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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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The period under review – the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries – is a particularly interesting time for the historian of ideas. Its most salient feature remains the complex political environment. This is hardly surprising. The accelerated democratization of public life, urbanization, industrialization, as well as other phenomena usually labelled “modernisation processes”, together contributed to a basic reconstruction of the political scene. It is to this aspect that scholars have drawn particular attention.

This work has been written from a slightly different perspective. It is not a history of a political grouping, or of an intellectual current, nor of some ideological movement examined in detail. Instead, the focus is on a broader view of the world that appeared around the year 1900. Although the object here is to attempt to examine intelligentsia radicalism at that time throughout the Polish lands, most of the issues studied will apply mainly to the Kingdom of Poland, where such radicalism was most strongly felt.

A certain type of ideological radicalism will be treated here in great detail: right-wing radicalism. In previous research into the history of Polish ideas and social thought this problem has not been thoroughly analysed. The issue has been reduced to research into twentieth-century social and political history, above all up to the cauldron of the thirties. To a certain extent, this work aims to redress this neglect as a whole.1 This writer’s initial premise is the recognition that both right-wing radicalism, as well as...

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