IN philosophy there was a strong reaction against the individualism which had asserted itself in the opposition to divine right and enlightened despotism. Hegel, after Kant, the greatest of German philosophers, a contemporary of Napoleon, was the great advocate of the claims of the State, and his views agreed with the tendency to erect or hold together national states and with the growing tendency towards stricter government, which was facilitated by improvements in communications. His theory of conflict was the philosophic basis of the Marxist doctrine of the Class War. It was acceptable to the military and aristocratic governing classes in Germany and Austria. In fact, it can be harnessed to many different ideals, and it has to be judged largely by its works. Its works have generally tended towards a belief in size and force.
Unfortunately, it was associated with the most exciting intellectual discovery of the century, the theory generally known as Darwinism. One now discredited development of Darwin's research (for which the great scientist was not responsible) was a belief that as human history was a tale of the survival of the fittest, therefore brute force and animal cunning, as leading to survival, were the qualities most worthy of admiration. It is obvious that social qualities, such as self-sacrifice and co-operation, have contributed equally to survival, but this was frequently overlooked.
The mixture of Hegelianism with degenerate Darwinism was typified in Germany. The unimaginative military energy of Prussia now succeeded in perverting the intellectual life of Germany. Intellectual freedom and romantic, generous, and unpractical Liberalism did not wholly die out in Germany, but a very large number of the type of German which might have stood by them now became supporters of Prussian militarism and preposterous Prussian theories about ruling races and the will to power, which in our own day occupy a prominent place in the theories of the Nazis.
Liberal and sceptical writers, of course, persisted in various countries, and all the men and women who stood for the new Socialist ideas were at any rate hostile to military dominance. But there was a widespread impatience with the old respect for individual rights, and a tendency to favour the use of force, though rival classes and nations proposed to use it for different ends.