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member that the military ambitions of modern Germany were undreamed of for a generation after Hegel's death. In truth, it is as unjust to blame Hegel for the sins of twentieth-century Prussia as to hold Rousseau responsible for Napoleonic militarism. When Hegel, as the child of his age, turned from the truths of metaphysic to the actual Germany around him, he could not fail to be impressed by the prevalence of a visionary romanticism and the imperative need of a well-defined political organisation, if her national aspirations were not to dissolve in smoke. The power of the State was for him no instrument of aggression, but a strong tower of defence against anarchy and revolution. We may remark, on the other hand, that Hegel forecast the promise of the Russian and American races for the future of civilisation, and that among the Hegelians of the next generation were to be found not only conservatives and constitutionalists, but socialist leaders like Lassalle and Karl Marx. Men of all creeds and parties gathered ‘fragments ' from the great banquet' of Hegel, though few, if any, penetrated the secret of his philosophy. Hegel himself, in his professorial chair at Berlin, chafed in the stifling air of Prussian orthodoxy. We find him writing towards the close of his life from Belgium that a time might come when he should seek a refuge from his adversaries in the universities of Liége and Louvain.
It is vain, therefore, to seek the sources of the German gospel in the philosophic doctrines of Kant and his successors. The glory had departed from German metaphysics long before the new preachers raised their voice. It survived, if at all, in the form of comment and interpretation, in which the German has at all times shown himself an adept, or in application to departmental sciences. It lingered latest in the domain of theology, but even here its influence was yielding, before the middle of the century, to that of historical and philological criticism. A new generation had arisen in Germany which knew not Kant or Hegel. This being so, we must look elsewhere for the intellectual antecedents of Treitschke and his associates.
Tout se tient dans l'ordre des idées.' The 'Prussian school' of historians had been closely associated with the political ferment of 1847–48. We shall expect to find the antecedents in question in the political aspirations of Germany in the middle years of the last century.
We have referred already to the war of liberation against
Napoleon. In this struggle the first signs of a common purpose were manifested in the disintegrated chaos of States composing the Germany of the Napoleonic age. When Napoleon broke up the Empire with the contemptuous outcry 'Cette vieille 'Europe m'ennuie,' he was touched to finer issues than he knew. The German race emerged from the conflict, enriched not only by new-won freedom, but by the vision of German unity. That ideal was worthy of a great people, as worthy as those of a united Italy or of the liberation of the Balkan Christians from the Turk. It was shaping itself in the mind of the nation before Hegel's death, and the next generation saw it ripen rapidly towards practical fulfilment. In 1848, the year of revolution, it dominated the political horizon of Germany.
It was easy to dream of German unity, but the difficulties that beset its realisation were enormous.
Events showed clearly that Prussia alone could compass their solution. The intellectuals, scholars and historians, and Dahlmann, Treitschke's teacher, among the chief, tried their hand at devising a constitutional confederation at the Frankfurt Parliament of 1848, and retired baffled and discredited. Little wonder that the hopes of Germany were centred more and more upon the Prussian monarchy. Prussian soldiers and statesmen had forged the weapons of liberation in 1813-15; from the days of the Great Frederick Prussia had become the proverb for military and administrative efficiency. She seemed marked out to be the chosen instrument of Providence to accomplish the ideal of the German race. Others could see visions and dream dreams; Prussia and Prussia alone could act. Prussia, then as always, was eager to accept her part. She enacted it with her traditional vigour, finding in Bismarck a statesman ever ready to anticipate the expected blow, to strike first and strike hard, trusting in blood and iron and in the doctrine that Macht geht vor Recht.
The military triumphs of 1864, 1866, and 1870, and the consequent achievement of German unity under the Prussian sovereign, confirmed the German people in their confidence in Prussian leadership. Henceforward Germany was prepared to follow, with her whole energy and to all lengths, wherever the government might direct her way. Here and there men grumbled at autocracy, but since 1871 there has been no serious dissension from the foreign policy of the Empire. A political opposition, like that familiar to us in England, has never existed in Germany. The reason is simple : in Germany ministerial responsibility and parliamentary control are a shadow, not a reality. If we press the question farther back and ask why this is so, the answer is that in Germany there is no public qualified by training and experience for participation in constitutional government. As in matters of speculation, so in politics, there is little intelligent public opinion outside the charmed circle of official experts. The government never really breathes the healthy atmosphere of public criticism. The German carries with him into politics his national instinct of obedience. If he airs his grievances, it is as an outside critic; he is not responsible and does not want to be. Hence his readiness to place himself unreservedly in the expert's hands, and, like a sick man consulting his doctor, to rely with blind trust on the man who knows. Hear Bismarck's opinion of the members of the Prussian Parliament in the sixties :
* These chatterers really cannot govern Prussia. I must bring some opposition to bear against them; they have too little wit and too much self-complacency-stupid and audacious. Stupid, in all its meanings, is not the right word; considered individually, these people are sometimes very clever, generally educated—the regulation German university culture ; but of politics, beyond the interests of their own church tower, they know as little as we knew as students, and even less; as far as external politics go, they are also, taken separately, like children. In all other questions they become childish as soon as they stand together in corpore. In the mass stupid, individually intelligent.'
