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By Ekaterina Nikolaevna Vinogradskaya

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Anderson concludes that ‘in Eastern Europe, the social power of the nobility was unqualified by any ascendant bourgeoisie such as marked Western Europe: seigneurial domination was unfettered. Eastern Absolutism thus more patently and unequivocally displayed its class composition than [did] its Western counterpart. Built upon serfdom, the feudal cast of its State structure was more blunt and manifest’ (p. 430). The resultant political and social rigidities severely cramped East Central European development during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

7). After centuries under the ‘imperial heel’ (partly in the so-called ‘prison-house of nations’) the long submerged or subjugated peoples of Eastern Europe were finally ‘liberated’ in the wake of several Balkan wars, culminating in the First World War. Even after the disintegration of Europe’s eastern empires, however, eastern and western Europe still constituted contrasting civilizations, as portrayed in Francois Delaisy’s influential book Les Deux Europes (published in 1924), in Henry Tiltman’s still fascinating Peasant Europe (published in 1934) and in David Mitrany’s brilliant polemic against urban neomercantilism entitled Marx against the Peasant (published in 1951).

Within the political designs of the new states which emerged victorious on the historical stage, there was room only for their own power interests, for the interests of the ruling nation. There was no room for the national and cultural interests of the defeated nations…nor was there any provision for protecting the interests and identity of the national minorities… It was in this respect that Eastern Central Europe most clearly divorced itself from the West’ (pp. 101–2), long before the advent of either Soviet hegemony or communist dictatorship.

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A woman behind the German lines, by Ekaterina Nikolaevna Vinogradskaya

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