The Continental Counter-Enlightenment
The Continental Counter-Enlightenment
Environmentalism is, among other things, an attack on science. This is not the first concerted campaign against science and reason. From the mid-18th to the early 19th century a social movement explicitly attacking science and reason dominated the intellectual culture of the European Continent. The Continental Counter-Enlightenment was forged during a ferocious Republican-Royalist conflict. This social movement was a reaction by the aristocracy to modernization. Their attack on science and reason was an effort to thwart any common-sense empirical policy discussion about feudalism, monarchism and clericalism which they admitted were irrational institutions. In the Continental Counter-Enlightenment's clear and profound legacy one finds the roots of Fascism and Environmentalism.
The Essay of Isaiah's
Isaiah Berlin bracketed the Counter-Enlightenment between 1720 and 1830; from the writings of Giambattista Vico to those of Joseph de Maistre. Berlin’s framework and its accompanying cast of characters, with several additions, will be used here. Although Berlin did not use the phrase “Continental Counter-Enlightenment” his analysis of this social movement is largely confined to the European Continent and he sidesteps the British-American experience. This essay also focuses on the Continent; however, it does describe English artistic influences on the Continental Counter-Enlightenment. Berlin compiled a useful guide to Counter-Enlightenment beliefs but made no effort to place this movement into context. (1)
The Continental Counter-Enlightenment emerged at the same time as the French Enlightenment. The French Enlightenment, as a social movement, started around the 1720s with its membership overlapping with the organizers, authors and publishers of French encyclopaedias and dictionaries. These Parisian philosophes had an agenda to create:
“...a logically connected structure of laws and generalizations susceptible to demonstration and verification to replace the chaotic amalgam of ignorance, mental laziness, guesswork, superstition, prejudice, dogma and above all, “the interested error”, maintained by the rulers of mankind and largely responsible for the blunders, vices, and misfortunes of humanity.” (2)
Furthermore they believed:
“the arts and the sciences were the most powerful weapons in attaining these ends, and the sharpest weapons in the fight against...fanaticism, oppression and barbarism which crippled human effort and frustrated men’s search for the truth and rational self direction.” (3)
1720 to 1830 were eventful years. This was the period of the British Industrial Revolution (1730 to 1850). In 1720 ‘America’ consisted of farming and fishing colonies protected by the British Crown. By 1830 it was a rapidly industrializing republic claiming an area the size of Europe. During this period France went from absolutist Bourbon monarchy through the French Revolution and Napoleon, then back to the Bourbons. Field-artillery transformed battlefields while cities blossomed in a cultural revolution borne of proliferating printing presses.
Hohenzollerns stem from an 11th century castellan, Count Burchard I of Zollern, whose grandchildren were officials in the southern German city of Hechingen. By 1192 a Hohenzollern was governor of Nuremburg. In 1415, in reward for fighting the Turks, the Hungarian King and future Holy Roman Emperor appointed the Hohenzollerns “Prince-Electors” of a state in north-eastern Germany (Brandenburg) in and around which they aggressively accumulated property. By 1525 they were known as the “Dukes of Prussia” and over the next century their land-holdings grew to be among Europe’s largest. In 1701 the title “King of Prussia” was claimed by Duke Frederick III under whose son (King Frederick William I, 1713-1740) Prussia emerged as a Continental superpower.
The Continental Counter-Enlightenment was most at home in that broad swath of central Europe stretching from Prussia to Naples. This area remained a jigsaw puzzle of Dukedoms, Prince-Bishoprics, monasteries, exclaves, enclaves and Kingdoms. Political activity revolved around the efforts of aristocratic families to acquire and defend territory and title through marriage, purchase, intrigue, alliance and war. The actors on this stage were the Houses of: Hapsburg, Bourbon, Ruffo, Brunswick, Bourbon-Parma, Schwartzenberg, Orlean-Bourbon, Wurttemburg, Orange-Nassau, Hanover, Saxe-Coburg, de Polignac, Saxe-Weimer, Doria, Holstein, Corsini, Savoy, and notably the House of Hohenzollern.
Vico the Neapolitan
Giambattista Vico was born the son of a poor book-seller in Naples in 1668. He skipped the dry scholastic lectures at Jesuit school, preferring to read the classics by candle-light in the corners of crowded rooms. In the 1690s Giambattista was hired to tutor Duke Della Rocca’s daughter with whom he soon fell in love. Vico meditated on the entrenched ancient structures making a relationship with her impossible. His early writings were melancholy tomes on the soul’s imprisonment within the physical body.
In 1699, Vico assumed the Chair of Rhetoric at the University of Naples and with it the duty of delivering the year-opening grand lecture. Ten years later, his final grand lecture (the Chair going to his son) was published as On the Method of Studies of Our Time. In the same year he published On the Ancient Wisdom of the Italians - a refutation of early French Rationalism.
Vico was a local celebrity craving recognition from Paris and Amsterdam. In the 1720s he secured sponsorship from the Corsini dynasty for the printing and distributing of a master-text, “The Universal Law”. However, after reading the manuscript the Corsinis withdrew support as they wished no controversy while on the eve of having one of their own, Gino Corsini, appointed Pope (Clement XII). Vico sold the family jewellery to have the work published. The book, renamed New Science, was published in 1725 with a radically altered edition appearing six years later.
New Science describes a 3 Age cycle of civilizational growth and decay. In the “Age of Beasts” people are technologically primitive and submerged in a highly superstitious multi-god culture. This is followed by the “Age of Heroes” wherein clan militias form mini-states with rigid social divisions between warrior-elite patricians and common-labouring plebeians. The next stage is the “Age of Men” wherein plebeians fight for equal rights. During this Age people are self-centered and infatuated with material things and their cities become deserts of souls. The chaos and corruption arising from the plebeian-patrician conflict causes a reversion to the “Age of Beasts” with humanity preserving only obscure fragments of knowledge.
Vico’s three phase cycle was at odds with the Enlightenment belief in linear progress. Enlightenment thinkers believed in an ascent of humanity through technological and cultural evolution and therefore believed persons from advanced societies could rightfully look upon earlier societies as immature or retarded versions of their own. To Vico, it was wrong for people of one time to judge previous civilizations upon a contemporary standard. He thought the Homeric poems, though primitive, were unsurpassed masterpieces expressing the brutal oligarchic reality of the “Age of Heroes”.
Vico believed in the primacy and universality of religion:
“All the people have a religion; official marriages are celebrated among them and the burial of the dead is a properly human and universal custom.” (4)
He believed the universal religious virtues of Piety and Modesty were pillars of political stability. As these pillars weakened civilization degenerated into barbarism. The Enlightenment’s relentless critique of religious superstition was destroying these pillars. Failure to prevent this destruction, like the failure to manage the dissonance arising from the persistence of primitive castes, was a religious failing.
To Vico, myths were not merely inaccurate beliefs waiting to be dispelled. Poetry was not merely an embellishment of what could be better said in ordinary prose. Myths and poetry embodied the authentic vision of the world. Myths and poetry appear irrational yet weave together the family of families that constitute ‘a people’.
Vico was outraged by the Parisian arbiters of ethics who viewed as backward, and sought to undermine with science, the unique lands of Italy. Vico cursed these servants of science without conscience. They were sewing dragon seeds and would reap a whirlwind of chaotic evil during the next tumble of the kaleidoscope. Despite rationalist vanity, the irrational flame grows imperceptibly in every age of reason.
The Naples Vico wished to shield from the Enlightenment covered the southern third of the Italian Peninsula. Naples was transferred to the Savoyards via the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) but they traded it to the Hapsburgs for Sardinia. In the 1730s Don Carlos Bourbon (later Charles III of Spain) marched in with a battalion of mercenaries, drove out the hapless Hapsburgs, and inscrutably declared himself ‘King of the Two Sicilies’.
17th century Naples had a thriving textile industry but lost its customers to the English and Flemish. While some export of wine, olives and silk continued, 18th century Naples was increasingly an agricultural economy with most of its harvest consumed locally. As for the social structure of Vico’s Naples:
“...half the country belonged to the Church, half to two per cent of the population. The other ninety-eight per cent, declared a contemporary, ‘had not enough to be buried in’. A population of five millions supported twenty-one archbishops, and one hundred thousand priests, monks and nuns...” (5)
Jean Jacques and the Myth of the Golden Past
Although an Enlightenment writer, Jean Jacques Rousseau profoundly influenced the Counter-Enlightenment. Born in Geneva in 1712 he was self-educated, benefiting from a long relationship with an aristocratic woman with a library. His primary interest being Italian music, he submitted an Italianesque musical scheme to the Parisian Academy of Science in the 1730s. It was ignored. His only musical success was the opera “The Cunning Man” (1752).
In the 1740s Rousseau was secretary to the French ambassador in Vienna. When he returned to Paris in 1745 he made the acquaintance of encyclopaedist Diderot on whose suggestion Rousseau made a submission to an Academy of Dijon essay competition regarding the relationship of art to morality. Rousseau argued art was an instrument of propaganda and profit for the aristocracy. The essay was provoking riots three years later.
For a 1755 competition Rousseau penned “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality”, a speculative anthropology essay declaring the historical existence of a past golden state of happy savages. This Eden was allegedly corrupted by the formation of societies whose internal competition caused unbearable institutionalized inequality. The essay was an emotional outpouring against Bourbonic France’s laws and customs which he said promoted waste and privilege and suppressed dignity and freedom. Rousseau’s France was a world of crippling artificiality, arbitrary bullying and humiliating obsequiousness.
In the 1760s he wrote a novel and two polemical tracts including: The Social Contract. After the condemnation of these books by the Bourbon-appointed Parlement of Paris, Rousseau fled to Switzerland. The Catholic bishops were incensed by his criticism of the doctrine of Original Sin. He lived in England for a year but after quarrels with his sponsor, David Hume, he slipped back to Paris incognito spending his last years writing memoirs.
Evidence of economic irrationality was always at hand. In 1769 a crop failure caused 5% of the French population to starve to death. A comparable calamity struck Bohemia in the following year. (6)
Most German Counter-Enlightenment leaders were Pietists. Lutheranism starts with Martin Luther’s 1530s protest campaign. Pietist cells emerged within Lutheran congregations in the early 1600s following publication of books by Johann Arndt who was inspired by the English Puritans. Philip Spener (1635-1705) was raised in a household where Arndt’s True Christianity was the book.
There was no expectation Lutheran Ministers lead a sober, monogamous lifestyle. Few tried. Pietists, however, believed strongly in sobriety and monogamy. They also believed in home Bible-study groups to supplement church attendance. These churches-within-churches were tight-knit cells whose members called each other brother and sister and where the local Minister’s behaviour was a frequent morsel of conversation.
These Bible-study groups developed an affinity with the Jesus Movement’s house-church period (50-150 AD) time-capsuled in the New Testament. The Pietists shared the Apostles’ commitment to the simple, sacrifice-laden, pious lifestyle. Pietist Ministers dispensed with church rituals, focusing instead on a Sunday sermon given in the local dialect. At the same time, Pietists never let go of a pagan mysticism associated with nature signs. These beliefs merged into a “seeing of God” in everyday events.
