What’s the Matter with Germany?

Germany is making trouble again. This time it is not sending young men in uniform swarming across its borders to conquer Europe. Instead, it is using its position of economic dominance to cause young Muslim men from outside Europe to swarm across Europe’s borders. In World War II, Germany’s conquest of Europe and subsequent defeat left the continent in ruins. This time, however, Germany’s actions seem designed to bring about Europe’s destruction by inviting conquest rather than by initiating it.

First the Kaiser, then Hitler, now Angela Merkel. Over and over again and in different ways, Germany’s hubris has invented ways to take Europe down. How can we possibly be here again?

If you take a moment to ponder the title of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s book, The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments, you will notice that Germany is conspicuously absent from Himmelfarb’s subtitle and her book. This is an important clue about the shape of the West today. After all, the story of Germany comes close to defining the conflicts and agonies of the 20th century and gives clues about our present crises. It is a remarkable fact that twice in the 20th century Germany fought the three nations in Himmelfarb’s list in two enormously destructive wars. Those conflicts strongly suggest that Germany was the enemy, not just of those nation states, but also of the Enlightenment traditions those nations represent.

The Enlightenment was a period of political revolutions in Britain, America, and France. Those revolutions resulted from a radical change in thinking in those three countries.

Britain’s revolution came first, in 1688. It replaced the divine right of kings with rule by the king (or queen) in Parliament, a regime that is still recognizable in Britain today. The radically new American idea was forged in the American Enlightenment and recognizes the sovereignty of the people (the subject of my book, Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea). America’s original constitutional design is also still recognizable, though America in recent years has been living under an increasingly post-constitutional regime. France keeps trying to make its version of the Enlightenment project work politically, reflecting its inherent problems. France’s current attempt, the Fifth Republic, was established only very recently, in 1958.

During the Enlightenment era there was a crucial parting of the ways between Germany, on the one hand, and Britain, America, and France on the other. Here is Stephen Hicks in his fine book on postmodernism:

Anglo-American culture and German culture split decisively from each other, one following a broadly Enlightenment program, the other a Counter-Enlightenment one.

How would the 20th century have played out if Germany had belonged in Himmelfarb’s subtitle such that war between a 20th century France and Germany would have been as unlikely as war between 20th century France and Britain? That, it seems, would have averted both world wars and saved lives by the tens of millions.

Instead of being part of the Enlightenment project, Germany was the heartland of Romanticism, the 19th-century movement that followed the Enlightenment era. Romanticism was the rejection of Enlightenment thinking, and it started in Germany.

The 20th-century thinker who did the most to shape thinking about the history of ideas during and after the Enlightenment era was almost certainly Isaiah Berlin, professor of social and political theory at Oxford. In The Roots of Romanticism, here is how Berlin described the new consciousness of the people who were participants in and champions of Romanticism:

…common sense, moderation, was very far from their thoughts…there was a great turning towards emotionalism…an outbreak of craving for the infinite…admiration of wild genius, outlaws, heroes, aestheticism, self-destruction.

The Germans emerged from the Enlightenment era as the counter-Enlightenment people.

Berlin wrote that somewhere between the end of the 1760s and the beginning of the 1780s the idea of the romantic hero was taking hold of the German imagination. Note that this is precisely the period during which the American Founders were inventing America. During this period, heroic martyrdom became in Germany “a quality to be worshipped for its own sake.” Berlin described the romantic hero as “satanic”:

This is the beginning of…the Nietzschean figure who wishes to raze to the ground a society whose system of values is such that a superior person…cannot operate in terms of it, and therefore prefers to destroy it…[who] prefers self-destruction, suicide…

Why “satanic”? Berlin’s description of the romantic hero evokes the figure of Satan. Satan’s sin is pride. Propelled by a feeling of injured pride, he led a rebellion against Heaven. It also describes Hitler. He stirred up the Germans’ injured pride over their defeat in World War I, and led Germany into a war of unimaginable destructiveness which ended with the destruction of Germany and Hitler’s suicide. Once again, the Germans while seeking to salve a wounded pride through self-destructive means, seem poised to take the rest of Europe down with them.

For about a century after the Germans set out on their anti-Enlightenment path, the threat they posed to the West was limited because Germany did not exist as a single country. Before 1871, the area that would become Germany in that year consisted of a number of independent states varying in size and power, ranging from kingdoms and grand duchies to principalities, cities and ecclesiastical states. Although the number of German states had declined throughout the centuries, reduced by deaths of royal lines, annexation, and conquest, there were still around 300 German states by 1800. The new state, by unifying the Germans, soon acquired the power to threaten the West. When the Allies divided Germany after its defeat in World War II, it was again no threat–though certainly an unhappy place for those stuck living in the Eastern part of the divide. Now reunited, it is no coincidence that Germany is a problem again.

It is important to realize how much the Germans’ rejection of Enlightenment thinking, already strong, was intensified by their experience of the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon ravaged and humiliated the German states. For Germans, Napoleon represented not just the French Enlightenment, but the Enlightenment overall. The Germans hated Napoleonic France and rejected the Enlightenment along with it.

The emergence of the United States, modern Britain, and modern France during the Enlightenment era, and Germany’s rejection of the Enlightenment provide the basis for understanding why Germany has been and continues to be a problem for the West.

If the West wishes to avoid a repetition of the destruction and disasters of the last century, it would do well to consult its own Enlightenment tradition and to marginalize the thinking of German Romantics, like Merkel, who recall an intellectual tradition that can demonstrate no positive historical achievement.


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186 responses to “What’s the Matter with Germany?”

  1. Germans are a strange lot. At once very nice and western as they come and at the same time an insular group who doesn’t trust the US, Britain and France. I love Germans but that will never learn from their friends as they consider their ideas the only right ones.

  2. Fwiw, there is plenty of rejection of enlightenment on both sides of the pond currently and accelerating over the last 10 years.

    As well, modern leftist ” thought ” has morphed into a suicide cult. In Europe they are actively importing those who will gladly deliver the coup de grace.

    Other than that, quite the scholarly essay.

    • Dear zoomie,
      Thank you for your thoughtful & friendly comment.
      You are right on target; European nihilism is ascendant there and ascending here.
      The modern left has for years been telling us that the U.S. must become more like Europe. Getting clearer and clearer what ‘more like Europe’ means.
      All the best…

      • And thank you. Something that struck me a long time ago, although in retrospect I did not fully realize the implications is a quote from Orwell,

        We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.

        It would seem democracies are extremely adept at creating a populace unable to see what is in front of their noses. And their leadership reflects it.

        Mr. Yuri states it plainly at 3 minute 50 seconds, the rest is quite valuable, imho, if you have not heard the rest.

      • Dear zoomie,
        Thanks for the video. It’s a wow!
        People are always telling me that every American needs to read my book, so I am telling you that every American needs to see this video.

      • How do I save this video. It is fantastic. Sweden needs to see it as well

      • Loved your Prager interview.

        My Germany thesis is they learned guilt, but not humility from their two World Wars.

        Humility would have served them and us better.

        Germans love their isms. Humility would teach them to knock it off.

      • I’m sure they learned humility from their nightmarish defeat on the Eastern Front …fear produces humility

      • I wish they had. The existence of the EU proves otherwise.

      • Thanks. Prager was great!
        Such kindness & generosity of spirit. He made it fun.
        With best wishes…

    • Suicide by universal health-care, free education, long holidays and restricted gun-ownership?

