A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 3, Edited by Jerzy Jedlicki
Chapter 5: At the century’s turn
All the strivings in the social, economic, cultural and scientific fields, which over the two decades after the fall of the January Insurrection the ‘organic workers’ were undertaking in Warsaw or Poznań, were characterised by a thoroughly im- maculate legalism, as I emphasised earlier� A vast portion of the activists’ energy was absorbed by multi-volume, burdensome efforts to gain acceptance for their initiatives from the invader state’s authorities, often resorting to juridical equi- libristic and at the price of concessions� However, pessimism emerged at a rather early stage, and grew stronger and stronger over time, as to whether the legal steps, with their limited range, were capable of stimulating the development of Polish culture and science under the rule of the Romanov and Hohenzollern dynasties, or at least, of maintaining its identity and coherence� Were they able to maintain and broaden Polish national awareness among the lower social strata, in the face of the fact that schools of all tiers had Russian or German as the language of instruction, and the teaching was in the spirit of admiration for the ruling mon- archs? Were they capable of ensuring inter-Partition contacts intensive enough for Poles to preserve the awareness of their unity from before the Partitions? And, lastly, could they withhold the recession of Polishness, as visible particularly in the eastern and western peripheries of the Polish cultural area, in the emigration clusters, and also in the country’s great industrial cities where miserable workers’ quarters were proliferating, and the old traditions...
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