In 1686 Spener was appointed Minister of Dresden, a top Lutheran pulpit. In a 1691 sermon Spener called the local Saxon Prince a disgraceful drunk and bad example. The Prince sobered up long enough to run Spener out of Dresden who providentially landed in the arms of the Hohenzollerns who made him Rector of St. Nicholas Church, thus placing him in Berlin’s top Lutheran consistory. Then Spener became Chief Inspector of Prussian Churches.
Aided with his Pietist cell network, Chief Inspector Spener conducted a proper purge, placing Pietist preachers in every Prussian parish possible. Pietists also conducted a successful congregation-building out-reach to the lesser Prussian nobility. As a result of these mini-crusades, King Frederick William I reaped what no Hohenzollern ever had before: a harvest of honest, hard-working and sober civilian, military and religious officials. Spener was given a University in Halle which he staffed with disciples who sowed Pietist seeds across the German-speaking world.
One such seed, Johann Hamann, germinated in Konigsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) in 1730. He was a friend of philosophy supremo Immanuel Kant with whom he shared the “Gnostic hatred of matter”. (Konigsberg-born Kant entered Konigsberg U age 16 and stayed.) Hamann was a self-educated customs officer working in the eastern Duchies of Riga and Courland whose writing was religiously motivated.
Hamann was first to recognize the threat the French Enlightenment posed to Christianity. He was militantly anti-French. His arch-enemy was Voltaire whom he said had a corrosive wit in place of a heart. Hamann was openly irrationalist; believing the basic facts of life were apprehensible through the senses without need of fancy logic. He believed personal salvation required an unquestioning, unreasoning, childlike faith in God.
To Hamann reason was overvalued as an educational tool or as a life guide. To him some men were born with the ability to read God’s nature symbols and some men were born with the ability to reveal the scriptures. Study will not deliver these gifts. A Life itself, wrote Hamann, was a completely irrational hell-ride where rule-breaking creative animals loved, hated, ate, drank, worshipped and sacrificed. God was a poet, not a mathematician. (7)
He believed only philology (literature) yielded truth because literature was “the fountain of the passion-inspired imagination”. He had a particular interest in the history of poetry - “the mother tongue of mankind”. He argued: “gardening is more ancient than agriculture, painting than writing, song than recitation, proverbs than rational conclusions, barter than trade.” (8) Every profession, school, industry, sect, or court communicated internally through a unique poetry whose encryptions were decipherable only by those approaching this poetry as a loving friend.
Hamann believed scientific analysis distorted reality. Scientists were incapable of finding truth because they were incapable of love. “Only love – for a person or an object – can reveal the true nature of anything.” As well scientists, lacking the holistic approach, forever dissected things into smaller objects unawares that philosophically “to dissect is to murder”. Scientific “systems” were mere “castles in the air” of use only as “prisons of spirit” for monstrous organizations. (9)
While Spener-Hamann was the common variety of 18th century Pietism, there were exotics. In Wurttemburg Pietism became a folk mystical movement. Another sub-sect, under Count Zinzendorf, created cultish Pietist communes around the world (including Bethlehem, PA.) until the Count developed a disabling neurotic obsession with images of the wounds of Christ.
The Royal Hohenzollerns had a distinctive piety. King Frederick Wilhelm I spent life hunting, with his favourite time being the annual month-long “wild” boar hunt. Pre-captured boars were released into a pen where the King and his friends took turns spearing and hacking them to death. They hunted down several thousand boars a season, the carcasses of which Frederick Wilhelm forced Berlin’s Jewish merchants to buy. (They donated the meat to hospitals.) During his 2 month autumn bird ‘hunt’ he bagged thousands of partridges which he forced other subjects to buy. Nights were spent in post-hunt Tobacco Parties (a ritual his father started for medicinal reasons). Frederick William’s court was the Tobacco Party:
“...here among the pots of beer and tobacco...and polluted streams of court gossip, coarse jokes, and childish, often cruel horseplay...here among the sweat and stink of stench of smoking, drinking, belching, farting old men, Frederick William found relaxed contentment...”(10)
King Frederick Wilhelm Hohenzollern was a short, muscular, raging big-bearded alcoholic who physically beat every member of his family especially his eldest son, the future “Frederick the Great”, whom he liked to choke until he blacked-out. He broke Frederick’s nose with a walking stick in public. Upon learning Frederick had begged a friend to help him escape, he forced Frederick to watch his friend’s beheading.
Frederick Wilhelm I was Europe’s most parsimonious monarch. He had no appetite for the baubles other Kings threw their treasuries at and his lifestyle cost the treasury nothing. His hunting trips turned a profit. Some of these savings went to canals and roads but most went to the army. With this surplus revenue, plus the Pietist crusade, Prussia grew from a near bankrupt state with a pathetic army in 1700 to one with an overflowing treasury and Europe’s third largest (83,000) and best-drilled army by the time of his death in 1740.
However military intelligence, particularly regarding logistics (food, lodging, and transport) lagged the martial arts. During the Hapsburg-Hohenzollern war over Bavaria (1778) both seventy-thousandish strong armies ran out of food and dissolved into swarms of heavily-armed skeletons ravaging Bavarian crops in the field and bayoneting peasant moms away from pantry doors. (The Kings then cut a deal dividing the area.) While this war exhibited exceptionally bad logistics what was unexceptional was that combat casualties still primarily resulted from blades (bayonets, sabres, and lances) with pistols and muskets being a secondary casualty cause while mobile field-artillery, pioneered by Prussian and Swedish Generals, was starting to play a significant role.
The German Counter-Enlightenment was religious, artistic and philosophical. The principal philosophers following Hamann were Herder, Moser, and Jacobi. Johann Herder was born in 1744 unto an East Prussian family of modest means. He studied theology, philosophy, and philology at Konigsberg U from 1762 until 1764 when he left to earn a living as a preacher in Riga. At 23 he wrote a history of German poetry wherein he compared German poetry’s improvement to a man’s maturation. In 1769 he wrote both Critical Forests or Reflections on the Science and Art of the Beautiful and a meditation on his discomforting trip to the alien world of Nantes, France.
According to Herder artists craved “gestalt” - a magnified positive feeling borne of an artwork’s internal harmony and completeness. The pivotal concept was “feeling”. The art worked if the proper “feeling” was instilled in the observer. To an artist “feeling” was no clumsy emotion; it was a subtle sense of touch - a means of identification. Poetry sprang from involuntary “feelings” stimulated by the poet’s natural and historical environment.
To Herder poetry was not the preserve of the educated, quite the opposite: “the tree of knowledge kills the tree of life”. The Old Testament, the Edda, and Homer showed poetry occurred in its greatest purity and potency during the uncivilized and unschooled periods of each nation. Disapproving of the pedantic poetry of his own dull age Herder retrieved and extolled ancient German and Norse folk songs, poems and myths. He drew attention to medieval minstrel ballads and to Luther’s precise language. Like all philologists, Herder advertized poets and lyricists (to the aristocracy) as creators of ‘a people’; as natural leaders who gave ‘the people’ a unifying, spirit-filled world.
In 1770 a Holstein Prince treated Herder to a junket in Strasbourg. The Prince introduced Herder to up-and-coming Frankfurter, Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Herder introduced Goethe to German folklore, Gothic architecture and Shakespeare.
In 1768 Justus Moser wrote a book about his homeland - the 45 square mile prince-bishopric of Osnabruck which then had a population of 125,000. (11) Moser was a judge as well as an adviser to estate planners and government ministers. His book, a rare early example of coherent historical sociology, traces the origins of the Osnabruck’s laws and customs. Moser believed in “local reason” and, unlike others in the Counter-Enlightenment, he opposed the Hohenzollerns. His mission was to preserve local variety from the liberalizing, standardizing tendencies of monarchs like Francophone Frederick the Great whose policies provoked sharp reactions in eastern Germany.
Here is Berlin on Moser’s mindset:
“...the myriad strands that bind human beings into an historically hallowed whole contrast with the utilitarian model of society as a trading company held together only by contractual obligations, the world of ‘economists, sophisters and calculators’ who are blind and deaf to the unanalyzable relationships that make a family, a tribe, a nation, a movement, any association of human beings held together by something more than a quest for mutual advantage, or by force, or by anything that is not mutual love, loyalty, common history, emotion and outlook.” (12)
In contrast to the Enlightenment’s championing of the entrepreneur, Moser championed “the wisdom of simple, sturdy peasants uncorrupted by the sophistries of the subtle ‘reasoners’.” (13)
The philosophical Counter-Enlightenment was boosted by Friedrich Jacobi, the son of a Dusseldorf sugar refiner. Like his father he was a councillor in two Duchies. In the mid-1770s he co-founded the literary journal, “The German Mercury”, to which he contributed philosophical novels in serial form. The Mercury lasted 37 years. In the early 1780s Jacobi’s switched to writing philosophy texts targeting the French Rationalism he found so repulsive.
Following Herder, Jacobi’s “philosophy of feeling” de-emphasized the role of reason, or even sensory reality, in determining belief. What mattered were people’s gut reactions to truth and righteousness. He conceded that these “felt truths” of the heart, while superior to the fleeting truths of sight and sound, unfortunately disintegrated when analyzed - “the light is in my heart: as soon as I try to carry it to my intellect it goes out.”(14)
Grand Duke Karl Augustus Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his Tutor
The turret towering over Teutonic culture was Grand Duke Karl Augustus of Weimer. From a Saxon line dating to the 900s, he was one of the world’s richest men. He maintained an army during peace. His assets included the small cities of Weimer (location of his castle) and Jena (site of his University). Jena U and the Weimer court were the leading intellectual centers east of Paris.
‘Germany’s Voltaire’, Christoph Wieland, was a Pietist minister’s son whose early writings were entirely devotional. Wieland wrote the seminal ‘psychological-development’ novel which caught the attention of the Saxe-Weimer-Eisenachs who in 1772 chose him to tutor 15-year-old Karl, thus inducting Wieland into the Weimar inner court where he spent the next 40 years. Wieland was Jacobi’s partner on the “German Mercury” journal. Weiland introduced Duke Karl to Goethe in 1774. The Duke made Goethe a cabinet minister with duties including accompanying him on wildcat expeditions. The Duke was Goethe’s patron for 54 years and on Goethe’s recommendation the Duke gave Herder a salaried position at Weimer in 1776.
English Artistic Influence
Shakespeare was not the only English artistic writer to influence German literature; others include: Horace Walpole, the Graveyard Poets, and James Macpherson. Germany’s introduction to Shakespeare, and to Elizabethan theatre in general, dates to Duke Heinrich of Brunswick (1564-1613) who imported English playwrights and maintained a troupe of English actors. The Duke’s own horror-filled plays followed Shakespearean conventions and were intended as political lessons for aristocrats. The Duke was an avid persecutor of witches and Jews and a senior advisor to King/Emperor Rudolf II (Hapsburg).
