On the Question of Justice in Politics
What It Takes To Be a World-Historic Leader Today

by Helga Zepp-LaRouche


Fidelio, Vol. 8, No, 2. Summer 1999
This article is reprinted from the Summer 1999 issue of FIDELIO Magazine.
Related Articles

On the Question of Justice in Politics

What It Takes To Be a World-Historical Leader Today

by Helga Zepp LaRouche

Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp LaRouche keynoted the Presidents’ Day conference of the Schiller Institute/International Caucus of Labor Committees on February 14 with this presentation.
I want to tell you, that not only all sane people in the United States, but around the globe, are happy that this horrible nightmare is over. I’m talking about the nightmare which ended this past Friday—the impeachment of President Clinton—which for over a year has put the United States through a horrible experience—something which you probably would never have dreamed would be possible in this country.

I would not call the fact that this nightmare has ended, a positive thing as such. It’s more like when a terrible headache stops, or a backache, or if somebody pulls a dog’s tail, and the dog has a terrible pain, and then the person lets go, and the dog feels better again. So I call this “the let-the-dog’s-tail-go-to-stop-the-pain” feeling.

So, it’s not something positive, it’s just that something horrible has stopped. Because, remember that the original reason why the Republicans and Starr started this treasonous operation in the first place, was to prevent the President of the United States from playing the necessary leadership role to reorganize a hopelessly bankrupt world financial system. And this started last January, at a point when the first round of the Asia crisis had just so-called stopped, and Lyndon LaRouche put out the analysis that the second round would be much, much worse.

And if you look back, in this one year of impeachment insanity, how many times has the world been close to a complete meltdown of the financial system, which now is even acknowledged in Time magazine, and in Newsweek? You know, we were at a meltdown in August with the Russian bankruptcy, we were at a meltdown in September with the LTCM, the largest hedge fund bankruptcy, and actually many times over, in many situations.

If you look at the way in which the world has changed, especially in the last two months, especially since Blair, Gore, and the Principals Committee were able to lure the United States into the attack against Iraq in December, we have since then been confronted with an unprecedented strategic crisis, in which the same forces who were trying to drive the President out of office and to overthrow an election, are now behind an effort to portray China and Russia as the new enemies of the United States, and destroy the positive relationship President Clinton had tried to establish, especially with China, but also with Russia, and to try to create a new adversary kind of relationship, under which conditions an Anglo-American unilateral imperialism would dominate the world.

We have to be aware that right now and in the coming weeks, this will get much worse; that every aspect of Clinton’s policy—his policy of being pro-China, his policy of ending the special relationship with Great Britain, his policy of trying to have peace in the Middle East—all of these and many other aspects, will be under attack. And, if they did not succeed in impeaching him, they will try to turn him into a completely impotent President.

But, even if people may have forgotten this over the last period of brainwashing—and that is what the Monica Lewinsky affair was!—the United States still has to play the most important role in the present strategic situation. And we in Europe probably understand that better than you Americans, simply because I’m most painfully aware of the miserable condition of almost all European governments at this point, and the fact that one can not expect them to take a leadership role.

Now that the impeachment is over, it is time for the President of the United States to get back to the main business of dealing with the financial crisis, and to realize the alternative which exists. This morning, I listened to CNN-TV, and they reported that the President right now has the unbelievable popularity rating of 82 percent; that, however, 71 percent of the people believe that his legacy—what he will be remembered for—will be the impeachment affair. Twenty percent, however, think—and I’m not advertising polls, I’m just reporting this to you—20 percent think that this image still can be changed.

I think we should make a commitment to the following: That we be the catalyzing force which makes sure that this 20 percent turns into the 82 percent of people who give him their support, so that he can change the situation. Because right now, President Clinton simply must take the foreign policy initiative and neutralize the attempts by the Republicans to destroy the China policy, to destroy all other aspects, and by building a new strategic alliance with China, Russia, and India, to build the potentially greatest recovery in the history of mankind.

This depends absolutely on the United States having a positive relationship to China, the country with the largest population in the world. And it also requires an absolute defense of President Clinton’s correct understanding, that peace for the rest of this century and especially going into the Twenty-first century, absolutely depends on the relationship between the United States and China. That the cooperation with the Eurasian Land-Bridge, is not only in the benefit of Eurasia, but, for the United States, it represents the economic opportunity to have the largest boom in the history of mankind.

We have to create a situation in the country in which President Clinton can take the necessary reforms in the tradition of F.D.R.; and then, you have to revive the machine-tool capability in the United States, together with a revived machine-tool capability in Western Europe. And, then, we can recapture the economic potential in Russia, which is today mainly located in the former military-industrial complex and its scientific potential. Then, together, we can supply Eurasia with the science and technology which will enable them to realize their enormous potential for growth.

Eurasia not only represents a gigantic market for the United States and Europe, but it is in the strategic interests of the United States to have a positive relationship to the majority of mankind. And you should under no circumstances be manipulated into thinking any differently. Why would you want to have a hostile relationship to a country, China—the biggest country in the world—which wants to be your friend?

This is the single most important issue which will decide whether the United States has a happy future, or a not-so-happy one.

Having said that (and I will return to this later on), I want to focus now on the issue which is of global importance, strategically for the United States but especially for the developing countries, and that is the question of justice in politics. And I will do this from a specific European historical setting.

Justice and Injustice

If you look around the world, not only the United States—even though there are many, many things wrong in this country as well—but, if you look at the whole world, there is no question that the world right now is going to hell.

Okay, there are a couple of places where it looks better, where the governments indeed try to respond to the common good of their own people. This is for sure the Chinese government. Their attacks on the speculators, their attempts to have protectionist measures to build up their domestic market, to increase the living standard of their people—that is a model for what countries should do under these conditions of global financial crisis.

Take the courageous fight of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir, to protect his people, and to prove that with protectionist measures, his country now is doing economically much better than those who are still sticking to the illusion of the free market.

