|Question for Russian Posters
Many Poles whom I have known have told me at one time or another that Russia is different from Poland in that Russia is not a genuine European country but rather an Asian one. Unlike Poland, Russia had not gone through the “History of Ideas” in the same way as Poles did. They stated that while Poland was an active participant in the various movements in Europe such as the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, etc, the Russians missed out.
This separation from Europe was caused , they explained, by the fact that while the Poles were immune from the Mongol invasions, the Russians lived under the Mongol/Tartar yoke and assimilated the Mongols, thus incorporating Eastern culture into the Russian psyche.
In fact, once out of the Soviet orbit in the early 90s, in publications such as the Paris-based KULTURA and Res Publica, Polish intellectuals made a firm statement that Poland is not and HAS NEVER BEEN part of Eastern Europe (!). It is and has always been part of CENTRAL EUROPE, a cultural tradition dating back a thousand years and thus Poland has always been closer to Austria and Germany than to the Ukraine and Russia.
Once I started reading up on these interesting (and widely held) views, I found them to be somewhat faulty. Russia has always very much been part of Europe’s cultural life and had many great thinkers in every phase of European intellectual life from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment and so on.
So my question is, is there any truth to the Polish assertions?
It seems a handy way of explaining the Russian penchant for authoritarian governments over the years, but is there any truth to it or is it just a convenient simplification?