Culture and Anarchy "Barbarians, Philistines, And Populace"

Matthew Arnold

"Barbarians, Philistines, And Populace"

Context: Arnold argues in his Culture and Anarchy that culture is "the great help out of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thout and said in the world. . . ." Pointing out the restrictive nature of Hebraism with its emphasis on religious teaching, and urging the adoption of Hellenism and its broader idea of the perfection of the total man, he divides society into three distinct classes: the Barbarians, the aristocratic class with its outward grace and culture; the Philistines, the middle class with its commercialism; and the Populace, the working class with its "raw and half developed" personality. England, he says, has too much Hebraism–which generally comes from the Philistines–for her own good; but America has even more of the narrowness of thought because her society is largely middle class:

. . . In the following essay it will be seen how our society distributes itself into Barbarians, Philistines, and Populace; and America is just ourselves, with the Barbarians quite left out, and the Populace nearly. This leaves the Philistines for the great bulk of the nation. . . .