Definition of Terms: Militarism (Begriffsbstimmung: Militarismus)

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By Wilhelm Michel

Militarism is not an objective fact, it is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with the presence or absence of military power, It is more a kind of stupidity which is a frequent, but not necessary, consequence of power. It can be recognized when the sober understanding of the uses of physical force degenerates into a superstitious belief in violence, when the muscles take over the functions of the brain, when the servant becomes the master, when the sword paralyzes the arm which should swing it, and the intellect which should control this arm becomes atrophied. It is militarism when the use of the tool becomes a game, and in the end a suicidal threat.

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I Can’t Think of the Word (Mir fehlt ein Wort)

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I am going to go to my grave without knowing what it is that birch leaves do. I know what it is, but I can’t say it in words. The wind blows through the young birches, their leaves vibrate so quickly back and forth that they… what? Shimmer? No, the light shimmers on them. One could perhaps, at most, say that the leaves shimmer, but that is not it. It is a nervous movement, but what is it? How does one say it? What one cannot say remains unresolved. ‚To speak about‘ is really important. Did Goethe say ‘the ripple of leaves’? I don’t want to get up to find out, it is such a long way to these reference books, five yards and a hundred years. What is it that the birch leaves do?

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Where do we read our books? (Wo lesen wir unsere Bücher?)

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Where? Underway, because people want to be enchanted in this position: sitting, but in motion, particularly when they know their surroundings as well as the passenger on the number 57 bus at half past eight in the morning. Then he reads his newspaper, but when he goes home, he reads a book, which he has in his briefcase. Ducks are born with webbed feet, some types of people with briefcases. Do people read in the tube? Yes. What? Books. Can they read big, heavy books there? Some can. How heavy? As heavy as they can carry. It can get quite philosophical in trains. Not so much in the bus, that is more for lighter reading. Some people also read on the street, like the animals.

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The Emerging Germany (Das werdende Deutschland)

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A message to the disheartened

The great war is not the only catastrophe which has shaken central European civilization to its foundations in the last thousand years. Consider two events which, while very different, nevertheless emerged with the same eruptive force, and left enormous cultural ruins behind. They were the Black Death, the great plague of 1348, and the Thirty Years’ War. Long after the inferno, a good chronicler, looking back at the terrible time, wrote, „When the worst was past, the world started to be happy again.“ But after the Thirty Years’ War, an artist sighed, „It is very sad in poor Germany; trade and the arts are devastated, and whoever has any skills goes to Flanders or Italy, because they would starve at home.“

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