Or take the courageous fight of the Primakov government in Russia, which, when it came into office in September, was confronted with an almost impossible fight, confronting an all-powerful mafia controlling every aspect of Russian daily life. And now, Primakov has started a life-or-death fight against Berezovsky, against the friends of Al Gore—Chernomyrdin, Chubais, and the other “reformers.”

Or, take the fight which is taking place in Brazil right now, where some of the governors around the former President of Brazil, Itamar Franco, are defending the interests of the Brazilian population against the onslaught of the I.M.F. and the international bankers.

Bosnische Hilfguter Zenica
Food Distribution to refugees, Bosnia, July 1995.
Maybe I have forgotten one or two countries, but here I’m already basically at the end of the list. These are the exceptions. The world at large today, is dominated by the worst injustice which has existed in the history of mankind.

If you look at the vast majority of the human race today, billions and billions of people are deprived of their basic human rights. Billions of people go hungry most of the time. Their life expectancy is shortened by a lack of the most basic supplies. They are deprived of their full human potential by a lack of education. Forty, fifty, sixty countries, are torn apart by senseless wars. The entire African continent right now, is engaged in almost total civil war, a war where the drug-runners are supplying both sides for their own benefit and profit.

How many people are enslaved and destroyed for the single reason of the drug mafia’s profits? Criminality seems to be triumphant, and the worst criminals present themselves as philanthropists, such as George Soros, one of the key individuals responsible for the destruction of Russia, not only in terms of the speculation, but also for the brain drain of stealing the best Russian scientific minds.

And what a farce that now the number two man in George Soros’s Quantum Fund, Arminio Fraga, who was responsible for triggering the Southeast Asian crisis by attacking the Thai currency, the baht, in February of 1997, has now been made the head of the Central Bank in Brazil, so that even the Financial Times has written, well, that means putting the fox in the chicken coop.

Look at the highest values being touted by Alan Greenspan, by the New York Times, and such people. Globalization—there is no alternative, they say. Free market, democracy, human rights—all the sacred cows of the present system.

It all sounds nice, but it is the oldest trick of the oligarchy to lie, and present the greatest injustices as the appearance of the greatest justice. And since LaRouche in his book, The Road To Recovery, established the level of leadership required to lead mankind out of this crisis from the standpoint of the principles of good government—or, as Plato defines it in his Republic, the identity in the common good—I now want to take a closer look at the arguments which Plato makes.

Plato treats this issue of the oligarchical lie in The Republic, which is not only a beautiful philosophical treatise, but a true piece of art. Like Schiller’s later definition of the “pregnant moment,” which for great Classical tragedy must be present at the exposition, and which defines in germ form all the essential ideas later developed throughout the tragedy, so it happens in Book I of The Republic, where the questions which are dealt with throughout the dialogue are already presented in germ form, to be developed like thorough-composition in a piece of music.

The most profound discussion about justice and injustice is initiated at the beginning of Book I, when Socrates refers to the presence of the old, wise Cephalus in the house of Polemarchus, where Socrates is meeting with some of his friends, followers, and acquaintances.

Cephalus’s remarks about his approaching death, immediately enable Plato to create the seriousness necessary to conduct the dialogue on the right level. So this is, already, a very poetic beginning.

In the unfolding dialogue, Thrasymachus, a famous sophist of his time, quite brutally makes the argument that “tyranny and injustice, as long as it is big and powerful, is much better than justice, for him who can impose it.” It’s quite a crude argument of the typical oligarch: Injustice brings happiness and advantages to those who commit it, and who cares about those who suffer from it?

Glaucon, Plato’s brother, then challenges Socrates to prove his point that justice is more beautiful, something which must be loved by everybody who wants to be happy, both for its own sake, and for all the consequences following from it. Glaucon then proceeds to list all of the prejudices people have concerning the nature of justice, such as the prejudice that people who follow justice don’t really like to do it. They just do it because they regard it as necessary, but not as something good.

Furthermore, that the unjust lead a much better life than the just—at least, so they insist. They also, argues Glaucon, differentiate between doing injustice, which is good, and suffering injustice, which is bad. Since the evil following from the suffering of injustice would weigh more heavily than the good coming from doing injustice, people would eventually agree to accept laws and treaties.

So, the origin of justice would be some kind of a mediation—some compromise—and really, only come from the lack of power to do injustice. Whoever would feel like a real man, however, would be out of his mind to agree to this. And if someone were totally powerful—Plato tells the story of a man who has a ring, who, whenever he turns the ring, becomes invisible, and therefore can commit whatever crime he wants and get away with it, so there is no inhibition against this. Such a man, who, without fearing the consequences, could commit any crime he wanted—if such a man still acted justly, he might be praised publicly, but he would be regarded as stupid in private.

But, in talking about such a person, people would try to deceive each other, out of fear otherwise of suffering injustice themselves.

Glaucon then proposes to counterpose the just and the unjust person in their most extreme versions. Obviously, the key for the unjust one is, to be able to completely fool everybody concerning his evil deeds, since he who is caught doing evil, is simply a bungler. The height of injustice is, therefore, to appear just, without actually being so.

The most unjust, is he who can create the reputation for himself of being the most just—just exactly like George Soros and Henry Hyde. And, if one of his crimes is discovered, and he must resort to violence, then he should use his friends and money to get him out of the situation. Now, isn’t that amazing—that Plato more than two thousand years ago, knew Henry Hyde that well? He must have had an inkling of the future, when Hyde would say, “Oh, for truth and justice, we have to do all of these things.”

Plato says that the total opposite, is the person who is completely just, but is surrounded by the greatest appearance of injustice, of slanders and the consequences thereof, until the end of his life. Now, don’t we all know such people? I mean, Lyndon LaRouche is one; the Frühmenschen affair victims—you know, the Black officials who were framed up by the government—are such.

