History 512, European Cultural History 1660-1870

The following list includes lectures given by George L. Mosse in the Fall of 1982. The topic of these lectures is European Cultural History 1660-1870. They were recorded for the WHA -Radio Series, "University of the Air."

© University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, Prepared by Sonja Mekel

Lecture #1

Lecture #1 46:18 min  - Lecture 01 Audio (mp3)
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In the opening lecture of “European Cultural History, 1660-1870,” George Mosse introduces his audience to the “invention of the people,” a radical construction that distinguishes the early modern period of European history from what he calls the “modern world.” Mosse specifically contextualizes the rise of the masses in the breakdown of the established political order and the collapse of the Christian worldview. This long-term conceptual transformation depersonalized traditional political culture, replacing it with the abstract notions of the people (das Volk), mass culture, and the nation. Out of this turmoil, Mosse argues, man began to search for meaning and belonging in new cultural norms and communities.

Lecture #2

Lecture #2 48:59 min - Lecture 02 Audio (mp3)
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This lecture primarily focuses on the dissolution of the Christian worldview and its consequences on the development of the modern world. During the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the idea that a personal God watched judiciously over man was seriously challenged by intellectuals who attacked the certainties of a theocentric life. Challenges to the notion of God and the sanctity of religious institutions eventually undermined established political, social, economic, and cultural hierarchies. The sense of wholeness and certainty that had pervaded the early modern world slowly gave way to doubt, atomization, and psychological uncertainty.

Lecture #3

Lecture #3 46:11 min - Lecture 03 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse gives an analysis of Pascal’s Pensées to support his contention that questioning the traditional understanding of man’s relationship to God leads to the destruction of the established order. Pascal’s “dialectics of faith and doubt” tore apart the certainty of the old world, leaving man unable to grasp the totality of existence. In the aftermath of this radical reorientation, the only “nobility” left to man was his self-consciousness. It was out of this period of psychological instability and insecurity that nationalism and bourgeois respectability eventually emanated as means to re-establish order in a tumultuous world.

Lecture #4

Lecture #4 48:46 min - Lecture 04 Audio (mp3)
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Pierre Bayle takes center stage in this lecture, which focuses on the origins of the Enlightenment. Bayle’s critique of Christianity prepared the way for the “critical mind” of the philosophes by privileging knowledge over faith. In response to the psychological turmoil unleashed by Pascal, Voltaire, and Bayle, new cultural norms and categories were established to distinguish normal from abnormal, thereby re-establishing order and hierarchy in the world. Attempts to re-establish authority often chaffed against the idea of the new autonomous man.

Lecture #5

Lecture #5 48:29 min  - Lecture 05 Audio (mp3)
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The fifth lecture focuses on the emergence of what Mosse calls the “double-edged sword” of Enlightenment ambivalence toward society: on the one hand, the age gave rise to the autonomy of man by virtue of his innate “reason.” Reason made him independent of the teachings of Christianity, as epitomized by Lessing’s Nathan the Wise; one the other hand, the Enlightenment developed a penchant towards conformity, rigid order, and classification, eventually resulting in the classification of man. While the Cartesian notion of clear and distinct ideas and the immutable laws of the Newtonian universe had depended on the belief in a God who would neither deceive man nor contradict himself and therefore guaranteed the correctness of human knowledge.

Enlightenment thinkers assumed that God expressed the laws of nature. These were seen as twofold: they could be discovered by scientific enquiry, but also included the innate moral law. Thus, the natural world in its entirety –and hence, God- was intelligible to every human being, a thought that informed Diderot’s thinking and his writing of the Encyclopedia. What remained to be explained was the fact that despite the universality of human reason, different people had divergent ideas. Admiration for the aesthetic ideals of the Classical age reflected a desire for the ordered, clean-cut rules of the “beautiful.” Also, reason was to be applied practically. Through the “right” education like the one championed in Rousseau’s Emile, man’s inborn reason should be developed, enabling him to lead a virtuous life. Trust in uncorrupted, natural human virtue took the form of the idealization of “primitive” peoples like Africans and American Indians abroad, and the European peasant at home, who were regarded as untouched by the corrupting influence of society. However, the notion of progress as the progress from primitive to abstract thinking prevailed, and eventually legitimated a racist view, for example of Blacks as childlike savages. Eventually, the Enlightenment produced both liberalism and racism, due to the inherent contradiction between the ideal of a critical mind and repressive, unanimous standards of virtue.

Lecture #6

Lecture #6 Guest Lecture by Sterling Fishman 49:36 min  - Lecture 06 Audio (mp3)
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In this lecture, Fishman draws a parallel between David Riesman’s concepts of the “inner” and the “outer-directed” person and the aim of education envisioned by Rousseau. While the outer-directed person relies on his peers for moral cues, the inner-directed person acts according to his “natural” moral judgment, that is, the virtue inculcated by the right education. This virtue is already inherent in the natural impulses of the child, that, like Rousseau’s Emile, has to be brought up by a patient and respectful tutor who manipulates nature to teach the right lessons. Ideally, the child should grow up in a rural environment, far from the corrupting influence of the city. Despite his rejection of modern civilization, Rousseau does not romanticize the “noble savage”, whom he compares to a weed. Just as plants benefit from cultivation, education shapes the moral development of the individual that will eventually revolutionize society. Inspired by Locke’s “tabula rasa” argument, Rousseau repudiates the Christian notion of original sin. Fishman gives a biographical sketch of Rousseau, qualifying the image of the impulsive, romantic genius, the self-image the philosopher created to portray himself in his writings. Rousseau’s is a new kind of autobiography; self-critical rather than boastful, the author reveals his flaws to the reader. Moreover, Fishman points out that Rousseau, like other “great men”, were regarded as such only because they managed to articulate ideas that were held but not eloquently formulated by many of their contemporaries. The “Rousseau-mania” that gripped many of his readers and influenced the preoccupation with education of nearly every philosopher thereafter, is to a great extent explained by his mastery of language.

Lecture #7

Lecture #7 49:46 min - Lecture 07 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse’s seventh lecture deals with the two other sources of authority for the new, autonomous man that, in addition to reason, served Enlightenment thinkers in their efforts to replace the authority of established religion. The first source was the Classical tradition that preceded Christianity, especially the ideal of beauty found in Greek sculpture. Unlike classical literature, the renaissance of classical art in the 18th century followed the discovery of the Laokoon-group a group sculpture that inspired a great wave of enthusiasm. In this sculpture, the ideal of beauty was expressed as order, harmony and restraint in the face of outward turmoil. For Schiller and Winckelmann, outward manifestation of inner grace exemplified order and, most importantly, a totality embodied in the aesthetic. This beauty was of a kind not found in nature; it was only realized through human endeavor. The Greek ideal of the well-proportioned male body was transposed to the ideal of the “masculine” nation in the Romantic age. The national state represented itself in the monumental grandeur of classical architecture. Similarly, the racism of the emerging anthropology had its root not in science, but in the notion of a perfect human form. The second source of authority derived from a new concept of time. The science of history replaced Christian sacred history. No longer merely understood as a vague “yesterday”, Voltaire, whom Mosse calls the “first historian”, conceived of the past as history. Yet for Voltaire, it was the history of human folly whose authority had to be overcome. In contrast, Winckelman strove for the perfection rather than the overcoming of history. The Enlightenment thus equated historical progress with the progress of scientific discovery and the aesthetic perfection of humanity, leading to order and totality.

Lecture #8

Lecture #8 48:20 min - Lecture 08 Audio (mp3)
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The eighth lecture discusses the limits of tolerance in the examples of Lessing’s “Nathan the Wise” and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Both, Mosse maintains, show the “underside” of the Enlightenment that came to be stressed and manipulated by Romanticism and nationalism. This underside is the “pull of classification” that introduced stereotypes into Enlightenment ideas. “Nathan” is a stereotype in that he never comes alive; an embodiment of reason, his Jewishness is a matter of merely outward markers. He and most characters in the play are what Marcuse would call “one-dimensional men” whose behavior does not have the same rational basis as that of the “new man.” Traditional Jews, Christians, and ultimately nationalists, remain excluded. The conclusion of the “Story of the Rings” contrasts with Boccacchio’s treatment of the same theme in the “Decameron” and illustrates the difference between Renaissance skepticism and Enlightenment pragmatism; reason proves itself in virtuous actions, implying an inherent intolerance toward allegedly irrational behavior. Still, despite its standardization of virtue, the play is not marred by the classification of human beings through ideals of external beauty. The latter reduces Blacks to an inferior status in “The Magic Flute”.

The exclusion of women and Blacks from the “Holy Halls” of reason presents us with the Enlightenment’s dialectic of high principles along with the retention of old prejudices. Contemptuous of religion and of the masses untouched by its ideas, the Enlightenment defined standards of behavior and virtue that sought security in conformity and corresponding standards of normality. Mosse states that the conformity of manners in all social classes had its beginning in the Enlightenment, along with a consensus on what is normal that had not existed before. The abnormal, for instance abnormal sexuality came to be associated with physiognomic characteristics contrary to Greek beauty that were detected in minorities rather than in the equally disliked pious Christian majority.

Lecture #9

Lecture #9 48:25 min - Lecture 09 Audio (mp3)
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In the ninth lecture, Mosse begins his examination of Pietism and Evangelism, movements he interprets as a reaction against the by then fossilized Lutheranism and Anglicanism rather than directed against the Enlightenment. Pietism included forms of popular piety that had been ignored by established religion. It also built upon the German mystical tradition of such figures as Meister Eckhart and Jacob Boehme, who had stressed personal inspiration and direct communication with the divine. The men of the so-called “underground reformation” (Bloch) sought to overcome suffering by turning inward and withdrawing from the material world. Before the background of the Thirty Years War, the Passion and suffering of Christ became paradigmatic: the sinner first had to undergo suffering in order to experience the joy of salvation. However, since spiritual joy was regarded as the opposite of physical pleasure, revivalists equated pleasure with sin. Also, 17th-century reformers discovered newforms of devotion in private prayer communities. Before it became established, Protestantism had centered on the singing of hymns. Over time, the experience of spiritual renewal and community outside the established church through hymn singing again regained importance. The English Evangelical movement differed from its German counterpart, though, in that it underlined activism and personal involvement in society, including politics, as signs of individual regeneration, while German Protestantism remained passive and acquiesced to any form of worldly authority. The divergent German and English approaches to salvation were predicated upon a different interpretation of Predestination. While the personal, voluntary conversion of the sinner, expectations of the apocalypse, and a personalized view of God were central to both Pietism and Evangelism, the emphasis on discipline and character-building that were ultimately fused with middle-class values, demanded different kinds of individual engagement from German and English revivalists.

Lecture #10

Lecture #10 48:11 min - Lecture 10 Audio (mp3)
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Returning to the subject of English and German revivalism, this lecture begins by illustrating their difference with a comparative discussion of their literature. Unlike the writings of Spener and Zinzendorfer, Mosse sees books like “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” and “The Fairchild Family” as expressive of English discipline and individual activism. Control of one’s personal spiritual status through the keeping of a diary corresponds to a notion of character-building alien to German Protestants. The education of the latter taught inwardness and obedience to worldly authority, while English revivalists strove to educate rulers whose self-control predisposed them to control others. The problem of maintaining society and social cohesion by reconciling the individualism of the converted subject with norms of social discipline was linked to a new kind of morality focused on the inculcation of shame of the body and of sexuality. Spener warned of any physical expression of immoderation and indecency, since these betrayed immorality. Thus, he propagated a form of morality that coincided with the emerging middle-class ethos, but radically differed from that of court society.

In England, morality was again identified with activism. John Wesley reproached idleness in his motto: “Work, pray, save!” The founders of Pietism institutionalized these ideals in projects like Franke’s University of Halle, the model for such influential institutions as the Tuebinger Stift, and Herrenhut, Zinzendorfer’s Covenant of Friends that became the model for several like-minded communities. The threat of sin and damnation mandated that lay members of these communities in sex only for procreative purposes; their life was devoted to prayer and common hymn-singing which, Mosse states, inaugurated the great musical age in Germany. Singing and moral rigor disciplined Pietists into a community that Wesley later repudiated in favor of activism in this world. Pietism espoused the kind of provincial, apolitical conformism that influenced the majority of German thinkers, whereas Methodism taught English workers to unionize. Finally, Pietism caused two developments: the rise of modern manners and morals, as well as the transition to Romanticism, with its emotional view of the world and its quest for innocence, typified in Goethe’s “Werther.”

Lecture #11

There is no lecture #11.

Lecture #12

Lecture #12 51:28 min  - Lecture 12 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse discusses what he calls the “fastidious Revolution” at the time of social transition from feudal to urban society, as it is described in the work of Norbert Elias. Mosse criticizes Elias because he does not take into account the religious dimension in the change of morals and manners, that for various reasons religious revivalisms, the French Revolution, and the medical and legal professions took up and institutionalized the same ideas about discipline and control. Health, including norms of sexuality, became a matter of public concern. Subject to laws, they fell under the control of the state, which gave sexuality a national, political dimension. While French Revolutionaries, still under the influence of the classical Roman ideal, initially depicted half-dressed women, they soon began to emphasize a stricter sexual morality. Concerns about a “chain of vice” conf ronting virtue were buttressed by medical professionals relying on subjective judgment rather than new scientific discoveries. The new values of normalcy, self-discipline and moderation that had already been formulated by Pietists and Evangelists were ideally suited for the development of modern, bourgeois society.

