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Württemberg Democrat Ludwig Pfau on German Federalism (1864/1895)

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All of this confusion, however, originates with the famous unanimity of that Gothaer comedian-politics and megalomania that only counts bayonets and collects supporters, regardless of whether the bayonets are fighting for or against Germanness, regardless of whether the supporters are for or against popular government. For this reason, above all, clarity must be introduced into the political state of affairs, and this is possible only by means of a rational differentiation of parties. For the moment, the National Association [Nationalverein] may be more or less lowering its Prussian flag, but this does not change the fact that its founders and leaders, the Gothaers, are the adherents of hegemony, whereas the South German Democrats, who joined mostly with the intention of being agitational, are the ones being led on. Anyone who is for Prussia is necessarily a centralist, thus a reactionary; anyone who is a Democrat can only be a federalist, thus opposed to Prussia. For the time being, only one group corresponds to the reality of the political relationship of great powers and small states, just as it does to the reality of the political opposition between centralization and federation, and that group is a party consisting of Prussia, Austria, and the medium-sized states. The People’s Party is by necessity the party of the medium-sized states, i.e. a federalist party; it has to be entirely clear about this and complete its separation from this ambiguous mass of parties as quickly as possible. “Prussia is the largest German state; Prussia is the most powerful German state! Prussian hegemony! Prussian annexation! Prussian unity!” This senseless clamor of coarse political materialism must finally come to an end, at least in the People’s Party. Yes, all ye who are deaf and blind: there is a higher law than the law of the jungle according to which the larger devours the smaller. We have to face Prussia as political equals if we wish to reach a successful unity with it; for only one path leads to unity and that is freedom. Strive for freedom above all and everything else will come to you naturally.

Yet how are we supposed to strive for freedom if not through the efforts of each in his own state and through his struggle with his direct enemies; and how are we supposed to strive for unity if not by coping with the individual state authorities that ought to form the confederation? So this means, above all, constitutional struggle with the local governments in order to establish the will of the people; a coalition between those tribes that recognize the will of the people as their supreme law; and a parliament for those states in which the rule of law has gained supremacy. This represents the only practical path for a national policy that is not merely consistent but is also liberal and intends not to betray the Germans living in Austria. For only such a process can secure the survival of the nation and be cosmopolitan at the same time. The peoples display solidarity; others suffer on account of our conditions just as much as we suffer on account of theirs, and they are, consciously or unconsciously, the allies of our freedom. One does not pull freedom out of a hat as one does an imperial crown, however. Likewise, it will not materialize for those who twiddle their thumbs.

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