The source of the Intermarium concept
600 years ago, when the Kraków Academy was founded, its goal was not merely the creation of a center for forming the elite and a forum for discussing key topics. The Academy was also founded to create an intellectual counterbalance to the concept of using lofty ideals to forcefully impose power and agenda.
Its first rector, Stanisław of Skarbimierz, thoroughly criticized the political doctrine of the Teutonic state, which, in the name of falsely understood universalism, undermined the rights of nations to maintain their own culture and independent institutions.
He contrasted its doctrine with that of self-determination, explaining that the existence of differences between states do not justify aggression, and every human being has dignity that can be exercised in a community that surrounds him.
The legacy of Stanisław of Skarbimierz gained European resonance at the Council of Constance and contributed greatly to the rejection of the intellectual errors of his time. It showed that it is possible to unite countries without using violence and imposing one’s will on others. It also inspired the emergence and development of the The Commonwealth which, with all its ailments, was an unprecedented example of the coexistence of cultures and nations.
A state of freedom and order
Today, we are not forced to fight for the right of self-determination, but the challenge for us is to obtain real subjectivity. For the first time in centuries, we are faced with a historic opportunity to build a space for cooperation between the sovereign Intermarium states lying between the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black seas.
The nations of our part of the world are connected by many shared characteristics and values. A common culture, respect for the past, and love for the achievements of European civilization, which is undermined by so many today. We love freedom, but we know that it lasts only when it is established in order. We treat the diversity of our region as a value and a privilege, and not a problem that should be tackled through top-down uniformization.
For centuries, we were unable to develop our own institutions, nor create a solid foundation for academic life. We have experienced suffering and domination by a foreign oppressor. Our countries have been painfully affected by the totalitarian regimes of fascism and communism that imposed their terror on us for many generations. That is why we are very much aware of the dangers and long-term consequences associated with all forms of social engineering.
Now is the time to break away from the model of dependent development. This includes not only economic dependence, which has been repeatedly described in scientific literature, but also intellectual dependence. It most often manifests itself through repeating slogans and spells that were created by others, east or west, without reflecting on how to ask and answer key questions yourself.
This flawed model is preserved by a profound ideologization of the academic community – repeating the same inconclusive theses and fallacies. Formulating assessments and conclusions without a thorough analysis of reality and logical inference. No criticism or fear of engaging in polemics with the majority opinion.
Today, Central Europe needs a new platform for cooperation that will help form and integrate elites ready to face the challenges of today. Collegium Intermarium is being founded for this very reason – to establish a new space for independent and free thinking, connecting the countries of our cultural region.
A return to the classical concept of the University
It is obvious that in the face of the deepening crisis of academic life, we must return to the classical idea of the University. The same one which, through the legacy of Stanisław of Skarbimierz, led to the foundation of not only the Kraków Academy, but also the Charles University in Prague and the University of Budapest.
An idea that is based on rationality and conditioned on a free exchange of thoughts. The idea that taking up bold intellectual challenges and confronting contradictory positions is not only the right, but also the duty of everyone who contributes to and participates in the academic community.
Today, as the sense of order, purpose, and meaning is fading away, we must return to the fundamental points of reference – Truth, Good, and Beauty. Science, subjected to extreme relativism, seeks false support and easily turns into ideology.
At a time when education is becoming mass, one-dimensional, and unoriginal, we must remind that the goal of education must always be integral human development. In the reality of the university, it is conditioned on the direct cooperation between the teacher and the student.
Our roots are our strength
We cannot be afraid to refer to the achievements of previous generations. Without rooting ourselves in the experiences of those who preceded us and relying on them, we are weaker when facing the challenges of today.
Today, we are almost openly trying to erase the achievements of our civilization from our consciousness – as in the “House of European History” in Brussels, which ignores entire historical epochs, including Antiquity and the Middle Ages. In this situation, we must remember the words of St. Bernard, canon of Chartres Cathedral, who used to say that, “we are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, and if we see more and farther than them, it is not through our own abilities and strength, but thanks to this, that they raised us up. “
In experiencing academic life, we should draw from the sources of our civilization without hesitation or fear.
We must rediscover the Roman idea of law that harmoniously combines the general with the specific. Recognizing the importance of the universal law of nations, it sees good in the diversity of traditions and customs of individual countries. It fully supports the concept that a permanent legal order is not only based on a one-dimensional understanding of rights, but also on the duty and responsibility of its citizens.
Collegium Intermarium is a place where the Greek tradition of the Love of Wisdom will be maintained and replicated. The Greeks were the first to not only describe the material reality, but also systematize the knowledge about the non-material reality, which today is so often approached with reserve or indifference. Meanwhile, without openness to logos, including objective norms governing relations between people, it is difficult to talk about the real development of a person and society.
Our university will also openly draw from Christian revelation and Christian culture which has been organically developing over the centuries – they are not merely symbols of the past, but also the present and future representations of European identity.
Against the new tyranny
Allan Bloom, writing about the crisis of the university in the book “The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students”, pointed out that true tyranny does not only mean restricting the freedom of speech by administrative or penal measures. True tyranny exists when it is possible to erase from people’s consciousness the notion that a different reality may exist.
Collegium Intermarium is established precisely to show that a different university is possible. It is to serve as a model and inspiration, to depressurize the system. It will truly be a Free University of Central Europe – not only in name but also in spirit.
Att. Tymoteusz Zych, Ph. D. Prof. CI – Rector of Collegium Intermarium