Anton Hilckman on Feliks Koneczny and the Comparative Science of Civilization
- 1 Contextual Quote
- 2 Text
- 2.1 THE MODERN ROAD OF PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
- 2.2 ON WHAT IS CIVILISATION BASED?
- 2.3 THE CENTRAL PROBLEM OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
- 2.4 CIVILISATIONS AND RELIGIONS
- 2.5 CHRISTIANITY AND CIVILISATION
- 2.6 THE POSITIVE ANSWER: THE PRINCIPAL FACTORS OF DIFFERENTIATION OF CIVILISATIONS
- 2.7 LAWS OF HISTORY
- 2.8 THE ONLY LAW OF HISTORY: CAUSALITY AND FINALITY
- 2.9 EAST, WEST. ROME AND BYZANTIUM. TURAN.
"Spengler's civilisations are in a mystical sense, undefined and probably (indefinable, functions of space; they are something grown up from the "mother ground", developed like plants from the earth, inseparable from the space to which they belong; and this forms the men. Koneczny's civilisations, on the contrary, are like spiritual fluids, which rise "over" the spaces and morally keep the men in their power, but without any fatalist or determinist compulsion, because they are created by the men themselves, they are products of human spirit. As spiritual fluids they are also flowing, they are something incomparably more mobile than Spengler's earth attached civilisations, they are agile like everything which is of the spirit. And these fluids put out tentacles, they are not closed in themselves, separated from each other like those of Spengler; they struggle with each other and they "must" struggle against each other and try to repel each other."
- Anton Hilckman (footnote 6)
"Civilisation is for Koneczny primarily something sociological, a complex of principles and structural forms which form a harmonious whole and from which one cannot take out isolated parts or portions. — We have also to remember to which geographical space Koneczny belonged; his eyes, the eyes of a Pole, of a man from the eastern borderland of the West, were in a particular way open to everything alien, to all which a Westerner meets at the eastern frontier of Poland. He saw there different and often diametrally opposed ethical and juridical principles and sociological mentalities, between which a synthesis is truly impossible. The experience of Polish history seemed to leach him in a particular way to be distrustful of all experiments of synthesis. It is obvious that there are problems and questions here which need further examination. Let us think about mixtures of styles in art, which appear everywhere two civilisations meet each other; but even here one can ask oneself, if Koneczny's radical negation does not contain a grain of truth."
- Anton Hilckman (footnote 7)
Source: from the Introduction to the book: On the Plurality of Civilizations by FELIKS KONECZNY. POLONICA PUBLICATIONS, 1962
"Whether a name is known or unknown is not always a reliable criterion of the importance of the spiritual facts which it personifies. At the time when Kierkegaard was alive his name too, outside Denmark. was practically unknown, and even in his native country only few people knew him and even fewer recognised him. But in spite of this, what he had to say was of Western and European importance; it is true that decades were needed before it was universally understood. Anyone who knows of the Polish historical thinker Feliks Koneczny and is acquainted even if only superficially with his doctrine, is involuntarily reminded of the destiny of Kierkegaard in spite of all the differences between these two men. After several decades probably also the name of Feliks Koneczny. although today known to few outside his native country, will be known to every educated European. If official Poland took little or no notice of her most important contemporary thinker, at least he was not unknown there; and there existed circles from the beginning which declared themselves as his followers, notwithstanding the fact that at times also rancorous opposition and malicious abuse were not lacking; again, things which we know already from Kierkegaard's life. Koneczny is a historical thinker. We believe we are right in saying that a comparison of his doctrine with all the previous philosophy of history, makes it quite clear that it is only with him that the science of civilisations, a science based on the study of history, becomes a special science—one is almost tempted to say an exact science—of the same level and rank as the other special philosophical disciplines. It is only with Koneczny that this science appears in fact for the first time as a branch of learning with a strictly characterised autonomy, with a sphere of tasks delimited with precision and with an own method which can be verified in every detail and applied generally and from many points of view; thus he is successful in overcoming apriorism and biologism in every form, and at the same time in shaping a new concept of the finality of history. His brand of philosophy of history becomes in consequence at the same time a knowledge and an imperative; and is— in a quite different and much deeper sense than could be expected before—giving a norm for the future in the spheres of thought and of life alike.
