By Jerzy Jedlicki
As in all peripheral international locations of Europe, Polish intellectuals - conservatives, liberal, and (later) socialists - quarrelled approximately no matter if the Western version of liberal growth and business civilisation might swimsuit and profit their state, or no matter if it will spell the break of its special cultural good points. This publication tells the tale of a century-long Polish dispute over the advantages and demerits of the Western version. the talk revolved round a number of pairs of opposing principles: local tradition vs cosmopolitan civilization; usual vs synthetic methods of monetary improvement; Christian morals vs capitalist laissez-faire; conventional customs vs cellular society; romanticism vs scientism, etc. it's those quite a few elements of the most factor which the writer analyzes and hyperlinks jointly during this paintings. He exhibits how tough and painful the method of modernization was once 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
Poland, though torn asunder, was after all a member of the great family of nations striving towards fraternal unification. If only one could do away with the despotism of kings and emperors and with the tyranny of feudal, religious and intellectual superstitions! The objective was common, and the road to it well signposted by “the simple truths and infallible methods,” fully developed and justified in French and English discourses. Ex Occidente h x . “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.
Is not what it should be, her commerce is worth little, being in fact more harmful than profitable. There are few mastercraftsmen in the towns,and skills and education are not held in much esteem. . ”5 This assessment, and many others in the same tone, illustrate how the political rationalism of the Enlightenment was applied to the sphere of economics: towns would grow, the population would increase, and commerce andtrade would develop as soon as governance replaced misgovernment and just laws were made for the population as a whole,not simply for one estate.
It is true that Stanislaus Augustus andhis advisors never intended to bring Poles closer to Europeby employing such methods as those used by the Russian tsar Peter the Great. This was not simply because they did not have at their disposal anything like the means and resources available to the Russian despot. The main reason wasthat they represented a completely different culture. Nevertheless, the gentry, which constantly denounced the king for his alleged attempts at an absolzltum dominium, reasoned andfelt according toa certain logic: the gentry illuminati did not, and couldnot, understand the naive audacity of the rationalist reformers of the state, who imaginedthat by sheer subtle persuasion they would induce the people to rebuild the entire edifice of tradition and law.
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