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Chauvinism, Polish Style

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

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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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A Vision of Public Order

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I have never held that one could save the country by political work alone; I have never wanted to shut myself up just in politics. I have held too that the whole future of our nation depends on whether we can organize it properly from a moral point of view.

‘Roman Dmowski to Stanisław Grabski, 29 V 1919, M. Kułakowski, Roman Dmowski w świetle listów i wspomnień, vol. 2, London 1971, p. 166

Dmowski’s journalistic writings discussed here were a symptom of a political evolution that had led to the aggressive campaigns which the National League had begun against its political opponents as early as the first years of the new century. Antisemitism, not always in its racist form, apart from its unifying ideological function, turned out to be a handy tool in the current battle. In the context of the movement’s growing political aspirations, its focused enmity towards the Jews was growing, just like other ethnic resentments, into the status of a symbol and a myth, around which a political battle in the era of mass movements could be concentrated. Such a myth was supposed to return a sense of unity to the fractured community.186 We are one of the most disorganized nations on Earth, said almost with one voice the new nationalists in all the countries of Europe in which they appeared. Enmity towards outsiders became these groups’ basic political line.

Myths, as we know, become laden...

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