Rome and Jerusalem/Epilogue
I. Hellenes and Hebrews
The spiritual views of a man, of whatever religion or race, are the products of his particular environment. But the roots of these conceptions, as well as those of social life in general, lie in the great web of organic life with which the social life is closely and inseparably connected; just as organic life itself is connected with the next life sphere, the cosmic.
There is no absolute line of demarcation between these three life spheres, just as there is DO difference between the material and the spiritual life. The three life spheres do, however, form sharply defined grades or epochs within the unified and indivisible universal life. And just as in each individual life sphere, so also in the totality of the universal life, every step toward a higher grade of life must have its antecedents in the lower grade. Compared with the higher order of life, the organic, the cosmic life sphere appears lifeless, especially on the border line which leads from the life of the cosmic bodies to that of the organisms. Here, on the surface of the already cooled-off and stiffened cosmic bodies, we see only the dead residue of the cosmic life sphere, out of which the higher organic life sphere developed. But if we observe the life of the cosmic sphere where it is still being generated and developed in universal space, we cannot deny to it attributes of the divine life-the life that is so beautifully described in our literature in the Words: "Last in creation, first in thought." The remarkable phenomena which were observed in the modern period, such as the splitting and other changes going on in the double comets of Bielasch and Liais, the solidifying of the cosmic dust, its assumption of the spheroid form and spiral movement, and finally the grouping of these bodies into sidereal and planetary systems, these and other similar phenomena are life processes which can be as little explained by an external and one-sided mechanical gravitation theory, as the process of the division of the embryonic cell or the grouping of the organs in an organism.
Similarly, the human, the social life sphere, rises infinitely higher than the organic, but is in nowise different from it; just as organic life does not differ essentially from the cosmic. Here, also, we meet, on the border-line which leads from the organic into the social life sphere, the natural organic race which, compared with the higher humanitarian life, is spiritless. But in spite of this appearance of spiritlessness, the race is the root of the social life sphere, just as the cosmic bodies were the soil out of which the organisms grew.
Social life is, first of all, a product of the life of definite races, composed of different folk-tribes, each of which has formed its life course in a typical way, In the course of historical development, the typical views of life of the various races came in conflict with one another. From the friction of those antithetical forces were generated the first sparks of the spirit, which contain the germs, out of which higher and more harmonious forms of life will spring forth.
The unity of the human genus is a conception developed in the course of ages through historical activity, and not an original, natural idea, inherent in the human soul. It is not an immediate datum of organic life, but a product of the social historical development process. It has the variety of the primitive racial tribes as its antecedent, their struggle as its conditions, and their final harmonious cooperation as its aim.
The thus conceived unity of mankind presupposes a plan of the history of humanity, namely, that the multiple phenomena of social life will finally unite and cooperate in a not less harmonious manner than the varied and different phenomena of organic and cosmic life. This unified, divine plan of history is, at present, apparently in its last stage of historical development. But in antiquity, when the nations were still in the grip of natural life, it was only one people, the people of Israel, which, thanks to its particular genius, was able to perceive the workings of the divine plan in the history of humanity, as well as in the organic and cosmic spheres of life.
If we consider the plan of history, as mapped out in the sacred Scriptures of the Jews, without prejudice, we shall see in it, not only the conception of the unity of mankind, but also the unity of all life, cosmic, organic and social. Our sacred Scriptures presuppose the unity of God, in spite of the apparent variety which the word presents, and the unity of the human genus, notwithstanding the differences of races; because the total plan of the history of the world seems to have been always present to the spirit of the Jewish people, from the beginning of its history. The entire literature of the Jews is to be conceived only from this genetic point of view. Judaism is a historical religion, a historical cult, in contradistinction to Paganism, which is a natural cult.
The revelation of the Jewish spirit, which was an isolated phenomenon at the dawn of the history of humanity, would have been inexplicable and would appear supernatural, were it not for the fact that there existed originally different tribes, with typically individual mental qualities, which had evolved fundamentally different views long before the revelation of the Jewish spirit. This same remarkable manifestation of individuality is met in the divergent languages of primitive peoples. Primitive religions and primitive languages are, as Renan has rightly observed, race creations; though he himself had hardly any conception of the importance of the ancient Jewish historical religion. History corroborates the story of anthropology, that there were originally different human races and tribes.
If the various races and peoples that still exist were not primal, then, in such places as Western Asia, Northern Africa and Europe, where peoples have lived together for thousands of years, commingling through intermarriage and influenced by common climatic conditions, there should have been produced a type, in which there is no trace of their foregone ancestors. But all human races and tribal types, known to us either from historical monuments, or who still live to-day in their primitive homes, in spite of climatic and cultural influences, have reproduced their original types in such a way that the anthropologist can tell, at a glance, the different types of humanity, according to their physiological and psychical characteristics. The most ancient Egyptian monuments depict negroes as well as Indo-Germanic and Semitic types, races which have lived from time immemorial in the same land and which were likewise scattered in different countries and climates, yet their primal types have not undergone any perceptible changes.
The languages of those nations with whom our civilization originated belong to two primal races, the Indo-Germanic and the Semitic. The ancient culture of the former reached its culminating point in Greece; of the later, in Judaea. In these two countries the typical antithesis between the Indo-Germanic and Semitic races reached its highest point, and the fundamental differences in the views of life of these two races were expressed in the classical works of the Hellenes and Hebrews. We see, from those works, that the former viewed life as a multiplicity and the latter as a unity; the one, looked upon the world as eternal being, the other, as eternal becoming. The spirit of the one expressed itself in terms of space, that of the other, in terms of time. In the expression of the Greek spirit, there is the underlying idea of a perfectly created world; the Hebrew spirit, on the other hand, is permeated with the invisible energy of becoming, and the world, according to it, is governed by a principle which will begin its workday in social life, when it has arrived at a standstill in the world of Nature. The classical representatives of the natural Sabbath no longer exist as a people, and the God of history has dispersed his people, which foresaw the historical Sabbath, among the nations. But the two primal types of spirit, which no longer have classical nations as their representatives, have still many such individuals among civilized nations. The two giants of German literature, Goethe and Schiller, are the German representatives of the two types of genius-the Greek and the Hebrew of the natural and historical Sabbath. And when Heine divides all men into Hellenists and Nazarenes, he designates, unconsciously, these two types of spirit. Modern Jews, like the Indo-Germanic nations, have in Heine and "Boeme" their representatives of these two types of cultural life.
After the antithesis of the two spiritual tendencies reached its culminating points in two historical peoples, the conciliation of these two points of view became the task of the civilized nations.
The first attempt at a reconciliation of the two types of civilization was made by Christianity, followed by that of Islam, which contested the right to dominion of the former, in Asia, Africa and even in a part of Europe itself, namely, in Spain. Just as the process of conciliation started from the contact of the Hellenic and Jewish cultures, in the ancient Jewish fatherland, so in the meeting of Arabic, Jewish and European cultures in Spain, the second fatherland of the Jews, the final mediation process between the two types of universal history had its origin. But the spiritual spark which arose out of the friction of the two tendencies, and which became the germ of a higher harmonious tendency in which the natural racial antitheses of the historical peoples will ultimately find their reconciliation, this social light germ, the new revelation, was generated by the Jewish genius.
