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Proceedings of the
First International Conference of
The Schiller Institute

July 3-4, 1984

Keynote Address: Toward a New Age of Reason
First Panel: Historical and Cultural Background
Second Panel: The Future of the Alliance on the Basis of the Strategic Defense Initiative
An Evening With Friedrich Schiller: Concert and Film Presentation
Third Panel: The Principles Of Economic Cooperation Among The Partners Of the Alliance
Fourth Panel: Contributions of German Science For America: Areas on the Frontiers of Science Today The Principles Of Economic Cooperation Among The Partners Of the Alliance

Leibniz or Hobbes: Republican Versus Oligarchical Law

Deputy chairman, Schiller Institute
from the First Panel: Historical and Cultural Background

Former West German Chanceller Helmut Schmidt's recent remark that "Henry Kissinger is the only man in the United States with a Grand Strategy for the West," demonstrates clearly enough how dangerously far the process of decoupling has already progressed. With his paeans to Kissinger, Schmidt is apparently angling for a job in Kissinger's new business, "Euroventures." This outfit is supposed to coordinate Europe's military production, which in "Kissingerese" means withdrawing American troops from Western Europe, halting the development of defensive beam weapons, and, instead, forcing a buildup of conventional forces in Europe.

If we are to rescue the Western Alliance from a cruel fate, we must, through the Schiller Institute, win back the foreign policy of all the world's nations, push back the one-worldists' encroachments on sovereign states, and finally extinguish their influence altogether.

Indeed, we are responsible for a task no less grand than that which history assigned to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, truly one of the greatest founding fathers of the American nation. We today must learn to tread in the footsteps of such men as Leibniz, William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, and John Quincy Adams.

Leibniz was born on June 21, 1646 in Leipzig, at a time when Europe was convulsed by the final phase of that reign of horror called the Thirty Years War. The major battlefield of this war was Germany; and by the time it ended Germany's population was cut in half. As the chronicler Merian wrote, "All law and justice ceased when ten or twelve starving people would fight over the meat of a half putrified carcass, finally even going so far as to eat each other."

Leibniz was just two years old when the 1648 Peace of Westphalia ended this era of murder, butchery, and plunder. A comprehensive political strategy for rebuilding Europe and Germany did not exist. The devastated German empire had turned into a veritable monster composed of 300 petty principalities, most of which had been ruined by the particular interests of the houses of Hapsburg and Brandenburg, and which in the West were threatened by France, in the East by the Turkish Empire.

Leibniz grew up in the midst of this turmoil. His earliest influence was his father, and even as a young child Leibniz was given the run of his father's well- stocked library. Leibniz himself recalls that he knew "Latin fluently at the age of 12, and already began to stammer in Greek," and even began to venture into Plato in the original Greek.

To the end of his life, Leibniz remained a self- taught man, who refused to settle for the life of an academic--"scholars-for-bread" as Schiller called them--at the universities and princely courts. Instead, he always let himself be guided by the striving for perfection and the search for truth, and by the principle of sufficient reason in all fields of endeavor: in statecraft, economics, physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, music, and even in poetry.

At the age of 16 he became a bachelor of philosophy, and a master one year later. To the dismay of petty academic minds, especially at the University of Leipzig, at the tender age of 20, he became doctor of law at the University of Altdorf in 1666, presenting his thesis De casibus perplexis (On Complicated Legal Cases).

It was also in Altdorf, near Nuremberg, that Leibniz made the acquaintance of the Baron of Boineburg, chancellor to the Elector of Mainz, Carl Schönborn. Boineburg was a close friend of Cardinal Mazarin, who set the stage for the grand accomplishments of Jean Colbert in France.

Boineburg brought Leibniz into the Elector's court in Mainz, and at age 23 he was drawn into the process of deciding upon the reorganization of the devastated and depopulated European continent.

The first goal of Leibniz's new order was to establish an entente or partnership of sovereign republics in Europe based on natural law. Germany, with its central position, would have to be the starting point. America, Russia, China, and Africa were then to be integrated into this community of principle as rapidly as possible, so as to create a "harmonia universalis," a world of "nations of reason" or "republics of scholars." Leibniz set forth this plan for a worldwide "Grand Design" in his first great paper on strategy, "Considerations On the Form in Which Foreign and Domestic Security Can Be Firmly Established (Under Present Conditions)," which he wrote in 1670 when he was 24 years old.