Interest in Shakespeare continued for the next century and a half but only at elite levels. When Saxon ambassador, Johann Schlegel, wrote the first German philological analysis of Shakespeare in 1741, the German public had yet to hear of the Bard of Avon. This changed dramatically in the mid-1760s when Christoph Wieland published German translations of 22 Shakespearean plays. The master’s secrets were unfurled! Wieland’s translations became fill-in-the-blank play-writing kits.
The novel is not an English invention, but Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) was the blueprint for many English and German “Gothic” novels. Horace, the son of Britain’s first Prime Minister, owned a printing press and travelled the continent. He was a regular at London’s literary parlours including Elizabeth Montegu’s influential Bluestocking Club. Mrs. Montegu’s main literary sortie was an attack on Voltaire’s attack on Shakespeare.
Another English influence on German letters came from an oddball group with limited popularity in England: the Graveyard Poets. For inspiration these men spent evenings mulling about graveyards looking at headstones and thinking about the cadavers and their lives. “Beneath every headstone layeth a world” was their motto. They flourished between 1740 and 1755, with their biggest hit in England being Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751). They were big in Germany. Peter Young, Graveyard Poet leader, was a Bluestocking Clubber, while primitivist Thomas Gray was a close associate of Walpole’s.
In the 1760s Inverness farmer’s son James Macpherson solicited the belief that buried within the folklore and poetry of isolated Scottish villages laid the pre-Roman history of Europe. He raised a substantial sum for an expedition to gather and analyze this buried literary treasure. The outcome was a collection of epic poems, named the “Ossian Fragments” after a legendary Celtic King, which were held forth as Europe’s lost Celtic history. The “Ossian fragments” were enormously popular on the Continent (Napoleon’s favourite) but not in Britain where Samuel Johnson and others called them bogus.
Macpherson went on to be a successful parliamentarian and historian whose later books were critically well-received - for one he was given a 3,000 pound advance. Macpherson grew into an honourable old man whom no one saw capital in confronting about his early writings. When he was safely socked in the Scotch sod, a commission was struck to study the veracity of the ‘Ossians’. The commission concluded what was widely-suspected: the epics were malarkey Macpherson made up. This was 1805. For 40 years a cringe-inducing embarrassment to the British was the new Old Testament to the Continent. (15)
Storms and Stresses of Social-retardation
One enthusiastic Shakespearist was Danish-born Heinrich von Gerstenberg whose “Poems of an Old Norse Bard” (1764) used materials from Norse antiquity to introduce “bardic” poetry to Germany. His Letters about the Peculiarities of Literature was the “Storm and Stress” literary movement’s first philological statement of principles. Gerstenberg promoted the signature Counter-Enlightenment myth that art was the preserve of the precocious genius into whose mind the muses deposited finished masterpieces with flashes of insight. In 1768 he wrote “Ugolino”, a tragedy filled with gruesome scenes of unbridled emotion which, except for a book on music theory critical of Rousseau, marked the end of his artistic career. He became a representative of the Danish King who later made him a judge.
In 1771, when Herder was a Buckeburg preacher, he began a series of writings with brazen irrationalist and promethean themes. Prometheus was a god of early inhabitants of Greece whose worship was eclipsed by the Olympian Pantheon during the Dorian invasions of 1000 BC. What emerged at the end of the regional Dark Age (800 BC) was a hybrid mythological sequence wherein Prometheus creates Man out of clay and then, against the wishes of Zeus, transfers knowledge to Man. For this transgression Zeus punishes Man with a host of ills and chains Prometheus to a rock in the sea where an eagle eats his entrails.
Variations of this archetypal triangle appear repeatedly in religion, folklore, and literature. In Canaanite-Neo-Babylonian mythology it is Zeus (God) who creates Man out of clay. Then Prometheus (The Serpent) transfers to Man the forbidden knowledge. Again, Man and Prometheus (The Serpent) get eternally punished by Zeus (God). In Catholic mythology this punishment came to be known as “The Fall” arising from the “Original Sin” of seeking knowledge for which humans were condemned to hard labour for life.
The promethean sequence is a political allegory. Zeus is a King and Prometheus is a high-born person with access to special information. Man is the ignorant toiling masses and knowledge is power. Zeus catches an aristocrat educating the masses and tortures the solidarity-breaching snake to death. The masses get sent back to work with a warning about books and snakes.
Goethe’s first contribution to Storm and Stress, written under Herder’s supervision, was the play “Gotz von Berlichenger” (1773) about a heroic 16th century knight. He followed this with a Weilandesque “psychological-development” novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, which epitomized the movement, made Goethe famous, and inspired a host of imitators. “Wertherism” became a fashion trend with young men donning the yellow trousers and blue jacket of the book’s hero. In England, a ‘Wertherist’ was a spoiled young man sporting a melancholy mood.
In 1773 Herder, Goethe and Moser co-released the Storm and Stress manifesto: A Correspondence about Ossian and the Songs of Ancient Peoples. This was based on Macpherson’s research. The Correspondence was supplemented with an essay collection, Patriotic Ideas, by Moser which was distributed newspaper-style in a number of German cities. The declared mission of artists and academics was toresist the rational re-organization of German society in the name of foreign intellectual ideals. French rationalism was a “pale and ghostly” philosophy incapable of grasping “the wild whirlpool” of nature or producing anything with “the vitality of the Gothic cathedral at Strasbourg”. Their call to pens was “heart! warmth! blood! humanity! life!” (16)
The Storm and Stress movement’s most common products were plays and novels glorifying libertine adventurism in a “bloodstained succession of wild experiences of more than ‘Gothic’ intensity”. (17) The movement exploited the popular craving to see on stage German figures in Shakespearean grandeur but Storm and Stress plays subordinated all structural considerations to the display of the central hero. Classical play-writing conventions of clarity and economy were flaunted. Naturally, Storm and Stress scripts sprang best from the pure minds of young geniuses.
One such script-writer was Konigsberg U theology grad, Jakob Lenz. In his early 20s, while tutoring two young Barons, Lenz authored a chaotic, preachy comedy: “The Tutor; or the Advantages of a Private Education”. This play, and its follow-up “The Soldier”, exhibited brassy characters and contempt for harmonies of time and place which the young genius claimed got in the way of his “utterly realistic hero”. Lenz demanded equal treatment to Goethe and followed him to Weimar where he undertook various attention-seeking antics. A parody by Lenz so angered Goethe and Duke Karl they had him expelled and blackballed. Lenz spent the rest of his life a homeless drifter; dying a shivering, babbling beggar aged 41.
The name “Storm and Stress” comes from a 1776 hit play aptly titled: “Confusion or Storm and Stress” by 24 year old Frankfurter, Friedrich von Klinger. Klinger was such a genius he could fire off an entire play in a single evening of wine-fed inspirational fury. Whole scenes were plagiarized from Shakespeare. Whole acts were filled with incomprehensible interrupted, broken-sentence dialogue. His plays lacked elemental dramatic form, betrayed shallow psychological understanding and had absurd plots yet were wildly popular. His themes were emotionalism, promethenianism and, with his “The Twins”, fratricide.
While still in his 20s Klinger left German theatre for Princess Catherine von Anhalt-Zerbst’s army. Born to a Holstein mother, Catherine married her cousin Duke Karl of Holstien-Gottrop (Czar Peter III) whom she overthrew in a 1762 coup d’ etat and had shot. Klinger married Catherine the Great’s eldest daughter and rose to the rank of General in the Russian Army. After Catherine’s death in 1796 he retired from military service to pen a dozen novels and plays, each a Rousseauan pining for the simple life.
Klinger’s career was paralleled by Hanover-born Johann Leisewitz’s. He too was a raging 24-year-old in 1776 when his play about fratricide “Julius von Tarent” made a splash. His plots twisted around the libertine hero’s struggle against the politicized state and carried the clear moral that personal tragedies were separate from social injustice. Leisewitz finished law school and left the art biz for the Duke of Brunswick’s civil service.
The 20-somethings colonized painting criticism when Weiland-disciple Wilhelm Heinse, a part-time tutor and ladies journal editor, published, On Several Paintings in the Dusseldorf Gallery (1776). He stressed the historic-national circumstance of painting and praised Flemish painter Peter Paul Ruebens (1577-1640) for epitomizing Romanticism just as Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665) epitomized its rival movement, Neo-classicism. Ruebens, emphasizing colour, painted orgiastic dumpling piles of semi-nudes acting out emotional Biblical myths against swirling backdrops. Poussin’s Neo-classical period, emphasizing line, depicted Greco-Roman myths set in bright landscape scenes of daily life amidst Greco-Roman architecture. Ruebens lured the viewer into sensuous rapture with Christian mysterium. Poussin’s paintings are weathervanes pointing away from mysterium and toward a scientific Republican era the existence of which relegated Monarchical Christendom to being one political option and not a glorious or sophisticated one at that. Paintings from Poussin’s austere period were stalked by English collectors. The Continent loved Ruebens.
Heinse basked in the success of Dusseldorf Gallery in Italy for a few years before scoring a plum job as personal librarian to the Archbishop of Aschaffenburg. (The work briefly became difficult when he had to hide precious volumes from Napoleon’s snoopy Captains.) In Heinse’s Ardinghell and the Blessed Islands (his 1787-published genre-founding “artist-novel”) the hero-artist founds a utopia on a Greek island. The book glorifies eroticism, and the aesthetic life, and devotes chapters to painting criticism and culminates in massacres. His next novel was a forum for music theories.
In the 1780s the poems of Christian Schubart gained currency while the poet was in jail. A college drop-out who could not line up a steady tutoring gig, Chris got by as a freelance preacher and part-time Church organist in Ludwigsburg. Accused of making fun of a religious ritual, Chris was banished from the Duchy. He found himself homeless in Augsburg reciting poems on street-corners for bread. Here he published his “German Chronicles” poetry collection on newsprint and sold them along with his recitals. The “Chronicles” offended the Jesuits so Chris got the boot again.
Then the Duke of Wurttemberg interpreted Schubart’s poetry as a personal insult, tricked Chris onto his territory, and locked him up in his Hohensberg Fortress. In his cell Chris was given access to mystical writings which he, over the next several years, incorporated into his intensely Pietist and patriotic “Collected Poems”. The Hohenzollerns intervened to secure Schubart’s release who in gratitude penned the voluminous “Hymn to Frederick the Great”. Chris lived happily ever after as music director for a leading Stuttgart theatre.
The gardens around Hohensberg Fortress were managed by Duke Wurttemberg’s retired Lieutenant Schiller. This gardening supervisor planned to send his son Friedrich to a Lutheran seminary. The Duke decided young Friedrich should be a soldier like his dad and drafted him into his military academy.
Friedrich Schiller was a 22 year old ‘Ossian’ buff who used to visit Schubart in jail when he wrote “The Robbers”. The play was a boilerplate Storm and Stresser where a young aristocrat, cheated out of his inheritance by the evil brother, becomes a robber but eventually recants. The Mannheim Theatre agreed to produce it and Schiller asked the Duke’s permission to attend the opening gala. The Duke said no. Schiller went anyway. When the Duke found out he locked up Friedrich for weeks and told him there would be no more play-writing. When Friedrich got out he galloped into the sunset.
