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Summary of J. G. A. Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, vol. 2: Narratives of Civil Government

J. G. A. Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, vol. 2: Narratives of Civil Government (1999)

The second volume of this six-volume set is written to provide an intellectual setting in which Edward Gibbon worked, a matrix of criteria that can be used to measure, in a non-anachronistic way, what Gibbon did and did not choose to undertake in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. John Pocock constructs what he terms the ‘Enlightened narrative’ by reading the historical works of Pietro Giannone, Voltaire, David Hume, William Robertson, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson. The Enlightenment narrative is an eighteenth-century European historiography that relates the ‘Dark Age’ after the collapse of Rome and the rise of commercial, ‘polite’ Europe based on shared manners. It fused civil history into ecclesiastical history inherited from early modern historiography. The eighteenth century saw the emergence of a historiography, termed then and later ‘philosophical’, that proposed a narrative, underpinned by erudition, of ‘human’ history independent of or different from ecclesiastical history. It was a stern denial of ‘fanaticism’; it depicted human progress as one heading towards mœurs, towards ‘Europe’ out of its dark past in ‘Christendom’. Europe was considered to have arisen in the course of a double movement: one from antiquity to the darkness and the other from the darkness to Enlightenment. A system of sovereign territorial states had emerged, and so did a ‘shared civilisation of manners and commerce’. Within this milieu Gibbon took a different path, but not one leading completely out of it. Pocock aims here to deal exclusively with Enlightenment histories that Gibbon knew of but did not entirely follow.

(1) Pietro Giannone (1676-1748)

Giannone’s Istoria civile del regno di Napoli was a history of Naples as a province, in the context of Empire but not itself a history of Empire. Naples was ruled in turn by many foreign monarchs and also, significantly in Giannone’s scheme, by the Pope. The narrative aimed at relating the ‘struggle between the ecclesiastical authority and civil society’. It was a story of ‘papal usurpation’ of civil government, of the way the Roman Church became a formidable power with both heavenly and earthly claims. The narrative was built on historical contingency: it was Giannone’s strategy of exposing the papal hypocrisy of its claims on ‘deposing powers’ by ‘secularising’ the enterprise of the Church, placing its history in the realm of civil history and thereby moving the battle ground to the advantage of ‘civil sovereignty and civil society’.

(2) Voltaire (1694-1778)

Voltaire moved forward from Giannone in that his history was a ‘history of mœurs’ whereas the latter’s history had been a ‘history of law’. In this sense, Voltaire’s histories were representative of ‘what philosophie very often meant’: the substitution of ‘sociability as a totality of ways of living’ for the ‘long struggle between the secular and the spiritual’. Through his histories of kings and mœurs, Voltaire told in a critical yet carefully hopeful way how ‘Enlightenment’ came to be in Europe, and how it expanded geographically to the North and to the East. Voltaire’s history stayed, Pocock claims, within the frame of ‘Enlightenment narrative’ in that it essentially related the successes and failures of kings and courts, or rather of les mœurs, in their escape from ‘Christian barbarism’ and religious fanaticism. But his history was unique in some aspects; it was in part conceived as a means of giving counsel to kings; it was a collection of lessons from the past; it was a project propagating indirectly a Europe of ‘perfected arts’ and ‘enlightened’ absolute monarchs in the models of Louis XIV and Peter the Great. Using the secular history of the Chinese Empire as a counter-example to the Judeo-Christian scheme, Voltaire hammered home his message: Europe followed and surpassed Asia in overcoming religion (Christianity) and rising up to the Enlightenment. For Voltaire the historical narrative was constructed around the axis of conflict between the Church and Roman and post-Roman civil sovereignty; hence his neglect of providing any narrative of Chinese or Turkish ‘history’, if he ever thought there had been one. Also, for Voltaire, the arts were perfected principally in princely courts (the best example being Versailles); even the Dutch Republic with all its doux commerce, he thought, could not be the seat of great fine arts and politesse.

(3) David Hume (1711-1776)