Mosse takes issue with Foucault’s theory, which claims that the interest in sexuality and the shift of its discussion from the private to the public sphere indicated greater acceptance instead of socially imposed repression. Constant control of the passions, institutionalized in law, medicine and education, were supported by religious institutions that equated moral character with self-discipline and, increasingly, with hygiene. Outward appearance, both in terms of physiognomic signs and standards of cleanliness, was associated with inner qualities, as well as class and respectability. “Outsiders” like Jews, Homosexuals and Blacks were now stigmatized as “dirty.” The same revivalist movements that introduced moral rigor, however, also directly influenced the rise of Romanticism by their emotional, personalized view of the world. Yet whereas Pietists and Evangelists shared that characteristic with the Romantics, Romanticism can be interpreted as a reaction against the fossilization and discipline of Protestant revivalism. The Romantic age sought inspiration in Catholicism, nature and history. Its idealization of the middle ages expressed itself in the revival of the Gothic style in literature and architecture. The return to nature at a time when nature was both increasingly accessible and threatened by destruction had decidedly selfish overtones, putting man and human feelings at the center of nature. Two novels, Goethe’s “Werther” and Scott’s “Ivanhoe” epitomize the spirit of the Romantic quest for innocence and totality.

Lecture #13

Lecture #13 46:50 min - Lecture 13 Audio (mp3)
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In the thirteenth lecture, Mosse examines the admiration of nature as expressed in the Romantic cult of mountains, in particular the Alps. In the 18th century, the Alps were discovered as a theme for novels and poems praising their natural majesty. Mountaineers took on the attributes [?] just as Alpine shepherds, were idealized as “noble savages.” Most industrialized countries discovered their own mountains as a symbol of rejuvenation and liberation that inspired admiration and awe. In Germany, the Alps were celebrated in Schiller’s play “William Tell”, and Rousseau popularized the sublimity of mountains in “Nouvelle Heloise.”

Mountaineering became popular with the English who toured Switzerland in greater numbers as a result of improved transportation after 1770. Mountain climbing became as much a test of manhood for English gentlemen as colonial tests of manhood through Empire. By the 1860s, most Alpine peaks had been climbed by Englishmen; at the same time, mountain climbing gained importance in schools where it was seen as an uplifting challenge. Yet before the 1840s, the challenge and freedom of the open spaces that made mountain climbing a form of self-expression, remained an activity of the elites. In Germany, painters depicted the Alps in settings that often included monasteries and Saint Bernhard dogs sent out to save mountaineers; personalization, the immersion in nature and its rediscovery of Catholicism were an integral part of the Romantic mood. German Romanticism that took mountains as well as forests as a metaphor was summed up by Goethe’s saying “He who believes in systems expels love from his heart”.

In England, where forests were likewise worshipped as “cathedrals of nature,” the Romantic mood was captured in Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe.” Scott idealized the past, nature, and the female character of Rebecca. In Germany, the elusive “Blue Flower” that appeared in a dreamlike scene to the hero of Novalis’ “Heinrich von Ofterdingen” became the central metaphor for innocence, longing, and the dream of an alternative to a corrupted world, and remained so for the entire Romantic age. When the flower as metaphor came into its own, they were often equated with women, who, like Rebecca and Werther’s Charlotte, also represented idealized notions of innocence and beauty. With Rebecca, however, Jewish women began to be associated with the “mystery of the orient”, while Jewish men retain their negative image. Rebecca’s female virtue contrasted with her father’s obsolete religion. In general, women came to be seen as morally superior to men.

The idealization of the middle ages as epitomized by the knightly virtues of Ivanhoe, linguistically survive until World War I, reflect a longing for personalization of the world that reduced modernity to something the individual could grasp; King Richard represents the opposite of settled government. The corresponding personalization of nature and mountains is enhanced by the notion of timelessness. In a famous scene of the “Confessions,” Rousseau, overcome by the beauty of nature, throws away his watch. The idea that nature, of which man is a part, is always good, was common to all industrializing countries during the Romantic age, yet the fantasy of an escape into a natural, sincere, always pre-industrial society lives on as a sectarian phenomenon today.

Lecture #14

Lecture #14 49:21 min - Lecture 14 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse returns to the theme of the Romantics’ use of the “Blue Flower.” The metaphor of the flower was applied to the idealized woman of the romantic era, embodied in Mathilde, Rebecca and Charlotte, all of whom represented innocence, virtue and chastity, but at the same time they represented the “exceptional” as an alternative to the dreariness of ordinary life. Children also symbolized innocence, but all of these symbols were highly personalized, corresponding to the romantic hero’s soul, his unrealized “better self.”

An important difference between the Romantic mood and the Enlightenment is their respective view of dreams: while in “Nathan”, action is central and dreams are rejected, the Romantics saw dreams, especially unfulfilled ones, as reflecting the ideal self that stood in contrast to the world. The connection between dreaming and death is apparent in the symbolism of the Blue Flower for the German youth movement. In comparison, the importance of nature in general to English Romantics was fatefully expressed in their enthusiasm for WWI. The “cleansing experience” of war ended in death, though not in suicide; the ideal of death was built into the quest for the Blue Flower. Another aspect of the symbolism of nature - the threatening and awe-inspiring - expressed the ideal of the untamed as the genuine: the English landscape garden replaced the well-ordered harmony of Versailles as a personalized ideal of nature as a mirror of the self. Correspondingly, the Romantics’ cult of the genius stressed spontaneous, immoderate expression as an integral part of the rebellion against both industrializing society and middle-class ethics.

However, this “Bourgeois Anti-Bourgeois Revolution,” the Bohemian rebellion of middle-class youth against middle-class parents that was an individual revolt rather than a social-economic revolution ultimately gave rise to the fascist revolution that focused on fairytales and folkdances as expressions of the nation. Nationalism, making the abstract concrete, owes its appeal to two promises: the dream of self-fulfillment and genuineness that puts the individual outside of rules and regulations, and the realization of the latter within a community of affinity. Nationalism, up to this day, presents itself as a community of innocence needless of rules, a virtual community of Werthers. The institutionalization of Romanticism in Nationalism elevated history to a science, gaining an importance that turned every subsequent theory into a theory of history. The science of history, though, was highly emotionalized, thus taking up a function religion had become too weak to fulfill.

Lecture #15

Lecture #15 50:31 min - Lecture 15 Audio (mp3)
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The new appreciation of history that emerged in the Romantic era engendered two other trends of the 19th century. The first was the enthusiasm for the Middle Ages apparent in the genre of the historical novel: the idealized community contemporaries believed to have found in the Middle Ages united nature, government and Christianity. The second was a rediscovery of Christianity, in particular Catholicism, in a form that sought to reconcile it with the Romantic ideals of beauty, purity, and of the community of affinity. An example of the latter was Chateaubriand’s 1802 book “The Beauty of Christianity” that strove to justify religion after the French Revolution in aesthetic, not in epistemological terms. According to Chateaubriand, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church was ideal since it was based upon a common culture. This strain of Romanticism entailed a reaction against the classical ideal of beauty and government, as well as a repudiation of the purported “immorality” of the French Revolution (which was in fact followed by the moralistic backlash of the Jacobins). Chateaubriand’s vision proved insufficient for that purpose. Instead, the locus of natural order and morality was the emotional community of the nation. This community was regarded as characterized by innocence before its “corruption” through reason, the French Revolution, and finally Christianity. The integration that the Romantics sought was also evident in architecture (the completion of mediaeval cathedrals and the vogue of castle construction) and the idea of the “absolute” work of art, exemplified by opera and culminating in Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk.

The historical origins of the community, equated to a national “childhood,” were still apparent in the innocence of folk customs, dances, and, as can be seen in the passion for and compilation of fairytales by the brothers Grimm. Folk tales guarded from change a pristine, eternal past. A foremost repository of that past culture was language; consequently, the thinker most influential for the Nationalists’ creed of the unifying power of culture was Herder. Not a Nationalist himself, Herder saw as equally legitimate the individual uniqueness of nations as evidenced in their respective languages. Herder synthesized the various national strivings of his time into a coherent theory and formulated the awakening of European nations in a time of war for national liberation as constituting an organizing principle (Mosse draws a parallel here to the insistence of 20th century minorities and movements on their separate history). The religious background of Herder, shared with Fichte and Hegel, was decisive for their intellectual development. In Herder, the inwardness and apolitical stance of Pietism shaped his notion of a community based on “deep, massive sentiment” rather than universal reason, sentiment shared by both individual and community.

Lecture #16

Lecture #16 44:08 min  - Lecture 16 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse analyzes the role of Herder’s thought in the development of Nationalism. For Herder, the nation represented an organic unity, based not on political or economic ideas, but on culture. Culture, especially expressed through the medium of language, was indicative of a common past or “childhood” of a people. By treating community as an aesthetic phenomenon in which the individual was linked to the community by way of the senses rather than rational reflection, Herder offered a defense of nationalism at a time when national unity, particularly in Germany, was unattainable. Herder shared with all German idealists the notion of aesthetic experience as formative of man’s perception and language as the greatest human accomplishment. For Herder, the fundamentally spiritual “inner man” used his body only as a tool of his Geist - a term that Mosse defines as the empathy of man with cosmic forces, the human spirit striving to integrate itself into a larger kind of unity, an aesthetic, organic (naturally grown) unity. The naturally grown unity of a people is defined in terms of a shared experience of poetry and music, not politics, economy or class. The slogan of the “free man on his own acres,” basic to 19th century nationalism, saw the peasant working his land as free from the evils of modernity. An outgrowth of Romanticism’s ideas of nature, the notion of learning from the peasants “what the nation was truly like” was popular in Germany and Russia, but later also took the form of worship of the kibbutz for Jewish nationalism. Activism and control replaced the opposite choice - to commit suicide.

The idea of nature, controlled through the idea of history, enabled the individual to communicate with his ancestors, the “old” German, Frenchman etc, an option which Werther did not have. Ideas and dichotomies projected onto the past included definitions of health and degeneration, and the idea of renewal. However, Mosse emphasizes the democratic impulse in these ideas of a past “Golden Age” free of Princes and bishops. Herder thus favorably greeted the awakening of freedom and democracy among all peoples, and furthermore saw every peoples’ self-expression as equally valuable and legitimate. Unlike later nationalists, Herder never entertained ideas of aggressive dominance over other peoples. The “declaration of national allegiance” through acting in cultural realms was nevertheless highly political: Poetry and “national poets” gained paramount importance in the national awakening of oppressed peoples, while the bureaucratic state stifled any impulsive, natural expression. Another concept that we find in Herder is that of the historical landscape. This national landscape, including peasants and historical ruins, represented part of the individual’s and his people’s true nature because it was the landscape of their common ancestors, fusing the Romantic idea of nature and the symbolism of the nation. Mosse notes the absence of a “national landscape” in the United States; “organic” national unity of which the individual is an integral part constitutes a specifically European idea.


Lecture #17

Lecture #17 49:19min - Lecture 17 Audio (mp3)
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While Herder was the subject of the last lecture, this one focuses on Fichte. Initially, Fichte shared Hegel’s belief that history was a preparation not so much for equality than for freedom. Fichte sought to find a basis for German unity in culture. He saw revolution as a moral imperative, an outgrowth of reason. The basis of freedom was the individual as the agent of history. The world, according to Fichte, moved within a non-contradictory dialectic between the real world of man as it is, and a utopian vision of the world as it should be. A change in Fichte’s thought was brought about by Napoleon’s occupation of Prussia. The first rector of the University of Berlin, Fichte came under the influence of the student resistance. He contended that the individual must still act spontaneously to be free, but in a framework seeking national consensus with other Germans. He advocates a German community of affinity, a common culture and language, and spontaneity. This kind of consent, however, had eventually to be enforced because of the need for discipline in standing up against the French occupation. German “collaborationists” could not be relied upon. His “Speeches to the German Nation” of 1806-7 were exhortations to resist the French and establish the organic whole of the German people, with violent means if necessary. Since liberty must be disciplined, all Germans had to be educated to understand their common culture and forced to be free by education and law. Group affinity would then follow as a matter of course. Thus, Nationalism presented itself from the beginning as a movement for individual freedom and group integration, expressed through creativity. Yet Fichte went further in his speeches when he exalted German creativity as higher than any other. This aggressive, conformist feature, the idea of national superiority, was to remain. “Only the German has character” was one of his famous lines. He attacked Jews, the Catholic church, and all who did not share the nation’s childhood, as a “state within the state.” As outsiders, they threatened the consensus of the nation of which they could never be a part. Economic autarchy was also important for Fichte. Because Germany lagged behind in the industrial revolution, which was furthermore divisive for the ideal of the agricultural community of the German nation, Fichte chose to ignore it. The peasant ideal was also an ideal of equality: everyone should have the freedom to own property which in turn guaranteed freedom, but not so much that it would corrupt its owner. Appealing for open spaces, natural landscapes and a peasant community, Fichte pushed nationalism into the idea of domination. The love of living in a community would solve the “Werther-trauma.” 

The artificial entity of the state amounted to nothing when compared to the organic community. In practice, this meant that institutions were to be discounted in favor of the heart, commitment, integration, and culture in the search for a national cement. This ideal was helped along by Romanticism. Rousseau himself, whose idea of consensus, the “general will,” depended on the idea of a community beyond the mechanics of government, was the first to define the idea of “The People.” Underlying it was the conformist Enlightenment idea of a natural human development that would lead to uniformity, since reason worked the same way in every human being. But in the end, people had a common heart rather than common reason, though this originally grew out of rationalism. In that sense, the American New Left had nothing to do with Marx; instead, it represented a purely Rousseauan idea: the removal of authority would be followed by the natural development of a consensus. In mixing the Enlightenment with Romanticism, Rousseau was less in tune with Herder than with Fichte, who made it fit for an age of mass politics. Objectifying the “general will” Fichte’s distinction between two kinds of democracy, the rule of representatives as opposed to direct democracy, was taken up later by Gobineau, who saw modern politics as a confrontation between ruler and masses. Mosse remarks that especially in times of crisis, representative government does not spell democracy for most people; rather, they demand direct involvement, the “heart” to which nationalism caters. This accounts for the continuous attraction of any kind of mass meetings, as long as they take the form of festivals allowing people to worship themselves, their own community and liberty, which must be objectified, just as religion, into liturgy. In these spectacular celebrations, the setting is infinitely more important than its purported cause. 