As a “deserter” Schiller had difficulty finding work or shelter. As well, his next play “The Genovese Conspiracy – A Republican Tragedy” about the rise and fall of a promethean Republican was too hot a topic for German theatre managers. The Jena U crowd gave Schiller the title of professor but no salary. Schiller pressed on with “Don Carlos”; a tortuously long drama noticeable for its introduction of blank verse. He redeemed himself with history texts on the Dutch Revolt and the Thirty Year’s War. Finally, his struggles ended in the mid-1790s when he received a large combined grant from the Prince of Augustemburg and Count Schimmelmann.
After Schiller received his grant, previously cool relations with Goethe suddenly warmed and they collaborated on a variety of journals. Schiller shifted to studying Rousseau and Kant and writing introspective pieces on the spirit-matter dichotomy and on art’s role in moral education. He attacked the Enlightenment idea that human tragedies could be averted by giving the masses a rational education. He said people should struggle for inner liberation; for freedom of the soul. Spiritual emancipation allowed people to attain bliss in the face of unbearable human bondage. Art freed trapped souls.
By the early 1790s the undisciplined Storm and Stress phenomenon was exhausted. The movement’s leaders had long since moved on. Goethe converted to “Weimar classicism” years earlier partially as a result of his infatuation with the serene Charlotte von Stein who, being daughter of Duke Karl’s Master of Ceremonies and wife of his Master of Stables, was beyond the grasp of Goethe’s ink-stained fingers. He wrote her 1,500 letters. Goethe’s tour of the parlours of the Italian aristocracy sealed his turn to “classicism”. Herder followed Goethe.
In Western criticism “classical” and “romantic” designate separate, adversarial camps. In German literature a single camp of writers journeyed through self-described “classical” and “romantic” phases. To the German Counter-Enlightenment “classical” play-writing meant a return to coherent plots and other standard dramatic techniques. “Storm and Stress” was a proto-Romantic “punk-lit” phase Schiller, Goethe and others passed through. Their short-lived “Weimar Classical” phase that followed, although less confusing, remained rather “Romantic” in the English sense of the term.
But it was an entirely new type of drama Goethe and Duke Karl attended one splendid 1792 autumn afternoon. Gripped with anticipation they spread picnic blankets on a lush hillside near Valmy, France affording them a royal view. In late July playwright Johann Leisewitz, and others within the Duke of Brunswick’s staff, drafted the “Brunswick Manifesto” demanding restoration of Louis XVI to the French throne and warning the Legislative Assembly in Paris of “exemplary and memorable vengeance” if they physically harmed Louis or his wife Marie Antoinette (nee Hapsburg). To bring deeds to words, Brunswick marshalled a force of thirty-four thousand Prussians, Austrians and Weimerians who by September 20 dragged their gear and thirty-six cannon through Argonne Forest to the foot of the Assembly’s army camp, under the de facto leadership of General Kellermann. Supply problems dictated Brunswick attack as soon as possible.
Kellermann, born into the lesser Strasbourg-area nobility, brought forty years of combat experience to Valmy. While fighting dynastic wars across Europe he developed deep, private Republican convictions. After the Parisian insurrection of July 1789 he offered his specialized knowledge to the National Assembly who later dispatched him to bolster northern defence.
Kellermann brought forty cannons and thirty-six thousand soldiers. His cannoneers were well-drilled professionals but most of his troops were volunteers - Parisian shop-keepers and tradesmen. Thus, in Brunswick’s tent it was beyond dispute Kellerman’s rabble would run like scalded dogs back to their greasy shops the moment the fighting got close. His troops were going to have to weather a nasty cannonade, close the gap, and get it over with. By mid-afternoon Brunswick’s army was creeping into cannon range.
In the unforgiving minute Kellermann drew his rapier and charged down the mud path behind the French line hollering “Viva la France”. Back and forth he galloped, his rapier flashing, until thirty-six thousand were booming “Viva la France”. Rather than run away when the enemy approached, the Parisian shopkeepers stepped forward pulsing “Viva la France”, brandishing their weapons, taunting their professional adversaries. On the cannons, Kellermann’s automatons were mechanical furies of loading and firing - skipping 18-pound balls off the grass in front of Brunswick’s troops and taking them out like ten-pins. The cavalry captains got word to Brunswick that a full charge was a no go. A stunned Brunswick orderedan immediate retreat and a pulling up of tent-pegs. Several hundred wounded were helped back to camp leaving hundreds in the field. (18)
Back on the hillside Goethe and Duke Karl watched in bewilderment as battle-smoke wafted to the evening stars. Goethe turned to Karl and said:
“Here and now a new epoch in world history has begun and you can say you were there.”
New cannon technology was forcing a major re-think about how to close the gap in field engagements. What freaked-out Karl was the butcher-baker-candlestick-maker army. He said he would spend his last coin hiring professional soldiers from a good academy before he would hand out muskets to his own peasants. (19)
In the 1790s the big philosophical guns of the German Counter-Enlightenment, Herder, Jacobi and new-comer Schelling, widened the brackets of their barrage to include Kant. His introspective Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and Critique of Practical Reason (1787) articulated a “system” of knowledge, art, and ethics that established Kant as the leading German philosopher. Kant agonized over the incompatibility of an omnipotent God and human free will. Although Kant remained a Christian, a social conservative and primarily an intuitionist, he did have a rationalist streak.
Herder’s arguments against Kant were embedded in Herder’s conception of History as a totality; as a churning spirit possessing inertial logic inaccessible to man’s feeble reasoning. In Herder’s universe fixed shapes were an illusion as all real shapes were continuously morphing into different shapes. Any snip of time reveals only “morphs” or shapes in the process of evolving along a trajectory determined by an unpredictable God. The shape of the world, or the current historical situation, was constantly, dangerously, exponentially morphing. In the face of this merciless rolling thunder Herder argued Germans should engage in expressions of piety, faith and humbleness toward God and not in Kant’s provocative rational ponderings about God’s very existence. Herder surveyed a world where vain men with half-baked reason were claiming to master nature’s ever-changing ways. They were fools for trying and as such they were choosing paths contrary to God’s way but Herder had faith God would shatter and re-shape this situation by hurling catastrophic bolts of international war.
The shape of things to come was evident a few hundred kilometres to Herder’s west on a blustery mid-December morning in 1793 as hundreds of Royalist sympathisers were rounded into Toulon’s town-square by French National Convention troops under Lieutenant Napoleon Bouonaparte. (He was a Corsican aristocrat who spent seven years in French military academies before offering his expertise to Robespierre who employed him as an artillery instructor.) A row of cannons loaded with grape-shot had been placed along one side of Toulon’s town-square. After the square filled, Bouonaparte gave the signal. (20)
Herder’s battle against Kant gained ground with the recruitment of philosophical savant Friedrich Schelling. This Lutheran Minister’s son published a philosophical “system” while he was the teenage theology student. He was a college buddy of superstar philosophical system-builder, G. W. F. Hegel. After seminary, Schelling briefly tutored for a noble family before being drafted into Duke Karl’s choir at Jena U where he wrote a system of Natural Philosophy and a system of Transcendental Idealism. These were non-original, highly poeticized attempts at re-defining and inter-connecting abstractions like: Absolute, Self, Objective, Spirit and God all with a view of discrediting Kant’s system. Schelling’s universe was a primal life-force the irrational growth processes of which only intuitive geniuses could glimpse at.
Due to animated verbal skirmishes about the French Revolution within the Weimar Court, Herder’s ‘classical’ period ended in the mid-1790s. (Goethe’s political position got even wobblier a few years later after he awoke to the sounds of Napoleon’s troops lounging in his living room.) Herder became Goethe’s foremost critic. He demanded literature have a righteous educational purpose and he said it was Christoph Wieland and Jean Paul who were communicating the proper message to Germans.
Herder marched the Feeling vs. Reason dichotomy further into the humanities. To Herder, understanding anything required having the genius for “feeling into” the phenomenon, thus understanding a civilization required having a feeling for the unique organics of that people’sactivities and habits. Reflecting his Pietism, Herder declared the Bible: “can be understood only by those who attempt to enter the experience of the primitive shepherds in the Judean hills.” (21)
He defined barbarism as trampling another peoples’ heritage and he wanted primitive cultures protected from the West. Despite his own Christianity, he denounced the Romans for imposing Christianity on Europe and the Teutonic Knights for the forced baptism of the Balts and the British for their missions into North America. He thought cosmopolitanism stripped people of their regional identity - the stuff that made them a unique human entity. Germans had to be Germans, not second-rate Frenchmen, and could only be Germans in their homelands. Europeans lost all virtue in America and Jews should return to those Judean hills. (22)
Like Vico, the German Counter-Enlightenment promoted cultural relativism. Each society had to be judged on internal standards. Every German Duchy had its own centre of gravity; its own individual essence; its own flavour. Every people made a contribution. One peoples’ culture was not merely a stepping stone to the next more advanced, more enlightened, more French stepping stone.
The enlightened French deftly leapt to a slippery stone amidst the swollen stream of twenty-five thousand Royalists flowing down Parisian streets to storm the National Convention one October evening in 1795. The Royalists were long on devotion to the ancient regime but, due to the Convention’s pre-emptive measures, they were short on guns and powder. As Royalists marshalled, the Convention’s Brigadier General Bonaparte clip-clopped his horse around the Convention buildings and supervised the placement of cannons across the surrounding bridges and streets. He brought only six thousand men - but why have them trip over each other. At last he had a chance to paint a battle with a free arm. No more fixed ratios of cannons to troops – bring as many cannons as you can. No more scattering cannons and firing randomly – concentrate them in batteries and fire them at once at one target.
At 4:30 p.m. Royalists marched into range, triggering six hours of pounding combat in downtown Paris with waves of pistol and pitchfork-packing Royalists crashing onto the rocks of point-blank full-battery fire. Royalists broke through but once, only to be cut down a few blocks up the street. Sporadic fighting rattled windows until the sun peaked over the Seine’s eastern banks and a million Parisians uncovered their ears to hear the National Convention was still standing and a lot of Royalists were not... (23)...
...fast forward a few years...and...First Council Napoleon’s secret police are beating the streets of Dusseldorf looking for some philosopher guy named Friedrich Jacobi – nothing serious, they just want to talk to him. But he isn’t around. He’s hiding in Hamburg; holed up in a dingy apartment poring over the sweat-stained manuscript that will blast a hole through the heart of Kantian rationalism. Kant thought it impossible for the human mind to fully know God. Jacobi knew God well enough. Reason; schmeason! You start with a gut reaction and feel your way up to blind faith. It was so simple. Why couldn’t people understand? Why!?!...