Hume, combining the history of human deeds (profoundly arcane) and that of mœurs (open to ‘philosophical’ investigation), celebrated commercial modernity while remaining deeply worried about its sustainability: the prospect of public debt was threatening to modern monarchies. The chronology of his six-volume History of England ends with the Glorious Revolution, which constitutes ‘the beginnings of that regime of whose continuance he was never certain and became less so as the years passed’. Historiography in Britain differed from that in France in the sense that Britain did not have a definitive centre since it consisted of two distinct national cultures: England and Scotland. However, Hume believed that although Scotland had a history of its own it must be told in the context of the state-building narrative of England out of which ‘his’ monarchical state grew. The English did have their ancient law, but, he argued, it was insufficient to resolve the tension between ‘prerogative’ and ‘privilege’, i.e. between the Crown and the Parliament; it was no more than the best kind of law one could expect to have formed ‘under barbarian and feudal conditions’ of medieval times. And then, as history slowly approached modernity, in between the two poles of tension ran the ‘blazing force of enthusiasm’ that spoke of constitutional liberty in the name of the public. For Hume, the tension dissolved to the Parliament’s favour in 1688, culminating in ‘the most entire system of liberty that ever was known amongst mankind’. With a deep contempt for all religions, Hume drew a picture of law, arts and freedom progressing hand-in-hand over the dead corpse of religious ‘superstition’ and ‘enthusiasm’. But he still found the system of commercial modernity essentially precarious, especially in the face of enormous public debt. By 1776, the year of Hume’s death, Christian disputatiousness and political factions seemed to have survived all along.

(4) William Robertson (1721-1793)

Sharing the ‘cyclical view of history’ with other modern historians, Robertson wrote on the ‘Christian millennium’ much more closely than Hume. He was more consciously a Scottish intellectual, looking at Scotland from the inside. When he put Scotland in a larger picture, he put it in the European, not British, context of the ‘progress of society’. As for Europe, Robertson believed that it had been heading towards a ‘tripolar balance of power’ between Britain, France and Austria and that the threats of ‘universal monarchy’ had been exaggerated. Robertson did not position the church as an ‘independently operating enemy’ but rather considered religious superstition ‘an effect of barbarism in society’. Avoiding theological disputation in the construction of the narrative, Robertson, as a ‘voice of Moderatism’ that endeavoured to reform rather than replace Calvinism, chose not to write the history of the Scottish National Covenant and the Wars of Religion, focusing instead on the rise of the European state system which had arisen from the Christian millennium. Here, by Robertson as by Hume, the medieval history was regarded less as ‘an unrelieved darkness of barbarism and religion’ than ‘a period of recovery and creative preparation’ for modernity. Followed by the fall of the first barbarians who, by Roman conquest, had been ‘civilised’ and thereby slowly deprived of their military virtues, the medieval period that ensued from the invasion of the second barbarians had its turning point in the Crusades; in the course of the zealous campaigns emerged incorporated cities, Estates, commerce and thereby the singularly European road to liberty.

(5) Adam Smith (1723-1790)

Inscribed in a fashion of historical speculation far more ‘secular’ than their predecessors, Scottish Enlightenment thinkers developed a combined form of social and political thinking that stemmed from enquiries of moral philosophy and jurisprudence based on assumptions of (weak or strong) human sociability. Smith was one of the most prominent among them. The unique contribution of Smith’s stadial theory was his assertion that the shepherd stage, though ‘barbarian’, had not been ‘savage’: property, power and state had arisen in that stage. Then, as the view on ‘the progress of society’ became that on ‘the progress of society in Europe’, Smith combined his natural history of society with civil history, arguing that Europe had originally been ‘settled by shepherds and had never passed through the savage state at all’. The ‘Enlightened narrative’ moved into the ‘narrative of Europe as a world empire’: Europe was different from all other civilisations in that its German barbarians, unlike those in other parts of the world, ‘had proved capable of occupying and appropriating land’. Modern Europe’s commercial states were built on the transformation of this agrarian feudalism, ‘employing artisans instead of owning slaves’. Smith’s understanding was that European states had reached a form of modernity that was diametrically different from antiquity.

(6) Adam Ferguson (1723-1816)

Ferguson emphasised human energy, courage and virtue, but in a way quite different from Rousseau: Ferguson upheld ‘heroic and active’, not ‘innocent and inert’, virtues of the savages of ‘le nord’. This active virtue was so important that he feared its demise in the process of the stadial progress of society. For Ferguson, property and administration, safe within the womb of the household, had arisen from the servile role of women in the hunting stage of society. What truly counted was the courage of the hunters and the virtue of the citizenry that pulled together and averted the collapse of modern commercial society of Europe which, presupposed rather than narrated by Ferguson, had grown out of the activities of shepherds who gradually built their world upon agriculture and commerce. Here, individuals should obey the civilised norms of the modern ‘advanced’ societies and do away with ‘the wild independence of the savage or the barbarian’; but Ferguson, unlike Hume and Smith, was more anxious than sanguine about the prospect of liberty in the modern conditions of the division of labour, especially in conditions of standing armies and popular inertia. This was because he believed that commercial societies were prone to the moral corruption of its constituting individuals and thus prone to decline and fall by the loss of their virtues: in this sense, Ferguson was a republican and a neo-classical moralist.