When pagan Rome brought the ancient Hellenic and Jewish cultural life to an end; there arose, from the ruins of the latter, a new view of the world; and when Christian Rome struck the mortal blow at the Arabic and Jewish cultural life in Spain, there arose again, in the mind of a Jew, from the ruins of the latter, the modern world view. Spinoza was a descendant of the Spanish Jews, who fled to Holland in order to escape the "holy" Inquisition.
II Christ and Spinoza
From Judaism, permeated with the scientific spirit, Christianity will receive full justice and its importance will be properly estimated. The Jewish historian no longer finds it necessary to assume an attitude of fanaticism toward it. Graetz, in the third volume of his history, has shown how one can be a loyal Jew and at the same time an objective judge of that phenomenon which has been a source of persecution to the Jews for the last eighteen hundred years. A few quotations from that writer will show with what freedom of spirit and objectivity a Jewish historian, not a reformer, has characterized Christianity and its founder.
While Judaea was still trembling," says our Jewish historian, "lest the procurator Pontius Pilate strike a blow at the population, which might result in a rising in arms and great suffering, a strange event occurred. It was so small in its beginning that people scarcely noticed it, but gradually, through the force of circumstances, it assumed such proportions that it turned the history of the world into new paths. ...Israel was now to commence his mission in earnest; he was to become the teacher of nations."
"It was due to the strange movement which arose under the governorship of Pilate, that the teachings of Judaism won the sympathy of the heathen world. But this new form of Judaism, changed by foreign elements, became estranged from and antagonistic to the source from which it sprang. Judaism could hardly rejoice at her offspring, which soon turned coldly from her and struck out into strange, divergent paths. If Judaism does not wish to strip off its ancient individuality and become disloyal to its own convictions, it must continue its existence in opposition to the religion to which she gave birth. This new movement, this old doctrine in a new garb, or rather Essenism intermingled with foreign elements, is Christianity, whose advent and early development belong to the Judiean history of this epoch."
"As regards Jesus himself," says Graetz, "on account of his Galilean origin, he could not have stood high in that knowledge of the Law which through the schools of Shammai and Hillel had become prevalent in Judaea. His small stock of learning and his corrupt half-Aramaic language pointed unmistakably to his birthplace in Galilee. His deficiency in knowledge, however, was compensated by his intensely sympathetic character. Earnestness and moral purity were his undeniable attributes; they stand out in all the authentic accounts of his life that have reached us, and appear even in those garbled teachings which his followers placed in his mouth. The gentle disposition and the humility of Jesus remind one of Hillel, whom he seems to have taken as his model, and whose golden rule, "What you wish not to be done to yourself, do not do unto others," he adopted as the starting-point of his moral code. Like Hillel, Jesus looked upon promotion of peace and the forgiveness of injuries as the highest forms of virtue. His whole being was permeated by that deeper religiousness which consecrates to God not only the hour of prayer, a day of penitence, and longer or shorter periods of devotional exercise, but every step in the journey of life, which turns every aspiration of the soul toward Him, subjects everything to His will, and with childlike trust, commits everything to His keeping. He was filled with that tender, brotherly love which Judaism teaches should be manifested even to an enemy. Certainly no curse against his enemies escaped his lips, and his enthusiastic admirers have done him an injustice when they placed in his mouth a curse or even unfriendly words against his own mother. He reached the ideal of the passive virtues which the Pharisees inculcated: "Be of the oppressed and not of the oppressors; receive abuse and return it not; let the motive of all your actions be the love of God, and rejoice in suffering."
"Jesus must, from the idiosyncrasies of his nature, have been powerfully attracted by the Essenes, who led a contemplative life apart from the world and its vanities. When John, the Baptist--or more correctly, the Essene invited all to come to receive baptism in the Jordan. to repent and prepare for the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus hastened to obey the call and was baptized by him. Although it cannot be proved that Jesus was formally admitted into the order of the Essenes, much of his life and york can only be explained on the supposition that he had adopted their fundamental principles. Like the Essenes, Jesus highly esteemed self-inflicted poverty, and despised the mammon of riches....Community of goods, a peculiar doctrine of the Essenes, was not only approved, but positively enjoined by Jesus, .for his close disciples had a common purse and shared their goods. Like the Essenes, he reprobated every form of oath. "Swear not at all," taught Jesus, "neither by heaven nor by the earth, nor by your head, but let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay" (James v. 12). Miraculous cures said to have been performed by him, such as exorcism of demons from those who believed themselves to be possessed, were often made by the Essenes. It was, therefore, not considered a special miracle that Jesus could do the same thing. We can also infer from the life that his friends led, that the founder of the sect embraced Essenism. Of his brother James, it is said, with all certainty that he led the life of an Essene, for he did not drink wine nor eat meat nor use oil, and always dressed in linen. But it would seem that Jesus adopted only the essential traits of Essenism, such as the predilection for poverty, the contempt for riches and property, the community of goods, celibacy, the fear of pronouncing an oath and the ability to exert a curative influence upon maniacs. The unimportant practices, such as the observance of strict levitical purity, the frequent taking of baths and the wearing of linen robes, he dropped. Even baptism did not play an important role with him, for we do not find it emphasized either in the stories told about him or in the sayings attributed to him."
"After John had been imprisoned by Herod Antipas in the fortress of Macharus, Jesus thought simply of continuing his master's work. Like John, he preached "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," 3 without perhaps having then a suspicion of the part he was afterward to play in that Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus apparently felt that if his appeal was not to be lost in the desert, like that of the Baptist, but bring forth lasting results, it must not be addressed to the whole nation, but to a particular class of the Jews. The middle classes, inhabitants of towns of greater or lesser importance, were not wanting in godliness, piety and morality, and consequently a call to them to repent and forsake their sins would have been meaningless. The declaration made to Jesus by the young man who was seeking the way of eternal life, 'From my youth I have kept the laws of God; I have not committed murder or adultery, nor have I stolen or borne false witness; I have honored my father and loved my neighbor as myself, might have been made by the greater number of the middle-class Jews of that time. The description of the later writers of the corruption of the Jews and of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, in the time of Jesus, is pure fiction. The disciples of Shammai and Hillel, the followers of the zealot Judas, the bitter foes of the Herodians and of Rome, were not morally sick and were not in need of a physician. They were ever ready for self-sacrifice and Jesus wisely refrained from turning to them. Still less was he inclined to attempt to reform the rich, the friends of the Romans and the Herodians. From these, the yearning of the simple, unlearned moralist and preacher, his repro of their pride, their venality and inconstancy, would only have elicited mockery and derision. Jesus therefore determined to seek out those who did not belong to or had been expelled from the Jewish community. There were in Judaea at the time many who had no conception of the wholesome truths of Judaism, of its laws, its history and its future. They were publicans and tax-gatherers who were shunned by the patriots, as promoters of Roman interests, who turned their backs upon the Law, and led a wild life, heedless alike of the past and of the future. There were also poor, ignorant handicraftsmen and menials (Am-haaretz), who were seldom able to visit the capital, or listen to teachings which, indeed, they would probably not have understood. It was not for them that Sinai had flamed or the prophets had uttered their cry of warning; for the teachers of the Law, more intent upon expounding doctrines than upon reforming their hearers, failed to make the Law and the prophets intelligible to those classes, and consequently did not draw them into their fold. It was to these classes that Jesus turned, to snatch them out of their torpor, their ignorance and their ungodliness. He felt that he was called to save the 'lost sheep of the house of Israel.' 'They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.'