Parthenopean Republicans (and Parenthetic Remarks)
One day, back in the late eighties when Goethe and the guys were enjoying southern Italian sunshine and hospitality, Goethe was handed a strange text-book by a Neapolitan scholar. It was a copy of New Science by Giambattista Vico. Goethe marvelled at how sacredly the Neapolitans treated the text and how Vico was “endlessly praised by Italian legal writers”. (24)
Vico’s disciples were about to have their theories tested. In March 1796 The Directory dispatched Major General Bonaparte to evict the Savoy and Hapsburg dynasties from northern Italy. By late 1797 Piedmont, Savoy, Lombardy and other territories were part of the French-dominated Cis-Alpine Republics. In 1798 General Championnet conquered Rome.
Naples was officially ruled by King Ferdinand I (Bourbon) but British Ambassador, Lord Hamilton, usurped his foreign affairs portfolio, while Sir John Acton served as Neapolitan Prime Minister, and Lady Emma Hamilton together with Ferdinand’s Queen Marie (nee Hapsburg) ran the palace. Admiral Horatio Nelson rounded out the clique who governed Naples as Ferdinand (“the moron”) amused himself. (What dumfounded Acton was not that Ferdinand was a coward but that he bragged about being a coward.) In 1799 the clique talked Ferdinand into liberating Rome. (25)
Ferdinand’s resplendent marching bands and martinets mobilized under the motto “the kings are awake”. An accompanying English officer quipped the Seven Years War did less harm to the British Army than the six-day hike from Naples to Rome did to Ferdinand’s. For a start, Ferdinand rejected his engineer’s bridge-building recommendation and tried pulling wagons across a swollen river, thus destroying much equipment and supplies. Championnet withdrew from the city so Ferdinand paraded in unopposed and was feted for over a week before the trap snapped. Ferdinand abandoned his troops and fled for Naples in disguise as the fighting started. Back in Naples he dithered while Marie and Emma loaded 36 barrels of silverware, gold-plate, coins, and jewellery (2.5 million British pounds worth) onto the warship HMS Vanguard Nelson had anchored in Naples Bay. (26)
When the Vanguard sailed for Sicily the leading Neapolitan citizens rejoiced and declared the Parthenopean Republic; the name coming from the city’s founding Greek colony. The Republicans and their families were immediately set upon by gangs from Naples’s slums. Championnet rescued the Parthenopeans with the street-fight shooting of 2,000 crudely-armed lazzaroni.
The aristocracy conjured a larger anti-Republican force in the country-side. With Royal blessing and support wealthy Neapolitan aristocrat Cardinal Ruffo rallied a thousand priests who, allied with a famous band of highwaymen, recruited a guerrilla army from the rural poor. Ruffo was aided by a detachment of English soldiers hand-picked by Anglican Bishops.Ruffo’s ambushes of French patrols and convoys besieged the city until mid-June. Then his mob invaded, slaughtering and looting shopkeepers for two days as Republican leaders held out in local castles. Fearing a fight to the finish, Ruffo agreed to a truce during which the Parthenopeans would exodus to France. The fighting stopped and a flotilla was assembled.
On a sapphire blue mid-June day, Nelson sailed back into Naples’ Bay with the Actons and the Hamiltons and (to sate Emma’s exquisite sense of gestalt) with the bird-pestered corpse of the Parthenopean’s key aristocratic supporter (Admiral Caracciolo) hanging from the yard-arms of the lead ship. (In Sicily, when Emma heard a visiting envoy had recently beheaded 20 Republican prisoners of war, she asked to kiss the sword.) Nelson tore up Ruffo’s paper, dispatched troops, armed the lazzaroni, and ordered the Parthenopeans arrested as their rides to France bobbed in the harbour. Over 100 Republicans were executed (including on Emma and Marie’s insistence, women they formally socialized with). 200 Republicans were condemned to hard labour for life with hundreds more getting lesser terms. With the moron back on the throne Vico’s disciples breathed a sigh; the dreaded turn to barbarism had been forestalled. (27)
Schlegel, Schlegel, Schiller and Schelling
Schiller’s “classical” period consisted of several loosely-historical plays written between 1797 and 1804. In “Wallenstein” a promethean military commander is tormented by temptations of treason. In both his “The Maid of Orleans (Joan of Arc)” and “Mary Stuart” the heroine is executed by the English. The choice of “Orleans” was clearly political as the Orleans were an immensely wealthy faction of Bourbons campaigning to be the constitutional monarchs of France as an alternative to the absolutist Royal Bourbons. Monarchism was also the central issue of “Mary Stuart” as the Stuarts were the ‘legitimate’ Royal family of Britain with pretender, “Henry IX”, a well-bribed Catholic bishop living in Rome (where he got royally robbed by Championnet’s troops). Bloody Mary steals the show by achieving spiritual freedom through accepting the political decision to behead her as divine retribution for unrelated previous misdeeds of hers. Schiller’s final play “Wilhelm Tell” (1804) romanticizes an anti-Hapsburg revolt in the Swiss cantons.
Schiller became “von Schiller” and Herder became “von Herder” in 1802; both perishing shortly thereafter. In 1805 Jacobi, Dusseldorf’s mystical metaphysician, was welcomed to Munich as the President of the Bavarian Academy of Science. In 1803 Schelling was invited to Wurzburg U to lecture on his most recent breakthrough: the Idea of Identity. After that stint Schelling was off to Munich to run the Bavarian Academy of Physical Arts. Goethe busied himself as Director of the Weimer Theatre.
Schelling endured a trying romance with Caroline Schlegel, a cheerleader for the German Romanticism emerging from the ashes of Storm and Stress. Her husband, Wilhelm Schlegel, was a professor at Jena and a famous translator of Shakespearean and esoteric literature. His translations were best-sellers. His uncle Johann was the pioneering Shakespearist and his brother Friedrich gave up a paid lecturing position at Jena U to marry Moses Mendelssohn’s daughter and study Sanskrit in Paris.
The Schlegel bros led the Continental Counter-Enlightenment’s transition to Romanticism. They steered toward the cultures of primitive, mystical Asia and away from the industrializing, rationalizing West. They denounced classical Rome and praised medieval Christendom. They argued art must be Christian and mythological and ironic (illogical). The intellectuals who gathered in Jena around Wilhelm Schlegel’s esoteric translations and literary journals (Goethe was a groupie) were the portal through which medieval romanticism and eastern mysticism flooded the Continent.
Friedrich Schlegel’s conversion to Catholicism in 1808 catapulted him to the position of leading anti-Napoleon spokesperson. In 1809 he moved to Vienna to write for Arch-Duke Charles (Hapsburg) and edit an ultra-Catholic newspaper. The Arch-Duke was President of the Supreme War Council of the Austrian Hapsburg’s empire for whom Friedrich Schlegel wrote “Appeals to the German People” in what was the Hapsburg’s first ‘nation-at-arms’ propaganda campaign. In 1813 Wilhelm Schlegel became press secretary to the Swedish Crown Prince.
By 1789 thirty-five year old Louis Bonald had been Mayor of his hometown, Millau, France, for four years. He denounced the National Assembly’s plans to auction Church lands and fled to Heidelberg. He wrote books promoting Monarchism as the only form of government consistent with natural law. Bonald was a ‘Legitimist’ - the uncompromising faction of the French Monarchist movement who believed only the eldest brother of Louis XVI, not an Orlean opportunist and certainly not a citizen-President could be the French head of state. They believed the Bourbon King must have absolute power to restore clergy and aristocracy to former glories. Bonald praised the universal, traditional bonds that united the French peoples under their king and he condemned commercialization:
“Whenever a child is born there are father, mother, family, God this is the basis of all that is genuine and lasting, not the arrangements of men drawn from the world of shopkeepers...” (28)
Bonald warned that, without the aristocracy, Europe would abandon its ideal of racial purity. By this he must have had in mind the Hapsburgs, whose centuries of uncle-to-niece and first-cousin-to-first-cousin inbreeding had taken its toll on the male chromosomes. Hapsburg men had a high incidence of severe birth defects and those surviving to manhood often had shrunken skulls and protruding lower lips giving them the appearance of a pouting child; an irony not lost on their servants. The Bourbons had also inbred their way to a distinctive skull shape and, according to themselves, an unlimited sexual appetite - but all aristocrats claimed that. (29)
Another Catholic Monarchist was Joseph de Maistre, an aristocrat from Chambery and student of the Jesuits. In 1787, aged 24, he took a seat in the Savoy senate. His father was a former Senate President. With the November 1792 intrusions of French troops into Savoy, Joseph fled to Switzerland where he joined the entourage of Anne Louise de-Stael; the grand dame of Continental Romanticism. She was Louis XVI’s last finance minister’s daughter, the wife of a Holstein Prince, and an anti-Republican activist who Napoleon banned from being within 40 leagues of a French border. She was also the author of several books on history and art and a long-time companion of Wilhelm Schlegel.
After several years de Maistre bid the de Stael milieu adieu sailing for the Savoyard redoubt of Sardinia. In 1803 the King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel I, appointed de Maistre envoy to St. Petersburg where he won entrance into Czar Alexander’s confidential circle and wrote a text-book on constitutional law.
On March 13, 1815 a document signed by Prince Metternich on behalf of the Hapsburgs, Charles Talleyrand on behalf of the Bourbons, Prince von Hardenberg for the Hohenzollerns, Viscount Castleraugh (British Government), and by Czar Alexander I in person, mandated Napoleon be forever bound to a rocky island in the sea. He pled for peace but they would not hear him. By early summer two armies, Wellington’s sixty-seven thousand strong British-led coalition, and a larger Prussian force under Blucher, caterpillared through Belgium to take him away.
Indecisive preliminaries convinced Napoleon to annihilate Wellington first. Thirty-three thousand troops attempted blocking Prussians in the east but Blucher trapped them with a rear-guard action, freeing forty thousand to march double-time westward. Wellington waited near three fortified manor houses for Napoleon’s seventy-two thousand to bring their superior horse and 246 cannon. When the noon sun dried the ground, the French flew at Wellington’s densely-packed, cannon-lined infantry-squares, which sheltered nimble cannoneers who, as the square’s repelled their attackers, hopped out and blasted into the thick. Combat inflicted a hundred fatalities per minute until 6:00, then intensified as one manor-yard became venue for a French battery firing at close-range into the infantry-squares while the French infantry elite fended off Prussians arcing to their rear. Wellington, re-grouped and joined by a Prussian division, countered the 7:00 grand infantry assault with a mass bayonet charge decimating Napoleon’s elite and panicking his remainder. (30)
Napoleon was confined to the south Atlantic’s rocky St. Helens Island where, with exquisite gestalt, the exotic English Arsenic eagle ate away at his entrails. (31) News of the former Emperor’s premature demise relieved French King Louis XVIII who wrestled inconclusively with Bonapartists, Republicans, and Orleanists for three more years until his 1824 death transferred the crown to his brother Charles. Charles X demanded the indemnification of aristocrats and the re-imposition of Catholicism.
Catholic Monarchism continued
After the Bourbon restoration, Viscount Louis Bonald was appointed Director of the Council of Public Instruction and the Academie Françoise. Joseph de Maistre’s prospects also brightened as his Savoyards regained Piedmont, Nice, and Savoy and picked up Genoa in the bargain. In 1815 Victor Emmanuel I summoned de Maistre to Turin to appoint him Piedmont’s Chief Magistrate and Secretary of State. During this time De Maistre completed three books. He published The Pope in 1819. The manuscripts for The Evenings of St. Petersburg and Letters on the Spanish Inquisition circulated privately during his lifetime and were published after his 1821 death.