But Plato says, who is the happier of the two? Since the one who wants to be just ends up being tortured, chained, and even nailed to the cross? And the other one, who wants to appear just, soon belongs to those who govern the city. They do business, they have connections, they’re doing wheeling-and-dealing, and they make a profit, because they don’t have a bad conscience about their unjust behavior. If they participate in competition, they are the winners, because they cheat, so they get rich, and become benefactors to their friends; they have the money to destroy their enemies, and they even sacrifice to the gods, so that they even seem to be more loved by the gods than are the just ones. So therefore, they say the unjust person is better off than the just one.

And then Glaucon’s brother Adeimantus adds, “It is not justice that counts in reaping rewards, but rather the reputation for justice.” And as one can hear in speeches, from polls and otherwise, that moderation and justice might be something beautiful, but at the same time burdensome and fatiguing, while licentiousness and injustice, on the other hand, would be fun and easy to get, and shameful only according to opinion and the law. And, people generally are ready to praise scoundrels as long as they are wealthy and powerful. On the other hand, they disrespect and overlook those who are poor and have no influence, even if they admit that they are better than the former.

The most incomprehensible thing, however, would be that even the gods would give misfortune to the good people, and the opposite to the unjust ones. Can you imagine, my dear Socrates, if you hear all of this, what the attitude of human beings, and even the gods, toward this question is? What is the effect of all of this on the youth, who are able, in an instant, to grasp this, and draw their own conclusion from it? Which road should they choose to get the best out of life?

What would a smart kid say today, looking at the society? Well, I talked to some kids recently, and said, “What would you want to get out of life?” And they said, “Oh, I notice knowledge is power, so I want that. And money. But the best is both.” Well, that’s not one of the bad kids, but just typical of what would be the effect on the minds of our youth.

To be just, and to appear unjust, simply brings trouble. But to be unjust and appear just, brings a divine life. When the appearance is victorious over the truth, then obviously one needs to stick with the appearance.

“But it is not always easy to get away with evil deeds,” one may remark. “Well, in order to protect ourselves from being discovered,” Plato says the unjust say, “we must create conspiracies and secret societies.” And there are also the teachers of persuasion, rhetoric—today we would say political consultants or public relations managers—who can influence the public and, through a mixture of persuasion and violence, enable us to pursue our business without any problems.

Since the poets describe the gods as beings who can be bribed through sacrifices and sacred vows, this then becomes an encouragement to do evil, and then, from out of the profits, to make sacrifice to the gods. Just as, in modern times, one would say, “It’s okay if we make our money through usury, drug-running, speculation, and gun-running, as long as we give to the Red Cross.”

So, why should we prefer justice, since it seems to be that those who criticize injustice, are only those who are too unmanly, too old, or too powerless to act unjustly themselves?

After Plato has driven this argument to the point of exhaustion, Socrates develops the counter-argument, by exploring the subject of justice by enlarging it from the individual person to the state as a whole.

Maybe, he says, it is easier to determine the question of justice here in something much larger than just one single person. So, then, he beautifully develops the notion of the state: how it developed out of the necessary division of labor; how it involves the collaboration of farmers, carpenters, tailors, and other workmen; the person who works to produce the plow for the farmer, who produces the cotton for the tailor, and so on and so forth. And he demonstrates that the adherence to the common good is beneficial for everybody in a healthy state.

And then, he contrasts this healthy state, in which everybody works for the common good and each other’s mutual benefit, to what he calls “the bloated state,” in which luxury and greed become the motives for transgressions against the rights of neighbors and even neighboring states.

Concerning the question of how justice and injustice come into being in the state, obviously, he says, one has to start with education. And here, it is obviously the young whose minds are most easily impressed. Do we want our children to listen to fairy tales, says Plato, just made up by somebody, so that they absorb views into their souls which are in contradiction to those values which they should have in later years as adults?

Therefore, our first duty must be to survey the fairy-tale tellers, and accept their well-conceived products, and reject the failed ones. And that means rejecting the vast majority of the presently popular fairy tales. And what is to be criticized the most, is when untruth and ugliness are combined.

Now, if you take that level enunciated by Plato, and you look at American comic books, or Hollywood movies ... —yesterday, the Washington Post had an article about what the effect of the year-long impeachment-Monica Lewinsky garbage has been on teenagers. And they quoted several teenagers who said “Well, I’m really completely disillusioned about the world of adults, now I see you can’t trust anybody. I can’t trust my parents, because they could be doing the same thing.” I mean, I think that the real crime—and these Republicans should be driven out of office for that—is what they have done to the minds of the children of America, of the teenagers of America. Because they have poisoned them: A whole generation has been poisoned by this. And you should drive them out of office for that. [Applause.]

So, Plato says, because the youthful listener is not capable of differentiating between what is analogy and what not, and because perceptions which they develop at a young age usually remain in their minds unchangeable and undeletable, therefore everything depends on the condition that the first stories they hear are of a virtuous kind.

And therefore—surprisingly—Plato even says that the stories of Homer and Hesiod, who portray the gods as in part jealous and irrational, are not suitable for children. And even the great tragedian, Aeschylus, who says that God let human beings become evil because he had decided to destroy them and their entire families, would not be suited for children. And if, as Aeschylus says repeatedly, whatever happens, good and evil come from the gods, how can you then absolve the gods from guilt?

While it is true that Homer, Aeschylus, and Sophocles, were the necessary historical precondition for Plato, Plato represents a definite advancement. Plato was the first thinker who established the principle of an idea, in a rigorous and clearly reproducible form. The tragedians, like Aeschylus, did not assume a crude competition between the gods and the mortals, but in a way their jealousy against man intervenes in service of an all-dominating order.

But Plato is the first one for whom God is without fault, the essence of good, and only good. So God, with Plato, has not indulged in the sins of man. In the Timaeus, Plato calls him “the father of all things”—since he is free of all jealousy, he wants all things to become as similar to him as possible.

