Human All-Too-Human, Part 1

Page 59 of 70


Socialism, With Regard to Its Means.—Socialism is the fantastic younger brother of almost decrepit despotism, which it wants to succeed; its efforts are, therefore, in the deepest sense reactionary. For it desires such an amount of State power as only despotism has possessed,—indeed, it outdoes all the past, in that it[Pg 344] aims at the complete annihilation of the individual, whom it deems an unauthorised luxury of nature, which is to be improved by it into an appropriate organ of the general community. Owing to its relationship, it always appears in proximity to excessive developments of power, like the old typical socialist, Plato, at the court of the Sicilian tyrant; it desires (and under certain circumstances furthers) the Csarian despotism of this century, because, as has been said, it would like to become its heir. But even this inheritance would not suffice for its objects, it requires the most submissive prostration of all citizens before the absolute State, such as has never yet been realised; and as it can no longer even count upon the old religious piety towards the State, but must rather strive involuntarily and continuously for the abolition thereof,—because it strives for the abolition of all existing States,—it can only hope for existence occasionally, here and there for short periods, by means of the extremest terrorism. It is therefore silently preparing itself for reigns of terror, and drives the word "justice" like a nail into the heads of the half-cultured masses in order to deprive them completely of their understanding (after they had already suffered seriously from the half-culture), and to provide them with a good conscience for the bad game they are to play. Socialism may serve to teach, very brutally and impressively, the danger of all accumulations of State power, and may serve so far to inspire distrust of the State itself. When its rough voice strikes up the way-cry "as much State as possible,"[Pg 345] the shout at first becomes louder than ever,—but soon the opposition cry also breaks forth, with so much greater force: "as little State as possible."


The Development of the Mind Feared by the State.—The Greek polis was, like every organising political power, exclusive and distrustful of the growth of culture; its powerful fundamental impulse seemed almost solely to have a paralysing and obstructive effect thereon. It did not want to let any history or any becoming have a place in culture; the education laid down in the State laws was meant to be obligatory on all generations to keep them at one stage of development. Plato also, later on, did not desire it to be otherwise in his ideal State. In spite of the polis culture developed itself in this manner; indirectly to be sure, and against its will, the polis furnished assistance because the ambition of individuals therein was stimulated to the utmost, so that, having once found the path of intellectual development, they followed it to its farthest extremity. On the other hand, appeal should not be made to the panegyric of Pericles, for it is only a great optimistic dream about the alleged necessary connection between the Polis and Athenian culture; immediately before the night fell over Athens the plague and the breakdown of tradition, Thucydides makes this culture flash up once more like of the evil day that had preceded.

[Pg 346]


European Man and the Destruction of Nationalities.—Commerce and industry, interchange of books and letters, the universality of all higher culture, the rapid changing of locality and landscape, and the present nomadic life of all who are not landowners,—these circumstances necessarily bring with them a weakening, and finally a destruction of nationalities, at least of European nationalities; so that, in consequence of perpetual crossings, there must arise out of them all a mixed race, that of the European man. At present the isolation of nations, through the rise of national enmities, consciously or unconsciously counteracts this tendency; but nevertheless the process of fusing advances slowly, in spite of those occasional counter-currents. This artificial nationalism is, however, as dangerous as was artificial Catholicism, for it is essentially an un natural condition of extremity and martial la which has been proclaimed by the few over the many, and requires artifice, lying, and force maintain its reputation. It is not the interests the many (of the peoples), as they probably say, but it is first of all the interests of certain princely dynasties, and then of certain commercial and social classes, which impel to this nationalism; once we have recognised this fact, we should just fearlessly style ourselves good Europeans and labour actively for the amalgamation of nations; in which efforts Germans may assist by virtue of their hereditary position as interpreters and intermediaries[Pg 347] between nations. By the way, the great problem of the Jews only exists within the national States, inasmuch as their energy and higher intelligence, their intellectual and volitional capital, accumulated from generation to generation in tedious schools of suffering, must necessarily attain to universal supremacy here to an extent provocative of envy and hatred; so that the literary misconduct is becoming prevalent in almost all modern nations —and all the more so as they again set up to be national—of sacrificing the Jews as the scape-goats of all possible public and private abuses. So soon as it is no longer a question of the preservation or establishment of nations, but of the production and training of a European mixed-race of the greatest possible strength, the Jew is just as useful and desirable an ingredient as any other national remnant. Every nation, every individual, has unpleasant and even dangerous qualities,—it is cruel to require that the Jew should be an exception. Those qualities may even be dangerous and frightful in a special degree in his case; and perhaps the young Stock-Exchange Jew is in general the most repulsive invention of the human species. Nevertheless, in a general summing up, I should like to know how much must be excused in a nation which, not without blame on the part of all of us, has had the most mournful history of all nations, and to which we owe the most loving of men (Christ), the most upright of sages (Spinoza), the mightiest book, and the most effective moral law in the world? Moreover, in the darkest times of the Middle[Pg 348] Ages, when Asiatic clouds had gathered darkly over Europe, it was Jewish free-thinkers, scholars, and physicians who upheld the banner of enlightenment and of intellectual independence under the severest personal sufferings, and defended Europe against Asia; we owe it not least to their efforts that a more natural, more reasonable, at all events un-mythical, explanation of the world was finally able to get the upper hand once more, and that the link of culture which now unites us with the enlightenment of Greco-Roman antiquity has remained unbroken. If Christianity has done everything to orientalise the Occident, Judaism has assisted essentially in occidentalising it anew; which, in a certain sense, is equivalent to making Europe's mission and history a continuation of that of Greece.


Apparent Superiority of the Middle Ages.—The Middle Ages present in the Church an institution with an absolutely universal aim, involving the whole of humanity,—an aim, moreover, which—presumedly—concerned man's highest interests; in comparison therewith the aims of the States and nations which modern history exhibits make a painful impression; they seem petty, base, material, and restricted in extent. But this different impression on our imagination should certainly not determine our judgment; for that universal institution corresponded to feigned and fictitiously fostered needs, such as the need of salvation, which, wherever they did not already[Pg 349] exist, it had first of all to create: the, new institutions, however, relieve actual distresses; and the time is coming when institutions will arise to minister to the common, genuine needs of all men, and to cast that fantastic prototype, the Catholic Church, into shade and oblivion.

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