Reflections on the "Political" Scholar
Contribution to Book
"I hate politics and the belief in politics," Thomas Mann wrote in 1918, "because it makes one arrogant, doctrinaire, stubborn, and inhuman."1 With these lines and many more like them in Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen Mann [Reflections of a non-Political Man], Mann immortalized the stereotype of the "unpolitical intellectual" of lmperial and Weimar Germany. Among the typical traits of this critical character in prewar German history were (1) a certain and arrogant belief in both the singularity and superiority of German Kultur, in particular vis-à-vis Western civilization; (2) an equally firm conviction that this Kultur ultimately defined das deutsche Volk [German people], gave the German people an organic bond, a natural identity; and (3) a pronounced disdain for politics–actually liberal democratic politics–as a lower, purely practical and instrumental realm where the higher ethical values of Kultur could only be compromised and undermined, where unnatural and destructive conflicts of class and confession were allowed to fester and even threaten the genuine unity of das Volk.
Carol Aisha Blackshire-Belay
O'Brien, P. (1994). Reflections on the "political" scholar. In C. A. Blackshire-Belay (Ed.), The Germanic mosaic: Cultural and linguistic diversity in society (pp. 171-179). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
The Germanic Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society