EVERYONE START FREAKING OUT! PRUSSIA’S HERE!
I know the question that many will be asking: What the devil is with that blog title?
1. I spend a significant amount of my time staying abreast of the stirrings in the dank world of neo-fascism, and I am a firm believer in the tradition of not just standing up to fascism, but also messing with it. In Germany that runs a long way, from the German soldiers who took up arms in foreign armies against the Wehrmacht while insisting on flying the Imperial German flag, down to modern examples such as the great anti-fascist song Schrei Nach Liebe. I hope that the existence of a blond, blue eyed, rootless cosmopolitan, internationalist and anti-fascist Prussian will cause some pinheads to explode.
2. Speaking of exploding pinheads, a particularly mendacious piece of unreason that has grown like fungus in recent decades is the idea of “identity politics” (I’m sickened to see it take hold in supposedly ‘skeptic’ and rationalist circles). Question: what difference is there between identity politics and a mixture of racism, tribalism and engineered superstition? Answer: none. I would like this to serve as a reminder to people who go along with this evil nonsense of where that leads. In the same way that the relativists wittering away that there’s nothing absolute pave the way for the worst religious fanatics, the airhead version of identity politics paves the way for the real thing, fully fledged racism and fascism.
3. The German and Prussian instantiation of the Enlightenment has a great deal to teach us in times like these. I think that there has been a marked tendency to overvalue the American experiment as a model. America’s founders relied on Britain to chase off the other Imperial contenders, and then had no native opponents except the tiny handfuls of natives who survived the smallpox (estimates of the kill rate of that plague rank easily at 95%). Once they had been cleared off or wiped out, it was easy to build a society from scratch. However, it is quite another thing instantiate an Enlightenment society when you are surrounded by hostile Empires and have to also to face an ‘installed base’ of a reactionary ancien regime. Prussia was, contra to its reputation today, the most tolerant of all the German nations, and even one of the most tolerant in Europe, while having to see off some of the nastiest cultural predators in Europe (the Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the French Empire etc.) The other great example of this would be Kemal Mustafa Attaturk’s construction of Turkey out of the ashes of the Ottoman empire, and his fiercely secular revolution. With the emerging disaster of the ‘Arab spring’, it’ll be of the highest importance to understand the lessons of the past. We need to understand how to put in place an Enlightenment society against various ancien regimes, while being able to defend the whole against external threats.