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Novalis, "Christendom or Europe" [Die Christenheit oder Europa] (1799)

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The highest development in natural philosophy is now at hand and we can the more easily now survey the learned guild. The indigence of the external sciences had become the more evident in recent times the more familiar we became with them. Nature began to look ever more indigent, and, accustomed to the brilliance of our discoveries, we saw more plainly that it was only a borrowed light and that with known instruments and by known methods we would not find and construe the essential thing we sought. Each investigator had to confess that one branch of knowledge was nothing without the others, and thus there arose attempts at mystification in the branches of knowledge; the wayward soul of philosophy, demonstrated as a mere scientific element, fell into place in a symmetrical basic figure of the sciences. Others brought the concrete sciences into new circumstances, promoted a lively interchange among them, and tried to set clear their natural historical classification. And so it continues, and it is easy to estimate how favorable must be this association with both the external and internal worlds, with the higher cultivation of the intellect, with the knowledge of the former and the stimulation and culture of the latter, and how under these circumstances the weather must clear and the old heaven must again come into view, and with it the yearning for it, the living astronomy.

Now let us turn to the political spectacle of our time. The old world and the new world are engaged in battle. The defectiveness and shortcomings of the organization of states up to now have become apparent in dreadful phenomena. What if here, too, as in the branches of knowledge, closer and more multiple connections and contacts of European states were the primary historical goal of war? What if a new stirring of hitherto slumbering Europe were to come into play? What if Europe were to reawaken and a state of states, a political theory of knowledge, were to confront us! Might perhaps hierarchy, that symmetrical basic figure of states, be the principle of unification of states, as the intellectual concept of the political ego? It is impossible for secular forces to put themselves into equilibrium; only a third element, which is at once secular and superworldly, can solve that problem. Between the conflicting powers themselves no peace can be established. All peace is mere illusion, mere truce. From the standpoint of cabinets or the common consciousness, no unification is conceivable. Both parties have great and urgent claims and must make them, driven as they are by the spirit of the world and of mankind. Both are indestructible powers in the heart of man: on the one side reverence for antiquity, dependence upon historical system, love for the monuments of ancestors and of the ancient and glorious family of the state, and joy in obedience; on the other side delightsome sensation of freedom, unlimited expectation of tremendous provinces of activity, pleasure in things new and young, effortless contact with all members of the state, pride in the universal validity of man, joy in one’s personal rights and in the property of the whole, and the powerful feeling of citizenship. Let neither of these two hope to destroy the other. All conquests are meaningless here, for the inner capital of every kingdom lies not behind earthwalls and is not to be taken by siege.

Who knows whether there has been enough of war? But it will never come to an end unless someone grasps the palm branch, which a spiritual power alone can proffer. Blood will wash over Europe until the nations perceive the fearful madness which is driving them about in a circle; until, arrested by holy music and soothed, they approach former alters in multi-hued fusion and undertake works of peace; until a great feast of love is celebrated as a festival of peace amid hot tears upon smoking battlefields. Only religion can waken Europe again, and reassure the peoples, and install Christendom with new splendor visibly on earth in its old peace-establishing office.

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