The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 474 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07.

The military class is the class of universality.  The defense of the State is its privilege, and its duty is to realize the ideality contained in it, which consists in self-sacrifice.  There are different kinds of bravery.  The courage of the animal, or the robber, the bravery which arises from a sense of honor, the chivalrous bravery, are not yet the true forms of it.  In civilized nations true bravery consists in the readiness to give oneself wholly to the service of the State, so that the individual counts but as one among many.  Not personal valor, but the important aspect of it, lies in self-subordination to the universal cause.

To risk one’s life is indeed something more than mere fear of death, but this is only negative; only a positive character—­an aim and content—­gives meaning to bravery.  Robbers and murderers in the pursuit of crime, adventurers in the search of their fanciful objects, etc., also possess courage, and do not fear death.  The principle of the modern world—­the power of thought and of the universal—­has given to bravery a higher form; the higher form causes the expression of bravery to appear more mechanical.  The brave deeds are not the deeds of any particular person, but those of the members of a whole.  And, again, since hostility is directed, not against separate individuals, but against a hostile whole, personal valor appears as impersonal.  This principle it is which has caused the invention of the gun; it is not a chance invention that has brought about the change of the mere personal form of bravery into the more abstract.


Just as the individual is not a real person unless related to other persons, so the State is no real individuality unless related to other States.  The legitimate power of a State, and more especially its princely power, is, from the point of view of its foreign relations, a wholly internal affair.  A State shall, therefore, not interfere with the internal affairs of another State.  On the other hand, for a complete State, it is essential that it be recognized by others; but this recognition demands as a guarantee that it shall recognize those States which recognize it, and shall respect their independence.  Hence its internal affairs cannot be a matter of indifference to them.

When Napoleon, before the peace of Campoformio, said, “The French Republic requires recognition as little as the sun needs to be recognized,” his words suggest nothing but the strength of existence, which already carries with it the guarantee of recognition, without needing to be expressed.

When the particular wills of the State can come to no agreement their controversy can be decided only by war.  What offense shall be regarded as a breach of a treaty, or as a violation of respect and honor, must remain indefinite, since many and various injuries can easily accrue from the wide range of the interests of the States and from the complex relations of their citizens.  The State may identify its infinitude and honor with every one of its single aspects.  And if a State, as a strong individuality, has experienced an unduly protracted internal rest, it will naturally be more inclined to irritability, in order to find an occasion and field for intense activity.

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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