In my recent article, “What’s the Matter with Germany?” I argued that under the leadership of Germany, “Europe is committing ‘suicide by Islam.’” Adolf Hitler imagined a Thousand-Year Reich, with Germany dominating Europe and the globe. Today, Germany’s rulers imagine a multicultural world, where Germany and other European nations no longer exist.
This does not represent an about-face from Germany’s imperial tendencies. It is, rather, just a new expression of it. The Germans tried to destroy Europe twice in recent history. Is it so surprising that Germans are welcoming an invasion that is on track to accomplish what Germany failed to do?
It’s very strange. Western history began with the account by Herodotus of the Greeks’ heroic resistance to the invading Persians. Today, Germany is bullying Europe to yield to an ongoing Muslim invasion. The Germans are welcoming the invaders, and Europe is abandoning its 2,500 year project of defending itself from Eastern conquerors.
Though strange, this is understandable, if one first understands Germany. I believe most Americans assume Germany is a Western nation like any other. The narrative would go something like this: Hitler was an unfortunate and tragic anomaly. He was a spellbinder with fantastical rhetorical powers that played on Germany’s historical resentments, and during his time he actually did manage to “fundamentally transform” Germany, changing it into the Hitler nightmare. Since Hitler has exited the scene, however, and the ravages of the Cold War are in the rearview mirror, Germany has returned to being a more-or-less normal Western nation.
But if this version of Germany’s story is true, why is Germany again bullying Europe, this time to yield to the Muslim invasion?
In my previous article I wrote that the Germans emerged from the Enlightenment era as the counter-Enlightenment people. This is not to deny any of the intellectual achievements of the German people. German music during the Enlightenment era, the time of Bach and Mozart, reached a peak which may never be equalled. And Germany’s achievements in science, mathematics, and technology have been of the first order. But in philosophy and especially political philosophy, the definite break between Germany and the rest of the West cannot be denied. Instead of being a part of the ongoing Enlightenment concerning the natural and political rights of man—a project started in England and taken up by America (with much success) and by France (with mixed results)—Germany was the heartland of the rejection of these ideas.
Romanticism, the 19th-century intellectual movement that gave the era after the Enlightenment its name, may be understood in shorthand as a rejection of Enlightenment thinking. And it started in Germany. The German thinkers who opposed the Enlightenment project loomed over 19th and 20th centuries. Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche are perhaps the most influential of these thinkers.
As I have argued, politically, the Enlightenment project was all about rights. But German intellectuals would have none of it. Hegel rejected individual rights and exalted the state. Marx rejected private property and the free market. Nietzsche exalted the will to power.
Unfortunately, German professors read—and worse yet, revered—those German thinkers and taught that reverence to their students. No one understood better than F. A. Hayek how this played out. Hayek, who won the Nobel Prize in economics, was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. Here is what he wrote about the situation in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century:
For more than seventy years the German professors of political science, history, law, geography and philosophy eagerly imbued their disciples with a hysterical hatred of capitalism, and preached the war of “liberation” against the capitalistic West…At the turn of the century the immense majority of Germans were already radical supporters of socialism and aggressive nationalism. They were then already firmly committed to the principles of Naziism [before the term itself was invented].
German professors prepared the way for that charismatic leader who emerged after World War I to fill the role in German society made ready for him by the German intellectuals of the Romantic era.
This raises an obvious question: how far down this same path has the United States traveled? The American Left applauds Merkel, and loathes Trump for his insistence that America must regain control of its borders, instead of following Merkel’s example and taking all comers. American professors of political science, history, law, geography, and philosophy have been preaching contempt for America and hatred of capitalism for quite some time. Although American students have not yet taken up the Nazi ritual of book-burning, they have been rioting to prevent authors from speaking, and, of course, attacking statues and monuments.
Perhaps the reason Germany no longer feels it necessary to actively seek to conquer Europe is that intellectually (through their influence on Western thought) and politically (through the EU) it already controls it. They’ve already won. What is left for them, then, is to advance their phalanx in America and other holdouts.
Generals enlisted in this fight include American professors committed to a way of thinking rooted in those same German intellectuals. They have been hard at work in America to make sure the rejection of the American idea continues to gain strength. It’s working. According to a recent poll, for example, a majority of Millennials reject capitalism.
Consequently, it makes sense to say that American politics is no longer a political contest between an American Left and an American Right. It has turned into a twilight struggle between Americans still committed to the American idea of self-government and an anti-American Left intent on “fundamentally transforming” the nation.