The Barbarism of Berlin eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 45 pages of information about The Barbarism of Berlin.
of the mind.  Above all, they differ in what is the most English of all English traits; that shame which the French may be right in calling “the bad shame”; for it is certainly mixed up with pride and suspicion, the upshot of which we called shyness.  Even an Englishman’s rudeness is often rooted in his being embarrassed.  But a German’s rudeness is rooted in his never being embarrassed.  He eats and makes love noisily.  He never feels a speech or a song or a sermon or a large meal to be what the English call “out of place” in particular circumstances.  When Germans are patriotic and religious, they have no reaction against patriotism and religion as have the English and the French.

Nay, the mistake of Germany in the modern disaster largely arose from the facts that she thought England was simple, when England is very subtle.  She thought that because our politics have become largely financial that they had become wholly financial; that because our aristocrats had become pretty cynical that they had become entirely corrupt.  They could not seize the subtlety by which a rather used-up English gentleman might sell a coronet when he would not sell a fortress; might lower the public standards and yet refuse to lower the flag.

In short, the Germans are quite sure that they understand us entirely, because they do not understand us at all.  Possibly if they began to understand us they might hate us even more:  but I would rather be hated for some small but real reason, than pursued with love on account of all kinds of qualities which I do not possess and which I do not desire.  And when the Germans get their first genuine glimpse of what modern England is like, they will discover that England has a very broken, belated and inadequate sense of having an obligation to Europe, but no sort of sense whatever of having any obligation to Teutonism.

This is the last and strongest of the Prussian qualities we have here considered.  There is in stupidity of this sort a strange slippery strength:  because it can be not only outside rules but outside reason.  The man who really cannot see that he is contradicting himself has a great advantage in controversy; though the advantage breaks down when he tries to reduce it to simple addition, to chess, or to the game called war.  It is the same about the stupidity of the one-sided kinship.  The drunkard who is quite certain that a total stranger is his long-lost brother, has a greater advantage until it comes to matters of detail.  “We must have chaos within,” said Nietzsche, “that we may give birth to a dancing star.”

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The Barbarism of Berlin from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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