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A New Look on Authoritarianism: Roman Dmowski

Can authoritarian nationalism and free market capitalism find common ground in the struggle against radical leftism and fascism?

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By Daniel Szewc | Republic of Poland

Beyond what most politically oriented people think, authoritarian capitalism hasn’t only existed as the offspring of third-positionism meeting reality, in the form of military dictatorships- (ie late stage Francoism, Pinochet’s Chicago boys or Xiaoping Deng’s opening on the world. In fact, the biggest ideological precursor of free market consequentialism in the interwar period was an authoritarian capitalist. Namely, Roman Dmowski, a world-renowned Polish diplomat, head started the biggest nationalist/right-wing movement that supported free market values in Europe.

Aside for his ideological work, he was a signatory of the Versailles treaty. During his first talk with the big 3 (Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin; U.S.President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill), Dmowski gave a five-hour entry speech concerning Poland’s bid for independence. In it, he explained how an independent Poland would positively influence the balance of power in Europe. Interestingly, after a few sentences in Polish, his dissatisfaction with the translator’s ability to express his points in English and French, he decided to make his points in said languages himself.
After achieving his goal of creating an independent Poland, he proceeded to pursue a short-lived political career as minister of foreign affairs. Moving out of partisan politics completely, he constructed a political ideology named “National Democracy”, based on a principle of nationally aware masses that knew and understood the interest of their nation. He also coined the term “national egoism”, the idea that a nation-state should only pursue its own interest, not foreign ones. As to not make the state Machiavellian in nature, and ready to undermine all other nations, he was a strong supporter of morals and civic responsibility. What’s more, in an era of blatant global antisemitism, and the support for expulsion/extermination of Jews, he proposed a healthy rivalry- for example, instead of burning down Jewish shops, he promoted natives building their own. As to show how far he was from fascism rhetorically, he said that he doubted that fascism would outlive Mussolini himself (prior to the thought of a world war coming up being blatant).
Economically, he despised the “third way”- he was a supporter of the Krakow school of economics, a precursor to the Austrian school of economics. Its first member, (Prof. Dunajewski) was the teacher of Carl Menger, the founder of the Austrian school. Later on, Heydel and Rybarski, two Polish economists who proposed extreme deregulation of the economy during the time when most of the world was shifting towards Keynesian economic interventionism, lead the economic thought in his nationalist movement.

Dmowski’s line of reasoning was based upon the logical conclusion of taking the following ideas as principles- that his nation had potential, and that regulations slowed down the economy. The conclusion to this is that the members of the said nation should be allowed to freely compete in a free market, and through it, gain the best results. His hard work results in the fact that the biggest nationalist/libertarian party in Poland, Liberty (Wolność), is a market-oriented, pro-free trade movement.


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