Category Archives: Book Reviews

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters

by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz  |  April 7, 2016  |  ARTICLES

Without the multicultural demographic and ideological context, the holy warriors of the Caliphate would stand out like proverbial sore thumbs in the Western world. Currently, they enjoy a perfect environment. They will not let up until Dar al Islam dominates the world. Or at least they will keep trying. The West should oppose that.

In war, power relationships reflect selflessness and bravery, but also feed on greed and compulsion. The bellicose synergy of the Muslim overlords and their Christian dependents reflected tactical alliances, personal considerations, mercenary motives, and brazen slavery. A typical leftist newsmaker of Indian parentage, the son of a tenured UN bureaucrat and a liberal academic at New York University, Ishaan Tharoor disagrees. According to him, Muslims and Christians killed each other, but most often they killed others jointly. Throughout history Muslims fought in Christian armies and vice versa. To talk about the clash of civilizations or defense of Christendom from Islam is therefore nonsense. This is the essence of Ishaan Tharoor’s belief, or, to be more precise, his enthusiastic endorsement of Ian Almond’s deeply flawed relativist and multiculturalist argument in Two Faiths, One Banner: When Muslims Marched With Christians Across Europe’s Battlegrounds (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).

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Dr. Chodakiewicz reviews “The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931” by Per Anders Rudling

According to Professor Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Per Anders Rudling’s The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) is seriously flawed both as far as its intellectual framework and understanding of subtle nature of the identity of the people inhabiting Belorussian lands. More in-depth research and less analytical bias stripped of leftist ideological prejudice should fix the problem. A version of the review was published as “Scholarship of Imagination,” East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, vol. 2, no. 3 (2015), posted at http://www.ewjus.com/

The full review is also available here: Scholarship-of-Imagination-May2015

 

Bolesław Piasecki as the victim of post-modernist historical revisionism

SONY DSCAfter giving a lecture at the Kosciuszko Chair’s Fourth Annual Spring Symposium, Dr. Wojciech Jerzy Muszyński of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw, Poland, shared with the KC his paper entitled “Bolesław Piasecki as the victim of post-modernist historical revisionism.”

In the paper, he discusses Mikołaj S. Kunicki’s book entitled Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism In 20th-Century Poland – The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012).

An abstract of the paper is below, and the full paper can be found here: Muszynski, Boleslaw Piasecki as the victom of post-modernist historical revisionism

Abstract

In the following review, Dr. Wojciech J. Muszyński offers a critical analysis of Mikołaj Kunicki’s book on Bolesław Piasecki. As an iron pragmatic who began his political career as a nationalist radical, and ended it as a communist collaborator, Piasecki fascinates his ideological enemies to this day. Furthermore, they mirror image and reduce him to the role of the antithesis of what they themselves are: liberal or leftist ideologues, usually of an internationalist bent. It is a striking phenomenon that Bolesław Piasecki – a politician of secondary importance who never exerted a decisive influence on Polish history – became the subject of two ostensibly comprehensive biographies in English. This is all the more amazing, since Poland and the great personages in her history – with perhaps the exceptions of Pope John Paul II in the 1990s, and Lech Wałęsa – are generally not of much interest to Western historians. Piasecki, however, became the subject of an English-language biography well before his death in the form of Lucjan Blit’s The Eastern Pretender (1965). More recently, in 2012, he became the antagonist of a second work in English: Mikołaj Stanisław Kunicki’s Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in 20th-Century Poland: The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki. Blit’s publication, however, was a political pamphlet, which the author never denied; just as he did not deny his open, fierce antipathy toward Piasecki. Kunicki’s biography, on the other hand, is presented as a work of objective scholarship. In essence, the latter represents efforts by post-modernist, neo-Stalinist academics to depict Polish nationalists as communist collaborators, which serves to whitewash Marxism by pinning much of the blame for the crimes of communism on “nationalism.”

