UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of the "O skutecznym rad sposbie" of Stanislas Konarski Carlsen, Irina Margaret


While the rest of eighteenth century Europe, with the exception of England, was subject to- autocratic rule, Poland enjoyed a rare privilege—that of electing the sovereign . In other respects, however, she was not to be envied. Politically she was no longer of consequence except as a pawn in the hands of foreign interests. Her great nobles and lesser gentry alike were content to bask in the remembered glory of past ages; clergymen were, for the most part, lazy, corrupt and ignorant; yeomen had been reduced to serfdom; there was no army to speak of; the towns were in decline; wars had depleted the treasury and commerce and trade hardly existed. Worst of all was a general apathy combined with devotionalism rather than religious fervour, and the spurious belief that God was on the side of Poland and would take care of her whether the Poles helped themselves or not. For some time, however, thinking men had worried about this state of affairs and many wrote down their ideas on the subject. It remained for a Piarist father, Stanislas Konarski, to attack the very root of the evil—bad forms of government in general, and the iniquitous unanimity principle in particular. His four-volume work, "0 Skutecznym Rad Sposobie" ("On Effective Counsels in Government"), which appeared in the 1760's, not only subjected the problem to minute analysis, but also offered a "prescription" for Poland's ills: but by the time the nation was ready to act on Konarski's ideas it had only a scant four years of freedom left. The fruits of his work were seen only after the First Partition.

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