13 Oct 2015

Special Lecture by Prof. Richard BUTTERWICK-PAWLIKOWSKI: "Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s advice to the Poles: Euroscepticism avant la lettre?"

Auditorium Copernicus

Natolin (Warsaw) Campus
ul. Nowoursynowska 84
PL-02/797 Warszawa

Natolin (Warsaw) Campus

On 13 October 2015, the European Civilization Chair organized a special lecture at the Natolin (Warsaw) campus of the College of Europe, closing the cycle of Geremek lectures started in April 2011.

The title of this last Geremek lecture, delivered by Professor Richard BUTTERWICK-PAWLIKOWSKI was: "Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s advice to the Poles: Euroscepticism avant la lettre?". 


In his Considérations sur le gouvernement de Pologne of 1771, the author of the Contrat Social and Émile advised his Polish readers not to let themselves be digested, if they were swallowed by their neighbours (as happened shortly afterwards, following the three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). The preservation of their national distinctiveness could, he argued, be accomplished by rejecting everything that modern, commercial, enlightened and cosmopolitan Europe stood for.

Rousseau’s rejection of cosmopolitan European civilization was expressed more completely in the Considérations than almost anywhere else in his oeuvre. It is the most ‘nationalist’ of his literary works. But if most of Rousseau’s prescriptions ranged between the impractical and the sinister, his diagnoses of the problems faced not only by Poles, but by human society in general, were often penetrating. These diagnoses, linked to his profound attachment to republican liberty, continue to pose challenges to Europeans today.


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