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Chauvinism, Polish Style

The Case of Roman Dmowski (Beginnings: 1886–1905)


Grzegorz Krzywiec

The book addresses the genesis of Polish integral nationalism and the role of Roman Dmowski as a co-founder of this phenomenon in the development of Polish political thought at the fin-de-siècle. Based on extensive documentary research, it attempts to show a broader picture of modern Polish political and social thinking in context of the late 19 th and early 20 th East Central Europe. The author reflects on the significance of racial thinking and Social Darwinism of the new nationalist imagination, arguing that its intellectual foundations came from anti-positivist and anti-Enlightenment tradition. He challenges the widespread assumption that Polish nationalism in its early version cherished somehow mild attitudes toward minorities, especially the Jews, claiming instead that enmity toward «Otherness» constitutes its ideological core. A major feature of the book is the contextualization of Polish nationalism against the backdrop of the fin-de-siècle European political thought.
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Chapter Five: The Kiliński Revolt


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Chapter Five The Kiliński Revolt

The Collapse of Warsaw Student Radicalism in the First Half of the 1890s in the Kingdom of Poland

The high point of the development of youthful radical groups (one might go so far as to suggest the whole of the radical intelligentsia of the day) in the Kingdom of Poland was the political crisis in the first half of the 1890s. For pro-independence groups the commemoration of the anniversary of the Kościuszko Uprising had a symbolic dimension. Beginning at the start of the 90s with the demonstration in the Botanic Gardens in May 1891, the raising of awareness in Polish public opinion was meant to culminate in a demonstration that had been some time in the making, in honour of the man of the people who had brought the capital to the boil. The word in pro-independence circles was that a new Kiliński was once again going to scheme against the Muscovites.

This rallying of the ‘patriots’ and other pro-independence groups also turned out to be a reference point for home-grown Polish socialist circles. It became just such a catalyst almost by chance. Likewise, the ‘internationalists’ at the university and the socialist groupings which had sprung up in the mid-eighties: Proletariat II calling for active revolutionary work, and the Union of Polish Workers, laying emphasis on its legalistic programme, had no intention of focussing their efforts on student circles. But in fact that...

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