellion from time to time is good for the health of a government, put his idea about all governmental systems into the laconic words: "That government is best which governs least." An irreconcilable opponent of all political restrictions, Jefferson regarded every intrusion of the state into the sphere of the personal life of the citizen as despotism and brutal force.

To the claim that the citizen must surrender to the state an essential part of his freedom as the price of the safety of his person, Benjamin Franklin replied in the incisive words: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Wendell Phillips, the mighty champion against negro slavery, expressed the conviction that "government is the fundamental 'ism' of the soldier, bigot and priest", and he said in one of his speeches: "I think little of the direct influence of governments. I think, with Guizot, that 'it is a gross delusion to believe in the sovereign power of political machinery.' To hear some men talk of government, you would suppose that Congress was the law of gravitation and kept the planets in their place."

Abraham Lincoln warned the Americans against trusting a government to safeguard their human rights: "If there is anything that it is the duty of the whole people never to entrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity of their own liberties and institutions."

From Lincoln come also these significant words: "I have always; thought that all men should be free, but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others."

Ralph Waldo Emerson coined the wellknown words: "Every actual state is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well." Emerson, America's poetphilosopher, had in general an outspoken aversion for the fetishism of the law and averred: "Our mutual distrust is very expensive. The money we spend for courts and prisons is very ill laid out. The law of self-preservation is a surer policy than any legislation can be."

This spirit permeates all the political literature of America of that day until the rising capitalism, which led to entirely new conditions of life, by its corrupting intellectual and spiritual influences forced the old traditions more and more into the background or made them over to suit its uses. And as the same currents of thought in England reached their culminating point in the Political Justice of William Godwin, so here they ripened to their highest perfection in the work of men like Henry D. Thoreau, Josiah Warren, Stephen Pearl Andrews and many others who courageously dared to take the last step and to say with Thoreau:

I heartily accept the motto "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe that government is best which governs not at all.

But these ideas were not confined to England and America, even though in these countries they penetrated most deeply into the consciousness of the people. Everywhere in Europe where an intellectual life had revealed itself on the eve of the French Revolution, we come upon its traces. A longing for freedom had seized upon men and had brought under its spell many of the best minds of that time. These ambitions received a powerful impulse from the revolutionary occurrences in America and later in France. Into Germany, too, where a select body of outstanding thinkers was at that time striving to lay the foundations of a new intellectual culture, libertarian ideas found their way; and out of the misery and degradation of a reality ruled by a shameful despotism they rose like glittering horizons of a better future. Let one think of Lessing's Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts, of Ernst und Falk, and of the Gesprach uber die Soldaten und Monche. Lessing followed the same paths as, before and after him, the leaders of political radicalism in England and America. He, too, judged the relative perfection of the state according to the amount of happiness which it assured to the individual citizen. But he also recognised that the best state constitution, being a product of the human mind, was of necessity defective and perishable.

Suppose the best state constitution that can be conceived to be already invented; suppose that all the people in the world have accepted this constitution; do you not think that even from this best constitution there must arise things that will be most detrimental to human happiness and of which man in a state of nature would have known nothing at all?

In support of this view Lessing adduced various examples which reveal the utter futility of the striving after the best form of state. Aroused by his warfare with theology, the bold thinker always returned later to this question, of which apparently he never again for an instant let go. This is proved by the concluding sentences of his Gesprach uber die Soldaten und Monche, as brief as it is rich in content:

B. What are soldiers then?
A. Protectors of the state.
B. And monks are props of the church.
A. That for your church!
B. That for your state!
A. Are you dreaming? The state! The state! The happiness which the state guarantees to every individual member in this life!
B. The bliss which the church promises to every man after this life!
A. Promises !
B. Simpleton !

This is a deliberate shaking of the foundations of the old social order. Lessing divined the intimate connection between God and the state, between religion and politics. He divined at least that the inquiry about the best form of the state is just as meaningless as the inquiry about the best religion, since it carries its own contradiction. Lessing touched here on an idea which Proudhon later thought out logically to the end. Perhaps Lessing did so, too. The crystalclear form of his Gesprach indicates this. But he had the misfortune to drag out his days under the yoke of a miserable petty despot and perhaps could not venture to give publicity to his ultimate thoughts. That Lessing was perfectly clear as to the farreaching importance of these lines of thought is shown by the report of his friend Jacobi in 1781:

Lessing had the liveliest perception of the ridiculous and mischievous in all political machinery. In an interview he once became so excited that he declared that bourgeois society must yet be completely done away with, and as crazy as this sounds, just that close is it to the truth: Men will be well governed only when they no longer need government.

Along similar paths travelled Herder, who especially in his Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit made the attempt to understand historically the origin of the state. He regarded the state as a product of later times, traceable to quite different assumptions from those giving rise to social combinations in the natural state of humanity. In that condition man knew only a "natural government," which was based neither on overlordship nor on the separation of society into various ranks and castes, and which, therefore, pursued quite different aims from those of the state, with its artificial structure.

As long as a father ruled over his family he was a father and permitted his sons to become fathers, too, and sought to control them by counsel. As long as several families by free deliberation chose judges and leaders for a particular matter, so long were these officeholders just servants of the common purpose, chosen leaders of the assembly; the names lord, king, absolute, arbitrary, hereditary despot, were to the people with this organization a thing unheard of.

But this changed, as Herder thought, when "barbarian hordes" fell upon other peoples, seized upon their dwelling places and enslaved the inhabitants. With this, according to his notion, arose the first state of compulsion, and there developed the beginnings of the present governments in Europe. Principalities, nobility, feudalism and serfdom are the results of this new status and supplant the natural law of past times. For war is the introduction to all later enslavement and tyranny among men.

History proceeds along this kingly path, and facts of history are not to be denied. What brought the world under Rome? Greece and the Orient under Alexander? What set up the great monarchies back to Sesostris and the legendary Semiramis and then overthrew them? War. Conquest by violence thus took the place of right, and later by the lapse of years or, as our state theorists say, by silent contract, became law. The silent contract in this case, however, means nothing more than that the strong takes what he wants, and the weaker gives and endures, because he can do nothing else.

Thus there arose, according to Herder, a new structure of society and with it a new conception of law. The political government of the conqueror supplants the "natural government" of the freely formed alliances; natural law yields to the positive law of the legislator. The era of the state begins, the era of the nations or statepeoples. According to Herder's notion the state is a coercive institution. Its origin can, it is true, be explained historically, but it cannot be justified morally; least of all where an alien ruling caste of conquerors holds an oppressed people under Its yoke.

Herder's whole conception shows plainly the influence of Hume, Shaftesbury, Leibnitz, and especially of Diderot, whom Herder respected highly and whose personal acquaintance he had made in Paris. Herder recognised in the state a thing that had arisen historically, but he felt also that by its standardising of human personality it could but become a cancer on the cultural development of mankind. Therefore the "simple happiness of individual men" seemed to him more desirable than the "expensive statemachines" which made their appearance with the larger societies welded together by conquest and brute force.

Schiller also, despite his being strongly influenced by Kant, in his conception of the state followed the views of the natural rights school, which would acknowledge the propriety of any activity of the state only in so far as it furthered the happiness of the individual. In his Briefe uber die aesthetische Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts he puts his attitude toward man and the state in these words:

And I believe that any single human soul developing its powers is more than the great human society, when I regard this as a whole. The state is a matter of chance, but man is a necessary being, and through what else is a state great and venerable except through the strength of its individuals. The state is only a product of human strength, but man is the source of the strength and the creator of the idea.

Also characteristic of Schiller's view is the aphorism, "The Best State" in the votive tablets:

How do I recognise the best state? Just as you recognise the best woman -- just, my friend, because no one speaks of either.

In its meaning this is merely a paraphrase of the Jeffersonian idea: "That government is best which governs least." A similar idea underlies also the aphorism, "The Best State Constitution":

I can recognise as such only that one which each can easily think good, but which never requires that he shall think so.

This innate resistance to the idea of a state which could prescribe for men the manner of their thinking, even when the thoughts could be called good, is characteristic of the intellectual attitude of the best minds of that time. People then would not have understood the patent model citizen of the state advanced today by the supporters of "nationalism" as a patriotic ideal which, they believe, can be artificially created by "genuinely national legislation" or a "strictly national education."

Goethe viewed the political problems of his time with apparent indifference, perhaps because he had recognised that "liberties" do not constitute the essence of liberty, and that liberty cannot be reduced to a political formula. As privy councillor, courtier, minister, Goethe was often shockingly narrowminded and guilty of shameful meanness. This may be attributed in no small measure to the distressing restraints of the German social life of the day. No one felt the gulf between himself and his people as deeply as did Goethe himself, he never got close to that people, and remains to this very day on the whole a stranger to them. Just because his view of the world was so manysided and allembracing he was of necessity all the more painfully aware of the complete repressiveness of the social life in which he was enmeshed. Goethe's roots were not in his people. "Among the German people there prevails a sort of spiritual exaltation that is alien to my nature," he said to the Russian Count Stroganoff. "Art and philosophy stand divorced from life, abstract in character, remote from the natural springs which should feed them."

In these words is reflected the gap that divided Goethe from his German contemporaries; he merely sunk his roots deeper into the first cause of everything human. The silly twaddle about the "inner harmony of soul of the great Olympian" has long been recognised as a conventional lie. A cleft ran through Goethe's whole nature, and the vain effort to master this cleavage was perhaps the most heroic side of this strange life.

But Goethe the poet and seer, who in the farreaching vision of his genius embraced the culture of centuries, the man who roared at the world in his "Prometheus""the greatest revolutionary poem that was ever written," as Brandes justly saidwas too great an admirer of human personality to be willing to surrender himself to the dead gearing of an alllevelling machine.

Folk and conqueror and thrall,
These in every age we see:
Best fortune to Earth's child can fall
Is just his personality.

At the very bottom of his being Goethe was always faithful to this view. In the first part of the Faust he had penned the impressive lines:

All rights and laws are still transmitted
Like an eternal sickness of the race
From generation unto generation fitted
And shifted round from place to place.

Reason becomes a sham, beneficence a worry.
Thou art a grandchild; therefore woe to thee!
The right born with us, ours in verity,
This to consult, alas! there is no hurry.
As an old man he still proclaimed:
Yes, I am altogether of that mind;
That is wisdom's final view:
Freedom and life that man alone should find
Who daily conquers them anew.
And so, while dangers round them rage,
They fight through childhood, manhood and old age.
Such a throng I'd like to see
Stand on free soil amid a people free.

In hardly any other sense than this can we understand the saying in the Maximen: "Which government is the best? That one which teaches us to govern ourselves."

The political radicalism of the English, and the French literature of enlightenment, had a strong influence also upon Wieland, whose conception of the relation of men to the state rested entirely upon natural right. This finds expression especially in his Der Goldene Spiegel and Nachlass des Diogenes von Sinope. That Wieland chose just this ancient sage of Corinth as the spokesman for his ideas is in itself highly indicative of the school of thought that he followed.

We shall mention here also G. Ch. Lichtenberg, whose intellectual attitude derived from Swift, Fielding, and Sterne, and who was therefore keenly sensitive to the misery of German conditions; likewise, J. G. Seume; and above all, Jean Paul, that firm defender of freedom who, like Herder, traced the origin of the state to conquest and slavery, and whose works had such a compelling influence on the best of his contemporaries. The manly words which he shouted into the ears of the Germans in his Declaration of War Against War are, alas, forgotten in Germany today; but are not, for that, the less true.

No book will conquer the conqueror or persuade him, but one must speak out against the poisonous admiration of him. Schelling speaks of "an almost divine right of the conqueror"; but he has against him the highwaymen, who in this matter may make the same claim for themselves in the face of an Alexander or a Caesar, and who, moreover, have on their side, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who had the robbers he conquered in Dalmatia enlisted as soldiers.

And Holderlin, the unhappy poet who in his Hyperion flung such frightful truths into the faces of the Germans, wrote these pregnant words:

You attribute to the state quite too much power. It cannot demand what it cannot compel. What comes as the gift of love or of intellect cannot be compelled. That, it may let alone, or it may take its laws and set it in the pillory! By Heaven! He knows not what a sin he commits who seeks to make the state a school for morals. The state has always made a hell out of that which man wanted it to make into a heaven. The state is the rough husk on the kernel of life, and it is nothing else. It is the wall around the garden of human fruits and flowers. But what is the use of a wall around a garden if the soil lies dry? The only thing that assists vegetation is rain from heaven.

Such ideas were almost universal among the men to whom Germany owes the rebirth of its intellectual life, although, because of the sad disorganisation of German affairs and the unrestrained caprice of the typical German petty despotism, it was not always and everywhere set forth with the same vigour and consistency as in England and France. We do find, however, in all these men a strong leaning toward worldcitizenship. Their minds were not limited by national ideas, but embraced the whole of mankind. Herder's Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschhest and his ingenious Briefe zur Beforderung der Humanitat ("Letters for the Advancement of Humanity") are splendid evidence of this spirit, which was striking deep into the best minds until it was restricted for a time by the socalled "wars of liberation" g the intellectual precipitate from the ideas of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel; and the Romantics' concept of the state.

Lessing revealed in his letters to Gleim his utter lack of the prescribed patriotic sentiment: "It is true that perhaps even in me the patriot is not completely smothered, although the reputation of a zealous patriot is, according to my way of thinking, the last for which I should be at all greedy; that patriot, that is, who would teach me to forget that I ought to be a citizen of the world." In another place he says: "I have no conception at all of the love of the Fatherland (I am sorry that I must, perhaps to my shame, confess it), and it seems to me at best a heroic weakness which I am right glad to be without."

Schiller also, whom the staunch German of today noisily hails as the great herald of national interests (in support of which he usually cites a quotation from Wilhelm Tell, scornfully styled by Friedrich IV as "a piece for Jews and revolutionaries"; and the wellknown saying from the Jungfrau von Orleans: "The nation is contemptible that will not gladly risk everything for its honour!" which, torn from its context, is made to convey a totally different meaning from that intended)Schiller also declares, with the assurance of the citizen of the world:

We moderns have at our command an interest that was not known to the Greeks or the Romans and which patriotic interest does not measure up to by far. The latter is important, anyhow, only for immature nations, for the youth of the world. It is a quite different interest to represent forcefully to man every noteworthy event that has happened to men. It is a pitiful, petty ideal to write for one nation; to a man of philosophical mind this limitation is utterly intolerable. He cannot rest content with such a changeable, accidental, and arbitrary form of humanity, with a fragment (and what else is the most important nation?). He can warm himself to enthusiasm for the nation only so far as the nation, or national event, is an important condition for the progress of the race.

Of Goethe, who had asserted of himself: "The sense and significance of my writings and my life is the triumph of the purely human," and whose lack of patriotic sentiment at the time of the "wars of liberation" has not yet been forgotten, nothing more need be said.

The industrious heralds of the Third Reich today proclaim in thunderous tones that liberalism is "an un-German product" and, like Herr Moeller van den Bruck, keep repeating with gramophonic persistence: "Liberalism is the freedom to have no convictions and at the same time to claim that even this is a conviction." One can only reply that this "un-German product" was once the common intellectual property of those who made Germany into a cultural community again after political and social barbarism had smothered the intellectual life of the country for centuries. It was out of that "lack of conviction" that Germany was born anew.

In his essay, Some Ideas for an Attempt to Determine the Limits of the Effectiveness of the State, Wilhelm von Humboldt presented a social-philosophical summary of what moved the refounders of German literature and poesy most deeply. This ingenious work was written in 1792 under the immediate influence of the revolutionary events in France though only separate extracts appeared in print at that time in various German periodicals; it was not published as a whole until 1851, after the death of the author. Concerning the purpose of his effort Humboldt wrote, in June of 1792, to the intellectually sympathetic Georg Forster: "I have tried to combat the lust to govern and have everywhere drawn more closely the limits of the activity of the state."

Humboldt attacked first of all the baseless idea that the state could give to men anything which it had not first received from men. Especially repugnant to him was the idea that the state was called to uplift the moral qualities of man, a delusion which later, under the influence of Hegel, befogged the best minds in Germany. As a sworn opponent of any uniformity of thought Humboldt rejected fundamentally any standardising of moral concepts and boldly declared: "The highest and final purpose of every human being is the development of his powers in their personal peculiarity." Freedom, therefore, seems to him the only guarantee of man's cultural and intellectual advance and the unfolding of his best moral and social possibilities. He wished to protect men against the dead gearwork of the political machine into whose unfeeling grasp we have fallen; hence his opposition to everything that is mechanical and forced; that is susceptible of no intellectual vitalising. For he holds that automatic consistency stifles every breath of life.

But really, freedom is the necessary condition without which the most soulful undertaking can produce no wholesome effects of this sort. A thing which man has not chosen for himself, a thing in which he is merely constrained and guided can never become a part of his nature; it always remains alien to him; he does not really carry it out with human vigour, merely with mechanical skill.

Therefore Humboldt wanted to see the activity of the state restricted to the actually indispensable and to entrust to it only those fields that were concerned with the personal safety of the individual and of society as a whole. Whatever went beyond this seemed to him evil and a forcible invasion of the rights of the personality, which could only work out injuriously. Prussia gave him in this regard the most instructive example for in no other country had state guardianship assumed such monstrous forms as there, where under the arbitrary dominion of soulless despots the sceptre had become a corporal's baton in civil affairs. This went so far that under Friedrich Wilhelm even the actors in the royal theatre in Berlin were subjected to military discipline and a peculiar special order was put in force "according to which the artists, of whatever rank or sex, were to be treated for any violation of the regulations like soldiers or rebels." 6

The same spirit which saw in the abject debasement of man to a lifeless machine the highest wisdom of all statecraft and lauded the blindest dead obedience as the highest virtue, celebrates in Germany today its shameless resurrection, poisoning the heart of youth, deadening its conscience and throwing to the dogs its humanity.

In France also the great renewers of intellectual life before the revolution were inspired in many ways by the ideas of political radicalism in England. Montesquieu, Voltaire, Helvetius, Holbach, Diderot, Condorcet and many others went to school to the English. Of course, the adopted ideas took on among the Frenchmen a special coloration, which can be in large part attributed to the peculiar social conditions in the country, which differed essentially from those prevailing in England. With the exception of Diderot and Condorcet most of the political innovators in France were closer to a democracy in their line of thought than to genuine liberalism and, despite their sharp attacks on absolutism, contributed materially to strengthen the power of the state by feeding that blind faith in the omnipotence of legislative bodies and written laws which was to be so disastrous in its consequences.

With Voltaire, who was concerned chiefly about the most widely conceived "freedom of thought," the question of the form of government played a rather subordinate part. An enlightened monarch surrounded by the intellectual elite of the country would have satisfied his demands completely. Voltaire was, it is true, a combative spirit, always ready in individual instances to enter the lists against traditional prejudice and perpetrated injustice; but a revolutionary in the proper sense he was not. Nothing lay further from his thought than a social upheaval, although he is counted among the most important of the minds that made the intellectual preparation for the great revolution in France. Least of all was he the supporter of any definite political system; therefore he could not exert the influence of Rousseau or Montesquieu on the socialpolitical structure of the approaching revolution.

The same holds good for Diderot, who was certainly the most comprehensive mind of his time, and just for that reason the least adapted for a political party program. And yet Diderot went much farther than any of his contemporaries in his socialcritical conclusions. In him is found the purest embodiment of the liberal mind in France. An enthusiastic adherent of the rising natural science, he revolted against that artificial thinking which, with innate hostility, blocked the way to a natural arrangement of the forms of social life. Consequently, freedom seemed to him the beginning and the end of all things; freedom was, however, for Diderot "the possibility of an action's beginning quite of itself, independent of everything past," as he so cleverly defined it in his "Conversation with d'Alembert." The whole of nature, in his view, existed to demonstrate the occurrence of phenomena of themselves. Without freedom, the history of humanity would have had no meaning at all, for it was freedom that effected every reconstruction of society and cleared the way for every original thought.

With such a conception the French thinker could not fail to arrive at conclusions similar to those reached later by William Godwin. He did not, like Godwin, assemble his ideas in a special work; but strewn all through his writings are clear evidences that his utterance to d'Alembert was not just a chance remark, of the deeper meaning of which he was himself unaware. No. It was the innermost core of his own being that compelled him to speak thus. Whichever of his works we pick up, we find in it the expression of a genuinely free mind that had never committed itself to any dogma and had, therefore, never surrendered its unlimited power of development. Let one read his Pensees sur l'interpretation de la Nature) and one feels at once that this wonderful hymn to nature and all life could have been written only by a man who had freed himself from every inner bondage. It was this innermost essential core of Diderot's personality which called forth from the pen of Goethe, to whom Diderot was closely related intellectually, the wellknown words in his letter to Zelter: "Diderot is Diderot, a unique individual; whoever carps at him and his concerns is a Philistine, and there are legions of them. But men do not know enough to accept gratefully from God, or from nature, or from their own kind, what is above price."

The libertarian character of Diderot's thought finds most striking expression in his shorter writings, such as Entretiens d'un pere avec ses enfants, which contains much material from Diderot's own youth; and very particularly the Supplement au voyage de Bougainville and the poem, Les Eleutheromanes ou abdication d'un roi de la feve. 7

Also in numerous articles in the monumental Encyclopedia, which owed its completion entirely to the tenacious energy of Diderot (to it, he alone made over a thousand contributions), the fundamental ideas of his philosophy are often clearly revealed, although the publisher had to employ all his cunning to deceive the watchful eyes of the royal censorship. Thus, in the article, "Authority," which he contributed, he declares that "Nature gave no man the right to rule over others"; and traces every instance of power to forcible subjugation, which endures just so long as the masters are stronger than the slaves and disappears as soon as the situation is reversed. In which case the previously downtrodden have the same right their former masters enjoyed of subjecting them in turn to the arbitrary whim of their tyranny.

Montesquieu, like Voltaire, was strongly influenced by the English constitution and the ideas which had brought it to its existing structure. But, in contrast to Locke and his successors, he did not take as his basis the principle of natural right, the weak points of which did not escape him; rather he tried to explain the origin of the state historically. In this attempt he took the standpoint that the search for an ideal form of state which should be equally valid for all peoples was an illusion, because every political structure grows out of definite natural conditions and must, in every country, assume the forms determined by the local environment. Thus he argues very cleverly in his principal work, L'esprit des lois, that the residents of a fruitful district which is much exposed to the danger of conquest by military attack from without, will as a rule value their freedom less highly than the inhabitants of an infertile region surrounded by mountains, and will more readily submit to a despot who will guarantee them protection against invasion. And he supports his view by various interesting examples from history.

Montesquieu's own political ideal was a constitutional monarchy after the English pattern, based on the representative system, and with separation of powers, so that the rights of the citizens and the stability of the state should not be endangered by the concentration of all the instruments of power in the same hands. The French thinker distinguished between despotisms, where every activity of the state is determined by the arbitrary decision of the ruler; and true monarchies, or even republics, where all questions of public life are settled by laws. Laws are for Montesquieu not products of arbitrary will, but adjustments of things to one another and to man. Although he himself argued that the importance of the law is to be sought not in its external compulsory power, but in man's belief in its usefulness, it must still be recognised that his ideas, which had great influence on the thought of his time, contributed greatly to develop that blind faith in law which was so characteristic of the time of the great revolution and of the struggles for democracy in the nineteenth century. Montesquieu presented, so to say, the transition from liberalism to democracy, which was to find its most influential advocate in the person of Rousseau.

  • 1J. Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789.
  • 2Richard Price, Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty and the justice and Policy of the War with America, 1776.
  • 3Thomas Paine, Common Sense. Philadelphia, 1776.
  • 4Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man; being an answer to Mr. Burke's Attack on the French Revolution. London, 1791. The second part of the work, appearing in 1792, led to an accusation of high treason against Paine. He was able to escape the consequences only by a timely flight to France.
    Burke's earlier essay, "A Vindication of Natural Society," which appeared in 1756, is justly regarded as one of the earliest written contributions of modern anarchism, its author anticipated many of Godwin's conclusions.
  • 5William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and it's Influence on General Virtue and Happiness, London, 1793.
  • 6Eduard Vrehse, Geschichte des preussischen Hofes. Hamburg, 1851.
  • 7This poem owes its origin to a happy event. In a little company of men and women Diderot was chosen as socalled "Twelfth Night King," and, as chance would have it, for three successive years the bakedin bean turned up in his piece of the cake. The first time, following Rabelais, he laid down for his subjects the single law: "Each of you be happy in his own way!" In the third year, however, he sets forth in the poem, "Les Eleutheromanes," how he had grown tired of his kingship and resigned the crown and, in doing so expresses most beautifully his love of freedom. The following verses best show this:
    Jamais au public avantage
    L'homme n'a franchement sacrifie ses droits!
    La nature n'a fait ni serviteur ni maitre.
    Je ne veux ni donner ni recevoir de lois!
    Et scs mains couiraient les entrailles du pretre
    Au defaut d'un cordon, pour etrangler les rois.


10. Liberalism and Democracy

The relation of Liberalism to democracy
Rousseau's idea of the communal will
Rousseau and Hobbes
Rousseau as creator of the modern state reaction
The social contract and equality before the law
Rousseau's conception of right
Democracy and dictatorship
Rousseau's influence on the French Revolution
The Jacobins as will executors of the monarchy

Submitted by Toms on September 6, 2011

Centralism. The "sun king" and the "sun nation." nationalism and democracy
The nation as the bearer of "the communal will." the new sovereign
Nationalism and the cult of the new state. The "national will." Napoleon as heir of the new state idea
The dream of the national omnipotence of the state
The changing of society
The citizen as soldier
The new dream of power

There is an essential difference between liberalism and democracy, based on two different conceptions of the relationship between man and society. Indeed, we have stated in advance that we have in view here solely the social and political trends of liberal and democratic thought, not the endeavours of the liberal and democratic parties, which frequently bear a relationship to their original ideals similar to that which the practical political efforts of the socialistic labor parties bear to socialism. Most of all, one must here beware of throwing liberalism into the same pot with the so-called "Manchester doctrines," as is frequently done.

The ancient wisdom of Protagoras, that man is the measure of all things, has weight for liberalism, also. On the basis of this doctrine it judges the social environment according as it furthers the natural development of the individual or is a hindrance to his personal freedom and Independence. Its conceptions of society are those of an organic process resulting from man's natural necessities and leading to free associations, which exist as long as they fulfil their purpose, and dissolve again when this purpose has become meaningless. The less this natural course of things is affected by forceful interference and mechanical regulation from outside, the freer and more frictionless will be all social procedure and the more fully can man enjoy the happiness of his personal freedom and independence.

From this point of view liberalism judged also the state and all forms of government. Its advocates believed, however, that government in certain matters cannot be entirely dispensed with. Yet they saw clearly that every form of government menaces man's freedom, hence they always endeavoured to guard the individual from the encroachments of governmental power and strove to confine this to the smallest possible field of activity. The administration of things always meant more to them than the government of men; hence, the state, for them, had a right to exist only as long as its functionaries strove merely to protect the personal safety of its citizens against forcible attacks. The state constitution of liberalism was, therefore, predominantly of a negative nature; the focal point of all the socialpolitical thought of its advocates was the largest possible degree of freedom for the individual.