His strategy was aimed at countering the external threat to the Reich coming from France, which had been attempting to expand its own empire at Holland's and Germany's expense. Leibniz proposed that the enemy, France, could be turned into a friend by creating a common interest between France and a majority of the German principalities. He vehemently warned against committing the tactical mistake of joining with France's enemies, the Triple Alliance, consisting of England, Sweden, and Holland. With this, Leibniz broke the age-old principle of foreign policy, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," which countless times in history had degraded not only Germany to the status of a mere political pawn.

These were the considerations underlying Leibniz' famous plans, contained in his 1672 Consilium Aegypticum, for a French expedition to Egypt. Such a project would have brought great cultural and economic benefits for France and Europe, and at the same time would have been a flanking maneuver against the Turkish Empire's threat to Europe.

In addition, in order to contain the threat to the German states from within, Leibniz proposed a reform of the German imperial system. Here he took up the conception of the empire as developed by Nicolaus of Cusa in his Concordantia Catholica, and demanded the creation of an imperial council, a standing army, an imperial economic council, and an imperial financial authority, as necessary steps toward unifying the empire. For Leibniz, the empire, or the state, was comparable to a persona civilis, which can only have existence if it has a mind, blood, and limbs.

According to Leibniz's Grand Design for a new world order, England, America, France, Africa, and Spain would conquer the Mediterranean region, while Germany and Russia would together conquer Asia. These regions would then be built up by means of a humanist development policy, and then guided into the respublica, the general welfare.

Leibniz saw the Grand Design as the realization of his idea of a res publica universalis, a universal community. In this worldwide community of "states of reason," lawful relations within and between states would be derived from the principle of the unlimited capacity for development of man, and hence of the state, as well as the commitment to ensure and promote this capacity. Relations would therefore be governed by natural law, which is equivalent to the law of reason.

In a state based upon natural law, there exists a reciprocal relationship between the individual citizen and the state. Both have the duty and the responsibility to promote the greatest possible perfection of the other. Only if the state develops into a community of principle, whose citizens conduct themselves with freedom and dignity according to this natural law of the state, can the state be part of this world society and contribute to the greatest possible development of other states. Only when the patriot and the world citizen coincide, is the state in agreement with the laws of statecraft founded on natural law, because only then does it show "respect for the species," for all humankind.

It is hardly surprising that the oligarchy vehemently opposed these conceptions of republican statecraft. It was none other than Thomas Hobbes, in his Leviathan, who provided the most frank justification for imperialist-oligarchical policies. Hobbes's theory that man's natural condition was that of a beast, ruled only by the principle of "eat or be eaten," by an instinct for self-preservation, and by his infantile, hedonistic impulses, is a theory designed to provide the legal framework for the maintenance of oligarchical power. For Hobbes et al., the only way to end this condition of war is for the populace to enter into a contract with a sovereign, i.e., with the oligarchy.

This same purported natural condition governs relations among individual states: the "eternal war of each against all." This war, according to Hobbes, can only be ended by relinquishing power to an "omnipotent" world government.

Leibniz, in his essay "On Freedom, Necessity, and Accident," polemicized against Hobbes's "rather peculiar and untenable" views, according to which "everything [occurs] through absolute necessity" and a "moral necessity" does not exist. He says:

We nevertheless have every reason to make a great distinction between the necessity which compels the wise man to do good; so-called moral necessity which holds true even for God; and that blind necessity, on the basis of which, according to Epicurus, Strato, Spinoza, and also Mr. Hobbes, things exist without reason and without choice, and consequently without God. Moral necessity brings with it only one compulsion, namely, the compulsion to provide grounds based on reason, which is always at work within the wise man. This sort of necessity is a happy and desirable one, so long as good reasons push us into correct actions. A necessity which is blind and absolute, on the other hand, would only undermine our piety and our morality.

Leibniz uses against Hobbes the same argument used by Socrates against Thrasymachus in Plato's Politeia dialogue (The Republic), and postulates that "justice is in no way tied to the arbitrary laws of those who govern, but rather depends upon the eternal laws of wisdom and goodness. This is just as true for men as it is for God."

Justice is the foundation of the state. It is incumbent upon wisdom and virtue, which together constitute justice, to promote the true good. But what is the true good? "Nothing other than what serves the perfecting of those substances endowed with reason, the monads."