  3. The problem goes back as many thousands of years as we have historical records for.
    Certain cast-iron recurrent features of German life over the centuries. –
    [1] Compulsive attachment to conformism and regimentation; bullying abroad and at home as the central impulse of life.
    [2] Perpetual submission to authority, however detached from reality that authority may have become. All other European nations and most other countries in the world have had successful rebellions against their central government at one date or another; e,g. the French Revolution, the American War of Independence. Never the Germans. There was the Peasants’ War in the 1520s. It failed. There was the Bomb Plot of July 1944. It failed. Otherwise whatever the central government does, it is always backed by the populace. Mrs Merkel has unleashed a rape epidemic on her country and saddled it with one and a half million ‘refugees’ (72% of whom are single males of military age, most of whom don’t come from Syria) creating endless insoluble problems of employment, welfare, cultural dislocation, assimilation. Is there a backlash? No, the German people will diligently vote for her.
    [3] Frantic destructive pride. If you read the popular German literature of 1870-1913, much of it is devoted to denouncing the British and French and looking eagerly forward to a nice big war with them. When you study the ‘reasons’ why such a war and its destruction of British and French power would be a good thing, you find that they amount purely to envy of the French and the Brits, nothing more.
    August Niemann’s novel of 1904 ‘Der Weltkrieg: deutsche Traüme’ (Leipzig), translated that same year as ‘The Coming Conquest of England’, denounces the British empire in India but makes no case against it. It does not argue that all empires are bad things and no one country should rule another. It does not accuse the Brits of governing the subcontinent badly. Instead it implies in every chapter that GERMANY should have the world-empire which the British have got.
    Please be so kind as to read A J P Taylor’s marvellous book ‘The Course of German History’, preferably in its 2nd edition of 1961 with its admirable preface. Taylor proves in chapter after chapter that the Germans have only ever known liberty and have only ever stopped being a big problem for other countries when they have been either (a) divided into many separate self-governing lands or (b) ruled by foreign powers; i.e. unable to concert military force.
    The reunification of Germany in 1990 had to be a disaster for humankind. So it is proving.

    • Dear Peter63,
      Thank you very, very much for your thoughtful, extensive, and informed comment. I appreciate the care and attention you brought to it.
      You are no doubt correct that there are deep roots in the past for the Germans’ rejection of the thinking that led to England, America, and France, each in their own way, making their bids for liberty.
      And thank you also for your friendly recommendation of Taylor’s book. May I return the favor? Please consider reading Common Sense Nation. I have an idea that it might be to your liking.
      All the best…

  4. I dunno. I am more under the impression that they’re over-compensating for their anti-Semitic, war criminal past with weaponized empathy and political correctness, which is resulting in the importation of a bunch of anti-Semites(!). It’s mass cultural suicide and I don’t recall anything like this ever happening before. It’s an interesting but depressing spectacle. As a student of the Royal Navy, I am especially heart-broken about the impending fate of Great Britain. We also probably need to be thinking about repatriating our war dead from a whole bunch of cemeteries.

    • Dear BanBait,
      Thank you for your comment.
      “Weaponized empathy” is brilliant. Brilliant because the Germans are not simply inflicting “mass cultural suicide” on Germany–which you might expect if guilt for “their anti-Semitic, war criminal past” was the explanation.
      Nope. They are inflicting suicide by Islam on their neighbors too, just as they once set out to inflict the Thousand-Year Reich on them.
      All the best…

      • Thank you, Sir. Feel free to use it any time. And honestly don’t see how Europe gets out of this predicament.

      • Thank you, I will.
        And I agree. In this context, European nihilism amounts to surrender to jihad-ism.

      • Your interview with Dennis Prager was outstanding I could listen to you for hours

      • Thank you.
        Dennis Prager was generous and very helpful.
        He made it fun.
        Best wishes..

      • Well we really cannot afford to let that happen, now can we?

      • A short but brilliant exchange between the two of you, and I must say, I dig the handle, BanBait!!

    • I’d have to agree with this as well. I experienced it first-hand back in 1992, when I lived in the Bayern area for a half of a year.

    • They are honored in Israel. I go by the British cemetery is Beer Sheva quite often and it is kept and lavished. Salute.

    • There always seems to have been a void of self-worth in Germans that they are always trying to compensate for.

    • No that’s what we all used to think about Germany. Now, however, Merkel and her government go out of their way to cover up for the Muslim criminals against Germans, especially women. But Germany is not alone. The Scandinavian countries are also skittish about calling out Muslim crimes against women and their population. When you government refuses to protect you against a group of people and then continues to bring that group of people to your communities, you need to overthrow that government.

  5. And yet here in the good ol’ USA, we elect a braying racist-bigoted jackass as President!!! But I hear Germany has problems…

    • Yes, we did. And he’s protecting our interests better than European leadership is protecting theirs.

    • Anyone who thinks Trump is a racist has a weak impressionable mind.

    • JCH, your racist bigoted jackass was elected and reelected due to an odd combination of optimism and Liberal guilt. His comments about his mother were very revealing and his books illustrated his ignorance and a deep seated white-hatred he apparently learned at his father’s Anti-Colonialist knee.
      As I mentioned elsewhere, Curry’s thesis completely ignores the poison of Socialism generally introduced to the West by the German, Karl Marx. Leftism is pretty well precursory to decline everywhere.

  6. The problem with Germany is that it’s full of Germans. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one’s POV, that is changing.

  7. I don’t see where this article explains German Romanticism with respect to Muslim immigration. Are they somehow still suicidal like Nietzsche and Hitler and they want to destroy their own culture via Muslim invasion? I don’t see that. I think Andrea Merkel wants to show how enlightened she is even if she has to use other European countries’ societies to do so and she also wants to lesson the impending EU financial crisis caused by the aging of the European population.

    • As I understand it, many Russians thought Stalin did not know what was going on during the purges.

      Your arguement is the leadership does not realize what it is doing. I vehemently disagree. But if you are correct, … . If I am correct … .

      The blanks to be filled in are a dark place either way.

      Fwiw, the people invading Europe are not coming to work.

    • Just have a look at the situation in and around Europe during 2015:
      i) Turkey and various countries in North Africa have decided to not longer hold people back from trying to enter Europe.
      ii) As a result a growing number of people are showing up in Southeastern Europe. Within months you go from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.
      iii) These countries are relatively poor and unable to take care of all this people. So, they let them move further into Europe.
      iv) In Hungary the government tries to make conditions as bad as possible to deter refugees/immigrants.
      v) After weeks of very troubling reports from Southeastern Europe the German government decides to take in a few tens of thousand people being stuck in Hungary. This gives rise to a Domino effect with all countries between Turkey and Germany opening their borders to get rid of as many immigrants as possible.
      vi) After a few months of uncontrolled migration flows, the European governments agree to bribe Turkey et al. to return to their policy of holding people back. Since than refugee arrivals in Europe are back to about 250.000 per year. Which is not much for a continent of more than 400 million people.

  8. Germany had its Enlightenment types. Conversely, Romanticism was not purely a German movement. Romantics include Rousseau and a host of English poets, novelists, philosophers etc. The founding of this country and many distinctive aspects of American culture probably owes more to “Romanticism” than to the Enlightenment.

    • Dear MNJAM,
      Thanks for your comment.
      You are certainly correct that the Romantic movement spread throughout Europe and even to America.
      But it is simply not true that the American founding “probably owes more to ‘Romanticism’ than to the Enlightenment.” Beyond the obvious (1776!), there are also great depths to this. It really is a fascinating subject.
      If you are interested in considering those depths, you might want to click on the link above to Common Sense Nation.
      All the best

      • Historians like Bailyn and Gordon Wood have demonstrated that the political thinking and discourse of the founders was rooted in 17th Century “whiggish” common lawyers and philosophers; that the 18th century French enlightenment figures (and even Locke) were little known and read by the founders. My point was more along the lines of the culture of the early American Republic. Transcendentalism and similar home grown movements were more inspired by German (and British) romanticism than by the French enlightenment. Note also that enlightenment figures had little sympathy for democracy — that, too, is a somewhat “romantic” notion.

      • Thank you for your in-depth reply.
        You have certainly convinced me that Common Sense Nation is the book for you! You might say I wrote it for you.
        Gordon Wood, by the way, comes into the story it tells, and as an authority, too.
        Best wishes

  9. I happened to read a National Geographic article recently about the Muslim refugees in Germany which quoted one of the Germans interviewed in the article as saying that for the first time in his life he was proud to be German because of all the Muslim refugees being allowed in Germany.

    Supposedly, Germany needs immigrants due to a falling birth rate which will result in a worker shortage so that’s why they’re bringing in all these Muslims. Due to things like artificial intelligence and robotics though, the problem is not too few workers but too many.

    I’ve read that just these driverless cars and trucks alone could eliminate as many as 4 million jobs here in the next 5 or 10 years. There’s also a YouTube video called “The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn” about how rapidly jobs are disappearing, even in places like China, due to advances in artificial intelligence.

