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Nothing manifests the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary institutions more than the modern national state. Because in this country it reflects the demands of all the people and at the same time affects them and all their other institutions, it is the prime example of institutional growth. It is not an exaggeration to say that all other institutions serve but partial ends, no matter how total they may try to be in their relations with their members. Designed to be small, it has become huge. Once limited to action which was mainly negative, it has become more and more positive. Conceived in amateur terms, it has become a professional bureaucracy. Viewed as decentralized, it has become highly centralized. Seen as doing but little, it has expanded until there is scarcely any area of life which is unaffected by it. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XIX: An Analysis of the Contemporary World's Search for Meaning. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.