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Roman Dmowski and George WashingtonPresident George Washington was the one indispensable individual in the story of the American founding. Even more than his military leadership during the revolution, his presidency ensured that America would exist. Americans honored Washington’s example as president to such an extent that no American statesman until Franklin D. Roosevelt dared attempt to extend his own presidency beyond two terms in office; if George Washington did not do it, then what patriot would dare? Washington’s words, like his practices, particularly his Farewell Address, which cautioned Americans to have “as little political connection as possible” with foreign nations, were also respected for most of American history, and helped make America a great country.

Roman Dmowski, like Washington, is the one indispensable individual in the story of the Polish founding. Without Mr. Dmowski, Poland would not exist. Poles did not and do not honor Mr. Dmowski, who advocated against a policy of empire and war and in favor of realistic and prudent conservative statesmanship. Mr. Dmowski, although he founded Poland, was sidelined in Polish politics. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs for one-and-a-half months, and was pushed aside in the politics of the II Polish republic by his enemies, who took power through a coup d’etat and pursued policies which brought Poland to ruin.

Modern Poland also ignores Roman Dmowski. An unholy alliance of progressive intellectuals and Americans who do not know any better has consigned the wisdom of Roman Dmowski to the flames. For Americans, this would not matter, except for the fact that America’s sons and daughters may soon be called to die in a war, supposedly in defense of Poland, started against the council of Poland’s founder, and which Poland’s founder clearly and explicitly rejects as being against Poland’s national interest. Americans are being lied to when they are told that no honest person in Poland could possibly “support” the current Russian view of Ukraine—no greater proof exists than Roman Dmowski’s “The Ukraine Question,” the third and final part of which I present below. Let any American, scholar or regular citizen, now claim that Polish patriots could actually support the Maidan revolution in light of the words of Poland’s own founding father, Roman Dmowski, and they will be making the same ignorant claim as those who pretend that Americans who yearn for a restoration of Washingtonian foreign policy somehow “blame America and not the terrorists.” –Peter Strzelecki Rieth

VI. Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine, Kiev, Independence Square, Tymoshenko picFrom what I have written about the Ukraine question, it is not obvious that the people of Ukraine and everything that comes from the people of Ukraine, desire to break away from Russia. With regard to the people, we must note that given the level of culture that exists amongst that portion of Europe, the one and only concern of those people are economic interests, and their comportment to the state depends upon the way that the state treats these economic interests. Actually, even in the most civilized of countries, the political ambitions of the nation are in fact above all the ambitions of the educated and enlightened members of the nation.

In terms of the intelligentsia who come from the Lower Russian people of the South of Russia, a large portion of them regard themselves as Russian: not only do they satisfy their cultural needs in the Russian language, but they possess a distinctly Russian political philosophy. They regard the Lower Russian dialect a Russian dialect. Others—whose numbers are growing nowadays—believe themselves to be Ukrainians. Their ambition is the development of the Ukrainian literary language and they defend Ukrainian as a legal language, but for the most part, they regard Ukraine as an integral part of the Russian state. Their comportment towards contemporary Russia depends wholly on who is a Bolshevik, and who does not want to be a Bolshevik, or whose path to Bolshevism is impossible.

If we look upon Russia, then aside from suicidal doctrinaire ideologues, there are none amongst them who would admit the right of Ukraine to separate from Russia and to create their own independent state. Some Russians believe the Lower Russian speakers to be Russians proper, others regard with friendship the cultivation by the Lower Russian peoples of their unique literary language. A third group of Russians even admits that the Ukrainians have a great or lesser right to political independence. However, all three groups believe Ukraine to be a part of the Russian state and to be eternally bound to Russia.

None of this means that the Ukrainian question is not, given all of the elements that compose it, a serious and dangerous question for Russia. Ukraine, as the most powerful economic component in the Russian state, is a land upon which the future progress of Russia depends. It is also a land upon which Russia will depend in the case of future war.

The present Soviet Russia, just like Tsarist Russia, is the most militarized state on Earth. It is customary to look upon her army as, above all, the Red Army, which is committed to working for the World Revolution. It seems that the Soviet government itself would prefer it if that is how the world saw her military. In reality, if we take a closer look, we must conclude that it is above all the Russian army, the scope of which, the existence of which, is made necessary not by World Revolution, but by the size of the Russian state and the necessity to defend its borders.

Baku, Erdöl-TanksIn its various parts, Russia is constantly threatened by uprisings. Recently, we bore witness to an uprising in Azerbaijan, a nation with the same population as Turkey. It was not the first nor will it be the last uprising. Azerbaijan is Baku, and Baku is oil; oil—these days—unless it is in the hands of the English or the Americans, always takes on the characteristics of strong political tumult. It seems that, of late, where oil flows on our Earth, there another liquid substance also flows: blood.

