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Freedom and Domination

Freedom and Domination: A Historical Critique of Civilization

Alexander Rüstow
Abbreviated Translation from the German by Salvator Attanasio
Edited, and with an Introduction, by Dankwart A. Rustow
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 752
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  • Book Info
    Freedom and Domination
    Book Description:

    Presented here is a condensed translation of Alexander Rustow's three-volume Ortsbestimmung der Gegenwart. This monumental work was widely acclaimed by critics throughout Europe as a major contribution to both historical and sociological scholarship. Recognized as one of the foremost exponents of neoliberal thought, and thus as one of the intellectual authors of West Germany's economic miracle," Rustow--in his magnum opus--tried to determine what social patterns and trends of thought enhance the human condition and what other patterns and trends lead to repression and barbarism.

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5674-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Dankwart A. Rustow
    (pp. xiii-xxii)

    When the present work was originally published in German in the decade after the collapse of Hitler’s Third Reich, it was widely acclaimed by critics in Germany, and elsewhere in Europe, as a major contribution both to historical and sociological scholarship and to the moral regeneration and reorientation of which post-Hitlerite Germany stood in the profoundest need—and for which the survivors in neighboring countries only occasionally dared to hope. About the time of publication of the first volume, the author, at sixty-five years of age, was appointed to his first academic position in his home country—the chair of...

    (pp. xxiii-2)

    To write this German book I had to emigrate in 1933 from a Germany whose stifling atmosphere after Hitler’s conquest left me no air to breathe. The most important and pressing task imposed by the catastrophic world situation upon historian and sociologist alike, it seemed to me, was to determine just what had really happened and just what position we really occupy on the historical continuum. Since then I have been engaged in this attempt to fix our bearings in relation to the present, to identify the historic coordinates of our time.

    I am deeply indebted to the new Turkey,...

    (pp. 3-8)

    Down to the eighteenth century Genesis and Homer were considered the oldest records of mankind. As recently as 1818 Goethe laid it down as a hallmark of an educated person “to be able to give to himself an account of three thousand years.”¹ The decipherment of hieroglyphics and of cuneiform writing and archaeological excavations in the Near East in the nineteenth century extended this range of history backward by another two or three millennia.

    Only in the early decades of the twentieth century did there come about that grand synthesis of historical geology, genetics, anthropology, ethnography, archaeology, and history that...


    • CHAPTER I The Rise of High Cultures
      (pp. 11-34)

      In its total expanse, the whole particular development that encompasses all the hitherto existing cultures of mankind occurs in the last ten thousand years of human history. If we equate the time elapsed between the emergence of man and the present to one century, the rise and development of all high cultures (or civilizations) would occur exclusively in the last year of that century. We have no indications that the level of culture now exhibited by extant so-called primitive peoples had ever been surpassed previously.

      How is it possible that cultures were formed, that the threshold of so-called primitiveness was...

    • CHAPTER 2 Structural Elements of High Cultures as Conditioned by Superstratiiication and Feudalism
      (pp. 35-96)

      Superstratification produced, for the first time in history, human social groupings that, in theirinnerstructure, were based on bloodshed and violence. This is not to say that the history of mankind up to then had unfolded idyllically and bloodlessly. On the contrary, the irregular wars of the hunters against alien tribes were even bloodier and crueler, since hunters, unlike conquering nomads, had no interest in sparing the enemy as a future economic base. Up to then, however, ruthless brutality and violence had been applied only outwardly against beasts and against alien human beings, the latter being viewed not as...

    • CHAPTER 3 Transfeudal Motive Forces of High Cultures
      (pp. 97-128)

      Man is by nature a communal being. Community is the form of coexistence consonant with human nature, and an ineradicable longing for community lives in every human being. Hence every noncommunity, every disturbed community, has a built-in inclination to return to community; only in community does it find rest. This holds true particularly for that form of society created by superstratification, which initially is so distant from and so adverse to community.

      Within our European culture, serfdom in Russia had been preserved as an especially harsh form of rule by superincumbency far into the nineteenth century, and it set its...


    • CHAPTER 1 Freedom versus Unfreedom
      (pp. 131-368)

      The fateful step forward from primitive peoples and archaic peasants to high culture had been achieved through superstratification and purchased at the price of domination and subjection. The crucial questions posed by fate, therefore, were if, how, and when on this new ground of high culture, bondage could be overcome, and independence and freedom consonant with human nature once again achieved.

      There are indications of beginnings in the direction of intellectual freedom (which sooner or later, however, came to a stop) in China, India, and perhaps also in Ikhnaton’s Egypt. Only in one locality was a truly fruitful breakthrough to...


      (pp. 371-372)

      The West had not found its equilibrium after the revolutionary events of the Renaissance and Reformation. The last manifestation of this chronic internal conflict had been opposition between the Enlightenment and preromanticism.

      Later, the rationalist thesis of the Enlightenment and the antirationalist antithesis of theSturm und Drangand preromantic movements found their unprecedented, promising synthesis, which, but for the catastrophe of 1792-1793, might have become the major theme of the nineteenth century. Since this synthesis was still in its preliminary, mainly artistic phase, its defensive capacity was practically nil. Each of the two components, disconnected from its complementary counterweight,...

    • CHAPTER 1 Rationalist Tendencies
      (pp. 373-478)

      Any movement that does not develop independently and must instead make way for itself in a counterattack runs the risk of being subjected to heteronomous influences. Such was the case with the movement of enlightenment that set in with the Renaissance from the moment it had to engage in long and difficult struggles against claims to sovereignty by the Reformation, Counter Reformation, and unenlightened absolutism. The wordrationalismdenotes this characteristic deviancy.

      The censure and reproach implicit in the termrationalismis often understood superficially, as though it were a quantitative question of an excess of reason and its employment,...

    • CHAPTER 2 Irrationalist Countertendencies
      (pp. 479-658)

      The many phenomena of decay which were surveyed in the preceding chapter, and which assumed especially extreme forms in the nineteenth century, were in most cases rationalistic excesses, that is, one-sided exaggerations of one or another aspect of the Enlightenment. A reaction on behalf of the repressed and neglected counterforces of irrationalism was bound to follow after the obvious catastrophe that befell the Enlightenment in 1792-1794. In this chapter we shall be treating the most important of these irrationalist countertendencies. Further, we shall see that even this deflection in the opposite direction, even where it may at first have seemed...

    • CHAPTER 3 Conclusions
      (pp. 659-676)

      To cure the social pathology of domination and unfreedom that is due to superstratification there are, in principle, two methods. The first is to proceed consciously against all recognizable forms of the sickness—and this is a task with which the stream of history seems to be confronting us today, so that it depends on us whether and to what extent the problem is soluble. The other is to proceed half-consciously through a series of palliatives and attenuations, by way of checks and balances within the structure of domination. This was the course pursued by Western history, a course that...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 677-706)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 707-716)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 717-717)