De Maistre preached that the popularization of liberal and scientific beliefs and methods would ruin Europe. He praised the wisdom of the ancient Italians who avoided a popular culture of science and reason by relegating such intellectual work to foreigners, principally Greeks, safely mired in political impotence. This was necessary because it was dark instincts, not luminous intellects, dictating human conduct:
“...why is it that sheep who are born carnivorous, nevertheless everywhere nibble grass. Men are not made for freedom, nor for peace. Such freedom and peace as they have had was obtained only under wisely authoritarian governments...” (32)
The natural world of man, and all life, as revealed by zoology and history, was “a field of unceasing slaughter.” Individual men were naturally aggressive and evil; destructive and self-destructive and groups of men were warped by conflicting drives. Bloody rebellions broke out over trifles. (33)
De Maistre believed a public culture of rational criticism and scientific analysis was symptomatic of a country mired in self-doubt and self-destruction; of a people dissolving their foundations; tearing their social fabric. The moment a State declared itself to be “rational” it invited its citizenry to second-guess its policies. Such a State will have its authority undermined as sophists will rally foolish mobs into political struggles that will accelerate into chaos. The Kings of Europe and the Catholic Church must rule as mystical elites never stooping to explain themselves in rational terms.
De Maistre mocked rational institutions like republics, democracies, and volunteer associations which fell apart after a few years while irrational institutions like the Catholic Church, the hereditary monarchies and aristocracies lasted for centuries. The irascible irrational institution of a family founded on lifelong marriage persisted for millennia. Nations and races, however irrational, were powerful realities. The French nation was a mysterious Romano-Gallic-German organism crawling along a logic transcending any trendy philosophy.
He denounced the replacement of regional dialects with standard national languages. Regional languages encapsulated a treasureof half-rememberedcommunalwisdom. Similarly, what the Enlightenment denounced as superstitions and prejudices were the crust of customs proven by sheer survival through the gauntlet of time. Irrational regional dialects overgrown with irrational superstitious customs were shields protecting a people’s identity and crucial communal bonds.
De Maistre wrote that for all their talk about humanitarianism, enlightened urbanites never gave money to the poor, the widows or cripples because they were heartless. They promoted ‘liberal’ economic policies that hurt the poor. Only the Catholic Church helped the abandoned. Only the Catholic Church loved them. This love was completely irrational. (34)
Louis XIV had no time for rationalists and he persecuted heretics. He died in his bed in full glory after a 72 year reign. Louis XVI pandered to Parisian encyclopaedists and invited dissent. He was guillotined and for being such a liberal De Maistre thought he deserved it. De Maistre had no issues with Robespierre’s methods. On the contrary, he wanted Catholics to seriously re-visit the Spanish Inquisition.
Official “inquirios” into heresy sprouted before 400 AD growing into Vatican-sanctioned “Inquisitions” under Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). Inquisitions were structured courts staffed with judges, jailors, sheriffs and executioners and were supervised either by a Monarch or by the Vatican (usually through the Dominican Order). They purged territories of heretics, blasphemers and doubters and were set up at one time or another across Europe, with the exception of Britain.
There was much inquisitorial activity in Spain but the Spanish Inquisition was the consummation of the Queen of Castile Isabel La Catilico’s heavenly marriage to King Ferdinand of Aragon that united northern Spain under the “Catholic Monarchs”. The Catholic Monarch’s four million subjects included a hundred thousand Converso (Jew-to-Christian convert) merchants and professionals. Isabelle and Ferdinand thought Conversos were fake Christians who secretly attended synagogues and did not pay proper tithes. The Catholic Monarchs were also annoyed by Moriscos (Muslim Conversos) and by home-grown ‘Luminaries’ spreading the heresy that a good Christian did not have to go to church.
In 1478 Pope Sixtus IV gave the Catholic Monarchs the go-ahead for an inquisition. The first tribunal (Seville) so quickly degenerated into a massacre Sixtus intervened and implored the Monarchs proceed in an orderly fashion. During the subsequent lull, local inquisitors were placed under the supervision of Grand Inquisitor, Dominican Cardinal Tomas de Torquemada. His rules were standard: the accused heretic had no right to confront or know his accuser; torture was used to determine the honesty of the accused; there were no appeals; the property of the condemned was divided between accuser, inquisitor, and executioner.
During Torquemada’s 11-year tenure at least 2,000 people were publically roasted to death. Scores of thousands fled. Their property was confiscated and Torquemada often had their ancestor’s cadavers exhumed and brought to court for withering ridicule. The Vatican intervened in 1494, placing Torquemada under house arrest. This did not end the Spanish Inquisition - intense periods of inquisitorial activity broke out intermittently, primarily against Protestants, until the 1700s when Spain’s Inquisitorial Court mastered the arts of co-optation and intimidation as alternatives to violence. (35)
A Portuguese Inquisition lasting from 1540 to 1761 was supervised by either a King or Viceroy and exclusively targeted Conversos. In 1542 Pope Paul IV personally directed a Roman Inquisition to suppress Protestant infiltration of northern Italy which he blamed on Jews. Roman Inquisition tactics varied from burnings in St. Peter’s square to secret kidnappings and ceremonial drownings in Venice. This Court told Galileo to say the Sun circles the Earth or die screaming. Roman Inquisitorial Courts survived a ransacking by Championnet’s troops and continues to this day as the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. (36) The doors of Spain’s Inquisitional Courts were padlocked on orders of Napoleon.
Catholic Monarchism continued
According to Joseph de Maistre, what the beasts of Europe needed was repression, censorship and a judicial culture devoid of appeals.His Evenings in Saint Petersburg and Letters on the Spanish Inquisition defended inquisitions and called for another one. As an ‘over the mountain’ Catholic, he hated Protestants more than he hated Jews, but he really hated Jews too. Who he hated most were liberal scientific intellectuals - the sleepless enemy gnawing Christendom’s entrails - and they were always Protestant or Jewish. The only science lesson the masses needed was a demonstration that the more they resisted their rightful rulers, the more horrific would be their world. His slogan was: “more priests more executioners”. (37)
Such was the bed-time reading of French King Charles X as his administration ground to a halt in the face of five years of accumulated resistance to his attempted absolutism. In 1830 Charles reached for Prince Auguste-Jules-Armand-Marie de Polignac to perpetrate a Royalist coup d’ etat and Holy Terror. The de Polignacs, one of the most influential and despised dynasties in France, could draw on a thousand years experience of wrathful subjugation. In mid-summer Prince de Polignac ignored the elected Chamber completely and issued decrees including a death penalty for sacrilege. Barricades went up across Paris and were guarded en masse. Army units sent to dismantle those barricades fraternized with and then joined the Parisians causing a stunned King and Prince to flee France forever. The Chamber’s choice of the Duke of Orleans to be the next King so disgusted Louis Boland he resigned all offices and retired to his Chateau in Millau.
The Fuss about Faust
Duke Karl Augustus boasted the Continent’s most liberal regime and opposition groups from around Europe brought printing presses to Weimar to take advantage of his liberalism. To the gathering annoyance of the Eastern aristocracy these opposition groups bombarded their lands with subversive Weimar-printed propaganda. Austrian Prince Metternich used the assassination of Czar Alexander’s favourite novelist (and spy) by a liberal student activist from Jena U as the cause celebre for an impromptu meeting of the chiefs at a Bohemian spa in the summer of 1819. The men around the table included the Kings, Dukes and Princes of Prussia, Wurttemberg, Baden, Nassau, Saxony, Bavaria and Hanover. Duke Karl Augustus was given the Zeus-to-Prometheus talking to. The sweat was still running down his back when his carriage pulled into Weimar Castle. He immediately closed most printing businesses, censored the rest, dissolved student groups and other “conspiracies”, and placed commissars in all Jena U classrooms. (38)
His patron’s about-face did not much bother the elderly Goethe who was too pre-occupied with his new identity. Goethe now fancied himself a scientist - history hasn’t. He was a practitioner of Morphology; a science he claimed to have founded but clearly was Herder’s brainwave. To Goethe, Morphology was the study of the ever-changing internal and external shapes of everything in the Universe: fish, rocks, plants, clouds, colours, comets or the cultural phenomena of human beings. This was a science for gifted people.
Goethe courted numerous controversies. He argued all plant parts morph out of leaf structures. When shown this was not the case with roots, he refused to correct himself. As part of his campaign against Enlightenment leader Isaac Newton, Goethe denied white light contained the full colour spectrum, arguing instead that colour resulted from subtle blends of black and white. When shown this produced only grey, he refused to concede. He then poisoned the well of history by writing about how various scientists he wrangled with had either forgiven him or had come around to his point of view, which was not true. (39)
Goethe’s swan song was the play “Faustus II”, finished in the year of his death (1832) after 60 years of re-working. Although not intended for performance the play is an accepted masterpiece. The historical Faustus, upon whom the play is based, was a travelling fortune-teller and sleight-of-hand artist working the Duchy circuit in the early 1500s of whose legendary powers even Luther was convinced. The old swindler achieved immortality with the 1587 publication of Johann Spies’ Faust Book which prometheanized Faust by centering his bio on a transfer of forbidden knowledge to Faust by the demon-spirit Mephistopheles in exchange for Faust’s soul. Charles Marlowe’s dramatic interpretation of Faust Book became a standard for traveling theatre troupes who often hammed it up with slapstick and puppets. In book and play, the Zeus-God character of the archetypical triangle is an invisible omnipresence whose will manifests in Faust’s (Man’s) never-doubted eternal damnation. Copies of Spies’ book, Marlowe’s play and a novel about Faust by von Klinger were available to Goethe at the Grand Ducal library in Weimar. (40)
Goethe began “Faust” when he was a yellow-trousered Storm and Stressor, eventually publishing it in 1808. His vision for “Faust II” was to synthesize Weimar Classicism with Schlegelian Romanticism by mingling multiple characters from Greek, German and Biblical mythology. The result is a mythic “Phantasmagoria” starring: Faust the Magician, sirens, the Devil, Helen of Troy, griffins, Mephistopheles, the invisible Homunculus, King Solomon, Lord Byron’s ghost all rising to a finale where a drunk Fred Flintstone belts out “I Did It My Way”.
Philosopher Schelling’s last hurrah came in the 1840s when he was in his late sixties. Decades earlier he tangled with former college buddy Hegel who dared mock Schelling’s system. Schelling responded with whirling definitions of the universe, consciousness and God which did not stem Hegelianism’s rise which continued after Hegel’s death in 1831.