Parenthetically, next to the Americans and the English, there are other nations, foremost Germany, which think that they are able to handle the flow of oil without the flow of blood. We Poles have already born witness to this specific trait of oil in our own Podkarpat region, where the political tumult was proportional to the amount of oil found there. Wherever there is oil, we find ourselves dealing with international corporations, not only industrial ones, but political ones: both enliven things with the use of foreign capital. Actually, it is not only oil-rich Azerbaijan that is ready, under the right circumstances, to cause Soviet Russia many internal problems.

The problem of defending its’ borders is greatest in the Far East and, in the long run, will only become a greater danger in the future. What relations have been established with China, far closer relations than those under the Tsar, do not allow for any pause in Chinese affairs. Either Bolshevism will come to China, or Russia will make war on China. At the moment when the Kuomintang, or any other government of China, manages to deal with its’ internal communists, it will no doubt begin to put pressure on Russia in an effort to deprive Russia of her positions in the Far East. The Soviets, for their part, understand this very well. Thus China is at the forefront of their efforts.

This is not the place for a long consideration of Chinese affairs. It is enough to only note that, above all, China, possessed of the most populous nation on Earth, are amongst the most energetic of colonizers. Their energy has increased in recent times: they have advanced their colonization of what is known as Inner Mongolia—which, for Russia, is unimportant—to such an excellent degree that it has become a Chinese country. What is important to Russia is that the same is being done in Manchuria.

Soviet Russia has already had a recent conflict with China in Manchuria and must, within a short time, be prepared for a new conflict there. A war with China will not be a game, not only because the Chinese are adopting European arts of war, and gaining military experience in their civil wars, but also and above all because due to their technical and economic evolution. China is a massive farming country. They are also, and always have been, a great industrial country. Only when isolated from the world, looking inward, have they found themselves retarded by Chinese methods of production. Currently, they are adopting European methods with great haste. Possessed of all the most important resources, they continue to build factories for processing grain into flour using the latest European methods, as well as wool and silk materials production, steel and iron production, glass production and so forth. All of this is made easier for them given the fact that their country is one of the richest in the world insofar as supplies of coal. Any future war against China will be a war against an industrial state, and this is a serious matter.

If Russia were to be deprived of the Ukraine, and thus of its coal, steel and oil, its capacity to defend itself against China in any eventual war would be minimal. The history of the near future would be one of an ever-expanding China, colonizing the Baikov, and then—moving further West. This would be catastrophic for Russia, but desirable from the point of view of certain political forces. If this scenario were to be played out, a day would come when the nations of Europe themselves would realize and feel just how close China is to them.

Given its’ geographical location, Russia, no matter who governs her, must always defend Ukaine as her own land, until the last breath, feeling certain that to loose Ukraine would be a fatal blow to Russia.

VII. The Perspective for Execution

russia Given the immense meaning of the Ukraine for Russia, and given the vast scope of Russian preparedness to defend this territory, and given Russian militarism, one can only imagine what ripping this valuable land from Russia will look like. The military strength of Russia would not be strong enough to prosecute a two front war, and an attack against Russia coming from the West—in the case of war between Russia and the Far East—which is possible even in the near future, would end fatally for Russia. Under such circumstances, the Ukrainian program would become a reality.

In order for the Ukraine to be occupied by the enemy of Russia, Poland and Romania must first be made into enemies of Russia. If the Great Powers desire to tear Ukraine away from Russia, and if they were ready to sacrifice a great deal of themselves to do it, their intentions would only remain intentions, unless the principle executor of their will would be Poland and Romania—or at the very least—the Polish people alone.

And herein lies the great difficulty with the execution of the Ukraine program. For Romania understands perfectly well that the price it would pay for the creation of an independent Ukrainian state would be at the very least the Besarabia. The Romanians know full well that all appetites for the Besarabia, which the Soviets from time to time might exhibit, have their source not in Moscow, but in Charkov and Kiev (both in Ukraine). If not for Moscow —which moderates the appetites of Kiev—the situation in this matter would become radicalized. For Romania, it is safer to have as its neighbor a great and mighty state, whose politics find themselves gravitating more towards Asia, than to have on their border a smaller state, whose interests will be focused centrally on the Black Sea. For these reasons, it is not easy to fan the passions of the Romanians for the idea of ripping Ukraine from Russia.

The situation, or—as I would rather not have to call it—the politics of Poland are even more important with regard to this subject. One of the greatest tragedies of Poland over the last decade which has gone by since our rebirth was that it was not sufficiently long enough for us to have developed our own program of clear, consequential statecraft, built on the basis of our geography and our interests. Poland’s political schizophrenia, which was already so evident during the World War, has yet to have ebbed, although it is moving quickly towards a final resolution. The political absurdity of tying Polish politics to the central Western states of Europe, and of bending all of Polish political life to their perspectives has not undergone self-liquidation quite yet. The political parties who represented this absurd notion, having combined together a variety of domestic dynamics, having developed a generally unified view of foreign policy, do not understand the various dynamics that compose their movement, or—they simply believe what they do not understand to be unimportant. This is what allowed this group to force its will on the Polish nation in terms of foreign affairs, in which no one is quite sure what elements of their program were conscious choices, and what elements of their program were just hold-overs from bygone eras, from which their static minds were unable to free themselves.