In contradistinction to liberalism, the starting point of democracy was a collective conceptthe people, the community. But although this abstract concept on which the democratic ideal is founded could only lead to results disastrous to the independence of human personality, it was surrounded by the aureole of a fictitious concept of freedom, whose worth or unworth was yet to be proved. Rousseau, the real prophet of the modern democratic stateidea, in his Contrat social, had opposed "the sovereignty of the king" with "the sovereignty of the people." Thus the dominance of the people was for him the watchword of freedom against the tyranny of the old regime. This alone necessarily gave the democratic idea a great prestige; for no power is stronger than that which pretends to be founded on the principles of freedom.

Rousseau proceeded in his socialphilosophical speculations from the doctrine of the social contract, which he had taken over from the advocates of political radicalism in England; and it was this doctrine which gave his work the power to inflict such terrible wounds on royal absolutism in France. This is also the reason why there came to be current so many contradictory opinions concerning Rousseau and his teachings. Everyone knows to what a degree his ideas contributed to the overthrow of the old system and how strongly the men of the great revolution were influenced by his doctrines. But just because of that it is all too frequently overlooked that Rousseau was at the same time the apostle of a new political religion, whose consequences had just as disastrous effects on the freedom of men as had formerly the belief in the divine right of kings. In fact, Rousseau was one of the inventors of that new abstract state idea arising in Europe after the fetish worship of the state which found its expression in the personal and absolute monarch had reached its end.

Not unjustly Bakunin called Rousseau "the true creator of modern reaction." For was he not one of the spiritual fathers of that monstrous idea of an allruling, allinclusive, political providence which never loses sight of man and mercilessly stamps upon him the mark of its superior will? Rousseau and Hegel are -- each in his own way -- the two gatekeepers of modern state reaction, which is today, in fascism, preparing to climb to the highest pinnacle of its dominance. But the influence of the "citizen of Geneva" on the course of this development was by far the greater, for his works stirred public opinion in Europe more deeply than did Hegel's obscure symbolism.

Rousseau's ideal state is an artificial structure. Although he had learned from Montesquieu to explain the various state systems from the climatic environment of each people, he nevertheless followed in the footsteps of the alchemists of his time, who made every conceivable experiment with "the ignoble constituents of human nature" in the constant hope of some day pouring out from the crucible of their idle speculation the pure gold of the state founded on absolute reason. He was most positively convinced that it depended only on the right form of government or the best form of legislation to develop men into perfected beings. Thus he declares in his Confessions:

I found that politics was the first means for furthering morals; that, approach the matter as one may, the character of a people will always evolve according to the kind of government it has. In this respect, it seemed to me that the great question concerning the best form of the state can be reduced to this: how must the government be constituted to form a people into the most virtuous, the most enlightened, the wisest, in one word, the best, people in the fullest sense.

This idea is a characteristic starting point for democratic lines of thought in general, and is peculiarly indicative of Rousseau's mentality. Since democracy starts from a collective concept and values the individual accordingly, "man" became for its advocates an abstract being with whom they could continue to experiment until he should take on the desired mental norm and, as model citizen, be fitted to the forms of the state. Not without reason, Rousseau called the legislator "the mechanic who invents the machine." In fact there is about democracy something mechanical behind whose gearwheels man vanishes. But as democracy, even in Rousseau's sense, cannot function without man, it first stretches him on the bed of Procrustes that he may assume the mental pattern the state requires.

Just as Hobbes gave the absolute state a power embodied in the person of the monarch, against whom no right of the individual could exist, so Rousseau invented a phantom on which he conferred the same absolute rights. The "Leviathan" which he envisioned derived its fullness of power from a collective concept, the socalled "common will"the volonte general. But Rousseau's common will was by no means that will of all which is formed by adding each individual will to the will of all others, by this means reaching an abstract concept of the social will. No. Rousseau's common will is the immediate result of the "social contract" from which, according to his concept of political society, the state has emerged. Hence, the common will is always right, is always infallible, since its activity in all instances has the general good as a presumption.

Rousseau's idea springs from a religious fancy having its root in the concept of a political providence which, being endowed with the gifts of allwisdom and complete perfection, can consequently never depart from the right way. Every personal protest against the rule of such a providence amounts to political blasphemy. Men may err in the interpretation of the common will; for, according to Rousseau, "the people can never be bribed, but may often be misled!" The common will itself, however, remains unaffected by any false interpretations; it floats like the spirit of God over the waters of public opinion; and while this may stray from time to time into strange paths, it will always find its way back again to the centre of social equilibrium, as the misguided Jews to Jehovah. Starting from this speculative concept, Rousseau rejects every separate association within the state, because by such association the clear recognition of the common will is blurred.

The Jacobins, following in his footsteps, therefore threatened with death the first attempts of the French workers to associate themselves into trade guilds, and declared that the National Convention could tolerate no ;'state within the state" because by such associations the pure expression of the common will would be disturbed. Today Bolshevism in Russia, fascism in Germany and Italy, enforce the same doctrine and suppress all inconvenient separate associations, transforming those which they permit to exist into organs of the state.

Thus there grew from the idea of the common will a new tyranny, whose chains were more enduring because they were decorated with the false gold of an imaginary freedom, the freedom of Rousseau, which was just as meaningless and shadowy as was the famous concept of the common will. Rousseau became the creator of new idols to which man sacrificed liberty and life with the same devotion as once to the fallen gods of a vanished time. In view of the unlimited completeness of the power of a fictitious common will, any independence of thought became a crime; all reason, as with Luther, "the whore of the devil." For Rousseau, the state became also the creator and preserver of all morality, against which no other ethical concept could maintain itself. It was but a repetition of the same age-old bloody tragedy: God everything, man nothing!

There is much insincerity and glamorous shamfight in Rousseau's doctrine for which the explanation is perhaps found only in the man's shocking narrowness of mind and morbid mistrust. How much mischievous histication and hypocrisy is concealed in the words: "In order that the Social Contract may be no empty formula it tacitly impies that obtigation which alone can give force to all the others: namely, that anyone who aegses obedience to the general will is to be forced to it by the whole body. This merely means that he is to be compelled to be free." 1

"That he is to be compelled to be free!" -- the freedom of the state power's straitjacket! Could there be a worse parody of libertarian feeling than this? And the man whose sick brain bred such a monstrosity is even today praised as an apostle of freedom! But after all, Rousseau's concept is only the result of thoroughly doctrinaire thinking, which sacrifices every living thing to the mechanics of a theory, and whose representatives, with the obsessed determination of madmen, ride roughshod over human destinies as unconcernedly as if they were bursting bubbles. For real man, Rousseau had as little understanding as Hegel. His man was the artificial product of the retort, the homunculus of a political alchemist, responsive to all the demands the common will had prepared for him. He was master neither of his own life nor of his own thought. He felt, thought, acted, with the mechanical precision of a machine put in motion by a set of fixed ideas. If he lived at all, it was only by the grace of a political providence, so long as it found no offence in his personal existence.

For the social contract served the purposes of the contractors. Who wills the end wills also the means, and these means are inseparable from some danger, indeed, even from some loss. He who wishes to preserve his life at the expense of others must also be willing to sacrifice it for them when that becomes necessary. The citizen of a state is therefore no longer the judge concerning the danger to which he must expose himself at the demand of the law, and when the prince (state) says to him, "Thy death is necessary for the state," he must die, since it is only upon this condition that he has thus far lived in security, and his life is no longer merely a gift of nature, but is a conditional grant from the state. 2

What Rousseau calls freedom is the freedom to do that which the state, the guardian of the common will, prescribes for the citizen. It is the tuning of all human feeling to one note, the rejection of the rich diversity of life, the mechanical fitting of all effort to a designated pattern. To achieve this is the high task of the legislator, who with Rousseau plays the part of a political high priest, a part vouchsafed to him by the sanctity of his calling. It is his duty to correct nature, to transform man into a peculiar political creature no longer having anything in common with his original status.

He who possesses the courage to give a people institutions must be ready, as it were, to change human nature, to transform every individual, who by himself is a complete and separate whole, into a part of a greater whole from which this individual in a certain sense receives his life and character; to change the constitution of man in order to strengthen it, and to substitute for the corporeal and independent existence which we all have received from nature a merely partial and moral existence. In short, he must take from man his native individual powers and equip him with others foreign to his nature, which he cannot understand or use without the assistance of others. The more completely these natural powers are annihilated and destroyed and the greater and more enduring are the ones acquired, the more secure and the more perfect is also the constitution. 3

These words not only reveal the whole misanthropic character of this doctrine, but bring out more sharply the unbridgeable antithesis between the original doctrines of liberalism and the democracy of Rousseau and his successors. Liberalism, which emanates from the individual and sees in the organic development of all man's natural capacities and powers the essence of freedom, strives for a condition that does not hinder this natural course but leaves to the individual in greatest possible measure his individual life. To this thought Rousseau opposed the equality principle of democracy, which proclaims the equality of all citizens before the law. And since he quite correctly saw in the manifold and diverse factors in human nature a danger to the smooth functioning of his political machine, he strove to supplant man's natural being by an artificial substitute which was to endow the citizen with the capacity of functioning in rhythm with the machine.

This uncanny idea, aiming not merely at the complete destruction of the personality but really including also the complete abjuration of all true humanity, became the first assumption of a new reason of state, which found its moral justification in the concept of the communal will. Everything living congeals into a dead scheme; all organic function is replaced by the routine of the machine; political technique devours all individual lifejust as the technique of modern economics devours the soul of the producer. The most frightful fact is that we are not here dealing with the unforeseen results of a doctrine whose effects the inventor himself could not anticipate. With Rousseau everything happened consciously and with inherent logical sequence. He speaks about these things with the assurance of a mathematician. The natural man existed for him only until the conclusion of the social contract. With that his time was fulfilled. What has developed since then is but the product of society become the statethe political man. "The natural man is a whole in himself; he is the numerical unit, the absolute whole, which has relation y ship only to itself and to its equals. Man, the citizen, is only a partial unit, whose worth lies in its relation to the whole which constitutes the social body ". 4

It is one of the most curious phenomena that the same man who professed to despise culture and preached the "return to nature," the man s who for reasons of sentiment declined to accept the thought structure of the Encyclopaedists and whose writings released among his contemporaries such a deep longing for the simple natural lifeit is curious that this same man, as a state theoretician, violated human nature far more cruelly than the cruelest despot and staked everything on making it yield itself to the technique of the law.

It might be objected that liberalism likewise rests on a fictitious assumption, since it is difficult to reconcile personal freedom with the existing economic system. Without doubt the present inequality of economic interests and the resulting class conflicts in society are a continued danger to the freedom of the individual and lead inevitably to a steadily increasing enslavement of the working masses. However, the same is also true for the famous "equality before the law," on which democracy is based. Quite apart from the fact that the possessing classes have always found ways and means to corrupt the administration of justice and make it subservient to their ends, it is the rich and the privileged who make the laws today in all lands. But this is not the point: if liberalism fails to function practically in an economic system based on monopoly and class distinction, it is not because it has been mistaken in the correctness of its fundamental point of view, but because the undisturbed natural development of human personality is impossible in a system which has its root in the shameless exploitation of the great mass of the members of society. One cannot be free either politically or personally so long as one is in the economic servitude of another and cannot escape from this condition. This was recognised long ago by men like Godwin, Warren, Proudhon, Bakunin, and many others who subsequently reached the conviction that the dominion of man over man will not disappear until there is an end of the exploitation of man by man.

An "ideal state," however, such as Rousseau strove to achieve, would never make men free, even if they enjoyed the largest possible degree of equality of economic conditions. One creates no freedom by seeking to take from man his natural characteristics and to replace these by foreign; ones in order that he may function as the automaton of the common will. From the equality of the barracks no breath of freedom will ever blow. Rousseau's errorif one can, indeed, speak of errorlies in the starting point of his social theory. His idea of a fictitious common will was the Moloch which swallowed men.

While the political liberalism of Locke and Montesquieu strove for a separation of the functions of the state in order to limit the power of government and to protect the citizen from encroachment, Rousseau, on principle, rejected this idea and scoffed at philosophers who, considering the sovereignty of the state, "cannot divide it in principle, but wish to divide it in relation to its object." The Jacobins, consequently, acted quite in accordance with his views when they abolished the partition of powers laid down in the constitution and transferred to the Convention, besides the legislative, also the judicial function, thus facilitating the transition to the dictatorship of Robespierre and his adherents.

Likewise, the attitude of liberalism toward "the native and inalienable rights of men," as Locke states them and as they later on found expression in "the declaration of human rights," differs fundamentally from Rousseau's democratic concept. To the advocates of liberalism these rights constituted a separate sphere which no government could invade; it was the realm of man, which was to be protected from any regimentation by the state. Thus, they emphasised that there existed something apart from the state, and that this other was the most valuable and permanent part of life.

Quite different was Rousseau's position and that of the democratic movement in Europe founded on his doctrine, except as it was softened by ideal liberal viewsespecially in Spain and among the South German democrats of 184849. Even Rousseau spoke of "man's natural rights"; but in his view these rights had their root entirely in the state, and were prescribed for man by government. "One admits that by the social contract one gives up only that part of his power, his fortune and his freedom which the community needs, but one must also admit that only the sovereign can determine the necessity of the part to be yielded." 5

Hence, according to Rousseau, natural right is by no means a domain of man which lies outside the state's sphere of function; but rather this right exists only in the measure that the state finds it unobjectionable, and its limits are at all times subject to revision by the head of the state. Consequently, a personal right does not really exist. Whatever of private freedom the individual possesses he has, so to speak, as a loan from the state, which can at any time be renounced as void and withdrawn. It does not mean much when Rousseau tries to sweeten this bitter pill for the good citizen by stating:

All services which the citizen can render to the state he owes to it as soon as the state demands them On the other hand, the sovereign cannot load the citizen with chains useless to the community. Indeed, the sovereign cannot even desire this, for according to the laws of reason, just as according to the laws of nature, nothing happens without a cause.

A worse sophistry -- inherently insincere, as is apparent at the first glance -- designed to endow self-evident despotism with the halo of freedom can hardly be conceived. That according to the law of reason nothing happens without a cause is very comforting; but it is most unfortunate that it is not the citizen, but the head of the state, who determines this cause. When Robespierre delivered crowds of victims to the executioner for treatment he surely did not do so to give the good patriots practical instruction concerning the invention of Dr. Guillotine. Another cause animated him. He had as the goal of all statecraft the ideal structure of "the citizen of Geneva" in view. And since republican virtue did not spring up of itself among the lighthearted Parisians, he tried to help it on with Master Sanson's knife. If virtue will not appear voluntarily, one must hasten it by terror. The lawyer of Arras, therefore, had a motive worthy of his goal, and to reach this goal he took from man, in obedience to the mandate of the common will, the first and most important right," which includes all othersthe right to live.

Rousseau, who revered Calvin as a great statesman and who retained so much of his doctrinaire spirit, in the construction of his "social contract" undoubtedly had in view his native city, Geneva. Only in a small community of the type of the Swiss canton was it possible for the people to vote for all the laws in original assemblies and to regard the administration merely as the executive organ of the state. Rousseau recognised very clearly that a form of government such as he desired was not practical tor larger states. He even intended to follow The Social Contract with another work which was to deal with this question, but he never got to it. In his work, Considerations sur le governement de Pologne, he therefore admits delegates as representatives of the popular will, but he assigns to them only the role of functionaries in purely technical matters. Apart from the common will they can make effective no separate expression of their own will. Besides, he strove to mitigate the evils of representation by frequent changes of the representative body.

When Rousseau, in his discussions of the representative system, which contained many good ideas, mentions with approval the republican communities of antiquity, one must by no means infer from this that the ancient democracy was related to his own views. Even the civil law of the Romans recognised a whole series of personal liberties untouched by the guardianship Of the state. In the Greek cityrepublics, moreover, such a splendour of divinity, so also the lawgiver appears to the simple citizen in the aureole of a terrestrial providence which presides over the fate of all.

This belief is fatal not only to the common man of the people, but also to the chosen herald of the "common will." The very part which he has been given to play causes him to become constantly more estranged from actual life. As his whole thought and action are set on unison in all social matters, the dead gearwork of the machine, obedient to every pressure of the lever, gradually becomes for him the symbol of all perfection, behind which real life with its endless variety completely disappears. For this reason he feels every independent movement, every impulse emanating from the people themselves, as an antagonistic force dangerous to his artificially drawn circle. When this uncontrollable power which transcends all calculations of the statesman will not listen to reason, or even refuses to yield due obedience to the lawgiver, it must be silenced by force. This is done in the name of the "higher interests," which are always in question when something happens outside the range of bureaucratic habits. One feels oneself the chosen guardian of these higher interests, the living incarnation of that metaphysical common will, which has its uncanny existence in Rousseau's brain. In trying to harmonise all manifestations of social life with the tune of the machine, the lawgiver gradually becomes a machine. The man Robespierre once spoke great words against the institution of capital punishment; the dictator Robespierre made the guillotine "the altar of the fatherland," made it a means of purification of patriot virtue.

In reality the men of the Convention were not the inventors of political centralisation. They only continued after their fashion what the monarchy had left to them as an heirloom and developed to the utmost the tendency toward national unification. The French monarchy had since the time of Philip the Fair left no means untried for removing opposing forces in order to establish the political unity of the country under the banner of absolute monarchy. In doing this the supporters of royal power were not particular as to ways and means; treason, murder, forgery of documents, and other crimes were quite acceptable for them, if they promised success. The reigns of Charles V, Charles VII, Louis XI, Francis I, Henry II, are the most prominent milestones in the development of unlimited monarchy, which, after the preliminary labors of Mazarin and Richelieu, shone in fullest glory under Louis XIV.

This splendour of the "Sun King" filled all lands. An army of venal sycophants, poetasters, artists, living by the favour of the court, had as their special task to cause the fame of the megalomaniac despot to glow with brightest colours. French was spoken in all courts. All strove to be intellectually brilliant according to Parisian fashion and imitated French court manners and ceremonies. The most unimportant little despot in Europe was consumed by the sole aim of imitating Versailles, at least in miniature. Small wonder that a ruler entirely unaffected by any inferiority complex considered himself a demigod and was intoxicated by his own magnificence. But this blind devotion to the king's person gradually intoxicated the whole "nation," which venerated itself in the person of the king. As Gobineau significantly remarks:

France became in its own eyes the Sun Nation. The universe became a planetary system in which France, at least in its own opinion, had the first place. With other peoples it could have nothing in common except to shed light on them at its pleasure, for it was quite convinced that all were groping in the fog of densest darkness. France, however, was France, and as, in its view, all the rest of the world daily sank into a joyless distance, it gradually satisfied itself more and more with veritable Chinese ideas. Its vanity became a Chinese Great Wall. 6

The men of the Convention, therefore, not only took over the idea of political centralisation from the monarchy, but the cult which they carried on by means of the nation likewise had there its beginning. It is true, however, that in the age of Louis XIV the nation was considered to consist only of the privileged classes, the nobility, the clergy, the prosperous citizens; the great masses of the peasants and the city workers did not count.

It is related that Bonaparte, a few days before the coup d'etat had a talk with the Abbe Sieyesthen one of the five members of the Directory and on this occasion flung these words at the clever theologian who had weathered successfully all the storms of the revolution: "I have created the Great Nation!" Whereupon Sieyes smilingly replied: "Yes, because we had first created the Nation." The clever Abbe was right, and spoke with greater authority than Bonaparte. The nation had first to be born, or, as Sieyes so significantly said, to be created, before it could become great.

It is significant that it was Sieyes who at the beginning of the revolution gave the concept of the nation its modern meaning. In his essay, What Is the Third Estate? he raised and answered three questions of paramount importance: "What is the third estate? Everything. What has it been up to now in the political order of things?Nothing. What will it become? Something." But in order that the third estate might become something entirely new, suitable political conditions had first to be created in France. The bourgeoisie could become dominant only if the socalled "Estates General" was replaced by a national assembly based on a constitution. Hence the political unification of the nation was the first demand of the beginning revolution looking toward the dissolution of the Estates. The third estate felt itself ready, and Laclos declared in the Deliberations, to which the Duke of Orleans had only lent his name: "The Third Estate; that is the nation!"

In his essay Sieyes has described the nation as a "community of united individuals subject to the same law and represented by the same legislative body." But, influenced by the ideas of Rousseau, he extended the meaning of this purely technical definition and made the nation the original basis of all political and social institutions. Thus the nation became the actual embodiment of the common will in Rousseau's sense: "Her will is always lawful, for she is herself the embodiment of the law."

From this concept all other conclusions followed quite obviously. If the nation was the embodiment of the common will, then it had to be in its very nature one and indivisible. In this case, however, the national representative assembly had also to be one and indivisible, for it alone had the sacred task of interpreting the nation's will and making it intelligible to the citizens. Against the nation all separate efforts of the estates were futile; nothing could endure beside it, not even the separate organization of the church. Thus Mirabeau declared in the Assembly a few days after the memorable night of August 4th:

No national law has instituted the clergy as a permanent body in the state. No law has deprived the nation of the right to investigate whether the servants of religion should form a political corporation existing of itself and capable of acquiring and possessing. Could simple citizens by giving their possessions to the clergy and the clergy by receiving them give them the right to constitute themselves a separate order within the state? Could they rob the nation of the right to dissolve it? All the members of the clergy are merely officials of the state. The service of the clergy is a public function, just as the official and the soldier, so also the priest, is a servant of the nation.

Not without reason had the king's brother, the Comte d'Artois, with the rest of the royal princes, in his Memoirs presentes au Roi, etc., protested against the new role which had been assigned to the nation and warned the king that his approval of such ideas would inevitably lead to the destruction of the monarchy and the church, and of all privileges. Indeed, the practical consequences of this new concept were too plain to be misunderstood. If the nation as representative of the communal will stood above all and everything, then the king was nothing more than the highest official of the national state and the time was past, once and for all, when a "most Christian king" could say with Louis XIV: "The nation constitutes in France no corporation; it exists exclusively in the person of the king."

The court recognised very clearly the danger that hung over it and aroused itself to make some threatening gestures; but it was already too late. On the 16th of June, 1789, the representatives of the third estate, who had been joined by the lower clergy, on the motion of Abbe Sieyes declared themselves to be the National Assembly, with the argument that they constituted 96 percent of the nation anyhow, and that the other 4 percent were at any time free to join them. The storming of the Bastille and the march to Versailles soon gave this declaration the necessary revolutionary emphasis. With that the die was cast. An old faith was buried, giving place to a new. The "sovereignty of the king" had to strike its flag before the "sovereignty of the nation." The modern state was lifted from the baptismal font and anointed with the democratic oilfitted to achieve the importance assigned to it in the history of the modern era in Europe.

The situation was still not fully clarified, however, for in the National Assembly itself there was an influential section which recognised Mirabeau as its leader and with him advocated a socalled "kingdom of the people." These sought to rescue as much of the royal sovereignty as was possible under the circumstances. This became especially noticeable in the discussions concerning the formulation of "human and civil rights," where the disciples of Montesquieu and Rousseau stood often in sharp opposition. If the former could record a success when a majority of the Assembly declared for the representative system and the partition of powers, then the adherents of Rousseau had their success when the third article in the Declaration announced: "The principle of all sovereignty rests by its very nature in the nation. No corporation and no individual can exercise an authority which does not openly emanate from it."

It was true that the great masses of the people had little understanding of these differences of opinion in the bosom of the National Assembly; just as they have always been indifferent to the details of political theories ant programs. In this instance as in most, events themselves, especially the ever more apparent treachery of the court, contributed much more to the final solution of the question than the dry dogmatism of Rousseau's disciples. Anyway, the slogan, "the sovereignty of the nation" was short and impressive. Particularly, it brought the contrast between the new order of things and the old into the foreground of all discussion in revolutionary times a matter of great importance. After the royal family's unsuccessful attempt at flight, the internal situation became increasingly acute, until finally the storming of the Tuileries put an end to all half measures and the people's representatives entered seriously upon the discussion of the abolition of royalty. Manuel stated the whole problem in one sentence "It is not enough to have declared the dominance of the one and only true sovereign, the nation. We must also free it from the rivalry of the false sovereign, the king." And the Abbe Gregoire supported him, describing the dynasty as "generations living on human flesh," and declaring: "The friends of freedom must finally be given full security. We must destroy this talisman whose magic power can still darken the minds of many men. I demand the abolition of royalty by a solemn law."

The grim Abbe was not wrong; as a theologian he knew how intimately religion and politics are united. Of course the old talisman had to be broken in order that the simpleminded should no longer be led into temptation. But this could be done only by transferring its magic influence to another idol better fitted to man's need of faith and likely in its practical effects to prove stronger than the dying "divine right" of kings.

In the fight against absolutism the doctrine of the "common will" which found its expression in the "sovereignty of the people" proved a weapon of powerful revolutionary import. For that very reason we all too often forget that the great revolution introduced a new phase of religio-political dependence whose spiritual roots have by no means dried up. By surrounding the abstract concepts of the "Fatherland" and the "Nation" with a mystical aureole it created a new faith which could again work wonders. The old regime was no longer capable of miracles, for the atmosphere of the divine will which once surrounded it had lost its attraction and could no longer set the heart aglow with religious fervour.

The politically organised nation, however, was a new god whose magic powers were still unspent. Over his temple shone the promise-filled words, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," arousing in men the belief that the coming order was to bring them salvation. To this divinity France sacrificed the blood of her sons, her economic interests, her all. This new faith resounding in the souls of her citizens filled them with an enthusiasm which worked greater wonders than the best strategy of her generals.

The religious character of this powerful movement, under whose onset the old Europe fell in ruins, showed its full force only when royalty was totally abolished and the "sovereignty of the nation" no longer had a rival which looked back to the old traditions. The French historian, Mathiez, has demonstrated the details of this new cult impressively and has shown how in many of its manifestations it leans on Catholicism. 7

In an address of one of the Jacobin clubs to the mother society in Paris occurs the statement: "The Frenchman has no other divinity but the nation, the fatherland!" The fatherland, however, was "the new king with seven hundred and fortynine heads," as Proudhon called itthe new state, which served the nation as makeshift. For Jacobinism the state became the new national Providence, hence its fanatical zeal for the "one and indivisible Republic." For it would not do for others to dabble in the trade of the new Providence. Declared Danton, in September, I793, from the rostrum of the Convention:

They say that there are persons among us who are striving to dismember France. Let us eliminate these inharmonious ideas by proclaiming the death penalty for their originators. France must be an indivisible whole. There must be unity of representation. The citizens of Marseilles wish to grasp the hands of the citizens of Dunkirk. I demand the death penalty for those who would destroy the unity of France, and I move the Convention that we declare as the foundation of government unity of representation and administration.

Legislation, army, public education, press, clubs, assembliesall must serve to perfect the spiritual drill of the citizens, to make every brain conform to the new political religion. No exception was made of any movement, not even that of the Girondists, who had been reviled as federalists simply because their opponents knew such an accusation would arouse the patriots most violently against them. The Girondists had contributed to the deification of the nation no less than the men of the Mountain; had not one of their bestknown leaders, Isnard, given expression to this sentiment?"The French have become the elect people of the earth. Let us be concerned that their attitude shall justify their new destiny!" There was already in the minds of the representatives of "la grande nation" a premonition of Napoleon's victories.