In 1841 Prussian King Frederick William IV, concerned about Hegelianism’s subversive veering, summoned old warhorse Schelling to lecture at Berlin U and lead philosophy back to the trail. The excitement swirling about the master’s return swept Engels, Bakunin, and Kierkegaard into the crammed auditorium. Schelling told the hushed hall that the world was a very dark place until the arrival of the God of Light – the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! The audience lurched forward for more, but that was it, and it was a flop. One attendee published his lecture notes to protest Schelling’s vapidity. Schelling sued to have his own ideas sequestered. He lost the suit, resigned all positions and stopped lecturing. (41)
...a reactionary stream of consciousness...
The Continental Counter-Enlightenment morphed into a broader social movement creating more sophisticated cultural products characterized by a less direct attack on reason and science. The aristocracy seated into the Continent’s Philosophy Chairs only “Idealists” who spun their Kantian and Hegelian circumlocutions in right-wing pirouettes. These paleosophes built up megalithic mounds of mumbo jumbo about the disembodied cloud of History’s reconfigurations in the whirlwind of theological debate.
While the office of the Roman Pontiff Maximus dates to 600 BC, the doctrine of its occupant’s infallibility did not arise until Pius IX’s First Vatican Council of 1870 AD. The declaration of papal infallibility was the culmination of an activist project launched by Joseph de Maistre 60 years earlier. His The Pope served as the movement’s charter. De Maistrites, or Ultramontanes, remain a force within the Catholic Church where they propagandize uniquely Catholic superstitions like exorcisms, stigmata, the shroud of Turin, the miracles of Saints and apparitions of Virgin Mary. Ultramontanes believe in Latin-only Church services emphasizing the ritualistic; i.e. alter-boys carrying candles amid bells and incense as a choir sings abracadabra. (42) French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) was a proud de Maistrite and author of many verses about the Devil and the Original Sin.
Vico is hailed as a pioneer ethnologist and cultural anthropologist. His ‘three stages of civilization’ concept was adopted by 19th century French philosopher August Comte - the inventor of the word “sociologist” and a militant opponent of democracy. Marx owed Vico a large, unacknowledged debt.
Herder’s influence on German fiction, the folklorist Brothers Grimm in particular, is widely noted. Herderite tirades against cosmopolitanism and standardization were adapted for use by nationalist movements fighting for independence from the Russian, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires.
Arthur Schopenhauer’s wealthy mother was a Jena groupie; thus Arthur was schooled by top Herderite, F. Majer, and by a doddering Goethe. With their nudging, Schopenhauer trashed Hegel in self-published texts and booked an auditorium across from Hegel’s to hold simultaneous lectures. Nobody attended his lectures or read his books; rather, his anti-rationalist and paranormalist screeds were, fittingly, posthumously discovered. He did not believe in progress but he believed in ghosts.
The ghost of the Counter-Enlightenment haunted early 20th century Europe in the form of a “Bergsonist” craze; so named after philosopher Henri-Louis Bergson who writings affirmed the existence of a non-material human soul. Babbling bum Jakob Lenz was claimed as honorary founder by the early 20th century German Expressionist art scene - the originators of horror movies. Counter-Enlightenment doctrines form the roots of the absurdist artistic tradition and the urban anarchist movement. Would-be French Inquisitor Prince de Polignac’s great uncle, Archbishop Melchior, wrote the Counter-Enlightenment anthem “Anti-Lucretius” in 1747. Prince de Polignac’s fifth sonand his wife, Princess Edmond de Polignac, were outstanding patrons of early 20th century avante-garde art. After WWII the pretentious, obscurantist academic fad, ‘Existentialism’, brought about a revival of interest in Schelling and Schopenhauer, and in the self-indulgent, superstitious Christianity of the inconsequential wastrel, Soren Kierkegaard. In the 1950s Johann Hamann’s cryptic six volume canon was republished and sifted for passages useful to Christian Existentialism.
The Continental Counter-Enlightenment’s ideological carriage crossed over to Fascism on the three-arc Nietzsche-Haeckel-Heidegger Bridge. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a derivative of Schopenhauer, a sycophant of Richard Wagner, and a floundering reactionary too insane to form a paragraph yet his 10,000 pages of scribbling were mined like an archaeological treasure. Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), author of General Morphology, was Goethean science standard-bearer at Jena U where he lectured for 48 years and mythologized Goethe as a pioneer Darwinist, an error for which Haeckel can be excused because he was incapable of grasping the theory of natural selection. Haeckel was an ignoramus and a forger whose pseudo-science “Ecology” was a worse than worthless academic redundancy; it was an allegorical cornerstone of neo-feudalism. Existentialist founder Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is heralded as a “groundbreaking intellectual” who “drew the map” of modern philosophy yet his master-work, Being and Time, (1927) is an unreadable meandering attempt to define the verb “to be” that presumes fluency in archaic and modern German and Greek and includes over 100 complex new words that Heidegger made up. In the 1920s Heidegger was active in the purge of progressives and Jews from German academia; an activity that elevated to the sending of telegrams to Hitler advising on the crucial 1933-4 liquidations, when Heidegger was the enthusiastic Nazi Rector of Freiberg U. He never apologized for any of this and in the mid-1950s was writing with praise for “the inner truth and greatness of National Socialism”. (43)
The Throne behind the Power
While Empress Catherine is a renowned nympho for keeping a stable of handsome army officers around the palace, similar behaviour by male aristocrats was the norm. Not only did they have “kept girls” (as Catherine’s officers called themselves) they also had “kept pens”. Assembling a literary genre is as complicated as assembling a symphony orchestra. Assembling a philosophical school requires the same effort as assembling a church choir. Patriarchs of feudal dynasties paid the pipers of the Continental Counter-Enlightenment and they called the tune. Politically active aristocrats were the social movement’s centre of gravity. There is incontrovertible dynastic continuity between the patrons of Continental Counter-Enlightenment and Fascism.
Throughout the Fascist era Italy was a monarchy under the House of Savoy, the former patrons of Joseph de Maistre. The Savoyards were probably Italy’s richest landlords with Piedmont, Genoa and Sardinia being Savoy fiefdoms. Without an election, without a revolution, King Victor Emmanuel III handed power to Mussolini. For over 20 years Emmanuel schmoozed with Mussolini and other Fascist war criminals signing into law every Fascist bill crossing his desk. In 1943 the Grand Fascist Council replaced Mussolini with Emmanuel who ruled by decree and sought to revive the war against the West before switching sides. When Mussolini was hanging from his ankles catching slugs Emmanuel was sailing to Beirut counting coins.
In Spain the Bourbons violently resisted Republicanism in the 1930s and supported Fascist henchman Franco who returned the favour in 1969 by naming as his heir his dear ally, Prince Juan Carlos of Asturias, thus restoring the monarchy upon the Generalissimo’s death. Spanish Fascism was doubly-blessed by the presence of a rival faction of Bourbons who, allied with parochial northern aristocrats and the ultra-catholic ‘Apostles’ militia, fought an intermittent civil war for a century before they became a major component of Franco’s totalitarian Felange Party. By the sixties they had settled down to the fruitful fields of electoral Catholicism. Also in the 1960s, Greek King Constantine dismissed a centrist government after it won a landslide election victory, thus creating a crisis culminating in a coup by conservative-nationalist colonels who the King then tried to take out in follow-on coup but failed and fled to Rome.
In 1918 US President Wilson refused to sit around any negotiating table with a space reserved for Kaiser Bill, and he told the German people to expect no mercy until they kicked out the Hohenzollerns. The Kaiser’s last orders were he should be taken to the eastern front so he could mobilize his remaining divisions for a sweep across Germany to smash whatever treasonous scoundrels crossed their paths. His Generals refused this order and told the Kaiser to flee to Holland because Bolsheviks were plotting his kidnapping in public meetings all over Berlin.
At the Versailles Conference the Western Allies submitted a list of 830 German war criminals. The list was a “Who’s Who” of the German aristocracy naming all the Hohenzollerns, all the German Princes and scores of Counts and Dukes. These men ran the German Army, owned the German military-industrial complex, and were notoriously cruel. But they were never arrested, they never gave up their estates and they proceeded to run illegal armies like the Free Corps and the German Eastern Army which, over the complaints of the Allies, fought divisional strength battles in Poland in 1919. Areas of eastern Germany were controlled by warlord-generals who refused to demobilize and whose stated goal was Hohenzollern restoration. (44)
The Free Corps swept across German cities attacking political meetings and rallies with hand-grenades and flame-throwers. This movement then morphed into a hydra-headed half-million strong reactionary social network of war veterans led by the Steel Helmut society. The foot soldiers were often bivouacked on the estates and they carried on a brutal campaign of anti-Republican hooliganism and assassination. Thousands wore brown-shirts and marched under the swastika before they heard of Hitler. This social movement tried to seize power by force in 1920 and 1923 and plotted insurrection for the next nine years. Wilhelm Hohenzollern’s entourage was popping champagne corks when first news of the 1920 Kapp putsch came in.
When Wilhelm retrieved his valuables from his palaces, shipment required a freight train. He transferred two thirds of his accounts and movables to Switzerland, bringing the remainder to his recently purchased double-moated castle on a sixty-acre Doorn estate, Netherlands. He retained private ownership of hundreds of thousands of acres of German real estate including parts of Berlin. Doorn’s guest rooms buzzed with visiting Princes, government officials and party leaders. By agreement with Dutch Queen Wilhelmina (Orange-Nassau) the former Kaiser agreed not to use Doorn as a political stage. However, Wilhelm hired an American public relations expert to plant his articles in German publications. Hitler’s early writings were facsimiles of these statements.
Wilhelm Hohenzollern’s son August joined the Nazi Party in 1929. Both he and his brother Oscar had long been active in Steel Helmut. Wilhelm’s new bride, Princess Hermine von Schronach-Carolath, was an enthusiastic Nazi socialite. Most importantly, Crown Prince Wilhelm, who but for his father’s veto would have ran for the Nazi leadership, travelled Germany extensively giving pro-Nazi speeches and proclaiming his allegiance to Hitler. The Crown Prince’s private mansion became Herr Goring’s parlour. The aristocrat Goring was also entrusted with the collecting and passing-on of Hohenzollern rents.
One major obstacle preventing old Wilhelm from fully endorsing the Nazis was his hatred of their swastika. Wilhelm, a devout occultist, believed the Nazi swastika was a mirror image of the proper symbol which in the orient meant good luck. The adopted symbol, which he refused to have anywhere near him, was a negative icon inviting doom. He was flabbergasted his own restorationist movement should choose an upside-down horse-shoe for a flag.
By 1930 both main political parties were promising Hohenzollern restoration. The leading Republican coalition (who to prove their patriotism chose octogenarian war hero General von Hindenburg as their Presidential candidate) offered to place one of Wilhelm’s grandsons on the throne and have a Regent supervise a transition period. The senior Nazi leadership, (Hitler, Goebbels, and Goring) in numerous face-to-face encounters with the Royals, promised direct restoration of Wilhelm. The Hohenzollern-Royals, the richest, most famous family in Germany, spent 1932 motorcading the country in swastika-decaled vehicles.