Lecture #18

Lecture #18 51:34 min - Lecture 18 Audio (mp3)
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Having sketched out the background for modern nationalism, Mosse continues with Rousseau’s 1772 “Government of Poland” which pointed toward the same direction as other nationalist ideas. For Rousseau, it is the spirit that cements the nation, since it is impossible to make laws men will not corrupt. It is the laws of the spirit that make up the only real constitution. To that end, bureaucracy along with all present institutions must be abolished. Nationalism is part of the primitive virtue achieved by a natural education of the heart, as shown in “Emile.” Rousseau does not include permanent institutions in his plans for Poland. The same was debated in post-revolutionary France: the liturgy of politics should be learned by participation in public meetings, festivals, and military drills, rather than by regular school attendance. Nationalism caters to the desire for participation. But if it is the spirit rather than the form of government that matters, nationalism can form an alliance with any form of government. Nationalism favors the virtue of overcoming selfishness as a habit of mind that makes one people different from the other. Always connected to the worship of distant forefathers and the ideal of a pre-industrialized landscape, nationalism glorifies a simple life, demanding of the ruling classes to give an example of that life to its people. Ancestor worship is nonetheless highly selective in any nation, praising asceticism over a luxurious lifestyle. For Rousseau, the essence of nationalism is the ancient liberty connected to small property holding and direct participation in the spirit of the nation, not voting.

This became the new politics of 19th and 20th century. People acted out the myths and symbols of the public liturgy. Inspired by his admiration for the ancient Greeks and their festivals, Rousseau believed these festivals would provide discipline, mirroring the Christian year that is also defined by a cycle of festivals. In Jacobin France, this notion became a reality. For Rousseau, a spirit that leads to new, mass politics, and the pre-industrial ideal are the two pillars of patriotism. Nationalism owes its major strength to the need for mediation between man and modernity. Women are turned into the national symbol, for instance Germania or Britannia, and accompanied by medieval or ancient Greek symbols. In his plan to unify the Polish states through a national spirit induced by education, Rousseau adapts the Enlightenment idea of freedom as a great equalizer. The contention that anyone should feel the eyes of his countryman upon him at all times is not the same as the tyranny of “public opinion” since public opinion is the conformist sprit of the nation that substitutes for public institutions. Nationalism, then, abolishes individual liberty by redefining it in impersonal terms.

However, Rousseau was never directly adopted by the Jacobins, and the Enlightenment component of his thought never made any claims of totality, but left room for individualism. Mosse states that there is no direct line, neither to the Jacobins nor to Marx, but only a series of chronological coincidences, especially the coincidence of Pietism and Enlightenment. There are two possible points of view on the Enlightenment. One was formulated by Peter Gay, who argued that the philosophes stressed the importance of the critical mind, not conformity. This viewpoint was challenged by the “Dialectics of Enlightenment,” contending that the Enlightenment was indeed a matter of conformity: men, though good, were basically alike. Marx, whose theories are inconceivable without the Enlightenment, shared a conformist presupposition based on the notion of human goodness. Lenin abandoned this optimism: for him, it was machine guns, not human nature, that made a difference. Bolshevism, a mixture of Marxism and fascism, is not to be read backwards into Marxism. Nationalism, however, can include everything into its liturgy. Appealing to the strongest combination between community and freedom, it puts any content into its ceremonies and liturgy, as long as this content annexes a part of eternity. The desire for rest combined with a certain activism, was formulated in Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”: “With National Socialism, a nervous age has come to an end.” Nationalism grew up with two events: the French Revolution followed by Jacobin dictatorship, and the wars of national liberation. The French Revolution represented a highpoint of political liturgy that connected religious to political symbolism. This continuation of Christianity in political symbolism was not part of Rousseau’s thinking on Revolution. It was, however, a tradition that was to continue into the new century, informing the first wars in history that were not fought by mercenaries, but by citizens.

Lecture #19

Lecture #19 52:26 min  - Lecture 19 Audio (mp3)
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The wars of liberation were the background of nationalism and turned it from a theory into a reality. The Jacobins pioneered the political liturgy that Rousseau had advised the Poles to institute, and the wars of liberation spread those ideas. They were the first wars fought by a citizen army instead of mercenaries, and thus different in quality, accompanied by the enthusiasm to found a new nation. In Germany, volunteer units that were known as “free corps” became the source of legends that never died out. These young volunteers, however, comprised a minority; most soldiers were drafted. The volunteers gave body to the new nationalism, while intellectuals and poets remained silent about the draft. Theodor Koerner’s collection of poetry “The Lion and the Sword” is an example of the celebration of the volunteers. In these poems, death for the fatherland is portrayed as a desirable way of dying and living on, not really as death at all, rather a way of transcending death. Soldiers were now blessed in churches before they went to war, and, for the first time, included in services after they had fallen. One poem by Friedrich Schiller that every German up to Mosse’s generation knew by heart claims that only the soldier was free in a world that knew only masters and serfs, because he could look death in the eye and transcend bourgeois, everyday life. Perhaps the most famous German soldier poem, “A Good Comrade” by Friedrich Uhland combines death, longing for the exceptional, true community understood as true comradeship, and eternal life.

The cult of the fallen soldier was an essential part of the kind of nationalism discussed so far: Death for the fatherland resembled the death of Christ, establishing an analogy between the resurrection of the fatherland and the resurrection of Christ. These ideas, which were objectified in military cemeteries and monuments for the fallen in WWI, had already been institutionalized in national flags, anthems, and the like by the Jacobins before they were taken up in Germany. The man responsible for the “institutionalization” of German and European nationalism was Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. A professor of folklore at the University of Berlin and a colleague of Fichte, Jahn founded two organizations in 1810/11. One was the student fraternity movement. Since Germany was not yet industrialized and, similar to the third world today, articulate students could rise to importance. These fraternities met in Wartburg castle, which was connected to medieval, pre-modern Germany, and to the first German liberator, Luther. The students vowed their lives to the fatherland and burned clothes, swords and other symbols of the German nobility who prevented national unity. They also burned French books. Fraternities were subsequently banned and had to go underground. As their importance in the national struggle declined, they assumed the character of drinking and dueling societies.

The radicalization of German students took a rightward, not a leftward direction. The second of Jahn’s movements were the gymnasts. Founded to steel the body of future fighters, the gymnasts were at first a student movement and surrounded themselves with national symbols during their training. Because it coincided with new ideas of health and hygiene, it spread out within a decade to become a general German movement. Gymnastics was not sport for its own sake, but for the sake of the nation, soon to be followed by other sports. A third popular movement (though not founded by Jahn) was the glee club or choir movement. Not as nationalist as gymnastics and fraternities, these clubs were happy to sign on for every purpose. 

In Germany, France and even England, monuments and sites, often in Greek style and in historic places, were built as surroundings for the new political liturgy and national festivals, giving body to nationalism through its institutionalization. Nationalism became the great religion of the future because it coincided with the wars of liberation. The new assumption that united nations are happier than divided ones that arose at this time is taken for granted even today. Nationalism was to win over all other ideologies, and all were to compromise with nationalism.

All of this was summarized in the greatest historical system of modern times: Hegel’s system united much that agitated his own generation, as well as generations to come. Though his lectures never had more than two or three listeners, Hegel’s obscure doctrines inspired the Right and the Left and above all, it inspired the young and gave meaning to their lives. The central ideas of the Left today, like the Frankfurt School or Marcuse, can be traced to Hegel, not Marx. Hegelian ideas of mediation and right and false consciousness are still tools of analyzing reality in America. Hegel became more important than other philosophers because he provided a way of looking at the world that combined realism and idealism, and combined history with the individual, the self. It took care of collectivity and individualism and wrapped them up in the mantle of freedom and a progress toward the abolition of the division of labor. Hegel’s system has lasted because it fulfills the longing for totality with the assumption of the inevitable growth of material and individual freedom. Marx took up Hegel’s idea that a classless society would be a totality that takes account of individualism and collectivity, including ideas of the new nation and the community of affinity. According to Marx, Hegel grasped the self-creation of man as a process, meaning that self-consciousness grows with the progress of history. Most important and most difficult is the idea of an inextricable interaction of history and self-consciousness.

Lecture #20

Lecture #20 51:12 min  - Lecture 20 Audio (mp3)
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The twentieth lecture discusses the primacy of the human mind and consciousness in Hegel’s system. German idealism, also Herder and Fichte, looked at the external world from inside out. Unlike historical materialism, idealism saw reality as dependent on people’s perceptions. Though the mind interacted with objective reality, objective reality ultimately had to pass through the mind. Oddly enough, there is no word in English for this passage through the mind (Verarbeiten), apart from “reification.” By transformation through the mind, reality is pushed forward one step towards freedom. Mosse emphasizes two aspects of the course readings: reason and history. History for Hegel is the development of human freedom; human freedom is man’s consciousness of freedom. It is also appropriation, the freedom to take things that belong to the individual but were alienated from him, for example through the division of labor. Freedom by annexation of things makes man independent. “I am free when I am within myself.” To control his own destiny, the individual must interact with history. Above all, he has to grasp his whole personality and become a whole person again: the spirit must attain knowledge of its own nature.

Underlying Hegel’s conception of man is individualism. Another new term that is important is alienation. It is a form of externalization, of focusing attention on a segmented, alienated activity. By transferring part of one’s personality, creativity, and individuality to automatic activity like baking bread or washing dishes, one loses the ability to see life as a whole. Alienated labor, which became so important to Marx, is compartmentalized. The leads to the “fetishism of goods.” The mind is thus alienated from itself. Hegel was wedded to the idea of organic unity of labor and mind; he grappled with the question of how to deal with the external world, including history, without becoming alienated and found an answer in the concept of mediation. By mediating reality in a way that allows one to rise above fetishizing of goods, history, or economics through one’s consciousness, true rather than false consciousness would grow, which entailed the growth of self-consciousness. The individual had to see the whole in order to know how to end the alienation caused by industrialization and the state and to re-appropriate his whole personality, including his reason. By freedom, Hegel meant the consciousness of freedom and the totality of life as a prerequisite for change.

Reason comes in with Hegel’s combination of Romanticism and Enlightenment: the romantic is the organic that is broken by alienation, resulting in a “one-dimensional man,” but there always remains a mixture between rationalism and the organic that enables man to transform the world. A difficulty in reading Hegel is that for him, the real is not what exists: the mind is the only reality. Everything that happens has therefore to be brought into relationship with the mind. Revolution has to be in the mind first. Rationalism as shared by Hegel and Marx means that cognition gives access to truth; the process of cognition depends on the end of alienation.

History for Hegel is partly the history of the mind, of the development of self-consciousness and perception; the mind enfolds through history and civilization. For Marx, though, history meant the development of action. Unlike him, Hegel was not oriented towards immediate action. Divorcing action from the organic, Marx turned Hegel’s process-oriented dialectics towards materialism. History, however, was neither in Hegel nor in Marx independent of the mind: Neither of them conceived of historic determinism that was introduced by Engels. Influenced by Darwinism, Engels reduced the individual to a mere bearer of history, a tool. Engels, not Marx, was the father of Bolshevism. What Hegel meant by necessity was that history does exist and evolve; man can neither ignore it nor control the forces of history. In that sense, history was separate from man. Life was the conflict between freedom and necessity. Freedom, the essence of the spirit, was limited by necessity. Though harmony between them was possible, they have not yet met: Freedom, though possible even in alienation, was always later than history. Harmony between activity and freedom had to come through the mind. History was latent with possibility because it was organic, changing within a rhythm that tried to bring out unrealized freedom. The essence of history was to bring the innermost instinct of freedom into consciousness. Humans and history thus had freedom in common, which gave rise to the possibility of progress. Totality for Hegel had two components: one had to see the world as a whole and understand the dialectic of history in order to interact with external reality. The second component was property. As for Locke, for Hegel there was no freedom, independence, or critical thought without private property. Like Marx, Hegel was opposed to industrialism. Hegel’s whole effort was to integrate the chaos of history, which had its own rhythm, into his system. Human beings, obviously, produced results that differed from what they intended, which meant a troubling loss of control over history. This “cunning of reason” made men like Napoleon instruments of progress and integrated them into the ultimate design of history, harmonizing history and freedom. This explanation, however, is not free of a paradox: according to it, oppression can lead to freedom. In this trajectory, only history knows what its human tools are doing. Since history was not chaotic, these opposites were integrated: Hegel’s was not a world of either and or.