A new priesthood had put in its appearancethe modern popular assembly. To it had been assigned the task of transmitting the "will of the nation" to the people, just as the earlier priests had transmitted to them "the will of God." Undoubtedly the revolution had swept away a rotten social order with an iron broom and given the people of Europe many glimpses of light for the future; but in the political field its results were, in spite of all revolutionary phraseology, entirely reactionary. It had strengthened the power idea anew, infused new life into prostrate authority, and chained man's will to freedom to a new religious dogma, against which it was sure to break its young wings.

The absolutism of royalty had fallen; but only to give place to a new absolutism even more implacable than the "divine right" of monarchy. The absolute principle of monarchy lay outside the citizen's sphere of activity, and was supported solely by the "grace of God," to whose will it allegedly gave expression. The absolute principle of the nation, however, made the least of mortals a cobearer of the common will, even while it denied him the right to interpret this according to his own understanding. Imbued by this thought every citizen from now on forged his own link in the chain of dependence which formerly some other had forged for him. The sovereignty of the nation steered everyone into the same path, absorbed every individual consideration, and replaced personal freedom by equality before the law.

Not without reason were Moses' tables of the law set up in the Convention as a symbol of the national will. Not without reason there hung upon the walls of the Assembly the fasces and ax of the lictors as the emblem of the One and Indivisible Republic. Thus was the man sacrificed to the citizen, individual reason to the alleged will of the nation. When the leading men of the revolution, animated by Rousseau's spirit, strove to destroy all natural associations in which the needs and impulses of men sought expression, they destroyed the root of all true association, transformed the people into the mob, and introduced that fateful process of social uprooting which was later speeded up and sharpened by the growing development of capitalistic economy.

Just as the "will of God" has always been the will of the priests who transmitted it and interpreted it to the people, so the "will of the nation" could be only the will of those who happened to have the reigns of public power in their hands and were, consequently, in a position to transmit and interpret the "common will" in their own way. This phenomenon need not necessarily be traced to inherent hypocrisy. Much more reasonably can we in this instance speak of "deceived deceivers"; for the more deeply the enunciators of the national will are convinced of the sacredness of their mission, the more disastrous are the results springing from their inherent honesty. There is deep significance in Sorel's remark: "Robespierre took his part seriously, but his part was an artificial one."

In the name of the nation the Convention outlawed the Girondists and sent their leaders to the scaffold; in the name of the nation Robespierre with Danton's help removed the Hebertists and the so-called "enrages" in the name of the nation Robespierre and SaintJust made the Dantonists "sneeze into the sack"; in the name of the nation the men of Thermidor removed Robespierre and his adherents; in the name of the nation Bonaparte made himself Emperor of the French.

Vergniaud maintained that the revolution was "a Saturn who swallowed his own children." This could be said with much more reason of the mystical principle of the sovereignty of the nation, whose priests constantly brought new sacrifices to it. In fact, the nation became a Moloch which could never be satisfied. Just as with all gods, here, too, religious veneration led to its inevitable result: the nation all, man nothing!

Everything appertaining to the nation took on a sacred character. In the smallest villages altars were erected to the fatherland and sacrifices were offered. The holidays of the patriots came to have the character of religious feasts. There were hymns, prayers, sacred symbols, solemn processions, patriotic relics, shrines of pilgrimage all to proclaim the glory of the fatherland. From now on the "glory of the nation" was spoken of as formerly the "glory of God." One deputy solemnly called the Declaration of the Rights of Man the "catechism of the nation." The Contrat Social of Rousseau became the "Bible of Liberty." Enthusiastic believers compared the Mountain of the Convention with Mount Sinai, on which Moses received the sacred tablets of the law. The Marseillaise became the Te Deum of the new religion. An intoxication of belief had overspread the land. Every critical consideration was submerged in the flood of feeling.

On November 5, 1793, Marie Joseph Chenier, brother of the unhappy poet, Andre Chenier, said to the assembled Convention:

If you have freed yourselves from all prejudices to prove yourselves the more worthy of the French nation, whose representatives you are, then you know how on the ruins of the dethroned superstitions can be founded the one natural religion, having neither sects nor mysteries. Her preachers are our legislators, her priests our executive officers of the state. In the temple of this religion humanity will offer incense only on the altar of our country, the mother of us all and our divinity.

In the sultry atmosphere of this new faith modern nationalism was born, and became the religion of the democratic state. And the more deeply the citizen venerated his own nation, the wider became the abyss which separated it from all other nations, the more contemptuously he looked upon all who were not so fortunate as to be of the elect. It is only a step from the "nation" to the "Great Nation" and that not alone in France.

The new religion had not only its own ritual, its inviolable dogmas, its holymission, but also the terrible orthodoxy characteristic of all dogmatism, which will permit no opinion but the one opinion to find voice; for the will of the nation is the revelation of God, intolerant of all doubt. He who dares to doubt for all that, and to pursue considerations contrary to the expression of the national will, is a social leper and must be weeded out from the communion of the faithful. Saintlust proclaimed gloomily before the Convention:

One dare not hope that things will improve so long as one foe of Freedom breathes. Not only the traitors, but also the lukewarm and the indifferent, everyone who takes no part in the republic and moves no finger for it. After the French people has announced its will everything which is contrary to its will stands outside the sovereignty of the nation; and who stands outside the sovereign is his enemy.

The young fanatic who had such a strong influence on Robespierre did not leave open to doubt what he meant by this enmity"One must rule those with iron whom one cannot rule with justice." But one could not rule with justice over men who could see the nation's will otherwise than as Robespierre and the Jacobins explained it. Hence, one must needs resort to iron. The sharp logic of the guillotine could hardly be justified more explicitly.

This fanatic logic of SaintJust was but the inevitable result of his absolute faith in his point of view. Every absolutism is based on fixed norms, and must for that reason act as the sworn enemy of any social development which opens new outlooks on life and calls new forms of the community into being. Behind every absolutist idea grins the mask of the inquisitor and the judge of heretics.

The sovereignty of the nation means tyranny as surely as does the sovereignty of God or that of the king. If formerly opposition to the sacred person of the monarch was the most abominable of all crimes, so now any opposition to the sacred majesty of the nation became the sin against the Holy Ghost of the common will. In both instances, the hangman was the executive instrument of a despotic power which felt called upon to guard the dead dogma. Before its soulless cruelty every creative thought had to founder, every human feeling bleed to death.

Robespierre, of whom Condorcet maintains that he had "neither a thought in his brain nor a feeling in his heart," was the man of the dead formula. In place of a soul he had his "principles." Preferably, he would have founded the whole republic on the single formula of virtue. But this virtue did not have root in the personal righteousness of the people; it was a bloodless phantom hovering over men like the spirit of God hovering over creation. Nothing is more cruel and heartless than virtue, and most cruel and heartless is that abstract virtue which is not founded upon a living need, but has its roots in "principles" and must be continually protected by chemical means from becoming motheaten.

Although Jacobinism had overthrown monarchy, it became fanatically enamoured of the monarchic idea, which it strengthened greatly by anchoring it to the political theology of Rousseau. Rousseau's doctrine culminated in the complete merging of man in "the higher necessity" of a metaphysical idea. Jacobinism had undertaken the task of transmuting this monstrous doctrine into life and quite logically had reached the dictatorship of the guillotine; which in turn smoothed the way for the saber dictatorship of General Bonaparte who, on his part, risked everything in order to develop this new state idea to its highest perfection. Man a machinenot in the sense of La Mettrie, but as the end product of a political religion which undertook to shape everything human according to the same pattern, and in the name of equality raised conformity to a principle.

Napoleon, the laughing heir of the great revolution, who had taken over from the Jacobins the mandevouring machine of the centralised state and the doctrine of the will of the nation, attempted to develop the state institutions into a flawless system in which accident should have no place. What he needed was not men, but chessmen, who would obey every turn of his whim and unconditionally submit to that "higher necessity", whose executive instruments they felt themselves to be. Men in the ordinary sense were not useable for this; only citizens, parts of the machine, members of the state. "Thought is the ruler's chief enemy", Napoleon once said, and this was no chance figure of speech; he understood the truth of the words in their deepest meaning. What he needed was not men who would think, but men who have their thinking done for them, men who offer themselves up when "destiny" speaks.

Napoleon dreamed of a state in which, above all, there existed no distinction between the civil and the military power: the whole nation an army, every citizen a soldier. Industry, agriculture, administration, were only conceived as parts of this mighty state body which, divided into regiments and commanded by officers, would obey the slightest pressure of the imperial will without friction, without resistance. The transmutation of the "Great Nation" into a gigantic unit in which the independent activity of the individual no longer had room; which worked with the exactness of a machine and, throbbing with the dead rhythm of its own motion, unfeelingly obeyed the will of him who had set it in motionthis was Napoleon's political aim. And with iron persistency he pursued it and tried to give it life. Quite obsessed by this delusion, he strove to exclude every possibility which might lead to the formation of an independent opinion. Hence, his bitter fight against the press and all other means of expressing public thought. He said: "The printing press is an arsenal which must not be made available to the generality. Books must only be printed by persons who possess the confidence of the government."

In the brain of this terrible man everything was transformed into figures; only numbers decide; statistics become the foundation of the new statecraft. The emperor demanded of his counsellors not only an, exact statement and record of all material and technical resources of the whole country, he also demanded that "statistics of morals" should be kept, in order that he might at all times be informed of the most fl secret agitations among his subjects. And Fouche, that uncanny, spectre-like snooper, who saw with a thousand eyes and heard with a thousand ears, whose soul was just as icy as that of his master, became the statistician of "public morals," which he registered by police methods, being quite well aware that his own movements also were watched by unknown spies and recorded in a separate register.

That Napoleon could never quite attain the last aim of his internal policy, that all his apparatus of government was wrecked again and again on men, was probably the bitterest pang of his powerloving soul, the great tragedy of his monstrous life, which even at St. Helena still burned within him. But the mad idea he pursued did not die with him It is even today the basis of the will to power, which appears wherever the love of men has died and sacrifices pulsating life to the shadowy, pale, phantom forms of tyrannical lust. For all power is loveless, is inhuman in the nature of its being. It changes the hearts of the powerful into wolfdens of hate and cold contempt for humanity, chokes all human emotion and causes the despot to see his fellow man only as an abstract number to be used in calculating the execution of his plans.

Napoleon hated freedom on principle, as does every tyrant who has become clearly aware of the nature of power. But he also knew the price he had to pay for this, knew very well that to master mankind he must smother the man hidden in himself. It is significant that he says of himself: I love power as an artist, as a violinist loves his violin. I love it in order to coax from it tones, melodies, harmonies." It is significant that this same man, who almost as a child was already evolving in his brain plans for power, uttered in early youth the ominous words: "I find that love is detrimental to society and to the personal happiness of man. If the gods were to free the world from love, it would be the greatest of blessings.

This feeling never left him, and when in later years he looked back on the separate phases of his life, there remained for him only this comfortless knowledge:

There are only two levers which move men, fear and selfinterest. Lone is a stupid illusion, be assured of it. Friendship is an empty word. I love no one, not even my brothers possibly Joseph a little, from habit and because he is older than I. And I love Duroc; but why? Because his character pleases me. He is earnest and resolute, and I believe the fellow has never shed a tear. I, for my part, know that I have no true friends.

How empty this heart must have been which through all the years pursued a phantom and was animated by only one desireto rule. To this madness he sacrificed the bodies and souls of men after having first attempted to make their spirits fit into the dead mechanism of a political machine. But at last it was made clear to him that the age of the automatons had not yet arrived. Only a man whose soul was a desert could say: "A man like me cares nothing for the lives of millions of men."

Napoleon asserted that he despised men and his uncritical admirers have rated this almost as a merit. He may in individual cases have found justification enough for it; for it is by no means the men of highest worth who crowd around the powerful. But if the matter is pursued more deeply one gets the impression that his demonstratively displayed contempt of men is to a large part pretence, intended to impress his contemporaries and posterity with the brilliance of his own achievements. For this apparent misanthrope was a firstclass actor to whom the judgment of posterity was not a matter of indifference, who left no means untried to influence the opinion of future generations, who did not even shrink from the falsification of well-known facts in order to achieve this end.

It was not inner disgust which separated him from men, but his unfathomable egotism, which knew no scruples nor shrank from any lies, from any villainy, any dishonournot from the meanest of crimesin order to make himself dominant. Emerson rightly remarks: "Bonaparte was in a quite unusual degree devoid of every highhearted emotion.... He did not even possess the merit of common truthfulness and honesty." And in another place in his essay on Napoleon he says: "His whole existence was an experiment under the best possible conditions to show of what intellect divorced from conscience is capable." Only as issuing from the disconsolate inner state of a man in whom his own greed for glory had utterly destroyed all social feeling are these words of Napoleon understandable: "The savage, like the civilised man, needs a lord and master, a sorcerer who keeps his fancy in check, subjects him to strict discipline, chains him, prevents his biting at the wrong time, clubs him, leads him to the chase. Obedience is his destiny; he deserves nothing better and has no rights."

But this heartless cynic, who in his youth had intoxicated himself with the Contrat Social, recognised to the uttermost the whole disastrous significance of this new religion on which in the last analysis his rule was founded. Thus, in one of those unguarded moments of complete truthfulness so rare with him, he allowed himself to be enticed into the statement: "Your Rousseau is a madman who has led us to this condition!" And on another occasion, somewhat pensively, "The future will show whether it had not been better for the world's peace if neither Rousseau nor I had ever lived."

  • 1Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, or, The Principles of State Right. Bk 1, Chap. VII.
  • 2The Social Contract. Bk. 11, Chap. V.
  • 3The Social Contract. Book 11, Chap. Vll.
  • 4Rousseau, Emile. First Book.
  • 5The Social Contract. Bk. 11, Chap. IV.
  • 6From a manuscript uncompleted at his death. German translation by Rudolf Schlosser in "Frankreichs Schicksal im Jahre 1870." S. 34 Reclam-Verlag.
  • 7A. Mathiez; "Les Origines des Cultes Revolutionaires," Paris, 1904.


11. German Philosophy and the State

The authority principle in German Philosophy
Kant as the advocate of absolute state power
Kant's moral law. Kant's concept of society
The idea of the "eternal peace" and the international league of states
Kant and Herder
Fichte and the doctrine of the inherent evil in man
Fichte and Machiavelli
The "self-contained commercial state." Fichte and state socialism
Fichte's addresses to the german nation
Fichte and national education
The idea of the "historic mission of the germans." Hegel's influence on his time
Hegel's dialectic
Thinking in categories
Hegel's philosophy of history
Hegel and the state

Submitted by Toms on September 6, 2011

The belief in fate
Hegel and protestantism
The prussian state philosopher
Hegel and Socialism

In sharp contrast with German literature and poetry stands German philosophy. Although it has not lacked occasional glimpses of light, Ger-man classical philosophy has never been a domain of freedom. Its best-known representatives have often flirted with freedom, but no real union ever resulted. One gains the impression that when life's brutal realities became too clearly felt, a few concessions, not too binding, were made to the awakened conscience in order to restore the disturbed equilibrium. In fact, the main trend of German philosophy was to organise bondage into a system and make of servitude a virtue which was consecrated by the famous "inner freedom."

What does Kant mean when he reduces his famous moral law to the formula: "Act so that the maxims of thy will could at all times serve as principles for general legislation"? Is not this to reduce man's ethical feeling to the pitiful concept of the law of a government? Coming from a man who was firmly convinced that man was inherently evil, this is not surprising. Only a man with this conviction could make the assertion:

Man is an animal which, when living among others of its kind, needs a master. For he surely abuses his freedom in the presence of his equals, and although as a reasonable being he desires a law, his beastly selfish nature leads him to exempt himself whenever he can. Hence he needs a master who will break his individual will and compel him to obey a generally accepted rule whereby everyone can be free.

This is in fact but another form of the ancient and terrible dogma of original sin with its unavoidable conclusion. It is just this which prejudices all freer spirits against Kant. Thus Goethe wrote to Herder: "After using a full generation for the cleansing of his philosophic mantle of various foul prejudices, Kant has only defiled it again with the stain of innate evil, in order that Christians, too, may be persuaded to kiss its hem."

Even Schiller, who was strongly influenced by Kant, could not reconcile himself to the kernel of his ethics. To the poet and idealist who believed firmly in the good in man, the stern duty-concept of Kant, who had really no understanding of the significance of social instincts, must, indeed, have seemed repellent. It was with this in mind he wrote Goethe that with Kant there always remained something which, "as with Luther, reminds one of a monk, who although he has left his cloister still cannot quite rid himself of its traces."

Kant has often been called a republican and a democrat. These terms are very vague and prove nothing, for more than once in history they have been made to serve as a cloak for the most brutal forces. This curious republican was a stern advocate of unlimited state power, to rebel against which was in his eyes a capital crime-even when the executive instruments of the state acted contrary to the law and allowed themselves to be led into the most tyrannical acts. Thus Kant expressly declares in his Theory of the Law:

The origin of the supreme power is for the people who are subject to it, in a practical sense, undiscoverable; that is, the subject, in view of the obedience he owes to it, should not speculate concerning its origin, as if of a doubtful law (jus controversum). For since the people, in order to judge concerning the supreme state power (summum imperium), must be re-garded as already united under a general law-giving will, it cannot and dare not judge otherwise than as the existing head of the state (summum imperians) desires Whether originally a real agreement among them (pactum subjec-tionis civilis) preceded it as fact, or whether the power came first and the law afterwards, are for the people who are now already under the law quite immaterial speculations. They would, however, prove dangerous to the State; for should the subject who now has discovered the final origin of the dominant authority rebel against it, he could quite legally be punished, exterminated, or declared outlaw and expelled from the state. A law which is so sacred, so inviolable, that merely to question it practically and thus to suspend Its operation even for a moment, constitutes a crime, is represented as emanating, not from man, but from a supreme, blameless lawgiver. This is the teaming of the sentence, "All authority comes from God," which states, not the historical foundation of civil constitutions, but an idea, as a practical principle of reason: the existing power is to be obeyed, be its origin what it may.

When one compares thoroughly the reactionary concept of Kant with the ideas of the liberal school of thought in England which goes back to Locke, one realises the shamefully reactionary aspect of this view, so daringly put forth at a time when beyond the German frontier the old regime was falling to ruins. Kant had already in his essay, What is Enlightenment? published in 1784, supported the despotism of Frederick II and praised the obedience of the subjects as the first maxim of political morality. His doctrine of the law, however, he develops in his later works - a proof that in this regard his ideas never changed. The "democrat" Kant was even ready to advocate slavery and to justify it as useful under certain conditions. He maintained that slavery was applicable to men who in consequence of their crimes had forfeited their civil rights. Such a man can, in the opinion of our philosopher, "be made simply a tool of another [of the state or of another citizen]."

The conservative point of view concerning the state and the respect of the subject for it, was virtually in Kant's blood. When in 1794 he received a reprimand from the royal government on account of an alleged disparagement of the Bible and Christian doctrine, he did not content himself with giving Frederick William II a written promise to refrain in the future from all oral and written expression concerning the Christian religion. Under the miserable conditions then existing in Prussia such an act was not only explicable, but also justifiable. But among the documents he left there were found these characteristic lines which had reference to the promise given to the king: "Recantation and denial of one's inmost convictions is contemptible, but silence in a case like the present one is the duty of a subject."

Kant, whose quiet Philistine existence never diverged from the prescribed paths of state guardianship, was not of a social nature, and could only with difficulty surmount his inborn aversion for any form of communion. But since he could not deny the necessity of associations, he accepted them as one accepts any necessary evil. Consequently, society appeared to him as a forced union held together solely by duty towards the state. Kant really hated every voluntary union, just as every good deed done for its own sake was repugnant to him. He knew nothing else but the stark, implacable "Thou shalt!"

One with such tendencies was hardly the proper man to formulate the fundamentals of a great social ethics, which is inherently the product of social communal life, finding its expression in every individual, and continually vitalised anew and confirmed by the community. Just as little was Kant capable of revealing to mankind great theoretical social insight. Everything which he produced in this field had been surpassed by the great enlightenment in France and England long before it saw the light of day in Germany.

That Kant, on account of his essay On Eternal Peace, and an earlier dissertation, A View of General History in the Light of World-citizenship, has lately been acclaimed as the intellectual father of the so-called "League of Nations," was to be expected in a generation which has long forgotten Lessing, Herder and Jean Paul; and only proves that the alleged "representatives of the German spirit" have also in this respect learned nothing. What Kant in reality strove for was no union of peoples, but a league of states, which for this very reason could never have accomplished the task he had planned for it. The experiences we have lately had with the international convention at Geneva have opened the eyes of all who are willing to see.

This was quite clearly perceived by Herder when, following in Lessing's footsteps, he declared himself against Kant's proposals and showed that an understanding among the nations can only be achieved by organic-meaning cultural-means, and never by mechanical means, that is, by the activity of "political machines." Herder explains that the forced organization which constitutes the state maintains itself primarily by continually creating external interests which run contrary to the interests of other states; and for this reason it is ill-suited to function as a mediator and adjuster. Therefore, he substituted for the idea of the international league of states advocated by Kant, his "association of all thinking men on all continents," proceeding from the correct view that mutual agreement between the human groups of the different countries is not achievable by dictation from above, but only from below upwards by the will of the people themselves. By this "all the prejudices of state interests, of native religion, and most foolish prejudice of all, of rank and class, are mitigated, confined, and made harmless." But, "such victories over prejudice are" - Herder maintains - "achieved from within outward, not from without inward."

Of quite another character was Fichte, who possessed a revolutionary vein that Kant lacked entirely. In fact, of all the representatives of German philosophy of that day, he was the only one who took an active part in the social and political life of his time. But a revolutionary temperament is, after all, no substitute for a libertarian viewpoint. Cromwell, too, and Robespierre, Mazzini, Lenin, Mussolini, and with them all other advocates of dictatorship, of the right or of the left, were revolutionaries. But the true revolutionary reveals himself in the ends that he seeks, not merely in the means that he uses, which are nearly always dependent on circumstances.

It is true that Fichte in his theory of law developed the view that "the final purpose of government is to make government superfluous." But he soon added cautiously that perhaps "myriads of years" would have to pass before man would be ready for such a condition. In the meantime all his acts were in sharp contrast to this stated distant aim. For Fichte was of a domineering, thoroughly authoritarian, nature a man with freedom always on his lips, but just the name of freedom, nothing more. Like Kant, Fichte believed in the "innate evil" of man. He later modified his teaching in many respects, but to this concept he always remained faithful. It became even stronger in his mind as he came more and more under the influence of the new romanticism in Berlin, headed at that time by Schleiermacher and the brothers Schlegel. Thus he could still write in 1812 in the treatise on Machiavelli by which he sought - though vainly - to induce the king of Prussia to take a decisive step: "The fundamental principle of every theory of the state which is intelligent is contained in the following words of Machiavelli. 'Whosoever founds a republic (or any other state) and gives it laws must recognise that all men are wicked, and that all without exception will express their innate wickedness as soon as a safe opportunity offers itself."' One who believes this has no trace of liberal spirit. It is this fatal belief in "innate evil" springing from the theological concept of "original sin" which has served tyranny at all times as a moral justification.

Fichte has given his conception concerning the relationship of men to the state the best expression in his essay, The Self-Contained Commercial State, which he later declared to be his "most thoughtful work." This essay, dedicated to the Prussian minister, von Struensee, contains the plan of a so-called "reasonable" state, in which the life of the citizens was regulated and prescribed to the last detail, so that they everywhere and always felt the directing hand of a political Providence above them. It is a police state in the worst sense, in which there is hardly room for any kind of personal freedom. Fichte's ideal state is made up of various classes strictly separated from one another, whose numerical strength is determined by the government. His work is prescribed for every citizen according to his class, and in such a manner that he cannot change his occupation by his own choice. Following the principle that "the earth is the Lord's, and man has only the duty to cultivate and use it profitably," all land is the property of the state, and the individual citizen is only given a lease on it. The state has not only the task of guarding the citizen's property, it must also see to it that every citizen receives the share which has been appropriated to him by law. Since the citizen's property is under the constant guardianship of the state, assurance is given that none shall become too rich and likewise that none shall perish in poverty.

Instead of the current gold and silver coins (which the state is to call in) paper or leather money is to be used to facilitate exchange within the country. This is the more feasible as the frontier is closed, and citizens are strictly prohibited from having any intercourse with the outer world; so that he can maintain social relationships only with his fellow citizens, of whose nature the state, of course, has sole direction. Only the state has the right to effect the necessary exchanges with other countries.

One can realise why so fanatical a worshipper of the state as Lassalle was so enthusiastic about Fichte. One can also realise that the very concept of such a monstrous state machine of officials and police as Fichte envisioned makes the mouths of the adherents of the Third Reich water, and that they, lacking ideas of their own, wish to attribute their intellectual output chiefly to Fichte. Fichte's theory of the state contains all the necessary assumptions for a state-capitalistic economic order under the political direction of the government after the pattern of the old Prussian class state, which today men often attempt falsely to call "socialism." While the citizen is to have his material existence secured, it is only at the cost of every personal freedom and of all cultural associations with other peoples. Of Fichte, too, we may reaffirm the old truth that no kind of social oppression would be anywhere near so intolerable for man as the realisation of the philosophical plan of government of our sage.

Fichte is today regarded in Germany as the true prophet of the most genuine Germanism. He is lauded as the living embodiment of patriotic thought, and his Addresses to the German Nation are today again in everyone's home. In the interest of historical truth it must here be stated that Fichte's conversion into a German patriot and guardian of national interests occurred rather suddenly. He was in this regard as changeable as in his earlier atheism and republicanism, which in later years he completely dropped. Even in his Fundamental Outlines of the Present Age he was by no means enthusiastic over the national idea; and to the question, "Which is the fatherland of a truly developed Christian European?" he found the answer, "In general it is Europe; more especially, it is in every age that European state standing at the peak of culture."

Thus wrote Fichte still in 1805. In December, I807, he began in the hall of the Berlin Academy the Addresses to the German Nation, which are remarkable not only as a powerful oral statement of his philosophical views, but also as the first revelation of the German patriot in him. His inner change was, therefore, effected somewhat hastily, proving that "the deep feeling of the holy cause of the nation" was not inborn. 1

Fichte's speeches were a brave deed, for they were uttered, so to speak, in the shadow of French bayonets, and the speaker exposed himself to the danger of being seized by Napoleon's henchmen. That the latter was not to be trifled with, the execution of the book-dealer, Palm, proved quite sufficiently. But others have shown the same, and even greater courage; and frequently for an incomparably more worthy cause. For what is the content of these speeches but a glorification of the power of the nationalist state? Their kernel is the national education of youth; according to Fichte the first and most important preliminary measure for the liberation of the country from the yoke of the foreign ruler, and the creation of a new generation familiar with the sacred mission of the nation. Hence the education of youth must not be intrusted to the church, for the church's realm is not of this world but is comparable to a foreign state, and its rulers are only interested in man's salvation after death.

Fichte's outlook was more earthly; his God was of this world. Hence, he would not give youth up to the priest, but rather to the state, although the latter only transferred the church's work into the political field with the same end in view: man's enslavement under the yoke of a higher power. It is futile to object that Fichte's theory of education opens many wide vistas, especially where he follows in the footsteps of Pestalozzi; all that is beside the point when we observe his objective. Education is character development, harmonious completion of human personality. But what the state accomplishes in this field is dull drill, extinction of natural feeling, narrowing of the spiritual field of vision, destruction of all the deeper elements of character in man. The state can train subjects, or as Fichte called them, citizens, but it can never develop free men who take their affairs into their own hands; for independent thought is the greatest danger that it has to fear.

