Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bismarck’s “Blood and Iron” Speech
There are members of the National Association [Nationalverein] – of this association that has
achieved a reputation owing to the justness of its demands – highly esteemed members who have stated
that all standing armies are superfluous. Yes, if only a public assembly had this view! Would not a
government have to reject this?! – There was talk about the “sobriety” of the Prussian people. Yes, the
great independence of the individual makes it difficult in Prussia to govern with the constitution (or to
consolidate the constitution?); in France things are different, there this individual independence is
lacking. A constitutional crisis would not be disgraceful, but honorable instead. – Furthermore, we are
perhaps too “well-educated” to support a constitution; we are too critical; the ability to assess
government measures and records of the public assembly is too common; in the country there are a lot
of catiline [conspiratorial] characters who have a great interest in upheavals. This may sound
paradoxical, but everything proves how hard constitutional life is in Prussia. – Furthermore, one is too
sensitive about the government’s mistakes; as if it were enough to say “this and that [cabinet] minister
made mistakes, as if one wasn’t adversely affected oneself. Public opinion changes, the press is not [the
same as] public opinion; one knows how the press is written; members of parliament have a higher
duty, to lead opinion, to stand above it. We are too hot-blooded, we have a preference for putting on
armor that is too big for our small body; and now we’re actually supposed to utilize it. Germany is not
looking to Prussia’s liberalism, but to its power; Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden may indulge liberalism,
and for that reason no one will assign them Prussia’s role; Prussia has to coalesce and concentrate its
power for the opportune moment, which has already been missed several times; Prussia’s borders according to the Vienna Treaties [of 1814-15] are not favorable for a healthy, vital state; it is not by
speeches and majority resolutions that the great questions of the time are decided – that was the big
mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by iron and blood.
Prince Otto von Bismarck, 30 September 1862

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