This was two-and-one-half centuries before Christ. And, therefore, it represents a real breakthrough in the development of human perception and human knowledge. God for Plato is the source of all good: of truth and justice. And this enables man himself to develop a passion for truth and justice—agape.

This idea in Plato is the necessary predecessor of the idea developed by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians:13, the idea of love without which nothing else means anything. The fact that Socratic reasoning arrived at the same result as the Christian faith, as St. Augustine and later Peter Abelard note, means that there is no contradiction between faith and reason.

How does Plato argue for why man should not be the way Thrasymachus or Glaucon or Adeimantus argue, but have passion for truth and justice, and work for the common good? Is this not the question we have to solve today, in a world seemingly completely dominated by injustice—an oligarchical system which would never have been possible to establish, if corruption—the appearance of being just, rather than being just—had not permeated all of society?

The Immortality of the Soul

I want to look at this question from the standpoint of a different one of Plato’s dialogues, namely, the Phaedo, which is a discussion between Socrates and his friends after the verdict of his death penalty had been pronounced. So the dialogue takes place in the very last hours of Socrates’ life. And I want to look at both Plato’s Phaedo, as well as the work Phaedon by Moses Mendelssohn, which is in part a translation of Plato’s dialogue, but in part a powerful elaboration on his own, written nearly two thousand years later.

Plato’s Phaedo, in which he discusses the immortality of the soul, is perhaps the most moving, most elevating of all of his writings. Here is Socrates, the one person who is completely just, yet whom his oligarchical enemies have surrounded with the total appearance of injustice—namely, by charging him with corrupting the morals of the youth, for which they condemn him to death—and who is in his last hours of life.

And while his friends are very upset, Socrates is completely happy, calm, and peaceful—like an immortal who is certain that where he will go, he will be completely blissful. Phaedo, a young man whom Socrates saved from slavery, gives a moving account of the last hours. And he says “We experienced a strange mixture of loss and bitterness, because the pleasure was constantly interrupted by the corroding sensation: ‘Soon we will lose him forever.’ ”

What better poetical setting for Plato to choose to discuss the immortality of the soul, than the moment where the existential question that we are born, that we will die, is made actual in this powerful way? Socrates, the wisest, most noble man of his time—will his soul disappear with him when his body dies?

I will now discuss the arguments for the immortality of the soul, not in the exact way that Plato argues in his Phaedo, but I want to look at how Moses Mendelssohn—the Socrates of the Eighteenth century, as he was called—develops that argument.

You should know, first of all, that nearly one hundred years before Mendelssohn, Leibniz had already translated the better parts of this dialogue, because he admired Plato and especially the Phaedo, whose arguments he found in complete conformity with his own thoughts on the subject.

Moses Mendelssohn only translated the first part of Plato’s Phaedo accurately, to then use the Socratic method to develop the arguments to convince his Eighteenth-century contemporaries of the immortality of the soul. “I may risk making my Socrates a Leibnizian,” he said. “Alone, that does not matter. I’d rather commit an anachronism, than miss a possible argument to convince them,” said Mendelssohn.

So, in the second discussion, the second part of the dialogue Phaedon, where Mendelssohn develops his own arguments, he emphasizes that the question of the immortality of the soul touches upon everything, and that whoever denies it, thereby shakes everything, and that everything believed to be good and truthful, goes out the window.

So, which arguments would a Socrates of our time use to prove this to his friends?, he asks. “Is our soul mortal? Then reason is only a dream. Our virtue then looks phony. Then we are only like cattle, put here to search for food and die, and in a few days, it does not matter if I was an ornament or a shame to creation—to the human race; if I increase the number of the blissful or the miserable of my time. Then the state of free-thinking people is nothing but a herd of unreasonable animals, and I horrify myself. Then, without the hope of immortality, man is the most miserable creature on earth, since, to his misfortune, he can reflect about his condition and fear death, and become desperate.

“And whatever human beings do when they enjoy friendship, when they recognize the truth, when they honor the Creator, when they get excited about beauty and perfection, the horrible thought of destruction appears like a ghost in their souls, and throws them into despair. But fortunately, my notion of God, of virtue, of the dignity of man, and of the relationship in which he stands with God, does not leave any doubt about his determination.”

Mendelssohn then develops various proofs of the immortality of the soul, the most important being the argument that unlike matter, the soul is indivisible; and without saying so at this point, Mendelssohn makes the argument of Leibniz, that the soul is a monad. And therefore, every soul, being a monad, contains the entirety of the universe in its eternity in it; it holds eternity in it in germ form.

But most interesting is the argument he makes in the third discussion, where he points to the difference between animals and man. “Animals do not have a purpose, to have a continuous progress toward perfection. But their final determination is a certain degree of ability, and on their own, they never attempt to try things in a higher domain, and they are never motivated by themselves.”

Now, you will notice when you read Lyndon LaRouche’s new book, The Road To Recovery, that he discusses there the concept of Nicolaus of Cusa, that when a person plays with his pet, the pet participates in human abilities; the spieltrieb—the play-instinct—is the most human part of the animal.

“But we can assume,” Mendelssohn’s Socrates says, “that this drive towards perfection, this increase, this growth of inner excellence, is really the determination of beings of reason, and, therefore, the highest goal of Creation. That means,” he says, “the immeasurable, vast cosmic system has been created so that beings capable of reason could exist, who progress from step to step, so that their perfection is increasing, and so that they find their happiness in this increased.

“As simple beings in the sense of monads, they are eternal, and they continue to exist, their perfection is continuous, and has a limitless consequence. They are the final goal of Creation, and there is not another more important purpose to Creation.”

He says, which I find absolutely remarkable and worth really thinking about, that “the goal of Creation lasts as long as Creation itself.” Now, if the perfection of the human soul is the goal of Creation, and that lasts as long as the Creation—because how could the goal of Creation last less long than Creation?—I think this is a pretty compelling argument.