Fichte raised national education to a systematic cult. He wished even to remove children from the home so that their national development would be exposed to no counter currents. Although convinced that such a course would meet with great difficulties, he consoled himself with the thought that when once statesmen were found who were "themselves deeply convinced of the infallibility and the absolute truth of the propositions," then, "of such it was also to be expected that they would realise the state as the highest administrator of all human affairs, and, as the guardians of minors, responsible only to God and their conscience, they would have the full right to constrain their charges for their own good. For where does there now exist a state which doubts that it has the right to force its subjects into war service and to deprive parents of their children in order to make soldiers of them, whether one or the other or both of them desire it or not?"

This looks very like the man who in his theory of law developed the thought that "outside of the state there is no law," and coined these words: "Right is freedom according to a law." Of course, with Fichte, everything happens for the good of mankind. May Fate preserve us from such a good. Which involuntarily recalls to us the words of the Pestalozzi student, Hunziker, who speaks of "the state-instituted drill for the people's happiness."

The remaining ideas expressed by Fichte in his Addresses to the German Nation contain no trace of true liberal spirit, though much is said about freedom. Freedom, however, only according to Fichte's meaning, and that was of a most peculiar sort. But one thing those addresses have effected and effect still today: they have in a large measure contributed to the inculcation in Germany of that attitude of superiority which rebounds so little to the credit of the German name. We are speaking here of the superstitious belief in "the historical mission of the Germans" which is again today flourishing like a weed in good soil. Since Luther, this curious illusion haunts all German history; but especially is it marked with Fichte and Hegel. 2 It even found its way into the literature of German socialism and was lovingly nursed by Lassalle. Houston Stewart, Chamberlain and his countless successors, whose madness has defiled German spiritual life, before the World War were the heralds of "the German mission," determined to make the well-known words of Emmanuel Geibel come true:

By virtue of the German race
The world may yet attain to grace.

Fichte was, so to speak, the ancestor of the Chamberlains, Woltmanns, Hausers, Rosenbergs, Gunthers, and countless others, who today construct the race theories and proclaim the "kismet of blood"! One cannot, how ever, put him into the same class with them; for he was, after all, a man of mental stature, which cannot be said of his dull successors.

Fichte in his Addresses to the German Nation supported the belief in "the world historical mission of the Germans" with particular passion, after the manner of an Old Testament prophet. It was especially the form and the linguistic rhythm of his speeches which had so great an influence on German youth. He has designated the German nation as destined by fate to be the "mother and reconstructor" of humanity. "Among all the newer nations it is you in whom the germ of human perfection is most definitely contained and to whom progress in the development thereof is intrusted." But this belief was not enough for him. He condemned and excommunicated everything which did not fit into his concept of what constitutes "Germanism"- which was only natural in such an obstinately authoritarian character. At the same time he did not fail to proclaim his own theory as the special, indeed, as the philosophy of the Germans and to reject the ideas of his great antagonists, Kant and Hegel, as "un-German" - a method which has always proved effective in Germany as its recent history has again clearly shown.... It is always the same story: man creates his god after his own image. Fichte was not mistaken when he said, "What kind of philosophy one chooses depends upon what kind of man one is." But when he made the attempt to impose his purely personal evaluations upon the whole nation, he arrived at the monstrous sophism whose tragic effect has not even today been overcome.

Among the representatives of classical philosophy in Germany, Hegel has affected his contemporaries most deeply. During his last years he was enthroned like an absolute monarch in the realm of the mind; hardly anyone dared to oppose him. Men who had already achieved a name in the most varied fields and those for whom a leading role was reserved in the future, sat at his feet and harkened to his words as if they came from an oracle. His thought influenced not only the best minds in Germany; it also found a decided echo in Russia, France, Belgium, Denmark and Italy. It is not easy today rightly to understand that mighty diffusion of ideas. Still stranger does it seem that Hegel's influence could extend to men of all political and social tendencies. Bred-in-the-bone reactionaries, and revolutionists heavy with the unborn future, conservatives and liberals, absolutists and democrats, monarchists and republicans, opponents and defenders of property - they all hung as if enchanted on the breasts of his wisdom.

For the most part this astonishing influence is not traceable to the content of the Hegelian doctrine; it was the peculiar dialectic form of his thought that captivated them. Hegel opposed the static concepts of his predecessors with the idea of an eternal becoming; so that he was less concerned to comprehend things in themselves than to trace their relationship to other phenomena. He interpreted in his own manner the Heraclitan thesis of the eternal flux of things, assuming an inner connection of phenomena such that each carries within itself its own opposite, which must of inner necessity operate to make room for a new phenomenon in its kind more perfect than the two forms of the becoming. Hegel called these thesis, antithesis and synthesis. But since, with him, each synthesis becomes at once the thesis of a new series, there is created an unbroken chain of which the individual links are firmly interlocked after an eternal divine plan.

Because of this concept, Hegel has been praised as the great herald of the evolutionary theory, but without justification; for his purely speculative concept has little in common with real evolutionary thought. The great founders of the evolution theory combined with these views the idea that organic forms exist not as separate units each for itself, but have rather descended one from another in such manner that the higher forms have developed from the lower. This process constitutes, so to speak, the whole content of the history of the organic world and leads to the appearance and development of the various species on earth, whose slow or rapid alteration is caused by changes in the environment and the external conditions of life. But to no serious researcher has it ever occurred to represent the process according to Hegel's view as an eternal repetition of the same tripartite scheme with the first form always by implacable necessity changing into its opposite in order that the general process of becoming may take its natural course. This speculative thought which knew how to work only with thesis and antithesis not only has no connection whatsoever with the actual phenomena of life; it stands in most violent contradiction to the real evolutionary idea based on the concept of organic becoming, which necessarily excludes any possibility that any species may change into its opposite. It must be rejected as the idle speculation of an errant imagination.

It was Hegel, too, who introduced that thinking in categories which has caused and is still causing such enormous confusion in men's minds. By endowing whole peoples with definite qualities and traits of character, a thing which at best can be affirmed only of the individual, and which, generalised, leads only to the most nonsensical conclusions, he conjured up an evil spirit which cripples thought and diverts it from its natural course, smoothing the way for our modern race theoreticians and the collective evaluations of an arrogant "national psychology." Whatever else Hegel wrote is now long forgotten, but his method of collective concept formation still haunts the minds of men and leads them only too frequently into the most daring assertions and the most monstrous conclusions, whose scope most of them hardly suspect. 3

Hegel endowed every people which has played a historical part in the course of events with a special spirit whose task it was to execute God's plan. But every folk spirit is itself only "an individual in the course of world history," whose higher purpose it has to fulfil. For man, however, there remains little room in the spiritual world. He exists only in so far as he serves as a means of expression for some collective spirit. His role is therefore clearly prescribed for him: "The relation of the individual to it [the national spirit] is that he shall appropriate this substantial being, that it shall become his mind and art, in order that he may become something worth while. For he finds in the nation's existence a world already finished and firm into which he has to incorporate himself In this, its work, the spirit of the people finds its world and is content."

Since Hegel was of the opinion that in every nation which the "world spirit" has created as a tool for the execution of his mysterious plans there dwells a separate spirit which merely prepares it for its intended task, it follows that every nation is intrusted with a special "historic mission" whereby every form of its historic activity is determined in advance. This mission is its fate, its destiny, reserved for it alone and for no other people, and it cannot change its mission by its own powers.

Fichte tried to explain the "historic mission of the Germans" which he preached by their special type of history. In doing so he ventured the most extreme assertions, which time has long discredited. But at least he tried to justify this alleged mission on reasonable grounds. According to Hegel, however, the mission of a people is not a result of its history; the mission which is intrusted to it by the world spirit constitutes, rather, t he content of its history, and all this happens that the spirit may at last attain "to the consciousness of itself."

So Hegel became the modern creator of that blind theory of destiny whose supporters see in every historic event a "historical necessity," see in every end men have conceived a historical mission." Hegel is still alive in the sense that even today we speak quite seriously of the historic mission of a race, of a nation, of a class. Most of us do not even suspect that this fatalistic concept so crippling to man's activity had its root in Hegel's method of thought.

And yet there is expressed here only a blind belief which has no, relationship whatsoever to the realities of life and whose implications are quite without proof. All this talk about the "compulsory course of historical events" and "the historically conditioned necessities" of social life-empty formulas repeated ad nauseam by the advocates of Marxism-what is it but a new belief in Fate sprung from Hegel's spectral world, except that in this case "conditions of production" has assumed the role of the "absolute spirit"? And yet every hour of life proves that these "historical necessities" have persistence only as long as men are willing; to accept them without opposition. In fact there are in history no compulsory causes, but only conditions which men endure and which disappear as soon as men learn to perceive their causes and rebel against them.

Hegel's famous dictum, "What is reasonable is real, and what is real is reasonable"4 -words which no dialectic cleverness can rob of their real meaning-have become the leitmotif of all reaction, just because they raise acceptance of given conditions to a principle and try to justify every villainy, every inhuman condition, by the inalterability of the "historically necessary." The leaders of German socialism are merely imitating the sophistry of Hegel where they undertake, as they have thus far done, to discover in every social evil a consequence of the capitalistic economic order which, willy-nilly, one must endure until the time is ripe for its change or - according to Hegel - until thesis changes to antithesis. On what else does this notion rest but Hegelian fatalism translated into economic terms? We accept conditions and do not know that we are killing the spirit that resists existing wrongs.

Kant had set up unqualified submission of the subject to the power of the state as a principle of social morality. Fichte derived all right from the state and wanted to inculcate the view in all youth so that the Germans might at last become "Germans in the true sense of the word, namely, citizens of the state." But Hegel worshiped the state as an end in itself, as "the reality of the moral idea," as "God on earth." No one made such a cult out of the state, no one planted the idea of voluntary servitude so deeply in the minds of men, as he. He raised the state idea to a religious principle and put on a par with the revelations of the New Testament those ideas of right formulated by the state. "For it is now known that what is declared moral and right by the state is also divine and commanded by God, and that judged by its content there is nothing higher or holier."

Hegel more than once insisted that he owed his conception of the state to the ancients, more especially to Plato. What he really looked back to was the old Prussian state, that mis-birth which sought to compensate for lack of intelligence by barrack drill and bureaucratic stupidity. Rudolf Haym was quite right when he remarked with biting sarcasm that from Hegel "the lovely image of the ancient state received a coat of black and white paint." In fact, Hegel was merely the state philosopher of the Prussian government and never failed to justify its worst misdeeds. The introduction to his Philosophy of Law is a grim defence of the miserable Prussian conditions, an excommunicating curse against all who dared to shake the traditional. With a severity that amounted to a public denunciation he turned against Professor J. F. Fries (very popular among youth on account of his liberal ideas), because in his essay, The German League and the German State Constitution, he had dared to maintain that in a good community "life comes from below" - as Hegel scornfully put it, from the "so-called 'people."' Such a concept was, of course, high treason in his eye, high treason against the "idea of the State," which alone endows people with life and for that reason is above all criticism. Since the state embodies in itself the "ethical whole" it is the "ethical itself." When Haym called this invective of Hegel "a scientific justification of the Carlsbad police system and the persecution of the demagogues" he said not a word-too much. 5

The Prussian state had an especial attraction for Hegel because he believed that he found exemplified in it all the necessary assumptions for the character of the state in general. Like de Maistre and Bonald, the great prophets of reaction in France, Hegel could recognise that all authority has its roots in religion. Hence, it was the great aim of his life to merge the state with religion most intimately into a great unit whose separate parts were organically intergrown with one another. Catholicism seemed to him little suited for this purpose - significantly, for the reason that it left too much scope for man's conscience.

In his Philosophy of History he says: "In the Catholic Church, however, the conscience can very well be opposed to the laws of the state. The murder of kings, conspiracies against the state, and the like have often been instigated and executed by the priests."

This is the Simon-pure Hegel, and one can understand why his biographer, Rosenkranz, insists that it was his ambition to become the Machiavelli of Germany. It is certainly dangerous for a state when its citizens have a conscience; what it needs is men without conscience, or, better still, men whose conscience is quite in conformity with reasons of s state, men in whom the feeling of personal responsibility has been replaced by the automatic impulse to act in the interest of the state.

According to Hegel, only Protestantism was fitted to this task, because the Protestant church has "accomplished the reconciliation of religion with law. There is no sacred, no religious conscience separate from secular law-or even antagonistic to it." Upon this road the goal was clear: from the reconciliation of religion with secular law to the deification of the state. And Hegel took this step with full consciousness of its logical correctness: "It is the way of God with the world that the state shall exist. Its foundation is the power of reason manifesting itself as will. In the idea of the state one must not have special states in mind, not special institutions, but rather the Idea, this actual God, considered in itself."

For all that, this high priest of authority at any price was able in the last section of his Philosophy of History to write these words: "For history is nothing but the evolution of the concept of freedom." It was, however, only the Hegelian freedom of which he spoke, and it looked exactly like the famous reconciliation of religion with law. For the peace of weak souls he soon after added these words. "Objective freedom, however, that is, the laws of real freedom, demand the subjugation of the casual will, for this is in general formal. In any event, if the objective is reasonable in itself, then the perception of this reason must correspond, and then the essential element of subjective freedom is also present."

The meaning of this passage is sufficiently obscure, as is everything that Hegel wrote, but it describes in reality nothing but the abrogation of the individual will in the name of freedom. The freedom that Hegel meant was, anyhow, only a police concept. One is involuntarily reminded of the words of Robespierre: "A revolutionary government is a despotism 0 of freedom over tyranny." The lawyer of Arras, who went to bed with "Reason" and got up with "Virtue," would have made an excellent disciple for Hegel.

One is frequently reminded of the social-critical character of the neo-Hegelians ("Young Hegelians") in order to prove that such a trend of thought could only proceed from a revolutionary source. But with much more reason one could point to the fact that a whole legion of the most hard-boiled, bred-in-the-bone reactionaries have emanated from Hegel's school. Nor must we forget that it was just this neo-Hegelianism that carried a whole body of reactionary notions over into the opposite camp, where in part even today they still flourish.

Hegel's play with empty words, whose lack of content he knew how to hide by a symbology as pretentious as it was incomprehensible, has for decades artificially inhibited in Germany the inner urge for real knowledge. It has seduced many an able mind into pursuing the shadow forms of idle speculation instead of approaching life's realities and devoting heart and mind to a new organization of the conditions of social life.

A man who speculates, I say to thee,
Quite like a beast on barren heaths appears to me
By wicked sprite in circles led around
While all about is beautiful rich ground.

Goethe might well have been thinking of the Prussian state philosopher when he wrote these sprightly lines, for as a matter of fact Hegel was all his life led in circles by the spirits he had himself conjured up. Thousands followed him as the bearer of the torch of truth, never suspecting that it was but a will-o'-the-wisp that flickered over swamps and lured them ever deeper into the misty realm of a barren metaphysic.

Hegelianism in the form of Marxism acted on the great movement of socialism like mildew on a germinating seed. It scorned the hot, living words of Saint-Simon, "Remember, my son, one must be enthusiastic in order to accomplish great things"; and taught men to curb their longings s and to listen to the regulated ticking of the clock which expresses that silent reign of unchangeable law, according to which all coming and going in history proceeds. Fatalism is the grave-digger of every burning desire, of every ideal yearning, of all overflowing power seeking expression and striving to transmute itself into creative activity. For it kills that inner faith and confidence in the justice of a cause which is at the same time faith in one's own power. Friedrich Engels boasts: "We German socialists are proud that we descend not only from Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen, but also from Kant, Fichte, and Hegel." It was largely this descent which gave socialism in Germany such a hopelessly authoritarian character. It surely would have profited German socialism more if it had taken its inspiration from Lessing, Herder and Jean Paul, instead of going to school to Kant, Fichte and Hegel.

To be a revolutionary means to compel social changes by the assertion of one's own power. It is fatalism to accept conditions because one believes one cannot change them. Only a fatalist in the worst sense could have said:

"What is reasonable, that is real; and what is real, that is reasonable." Acceptance of the world as it is, is the intellectual preliminary to all reaction. For reaction is nothing else but standing still on principle. Hegel was a reactionary from head to heels. All libertarian feeling was foreign to him; it did not fit into the narrow frame of his fatalistic concepts. He was the stern, implacable advocate of a spiritless authoritarian principle, worse even than Bonald and de Maistre; for these only saw in the person of the monarch the living incarnation of all power, while Hegel made of a political machine, that crushes man with its merciless levers and gears and nourishes itself on his sweat and blood, a vessel of all morality, a "God on earth." This is his work in the light of history.

  • 1In his great work, Der Atheismus und seine Geschichte im Abendlande (IV: 73), Fritz Mauthner gives a very interesting description of Fichte, in which he remarks: "When he [Fichte] was accused of atheism in March, 1799, he sent to the Weimar government a threatening letter stating that in case of public reprimand he would leave Jena and with several like-minded professors seek another sphere of activity already assured him. And he was not merely boasting. In Mainz, Forster, with the other clubmen, were enthusiastic for the French Revolution, and the French government was about to resuscitate the old university. Fichte was to collaborate in a prominent position-perhaps the instigation came from General Bonaparte."
    Of Fichte's attitude at the time his letter of May 22, 1799, to Professor Reinhold is also significant. One reads, "To sum up: Nothing is surer than that unless the French achieve an enormous supremacy, and effect in Germany, or at least in a large part of it, a change of conditions, in a few years, no man of whom it is known that ever in his life he entertained a liberal thought will find an abiding place there."
    With what clear vision Fichte saw at the time events following the so-called "wars of liberation" showed clearly enough; the Holy Alliance, the Carlsbad Resolutions, the persecution of the demagogues-in short, the Metternich system-open reaction on the march, and along the whole line the brutal persecution of all who once had aroused the people in the fight against Napoleon. If a fatal disease had not removed Fichte in good time the powers that were would surely not have been satisfied to prohibit his Addresses to the German Nation, as was actually done. He would surely not have been treated more gently then were Arndt, Jahn, and so many others whose patriotic activity prepared and released the "wars of liberation."
  • 2Herder refers to this craze, which has at length grown into a mental defect, when he makes the eccentric Realis of Vienna say:
    "Germany's advantage consists of these four parts: that in the long night of deep ignorance she produced the first, the most, and the highest inventors, and in nine hundred years developed more thought than all the other four dominant peoples taken together, in four thousand. One can, therefore, say truthfully that God desired to make the world wise through two nations: before Christ through the Greeks, after Christ through the Germans. The Greek wisdom can be called the Old Testament of reason; the German, the New." (Herder, Briefe zur Beforderung der Humanitat 4te Sammlung, 1794.)
  • 3In his excellent little work, Rasse und Politik, Julius Goldstein cleverly remarks: "The empty scheme of his [Hegel's] thought continues among the men strange to say mostly foreigners, who think to have found in race the key to the understanding of the historical world. Gobineau, Lapouge, Chamberlain, Woltmann stand under the dominance of a Hegelianism with naturalistic features. It is Hegelianism when, instead of the individualist spirit, the race spirit is called upon for an explanation of spiritual creation. It is Hegelianism when all contingency is banished from history and the destiny of nations is constructed from preconceived ideas as to what a race may or may not accomplish. It is Hegelianism when Germanism and Semitism are opposed to each other with logical exclusiveness and all profounder relationships of life between them are denied by a hard rationalistic formula, It is finally, Hegelianism when the past and present course of history is explained from the one exclusive deciding factor of race without regard to the great variety of the forces operative in the various epochs."
  • 4Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of History.
  • 5Rudolf Haym, Hegel und seine Zeit. Berlin, 1857.


12. Democracy and the National State

The relation between society and state
Folk and state
The state as a political church organization
National citizenship a political confession of faith
Democracy as pioneer of modern national consciousness
Lassalle on democracy and the nation
Nation and nationalism
Echoes of the French Revolution in Germany
Social conditions
Foreign rule
Prussia's collapse
The rise of the nationalist movement
Arndt and Fichte
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau
The endeavours of the Baron Von Stein
Cabals of Prussian junkerdom
Princely prom-ises
The German dream of freedom and the German princes
Betrayed and sold
Goethe's judgment concerning the so- called "wars of liberation."

Submitted by Toms on September 6, 2011

We have seen under what circumstances the national state put in its appearance and gradually took on the democratic aspect which gave birth to the modern concept of the nation. Only when we view with open eyes the manifold ramifications of this most important social change in Europe will we get a clear idea concerning the real character of the nation. The old opinion which ascribes the creation of the nationalist state to the awakened national consciousness of the people is but a fairy tale, very serviceable to the supporters of the idea of the national state, but false, none the less. The nation is nat the cause, but the result, of the state. It is the state which creates the nation, not the nation the state. Indeed; from this point of view there exists between people and nation the same distinction as between society and the state.

Every social unit is a natural formation which, on the basis of common needs and mutual agreement, is built organically from below upwards to guarantee and protect the general interest. Even when social institutions gradually ossify or become rudimentary the purpose of their origin can in most instances be clearly recognised. Every state organization, however, is an artificial mechanism imposed on men from above by some ruler, and it never pursues any other ends but to defend and make secure the interests of privileged minorities in society.

A people is the natural result of social union, a mutual association of men brought about by a certain similarity of external conditions of living, a common language, and special characteristics due to climate and, geographic environment. In this manner arise certain common traits, alive in every member of the union, and forming a most important part of its social existence. This inner relationship can as little be artificially bred as artificially destroyed. The nation, on the other hand, is the artificial result of the struggle for political power, just as nationalism has never been anything but the political religion of the modern state. Belonging to a nation is never determined, as is belonging to a people, by profound natural causes; it is always subject to political considerations and based on those reasons of state behind which the interests of privileged minorities always hide. A small group of diplomats who are simply the business representatives of privileged caste and class decide quite arbitrarily the national membership of certain groups of men, who are not even asked for their consent, but must submit to this exercise of power because they cannot help themselves.

Peoples and groups of peoples existed long before the state put in its appearance. Today, also, they exist and develop without the assistance of the state. They are only hindered in their natural development when some external power interferes by violence with their life and forces it into patterns which it has not known before. The nation is, then, unthinkable without the state. It is welded to that for weal or woe and owes its being solely to its presence. Consequently, the essential nature of the nation will always escape us if we attempt to separate it from the state and endow it with a life of its own which it has never possessed.

A people is always a community with rather narrow boundaries. But a nation, as a rule, encompasses a whole array of different peoples and groups of peoples who have by more or less violent means been pressed into the frame of a common state. In fact, in all of Europe there is no state which does not consist of a group of different peoples who were originally of different descent and speech and were forged together into one nation solely by dynastic, economic and political interests.

Even where, influenced by the growth of democratic ideas, the effort toward national unity took the form of a great popular movement, as hap-pened in Italy and Germany, the effort really started from a reactionary germ which could lead to no good outcome. The revolutionary efforts of Mazzini and his adherents for the establishment of a unified nationalistic state could but serve as hindrance to the social liberation of the people, whose real goal was hidden by the national ideology. Between the man Mazzini and the present dictator of Italy yawns a mighty abyss; but the development of the nationalistic system of thought from Mazzini's political theology to the fascist totalitarian state of Mussolini proceeds in a straight line.

A glance at the fresh-baked national states which appeared as a result of the World War gives us a factual picture which cannot be easily mis-understood. The same nationalities which before the War never ceased to revolt against the foreign oppressor reveal themselves today, when they have reached their goal, as the worst oppressors of national minori-ties, and inflict upon them the same brutal moral and legal oppressions which they themselves, and with full right, fought most bitterly when they were the subjected peoples. This ought to make plain to even the blindest that a harmonious living together of peoples within the framework of the national state is definitely impossible. But those peoples who in the name of liberation have shaken off the yoke of a hated foreign rule have gained nothing thereby. In most cases they have taken on a new yoke, which is frequently more oppressive than the old. Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the border states between Germany and Russia are the classic examples of this.

The change of human groups into nations, that is, into state peoples, has opened no new outlook for Europe; it has rather thrown up a strong bulwark of international reaction and is today one of the most dangerous hindrances to social liberation. European society was divided by this process into antagonistic groups which confront one another always with suspicion, and often with hate; and nationalism in every country watches with argus eyes to keep this morbid condition permanent. Wherever a mutual approach of peoples begins, there the adherents of nationalism always add new fuel to the flames of national antagonism. For the nationalist state lives by these antagonisms and would have to disappear the moment it was no longer able to maintain this artificial separation.

The concept of the national state rests, therefore, on a purely negative principle, behind which, however, very positive aims are hidden. For behind everything "national" stands the will to power of small minorities and the special interest of caste and class in the state. It is they who in reality direct the "will of the nation," for, as Menger rightly remarks, "The states as such have no purpose; only the rulers have." But that the will of the few may become the will of all - for only thus can it develop its full effectiveness - every form of intellectual and moral drill must be employed to anchor it in the religious consciousness of the masses and make it a matter of faith. Now, the true strength of a faith lies, in the fact that its priests draw sharply the lines which separate the orthodox from the adherents of any other religious communion. Without Satan's wickedness, it would go ill with God's greatness. National states are political church organisations; the so-called national consciousness is not born in man, but trained into him. It is a religious concept; one is a German, a Frenchman, an Italian, just as one is a Catholic, a Protestant, or a Jew.

With the spread of democratic ideas in Europe begins the rise of nationalism in the various countries. Only with the creation of the new state, which, at least in theory, secures for every citizen the constitutional right to participate in the political life of his country and to have a part in the choice of its government, could the national consciousness take root in the masses, and the conviction be bred in the individual that he was a member of the great political union of the nation, with which he was inseparably intergrown and which gave to his separate existence its content and purpose. In the pre-democratic period such a belief could take root only in the narrow circle of the privileged classes, remaining entirely alien to the great mass of the population. Quite rightly Lassalle remarks:

The principle of free independent nationalities is the basis, the source, the mother and the root of the concept of democracy in general. Democracy cannot tread the principle of nationalities under foot without raising a suicidal hand against its own existence, without depriving itself of the support of every theoretical justification, without basically and on principle betraying itself. We repeat, the principle of democracy has its foundation and life source in the principle of free nationalities. Without this it stands on air. 1

In this respect, too, democracy differs essentially from liberalism, whose field of view embraces mankind as a whole, or at least that part of mankind belonging to the European-American circle of culture or to one which has developed under similar social conditions. Since the point of view of liberalism starts with the individual and judges the social environment according as its institutions are useful or harmful to men, national limitations play but an unimportant part for its adherents, and they can exclaim with Thomas Paine: "The world is my country, all men are my brothers!" Democracy, however, being founded on the collective concept of the common will was more closely related to the concept of the state and made it the representative of the common will.

Democracy not only endowed the "national spirit" with new life; it also defined the concept of the national state more sharply than would f ever have been possible under the reign of absolutism. Although the apostles of the latter, as French history clearly shows, constantly strove to unite the national forces ever more strongly and to put the whole administration of the country under a centralised direction, in doing this they always had the interest of the dynasty in view, even where they, found it more advisable to veil their true intentions.

With the beginning of the democratic period all dynastic assumptions disappear, and the nation as such becomes the focal point of political events. Thus the state itself achieves a new expression. It now becomes in reality the national state by including all its inhabitants as equally privileged members of a whole and welding them together.

