Romanticism, revolution and hierarchy

“The idealization of the primitive and the spontaneous, the natural and the effortless, was in origin a salutary revolt against life-denying systems of order. The adventurous exploration and settlement of the planet provided a counterpoise to the mechanical routine introduced by capitalism. Vitalities too long held in check by archaic institutions had reason to crave a fresh outlet, if only on a desert island with Robinson Crusoe: hence romanticism had, for a time, an activating and regenerative effect. And this was true, above all, in the political community where naturalism and democracy served as correctives to outworn institutions, molded to protect a single class. But in overthrowing the artificial hierarchies of property and privilege, the twin forces Romanticism And Revolution also attended to turn their back on natural hierarchies: including those that give authority to knowledge over ignorance, to goodness over malice and evil, to the rational over the irrational, to the universal and enduring over the time-serving and particular.”
Lewis Mumford, Interpretations and Forecasts, 343

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