V. Reflections on culture
European Culture and Its Imperatives “Any spirit of exclusivity is the most harmful, the most chronic enemy of civilization. From the beginning of society until its ultimate perfection, it has been and will be its biggest obstacle. It grows in turmoil, wars, and chaos to the public detriment whereas once found in order, peace, and concord, it promptly gets corrupt and dies. It is the sole creator of the Middle Ages—the barbarous period. As in those times, the spirit of exclusive right to land, of birth, honor, nobility, and supersti- tious beliefs, so in subsequent fate of civilization, when the ghosts begin to weaken and decline, it will rise and emerge in the exclusivity of trade. This will be the most prolonged disorder of Europe, pushing it from war to war, only to break the union of nations and destroy its alliances. It will stand up against the development of the ultimate principle of civilizations—against lasting peace and Eu- ropean unification.”1 Stanisaw Staszic wrote these words in his treatise The Human Kind. In the present day, we view the Middle Ages in a different light and no longer be- lieve it to be a barbarous period. But that was a common opinion in the Enlightenment period. Neither do we view trade in such threat terms. Even so, I do stress the words by Staszic, for they contain an immensely important thought which, though two centu- ries old, has not lost any value today. He is a critic...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.