By Jerzy Jedlicki
As in all peripheral nations of Europe, Polish intellectuals - conservatives, liberal, and (later) socialists - quarrelled approximately even if the Western version of liberal development and commercial civilisation could swimsuit and profit their state, or even if it should spell the smash of its detailed cultural good points. This publication tells the tale of a century-long Polish dispute over the advantages and demerits of the Western version. the controversy revolved round numerous pairs of opposing principles: local tradition vs cosmopolitan civilization; normal vs synthetic methods of financial improvement; Christian morals vs capitalist laissez-faire; conventional customs vs cellular society; romanticism vs scientism, etc. it truly is those a variety of facets of the most factor which the writer analyzes and hyperlinks jointly during this paintings. He indicates how tricky and painful the method of modernization used to be in a kingdom disadvantaged of its political independence and cultural autonomy.
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Extra resources for A Suburb of Europe: Nineteenth-Century Polish Approaches to Western Civilization
Several nations are already in the vestibules of the Temple of Reason, but ours is not among them,’’ lamented the Polish conspirators who had sworn allegiance to the Republican idea. “Theimmortal geniuses, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Mably . . are the fathers of this philosophical light whose power has pierced the dark clouds of tyranny and fanaticism, but so far has failed to demolish all of its edifices whose spaciousness covers the whole earth. There are friends of mankind working in many countries to overturn these gothic structures covered with the dishonorof the human race.
Why was it France that managed to impose its style and its hegemony (unquestioned until the Revolution) on the intellectual elites of the entire continent? Undoubtedly this was due to its literature, philosophy, political thought, and also, at least up to a point, the power of this state which, while admittedly attacked by philosophers, at the same time lent to them the brilliance of its authority. It remains a matter of dispute, as indeed it was at the time, whether, say, England in theeighteenth century did not produce more lasting values which would prove of greater significance to the world in the long run.
While one component could be omitted, neglected or disregarded, and another magnified into a supreme axionl, it remained a systematic, integral unity which lent itself to a general characterization, either positive or negative, and at the same time could be adapted to those grand historiosophical constructs which had so manyfollowers among the representatives of European thought from the second half of the eighteenth century on. For “civilization” was never viewed as static. It is true that it was ascribed certain permanent main features, but these developed in the courseof history, indicating the direction of change and marking the successive stages of progress.
A Suburb of Europe: Nineteenth-Century Polish Approaches to Western Civilization by Jerzy Jedlicki