"Jesus, however, by word and example, raised the sinner and publican, and filled the hearts of those poor, neglected people with the love of God, transforming them into dutiful children of their heavenly Father. He animated them with his own piety and fervor and improved their conduct by the hope he gave them of being able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Above all things, he taught his male and female disciples the Essene virtues of self-abnegation and humility, of the contempt for riches, of charity and the love of peace. He bade them become sinless as little children, and declared they must be as if born again, if they would become members of the approaching Messianic Kingdom. The law of brotherly love and forbearance he carried to the extent of self-immolation. 'If one smite thee on one cheek, turn to him the other also; and if one sue thee at law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.' He taught the poor that they should not take heed for meat or drink or .raiment, but pointed to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field that were fed and clothed, yet 'they toil not neither do they spin: He taught the rich how to distribute alms-'Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.' He admonished the hypocrite, and bade him pray in the secrecy of his closet, placing before him a short form of prayer-'Our Father,' which may possibly have been in use among the Essenes.
"Jesus made no attack upon Judaism itself. He had no idea of becoming the reformer of Jewish doctrine or the propounder of a new Law. He sought merely to redeem the sinner, to call him to a good and holy life and to make him worthy of participation in the approaching Messianic time. He insisted upon the unity of God, and was far from attempting to change in the slightest degree the Jewish conception of the Deity. To the question once put to him by an expounder of the law, 'What is the essence of Judaism?' he replied, 'Hear, O Israel, our God is one,' and 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'; -these are the chief commandments. When a man approached him with the words: 'Good Master;' Jesus remarked: 'Call me not good, there is none good but One, that is, my Father in Heaven:' His disciples, who remained true to Judaism, promulgated the declaration of their master 'I have not come to destroy but to fulfill till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled.' "
He must have kept the Sabbath holy, for those of his followers who were attached to Judaism strictly observed the Sabbath, which they would not have done had their master disregarded it. It was only the Shammaitic strictness in the observance of the Sabbath which forbade even the healing of the sick on that day, that Jesus protested 19ainst, declaring that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Jesus made no objection to the existing custom of sacrifice, he merely demanded-and in this the Pharilsees agreed with him-that reconciliation with one's fellow-man should precede any act of atonement. He lid not even oppose fasting when practiced without ostentation or hypocrisy. He was so completely Jewish, that le shared the narrow views of his time, and, like the Jews of the period, thoroughly despised the heathen world, which included the Roman oppressors and their followers, the Oriental Greeks and Syrians. One must not throw holy things to the dogs, he taught, nor cast pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and urn again and rend you. When a Canaanite or a Syrian Greek woman from Phoenician implored him to heal. possessed daughter, he replied harshly, "I was sent only .to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and it is net right to take the bread away from the mouth of the children and cast it to the dogs." To his disciples he repeatedly spoke: Do not follow in the paths of the heathens and do not enter the cities of the Samaritans. While Jesus thus confined himself to the bounds of Judaism, he had no intention to proclaim a new revelation or to originate a new covenant, but limited himself to the task of sowing the seeds of religion and morality in such hearts as had heretofore been barren of it. Jesus did not teach the immortality of the soul, in the sense of a continued existence of the soul after its liberation from the body and its sojourning in the abode of heaven, but emphasized the resurrection of the body at a definite time," in accordance with the teachings of Judaism current in his day. The resurrection of the just and pious was, according to him, to take place on earth, and as the beginning of the inauguration of a new order of things, the future world (Olom hab-ba), which he, like the Pharisees and Essenes; identified with the Messianic era and the initiation of the Kingdom of Heaven. He, like the Pharisees, threatened sinners with eternal punishment in a fiery pit (Gehenna). The merit of Jesus consists in his efforts to impart inner force to the precepts of Judaism, in his upholding the Jewish doctrine of the Brotherhood of Man, in his insistence that moral laws be placed in the foreground, and in his endeavors to have them accepted by those who had hitherto been regarded as the lowest and most degraded of human beings.
His great design, the central point of all his thoughts, Jesus disclosed on one occasion to the most intimate circle of his disciples. He led them to a retired spot at the foot of Mount Hermon, near Czesarea Philippi, where the Jordan rushes forth from mighty rocks, and in that remote solitude he revealed to them the hidden object of his thoughts. But he contrived his discourse in a way that it appeared to be his disciples, who at last elicited from him the revelation that he considered himself the expected Messiah. He asked his followers whom they thought him to be. Some replied that he was thought to be Elijah the forerunner of the Messiah; others that he was the prophet whose advent Moses had predicted; upon which Jesus asked them, "But whom say ye that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ." Jesus praised Peter's discernment and admitted that he was the Messiah, but forbade his disciples to divulge the truth, or, for the present, from speaking about it at all. Such was the mysteriously-veiled birth of Christianity. When, a few days later, the most trusted of his disciples, Simon Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, timidly suggested that Elijah must precede the Messiah, Jesus replied that Elijah had already appeared, though unrecognized, in the person of the Baptist. Had Jesus from the very commencement of his career nourished these thoughts in the depths of his soul, or had they first taken shape when the many followers he had gained seemed to make their realization possible? This is a puzzle which cannot be solved. Jesus never publicly called himself the Messiah, but made use of other expressions which were doubtless current among the Esseries. He called himself "the Son of Man," 13 (Bar-Nash), alluding probably to Daniel vii, "One like the son or man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days," a verse which, at that time, was made to point to the Messiah himself. There was yet another name which Jesus applied to himself in his Messianic character-the mysterious words "Son of God," probably taken from the seventh verse of the second Psalm, "The Lord has said unto me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee," a verse which was in certain Jewish circles interpreted to refer to the Messiah. Was this expression used by Jesus figuratively, or did he wish it to be taken in a literal sense? As far as we know, he never explained himself clearly on this subject, not even later, when it was on account of the meaning attached to these words that he was brought to trial. His followers afterward disagreed among themselves upon the matter, and the various ways in which they interpreted his words divided them into different sects among which a new form of idolatry unfolded itself.
Other appellations were employed by Jesus to designate his Messianic character, such as "Heavenly Bread" (Manna) and the "Bread of Life," expressions which were doubtless employed by the Essenes. He called followers "the salt of the earth." How Jesus expected to fulfill the Messianic expectations, is nowhere indicated. It is only certain that he thought only of Israel, whom he expected to deliver, both from the burden of sin and the yoke of the Romans of the pagan world, he thought as little, when considering himself the Messiah, as when he was only a disciple of John the Baptist. He probably pictured to himself the redemption of Israel in the following manner: that when the Jewish people, through love of God and man, through self-denial and the assumption of voluntary poverty, would rise, under his leadership, to a higher life, God, out of love to his people, would perform for them all sorts of miracles, such as the deliverance from the rule of the Romans, the return of the exiled tribes and final restoration of Israel to its former Davidic splendor.
