CIVILIZATION ON TRIAL by Arnold J. Toynbee

CIVILIZATION ON TRIAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Thirteen chapters (essays, lectures, etc. written over a good many years, but as contemporary as though written in 1947-48) -- dealing with different problems, but contributing in toto to an expansion of his cyclic view of history, and to clarification of some of the salient points in A Study of History. At times uncannily perceptive and prophetic, as for example in the lecture Dwarfing of Europe, delivered in 1926, where he suggested that the center of gravity would be determined by human geography (mass population, as in Russia) rather than by western Europe. He reenforces his faith in man's mastery of his own fate, feeling that the repetitive element is itself an instrument of creative action. Three vital processes must be accepted:- the establishment of a constructive, cooperative system of world government; a working compromise between free enterprise and socialism; the replacement of the secular superstructure on a religious foundation. ""The continuous upward movement of religion may be served and promoted by the cyclic movement of civilization"" -- this may precipitate controversy not wholly met in his definition of current aspects of religion, and misinterpretations of religion in the ""worship of Leviathan"", in Communism, in Democracy. He sees the Christian Church as the spiritual heir to other higher religions, and -- as an institution- the social heir. Even when he is discussing Russia's heritage or Islam and the World, or the Graeco-Roman Civilizations, he relates his immediate topic to the larger issues implicit in his title. The continued popularity of A Study of History will give this a wider sale than a volume of essays would ordinarily command.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1948
Publisher: Oxford