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The Making of Modern Ukraine The Western Dimension Roman Szporluk More than sixty years ago, in February 1948, the British historian Lewis Namier (1888–1960) delivered a lecture commemorating the centennial of the European revolution of 1848.1 His lecture has been published many times since then as “1848: Seed-plot of History” in, among other places, a volume titled Vanished Supremacies.2 Namier’s choice of 1848 as a point of departure was well founded. There is a tired cliché that 1848 was a turning point in history when history failed to turn, but that is wrong. The year 1848 saw the first European revolutions: France was at the center, and there were also revolutions in Palermo, Naples, Vienna, Berlin, Buda, and Pozna≈, to name a few. It was also the year of nationalist revolutions in Central Europe and the year of the publication of The Communist Manifesto, which predicted that an international proletarian revolution would abolish capitalism, the state, nations, and nationalism. In 1848, as Kathleen Burk writes in her study of A.J.P. Taylor, the Austrian, or Habsburg, Empire “was a German as well as a Balkan Power, the keystone of the Concert of Europe; there was the German nation, but no Germany; there were Italian states, some of which belonged to the Austrian Empire, and two Italian kingdoms, but no Italy; France was still perceived by all the others as the most powerful, or at least the most threatening, of the continental Powers; and Russia was predominantly a European, not an Asiatic, Power…”3 A central theme of Namier’s lecture was that “every idea put forward by the nationalities of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1848 was realized at some juncture, in one form or another” during the next century. Namier concluded: “1848 remains a seed-plot of history. It crystallized ideas and projected the pattern of things to come; it determined the course of the following century. It planned, and its schemes have been realized: but—non vi si pensa quanto sangue costa.” Ukrajna VI:Ideologies minta 10/17/08 4:34 PM Page 249 According to Namier, the solution of the German Question—that is, “What is Germany?”—was and would remain the central national problem in Central and Eastern Europe for the next hundred years: beginning in 1848 and continuing through World War I and World War II, the history of Germany defined the entire region’s history. It is clear from Namier’s formulation that other cases he named and reviewed (Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Yugoslav, and Ukrainian) were directly related to the German story. As one of the nationalities of the Habsburg monarchy that put forward their programs in 1848, Ruthenians or Ukrainians were also a part of Namier’s scheme. West Ukraine (Galicia and Bukovina) was the easternmost extension of the European revolutions of 1848–49, and for modern Ukrainian history 1848 was a turning point. I choose Namier’s “German-centered” schema as a point of departure for the Ukrainian nation-building story because his approach helps to see better the larger stage on which Ukrainian history was made in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Namier draws the attention of the historian of Ukraine to the fact that at the very core of the Habsburg monarchy there grew and intensified a conflict—a “dialectical contradiction ,” to use a popular Marxist phrase—between the dynasty and its principles, on the one hand, and German nationalism, the German national question, on the other. The tension and conflict between “Empire” and “Germany,” as I shall show, influenced how the imperial government treated other nationalities, Ukrainians included. (Something similar can be said about the Ukrainians under the Russian Empire, which was also being challenged from within by its dominant nationality as it was dealing with its non-Russian nationalities.) I will outline Namier’s ideas about Germany and then expand on them to discuss the emergence or the making of Ukraine as part of an international, historical process, one involving the German Question as well as the programs of other Central and East European nationalities. Ukrainians should be seen as actors in a number of international plots— and not only as an object of actions by others. My main focus will be on that historical juncture or conjuncture when traditional empires and other premodern polities (the system of Agraria, to use Ernest Gellner’s terminology ) began to face the challenges of nationalism, and the process of modern nation-building began.4 Bringing...


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