THE MODERN ROAD OF PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
To the phrase "philosophy of history" we are still unaccustomed to give another meaning than that of a more or less speculative interpretation. The historical philosophies of Hegel and Schlegel have in spile of all the difference of their basic conceptions this in common, that they are both wholly speculative. In fact, all the bestknown representatives of the more recent philosophy of history are entirely speculative thinkers. Spengler likewise does not at all break with the tradition of this course. There has been. however, another sort of philosophy of history besides the speculative: an empirical or inductive philosophy of history, which has not been so well known, only because its representatives have walked more humbly and their doctrines have appealed less to the existing intellectual fashions. A historical philosopher should approach history as an empiricist. without any preconceived opinions about the result of historical investigation; nothing can be introduced into it as an assumption or an inclination.. This is not to say that a philosopher cannot approach history from the ethical side, having standards of moral values: the comprehending interpretation of historical event must be arrived at purely a posteriori, by sifting and ordering the facts. The results of the examination of facts must depend only on the method, and not on any ideological views which he may otherwise have. It had already become clear to Koneczny, thanks to his specialised investigations as a professional historian, that a deeper understanding of history is possible only when history is seen as a conflict of different civilisations. Already in the nineties—when writing his earlier works on the history of this Eastern European area in which during the centuries three civilisations had clashed—Koneczny came upon the idea which Oswald Spengler proclaimed some two or three decades later. Spengler presented it as an apparently completely new achievement, in opposition to the "tapeworm scheme" of a single historical development of humanity: he too showed that a single straightlined history of humanity did not exist, but only a multitude of isolated developments which went their course separated in time and space. Koneczny, however, as an aposterionst and empiricist, desisted at any cost from giving a common ruling principle to these separate lines. If such a principle exists, it cannot be laid down in advance, as Spengler did. The diversity of these civilisations consists in a manifold structure of the social life in the different human groups. The definition which Koneczny gives to describe this central and basic notion of his. is that civilisation is a structural method*) of human common life. This definition is on one hand very wide; it embraces the whole moral, intellectual and material being of man; it embraces family, society, state, nation, art, learning, politics and economy. On the other hand. this sharp and clear definition is intended also to narrow the vague and featureless notions of culture. on the basis of which the philosophy of history has often worked; but this narrowing is indispensable if one will not renounce a solution of the central historical-philosophical problem as Spengler does who in his two volumes never defines what civilisation in fact is. So there exists, as even a most superficial observation can recognise, not only one structural method of human social life, but an infinite plurality of forms which differ very much among themselves. Ethnology is still discovering new ones. Not every civilisation embraces all spheres of life. Only the so-called great civilisations are of special interest from the point of view of history. In face of this plurality and diversity of civilisations, two questions emerge: On what is this diversity based and in what does it consist? Where does it come from and by what factors of differentiation has it been brought about? The reply to the first question consists in a detailed development of the notion of civilisation. The second question, however, is the true central problem of the philosophy of history.
ON WHAT IS CIVILISATION BASED?
— THE QUINCUNX OF EXISTENTIAL VALUES
Already his earlier historical investigations had led Koneczny to devote special attention to the comparative study of law; he recognised very early the great importance of the diversity of law for the differentiation of social forms. Seen from outside, the diversity civilisations has a root in the diversity of law; the inner aspect consists in the different attitudes of man towards values. Two notions of Koneczny are here of fundamental importance: the "trójprawo". the "triple law" — and the existential categories or existential values. The "'triple law" embraces three spheres: family law. property law and inheritance law. The structure of the family is of central importance. Monogamy, polygamy, semi-polygamy and other forms of the constitution of the family influence in the deepest way the whole consciousness of society. The form of the family and the whole spiritual attitude of man stand in the closest mutual relationship. Polygamy, as experience teaches, influences in a most unfavourable way the spirit and the character not only of the woman. but also of the man; even the dissolubility of matrimony exercises an influence of a similar sort; it is a fact of great importance that not one polygamous society has been able to overcome the clan system. The spheres of the "triple law" arc closely mutually interrelated. To a given family law belongs also a corresponding property law and inheritance law. Not everything can be combined here with everything, but strict correspondences are in force, e.g. a mutual connection of monogamous matrimony with private property, and of polygamy with clan despotism. The "quincunx of existential values" or "categories of being" conducts us into the true, innermost essence of civilisation. These are: health, economic wellbeing. the true, the good and the beautiful. Two of these values belong to the material order, two to the spiritual; the value of beauty belongs at the same time to the two orders. The attitude towards these values, the valuation of them and the determination of the relation between them can be very different. The understanding of these differences gives a key which opens the riddle of the diversity of civilisations.
Humanity, as a whole, has not much in common; but it is true that the common ground increases when we narrow the circles, and limit ourselves to those societies which have risen above the more primitive grades of material cultural possession to what we popularly call higher culture. A hierarchical order exists among the values; this is a hierarchy of values as well as a hierarchy of sociological importance. Fundamentally. the spiritual categories have precedence over the material. But none of the five spheres is superfluous. Only where all five categories are fully developed is the "wholeness of life" achieved: where this is not the case, the civilisation is incomplete, "defective". Sociologically the most important is the value of the good, the sphere of morality. But it is in strictest connection with the sphere of truth. Here belong the wide, penetrating and subtle investigations of Koneczny into the relation between religion and morality. — Until today not even one case has been known of a wholly areligious civilisation. There have existed only societies with particularly great numbers of areligious individuals (e.g. Japan). No new civilisation has emerged from such societies until today, only cultural chaos. An areligious or even more an antireligious life leads towards a narrowing of life, towards a mutilation of the categories of being: the civilisation becomes again defective.
