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From the Enlightenment to Business Models. Season II. Episode 2. Kant´s Prussian Context

I am grateful for having the opportunity to return to the Ocean Race at Leg 5. My boat was dismasted, and I was compelled to restrict myself to a petit location, from where I procured all the repairs required. I am writing and painting again. Leg 5 from Newport to Aarhus will be demanding but shorter than the last three legs. So, I hope, that now that my boat has been improved, we can proceed in each of the further phases with triumph.

But we have a lot to cover today, so let´s begin.

A new outline?
I would like to share the new outline for the rest of the Ocean Race. We will continue studying and analyzing our literature about the Enlightenment with profound details. In consequence, we have decided to extend the Enlightenment to Season 3.  This means that we will write the whole year of 2023 about the Enlightenment and business models, and we will take our time to prepare it “le mieux que nous pouvons”. There is no sense to rush. We will do things correctly and with dedication. As usual. And good things take time. I will continue developing the whole outline, until December 2023. We also have decided to publish only on Fridays. As you already know, I am in need to read several books beyond our core bibliography of Jonathan Israel. I will be required more hours of preparation between episodes. I do not want to be dismasted again. Look at the redesigned outline below and read the presentation slides that we have prepared for you today. Print them in PDF or save them for your further reference.

To understand Kant´s philosophy, we need to understand the context of his historical background.
Immanuel Kant was born in Konigsberg, the capital of East Prussia, the land that was founded and conquered by the Teutonic Knights Order in the 13th century. This city of Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad) induced me to consider the history of Prussia since its conception. And that is how we landed in the Crusades, in the time in which the Monastic Military Orders were originated by the explicit requirement of the Papacy. Who would guess that the Prussian Nation began as a result of the Teutonic knights in his quest to liberate Jerusalem and other territories in the Middle East (concretely Palestine)? Who would presume that the Muslims triggered the creation of Prussia?

The slides that I have prepared to explain the third crusade are self-explanatory. Please read slides 10 to 16 of our material for today.

What is the relation between the Teutonic Order and Kant?
There is a remarkable sagacity in the life of Immanuel Kant. His brainiac work about philosophy occurred in a specific moment of time in which one nation was building itself for growth. It was a nation that didn´t ascend as of luck or because of circumstances. Prussia was the land of the Teutonic Knights after they departed from Acre (their original first residence) in 1291, and then moved to Venice, Marienburg, Mergentheim, and finally Konigsberg. All the details are explained in the slides.

We believe that the life of Immanuel Kant was deeply rooted in the spirit that the Teutonic knights’ built for around 300 years. Independently that the order was secularized in the middle of the 16th century, the Teutonic Knights built a series of cultural traditions that were assumed by the Germans (nobles and peasants) who migrated to East Prussia. Religiously, the last leader of the Teutonic Order, Albert Von Hohenzollern (1490-1568), shifted from Catholicism to Protestant, but the cultural roots of the Teutonic knights were already in place. The noble Hohenzollern-led class simply moved their faith practices from Catholic to Protestant, because it was convenient and beneficial. The Duke of Prussia (Albert of Hohenzollern) granted considerable privileges in exchange for the funds required to govern the new Duchy.  Read Slides 17 to 23 and slide 28.

What was happening with Prussia in the 18th Century?
Our perspective is always guided by the question “What to do with our business endeavors”. In the times of Kant, the Hohenzollerns kings were the decision-makers for Prussian growth. Please situate yourself in the time of the Prussian military utilization as the “way” to grow internationally. The growth strategies taken place in the Enlightenment of Kant were nothing else than conquering territories using military coercion (wars) or by marriage as strategic alliances that allowed the territorial lengthening, progress, and development of the nation: new land with new resources, and people living to work those lands, were the good fortune to hunt. The idea of industrialization of products and services was starting to come up with the mercantilism associated with the conquests of the new world. Prussia had an excellent strategic position in Europe. The Hohenzollern lands were scattered and not neighbors to each other. Each region (Brandenburg, Pomerania, and East Prussia) had different production of goods. Under the Teutonic Knights, Prussia was taken for Christendom for the trade of fur, fish, and amber. In addition, it was a blessed location for the Hanseatic League commerce. It seems to me that the core area of the domain of the Hohenzollern dynasty wasn´t East Prussia, but Brandenburg. According to Eddie (9), Brandenburg had a population of around 350,000 in 1650, and its urban communities were around Berlin-Postdam and then Kolln. In addition, between East Prussia and Brandenburg, there was a needed territory, called Royal Prussia, which was part of the Polish kingdom. Eastern Prussia was the faraway isolated area, next to Russia, and the one related to the Teutonic culture. East Prussia joined Brandenburg by heritage in 1618 under the Hohenzollern family. With the consolidation of Brandenburg and East Prussia (Duchy of Prussia), the amount of land was duplicated, and so was the number of inhabitants too. When Kant was born (1724), the Hohenzollerns had already acquired Eastern Pomerania in 1648, and other smaller provinces in western Germany were conjoined. When the first King of Prussia was recognized by the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I; Frederic I, the first King of Prussia elevated the nation to a position that was higher than the rest of German Princedoms. King Frederick II the Great reached full zenith through warfare, in the middle of the 18th century, adding Silesia, and then in 1772, the west Royal Prussia and Ermland finally fitted in, so East Prussia was no longer a separate region from Brandenburg.   