Thus, in Polish politics, we observe a constant resistance to what had once been forced upon Poland due to the logic of her geography which attempts to derail Poland, to convert Poland to some path upon which Poland walked in the past on account of the Central Western European states. All of this has had a detrimental effect on the international position of Poland, and has even had a negative effect on the policy of our ally—France.

Thankfully, the experience of these ten years and the maturing of certain political dynamics, which—until recently—did not have the brain-power to comprehend international politics, is now effecting a growing unity of Poles in these matters. Thankfully; I say, because no nation-state can tolerate two directions for foreign policy for very long. Sooner or later, Poland will have to pay a high price for such a luxury. Polish public opinion is thus becoming more unified with regard to the Ukrainian question.

Our position in this matter is very clear. Even if we had the faintest idea about the ambitions of Ukraine, we have a concrete written document, which is the official program for a Ukrainian state. This document is the Treaty of Brest. The Ukrainians who conspire with our conspirators may well declare many things to us today, but a healthy political thought cannot be based on the declarations of individual people or organizations, or even on the legal representatives of entire nations. Healthy political thought must look at the content of instincts, the ambition of peoples, and the logic of things. Whatever sort of nation-state the future Ukraine might be, it would forever be intent upon occupying all lands upon which the Russian language is spoken. It would have to aspire to this goal not only because such are the aspirations of the Ukrainian movement, but also because—in order to survive against a Russia that would never accept the existence of such a Ukrainian state, this Ukrainian state would have to grow in territory and raise a mighty army. Under such circumstances, Poland would pay a far higher price than Romania for the creation of such a Ukrainian state.

To make matters worse; this is only one aspect of the situation. An independent Ukraine would be a state totally dominated by German interests. It would be so not because the Ukrainian political movements of our day are not only in conspiracy with the Germans, not only are they supported by the Germans, but above all because the greatest guarantor of the Ukrainian program against Russia, Poland and Romania is Germany—and that in and of itself will tie the Ukrainians to the Germans. Poland, in the event of a Ukrainian state torn from Russian influence, would find itself between Germany to the West and a vast country that is a German colony to the East. I need not describe the fate of Poland in such a situation.

Finally, as I have demonstrated, a modern, great Ukrainian state, built in the modern time, would not be governed by a Ukrainian elite, and would never be capable of healthy international relations for this very reason. It truly would become a cancer on Europe, a cancer fatal to its’ immediate neighbors.

For the nation, particularly for our young nation, which must still nurture itself for its destiny, it is far better to have as a neighbor the great, mighty nation-state of Russia, no matter how alien Russia is to us, no matter how hostile Russia is to us—Russia as a neighbor is better than Ukraine; because Ukraine would become home to all of the political and economic whores and prostitutes of the world. For all of these reasons, the program for an independent Ukrainian state cannot count on Polish support, let alone for Polish blood to be spilt in pursuit of this program. Polish public opinion understands this perfectly even now.

Ukraine-Protest2We might be dissatisfied with the current Polish-Russian border, but the composition of that border does not really play a very large role in our politics. We can feel very sad, indeed we do feel very sad, for those of our countrymen who—often in very large groups—live within the borders of Soviet Ukraine. We can regret the loss of Polish material goods which have remained there, but these feelings cannot dictate that we derail our politics and embark upon a path that is contrary to the good of Poland as a whole—and to Poland’s future. We can even go so far to feel sorry for the French Creditors of Russia, but we should tell them that their claims—though just—have nothing to do with the far more noble and great goals of France and Poland. It seems that the Ukraine question has little place even in our own foreign politics. Given all of this, and given our position as a neighbor to Russia, and particularly a neighbor to Soviet Ukraine, the idea of supporting and executing the Ukraine independence program appears to me to be more than worthy of great doubt. In the end, if we eliminate from our foreign policy the ambition to support Ukrainian independence, it will have one high minded effect: it will permit Poland to treat the matter of the Russians in Poland as her own internal problem, and only internal. There will no longer be any temptation on the part of any nation to burn down its’ own house in the macabre hope that their hated neighbor will die from the toxic fumes emanating from our own flames.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. This is part three of a three-part series written by Roman Dmowski and translated from Polish by Peter Strzelecki Rieth. Please also read parts one and two.

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2 replies to this post
  1. Thank you for a most fascinating series of translations of this eerily prescient intellectual, whom, I confess, I had never heard of. Time will tell what ultimately transpires with Ukraine but I do see Poland, not Ukraine, as the ultimate geopolitical pawn in the current fiasco.

  2. Thank you for reading. Romam Dmowski was not really an intellectual (though of course he was forced to be). Roman Dmowski is the founder of Poland. His signature, next to that of Paderewski, is on the Versailles Treaty that brought Poland to life as a modern nation state.

    The question “why have I never heard of Roman Dmowski?” should be asked to the political elites of Poland who pretend he never existed.

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