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Surveying the Jacobin Terror unleashed by Danton, Robespierre and their allies in the French Revolution of the early 1790s, the great German poet Friedrich Schiller sadly observed that "A great moment has found a little people". Like Schiller, the most noble minds of Europe had hoped that a new American Revolution would take place in France, the main ally of the young United States during its revolution against the British Crown. Instead, they got the butchery of the guillotine, and, before long, a new would-be Roman Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, the originator of modern fascism. Forecasting the route which humanity must take to survive that disaster, and to prevent similar ones in the future, Schiller concluded in his Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man, that "It is beauty, through which one proceeds to freedom." Only the ennobling of the souls of men and women through great culture, he stressed, would make possible the establishment of true republics.

Shortly thereafter, early in the 19th Century, the great English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that periods of great cultural flowering must precede and accompany great political undertakings, in order for them to succeed. Shelley said in his "In Defense of Poetry", that in such periods of intense political ferment, the ordinarily dull average citizen suddenly becomes capable of conveying "profound and impassioned conceptions concerning man and nature." With the recent onset of the latest, most intense phase of the global financial crash, comes the great possibility, as well as necessity, to sweep aside the stinking cultural garbage that was unleashed in the mid-1960s with the rock-drug-sex counterculture, the emphasis on "me-first" hedonism and self-interested concern with "my money". This laid the basis for the disaster of globalisation, with its immoral, lunatic emphasis on "shareholder value", as opposed to the previous notion of the Common Good, which inspired the American Revolution, and the founding of the pro-American Australian Labor Party. If people were truly sane, and embodied an actually human form of culture, then neither globalisation, which has thrown much of the world into impoverishment, disease and death, nor the New Violence, in which schoolchildren gun down their teachers and schoolmates, would ever have been possible.

In the image of God

If mankind is to survive the death of globalisation, it must take inspiration from the greatest periods of renaissance in the past, to establish a new worldwide renaissance. This new renaissance will accompany and inspire the establishment of a new, just world order, a New Bretton Woods international monetary system. Lawfully, the most enlightened cultural periods of past Western civilisation each reflected a renaissance upsurge within the three great religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is from those renaissance highpoints in each religion, that one finds the profound ecumenical basis so urgently needed to avoid the present drive toward a "Clash of Civilisations". The basis of such true ecumenicism among the "children of Abraham", is their shared belief that all mankind, man and woman alike, are created in the living image of God, by virtue of the unique, cognitive qualities of the individual human being, creative capabilities which no animal possesses. If God is the Creator of all, then only mankind, which alone among living creatures possesses its own divine spark of creativity, is in God's image. To the extent that all human beings, of whatever colour, religion or cultural origin, view themselves—and therefore each other—in that way, then we will have established the basis for solving the present, existential crisis in which mankind finds itself. It is to that end, that this section of the CEC's website is dedicated.

Three great periods of renaissance

The first renaissance we examine, that unleashed largely by the Orthodox Jew Moses Mendelssohn and his collaborators in the 1750s-1780s, was a renaissance within Judaism, but one which also unleashed the most profound positive consequences within Western civilisation as a whole. Were it not for the work of Mendelssohn, and those who followed him, the American Revolution, which took place in the context of the great 18th Century cultural upsurge in Europe, would never have happened. However, in the early part of the 20th Century, Mendelssohn's work and outlook was savagely attacked by the Jewish fascist, Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of the Likud Party which rules Israel today. To a large degree, the fate of the world now hangs on the struggle for the soul of Judaism, between these two bitterly opposed currents.

At almost the same time that Jabotinsky was organising a fascist current in Judaism, something else, something very noble, was also happening in Judaism: "The Jews of eastern Europe were the last national group in history to produce a Renaissance," writes Paul Kreingold in "I.L. Peretz, Father of the Yiddish Renaissance". Says Kreingold, "Yiddish literature—the stories, poems and plays of Moykher-Sofirm, Peretz, Aleichem and others—is uniquely, the literature of the Jewish Pale, but like all world-class literature, speaks universally to all of humanity." Though largely forgotten today, Yiddish was once a language spoken by 11 million people, and this Yiddish-language Renaissance was to have profound consequences in the United States, among other places, where the sons and grandsons of that renaissance—which Hitler largely obliterated within Europe itself—did, among many other things, so much to support the civil rights movement associated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In our next section, Islam, Muriel Mirak-Weissbach demonstrates in "Andalusia: A Pearl of Islamic Culture", how the extraordinary Arabic/Islamic culture of 9th Century through 13th Century Andalusia (in modern Spain), a remarkable occurrence in its own right, also helped inspire the Christian-centred Golden Renaissance of Italy in the 15th Century, around the leading figure of Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa. Next, Hussein Askary Al-Nadeem, in a July 16, 2002 speech at the Zayed Centre in Abu Dhabi, outlines the ecumenical and physical-economic basis for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In our concluding section, Christianity, Lyndon LaRouche develops the profound philosophical/natural law principles which must underlie a true ecumenical dialogue, in his two articles, "For the Christian, For Example", and "Jesus Christ and Civilisation."

In addition to the contributions by LaRouche, and that of his wife, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, German political leader and founder of the international Schiller Institute, on Moses Mendelssohn, the primary authors of this portion of the CEC's Culture section, "For an Ecumenical Renaissance", are all decades-long collaborators of LaRouche, including Dean Andromidas, Steven P. Meyer, David Shavin, Jeffrey Steinberg, Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Paul Kreingold, and Hussein Askary Al-Nadeem. Also featured is Moses Mendelssohn's own work, "The Life and Character of Socrates".

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