Illustrative and non-commercial picture. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Source: Public Domain

During the 18th century, the rulers of Prussia consolidated substantial portions of land, but with internally fragmented populations with different customs, laws, and even dialects or cuisine traditions. Prussia was also healing from religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics, that devastated its land populations. Economically, Prussia cemented during this century, the foundations for the Industrialization of the next century. In addition, the Teutonic (sometimes pretorian) spirit was reflected in the discretionary great investments and importance that was given to military growth through iron discipline with constant adaptation.  The values and virtues of Prussian nobility and military army were ignited by the Hohenzollerns who esteemed the military honor with order, thrift, self-sacrifice, and devotion to duty and obedience to the king. In parallel to absolutism, the Prussian monarchy was keen enough to promote enlightenment despotism in such a perfect way, that it allowed certain individual freedoms in the elites, helping to establish a certain degree of tolerance to the noble Junker interests. The Prussian reformers arose in the 19th century and were unique in their own. In 1807, the Prussian reform movement ordained liberty for peasants and capital alike. Personal subjection was abolished: “The peasants had free rein to move without penalty, choose the farm, raise debts, free choice of wife and trade” (9). Believe it or not, Immanuel Kant’s philosophy and the legacy of Christian Wolff and Leibniz were immersed in the Prussian Reforms posterior to Kant´s lifetime.

Each of the Frederick rulers of Prussia between 1650 to 1800 inherited a clear indication of what to do from its predecessor. The spirit of the Hohenzollern sovereigns was evidently agglutinated around the absolute premise of support from the Prussian Nobles who accepted the Hohenzollern leaders in exchange for privileges at the expense of the peasants who were losing their freedom. Kant´s lifetime encountered the peasants as serfs, legally bound to the Junkers noble´s estate that could be sold with the land on which they worked. Kant discovered how the Prussian monarchs traded privileges with the nobility class (titles of nobility according to rank, positions in the state administration, rights of seigneurial justice over their peasants, right to import goods without paying duties, estates in East Prussia, personal concessions, etc.). Everything was in exchange for the Junkers’ support for the creation of a professional standing army.

During Kant´s lifetime, he also saw with his eyes, how the Fredericks of Prussia, transformed an insignificant north German state to the status of a major European power, diminishing the dominance of the Holy Roman Imperial Habsburgs in less than 100 years. In the times of Kant, the dichotomy Brandenburg-Prussia established a particular unique Teutonic tradition of successful militarism, autocracy, enlightenment absolutism, an efficient state bureaucracy, and the cooperative Junker nobility class.  The Prussian Junkers, converted themselves into Frederick´s advocates, directly involved as a promilitary aristocracy who also received in return vast estates in Brandenburg, East Prussia, Pomerania, and Royal Prussia, including the new areas conquered by the Fredericks (see slide 29).

Illustrative and non-commercial picture. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Source: Public Domain

Kant´s nation was under absolutism.
To live in Konigsberg, the far northeastern side of the Prussian kingdom was certainly a blessing and a curse for Kant. He wasn´t in Brandenburg to position himself as a witness of the Hohenzollern headquarters decision-making, but he was far enough lauded with the independence and autonomy required to write all the aspects of his philosophy. Kant was able to observe the characteristics of the absolutist state (see slide number 27) in such a way that he counterbalanced the pros and cons of it. He also was building a moderate enlightenment value proposition, that kept the monarchical-aristocratic society system, sanctioned by ecclesiastical authority. His premises for the quest for human happiness are based on equality, but a moral philosophy based on the divine plan of God. We will explore the premises of Kant in our next publication. The success of Kant was spotless and immaculate; not just because he bolstered moderation and Christian values, stopping Spinozism and the radicals in Germany, but because he confronted authority and the Prussian nobility to commit to political, social, and educational reforms through his philosophical works.

