Bismarck

Chidem Kurdas a propósito de recensão de Henry Kissinger a uma nova biografia de Otto von Bismarck por Jonathan Steinberg

Bismarck’s actions [sowed the seeds of Germany’s 20th century tragedies](…). Free of principle, ideology, moral scruple or even a minimal sense of honesty, he was the great manipulator. He created war hysteria to take Germans into battles they were not originally inclined to fight. He destroyed checks and balances every way he could. When parliament opposed a looming military adventure, he told the House: “Let me assure you and also the world, that if we find it necessary to carry on a war we shall do so with or without your consent.” To control those who did not consent, he built a police state.(…)

Bismarck (…) was one of those exceedingly rare figures who officiate at a crossroads. He chose to make history using certain institutions while destroying others. The Germany he fashioned, a blend of military might with economic protectionism and a welfare system, was less of a civil society and less classically liberal than it had been. Later it developed strident left and right movements favoring a large, all-powerful state—the left for collectivist economic policies, the right for military success. Both visions contained components of Bismarck’s legacy.

Let’s compare him to another nation builder. George Washington certainly had a realistic understanding of people and circumstances, but his politics was based on principles entirely lacking in Bismarck’s mindset. For Washington, government was a means to an end, and a dangerous means at that. It had to be subject to controls.

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