Historical induction teaches with compelling inevitability that without religion there can be no cultural progress. Not only the sphere of the beautiful, but also the two spheres of material values are internally strictly connected with the religious and moral order; a neglect of these harms also the physical and moral life. Every insufficiency in one sphere brings necessarily a corresponding insufficiency in the others. — Also the material spheres have their indestructible place in the hierarchy of values. Neglect of the body and contempt for the things of this earth harm the spirit and morality. "A law in some way inevitable brings it about that man, being composed of body and soul. has only the choice either to strive towards perfection in both spheres, or to sink in both." A popularisation of asceticism, if going too far, leads unavoidably to caricature. In the dirt even holiness ceases, although some parts of the Eastern Church may sometimes have thought otherwise. — The category of beauty has on its part a closest connection with all the categories of being. Koneczny grants great praise to the Renaissance because it liberated us definitely from the prejudice that moral accomplishment can only find proper expression in a body which is free from external beauty. All spheres of life without exception should be developed equally and in proper proportion to each other. This is not always the case in fact; often whole categories are lacking; such "sub-developed" societies have a "defective civilisation". The civilisation is "one-sided" when one category shoots up exuberantly and narrows the others by overgrowing them; primitive societies in particular sometimes form specimens of curious distortion; but also in historical civilisations examples of such a kind of "elephantiasis" could be found. "Fullness of life" is the real ideal. The nearer a society is to the ideal of all-roundness, the higher it stands; no one of the Asiatic civilisations fulfils this demand of completeness completely. In many of them the sphere of natural truth is missing. A fundamental postulate for every civilisation is the following: between the categories of the triple law and between all the categories of the quincunx a harmony and congruity must reign. This postulate means that a given solution in the sphere of one of the five values provides immanently and necessarily also guiding lines for solutions in all the other spheres. Civilisation is a "method" und not a chaos. A society whose attitude towards the five values, which are in the closest way interconnected, is not harmonious, is not flowing from one basic principle. is not forming a logical and compact system, but bears in itself the seeds of self-destruction. Only such societies which satisfy this fundamental requirement arc capable of life and progress. Old Hellas did not satisfy this demand; this is the innermost reason why she could not survive; old Rome, with her iron compactness was the direct opposite; the Roman world empire was anything but a simple produce of chance: it was a logical consequence of the compactness of the legal and social Roman structure, or. in other words. of the Roman superiority in civilisation over all the other societies of the ancient world. It follows from this high estimate of material categories that Koneczny does not adhere to a principle of division between the spiritual, and the exteriorly technical culture which is so beloved especially by the German philosophers of history. The ons cannot be separated from the other. The same principle of life finds expression in the external, technico-economico-legal organisation of a society, as in the highest spiritual manifestations; the external aspect of a civilisation and its spiritual and moral content are mutually in the most intimate way interdependent. Koneczny's rejection of this division into two spheres is linked with his conception of the struggle for existence. The previous century, with its predominantly materialistic notion of the struggle for existence, has greatly sinned in this matter. The struggle for existence has a triple character: moral, intellectual and material. Only rather deformed individuals conduct an exclusively material struggle for existence. It would have been possible already for the Darwinists to see—had they wished to see— that even on the most primitive level of culture wars are conducted not only for cattle and for hunting grounds, but also for "prestige".
THE CENTRAL PROBLEM OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
WHERE DOES THE DIFFERENCE OF CIVILISATIONS COME FROM?
What factors caused the spiritual differentiation into these highest groups of fundamentally different attitudes and social self-consciousness which we call civilisations? Very different answers have been given to this question. Koneczny deals with it in his major works extensively and with precision. NEGATIVE ANSWERS Not only the materialistic doctrine of history, which becam; the central dogma of Marxist Socialism, but also other opinions, which merit to be treated more seriously, consider technics and economy as decisive; according to L. H. Morgan and the Marxist school the whole of culture is only a function of given conditions of production. and the different civilisations are only expressions of different degrees of ergological development. Koneczny's answer is negative; the inductive examination of historical facts proves that technics determines only the cultural grade within one given civilisation, but not the kind of civilisation. Quantitative degrees are something quite different than qualitative, essential differences. Koneczny rejects also the anthropological view of history as to the decisive importance of race. He treats much more seriously the view of the dependence of civilisation on language: he agrees that languages differ very much in their usefulness as tools of the expression of the life of the human spirit. There are languages of good and of bad "method", practical and unpractical languages; languages which are an obstacle or a stimulus to spiritual progress. It is possible to speak of a hierarchy of languages. But language does not compel. So in conclusion, the answer is also here a negative one.
CIVILISATIONS AND RELIGIONS
ARE THE CIVILISATIONS PRODUCTS OF RELIGIONS?
The question concerning the relation between civilisation and religion is of central importance. Are 'the civilisations created by religions? Is a civilisation a thing, produced somehow by religious collective experiences and living thenceforward its own life and following its puzzling, inner laws of existence? Such was more or less Spengler's view of the matter. Koneczny, through his sharp definition of the element of civilisation as something quite distinct from the sphere of religion (in spite of multiple overlappings which make the recognition of the true content of the problems here particularly difficult), has extricated the history of ideas from a deviation which seemed almost inevitable. To this deviation Spengler easily succumbed, although none of his critics to our knowledge has noted this as an error.
Koneczny had supplied a solution already, when Spengler's books were not yet written. The current linguistical usage speaks without differentiation about Christian, Islamitic or Buddhist civilisation. That close relations between religion and civilisation exist, is certain: they are manifold and often not without contradictions. The inductive method, with which Koneczny examined the entangled complex of facts and questions, conducted him first to the important distinction between sacral, semi-sacral and non-sacral civilisations. A religion creates a civilisation when, and only when, the spheres of all five existential categories are embraced by the sacral legislation, and when the religion as such gives normative rules which embrace also hygiene, economy, art and science. There are only two such sacral civilisations: the Jewish and the Braminical. In these two cases religion and civilisation overlap: the problem of relationship between religion and civilisation is solved: in all other cases this relationship has yet to be examined.
CHRISTIANITY AND CIVILISATION
For the Christian part of humanity the thesis of coincidence of religion and civilisation is hardly applicable. The current expression of "Christian civilisation" is in the highest degree misleading: there is neither a unique Christian civilisation whose subdivisions would correspond to the different Christian denominations, nor are there borderlines between civilisations within the Christian sphere, identical with the borderlines of denominations. The Byzantine world, which stands dogmatically very close to Catholicism, is in the sphere of civilisation fundamentally different from the West, and on the other hand Protestantism, which rejects a substantial part of Catholic dogma and does not recognise the Catholic notion of Church, has not transformed in any fundamental way the civilisation which the Protestant nations inherited from their Catholic past. It is so because civilisation and religion are, despite the manifold connection between them. two distinct orders: and a solution of the basic problem of the science of civilisations is not possible without keeping the notions of them strictly apart. Christianity refused to create a sacral civilisation. It made sacral only one institution of human social life: matrimony. The Gospels deal only with one of the categories of the Quincunx of existencial values: with the category of the morally good. But in spite of this. the influence of Christianity, or to speak more strictly, of Catholic Christianity, upon the entire civilisation of the Catholic, or formerly Catholic nations is an undeniable fact. At her entry into the cultural world of the antique Mediterranean the young Church found herself in face of a highly developed civilisation. The temptation arose to take a hostile attitude towards this civilisation, which was in the closest way connected with paganism. But the Church did not succumb to this temptation. On the contrary. she took towards the antique civilisation the attitude which has been taken by the Christian mission during the whole of her history towards every civilisation which she meets, the lowest as well as the highest. She approached and approaches every civilisation with four indexible moral demands. These four moral postulates of Christendom are: the indissolubility of monogamous matrimony; the endeavour to abolish slavery; the abolition of private justice (blood-feud) and the transfer of its functions to public administration; the independence of Church from State.
