By Jerzy Jedlicki
As in all peripheral nations of Europe, Polish intellectuals - conservatives, liberal, and (later) socialists - quarrelled approximately no matter if the Western version of liberal growth and business civilisation may swimsuit and gain their kingdom, or no matter if it'll spell the spoil of its designated cultural beneficial properties. This booklet tells the tale of a century-long Polish dispute over the benefits and demerits of the Western version. the talk revolved round numerous pairs of opposing rules: local tradition vs cosmopolitan civilization; normal vs man made methods of financial improvement; Christian morals vs capitalist laissez-faire; conventional customs vs cellular society; romanticism vs scientism, etc. it's those numerous 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 country disadvantaged of its political independence and cultural autonomy.
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Additional resources for A Suburb of Europe: Nineteenth-Century Polish Approaches to Western Civilization
And this, according to Mochnacki, could be achieved only through the realization of its own tradition, its own biography. The more frequent and commonplace the international contacts which helped diffuse cultural patterns became, and the easier it was forbooks, ideas, institutions and fashions to cross state borders, the more powerful theideological defence of this original identity of individual peoples grew. It is natural for things to become more valuable when threatened. In Poland, Russia’s political domination was the best breeding ground for occidental ideas, while the civilizational domination of the West, the influx of various attractive innovations, kindled the cult of national individuality.
However, it is understandable that the intelligentsia of a country which took morethan it gave would be prone to succumb to a fearful obsession about the loss of their cultural identity; and that they would begin tofight the stereotype of a homogeneous civilization with the defensive stereotype of a homogeneousnation. Ancient historians and geographers werethe first to describe the character of tribes in the same terms as individuals, and this method of anthropomorphizing vast, differentiated communities survives even today.
The second approach could be chosen only by staunch conserva- NATIONAL IDENTITY AND COSMOPOLITAN CIVILIZATION 9 tives. The truereformers of national culture had to opt for a middle courseif they wanted to implant Western universalist ideas into minds that had been accustomed to different nourishment, and if they wanted to galvanize themselves and their compatriots into independent, creative action. The strategy of “nationalizing progress,” so characteristic of the Late Enlightenment, meant a synthesis of the new and that which was native or had long been assimilated, a synthesis of the ideals of universal reason and the palpable reality of particular legacies, a synthesis which had to be constantly tested both in theory and social practice.
A Suburb of Europe: Nineteenth-Century Polish Approaches to Western Civilization by Jerzy Jedlicki