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Georg Forster, "On the Relationship of the People of Mainz to the Franks," delivered to the Society of the Friends of the People in Mainz (November 15, 1792)

Noteworthy here is the cosmopolitanism of Forster’s revolutionary rhetoric – he proclaims democratic freedom a universal right and argues against German nationalist prejudice against the French (in a region of Germany that had been devastated by Louis XIV’s armies in the seventeenth century). Yet, by referring to the French as “Franks” (recalling the Germanic component of French identity) Forster tacitly concedes the importance of nationalism, even while arguing for political unification of the Mainz Republic with revolutionary France.

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On the Relationship of the People of Mainz to the Franks

Up to now it was the princes' clever politics to carefully separate the peoples from each other, to maintain that they were totally different from each other in customs, character, laws, ways of thinking, and sensitivities, and to foster one nation's hate, jealously, mockery, and disrespect against the other and thereby secure their own rule all the more. In vain the purest ethics claimed that all men are brothers; the same guild that pretends to have a special calling to teach incited these brothers against each other, because their corrupt and hardened hearts recognized no brother. The gratification of their often ignoble, often bitter passions, and their proud egos were more important to them than anything and allowed no sympathy to emerge in them. Ruling was their first and last happiness, and there was no more reliable means to expand their rule than to blind, delude, and then to plunder those who already found themselves under their yoke.

Among the thousands of inventions with which they hoodwinked their underlings was this one – they carefully let it happen that the belief in hereditary differences among people was extended universally, enforced by laws, and preached by hired apostles. Some people, it was said, were born to decree and rule, and others to possess sinecures and offices; the great mass was made to obey; the Negro because of his black skin and flat nose was intended by Nature to be the slave of the whites; and there were more of the same profanities against the sacred healthy rationality.

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