* * *

Bolesław Piasecki, an iron pragmatic who began his political career as a radical nationalist, continues to fascinate his ideological foes to this day. It is quite astonishing that this admittedly second-rate politician who did not play any significant role in Polish history, has already been the subject of two quite substantial biographical publications in English. This is all the more astounding given that famous personages in the history of Poland have not attracted much interest on the part of Western historians, except perhaps for Pope John Paul II during the 1990s and Lech Wałęsa. Upon investigating the shelves of American and British book stores, it is difficult to find any books on important Poles. Piasecki, however, became the subject of an English-language biography many years before his death, i.e. Lucjan Blit’s The Eastern Pretender: The Story of Bolesław Piasecki, which was published in 1965. In 2012, another work appeared: Mikołaj Stanisław Kunicki’s Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism In 20th-Century Poland – The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki. But whereas Blit’s publication was a political pamphlet—which the author did not really disguise, nor did he deny his sharp antipathy towards Piasecki—Kunicki’s biography is presented as an objective work of scholarship.

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Dr. Chodakiewicz’s “Intermarium” in the Slavic Review

Intermarium, by Mark ChodakiewiczThe Slavic Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), has reviewed Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz’s Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012). The review was published in Vol. 73, No. 1 (Spring 2014) of the Slavic Review on pages 163-164.

While generally critical of the book for ideological and political reasons, the reviewer recognizes that Intermarium was based on a “huge array of primary and secondary sources,” acknowledging that it “may be used in graduate seminars on the history of eastern Europe, nationalism, and the Cold War.” He also finds “convincing” Dr. Chodakiewicz’s analysis of the mechanisms of post-communist “transformation” whereby the communists reinvented themselves as social democrats, liberals, or ethno-nationalists.

However, the author of the review disagrees with Dr. Chodakiewicz regarding the geostrategic intentions of post-Soviet Russia. Accordingly, he depicts one of the book’s arguments-which calls for the necessity of stronger ties between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (i.e. the Intermarium) and a close alliance with the United States-as a “Cold War project designed to forewarn readers of the dangers emanating from Russia” and to construct a pro-American “cordon sanitaire.” The review, downplaying the geopolitical threat from the Kremlin, was undoubtedly written before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.

Please click here for the website of the Slavic Review.

Dr. Chodakiewicz reviews book on Belarusian nationalism

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, review of Jerzy Grzybowski, Pogoń między Orłem Białym, Swastyką i Czerwoną Gwiazdą: Białoruski ruch niepodległościowy w latach 19391956 [The Chase between the White Eagle, the Swastika, and the Red Star: The Belarusian pro-independence movement in 1939 – 1956] (Warsaw: Bel Studio, 2011), in Slavonic and East European Review, 92, 1, January 2014: 177-180.

The subject of Belarus—not to mention the topic of Belarusian nationalism—has received little scholarly attention and even less media publicity. If the Intermarium nation is mentioned at all, it is usually associated with its president, “the last dictator in Europe,” Aleksandr Lukashenka. However, although the post-Soviet republic may be ruled by a one-time KGB officer with nostalgia for the Bolshevik system, Belarus also has a nationalist movement that is pro-independence and pro-Western.

In the January 2014 issue of the Slavonic and East European Review (SEER), Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz reviewed Jerzy Grzybowski’s history of the Belarusian nationalist movement. The extremely well-researched Polish-language study (published in 2011) focuses on the years 1939 – 1956, a crucial—and nightmarish—period in the modern history of the Intermarium region, spanning the time from the German-Soviet invasion and partition of Poland (and the Sovietization of former Northeastern Poland, now Western Belarus), through the Nazi-Bolshevik total war in White Ruthenia, to the postwar Soviet reoccupation.