    So I think then that the real reason the German left wants to open their borders isn’t because they need workers but because of guilt over the Holocaust. What Merkel and her leftist followers are doing then is ruining Europe to atone for the sins committed by Germany during WW11.

    Some say Merkel is a conservative but she’s sure not acting like a conservative. Actions speak louder than words and she’s acting like a leftist which is why she’s admired by the left.

    • She’s conservative by German standards. Calling for anything regarding immigration limits would be far right and their left is completely of the chart. Which also explains the reaction of this man. Liberalism is so entrenched in everything (media, schools, politics, social life, everything), in addition to guilt about the war, that Germans have no other way of thinking. Sadly, most are probably not even aware of the danger their country is facing.

      • I was talking to a Serbian friend yesterday who just returned from spending 3 weeks in Serbia visiting her mother.

        I asked her if they have a problem with these Muslim refugees in Serbia. She said Serbia is a poor country so they don’t stay there. They’re all heading for places like Germany and Sweden where the welfare benefits are very good. Truly a horrible situation.

      • Yeah, it’s really sad to see how they let themselves be used like that. But it is their choice, can’t help them.

    • Very telling quote in the above comment: “the German(s) interviewed in the article as saying that for the first time in his life he was proud to be German “. Since WWII, the single most prevalent emotion in Germany was just what this German described, shame in what Germany did. This shame of country is a bad emotional base upon which to try and steer other EU countries with an almost unlimited influx of Middle East Muslims.

    • From time to time Germany let’s in a million refugees. Before 2015 the same happened with people from former Yougoslavia in the beginning of the 90ies. No big deal.

  10. Really strange article. Immigration of muslims into central Europe had its haydays about 50 years ago. Did you live in a cave for the last half of a century that you seriously believe the influx of one to two million muslims into Europe is going to change the demographics there? The European Union had already a muslim population of about 20 million before the recent refugee crisis happened.

    • There were problems, but their numbers were still relatively small and politics/society was able to ignore it. These days France reaches approximately 10% with other countries following and now problems really are getting serious. Large segregated communities that drive away the natives, small political parties that demand more Islamic freedom and the notion that they seem to draw more welfare support is eating on the system.

      • I have a Vietnamese friend at work in Chicago whose wife is French-Vietnamese. His wife’s family still lives in Paris. He said that they say it is quite true that the suburbs of Paris are full of Africans and Muslims, are extremely dangerous and are off limits to other French. You’ll never read about that in our wonderfully progressive media though.

        All these European countries have done by importing third world poverty is to create a huge underclass of unemployable and alienated people who will be an endless source of crime and terrorism. Europe will pay dearly for leftist stupidity.

      • Yes. And it will get worse, they breed so much faster and (Saudi funded Salafi) Mosques and segregated communities will mean even less integration. More terror will follow. Europe is heading for disaster.
        I really hope America will learn from this. It’s not to late yet.

    • Do you consider whether or not any of this is good for the existing population, or only whether or not someone else “needs” something, like admission into stable, prosperous nations?

  11. The interesting thing is that Eastern Europe is having none of it. Poland is growing every day as an economic and military powerhouse. It remembers being left out in the cold to appease an enemy back in 1939 and will not open its borders to invasion under the banner of political correctness.

    Want to help the Syrians? Relocate them in the Middle East: same language, same culture, same religion. Send them some humanitarian aid and be done with it.

    Problem is even the Arab states don’t want these refugees.

    Very telling, that.

    • They’re are a few camps in Saudi Arabia, but refugees don’t come there or in any of the safe countries between Western Europe and Syria. They only want to go to the rich welfare states. (They’re are also a few camps on the border with Jordan, filled with people and those seem genuinely on the run, waiting to return home. Which is what normal refugees would want: home, not another country)

      • I did say there are a lot of genuine refugees near the Jordan border. Who stay there, because they are genuine refugees who want to go home as soon as possible.
        And probably also handy to note a majority of refugees in Europe don’t come from Syria. They come from all over the Middle-east and Africa (Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia and others). But they are all majority Muslim though.

      • These migrants are not refugees! It’s important to realize that and to stop calling them refugees. The word refugee has a very specific legal connotation. According to the Geneva convention, a refugee is: “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” Being unhappy in your home country and wanting to live in a country with a generous welfare state does not qualify you for refugee status.

      • Why the f*** should Israel accept them ?
        No one forced Germany to accept them, they did it on their own and now it is their problem.

      • Unfortunately, it’s all of Europe’s problem. The Germans made this decision for us.

      • Europe is trying to force Israel to take in the Arabs that fled the war in 1948. If Israel had taken in all the so called refugees, Israel would not exist today. The situation in Israel is a perfect example to Europe of how to handle the Arab Islamist threat but Europe would prefer Israel comit suiside.

      • There’s always one on a thread like this. Every. Single. Time.

    • There are no Arab states that fleeing Muslims want to go to, either.

      • Revealed preference is a funny thing, isn’t it? The “Multicultural Education” fools would have us believe that all cultures are equal, all are valid, none is better than any other, and yet ——

    • Lebanon is a tiny, poor country still struggling from a recent civil war. Yet they have taken in between 1 and 1.5 million refugees from Syria. About 20% of the original population. Do you suggest they should take in another million people? Seriously? Because of language and culture, yes?

      Trying really hard to make an even greater mess of the Middle East, aren’t you.

      • Can you actually address his point? It doesn’t seem like a totally unreasonable one, on the face of it.

      • I don’t think Cindy Gal has any influence on the developments in the middle east. About where the migrants should go: We should make sure there are safe regions inside their country and we should support them there or in peaceful countries in the region. We should not encourage their coming to Europe.

    • The best political remark of the year was Duda telling Merkel that Poland did not need a German to tell them what was in Poland’s best interest (in reference to Syrian refugees). Poland’s leaders are realistic about threats and are not going to risk being absorbed again.

      • I hadn’t heard that comment by Duda, but it’s great. After what Germany did to Poland in WWII (not to mention the rest of Europe), the hubris of Merkel demanding that the countries of Eastern Europe cultivate the seeds of their own destruction by taking in Muslim hordes is astounding. For someone who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, Merkel’s historical perspective is curiously nonexistant.

  12. I have an Assyrian friend at work in Chicago who once told me of an honor killing in his town near Baghdad when he was a boy ( He’s in his mid fifties and has been here for 33 years ). He said there was a family living a block away where the daughter was having an affair with a neighbor boy.

    Both families were Muslim. The girl had an older brother who was a butcher. When this older brother found out about his sister’s affair he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her out of the house into the street.

    The neighbors heard her screaming and when they went outside to see what was happening they saw the brother using a butcher knife to cut his sister’s throat. When she was dead he dipped both hands in her blood, went to her boyfriend’s house and smeared her blood all over their front door.

    I asked my friend what the police did about this. He said the police considered it a family matter so they didn’t get involved. Trump says Muslims from cultures like this should be banned from coming here. Trump’s critics say he’s a racist. I think Trump’s critics are insane.

  13. Meanwhile, “Enlightened” USA threatens the world with nuclear annihilation Were is a Siegfried to slay the monster?.

  14. Germany’s 3rd swing is looking like a home run

    • Dear Thorwald Berg,
      Is this a trick question? What happens if I reply ‘no’? What happens if my answer is ‘yes’?
      In any case, the answer is ‘yes’, including, but not limited to, a year-long course in Kant taken as a graduate student in philosophy.

      • Thank you for your reply. As you probably know then, Kant is one of the most important Enlightenment thinkers, and he’s German. So I don’t get your argument. (I’m a German philosopher.)

      • Dear Robert, thank you for your reply. That is a very unusual interpretation of Kant. You quote Kant as stating that humankind “requires a master who will break his self-will and force him to obey a universally valid will”. Please note that he continues: “But that master will be an animal that also needs a master.” and “Yet the highest authority has to be just in itself yet also a man.”

        Kant is not stating a solution but a problem (that he deems insoluble). However, I think he’s more famous for his anti-romantic call for the use of reason.

      • Sorry for the multiple postings. It was a Disqus problem.