Lecture #21

Lecture #21 48:10 min  - Lecture 21 Audio (mp3)
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In this lecture, Mosse continues his discussion of Hegel. History cannot be chaos; otherwise man would have nothing with which to integrate himself. Therefore, Hegel structures history through the dialectic: if human life evolves between freedom (growth of self-consciousness) and necessity (reality, presence of history), the link between the two must be clearly defined. While self-consciousness unfolds, so does history; this means that knowledge of freedom has to grow together with history. Hegel believed that the idea of the consciousness of freedom first arose among the Greeks, but they, like the Romans, conceived only of the freedom of some, not of mankind as a whole. Not burdened by the system of slavery, the Germans were first to attain the consciousness that man as man is free. The evolving consciousness of freedom from Orientals to Greeks to Germans must be brought in line, stressing the interactive aspect of the process. Since the present is always in conflict with future, man’s self-consciousness must help that development by seeing further than the present. In that sense, the present is always “pregnant with future,” which gives reality the negative character of something to see through, not to protect: The future, in essence, exists already in the present. Consciousness means seeing things increasingly in their totality, including oneself, history, and the latency of freedom. The destruction of the present, willingly or not, is the role of world-historical figures. But better than these instruments are conscious agents of history. In the absence of that consciousness, someone like Caesar could not but act instinctively. Here, we have the germ of what became central in Marxism, the use of oppression in the service of freedom. Thus, everything in history has its place. The rhythm of history is the rhythm of the dialectic: the thesis (that is, the present reality) contains its antithesis (instruments that destroy that reality) and is resolved in the new principle of the synthesis. For Hegel, this happened as a gradual, not revolutionary development; the synthesis was always a compromise between old and new. Because of this compromise, Hegelianism could be given a conservative and a revolutionary interpretation.

Marx was excited by the young Hegel who, still under the influence of the French Revolution, did not predict an end of the dialectic. This entailed that happiness was not the end of history. Yet, in a significant change introduced by the later Hegel in the “Philosophy of Right,” the state was the new form that established itself. Though it was part of the dialectic, Hegel now believed that this stage was the end of history. The Prussian state as a structure constituted the final good, the best spiritual and cultural framework in which consciousness and history could coincide. Mosse attributes this change of mind to the influence of the German wars of liberation. A state was well-constituted for Hegel when private and common interests coincided. The state’s disciplined constraint on man’s impulse and desire made freedom possible.

Correspondingly, reason was a necessary, a rational structure that excluded the passions from the final synthesis. Hegel therefore proposed – and thought to have found in Prussia - a liberal state, a state of law that created an atmosphere of reason. He did not foresee the autocracy instituted in the 1820s. However, Hegel never claimed that such a state would be final. Otherwise, laws would be of no use. Unlike Rousseau, he believed in original sin rather than in innate human goodness. Even when human self-consciousness was developed furthest, the historical reality had to be rational and include laws. Not believing in unification, Hegel was called to end the student unrest in the University of Berlin after he became the successor of Fichte. Yet even in Hegel’s early writings, the dialectic was never overtly revolutionary. The new would always defeat the old, but this would assume the form of a compromise. Marx had to change this: in order to attract young people, the new ideology had to offer them an end, something that would last. Mosse points out that there were three implications in Hegel: One could take the idea of the state and say that history is a progress (towards morality), not a resting place. Therefore, there had to be laws. This was the model for a liberal state. Secondly, the idea of the state could have conservative implications, declaring everything that existed as just and necessary and exclude any changes. The third implication was revolutionary, foreseeing a final, albeit indefinable synthesis. Hegelianism owed its enormous influence to its ingredients: organic growth, the emphasis on reason and progress as a necessity, and nationalism. These combined two conflicting trends, the quest for community and individualism. Also, it was possible to change history by understanding it. The flaw at the basis of Hegel’s theory lay in the presupposition that history worked the way it was understood to work. Finally, Hegel offered a totality, a structure that people longed for in 18th century, in the integration with history through the growth of man’s self-consciousness. Marx brought Hegel “down to earth” by introducing factors that went beyond the mind.

Lecture #22

Lecture #22 47:04 min - Lecture 22 Audio (mp3)
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In this lecture, Mosse answered students’ questions on Hegel:

Does the individual only realize himself within the state?
-Yes, but it depends when: For the young Hegel, the state was of minor importance. But in his later thought, you only realize your full value in the state, because it is the framework within which this realization is possible.

What is Hegel’s view on the connection between government and bureaucracy?
-Hegel stressed a shared culture, myths etc. He was a Prussian, not German patriot. For Hegel, the state was symbolized by the king, and to a certain extent by the army, but not by bureaucracy. The Monarchy was not a constitutional monarchy; here lies the problem of the liberal state.

What is the relationship between the state and the community of affinity?
-Hegel’s state is not Rousseau’s state, the town meeting where consensus reigns once authority is removed. Hegel’s state is a state of authority, a hierarchy of authority, not an utopia of economic equality. There is no conflict between the rule of law, authority, and executive power.

Is there equality in Hegel’s state?
-Only insofar as he wants abolition of the division of labor, not abolishment of authority. But that is all. Hegel was no precursor of Socialism; he only wanted more meaningful labor. Socialism was a French phenomenon, and Marx had to go to France to learn Socialism. Hegel continued Locke’s tradition of solving the social question by granting independence to peasants.

Is absolute freedom not the end of the dialectic process?
-There is a development toward absolute freedom, not within you, but within history. But we find a second answer when looking at Hegel and religion: Hegel’s Lutheranism comes in here: Christianity was for him the perfect religion; religion and philosophy were for him largely the same. For Luther, heaven was not a fixed place. You could stress in Luther the development of the spirit; therefore, in every moral act of man, the spirit (of Christianity) penetrates into history. Freedom becomes a totality. Another analogy has to do with the trinity: Hegel says it is symbolic because Christ is both man and god, and the holy spirit can be in man; this foreshadows the totality. Remember that all great modern scientific discoveries took place at Lutheran, not Catholic or Calvinist, universities, because of this relativizing element that leaves room for man to penetrate into the universe, which was further underlined by Pietism. Hegel continues that tradition. 

What is the concept of paradox in Hegel?
-In the end, Hegel is a kind of paradox, because freedom can only be brought about by unfreedom. Despotism is justified since it brings about the new. The paradox, though, was greater in the Young Hegelians and Marx, since for them, the old order had to be forcibly destroyed. Hegel thought you could have a more gentle change, a compromise between the old and new order. But: the metaphor of paradox is one way of dealing with the contradictions of life. The philosophy of existentialism is based on the paradox. Christianity begins with the paradox of life and salvation out of death. We have the same idea in nationalism, only here, everybody can be Christ by dying for the fatherland. In nationalism, the paradox explains death away. It is so essential that it comes up again in every crisis as a means of integrating a piece of eternity into your life, of giving meaning to life.

(Question inaudible)
-You must distinguish between Catholicism and Christianity. Catholicism had the misfortune of becoming a reactionary force and thus kept itself as a traditional, “medieval” institution. There was a rise of social Catholicism, a reform in the mid-19th century, against the papacy, but most reformers were excommunicated. Protestantism, in a sense, lost its theology. If that happens, everything can take its part. Catholicism kept its theology intact through its conservatism. Protestantism became in effect a state church. It introduced prayers for the fallen of the fatherland. What took the place of theology in Protestantism and also in Judaism was middle class morality and nationalism. Protestant preachers used the terminology of science and nationalism; Lutheran bishops were appointed by the ruler in Prussia. The “Father confessors” were only interested whether you had transgressed against procreative sex. The Pietists had had a hand in this, but the priority was now with a medical vocabulary. After the mid-19th century, minister played a subservient role compared to the doctor. Catholic regions were much more “liberal” in sexual matters. For example, a law against homosexuality had to be imposed on Bavaria. Once sex is no longer a sin, but a matter of health and decadence, you are locked in. In medicine, unlike in Christianity, there is no room for conversion. Medicine catered to the fear of middle-class parents of their own children; the parents’ fear of loosing control was vital for the development of medicine. The doctor became the new priest of secular society.

Lecture #23

Lecture #23 47:42 min  - Lecture 23 Audio (mp3)
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Hegel’s idea of freedom was at once spiritualized and regarded as the rule of law. In reality, Hegel was in tune with the liberal spirit that pervaded the first decades of 19th century until 1848. For example, it was the goal of nationalism to gain freedom by being a member of a community of affinity. The enthusiasm for freedom and totality was largely due to the French Revolution, but also to the kind of historical necessity brought about by the industrial revolution. Moreover, most of ideas of freedom were based on the idea of progress. Hegel generalized these ideas. The idea of freedom also pervaded liberalism. According to the German historian Gervinus, writing in 1854, the freedom of man was involved in the freedom of self-awareness of the personality. This made room for individualism and equality, an idea of the Enlightenment. Liberalism went into almost everything, yet only in England was it to enjoy popular a base.

England was one of the most advanced industrial countries; Germany remained one of the most backward, while France was in between. Liberalism and nationalism crossed class lines, but liberalism tended toward the bourgeoisie, creating an environment in which the bourgeoisie could develop. Yet liberalism had a double base: if there was only minimum interference in economy, at the time it indeed led to prosperity; Liberal ideas thus responded to reality. The other part of liberalism was its restraining, moral element, a doctrine of discipline that comes not from the state, but from individual self-awareness. Here, we have a link to the change of morality at the beginning of the century that was basic to laissez-faire. Without that morality, liberalism was not possible. If it was correct that hard work would bring success until 1848, it was equally true that respectability became part of the rising middle classes. In contrast, America never knew true European conservatism that was based on the (Catholic) church and the perseverance of kings. America never had an ancien regime against which liberalism defined itself. American conservatism today is rather a kind of liberalism, a prolongation beyond its time of the ideology of the rising middle classes, both concerning economics and respectability. The latter became the ideology of the rich after the mid-19th century.

In Germany and central Europe, liberalism was always contested by nationalism. A case in point are the right Hegelians, who contrasted with left Hegelians in that they did not emphasize the revolutionary and liberal implications of Hegel, but his gradualism, the emphasis on compromise and the state of law. In that sense, right Hegelians were close to liberalism. England, the paradigm of liberalism, was nevertheless highly regarded by every European liberal, partly because it was industrialized. England represented for a segment of the European middle classes an ideal society and politics that contrasted with the Hegelian state: The state did not play much of a role for the British. Germans, in contrast, never stopped identifying liberalism with the state. John Stuart Mill’s tract “On Liberty” of 1859 became a paradigm. Important for him were free and equal discussion. The Enlightenment idea that free discussion would bring out the truth is at the basis of liberalism. The object of Mill’s tract was to find the only just purpose of power, which was the protection of the citizens. There was no place for the state based on a cultural community. The nationalist, cultural explanation of state was rejected; culture, according to Mill, was the domain of human liberty, including the liberty of thoughts, tastes, pursuits, and the freedom to unite. Hegel would have denied this: The individual had to be educated toward the common taste of a common culture. The revolutionary point in Mill was his separation of culture and state, and the division between church and state. Since individual freedom was to be defended against all outside pressure, the form of political institutions was of vast importance. The form of the state that went back to Locke’s contract theory of government had been abandoned by Hegel, the French Revolution and nationalism alike, since it denied the organic state. Mill’s only justification for state interference was to prevent citizen’s form doing active harm to others. A new phenomenon, the fear of the mob, was part of this theory and legitimated, for instance, the Riot Act passed in England in the beginning of the 19th century. Individualism had to be balanced with community life in a way that produced harmony, but with a simultaneous emphasis on absolute freedom. The problem was that with its emphasis on harmony, liberalism took back ideas of liberty: Harmony could no longer be guaranteed by a common culture. To fix the contract between freedoms and government power, constitutions had to be written. Beginning in France, constitutions were drafted through all of Europe until 1815. Men were to be governed with the most direct involvement possible. Parliaments were elected, and volunteers performed unpaid political functions. The example of voluntarism and public service demonstrates clearly how what is called conservatism in America is really liberalism. However, the problem of harmony, especially considering the problems inherent in capitalism, was not solved; the middle-class doctrine of hope and progress forgot poverty.

Lecture #24

Lecture #24 46:56 min  - Lecture 24 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse continues his introduction to liberalism, adding that liberalism had the same thrust as many other theories, including Hegelianism, to reconcile the new quest for the self with a longing for community. Liberalism’s stress on individual freedom raised the problem of how freedom can be reconciled with community through authority. The constitution of the French Revolution before the Jacobins was a sort of charter for all future constitutions. The liberal opposition against the ancien regime and the fear of the mob induced the middle class to define itself in moral terms; the aristocracy and the working class were “immoral.” Property laws to limit the power of the mob, and constitutions to abolish feudalism were a means of self-protection for the middle class, inextricably linked to ideas of morals and manners. The middle class adopted Pietistic and Evangelical ideas against “loose living” to define itself, eventually labeling all outsiders to the middle class “unrespectable.” The required conformity on the level of morals and manners despite the emphasis on personal freedom of thought and expression posed a paradox. Tocqueville was exceptional. Though he was an atheist, his despair at reconciling individual and community led him to Christianity. For Liberals and eventually for Young Hegelians and Marx, Christianity was the enemy; they traced their heritage to the Enlightenment. Their problem was aggravated by their idea of the progression of history, which followed a straight line. This made for a theoretical difficulty: If the progress of history was based on freedom, a maximum of personal freedom meant a maximum of progress. According to Mill, progress was necessary; therefore, one had to accept the industrial revolution. Going back to savagery will lead to the guillotines: Rousseau would lead to Robespierre, and Robespierre to the guillotines.

Mill was sure that free discussion would bring progress because he believed in human reason, a belief he had in common with Socialism and Marx, but not with conservatism. This idea of reason, however, implied a certain degree of elitism: Knowing that not everybody had reason, Mill fused the idea of the majority with that of the state. The power of the majority was negative and had to be controlled. Liberalism, despite its democratic impulse, could not do without elites. Within Liberalism, therefore, the idea of education became crucial. If there was no independent rhythm of history, there still was an idea of truth underlying the emphasis on discussion. Motivated by the idea of a true, educated debate, Liberals instituted adult educational institutions. Thus, they added a belief in reason and progress as a third pillar to constitutionalism and respectability as a way of harmonizing individual freedom and community, whereby reason, of course, was defined as liberal ideas. This revealed their continuing belief in the “natural laws” of the 18th century, laws that were self-regulating and now encompassed the “laws of the market” in which one should not interfere. Moral laws as well become a part of natural law. Liberalism thus postulated two kinds of reason: one of the type of Adam Smith’s “invisible-hand,” and Liberalism itself.

