D. Anthony Storm's Commentary on Kierkegaard

First Period: Works of Youth (1834-42)

On The Polemic Of Fædrelandet

  • On the Polemic of Fædrelandet
  • Om Fædrelandets Polemik
  • B
  • 1836
  • KW1, SKS13, SV13, Kjøbenhavns flyvende Post, Interimsblad, 82, March 12 & 15, 1836

This is Kierkegaard's third published article, and is the second installment in a larger exchange—Kierkegaard's first literary battle. See The Morning Observations for an introduction. In these exchanges between Kierkegaard, Lehmann, and Johannes Hage, accusations against each other broaden to indictments against papers of rival political persuasion. Lehmann and Hage support the liberal press, while Kierkegaard—not exactly a conservative, but more an anti-revolutionary—widens his attack to indict the entire liberal movement.

Throughout this exchange we read some of the expected criticisms that conservatives dwell on the glories of the past and liberals vaunt action over thought. And while it is true that Kierkegaard is flexing his literary muscle a bit, and has little interest in being conciliatory, it would seem that he is continuing to develop his antipathy for the political reformers of the day. Again he mocks some of Lehmann's chosen phrases even though he is directly responding to Hage who follows him.

Kierkegaard here responds to Johannes Hage's rather harsh article that he (Kierkegaard) is more interested in shameless polemic than truth, and that he is only wants to "glorify his own little self", a not entirely unfair indictment.

It is strange to see that a party that on the whole shouts so much about intelligence has so little of it. It is strange to see a paper that speaks excitedly against "ascribing bad motives to its opponents" make itself guilty of the same fault (p. 21).

Kierkegaard insists on broadening his attack from what his opponents write, to the liberal newspapers, to the entire liberal movement, and to the "present age" in general.

Nothing very much is accomplished by this [the accusations against Kierkegaard], except that the present age has such a great lack of intelligence that it gives ear to invectives of this kind (p. 21f.).