When Jesus made himself known to his disciples as the Messiah, he enjoined upon them, as remarked already, to keep the revelation secret. Whether it was the fear of Herod Antipas, the slayer of the Baptist, that inspired this cautious measure, or whether he intended to wait until a larger circle of disciples gathered about him to reveal himself as the Messiah, cannot be ascertained. He consoled his disciples for the present silence imposed upon them, by the assurance that a time would come when "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in the light, and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house tops." What occurred was contrary to what Jesus and his disciples expected, for as soon as it was known (the disciples having probably not kept the secret), that Jesus of Nazareth not only came to preach the Kingdom of Heaven, but proclaimed himself as the expected Messiah, public sentiment rose against him. He was asked to give proofs and signs that he was the Messiah, which he was not able to do, and he was thus forced constantly to evade the questions addressed to him. Many of his followers were vexed at his assuming the role of a Messiah, and left him. In order not to be discredited in the eyes of his disciples, it was necessary that he should perform some miracle that would crown his work or seal it with his death. They expected, first, that he would appear in the capital at the time of the Passover Feast and there declare himself in the Temple, in the presence of all the people, as the Messiah. It is said that his own brothers entreated him to go to the capital, so that his disciples should at last see his great work. "For there is no man that doeth anything in secret and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, show thyself to the world." (John vii, 4.) And so Jesus was finally forced to enter upon the path of danger. How many years Jesus spent in Galilee is unknown; the Gospel sources seem to indicate that his residence there lasted only one year, so little did they know the actual events. According to later authorities, the time passed by Jesus in his native district was three years.
He wished to prevent any misconception as to his desire to change the Law, and his ready reply to the Pharisee who asked what would be required of him if he became his disciple was, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments; sell what thou hast and give to the poor." When he passed Jericho and came near to the capital, he took up his abode near the walls of Jerusalem, in the village of Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, where the lepers, who were forced to avoid the city, had their settlement. He found shelter in the house of one of these outcasts by the name of Simon, who, together with his fellow-sufferers, became his followers. The other followers that he found at Bethany belonged also to the lower class, such as Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. The sources know only of one rich resident of Jerusalem, Joseph of Arimathea, who became a disciple of Jesus.
The account of Jesus' entry in Jerusalem as recorded in the Gospel is of a legendary character. It seems incredible that the people should one day have conducted him into the city in a triumphal march, and the following day have demanded his death. The one account, like the other, is pure invention, the first designed for the purpose of showing that the masses recognized him as the Messiah, the second, in order to throw the guilt of his execution upon the entire people of Israel. There is also little historical truth in the story that Jesus forced his way into the Temple, overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and drove out the dove-sellers from their stalls. Such extraordinary action would not have been passed over in silence by contemporary historians. N or is it anywhere mentioned that money-changers and dove-sellers had their tables within the precincts of the Temple. We know, however, that the Temple management sold the necessary wine, birds, or oil to those who brought sacrifices.
But it is just the most important facts in the life of Jesus, namely, the attitude which he assumed toward the people of Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin and the sects, the question whether he really declared himself publicly as the Messiah, and how the declaration was received by the people, which are enveloped by the Gospel writers in such an impenetrable veil of mystery, that one cannot fail to suspect the legendary character of the whole story. There undoubtedly existed strong prejudices against him among the people of the capital. The educated classes could hardly be expected to accept an unlearned Galilean as the Messiah. Such a supposition would have contradicted the age-long tradition, that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem and be a descendant of the house of David. It is possible that the proverb, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" originated at this time. Devout Jews, no doubt, took offence because he associated with sinners and publicans, eating and drinking with them. Even the disciples of John, the Essenes, were displeased.
The Shammaites certainly objected to his healing of the sick on the Sabbath, and would not have hailed one, who, in their eyes, violated the Sabbath, as the Messiah. Neither could the Zealots expect much of Jesus, who did not inspire his followers with hatred toward the oppressors, the Romans, but, on the contrary, preached non-resistance and willing submission to the Roman authorities as expressed in his saying: "Render, therefore, unto Cesar the things which are Cesar's, and unto God, the things which are God's" (Matthew xxii, 21). All these circumstances, which could by no means be reconciled with the traditional conception of the Messiah, caused the higher and the learned classes to assume an indifferent attitude toward him, and consequently he .could not have been received in Jerusalem with any marked degree of enthusiasm. All these objections, however, afforded no ground for any legal accusation against him. Freedom of thought and difference of opinion had, owing to the frequent debates between the schools of Shammai and Hillel, become a firmly established right, and one would hardly be prosecuted because of a difference in a religious opinion, provided, however, that he did not openly violate any of the authoritative laws or reject the accepted conception of God. It was just in this regard that Jesus laid himself open to accusation. The report had spread that Jesus had called himself the Son of God, an appellation which, if taken literally, undermines the very essential religious conceptions of Judaism; so that the representatives of the religion could not afford to pass the incident over in silence. But how was it possible for the tribunal to ascertain whether Jesus really used the expression, or what meaning he attached to the words? How could they discover the secret of his sect? It was necessary for this purpose to find a traitor from among his disciples. Such a man was found in Judas Iscariot, who, incited by greed, delivered to the tribunal, we are told, the man whom he heretofore had revered as the Messiah. A Jewish source, of ancient origin and apparently trustworthy, seems to place in the true light the use made of this traitor. The Court required, in order to arraign Jesus either as a false prophet or as a seducer of the people (Mesith), the evidence of two witnesses, who had heard him call himself by the name "Son of God." Judas was therefore required to induce him to speak on the subject, so that the two witnesses, concealed nearby, should be able to hear every word. This extra 'ordinary process of obtaining testimony against a suspected person was employed only in one case, namely, when a person was suspected of being a seducer of the people.
According to the Christian sources, Judas' act of treachery consisted in this: that he pointed Jesus out to his accusers by giving him a kiss of homage while surrounded by his disciples and the masses. It is strange, however, that such a stratagem should be employed to identify a man who, according to the self-same accounts, had entered Jerusalem in triumphal procession and preached openly in the Temple! As soon as Jesus was seized by the soldiers, almost all of his disciples left him and sought safety in flight; Simon Peter .vas the only one who remained. At daybreak, on the 14th of Nissan; namely, on the eve of the Feast. of Unleavened Bread, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin. It seems that the tribunal, before which he was brought to trial, was not the great Sanhedrin, but the smaller one, composed of twenty-three members, for the one who presided at the trial was not the President of the Sanhedrin, a member of the house of Hillel, but Joseph Caiaphas, the High Priest. The purpose of the trial was to determine whether Jesus really considered himself to be the Son of God, as the witnesses had testified. It is rather unbelievable that he was tried, as the Gospels relate (Matt. xxvi, 61), because he was supposed to have boasted that he was able to destroy the Temple and build it up again in three days. Such an assertion, if really made by him, could not have been the object of an arraignment. The accusation doubtless pointed to the sin of blasphemy (Gidduf blasphemia), and to the supposed affirmation of Jesus that he was the Son of God. To the direct question as to that point, Jesus gave no answer and remained silent. When the President repeated the question and asked him if he were the Son of God, he answered, "Thou hast said it," and added, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. xxvi, 24). On hearing this assertion, the judges concluded that he believed himself to be the Son of God. The High Priest rent his garments, and the Court condemned him to death as a blasphemer. From the accounts of the Christian sources, we cannot infer that according to the existing penal laws, the judges had pronounced an unjust sentence against him. The evidence was against him. The Sanhedrin received the sanction of the sentence, or rather the permission to carry out the execution from Pontius Pilate, the Procurator, who happened then to be in Jerusalem.