In sum, the problem of liberalism was to find a common definition. It had to search for truth to recapture harmony, being concerned, as Hegel was, with an end to alienation and isolation. They were anxious about the individual in a rapidly changing world in which nature disappears, and about getting rid of the old regime without going too far and slide into chaos. Liberals did not define alienation within a theory of labor like Marx and Hegel. For Tocqueville, alienation was the breakdown of self-governing society and participation in the state. The Liberal’s definition of alienation was political: Not property, but the spirit of government mattered, made by individuals involving themselves in the government. The spirit of the government was the spirit of reasonable individuals educated to that end. Middle-class self-consciousness did not exclude equality, if equality was reached by education and property franchise. The problems of the lower classes were to be solved by raising them through property and education into the middle class. Eventually, Liberalism was institutionalized in education, which remained strong even at times when other of its institutions faltered.

Lecture #25

Lecture #25 47:59 min  - Lecture 25 Audio (mp3)
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Last time, Mosse talked about the institutionalization of Liberalism through constitutionalism, parliamentary government, and respectability. The state had a negative function, but laws and parliamentary government were seen as the right framework for progress, which depended on individual freedom. Laws were to guarantee harmony, and the natural laws reflected God on earth. Property franchise implied education, which again meant character formation. The new elite was defined by property franchise and education. The middle class felt they had to take over the mantle of the aristocracy. The new guardians of constitution and respectability were now lawyers and doctors, two relatively new professions that moved to the center of middle-class life; becoming a lawyer or physician was a way of assimilation and gaining insider status. Liberals linked political progress, spiritual Enlightenment and moral respectability.

For Kant, opinion formation accomplished through education equaled moral betterment. The importance that Liberalism attached to voluntary participation in the political process that integrated the individual in the state through the individual’s free will was a tradition in England, but not on the continent. Through education, the individual becomes worthy of political participation, as exemplified by the ideal of the Christian gentleman in England.

In early 19th century Germany, a new word gained prominence: Bildung. The concept of Bildung was partly based on the Enlightenment, but it was formed mostly in 1809-10 by Wilhelm von Humboldt, the Prussian minister of education. In time, became the model of all German education. Bildung means the harmonious development and refinement of personality and moral discernment through the study of the classics. The underlying idea was that both learning and reason would lead to personal regeneration. Reading the classics was not done for its own sake, but was to lead to involvement in public life. Humboldt reformed the German university system and founded The University of Berlin. However, the “idealist” component of education became stronger. Instinct and soul superseded reason, and eventually studying the Germanic past became more important than the classics. This was an effect of the trend towards nationalism rather than Humboldt’s intention. One of Humboldt’s accomplishments was the invention of academic freedom. The government should not interfere in personal development; learning had to be free and independent, otherwise the model of Bildung would not work. He also reformed the secondary school system, introducing the humanist gymnasium, which was based on an emphasis of the classics and elitism: Only graduates of the humanist gymnasium could enter a university. Humboldt, though, did not reform the ways of teaching in secondary schools that made students biased against the classics. The “professors” of the gymnasia vented their frustration at being second-grade professors at their students. Authoritarian education was further strengthened in Germany because of the wars of liberation, which tied up Bildung with nationalism. However, its initial aim was to defeat despotism and obscurantism: Through creating an elite like that in England, the German middle class sought to find its political edge, its self-identification.

Yet in Germany, there was more than one bourgeoisie, the so-called Bildungsbuergertum and “the others” who had not attended gymnasium and university. While Evangelism was not absorbed by nationalism in England, Pietism and nationalism united in Germany. German education stressed discipline and self-control; learning was not supposed to be fun, and nothing was of worth unless it was also painful. In free debate, Liberalism simultaneously gave freedom and took it away through this conformity in manners and morals, based on the doctrine of self-control. In France, the creation of middle class elites on the same lines opened education up to competition. Elite institutions similar to the German Humanistische Gymnasien and elite universities became – and still are - the training ground for civil servants and the political elite in France. Germany, England and France were not different in the formation of their elite, elite structures, or even their educational aims. What gave cohesion to the elite in England and consolidated a sort of “Old Boy’s network” were the friendships made in English boarding schools, which often lasted for life. In contrast, there was no boarding school education in Germany. Though Germany had fraternity networks, Germany students met girls and were not as male-centered as their English peers. Similar differences prevailed in France.

Lecture #26

Lecture #26 48:07min - Lecture 26 Audio (mp3)
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As Mosse elaborated in the last lecture, education constituted the link between constitutional government and respectability, the two pillars of middle-class Liberalism. In England, the kind of public school described in “Tom Brown” is a rather new phenomenon. Though public schools dated back to Middle Ages, until mid-18th century they had been far more chaotic. Attended by the sons and daughters of the aristocracy, they enforced no discipline until the reform of the public schools, which went hand in hand with the rise of new manners. This new type of institution originated in Rugby, Thomas Arnold’s school, whose slogan praised “Godliness and good learning.” The theory behind the reform derived from the Evangelical revival; the chapel was the center of the school. The prospective Christian Gentleman’s character was built by exhortation and learning how to command and obey. Unlike in Germany, not much emphasis was put on learning itself. A famous public school novel, Frederick W. Farrah’s “Eric, or Little by Little” tells the story of how Eric falls into sin through bad association, drinking, gambling, and masturbation. Though Eric has an Evangelical friend who converts him, he has to be punished: While trying to save another boy from drowning, Eric drowns himself. The lesson to be learned here is that little by little, sin leads to greater sin, much like in the previously mentioned “The Fairchild Children.” If Evangelism went into the emotionalism of Romanticism, it was also based on self-discipline. Within that scheme, the school represented the state as it ought to be, the “microcosm of the state.” In a novel by Thomas Hughes, the railway train and photography both figure as catalysts of sin. According to Arnold, religious and moral principles, gentlemanly conduct, and learning are based on a kind of self-discipline and morals enforced by the “Gospel of work.” In sum, the ideal type this education should produce is composed of good outward appearance, playfulness but earnestness, industry, manliness, honesty, virginal purity, innocence, and responsibility.

The school itself was organized through the corporate administration of the schoolboys themselves, run by the seniors, who administered discipline and were in charge of all boys. The lowest rank, the so-called “fags” who entered the school, were servants of the older students. The system of “fagging” for a senior taught the student to obey and command and was a way of making the school into a corporate entity. The headmaster would only punish very serious offenses. According to Mosse, this was an excellent training for the rulers of the Empire, whose corporate loyalty never developed in Germany. Yet the great weakness of that elite, the marginalization of science, was directly responsible for England’s future decline. The student body consisted of members of the aristocracy and the middle class; students met the working class only in the form of servants. The attitude toward the outside world, particularly the natives who were treated like children, is the attitude toward fags. Mosse contends that this was neither a racist attitude nor a matter of oppression, but of guidance. Another fundament was the concept of manliness. In the novel “The Manliness of Christ,” the author of “Tom Brown” focuses on the idea of the manly, Christian Gentlemen. The cult of manliness nevertheless began only after Arnold’s days, with the exultation of sports. Arnold had emphasized work and despised sport, which now increasingly took the place of work. Mosse ends the lecture with a talk about his “crusade” against scholarships for athletes, whom he says American colleges keep as gladiators, not as scholars. Sports became a passion, but not in the competitive way. Moreover, the exultation of sports was again connected to anti-intellectualism.

Lecture #27

Lecture #27 49:01min  - Lecture 27 Audio (mp3)
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In this lecture, Mosse starts with the Evangelical concept of life as a battlefield. Fighting with their fists was a “natural” way for English boys and proof of the highest courage when done out of Christian motives. Cowardice was despicable, but fights had to be “fair.” In Rugby, sport became a new religion, and after 1857, soccer began to conquer England and then all of Europe. The Christian ideal was superimposed on the cult of sport and, from the 1860s on, on the cult of manliness. The idea that God had given men physical prowess to use was a fruit of anti-intellectualism; sports trained students to rule the empire. In “The Manliness of Christ,” Thomas Hughes defines a muscular Christianity that adhered to the old Christian belief that a man’s body has to be trained and used to protect the weak, to dominate the earth and teach it virtue, the gospel of work. Still, mere strength of body or intellect was not worthy of respect, though it was esthetically preferable and therefore a matter of taste. This theory of regeneration was greatly influenced by Darwinism, but the struggle for survival of the fittest was tempered by the Christian ethos and respectability. Max Nordau, who coined the term “degeneration” at the second Zionist congress, drew a distinction between muscle-Jews and coffeehouse Jews.

Muscular Christianity symbolized something that went deeper, the cult of manliness, which deepened the ideal of male friendship, male (professional) associations, and finally the wars of liberation, which transformed what had already been a male dominated society into an aggressive, even more male society. The cult of manliness was already inherent in Evangelicalism before its adoption by nationalism. If the female was the symbol, the active male was the goal, the ideal. Gymnastics became as much an expression of nationalism as hiking through the landscape, or singing folksongs. This represented a stage in national development that became less accentuated in time and was directly linked to industrial society’s endeavor to dominate the earth. Virility was indispensable to get ahead in economics or to rule the empire. In England, segregated education continued along with the segregated clubs of London and deepened the general segregation between men and women. The thrust to exclude women from male society and the de-emancipation of women was a 19th-century phenomenon not found in the 18th century. In England more than anywhere else, the new elite circles brought to the fore the strong element of homoeroticism already contained in nationalism and the national symbols inherited from Greece. Sexual fantasies were acted out in the empire, but in England, Liberal ideas about the fair fight and manly strength were also applied to the lower classes. Whoever conformed to these beliefs could attain middle-class status and become a Christian gentleman.

From the mid-19th century on, working-class colleges were founded in which workers could hear lectures on self-improvement and morality, but not earn a degree. The ethos of self-improvement was exemplified in Samuel Smiles’ book “Self-Help,” first presented as a lecture in 1858, and which even today remains a bestseller in the third world. According to Smiles, self-help is a matter of attitude, character, duty, and thrift, popularizing national progress as the sum of individual industry. Social evil is an outgrowth of a sinful life, which is a traditional view, transposed on industrial society. Everything depends on how men govern themselves from within, not by how or by whom they are governed from without. Poverty may be converted from a misfortune into a blessing, since comfort does not prepare a person to fight the battles of life. The book intertwines activism, the gospel of work, and the idea of domination. In this worldview virtue ultimately depends on conformity-vice must be suppressed, as the fight for inward domination helps to dominate the outside. The cement of civilized society was the idea of morality and respectability. Though Liberalism mainly tailored the self-definition of the middle class to the reality of industrialism, the ideas of respectability proved to be stronger in the working class. The attitudes of Liberalism toward life prevailed because of the reality of industrialism, the victory of nationalism, and their spread throughout society. Yet Liberalism had to face two problems accompanying those attitudes: brutality and anti-intellectualism.

Lecture #28

Lecture #28 47:22 min - Lecture 28 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse now turns to Karl Marx, who will take up the rest of the semester. Marx shared the Liberals’ morality, respectability, attitude toward women and the “gospel of work.” In Marx’s work, we find nothing about leisure. Before Marx started to influence the European left, three Socialisms existed independent of his work: The first, dating from the middle ages, was an apocalyptic, millenarian type of Socialism. The second was a specifically French Socialism, the syndico-anarchism of Proudhon; and third, the German, Lassallian kind of democratic Socialism that developed after 1848. From the Middle Ages on, a powerful Christian idea of equality linked to the last judgment had for centuries given hope of the down trodden. Its first leaders were mystics and revolutionary figures who based their ideas on the Book of Revelation. What Ernst Bloch called the “subterranean revolution” was especially popular in the underdeveloped parts of Europe. Overcoming the world of the flesh and having a mystical experience would make man see a new kind of equalitarian world, and result in the return of Christ, who would establish a new order in which each one will be rewarded for his works. In the mid-19th century, these revolutionary ideas were propagated by Wilhelm Weitling, who in the 1840s formed associations called “Communist association” (Kommunistenbund). This Christian stream of a revolution for the elect was assimilated into the idea of the German Volk and Germanic equality. 

In France, the classic country of revolution, Socialism started only in the 1830s after the Liberal July Revolution. Marx called it disparagingly “utopian Socialism,” though he learned his Socialism in Paris just as he learned his Hegelianism in Germany. French socialists like Proudhon, Fourier, or Saint Simon wanted a society of equality, though on different bases. Like Owen in England, Fourier and his followers tried to seclude and isolate themselves in order to create an ideal socialist society that would influence all the rest of society. Saint Simonism was relatively more important. According to Saint Simon, “rationalization”, though it would take place in industrial society itself, would eventually abolish inequality. But in the end, Saint Simonism turned apocalyptic and fused with Egyptian mystical religion; after the death of their leader, Saint Simon’s disciples waited for a woman prophetess to bring about Socialism.

The most influential French socialist of his time was Proudhon. He mixed Socialism and individualism, believing that men should band together into a voluntary “Community of reciprocity” based on a contract to live peacefully and respect each others’ personal belongings. Proudhon believed in Rousseau’s ideas of human goodness oppressed only by authority and obstructed by property. In his book “Property is Theft” he repudiates finance capitalism, but permits small plots of land owned by yeoman farmers. The main enemy is the capitalist conspiracy, symbolized by the House of Rothschild, which had to be eliminated. He also wrote another book, “The Jews, the Kings of our Epoch.” Mosse states that Proudhon was the first to call for the extermination of the Jews. French anti-Semitism and racism thus came from the left, not from the right as in Germany. In opposition to the centralization of the French labor movement, Proudhon founded a labor movement based on voluntary participation, syndicalism. Marx criticized Proudhon, whose theory combined the abolition of capitalism with small property holding, the perhaps most attractive kind of Socialism that easily meshed with nationalism. This Hegelian mediation of sorts between industrial revolution and Socialism took care of the proletarian by giving him a piece of land and regarding him as peasant and artisan. It displaced the opposition to capitalism into an opposition against finance capitalism.

