The Millennium of Europe

The Millennium of Europe

The Millennium of Europe

The Millennium of Europe

Excerpt

There is a great deal of truth in Marx's remark that "our social situation determines our mental consciousness." People of different nationalities, surroundings, generations, will take a different view, both of the past and the present. As long as history remains "unfinished" -- which means, as long as the Last Judgment has not been declared -- new events will cast new light on previous ones.

Take the French Revolution as an example. As long as political discussion in Europe went on between the so-called Left and Right, this dividing line also set historians of these two schools in opposition to one another. It was not by chance that Taine, as the author of Les Origines de la France contemporaine, was at the same time a Conservative, nor that the Robespierrist Mathiez should later sympathize with Communism. For the same reason, it is only natural that, to see a Jewish historian like Professor J. L. Talmon write a book on The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy, we should have to await the rise of messianistic political regimes in our own time. The words, "totalitarian democracy," would have been incomprehensible to any nineteenth- century historian.

Along the same line, it is hardly surprising that modern historiography should have been influenced by recent attempts to federate the nations of western Europe. There is not only subject-matter to be studied here; events such as the Marshall and the Schuman Plans have already become new fields of scholarly research in themselves. But the increased . . .

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