      • Dear Robert, thank you for your reply. That is a very unusual interpretation of Kant. You quote Kant as stating that humankind (Kant talks of a rational agent here) “requires a master who will break his self-will and force him to obey a universally valid will”. Please note hat Kant the continues: “But this master will be an animal who needs a master” and “Yet the highest authority has to be just in itself and yet also a man”.

        Kant is not stating a solution but a problem (that he deems insoluble). However, I think he is more famous for his anti-romanticist call for the use of reason.

      • Dear Robert, thank you for your reply. That is a very unusual
        interpretation of Kant. You quote Kant as stating that humankind (Kant
        talks of a rational agent here) “requires a master who will break his
        self-will and force him to obey a universally valid will”. Please note
        hat Kant the continues: “But this master will be an animal who needs a
        master” and “Yet the highest authority has to be just in itself and yet
        also a man”.

        Kant is not stating a solution but a problem (that
        he deems insoluble). However, I think he is more famous for his
        anti-romanticist call for the use of reason.

  15. Dear MNJAM,Thanks for your comment.You are certainly correct that the Romantic movement spread throughout Europe and even to America.But it is simply not true that the American founding “probably owes more to ‘Romanticism’ than to the Enlightenment.” Beyond the obvious (1776!), there are also great depths to this. It really is a fascinating subject.If you are interested in considering those depths, you might want to click on the link above to Common Sense Nation. All the best

  16. What a fascinating article. I have to admit to knowing little about German history. Although I knew that they, like Italy, had only consolidated into one country in the late 1800s, I had no idea there were 300 German states at the beginning of that century. The argument that they turned away from the reasoning of the Enlightenment to the emotional resonance of Romanticism is an intriguing attempt at explaining the problem of Germany. And, after two World Wars, it’s clear Germany is a problem. What irony that, in rejecting the Prussian militarism, they have actually embraced another way of destroying western civilization, which I presume they find repugnant … at least, according to this analysis. I will have to think about this. Which is why I love the American Greatness web site. So challenging. (And, btw, Gertrude Himmelfarb is Bill Kristol’s mother.)

    • Dear CindyGal,
      Thank you for your kind & thoughtful comment.
      You are so right! It is clear Germany is a problem. The only question is how did that come about.
      The article is an attempt to trace the origin of the problem.
      And you are also right about the greatness of the American Greatness web site! It is a wow.
      All the best
      p.s. Yes, you are correct that GH is BK’s mother.

  17. I’m not confident that the author has any understanding of modern european history

    • And I’m not confident you can really read. Are you commenting by voice recognition?

      • I simply mean that the author ignores any part Germany played in the enlightenment, which a really large mistake. And that splitting the enlightenment era into three distinct nations is just plain wrong.

      • So what do you count among Germany’s role in the enlightenment?

      • Oh, and his comment about the Fifth French Republic is incredibly ignorant of french history, as well as European history on the whole.

        To be clear, the enlightenment era as the author references it ranged between ~1650-~1800, so first of all, his argument ignores about 250 years of german history.

        I’ll be concise, because I’m no history expert, but contributions came from Immanuel Kant, Leibniz, Goethe, and many others. Germany as we know it wasn’t in existence yet, but scattered states with their own political, social, and cultural differences. The German Enlightenment would see philosophical ideas introduced, such as a skepticism that still infects german culture. It also saw the birth of modern calculus with Leibniz (who is seen as the equal of Newton). In effect, the enlightenment saw a birth of a more unified Germany, one steeped in science and culture, and yet still able to reconcile its new discoveries with religious belief.

        I only scrapped the surface, but the idea that Romanticism existed in place of the Enlightenment in germany is a gross overstatement.

      • I had given up waiting for you to “scrap the surface” (apparently that means a panicky wikipedia search). The author subcribes to a pretty widely accepted definition of “the enlightenment” — apparently, you don’t like that such a positive sounding word has been largely accepted to refer to a particular era and school of thought (which in fact, did thrive primarily in France, Britain and America during the 18th century).

    • Dear jon,
      Which raises the question “How did Islam become the answer?”
      Best wishes

  18. Obvious why Merkel and Obama were so close and why Merkel and Trump detest each other.

    Germany has at most 2 generations left before Germany is renamed New Syria.

  19. Curry forgets that an important drive behind German romanticism and later Germany in the early 20th century was the desire to rival and surpass the great Anglo and French empires of which they had become so jealous in their political backwardness and intellectual hypertrophy. They want to invade, conquer, colonize, harness, and create an empire of subject peoples of their own. Unfortunately, they sought to begin with the Belgians and the French, in the heart of Europe itself.

    • Dear JohnnyClams,
      Thank you for your offer of help by way of a reminder.
      There is much that is correct and important in what you write. This brief article is an attempt to address that “Unfortunately” in your sentence above.
      Wishing you the best

      • I understand, and I agree about Merkel and German hubris. Thanks!

  20. Germans also feel that they’re now in a position to do some kind of penance for the horrors they brought on the world in the 20th century. If only they would stick with self flagellation.

    • Dear wheretonow,
      “If only they would stick with self flagellation.” Ah yes, there’s the rub, isn’t it?
      If not, why not? (see above)
      All the best

  21. Last year I copied a post from a German in Munich from a Yahoo News article about Angela Merkel’s social engineering of Germany. This German in Munich sure doesn’t feel that what’s happened to Germany is something wonderful.

    Forced By The Pressure
    From Munich. Dear Ms. Merkle, Munich was once a safe and beautiful place, just a couple of years ago. We had many cultures here already. In fact, I have my hair cut each couple of weeks by my friends near Hauptbahnhof who are Turks. They speak German and my friends there are wonderful hard working people.

    But to get to their place of business I now have to weed through the migrant drug dealers, the trash in the streets and sidewalks, and the women beggars dressed in Islamic garb who line the streets and sidewalks downtown.

    I had a laptop stolen recently from a train by a man from Pakistan. When the polize caught him, he handed my computer back to me, but had already given my 100 Euro leather bag to someone else, along with the keys to my home and other personal items that I will never see again.

    He laughed and said that “Mrs. Merkle invited me and you cannot touch me. Soon I will be a resident!”

    I pay 50% of my income in taxes. I own a smally business and pay about 300,000 Euro in income taxes alone each year. I work very hard for my money.

    You decided that with my money you would spend about 200 billion on illiterate people who have no education, no working skills, no respect and bring their backward culture to my city I once loved.

    Now it is too late. My empoyees and I are closing our business in Munich and going elsewhere.. Where? To one of the EU statess told your NO and where taxes are not 50% is where.
    Best od luck to you.

    • Dear Max Flasher,
      Thank you for your posting. It is a powerful addition to the subject, and much appreciated.
      What Germany and Europe are doing to themselves is astonishing, ‘unbelievable’ yet it must be believed.
      With best wishes and thanks

  22. People have been asking that same question since Otto von Bismarck was running things under Kaiser Bill 1st

  23. Yes, Germany is destroying Europe for the third time in 100 years. Each time it has been carried out by near messianic pursuit of a twisted goal. In 1914 it was militarism. In 1933-1945 it was genocidal racial superiority and world domination. And now it is a twisted version of “compassion” in which millions of Jew haters are rushed into Europe in order to “atone” for Germany’s actions in the Holocaust–and to provide young workers for Germany, a country where the population is otherwise declining. But again, Germany is not content to pursue its destructive policies alone–it uses its domination of the EU to bully and threaten all of Europe to comply.

    • Another flaw in the cultural superiority playbook. If the day to day ethic does not produce enough to recharge your population then other measures must be considered.

      • Germany is replenishing its depleting population with millions of unvetted Muslim migrants. Someone give Frau Merkel a Nobel Prize.

