Even a rapid estimate shows that it is not only obvious that German culture is declining but that there is sufficient reason for that. In the end, no one can spend more than he has: that is true of an individual, it is true of a people. If one spends oneself for power, for power politics, for economics, world trade, parliamentarianism, and military interests — if one spends in the direction the quantum of understanding, seriousness, will, and self- overcoming which one represents, then it will be lacking for the other direction.
Culture and the state — one should not deceive one-self about this — are antagonists: "Kultur-Staat" is merely a modern idea. One lives off the other, one thrives at the expense of the other. All great ages of culture are ages of political decline: what is great culturally has always been unpolitical, even anti-political. Goethe's heart opened at the phenomenon of Napoleon — it closed at the "Wars of Liberation." At the same moment when Germany comes up as a great power, France gains a new importance as a cultural power. Even today much new seriousness, much new passion of the spirit, have migrated to Paris; the question of pessimism, for example, the question of Wagner, and almost all psychological and artistic questions are there weighed incomparably more delicately and thoroughly than in Germany — the Germans are altogether incapable of this kind of seriousness. In the history of European culture the rise of the "Reich" means one thing above all: a displacement of the center of gravity. It is already known everywhere: in what matters most — and that always remains culture — the Germans are no longer worthy of consideration. One asks: Can you point to even a single spirit who counts from a European point of view, as your Goethe, your Hegel, your Heinrich Heine, your Schopenhauer counted? That there is no longer a single German philosopher — about that there is no end of astonishment.
In English, "Culture State." ↩︎
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, p. -1