TADEUSZ KOŚCIUSZKO AMONG THE ENLIGHTENED AND THE ROMANTICS
October 15th 2017 saw the two -hundredth anniversary of Tadeusz Kościuszko’s death. Marian Skrzypek discusses a soon to be published anthology which presents the process of the historical reception of Kościuszko. It includes Polish and French manuscripts written after 1818, as well as translations of French texts written by Polish émigré writers.
TADEUSZ KOŚCIUSZKO’S REPUBLICAN CREDO
We are suffering today from a deficit of humanistic values and role models who might embody them. The anniversary of Kościuszko’s death seems therefore to be a good occasion to refresh the memory of our national hero, a noble and disinterested man, modest and ingenuous, whose everyday pursuits were governed by the ideas of the Enlightenment. The supreme value which Kościuszko served was Poland’s independence, a value which took precedence over all others, including personal happiness. Kościuszko believed that national independence and social freedom were inextricably connected and he persuaded his compatriots that without freeing the peasants and granting equal rights to the merchant class it would be impossible to secure Poland’s national survival.
HANNAH ARENDT AS A REPUBLICAN THINKER
In the 1950s and 60s Hannah Arendt closely studied the nature of 20th century totalitarian systems. She analyzed the ideologies, the conditions which made Holocaust possible, the relationship between philosophy and politics in these “dark times”. Her books on the subject (The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil) brought her both fame and infamy (in Israel her study of the “banality of evil” was not published until 2000, five years after the Hebrew translation of Mein Kampf came out). The 1970s saw an important change in Arendt’s interests. Her book Crises of the Republic (which includes the two essays published in this issues of “Kronos”) focuses on the maladies which weaken western democracies and especially – on the too soon dismissed specter of totalitarianism. This book shows a different Arendt: her republican inclinations prevail over her philosophical nature and misanthropy. She chooses action over speculation. At least for a time.
“THE SAME OLD THING: THE NEGLECT OF ORDINARY PEOPLE”. HANNAH ARENDT AND CARL SCHMITT
For anyone who admires and studies the ideas of Hannah Arendt, it must come as a surprise, or even shock, to find her name often invoked by critics alongside those of some of the leading intellectuals of the Weimar Republic: Alfred Bäumler, Ernst Jünger and Carl Schmitt. This fact requires a deeper analysis. One thing, however, is clear: Arendt read Schmitt more carefully than the sporadic references to him in her writings might suggest.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF JÓZEF PIŁSUDSKI
It is difficult to find in the history of Poland a figure more influential, both during his lifetime and after his death, than that of Józef Piłsudski. He was not only a flesh and blood human being, but also a symbol. When he died even his most bitter enemies ceased their harangues and paid respect to Piłsudski. The decisions he made, the things he did, the ideas he expressed, shaped not only Poland but also the self -awareness of Poles.
CHRIST LIVES IN POLAND – MEREZHKOVSKY AND THE POLISH ISSUE
In order to understand Dmitry Merezhkovsky’s pamphlet on Piłsudski, it is important to clearly define the author’s political stance. His modernist inclinations made him oppose tsarist Russia which he saw as obsolete. At the same time, however, he was an ardent opponent of the Bolsheviks. He favored a new Russia, liberated from the shackles of the tsarist regime, but not revolutionary. During the 1917 revolution his political views were closest to those of the Constitutional Democrats. He therefore belonged to “white” liberal circles.