  24. I have not read the works by Berlin and Himmelfarb, but I would take exception to the notion that Germany rejected the Enlightenment or the notion that Romanticism was strong only in Germany. One of the greatest champions of the Enlightenment was Friedrich II of Prussia (“Frederick the Great”), who was a friend of Voltaire. Also very influential was Immanuel Kant of Königsberg who wrote of the Enlightenment in his “Was ist Aufklärung?” Germany’s greatest writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, was a child of the Enlightenment, the Aufklärung. Many German courts emulated all things French, were French-speaking, and welcomed the Enlightenment. Romanticism was very influential in both Britain and America. The problem with Germany today is not whether it rejected the Enlightenment or embraced Romanticism. The problem with Germany today is echoed in both Britain and France, and increasingly in North America. Germany has rejected its spiritual heritage as a Christian nation. The same is true of Britain and France. The result is a terrible spiritual vacuum. Dostoyevsky saw this happening and wrote of it in “The Adolescent.” Romanticism is not what motivates Merkel. Merkel is motivated by political correctness and by the misguided notion that allowing in hordes of migrants will restore Germany’s good name in history. The exact opposite is happening. Europe, whether in Germany or elsewhere, is committing spiritual, cultural, and demographic suicide. This tragedy is tragic and horrific to behold.

    • Dear DaveB1871,
      Thank you for your comment.
      You are certainly correct to “take exception to the notion that Romanticism was strong only in Germany.” I totally agree with you about that.
      As for Kant and the Enlightenment, may I suggest you take a look at this?
      Although it was written in a different connection, it bears pretty directly on the point you make.
      All the best

    • Cultural hubris is a strong wind at you back when the reality has no wind. Merkel is stuffed with cultural hubris.

    • “Merkel is motivated by political correctness and by the misguided notion that allowing in hordes of migrants will restore Germany’s good name in history.”

      Mainly she needs to shore up Germany’s old age pension fund.

  25. “It is important to realize how much the Germans’ rejection of Enlightenment thinking, already strong, was intensified by their experience of the Napoleonic Wars. ”

    Mr. Curry, in his well-written essay, nevertheless leaves out the experience of the 30 years war from 1618 to 1648. It was fought between France, Austria, and Sweden, in shifting alliances on the territory that would become Germany. This territory lost half its population. The Germanic people have never recovered from this experience and have sought ever since to take revenge against the world, regardless of cost. Consider the irony of the fact that the Germans, renowned for their militarism between 1871 and 1945, fought WW1 and WW 2 badly, in a downright suicidal fashion. For WW1 read Barbara Tuchman’s “Guns of August,” for WW2 read Viktor Suvorov’s “The Chief Culprit.”

    • Dear redmanrt,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      You are quite right that I did not address the 30 years war. At this point, one mumbles something about the limitations of space & etc.
      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.
      With best wishes

      • Mr. Curry, there’s I lot I didn’t deal with as well. I tried to keep my comment as short as possible and indicate further reading. King Albert the Great (as I call him) summed up the Germans by saying that they have an enormous inferiority complex.

        By the way, I made a mistake typing in the URL of my Kuby website. It’s not .net, but rather http://www.erich.kuby.info. He fought in WW2 from the first French campaign to the Siege of Brest at the end. He was repeatedly sent to the Russian front and survived through a series of miracles. He kept a diary the whole time and summarized them in his book “Mein Krieg.” He never rose above the rank of Private 1st class. The entire book has never been translated into English, but I have translated essential parts of it which you find on my website. He told the story of the experience of the common man in WW2 better than anyone and complements Thomas Mann who told the story of WW2 from the point of view of the most extraordinary intellectual in his book “Doktor Faustus” and in his radio addresses “Listen, Germany.”

      • You poorly understand human psychology. All bullying is compensation for a feeling of inferiority. In Germany’s case, we know the reasons for this collective attitude of Germans. You cannot possibly be as grounded in German history as I am.

      • No Dr Freud , all bulling is not …some undoubtably is but in Germany’s case NO …Germans are a great peoples and Germans understand that ; I think you are mistaking frustration for inferiority

      • Hast gar keine Ahnung. Ich kenne meine Pappenheimer. Schau das Wort “Kompensation” nach.

  26. Mr. Curry, your thesis grabbed and held me for hours. Fascinating, but maybe a little simplistic, I thought… Then I came up with something even more simplistic. Your article completely ignores the poison of Socialism generally
    introduced to the West by the German, Karl Marx in the same era the German states became a major entity. Leftism is pretty well
    precursory to decline everywhere.
    Not sure how, or if, the Muslim factor adds or detracts to or from Socialism.

    Thank you for stirring me so well I’ll probably never get it all cooked.

    • Dear Mr. Heuisler,
      Thank you for your delightful comment! “Fascinating”, “grabbed and held me for hours”. These are music to my ears.
      You are of course right on target. Briefly, Germany’s rejection of the Enlightenment gave us Hegel and then Marx.
      (And then Nietzsche.)
      Marx’s predictions never came to pass, but Nietzsche predicted quite accurately “European nihilism”–which is what we are considering together.
      “Thank you for stirring me so well I’ll probably never get it all cooked.” You are very, very welcome. Please consider reading Common Sense Nation. I believe it will enable you to get it all cooked.
      With warm regards

      • Can’t resist; did Germany reject the Enlightenment or did Marx et al reject it. What is the Uncaused Cause here?

      • No need to resist!
        The answer: German thinkers rejected the Enlightenment from the get-go.
        By Marx’s time, that rejection was far advanced. Stripped down, it goes like this:
        Best wishes

      • And tell Curry that his attentiveness will surely improve performance and add some increased compensation.

      • Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be of help to you. Wishing you the best…

      • Yes Nietzsche was prophetic , he announced the death of God and then promptly went insane up in the alps
        The calamity of WW1 and Darwinian evolution undermined Christendom and the vacuum was filled by the Utopian attempt at a secular religion of class in the Soviet Union and its heresy in a Wotan Cult in Germany
        They had their ”holy books” , holy symbols, Prophets, deciples , heresy, witch trials, orthodoxy , orders of warrior monks and crusade against the infidels ….communism even had its Martin Luther who tried to reform a corrupt system only to have it collapse around his ears
        In a broader philosophical sense , it is the desire, nay craving , for meaning ; to avoid being cast adrift, nay marooned, in an archipelago of existential despair; what now little man, what now ?

  27. Finally writers are starting to put forward practical context from which to view this unhealthy moment in history that we’re enduring. The super hero movies desperately need a challenger to their primacy.

    Bravo Mr. Curry

    • Dear RSca,
      Thank you very, very much for your most kind and very astute comment.
      “unhealthy”, I think, goes to the heart of it. Difficult to improve on that.
      Again, thanks and best wishes

  28. Many of the people I work with are Assyrians and they all say Europe is finished. They grew up under Saddam’s rule in Iraq so they know the Muslims quite well and are simply awed that Europe could be so insanely stupid.

    What I’d like to know is why we keep bringing in Muslims from Africa and the Middle East. Last year I happened to stop at a stop sign while driving on the north side of Chicago. A woman crossed the street in front of my car. She was dressed in a ragged robe with a baby in a sack slung across her back. She looked like she had just arrived from Somalia.

    Why is she here? I see more and more men in turbans and long robes with women dressed in all black with with only an opening for their eyes, walking around on north side of Chicago streets.

    Why are they here? Why are we importing third world poverty? Don’t we already have enough poverty and social breakdown without importing more? We have no jobs for these people plus I constantly read that advances in artificial intelligence and robotics will rapidly eliminate many of the jobs we do have which means we import these people and plug them into our welfare system where they’ll most likely stay.

    Why are we doing this? White leftists will snarl and sneer that I’m a hate-filled white supremacist. Actually though, I don’t hate these people. I’m just wondering why we keep bringing them here. Do we really need more people on welfare? Do we really need more social fragmentation? Don’t we have enough already?

    • Dear Max Flasher,
      “What I’d like to know is why we keep bringing in Muslims from Africa and the Middle East.”
      It’s a great question.
      It seems to defy common sense. So…what is the common sense answer?
      I am certain you have thought about it.
      Best wishes

      • It used to be, not so many years ago, that you could look back and see the noticeable social erosion over the past year. Now that time frame seems to be rapidly shrinking. It now almost seems like you can see the unraveling of the social fabric of our society from one week to the next.

        I’ve always liked reading history. Something that’s always bothered me about reading history though is that you realize how distressingly common it is for societies to become insane and self destruct. During the dreadful twentieth century major nations like Germany, Japan, Russia and China became quite insane for periods of time. Now it seems to be our turn.

