Why Is There an Eastern Europe?
BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE STORY of the Great War, the reader is urged to put aside the building drama and to reflect upon a different question: why is there an Eastern Europe? Or, in other words, why isn't Europe seen as an essential whole? Why do we capitalize Eastern and Western when referring to Europe but not (usually) northern and southern? (At this point the reader is reminded that, as stated in the Introduction, Eastern Europe is defined as ending on the east at the frontier of the present-day Soviet Union. Thus, for the purposes of this discussion, Europe as a whole is considered to end at that place as well.) Is there really an important difference between orient and occident on this single continent and, if so, where is the dividing line? Is the source of the difference merely a political phenomenon (and thus by implication a transient one), or does it have deeper, more complex roots?
These questions and others like them have been much asked but very little answered. And of those responses that have appeared, few have garnered more praise than criticism. The subject is fiercely controversial, yet the author feels an obligation to attempt some explanation. The task in this case is more reasonable in that anyone who has come to this point in this work already knows more about Eastern Europe than all but a very small percentage of the world's population. Thus, the reader can be addressed as something of an expert, and has a fair opportunity to judge the evidence and the quality of the arguments and to accept them or to reach an alternative conclusion.
The thesis to be considered, therefore, runs as follows: there are important geographical differences between Western Europe overall and Eastern Europe overall (the "overall" is hereafter to be understood). These differences are sufficiently significant to have generated a different chronology of economic development. The economic disparity, together with
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Publication information: Book title: The Other Europe:Eastern Europe to 1945. Contributors: E. Garrison Walters - Author. Publisher: Syracuse University Press. Place of publication: Syracuse, NY. Publication year: 1988. Page number: 110.
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