Nationalism and Internationalism: Essays Inscribed to Carlton J. H. Hayes

By Edward Mead Earle | Go to book overview

FRIEDRICH NAUMANN: A GERMAN VIEW OF POWER AND NATIONALISM

WILLIAM O. SHANAHAN

FRIEDRICH NAUMANN'S life and works embodied the hope and the disillusionment experienced by many intellectuals in Wilhelmian Germany. He was a nationalist whose lifetime of public service sought its object in strengthening the German nation. At first Naumann was confident that this could be achieved under William II, but eventually he gave way to despair over the Kaiser's shortcomings. That grave domestic issue of William II's reign, the relation between the working class and the monarchy, long absorbed Naumann's political interest and brought forth a prophetic statement of the means whereby authority and democracy could be combined. An ardent support of the German navy and an unbounded enthusiasm for industrialism and technology marked him as a man of the times. Naumann was clearly aware that urbanization and the dependence of the masses upon factory employment had given rise to new social problems, yet he was confident that there were rational means for banishing the evils of the machine age while harnessing it for the benefit of all men. Naumann's views on nationalism, which were representative of the Wilhelmian intelligentsia, found their final justification in the German cultural mission to the modern world. Like so many of his compatriots, Naumann considered Germany to be one of the first modern states, a pathfinder for the others in science, technology, the power to organize, and especially in the grasp of the intellectual resources which history had placed at mankind's disposal.


I

Naumann's career began with a preparation for the ministry. As a Lutheran pastor's son, born in Saxony in 1860, his youth was conditioned by life in an austere and penurious rectory. Chiefly to please his father he entered theological studies, first at Leipzig and then at Erlangen, where he came under the influence of Franz Frank, the liberal theologian. He taught Naumann to bring personal faith into the middle of religious experience by supplanting

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