Filled with the principles of an abstract political equality, the representatives of democratic nationalism made a distinction between the nation and nationality. The nation they considered to be a political group which, united by community of language and culture, had collected itself into an independent state entity. As nationalities, on the other hand, they counted such groups of people as were subject to a foreign state and were trying to achieve their political and national independence. Democratic nationalism saw in the struggles of the suppressed nationalities which were trying to form themselves into nations the assertion of an inviolable right; and it acted in this spirit. If the individual citizen of a nation wished to enjoy in his own country all rights and liberties without hindrance, as guaranteed to him by the constitution, even so the nation as a whole should in its individual life be subject to no foreign power and be equal to all other nations in its political independence.

There is no doubt that these efforts were based on a sound principle the theoretical equal right of every nation and nationality without regard to its political or social importance. But right here it was soon apparent that from the very beginning such equal rights could not be harmonised with the efforts of the state for political power. The more the rulers of the individual European states came to realise that their countries could not be closed against the entrance of democratic ideas, the more clearly they saw that the principle of nationality would serve most excellently as a cover under which to advance their own interests. Napoleon I, who because of his ancestry was less plagued by false prejudices than many representatives of legitimate royalty, understood quite thoroughly how to further his own secret plans with the aid of nationalist principles. Thus in May, 1809, he sent from Schonbrunn his well-known message to the Hungarians in which he appealed to them to throw off the yoke of the Austrians. "I ask nothing of you," says the imperial message. "I only wish to see you a free and independent nation."

We know what this unselfish expression meant. Napoleon was just as indifferent to the independence of the Hungarians as, in his heart of hearts, he was to that of the French who in spite of his foreign descent had made him their national hero. What he really had at heart was his plans for political power. To realise these he played with Italians, Illyrians, Poles and Hungarians the same comedy he had played for fourteen years with the grande nation. How clearly Napoleon recognised the importance of the principle of nationality for his own political purposes is shown by a remark recorded by one of his companions on St. Helena: He could not marvel enough why, among the German princes, not a single one had been found with courage enough to use the idea of the national unity of Germany, widely spread among the people, as a pretext for uniting the Germans under a definite dynasty.

Since then, the principle of nationality has assumed an important place in European politics. Thus, after the Napoleonic wars, England on principle supported the rights of the oppressed peoples on the continent only for the reason that she thereby created difficulties for continental diplomacy -which could but react to England's political and economic advancement. But of course the English diplomatists never for a moment thought of giving the Irish the same rights. Lord Palmerston directed his whole foreign policy by this method, but it never entered the mind of the cunning English statesman to help the suppressed nationalities when they most needed his assistance. On the contrary, he looked on with a most peaceful soul while their attempts at liberation perished under the claws of the Holy Alliance.

Napoleon III pursued the same cunning policy, pretending to be the defender of suppressed nationalities while having in view only the interests of his own dynasty. His part in the movement for Italian liberation, which resulted in the inclusion of Nice and Savoy in France, is convincing proof of this.

King Carl Albert of Sardinia likewise supported the movement for national liberation in Italy with all means in his power, as with clever prevision he had recognised what advantages would accrue to his dynasty. Mazzini and Garibaldi, the most radical supporters of revolutionary nationalism, had later to stand by and observe how the successor of the Sardinian garnered the fruits of their lifelong activities for himself as king of united Italy, which they had envisioned as a democratic republic.

That the national feeling took root so rapidly in France during the revolution and achieved such a mighty growth is principally traceable to the fact that the revolution had opened an enormous chasm between the French and old Europe, which the continued wars widened still more. For all that, the best and most valuable minds in all countries greeted the "declaration of human rights" with unmixed enthusiasm, firmly believing that now the era of liberty and equality had begun in Europe. Even many men who later risked everything to enflame in Germany the revolt against the foreign rule of Napoleon, greeted the revolution with inner joy. Fichte, Gorres, Hardenberg, Schleiermacher, Benzenberg, and many others stood at first wholly under the spell of the revolutionary ideas emanating from France. It was the bitter disappointment of this craving for liberty which moved men like Jean Paul, Beethoven, and many others who formerly had been among the most glowing admirers of General Bonaparte-seeing in him the instrument of a coming social reconstruction in Europe-to turn from him after he had made himself emperor and began to show more and more clearly the intentions of the conqueror.

One can readily understand the unlimited enthusiasm of many of the best minds in Germany for the French when one views the hopeless political conditions which were a tragic reality in Germany on the eve of the revolution. The German empire was now only a group of countries rotting in their own filth, their ruling caste no longer capable of an inner creative impulse, and for that reason clinging the more closely to the old institutions. The frightful misfortune of the Thirty Years' War, whose hardly-healed wounds had been freshly opened by Frederick II's conquests, had marked the people of the unfortunate countries with its unmistakable stamp. "A generation filled with nameless woes," says Treitschke in his German History, "had broken the courage of the citizens and had habituated the little man to crawl before the mighty. Our freespirited language learned the trick of abject submission, and came to contain that over-rich treasury of distorted, slavish forms of speech which even today it has not completely shaken off."

Two-thirds of the population at the beginning of the revolution was in a state of serfdom under unspeakably miserable conditions. The country groaned under the hard yoke of countless little despots whose heartless egoism did not shrink from peddling their own subjects as cannon fodder to foreign powers in order to fill their ever empty coffers with the blood money paid them for the lives of these miserable beings. All thoughtful historians are agreed that no liberation could come to this unhappy country from within. Even so grim a hater of the French as Ernst Morris Arndt could not dispute this conclusion.

So the French invasion had at first the effect of a cleansing thunder storm. The French armies brought the revolutionary spirit into the land and aroused in the hearts of its inhabitants a feeling of human dignity they had not known before. The spreading of revolutionary ideas beyond their frontiers was one of the most dreaded weapons of the French republic in its successful struggle against European absolutism; for it was most of all intent on separating the cause of the people from that of the princes. Napoleon never for a moment thought of giving up this invaluable weapon. So wherever his victorious flag floated over a nation he introduced far-reaching reforms in order to attach the inhabitants of the occupied territory to himself.

The peace of Luneville in 1801 had forced the German emperor to recognise the Rhine as the frontier between France and Germany. According to the treaties the temporal rulers of the left shore of the Rhine were to be compensated by territories in the interior of the empire. So now began the shameful barter of the German princes with the "hereditary enemy" for every scrap of land which the one hoped to grab at the expense of the others, and all of them together at the expense of the people. The "noblest of the nation" fawned like whipped curs before Napoleon and his ministers for favourable consideration in the proposed partition. A comparable example of degradation of character, history has hardly shown. Quite rightly Freiherr von Stein told the Russian empress before the assembled court that Germany's ruin had been caused by the baseness of its princes. Stein surely was no revolutionary. He was an upright man who had the courage to proclaim a truth that was known to all. The German patriot, Ernst Morris Arndt, moreover, wrote with bitter contempt:

Those who could help returned; the others were crushed. Thus stood the union of the mighty with the enemies, and no open shame marked the dishonoured ones ; they even dared to proclaim themselves as liberators; even those who carried on dishonourable trade in their own and others' honour. They bargained about the peace; there was much said about the German princes, never anything about the German people. Never had the princes stood so far from the nation as a separate party-indeed even opposed to it- and they did not blush before the gaze of a strong, virtuous, great people whom they treated as vanquished in order to participate in the loot.... Injustice is born from injustice, force from force, shame from shame, and, like the Mongolian empire, Europe will sink into ruins.... Thus you stood, and thus you stand, like traders, not like princes; like Jews with the money-bags, not like judges with the scales nor like marshals with the sword. 2

After the battle of Austerlitz (1805) and the foundation of the Rhenish League there was nothing left to the Emperor Francis but to proclaim the dissolution of the German Empire: as a matter of fact it had not existed for a long time. Sixteen German princes had put themselves under Napoleon's protectorate and had reaped a rich harvest for this master example of patriotic attitude. But when patriotic historians make it appear as if, after this open treason to the nation, the Prussian monarchy was now the last bulwark of the German people against the foreign rule of the French, it is a deliberate falsification of historic facts. Prussia was internally just as diseased and morally rotten as the other parts of the empire. The debacle of 1806, the frightful defeat of the Prussian armies at Jena and Auerstadt, the shameful surrender of the fortresses to the French without even an attempt at any real resistance by the noble defenders, the flight of the king to the Russian frontier, the wretched machinations of the Prussian junkers (who in the midst of this gruesome catastrophe thought of nothing but to preserve their miserable prerogatives)-sufficiently characterise the then prevailing conditions in Prussia. The whole woeful history of the relations between the "exalted allies," Russia, Austria and Prussia, of whom each in turn, behind the others' backs, worked for or against Napoleon, is a very witches' sabbath of cowardly baseness and contemptible treason, of which the like in scope can hardly be found in history.

Only a small minority of upright men whose patriotism was more than lip-service dared resistance in the land by secret societies and open propaganda; which became constantly easier as Napoleon's military rule rested more heavily on the population of the exploited countries, whose sons were now being forced to fill the gaps the war had made in the French armies. Neither the Prussian monarchy nor the Prussian kraut-junkerdom was equal to such a task. On the contrary, they opposed all attempts which threatened to endanger their privileges and treated men like Stein, Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, Fichte, Arndt, Jahn, and even Blucher, with undisguised suspicion. Only when compelled did they yield to their urgency-and betrayed them at the first opportunity. The characterless attitude of Friedrich Wilhelm III toward Stein and the cowardly cabals by which Prussian officialdom sought to thwart the efforts of the German patriots, tell a very eloquent tale. The Prussian monarchy, therefore, forms no exception in this sad saga of the German princes, and Seume was quite right when he wrote:

Whatever might be hoped of the nation and for the nation the princes and the nobles are sure to destroy in order to preserve their senseless privileges. Napoleon's best satraps are the German princes and nobles.... We have now actually reached the point when we, like Cicero, do not know whether we are to wish for victory for our friends or our enemies. Here are whips; yonder are scorpions.

And yet the men who worked for the national awakening of Germany and took such an important part in the so-called "wars of liberation" were by no means revolutionaries, although they were often enough denounced as Jacobins by the Prussian junkers. Almost every one of them was kingloyal to the bone and entirely untouched by a real libertarian thought. But they had clearly recognised one thing: If a nation is to be formed from serfs and hereditary subjects without any rights, and the great masses of the people are to be aroused to fight against foreign rule, one must first of all begin by abolishing the outrageous privileges of the nobles and must secure for the man of the people the civil rights which have hitherto been denied to him. Scharnhorst says:

One must infuse in the nation a feeling of self-reliance. One must give it a chance to become acquainted with itself so that it may be interested in itself; for only thus will it learn to respect itself and compel respect from others. To work toward this is all that we can do. To break the bonds of prejudice, to guide and nurse the rebirth and never to oppose free growth-beyond this our utmost effectiveness does not reach.

Also in the same way, Gneisenau, who in his memorial of July 1807 states that a European adjustment can be thought of only if one is resolved to emulate the French and by a constitution and the equalisation of all classes to liberate the nation's natural forces:

If the other states want to re-establish this balance they must themselves reopen the sources of supply and use them. They must appropriate the results of the revolution and thus gain the double advantage of being able to oppose their own national power to a foreign one and also to escape the dangers of a revolution-which are not past for them for the simple reason that they have been unwilling to avoid a violent change by a voluntary one.

Hardenberg, who at the time of the peace of Tilsit was at Napoleon's behest dismissed by Friedrich Wilhelm, put it even more clearly. In his Memorial for the Reorganisation of the Prussian State, September 12, 1807, he declares:

The illusion that the revolution can best be opposed by clinging to old institutions and by harsh persecution of the principles it announces has contributed greatly to aiding the revolution and giving it a steadily growing extension. The force of these principles is so great, they are so generally accepted and so widespread, that the state which does not adopt them goes either to its own destruction or to an enforced acceptance of these principles. . . . Democratic principles within a monarchic government, this seems to be the most suitable form for the present spirit of the age.

These were the ideas then current among the German patriots. Even Arndt, who surely cannot be accused of French sympathies, had to recognise that the great revolution was an event of European importance, and he reached the conclusion: "All states, even those which are not yet democracies, will from century to century become more democratic."

And Baron von Stein, a thoroughly conservative spirit and an outspoken opponent of all revolutionary movements, could not escape the conclusion that a rebirth of the state and liberation from the foreign yoke were possible only if one should decide to abolish serfdom and to institute a national assembly. Nevertheless Stein was careful to add in the essay entitled his "Political Testament" prepared for him by Schon: "The right and the power of the king were always sacred to me, and must remain so to us. But that this right and this unlimited power shall express the good inherent in it, it seems to me necessary to give to the highest power the means whereby it can learn the wishes of the people and give life to their intentions."

These were surely no revolutionary ideas; and yet Stein encountered the greatest difficulty in instituting even the most modest reforms. It is well known that it was just the "noblest of the nation" who continually assailed him from behind and did not even shrink from treason to their country in order to thwart his patriotic plans. The facts are that while the famous Edict of Liberation of October 1807 abolished serfdom in name, its authors did not dare to touch the junker landowners in the least. Thus the former serfs became wage slaves and could at any time be driven from the land by their masters if they did not submit unconditionally to their will.

Likewise the Edict of Regulation of 1811, evolved under Hardenberg, was principally designed to incite the rural population to resistance against the French. The prospect held out to the former serfs of a change in the law of ownership which would enable them to become owners of land, was an attempt to make them the more inclined to fight against the foreign rule. But after the French armies had evacuated the country, the government shamelessly broke all its promises and left the population of the rural districts to the misery and poverty imposed on them by the junkers.

It was the force of circumstances which had induced the German princes to make their subjects all kinds of fair promises, to let them expect a constitution, from which the awakened citizenry promised themselves wonderful things. They had come to realise that only a "people's war" could free Germany from the French domination, no matter how much Austria was opposed to this idea. The events in Spain had spoken too clearly. So the noble lords suddenly discovered how dearly they loved the people and recognised - following their need, not their inclination - that an uprising of the masses was the last desperate resort to support their shaking thrones.

In the appeal of Kalisch the Russian czar appeared as a sworn guarantor for the coming free and united Germany, and the king of Prussia promised his faithful subjects a constitution. On the great masses who merely vegetated in mental stupidity even these promises would not have made a special impress; but the bourgeoisie, and especially the youth, were seized with patriotic enthusiasm and dreamed of Barbarossa's resurrection and the reconstruction of the ancient empire in all its power and glory.

For all that, Friedrich Wilhelm still hesitated and sought to protect himself against both sides. Even when the Russian victory and the burning of Moscow had destroyed Napoleon's giant army and driven it in desperate flight to France, the king could still not reach a resolution; for the interests of the Prussian dynasty were nearer to his heart than a nebulous Germany for which neither he nor his East-Elbian junkers had understanding. Only under the steadily growing pressure of patriotic passion did he finally decide on the war - because, in fact, no other course was open to him. What was the opinion of the patriots at this time is clearly apparent from a curious letter of Blacher to Scharnhorst, dated January 5, 1813, where among other things he says (as nearly as its illiteracy can be imitated in English):

"Now is agen the time for what I advized allready in the yeer 9 (1809); naimly to call the hole nation to arms and, iff the princes are not willing, to chais them out of the country allong with Buonaparte. For not only Prussia allone but the hole German fatherland must be resurected and the nation reastablished." 3

But it came out quite otherwise than the patriotic advocates of German unity had imagined. All the promises of the great ones vanished in smoke as soon as Napoleon was defeated and the danger of a new invasion was removed. Instead of a constitution came the Holy Alliance, instead of the hoped-for civil liberty came the Carlsbad Resolutions and the persecution of the demagogues. That misshapen child, the Deutsche Bund ("German League") - Jahn called it Deutscher Bunt 4 - had to serve as a substitute for the desired unity of the realm. The idea of unification was outlawed by the government. Metternich even expressed the opinion that there was "no more damnable idea than to desire to unite the German people into a German empire," and the investigating officials in Mainz were especially severe against Jahn because he had first advocated the "most dangerous doctrine of German unification"; which, by the way, was not at all correct.

Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation were prohibited, and the great patriots delivered over to the henchmen of reaction. Arndt was disciplined and indicted; Schleiermacher could only preach under police supervision; Jahn was put in chains and sent to prison-even after his acquittal he was for years restricted in his freedom. Gorres, who in his Rhenish Mercury, called by Napoleon "the fifth great power," had contributed so greatly to the national revolt against the French, had to flee and seek protection in the land of the "hereditary enemy" from the police of the Prussian reaction. Gneisenau resigned. Boyen, Humboldt and others did the same. The Burschenschaften ("Students' Leagues") were dissolved and the universities put under the moral guardianship of the police.

Never has a people been so shamelessly and so thoroughly cheated of the fruits of its victory. It must, however, not be forgotten that it was only a small minority who had placed great hopes on the consequences of the overthrow of French dominion and really believed that the time had now arrived for German unification under the sign of civil liberty. The great masses were, as always, forced into the so-called "wars of liberation" and simply followed their hereditary princes with dutiful obedience. Only thus can the unopposed subjugation of the population under the terrorism of the rising reaction be explained. Heine was quite right when in his articles about the "Romantic School" he wrote:

When God, snow, and the Cossacks destroyed Napoleon's best forces we Germans received the All-Highest's command to shake off the foreign yoke, and we blazed up in manly wrath over the all-too-long-endured servitude, and we enthused ourselves with the good melodies and the bad verses of Korner, and we fought and achieved freedom; for we do everything that is commanded us by our princes.

Likewise Goethe, who had witnessed the wars of liberation and who went more deeply into things than did the mocker, Heine, held in this matter the same opinion. He said in a discussion with Luden soon after the bloody battle of the nations at Leipzig:

You speak of the awakening and arising of the German people and are of the opinion that this people are not again allow itself to be deprived of what it has achieved and so dearly paid for with its blood and treasure, namely, freedom. But is the people really awa}e? Does it know what it wants and what it can achieve? And is every movement an uprising? Does he arise who is forcibly stirred up? We are not speaking here of the thousands of educated youth and men; we are speaking here of the mass, of the millions. And what is it that has been achieved or won? You say freedom. Perhaps it would be better if you were to call it liberation-liberation, that is, not from the yoke of the stranger, but from a strange yoke. It is true that I now see no Frenchmen, no Italians; but instead I see Cossacks, Bashkirs, Croats, Magyars, Cassubes, Samlanders, brown and other coloured hussars. We have been accustomed for a long time to turn our glance westward and to expect all danger from there, but the earth extends also far to the east.

Goethe was right. While from the east there came no revolution there came the Holy Alliance, which for decades rested like an incubus on the people of Europe and threatened to stifle all spiritual life. Never had Germany suffered anywhere near as much under the French foreign rule as it did later under the shameful tyranny of its princely "liberators."

  • 1Ferdinand Lassalle, Der Italienische Krieg und die Aufgabe Preussens.
  • 2E. M. Arndt, Geist der Zeit: Erster Teil, Kapitel Vll.
  • 3There were other field marshals who spelled as badly as Blucher. -Translator
  • 4Jahn's misspelling "Deutscher Bunt," would mean something like "German patchwork," if anything. -Translator.


13. Romanticism and Nationalism

Culture and Nationalism
German romanticism
The "verlorene heimat." the redemption idea
The doctrine of the "urvolk." the shades of the past
Arndt's hatred of the french
Kleist's german "catechism." Ludwig Jahn, a pioneer of hitlerism
Arrogant germanism
German jungle spirit
The Burschenschaft
Rome's influence on romanticism
After damascus
Frederick of Gentz
Adam Muller and the romantic idea of the state
Ludwig Von Haller and Neo-Absolutism
Franz Von Baader; an excursion into german mysticism
German unity as dream and reality

Submitted by Toms on September 6, 2011

All nationalism is reactionary in its nature, for it strives to enforce on the separate parts of the great human family a definite character according fi to a preconceived idea. In this respect, too, it shows the interrelationship of nationalistic ideology with the creed of every revealed religion. Nationalism creates artificial separations and partitions within that organic unity which finds its expression in the genus Man, while at the same time it strives for a fictitious unity sprung only from a wish-concept; and its advocates would like to tune all members of a definite human group to one note in order to distinguish it from other groups still more obviously. In this respect, so-called "cultural nationalism" does not differ at all from political nationalism, for whose political purposes as a rule it serves as a fig-leaf. The two cannot be spiritually separated; they merely represent two different aspects of the same endeavour.

Cultural nationalism appears in its purest form when people are subjected to a foreign rule, and for this reason cannot pursue their own plans for political power. In this event, "national thought" prefers to busy itself with the culture-building activities of the people and tries to keep the national consciousness alive by recollections of vanished glory and past greatness. Such comparisons between a past which has already become legend and a slavish present make the people doubly sensitive to the injustice suffered; for nothing affects the spirit of man more powerfully than tradition. But if such groups of people succeed sooner or later in shaking off the foreign yoke and themselves appear as a national power, then the cultural phase of their effort steps only too definitely into the background, giving place to the sober reality of their political objectives. In the recent history of the various national organisms in Europe created after the war are found telling witnesses for this.

In Germany, also, the national strivings both before and after the "wars of liberation" were strongly influenced by romanticism, whose advocates tried to make the traditions of a vanished age live again among the people and to make the past appear to them in a glorified light. When, later, the last hopes which the German patriots had rested on liberation from the foreign yoke had burst like over-blown bubbles, their spirits sought refuge in the moonlit magic night and the fairy world of dreamy longing conjured up for them by romanticism, in order to forget the gray reality of life and its shameful disappointments.

In culture-nationalism, as a rule, two distinct sentiments merge, which really have nothing in common: for home sentiment is not patriotism, is not love of the state, not love which has its roots in the abstract idea of the nation. It needs no laboured explanation to prove that the spot of land on which a man has spent the years of his youth is deeply intergrown with his profoundest feeling. The impressions of childhood and early youth which are the most permanent and have the most lasting effect upon his soul. Home is, so to speak, man's outer garment; he is most intimately acquainted with its every fold and seam. This home sentiment brings in later years some yearning after a past long buried under ruins; and it is this which enables the romantic to look so deeply within.

With so-called "national consciousness" this home sentiment has no relationship; although both are often thrown into the same pot and, after the manner of counterfeiters, given out as of the same value. In fact, true home sentiment is destroyed at its birth by "national consciousness," which always strives to regulate and force into a prescribed form every impres-sion man receives from the inexhaustible variety of the homeland. This is the unavoidable result of those mechanical efforts at unification which are in reality only the aspirations of the nationalistic states.

The attempt to replace man's natural attachment to the home by a dutiful love of the state-a structure which owes its creation to all sorts of accidents and in which, with brutal force, elements have been welded together that have no necessary connection-is one of the most grotesque phenomena of our time. The so-called "national consciousness" is nothing but a belief propagated by considerations of political power which have replaced the religious fanaticism of past centuries and have today come to be the greatest obstacle to cultural development. The love of home has nothing in common with the veneration of an abstract patriotic concept. Love of home knows no "will to power"; it is free from that hollow and dangerous attitude of superiority to the neighbour which is one of the strongest characteristics of every kind of nationalism. Love of home does not engage in practical politics nor does it seek in any way to support the state. It is purely an inner feeling as freely manifested as man's enjoyment of nature, of which home is a part. When thus viewed, the home feeling compares with the governmentally ordered love of the nation as does a natural growth with an artificial substitute.

The impulse of German romanticism came from France. Rousseau's slogan, "back to nature," his conscious revolt against the spirit of enlightenment, his strong emphasis on the purely sentimental as against the clever systematic thought of rationalism, found beyond the Rhine also a notable response-especially in Herder to whom the romantics, nearly all of whom had been formerly in the camp of the enlightenment, were strongly obligated. Herder himself was no romantic. His view was too clear, his spirit too unroiled for him to enthuse over the romantic concept of the "purposelessness of all events." But his disinclination to everything systematic, his joy in the primordialness of things, his conception of the inner relationship of the human soul with all Mother Nature and, most of all, his deep sympathy and feeling of understanding for the spiritual culture of foreign people and past ages, brought him very close to the representatives of romanticism. In fact, the great service rendered by the romantics through their introduction of foreign literatures, their rediscovery of the German legends and folklore, can largely be traced to the inspiration of Herder, who showed them the way.

But Herder in all his thinking viewed mankind as a whole. He saw, as Heine so beautifully said, "all mankind as a great harp in the hands of a great master." Every people was for him a string, and from the harmonious union of the sounds of all the strings arose for him life's eternal melodies. Swept along by this thought he enjoyed the endless variety of the life of the people and followed with loving interest every manifestation of their cultural activity. He knew of no chosen people and had for the Negro and the Mongolian the same understanding as for the members of the white race. When one reads what he had to say concerning a plan for a "Natural History of Mankind in a purely Human Sense" one gets the impression that he had foreseen the absurdities of our modern race theoreticians and nationalistic fetish worshipers.

Most of all, one must be impartial as the genius of mankind itself, have no preferred tribes, no favoured folk on earth. One is easily misled by such a preference to ascribe to the favoured nation too much good, to the others too much evil. And when the favoured people prove only a collective name (Celts, Semites, Chuschites, etc.), which perhaps never existed and whose origin and continuity cannot be proved, then one has indeed written in sand.

The adherents of the Romantic School at first followed these trails and developed a number of fruitful ideas which had a stimulating influ-ence on the most divergent- schools of thought. But we are here interested solely in the influence they had on the development of the national idea in Germany. The romantics discovered for the Germans the German past and brought to light many of its features which had hardly been noticed before. They thoroughly revelled in this past, and their attempts to make it live again revealed many a hidden treasure and made many a silent string vibrate once more. And since most of their intellectual leaders were also inclined to philosophical reflections, they dreamed of a higher unity of life in which all phases of human activity -- religion, state, church, science, art, philosophy, ethics and everyday affairs -- are focussed like a bundle of sun-rays by the lens.

The Romantic School believed in a "verlorene Heimat," a lost home, a past condition of spiritual perfection in which the oneness of life they were striving for was once existent. Since then there had occurred a sort of fall into sin. Mankind had gotten into a chaos of hostile segregation, so that the inner communion of the individual members was destroyed and each one was set up as a distinct part and lost his deeper relation to the whole. The attempts again to unite men into a whole have so far led to merely mechanical union, lacking the inner impulse of individual growth and purity. Hence, they have only increased the evil and destroyed the gaily coloured variety of internal and external vital relations. In this respect France was for the romantics a repellent example, because there for centuries men had striven to embed every manifestation of life in a spiritless political centralism which falsified the primordial meaning of social relations and intentionally deprived them of their true character.

According to the romantic conception, the lost unity could not be restored by external means; it had rather to grow out of man's inner spiritual urge and then gradually to ripen. The romantics were firmly convinced that in the soul of the people the memory of that state of former perfection still slumbered. But that inner source had been choked and had first to be freed again before the silent intuition could once more become alive in the minds of men. So they searched for the hidden sources and lost themselves ever deeper in the mystic dusk of a past age whose strange magic had intoxicated their minds. The German medieval age with its colourful variety and its inexhaustible power of creation was for them a new revelation. They believed themselves to have found there that unity of life which humanity had lost. Now the old cities and the Gothic cathedrals spoke a special language and testified to that "verlorene Heimat" on which the longing of romanticism spent itself. The Rhine with its legend-rich castles, its cloisters and mountains, became Germany's sacred stream; all the past took on a new character, a glorified meaning.