A people of this habit of mind is dangerous equally in defeat and in success. If the government lands them in disaster, public confidence is shattered and the issue is panic and revolution. Such, for example, may prove to be the outcome of a victory of the Allies in the present war. The inability of the German to preserve his balance in times of prosperity is clearly evidenced in the period that followed the crowning victory of 1870. It is true that the full effects of victory on the morale of the nation were not immediately manifest. The first need of Germany was for recuperation, and so long as Bismarck held the helm of the Empire her policy was one of peace. The men who had fought three wars for German unity and had seen their efforts crowned by the
installation of the Prussian King as German Emperor, were not likely to forge new projects of national aggression. For them the German army was the strong shield, under whose protection the German people could digest the fruits of victory and develop their resources undisturbed. It was far otherwise with the generation which grew to manhood in enjoyment of material prosperity, in a time of industrial and commercial expansion, with the triumphs of 1870 to remind them that the Prussian army was invincible, but without the salutary experience of the efforts by which those triumphs had been secured. These were the men who had sat at Treitschke's feet and heard from his lips the proud story of Prussia's greatness. Bismarck's fall from power in the spring of 1890 marked the moment when their star rose to the ascendant. In the next two decades a wave of overweening self-confidence swept over Germany. The self-complacency and childishness, which Bismarck had noted many years before, beguiled her people along the pathway of illusion. Legitimate national aspirations gradually yielded place to the dream of a European hegemony, of a Germany which should stand to other nations as Prussia stood to the component members of the Empire. The victories won by Prussian soldiers and Prussian statesmen were construed into victories of German culture. The Germans were the chosen people, and their mission was to impose the blessings of their culture upon all mankind.
Such was the genesis of the gospel of modern Germany. There is nothing unusual in its history. It is but a fresh instance of the old story, that has ever constituted a great part of the tragedy of life, the story of moral infatuation. How often has not the achievement of legitimate ambition in politics, art, or commerce given birth to the temper of pride and self-aggrandisement! Our homely English phrases, ' his head was turned,''he was spoiled by success,' point to the frequency of this catastrophe. It is with peoples as with individuals. We are told of Bishop Butler that he was found meditating in his garden at Bristol on the problem whether nations could go mad as well as individuals. The idea might seem a paradox to so individualist and unhistorical an age as was the eighteenth century. Since Butler's day, the drama of the French Revolution, not to mention that of modern Germany, has proved this idea to be no paradox, but literal truth.
The history of ancient Greece affords an analogy still better suited to our purpose. We have all learnt how Athens, within a generation of her championship of Hellenic freedom against Persia, was mastered by the thirst for empire and strove to subject Hellas to Athenian hegemony. The claims of German culture are incommensurable with those of Athens, yet the maxims of German policy, the principles on which she defends her claim to power, are the same. The words of the Athenian envoys to Melos as recorded by Thucydides, or those with which Callicles in Plato's Gorgias advocates against Socrates the doctrine that Might is Right, strike the same note as Treitschke's lectures on Politik. Their logic is the logic of Germany to-day in the enslavement of Belgium and Serbia. The word Hubris—üßpis—is familiar to all students of the classics ; but there can be few for whom the present war has not given it a clearer meaning. The Greeks signified by it the insatiable desire for power which drives a man or a nation headlong, as though possessed by a demon, to unbridled selfassertion. To this blinding passion, knowing neither bound nor reason, trampling alike on personal liberty and public law, they opposed the virtue of Sophrosyne, i.e. soundness of mind, the clear vision, born of self-knowledge and self-control, that enables an individual or nation, in the plenitude of power, to act with a balanced judgment. Where this saving wisdom is lacking, Hubris lures in a frenzy of self-confidence to destruction. An ancient Hubris ever breeds a fresh and .active Hubris to add to the woes of man.'
φιλεϊ δε τίκτειν ύβρις
ύβριν. .. The same idea is expressed in the ' Antigone' of Sophocles :
And through the future, near and far, as through the past, shall this law hold good: Nothing that is vast enters into the life of mortals without a curse.
'For that hope whose wanderings are so wide is to many men a comfort, but to many a false lure of giddy desires; and the disappointment comes on one who knoweth nought till he burn his foot against the hot fire.
* Aeschylus, Agamemnon.'