Classic Essays

To Raise Up Broken Hearts and Despairing Souls

IT IS NOT THE task of a theoretician to determine the varying degrees in which a cause can be realized, but to establish the cause as such — that is to say: he must concern himself less with the road than with the goal. In this, however, the basic correctness of an idea is decisive and not the difficulty of its execution. As soon as the theoretician attempts to take account of so­-called ‘utility’ and ‘reality’ instead of the absolute truth, his work will cease to be a polar star of seeking humanity and instead will become a prescription for everyday life. The theoretician of a movement must lay down its goal, the politician strive for its fulfillment. The thinking of the one, therefore, will be determined by eternal truth, the actions of the other more by the practical reality of the moment. The greatness of the one lies in the absolute abstract soundness of his idea, that of the other in his correct attitude toward the given facts and their advantageous application; and in this the theoretician’s aim must serve as his guiding star. While the touchstone for the stature of a politician may be regarded as the success of his plans and acts­ — in other words, the degree to which they become reality­ — the realization of the theoretician’s ultimate purpose can never be realized, since, though human thought can apprehend truths and set up crystal­ clear aims, complete fulfillment will fail due to the general imperfection and inadequacy of man.

The more abstractly correct and hence powerful the idea will be, the more impossible remains its complete fulfillment as long as it continues to depend on human beings. Therefore, the stature of the theoretician must not be measured by the fulfillment of his aims, but by their soundness and the influence they have had on the development of humanity. If this were not so, the founders of religion could not be counted among the greatest men of this earth, since the fulfillment of their ethical purposes will never be even approximately complete. In its workings, even the religion of love is only the weak reflection of the will of its exalted founder; its significance, however, lies in the direction which it attempted to give to a universal human development of culture, ethics, and morality.

The enormous difference between the tasks of the theoretician and the politician is also the reason why a union of both in one person is almost never found. This is especially true of the so­ called ‘successful’ politician of small format, whose activity for the most part is only an ‘art of the possible,’ as Bismarck rather modestly characterized politics in general. The freer such a ‘politician’ keeps himself from great ideas, the easier and often the more visible, but always the more rapid, his successes will be. To be sure, they are dedicated to earthly transitoriness and sometimes do not survive the death of their fathers. The work of such politicians, by and large, is unimportant for posterity, since their successes in the present are based solely on keeping at a distance all really great and profound problems and ideas, which as such would only have been of value for later generations.

The execution of such aims, which have value and significance for the most distant times, usually brings little reward to the man who champions them and rarely finds understanding among the great masses, who for the moment have more understanding for beer and milk regulations than for farsighted plans for the future, whose realization can only occur far hence, and whose benefits will be reaped only by posterity.

Thus, from a certain vanity, which is always a cousin of stupidity, the great mass of politicians will keep far removed from all really weighty plans for the future, in order not to lose the momentary sympathy of the great mob. The success and significance of such a politician lie then exclusively in the present, and do not exist for posterity. But small minds are little troubled by this; they are content.

With the theoretician conditions are different. His importance lies almost always solely in the future, for not seldom he is what is described by the world as ‘unworldly.’ For if the art of the politician is really the art of the possible, the theoretician is one of those of whom it can be said that they are pleasing to the gods only if they demand and want the impossible. He will almost always have to renounce the recognition of the present, but in return, provided his ideas are immortal, will harvest the fame of posterity.

In long periods of humanity, it may happen once that the politician is wedded to the theoretician. The more profound this fusion, however, the greater are the obstacles opposing the work of the politician. He no longer works for necessities which will be understood by the first best shopkeeper, but for aims which only the fewest comprehend. Therefore, his life is torn by love and hate. The protest of the present which does not understand the man, struggles with the recognition of posterity for which he works.

For the greater a man’s works for the future, the less the present can comprehend them; the harder his fight, and the rarer success. If, however, once in centuries success does come to a man, perhaps in his latter days a faint beam of his coming glory may shine upon him. To be sure, these great men are only the Marathon runners of history; the laurel wreath of the present touches only the brow of the dying hero.

Among them must be counted the great warriors in this world who, though not understood by the present, are nevertheless prepared to carry the fight for their ideas and ideals to their end. They are the men who someday will be closest to the heart of the people; it almost seems as though every individual feels the duty of compensating in the past for the sins which the present once committed against the great. Their life and work are followed with admiring gratitude and emotion, and especially in days of gloom they have the power to raise up broken hearts and despairing souls.

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Source: excerpted from Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

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Old Aardvark
Old Aardvark
12 January, 2022 2:07 pm