Thus there gradually developed a sort of cultural nationalism whose inner import culminated in the thought that the Germans, because of their splendid past, which was now to be reborn among the people, were destined to bring to sick humanity the longed-for healing. Thus the Germans became in the eyes of the romantics the chosen people of the present age, selected by Providence itself to fulfil a divine mission. This thought occurs again and again in Fichte, whose philosophical idealism, together with the nature philosophy of Schelling, had the strongest influence on the romantics. Fichte had called the Germans an "Urvolk," a primary people, for whom alone man's final redemption was reserved. What originally had sprung from the pious enthusiasm of an overintense poetic mood, and as such was rather harmless, assumed with Fichte the character of that construed antagonism which is at the base of all nationalism and already carries within itself the dragon's teeth of national hatred. From assumed national superiority to vilification and disparagement of everything foreign, it is as a rule but a step, which, especially in times of agitation, is very easily taken.

If the Germans were indeed an "Urvolk" as Fichte maintained and as others have repeated after him, a people which had more of the "verlorene Heimat" feeling than all other people, then no other nation could rival them or could even endure comparison with them. To maintain this contention to give the real or imaginary distinctions between them the meaning one desires, one is forced to conceive peoples as categories, not to take them as individuals. Thus began the work of idle speculation and construction, in which Fichte especially has achieved the extraordinary. For him the Germans were the only people who had character: "To have character and to be German are indubitably synonymous." From this it naturally follows that other peoples, and especially the French, have no character. It was discovered that there is no French equivalent for the word "Gemut." Whereby it was proved that God had endowed only the Germans with so noble a gift.

From this and similar premises, Fichte gradually reaches the extremest conclusions: since the Frenchman has no Gemut his mind is set solely on the sensual and the material, things naturally antagonistic to the inner chastity of the German so richly endowed with Gemut. To Gemut is due the "uniform honesty and loyalty" of the Germans. Only where Gemut is lacking are cunning and guile at the bottom of the soul, qualities which the Germans freely leave to other people. True religion has its roots in the depths of the Gemut. This explains why among the French that "spirit of enlightenment" had to develop which finally culminated in the crassest free thought and infidelity. The German, however, grasped the spirit of Christianity in its whole profundity, giving it a special meaning appropriate to its innermost essence.

Fichte also spoke of the "Ursprache," the primitive speech of the Germans, meaning by this "a language which from the first sound uttered by this people has without a break developed from the actual common life of the people." Thus he reached the conclusion that only among an "Urvolk" possessing an "Ursprache" does intellectual growth penetrate life. Among other people, who have forgotten their Ursprache and have adopted a foreign language (to these of course belonged first of all the French), mental development and life each go their separate ways. From this assumption Fichte deduced certain political and social consequences in the life of a people; as when in his fourth Address to the German Nation he says: "In a nation of the first category the whole people are educable. The educators of such test their discoveries on the people and try to influence them. Whereas in a nation of the second category the educated classes separate themselves from the people and use the latter only as blind tools for the accomplishment of their plans."

This arbitrary assertion, whose nonsense is disputed every hour by life itself, is today the subject of most curious commentaries and is proclaimed to the German youth as the profoundest wisdom of the fathers. The higher one elevates one's own nation, the poorer and the more meaningless must everything else appear compared with it. All creative gift even is denied to others. Thus, Fichte maintains of the French "that they cannot raise themselves to the idea of freedom and of the legal state because by their system of thought they have missed the concept of personal values and cannot understand at all how other men or people can will or even think such a thing." 1 Of course only Germans were chosen for freedom because they had Gemut and were an "Urvolk." Unfortunately, we hear today so often and so obtrusively of "German freedom" and "German loyalty" that we have become somewhat suspicious-for the Third Reich gives us none too clear a picture of what this alleged freedom and loyalty really consist of.

Most of the men who played leading parts in the nationalist movement in Germany before and after 1813 were rooted deeply in the spirit of romanticism; and from its descriptions of The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation of medieval times, of the legendary world of ancient Germany, and of the magic of the native soil their patriotism drew rich nourishment. Arndt, Jahn, Gorres, Schenkendorf, Schleiermacher, Kleist, Eichendorff, Gentz, Korner, were deeply imbued with romantic ideas; even Stein as he became older came ever more deeply under their influence. They dreamed of the return of the old realm of Austria's imperial banner. Only a few of them, with Fichte, saw in the king of Prussia the "Zwingherr zur Deutschheit," the compeller towards Germanism, and believed that Prussia was destined to establish the unity of the realm.

With most of these men the nationalistic idea reached its logical conclusion. It had begun as an enticing nostalgia for the "verlorene Heimat" and a poetic glorifying of the German past. Later, they got the idea of the great historical mission of the Germans; they made comparisons between the various peoples and their own and used for the embellishment of their own so much paint that there was hardly anything left for the others. The end was a fierce hatred of the French and an idiotic exaltation of Germanism which frequently bordered on mental aberration.

The same development can, however, be observed in every kind of nationalism, whether it be German, Polish or Italian; the only difference being that the "hereditary enemy" has for each nation a different name. Let no one say that it was the harsh experience of foreign rule and war, releasing all the worst passions in man, that led the German patriots to such one-sided and hate-filled modes of thought. What then, and also after the "wars of liberation," proclaimed itself as German patriotism, was "more than a justified uprising against the foreign yoke; it was an open declaration of war against the character, the language and the spiritual culture of a neighbouring people who-as Goethe said-belonged to "the most cultivated on earth," and to whom he himself "owed a great part of his education."

Arndt, who was one of the most influential men in the patriotic revolt against Napoleon's rule in Germany, knew actually no limits in his morbid hatred of the French:

Hatred of the foreigner, hatred of the French, of their trifling, their vanity, their folly, their language, their customs; yes, burning hatred of all that comes from them, that must unite everything German firmly and fraternally; and German valour, German freedom, German culture, German honour and justice must again soar high and be raised to the old honour and glory whereby our fathers shone before most of the peoples of the earth.... What has brought you to shame must bring you to honour again. Only bloody hatred of the French can unite German power, raise again the German glory, bring out the noblest traits of the people and submerge all the lowest. This hatred must be imparted to your children and your children's children as the palladium of German freedom, and must in future be the surest guardian of Germany's frontiers from the Scheldt to the Vosges and the Ardennes. 2

With Kleist the hatred of everything French rose to blind rage. He derided Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation, and saw in him nothing but a weak-willed school-master with whom impotent words had to do duty for courage, for action. What he demanded was a people's war such as the Spanish under the leadership of fanatical priests and monks were waging against the French. In such a war all means seemed to him permissible; poison and the dagger, breach of faith and treason. His Catechism for the Germans, Modelled After the Spanish, for Old and Young, which, significantly, is written in the form of a dialogue between a father and his child, displays the wildest manifestation of unrestrained national fanaticism, and in its frightful intolerance treads every human feeling under foot. Perhaps this gruesome fanaticism can be partly traced to the sick mentality of the unfortunate poet; on the other hand, the present time gives us the best possible understanding how such a mental attitude can be artificially trained and can spread with uncanny power if favoured by particular social conditions.

Ludwig Jahn, who after Fichte's death became the spiritual leader of German youth and was regarded by it with almost divine veneration, carried Francophobia and nationalistic craze so far that he got on the nerves even of his patriotic fellow fighters. Stein called him a "grimacing, conceited fool" and Arndt a "purified Eulenspiegel." Jahn suspected everything and smelled everywhere foreign customs and French folly. Reading the biography of this peculiar saint one gets the impression of seeing in the "bearded ancient" an earlier pioneer of modern Hitlerism. His rude, presumptuous speech, his incredible arrogance, his hollow boasting, his delight in tying ideas into knots, his violent temper, his bold obtrusiveness, and most of all his boundless intolerance, which respected no other opinion and reviled every thought not in agreement with his own as un-German-all this makes him the ancestor of the present National Socialism.

Jahn really had no political ideas of his own. What mostly appealed to him was not medieval Germany, but primitive Germany; there he was at home, fairly wallowing in German primordialness. He proposed to create between Germany and France, a Hamme, a barrier, a sort of primitive forest filled with bisons and other wild beasts. A special frontier guard was to see to it that no intercourse whatever should take place between the two countries, so that German youth might not be contaminated by French rottenness. In his crazy hatred of France Jahn went so far as to preach publicly: "It comes to the same thing if one teaches his daughters French or trains them for whores." In the brain of this strange prophet everything became perverted and distorted; most of all, the German language, which he frightfully mistreated with his wild, fanatical "purification."

For all that, Jahn enjoyed not only the boundless admiration of German youth, but Jena University gave him an honorary doctor's degree and compared his tiresome boasting with Luther's eloquence. A distinguished philologist like Thiersch dedicated his German translation of Pindar to him, and Franz Passow, professor of Greek Literature at Weimar, declared that since Luther nothing so excellent had been written as Jahn's Teutsche Turnkunst ("German gymnastics"). If the present Germany were not such a repellent example of how, under the pressure of special circumstances, a brainless phraseology supported by complicated illogic can impress wide sections of the nation and force them in a special direction, the influence of a confused mind like Jahn's would be difficult to understand. That this man could be accepted by German youth as Fichte's successor can only be explained by the low mental level of the younger generation itself. Even such a thoroughly nationalistic historian as Treitschke remarks in his German History: "It amounted to a social disease that the sons of an enlightened people could venerate a noisy barbarian as their teacher."

But this came about simply because the narrow-minded Germanism which became the fashion in Germany after the wars of liberation had to lead to mental barbarism. The morbid mania of Auserwahltheit, of "electness," necessarily led to intellectual estrangement from all general culture of the time and to a total misconception of all human relations. It was a time when the spirit of Lessing and Herder could no longer inspire the young generation; when Goethe lived beside, but not in, the nation. What resulted from it was the specific German patriotism which, according to Heine, consists in this, that in its supporters "the heart becomes narrower and shrinks like leather in cold weather; that they hate everything foreign; that they no longer wish to be citizens of the world, no longer Europeans, but only narrow Germans."

It is absurd to see in the men of 1813 the guardians of freedom; not one of them was moved by real libertarian ideas. Almost every one of them had his roots in a long-past age which could no longer open new outlooks for the present. This applies also to the Burschenschaft, the Students' League, whose shameful suppression by the victorious reaction is probably the main reason why even today it is praised for its libertarian activities. No one will deny that the Burschenschaft had idealistic features; but this is no proof that it had a libertarian mind. Its Christian-German mysticism, its grotesque rejection of all that is called "foreign custom" and "foreign spirit," its anti-Semitic tendencies which had been from of old in Germany the heritage of all reactionary movements, and the general confusion of its views-all these fitted it to be the champion of a mystical faith in which elements of the most diverse conceptions mingled in motley patchwork; not to be the banner-bearer of a new future. When after Kotzebue's murder by the student, Karl Sand, reaction dealt a destructive blow, and the infamous Carlsbad Resolutions suppressed all leagues of youth, the Burschenschaft could confront Metternich's creatures with nothing but those helpless and submissive verses of Binzer which end with the words:

The tie has been cut; it was black, red, and gold;
And God has endured it. His wish-who's been told?
The house it may fall; as fall it needs must;
The spirit lives in us, and God is our trust.

Real revolutionaries would have hurled different words against this brutal violation of deepest human dignity. When one compares the bold beginnings of German enlightenment and its great, all-dominating ideas of love and freedom of thought, with the sad results of an unfettered rampant "national consciousness," one realises the enormous spiritual throw back which Germany has suffered and can appraise the whole grim meaning of Heine's words:

There we now see the idealistic brutality that Jahn reduced to a system. It began as a shabby, loutish, unwashed opposition to a mental attitude which is the noblest, the holiest, that Germany has created; that is, against that humanity, against that general human fraternisation, against that cosmopolitanism which our great spirits, Lessing, Herder, Schiller, Goethe, Jean Paul, and all Germans of culture have always venerated.

It is a curious phenomenon that the best-known representatives of the romantic school, who had contributed so much to the shaping of mystic nationalism in Germany, almost without exception landed in the camp of open political or clerical reaction. This was all the more remarkable since most of them had begun their literary careers as heralds of enlightenment and freedom of thought and had greeted the great revolution in the neighbouring land with enthusiasm. If it was strange that a former Jacobin like Gorres, who hailed the dismemberment of the German empire with wild joy, changed with such surprising rapidity into a fierce opponent of France, it was still more incomprehensible that the same Gorres, who in his essay, Germany and the Revolution (1820), with manly resolution showed his teeth to the raging reactionaries, soon after threw himself into the arms of papism and in his clerical fanaticism went so far as to earn the endorsement of Joseph de Maistre.

Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel, Steffens, Tieck, Adam Muller, Brentano, Fouque, Zacharias Werner, and many others, were swept away by the reactionary flood. Hundreds of young artists made pilgrimages to Rome and returned to the bosom of the Catholic Church, which was then reaping a good harvest. It was a very witches' sabbath of mad fanaticism and ardent rage for conversion which, however, lacked the inner vigour of conviction of medieval man. This was the end of that cultural nationalism which had commenced as a burning longing for the "verlorene Heimat" and ended in the slough of the deepest reaction. Georg Brandes did not exaggerate when he said:

As regards their religious attitude all the romantics, who were so revolutionary in poetry, submissively bent the neck as soon as they saw the yoke. And in politics it was they who guided the Vienna congress and drew up the manifesto for the abrogation of liberty of thought among the people-between a solemnity in St. Peter's Cathedral and an oyster dinner at Fanny Elssler's. 3

But one must not compare most of these men with Gentz, to whom Brandes referred in these words; they were not in his class. Gentz, next to Metternich in whose pay he was, was chiefly responsible for the infamous Carlsbad Resolutions; he was a "rotten character," as Stein called him, a brilliant, venal scribbler who sold his pen to anyone who paid for it. He revealed to the English socialist, Robert Owen, in a moment of cynic frankness, the whole leitmotif of his miserable life in a few words when Owen-who did not know his real character-sought to win Gentz for his special plans of reform: "We do not wish to make the great mass wealthy and independent; how could we then rule them?" With Gentz one could perhaps compare only Friedrich Schlegel, who also degraded himself to become a purchased scribbler for Metternich. The rest of the heads of the Romantic School went the way of reaction quite independently, because all their ideas had a reactionary core. The fact that nearly all of them went the same road can very well serve as proof that there was something unhealthy about the whole movement which they never could overcome and which determined the course of their development.

The reactionary core of German romanticism is at once apparent from its view concerning the state, which traced directly back to theoretical absolutism. Novalis had begun by endowing the state with a special individual life of its own, treating it as a "mystic individual" and concluding that "the perfected citizen lives wholly in the state." But only that kind of man can live wholly in the state who is wholly filled by the state. Such a concept is naturally not in harmony with the liberal ideas of the period of enlightenment; it is their self-evident antithesis.

Adam Muller, the real state-theoretician of romanticism, most decidedly opposed the "Chimaera of natural rights" upon which most of the ideas of liberalism are based. In his Elements of Statecraft he most em-phatically opposes the liberal concept, of which the most prominent representative in Germany had been Wilhelm von Humboldt, maintaining that "the state is not only a manufacturing, farming, and insurance institution or mercantile society," but "the most intimate union of the collective physical and spiritual wealth, the whole inner and outer life of a nation in one great energetic, infinitely active and living whole." Consequently, the state could never be the means for any special or definite end, as liberalism conceived it to be; it was rather, in its highest form, an end in itself, an end sufficient for itself, having its roots in the union of law, nationality and religion. If it often appeared as if the state was serving some special task, this, according to Muller's concept, was only an optical illusion of the theoreticians; in reality the state serves only itself and is not a means for anyone.

Karl Ludwig von Haller's shallow and shameless patchwork with the long-winded title Restoration of Statecraft, or the Theory of the Natural Social State as Opposed to the Chimaera of the Artificial Bourgeois State, was only a crude and lifeless repetition of the same ideas. But with Haller the reactionary trend is much more openly and demonstrably apparent. Haller on principle rejected the thought that civil society could have arisen from a written or unwritten contractual relation between the citizen and the state. The natural condition out of which all institutions of political society had gradually arisen is synonymous with the divine order, the origin of all things. The first outcome of this primal condition was, how ever, that the strong ruled over all others, from which it is apparent that all power springs from a natural law founded in divine order. The mighty one rules, founds the state, declares the law-and all on the basis of his strength and superiority. The power he possesses is a gift from God and, coming from God, it is for that reason inviolable. From this it follows that the king is not the servant of the state, but must be its master. State and people are his property, a legitimate legacy received from God wherewith to do as he pleases. If the king is unjust and harsh, this is certainly unfortunate for the subjects, but it does not justify their effecting a change by themselves. All that remains for them to do in such a case is to call on God to enlighten the ruler and guide him on the right way.

One can understand how thoroughly such a doctrine must have satisfied the crowned heads. Haller more especially pleased the Prussian crown prince, later Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who has been called "the romantic on the king's throne." Hegel's deification of the state was but a further step in the same direction and found such ready acceptance in Germany for the reason that the state concept of the romantics had smoothed the way for his ideas.

The one superior mind among the romantics, who even here went his own way, was the Catholic philosopher, Franz von Baader, whose diary contains a mass of profound reflections concerning state and society. Baader, who based his doctrine on man's original purity, most strenuously opposed Kant's concept of "innate evil" and especially fought the mania of government which smothers man's noblest talents and makes him incapable of any independent action. For this reason he praised anarchy as a healing force of nature against despotism because it compels men to stand on their own feet. Baader compared man infantilised by government to the fool who thought he could not walk until a conflagration taught him the use of his legs.

Error and vice receive their great strength through materialisation, authorisation by institutions; for example, as law. And the latter is the great evil, the great bar to our capacity for perfection, which only government can cause. It is therefore incapable of achieving anything good, but very capable of achieving evil; for it, so to speak, makes folly and vice immortal, giving them a permanence they could not have of themselves.

Baader's state-critical concept does not hark back to liberalism, but to German mysticism. He had gone to school to Master Eckhart and Jacob Bohme and had reached a kind of theosophy which looked very sceptically at all temporal means of compulsion. What most attracted him to Catholicism was the universality of the church and the idea of Christendom as a world-embracing community held together only by the inner tie of religion and hence not in need of any external protection. Baader was a solitary, a deeply probing spirit, who inspired many but had no influence on the general course of German development.

Hence, neither romanticism nor its immediate practical result, the newly created national movement leading to the wars of liberation, could give Germany new spiritual outlooks for the free development of her tribes and peoples. On the contrary, the state-philosophical concepts of the, romantic school only served reaction as a moral justification, while the absurd super-Germanism of German youth estranged all other peoples. And the strange thing happened that many of the advocates of the German national idea never realised that they owed their apparent liberation not to their German exclusiveness, but to those very "foreign influences" against which their "Germanism" fought with such Berserker rage. Neither Jahn's "acorn-eating Germanism" with its enthusiasm for the primitive forest nor Arndt's romantic dreams of a new German order of knighthood on the western front, nor the nostalgic call of the imperial herald, Schenkendorf, for a glorious return of the old empire, could have brought about Napoleon's downfall. It was the effect of foreign ideas and institutions taken over from abroad which accomplished this miracle. To shake off the foreign rule Germany had to accept at least a part of the ideas which the French revolution had called into life. The very fact that it was a "people's war" before which Napoleon's power bled to death proves how deeply democratic ideas had already penetrated into Germany; for at the root of all national exaltation lies consciously or unconsciously a democratic thought. It was this form of warfare which had enabled France to maintain itself against the whole of Europe. Hence the German princes, and more especially Austria, were almost to the last the bitterest opponents of a national uprising, behind which they saw the hydra of revolution lurking. They even feared with Gentz "that the national war of liberation might easily change into a liberating war." The establishment of the militia, indeed the whole army organization instituted by Scharnhorst in Prussia, was after the French pattern. But for this the French would still have been equal to their opponents even after the frightful catastrophe in Russia.

The idea of national education which had been brought so prominently into the foreground by Fichte, the universal military service, the legal compulsion which obligated the citizen to accept a definite office or perform definite duties as demanded by the state, and much else, were likewise taken over from the democratic teachings of the great revolution. German patriotism accepted this foreign intellectual property believing it to be of original German manufacture. This happened to Jahn, who wished to cleanse the German language with an iron broom of all foreign elements and never noticed that in the formation of the "original German" word "turnen" a Latin root is used.

The German unification movements of 1813 and r848-49 were wrecked in both instances because of the treason of the German princes; but when the unification of the empire was brought about in 1871 by a Prussian junker the sober reality looked quite different from the brilliant dream that had once been dreamed. This was not the "return of the old empire" which had so stirred the yearnings of the romantics. Compared to that empire Bismarck's creation was but "as a Berlin barracks is to a Gothic cathedral"-as the South German federalist, Frantz, dramatically declared. Just as little was it like the liberal conceptions of a free Germany which was to lead the European family of nations in spiritual culture-as Hoffmann von Fallersleben and the pioneer fighters for German unity of 1848 had once prophesied. No, this misshapen political brat, got by a Prussian junker, was nothing more than a greater Prussia come to power, which had changed Germany into a gigantic barracks and with its insane militarism and its definite aims of world political power now assumed the same fateful role which Bonaparte had up to that time played in Europe. The very fact that it was just Prussia, the most reactionary and in its cultural history the most backward country, which assumed the leadership of all German peoples, left no doubt as to what would result from such a "creation." This was felt keenly by Bismarck's most important opponent Constantin Frantz (whose weighty writings are as little known to the Germans as the Chinese language) when he expressed the opinion:

It must be generally admitted that it is an unnatural situation when the ancient Western Germany, which for centuries before Prussia was thought of had a history in comparison with which the history of Prussia looks very small indeed, and when speaking of the Mark Brandenburg was only dealing with the half-waste land of the Wends-that this old Germany with its primeval tribes of the Bavarians, Saxons, Franks and Swabians, Thuringians and Hessians, is now ruled by the Mark. 4

The majority of the German patriots of 18I3 refused to hear of a unified Germany under Prussian leadership, and Gorres wrote in his Rhenish Mercury at the time of the Vienna congress that the Saxons and the Rhinelanders could not believe that four-fifths of the Germans should call themselves after the most distant one-fifth, which beside was half Slavic. In fact, the Slavic portion of the Prussian population was greatly increased by the conquest of Silesia and the partition of Poland under Frederick II and now amounted to two-fifths of the total population of the country. It is most comical that it should be just Prussia which later on so noisily announced itself as the chosen guardian of genuine German interests.

William Pierson, who was himself convinced of Prussia's historic mission for the accomplishment of German unity, described in his Preussische Geschichte very clearly the desire of the Prussian royalty for the creation of "the Prussian nationality" and proved against his will the old truth that it is the state which makes the nation, and not the nation the state:

The state achieved a definite nationality. The separate tribes belonging to it were more easily and quickly blended into a unified body since as Prussians all had the same name, all had the same colours, the black-and-white flag. However, Prussiandom now developed itself as distinct from the rest of Germany, as all the more definitely a unique entity: the Prussian state stepped forth as something unique, something separate.

That under these circumstances the national unity of the Germans created by Bismarck could never lead to a "Germanising of Prussia" but inevitably to a "Prussianising of Germany" was to be anticipated, and has been proved in every way by the course of German history since 1871.

  • 1Fichte, Uber den Begriff del wahrhaften Krieges in Bezug auf den Krieg 1813. Dritte Vorlesung.
  • 2E. M. Arndt, An die Preussen. January, 1813.
  • 3Georg Brandes, Die romantische Schule in Deutschland. Berlin, 1900, p. 6.
  • 4Constantin Frantz, Der Foderalismus als das Ieitende Prinzip fur die soziale, staatliche und internationale Organisation, unter besonderer Bezugnahme auf Deutschland. Mainz, 1879. Page 253.


14. Socialism and the State

Socialism and its various tendencies
Influence of democratic and liberal ideas on the socialist movement
Babouvism and Jacobinism
Caesaristic and theocratic ideas in socialism
Proudhon and federalism
The international workingmen's association
Bakunin opposed to the central state power, the Paris Commune and its influence on the socialist movement
Parliamentary activity and the International
The Franco-Prussian war and the political change in Europe
The modern labor parties and the struggle for power
Socialism and national politics
Authoritarian and Libertarian Socialism
Government or Administration

Submitted by Toms on September 6, 2011

With the development of socialism and the modern labour movement in Europe, there became noticeable among the people a new intellectual trend which has not yet terminated. Its fate will be determined according as libertarian or authoritarian ideas win and hold the upper hand among its leaders. Socialists of all schools share the common conclusion that the present state of social organization is a continuous cause of most dangerous social evils and cannot permanently endure. Common also to all socialist schools is the conviction that a better order of things cannot be brought about by changes of a purely political nature but can be achieved only by a fundamental reform of existing economic conditions; that the earth and all other means of social production can no longer remain the private property of privileged minorities in society but must be transferred to the ownership and administration of the generality. Only thus will it be possible to make the end and aim of all productive activity, not the prospect of personal gain, but the satisfaction of the needs of all members of society.

But as to the special form of the socialist society, and the ways and means of achieving it, the views of the various socialistic factions differ widely. This is not strange, for, like every other idea, socialism came to men not as a revelation from Heaven; it developed, rather, within the existing social structures and directly dependent upon them. So it was inevitable that its advocates should be more or less influenced by the political and social movements of the time which had taken definite root in various countries. The influence which the ideas of Hegel had on the structure of socialism in Germany is well known. Most of its pioneers Grun, Hess, Lassalle, Marx, Engels came from the intellectual circle of German philosophy; only Weitling received his stimulus from another source In England, the permeation of the socialist movements by liberal ideas was unmistakable. In France, it is the intellectual trends of the great revolution; in Spain, the influence of political federalism, which are most noticeable in their respective socialistic theories. Something similar can be said of the socialistic movement of every country.

But since in a common cultural circle like Europe ideas and social movements do not remain confined within any one country but naturally spread to others, it follows that movements not only retain their purely local colour but receive also varied stimuli from without, which become imbedded, almost unnoticeably, in the indigenous intellectual product and enrich it in their own peculiar way. How strongly these foreign influences assert themselves depends largely on the general social situation. We need but remember the mighty influence of the French revolution and its intellectual repercussions in most of the countries of Europe. It is therefore selfevident that a movement like socialism gathers in every country the most varied assortment of ideas and is nowhere limited to one definite and special form of expression.

Babeuf, and the communist school which has appropriated his ideas, derive from the Jacobin world of ideas, the political viewpoint of which wholly dominated them. They were convinced that society could be given any desired form, provided that the political power of the state could be controlled. As with the spread of modern democracy in Rousseau's sense the superstitious belief in the omnipotence of the laws has deeply penetrated into men's consciousness, so the conquest of political power has, with this section of the socialists, developed into a dogma resting on the principles of Babeuf and the doctrine of the socalled "equals." The whole contest among these factions turned principally on the question how best and most securely to gain possession of the powers of the state. Babeuf's direct successors held fast to the old tradition, being convinced that their secret societies would one day achieve public power by a single revolutionary stroke and with the aid of a proletarian dictatorship make socialism a living fact. But men like Louis Blanc, Pecqueur, Vidal and others, maintained the view that a violent overthrow was to be avoided if possible provided that the state comprehended the spirit of the times and of its own initiative worked towards a complete reorganisation of social economy. Both factions, however, were united in the belief that socialism could only achieved with the aid of the state and of appropriate legislation. Pecur had already prepared a whole book of laws for this purpose, a sort of socialistic code Napoleon, which was to serve as a guide for a farseeing government.