The German tradition of the Revolution of 1848 was taken up and given an equalitarian emphasis by Lassalle. Much like English Chartists, the democratic revolutionary tradition seeks to abolish capitalism by universal suffrage. It counted on political pressure that would convince the state to pass legislation to abolish capitalism and establish equality. The German Workingmen’s Organization was a direct ancestor of the German Socialist Party. Lassalle was soon killed in a duel, but his Workingmen’s Association went on to present an alternative to Marx that looked to the state as the initiator of Socialism. Socialism would come about by applying the principles of ’48: constitutionalism, universal suffrage, and the foundation of a political party. The essentially statist German Socialism was more influenced by Lassalle than by Marx, who hated Lassalle and attacked him with anti-Semitic slurs. Though Lassallian Socialism had a strong Liberal component, it also used means of organizing that were close to Weitling, including military and religious vocabulary. Furthermore, the Romanticism intermingled with Lassalle’s theories contributed to the growth of a workers’ subculture of choirs, theaters, festivals, and the like. 

All of these kinds of Socialisms had important consequences. German Socialism became the model for other European Socialisms. What remained of Proudhon was mainly his thoughts on property as theft and his anti-Semitism. Apocalyptic thinking influenced German National Socialism more than the French, but all of these were eventually tied to national ambitions. national socialism (minor case) flourished first in France. Until the 1880s, Marx himself was just another character who worked in the British Museum, a private scholar supported by Engels and by his wife. He gained importance only later, and his theory, often distorted, came to us through others.

Lecture #29

Lecture #29 48:16 min - Lecture 29 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse begins this lecture with Marx’s biography. Marx was born in 1818 in Trier, in the border region of France. His father, a lawyer, fought for the independence of the city against Prussian domination, but converted to Christianity late in life for career reasons. Karl Marx grew up with a spirit of rebellion and a concern with social misery, writing essays on Rousseau and Voltaire in school. Maintaining a good relationship with his parents and in-laws, Marx had a maid who stayed with him until his death and was buried alongside him and his wife. Marx, basically a man of the Enlightenment, was outlived by Engels, through whom much of what we know about Marx came to us. Much of this, however, is not Marxism at all, but reveals Engel’s attempt to popularize Darwinism, which had greatly influenced him. Originally, there was no scientific dimension in Marxism; also, the determinism and the historical materialism are Engels’ ideas rather than those of Marx.

Engels, coming from a conventional, prosperous Christian family met Marx at the University of Berlin, whose radical students were still greatly influenced by Hegel. In the 1830s and 40s, the “Young Hegelians” met under the auspices of Ruge, who founded the journal “The Annals of Halle.” Marx and Engels both wrote for this journal. The radicals gave Hegel a revolutionary slant. For Marx, this was “the modern view of the world.” Ruge wanted to cleanse Hegelianism of the Romanticism Hegel had fused with freedom. In the 1830s, Christianity was still seen as the primary reactionary force, with the Prussian king Frederick William IV being the head of the Prussian Protestant church. In contrast, French socialists were not concerned with Christianity, but with property. The Young Hegelians concentrated their attacks against Christianity, and they did not oppose, and even accepted Hegel’s view of the state- though the state they envisioned was democratic. The attacks on Christianity became violent, with wholesale condemnations of religion. The Young Hegelians reasoned that assuming themselves to have reached a higher stage of development, they found it incongruous that Hegel had let Christianity stay. At the same time, Bruno Bauer revised Hegel in his doctrine of revolution, coining a word Hegel had never used: “Self-Alienation.”

Self-Alienation could be ended by revolution: Man had to get rid of Christianity, which estranged man from his consciousness. Religion was for Bauer the delusion of a servile people and therefore irreconcilable with dignity. Marx broke with Bauer and Ruge over their view of the state. For them and for most other Young Hegelians, liberation would come through the state, through a political solution. However, Bauer soon became a democratic nationalist, and ended up an admirer of Bismarck. He also became a modern anti-Semite. Marx did not succumb to the great pull towards nationalism, particularly Germanism. He also rejected Hegel’s view of the state as the integrating element, for like nationalism it subordinated social and economic factors to politics. In 1848, Marx wrote “The Holy Family,” a tract against Bauer. Engels joined Marx in his break with the Young Hegelians. Marx’s first major philosophic work was a critique of Hegel’s “Philosophy of Rights,” but only with “The Holy Family” did he break with Hegel’s state integrationism. In 1843, Marx still believed that universal suffrage could lead to universal emancipation and claimed that since in the present conditions, no single class could be a revolutionary class; all Germans had to join together. He later called this an “idealistic point of view.”

This change from idealism to a rejection of the state occurred after Marx’s first encounter with France. While in Paris, he combined idealism with historic materialism. He then moved to Belgium and England, but even in England, he was preoccupied with France, the country that had made the revolution and broken with the ancien regime. For Marx, the French Revolution remained the paradigm for all revolutions throughout his life. Moreover, it was the laboratory for Socialism and the paradigm of radicalism after the revolution of 1830. Though Marx rejected the French socialists as utopians, he nevertheless learned in France the importance of economic and social analysis, which all major French socialists shared. As a double outsider, the idea of dignity and emancipation that he found in France were important to him.

Lecture #30

Lecture #30 48:04 min - Lecture 30 Audio (mp3)
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Mosse remarks that if the French gave Marx his practicality, the Hegelian experience gave him his system. As far as this system is concerned, Marx rejected the idealism of his fellow students, but clung to another kind of idealism, namely humanism and an emphasis on the human mind. Yet in this regard, the difference between the young and the old Marx is a cardinal problem in Marx studies. Did he drop the basis of his Hegelian idealism, the emphasis on human consciousness, for a greater determinism after 1859? Mosse now turns to the “German Ideology” of 1846. Here, Marx already rejected the Hegelian state, even if he kept much of Hegelian idealism. In the “German Ideology” he is concerned with the second pillar of Hegelianism, Christianity, and came to reject most Young Hegelian ideas that Christianity was the enemy to be fought. He attacks Feuerbach, by whom he had formerly been influenced, in particular Feuerbach’s critique of Christianity. Indicative of the French influence, Marx turns to social and economic conditions, but the idea of consciousness is still prevalent.

The major turning point is his treatment of the division of labor; on this point Feuerbach becomes obsolete. The division of labor is no longer a theoretical construct, but a concrete product of European industrialization. The “Theses on Feuerbach” in the “German Ideology” were published by Engels in 1888. Here Marx intertwines human consciousness and material factors, the social and economic realities of the division of labor and the progression in history of human consciousness. Feuerbach resolves religious essence into human essence, abstracting human essence as defined in this world in the totality of social relations. Marx comments that “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” In other words, Feuerbach abstracts instead of calling for concrete action. However, Marx, unlike Engels and later the Bolsheviks, believed in the mixture of philosophy and social reality. He fused consciousness and reality, the necessity of revolutionary theory with the necessity of practical action in a real situation, defined as the totality of social factors. Feuerbach had influenced Marx and all Young Hegelians with his analysis of religion, according to which religion had been created by man for his own purposes and was a projection of man’s wish to be dependent. Nonetheless, man was detached from any kind of cosmic forces and was what he made of himself. Religion was merely a reflection of man, an illusion or crutch, and therefore so easily manipulated for oppressive purposes by the present government.

Feuerbach’s solution was the abolition of religion and the institution of a political democracy. Feuerbach was Marx’s liberation, freeing him of ideas about religion and forces extraneous to man. From 1846 on, Marx’s theory centered on man himself, no longer the “hyphenated man” (that is, man and God etc.). Mosse points out that all of Marx’s writings, except perhaps the “Capital” were polemic, since “You cannot be a revolutionary without enemies.” A characteristic of Isolated thinkers is to “fertilize” their thought through enemies. After Feuerbach liberated Marx, Marx liberated himself from Feuerbach by contending that the products of consciousness were not the real chains of men. Regarding human consciousness, he was a truer Hegelian than others, since he believed in the interpenetration of human consciousness and reality, whereas most Hegelians believed that consciousness had a life of its own. Like Bauer, Feuerbach became a German nationalist, unable to withstand the excitement of German unification. For Marx, the criticism of religion would remain a tool for the criticism of society; his most famous attack was the work “On Judaism.” For Marx like for Feuerbach, Judaism was a product of the problems of the Jews, and both believed that Judaism could vanish with the complete emancipation of the Jews. According to Mosse, Marx was not an anti-Semite in the classical sense, though his correspondence is full of anti-Semitic vocabulary used to describe his Jewish enemies. For Marx, the Jew was a merchant, and he views sees Judaism as a product of commercialism. Commerce was the worst outgrowth of capitalism and lead to competition, surplus value, and eventually to being a parasite. Commerce was not production, and Marx’s whole theory is a theory of production. It involved an odd type of utopianism that included elements of Christianity, and a basic opposition to money. Marx shared this with Locke, but also with nationalism. Marx lived at the beginning of the industrial revolution, when indeed progress and production were closely aligned; his theory is therefore completely obsolete today. Marx had the robust optimism of the industrial age that predicated a society of equality based upon a world of plenty. It never occurred to him that there may not be enough. He regarded Liberalism as the political consequence of commerce and usury; Jews were not really “emancipated” because their emancipation came from the state. Only the state was “free”, and man only received freedom of property and of religion, but was not freed from religion, or from property. The liquidation of bourgeois society would not only render the Jew impossible, but dissolve all religion. Marx knew that his theory would be used by anti-Semites, yet it did not matter, because anti-Semitism would end with the revolution. But whatever change he went through, his view of the Slavs and what we would call the “third world” stayed the same; they were static, outside of the progression of history. For that reason, Marx thought that Russia would be the last place to revolt.

Lecture #31

Lecture #31 50:01 min - Lecture 31 Audio (mp3)
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Marx’s encounter with Moses Hess proved to be of great importance. Hess was a Young Hegelian, but unlike Runge or Feuerbach, already a socialist. He argued that Socialism, rather than the attack on Christianity, might be the way to change society. What we call Marx’s theory of surplus value is based on an article by Hess on the unproductivity of money. Hess’ weakness though, from Marx point of view, was his ambivalence to the use of force. The utopian ideas put forward in his “Red Catechism for the German People” of 1848, in which he claimed that the abolition of money would lead to equality, but that wars would never be abolished, had a chiliastic tone that was missing in Marx. Marx criticized Hess and other young Hegelians for the absence of a sense of history: lacking a philosophy of history, they had no strategy for revolution, but tended toward abstractions and utopianism. Mosse points out that all of these people ended up in the arms of nationalism. Hess’ 1862 work, “Rome and Jerusalem” was written under the influence of Italian unification. It was not German nationalism; rather, Hess’ wrote under the impact of Mancini’s theory that nationalism leads to humanity. Modern Marxist scholarship points out that for Marx, the encounter with Hess was vital. Already in his dissertation, Marx had written that the heart of emancipation must be the proletariat, and that philosophy and reality were linked. Realism was of the greatest importance for Marx. After his return from France, he had broken completely with the Young Hegelians and the student movement. The publication of the “Critique of Political Economy” in 1859 marked a watershed between the old and the young Marx.

Mosse identifies two problems in the young Marx; the first, alienation, is the subject of the rest of this lecture. Alienation of men from society was a concern that Marx had in common with almost all theories discussed thus far. He deals with it mostly in his early works, under the influence of Hegel. In the clearest sense, he addresses it in his never published “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts” of 1844, which were recovered in 1925. In them, he concentrates on alienation due to alienated labor, which means, like for Hegel, externalization: Labor becomes a detached object, to which the laborer has no inner relation. At the same time, the working individual is estranged from society. Because Marx believed in the gospel of work, he thought that dehumanized labor led to the dehumanization of the laborer, making man a kind of thing. From Locke, Marx adopted the nation that work denoted something much larger than production. Before modernization, we made no distinction between ourselves and what we produce, between work and life; labor was the self-expression of man and his physical and mental power. This became impossible with industrialism, automatic work, and mass-production. Marx’s central critique of capitalism is that it perverts work into forced, meaningless, alienated labor. In the “Manuscripts,” work is external and physically exhausting to the worker, who feels homeless at work, and at home only in his leisure time (Marx did not have a theory of leisure). The Worker felt freely active only in his animal functions, or at most in his personal adornment. Alienation is different here than in other theories: It is not alienation from the Volk, the state, or the nation, nor is it alienation in the Tocquevillian sense of exclusion from participation in the political process. Marx’s is not a political concept of alienation, but one that goes back to the Enlightenment, to the dignity of the individual: Man is alienated from his human essence.

