The Super-Hun and the Super-State: Allied Propaganda and German Philosophy during the First World War

Gregory Martin Moore

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6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

When war broke out in August 1914, intellectuals on both sides sought to discover the underlying causes of the catastrophe not in mundane political events, but in the dominant ideologies and native intellectual traditions of the Great Powers. German scholars argued that Europe was witnessing a truly world-historical conflict rooted in the mutual antagonism that existed between two fundamentally different forms of life, a confrontation which the sociologist Werner Sombart summed up as the battle between the rapacious 'Handler' of utilitarian Britain and the idealistic 'Helden' defending a superior German Kultur. British academics conceived the war in no less apocalyptic terms: this was a struggle pitting the forces of democracy against a brutal predatory militarism, the basic impulse of which was to assert the supremacy of the state over the individual. Although initially Nietzsche and Treitschke were denounced as the figures most directly responsible for fostering this belligerent spirit, soon the entire German philosophical canon came under scrutiny. This essay examines some of the spurious genealogies of Prussian immorality which Allied writers concocted to elucidate the deeper meaning of the war.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-30
Number of pages21
JournalGerman Life and Letters
Volume54
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001

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