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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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Notes to the English edition


The book now in the English reader’s hands is coming out six years after its original publication in Polish. At the time it triggered a certain amount of discussion, in non-academic circles too, although its scope was limited to a few issues, not always of the greatest importance to the writer, nor above all to the logic of the argument. Certain problems, such as the issue of racism present in Polish culture and public life at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries turned out to be too painful for some Polish readers; they also still give rise to too many negative emotions for the discussion of them to be measured and calm.

Six years is usually a long enough time for a great deal of new work on a subject to appear, thus creating something of a dilemma and a challenge for every writer. On re-reading the book and also the polemics which accompanied its reception, I have come to the conclusion that most of this work’s cognitive quality, its ideas as well as the supporting material, have retained their original value and thus do not require extensive updating. The work arose to a certain extent as a counter to the main current of Polish historiography and it appears that its polemical quality is still relevant. For obvious reasons, however, a foreign reader deserves some general, even very brief information on the state and direction of research into the subject of Polish nationalism at the turn...

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