Pilate, before whom Jesus was brought, asked him about the political side of his activity, whether he, as Messiah, had also declared himself King of the Jews, and when Jesus gave the ambiguous answer, "Thou hast said it," Pilate confirmed the sentence. The story reported in the Gospels that Pilate had found him innocent but that the Jews had insistently clamored for his death is legendary. When Jesus was scoffed at, and obliged to wear the crown of thorns in ironical allusion to the Messianic and royal dignity he had assumed, it was not the Jews who inflicted the indignities upon him, but the Roman soldiers, who sought through him to deride the Jewish nation. The Jewish judges manifested so little personal animosity toward Jesus that they gave him, as they gave to every other criminal, the cup of wine mixed with frankincense, in order to render him insensible to pains of death. According to the then existing penal laws, a blasphemer was first to be stoned and after his death, to be hanged for a short time on a tree. Jesus was executed in this manner. But the Christian sources would have us believe that he was crucified at nine in the morning, and that his torture lasted six hours, until three in the afternoon, when he expired. His last words were a quotation from the Psalms, in the Aramaic dialect: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me" ("Eli, eli, lama sabakhtani")? The Roman soldiers placed, in mockery, the following inscription upon the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." The crucifixion and the burial of the body probably took place outside of the town, on a spot by the name of Golgotha, the place of the skulls, reserved for the burial of condemned criminals. How great was the woe caused by that execution! It was the indirect cause of innumerable deaths and interminable suffering among millions of the sons of his people. Millions of broken hearts and tragic fates have not yet atoned for his death. He is the only mortal of whom it can be truthfully said that he influenced the world more by his death than by his life. Golgotha, the place of skulls, became for a great part of humanity, a new Sinai.
The Jewish historian, in continuing his narrative, shows how, as a result of the Pauline trend of thought, which inclined toward the pagan view of life, there arose, already in the primitive Church, sects and difference of opinion, traces of which are to be recognized in the Gospel writings, the most ancient of which was composed, as late as the time of Bar Kochba (132-133). In order to conquer the pagan world, the daughter of Judaism was forced to make greater concessions to paganism than the latter made to Judaism.
Christianity represents a departure from the classical essence of both Judaism and Paganism. The Jewish view of the world was, and is, that the universe is a sacred creation of one Supreme Being. To Paganism, in its typical classical form, which reached its culmination in the Greek spirit, the divine unity, present in the world, appeared only as a product of the harmonious combination of multiple and various universal forces. The creative essence of Judaism did not disappear with its created classical culture, because the Jewish creative genius did not exhaust itself in its creation. Classical Paganism, how ever, saw its genius disappear with its culture, the roots of which lay only on the surface of life, and which were consequently swept away by the tide of barbarous tribes which flooded the ancient world during the closing period of antiquity. To the pagans, who saw the gradual disappearance of their own creative genius, along with the environment wherein it acted, it appeared, one day, that the divine harmony of the pluralistic world is no more divine and sacred but God-forsaken, and, finally, Paganism sought refuge in its opposite, the creative spirit of Judaism. On the other hand, only such Jews could satisfy the religious cravings of the Pagan world as had estranged themselves from their own world and were able to merge with the pagan environment so as to draw it along with themselves to the spirit which animated them-such Jews as did not look upon themselves as chosen children of a holy Being, but only as sinners and apostates. Thus there arose the double separation of the worldly element from the divine in Judaism on the one hand, and the divine from the worldly element in Paganism on the other; and as a result of the combination of a Judaism devoid of its element of worldliness and a Godless Paganism, there was born the Christian view, according to which a Jewish saint in the garb of a pagan man, had come to raise and prepare the nations for a better, divine world which, however, possesses all the characteristics of other-worldliness.
This other-worldliness, in the course of historical development, in the measure that the nations approached the Jewish historical religion, assumed more and more of a secular character. And the more Jewish, the more humane the pagan world became, the more could Jews participate in the culture of this world and contribute to its progress. And finally, when, after the long struggle between the pagan world of sensuality and barbarous force, on the one hand, and the spiritual, mystic, Jewish view on the other, the sun of modern humanitarian civilization shed its feeble rays upon a better and more perfect world, it was a Jew who was able to signal to the world that the final stage of the process of human development has begun.
III. The Genetic View of the World
Inasmuch as Spinoza's Works have already been translated into Hebrew, the time has come when we must defend this great Jewish teacher against misrepresentation on the part of Jewish scholars. The objection raised by Luzzato against Spinoza proves only that this great Hebrew scholar has wandered into a field in which he is a total stranger. The teaching of Spinoza, which derives the entire spiritual-moral system of life from the single idea of God as the ground of Nature and Thought, and which assigns the Knowledge of God as the highest aim of life, reconciles the apparent contradiction between philosophy and experimental science on the one hand and between reason 'and feeling on the other. Luzzato, who charges the system of Spinoza, which is an immediate outflow of the Creative Spirit with a lack of emotion, calling it a system of dry reason, displays only his own ignorance of the true nature of these problems and of their masterly solution by Spinoza.
The basic idea of the system of Spinoza, namely, that God is the only substance, the ground and origin of all being, is the fundamental expression of the Jewish genius, which has ever manifested itself in divine revelations from the time of Moses and the Prophets, down to modern days. These manifestations of the Jewish genius are not a supernatural phenomenon, but form a part of the great eternal Law which governs all three life spheres, the cosmic, organic and social. The special field of operation of the Jewish genius, however, is the social sphere, and it is due to it that a unified historical development of humanity was made possible. The revelations of the Jewish spirit express the universal law in its entirety; its past workings as well as its future operations, using the scientific formula of to-day with the same facility as formerly the proofs of imagination and feeling.
The Jewish view, which sees in the world of Nature and life the continual operation of one creative force, is confirmed by observation. We cannot fail to conceive in any created phenomenon in Nature, or in the sphere of spirit, the immediate influence of the Creator. Those who try to avoid this conclusion, explaining the rise of beings as only a result of a mere mechanical operation of the law of cause and effect, and oppose to the theory of creation that of the eternity of matter, will find it difficult to uphold their view. The hypothesis of the eternity of the atoms of matter and of their rigidity and unchangeability does not explain all phenomena of the behavior of matter under certain conditions, and is gradually giving way to the genetic view, which sees everywhere only movements and no fixed atoms nor any stable cosmic ether, chemical atoms have not existed from eternity, but, like organic germs, were once generated and are subject to the great law of growth and decay. They arose through the act of creation, by the same act which successively calls into existence every being, and continues to form centers of gravity, which in the cosmic world we name atoms; in the organic, germs; and in the social, revelations.
Creation, however, does not mean the forming of new elements, but only a new arrangement of existing materials. Every creation is a combination of two opposite movements into a new, balanced and more perfect one. The cosmic rotation of the planetary bodies, which is the result of two opposite movements, the centripetal and the centrifugal, is an excellent illustration of this form of combination. A spiritual creation is, similarly, a combination of two preceding mental tendencies into a new synthesis. Every physical creation presupposes the eternal Creator, and every spiritual creation an inspiration, which is only a channel through which the immediate influences of the Creator are conveyed. Religion is the greatest and the highest of such inspirations. Can we, then, doubt its teaching of the existence of a creative element in life, which is evidenced by experience and science; or shall we name it supernatural, an exception to the eternal law? It requires extraordinary reason to do so.
