The Politics of the Unpolitical: German Writers and the by Gordon A. Craig

By Gordon A. Craig

In a publication written in the course of the First international struggle, Thomas Mann wrote that political job was once alien to the German spirit and that "in truth the political aspect used to be absent from the German suggestion of education." The Politics of the Unpolitical demonstrates the fundamental unreliability of this generalization by way of concentrating on the political task of ten of Germany's most generally revered writers within the interval from the French Revolution to the founding of the Bismarck Reich in 1871. Gordon A. Craig's booklet exhibits how Goethe, Schiller, Heinrich von Kleist, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Holderlin, and Heine have been desirous about the political problems with their day and reacted both by means of coming into public carrier or threw themselves into efforts to alter society for the higher. In his examine of ten of Germany's most crucial intellectuals Craig, specializes in their political beliefs and actions and argues that they weren't, actually, representatives of the style of the "unpolitical German."

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64 As the years passed, there was no change in Goethe's fundamental political position. His fear of revolution was his strongest impulse, and this was, as Nietzsche once remarked, closely linked with his readiness to accept any situation that would give him the peace and 20 The Politics of the Unpolitical security he needed to pursue his scientific and artistic work. 68 It was clear that he preferred integrated international systems to ones that were too loosely organized to prevent unilateral aggression by member states.

The former was a rather exaggerated parody of the inflated rhetoric of homegrown revolutionaries, which made the point, in a not very sophisticated way, that, in a land where the prince could be approached by every subject and where there were no impediments set to any legitimate activities on his part, there was no reason for party strife, and the influence of inflammatory foreign doctrines should be resisted. Die Aufgeregten, a much more effective piece of writing, told the story of a countess who, on a visit to Paris, has recognized both the ideals that animated the revolution and the crimes committed in its name and who returns to Germany resolved to institute reforms on her estates in collaboration with the local citizenry.

This is one of the decisive epochs in the history of the world, this age in which we live! "41 There were a few German intellectuals who were inclined to agree with this last point—Hegel, for instance, and Goethe, who said much the same at Valmy—but they were not going to do anything about it. Typical was the attitude of Johannes von Muller, the historian of Swiss liberty, who returned to his home in Mainz in November, talked with Forster and Custine, expressed the warmest sympathy for the cause of liberty and the republic, and then disappeared with all his books and furniture.

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