Traders and Heroes


By Werner Sombart, Published in 2021 (originally published 1915)



Werner Sombart’s Traders and Heroes, published in 1915 during World War I, is an insightful and concise treatise on the differences in national character between the English and the Germans. The bourgeois trade mentality of the English clashes with the heroic and sacrificial one of the Germans. While the former only desire individual enrichment and creating the necessary global preconditions for it, the latter crave unity with the folk in life and death, so that they become the perfect physical expression of the national soul.

The English want to avoid war because it is bad for business. The Germans, on the other hand, crave war because it tests their spirit and liberates them from the mundaneness of everyday existence while simultaneously affirming the axiom that the whole of the nation is paramount to the individual self.

Like the Jews of yore, the Germans of Sombart’s time are universally despised because of their insistence on their uniqueness. Sombart argues that Germans should justifiably be proud of their superiority and as a result need not feel shame looking down on other peoples.

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