Dr. Chodakiewicz points out that an analysis of Belarusian nationalism may be applicable to many parts of the world in the present, and no doubt in the future as well:

“The monograph is essentially about nationalists without a nation. More precisely, there were very highly motivated nationalist activists, but there were only ethnographic denizens of Belarus, usually peasants, most of them devoid of any modern national consciousness. Instead, they usually identified with a locality (calling themselves tutejsi — people from here), and a religion (usually Christian Orthodoxy, but also the Uniate rite and, to a lesser extent, Roman Catholicism). The nationalists largely operated in a vacuum. Thus, they concluded that they needed an independent state to‘make peasants into Belorusians,’ to paraphrase Eugene Weber. Belorusian nationalists rejected the notion that nationalism is culture and, thus, it needs no state, as proved conclusively by 123 years of triumphant experience and the endurance of the partitioned Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Belarusian nationalists, alas, consciously rejected the legacy of the multi-national republic in favour of integral ethno-nationalism.”

A PDF version of the entire review may be accessed here:  Slavonic and East European Review, January 2014 Slav

Could America have saved Czechoslovakia from communism?

Such is the question posed by Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies researcher, Paweł Styrna, in his recent review of Igor Lukes’ On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Based on the scholarly study, Mr. Styrna concludes that a prudent and integrated American strategy could have certainly prevented the Sovietization of Czechoslovakia following the Second World War. He writes: “For American policy-makers and strategic planners, it is a case study in missed opportunities. Given a more determined and purposeful integrated strategy, Czechoslovakia might have been saved at a time when America still enjoyed a nuclear monopoly and the Soviet Union was internally weakened by the war it had itself helped spark. Czechoslovakia’s accession to the anti-communist, American-led coalition might not have averted the Cold War, but it would have certainly strengthened the Western alliance’s strategic position in Central Europe, thereby possibly hastening the end of the Cold War and the implosion of the Soviet Bloc.”

Mr. Styrna’s review was posted on the website of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research (SFPPR) on 25 July 2013.

The Worst Enemy: A book review

The ongoing culture war in the West continues to hamper our efforts to defeat radical Islam. Such is the thesis of a recently published anthology, co-edited by Katherine C. Gorka and Patrick Sookhdeo, which was reviewed by Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research (SFPPR).

Fighting the Ideological War does not limit itself to pointing out the self-inflicted obstacles to winning the ideological war with Jihadist extremism, however. Its contributors-including IWP’s Founder and President, Dr. John Lenczowski-also demonstrate how lessons learned from our victorious struggle against Communism may be applied successfully in the battle against Islamism.

Dr. Chodakiewicz’s review follows below:

The Worst Enemy

Katherine C. Gorka and Patrick Sookhdeo, eds., Fighting the Ideological War: Winning Strategies from Communism Islamism (McLean, VA: The Westminster Institute and Isaack Publishing, 2012).

Reviewed by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
April 26, 2013

We are the worst enemy of the West. Or, to put it a bit differently, the most serious adversary is born and bred within the gates of the West. Thus, the battle against mortal danger to our civilization ranges among the denizens of our cultural and political sphere and it must be won here before we can proceed to victory outside. This is a phenomenon which James Burnham called “Suicide of the West” as reflected in the inability of liberal intelligentsia to comprehend the evil of Communism. A neat illustration of the civil culture war can be the sustained leftist campaign of hatred and ostracism against Yale’s Professor G. Warren Nutter who, in the 1950s, dared to suggest that the Soviet economy was inefficient. He thus violated the obligatory Sovietophilia of America’s chattering classes and their socialist prejudices.

Now seven distinguished experts, including two who are my friends and colleagues, Brits and Yanks, demonstrate in Fighting the Ideological War: Winning Strategies from Communism to Islamism, how the culture war phenomenon has survived to cripple our response to the radical Muslim challenge. “The result is an unwillingness to engage in the battle of ideas and a widespread confusion, even doublespeak, in the way policymakers talk about Islam.” But take heart. The experts also show, plain and simple, how Communism was overcome and propose to apply the same strategy and tactics to Islamism. They give us trenchant definitions, vivid analysis, and bold solutions to lead us to victory.

To continue reading the review, please visit the SFPPR Book Review section.