“Therefore, if however, the immortality of the soul is denied, for such a person, the love of the here-and-now has to be the highest good. Because, if a person denies his immortality, and only believes in the here-and-now, what consideration could be powerful enough for him to engage in the slightest risk of life? Honor? A place in history? The well-being of his children, his friends, his fatherland, and even the well-being of the entire human race?

“The most miserable enjoyment of a few moments, is everything he can console himself with, and is therefore of limitless importance. How can he give it up?

“If tyranny threatens your nation with collapse, if justice is in danger of being suppressed, if virtue is assaulted and religion and truth are persecuted, then use your life for the purpose for which you have it,” says Mendelssohn. “The merit of having furthered the good with such selflessness, gives your existence an unspeakable value, which at the same time is of eternal duration.”

But, if an individual thinks that with his short life, everything is finished, it is totally impossible to believe that he, according to his principles, would sacrifice himself for the well-being of his nation or the entire human species.

For example, if the nation is threatened, has the fatherland not a right to demand that the citizen sacrifice himself? But the citizen, if he sticks to this mentioned principle, can he not—must he not—seek the fall of his nation, just to prolong his dearest life for a few days?

And, according to this assumption, every moral being has the decisive right to cause the destruction of the whole world, if only he can keep his life, his existence, says Mendelssohn. And is this not the morality of George Soros, Camdessus, and Wolfensohn? It is for sure the philosophy of the London and Wall Street bankers’ financial system.

And once these forces have this right, so have all their associates, all the little hangers-on to power, all the parasites who live off this immoral system. And then Mendelssohn writes, “What a general upheaval is the result! What derangement! What a confusion of the moral world!” And this is exactly the condition of the world today.

The Prophet Moses Mendelssohn

Now, who is this Moses Mendelssohn, to be such a prophet for today’s situation?

Moses Mendelssohn was born in 1729 in the Jewish ghetto of Dessau, a city about 80 miles from Berlin, the son of Mendel Dessau, who ran a little Hebrew school for Jewish boys who all came from poor families like himself. His mother’s name was Suschen.

Moses, who was the brightest among the pupils of this little school, soon started to complement the limited religious Hebrew teachings through his own studies. And he learned Hebrew, not according to a memorization of the liturgical texts, but through rigorously studying the grammar. Through the highest rabbi of Dessau, David Fraenkel, he got a copy of a book by the philosopher Moses Maimonides, The Guide To the Perplexed, written in A.C.E. 1190. This book was a groundbreaking effort to show the coherence of faith and reason.

Moses Mendelssohn absorbed these ideas with total excitement, since they represented a completely different domain than what he had learned in the legalistic arguments of the Talmud exegeticists. He was able to follow his teacher Fraenkel to Berlin, and then use the opportunity to immediately take up the kinds of secular studies which he had been denied in the ghetto. And, as Lyndon LaRouche mentioned yesterday, the condition of Jews in Europe in the Eighteenth century was really quite miserable. It was totally contained, poor, no equal status, isolated, contempt, and so forth.

So Moses Mendelssohn started to investigate all fields of knowledge around him. He studied the history of Protestantism, but also of literature, philosophy, natural science, languages. He learned German, Latin, English, French. He invited a young person named Israel Samoscz, a gifted young mathematician who had been forced to leave Poland; he offered him his room—a little attic someplace—and he learned from him, both mathematical questions and engineering. And they got involved in heated debates about aesthetical theory. He read Locke and Leibniz, Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding.

In 1750, Moses Mendelssohn was hired by Isaac Bernhard, a rich Jewish merchant, as a teacher for his four children. With his new income, he started to take music lessons. He went to concerts and theater performances. When the children were beyond school age, Moses became first an accountant in this firm of Bernhard—something which he always complained of as being a boring and horrible job, one which he hated, and many accountants probably know exactly what he meant.

But, because he later became a joint owner in Bernhard’s silk business, he had a decent income for the rest of his life. He began to write about aesthetical questions in the “Letters About Perception,” and probably no Jew before him had mastered the German language in such an elegant way, or developed an almost-beautiful artistic style.

He decided at that point to change his name from Moses Dessau, which was the name of his father, with which he had come to Berlin, and to call himself, in the Jewish tradition, as the son of his father—but not in the Hebrew form, Moses bin Mendel, but in German, Moses Mendels-sohn, son of Mendel: Mendelssohn.

A number of independent-thinking young intellectuals, authors, and publishers who were Christians, took notice of this young Jewish accountant who wrote these passionate philosophical treatises in the Leibniz tradition, something which was completely unusual for a Jew at that time.

And one of these intellectuals was Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, the poet to whom Moses was introduced when both were twenty-five years of age. A very fruitful collaboration and friendship between the two began.

One of Mendelssohn’s first writings was the Philosophical Observations, in which he called upon the Germans to free themselves of the French influence, and to follow their own philosophical tradition. Mendelssohn showed this manuscript to Lessing, who immediately brought it to the printer and had it published, and instantly the book became a complete sensation. Never before had a Jew published a book in German.

What was the philosophical and intellectual life in Berlin at that time? Well, King Frederick II, who regarded himself as a pupil of Voltaire, and was eventually able to attract this guy to the court, was really a passionate hater of Leibniz. And he pulled leading opponents of Leibniz to the court, to the Berlin Academy of Science, which had been created by Leibniz in 1701 under Frederick I, to stamp out all of Leibniz’s influence.

And Berlin at that time was a complete swamp of liberals, pagans, atheists, British agents, and so forth. The oligarchy of that time was completely rotten and frivolous in their lifestyles, and they used the French and the English Enlightenment as a counter-offensive against Leibniz by playing up Newton, and by calling such conceptual opponents as Euler and Maupertuis to the Academy. Maupertuis later became the president of the Academy.

Lessing and Mendelssohn took up the fight, against both the French and the English Enlightenment. In the Treatise About Evidence in the Metaphysical Sciences, Mendelssohn defends Leibniz’s concept of “the best of all possible worlds,” which had just been drawn through the mud and ridiculed by Voltaire with his story “Candide.”

