A Suburb of Europe
In this lively and original book, the distinguished Polish historian Jerzy Jedlicki tells the story of a century-long Polish dispute over the merits and demerits of the Western model of liberal progress and industrial civilization. As in all peripheral countries of Europe, Polish intellectuals-conservatives, liberal, and (later) socialists-quarrelled about whether such a model would suit and benefit their nation, or whether it would spell the ruin of its distinctive cultural features.
This heated debate revolved around several pairs of opposing ideas: native cultures vs. cosmopolitan civilization; natural vs. artificial ways of economic development; Christian morals vs. capitalist laissez-faire; traditional customs vs. mobile society; romanticism vs. scientism, and so on. It is these various aspects of the main issue which the author analyzes and links together here. He shows how difficult and painful the process of modernization was in a nation deprived of its political independence and cultural autonomy.
The book has been abridged and fully revised for this English edition. Explanatory notes, a chronology, and maps have been added, together with a new Introduction highlighting the striking analogies with the present when, after a long period of isolation under communism, Poland is again assessing its place in the world.
Part 1: Images of the Future (from the 1780s to 1863)
Chapter 1: National identity and cosmopolitan civilization
Chapter 2: 'Natural' or 'artificial' development
Chapter 3: The gospel and economy
Part 2: Ambiguities of Progress (from 1864 through 1880s)
Chapter 4: Vicious circles
Chapter 5: Affirmation and negation
Chapter 6: Growth and distribution