The Nature and the Fall of America

The declineofthe US empire is becoming more and more obvious, which is also visible in thes lumming of the cities, then eglect and the growing impoverishment of Americans. American imperialismis in decline world wide.

The vast majority of Americans have already given up on the dream of limitless opportunities in their country. The infrastructure is decaying at breath taking speed. Rampant crime and the consequences of increasing drug use are flooding American cities and turning them into ghost towns where drug addicts vegetate like zombies.

Then the reist he decline in morale. The majority of Americans now believe that they no longer have their own government but are controlled byothers. This is a problem for a country that only years ago described itself as the only superpower. A country for which its citizens no longer want to fight is doomed to failure.

This essay is taken from the book "The Nature and the Fall of Amerika", published in 1994.

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A Note on Translation

It is no secret that translations are by necessity interpretations. In fact, a translation can never be an exact word by word rendering simply because language is the vessel of a given People’s spirit, and it is the folk-spirits that differ amongst themselves. Therefore, the closer related the folk-spirits are the more effortless the linguistic transition from one to the other will be. Superficially this is manifested by the dialects and language families. This means that languages, or folk-spirits, that are unrelated to each other can only be translated with the greatest difficulty, a fact well known from the efforts of translating Chinese, or Old Egyptian, into European tongues. Similarly, the Icelandic Sagas can more easily be rendered into Dutch than French, and the Lay of the Cid is better read in Italian than Polish.

As mentioned above, language is the vessel of the spirit of a Volk. But this is only one side of the coin, for a language is always also the creation of the folk-spirit. A language is therefore a manifestation of the spirit and carries the spirit with it. As such, a language always bears the marks of the history of its carrier group, and this history will always shine through, impressing upon the language its unique nuances, imbuing it with life, colour and depth. A direct effect of this is seen when a term changes in meaning when translated literally. Thus, for example, even though the English term “self-conscious” is a literal German “selbstbewußt”, the meaning tends to be precisely the opposite.

The history of a People also has a direct effect on its vocabulary and grammar, and therefore on its thought patterns and philosophy. The Germans have, from time immemorial, been a homogenous group comprised of closely knit communal bonds of family, clan and tribe. Their language is naturally homogenous, a pure or primordial tongue that has changed little – other than maturing – over the millennia. As such it is no surprise to find an affinity for systematic thought, e.g. Hegel, in this People, nor is it surprising to find the communal idea at work in German which is clearly demonstrated by the untranslatable word Volk. The English, on the other hand, quickly lost their original homogeneity and communal feeling due to the fact that the Anglo-Saxons arrived as immigrants in a territory predestined for immigration. This is reflected in their language, which is no longer a pure Low German dialect but a blend of German and corrupted Latin (i.e. French) intermixed with a plethora of foreign loanwords. As a result English thought and language are naturally inclined towards social atomisation, or individualism, a fact undoubtedly confirmed by the works of Shakespeare. It is no surprise to find, then, that the English have no concept of Volk, for to call a Volk “people” is much like calling a forest “trees”. This also gives the language its distinct flavour, and while English has a soft and mellifluous feel to it, German seems stern and austere, which again is characteristic of the spirits of the two tongues, and creates incompatibilities between them that cannot be bridged. The following example from a famous poem and its German translation demonstrates this:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Tiger, Tiger, grelle Pracht
In den Waldungen der Nacht
Welches Gottes Aug und Hand
Nur dein entsetzlich Gleichmaß band?

Although the German translation is in every way perfectly accurate, it nonetheless feels jarred and rough-hewn. William Blake can be read in German as little as Goethe can be appreciated in English.

The mellow flavour of the English tongue and the fact that the language abounds with adjectives and adverbs makes this language a perfect tool for fiction and poetry. Its lack of inner coherence and its inability to form compounds, however, severely restrict its use as a philosophical and scientific language. This explains why Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, despite having spent the greater part of their lives in England nonetheless wrote in German. Similarly, Houston Stewart Chamberlain penned his important works in German even though he was an Englishman. Reinhold Oberlercher, too, could have written his essay on the nature and the fall of America in English, but although this would have made this text more accessible to the Americans and the anglophone world on the whole, more would have been lost than gained.

The translation of the text given here is as accurate as possible. It has been revised and edited numerous times and has been corrected by the author himself. Inevitably, however, the English text can only convey a vague reflection of the clarity and depth of the German original. It is to be hoped that this essay will serve as an incentive for Americans, especially those of German descent, to learn the German language and thus to facilitate their re-bonding with this cultural sphere. For German is not only the language of heroic epics, but above all the language of philosophy, the language of profound, firmly structured thinking.

Markus Haverkamp

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