        Why does this happen? Why does this keep happening? Why do people periodically become insane and destroy what they worked so hard to create? I suppose it’s just a severe flaw in human nature. All we can do is hope for the best. Hopefully this time will be different.

        Recently an Assyrian at work told me that “All of Iraq is ruined”. They’re heartbroken over what has happened to their country. So are the Vietnamese at work about what’s happened to Vietnam. Hopefully fate will be kind to us and spare us from the dreadful nightmare which has befallen their former countries.

    • Our immigration laws:
      1. c. 50,000 “refugees”–these days many very low-skilled and welfare-dependent from Middle East and Africa–are let in every year so that the State Dept can virtue-signal to the rest of the UN that US is taking a share of refugees–this despite the fact that it costs about 12 times more to provide for them here as provide for them in the region.
      2. Almost 2/3 of other legal immigrants enter based on family ties rather than skills. Family based immigration is a form of chain migration that increases immigrants from particular regions; it tends also to be low-skilled thus welfare dependent.

      Immigration law should be changed to prioritize those with skills (see RAISE act). Family-based immigration should be confined to spouse and minor children. But since special interests like the current nepotistic system it’s unlikely to be reformed.

      • We no longer seem to be enough of a country to solve any of our problems.

        Does America even still exist as a country? Social cohesion and trust are the foundation of a society. Where is our foundation? Where is the inner structure of our society? We don’t even have a common reality and without something as basic as that, how do we have a country?

        Recently a leftist told me we never have had a common reality in America. Well we sure had a lot more than we have now which is why America used to be a highly functional society. Those days are long gone and will never return.

        Many people believe America is simply too big and too powerful to collapse but many people also believed that about the Soviet Union. No one in 1985 would have believed that the USSR, the mighty “Evil Empire”, would be a disintegrating mess in 10 years.

        I told that to someone last year who said “But the Soviet Union was a collection of separate countries”. What we have here though is a collection of separate realities which is a much deadlier situation. Time will tell what fate has in store for us.

  29. Give me a break. I’ve been to London and Paris. The Germans learned it from the English and French.
    Thirty years ago Pink Floyd was singing about “sending their colored cousins home again”.

  30. Germany is obviously blessed with cultural superiority and a large dose of hubris—-“our ground swell of judiciously providing for the needy is within our cultural resilience”. Bless them on their way.

    The curious phenomena is the Germans spend such a tiny pittance on military–defense spending. They create whiz bang futuristic devices but are not enamored with the killing arts. One can save a lot of money that way. I will observe the effectiveness of the alliances formed.

  31. Regardless of its rationale, Germany is voluntarily allowing Islam and Muslims to conquer it.

    Islam conquers. That’s its raison-d’être. It conquers nations, peoples, and individuals.

    Take a read of “Early Islam” in The Columbia History of the World. One word occurs over and over again: conquer. Read any history of Islam and Muslims and that’s what one sees. Were it not for Charles Martel, for example, France would be a Muslim country.

    Germany needs a Charles Martel.

  32. Provocative article. But Merkel’s pathological altruism — which is a European contagion best described as “apolitical politics” among its “sophisticates” (Pierre Manent, whom Curry must know, is good on this) — has more to do with Kant and that thinker’s cosmopolitanism. Or a bastardization of Kant. But a Kant nevertheless who was the apex and culmination of…the Enlightenment. Was Hegel, along with the quasi Hegelian Prussian administrative state, really a rejection of the Enlightment? I’m sorry, but I sort of gasped upon reading “Merkel the Romantic.” I don’t see much Tieck, Novalis, Brentano and Fichte in what Merkel is doing. Germany’s historical problems with peaceful self-rule and autocracy has more to do, I’d say, with geography and, as an earlier writer pointed out, the polyglot nature of Central Europe. Also I should mention that Napoleon, that perceived avatar of French Enlightemnt, was arguably the first real instantiation of what we would properly call a fascist, as Paul Johnson has pointed out…

    • Dear Brasidas,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Re “Kant nevertheless who was the apex and culmination of…the Enlightenment” please consider reading this
      It addresses this idea quite directly.
      I hope it will be of great help to you.
      Best wishes

      • This leads me to a Codevilla article. Was this what you meant? Anyway, I’ll have a look. In the meantime I noticed that Ken Masugi at his Facebook just linked to your article with the following provocative, insightful little comment:
        Not so sure: “The Germans hated Napoleonic France and rejected the Enlightenment along with it.” But Hegel saw in Napoleon the Weltgeist. The Germans longed for a Supernapoleon, and they got Merkel.

      • I don’t see Merkel as an ideologue ,just an emotional woman trying to reform Germany’s painful historical reputation …she has been emotionally blackmailed by the liberal MSM engaged in mindless moralism and pathological altruism

    • I’m seeing plenty of Droste-Hülshoff ‘Judenbuche’ or Gotthelff ‘die Schwarze Spinne’ with a lagniappe of Hoffmann ‘der Goldene Topf’. I think Merkel sold her shadow and now wanders the world, observing it from the outside. Oh, I mean Germany.

  33. Keep in mind that the Nazis and the Muslims were strong allies in WW II. Even though that war is long over and circumstances have changed, the Germans still love the Muslims.

    • Dear andrewp111,
      Yes, very true and important too.
      Hitler despised Christianity, admired Islam as a warrior religion.
      Best regards

  34. I recently read Anthony Beevor’s account of the Fall of Berlin. He quoted one of the Allied interrogators who debriefed German officers post-war as saying that they had a curious attitude toward morality. Rather than saying something was ‘moral’ or ‘immoral’, they said it was wrong if it failed, not whether it was a good idea or not. I have long maintained that the German mistake par excellence is to confuse a rational plan with a good idea.

    Goethe’s Faust (of the two part drama) teams up with Miphisto in order to improve the world. The devil got his soul when he was satisfied with what he had done and quit working for improvement. Naturally, all the improvements had serious downsides, but Faust could explain them away by the greater good they did.

    I finally understand what William L. Shirer and Fredrick Hayak meant when they said that Germany had abandoned the Enlightenment in the 20th century for neo-Paganism. Your article explains this succinctly. The node where German history spins off into the demonic is in the final scene of Faust when God saves Faust quite literally by deus ex machina: Wer sich immer strebend bemüht, den können wir erlösen.” [Whoever constantly strives mightily, we can save that one.] No moral equation or belief in God; allegedly abandoning religious superstition for Enlightenment, but in fact abandoning the consequences of the striving.

    The Romantics definitely pursued the demonic and you have captured this notion quite succinctly. The worst part of all this is that Merkel is a **conservative** in the German view.

    • Dear Rico Ludovici,
      Thank you for you thoughtful & delightful comment!
      Yes, Goethe, Wagner, Nietzsche–oh, my!
      You, sir, are a reader, so I make this request of you. If you read my book, would let me know your thoughts? I would very much appreciate hearing from you.
      With warm regards,
      Robert Curry

      • Great !
        Thanks. Please let me know what you think.

      • Yes , he makes a very interesting comment ; I’ve always claimed that Nazism was a Wotan Cult or race religion , more rural than urban, more Catholic than Protestant and more southern than northern ..a romantic yearning for the ”homeland” , heavily influenced by Wagner and the Ring Cycle ..the dank, brooding forests of the Nebelungen ….yes , Nazism was darkly romantic and irrational , and Hitler was a dreamer and hopeless romantic .Siegfreid ! 18-19th century romanticism married to 20th century technology ?

      • Dear Alfred5,
        Thank you for this addition. Brilliant, on target, beautifully expressed.
        I discussed with my editor at AG making the ‘Wagner’ case. I decided to leave it out because–happily for America–Wagner is unfamiliar to many. I was concerned that that unfamiliarity would make a discussion of Wagner not helpful to them.
        So I am glad to find your well-crafted comment here.

        Thanks again…

      • Thank you for taking the time to respond to ”mere commentators” there are sometimes diamonds to be found in the sand : )

      • You are welcome.
        Thanks again for your assist.

    • “The devil got his soul when he was satisfied with what he had done and quit working for improvement.”

      Sorry, Goethe saved Faust in the end.