Nearly all the great pioneers of socialism in the first half of the last century were more or less strongly influenced by authoritarian concepts. The brilliant Saint-Simon recognised, with great keenness of insight, that mankind was moving toward the time when "the art of governing men would be replaced by the art of administering things", but his disciples displayed ever fiercer authoritarian temper and finally settled on the idea of a socialistic theocracy; then they completely vanished from the picture.

Fourier developed, in his Social System, liberal ideas of marvellous depth and imperishable significance. His theory of "attractive work" affects us especially today, at a time of capitalistic ''rationalisation of economy," like an inner revelation of true humanity. But even he was a child of his age and, like Robert Owen, he turned to all the spiritual and temporal powers of Europe in the hope that they would help him realise his plan. Of the real nature of social liberation he hardly had an idea, and most of his numerous disciples knew even less. Cabet's Icarian communism was infiltrated with Caesarian and autocratic ideas. Blanqui and Barbes were communistic Jacobins.

In England, where Godwin's profound work, Political Justice, had appeared in 1793, the socialism of the first period had a much more libertarian character than in France; for there liberalism and not democracy had prepared the way for it. But the writings of William Thompson, John Gray and others remained almost totally unknown on the continent. Robert Owen's communism was a strange mixture of libertarian ideas and traditional authoritarian beliefs. His influence on the trade union and cooperative movements in England was for a time very great; but gradually, and especially after his death, it died out to make room for practical considerations which little by little lost sight of the great aims of the movement.

Among the few social thinkers of that period who tried to base their socialistic efforts on a truly libertarian foundation, Proudhon was undoubtedly the most important. His analytic criticism of Jacobin tradition, of governmental systems, of the nature of government and blind belief in the magic power of laws and decrees, affects one like a liberating stroke whose true greatness has even today not been fully recognised. Proudhon perceived clearly that socialism must be libertarian if it is to be the creator of a new social culture. In him there burned the lambent flame of a new age, which he anticipated, clearly foreseeing in his mind its social structure He was one of the first who confronted the political metaphysics of parties with the concrete facts of science. Economics was for him the real basis of all social life; and since with deep insight he recognised the sensitivity of economics to every external compulsion, he logically associated the abolition of economic monopolies with the banishment of all that is governmental from the life of society. For him the worship of the law to all parties of that period were fanatically devoted had not the Slightest creative significance; he knew that in a community of free and equal men only free agreement could be the moral tie of social relations.

"So you want to abolish government?" someone asked him. "You want no constitution? Who will maintain order in society? What will you put in place of the state? In place of the police? In place of the great political powers?"

"Nothing," he answered. "Society is eternal motion; it does not have to be wound up; and it is not necessary to beat time for it. It carries its own pendulum and its ever woundup spring within it. An organised society needs laws as little as legislators. Laws are to society what cobwebs are to a beehive; they only serve to catch the bees."

Proudhon had recognised the evils of political centralism in all their detail and had proclaimed decentralisation and the autonomy of the communes as the need of the hour. He was the most eminent of all the moderns who have inscribed the principles of federalism on their banners. To his fine mind it was quite clear that men of today could not leap at one bound into the realm of anarchy, that the mental attitude of his contemporaries, formed slowly during the course of long periods, would not vanish in the turn of a hand. Hence, political decentralisation which would withdraw the state gradually from its functions seemed to him the most appropriate means for beginning and giving direction to the abolition of all government of men by men. He believed that a political and social reconstruction of European society in the shape of independent communes federally associated on the basis of free agreement would counteract the fatal development of the modern great state. Guided by this thought, he opposed the efforts at national unification of Mazzini and Garibaldi with political decentralisation and the federalisation of the communes, being firmly convinced that only by these means could the higher social culture of European peoples be achieved.

It is significant that it is just the Marxist opponents of the great French thinker who see in these endeavours of Proudhon a proof of his "utopianism," pointing to the fact that social development has actually taken the road of political centralisation. As if this were evidence against Proudhon! Have the evils of centralism, which Proudhon clearly foresaw and whose dangers he described so strikingly, been overcome by this development? Or has it overcome them itself? No! And a thousand times no! These evils have since increased to a monstrous degree; they were one of the main causes of the fearful catastrophe of the World War; they are now one of the greatest obstacles to the solution of the international economic crisis. Europe writhes in a thousand spasms under the iron yoke of a senseless bureaucracy which abhors all independent action and would prefer to put all people under the guardianship of the nursery. Such are the fruits of political centralisation. If Proudhon had been a fatalist he would have regarded this development of affairs as a "historic necessity" and advised his contemporaries to make terms with it until the famous "change of affirmation into negation" should occur. But being a real fighter he advanced against the evil and tried to persuade his contemporaries to fight it.

Proudhon foresaw all the consequences of the great development of the state and called men's attention to the threatening danger, at the same time showing them a way to halt the evils. That his word was regarded by but few and finally faded out like a voice in the wilderness was not his fault. To call him from this "utopian" is a cheap and senseless trick. If so, the physician is also a utopian who from a given diagnosis of disease makes a prognosis and shows the patient a way to halt the evil. Is it the physician's fault if the patient throws his advice to the winds and makes no attempt to avoid the danger?

Proudhon's formulation of the principles of federalism was an attempt to oppose by freedom the arising reaction, and his historic significance consists in his having left his imprint on the labour movement of France and other Latin countries and having tried to steer their socialism into the course of freedom and federalism. Only when the idea of state capitalism in all its various forms and derivatives has been finally overcome will the true significance of Proudhon's intellectual labours be rightly understood. When, later, the International Workingmen's Association came to life, it was the federalistic spirit of the socialists in the Latin countries which gave the great union its real significance and made it the cradle of the modern socialist labour movements in Europe. The International itself was a league of militant labour organisations and groups with socialistic ideas which had founded itself on a federalistic basis. Out of its ranks came the great creative thought of a social renaissance on the basis of a socialism whose libertarian purpose became more marked in each of its conventions and was of the greatest significance for the spiritual development of the great labour movement. But it was almost exclusively the socialists from the Latin countries who inspired these ideas and gave them life. While the social democrats of that period saw in the socalled "folkstate" the future political ideal and so propagated the bourgeois tradition of Jacobinism, the revolutionary socialists of the Latin countries clearly recognised that a new economic order in the socialistic sense demands also a new form of political organization for its unobstructed development. They also recognised that this form of social organization would have nothing in common with the present state system, but called rather, for its historic dissolution. Thus there developed in the womb of the International the idea of a common administration of social production and general consumption by the workers themselves in the form of free economic groups associated on the basis of federalism, which at the same time were to be entrusted with the political administration of the Commune In this manner it intended to replace the caste of the present party and professional politicians by experts without privileges and supplant the power politics of the state by a peaceful economic order having its basis in the equality of interests and the mutual solidarity of men united in freedom.

About the same time Michael Bakunin had clearly defined the principle of political federalism in his wellknown speech at the congress of the Peace and Liberty League (I867) and emphasised especially the significance of the peaceful relationship of the peoples to one another.

Every centralised state, however liberal it may pretend to be, whatever republican form it may have, is nevertheless an oppressor, an exploiter of the working masses for the benefit of the privileged classes. It needs an army to keep these masses in check, and the existence of this armed force drives it into war. Hence I come to the conclusion that international peace is impossible until the following principle is adopted with all its logical consequences: Every people, whether weak or strong, little or great, every province, every community, must be free and autonomous; free to live and to administer itself according to its interests and special needs. In this right all people and communities are so united that the principle cannot be violated with respect to a single community without endangering all the rest at the same time.

The uprising of the Paris Commune gave the ideas of local autonomy and federalism a mighty impulse in the ranks of the International. When Paris voluntarily gave up its central prerogative over all other communities in France, the commune became for the socialists of the Latin countries the starting point of a new movement which opposed the central unification principle of the state with the federation of the communes. The commune became for them the political unit of the future, the basis of a new social order organically developed from below upwards, and not imposed on men automatically by a central power from above. Thus arose as a social pattern for the future a new concept of social organization, giving the widest scope for the individual initiative of persons and groups, In which, at the same time, the spirit of communion and of general interest for the welfare of all, lives and works in every member of the social union. It is clearly recognisable that the advocates of this idea had in mind these Words of Proudhon: "The personality is for me the criterion of the social order. The freer, the more independent, the more enterprising the personality is in society, the better for society."

While the authoritarian wing of the International continued to advocate the necessity of the state and pleaded for centralism, the libertarian section within its body saw in federalism not only a political ideal for the future, but also a basis for their own organization and endeavours; for according to their conception the International was to provide the world a model of a free community, as far as this was at all possible under existing conditions. It was this concept which led to the internal strife between the centralists and federalists which was finally to wreck the International.

The attempt of the London General Council, which was under the immediate intellectual influence of Marx and Engels, to increase its sphere of power and to make the international league of awakened labour subservient to the parliamentary policies of definite parties, naturally led to the sharpest resistance on the part of the liberal-minded federations and sections which adhered to the old principles of the International. Thus happened the great schism of the socialistic labor movement which has not been bridged to this day; for this is a quarrel over inner antagonisms of fundamental significance, and its outcome must have decisive results not only for the labor movement but for the idea of socialism itself. The disastrous war of 18707I and the rising reaction in Latin countries after the fall of the Paris Commune, with the revolutionary events in Spain and Italy, where by oppressive laws and brutal persecutions every public activity was inhibited and the International forced into the hiding places of secret societies, have greatly favored the latest developments of the European labor movement.

On July 20, I870, Karl Marx wrote to Friedrich Engels these words, very characteristic of his personality and his mental attitude:

The French need a thrashing. If the Prussians are victorious the centralisation of state power will be helpful for the centralisation of the German working class; furthermore, German predominance will shift the centre of gravity of West European labour movements from France to Germany. And one has but to compare the movement from 1866 till today to see that the German working class is in theory and organization superior to the French. Its dominance over the French on the world stage would mean likewise the dominance of our theory over that of Proudhon, etc. 1

Marx was right. The victory of Germany did in fact mark the turning point in history of the European labor movement. The libertarian socialism of the International was forced into the background by the new state of things and had to abandon the field to the antilibertarian views of Marxism. Living, creative, unlimited capacity for development of the socialist movement was replaced by a onesided dogmatism which pretentiously announced itself as science but which in reality was based on a mere historic fatalism leading to the worst fallacies, which slowly stifled every real socialistic idea. Although Marx had in youth exclaimed: "The philosophers have variously interpreted the world, but it is necessary to change it," he himself did nothing during his whole life except to interpret the world and history. He analysed capitalistic society in his way, and showed a great deal of intellect and enormous learning in doing so, but Proudhon's creative power was denied him. He was, and remained, the analysta brilliant and learned analyst, but nothing else. This is the reason why he did not enrich socialism with a single creative thought) but enmeshed the minds of his followers in the fine network of a cunning dialectic which sees in history hardly anything but economics and obstructs every deeper insight into the world of social events. He even rejected and condemned as utopianism every attempt to attain clarity regarding the probable formation of socialistic society. As if it were possible to create anything new without being clear about the direction in which one is going! The belief in the compulsive course of all social phenomena led him to reject every thought about the appropriateness of social eventsand yet it is this very thought that is the basis of all cultural activity.

With a change of ideas came also a change in the method of the labor movement. In place of those groups imbued with socialistic ideas and economic fighting organisations in the old sense, in which the men of the International had seen the germs of the coming society and the natural instrument for the reorganisation and administration of production, came the presentday labor parties and the parliamentary activity of the working masses. The old socialist doctrine which taught the conquest of industry and of the land was forced gradually more and more into the background, and from now on one spoke only of the conquest of political power and so got completely into the current of capitalistic society.

In Germany, where no other form of the movement had ever been known, this development happened with remarkable quickness, and by its electoral successes had repercussions on the socialist movements of most other countries. Lassalle's powerful activity in Germany had smoothed the way for this new phase of the movement. Lassalle was all his life a passionate worshipper of the idea of the state in the sense of Fichte and Hegel, and had, moreover, appropriated the views of the French state-socialist Louis Blanc, concerning the social functions of government. In his Labor Program he announced to the working class of Germany that the history of humanity had been a constant struggle against nature and against the limitations it had imposed on man. "In this struggle we would never have taken a step forward, nor would ever take one in the future, if we had made it, or wished to make it, alone, as individuals, everyone for himself. It is the state which has the function of bringing about this development of freedom, this evolution of the human race toward freedom."

His adherents were so firmly convinced of this mission of the state, and their faith in the state frequently assumed such fantastic forms, that the liberal press of that time often accused the Lassalle movement of being in Bismarck's pay. Proof of this accusation could never be found but the curious flirtation of Lassalle with the "social kingdom," which became especially marked in his essay, The Italian War and the Task of Prussia, could very easily be ground for such a suspicion. 2

As the newly created labor parties gradually concentrated all their activities on parliamentary action and maintained that the conquest of political power was the obvious preliminary to the realisation of socialism they created in the course of time an entirely new ideology, which differed essentially from the ideas of the First International. Parliamentarianism, which quickly came to play an important part in the new movement, enticed a number of bourgeois elements and careerseeking intellectuals into the camp of the socialist party, by whom the change of attitude was still further advanced. Thus there developed, in place of the socialism of the old International, a sort of substitute having nothing in common with it but the name. In this manner socialism gradually lost more and more the character of a new cultural ideal for which the artificial frontiers of the state had no meaning. In the minds of the leaders of this new trend, the interests of the national state became blended with the interest and spirit of their party until, gradually, they were no longer able to distinguish between them and became used to viewing the world and things through the glasses of the nationalist state. Thus it was inevitable that the modern labor parties gradually came to fit into the national state machine as a necessary part and greatly contributed to restore to the state the balance of power it had lost.

It would be wrong to regard these peculiar ideas simply as conscious treason on the part of the leaders, as has often been done. The truth is that we are here confronted with a slow assimilation of socialist theory into the thoughtworld of the bourgeois state, induced by the practical activity of presentday labor parties which necessarily affected the mental attitude of their leaders. The same parties which sallied forth under the flag of socialism to conquer political power saw themselves gradually forced by the iron logic of circumstances into the position where bit by bit they had to abandon their former socialism for bourgeois politics. The more thoughtful of their adherents recognised the danger, and sometimes exhausted themselves in fruitless opposition against the tactics of the party. This was necessarily without result, since it was directed solely against the excrescences of the party system and not against the system itself. Thus the socialist labor parties became, without the great majority of their members being conscious of it, buffers in the fight between capital and labor, political lightningrods for the security of the capitalist social order.

The attitude of most of these parties during the World War, and especially after the War, proves that our view is not exaggerated, but fully in accord with the facts. In Germany, this development has taken an actually tragic form, with consequences which even today cannot be estimated. The socialist movement of that country had been completely emasculated by long years of parliamentary routine and was no longer capable of a creative act. This especially is the reason why the German revolution was so shockingly poor in real ideas. The old proverb, "Who eats of the pope dies of him," was proved by the socialist movement; it had so long eaten of the state that its inner life force was exhausted and it could no longer accomplish anything of significance.

Socialism could maintain its role as a cultural ideal for the future only by concentrating its whole activity on abolishing monopoly of property together with every form of government of men by men. Not the conquest of power, but its elimination from the life of society, had to remain the great goal for which it strovewhich it could never abandon without abandoning itself. Whoever believes that freedom of the personality can find a substitute in equality of possessions has not even grasped the essence of socialism. For freedom there is no substitute; there can be no substitute. Equality of economic conditions for each and all is always a necessary precondition for the freedom of man, but never a substitute for it. Whoever transgresses against freedom transgresses against the spirit of socialism. Socialism means the mutual activity of men toward a common goal with equal rights for all. But solidarity rests on free resolve and can never be compelled without changing into tyranny.

Every true socialistic activity, the smallest as well as the greatest, must therefore be imbued with the thought of opposing monopoly in all its fieldsespecially in that of economicsand of guarding and enlarging by all possible means the sum of personal freedom within the frame of the social union. Every practical activity tending towards other results is misdirected and useless for real socialists. So must also be rated the idle talk about the "dictatorship of the proletariat" as a transitional condition between capitalism and socialism. History knows no such "transitions." There exist solely more primitive and more complicated forms in the various evolutionary phases of social progress. Every social order is in its original form of expression naturally imperfect; nevertheless, all further possibilities of development towards a future structure must be contained in each of its newly created institutions, just as already in the embryo the whole creature is foreshadowed. Every attempt to incorporate into a new order of things the essential parts of an old one which has outlived itself has up to now led always to the same negative result. Either such attempts were at the very beginning thwarted by the youthful vigour of social reconstruction or the tender sprouts and hopeful beginnings of the new forms were so confined and hindered in their natural growth by the old that they gradually declined and their inner lifeforce slowly died out.

When Lenin -- much in the style of Mussolini -- dared to say that "freedom is a bourgeois prejudice," he only proved that his spirit was quite incapable of rising to socialism, but had remained stuck in the old ideas of Jacobinism. Anyway, it is nonsense to speak of libertarian and authoritarian socialism. Socialism will either be free or it will not be at all.

The two great political trends of thought of liberalism and democracy had a strong influence on the development of the socialist movement. Democracy with its stateaffirming principles and its effort to subject the individual to the demands of an imaginary "common will" needs must affect such a movement as socialism most disastrously by endowing it with the idea of adding to the realms the state already ruled the enormous realm of economics, endowing it with a power it never possessed before. Today it appears ever more clearly -- and the experiences in Russia have proved it -- that such endeavours can never lead to socialism, but must inevitably result in the grotesque malformation of state capitalism.

On the other hand, socialism vitalised by liberalism logically leads to the ideas of Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin and their successors. The idea of reducing the state's sphere of activity to a minimum, itself contains the germ of a much more farreaching thought, namely, to overthrow the state entirely and to eliminate the will to power from human society. Democratic socialism has contributed enormously to confirm again the vain belief in the state, and in its further development must logically lead to state capitalism. Socialism inspired by liberal ideas, however, leads in a straight line to anarchism, meaning by that, a social condition where man is no longer subject to the guardianship of a higher power and where all relations between him and his kind are self-regulated by mutual agreement.

Liberalism alone could not attain this highest phase of definite intellectual development for the reason that it had too little regard for the economic side of the question, as has already been explained in another place. Only on the basis of fellowship in labour and the community of all social interests is freedom possible; there can be no freedom for the individual without justice for all. For personal freedom also has its roots in man's social consciousness and receives real meaning only from it. The idea of anarchism is the synthesis of liberalism and socialism, liberation of economics from the fetters of politics, liberation of culture from all political power, liberation of man by solidaric union with his kind. For, as Proudhon says: "Seen from the social viewpoint freedom and solidarity are but different expressions of the same concept. By the freedom of each finding in the freedom of others no longer a limit, as the declaration of rights of I793 says, but a support. The freest man is the one who has the most relations with his fellow men."

  • 1Der Briefwechsel zwischen Marx und Engels, Stuttgart, 1913, Volume IV.
  • 2The recently discovered letters between Bismarck and Lassalle published by Gustav Mayer in his valuable essay, Bismarck and Lassalle, throw a curious light on Lassalle's personality and are also psychologically of great interest


15. Nationalism - A Political Religion

Fascism as the last result of nationalistic ideology
Its fight against the world of liberal ideas
Mussolini as opponent of the state
His political change
Giovanni gentile, the philosopher of Fascism
Nationalism as will for the State
The Fascist State idea and modern monopoly Capitalism
Contemporary economic barbarism
The state as destroyer of the community
Freedom as social cement
The education of modern massman in leading strings
The fight against personality, the Totalitarian State
Nationalism as a political revealed religion
Submersion of culture
Decline or rise?

Submitted by Toms on September 6, 2011

Modern nationalism, which has found its fullest expression in Italian fascism and German National Socialism, is the mortal enemy of every liberal thought. The complete elimination of all libertarian thought is for its advocates the first preliminary to the "awakening of the nation," whereby in Germany, most strangely, liberalism and Marxism are thrown into one pota fact which, however, need no longer surprise us when we know how violently the heralds of the Third Reich deal with facts, ideas and persons. That Marxism, like democracy and nationalism, proceeds in its fundamental ideas from a collective concept, namely from the class, and for this very reason can have no relationship with liberalism, does not trouble its pious Hitlerite opponents of today in the least.

That modern nationalism in its extreme fanaticism for the state has no use for liberal ideas is readily understandable. Less clear is the assertion of its leaders that the modern state is thoroughly infected with liberal ideas and has for this reason lost its former political significance. The fact is that the political development of the last hundred and fifty years was not along the lines that liberalism had hoped for. The idea of reducing the functions of the state as much as possible and of limiting its sphere to a minimum has not been realised. The state's field of activity was not laid fallow; on the contrary, it was mightily extended and multiplied, and the so-called "liberal parties," which gradually got deeper and deeper into the current of democracy, have contributed abundantly to this end. In reality the state has not become liberalised but only democratised Its influence on the personal life of man has not been reduced; on the contrary it has steadily grown. There was a time when one could hold the opinion that the "sovereignty of the nation" was quite different from the sovereignty of the hereditary monarch and that, therefore, the power of the state would be awakened. While democracy was still fighting for recognition, such an opinion might have had a certain justification. But that time is long past; nothing has so confirmed the internal and external security of the state as the religious belief in the sovereignty of the nation, confirmed and sanctioned by the universal franchise. That this is also a religious concept of political nature is undeniable. Even Clemenceau when, innerly lonely and embittered, he reached the end of his career, expressed himself in this wise: "The popular vote is a toy of which one soon tires; but one must not say this aloud, for the people must have a religion. Sad it is. . . . Sad but true." 1

Liberalism was the outcry of the human personality against the all-levelling endeavours of absolute rule, and later against the extreme centralism and blind belief in the state of Jacobinism and its various democratic offshoots. In this sense it was still conceived by Mill, Buckle and Spencer. Even Mussolini, now the bitterest enemy of liberalism, was not so long ago one of the most passionate advocates of liberal ideas; he wrote:

The state, with its monstrous terrific machine, gives us a feeling of suffocation. The state was endurable for the individual as long as it was content to be soldier and policeman; today the state is everything, banker, usurer, gambling den proprietor, shipowner, procurer, insurance agent, postman, railroader, entrepreneur, teacher, professor, tobacco merchant, and countless other things in addition to its former functions of policeman, judge, jailer, and tax collector. The state, this Moloch of frightful countenance, receives everything, does everything, knows everything, and ruins everything. Every state function is a misfortune. State art is a misfortune, state ownership of shipping, state victualizingthe litany could be extended indefinitely.... If men had but a faint idea of the abyss toward which they are moving the number of suicides would increase, for we are approaching a complete destruction of human personality. The state is that frightful machine which swallows living men and spews them out again as dead ciphers. Human life has now no secrets, no intimacy, neither in material affairs nor in spiritual; all corners are smelled into, all movements measured; everyone is locked into his cell and numbered, just as in a prison. 2

This was written a few years before the "March on Rome"; the new revelation therefore, came quite quickly to Mussolini, as so many others; in fact the socalled "state concept of fascism" put in an appearance only after Il Duce had attained power. Until then the fascist movement glittered in all the colours of the rainbow as, not so long ago, did National Socialism in Germany. It really had no definite character. Its ideology was a motley mixture of intellectual elements from all sorts of sources. What gave it power was the brutality of its methods. Its reckless violence could have no regard for the opinions of others just because it had none of its own. What the state still lacked of being a perfect prison the fascist dictatorship has given it in abundance. Mussolini's liberal clamour stopped immediately as soon as the dictator had the state power in Italy firmly in his hands. Viewing Mussolini's rapid change of opinion about the meaning of the state one involuntarily remembers the expression of the youthful Marx: "No man fights against freedom; at the most he fights against the freedom of others. Every kind of freedom has, therefore, always existed; sometimes as special privilege, at other times as general right."

Mussolini has in fact made of freedom a privilege for himself, and to do this has brought about the most brutal suppression of all others; for freedom which tries to replace man's responsibility towards his fellow men by the senseless dictum of authority is sheer wilfulness and a denial of all justice and all humanity. But even despotism needs to justify itself to the people whom it violates. To meet this necessity the state concept of fascism was born.

At the meeting in Berlin of the International Hegel Congress in 1931, Giovanni Gentile, the statephilosopher of fascist Italy, developed his conception of the nature of the state, culminating in the idea of the socalled "totalitarian state." Gentile hailed Hegel as the first and real founder of the state concept, and compared his state theory with the concept of the state as based on natural right and mutual agreement. The state, he maintained, is in the light of the latter concept merely the limit with which the natural and immediate freedom of the individual must be content if anything like a communal life is to be made possible. According to this doctrine the state is only a means for the improvement of man's condition, which in its natural origin is not maintainableis, therefore, something negative, a virtue born of necessity. Hegel overthrew this centuriesold doctrine. He was the first to regard the state as the highest form of the objective intellect. He was the first to understand that only in the state can truly ethical selfconsciousness be realised. But Gentile was not content with this endorsement of Hegel's state concept; he tried even to excel it. He criticised Hegel because, while he regarded the state as the highest form of the objective intellect, he still placed over the objective intellect the sphere of the absolute intellect; so that art, religion, philosophy, which according to Hegel belong to the latter intellectual realm, were in a certain conflict with the state. The modern state theory, Gentile held, should so work out these conflicts that the values of art, religion and philosophy would also be the property of the state. Only then could the state be regarded as the highest form of the human intellect, being founded not on separateness, but on the common, the eternal, will and the highest form of generality. 3

The purpose of the fascist state-philosopher is quite clear. If for Hegel the state was "God on earth," then Gentile would like to raise it to the position of the eternal and only God, who will endure no other gods above him, or even beside him, and absolutely dominates every field of human thought and human activity. This is the last word of a trend of political thought which in its abstract extreme loses sight of everything human and has concern for the individual only in so far as he serves as a sacrifice to be thrown into the glowing arms of the insatiable Moloch. Modern nationalism is only willtowardthestate-atanyprice and complete absorption of man in the higher ends of power. It is of the utmost significance that modern nationalism does not spring from love towards one's own country or one's own people. On the contrary, it has its roots in the ambitious plans of a minority lusting for dictatorship and determined to impose upon the people a certain form of the state, even though this be entirely contrary to the will of the majority. Blind belief in the magic power of a national dictatorship is to replace for man the love of home and the feeling of the spiritual culture of his time; love of fellow man is to be crushed by "the greatness of the state," for which individuals are to serve as fodder.

Here is the distinction between the nationalism of a past age, which found its representatives in men like Mazzini and Garibaldi, and the definitely counterrevolutionary tendencies of modern fascism which today raises its head ever more threateningly. In his famous manifesto of June 6, 1862, Mazzini opposed the government of Victor Emmanuel, accusing it of treason and counterrevolutionary efforts against the unity of Italy, thus clearly making a distinction between the nation and Italian unity. Hts slogan, "God and the People!"whatever one may think of itwas meant to inform the world that the ideas he followed emanated from the people and were endorsed by them. Undoubtedly Mazzini's doctrine contained the germ of a new form of human slavery, but he acted in good faith and could not foresee the historic development of his work for national democracy. How honestly he was devoted to this is most clearly shown by the difference between him and Cavour, who fully realised the significance of the national unification movement and therefore on principle opposed the "political romanticism" of Mazzini. Mazzini, Cavour said, forgot the state in his constant affirmation of freedom.