Mendelssohn: “Out of the necessary character of God, follows the immeasurable multitude of Creation, which permits the highest degree of freedom, and out of the beauty and well-ordering of the world, one can conclude the evidence of the existence of God.”

Mendelssohn also developed a new theory of aesthetics, in which he emphasized that beautiful art has a moral effect on the audience, without preaching it. In the famous letter exchange between Lessing, Mendelssohn, and Nicolai, a publisher and friend of the two, about the trauerspiel, which is a form of tragedy, they discussed how art must be composed to awaken passion and compassion.

Mendelssohn makes the point that the audience has experienced human destiny on stage in a perfect presentation of art, and has been moved by its command over a reservoir of experience, and that this will enable the individual, in moments of moral decision, to make those in the right way, since they have become part of his, or her, experience.

Lessing points out that through tragedy on stage, one can exercise—train—the feeling of compassion, and that this would be good, since the best human beings would be the compassionate ones.

Mendelssohn argues that this exercise or training would be advisable for the reason, that in moments of moral decision, a very fast reflection about the problem would be necessary, which without training would be hard to accomplish. For the trained person, the moral decision would become as natural as playing the piano is for the accomplished pianist. The highest virtues would be those where there is no fight with the fulfillment of duty, because cognition and exercise would have transformed duty into passion.

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Most of you have probably recognized
that these ideas of Lessing and Mendelssohn, are the ones which Friedrich Schiller would later take up so beautifully with his notion of moral beauty and the concept of the beautiful soul, as well as his writings about “Theater as a Moral Institution.”

But also, Wilhelm von Humboldt, who had the fortune, together with his brother Alexander, to be a frequent guest in the house of Mendelssohn, and to be part of the lectures he was giving to his children, took the idea of the moral purpose of art from Mendelssohn.

One can actually say that the two towering giants of the Weimar Classical period—Schiller and Wilhelm von Humboldt—were more influenced directly by Lessing and Mendelssohn, than by anybody else. By reviving Plato, the Greek Classics, and by defending Leibniz against the swamp of the Enlightenment, they laid the foundation of the German Classical period.

Moses Menelssohn

Wilhelm von Humboldt

Friedrich Schiller

The next major move of the oligarchy was the deployment of Immanuel Kant, whom Mendelssohn called the “Alleszermalmer,” which literally means “The Terminator.” I actually was quite amused when I noticed that.

Now, Kant’s Critiques are a vicious attack on both Leibniz and Mendelssohn. In the Critique of Judgment, Kant directly attacked Mendelssohn’s aesthetical theory by denying the possibility of a moral purpose for art: “An arbitrary arabesque thrown onto a wall by an artist, would be more beautiful than a piece of art in which the moral intention of the artist would be recognizable.” It was that Critique by Kant which infuriated Schiller such that he wrote his own aesthetical theory. And he said about Kant, that for Kant to have such ideas, he must have had a very unhappy childhood.

In his Critique of Pure Reason, in the chapter about paralogisms, Kant directly attacks Mendelssohn’s proof of the immortality of the soul and the existence of God, by insisting that these could not be proven and therefore had to be reduced to the level of postulates, that both the existence of God and the immortality of the soul would be res fidei, matters of faith only. By attacking the knowability and existence of the individual soul as a monad, and the knowability of God through reason, Kant probably did more than almost anyone else to cause the evil ideologies of the Twentieth century, ranging from neo-Kantianism, to existentialism, nihilism, or the Frankfurt School.

But Mendelssohn had one big advantage over Kant—and Hegel, for that matter—which Goethe notes in Dichter und Wahrheit, a sort of biographical work of his; namely, that Mendelssohn and Garve, another contemporary philosopher and influence on Schiller, did write in a clear and understandable, beautiful German, something which can not be said about Kant. If you have ever tried to read Kant or Hegel, you will completely agree with me: He is un-understandable. It’s not your problem if you don’t understand it.

While Mendelssohn was not solely responsible for the revival of the Greek Classical tradition, which had already started as a result of Leibniz and his networks, he definitely helped to explode it. Mendelssohn had studied Classical Greek, read Homer, Xenophon, and later all of Plato’s works, in the original.

When Mendelssohn decided to write his own Phaedon in 1767, this mixture of Plato and the Leibnizian Plato of the Eighteeth century, was a total attack against the Siècle de Lumière, the French Enlightenment, in defense of the Platonic tradition. Mendelssohn, who already had a great reputation at that time, became absolutely famous, and his Phaedon was translated immediately into Dutch, Italian, French, Russian, Hungarian, Swedish, Danish, and English. And there was a fast sequence of editions, and it became the most popular book, the best-seller of its time.

It influenced and excited Herder and Winkelman, who called it one of the best books he ever wrote, and it was extensively discussed by Goethe, the Humboldt brothers, Schiller, and Heine. Sulzer proposed that Mendelssohn be nominated as a member of the Berlin Academy, which Frederick II then refused, mainly because of the fact that Mendelssohn was a Jew. There were many other reasons; for example, it is interesting that Mendelssohn did a beautiful translation of Hamlet’s soliloquy, and Frederick hated Hamlet and Shakespeare. He said, “The fact that the horrible Shakespeare is on the German stage, is proof that the Germans have no culture.”

Now, Mendelssohn also committed the crime of writing a critique of Frederick’s poetry, in which he attacked both the fact that it was written in French, and also that the philosophical standpoint which came across in these poems, namely, that Frederick denied the immortality of the soul, was bad.

Not only had Mendelssohn taken the moral high ground by arguing that the state is not allowed to pass legislation which is not sanctioned through natural law, which was an attempt to prevent the degeneration of the state into barbarism, but now a Jew from Dessau had gone to give lectures to the King about his mother tongue! I mean, that was just too much for the oligarchs at that time.

