GHDI logo

The Conservatives: Friedrich Julius Stahl: "What is the Revolution?" (1852)

page 3 of 11    print version    return to list previous document      next document

Revolution demands the abolition of all acquired rights on behalf of popular welfare.

Revolution, finally, demands a new distribution of states according to nationalities contrary to international law: that all Germans form a state for themselves, and all Poles one for themselves, and all Italians one for themselves etc., and that all treaties and rights of sovereigns standing in the way of this [national principle] be destroyed.

These demands — now in this form, now in that, now intensified, now toned down — are the ones that have been presented from 1789 up to this hour.

But the inner mainsprings of all these demands is nothing other than what the people are saying in their hearts:

We do not want to obey any king who has been placed above us by divine providence, but only the deputies we choose ourselves, and only for as long as they do our will; therefore, there should either no longer be a king, or, if one exists, he should obey the will of the majority of our deputies.

In our social union we want only to protect ourselves, so that none of us is killed, robbed, or has a contract broken, but not to apply God's commandments in the same. When husband and wife agree with each other and hope for more happiness from another marriage — why should we care about God's commandment: that what God has joined together let no man tear asunder? If the death penalty is not necessary for the preservation of society, i.e. for our protection — why should we care about God's orders for justice: that whoever has spilled blood, his blood will be spilled again? If the blasphemer not accidentally insults other people, such as the religious society of Christians or the St. Simonians, why should we be concerned about God's honor and punish the blasphemer?

We do not submit to God's plan, according to which each of us is assigned a place in the social body and thereby a different occupation and different rights; rather, we place above God's plan absolute human rights as firmly as a rock of ore. According to this, all are equal to each other, and no special rights or ties may exist among them.

We do not ask whether God has revealed a religion whose preservation and fulfillment He demands from the peoples and their governing authorities, but rather what each of us thinks about and wants from religion – this is valid because of his own will, and the opinion of one person [is valued] as much as the opinion of the other. God's commandment cannot give the Gospel any public validity vis-à-vis the will of the non-Christians in the state. It therefore cannot be the soul of, and prerequisite for, government offices, and not the substance of public instruction.

first page < previous   |   next > last page