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April 15, 2012

What really came out of the mystic German wood?

The most civilized nations of modern Europe issued from the woods of Germany; in the rude institutions of those Barbarians we [received] the original principles of our present laws and manners.

--Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter IX (1782)

The northern European tribes that became the German people--even as they emerged to become different and often scary strong modern nations, and leaders in world commerce--haven't always have "freedom" in the way Brits, the French and Americans think of it. They also loved Order--and still do. They tend to agree amongst themselves most on issues of how things should be "ordered". And Order can cut into real freedom. So instead of "freedom", Germans have had Philosophy, Literature, Poetry, Music and, more infrequently, Humor. German peoples had a serious sense of tribal government since antiquity in scattered villages and towns for hundreds of miles. But most of us like it better when they stick to Commerce--and to the many Arts in which they do shine.

A Deutsche forest

Posted by JD Hull at April 15, 2012 12:59 AM


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