Wisdom for Leibniz is "nothing other than the science of happiness." Happiness, in turn, is "the condition of continuous joy" over the "apperception of perfection or of excellence."

By perfection, I refer to all elevation of a being's nature; for just as sickness is a sort of degradation and a falling away from health, so perfection is something which transcends health. Whereas sickness results from an impairment of action, perfection becomes manifest in the power of action, and every being consists in a certain power; the greater the power, the higher and freer that being is. It is further characteristic of all force, that the greater it is, the more it manifests the many proceeding from the one and within the one.

In addition to Hobbes, another front against Leibniz was opened by John Locke, a protege of William of Orange, in the form of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, published in 1690. Locke's attack was specifically aimed against Leibniz's fundamental conception of the "inborn idea," the divine spark in every human being. For Locke, man is only capable of receiving external stimuli as if he were a computer: impulses fall onto a tabula rasa, an empty slate, and all the human mind can do is connect these impulses with one another. Thus, for Locke, the faculty for hypothesis-formation does not exist. Man therefore has no faculty for self- development and perfection, and is degraded to the level of the lower species.

Locke was wrong. Man is uniquely distinguished from the lower beasts by his capacity to strive toward the supreme, divine monad, to become the "mirror of the universe" and the image of the "composer" of the universe, and this faculty defines the dignity of the entire human species. (Typically enough, Leibniz's counter-polemic, A New Treatise on Human Understanding, written in 1704, was only translated into English and published in 1895.)

For Leibniz, universal natural law and universal justice also demand the prohibition of slavery.

This is the right of all souls which are endowed with reason and are naturally and inalienably free; i.e., the right of God, the supreme lord of bodies and souls under whom masters are fellows of their slaves, since in the kingdom of God, the latter enjoy the same civil rights as the former. We can therefore say that a man's soul is the proprietor of his body, and that, as long as he is still living, it cannot be taken away from him. And since the soul cannot be purchased, neither can anyone purchase proprietorship over its body.

Leibniz conceived of every individual, and also every state as such, as a "monad," which is ordered according to the pre-established harmony of the universe. Every monad, despite its natural variations, mirrors the total ordering of the universe, and follows the natural law created by God, its architect.

In practice, the substance of Leibniz's community of principle among sovereign states was the extremely rapid development of industry and agriculture on the basis of scientific-technological progress.

His plans for establishing academies in Berlin, Dresden, Vienna, and Petersburg were the first decisive and necessary steps toward realizing this goal. The academies became centers of scientific cooperation, exchange and dissemination of scientific ideas and technological information. They became hubs for manufacturing, agricultural research laboratories, trade, and banking. In today's language, we would compare Leibniz's academy plans with the current plans for nuclear complexes, or nuplexes, within the framework of the new world economic order. At the same time, picking up on Colbert's ideas, Leibniz also proposed a "program for the best administration of the state," which involved establishment of an economic council which would dirigistically promote the development of industry, agriculture, transportation infrastructure, and health facilities.

Leibniz's academy plans were critical in clearing the path along which man would be led, especially through instruction and education, out of the dark ages of the Thirty Years War, and into a cultural renaissance, thus bringing him closer to the great task of "true politics": to further perfect the universe by ennobling of the entire human species, as he described it in his 1669 work, Societas Philadelphica. Even the title of this work, "Philadelphica," indicates the great influence Leibniz had upon William Penn and his secretary, James Logan, the founders of the city of Philadelphia.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, a crucial element of the Leibnizian Grand Design was made reality. The oligarchical system was defeated and the beginnings of a republic based upon natural law were erected in the New World.

Today humanity is once again in danger of stumbling into a new dark age. As a consequence of the weaknesses of American leadership, Western Europe--the cradle of Western civilizaton and the birthplace of the American nation--is now under threat of being delivered into the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union.

Therefore, let the Schiller Institute become our vehicle for awakening an understanding and knowledge of the legacy of the American nation's Founding Fathers, such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, so that each citizen may develop his sense of responsibility for all the world's nations, and develop the moral greatness which inspired Benjamin Franklin to write in 1777 while in Paris:

Tyranny is so universal over the world that it must render all those who truly love freedom supremely joyful, when they see that in the future America will become the asylum of all the oppressed. We are fighting for the dignity and the happiness of mankind. What a glory it is for America to have been called upon by destiny to fill this honorable post.

FOR MORE on Leibniz, see Fidelio Magazine
Meet Renate Mueller

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