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Tag: Poland

Oxford on the Vistula

There seems to be a widely held view that the bout of illiberalism that has spread across Central and Eastern Europe since the economic crash of 2009 came out of nowhere, much like its later cousins Trump and Brexit. And if one were to read nothing but the Anglo-American press coverage of the rise of the current governing Law and Justice (PiS) in Poland, this might appear to be the case. Yet, if one delves into the social fabric of Poland’s post-1989 transition one will see that PiS never wasn't really there, in spirit if not always in office.

October 4, 2017 - Jo Harper

Not dedicated to big political visions

An interview with Jan Šerek, social psychologist and political scientist at the Masaryk University in Brno. Interviewer: Tomasz Lachowski

TOMASZ LACHOWSKI: Lately we have witnessed an increasing popularity of populist politicians winning elections on a conservative agenda and with a relatively high support of young voters. We have seen this in our region of Central Europe – such was the case of Jarosław Kaczyński and the current-ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland as well as Marian Kotleba and the People’s Party of Our Slovakia in Slovakia. Do you see a similar tendency towards populism among young voters in the Czech Republic?

JAN ŠEREK: Without a doubt this new tendency of young people being more conservative is also visible in the Czech Republic. However, we cannot put a whole generation into one box – we need to recognise that their political behaviour and choices depend on many factors, including education. Regarding the popularity of populist movements, especially among adolescents, I have to emphasise the huge role being played by the media.

October 4, 2017 - Jan Šerek Tomasz Lachowski

Polish encounters

Zbigniew Brzezinski's death this year is a huge loss to me and my wife. He was America's greatest strategic thinker and had a significant impact on my professional life, as did many other Polish and Polish-Americans throughout the last 40 years or so. I have visited Poland frequently since the 1970s. As an American teacher and scholar on Central and Eastern Europe, I found it useful to meet not only academics but politicians as well. Although I do not speak Polish, I could pronounce most of the names fairly well; the name of Janusz Onyszkiewicz was among the more difficult ones. My Polish encounters were largely limited to those who spoke English. The irresistible Adam Michnik was an exception: our conversations needed an interpreter. If I may say so, our friendship has managed to develop nevertheless. I try to see him every time I am in Warsaw, most recently in the autumn of 2016.

October 4, 2017 - Charles Gati

Poland’s Protestant diversity

In the 16th century, Polish Protestantism began to flourish and this tolerance brought European civilisation many noble thinkers, including Jan Hevelius, Kazimierz Siemienowicz, Józef Naronowicz-Naronski and Krzysztof Arciszewski.

October 4, 2017 - Andrzej Zaręba

The unexpected turn of #SaakashviliSunday

Sunday September 10th did not start well for Mikheil Saakashvili. The former Georgian President, former governor of Odesa and now former Ukrainian citizen and persona non grata in his adoptive home chose Sunday for his great return to Ukrainian soil. Already in the early morning hours, however, it appeared that nothing was going as planned and few actually believed that Saakashvili would make it across the border.

September 12, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska and Kaja Puto

Where the heart of Central Europe beats

There is no multi-culti here, people are Catholic, conservative, vote for right wing parties, just like in Podhale” – explains one of the protagonists of Ludwika Włodek’s book Four Flags, One Address. But Spiš – or Spisz, depending on whom one asks – a tiny historical region in the Carpathian Mountains, located on the territory of Poland and Slovakia, has been home to more ethnicities than just the two main national groups. So is there really no multi-culti?

August 24, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

The perils of hybrid threats in Central Europe

Some 25 years ago, warfare and international security were understood more or less solely through the lens of military features. The changing nature of threats to security has determined a change in the way security is perceived, encompassing today threats from a variety of sectors such as political, economic, societal, militarily or environmental. Although not new, hybrid threats pose one of the biggest risks in the contemporary security and political environment since they comprise a mixture of means (i.e. technological, financial, diplomatic, legal, economic and military) intended to exploit weaknesses and undermine governments, government agencies and the democratic process hinder the decision making process.

August 21, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

Wherever you may sail, you are always sailing towards Poland

A conversation with Professor Zdzisław Najder, a historian of literature and expert on Joseph Conrad. Interviewer: Grzegorz Nurek

August 1, 2017 - Grzegorz Nurek Zdzisław Najder

Joseph Conrad and the East

Before he ever left home, Joseph Conrad knew what powerful nations and material interests could do to weaker peoples. Born Jósef Teodor Konrad Nałęcz Korzeniowski, in Berdyczów in modern-day Ukraine in 1857, he belonged to a nation, Poland, which was no longer to be found on the map. His father Apollo, a writer and prominent Polish nationalist, was arrested and exiled with his family for anti-Russian conspiracy when his son was four years old. This was Conrad’s first lesson in the power of empires and the cost of idealism. Life was difficult and by the time he was 11, both his parents were dead. Conrad never forgave imperial Russia: “from the very inception of her being”, he was to write in 1905, “the brutal destruction of dignity, of truth, of rectitude, of all that is faithful in human nature has been made the imperative condition of her existence”. At age 17, the young Korzeniowski went to sea, serving first as an ordinary seaman and later as a ship’s officer, mostly in vessels of the British merchant marine. He learnt English in his twenties and developed an ambition to become a writer in this, his third language.

August 1, 2017 - Douglas Kerr

Joseph Conrad. A Polish and European writer

Joseph Conrad was born as Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in Berdychiv (today in Ukraine) in 1857. He was a child of a Polish noble family that was involved in the conspirational fight for Poland’s independence. After the death of his mother the young Conrad moved to Kraków from where he later emigrated to France and later Great Britain. In Marseille he became a sailor and since then the whole world was his home. According to literary critic Rafał Marceli Blüth, the decision to ”fraternise with the element of the sea and the element of the peoples who were not deformed by civilisation”, as non-Europeans were called back then, were Conrad’s attempts to distance himself from his homeland, his nation and European culture overall. The truth, however, is that he never abandoned any of them. Conrad returned to Poland several times later on in life.

August 1, 2017 - Kinga Gajda

Showing the Holocaust through women’s eyes

“Mother?! What does it mean? Who is this creature called mother, who with great pleasure suffers and gives birth to a new life…”. These are the words from the diary of Rywka Lipszyc – one of the most mysterious heroines of the Holocaust. Her story is the subject of an exhibit of the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków, Poland which is held from 28th June 2017 to 31st March 2018.

July 21, 2017 - Monika Szafrańska

Intermarium vs the Three Seas Initiative

The Intermarium strategy was developed in Poland as a political doctrine at the turn of the 20th century. It was an attempt to answer the general question on how to rebuild a sovereign Polish state and how to secure its future. The concept was innovative even if the purpose was not. The Poles alone, and Poland as a sole actor, wouldn’t be able to achieve such a goal. Poland’s enemies, especially Russia, were considered the main obstacle to independence and excessively powerful. The authors of the Intermarium strategy, Józef Piłsudski and his closest associates of the Polish Socialist Party, discovered the potential of nationalistic aspirations of other nations living within the Russian state. The idea was simple: to initiate a national revolt in a suitable moment and split Russia along national divisions. In such a way both major Polish goals would be fulfilled: independence and a secure future. Russia, if pushed from Europe and stripped of its conquest, would be annihilated as an empire and no longer pose a threat to the newly established states.

July 6, 2017 - Daria Nałęcz



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