Prof. Krasnodębski visited Przemyśl

On Sunday (October 2), at the invitation of Marshal Marek Kuchciński, Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, a well-known historian of ideas, author of several books, lecturer at the University of Bremen and at Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, came to Przemyśl with a lecture. Prof. Krasnodębski shared his thoughts on "globalization, freedom of nations, and modern patriotism" with a large audience (in the concert hall of the Przemyśl Music Society). Here is an abbreviation of the main part of that speech:


The support for the "Civic Platform" is based to a large extent on the widespread perception that it is a pro-modernization party, moving in the same direction as the world. Those who think so, at the same time consider "Law and Justice" to be a conservative and not very modern force. Prof. Krasnodębski critically analyzed such opinions and beliefs, referring to history and analyzing current developments in Europe and in the world.


Historically, it was in this way that the idea of nation-states took hold in 1918, when declining empires were divided up among individual nations. They assumed the overlapping of cultural and political borders and appeared as an expression of national freedom. The paradox of Poland in that period was the multinational composition of the population of the Polish state, reborn after a long captivity. In pre-war Poland, only 64 percent of the population was Polish and the number of politically conscious Poles was probably even lower. In 1989 it was different. Under the influence of the war and the entire history of the People's Republic of Poland, Poland had practically become a mono-national state and in addition, the vast majority of Poles declared themselves as Catholics. However, at the turn of the 80's and 90's there was already a conviction, connected to the process of globalization, that the era of nation states was coming to an end. This was the case in Western Europe. In Germany at that time people said that the old Polish-German conflicts did not matter, because there would be European integration and soon we would all be Europeans.


Another dogma prevailed at the time, the neoliberal one, that all economic openness is positive and that the market is infallible. This was in contrast to the view that prevailed in 1918 and the interwar period, when there was a generally accepted economic nationalism advocating the development of one's own industry and the application of protectionism to the economy in one's own country. But in 1989 it was different. If that process of overthrowing communism had occurred 20 years later, we would be building our economy quite differently today. Because these dogmas of liberalism in the economy are already collapsing. Today, prominent economists, even Nobel Prize winners, agree that the market is not infallible and capital has its nationality to some extent.


In the wake of globalism and neoliberalism, the condemnation of nationalism in the leading countries of the European Union is also progressing. It is interesting, however, that when a Hungarian or Polish politician demands something for his or her country, it is called "nationalism" (by the way, such a label is tried to stick to the "Law and Justice" party in Germany, calling it a national-conservative force) - but when a German or French politician does it, it is immediately emphasized that he or she is doing it in the European interest. When the first gas from the pipeline running from Russia along the bottom of the Baltic Sea began flowing to Kreiswald recently, German Radio reported that this was Europe's most important energy project, bypassing unstable transit countries. Of course, the German listener was not informed that this pipeline also bypasses stable and democratic Poland, because that would somehow not fit with the "Europeanness" of this investment. Such examples could be multiplied.


In this perspective of globalism and modernity, one may wonder if patriotism still makes sense, if it is not anachronistic. Is being a patriot a positive trait?


In Western Europe, this concept has been given a negative connotation, so much so that students are afraid to admit such feelings. And yet, patriotism is one of the virtues of loyalty, and it means that we are bound to our nation more than to others. In a sense, the life of the individual person takes on a deeper moral meaning through participation in the life of the community. And if we do not feel connected, do not see our lives as part of the life of our nation, we lose something. We deprive ourselves of a certain important dimension. And today, it is on this plane that the fundamental difference between the two main political forces in our country emerges. Today - as it happened quite often during the period of losing independence at the end of the 18th century and later - one can also hear many voices questioning the sense of sticking to the idea of an independent, sovereign being of a medium-sized state in Europe, with its own institutions and its own economy. Polish trains are late? - So, we hear, let them be taken over by Deutsche Bahn. "Lot" is inefficient? - Well, let it be taken over by Lufthansa.


Today, the world is changing. The so-called "emerging powers" have appeared (emerging powers): China, India, Brazil. These countries do not intend to give up their classical policies conducted in terms of sovereignty. As a result, the whole world politics is changing. Everyone is wondering when China will become the most powerful country in the world. In Europe, too, a great change has taken place. Today it is already being said that the strongest countries should lead the European Union and that - de facto - the Union is ruled by a "Franco-German directorate".

But the Germans themselves apparently have a dilemma about how to protect their sovereignty and their democracy at the same time. Because there is no other democracy than democracy within a nation state, a sovereign state. German constitutionalists warn that European integration cannot be further deepened. There has also been a big discussion recently whether Chancellor Merkel can promise aid to Greece without asking the consent of the German parliament? After all, this risks marginalizing the German parliament and thus marginalizing the voters and democracy there. Because that would mean that the German people are no longer sovereign.


But these are questions which the ruling party in Poland does not ask at all, but only promises 300 billion zlotys from the European Union's coffers, which it will spend on these unfinished and backward road construction projects. It does not seem to be interested in more important issues, concerning the future of the Polish state and nation. Meanwhile, the situation in Europe and in the world is so dynamic that this ideology of globalization and decline of the nation state is itself becoming anachronistic. Therefore, we (both politicians and voters in this election) must ask ourselves: what is the place of Poland in Europe and in the world? Who do we want to be? Do we want to be free people in our own country, a nation responsible for itself, or do we want - even if we would be a bit better off - to be subordinated to some structures independent from us?


Well, the basis for the development of Poland seems to be, among others: a strong Polish state (living, of course, in harmony with its neighbors), a healthy and strong national identity, an appropriate historical policy - that is, what we can also find in the programme of "Law and Justice".


Our ancestors often had a dilemma: to fight or not to fight? Fortunately, this dilemma is not relevant today - although it is not clear whether it will not be relevant in the future. Minister Klich practically disarmed the Polish army, and in the modern world, military power and the ability to defend - also counts. However, today's patriotism has a slightly different character. In one of his speeches it was outlined by President Lech Kaczynski: "The heroism of today is generally no longer the heroism of armed struggle, although there are exceptions. It must be the heroism of building an honest, decent, well-organized Polish state. The heroism of the Fourth Republic. Patriotism is responsibility for future generations, for the fate of the country. It is the memory of those who paid the highest price for our freedom. Just as there is no patriotism without remembering national history, there is also no patriotism without taking responsibility for the future."



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