(7) Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

By the time of the appearance of the first volume of Decline and Fall in 1776, in European historiography ‘religion’ had receded into the background of the narrative of philosophical history of Europe and ‘civil history’ was in full bloom. By this point the ‘barbarians’ were no more the Enlightenment’s ‘other’: they now formed ‘the origin of the self’ of the European civilisation deemed to have surpassed all others on the planet. Gibbon’s project, ‘a history of barbarism and religion’, was rooted in the ‘Enlightenment narrative’ but differed from it. Gibbon accepted its main perspectives and held no reservation about the superiority of his contemporary commercial modernity over ancient slavery or medieval feudalism. But at the same time he differed in temporal and geographical terms: instead of depicting modern Europe’s way out of the Christian millennium, he chose to construct ‘an Enlightened narrative’ of the era preceding that period of ‘barbarism and religion’; and in departing from the history of the city of Rome to that of the Roman Empire, he chose to lead his narrative to the Eastern Empire while abandoning the ecclesiastical Latin history of the remnants of the Western Empire. As for the analysis of decline and fall, Gibbon largely followed the thesis of Roman decay of virtue in tandem with imperial expansion proposed in Montesquieu’s Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence (1734). Gibbon was occupied with the question ‘whether Europe needs to fear another invasion of barbarians from the Eurasian steppe’, as Rousseau had worried. He relied on Voltaire’s argument that Russia and China were ‘reducing the steppe to cultivation and industry’; he believed, moreover, that since Europe had been enlarged by Russia and the Americas it could, like the Chinese empire had done all through its long history, culturally ‘absorb’ the ‘barbarians it could not defeat’.

Thus, in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, the ‘Enlightenment narrative’ that proclaimed the confidence of commercial modernity and of eighteenth-century Europe was, albeit in a different spectrum of time and space, expanded and strengthened in all its plurality.

Summary by Minchul Kim

이 블로그의 인기 게시물

Daniel Bensaïd, <혁명들: 위대하고 정지해있고 침묵하는> 요약-번역

<혁명들: 위대하고 정지해있고 침묵하는> 요약-번역 다니엘 벵사이드
Daniel Bensaïd, "Revolutions: Great and Still and Silent," in Mike Haynes & Jim Wolfreys (eds.), History and Revolution: Refuting Revisionism (London: Verso, 2007)

< I >
<노선(Lignes)>誌는 2001년 2월호에서 ‘혁명의 욕망’이라는 주제의 특집을 구성했다(참여 저자: Étienne Balibar, Jean Baudrillard, Daniel Bensaïd, Sylvain Lazarus, Michael Löwy, Edgar Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy, Enzo Traverso, Paul Virilio 등). 혁명의 욕망인가, 필요인가? 이는 생기 넘치는 욕망 같지만, 사실은 무덤의 헌화 같은 씁쓸한 향내를 풍기고 있다. 초창기의 추진력과 열정이 쇠진한 잔여물이 바로 욕망과 갈망이다.

필요로부터 해방된 욕망은 궁극적으로는 소비주의적 판본에 불과하다. 욕망 기제는 무엇보다도 소비 기제인 것이다. 필요를 욕망으로 대체하는 것은 이론적 역사를 갖고 있다. 레옹 왈라스는 노동가치론을 한계효용가치론으로 대체하면서 객관적 가치를 주관적 가치로 대체했고, 샤를 지드는 ‘욕망치(desirability: 얼마나 바랄만한가, 얼마나 바람직한가)’라는 용어를 도입함으로써 ‘효용(utility)’이라는 용어가 풍기는 객관성의 냄새를 제거했다. 푸코는 1970년대 말에 혁명이 아직도 바랄만한 것인지(still desirable) 질문함으로써 의식적으로건 무의식적으로건 이 전통을 이어받았다.

< II >
얀 파토치카는 바로 혁명이라는 관념 자체에서 ‘근대성의 근본적 특징’을 본다. 샤토브리앙의 ‘혁명들’은 한나 아렌트에서 단수형 ‘혁명’이 되었는데, 이것은 시대의 새로운 의미론에 각인되었다. 즉 이제 과거…

제프 일리, <무엇이 민주주의를 만드는가? 20세기 유럽의 혁명적 위기들, 민중정치, 그리고 민주적 성취> 요약-번역

무엇이 민주주의를 만드는가? 20세기 유럽의 혁명적 위기들, 민중정치, 그리고 민주적 성취 (요약-번역)제프 일리
Geoff Eley, “What Produces Democracy? Revolutionary Crises, Popular Politics and Democratic Gains in 20th-Century Europe,” in Mike Haynes & Jim Wolfreys (eds.), History and Revolution: Refuting Revisionism (London: Verso, 2007)

<공산주의 이후에 민주주의 개념화하기>

1989년 일련의 동유럽 혁명과 1991년 소련 해체가 가져온 냉전의 종식은 불가역적이고 기념비적인 전진으로 여겨졌지만, 그 주된 의미를 민중참여와 민주주의의 관점보다 경제적 관점에서 평가하는 경향이 짙었다. 즉 시장이 이행의 주된 척도를 제공한 것이다.

