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The Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S., Vol. II, Spring, 1952, No. 1 (3).

DRAHOMANOV AND THE EUROPEAN CONSCIENCE

PHILIP E. MOSELY


Resume of a speech by Professor P. E. Mosely at a meeting of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S.A., November 4, 1951, commemorating the 110th anniversary of the birth of Mykhaylo Drahomanov.

It is an honor and a pleasure to be invited by the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States* to join its members and guests in commemorating the anniversary of the birth of Mykhaylo Drahomanov. For me it will be especially interesting and enlightening to hear other scholars who will comment with far greater authority on the content and impact of Drahomanov's thinking as they expressed and influenced die development of Ukrainian national feeling and thought. The assignment which I have accepted is a very modest one. I merely want to share a few reflections which have come to me, concerning the nature of Drahomanov's profound insight into the relations between die Ukraine and the European community. By "European community" I refer, of course, not to a particular geographical area, but to all peoples who share in and contribute to the ideal of national and individual self-fulfillment as the highest good.

Some twenty years ago, when I was planning a study of the nature and cross-currents of the ideas which are often lumped together under the rubric of "Slav unity," I was struck for the first time by Drahomanov's profound insight into the nature of democratic self-fulfillment. At that time I was deeply impressed by the harmonious balance in Drahomanov between his deep love for the Ukraine and his ability to see the needs and the potentialities of the Ukraine within a broader European setting. A few years later, during an extended visit to Bulgaria, I again met with the impact of Drahomanov's influence, in the grateful recollection held by senior intellectual leaders of his fruitful years, 1889-1895, as professor, counselor, and friend, at the University of Sofia. At that time I had most interesting talks with his daughter, Madame Draho-manova-Shishmanova, then in the full vitality of her extensive intellectual and social interests, as I have recently with his son, Professor Svitozor Drahomanov.

One source of Drahomanov's humane sense of universality, which was often misunderstood and misinterpreted by his contemporaries, is, it seems to me, founded in his profound understanding of the ancient world. At a time when people are increasingly dissatisfied with partial studies of human society and are seeking for deeper bases of comprehension and cooperation within and beyond national frontiers, it is well to recall that classical studies, the basic discipline of the formative centuries of modern Europe, by definition strive to explain all of man and all of society. In a freer and more tranquil time Drahomanov would surely have become one of the great interpreters of Hellenic-Roman civilization. Under the sting of harsh circumstances, which deprived his people of the conditions of natural and unimpeded development into full enjoyment of membership in the European community, he sacrificed these personal and scholarly goals. But, in devoting his efforts to the struggle for emancipation of the Ukraine, Drahomanov carried over into these exhausting efforts the spirit of universality which makes him even today a prophet of the Ukrainian and the European conscience. Thus there is, it seems to me, an inner harmony which infused Drahomanov's thinking about the Ukraine, the Slavs, and the European community.

Seeing the people of the Ukraine divided, Drahomanov sought to disclose and revivify the deepest source of its national unity. And, since true unity must develop from within, he devoted special efforts to recording, cultivating, and popularizing the treasures of Ukrainian folklore and folk-literature. Along with other devoted students of the Ukrainian village he helped to lay solid foundations for strengthening the sense of underlying national unity. Turning to the history of the Ukraine, he rejected all attempts to "monopolize" the national history for the benefit of any one tradition, region, or class. At a time when idealization of the Zaporozhian Host was an important stimulant of and comfort to national pride, Drahomanov courted widespread misunderstanding and censure in calling for a more realistic appraisal of the serious limitations as weil as the heroism of the Cossack army-state. In this insistence on truth, he resembled Thomas G. Masaryk, who somewhat later attacked the Kniginhof and Grnberg forgeries, until then the palladium of romantic Czech nationalism. Recognizing, as an historian and sociologist, the many differences in traditions, customs, confessions, and historical experience which made difficult unified action among Ukrainians, Drahomanov denied the supremacy of any one region or cultural context and sought to infuse these diversities with a higher sense of inner unity, founded on shared human values. His profound conviction that national unity cannot be imposed from without but must grow within the thought and feeling of living people is as true today as it was then.

