13 April 2018

Goethe and the culture war

The conflict between: the old, the prevailing, the persistent; and: development, improvement, reform — it is always the same.

Order of every kind turns at last to pedantry. In order to be rid of the latter, one destroys the former. Then life goes on for a while, until people perceive that order must be established anew.

Classicism and Romanticism; guild coercion and free trade; preservation or destruction of tradition: it is always the same conflict, which ends by creating a new one.

The best policy of those in power would be so to moderate this conflict as to let it right itself without the destruction of either side. But this power has not been granted to men, and it seems not to be the will of God either.

Goethe, Maxims and Reflections