Koneczny calls these four postulates quite simply the "four wedges" which Christianity drives into every civilisation. The first and fourth postulates are unconditional; with the second and third Christianity allows a gradual state of transition. Everything which doss not oppose any of these four Christian demands, can remain. By the introduction of the third postulate the Church also became a political educator of nations, and sometimes even the creator of the State. Thus also was the mutual interpenetration of Christianity and of antique civilisation created. Christianity became impregnated with antique civilisation; this was permissible and possible to Christianity without in he least degree influencing its own religious essence; it was quite enough to dismiss from earthly civilisation everything which contradicted the morality of the Gospel. And in this way Christian Rome became the preserver and continuator of the old classical civilisation, from which, through long centuries of educative work by the Catholic Church, Western civilisation emerged. The seeming paradox that just this religion which makes nothing sacral excepting matrimony, which does not identify itself with any single civilisation, not even with the one which was formed by it, has exerted the greatest cultural influence and transformed to the greatest extent the whole existence of the peoples which embraced it. Christianity is according to Koneczny the opposite pole to Buddhism: this religion (as also Islam, in part), allows itself to be transformed by civilisation and submits to it, whereas Christianity forms civilisation and conquers it. For Buddhism the world is radically wicked, because every earthly being is to it essentially unholy; in opposition to it. Christianity, in spite of its rejection of sacralisation. teaches that every step in life can and even should be sanctified: the Gospel contains no private law and no public law, but it has transformed the face of the earth. But not all forms of Christianity have influenced civilisation in an equal way. There is a fundamental difference which separates Western Christendom from Eastern. The difference consists in this: that only Catholicism has treated the fourth basic postulate with complete and uncompromising preremptoriness. The different forms of Eastern Christendom have done otherwise. Koneczny (to whom his precise knowledge of East-European and Asiatic history in those centuries which correspond to the Western middle ages supplied an enormous store of facts), consecrated very detailed studies also to Byzantine Christianity. He gave similar attention to Nestorianism. which had in Central Asia during long centuries an importance not remotely suspected by the general body of European historians, in spite of a number of special monographs. Koneczny's works contain collections of an enormous wealth of highly interesting facts, which Should lay claim to the highest attention since they throw an unexpectedly clear light not only upon the history of Asia. but also upon the whole history of mankind. Very few among us know how deeply the Nestorian missionary activity progressed in Central Asia; in fact, a very substantial part of the Ural-Altaic peoples of Central Asia, to which the Turkic group and the Mongols belong, were in early and high middle ages converted to the Nestorian form of Christendom. There was in Mongol history a real Christian period. Koneczny even believes he can rightly speak of "Mongol crusades".1 Undertaken with well disciplined super-armies, they had far greater penetrating force than had the European crusades and were much more dangerous to the Islamic states than those; the European expeditions were not in the military sense at all "modern" as was the then highly progressive military force of the Mongols. All this once vast Nestorian Christendom of Central Asia has ceased to exist: Mongol Christianity has disappeared from history without trace. Kipchak became Moslem, and in Mongolia proper Buddhism became overwhelmingly dominant. It is only with difficulty that we find here and there a few effaced traces of the lost Christian communities in the ruins of old Mongol cities. The answer to the disquieting question as to how all this could have happened, lies. according to Koncczny. in this: lhal this Central Asiatic Christianity was only a "defective" form. a Christianity which did not dare to change radically a society whose whole structure ignored the most fundamental demands of the Christian religion. The civilisation which Christianity here encountered was the Turanian. with which a conflict of quite other dimensions was necessary than had been the case with the classical-antique. Nestorian Christendom neglected to undertake this conflict; it simplified its task by minimising it and by taking an opportunist attitude. It embarked upon impracticable compromises, it weakened its own fundamental moral demands in adaptation to the non-Christian environment, the Christianisation ofwhich was anything but an easy task. It renounced the radical adoption of its own fundamental postulates and submitted completely to a civilisation which contained quite irreconciliable elements. The result was a self-disintegration of this defective Christianity: in its inconsistent compromise it was right from the beginning doomed to defeat and absorption by the rigorous compactness of the Turanian civilisation. It seems to be Koneczny's principal aim to show the Turanian civilisation as the opposite pole of the Western civilisation, moulded by Rome. We consider the introduction of the notion of Turanian civilisation as one of his greatest merits. Spongier did not notice this civilisation at all. Perhaps he did not know it. Perhaps he did not want to see it and neglected it because it did not do him the favour of fitting into his aprioristic scheme of biological cultural developments. According to Koneczny a low estimate of the element of religion and in general of the spiritual element is typical for the Turanian civilisation; the central value in the sphere of Turanian civilisation is the political element: everything has to be subordinated to it. The religious ingenium is missing in the Turanian civilisation; in essence, the Turanian man is areligious, what does not necessarily mean that he is hostile towards religion. On the contrary, the Mongol political power was quite tolerant in religious matters. The Mongols established the first real totalitarian state in history; but this state differed from the modern ones in its tolerance in religious matters. This "liberalism" in matters of ideology and almost absolute religious tolerance were very much to its advantage. However. this did not flow from respect for the sphere of conscience, nor for human liberty of thought, but can rather be simply explained by the lack of importance which the religious element had for Turanian man. In fact. all the religions which penetrated into the sphere of Turanian civilisation became degenerated and in part corrupted; and even Christianity did not prove an exception from this. A quite typical representative of the Turanian civilisation is Temudzhin, the last of the Genghis Khans. Byzantine Christianity, again, is according to Koncczny slightly defecttive; it did not treat seriously the fourth of the fundamental Christian postulates. The consequence was a Church subjected to the State, the using of religion for worldly and political purposes. a stagnation, a stiffening, a decline. The Western Church, on the contrary, facilitated and supported the development of a "society" whose possibilities of development everywhere in the East were supressed. The final result of the investigation of the problem of relation between religion and civilisation is in consequence rather negative:
- "there is no general parallelism between civilisations and religions. The problem of the origin of civilisations is solved only for the sacral civilisations. It still remains open for the non-sacral ones. Only one provisional conclusion has been arrived at, namely that the final solution of the problem can only lie in the spiritual sphere, because the spiritual factors are incomparably more decisive than the material".
