THE PROBLEM OF SMALL NATIONS
tions and states, under the most favourable circumstances, have only a temporary duration, historical development favours and promotes the growth of big nations and states; Germany is big, bigger than the rest, with one exception, which is more apparent than real; therefore her legitimate aim is World-Policy, World-Power!
Let us probe to the bottom this Pan-Germanic imperialist theory. It is quite true, that many hundreds of small states—city states—were absorbed by one state growing bigger and bigger. But in France, Italy, etc., partly even in Prussia, this process was a gathering of the same people, of the same nation, not a subduing of foreign nations. Though of course Prussia and other states subjugated foreign nations too.
If history proves that small states and nations are ephemeral, it proves the same of big states—remember the Oriental empires, Alexander the Great, the Greeks and Romans, the Franks, the old German Empire, Napoleon. All these states—not nations—were temporary also. The real meaning of these political, un-national formations is misunderstood by the pan-Germanists, and the arguments which they are based upon are false.
History is a process of integration, but at the same time of disintegration; the double process appears as the strengthening of individualism and the simultaneous growth of collectivism. History tends not towards uniformity, but towards variety, towards organized variety, which very often is misrepresented as barren, monotonous, indiscriminate uniformity.
Speaking politically, the centralising tendencies in social life are steadily counterbalanced by the striving for autonomy and federation in all its variety; centralized absolutism is everywhere checked by freedom, the centralising tendencies of aristocracy are weakened by the individualistic tendencies of democracy. This double process pervades all departments of social life.