Feliks Koneczny As Predating the Clash of Civilizations

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Tomasz Raburski:

"Koneczny tried not only to understand the historical process, but also to set a political agenda. His theory is a project for a moral revival in Europe. As well as most conservatives, he idealized the past. However, he did not claim that there was ever a golden age. The ideal political system is yet to be built. Europeans should abandon the dreams of multiculturalism, get rid of non-Latin institutions and return to their ethical origins. Thus Koneczny’s theory predated Samuel Huntington’s idea of the clash of civilizations (Gawor 2002).There are many parallels between these two theories, but there are also significant differences.

First of all, there is Augustinian spirit in Koneczny’s theory. The rivalry between the civilizations is continuously present within the societies and within the minds and hearts of the peoples. While Huntington created only a theory of international relations, The works of Koneczny include also a full-fledged ethical theory.

Secondly, Poland has a special status in Koneczny’s theory. He was a continuator of Polish messianism and the idea of Poland as a bulwark of western civilization and Christianity (Dworaczyk 2006). According to him Polish culture was born within the Latin civilization, but in the historical process, it was contaminated by the alien influences (e.g. the influence of Turanian civilization was the cause of Polish Sarmatism). In spite of these influences, Polish nation remained a repository of Latin values and possible savior of Latin Europe.

Thirdly, Koneczny described Europe from Central European (in particular Polish)perspective. At the core of all the theories of civilizations, there lies a basic opposition, which serves as a framework for the theory (Raburski 2014). The structure of theory is a consequence of the initial assumptions, such as what the analytical units are and what are the most important factors and variables.

Spengler built his theory contrasting ancient and western civilizations. Huntington focused on comparing western, Islamic and Chinese civilizations. Koneczny compared Poland, Germany and Russia. He looked for the differences between them and attributed them to separate civilizations. Latin Poland is placed between East and West: between Byzantine Germany, and Turanian Russia. It is a foremost line of defense of European Latinism, and its fate is a European fate. Czechs and Hungarians are other boundary countries between Latinism and German-Byzantinism. Hungarian origins were in Turanian civilization, but in the middle ages they became utterly Latinized. All Koneczny’s writings were focused on this part of Europe and were built on local historical examples. Since Koneczny’s theory was a normative project, he did not refrain from grading the civilizations. Civilizations are not equal in the ethical sense. Latin civilization holds the highest value, which means it harmonizes all the quincunx categories to the highest degree and it is the best for the fulfillment of an individual. Other civilizations are also harmonious and stable structures and they may be even more successful in the material sense. That is because the ethical excellence is not paired with power. Quite contrary: lower ethical standards prevail in the political institutions. Thus, according to Koneczny, the purity is a matter of survival for Latin civilization. Koneczny’s theory was a significant contribution to Polish conservative thought. He helped to modernize conservatism and to transform it into a modern ideology, not limited to certain social classes. His thought has little influence on liberals and the left, because of the explicit anti-Semitism, nationalism and anti-modernism. Koneczny’s concepts are used by some contemporary conservative parties (most notably by the League of Polish Families or Marek Jurek’s Right of the Republic), by some officials of the Polish catholic church or by the neo-Thomists (e.g. Mieczysław Krąpiec). The most prominent supporters of his theory are the members of Giertych family: Jędrzej Giertych (interwar politician), Maciej Giertych (former member of the European Parliament) and Roman Giertych (former deputy prime minister of Poland)(e.g. Giertych 2007). Koneczny’s thought became more popular, than it was before the war."