Footnote 2: Koneczny strives to prove that Russia, in spite of her Byzantine Christianity, belongs juridically and sociologically positively to the Turanian world. We know that this opinion of bis meets often a strong opposition. We should not forget, however, that Koneczny as a Pole is at the same time a "Westerner on the outpost". He observes the meeting of different civilisations in Poland's "Kresy", the Polish Eastern provinces; he explains it in the most acute terms from the viewpoint of his teaching on civilisations, if only with the aim of sharpening the Latin and Western consciousness of his compatriots. His presentation of the Turanian character of Muscovitism is in the highest grade original; he puts emphasis mainly on political, juridico-historical and sociological arguments.
THE POSITIVE ANSWER: THE PRINCIPAL FACTORS OF DIFFERENTIATION OF CIVILISATIONS
Four factors before all, according to Koneczny. determine the cultural differentiation of humanity:
1. The relation of man towards time: the measuring of time. the reckoning of time and the mastery of time:
2. the relation between public and private law;
3. the sources of law:
4. the existence or non-existence of national consciousness.
Whole peoples are without any relationship to time; others have achieved only the knowledge of measuring time. The achievement of a calendar is not necessarily a suflicient criterion of a higher cultural grade; because it does not necessarily lead to the reckoning of time from one era; Egyptians and Chinese did not have an era; the Jews began only in Roman times their dating in years from the creation of the world. The highest grade in the relation of man towards time is the power over time. Contrary to the power over space which develops only the intellect, the progress in having power over time goes hand in hand with a simultaneous moral advance; by establishing and accomplishing aims in time man voluntarily limits his freedom: but this selflimitation is a great step towards an important element of true freedom, which is man's independence from exterior circumstances: an important condition for the unfolding of social virtues. Of all the civilised peoples of antiquity only the Romans, according to Koneczny, achieved this degree; only they, and the filial cultures of Roman civilisation possessed what Koneczny calls "historism". the living tie and awareness of the presence of this tie between present time and the past with all its inheritance, as well as the feeling of responsibility for the future and for those who will follow. 2. The greater part of humanity knows even today no public law fundamentally separated from the private law. The State's law of large political formations is often nothing but an extended private law; so in the Turanian civilisation, the ruler is owner of the State, of the whole territory of the State with all the inhabitants and their property, and he can exercise his power over them according to his will, or whim; in the Russian world, too, one finds again and again this Turanian notion of law. For the development of a "society" (i.e. a differentiated society: Koneczny employs here the Polish term "społeczeństwo" in opposition to "społeczność". the ordinary, nondifferentiated human aggregate), there are here no conditions, no possibilities of development. Rome was the first to create a public law sharply and fundamentally separated from private law: only here the conditions for the development of a "society" became present. From Rome. this achievement passed to Western civilisation, in which the inalienable rights of the human person with its inherent dignity thus found a lasting abode. In Byzantium this sharp division became effaced again; a "society" could unfold itself here only so far as a benevolent slate allowed it. (The society is here underdeveloped: in its place flourish the Stalemaintained Church: uniformity and standardisation: spiritual stagnation and degeneration; bureaucracy and servility: herd humanity and herd psychology; Asiatic structural elements received in the epoch of the decadence of the Roman Empire, and which had destroyed old Rome.) 3. The difference in the sources of law is in fact the deepest root of differentiation of civilisations. Here again, it was old Rome who for the first time and quite unequivocally3 considered law as a consequence of morality and as its application to concrete cases. With this recognition of natural law also the first complete release of law from sacrality took place in Rome Organs of "society". not of State, issued laws in Rome; during centuries the State as such did not issue in Rome even a single law. but accepted laws born in the citizen's assemblies of the curiae at comitiae. Unfortunately, the picture of ancient Rome does not stand sufficiently clearly and unequivocally before our eyes, the eyes of posterity; in late antique times the East already influenced the West. Even antiquity knew already the temptation of the East. There was a time when even in Rome one started to declare that quod principi placuit, legis habet vigorem, what pleases the ruler has the force of law. The sources of Roman law which we, posterity, have inherited — the Pandecta and the Codex — reflect the struggle of two different ethics, the Western and the Eastern, a struggle which we can observe very clearly although the Eastern ethic sometimes wears a borrowed Western and Roman cloak. Thus, a cultural split ran in later times right through the innermost structure of the Roman Empire. Two fundamentally different. two diametrically opposed views struggled with each other, two principles between which there could be no synthesis. The fundamental achievement of Rome could survive the period of the ruin of the Roman Empire and of the accompanying chaos. thanks to the Catholic Church which introduced this achievement into Western civilisation. The middle ages. in spite of occasional relapses, show the history of a constant penetration into European secular laws of the principles of Catholic morality. At the same time, in the conflicts between sacerdolium and imperium which took such a dramatic aspect from the penetration of certain Byzantine legal views into the West, an increasingly sharp distinction between secular and religious authority look place, with an increasingly clear separation of their spheres of influence. It was quite the other way in the East. where the State attributed to itself the position of the only interpreter of law. The consequence of it was the amorality —which meant in practice the immorality—of public life.