      • Actually, Mephisto **claimed** his soul when Faust spoke briefly ‘verweile doch, du bist so schön’ as the old and blind Faust stared out the door. This was NOT the situation they had bargained for, but Mephisto snagged him because of the phrase itself, not Faust’s intention, which was quite different.
        Because Faust had abandoned religion out of religious hubris, he should have gone to Hell. However, GOD – using Goethe’s words (or maybe Goethe in the guise of God) has him enter heaven as a striving soul, albeit not specifically as a Christian or even generally religious. His intention and striving made him worth of salvation, not his faith.
        This points back to the Prologue in Heaven, where Mephisto speaks with God, saying “ich bin ein Teil dessen, daß stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.” In essence, he says the devil wants to do ill, but mankind, in his efforts to avoid Hell, is driven to probity due to fear. Faust is not fearful and God makes a bet with the Devil, a la Job.
        He subsequently saves Faust’s soul thanks to his striving and his good intentions, not his religious devotion or rectitude.

      • I never cared much for Goethe’s writings.”Die Leiden des jungen Werther” I found puerile, “Die Wahlverwandscahften” disgusted me, “Willhelm Meisters Lehrjahre” bored me, and I couldn’t even finish “Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre. However, his poetry was masterful. His “Faust’ had an insipid, cloying ending. Thomas Mann”s “Doktor Faustus” is much better and more relevant to us. If you really want to learn to respect Goethe as a wise old man, read Thomas Mann’s “Lotte in Weimar.”

        I have read all but two of Thomas Mann’s novels 5 or 6 times, and I’m still not done with them. I read “Buddenbrooks” just twice, the second time only to confirm my first impression that it doesn’t come close to measuring up to “Zauberberg,” And I also only read “Königliche Hoheit” twice, it was a letdown compared to “Feliz Krull.”

        I don’t get many opportunities to discuss Thomas Mann with anyone. Thanks for your detailed response.

  35. Thanks for a new – to me – look at the anomalous behaviour of Germany. As an American of mostly 2rd and 3rd generation German stock the cultural transition between German and Anglo culture is always just over the horizon. But both my parents studied the English romantic writers in NY in the 30s as I did in the 60s. So I grew up in Romanticism as a fish grows up in water and was aware of an area of darkness, seldom mentioned, off in the distance that may well have the shadow of German Romanticism. I have bought the Berlin book. Again thanks.

    • Dear ljgude,
      Thank you for your interesting and moving comment.
      I appreciate the sincerity of your purpose.
      Best wishes…
      p.s. reading my book might actually also be a help to you.

  36. Hegel wasn’t German or wasn’t an Enlightenment philosopher?
    Kant wasn’t German or wasn’t an Enlightenment philosopher?
    I won’t mention Marx.
    And do you really think that the Enlightenment in France and Britain (Scotland actually) were the same? Rousseau and Locke are Enlightenment philosophers but are night and day. Their Enlightenments were as different as their revolutions.
    And Britain’s royal family is German to the core. The idea that Britain and Germany are somehow so totally different is nonsensical on its face.
    And then there is the starting of World War I. The Russians mobilize in secret a week before letting anyone else (other than the French) know and Germans are responsible for the war? They certainly didn’t let the British know and Britain had an idiot ambassador in Moscow. Their war aims are to carve up Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, but Germany is to blame? Look at Russian archives since the Soviet Union has fallen rather than German archives only.
    I don’t like Merkel at all. She is dangerous. But this essay is so filled with enormous errors that it is laughable.

    • “And do you really think that the Enlightenment in France and Britain (Scotland actually) were the same?”

      Dear tassius,
      Your comment piques my interest, truly. Shows me you know a thing or two about my favorite subject.
      I address all this in my book. I would love for you to read it and get back to me with your thoughts.

      Might we learn that we are in fierce agreement?

      With best wishes..

  37. So now we understand the affinity between Deutchland uber Alles and Islam. They share the same romantic death-wish for a fuhrer cum Khaliff who will lead them via Jihad to world domination. Now that German fertility has gone down the tubes, most likely due to the failure to dominate the world Germany is looking for the Islamic vigor to replenish its hopes of domination. As for me I could not be happier that Germany is taking in all these Jihadis. If it were up to me I would extradite all of my Muslims to Germany, fitting punishment for the grand crimes of the twentieth century

  38. Anyone interested in todays Germany should read Melanie Phillip’s latest column ; she gets it dead right as usual

  39. Europe brought this on themselves. First, the native born Europeans look down on the immigrants as second class citizens. Secondly, they refused to integrate and assimilate the immigrants. This could only cause anger and resentment and if you see me as dirt under your feet, how will I react? A message to the Muslims though also. You might think you are winning great victories in Europe now but you haven’t seen the REAL ugly side of the EU yet. France has Communards, Germany, Holland and Denmark have Sturmvolk. and so on. Poland already sees you for what you are; that is why they have denied you entry into their country. Tolerance is a two way street; if you choose to be intolerant, you will eventually get the same back.

  40. When Islam takes over Germany, guess what? They will inherit the Bomb. A full Death Cult with ultimate destructive power of world anniliation.

  41. White leftists say they don’t consider all whites racist, only the white supremacist republicans. What exactly is a “white supremacist” though. There used to be a clear and distinct definition of terms like racism, fascism and white supremacy.

    That was before the left began playing games with the meaning of words and often expanding the definition so broadly that they become meaningless.

    Leftists say Trump is another Hitler and those who voted for him are Nazis, racists, fascists and white supremacists. I know Vietnamese, Hispanics and Asian Indians though who voted for Trump. Are they also racist, fascist, white supremacists or are they just deluded souls who need to spend some time in a re-education camp where they can be taught to have the correct opinion about race?

    I used to think our society was so severely socially fragmented that it surely must be terminally ill. The more I see though of the left shouting about things like racism, fascism and white supremacy the more I realize that these people are their own worst enemy. Their fanaticism is undermining them.

    I don’t think they have any idea of how deranged they appear to the average white person or to people like the Vietnamese, Hispanics and Asian Indians who don’t see white people like me as the devil.

    There’s a beautiful and strange YouTube video called “Dmitri Shostakovich-The Second Waltz”. Beautiful music and dancing plus it’s very strangely quirky which makes it even more enjoyable.

    It’s odd that white leftists have such a deep racial hatred of white people since white people have in fact created a lot of very beautiful culture but the left is insane so there’s really no way to understand their reasoning.

  42. This is a fascinating and entirely reasonable explication of an existential problem that is staring the West squarely in the face. I wonder why no one has connected these particular dots until now. I recall Obama saying he considers Merkel his favorite leader and the one with whom he holds the most in common, which in light of this article is instinctual antipathy to the West in general and, in Obama’s case, America in particular.

    • Dear sotto voce,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
      Your sentence about Obama & Merkel hits the mark and sends up a shower of sparks!!
      With best wishes…

  43. In “The Closing of the American Mind,” Allan Bloom warned us that we couldn’t entertain a serious thought without inadvertently quoting a dead German. Now comes Robert Curry at American Greatness, who asks, “What’s the matter with Germany?” There is plenty the matter with Germany, but the same warning applies that Heinrich Heine gave to the townspeople of Duesseldorf about the broken-down hotel porter who used to be a drum-major in Napoleon’s army: He just might be your father, on your mother’s side. It is impossible for us to reflect on how we think without tripping over the “German problem.” To dismiss it is self-lobotomy. Some years ago I reviewed Peter Watson’s gargantuan survey, “The German Genius,” in “First Things.” It’s hardly an adequate treatment, but might serve as an introduction. Full disclosure: Lionel Trilling, one of the great influences on the Neo-Conservatives, was still teaching at Columbia when I was an undergraduate there. I didn’t other to sign up for his classes; I studied German and read the original sources (mainly Schiller) that Trilling got second-hand via Matthew Arnold. It isn’t just the children of Nietzsche (as in Bloom’s account) who speak pidgin German, but also the vast majority of conservative intellectuals. Find me a serious Catholic thinker who is not in awe of Urs v. Balthasar (or perhaps Karl Rahner). That is why Robert Curry’s essay is pernicious. We are in the mess we are in because we remain intellectually dependent on the Germans. Churchill’s aide Sir Ian Jacob joked that we won the war because “our German scientists were better than their German scientists.” I argue that we need to enlist our German intellectuals (e.g., Franz Rosenzweig) against their German intellectuals (e.g., Heidegger and his devotees Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt).

