Arnold Toynbee on the 'Internal and External Proletariat' of 'Western Christian Civilization'.

A selection from A Study of History by Arnold Toynbee on the 'internal and external proletariat'.


From Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History (Vol 1, 19--):

"To the student of Graeco-Roman history,... both the Christians and the Barbarians would present themselves as creatures of an alien underworld- the internal and the external proletariat, as he might call them, of the Graeco-Roman (or, to use a better term, Hellenic) Society in its last phase.

From Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History (Vol 2, 19--):

"...our own Western Society (or Civilization) is affiliated to a predecessor. [...] ...what are the tokens [signs] of apparentation-and-affiliation which we are to accept as valid evidence. What tokens of such relationship did we, in fact, find in the case of our own society's affiliation to the Hellenic Society?

The first of these phenomena was a universal state (the Roman Empire), incorporating the whole Hellenic Society in a single political community in the last phase of Hellenic history. [...] the Roman Empire's fall was followed by a kind of interregnum between the disappearances of the Hellenic and the emergence of the Western Society.

This interregnum is filled with the activities of two institutions: the Christian Church, established within and surviving the Roman Empire, and... the Barbarians from the no-man's-land beyond the Imperial frontiers. We have already described these two forces as the internal proletariat and external proletariat of the Hellenic Society. Though differing in all else they agreed in their alienation from the dominant minority of the Hellenic Society, the leading class of the old society who had lost their way and ceased to lead. In fact the Empire fell and the Church survived just because the Church gave leadership and enlisted loyalty whereas the Empire had long failed to do either the one or the other. Thus the Church, a survival from the dying society, became the womb from which in due course the new one was born."

From Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History (Vol 5, 1939):

"The true hall-marks of the proletarian is neither poverty nor humble birth but a consciousness- and the resentment that this consciousness inspires- of being disinherited from his ancestral place in society."