In his attitude towards other Slav peoples Drahomanov expressed both his calm, unchallengeable faith in the potentialities and achievements of the Ukrainian people and his abiding sense of the universality of man's fate. Hence it was inevitable that he should oppose with equal vigor both the imperial Russian policy of attempting to deprive the Polish people of its national identity and to Russify it, and all Polish claims to "natural" hegemony over neighboring peoples. Deprived by imperial Russian chauvinism of the opportunity to pursue his beloved work of scholarship and to work simultaneously for the advancement of his people, Drahomanov never attributed the humane insights of Russian literature and culture to the merits of Alexander III or Pobedonostsev, and he therefore rejected any attempt to deny the great contributions of Russian, as of any other European, thought to the universal fund of humanistic thought. As a politician, Drahomanov's practical programs suffered defeat. After 1881 Russia's movement towards a fuller realization of liberal reform was drastically checked by the forces of reactionary cynicism. One of the few believers in Slav cooperation who knew all the Slav peoples intimately and at first hand, Drahomanov was among the first, in 1875, to begin the collection of funds and supplies to aid the Serbian rebels of Herzegovina in their struggle against Ottoman misrule. In his educational and cultural work in the struggling Bulgarian State Drahomanov gave full expression to his philosophy of national development. He saw a close kinship of national problems between the Bul-gar and the Ukrainian peoples. Both had survived many catastrophes because they rested on a solid foundation of peasant life. On that foundation both were striving to develop a well-rounded national life which would enable them to participate in the European community on a footing of complete equality and to make their own contributions to it. "Equality" was the keynote to Drahomanov's concept of the role of the Ukraine among the Slavs, and of the Slavs among the peoples of the world. Equality of all peoples, hegemony of none, was his guiding thought. If actual events have so often contradicted his optimistic anticipations, he shared this hope with many thinkers and doers, from Rousseau and Mazzini through Woodrow Wilson, and to our own day. This idea is both a revolutionary and a creative force in the world today.

As a participant in the European conscience of his day and ours, Drahomanov was both a mediator and a creator. Many of his writings were devoted to making known to the Western world the character, needs, and aspirations of the Ukraine. In many fields of knowledge his writings on the Ukraine opened new windows to the educated public abroad. In this tireless activity he again resembled a Masaryk "born out of season." And like Masaryk he strove to assist his countrymen to understand more fully the role, present and potential, of the Ukraine in the mainstream of European development, to overcome divisive if romantic parochialisms, to abandon the overly defensive habit of excessive acceptance or rejection of politically dominant cultures, and to contribute in every way to the growth of internal forces of unity, strength, and mutual understanding within the Ukrainian people.

Writing urgently and in haste for the needs of his day, Drahomanov would, it seems to me, have been the last to suppose that at another time and under other circumstances people would attempt mechanically to apply or attack solutions which seemed to him feasible and realistic. What the Ukrainian and the European-American conscience can learn from Drahomanov today is the spirit of historical realism and human universality in which he faced the problems of his day. Drahomanov based his ideals on his faith in the inherently democratic social and personal attitudes of the Ukrainian people, and he felt sure that these personal, family, village, and national attitudes would enable it to create a complete, harmonious, and free society in its own image. He had an unswerving confidence in the reservoir of creative talents among his people, as a guarantee of its future. He opposed all forms of oppression but he could not find it in himself to hate any other people merely because he loved his own people more. Finally, Drahomanov devoted the best of his life's effort to defining and clarifying the vital interaction between Ukrainian and European development, to making clear to informed European opinion the undeniable place of the Ukraine in Europe, and to assisting his own people to identify and grapple with those inner tasks of self-development which would enable it to occupy the place of its aspiration in the community of the European conscience.


pisma@dragomanov.info,
, 2006 .