The creative process in the social life-sphere operates according to a well-formed plan, which is gradually being unfolded in history, just as a similar plan was previously developed in Nature. Spiritual creations, like the organic, have their paleontological and modern epochs, the last stage of which is the age of maturity, in which the development of social life will come to completion. The coming of the future epoch of social life will be hastened by the efforts and energy of the Jews, who have a special calling for conveying to the world revelations affecting the social life-sphere.
The typical expression of the Jewish genius, the genetic view, is essentially one with all its representatives, with Moses and the Prophets as well as with Spinoza. The first do not contradict modern science, their views are only divergent and different in external form from that of science but not contradictory to it. Nor is Spinoza's teaching contradictory to Jewish Monotheism. What Jewish revelation emphasized most is the unity of the creative spirit, in opposition to the plurality of forces; and this idea has been expressed clearly also by Spinoza. The Bible, stripped of its anthropomorphic expressions, does not offer a single point which expressly contradicts the teachings of Spinoza. Moses himself says that the Knowledge of God is not found either in heaven or in the distances of space, but that the real revelation of God takes place within ourselves, in our spirit and heart. A similar expression occurs in the Talmud. "The Holy Presence never descended to earth, nor did Moses ascend to heaven." Must we consider the anthropomorphic expressions of the Bible as dogmas? If so, they will finally undermine the fundamental dogma of Jewish teaching which is so clearly enunciated in the Shema. Nor is the doctrine of the eternity of the spirit to be misunderstood. The eternity of the spirit does not begin after death, but is, like God, always present.
An external God, who does not manifest himself to men as an immediate ever-present Creator, is not the God of the Jews, Christians and Mohammedans, and can become as little the religious ground of the regenerated nations as pagan Polytheism and Pantheism. A God head, of whom we know nothing, is without influence on our social, spiritual and moral life. It is only the creative God who will be the God of the age of maturity of the social life. The rationalistic view of life suits only the now antiquated form of Society, which is at present in the process of dissolution. Just as modern Nationalism is a reflection of the spirit of revolution, so is modern rationalistic supernaturalism a spiritual reflection of the reaction against the progressive social tendencies.
IV. The Last Antagonism
In order to estimate truly the spiritual attitudes toward life we must take into account the social movements of which they are the result. The present day philosophical point of view differs essentially from that held during the last century. Not only has science made tremendous progress during this time, but it has been greatly influenced by philosophical criticism and speculation, just as industry has been essentially affected by democratic revolution and the development of capitalism. The field of battle, the struggle itself and the contending forces have been changed in the historical course of the social movement, which began in the last century and which we are still continuing. The speculative philosopher of the nineteenth century has as little sympathy with the revolutionary philosopher of the eighteenth as the liberal citizen of to-day has for the revolutionist of that time. The oppressed industrial producers of the last century are the lordly speculators of our present-day Society. And even within the productive class itself, a thorough process of separation between its constituent elements has taken place. The last resolution, that which we are now witnessing, could not, therefore, have previously created a perfected organization. The old, rigid institutions of feudal Society and the last dead residue of dogmatism must first be dissected by the sharp knife of criticism and analysis, into its elements, before new social and spiritual creations can come into being. In the course of the development of new elements there came to the front a new antagonism which did not exist before, and the reconciliation of which is at present under discussion. The forces of labor in the industrial world on the one hand, and the investigators in the scientific field, on the other, liberated from the bonds of feudalism and dogmatism alike, have brought forth the last antagonism, namely, the one between labor and speculation. In the revolutionary atmosphere of free competition of all labor forces, there were formed centers of gravity which will ultimately absorb the individual productive forces and organize them for their own purpose. Following the law of Gravitation, the fundamental law of all life, the single atoms of laborers grouped themselves around industrial, and the individual investigators around speculative centers. Not only in the sphere of industry but even in the field of science, it is no light task to oppose the attractive force of the speculative centers.
In merely negating the speculative system, as in merely destroying accumulated capital, we will gain but little; for all life has a natural tendency toward centralization, combination and organization. If the real producers earnestly desire to free themselves from the exploitation of the speculators, they must, following the successful attempt of English workingmen, oppose to the mass of accumulated labor in the hands of the captains of industry, on the one hand, and in the heads of the philosophic speculators on the other, the larger mass of the individual productions, as well as the results of investigations in the scientific field. This applies to scientific material as well as to industrial. Materials are only dead capital when they are not organized for further creation and production. The same law governing all productive life movements serve also for further creations out of the already gained materials. The so-called indestructibility of matter is nothing but the persistence of the productive force inherent in matter even in its dissolution and decomposition. Should the industrial and intellectual workers remain in individual isolation; should they not centralize and organize their scattered forces and become speculative in a cooperative way, the antagonism between labor and speculation will, of necessity, remain stationary.
The final theoretical antagonism which can in some measure be overcome, namely, that between philosophy and the experimental sciences, between materialism and idealism, is nothing but the theoretical expression of the practical antagonism in social life. The same attitude that the master displayed toward the slave, the priest toward the uninitiated, and later, the feudal lord toward the serf, the clerical toward the secular, is finally assumed .to-day by the capitalist toward the workingman, the philosopher toward the investigator, namely, the attitude of the organized toward the unorganized and of the strong toward the weak. The people fall short in regard to the reconciliation of this antagonism. Such an attitude leads only to decomposition and death, and therefore Moses exclaimed to our people "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy people."
As industrial speculation, so philosophical speculation, is a historical necessity, and its existence is justified, as long as the productive labors and investigations are not centralized and organized, as long as they have not their own center of gravity and equilibrium. "Absolute" speculation represented, before the revolutionary critical epoch, a governing, compelling force. After this period, it is only a controlling power, strange and hostile in its attitude toward material labor. The root of this antagonism, however, lies not in the malice of this or that class, but is inherent in the history of the development of the human race which, as long as it has not reached its aim, the age of maturity, must pass toward its goal through race and class struggles, just as the human individual, while in the midst of his mental development, is dominated by one-sided representations and tendencies.
In the course of human history, only one-sided movements have arisen in social life, the influences of which have helped to engender one-sided views, representations and conceptions. During the development of organic or social life, there occurs always a division of labor among the various parts of the organisms which brings forth, along with the perfection of special functions, a certain narrowness and one-sidedness. In human life, this tendency often degenerates into a kind of monomania, the effects of which are harmful to the human spirit. But when the perfected organism of the historical races reaches its final stage of development, the various strivings of history will also reach their ultimate harmony in a perfected human society. Just as only after the completion of the organic life-sphere, namely, after the creation of man, the Sabbath of Nature began, so will the historical Sabbath begin only after the completion of the development of social life, after the creation of a harmonious social organization in which production and consumption will be in a state of equilibrium. We stand at present on the eve of the historical Sabbath. Our age is still the age of speculation. But speculation can, by its very nature, be the inheritance of only a minority. What, then, of the majority?
