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The Origins of Modern Polish Democracy

M. B. B. Biskupski

Publication Year: 2009

The Origins of Modern Polish Democracy is a series of closely integrated essays that traces the idea of democracy in Polish thought and practice. It begins with the transformative events of the mid-nineteenth century, which witnessed revolutionary developments in the socioeconomic and demographic structure of Poland, and continues through changes that marked the postcommunist era of free Poland.

The idea of democracy survived in Poland through long periods of foreign occupation, the trials of two world wars, and years of Communist subjugation. Whether in Poland itself or among exiles, Polish speculation about the creation of a liberal-democratic Poland has been central to modern Polish political thought. This volume is unique in that it traces the evolution of the idea of democracy, both during the periods when Poland was an independent country—1918–1939 and after 1989—and during the periods of foreign occupation before 1918 and through World War II and the Communist era. For those periods when Poland was not free, the volume discusses how the idea of democracy evolved among exile and underground Polish circles. This important work is the only single-volume English-language history of modern Polish democratic thought and parliamentary systems and represents the latest scholarly research by leading specialists from Europe and North America.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

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Series Editor’s Preface

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pp. xi-xii

"Despite its absorption by Austria, Prussia, and Russia or, perhaps, in part because of it, Poland—or, technically speaking, the Polish partitions—became a seedbed of democratic and revolutionary political thought in the nineteenth century. During these decades of profound change, Poles struggled to maintain the national ideal against foreign occupation, addressed the..."

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pp. xiii-xvi

"The term 'democracy' derives from the Greek words δημος (demos; people) and κρατος (kratos; rule). Over time it has come to signify a form of governance or management in which a nation or other organization is ruled through the will of its members, either by means of direct participation or, more likely in modern nation states, labor unions, large voluntary..."

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Guide to Pronunciation

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pp. xvii-xx

"The following key provides a guide to the pronunciation of Polish words and names."

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1 ||| An Introduction to Polish Democratic Thought

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pp. 1-22

"The present volume builds on an earlier publication, Polish Democratic Thought from the Renaissance to the Great Emigration: Essays and Documents, which was dedicated to the May 3, 1791, constitution and appeared shortly before its bicentenary.1 The constitution provided a symbol of Polish determination to create a modern democratic state embracing all elements ..."

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2 ||| New Political Directions: A Transition toward Popular Participation in Politics, 1863–90

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pp. 23-60

"The Polish democratic tradition reaches back over six centuries.1 Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, it was the near-exclusive preserve of the nobility, or gentry (szlachta). The conservative revolution culminating in the adoption of the constitution of May 3, 1791, tentatively broadened the concept of nation (nar

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3 ||| The Rise of Political Parties,1890–1914

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pp. 61-94

"The rise of modern political parties in the immediate decades before the First World War, through their inclusion and representation of mass constituencies, symbolized a fundamental transformation of Polish political culture. at the beginning of the nineteenth century, participation in Polish political life was effectively confined to a narrow elite among the nobility, as ..."

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4 ||| Polish Democratic Thought during the First World War

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pp. 95-109

"The years of the Great War, 1914–18, also marked the end of the partitions of Poland and constituted a prologue to the independent second Polish republic. armies numbering millions of soldiers fought in Polish territories, leaving nothing but rubble, ruins, and the graves of the dead. Political debates, originating before the outbreak of the war, continued, some gaining ..."

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5 ||| The Rise and Fall of Parliamentary Democracy in Interwar Poland

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pp. 110-164

"In 1918, after the fall of the Russian, Austrian, and German empires, a political vacuum appeared in east-central Europe that created an opportunity for oppressed nations to gain or regain their independence. Poland became one of the newly created states that filled this vacuum. Most Poles accepted the reemergence of their state with enthusiasm and began to build ..."

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6 ||| Polish Democratic Thought at Home, 1939–45

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pp. 165-189

"The Polish underground state during World War II was a historical continuation of the second republic.1 after the September 1939 invasion by Germany and Soviet Russia, prewar political parties, ideological circles, youth organizations, and groups of army officers embarked on a variety of underground activities, giving rise to various initiatives. Despite the..."

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7 ||| Democratic Thought and Action among the Polish Political Émigrés, 1939–89

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pp. 190-213

"The formation of the Polish government-in-exile in Paris in September 1939 began a political process that reached fruition only after the collapse of communism in Poland in the 1990–91. For a half century, the president, government, political parties, and cultural institutions of the government-in-exile held to the deep conviction that it was necessary to bear witness to ..."

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8 ||| Polish Democratic Thought and the Fight for Sovereignty, 1945–69

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pp. 214-237

"During the nineteenth century, and indeed throughout the course of Polish history, as the torch of freedom passed from one generation to another to light the way for the nation amid the raging storms, there was never an instance when it was extinguished for lack of hands to carry it forth. That is why, in spite of much effort and many sacrifices, we must rebuild the ..."

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9 ||| Polish Democratic Thought, 1968–89: The Long March to Capitalism

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pp. 238-271

" 'What does ‘socialism’ mean?' began a joke popular in Poland in the 1970s. The answer: 'The longest road from capitalism to capitalism.' How much truth there was in this joke could be seen in 1989, when Poland terminated the nearly half-century-long political experiment and returned to the model of a free-market economy. The attempt to create ..."

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10 ||| Rebuilding Democracy in Poland, 1989–2004

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pp. 272-326

"The fall of Communism took most people by surprise, but they realized quickly that the revolution of 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 had closed a chapter in history. Some analysts compared the 1989–91 events to the French Revolution or the end of the Roman Empire.1 'The collapse of European Leninism,' the end of the Cold War, and the ..."

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 327-340


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pp. 341-342


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pp. 343-356

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443095
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821418925

Publication Year: 2009