10 Germany and Russia in the Belle Epoque: -- Part 2
He had a huge influence on Europe's intellectual life, extending well into the mid-twentieth century.
The traditional right, mocking bourgeois values and the Judeo-Christian tradition were iconsoclastic, but he also took aim at what he believed were the shallow pseudo-certainties of modern science.
His writing style was more like poetry than philosophy.
As with Darwin and Marx, how he was understood may be more important than what he actually wrote.
His intentions were obscure and he had a penchant for paradoxes.
His sense of the Highest Good was uncertain but different from the prevailing attitudes of the day.
The inferior trying to hold down the superior was dismissed as a "slave morality" by him.
He admired Dostoevsky's work, but he did not share the Russian novelist's Christian faith.
Although he was seen as an important influence on the Nazis, his writings were not as sophisticated as those of Hitler or Himmler.
It's easy to see how Nietzschean thought could be used for racist purposes.
He might be the most politically correct writer of the 19th century.
There was a remorseless aesthetic elitism to his statements, and a summons to return to the ethic of the ancient Greeks and to reject the Christian elevation of the meek, poor, and simple.
He held the political antisemites of his day in contempt if they made comments about Jews that appealed to their enemies.
In one sense, the German Question was solved in 1870-1, but in another sense, it was troubling.
It was simply that there were too many Germans in Europe.
The most important issue was not numbers.
The proliferation of German-speakers into parts of central Europe and eastern Europe left many pockets of German minorities.
German-speakers had higher literacy rates than other ethnic groups.
In the mid-nineteenth century Germans seemed to have mastered modern techniques of production more successfully than any other European people, with the exception of the British and Americans.
A significant part of the German population became intoxicated with ultra-nationalism and resentful of how they had been treated before.
It is easy to overlook the extent to which heated nationalist sentiment and self-pitying resentments existed in other countries, especially since these German tendencies stand out especially in retrospect.
It is often overlooked that the SPD, Germany's largest party, opposed racism and stood for peace and international reconciliation.
The Catholic Center, Germany's second-largest party, was a non-racist and universalist.
After 1871, Bismarck offered a conciliatory German face in international relations, despite the fearsome anger he directed at those who opposed him.
He vowed to work as an "honest broker" for international peace after announcing that Germany was a "satiated" power.
He was able to allying Germany with both Austria-Hungary and Russia because of their clashing interests in the Balkans.
Other issues were left in abeyance, unsolved or made worse by the authoritarian nature of the state he created and the way he personally ruled it.
Sir John Tenniel wrote "Dropping the Pilot".
Kaiser Wilhelm II is taking over while the "pilot" is being dismissed.
The issues took on a more urgent aspect when the signals were given after 1890.
In these years, many nations faced internal problems of equal or even greater gravity.
France, Russia, and Austria-Hungary moved from crisis to crisis, deeply divided internally, and with histories that were far bloodier than Germany's.
The British were considered to be the most successful nation-state in modern times, but their record was not without blemish, and at the end of the 1890s Britain became entangled in a divisive imperial war against the Boer republics in southern Africa.
The effects of one of Bismarck's failures linger into the prewar period.
He tried to wean the working class away from socialism by offering its members state-supported welfare measures.
The idea that the state has a major responsibility to help the poor and resolve social conflicts meshes with Hegelian thought.
The critics argue that the political maturity of Germany's population was weakened by people putting too much trust in the state.
When the German state was well run, the danger of that path seemed small.
When socialism was introduced, many Social Democrats thought that existing state institutions could be retained.
The rising SPD began to show serious internal strains.
The implications beyond Germany pushed the SPD to the edge of schism.
The strains were related to the issues discussed in Chapter 9, "what Marx really meant," how long the capitalist stage could be expected to last, and whether the demise of capitalism would involve a violent confrontation between the ruling class and the peasants.
The younger generation took up these long-simmering questions after the death of Engels.
In the 1870s and 1880s, these men faced persecution because of their Marxist beliefs, and they had been friends of Engels.
Bernstein insisted at the end of his life that he was still a Marxist and that he had tried to bring Marx's theory up to date.
Since he did more than update Marxism, his attachment to the Marxist label seemed to have more to do with the emotional bonding of his youth and the comradeship he felt within the social-democratic movement.
The root and branch were criticized by him.
He denied that class conflict was unbridgeable and that capitalism's internal contradictions would inevitably lead to revolution.
He described socialism as desirable, but by no means inevitable; it would come through gradual reform over a long period and patient work guiding socialist ideals, not suddenly in a dramatic confrontation.