Dominic Cummings’s Bismarck complex

‘One’s enemies one can count on — but one’s friends!’ Otto von Bismarck quotes have mostly gone out of fashion since the middle of the last century. But perhaps not as far as Dominic Cummings is concerned.  Cummings describes Germany’s first chancellor — and the man responsible for the country’s unification in 1871 — as a ‘monster’. He says in his 2017 blog that ‘the world would have been better if one of the assassination attempts had succeeded’. But it is clear that Cummings seeks inspiration from the Iron Chancellor for his own political doings. When Cummings writes that Bismarck ‘understood fundamental questions better than others’, it’s hard not to think that he

Whitewashing Bismarck just won’t wash

The reviewer’s first duty is to declare any skin he may have in the game, so here goes: I write this in a bone-chillingly old house filled with portraits of Prussian Junkers, ancestors of my third son, the oldest of them still wearing steel plate about chest and shoulders, the more recent armoured only by expressions of ineffable superiority. What a lot of them there are. Somehow their Lutheran Prussia — dirt poor by the standards of France and Britain but uniquely militarised, its spiritual heart so far east as to be now in Russia — managed, in the second half of the 19th century, to annex the entire human