Friday, June 15, 2012

The German Nation

"In the economy of nature each nation has a function allotted to it. The function of the German nation is the organisation of human knowledge. But they have recently started on a commercial enterprise which may give them an empire, but they will have to suffer the displacement of a higher ideal by the all-absorbing spirit of trade."
Iqbal, 1910 

You may like to know:
This remark was made by Iqbal in 1910 in his private notebook, Stray Reflections. By "commercial enterprise", he may also have meant empire-building (as in Goethe's Faust: "“then commerce, war and piracy are three in one and cannot be parted.”) His remark was going to be corroborated by the history of the next 100 years, amazingly but also tragically. Eight years later, he was among those who believed that the so-called peace treaties forced upon the defeated nations at the end of the First World War could bring forth another Great War. In 1923, he tried to woo the Germans back to their "higher ideal" through Payam-i-Mashriq, or The Message of the East, a Persian sequel to Goethe's Divan.
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