Now, a certain Mr. von Justi made a formal complaint, and Mendelssohn’s literary magazine was forbidden. Mendelssohn was summoned to the Court to defend himself, which he did very eloquently. And he met Maupertuis, and strangely enough, his newspaper was allowed again, and his apology was accepted.

But soon, many operations were started up to make Mendelssohn’s life miserable. And I suspect that there is a causal relationship.

In 1783, he wrote a major work on the question of Judaism, which was called Jerusalem, or On Religious Power and Judaism, in which he supported the thesis of his friend, Christian Wilhelm Dohm, who was a member of the Prussian War Council and historian, about the social equalization of the Jews, where Dohm had demanded the full civil integration of Jews and their right to do business—that the Jewish religion should be given the same rights as the Christian one, and that they should be allowed to enter the state service.

Now, Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem did not quite receive the same spectacular reception as the Phaedon. But it was appreciated by all his progressive contemporaries for its noble views. Mendelssohn started with a polemic against Thomas Hobbes’ notion that the crude power of the state is the only way to contain the war of each against all.

Against that, Mendelssohn posed the good state, in which education motivates the citizen to act for the common good. The strength of such a state obviously consists in the fact that it can draw and rely on the conscience of the citizen, for example, in the case of a necessary defense.

Mendelssohn advocated tolerance which treats all religions as equal. Throughout his life, he worked in collaboration with Lessing, whose famous play, Nathan the Wise, was really a tribute to the life of Mendelssohn, and a powerful continuation of Leibniz’s work. So, together with Lessing and Winkelman, he was the founder of the German Classical period.

The Mendelssohn family from then on was really an absolute integral part of the humanist Classical tradition of German culture, in Classical music, with the grandson Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and with almost all leading people in literature, music, and science of their time [See “Moses Mendelssohn and the Bach Tradition.”

So, what Moses Mendelssohn did, was to make a breakout for Jewry, and become an integral part of the German Classical culture, as did many Jews after him. His family, towards the end of the Eighteenth century and throughout the whole of the Nineteenth century, was at the center of the humanist networks, and became crucial for the legal emancipation of the Jews, and the total integration of Jews into German culture.

The World-Historical Individual

Why do I tell you all of this today? For one, to tell you that Jewish history didn’t start with the Holocaust. It is not limited to the twelve years from 1933 to 1945. One of the highest points of this history of the Jews, was when they participated in and helped to create the most recent period when mankind experienced a Classical culture, a culture which had a proud, marvelous image of man, capable of limitless perfectibility, that is, the German Classical period and its aftermath.


© Washington Post. Reprinted by permission of the D.C. Public Library
Dr. Martin Luther King, anit-war demonstration, Arlington National Cemetery.
By eliminating the thousands of years of real Jewish history, and especially by denying the integral part Jews played in the German Classical period, by reducing the memories to the twelve years of the Nazi period, a terrible robbery is committed, not only against the Jews, but against everybody.
Moses Mendelssohn is a very good example of a world-historical individual. By breaking out of the containment of the Jewish ghetto, taking the best of humanist culture from Plato to Leibniz to Bach to everybody else, he is a model of what every suppressed minority can do today.

Take everything mankind has produced so far, add your own creative contribution, and be part of the creation of a new Renaissance, and all divisions in society will disappear. The big challenge in front of all of us is that the whole of human civilization is threatened by the onset of a new global Dark Age. If the presently escalating financial crisis is not overcome, it is quite possible that European, American, and Japanese civilization, will disappear. If the present value system which led to this crisis is not reversed, it is quite possible that, for example, the Lincoln Memorial in a future time will be kept as an archaeological artifact somewhere in Siberia, or on the Indian subcontinent, as a memory of another civilization that did not make it, just as you go and visit the Aztec cultures in Mexico and so forth.

Do you think this is exaggerated? When the Americans landed on the Moon—a fact that many youth today think to be science fiction—would the citizens of that technologically proud nation ever have thought that the United States would go down as it did in the last thirty years, that the industrial cities, like Detroit or Pittsburgh, would turn into golf courses, and that it would take two to three jobs in the so-called service sector to get a decent family income, where it took one industrial job before?

As for the case of Germany, during the time of the German economic miracle, who would ever have thought that such a bunch of lunatic ideologies, like especially the Green part of the Red-Green coalition, would ever become the government, and voluntarily implement the Morgenthau Plan—dismantle industry and turn Germany into a Green landscape?

Now, consider the undeniable evidence that the existence of the human species over hundreds of thousands of years, proves that the characteristic feature of man, which uniquely differentiates him from all other living beings, is his ability to generate scientific and technological progress through an increase of man’s power over nature, reflected in increased demographic values. Over the long span of hundreds of generations, there is no question that this is the characteristic of mankind.

But this progress is not automatic. Not every step of progress leads to the necessary successor over the short term. Whether or not that occurs, is primarily a cultural question. Whenever the culture was evil and wrong, not only would there be no progress, but, when the existing technologies were not used for the common good, because some oligarchical clique was determined to defend their privileges by denying the general population access to the benefits of such technology, then the society would sooner or later collapse.

In that sense, the German government on the question of nuclear energy—and I can assure you, this is just a foretaste of what a Gore Presidency would be like—reminds me of the Aztecs, who knew the wheel, but only used it for cult purposes, and not for any kind of productive work.

We have today the technology to feed and clothe the entire world population, to have everybody have a decent living standard. And there is no reason why we can not give these technologies to Africa, to China, to Latin America, and any place which needs them.

In history, there are many examples of stagnation, of retrogression and failed cultures. Whenever the catastrophic forms of oligarchical societies persisted, such as in Mesopotamia, the Roman Empire, Byzantium, or among the Aztecs, these societies collapsed. They were self-doomed because of their inherent lack of sufficient moral fitness to survive.

Schiller addressed one such case of a failed culture in his Aesthetical Letters, in which he focussed on the failures of the French Revolution, the tragic endorsement of the French Enlightenment, and he came to the conclusion that from then on, every improvement in the political arena would come only from the moral improvement of the individual.