Yet Marx’s idea of alienation comes also from the reality of labor. To overcome alienation, man had to recapture himself, his entire life-process, especially at work. The “German Ideology” returns to the idea of the division of labor: Consciousness is not the community of affinity or the like; rather, it is consciousness of existence, which is defined by one’s labor. Reality and consciousness interplay, but not in the Hegelian way of an abstraction, the idea of freedom trying to push through; for the idea of freedom, alienated labor is substituted. This is the materialism involved in Marx: consciousness can only be conscious of the existing reality in which man lives. Recapturing one’s own essence by the domination over one’s life will end alienation. The fact that man’s consciousness is alienated from himself in capitalism entails the loss of every aesthetic sense. Under the condition of alienation, Bildung was impossible. There was no more beauty since everything was commercialized and turned into the fetishism of goods, in which everything equaled its cash value. However, all of this is based on the model of industrialized Manchester, not on the professions into which the bourgeoisie entered. From the beginning, there existed a tension between the individualism that underlies Marx’s whole analysis, and his deterministic theory of history taken from Hegel. Marx never used the term “historical materialism,” but talked about “genuine materialism” in contradistinction to “scientific materialism.” Another tension existed between the fact that what governs alienated labor is what governs the means of production, and the belief that man is innately creative. Marx tried to resolve it by looking at history, life and alienation as an open-ended process, not as something static. Mosse argues that unlike Leninism, Marxism was not static because it was based on Hegel, whereas Leninism was based on an end of history in an ideal society. Having removed Hegelianism, Leninism constituted a “dumb” materialism, and the belief that dictatorship of the proletariat is an end, not a beginning.

The relation between alienation and class structure was clear to Marx: Alienation was part of a structure in which the individual was not a person, but a member of a class. Abolition of classes was at the basis of the recovery of individuality. For Marx, the interests of every class were one-sided, while the interest of the proletariat was not. The proletariat was the only class that transcends class. Though classes acted according to their means of production, Marx thought the proletariat to be different, since it was the first class in history that did not have any property to defend. Its interest was therefore the overthrow of property. Also, unlike the poor of earlier times, the proletariat could be organized. It was the custodian of humanity, because it was the one class that, if organized, could bring about a humaine society. Nonetheless, Mosse claims that a romanticization of the worker (as that of the Mexican communist artists) was contrary to Marxism.

Lecture #32

Lecture #32 48:41 min - Lecture 32 Audio (mp3)
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Marx demanded an end to the appropriation of labor by others; the central instrument to that end was the abolition of private property. His critique of primitive communism can be found in the “Manuscripts”: the abolition of private property would free the human essence, a theory that was later on misrepresented as Marx’s materialism. After superseding private property and suppressing alienation, man could return from religion, family and state, the surrogates on which he projected his frustrations. With the appropriation of one’s nature, there was no more need for the kind of dreaming Lessing had denounced in “Nathan the Wise.” Alienated labor had to be made creative again. But private property could only be broken when class analysis was fulfilled and the proletariat had overthrown the bourgeois class. Until then, the individual was a class-bound person, alienated form everything that made life worthwhile, such as Bildung, culture, and beauty. Class-bound persons were governed by a determinist course of history, by the dialectic of one class overthrowing the other. But after the overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat, history would in a way come to an end. The proletariat did not struggle for the means of production, but for humanity and was thus outside of history. The crux of the problem now was the question that if man was alienated from himself, what was that “self” from which he was alienated? The existence of a Marxist theory of human nature has been denied on several grounds by many contemporary scholars, who pointed out that for Marx only classes of men mattered, not the individual. The motives of man in the dialectic counted for nothing. Critics stress the older, post-1859 Marx, who seemed to concentrate on economics, not on the individual. They believe that the class situation cannot be separated from anything else, and that therefore the dogmatism, the economic determinism of later Socialism is already inherent in Marx. Althusser, for example, asserted in the 1970s that one had to understand Marx through a structural reading of the “Capital,” which made clear that economics was in the foreground, and that there was no humanism, but only materialism. He maintained that Marx had left Hegel totally behind.

This interpretation is part of an odd oscillation between the revival of Marx based on the young Marx, and a retaliation against it on the basis of the old, which Althusser called the orthodoxy of the communist party. Marxism was split between intellectuals who maintain that there was a humanist basis to Marxism, and that of orthodox Socialism, which held that there was only class struggle and economic determinism. Yet the Marxist orthodoxy came about with Engels who, under the spell of Darwin, propagated a “scientific” interpretation of the class struggle. Those who tried to revive Marxism in the 1920s emphasized its humanist base, the attempt to recapture individuality through class struggle. Without a residue of self-consciousness despite all alienation, this struggle would be pointless. (For Engels, history struggled for the individual.) This kind of Marxism was a dagger pointed at Bolshevism. Mosse is convinced by Oscar Hammond’s answer to the question of why Marx never published the economic manuscripts: Some of what he had written was no longer appropriate in 1845, not because he rejected it, but because of a new factor; by 1845, Marx feared that a general talk about humanity would weaken the will to action, and, moreover, that an emphasis on humanism would lead to his movement being confounded with utopian Socialism.

Though Marx tried to distinguish his own from other Socialisms, he did not abandon humanist ideas, for without a humanist basis, his Socialism would not make sense, but would lead to a kind of state Socialism. A man of the Enlightenment, Marx assumed three basic, unchanging factors, namely freedom, happiness, and rationality, which made up the human essence and were an integral part of human consciousness. With this presupposition, which explained the theory of revolution and the drive to action, Marx betrayed a fundamental optimism that freedom, happiness and rationality could be obtained. Every act of protest was at the same time an act of understanding and criticism. Marx first thought that the freedom of unalienated men could be expressed by universal suffrage, but then changed his mind to favor revolutionary activity. As he wrote in the “Rheinische Zeitung”: “No man fights against his own freedom. At most, he fights against the freedom of others.” Marx never realized the fallacy of the belief that man does not want to be enslaved, or that he is willing to forgo freedom to be in a community. This was the basic weakness of Socialism. Socialists could never understand fascism and nationalism, and were therefore defeated or became fascists themselves. Always at a loss of what to do with mass movement, socialist offered didactic speeches while nationalist organized meetings, fire ceremonies, folkdances and the like. The assumption of an urge toward freedom, not community, was already built into Marxism. After Marx, it became more difficult to uphold freedom in the face of Darwinism. The concrete freedom of “heroic resolve” in which Marx believed was not possible in material determinism. To set free the elements of the new society, both heroic resolve and a historic mission were necessary. The all-important praxis had to be firmly based on rationalism.

Lecture #33

Lecture #33 42:09 min - Lecture 33 Audio (mp3)
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As Mosse stated in the last lecture, freedom, happiness, and rationality were part of Marx’s theory of human consciousness. In 1842, Marx had argued that freedom is so much the essence of man that its enemies realize it and struggle against its reality, which explains why people stormed the Bastille instead of waiting for history. He expressed some of these ideas still in his 1870 “18th of Brumaire of Napoleon Bonaparte:” The workers’ heroic resolve was necessary to bring about change and class struggle. But for Marx, human nature was a social reality, and the individual a social entity. Much of the misunderstanding of Marx stems from the fact that he remained a Hegelian, and Hegel is notoriously difficult to grasp. Human nature expressed itself in social action, and this only made sense in a concrete social sphere. History was rational through its dialectic relationship to man: If history and man are rational, there is no conflict between them. With the right consciousness, one would grasp history and draw the proper conclusions. But if right consciousness could only be attained after the abolition of alienated labor, in a bourgeois society only a few, the vanguard of the working class, could rise above their alienated condition. In a kind of jump, Marx claimed that only some, he included, could fulfill their rationality, know the direction history was taking, and could take the right steps.

The concept of happiness demanded another such jump. The presupposition that happiness came through the use of reason was really an 18th-century, not a Hegelian presupposition. Marx claims to know that history worked the way he said it did thanks to his studies, during which he had accumulated historic and economic proof. He supposed that any rational person convinced by this proof would join the proletariat. The cogency of his theory, however, stands and falls with whether his economic and historical theories are correct. Furthermore, Marx thought that once alienated labor was abolished, history would take care of itself. At the end stood an 18th -century utopia that was not much different from the bourgeois utopia in which culture was central: In the classless society, the individual would be able to enjoy Shakespeare and Mozart. Not only in this respect, were the difference between Marx and Engel great. Engels, who outlived Marx by twelve years, had great faith in science, particularly in the new Darwinist theory. In a speech at Marx’s tomb, Engels declared: “Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history.” Yet Marx never had the foundation of historic determinism; the laws of history, as interpreted by Engels, exclude man. But for Marx, Mosse claims, human consciousness had a central role. Engels’ chief theoretical work, “Dialectic of Nature” was written after Marx’s death and asserts that there must no longer be unintended effects and uncontrolled forces in the dialectic of nature. It talks of “aims laid down in advance” in history, which humans fulfill by eliminating uncontrolled forces, including those of human nature. Cognition plays no role. In contrast, in “Das Kapital,” Marx maintained that history was a process, not a science. With Engels preordained, scientific theory of history, the emphasis eventually falls on the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Mosse therefore call Engels “the father of Bolshevism,” but also of social democracy. Karl Kautsky, Engels’ secretary, became the “pope” of German Socialism: For him, Marxism became economic determinism: Revolution was beside the point because everything, including the classless society, was laid out in advance. Kautsky thus founds the gradualism of social democracy, but in a way also Bolshevism, because it projects the dictatorship of the proletariat onto the classless society. Engels, though, showed a totally different side in his writings about literature and art in which he broadens rather than narrows the framework of economic materialism. Mosse accounts for this discrepancy with Engel’s German youth that had instilled in him a love for art and the classics. In fact, both Engels and Marx were confused about literature, but found a solution in the explanation that great literature and art had been created when the bourgeoisie was still a progressive force. Both Bolshevism and Socialism therefore condemned modern art, even naturalism: Their taste had fossilized between the 18th and 19th century, which is still evident in the extreme philistinism and worship of traditionalism in today’s communism. Marx’s taste was not conservative because a great part of the authors he read were his contemporaries. Mosse concludes that Marx had a theory of human nature which was obliterated by the influence of Darwinism and Engels. The latter replaced Hegelianism with Darwinism and eliminated Marx’s historical and economic proofs.

Lecture #34

Lecture #34 47:50 min - Lecture 34 Audio (mp3)
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So far, Mosse covered two problems of Marxism, the question of a human essence and the discrepancies between Marx and Engels. He now turns to the problem of the masses and revolution. This was a central problem for Marxism: The proletariat was without class interest and therefore the carrier of the future, but not the entire proletariat. In fact we are dealing with three kinds of proletariat. One is composed of the unemployed, the so-called “reserve army.” The second, the “Lumpenproletariat” (proletariat of scoundrels), was too lazy to work. The third, “active” proletariat was engaged in production. At different occasions, Marx and Engels thought it was time for the proletariat to act: In 1848, and during the Paris Commune of 1870. Both men reveal an inherent contradiction between their immediate excitement and their worked-out theory of revolution. Marx’s theory consists of three parts: The paradigm of the French Revolution-the uprising of the people against the establishment; Marx’s own theory that revolution could only happen when capitalism had developed to its fullest extent, which meant that the bourgeois revolution must precede the revolution of later on impoverished proletarian majority (what Lenin called “Monopoly capitalism”). Marx applied this revolutionary theory to the western and central European nations; it did not fit the circumstances in underdeveloped countries.

But in the “Communist Manifesto” of 1848, Marx puts forward a second theory: The German bourgeoisie was too week, but since a revolution was taking place in Germany, the bourgeois phase had to be skipped. Though he still clings to a theory of pauperization in the “Communist Manifesto,” at the end he contradicts this theory as far as Germany is concerned: German workers may straight away use the fight against the bourgeoisie. Since there was no bourgeoisie in Russia, Lenin will go back to the “Communist Manifesto,” and not to the revolutionary theory that Marx had worked out in Manchester. This theory was also reformulated at the First International. After the working class had won a “political victory” with the ten-hour workday, political action became the charter for European social democracy. Thereafter, Marx emphasized the organization of workers. After the battle of Sedan and the formation of the Paris Commune, workers were represented in the Paris government for the first time. The collapse of the Commune ended in a bloody civil war. This was radically different from 1848, when nothing much had happened. With the civil war in France, Marx went back to his mature, process-oriented thought. He added the factor of suppression to his theory of pauperization. Repressive state power, used by bourgeoisie to confront the worker ever more directly, made it possible to raise the consciousness of the active worker.

Marx now more and more saw the state as the enemy. The revolutions of 1848 and 1870 were steps in a process, followed by the rise of consciousness. He had to deny therefore that the revolution of 1848 had had any hope of success, and that the Paris Commune was socialist. Rather, they were steps in engaging the severity of suppression. Marx ignored the contradiction that fewer people increasingly controlled the means of production, and yet these few grew more desperate. The consciousness of the working class had not risen; Marx had obviously underestimated the power of co-option, the seduction of the workers by bourgeois ideas of respectability and lifestyle, and the fact that in his time, people could still rise to a higher class status. Marx had no theory of psychology, but believed that rationally, slaves could not but fight against their chains. He was also blind to the change in the nature of the revolution. Leninism, with which we are so imbued today, followed the activism of Blanqui, who believed that the old order could only be overthrown by professional revolutionaries. Lenin was right in doing so; Marx theories were not suited to Russian conditions. No one thought that Russian conditions would be exported to Western Europe after WWI. Blanquis’ theories were oriented towards the Jacobins and to Robespierre, which Marx rejected. According to Marx, a class, not professional revolutionaries, had to take over; after the revolution, everybody would be a proletarian, and the proletarians would be enlightened. In the original model of the French Revolution, democracy was still a revolutionary demand; the imminent democratic revolution would determine what would happen in the future.

