Read CHAPTER VI of Chosen Peoples Being the First "Arthur Davis Memorial Lecture" delivered, free online book, by Israel Zangwill, on

Returning now finally to our starting-point, the proposition that “Germanism is Judaism,” we are able to see its full grotesqueness. If Germanism resembles Judaism, it is as a monkey resembles a man. Where it does suggest Judaism is in the sense it gives the meanest of its citizens that they form part of a great historic organism, which moves to great purposes: a sense which the poorer Englishman has unfortunately lacked, and which is only now awakening in the common British breast. But even here the affinities of Germany are rather with Japan than with Judaea. For in Japan, too, beneath all the romance of Bushido and the Samurai, lies the asphyxiation of the individual and his sacrifice to the State. It is the resurrection of those ancient Pagan Constitutions for which individuality scarcely existed, which could expose infants or kill off old men because the State was the supreme ethical end; it is the revival on a greater scale of the mediaeval city commune, which sucked its vigorous life from the veins of its citizens. Even so Prussia, by welding its subservient citizens into one gigantic machine of aggression, has given a new reading to the Gospel: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Nietzsche, who, though he strove to upset the old Hebrew values, saw clearly through the real Prussian peril, defined such a State as that “in which the slow suicide of all is called Life,” and “a welcome service unto all preachers of death” a cold, ill-smelling, monstrous idol. Nor is this the only affinity between Prussia and Japan. “We are,” boasts a Japanese writer, “a people of the present and the Tangible, of the Broad Daylight and the Plainly Visible.”

But Germany was not always thus. “High deeds, O Germans, are to come from you,” wrote Wordsworth in his “Sonnets dedicated to Liberty.” And it throws light upon the nature of Missions to recall that when she lay at the feet of Napoleon after Jena, the mission proclaimed for her by Fichte was one of peace and righteousness to penetrate the life of humanity by her religion and he denounced the dreams of universal monarchy which would destroy national individuality. Calling on his people as “the consecrated and inspired ones of a Divine world-plan,” “To you,” he says, “out of all other modern nations the germs of human perfection are especially committed. It is yours to found an empire of mind and reason to destroy the dominion of rude physical power as the ruler of the world.” And throwing this mission backwards, he sees in what the outer world calls the invasion of the Roman Empire by the Goths and Huns the proof that the Germans have always stemmed the tide of tyrant domination. But Fichte belonged to the generation of Kant and Beethoven. Hegel, coming a little later, though as non-nationalist as Goethe, and a welcomer of the Napoleonic invasion, yet prophesied that if the Germans were once forced to cast off their inertia, they, “by preserving in their contact with outward things the intensity of their inner life, will perchance surpass their teachers”: and in curiously prophetic language he called for a hero “to realize by blood and iron the political regeneration of Germany.”

If Treitschke, too, believed in force, he had a high moral ideal for his nation. The other nations are feeble and decadent. Germany is to hold the sceptre of the nations, so as to ensure the peace of the world. It is only in Bernhardi that we find war in itself glorified as the stimulus of nations. Even this ideal has a perverted nobility; as Pol Arcas, a modern Greek writer, says: “If the devil knew he had horns the cherubim would offer him their place.” And though it was only in the swelled head of the conqueror that the brutal philosophy of the Will-to-Power germinated, it was not so much the “blood and iron” of Junkerdom that perverted Prussia Junkerdom still lives simply as the gross industrial prosperity that followed on the victory of 1870. A modern German author describes his countrymen it is true he has turned Mohammedan, probably out of disgust as tragically degenerated and turned into a gold-greedy, pleasure-seeking, title-hungry pack. This industrial transformation of the nobler soul of Germany is by Verhaeren attacking Judaism from another angle ascribed to its Jews, so it is comforting to remember that when England started the East India Company there was scarcely a Jew in England. No, Germany is clearly where England was in the seventeenth century, and in Prussia England meets her past face to face. Her past, but infinitely more conscious and consequent than her “Rule, Britannia” period, with a ruthless logic that does not shrink from any conclusions. While England’s right hand hardly knew what her left was doing, Germany’s right hand is drawing up a philosophic justification of her sinister activities. There is in Henry James’s posthumous novel “The Sense of the Past” a young man who gets locked up in the Past and cannot get back to his own era. This is the fate that now menaces civilization. Nor is the civilization that followed the struggle for America by the scramble for Africa entirely blameless. Germany, federated too late for the first melee and smarting under centuries of humiliation did not Louis XIV insolently seize Strassburg? is avenging on our century the sins of the seventeenth.

So far from Germanism being synonymous with Judaism, its analogies are to be sought within the five maritime countries which preceded Germany, albeit less efficiently, in the path of militarism. It is the same alliance as prevailed everywhere between the traders and the armies and navies, and the Kaiser’s crime consists mainly in turning back the movement of the world which through the Hague Conferences was approaching brotherhood, or at least a mitigation of the horrors of war. His blasphemies are no less archaic. He repeats Oliver Cromwell, but with less simplicity, while his artistic aspiration complicates the Puritan with the Cavalier. “From childhood,” he is quoted as saying, “I have been under the influence of five men Alexander, Julius Cæsar, Theodoric II, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon.” No great man moulds himself thus like others. It is but a theatrical greatness. But anyhow none of these names are Jewish, and not thus were “the Kings of Jerusalem” even “six thousand years ago.” Our kings had the dull duty of copying out and studying the Torah, and the Rabbis reminded monarchy that the Torah demands forty-eight qualifications, whereas royalty only thirty, and that the crown of a good name is the best of all. Compare the German National Anthem “Heil dir im Siegeskranz” with the noble prayer for the Jewish King in the seventy-second psalm, if you wish to understand the difference between Judaism and Germanism. This King, too, is to conquer his enemies, but he is also to redeem the needy from oppression and violence, “and precious will their blood be in his sight.”