I chose the first passage of Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s To the German Nation. He was a great patriot and believed that it was important that the German population embrace their culture. As a reformer and supporter of the French Revolution, he had nationalist ideals and strongly believed that language and history bind a country together.
In the second line he states, “Those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins; they understand each other and have the power of continuing to make themselves understood more and more clearly; they belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole.” This relates to the topic of nationalism that we have been discussing in class. The people of a country are bound together by a common language, and although different dialects may emerge, they are still united by this factor. By saying “they belong together and are by nature one and an insuperable whole” reinforces the fact that although different groups, factions or regions of a population are created, in the end they all share the same history and background. Another line reads, “men dwell together-and, if their luck has so arranged it, are protected by rivers and mountains-because they were a people already by a law of nature which is much higher.” Every country has a history that is shared amongst its people. Even though they may go through different experiences, and at times may be divided, their common history and language unites them and allows men to overcome these differences.
Fitche calls upon the Germanic people to come together not only because of their common languages but because of their common ancestral history. Ancestral and previous history played a part in the Italian unification. Roman ideals and architecture came back to show the greatness of Italians that came before.
Fitche’s position on reform and social revolution dramatically changed once Napoleon took over much of the German landscape. He wrote his address To the German Nation in French-occupied Berlin and advocated German unification through common language and history. Being against imperialism, I can’t imagine how Fitche felt when Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, wanted to lead an imperial conquest on the surrounding European states.
Similar to Fichte’s opinion that the language and common ancestral history bound the German people together, Bismarck used that idea as the reasoning for the need to break away from Austria. Just as strongly as the bonds were between the German states, so was the inability for Austria to understand them. This is why Bismarck so adamantly states that Austria must be defeated- not to have Germany gain too much of Austria’s land- but so that Germany could unify and rule within itself. In addition, Droysen mentions this by stating that “the Prussian monarchy is now wholly German, while that of Austria cannot be.”