Believing in the liberation of the human essence, Marx did not foresee the oppression to come. In that, he was a Rousseauist, not a Jacobin. Adhering to the Enlightenment belief that all problems are solvable, Marx also assumed that in the classless society, upcoming problems would be solved with rationality, freedom, and the desire for happiness. This was not to continue: Engels’ scientism put it into question, and according to Kautsky and the social democrats, one could act for immediate political gains instead of the revolution, because the laws of science worked for the abolition of classes by themselves. Lenin had the machine gun in mind when he changed the revolutionary theory, preferring the fight of one army against another rather than sending out the masses to be gunned down. Mosse reminds his students that no industrial society has ever been overthrown from within. Students could only be the vanguard in unindustrialized countries, which is why student’s revolutionaries were only important in Germany until 1848 If developments were already outrunning Marx in his own time; apart from the non-industrial world he is even more out of date today. The only successful revolutions were the Russian and the fascist revolutions; the Marxist revolutionary model has never been important. Another irony was that the successful kind of revolution quickly turned conservative. Leninism became conservatism because it excluded democracy. A question that arises here is whether the Marxist utopia was different from other utopias. According to Marx, the classless society would not be an escape from work, because for Marx, people were happiest while working. This was just one more of his mistakes. Marx was a man for one season.

Lecture #35

Lecture #35 43:39 min - Lecture 35 Audio (mp3)
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Today: Students’ questions on Marx.

There is a tension between individualism and determinism in Marx. Does it still exist?
It remains necessarily unresolved. The question of human essence is no more resolved in Marx than in Hegel; the problem is that mass movements cannot stand unresolved tensions. It is typical that Marx himself and these unresolved tensions become the Marxism of the intellectuals. The masses are not interested in subtleties. Engel’s integration of Marxism into science solves the problem of the machine gun; Marxism extended into a series of dictatorships.

Is the dialectic resolved in the old Hegel?
In the Prussian state, but even this solution is artificial, like it always is when the dialectic is “resolved.”

Is there a division of labor in Hegel?
Yes, but though the division of labor is important in Hegel, it is not as important as for Marx. It was important for liberals as well. You can treat the question of industrialization in two ways: who loses, and how industrialization strikes people’s perception. People’s perceptions were struck in two ways: in the speed of time and the division of labor. In the 16th and17th century, people would have said that the peasants’ work is alienated, but it became idealized later, along with craftsmen. In effect, this was another bridge for the European right: give land to the workers to overcome alienated labor and to give him a stake in industrialization. It also went into liberalism. Hegel thought you could overcome alienated labor by integration, Marx thought by the classless society, but he never tells you how meaningless labor turns into meaningful labor: He just assumes it. Otherwise, Marxism does not make sense.

Did Marx want to abolish the family?
Engels wrote about the family as integrated into alienated labor: the worker has no time for his family; he is alienated from his family. And since everything is fetishized, you cannot have love in the capitalist family. The example Marx gives for fetishization of heterosexuality is the dowry. Neither Marx nor Engels wanted to abolish the family, rather they wanted to reestablish the “joys and decencies” of family life; Marx idealized the family. This is another paradox: family life is kept with so many other aspects of bourgeois society with a belief in a romantic idea of marriage, probably within the classless society. There would be no more exploitation of women in marriage, though this is more Engels than Marx; Mrs. Marx did not have much say in the marriage. Engels believed in equality. He thought that the fight for female emancipation was a socialist cause. The family as a structure would be kept, since there was no legitimacy for free love. Free love was rather a logical outgrowth of the classless society, one that they would not have approved of. Marx and Engels took manners and morals for granted. They kept up the façade of respectability. Until today, there is no book about the left and sexuality, because it is a can or worms, a taboo as they have no tolerance for deviation. The left does not want to hear about it, because it would show how very, very, very bourgeois the left is. 

What about Marx being “a man for one season”? What is alive and dead in Marxism today?
Very few today would accept two things: the theory of spontaneous revolution, and since Freud, Marx’s concept of human nature. The classless society is also out of date. Not at all out of date is the combination of a changing society and consciousness, the human essence. It was first revived by Rosa Luxemburg’s conflict with Lenin (she died for her belief in the original Marx), then in the Frankfurt School, and the whole Marxist revival of the 1920’s in Germany. Weimar Culture is a paradigm for Marxist revival in that it stressed consciousness. Then Marcuse, who comes from the Frankfurt School, and then, in the late 1960s, Madison was a center for it with the journal “Studies on the Left.” Then it went down in the riots. Now it is still alive among intellectuals, in journals like “New German Critique” and “Telos.” Both have ties to Madison. Also in France and Germany, but France is more inundated in orthodoxy than Germany. But the original Marxism is most alive in America. Never buy anything with “fascism” in the title in France or Germany; it is Bolshevik polemics.

Can consciousness only be conscious of existing reality in Marx?
Yes, and Hegel would have said so too. Your consciousness is focused, projected upon existing reality. This is different with Engels, for whom consciousness is imprisoned in the laws of science, not sentient and alive. This answers the question why so many first- rate intellectuals were attracted to fascism, not to Bolshevism: fascism gave them a place as “masters of ceremony,” while in Bolshevism everything was automatic. Marxism, though, became Marxism of the intellectuals, of leftwing intellectuals. For Hegel, self-consciousness interacted with reality; it was not abstract. Marx kept that, but emphasized social reality, the interaction with reality as you reclaimed what was yours. Bolshevism and Social democracy forgot totality. The great thing about the Frankfurt School was that it integrated Marxism and psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis was banned in the Soviet block.

Mosse adds that he loves insoluble questions; the problems of the ideals of the Enlightenment cannot be straightened out, but still you can try. He believes in the indirect approach.

Lecture #36

Lecture #36 47:32 min - Lecture 36 Audio (mp3)
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In this and the next lecture, Mosse will summarize the course. He remarks that the whole course gave nothing more than a direction, a framework. All the ideas that have been discussed show the transition from the not so modern to the modern world; the major ideas and attitudes from the beginning of 19th century still have a direct effect on us, since many problems that started with the French Revolution have not changed. The course started with the Christian universe and Pascal, which had an influence on the religious revival of the 18th century, on Newton, the growth of modern science and the Enlightenment. It continued with Descartes’ idea of reason and clear and distinct ideas, which had its counter tendency in the religious revival. The Enlightenment always had an underside in the urge for classification that did not stop with animals, but included humans. It slid over into esthetics, taking Greek sources as authorities, and was marked by highly subjective, irrational elements regarding the “new man.” From revival and Enlightenment, Mosse went on to two figures who attempted a synthesis: Rousseau focused on reason, but also went beyond reason to liquidate the present society, championing the use of the irrational forces of nature to train nature through education. The other major synthesis, attempted by Hegel, was a real synthesis, much more so than Rousseau’s.

Though Hegel was not free of the irrational, he maintained that freedom and history work in a determinate manner. History worked according to logic and reason, but uses the irrational in what Hegel called “the cunning of history.” God was rational, but man does not know it because his self-consciousness has not yet grown to maturity. From this synthesis, Mosse went on to talk about the predominance of the irrational forces in nationalism, which was based on the religious revival. All that survived in nationalism of the Enlightenment were its forms and symbolism. Liberalism and Marxism took up the heritage of the Enlightenment. Even the philosophes did not assume that everything was pure reason, but thought that problems could be solved best through reason. From the 18th century on, the focus of Enlightenment ideas drifted from France to England and Germany, since idealist philosophy and the ideas of totality and abstraction found their home there. The abstract Rousseauan idea of “the people” was readily adopted in Germany, which did not have a Cartesian tradition. In French nationalism, however racist and emotional, reason always played a role. In Germany, the Enlightenment had never been very strong, and was finally obliterated by the wars of liberation. Moreover, France was a Catholic nation without a “tradition of seriousness” like Pietism or Evangelism, in which the believer had to face God directly. Yet the difference between England, Central Europe and France went even deeper at the end of the 19th century than at its beginning or middle decades. Mosse admits to having neglected French Catholicism and catholic liberalism, which is “a contradiction in terms.” Neither did he attempt a history of ideas, which would have included such influential ideas as those of Gobineau. He then points out that sooner or later, every theory had to come to terms with nationalism in Europe. English nationalism expressed itself in the Empire. Nationalism, however, should not be treated as an ideology, but rather as attitudes toward lives, as the myths people live by and that reify life. It is a world not of great ideas, but of symbols, myths, in which the individual attempts to integrate himself into the history of his ancestors, into nature, Christianity or whatever other myths.

Since people do not think in abstractions, myths are expressed by symbols; people have to depend on symbols and always did so, whether national stereotypes or political symbols. Hegel as well was concerned with finding the right symbols to enable human consciousness to grow. Another factor was a general longing for utopia, a better world, which was lost along with Hegelianism and the rise of science. All utopias, even the liberal, envision a classless society, a sense of community of affinity, a kind of equality, and finally harmony, the absence of conflict. Some of them were industrial utopias, but most commonly, they were expressed in pre-industrial, rural terms. Those who rejected industrialism, like nationalism and Romanticism, did so not openly, but attacked certain kinds of modernity, for instance “finance capitalism.” Though nationalists use technology to a great extent, certain kinds of modernity are rejected. Furthermore, every utopia strove for continuity, but liberalism and Marxism, with their idea of progress, accepted the change of time much more than Romanticism and nationalism.

The perception of the change of time was accentuated with railway travel, which made the problem of the speed of time more immediate. Speed contributed to the sense of the nervousness of the age, which became a cultural and medical concern. The 19th century identified two main reasons of nervousness: railway travel and masturbation. Doctors became the new authorities on manners, feeding into the bourgeoisie’s constant urge for self-definition through respectability. Another factor in the disorientation of the age was the transmutation of Christianity. Rationalization should not be seen as a war between modernity and Christianity, because modernity contained a lot of Christian liturgy and Christian ideas of a moral universe and sexual purity. Young Hegelians regarded the state and Christianity as the main enemies, yet adopted much of the latter, since it represented the only moral universe available. Respectability was the self-assertion of the middle class against what it perceived as immorality and Catholic decadence. Even Marx in his idealization of marriage and rejection of deviation accepted the “moral universe.” The process of secularization is not based on confrontation; rather, it is a process of co-optation of tradition, combining the old with the new. Yet, there were new factors in the 19th century: while the middle class found its self-definition in liberalism and nationalism, it had to come to terms with the problem of the masses, which was unprecedented and added to the anxieties of the nervous 19th century. The first mass demonstrations in 1830 inaugurated the first decade of organized mass movements. Frightened, the middle class started to build its elite.

Lecture #37

Lecture #37 45:13 min - Lecture 37 Audio (mp3)
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The changes in the actual setting in which cultural activity took place were connected to the bourgeois quest for self-definition and identity. Intimately attached was the concept of Bildung, which was really a further definition of the aristocratic side-by-side of the English gentlemen with the aristocrat. However, in Germany it was a concept of self-cultivation through the classics, not through the chapel like in England. Merged with it was a strange preference of the 19th century for the aesthetic. The idea that form represented inner harmony derived from the Enlightenment and was part of the autonomy of man that reached out over the material. In Germany Shaftesbury’s idea of the identity of harmony, art and virtue had the greatest influence; a second source was Rousseau’s “Emile.” The goal of Bildung was similar to that of “Tom Brown’s Schooldays,” the creation of and elite through an ideal. Based on the new idea of academic freedom, it became the program of the newly founded University of Berlin, after which all universities came to be modeled. The liberal idea of freedom was here linked with the idea of freedom of self-cultivation. It was soon broadened to take in the Romantic Movement, through which it became extremely diffuse, sentimental, and eventually linked to the state. While the classics were reduced to rote learning, the newest literary trends penetrated Bildung through a unique kind of constellation: the salons. In these “extraterritorial meeting places,” people of all classes and creeds met to discuss avant-garde literature and art. Women and Jews in particular overcame their lack of emancipation by founding salons. As court society gave way to bourgeois society, salons represented a transition from court to middle-class setting. Their place was soon taken by older institutions that were revived for the middle class, like the coffeehouse in Central Europe, or the club in England.

Bourgeois lifestyle was constantly expanding, but the concept of Bildung remained its goal. This evolving Bildungsbuergertum tried to break out of its “cage” of material activity, in part through a circle of festivals, which soon became formalized and ritualized. The only escape was to reach out to higher things, which were no longer the classics, but Romanticism and the emotions. In fact, the new rituals were substitute religions protecting the bourgeoisie against rapid change. Towards the end of the 19th century, a double revolution took place: The socialist alternatives adopt the bourgeois lifestyle, and the cultural revolution, the anti-bourgeois bourgeois revolution of children against their parents, came in the form of the avant-garde revolution of Expressionism, Impressionism, and other artistic movements, which had no interest in social and economic change. However, these two revolutions were not connected to each other: the extremely conservative socialist revolutions had no relation with the avant-garde, and vice versa. The systems of thought that reached out for totality, an alternative in between the two was especially provided by the young Hegel’s stress of the openness of the dialectic.

The revival of Marxism and Hegelianism sought a fusion of avant-garde and social and economic theory, but in the end, there is no real connection between avant-garde in culture and changing the society. Bourgeois society, in any case, co-opted and thereby “tamed” the avant-garde. On the other end of the spectrum, the workers’ movement became integrated into bourgeois society as well. In his definition of the civilized human being as one that can control his sexual urges under all circumstances, Krafft-Ebbing best summarized the effect of the quest for respectability: the basis of state, family, and of civilization itself is self-control. Many different strands of the 18th century fused into the lifestyle we take for granted today; all of its elements have historical origins. Objective reality is not simple, and things like capitalism and class are what people perceive them to be. Mosse stresses that in order to understand the way people perceive reality; one has to look at myths and symbols. Since everything in history is subjective, depending on the brain of the historian through which it has to pass, positivism is mistaken. Historians are tempted to make a beautiful sentence rather than a beautiful truth.

Mosse ends the lecture by expressing the hope that the course has taught his students to see the totality; to that end, Hegel is still useful. He adds that he hopes to have made his students better bourgeois. He himself is a “happy bourgeois.”