Every life-sphere, which has reached the completion of its development, insures the continuity of its existence, first, by means of reproduction, and, secondly, by establishing an equilibrium between production and consumption. The social life-sphere also will enter upon its age of maturity from the moment when this point of view prevails in the social economic movement. Where this point of view is only shared by a few individuals, who utilize it for private purposes, the age is dominated by speculation. The essence of speculation consists in the exploitation of the reproductive sources of social life for private purposes.
Life in general is a producing and consuming activity. Science is universal economics which investigates and determines the amount and degree of production and consumption in the various life-spheres and epochs. Physiology is the economics of the organic life-sphere, and social economy is the physiology of Society. The latter science shows us that social life is still in its childhood epoch. Between the stage of embryonic life, through which Society had passed, and the stage of maturity and independence, upon which it will enter, there lies the gap which we can hardly bridge, namely, the revolutionary critical epoch, which gave birth to modern Society, the period which made possible the independence of future social life from the past and laid the foundation of a creative Society. What revolution does for life, criticism accomplishes for ideas and views. It unfastens the chains of traditional representations which hold the present in the grip of the past, opens the way toward a new independent life, and, like revolution, considers itself independent of the creative being itself, which tradition has represented as extra-mundane, as long as it has not rediscovered that creative being in the world itself. Most of our contemporaries continue to attack the external "absolute" of tradition, but they do not discover the real "Absolute," the creative center of all life, namely, the equilibrium and harmony of all spiritual forces. The few that have dared to make such a step were finally lost in speculation.
Just as the new-born babe is not entirely independent of its mother, as long as it is still being nourished by her, so social life cannot be considered emancipated until it has outgrown the nursing period. The philosophical and industrial forms of speculation employed by spiritual and material capitalists and dominating the fields of scientific and industrial labor, are the two breasts which nourish our Society, and as a result, the child labor is strongly bound to its mother-capital-the creative spirit is chained to the former traditional achievements; and finally, the new Society is made subject to its ancient ghost. It is, therefore, the task of the intellectual, as well as the industrial workers, to liberate themselves from the domination of speculation. Scientists and Socialists should work hand in hand for the last liberation of humanity, for the emancipation of all forms of labor from speculation. And their efforts will certainly be successful, for we see that scientists in Germany and industrial laborers in England are gradually approaching the goal. But in Germany, as well as in England, these efforts are isolated; the impulse to unite both tendencies, the scientific and the industrial, can come only from the land of modern revolution and centralization. France, on the one hand, and from the Jewish people on the other, the people which has, from the beginning of its history, had for its mission, the unity of different tendencies of social life into one center of activity.
If Spinoza laid the foundation for a definite reconciliation between the two typical antithetical expressions of the human genius which reached their culminating point in the creations of the Greeks and the Jews, then it became the task of history after Spinoza to develop the seed which he had sown, into a definite reconciliation of all antagonism in the life of nations.
German philosophy undoubtedly rendered a great service when it succeeded in overcoming, on the basis laid by Spinoza's conception of Jewish monotheism, the opposition of atheism to theism, which was expressed so clearly by the revolutionary thinkers. But at the same time, this philosophy lacked a positive foundation in life and experimental science, and as a result, it must have necessarily come into conflict with the latter. The last form of antagonism, which is still to be reconciled, is not the one between Monotheism and Polytheism, as in antiquity, nor between Moslem Monism and Christian Dualism, as in the Medieval Ages, nor between Theism and Atheism, but between speculative philosophy and experimental science. The German scientists are called to the mission of reconciling this last form of antagonism by work like Moleschott's, which will ultimately lead to the merging of science into philosophy and philosophy into science. It is in Germany, where experimental science will be emancipated by means of a cooperative activity on the part of the scientists, to gather all data collected in different fields and interpret them from a general point of view, so as to bring all the various parts into a harmonious, organic whole.
V. The Last Race Rule
The more perfect a people is in its own special calling, the more it appreciates the particular services of other peoples, and the more willingly it borrows from them the ideas, conceptions and inventions which are necessary to modern life. This tendency is especially noticeable in the German people and it certainly does honor to the German spirit.
The Jewish nation, therefore, must not hesitate to follow France in all matters relating to the political and social regeneration of the nations, and especially in what concerns its own rebirth as a nation, on the one hand; and in everything which bears upon the revival of intellectual life in Germany on the other. Only a stupid reaction, which is consciously or unconsciously swept along by its own alarm, can bear us malice when we sympathize with France in all matters of a social, political nature, and yet try to absorb and assimilate everything good in German spiritual and intellectual life.
The cause of national regeneration of oppressed peoples can expect no help and sympathy from Germany. The problem of regeneration, which dates not from the second restoration of the kingdom in France, but goes back to the French Revolution, the definite solution of which began in Europe only recently, with the outbreak of the Italian war, was received in Germany with mockery and derision; and in spite of the fact that the question is an urgent one and is uppermost almost everywhere, even in Germany itself, the Germans have named it the "Nationality trick." Our Jewish democrats, also, display their patriotism in accusing the French and the peoples sympathizing with them, of conquering designs. The French, say the German politicians, as well as the allies, will only be exploited by the second Monarchy, for purposes of restraining liberty rather than promoting it. It is, therefore, according to the deep logic of these politicians, the duty of the German to be obedient to the Kaiser and the kings, in order that they should be able to defeat the conquering desires of the French. These politicians and patriots forget, that if Germany were to conquer France and Italy to-day, it would only result in placing the entire German people under police law; and in depriving the Jews of their civil rights, in a worse manner than after the Way of Liberation, when the only reward granted by the Germans to their Jewish brethren in arms was exclusion from civil life. And, truly, the German people and the German Jews do not deserve any better lot when they allow themselves, in spite of the examples of history, to be entrapped by medieval reaction.
Scientific studies, together with my life experiences, have matured my political sympathies for France, especially after I learned to know the people. I have formulated my thoughts in the following sentences:
Social life-tendencies are, like spiritual life-views, typical and primal race creations. The entire past history of humanity originally moved only in the circle of race and class struggle. The race struggle is the primal one, and the class struggle secondary. The last dominating race is the German. But, thanks to the French people, which succeeded not only in reconciling race antagonism in its own land, but also uprooted every form of race domination within the borders of France, the race struggle is nearing its end. And along with the cessation of race antagonism, the class struggle will also come to a standstill. The equalization of all classes of Society will necessarily follow the emancipation of the races, for it will ultimately become only a scientific question of social economics.
Yet it seems that a final race struggle is unavoidable, if the German politicians, failing to grasp the situation, do not attempt to oppose the tremendous current of reaction, which will ultimately involve Germany in a collision with the Romance nations, and will also entrap the progressive German democrats in the net of Romantic demagogy. Medieval reaction succeeded twice during the present century, once during the War of Liberation, and for the second time, during the Italian war, in defeating the modern efforts of the German people for political and social regeneration, by inflaming the race dominance instincts in the hearts of the lords of war, who think themselves lords of the land by divine right, and consider the people as their rightly inherited slaves. It is not impossible, that in case of a war between Italy and Austria. German democracy will, for the third time, be engulfed by the whirl of reaction and join her in a war for race dominance, the results of which will be detrimental to progress. But out of the last race struggle, which Ferdinand Freiligrath has vividly depicted in his vision "At the Birch Tree;" there 1vill arise no new domination of any race, and the equality of all world historical peoples will follow as a necessary result.