The preoccupations of the rulers of Prussia in the times of Kant.
I have prepared slides 25, 28, and 29 for this topic. Frederick the Great was by far the edgiest and most well-involved in watching what was happening with the philosophical radical ideas of the Enlightenment in Germany. Warfare and militarism were the core business of the Fredericks of Prussia during the 18th century. But they also wanted to keep the new “studied” class in peace. Those who were being educated at the University scheme network in Germany, were usually of high intellectual capabilities, most needed to hold positions in the State and with private courts of different nobles. It is crucial to understand the radical Aufklarung penetration in the intellectual circles of the Prussian society of Kant. The waves of diffusion and under-covered dissemination of the Radical Enlightenment were flourishing, including the constant circulation of forbidden books at the German Universities of the ideas from Matthias Knutzen, Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, Friedrich Wilhelm Stosch, Johann Georg Wachter, Johann Peter Spaeth or Moses Germanus, Theodor Ludwig Lau, Johann Lorenz Schmidt, Johann Christian Edelmann, Gabriel Wagner, and others. It was a cause of enormous preoccupation for the Prussian court and the Ecclesiastical authorities that the Nobility of its territory could accept the headway of the radical enlightenment. By the mid-18th century, universities were the fundamental channels of contagion of these radical ideas. Kant was a young pupil at Albertina, the Konigsberg University then. When Frederick the Great realized that the elements of a Wolff-Leibnizian system were not enough to stop the influence of the Radical Enlightenment, then he distinguished that a new strongest philosophical system was required, a strong moderate cosmovision that could embrace Wolff and Leibniz, but at the same time could clasp the English influence from Newton and the rest of Scientists from Europe. The Indignation of the majority of Faculty professors at these Prussian Universities was so elevated, that they displayed the alarms. And that is how Kant came into the playbook.

Kant´s life and works.
Today we have dedicated all our words to explaining and showing the fine line between the Teutonic Knight’s philosophical mental frames-culture-traditions and the building of the Kingdom of Prussia. The socio-political-economic system of Kant´s life and works was clearly influenced by what was happening in Europe, particularly in his own nation. Kant and Frederick the Great, each on their own, built a parallel riel logical order, in which a new Prussian philosophy could kindle the political absolutist motives of the Prussian kingdom. Kant and Frederick II the Great were parallel lives. The religious issues and intolerance of the Prussian Enlightenment expressed in Kant´s production were simply the symbol of the locomotive railway engine. The foundations of Kant´s system were located in the railways, the system that offered a counter-answer to the radicals that were capable to create a French Revolution. Germany wasn´t going to be the next one. Kant emerged to stop the advancement of the radicals, because he and other key allies connected to the King and the court, proclaimed Prussia as the new world center of progress in science, philosophy, and scholarship.

Next Friday we will continue with an overview of the most delicate and interesting topics about Kant´s philosophy. Take note: we will publish only on Fridays. I need to focus on strategic reflections and challenge my intuition, so I can deliver from my own essence as a corporate strategist. Only with the perfect amount of time, be sure that I will keep and increase the quality of our production. See you then. Thank you and blessings for reading to me.

“There is no such thing as failure, there is only a wait for success”

John Osborne, Playwright

Ocean Musical Section

Getting back into the race:
Leg 5 trajectory from Newport to Aarhaus is starting now. One boat, Guyot Environment won´t participate in this leg. Meanwhile, the team Holcim-PRB has rejoined. Now, that I will upload this publication, the Newport In-Port Race is going to start too. After being dismasted, we completely agree with Kevin Escoffier’s statement: “It was not easy to stay in the race. It wasn’t easy to stay focused on performance until today. The best way to do that is to get back into the routine: sports sessions with the crew, weather briefings, etc. You have to get back into the race.”

