The Catholic Nationalist: Rethinking Kohl's Notion of Germany

Christian Wicke

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    Religion can shape the form nationalism takes: the notion of the nation itself can be filled with religious content. Kohl's Catholicism facilitated a liberal type of nationalism, assisted a romantic conceptualisation of Germany, Europe and the West, and had a strong effect on the way he interpreted, falsified and relativised Germany's history. His "liberal nationalist" principles were derived from Catholic doctrines. The attacks of socialism and communism were based on Catholic Social Teaching. The state as a transcendental community rooted in Christian values. Patriotism and national self-determination were unconditionally Christian duties. The constitution was deeply Christian and his own party the most adequate national representative of its spirit. Kohl saw the secularism that accelerated after the sixty-eight movement and the decline of Christian Democratic power in 1969 as a threat to national heritage. Socialist atheism would be anti-national, anti-European and anti-Western. His religious denomination served as both a factor of integration and demarcation in his nationalism. Kohl's nationalism was therefore not merely a proto-religious substitute for religion but articulated as religious per se.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)online
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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