It is certain that the patriots of that time regarded the state and the nationalistic aims of the people as quite different things. This attitude doubtless sprang from an erroneous interpretation of historical facts, but it is just this erroneous conclusion which brings these men of "Young Europe" humanly closer to us, for no one will doubt their sincere love of the people. Modern nationalism is wholly lacking in such love, and though its representatives utter the word ever so frequently one always perceives its false ring and realises that there is no genuine feeling in it. The nationalism of today swears only by the state and brands its own fellowfolk as traitors to their country if they resist the political aims of the national dictatorship or even merely refuse to endorse its plans.

The influence of the liberal ideas of the last century had at least brought it about that even the conservative elements in society were convinced that the state existed for the citizens. Fascism, however, announces with brutal frankness that the purpose of the individual consists in being useful to the state. "Everything for the state, nothing outside of the state, nothing against the state!" as Mussolini has expressed it. This is the last word of a nationalist metaphysics which in the fascist movements of the present has assumed a frightfully concrete form. While this has always been the hidden meaning of all nationalist theories, it has now become their clearly expressed aim. That they have so definitely outlined this aim is the only merit of its present representatives, who in Italy, and even more in Germany, are so dearly loved and so freely supported by the owners of the capitalistic economic systembecause they have been so subservient to the new monopoly capitalism and have with all their power furthered its plans for the erection of a system of industrial serfdom.

For along with the principles of political liberalism the ideas of economic liberalism are also to be abrogated. Just as the political fascism of today tries to preach to man the new gospel that he can claim a right to live only in so far as he serves as raw material for the state, so also the modern industrial fascism tries to demonstrate to the world that industry does not exist for man, but man for industry, and that he exists merely to be useful to it. If fascism has assumed in Germany its most frightful and inhuman forms, this is largely the result of the barbaric ideas of German economic theoreticians and leading industrialists who have, so to speak, shown that fascism is the road. German captains of industry of worldwide fame, like Hugo Stinnes, Fritz Thyssen, Ernst von Borsig and many others, have by the brutal frankness of their opinions again furnished a proof into what abysses of cold contempt of humanity the human spirit can sink itself when it has abandoned all social feeling and deals with living men as if they were dead ciphers. In German scholarship there were always to be found "unprejudiced minds" who were ready to give the most monstrous and inhuman theories a "scientific basis."

Thus Professor Karl Schreber of the Institute of Technology at Aachen said that for the modern worker the standard of living of the prehistoric Neanderthal man is quite appropriate and that for him the possibility of development cannot be considered at all.

Similar ideas were advanced by Professor Ernst Horneffer of the University of Giessen, who in conventions of the German industrialists frequently plays star parts. At one of these meetings he declared: "The dinger of the social movement can only be obviated by a division among the masses. Life's table is occupied to the very last place, and consequently industry can never guarantee to its employees anything more than bare existence. This is an unbreakable natural law. Hence all social politics is unspeakable stupidity."

Herr Horneffer has since made these humanitarian doctrines unmistakably clear in a special essay, Socialism and the Death Struggle of German Industry) in which he reaches the following conclusions:

I maintain that the economic condition of the worker, basically and essentially, by and large, can in reality not be changed. The workers will once and for all have to be content with their economic condition, that is, with a wage only sufficient for the most necessary, the most urgent, the most indispensable requirements of life, in fact barely sufficient to sustain life. A fundamental change in the workers' economic status, their rise to an essentially different state of economic welfare, can never happen; this is a desire impossible of fulfilment for all time.

To the objection that under these circumstances it might easily happen that the wage would not suffice even for the most necessary demands of life the learned professor replies, with enviable peace of soul, that in such a case public charity would have to help, and if this did not suffice then the state as representative of the moral spirit of the people must step into the breach. Dr. F. Giese of the Technical High School of Stuttgart, who is an especially urgent advocate of the rationalisation of industry according to "scientific methods," dealt with the early elimination of the modern labourer from every calling with these dry words:

The directors of industry can view it as a simple biological law that today everywhere man's capacity for production in the competitive struggle must soon reach its end. The dyeing of the hair is customary in America, but we do not mistake this for a natural evolution toward which pity and patience would in practice perhaps be the worst sort of procedure for a technical treatment of men. 4

The phrase, "technical treatment of men," is especially significant; it shows with frightful clearness into what byways capitalistic industrialism has already led. Reading a heart effusion like the above, one comes to realise the deep significance of what Bakunin said regarding the prospects of government by pure scientists. The consequences of such an experiment would indeed be unthinkable.

That a system of mental gymnastics as senseless as it is brutal can today proudly proclaim itself as scientific knowledge is a proof of the asocial spirit of the time, which by the extremity of its system of mass exploitation and by its blind belief in the state has suppressed all of man's natural relations with his fellow men and forcibly torn the individual from the environment in which he had his deepest roots. For the assertion of fascism that liberalism, and man's need of freedom incorporated in it, atomised society and resolved it into its elements, while the state, so to speak, surrounded human groupings with a protective frame and thereby prevented the community from falling apart, is a specious fraud based at best on a gross self-deception.

Not the desire for freedom has atomised society and awakened asocial instincts in man, but the shocking inequality of economic conditions and, above all, the state, which bred the monopoly whose festering, cancerous growth has destroyed the fine cellular tissue of social relationships. If the social urge were not a natural need of man which he received at the very threshold of humanity as a legacy from hoary ancestors and which he has since uninterruptedly developed and extended, then not even the state would have been able to draw men into a closer union. For one can create no community by forcibly chaining elements which are basically antagonistic. It is true that one can compel men to fulfil certain duties if one has the necessary power, but one will never be able to induce them to perform the compulsory task with love and from inner desire. These are things no state can compel, be its power ever so greatfor these there is necessary above all the feeling of social union and of the innate relationship of man to man.

Compulsion does not unite, compulsion only separates men; for it lacks the inner drive of all social unions -- the understanding which recognises the facts and the sympathy which comprehends the feeling of the fellow man because it feels itself related to him. By subjecting men to a common compulsion one does not bring them closer to one another; rather one creates estrangements between them and breeds impulses of selfishness and separation. Social ties have permanence and completely fulfil their purpose only when they are based on good will and spring from the needs of men. Only under such conditions is a relationship possible where social union and the freedom of the individual are so closely intergrown that they can no longer be recognised as separate entities.

Just as in every revealed religion the individual has to win the promised heavenly kingdom for himself and does not concern himself too greatly about the salvation of others, being sufficiently occupied with achieving his own, so also within the state man tries to find ways and geans of adjusting himself without cudgeling his brain too much about whether others succeed in doing so or not. It is the state which on principle undermines man's social feeling by assuming the part of adjuster in all affairs and trying to reduce them to the same formula, which is for its Supporters the measure of all things. The more easily the state disposes of the personal needs of the citizens, the deeper and more ruthlessly it dips into their individual lives and disregards their private rights, the more successfully it stifles in them the feeling of social union, the easier it is for it to dissolve society into its separate parts and incorporate them as lifeless accessories into the gears of the political machine.

Modern technology is about to construct the "mechanical man" and has already achieved some very pretty results in this field. We already have automatons in human form which move to and fro with their iron limbs and perform certain servicesgive correct change, and other things of that sort. There is something uncanny about this invention which gives the illusion of calculated human action; yet it is only a concealed clockwork that without opposition obeys its master's will. But it would seem that the mechanical man is something more than a bizarre notion of modern technology. If the people of the EuropeanAmerican cultural realm do not within reasonable time revert to their best traditions there is real danger that we shall rush on to the era of the mechanical man with giant strides.

The modern "mass man," this uprooted fellow traveller of modern technology in the age of capitalism, who is almost completely controlled by external influences and whirled up and down by every mood of the momentbecause his soul is atrophied and he has lost that inner balance which can maintain itself only in a true communionalready comes dangerously close to the mechanical man. Capitalistic giant industry, division of labour, now achieving its greatest triumph in the Taylor system and the so-called rationalisation of industry, a dreary barracks system drilled into the drafted citizens, the connected modern educational drill and all that Is related to itthese are phenomena whose importance must not be underestimated while we are inquiring about the inner connections among existing conditions. But modern nationalism with its outspoken antagonism to freedom and its senseless, utterly extreme militaristic attitude, is only the bridge to a great and soulless automatism which would really lead to the already announced "Decline of the West" if not halted in time. Or the present, however, we do not believe in such a gloomy future; rather, we are firmly convinced that even today mankind carries within it a multitude of hidden forces and creative impulses which will enable it victoriously to surmount the calamitous crisis now threatening all human culture.

What today surrounds us on all sides is comparable to a dreary chaos in which all the germs of social decay have fully ripened. And yet there are within the mad whirl of events also numerous beginnings of a new order developing apart from the ways of parties and of political life, hopefully and joyfully pointing toward the future. To further these new beginnings, to nurse and strengthen them so that they may not untimely perish, is today the noblest task of every fighting man, of every man who, though convinced of the instability of present conditions, refuses in tame submission to let fate take its course, but is ever on the lookout for something that promises a new upsurge of spiritual and social culture. But such an upsurge can occur only under the sign of freedom and social union, for only out of these can grow that deepest and purest yearning for social justice which finds expression in the social collaboration of men and smooths the way for a new community. The leaders of the fascist and nationalist reactions know this very well; hence, they hate freedom as a sin against the holy spirit of the nation, which is in fact but their own evil spirit. So, Mussolini declares:

Men are tired of freedom. They have celebrated an orgy with it. Freedom is today no longer the chaste and severe virgin for which the generations of the first half of the last century fought and died. For the enterprising, restless, rough youth now appearing in the dawn of modern history there are other values which have a much greater magic: Order, Hierarchy, Discipline. One must recognise once and for all that fascism knows no idols, worships no fetishes. Over the more or less decayed corpse of the goddess of freedom it has already marched, and it will if necessary return and march over it again.... Facts speak louder than the book; experience means more than a doctrine. The great experience of the after effects of the war now appearing before our eyes shows the decline of liberalism. In Russia and Italy it has been shown that one can rule without, over, and against the whole liberal ideology. Communism and fascism stand apart from liberalism. 5

This is quite clear, even though the conclusions which Mussolini draws from this, his latest understanding, are open to refutation. That "one can rule against the whole liberal ideology" was known long before him; every rulership based on force had adopted this principle. The Holy Alliance was founded only for the purpose of eliminating from Europe the liberal ideas of I789, in which year the first "declaration of human and civil rights" had been announced, and Metternich left no means untried to transform this tacit wish of the despots into reality. But in the long run his antihumanitarian attempts had as little success as those of Napoleon before him, who had expressed opinions about freedom quite similar to those of Mussolini, and who had worked like one possessed towards the end of making every human emotion, every pulsebeat of social life, conform to the rhythm of his gigantic state machine.

But even the proud boast of fascism that it "knows no idols, worships no fetishes," loses all significance; for fascism has only thrown the idols from their pedestals, tumbled the pedestals into the dust, and put in their place a gigantic Moloch which seizes on the soul of man and bends his spirit beneath a Caudine yoke: The state everything; man nothing! The citizen's life aim is to find fulfilment in being employed by the state"swallowed by the machine and spewed out again as dead ciphers." This constitutes the whole task of the so-called "totalitarian state" which has been set up in Italy and Germany. To achieve this end the spirit has been violated, all human feeling enchained, and the young seed from which the future was to grow crushed with shameless brutality. Not alone labour movements of whatever tendency became victims of the fascist dictatorship; everyone who dared to kick against the pricks or even to assume a neutral attitude towards the new rulers had to learn in his own person how fascism "marches over the body of freedom."

Art, the theatre, science, literature and philosophy came under the shameful guardianship of a regime whose ignorant leaders hesitated at no crime to achieve power and confirm themselves in their new positions. The number of victims who in those bloody days when fascism seized power in Italy (and later on in both Italy and Germany) were murdered by inhuman wretches, runs into the thousands. Many thousands of innocent men were expelled from their homes and chased into exile, among them a long line of prominent scholars and artists of worldwide reputation, who in any other nation would have been regarded as honours to the land. Barbaric hordes forced themselves into the homes of peaceful citizens, plundered their libraries, and publicly burned hundreds of thousands of the best books. Other thousands were torn from the bosoms of their families, dragged into concentration camps where their human dignity was daily trodden under foot, and many were slowly tortured to death by cowardly hangmen or driven to suicide.

In Germany this madness assumed especially vicious forms because of the artificially trained racial fanaticism, directed mainly against the Jewish people. The barbarism of past centuries awoke suddenly to new life. A regular flood of vulgar incendiary pamphlets appealing to men's lowest instincts descended on Germany and muddied all the channels of public opinion. 6

Realms which the wildest despotism had up to now left untouched, as, for example, the relations between the sexes, are now in Germany subject to the supervision of the state. Special "race officials" are appointed to guard the people from "racial shame," and to brand marriages between Jews or coloured people and socalled "Aryans" as crimes, and to punish them. So that sexual ethics have at last happily arrived at the level of cattlebreeding. Such are the blessings of Hitler's totalitarian state.

Fascism has been hailed as the beginning of an antiliberal epoch in European history springing from the masses themselves, and hence a proof that the "time of the individual" is past. But in reality there stands also behind this movement only the striving for political power of a small minority which has been clever enough to seize upon an exceptional situation for its special purposes. In this instance also the words of the youthful General Bonaparte prove themselves true: "Give the people a toy; they will pass the time with it and allow themselves to be led, provided that the final goal is cleverly hidden from them.'' And cleverly to hide this final goal there is no better means than to approach the mass from the religious side and imbue it with the belief that it is a specially selected tool of a higher power and serves a holy purpose which really gives its life content and colour. This interweaving of the fascist movement with the religious feeling of the masses constitutes its real strength. For fascism also is only a religious mass movement in political guise, and its leaders neglect no means to preserve this character for it also in the future.

The French Professor Verne of the medical faculty of the Sorbonne, who was a delegate to the International Congress for the Advancement of Science meeting in Bologna in 1927, described in a French paper, Le Quotidien, the strange impression he received in Italy:

In Bologna we had the impression of being in a city of ecstasy. The city's walls were completely covered with posters, which give it a mystical character: Dio ce l'ha dato; quai a chi lo tocca! ("God has sent him to us; woe to him who attacks him!") The picture of Il Duce was to be seen in all shop windows. The symbol of fascism, a shining emblem, was erected on all monuments, even on the celebrated tower of Bologna.

In these words of the French scholar is mirrored the spirit of a movement which finds its strongest support in the primitive devotional needs of the masses and can only affect large sections of the population so powerfully because it most nearly satisfies their belief in miracles after they had felt themselves disillusioned of all the others.

We now observe the same phenomenon in Germany, where nationalism in an astonishingly short time developed into a gigantic movement and imbued millions of men with a blind ecstasy, wherein with faithful ardour they hoped for the coming of the Third Reich, expecting from a man who was totally unknown a few years ago, and had up to then given not the slightest proof of any creative capacity, that he would end all their distress. This movement also is in the last analysis but an instrument for the acquisition of political power by a small caste. For retrieving the position they had lost after the war every means was proper to them by which they might hope "cleverly to hide the final goal," as the cunning Bonaparte had liked to put it.

But the movement itself has all the marks of a religious mass delusion consciously fostered by its instigators to frighten their opponents and to drive them from the field. Even a conservative paper like the Tagliche Rundschau) some time before Hitler reached power, characterised the religious obsession of the National Socialist movement thus:

But as to degree of veneration, Hitler leaves the Pope far behind. Just read his national organ, the Volkische Beobachter. Day after day tens of thousands worship him. Childish innocence heaps flowers on him. Heaven sends him "Hitler weather." His airplane defies the threatening elements. Every number of his paper shows the Fuhrer in new attitudes under the spotlight. Happy he who has looked into his eyes! In his name we today in Germany wish one another and Germany "Good Luck!" "Heil Hitler!" Babies are given his auspicious name. Before his image fond souls seek exaltation at their domestic altars. In his paper we read about "Our Most Exalted Leader," with careful capitalisation of these words designating Hitler. All this would be impossible if Hitler did not encourage this apotheosis.... With what religious fervour his masses believe in his mission to his coming Reich is shown by this version of the Lord's Prayer circulated among groups of Hitlerite girls:

"Adolf Hitler, thou art our Great Leader. Thy name makes thy foes tremble. Thy Third Reich come. Thy will alone be law on earth. Let us daily hear thy voice, and command us through thy leaders, whom we promise to obey at the forfeit of our lives. This we vow thee! Heil Hitler!"

One might calmly overlook this blind religious fervour, which in its childish helplessness seems almost harmless; but this apparent harmlessness disappears immediately when the fanaticism of the enthusiasts serves the mighty and the powerseeking as a tool for their secret plans. For this deluded faith of the immature fed from the hidden sources of religious feeling, is urged into wild frenzy and forged into a weapon of irresistible power, clearing the way for every evil. Do not tell us that it is the frightful material need of our day which is alone responsible for this mass delusion, robbing men weakened by long years of misery of their reasoning power and making them trust anyone who feeds their hungry longing with alluring promises. The war frenzy of 1914, which set the whole world into a crazy whirl and made men inaccessible to all appeals of reason, was released at a time when the people were materially much better off and the spectre of economic insecurity was not haunting them all the time. This proves that these phenomena cannot be explained solely on economic grounds, and that in the subconsciousness of men there are hidden forces which cannot be grasped logically. It is the religious urge which still lives in men today, although the forms of faith have changed. The Crusaders' cry, "God wills it!" would hardly raise an echo in Europe today, but there are still millions of men who are ready for anything if the nation wills it! Religious feeling has assumed political forms and the political man today confronts the natural man just as antagonistically as did the man of past centuries who was held in the grip of the church's dogmatism.

By itself the mass delusion of the faithful would be rather unimportant; it always delves among the springs of the miraculous and is little inclined toward practical considerations. But the purposes of those to whom this delusion serves as means to an end are more important, even though in the whirl of mass events their secret motives are not generally recognised. And here lies the danger. The absolute despot of past times might claim to have his power by the grace of God, but the consequences of his acts always reacted on his own person; for before the world his name had to cover everything, both right and wrong, since his will was the highest law. But under cover of the nation everything can be hid. The national flag covers every injustice, every inhumanity, every lie, every outrage, every crime. The collective responsibility of the nation kills the sense of justice of the individual and brings man to the point where he overlooks injustice done; where, indeed, it may appear to him a meritorious act if committed in the interest of the nation.

"And the idea of the nation," says the Indian poetphilosopher, Tagore, "is one of the most powerful anaesthetics that man has ever invented. Under the influence of its fumes the whole people can carry out its systematic program of the most virulent selfseeking without being in the least aware of its moral perversionin fact, feeling dangerously resentful when it is pointed out." 7

Tagore called the nation "organised selfishness." The term is well chosen, but we must not forget that we are always dealing with the organised selfishness of privileged minorities which hide behind the skirts of the nation, hide behind the credulity of the masses. We speak of national interests, national capital, national spheres of interest, national honour, and national spirit; but we forget that behind all this there are hidden merely the selfish interests of powerloving politicians and money loving business men for whom the nation is a convenient cover to hide their personal greed and their schemes for political power from the eyes of the world.

The unexpected development of capitalist industrialism has furthered the possibility of national mass suggestion in a measure undreamed of before. In the modern great cities and centres of industrial activity live, closely crowded, millions of men who by the pressure of the radio, cinema, education, party, and a hundred other means are constantly drilled spiritually and mentally into a definite, prescribed attitude and robbed of their personal, independent lives. In the processes of capitalistic giant industry labour has become soulless and has lost for the individual the quality of creative joy. By becoming a dreary endinitself it has degraded man into an eternal galley slave and robbed him of that which is most precious, the inner joy of accomplished work, the creative urge of the personality. The individual feels himself to be only an insignificant element of a gigantic mechanism in whose dull monotone every personal note dies out.

While man was subduing the forces of nature, he forgot to give to his actions an ethical content and to make his mental acquisitions serviceable to the community. He himself became the slave of the tool he had created. It is this steady, enormous burden of the machine which weighs us down and makes our life a hell. We have ceased to be men and have become instead professional men, business men, party men. To preserve our "national individuality," we have been forced into the straitjacket of the nation; our humanity has gone to the dogs; our relation to other nations has been changed into suspicion and hate. To protect the nation we sacrifice year by year enormous sums of our income, while the people sink into deeper and deeper misery. Every country resembles an armed camp and watches with inner fear and deadly suspicion every movement of its neighbour, but is always ready to participate in a conspiracy against him or to enrich itself at his expense. Hence, it must always be careful to entrust its affairs to men of elastic conscience, for only those have a fair prospect of maintaining themselves in the eternal cabals of internal and external politics. SaintSimon recognised this clearly when he said: "Every people which embarks on conquest is compelled to let loose its most evil passions, is compelled to give its highest positions to men of violent character, to those who display the most cunning."

And added to all this is the constant dread of war, whose horrible consequences become every day more unimaginable and dreadful. Even our reciprocity treaties and agreements with other nations bring us no relief, for they are as a rule made with definite ulterior motives. Our national politics are supported by the most dangerous selfishness and can, therefore, never lead to effective weakening of national antagonisms, let alone to their longdesired total elimination.

On the other hand, we have increased and developed our technical ability to a degree which appears almost fantastic, and yet man has not become richer thereby; on the contrary he has become poorer. Our whole industry is in a state of constant insecurity. And while billions of wealth are criminally destroyed in order to maintain prices, in every country millions of men live in the most frightful poverty or perish miserably in a world of abundance and so-called "overproduction." The machine, which was to have made work easier for men, has made it harder and has gradually changed its inventor himself into a machine who must adjust himself to every motion of the steel gears and levers. And just as they calculate the capacity of the marvellous mechanism to the tiniest fraction, they also calculate the muscle and nerve force of the living producers by definite scientific methods and will not realise that thereby they rob him of his soul and most deeply defile his humanity. We have come more and more under the dominance of mechanics and sacrificed living humanity to the dead rhythm of the machine without most of us even being conscious of the monstrosity of the procedure. Hence we frequently deal with such matters with indifference and in cold blood as if we handled dead things and not the destinies of men.

To maintain this state of things we make all our achievements in science and technology serve organised mass murder; we educate our youth into uniformed killers, deliver the people to the soulless tyranny of a bureaucracy, put men from the cradle to the grave under police supervision, erect everywhere jails and penitentiaries, and fill every land with whole armies of informers and spies. Should not such "order," from whose infected womb are born eternally brutal power, injustice, lies, crime and moral rottennesslike poisonous germs of destructive plaguesgradually convince even conservative minds that it is order too dearly bought?

The growth of technology at the expense of human personality, and especially the fatalistic submission with which the great majority surrender to this condition, is the reason why the desire for freedom is less alive among men today and has with many of them given place completely to a desire for economic security. This phenomenon need not appear so strange, for our whole evolution has reached a stage where nearly every man is either ruler or ruled; sometimes he is both. By this the attitude of dependence has been greatly strengthened, for a truly free man does not like to play the part of either the ruler or the ruled. He is, above all, concerned with making his inner values and personal powers effective in a way as to permit him to use his own judgment in all affairs and to be independent in action. Constant tutelage of our acting and thinking has made us weak and irresponsible; hence, the continued cry for the strong man who is to put an end to our distress. This call for a dictator is not a sign of strength, but a proof of inner lack of assurance and of weakness, even though those who utter it earnestly try to give themselves the appearance of resolution. What man most lacks he most desires. When one feels himself weak he seeks salvation from another's strength; when one is cowardly or too timid to move one's own hands for the forging of one's fate, one entrusts it to another. How right was Seume when he said: "The nation which can only be saved by one man and wants to be saved that way deserves a whipping!"

No, the way to health can only lie in the direction of freedom, for every dictatorship is based on an extreme attitude of dependence which can never further the cause of liberation. Even when dictatorship is regarded as only a transitional state necessary to reach a desired goal, the practical activity of its leaders, even if they really have the honest intention to serve the cause of the people, forces them always farther from their original aim; not only because every provisional government, as Proudhon says, always strives to make itself permanent, but most of all because all power is inherently uncreative and therefore incites to misuse. One may . think of using power as a means to an end, but the means itself soon grows into a selfish end before which all others vanish. It is just because power is unfruitful and cannot give birth to anything creative itself that it is compelled to draft the creative forces of society into its service. It is compelled to put on a false garment to hide its own weakness, and this circumstance seduces its leaders into false promises and conscious deception. By striving to make the creative force of the community subservient to its special ends it kills the deepest roots of this force and chokes the sources of all creative activity, which, while it welcomes stimulation, will not endure compulsion.

A people cannot be liberated by subjecting it to a new and greater power and thus starting again around the vicious circle of stupidity. Every form of dependency leads inevitably to a new system of slavery -- dictatorship more than any other form of government, because it forcibly suppresses every adverse judgment upon the activity of its leaders and so inhibits in advance any better understanding. Every condition of dependence, however, has its roots in man's religious consciousness and cripples his creative powers, which can only develop properly in freedom. The whole of human history has up to now been a constant struggle between the cultural, creative forces of society and the power aims of particular castes whose leaders put definite bounds to cultural efforts, or at least tried to do so; Culture gives man consciousness of his humanity and creative strength, but power deepens in him the sense of dependence and of slavish bondage.

It is necessary to free man from the curse of power, from the cannibalism of exploitation, in order to release in him those creative forces which can continually give his life new meaning. Power degrades man into a dead part of a machine set in motion by a superior will. Culture makes him the master and builder of his own destiny and deepens in him that feeling of communion from which everything great is born. Man's liberation from the organised force of the state and the narrow bondage of the nation is the beginning of a new humanity, which feels its wings grow in freedom and finds its strength in the community. Lao Tse's gentle wisdom holds good also for the future:

To rule according to the Way is to rule without force:
Just and equal giveandtake rules in the community.
Where there is war, there grow thorns, and the year is without harvest.
The good man
Is, and does not need force,
Is and does not rely on splendour,
Is and does not boast or glory,
Is and does not support himself on his deed,
Is and does not found himself on severity,
Is and does not strive after power.
Zenith means decline.
All outside of the way is apart from the way.

  • 1Jean Martet, Clemenceau Speaks, Berlin, 1930, p. 151.
  • 2Popolo d'Italia, April 6, 1920.
  • 3We are here following the reports of the Congress in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, evening edition of October 21, 1931.
  • 4 The meaning of the last sentence is far from clear in the German original.translator's note.
  • 5"Compulsion and Consent," in the fascist periodical, Gerarchia, April, 1922.
  • 6Here is one little specimen from among thousands: There are two sorts of antiSemitism, the higher and the lower. The first is intellectual, human, is a palliative, and consists in making laws which limit the Jewish sphere of influence. These laws make it possible for Jews and Gentiles to live together. Such measures are comparable to a board which is tied to the horns of cattle so that they may not hurt the others. There is another sort of antisemitism which consists in the Gentiles who have reached the limit of pain, poverty, and patience simply killing the Jews. This antisemitism may be terrible, but its consequences are blessed. It simply cuts the knot of the Jewish question by destroying everything Jewish. It always arises from below, from the mass of the people, but is given from above, from God himself, and its effects have the enormous power of a natural force whose secret we have not yet fathomed." Marianne Obuchow, Die Internationale Pest, Berlin, p. 22.
  • 7Rabindranath Tagore, Nationalism. New York, 19 17, p. 57.