Philosophical Europe ||| The Political Progress ||| European Witness ||| EU News
European Forum ||| Special Homages: Meister Eckhart / David Copperfield
By H. W. C. Davis
Text in [square brackets] was added especially for this online publication by Ellopos
VIII - THE EXPANSION OF [THE WESTERN] EUROPE - THE CRUSADES
Such statecraft may perhaps seem rude and barbarous to us. The idea of a nation as a system of classes, and of national unity as a condition only to be realised when all classes combine for some purpose extraneous to the everyday life of the nation, is foreign to our thought. We believe that by making war upon class privileges we have given to the State a less divided and more organic character. We maintain that the State exists to realise an immanent ideal, which we express by some such formula as "the greatest good of the greatest number." But we are still so far from a reconciliation of facts with theories that we must hesitate before utterly condemning the medieval attitude towards war. In place of classes we have interests, which are hard to unite and often at open variance.
Our statesmen balance one interest against another, and consider war legitimate when it offers great advantages to the interests most worth conciliating. Nor have we yet succeeded in giving to the average citizen so elevated a conception of the purpose for which the State exists that he can think of national policy as something different from national selfishness. It is easier to criticise the enthusiasts who urged medieval nations to undertake "some work of noble note," remote from daily routine, than it is to discover and to preach a nobler enterprise on behalf of a less visionary ideal. It helps us to understand, though it does not compel us to accept, the medieval theory, when we find modern poets and preachers glorifying war as a school of patriotism or of national character.
Cf. Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Ancient Rome * Ancient Greece * The Making of Europe
Davis' Medieval Europe in Print or for Amazon Kindle