The Republican movement behind Hindenburg won the 1932 election by a wide margin. But Hindenburg was a Prussian Army lifer and fervent monarchist who continued to address Wilhelm Hohenzollern as “most gracious Kaiser, King and Lord” and who craved Wilhelm’s forgiveness. A few months after the 1932 election yet another attempted military coup caused the crisis which provided Hindenburg with the pretext to, quite unnecessarily, hand full reins of power to Hitler who within weeks burned the Reichstag and passed the Enabling Act.
Wilhelm’s plans for crowning were checked when Hindenburg died in 1934; an event many thought would precipitate the restoration. Three hours after the death, Hitler demanded and received pledges of allegiance to himself, in the combined role of President and Chancellor, from key military and police officials. Tensions were reflected shortly thereafter in the hostile reception the Gestapo gave to a 50,000-strong Monarchist demonstration. Hitler’s killing machine, leadership cult and security pre-cautions made him untouchable and he was in no hurry to restore Wilhelm to whom he would then be expendable. In 1935 Hitler refused a request by the Crown Prince to allow his father to take up residence in Germany.
In spite of the problems surrounding restoration, Wilhelm and the European aristocracy, supported the Nazis. In 1938 Wilhelm’s cousin, Romanian King Carol II (Hohenzollern) seized power, dismissed the legislature and ruled by decree. Romania proved a vital ally to the Third Reich. In 1940 Belgian King Leopold III (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) assumed the role of commander-in-chief; then, in violation of assurances he had given the Allies and against the advice of his General staff and entire Cabinet, he surrendered to the Germans after a token stand, thus greatly compromising French defences. He refused to join the government-in-exile, preferring his palace in Nazi-occupied Belgium for which he was driven from the throne by mass protests after the war. He abdicated in favour of his son.
After the conquest of the Netherlands, Wilhelm liked to chat with the SS officers who took over the security detail at Doorn. He boasted that within his immediate circle of brothers, sons and nephews there were 12 military officers serving the Third Reich. August was a general. He sent Hitler a note of congrats after the fall of Paris. However, when one of Wilhelm’s grandsons was killed in combat in France, the massive outpouring of Monarchist grief displayed at his funeral further worried and alienated Hitler. When Wilhelm was buried 1941, the only person who dared send a swastika to the funeral was Hitler. There would be no restoration, but there would be doom a-plenty, and the stars also foretold of an aristocratically-inspired bomb attack on the Fuhrer with no less than a Count carrying the briefcase.
Alongside the Continental Counter-Enlightenment, in the same cities and at the same time, there occurred a revolution in music both in terms of musical quality and in the mass publication of musical scores. German and Italian music from this era is the most popular, enduring, copied, refined and sophisticated music ever made. These caged birds sang so sweetly because they were not allowed to speak the truth. The writing coming out of this time and place consists of incoherent and unperformable theatrical plays, cryptic and meaningless philosophy texts, and romantic animistic augury masquerading as natural science, all larded with malevolent reactionary allegory and motto. Reading such books wastes time.
Although Europe abounds with extinct and phoney aristocratic titles, there remains a set of several hundred people sharing the following characteristics: they are rich, they are inheritors, the bulk of their fortune is in European real estate, and they possess an aristocratic title providing tangible powers and privileges. These Kings, Queens, Princes, Dukes and Counts are related to one another and attend the same social clubs and sporting events. All are millionaires and a few dozen are billionaires. These families are hyper-active politically with a keen interest in sitting as directors of Universities, green groups, businesses, art galleries, charities, symphony orchestras, etc. They are seamlessly interlocked with the hierarchy of the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches. As such, vast swaths of rural Europe remain effectively theocratic with the larger part proving impervious to Protestantism let alone the Enlightenment. Much of what was formerly Protestant Europe has in good measure given way to our old friend, Hocus Pocus.
The aristocracy is positioned atop the Olympian European Land Lobby which has for its base millions of small-holders organized into farmers’ groups, homeowners’ associations and environmentalist organizations. Any normal urban Euro will tell you land prices are ridiculous, by which they mean irrational. Highly restrictive land use policies drive up land prices, food prices, residential rents and business leases. Due to the success of the Land Lobby, urban Euros pay more in taxes in order to pay more for food. European industrial policy is retarded because decades ago the Land Lobby opened a Pandora’s Box of spooky enviro-catastrophe myths so worrying the poor sheep they insist their elected representatives subordinate industrial progress to the protection of the fragile, sacred Land. The resulting industrial policy parallels the irrationalism of a patriarchal murder-suicide worthy a Titan. The rising portion of household and business income going to forms of rent and the revival of augury are symptomatic of creeping Restorationism.
Rousseau was right. European art is both professors’ pointer and cash rake for the aristocracy. Vico was wrong. European culture is not going around in a big circle - Europe culture isn’t going anywhere. The Harry Potter phenomenon was about a young man receiving forbidden knowledge from a supernatural figure amidst a setting cluttered with occultist props. These were the most hyped, widely distributed and multi-translated books in European history. And they are the same old crap!
Literature’s infatuation with fratricide is ironic. Philology is a defunct academic discipline with which the above-referred-to intellectuals were intimately familiar. Philology had two sons, Literature and Linguistics. Literature became the study of fictitious novels, short stories and poetry almost invariably possessing an arch-conservative intent. Linguistics is the study of: grammar, effective written and spoken communication, language history, sociolinguistics, and psycholinguistics. Even though it huddles in its own jabberwocky, Linguistics is a far more rewarding and useful pursuit than grinding through the volumes of insidious reactionary petroglyphs called Literature. Unfortunately, over the decades Literature beat down and practically drove Linguistics off the campus to the ridiculous result that the study of the official language, in most modern Universities, consists of reading reams of antiquated irrationalist propaganda.
Augury is a sly pseudo-science slithering up through several thousand years of civilization. What the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is engaged in is not science; it is the augury of aeromancy. What environmentalists are engaging in when they report findings from the entrails of endangered species isn’t science; it’s the augury of haruspicy. At elite levels augurs were lobbyists. They began a project with a policy agenda their patrons wished implemented and then they went out into nature to gather convincing coincidences and spell-binding allegories in support of those policies. The science they practiced was Rhetoric. Augurs ruled Rome with words...
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- Berlin, Isaiah; “The Counter-Enlightenment” in: Wiener, Philip; “The Dictionary of the History of Ideas”, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1973, Volume 2. All names first appearing in bold are persons named by Berlin as members of the Counter-Enlightenment.
- Berlin; page 101.
- Ibid; page 102.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003, Volume 12, page 347.
- Trease, Geoffrey; “The Italian Story”; Vanguard Press, New York, 1963, page 246.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003, Volume 4, page 675.
- Berlin; page 104.
- Ibid; page 104.
- Ibid; page 103.
- Asprey, Robert B.; “Frederick the Great”; Ticknor and Fields; New York, 1986, page 15.
- Sheehan, James; “German History 1770-1886”, Clarendon Press, Oxford UK, 1989, page 11.
- Berlin; page 106.
- Berlin; page 107.
- Berlin; page 108.
- Ousby, Ian; “The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English”, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 1998, page 589. See also Drabble, Margaret; “The Oxford Companion to English Literature”, Oxford University Press, Oxford UK, 2000, page 627.
- Berlin; page 107.
- Ibid; page 107.
- See the “Valmy” sections of: Bradford, James “International Encyclopedia of Military History”, Routledge, New York, 2006 and Perrett, Bryan; “The Battle Book”, Arms and Armour, Cornwall UK, 1992 and Kohn, George; “Dictionary of Wars”, Facts on File Publications, New York, 1986 and Encyclopedia Britannica’s section on “Kellermann”.
- Sheehan, pages 222-228.
- Doyle, William; “The Oxford History of the French Revolution”, Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK, 1989, page 255. See also; Bradley and Encyclopedia Brittanica sections on “Napoleon”.
- Berlin, page 105.
- Berlin, page 106.
- Doyle, pages 320-1.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003 Volume 12, page 347.
- See Fraser, Flora; “Emma, Lady Hamilton”, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1987, chapter “Rough Justice” pages 201-215 and Trease, Geoffrey; “The Italian Story”; Vanguard Press, New York, 1963, pages 254-8.
- Fraser, page 315.
- Fraser, pages 210-215, Trease, pages 254-8, see also Encyclopedia sections on Nelson, Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies, and the Parthenopean Republic.
- Berlin, page 111.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003 Volume 20, page 468. See also Middleton, John; “World Monarchies and Dynasties”, Sharpe Reference, Armonk NY, 2005.
- See the “Waterloo” sections of: Bradford, James “International Encyclopedia of Military History”, Routledge, New York, 2006 and Perrett, Bryan; “The Battle Book”, Arms and Armour, Cornwall UK, 1992 and Kohn, George; “Dictionary of Wars”, Facts on File Publications, New York, 1986 and Encyclopedia Britannica’s section on “Waterloo”, “Napoleon” and “Wellington”.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003 Volume 24, page 754, Napoleon died aged 52 of gastrointestinal ulcers and/or cancer. There is unmistakable evidence of arsenic poisoning. His last will states: “I die before my time, killed by the English oligarchy and its hired assassins.” See also the BBC report http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1364994.stm
- Berlin; page 111.
- Berlin; page 110.
- Berlin; page 112.
- Jones, Lindsay; “Encyclopedia of Religion”, Thomson Gale, Farmington Hills Ml, 2005, Volume 7, pages 4498-4502. See also Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003 sections on Torquemada, Inquisitions, and Spanish Monarchs.
- Jones, Volume 7, page 4501.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003, Volume 27, page 429.
- See the sections on “Carlsberg Decrees” in The Encyclopedia Americana International Edition, Dansbury, Connecticut, 1991 and Encyclopaedia Britannica and Encyclopaedia Britannica’s section on “Charles Augustus; Weimar”.
- Gillispie, Charles; “Dictionary of Scientific Biography”, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1972, Volume 5, page 442.
- Garland, Henry; “The Oxford Companion to German Literature”, Oxford University Press, Oxford UK, 1997 page 220, and Drabble, page 353.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003, Volume 10, page 512.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003, Volume 9, page 486. See also: Thomson Gale; “New Catholic Encyclopedia”, Farmington Hills, Ml. 2003, Volume 14, page 283.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.; “The New Encyclopedia Britannica”, Chicago, Ill., 2003, Volume 5, page 800.
- Rather than play Sudoku for the next several paragraphs; the sources for information on the Hohenzollernist-Nazi connection are the following chapters in the following books: Balfour, Michael; “The Kaiser and His Times”; Houghton Mifflin Co, Boston, 1964, chapter “Out to Grass”, page 413-420. Cowles, Virginia; “The Kaiser”; Collins, London, 1963; chapter “Epilogue at Doorn” pages 407-430. Palmer, Alan; The Kaiser, Warlord of the Second Reich, Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, London 1978; chapter “Amerongen and Doorn” pages 212-227. Snyder, Louis; “Encyclopedia of the Third Reich”, Robert Hale, London, 1976, see sections on “Wilhelm” and the well-hidden “Pruessen”. Watt, Richard, “The King’s Depart”, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1968, pages 501-530. See also the above cited general reference encyclopedia’s sections on the various characters listed.