The nations arc the ethical superstructure of society, of which they form the highest grade of development. For the idea of a nation, the presence of aims exceeding the simple struggle for existence is essential. The nations are not at all something a priori necessary; they are all aposteriori, products of history; they grow together from tribes and peoples. The conditions for the birth of a national consciousness are: the emancipation of the family from the clan, the existence of a public law, as well as a certain level of intellectual development. One can under compulsion belong to a State: but a compulsory belonging to a nation would be a contradiction in itself. The conditions for the emergence of a national consciousness appeared for the first time not even in Old Hellas, but in Old Italy at the time of the Roman Republic; it was proved.
LAWS OF HISTORY
We can now define what Koneczny's doctrine means in comparison with the previous5 doctrines of philosophy of history. We would be inclined to ascribe to Koneczny the following, merits. Koneczny's doctrine means a renunciation of any purely speculative philosophy of history; when the philosophy of history becomes a science of civilisations, it has to be an inductive science founded on the study of facts. This is perhaps the only possible way to rescue the philosophy of history; to make it a philosophical science of history. Not only to rescue, but also to consolidate, by giving it a strictly defined sphere from which it cannot be expelled, and at the same time by giving it strong foundations. Otherwise, it would be quite a doubtful undertaking, to base the philosophy of history in such a way that its validity and even its right to exist could not be put in question. But it is not our purpose to investigate here whether the eternal question of the sense of history can receive at all a philosophical answer, or whether it be not answerable, or can find an answer only within the limits of a theology of history—if we are prepared to admit the possibility of such a science. A clear application of the principle of induction involves a break with ominous apriorism; it means before all a decisive overcoming of aprioristic biologism in every form. An impression became slowly established in the philosophy of history that the recognition of a plurality of civilisations is inseparably connected with a biologic and biologising view on these civilisations.6 It is Koneczny's merit to have destroyed this illusion and to have separated from each other the two ideas, which for centuries had been continually treated as interconnected. At the same time, the refreshing all-sided general examination of civilisations demonstrates the specific character of them as a spiritual domain; put by induction again and 5
The word "previous" should be taken "cum grano salis". Koneczny's doctrine, as we already said before, is substantially older than the doctrine of Oswald Spengler. Koneczny conceived the fundamental ideas of his doctrine already in the 1890s. Later, he only formulated it more clearly and verified his inductive method on more and more abundant material of historical facts. 6 Spengler's civilisations are in a mystical sense, undefined and probably (indefinable, functions of space; they are something grown up from the "mother ground", developed like plants from the earth, inseparable from the space to which they belong; and this forms the men. Koneczny's civilisations, on the contrary, are like spiritual fluids, which rise "over" the spaces and morally keep the men in their power, but without any fatalist or determinist compulsion, because they are created by the men themselves, they are products of human spirit. As spiritual fluids they are also flowing, they are something incomparably more mobile than Spengler's earthattached civilisations, they are agile like everything which is of the spirit. And these fluids put out tentacles, they are not closed in themselves, separated from each other like those of Spengler; they struggle with each other and they "must" struggle against each other and try to repel each other.
THE ONLY LAW OF HISTORY: CAUSALITY AND FINALITY
The civilisations struggle against each other. Each tries to dislodge the other. Only the understanding of the conflicts and rivalries between civilisations—and this is Koneczny's principal thesis—gives a clue to universal history. There is, according to Koneczny, only one law of history in the sense of a general rule concerning historical facts and this is: "every civilisation, so long as it is viable, tries to expand; wherever there meet two civilisations which are able to live. they must struggle against each other. Every civilisation is on the offensive, so long as it is not dying. The struggle lasts until one of the two civilisations is destroyed; the mere occupation of a dominating position by one of the civilisations does not end the struggle"7. A synthesis of civilisations does not exist and is not possible. The only thing which is possible—and history is rich in examples of it—is only a mechanical mixture of two or more civilisations, but its result is only chaos, barbarity, disintegration and cultural decadence, because such mixtures are a sin against the fundamental condition of the vitality of every civilisation, which is the law of harmony of existential categories. The norms which rule the life of a human group have to form a unity, they cannot contradict each other. Only syntheses between subdivisions of the same civilisation are possible. All so-called syntheses of civilisations are illusions. Again and again, from antiquity till the present time, have "syntheses of East and West" been tried in history; they were always unsuccessful. because their success was impossible. Because unavoidably the "law of laws" finds application in which Koneczny gathers together the final result of his studies: "one cannot be civilised in two different ways". This is nothing else but the practical application of the principle of harmony: one cannot detach elements from one civilisation and introduce them into a society belonging to a different civilisation. One can be civilised for instance in a Turanian way; but it is impossible to introduce principles and forms of Turanian civilisation into the Latin civilisation; they do not fit in here. in the same way as forms and principles of the West, introduced into the domains of other civilisations, act as elements of decomposition. There is then also in Koneczny a principle of closedness or self-conlainedness of civilisations; but this is something quite different rrom the mechanical, strictly exteriorly considered scparatcnes.s of the civilisations of Spengler. The compactness of Koneczny's civilisation is something logical: it expresses the all-embracing character of a civilisation: each civilisation is a sum of forms and principles which are harmoniously combined and which form a system, and which cannot be separated from each other nor appear separately. The cultural death which is caused by cultural mixture however is not a fatalistically unavoidable fate: there is no such fate for human communities, just as there is no such fate for individual men. There are only consequences of human acts. The decline of a civilisation is always possible, because at any time the causes can appear which bring it about. But even a civilisation's decline. when already in full progress, can at any time be stopped: swuibiles Deus fecit nationes!
