Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Defining 'Modernity'

What I've said so far amounts to a definition of modernity. There were, in the 20th century, antagonistic definitions. For German nationalists, WW1 was all about saving the Christian civilization of Germany (and The Holy Roman Empire) from the secular, democratic liberalism of England and America. Then, after that war, when the Weimar Republic put on an inspired demonstration of what modernity and modernism was all about, the German people recoiling in horror ran straight into the waiting arms of Hitler and the Nazis. The future they sang, belongs to us.

Marxists, of course, thought that the future belonged to them. They alone could save the world from the free market capitalism that the principles of democratic liberalism entailed. (I should note that here I'm drawing on an 18th-19th century idea of 'liberalism' as freedom from government control--religious and intellectual freedom as well as economic freedom.

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