Die Ubermenschen and Germany
This autumn, three topics dominate global reporting. In the USA, these are the never-ending partisan farce called the Presidential election cycle (into which has been folded the "economy"), the Arab Spring, and the European Crisis. One is an ongoing migraine, another represents great hope for the future, and the third serves as official certification of one of the greatest achievements in all of human history.
This "European Crisis" should fill us all with joy.
For some, the phrase "European Crisis" has been a harbinger of doom. In the States, dread has attached to the phrase because it pulled us from our wise conservative heritage of avoiding "European Entanglements", and shouts to us a warning of something evil that never changes.
For too many others, Europe represents an idealized picture of the old country. These fantasy lands are rich in cultural sophistication, where the "Western" tradition has reached its apogee; where human rights are most advanced, from which all other societies seek guidance as well as suffer from a sense of cultural provincialism. We go to Europe to soak up this culture, throw a coin in the fountain, chow down and, perhaps, have a naughty summer fling. Unfortunately, this view of Europe ignores the most basic aspect of European history.
When the words "European" and "Crisis" are put together, I am put in mind of the primal European tradition that underlies the culture - the brutal reliance on the sword. Among the Europeans there has always been an infestation of warlike, aggressive and barbarous people. If one were to pick the greatest Europeans; those who have had the largest impact on the world, it would be Alexander, not Aristotle, Caesar not Copernicus, Napoleon not Rousseau, Hitler not Beethoven, and Stalin not Tolstoy.
The finer elements of European society have always lost out to this gang. These thugs have made of European history a ceaseless catalog of senseless war, catastrophic global aggrandizement, and mind numbing savagery.
In so far as reason and science emerged, they often simply served to perfect the implements of destruction. Democratization, in this sense, did not represent the restraint of the fundamental European impulse - privilege - but rather the dissemination of aggression throughout entire nations whereby war, once conducted by elites with limited forces, now mobilized entire populations into mass hysteria.
If our Western tradition, in particular European history, actually represented the advancement of reason in the cause of perfecting the human condition, then the 20th century would have been the best century. The opposite is true.
Our most recently completed century, the 20th, provides overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence that this is a false assumption. In many ways, the 20th century was the worst in all of recorded human history. Never before, have so many died in so many senseless wars and cruel repressions. We have not yet invented the computer that can calculate the total. Give your brain a break: Start at 100 million lives thrown away, and then work your way up. Remember too, as you calculate, that by mid-century all the major belligerents had sunk to a level where innocent civilians had become legitimate targets. Include not only the uniformed (and most of those were just boys) but also the tens of millions of woman, children, and infants that were bombed, shelled, bayoneted, incinerated, executed or starved.
In response to this latest European Crisis, should we prepare our boys? Gear up the propaganda machine? Shall we mobilize? Rush to give blood? Complete our shelters? Await our doom?
No. For the first time in history, a major crisis in Europe does not threaten war. It is a different kind of crisis. It is peaceful. Before we address a few words of opinion towards the actual crisis in Europe, let us pause and say a few words about what a peaceful crisis represents (after all, no one else has).
Huzzah! Hallelujah! Thank God!
Bloody hell: Finally, Europe is civilized.
From our general jubilation over a continental liberation, let us turn to one of its particular national components - Germany.
Over here, the 20th was not a good century for our German-Americans. Always at some odds with their rivals, the English speaking, the reputation of the German-American here went south with the outbreak of the first World War of the century. This was, as you may know, a war about absolutely nothing other than the gross incompetence and inhumanity of Europe's ruling elite - both "democratic" and despotic. When the USA overcame its sane and traditional neutrality, with the help of the Kaiser's idiotic advisers, it became necessary to induce young Americans to throw their lives away. This was accomplished with cool, hysterical, anti-German propaganda. Germany, we were taught, was a monstrous state. The "Hun" was vilified. Neighbor turned against neighbor. German-Americans were insulted, repressed and ostracized. This, despite the fact that Germany was at that time one of the most civilized nations in the world, and that German-Americans constituted the largest ethnic group among white Americans, and were, in fact, significant contributors to what was then emerging as the ideal of "all-American". They were distinctly associated with a love of freedoms, our Constitution, and a fervent loyalty to the Union.
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