Because — and this is the final meaning of Koneczny's philosophy of history —the laws which rule history are, seen from the point of view of man placed in history, moral imperatives of duty and freedom. And the final solution of the riddle of history lies not in a law of necessity imposed by Nature, but in the law of moral freedom. And so, there is also progress in history; because morality is capable of progress. For the Latin civilisation this progress means a progressive widening of the spheres in which morality finds practical application: further and further new branches of morality become law. In the light of these fundamental views Koneczny sees history and the present time. The chaotic condition of the humanity of times is for him a consequence of all the syntheses of incompatible civilisations which have been undertaken, in which mixtures were tried of elements of ethics, sociology, politics and spiritual life which were by nature incapable of mixing.
EAST, WEST. ROME AND BYZANTIUM. TURAN.
THE PRESSURE OF THE EAST UPON THE WEST GERMANY
The West and Turan are absolute, contrary poles. The deepest root of this opposition is a fundamentally different attitude towards man and towards the position of an individual in the human group. Turan does not know man as a person; it docs not know any dignity of a person; the individual has value and importance only is his role of a component part of the State's organisation. In the Turanian civilisation and in its descendant. Muscovy-Russia, there is, legally, no such a thing as a "society" in existence: the Slate is everything. The European lives also in the Stale, the Turanian lives exclusively in it. Koneczny speaks of an "elephantiasis" of politics in the Turanian civilisation. Therein the whole social structure is directed purely towards the military factor. Such were the Mongolian States of the middle ages; and through such a school Moscow has gone.
On the contrary, in the West, primacy belongs to the spirit, to the spiritual power. Man as an individual, as a person, has his unalienable dignity. In the dignity of the person lies the root of freedom, and with it the demand for citizen's freedoms; and correlated with freedom, as its source and as its consequence — both, because in the Western system of values both are organically interwoven — is the feeling of responsibility. No other civilisation knows the notion of freedom, because no other has this high notion of human dignity. Even the most highly developed subdivision of Arabic civilisation, the one of Cordova. did not arrive as far. This Western principle of primacy of the spiritual element obtained the farthest formulation in the school of Cluny: the Pope as highest guardian of the Christian order, even in the political sphere. He had the right to watch the kings and to remove bad Christians from their thrones. Such a thesis, in presence of the absolute subordination of the spiritual power below the temporal in the East, show the whole contrast between Rome and Turan. The teaching of the potestas directa in temporalibus (direct authority in temporal matters) is for the men of other civilisations a revolutionary monstrosity; but its foundation is simply the conviction that there cannot be a double morality and that also public life, the relation between one State to another, and that between every State and its citizens, are not subordinated to other moral commandments as private life; because the State is in the Western view not an aim in itself; it does not stand outside the notions of good and evil, but it is subject to natural law and has to serve Ihe moral aims of humanity. From all this flows the possibility, present only in the West. of the highest form of cultural progress: namely the possibility of raising from generation to generation the level of ethics in private as well as in public life: according to Koneczny this is the only real and true progress; it consists in this, that more and more portions of morality become transformed into law. Byzantium stands exactly half way between the West and Turan, but it is nowhere — even if here and there it may show some Turanian features — so extreme as Turan. Also in Byzantium, form has priority over content. The mission of Byzantium was the introduction and spreading of uniformity. And the maintaining of uniformity demands compulsion, an external pressure. To exercise this pressure is the function of the State. The individual, the family, every social institution, is here strangled by the omnipotent state. A "society", independent from the State and from the sphere of politics, does exist here. but is underdeveloped. The tendency towards formality and uniformity can be found in Byzantium in all domains of culture, from the rigid rules in art, forbidding any novelties, down to the ceremonies of the court etiquette. Byzantium does not tolerate any. individualism; neither does Byzantine Church approve of it. Byzantium is always uniformist and centralist; because it cannot imagine any other unity except uniformity. That unity can also be articulate and multiform, without thereby losing its compactness and energy, this is according to Koneczny not a Byzantine, but a Western idea; Byzantium, or a State influenced by the Byzantine spirit, would not be able to conceive of it. A political conception such as federalism was unthinkable in Byzantium; whence derives the inability, until to-day, of all Byzantium-trained peoples to see the State^ otherwise as a centralistic unitarist body; whence also the tendency of the Byzantine Serbs to impose upon the Croats belonging to the Western civilisation, a centralist rule; the Serb wants to assimilate the Croat, and does not understand the desire of the latter to enjoy equality and freedom in a federation. Byzantium took over from Rome the notion of a public law separate and different from the private one; but the sphere of the private law has become more and more limited because of the encroachments of the State, i.e. of bureaucracy. Byzantium is the home of State socialism, of State taxes and of State omnipotence. In all that concerns the exterior cultural level. Byzantium stood. it is true, for centuries high above the West:—an admired, envied and imitated model. Paris was only a village when Byzantium glittered with gold and purple and put Western travellers into mute wonder by its splendours. It was the kingdom of elegant etiquette. of fashion and of good taste for the barbarians from the West; But all this is not the most important; the important thing is thai Byzantium is an alien and a substantially different cultural world from ours. Yet precisely the fact that Byzantium was superior to the West in external culture was the source of an immence danger for all