Nationalities and National Minorities (With Special Reference to East-Central Europe): By Oscar I. Janowsky .... with a Foreword by James T. Shotwell

By Oscar I. Janowsky | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

Two world wars are the penalty for not having solved the problem with which this volume deals. There is, therefore, no more important, no more compelling problem confronting the world today. And yet it lacks reality for most of us, for the peoples involved are largely foreign to our way of life and live in a part of the world about which few of us have any personal knowledge. Moreover, the problem itself seems to be their problem, not ours: that of local adjustment to neighbors living alongside or to neighboring governments. We have, therefore, a proper reluctance to interfere except when disorders break out which threaten the peace of nations. Then in the clash of interests we become suspicious of the propaganda of hostile factions. What is needed is a clear and definite statement of the problem itself in terms of its own history and proposals for its solution based on parallel experience elsewhere. This is the contribution of this volume.

Although, as Professor Janowsky states in his own preface, "this book faces the future," it deals with an historical process which cannot be understood unless one knows something of the past. That great area which lies between Soviet Russia and Central Europe has been retarded in its political evolution owing to the fact that it has been a borderland between great nations and is composed of what seems to us nondescript races, many of which until recently have lacked full political recognition. The model which all have sought to copy, and this includes the great empires as well, is that of the national state which, from the close of the Middle Ages, has been the outstanding creation of the Western world. But it has now become clear that the process of state formation which was exemplified first in England and France, cannot be copied in east-central Europe without serious modification. The time has passed for that process of unification to be repeated which

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