1989년 이후 정치의 공적 언어에서는 허용되는 주장과 신념의 범위가 크게 좁혀졌다. 소련식 계획경제의 붕괴는 케인즈주의로부터의 황급한 후퇴와 탈규제 추세를 강화시켰고, 공공재에 대한 경시를 부추겼다. 자본주의에 대한 대안을 상상하는 것은 물론이고, 사회주의에 대한 일체의 옹호를 배척하는 방향으로의 이행이 이루어졌다. 사회주의 진영의 현실적인 경제적 강령이 고갈된 상황에서, 자유시장에 기초한 자본주의적 경제모형은 확고한 주도권을 행사했고, 각종 조치와 협정을 통해 오늘날 세계화라 부르는 추세가 강화됐다.

현재의 담론에서는 민주화보다 시장이, 그리고 인간 행위자들의 집단적 작용보다는 시장세력의 승리가 변화의 원동력이자 진보에 필요한 역동성을 제공하는 힘이며 사태를 정당화하는 논변의 원천이다. 다른 한편으로 이러한 시장의 힘은 각국 정부가 추구할 수 있는 정책의 범위에, 특히 예전 민주주의 기획의 케인즈주의적이고 복지국가적인 성향에 제약을 부과하는 것으로 이해된다.

이런 분위기 속에서 마르크스주의는 힘을 크게 상실했지만, 한편 시장원칙의 거의 …

프랑스혁명이 부르주아혁명이었는가를 둘러싼 20세기의 역사학계 논쟁에 대한 필립 미나르(Philippe Minard)의 논평

프랑스혁명부르주아혁명이 아니었는가? - 역사서술의 유산 -

라브루스(Ernest Labrousse)는 1953년 글에서 혁명이 일어나기 두 세대 전부터 부르주아의 대두가 다시 시작됐는데, 수가 증가하고 더욱 큰 부와 능력을 갖게 되었지만 성실하고 근검절약하고 가족을 아끼는 탄탄한 덕성은 전혀 잃지 않았다고 썼다. 두 가지 문제가 제기됐는데, 하나는 ‘권력 재분배’였고 다른 하나는 ‘경제 자유화’였다. “더 부유해지고 수도 늘어나고 더욱 훌륭하게 교육받은 데다 도시에 모여 살며 밀접하게 접촉했던 부르주아가, 가장 대의제적이었던 환경에서, 어떻게 계급으로서의 자의식을 갖지 않을 수 있었겠는가? 이 자의식은 귀족과 투쟁하면서 더 확고해졌다. 그러나 부르주아의 장애물은 커져만 갔으니......” 그래서 라브루스는 최종적으로 1788년의 부르주아는 사회적으로 억압된 계급이라고 진단했다.

이와 같은 해석 도식은 1930년대 르페브르(Georges Lefebvre)나 1965~66년의 (‘젊은’) 퓌레와 리셰(F. Furet & D. Richet)에게서도 발견할 수 있다. 한마디로 프랑스대혁명은 나눌 수 없는 쌍으로 인식되는 ‘부르주아의 대두’와 ‘자본주의의 출현’의 거대서사에 오래전부터 깊이 각인되어 있었다. 그 후 1970~80년대에 격론이 일었는데, ‘사회사’는 이로부터 얻은 것이 전혀 없다.

소위 ‘마르크스주의적’ 또는 심지어 ‘자코뱅주의적’이라고 불리는 ‘정통해석’을 이야기할 수 있을까? 혁명이 부르주아지에 의해 일어났고 부르주아지를 위해 운용됐다는 관념은 혁명이 일어난 직후부터 바르나브(Barnave)에게서 발견되며, 이후 토크빌, 미녜, 기조, 티에리, 텐에까지 이어졌다. 마르크스도 ‘구체제의 폐허 위에 건설된 부르주아적ㆍ자본주의적 프랑스’라는 관념을 왕정복고시대의 자유주의 역사가들에게서 가져왔다. 만일 ‘정통해석’이란 게 있었다고 한다면, 거기에는 많은 역사가들이 참여하고 있었다. 이는 모라제(Charles Morazé)의 1957년 글과 퐁테유…