the Western European peoples. All of them fell under the spell of the Byzantine temptation — and this temptation meant the danger of a very harmful influence. For those who know with Koneczny, how in the middle ages Byzantine formprinciples and legal views were penetrating into Europe and what far-reaching influence they were exercising, medieval history takes the shape of a dramatic struggle, conducted by the Western, the Roman spirit against the foreign, Byzantine forms and principles which were incessantly infiltrating. Again, the medieval idea of the Sacrum Imperium appears according to Koneczny's teaching no longer as the final crystallization of medieval Western thinking, but quite on the contrary, as something completely alien, as a "Byzantine" foreign body. Only through liquidating and overcoming the medieval imperial idea could Europe truly find herself. The question had to emerge in the West again and again, why it was that—at least since Prussia took over the leading role in Germany — Germany represented a permanent, provincial rebellion against the Western world. It is true, it is impossible to say that it was all Germany. But if we think of the most recent history, it was from Germany that the most dangerous inward threats to the Western world came, even if on the other hand on other levels European consciousness of Germany remained quite alert. Whenever we wish to answer this question, we must go back quite far in time: the roots which we seek are to be found in the Middle Ages. It is a mistake to see in the medieval imperial idea, of which medieval Germany was the bearer, a genuinely Western, or even the supremely Western idea. From the point of view of the history of ideas, this idea is without any doubt of Byzantine origin. It represented the endeavour — never put more than partially into practice — to introduce into the West the imperial idea of Byzantium. Genuinly Western was the self-defence of European peoples against every attempt to organise Europe on the basis of a hegemony. It was not the imperial idea and the imperial mystique, but their complete opposite, the idea of a family of free and equal nations, which was really Western. At the Council of Constance these two ideas clashed with each other in a dramatic way: and it was there that one of the most genial forerunners of the idea of a federal Europe appeared. Paulus a Vladimiri (Pawel Wlodkowic of Brudzeri). It is Koneczny who notes the permanent importance of this truly epoch-making political thinker. It meant the end of the political Middle Ages when the Catholic Church dissociated itself in due form from the imperial mystique. It is true, the latter was not yet dead in consequence of the separation: political ideas are able to persist in an amazing way. they may even change their exterior appearance, their motivation and their apparent aims, and yet remain essentially the same. What dangers were brought into Europe by the secularised imperial idea. incorporated in Germany under Prussian leadership, we have all been able to learn sufficiently by now. In Germany also warning voices were not lacking; unfortunately they were not as well heeded as they merited. I would like to mention here two men who already about forty years ago perceived the general shape of the contrast between a Western and antiWestern Germany: Herman Hefele and Hugo Ball. To-day, a whole chorus of voices can be heard in Germany, who with refreshing clarity utter all that is necessary on the theme Prussia- Germany- Europe- The West; I will only mention the "Leidensgeschichte des zivilen Geistes in Deutschland" by Karl Buchhsim. It is a pity that all these men did not know the teaching of Feliks Koneczny: they would have found in his works a precise historical analysis and an explanation of what they already discerned in their acute minds for themselves. The teaching of Koneczny puts the importance of the Catholic Church in the whole complex of Western history in a light, which will disperse many prejudices also among non-Catholics. Every Westerner, in whatever ideological or political camp he stands to-day, is obliged to be thankful to the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages for having undertaken a struggle against the all-powerful Empire. and for having conducted this struggle until the end. Nothing is more typical than the alliance of the Lombard League of cities with Papacy against the Empire of the Hohenstaufen. which was equally menacing to both: religious and civic liberty had to be defended together. If the Catholic Church had not conducted a fight against the all-powerful Empire, which did not tolerate any sphere of liberty. so sphere of spiritual freedom would exist in which "free thought" in the modern sense could unfold itself: "free" thought, in the positive as well as in the slightly suspect sense, would never have been possible if Latin Church of the Middle Ages had not in the fight against the Empire, secured originally at least one sphere, to be in principle free from the grip and control of the State. To such thoughts Koneczny conducts us. Even if the science of civilisations, as shaped by him. is yet to a great extent only a programme and a task. we can certainly say at least this:
— that what he has already established and said is of such importance that no experiment in a universal historical synthesis, and no explanation of history, undertaken in future will be able to pass it by. Koneczny was himself fully conscious that his experiment of a general survey of civilisations was not yet anything final and that it needed in many points completion, widening and correction: notwithstanding his conviction that a universal history has meaning only under the aspect of a history of civilisations struggling with each other. He regretted the decline of humanistic thinking at the transitional period from the 19th to the 20th century; but he saw many signs of a new revival and was convinced that the permeation of the humanities by the ways and methods of thinking of the natural sciences would not be of long duration. In the final words of his principal work he spoke out his strong faith in the revival of humanistic studies. He knew that he himself had penetrated into a new scientific field in humanities, and that he explored paths of which perhaps not all would lead to the end.
Every overestimation of self was far from him; he wrote literally:
- "I console myself with the hope that the question which I put in this book. will be studied by Polish scholarship. I shall not only be satisfied, but I shall be happy, if this will be so; without regarding how much of my own work will remain and how much. on the basis of the more accurate studies of my successors, will have to be withdraw."