communion," said Demian, "is a beautiful thing. But what we see flourishing
everywhere is nothing of the kind. The real spirit will come from the knowledge
that separate individuals have of one another and for a time it will transform
the world. The community spirit at present is only a manifestation of the herd
instinct. Men fly into each other's arms because they are afraid of each other
- the owners are for themselves, the workers for themselves, the scholars for
themselves! And why are they afraid? You are only afraid if you are not in harmony
with yourself. People are afraid because they have never owned up to themselves.
A whole society composed of men afraid of the unknown within them! They all
sense that the rules they live by are no longer valid, that they live according
to archaic laws - neither their religion nor their morality is in any way suited
to the needs of the present. For a hundred years or more Europe has done nothing
but study and build factories! They know exactly how many ounces of power it
takes to kill a man but they don't know how to pray to God, they don't even
know how to be happy for a single contented hour. Just take a look at a student
dive! Or a resort where the rich congregate. It's hopeless. Dear Sinclair, nothing
good can come of all this. These people who huddle together in fear are filled
with dread and malice, no one trusts the other. They hanker after ideals that
are ideals no longer but they will hound the man to death who sets up a new
one. I can feel the approaching conflict. It's coming, believe me, and soon.
Of course it will not 'improve' the world. Whether the workers kill the manufacturers
or whether Germany makes war on Russia will merely mean a change of ownership.
But it won't have been entirely in vain. It will reveal the bankruptcy of present-day
ideals, there will be a sweeping away of Stone Age gods. The world, as it is
now, wants to die, wants to perish - and it will.
"And what will happen to us during this conflict?"
"To us? Oh, perhaps we'll perish in it. Our kind can be shot, too. Only we aren't done away with as easily as all that. Around what remains of us, around those of us who survive, the will of the future will gather. The will of humanity, which our Europe has shouted down for a time with its frenzy of technology, will come to the fore again. And then it will become clear that the will of humanity is nowhere - and never was - identical with the will of present-day societies, states and peoples, clubs and churches. No, what Nature wants of man stands indelibly written in the individual, in you, in me. It stood written in Jesus, it stood written in Nietzsche. These tendencies - which are the only important ones and which, of course, can assume different forms every day - will have room to breathe once the present societies have collapsed.