That well known little people of a not too distant past, I mean just the Greeks, had stubbornly preserved its unhistorical sense in the period of its greatest strength; were a contemporary man forced by magic spells to return to that world he would presumably find the Greeks very “uneducated,” which would, of course, disclose the meticulously disguised secret of modern culture to public laughter: for from ourselves we moderns have nothing at all; only by filling and overfilling ourselves with alien ages, customs, arts, philosophies, religions and knowledge do we become something worthy of notice, namely walking encyclopedias, as which an ancient Hellene, who had been thrown into our age, might perhaps address us. The whole value of encyclopedias, however, is found only in what is written in them, the content, not in what is written on them or in what is cover and what is shell; and so the whole of modern culture is essentially internal: on the outside the bookbinder has printed something like “Handbook of Inner Culture for External Barbarians.”
Nietzsche, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life.”
This is one of the funniest things Nietzsche has ever written, but it’s very serious, too. This is the handbook the world is reading, the one absolving them of responsibility to others.
As Walter Benjamin famously said, “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” In a similar vein, we might think about Aimé Césaire's reaction to the European barbarism leading up to WWII:
"…but the supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up all the daily barbarisms, that it is Nazism, yes, but that before they were its victims, they were its accomplices; that they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it…"mayhap)