Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Kantian and Kant

Today is Thursday, 10 August 2006.

By way of commentary on current events, your author presents his translation/adaptation of a piece delivered in public performance on 8 May 1917 in Vienna, by Karl Kraus, “patron saint” of this column.

Kaiser Wilhelm II had shortly before delivered a speech to his troops which contained the following. Kraus juxtaposed it to a passage from Kant.

Wilhelm the Second, by Grace of God, the King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany:

1917 has been a year of miracles! God has proven himself a worthy ally of the German people! The Voice of God speaks, and our cannon answer!

No one can see the future; what will be will be. But in the past four years, the world has seen the Hand of God punishing traitors and rewarding the righteous. Plot it yourself: If our enemies refuse peace, we shall smash down their doors with our pieces!

Our latest victories on the Eastern Front suffuse me with profound humility and gratitude. It is not given to all to see the Hand of God fashioning human history. And we couldn’t have done it without our strong moral fiber and family values!

You folks in East Prussia know what I mean. Your native son, the great Immanuel Kant, the sage of Koenigsberg, bequeathed to us the spiritual sinews and Categorical Imperative which will, Gott mit uns willing, deliver to us the final victory!

Immanuel Kant:

It is not unseemly, when war ends and peace begins, that thanksgiving be succeeded by penance, and we beg mercy for the foolish and false hubris which causes us to treat our next-door neighbours lawfully, and our neighbours abroad unlawfully.


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