And that is what we are trying to do these days. Getting back on track has been my core during the last 15 days. We have adjusted our outline, for the sake of your convenience and learning. Even when the Ocean Race will finish in Genova, we will continue writing for Season III. In consequence, we will dedicate the whole year 2023 to the “Enlightenment to Business Models” saga. Be confident that we are doing everything we can to deliver the best, and the most outstanding strategic reflections related to corporate strategy with this material. And our commitment is to continue writing until December 2023. Even if we must do it in “solo” style after the end of the Ocean Race soon.

Our lesson in this section is: We need to learn to adjust our plans when in case of disasters. When traveling through the uncertain ocean, particularly in business and economic decisions, it is flawless and brilliant to keep devotion and dedication, the resilience after failure. But at the same time, it is faultless and intelligent to stop, and take a pause, when our gear is broken. We can´t proceed to successful attainments if we don´t reconstruct ourselves after an accident.  The same happens with the Ocean Race teams who lost their ship´s masts too (Holcim-PRB and Guyot). When our boats have been shaped according to and in conformity with certain guidelines, it is not surprising that the uncertainty of the ocean may cause mishaps. But it is important to learn how to fix our shattered spirit and our damaged gear, keeping our high-quality parameters, our values, and traditions of impeccable ethics. It doesn´t matter how many months I will be reading, investigating, and preparing the rest of this saga. I always keep my promises, no matter if we will adapt to a new pace of our production.

When we are surrounded by powerful foes in strategy, the only way to success is not to do what the Prussian rulers did in the times of the 18th century. The Frederick kings hugged and played with authoritarianism, social militarization, and privileged alliances to the Noble Junkers and politicians who then linked, since then, the proto-fascist ideology of serfdom and exploitation. It is important to avoid the conditions that helped to make Hitler possible. The major sin of the Prussian nation was the absence of keeping the ethical and Godly message of Kant. When Kant arrived at the play, it was simply too late to stop what Nazism did with the Prussians in WWII. Without God and impeccable ethics in everything we do, we only end up in self-destruction. That includes our business models and technological endeavors.

Today´s musical selection is a concert designed and composed by J. S. Bach for the occasion of the meeting he held with King Frederick II the Great in 1747. This piece is called “A Musical Offering from J.S. Bach to Frederick the Great”. Bach visited the court of Frederick the Great at Potsdam. The video includes highlights of the life of the King and his family. It is produced and directed by Eugene Enrico in the year 2017 University of Oklahoma Center for Music Television.

See you next week with Episode 3.

 Illustrative and non-commercial picture. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Source: Public Domain
Illustrative and non-commercial picture. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Source: Public Domain

Leg 5 will take us from Newport to Aarhaus. Photo Source:

Sources of reference are utilized today. All are listed on the slides and also below

    Revue des Deux Mondes (1829-1971), SIXIÈME PÉRIODE, Vol. 34, No. 4 (15 Août1916), pp. 721-756
  2. Van Abbe Derek and D. “Germany — Bismarck Or Beethoven?”
    The Australian Quarterly, September 1953, Vol. 25, No. 3 (September 1953),
    pp. 65-80
  5. Asbridge, Thomas. The Crusades.The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land. Harper And Collins. 2011.
  6. Madden, Thomas. The Concise History of the Crusades. Third Edition. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. 2013.
  7. Merriman, John. A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present. Third Edition. W W NORTON & CO. 2009.
  8. Hage, William. Ordinary Prussians: Brandenburg Junkers and Villagers, 1500–1840 (New Studies in European History) Illustrated Edition. Cambridge University Press. 2007-
  9. Eddie, S.A. Freedom´s Price.  Serfdom, Subjection, and Reform in Prussia, 1648-1848. Oxford University Press. 2013
  10. Wilson, Peter. H. Prussia and the Holy Roman Empire 1700–4. German Historical Institute London Bulletin, Vol 36, No. 1. (May 2014), pp3-48
  11. Wilson, Peter. The Thirty Years War – Europe’s Tragedy. Belknap Press. 2011.
  12. Dwyer, Philip G. The Rise of Prussia: 1700-1830. Routledge. 2001
  13. Clark, C. Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947. Belknap Press. 2009.
  14. Friedrich, Karin. The other Prussia: Royal Prussia, Poland, and Liberty, 1569-1772. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  15. Blanning, Tim. Frederick the Great – King of Prussia. Penguin Random House. 2016.
  16. Morton, Nicholas. The Teutonic Knights in the Holy Land, 1190-1291. Boydell Press. 2017

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  All are used as Illustrative and non-commercial images. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Nevertheless, most of this blog’s pictures, images, or videos are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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