VI. A Chapter of History
Nations like individuals pass, in the course of their development, through certain definite life-periods. Not every age is adapted for every stage of development; but every age has its particular degree of progress. And if a people is belated in its development or has missed one of the stages, it will be very difficult for it to follow the harmonious march of nations toward progress.
Germany at the time of the Reformation, occupied a high position in the field of social and political development. Even the masses were permeated with the spirit of social-political reform, the like of which was seen only in England in the seventeenth century and in France in the eighteenth. The sixteenth century was the epoch of the German Renaissance. Germany, during that period, gave birth to a great reform, but inasmuch as it did not succeed in becoming a truly national reform, it only divided the nation into two. The political-social revolution of the peasants, on the other hand was finally drowned in their own blood.
Had not the uprising of the peasants been shamefully betrayed by the leaders of German culture and civilization, the development of the nation would, at that time, have already assumed a normal form, and not only would Germany be the equal of the other civilized nations, but as the first-born modern nation, would have held the roost prominent place among them. The might of the medieval "German Sword" would have been transformed into the nobler and higher force of the modern German spirit. The nation which overthrew the world empire of Rome, in order to substitute for it the medieval feudal power, would have been the first to give the signal for the overthrow of its own institutions, the overthrow of the last form of race dominance. But Fate willed otherwise. The last chosen people, like the first, must atone for its sins before it is granted the privilege of leading its historical role, before it will be worthy to enter into the modern alliance of humanity, which is based on the equality of all historical nations.
The external causes which brought about the nipping in the bud of the German revolution are well known. Charles the Fifth, who, at the time of the awakening of a national consciousness among the historical nations, strove to realize his dream of a world German-Roman empire, was one of the chief factors in causing the destruction of the popular revolution. This monarch missed his great opportunity to raise Germany, by means of supporting social, political and religious reform, to the dignity of a useful modern State, to liberate it from the yoke of Feudalism and save it from disruption, and finally to create for himself a nation and to give to the people a real king, to create a modern monarchy which would support all the oppressed peoples and terrify the conquering mediaeval lords of war. But, through his wavering conduct, the contrary result occurred. The nobility could free themselves from the subjection to the Emperor, on the one hand, by joining with the new religious reform, and from the influence of the people, on the other, by suppressing the political social uprising; and consequently they followed this course of action. This anti-national activity was furthered, not only by the contradictory policy of the German Emperor and the ambition of the nobles, but also by the political inability of the leader of the Reformation. Luther, with his doctrinal stupidity, thought it more advantageous to join the nobility rather than the common people and finally betrayed the peasants, just as, even to-day, the German doctrinaires are always ready to betray the people whenever they attempt to take the democratic movement seriously. And yet, in spite of all these difficulties, the German revolution would have triumphed, had it not been for the fact that the cities, the seat of a social class, which had immediate interest in the downfall of Feudalism, were too narrow-minded and cowardly at heart to see the great importance of the peasant uprising and to struggle for their own liberation. Having been delivered into the hands of their enemies by their natural allies, denounced in shameful orations by the German reformer, forsaken by the Emperor and butchered by the hereditary warlords, the German peasants were forced to abandon the revolution, along with which was also nipped in the bud the germ of Germany's regeneration. And from that moment, the German nations began to descend lower and lower in the scale of progress. Luther, who lacked no insight into human affairs, saw it and expressed himself sorrowfully about it.
The punishment for this great crime against the people on the part of the nobles and citizens came but too soon. In the Thirty Years War, the German cities had to submit involuntarily to the sentence which they themselves, by their breaking away from the German revolution, had thus pronounced. They could then see that "the history of the world is the world's Court of Justice," but they could not avert the fated doom. For at the time when the English revolution raised our proud neighbor to the height of culture and civilization and laid the foundation of its present world power, Germany was bleeding white through its civil and religious wars, and this process was repeated many times. Even the French Revolution, which taught all European nations to love and esteem liberty, brought to Germany only the shame of foreign rule and the still worse domination of the reaction, which since then settled so securely upon the back of the German people, that not even the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 could, in any way, overthrow it from its seat. And just as at the time of the first French Revolution, German literature and philosophy, which were then at their height, could not protect the ghost of a German empire from its fate, so are all our orators, writers and poets of to-day unable to revive the political corpse of Germany, the soul of which had departed long ago in the unfortunate peasant war. Great popular leaders and patriotic heroes do not descend from the skies, but grow out of the deep soil of the people and its history. When the latter is arrested in the midst of its flight toward progress, the political genius of the nation must necessarily be extinguished.
And this is just what happened in Germany. At the time of the peasant war, Germany possessed great statesmen, who united in their persons patriotism and modernity and were also able to train the people and implant in them the same traits. To-day these people lack the common soil and traditions necessary for development of statesmen of such stamp. All reminiscences of German greatness go back either to medieval times or further back to the primitive forests. The present German patriotism is reactionary and has no root in the life of the people. As long as it is impossible to realize the aim of a modern German movement, so long can there exist no modern German people.
Without regeneration there can be no people, and without a people, in the modern sense of the word, there can be no modern patriotism. Present-day German patriotism, which expresses itself only in verbal protestations against our neighbors, while it has neither the courage nor the talent to occupy itself with the work of regeneration, is only an air bubble. Germany does not suffer from the oppression of a foreign yoke, nor is there any fear that it will suffer in the future, as the patriots would have us believe, but it is ailing as a result of its murdered revolution; it can no more make the same move toward progress without the help of the other progressive European nations. The Germans are too proud to join forces with those nations which succeeded in liberating themselves from the Christian medieval spirit. Hence they will have to be subjected to a medieval reaction, which they did not know how to defeat at the right moment.
The last opportunity, which offered us the elevation of the German people to the degree of a modern nation, namely, the War of Liberation; ended only in a victory for reaction; for the war against France was a war of reactionary Europe against the spirit of the French Revolution. And were Germany to go to war again with any nation, the same result would be repeated; a victory of the army would be a victory of reaction. So deeply have we sunk, that we are forced to hail a defeat of the army as a happy event in the history of the German people. Indeed, "the history of the world is the world's Court of Justice." We must atone now for the sins we committed in the sixteenth century.
Who can foresee the catastrophes that may befall us as a result of our arrested development? Certainly, we hope that the struggle of the German people will come to an end with the equalization of all oppressed peoples which struggle to attain the same aim. But by what means the goal will be reached, no one knows. What peaceful or warlike German patriot dares to think about it?
The age of race dominance is at an end. Even the smallest people, whether it belongs to the Germanic or Romance, Slavic or Finnic, Celtic or Semitic races, as soon as it advances its claims to a place among the historical nations, will find sympathetic supporters in the powerful civilized Western nations. Like the patriots of other unfortunate nations, the German 'patriots can attain their aim only by means of a friendly alliance with the progressive and powerful nations of the world. But if they continue to conjure themselves, as well as the German people, with the might and glory of the "German Sword," they will only add to the old unpardonable mistakes, grave new ones; they will only play into the hands of the reaction, and drag all Germany along with them.