    • I confess it cut me to the quick to have my article described as “pernicious” by someone I so greatly admire.

      “We are in the mess we are in because we remain intellectually dependent on the Germans”

      Allow me to say that would be my point too. There are important areas where we need to disentangle our thinking from theirs, but not I think by enlisting our (!) German intellectuals to fight our battles for us. Rosenzweig to the rescue!, as if only German intellectuals count.

      With best wishes to all…

      • Robert Curry, I am sorry to be so harsh, but I stand by my comment. The most extraordinary thing about our times is the collective suicide of whole cultures. Hitler at the end of the war wanted the “Volk” to perish with him. The Jihadists are no different, except that they create a theater of horror with the intent of destroying our will to fight (think of human shields in Gaza). The jolly, sensible, rational British, the Burkes and Humes, know nothing of this: it is the Germans who looked into the abyss. Rosenzweig is particularly important because he addressed the issue of extinction of peoples and their willingness to fight to the death while clinging to a failing culture. See http://www.atimes.com/the-30-solution-when-war-without-end-ends-spengler/.
        Never mind that the great issues in mathematics and physics are all a debate among Germans: Einstein vs. Heisenberg, Goedel vs. Hilbert (and Carnap), Husserl vs. Hermann Cohen. What is consciousness? What is identity? What is perception? What are time and space?
        What is wrong with the Germans is that they idolatrized their own culture, rather like Feanor in Lord of the Rings. But that is another story.

      • Dear davidpgoldman,
        Thank you for taking the time to write.
        I am in fierce agreement with you here, as usual. Collective suicide, yes; Hitler, yes; Jihadists, yes; and especially what is wrong with the Germans, yes. And yes to the Lord of the Rings connection, also.
        With warm regards & best wishes…

  44. 2 thoughts:

    1. I hope the author will consider elaborating on this and discussing the intellectual and politico-economic relations between Germany and the other great non-Enlightenment power in Europe: Russia. Germany has long been understood to be pulled both East and West because of its geography, but what about its ideology at this fundamental level?

    2. I just bought a book, “Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich” by Eric Kurlander (Yale Univ. Press). This is real, serious history, not sensationalism, by a well-published author and researcher on social issues in Nazi Germany. Have not yet read it, but from skimming through it, well, Germany has a deep strain of what seems to me to be a VERY weird ideology of Germanic and Norse gods and supernatural events, and the Nazis were very much influenced by this–seances, belief in supernatural wonder weapons, the whole nine yards of weirdness. It appears that the Indiana Jones movies about Nazis trying to obtain ancient artifacts with magical or supernatural powers were in fact very much grounded in true Nazi/German ideology.

  45. RELATED: The Fourth Reich is here — without a shot being fired (May 15, 2016; five weeks before #Brexit)

  46. I think the author’s strongest point here concerns “injured pride”. Certainly the pride of Germany has been well-noted. Germany was jealous of the colonies of the other European powers – hardly a good reason to start a war. The pride of Nietszche is enormous, and he influenced Germany during the latter half of the 19th century.
    In my opinion, the main thing wrong with Germany is pride, but also Prussia. Prussia was practically unconverted, and I think the propaganda of the first World War depicting the Prussian as a barbaric ape was sadly accurate, because they behaved as such. Nevertheless, Prussia only gained influence because of the flaws of the Enlightenment thinking of France and England.

    I think there are a few things here that are unresolved. The most significant omission is: Which Enlightenment ideas did Germany reject, exactly? Many of the Enlightenment ideas were awful, and anti-Christian. Especially for American Catholics reading this article, I think it’s important to point this out.
    The 1688 revolution in England was mostly bad. It was more about wealthy nobles gaining power at the expense of the Crown, and at the expense of the peasants, most of whom supported the Crown, than it was about democracy or anything the author mentions here. The British peasants were sorely oppressed by the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of the wealthy Lords/aristocrats contributed to their poor conditions. We here in America have been conditioned to look past this, because we are capitalist, but it is nevertheless true. The great J.R.R. Tolkien thought this way, and presented the Shire as pre-industrial with good reason. Great Christians and conservatives such as Chesterton and Belloc have written of this also.

    Germany is not the same as Prussia. It was Prussia, who was master of Germany, who was the main force pushing Europe to World War One.
    Further, the political revolution in France in 1789 had many negative aspects. The worst is this: a supreme confidence in the will of the people. The “will of the people” became the new “divine right”, and many were slaughtered. Morality is objective… the will of the people has a role, but cannot determine right and wrong. The French Revolution partly led to the Communist Revolution in Russia, for instance. Consider how many conservatives in America today were upset by the passage of gay marriage. It was done by the courts, but few among us would desire it to be put to a vote. Many I know think it’s wrong because it’s plain wrong, and believe the government should obey that abstract moral, rather than the will of the people, many of whom are quite taken with the Sexual Revolution, which we conservatives mostly reject.

    In sum, I am trying to say this: The economic revolution in England was about freedom in the economic realm. The revolution in France was about freedom in the political realm. Germany resisted both, which was good. I’ll get to why in a moment. But they resisted in the wrong way: first they turned to the militancy of Prussia, which had nothing to do with masses of the German people, yet ruled Germany, almost as a thing foreign to Germany. Then they turned to the evil of Hitler. That is the great tragedy – many of their gripes with the Enlightenment came to nought, because of the lunacy of their leaders.
    Why was it good that they resisted those two revolutions? Well, I could explain perhaps best in a sideways way. The great Archbishop Fulton Sheen often criticized Soviet communism. He said that Karl Marx (the German) got his philosophy from Germany, his economics from England, and his sociology from France. If Marx, whose thought has terrorized the world since, could get his economics from England, and his sociology from France, and we think of Adam Smith and Ricardo (British economists) and Rousseau (French writer who was the main inspiration for the French Revolution and inspired Thomas Jefferson) as Enlightenment thinkers, then we begin to see the tangled mess we are dealing with here. As a Catholic, the Enlightenment hit on some good ideas, but was also very misguided. Its ideas were no substitute to the thousand years of Christendom which preceded the Protestant Reformation.
    When the Left today preaches gender theory or transgenderism, they are continuing the “freedom” tradition of the Enlightenment (freedom even from their own God-given bodies). When the C-suites exercise their economic freedom by sending our jobs overseas, they are continuing the Enlightenment tradition. Common sense is more opposed to the Enlightenment than is embodied by it. In general, it subverted the primacy of God and replaced Him with the primacy of Man. To paraphrase the great Russian novelist Dostoyevsky, the death of religion is the death of man, and the main attack of the Enlightenment was the old religion of Catholicism. Democracy is good, but as our second president said, it’s no use without good morals in the populace, and the Enlightenment has contributed to the lowering of our morals.
    A word about Romanticism – it had two main forms, which the scholar Joseph Pearce has called light and dark. Some Romantics indeed looked to the Middle Ages for inspiration, and I’m confused why the author speaks so ill of Romanticism. It helped give life to a Europe ravaged by the Industrial Revolution. Is the author a Rationalist? The use of reason is incomplete without the use of the imagination. Note that G.K. CHesterton, in his essay “The Maniac”, thought of the madman as the one who has lost everything but the use of his reason. Note that our Lord spoke in parables – in stories. If He made use of the imagination, then it must be ok. Regarding emotion, Aristotle taught that our passions should be directed toward the good. Emotion alone cannot have a moral component, but if Romanticism directed the emotions toward the Good, then it’s good (if it directed the emotions to the bad – the sordidness of some of Oscar Wilde’s stuff – then it’s bad).

  47. What is it about European countries that they can’t seem to handle freedom and about every 75 years, or so, the U.S. has to save them from themselves? The countries seem to turn over their sovereignty, borders, and values to the next czar pushing the next garden variety version of “regionalism,” usually from Germany.

    Securing one’s borders is the only way to maintain national identities, values, and sovereignty.