GHDI logo

Heinrich von Treitschke, "Socialism and its Patrons" (1874)

page 2 of 5    print version    return to list previous document      next document

of society reveals the present state of social decay to the man on the street with absolute clarity and turns him into a faithful follower of demagogues. In this country of top-rate education, universal suffrage amounts to organized licentiousness; to the recognized arrogance of superior foolishness; to the superciliousness of the soldier towards the officer, of the journeyman towards the master, and of the worker towards the entrepreneur. These devastating effects, however, have already materialized in abundance and can no longer be eliminated; abolishing the electoral law again would only provoke the long-awakened wantonness of philistinism even more vehemently. As it is, we are merely left to at least protect the foundations of our monarchical state, i.e. the district and municipal administrations, from being penetrated by republican principles – and to protest against the claim that rewarding a lack of education is the result of enlightened social policies. [ . . . ]

[ . . . ] German Social Democracy really is as “black” as most educated newspapers have described it. It deserves attention as a symptom of serious social evils but does not present us with a single viable thought that could be negotiated, that could be integrated into our social order. Envy and greed are the two most powerful levers it applies to turn the old world upside down; it feeds on the destruction of every ideal. If the patrons of socialism praise the fact that, in addition to barefaced agitators, demagogues for hire, and a long train of thoughtless followers, the party also includes many truly selfless apostles, even some impassioned poets, then that praise merely serves to prove, once again, how very thoroughly the present moment has become caught in the bonds of Social Democracy’s sensual, materialist ideology. Doesn't anyone still see how unnatural it is that such a doctrine – one that denies any ideal that would allow an honest man to fully develop his own personality – should be capable of sparking his enthusiasm? And how severely damaged any sense of duty must be, right down to the roots, if the idealism of envy and the fervor of desire were able to spread among us? [ . . . ]

[ . . . ] The learned friends of socialism usually point out reassuringly that the Social Democratic worker was at least learning how to think. With this, they only prove that they have inadvertently become infected with the sensualist moral philosophy of socialism, which seeks the roots of virtue in the shaping of rationalism, in the so-called Enlightenment. If the dissatisfied man on the street, who is not yet used to the new forms of economics, hears it daily proclaimed that the entire social order is based on injustice, that force must destroy what force has created; and if, moreover, the preachers of this doctrine refer to the historical constructions of moderately liberal professors, then the worker may perhaps indeed gather some bits of knowledge from such instruction. However, would the creature beating in every human heart not be inclined to suck rich nutrients from such enticing teachings as well?

first page < previous   |   next > last page