The key question of the morality of each person, is identical with the question of his or her identity. Is your self-interest located in the petty, day-to-day issues of your personal material needs, small-minded family issues, and your well-being in the here-and-now—or do you locate your identity in terms of the outcome of the past and future existence of mankind as a totality?

EIRNS/Stuart Lewis
’Cellist Eliane Magnon performs J. S. Bach ’cello suites.
NASA
Astronaut Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, STS-113 mission specialist, works on the newly installed Port One (P1) truss on the International Space Station, November, 2002.
We must understand that our existence today is the result of all the thousands of generations who lived before us, in which, again and again, there were creative individuals who developed qualitatively new ideas, crucial discoveries in science and Classical art and philosophy, which in a consecutive way led to the actual and potential richness we have today. Look at the beauty of all the cultural goods of the Classical and Renaissance periods. Listen to the dramatic power of great Classical music. Think about the glory of man’s ability to conquer space and find out in a deeper and better way, how the universe is composed.

All of this beauty is the result of human beings who devoted their lives to a purpose way beyond their mortal existence. When you, with this in view, have a noble desire to make this common heritage of universal history your own possession by studying these ideas, by reliving the discoveries of these creative minds who have lived before us, and if you have the passion to enrich this knowledge, to add something new, to give more to future generations than you have received from the ones before you to the benefit of the future, then you are truly human.

In this way, we give immortality to the past. We make it richer by adding something new, because we make it the predecessor of something bigger than it was before. So in this way, we can change the past, as we definitely can change the present and the future. In this way, we create something which remains after our mortal existence. If we in this way contribute to the future condition of all of mankind, then our identity is the simultaneity of eternity, and we have become true world-historical individuals.

From that standpoint, the issue of human rights is not democracy; the issue, rather, is that each newborn child must have the right to have access to that kind of education which enables him or her to become such a world-historical personality. So, from that standpoint, the Chinese government has done more for the human rights of its population, than any other government in the world, by lifting millions out of poverty. Because the Pope was absolutely correct when he was in Africa, looking at these clay and straw huts and saying that for people who don’t have their daily livelihood—food and clothing—you can not even talk about human rights.

In his book The Road To Recovery, Lyndon LaRouche made the point that there are presently three groups running in the world. On the one hand, there is the Anglo-American banking interests, the British-American-Commonwealth oligarchy, of which the United States population has no part—you have no say in what the policies of London and Wall Street are.

Secondly, you have the “Survivors’ Club.” Three nations—China, Russia, and India—have drawn the conclusion that under these conditions, they have to work together to come together out of this horrible crisis.

Thirdly, there is what LaRouche calls the Euroland “Poor Man’s Club,” because, contrary to the propaganda of the oligarchs’ media and their mouthpieces, the Euro is a weak currency. It has been collapsing since it came into existence, and Europe right now is plunging into a deep depression.

The task in front of us, is to link the American people with the Survivors’ Club, to make sure that those of you sitting here in this hall, and others like you around the country, take into your existence and into your identity, the entirety of the interest of the human race. You have to make sure that you, in your daily thinking, make the well-being of people in Africa, in Latin America, in China, as important as what happens in your own household and in your neighbor’s house.

You have to take the present fate of mankind into your sense of identity. Take all the children of the world, who without you have no chance, and take the entirety of human history, of every great mind which contributed to the present knowledge, make it part of your own thinking. Take the future into your heart as something for which you are responsible.

Why do you think Lyndon LaRouche is such an important influence in the world today? When I had the privilege to travel in the last months to countries like Brazil, I found that his ideas are really the dividing line between those people who want to save their country and their people, and the evil speculators and oligarchical interests. When I went to Mexico in December, my reporting about the existence of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, where I was joined at a conference by López Portillo, sparked a national debate in which the present Mexican President Zedillo got involved in a dialogue with the former President López Portillo, on what is the right course for the future of Mexico? Is it the ideas of LaRouche? Is it the ideas of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, or is it NAFTA and depression?

In Russia, in the last weeks, there has been a flood of articles in which leading magazines are interviewing LaRouche, sometimes several times a week, and are putting him on an equal footing with Russian Vice President Yuri Maslyukov, the Pope, and almost nobody else, asking him questions: What do you think the economy of Russia should be?

In China, there has been a flood of articles in the most popular papers, in which they quote LaRouche and say “Washington must decide: Will it ally with Britain, or will it ally with China?”

Now, LaRouche’s influence around the world is absolutely gigantic at this point, simply because, as Amelia Robinson put it so well yesterday, people recognize that the world needs the ideas of the world-historical Socrates of our time. But, in order to make these ideas efficient, we have to make sure that we defeat the Confederacy for good in this country. I think that the Founding Fathers have given you all you need—a beautiful tradition, beautiful ideas, a concept of how not only to have a great nation for yourself, but to be instrumental in realizing a just new world economic order around the world, based on sovereign nation-states and a community of principle.

So, the task before us is obvious, and I’m optimistic that if you join and explode and take this country back, drive the traitors out of here—if you do that, we are closer to victory than to disaster. Right now, we are equally close to both.

top of page


schiller@schillerinstitute.org

The Schiller Institute
PO BOX 20244
Washington, DC 20041-0244
703-771-8390

Thank you for supporting the Schiller Institute. Your membership and contributions enable us to publish FIDELIO Magazine, and to sponsor concerts, conferences, and other activities which represent critical interventions into the policy making and cultural life of the nation and the world.

Contributions and memberships are not tax-deductible.

VISIT THESE OTHER PAGES:

Home | Search | About | Fidelio | Economy | Strategy | The LaRouche Frameup | Conferences
Links | LaRouche | Music | Join | Books | Concerts | Highlights  | Education |
Health | Spanish Pages | Poetry | Dialogue of Cultures
 Maps | What's New

© Copyright Schiller Institute, Inc. 2006. All Rights Reserved.