NATIONALISM AND CULTURE
"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 worldview 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."
"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."
"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."
"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 so-called "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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"In contradistinction to liberalism, the starting point of democracy was a collective concept -- the 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."
"In sharp contrast with German literature and poetry stands German philosophy. Although it has not lacked occasional glimpses of light, German 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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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 pot -- a 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."
"It is ... quite meaningless to speak of a community of national interests; for that which the ruling class of every country has up to now defended as national interest has never been anything but the special interest of privileged minorities in society secured by the exploitation and political suppression of the great masses. Likewise, the soil of the so-called "fatherland" and its natural riches have always been in the possession of these classes, so that one can with full right speak of a "fatherland of the rich." If the nation were in fact the community of interests which it has been called, then there would not be in modern history revolutions and civil wars, because the people do not resort to the arms of revolt purely from pleasure -- just as little do the endless wage fights occur because the working sections of the population are too well off!"
"A common language naturally appears highly important to the advocates of the national idea because it is a people's highest means of expression and must, in a certain sense, be regarded as a sample of its intellectual life. Language is not the invention of individual men. In its creation and development the community has worked and continues to work as long as the language has life in it. Hence, language appeared to the advocates of the national idea as the purest product of national creativeness and became for them the clearest symbol of national unity. Yet this concept, no matter how fascinating and irrefutable it may appear to most, rests on a totally arbitrary assumption. Among the present existing languages there is not one which has developed from a definite people. It is very probable that there were once homogeneous languages, but that time is long past, lost in the greyest antiquity of history. The individuality of language disappears the moment reciprocal relations arise between different hordes, tribes and peoples. The more numerous and various these relations become in the course of the millenniums, the larger borrowings does every language make from other languages, every culture from other cultures."
"The exponents of race doctrine find themselves in the enviable position that they can venture the most extravagant assertions with no need to trouble themselves about intelligible proofs. Since they themselves know that most of these assertions cannot be maintained on the basis of their scientific value, they appeal to the infallibility of the race instinct, which allegedly gives clearer insight than is vouchsafed to the painstaking experience of scientific research. If this famous instinct of race were real and demonstrable to everybody it would get along very nicely with science, since the "inner voice" or "race in one's own bosom" would bring certainty to men on every difficult question, even when science failed. But in that event we should expect at least the most distinguished advocates of the race theory to be in complete agreement and to voice a certain unanimity in their conclusions. But here is just the trouble. There is hardly a single question of fundamental importance about which those in the camp of the race ideologists are even halfway agreed. Often their views are so far apart that no bridging of the difference is conceivable. "